One of the earliest and most prevalent traits of humanity has been to search for, or worship, supernatural powers. Ancient humans developed complex religious systems, often worshipping what they could see and feel in nature. Other times they would worship superhuman figures that lived in another world, such as what one reads in Ancient Greek mythology. In the West and Near East, polytheistic belief systems eventually gave way to monotheistic religion,similar to the ancient religion of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Christianity, in Catholic and later Protestant versions, had a very influential role in the forming of British civilisation (“Anglosphere”) for many years, providing the foundation of our belief systems. Today, however, the UK is not considered a particularly religious nation. America, while having some strong pockets of religious following, is not exactly very theological, with the prevalence of “pop”, non-denominational mega-churches and Catholics that hold Protestant-like convictions. Religion, or at least Christianity, is disappearing into history here. Yes, the Archbishop of Canterbury might get some attention for rattling off a couple of complaints about Wonga or the Pope might have a celebrity following for hugging disabled people, but really modern people are too enlightened for religion. We have cast off superstitions and gone to rehab for “the opiate of the masses.” We are the exception to the long, dark, unenlightened past of humanity.
To think religion has disappeared is naïve and fails to understand basic human nature. According to a definition from the Oxford English dictionary, religion is defined as a “Belief in or acknowledgement of some superhuman power or powers which is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship; such a belief as part of a system defining a code of living, esp. as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.” Faith is defined “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. Comparing religion and faith as defined here to our modern society, one can see they are both more than alive, they are thriving. Where in society is faith stronger than ever? In politics, specifically on the political left, where belief in the supernatural, omnipotent power of a socialist minded state to do good and change the world is not in doubt, and to suggest otherwise is blasphemy.
The origin of the Anglo socialist believer has its roots on the European continent, a land where the faith began and where it has been practiced in a purer form for generations. The early socialists in Great Britain or in the United States (the word Socialist is a dirty word in the America, leftists prefer to be called “progressive” or even more fallaciously misnomered term “liberal” even though they today, American leftist largely hold the exact same views as their Western counterparts) were inspired by German social engineering thought. Though American leftists were inspired more by the Progressive socialism and the British left, by more Marxist type socialism found largely in the Labour movement (which politically “leap frogged” Lloyd George’s progressive style governments), Progressive and more Marxist type socialists were inspired by the idea that government could solve all societal ills that had always plagued humanity. They had discovered how to alleviate poverty; they had discovered how to draw nation states that others had never dreamed of, they discovered how the contract between employer and employee should work. In America, early progressive type thinking resulted in the banning of drinking and dissenting thought (oddly against largely more left wing dissidents), the introduction of taxes on incomes, and the redrawing of corporations (“trust busting”) and new nations (drawn at the Treaty of Versailles) according to what the federal government (self-proclaimed experts in commerce and foreign peoples) thought was best. In Britain, the beliefs of socialists were seen in events like the General Strike and the forming of their own, new political party– the Labour party. Though usually politically defeated during this early period, the Progressive and Labour movements shared a belief that if they were able to control the mechanisms of government, they could create a utopia on earth, something never before seen in human history.
Eventually the left in the Anglosphere got their chance at governance. With the advent of the welfare state, whether the full-blown socialism of the Attlee era to the “softer” socialism-light of the American Democrat party since Franklin Delano Roosevelt or of New Labour, the role and expectations of government have dramatically altered. Government, instead of being seen as largely a provider of national defence and enforcer of the rule of law, undertook a new task in the anglosphere– the task of provider. Instead of Randolph Churchill, government could now be “Old Woom” or better the instrument of the will of the omnipotent; taking care of all of its citizens in all of their needs. This was a truly religious mission. They knew that if they could just gain government permanently, all that was wrong with the world would be right. They, just like the early Christians, needed an Emperor Constantine. And who spread their message that government could and should change into this omnipotent force? Why the US American Democratic party and the British Labour party of course.
Labour and the Democrats have a long, grand tradition of getting elected by promising the world, just like a good missionary does. Labour after World War II literally promised the “New Jerusalem” of a prosperous, fair, and equal society. It nationalised whole industries, raised taxes exponentially on the “wealthy” (hey, they can pay for everybody and everything right?), and created a “safety net” where the traditional role of charity, church and family would be replaced by the handouts of the government. In the spirit of New Jerusalem, (launching the “age of Aquarius” as the popular leftist aspirational 1960s song goes), the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson promised a “Great Society” of free government designed project housing, welfare benefits with no requirement of work, and government bureaucracies to make just laws less sophisticated congressmen could not comprehend. And of course, this programme was paid for through obscenely high taxes on the “rich” and if they didn’t pay for it all, it was added it to the nation’s national debt. These leaders even thought prices could be controlled (including Republicans like Nixon or Conservatives like Heath) through the swoop of a magical government wand. The government’s magical promise was being realised; it could solve all societal ills, all poverty, all injustice, it all could go away through the power of almighty government.
…Or so they thought. Then the 1970s happened. Social unrest, strikes, shortages, crushing inflation, high unemployment, family units disappearing, city centres rotting, communities on the dole, malaise, and poverty. Spirits crushed, two formerly proud and great nations were weak and no longer respected globally. The British and American people however did not accept defeat. In the 1980s America, to a certain extent, but especially Britain, turned back much of the excesses of the socialist era. They lowered taxes to a manageable rate, cutting many onerous regulations and Britain privatised all but a small few of major industries. Government, while still large, was no longer recognised as being the magical fairy of Utopian wonder. The fall of the ultimate statist Utopian promise nation, the Soviet Union, and the 1970s still lingered as an embarrassment for the left. The left even appeared to change, largely ditching their old faith in the omnipotent power of government. Bill Clinton signed welfare reform given to him by a Republican congress and declared “the era of big government over”. Tony Blair abandoned Labour’s long held policy of government control of industry, even continuing privatisation with regards to the Bank of England and keeping top tax rates below 50%. It seemed at end of the twentieth century that we had learned our lesson. Boris Johnson’s recent Margaret Thatcher lecture brilliantly summarises the transformation of this period.
With Barrack Obama’s Democrats and Ed Miliband’s Labour we have now learned, however, that the leopard of the left never truly changed its spots. It was just waiting in the wings. It still lies and tells voters they can have everything it wants by just voting for them.
In truly messianic fashion, Barrack Obama told everybody “hope” and “change” would come magically to make everything wonderful if he was elected. This 2008 article by Gerard Baker that ran in the Times perfectly captured the mood. The messianic Barrack Obama however offered no solutions besides blaming boogeyman. He didn’t tell the American people that it was government through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and mandated mortgage requirements which forced banks to take up loans, that it was governmental social engineering that caused the housing bubble, and bust.
During the late 1990s and 2000s, the US governments’ powerful, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, “the only developed country with a significant government role in housing policy”, crashed the US and world economy out of a utopian dream of housing for even those who could not afford to be homeowners. They forced banks into the red out of their sense of justice. Barrack Obama then benefited politically.
Barack Obama has ruled by a policy of constant deceitfulness that a lazy and slavish media has indulged. Barrack Obama claimed to be friend of the “little guy” and against corporations but he has allowed companies that conform to his green agenda and give him campaign donations, such as GE to pay no taxes or companies like Solyndra to take the taxpayers money, get wealthy and go bankrupt. He told us we could spend our way out of our economic troubles, yet five years later our economy is stagnate, our national debt has nearly doubled to over 100% of GDP and workforce participation is at its lowest point since women began entering the workforce in large numbers. However, his biggest and most famous deceit came over health-care. He passed through a law called the “Affordable Care Act” colloquially “Obamacare”, that promised wonderful sunshine, roses, and daffodils. It promised lower rates for all, universal health care coverage and if you liked your current plan, he assured us, “you can keep it”. The best of all worlds! Unfortunately, the plan has resulted in higher premiums, very little enrolment of the uninsured (I am currently uninsured and instead will just take the IRS fine for having no insurance) and people being unable to keep their plan.
In Great Britain, Ed Miliband, a man who once predicted Britain would lose one million jobs and the economy would be crushed under the evil weight of austerity, (oops Britain has gained over 1.1 million jobs and is the fastest growing of G7 nations) has turned to a new sweet little utopian lie, the prospect of magically freezing energy prices. Besides this policy being an economic impossibility, the move is totally incredulous. He was the energy secretary who increased green taxes that raised energy bill across the country, and opposes curtailing them today. (Luckily the previously “vote blue get green” Conservatives have seen the error of their previous ways on this issue). He is the one who introduced an absurd carbon emissions target for 2030. He is the one who was part of a government that’s policies increased corporatisation and monopolisation of British energy companies, and yet, he like Obama is using them as a political punching bag for an attempt at political gain. Lie, after lie, after lie, from Labour. The party who almost drove Great Britain into bankruptcy with their 13 year wild spending spree now wants to have power back by promising magical market controlling powers. Great Britain hopefully will not be stupid enough to give that party another governing chance.
The truth about socialists is they use lies to fool the people into achieving their religiously inspired mission. Much of their mission has almost nothing to do with economics at all, but simply giving themselves to the power to shape the future and rid themselves of the past. Look at how the British left irrationally despises tradition. The traditions of Great Britain do not hurt anybody, yet they preserve a link with a past, a mostly great one, that pre-dates their mission. Look at how they want to get rid of the smallest things that Britons of all stripes value. They want to get rid of the monarchy. Why? The monarchy brings in significant tourist revenue and is much, much less expensive than a Republican president would be. They want judges and lawyers to ditch their wigs and robes. Do wigs and robes hurt anybody? No, in fact most British lawyers are proud of them and they symbolise and ancient connection with the world’s oldest constitution and common law, that the world’s free societies modeled themselves after. But these little symbols represent an unholy connection with a past they despise.
In America the left have an odd crusade, which has been successful in many regards, to remove mentions of the harmless holiday of Christmas, a holiday that is in the modern world is barely even Christian but represents giving and kindness. They have an odd crusade to get rid of anything referencing “God” even though mentions of “God” in America do not refer to any particular religion at all and have no legal effect on those who don’t believe in God at all. The socialists are similar to Christians at the end of the Rome Empire, removing any reference to pre-Christian Rome out of religious zeal. The old way, in their opinion, is blasphemous to the Socialist version of Christendom they want to establish.
What the socialists want is a curia of insulation, free to make decrees and fiats like Medieval Bishops or Ancient High Priests. They love un-democratic institutions like the European Union, American bureaucracies or federal courts, and the United Nations. In those places their decrees can make a holier world without the menace of answering to unenlightened heathens who are skeptical of the goodness of their dogma. But until that time comes, they must continue to offer the people heaven on earth to get there.
So how is it people keep falling for the fairy tales of the Democrats and Labour? Why does Socialism continue to thrive long after there have been multiple examples of its failure and unworkability? Because people have been seduced into the lie of Socialist Gospel that the government can use its power to give people whatever they desire. Like the Roman bread and circuses of antiquity, the people have been inspired by the miraculous story that government can be a vehicle to take what they desire from the minority of people who have it, a vehicle to provide for their welfare, with no repercussions. This policy of redistribution has never resulted in economic prosperity, and in the end it achieves an even smaller elite, centred in the seat of government and a weak dependent people. This is the truth of the anti-Gospel of the Socialist.
Conservativism in contrast, is not a political ideology of utopian religious fervour. We recognise the state has a role, and that society evolves, yet we also know that we cannot run people’s lives for them. We believe in rule of law, but not law that has an objective other than allowing people to better themselves without harming others. We believe in a culturally, economically, and religiously, pluralistic, but patriotic, nation. We admire and emulate the best in our past and try to learn from and not repeat its shortcomings, including our own. We believe in the big society. We believe, as David Cameron recently said to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in not robbing Peter, to pay Peter.