Rose coloured glasses?
Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:47
Socialists are often accused of wearing rose-coloured glasses — of not recognizing that the world is a horrible place full of horrible people. This accusation is particularly bizarre coming from people who also believe that society, today, is not really all that bad, and not bad enough to justify expending any energy trying to solve whatever (apparently minor) problems do exist.
This accusation derives, we suppose, from our insistence that people are not naturally, incurably horrible, and can cooperate to build a society better than the one we all know.
Socialists see, extremely clearly, that sometimes some people act very anti-socially. That recognition, however, is not the end of the story for anyone who wants to understand why people act as they do.
Capitalism’s Gravediggers insists that after the Boxing Day, 2004, tsunami in south Asia and India, millions of people around the world were moved by their human nature, to contribute — in some cases, very generously — to the many relief funds set up around the world. People of every social classification cooperated, globally — doing what our nature as humans requires. We helped other humans.
Capitalism’s Gravediggers insists that the huge outpouring of honest, heartfelt, grief and eagerness to assist, is extremely powerful evidence that people are not as horrible as non-socialists tell us. Capitalism’s Gravediggers insists that this is not the first and will not be the last disaster which has highlighted this evidence of the nature of humanity.
Capitalism’s Gravediggers did not hallucinate the Boxing Day tsunami so that we could fantasize about how people would respond if they were not naturally horrible. The tsunami killed over 200,000 people. That is reality. People want to help. That is reality. Horrible human nature? That is a fantasy. It is a self-defeating, self-destructive, nightmare which maintains capitalism — a society which allows preventable catastrophes every year, killing far more people than the Boxing Day catastrophe.
Human beings are naturally gregarious creatures. Almost every human being wants to live close to other humans and cooperate with them. Almost every human being is hurt if they know that another human being is hurt. These human beings — almost the entirety of our species — are not the inherently horrible, non-cooperative, creatures which non-socialists believe we are.
Instead, we are naturally cooperative and loving.
We need to understand this dichotomous behaviour. Why are we sometimes so anti-social?
The generally accepted answer is that humans are a mixture of good and evil. The mixture, and which face will emerge at any time, is supposedly unknowable.
Capitalism’s Gravediggers does not accept that answer because it is not consistent with what we know about reality. We know:
- That people have lived together for the entire existence of the species.
- That people will try to help others, even at great cost to themselves.
- That there are millions of volunteers around the world, who give because they are driven by their humanity.
- That from the dawning of our species, people have cooperated.
- That people will fight for what they believe is right.
We also know:
- That people do not go out of their way to hurt anyone else, unless they are tricked.
- That leaders have frequently whipped up people’s emotions to incite them to barbarism.
Leaders have ulterior motives: usually power and money. Power over you, and money you will never see. The leaders themselves are caught up in capitalism’s misinformation. They may even believe the misinformation they distribute.
- That people are often afraid to help, because the “down and out” — those we are most drawn to help — may react violently.
This tells us that it is because we live in a violent society, where our needs are not met, that we react violently, or expecting violence. Our reactions are not surprising. We are reacting to a society not fit for human consumption. It is up to you and the rest of us to build a world society which does not generate fear and violence. In such a society we will not need to fear the poorest, because everyone’s needs will be satisfied: there will be no poor.
- That there is very frequent, very powerful, social conditioning attempting to convince us that we, as individuals, have no positive connection with anyone outside of a very narrow group of family and friends.
This is not necessarily conscious on the part of those who promote this anti-social behaviour. Commercials pushing the message that you are an individual, are pervasive, and seductive. Everyone wants to feel special. We do not need to drink the advertised brand of beer to be special. We do not need to drive the advertised brand of automobile to be special. We do not need to wear the advertised brand of clothing to be special. We are already unique, special, individuals. Drinking the same beer as ten million other people does not make us special.
The individualist mythology and propaganda do not make us special. They make us anti-social. We come to see ourselves as above the rules and standards which apply to others. The propaganda of individualism leads us to believe that we need nobody else — that we exist apart from society. It is a lie. We all exist as a part of society. The fantasy pushes us to believe that we have no responsibility to anyone else. The fantasy world into which the advertising propaganda drives us, does not exist. Our humanity is crippled. We become anti-social at some level.
The advertising propagandists have exactly one purpose: to convince us to buy the product they are paid to sell. They do it by seduction. They often do not even advertise any benefits to be gained from the product — except that it will make us special.
If we are seduced, we do not even know that we have been set on a path to anti-social attitudes. If we knew that we were being tricked, we would not be tricked. The tricks work. It is time for you to end your sheepishness and recognize what the advertisers are doing to our society and to all of us.