As I watched the Big Short for the third time on a drizzly Sunday evening it suddenly became apparent to me that we should be angry, really angry.
Our world is currently experiencing climate change, a seemingly endless series of wars in the Middle East and we are still in austerity, and arguably a recession that no one seems to talk about anymore! The best part is that issues of Brexit, identity and culture all seem to sit at the top of our attention, occupying our thoughts and distracting us from the world’s real problems. The world is quite literally burning in front of us and we are talking about whether we feel European or British.
Recently the centenary anniversary of the end of World War One took place and it really made me pause for reflection, to think of the fallen soldiers and their ultimate sacrifice. Many did so fighting for a cause they knew little about and for aims and objectives that to this day remain debated. It also reminded me that it was at this time a hundred years ago that the Communists seized power in Russia. They overthrew a seemingly all-powerful Tsar and ran a sledgehammer through any resemblance to the feudal society that had existed beforehand; when they marched through the streets they understood fundamentally what it was they were fighting for (even though these things would not turn out as they would have liked). The discrepancy here is massive but it is also timely. Has this country been involved in any wars of imperial aggression recently for aims and objectives that to this day remain contested?
Now I’m not here to preach Communism, Socialism or frankly any other ‘ism’. As farcical as it is the “Make Mine Freedom” anti-Soviet propaganda video from 1948 has it right when it warns of the dangers of a quick fix ideology; (look it up on YouTube it makes a nice break from being force-fed Christmas adverts). But what it fails to recognise is the “ism” that is most pervasive and ideologically oppressive of all is Capitalism. Here a system of economics has become so dominant that even morality is subjugated to do its bidding. Want to reform something? How are you going to budget that? Believe in taxing the rich? But what about the long-term economic collateral of your actions? It is so pervasive now that my fellow students seem scared to propose any other system now for fear of being labelled as economically illiterate and politically inept. Consumerism is our God with Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett as its saints and preachers.
I would bet you good money the fears of being labelled politically inept and economically illiterate is what people said one hundred years ago to the Bolsheviks meeting in some dingy hall in St Petersburg. The system was the way it was, that one must accept the fundamental principles in order to make any headway. To be fair, if they had listened Stalin would never have instigated the murders of millions of innocent Russians. But in doing so he not only has seemingly killed these innocent people but also the political appetite, one hundred years on, for us to challenge the Liberal Democracies which we have inherited. Democracies in which innocent people starve and homelessness exists in the richest societies.
I’m not here to start a revolution – I’m here to ask why there isn’t one already. I don’t advocate violence and I don’t advocate demagoguery- think for yourself, ask questions and challenge the Status Quo- read Aristotle and Hume. If you hate them, then you can blame me. Fundamentally I’m asking why it is that we exist in a society now where politics and morality are separate, where we head for a Capitalist system that no one wants but that no one can be bothered to reconsider. Letting the ‘adults’ handle things isn’t working anymore – lets roll up our sleeves and get on with the job.