"As Owen thought of his child's future there sprung up within him a feeling of hatred and fury against the majority of his fellow workmen. THEY WERE THE ENEMY. Those who not only quietly submitted like so many cattle to the existing state of things, but defended it, and opposed and ridiculed any suggestion to alter it. THEY WERE THE REAL OPPRESSORS - the men who spoke of themselves as `The likes of us,' who, having lived in poverty and degradation all their lives considered that what had been good enough for them was good enough for the children they had been the cause of bringing into existence. He hated and despised them because the calmly saw their children condemned to hard labour and poverty for life, and deliberately refused to make any effort to secure for them better conditions than those they had themselves. It was because they were indifferent to the fate of THEIR children that he would be unable to secure a natural and human life for HIS. It was their apathy or active opposition that made it impossible to establish a better system of society under which those who did their fair share of the world's work would be honoured and rewarded. Instead of helping to do this, they abased themselves, and grovelled before their oppressors, and compelled and taught their children to do the same. THEY were the people who were really responsible for the continuance of the present system. Owen laughed bitterly to himself. What a very comical system it was. Those who worked were looked upon with contempt, and subjected to every possible indignity. Nearly everything they produced was taken away from them and enjoyed by the people who did nothing. And then the workers bowed down and grovelled before those who had robbed them of the fruits of their labour and were childishly grateful to them for leaving anything at all. No wonder the rich despised them and looked upon them as dirt. They WERE despicable. They WERE dirt. They admitted it and gloried in it."
This was written in 1903, by Robert Tressell. From what I've been reading recently, it's clear that nothing has changed. For every tyrant or careerist politician, there are a million well meaning people who are sure that everything will be ok if only we vote for that nice Mr Xxxxxxxx.
The issues are different to some degree, at least here in the affluent West. And ultimately, I suppose, the motivations are different.
It's extremely rare for anyone in this country to starve. For now at least we have a safety net that ensures that the old and unemployed get at least a bare minimum. It's flawed, and is under attack, particularly at the moment, but things are better than they were a century ago, by far.
The increase in the standard of living is not because of capitalism. It's because of the massively increased supply of energy and raw materials. Capitalism has merely squandered much of the benefits on a mountain of shit. But as the limits to such fossil fueled growth near, who knows? How long will such a safety net survive?
But for now, we're doing fine, thank you very much, with our wide screen tellies and maxed out credit cards. Sure, we're concerned about the starving millions in Turkmenistan. If we give £2 a month that will make it all ok.
If the starving drudges of Tressell's book were prepared to defend the system, it should be no surprise that the well fed workers of today see no need for a revolution.
I suspect that by the time they do, it will be far too late.
Things have moved on a little overnight, but hardly at all. To me one side keeps on misrepresenting the other, despite that other's attempts to explain, clarify, add detail, provide alternatives.
It's like it's just too alien an idea for him to comprehend. I can understand this. When I first got involved in politics, I felt the same way. It's only that I got involved with a bunch of Trots, who's insistance upon a revolutionary transformation of society trumped all my reformist arguments that I don't feel the same way now.
We are immersed in the Big Bad System from the day that we're born. It's like a room with no windows. It takes a certain type of eye to see beyond it.