Don't Be #ForTheMany

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

A critique of the British Labour's promotional message #ForTheMany, and a case for individualism over authoritarianism.

Are you #ForTheMany? I sincerely hope not.

The Labour Party has, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, been campaigning once again under the banner of being “for the many, not the few”. Tony Blair’s amendment of the Labour Constitution’s Clause IV in 1997 wrote it in originally: “…in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few…”. It seems to be working. Internal splits and poor leader ratings should have decimated support for the party, history shows: despite all these things and more, however, Labour’s support is currently at around the same level it was in 2015. It is tempting to blame it purely on Theresa May’s complete incompetence, but it is hard to ignore Jeremy Corbyn’s rapid growth of support and appeal to young voters. Jeremy Corbyn is “for the many”; it sounds good, even seductive, to the seemingly elevated compassion and emotiveness of today’s youth: history shows us the aristocracies, monarchies, and dictatorships, the one and the few in power, and to be for the many is to reject those power structures. Right?

The problem with these things is not just being “for the few”; it’s a top-down approach to the structure of society: the elite rule over the workers, and so can subjugate and oppress its population. It gives too much power to the ones in charge. While it can arguably represent its people fairly through economic policy, ultimately that doesn’t matter; being left-wing or right-wing is irrelevant in the struggle against tyranny of government – that is, cruelty and oppressive use and abuse of power by those in control of a population. J.S. Mill’s On Liberty explains this: “Wherever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the country emanates from its class interests, and its feelings of class superiority”; this, unsurprisingly, can lead to tyranny and authoritarianism. Marx’s solution to class struggle in particular, the problem he saw in the superiority of aristocracies and such, was to remove the socioeconomic classes and redistribute the wealth and means of production of the nation to all its citizens therein.

It’s not the right solution. Marx’s power structure attempts to level the playing field by removing classes through a top-down approach, utilising a state that enforces the abolition of private property and capital by seizing the means of production, so that everyone, theoretically, has the same. That sounds like a sort of equality: an equality of outcome, a “sameness” of the population; but it is enforced through discrimination by social or economic class, infringing on the rights of those it perceives to better than them. The same approach is seen today in modern-day intersectional feminism and black lives matter, which defines classes not along socioeconomic lines but on the lines of gender, sexual orientation, race, and religion. A hierarchy of “privilege”, where the “cis straight white male” is defined as the most culturally affluent, is attempted to be flattened by discrimination against the norms of society in the name of sameness, which is given the banner of “equality”, but is only an equality of statistics and outcomes.

The core of individualism, as has been developed over centuries in the Western world and has produced the most free and prosperous societies, has been to take neither the approach of the authoritarian right or the authoritarian left, which both inflict power on their populations; instead it works bottom-up, raising the individual to the pinnacle of societal standards and holding all individuals to these standards. To elaborate, the role of government in an individualist approach is to protect the rights of the individual insofar as it does not infringe on the rights of others. It is not anarchy, which looks to remove government; rather, it uses government to protect the individual – without discrimination based on sex or sexuality, race or religion, or any particular identity that leads to the categorisation of society into collectives – and so enables every individual’s right that can be universally applied: the freedom of ideas, expression, humour, and movement; freedom and equality of opportunity, to be able to pursue your interests and gain capital and property without constraint; and the enforcement of non-discrimination through blind justice. While under this framework, societies prevent tyranny and oppression and promote a truer, fairer equality: that of opportunity.

Are you for the many? For the few? I hope not. I’d be for the individual, and for all individuals; only through this can we retain a free, fair, and equal society.

Submitted: April 13, 2018

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Bert Broomberg

I enjoyed reading this. I thought you made some valid points. Still I would like to comment on something you stated in the penultimate paragraph. You claimed that the role of the government is to protect the rights of the individual. Somehow, I don't think that is true, because the essence of governements is that they protect the rights of groups within society. Any government worth its salt will tell the general public that they are there for the benefit of every individual citizen, but in reality they don't implement policies and laws for individual people. I think that is one of the reasons that truly democratic societies cannot do without a judiciary system. Courts are the true protectors of the rights of the individuals in society. In my opinion, governments that design policies to protect the rights of individuals, can usually be found in tyrannies, where individuals connected to the close circle of the tyrant are protected or enjoy the benefits of that particular law or policy.

Sat, April 28th, 2018 11:12pm

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