Politics seems to get people flustered, generating irrational partisan opinions that fuel arguments the world over. People align themselves to a political party and adopt the unlikely stance that everything their chosen party proclaims is correct and everything the opposition says is wrong.
Rarely do people make a judgement on an issue-by-issue basis. In fact, their judgement is usually made long before they ever hear about an issue, based simply upon party political sympathies. Humans are really bad at making decisions. We usually take a view on something and then find (or manufacture) facts to back up that view, which is the exact opposite of the way we should make decisions.
It is as far away as you can possibly get from logical, sensible thinking but it goes on in virtually every country in the world. It’s a close second to religion when it comes to generating impassioned views based on fallacious thinking.
Let’s take the UK, for example. Here we have the allegedly right-leaning Conservative Party and the allegedly left-leaning Labour Party. If you were to listen to either those parties’ politicians or the public that supports those parties, you’d think the two parties were worlds apart, and it can certainly appear that way at first glance.
But in terms of implementing real, lasting change to the fundamentals of society, they’re virtually identical.
All societies are essentially driven by economics and all societies consist of the haves and the have-nots, even societies living within a political system that has as its theoretical core an aim to eradicate such divisions. In fact, such societies are often the worst offenders.
The problem is that many political theories sound wonderful on paper, but they simply don’t work in practice. The sticking point is generally people. Whether we like it or not, we’re all trapped in a race to become a bit more have than have-not and it just so happens that some people are better at that than others.
Somebody once said that if we took all the money in society and divided it equally between everyone, within ten years it would ended up distributed in broadly the same way it used to be. I believe whoever said that was correct.
Real change would require a completely different view of economics and of course we’re a very global species these days, so the whole world would have to buy into that new view. Then we’d have to reprogram people so they stopped trying to accumulate more than others and I just don’t think we’re ready for that yet.
There is a momentum to global economics that individual countries get carried along with. Whether we have a Labour or Conservative government in the UK, they’re in many ways just passengers on the global economy. We can’t just ignore it and hope to survive in today’s world.
Real change does happen sometimes but it’s very rare. Even revolutions often fail to effect real change. Many countries have overthrown a monarchy of elite rich and replaced it with, well, a bunch of other people who make up the elite rich with the only change being that they’re no longer called the monarchy. People might argue that the money and status is no longer simply bequeathed by a monarch and this is somehow better, but the truth is that although someone may initially earn the fortune in the ‘new’ system, it is very often just bequeathed thereafter. Society is still working the same way: haves and have-nots.
When people say they want to take money off the rich and distribute it evenly, what they often really mean is they want more of it distributed to themselves. If that sounds harsh it’s because it’s a generalisation. There certainly are people who are not rich — yet perhaps have enough to pay the bills and afford a few simple luxuries — and are quite happy with their lot, without any desire to earn more or chase promotion or whatever. But such people are more rare than you might think. Most people want just a little more and continue to do so as they get the ‘little more’ they previously wanted. And life has a habit of throwing a spanner in the works of the contented anyway.
Maybe it’s part of the human condition. Maybe it’s a genetic imperative to continue bettering ourselves no matter what we’ve already achieved. And maybe it’s just that money happens to be what we judge our progress by. I don’t know.
Opposition parties the world over often promise ‘real change’; in fact they often promise everything everyone wants, knowing they don’t have to deliver it (and people fall for that every time ... the grass is always greener etc.). But when an opposition party gets the vote and finally has to govern the country, they find the reality is a bit different to the ideal world they promised in their manifesto. Their promises are invariably watered down and they deliver much the same as their predecessors. Again, there’s a momentum that transcends political divides. There’s a sort of metasystem within which all change occurs but it’s really the metasystem that needs to change to make a real difference.
In the UK we perpetually rock between a Labour party that generally improves social conditions and public services but blows the economy doing so, and a Conservative party that fixes the economy but pisses people off with it is lack of social funding. The end result of this flip-flopping is that we simply remain the same.
The political divisions in the media and amongst the public would lead you to believe there’s a huge gap between the political parties, but, in terms of genuine, significant change, there isn’t. It’s mainly just the detail. The detail is important too of course and everyone should exercise their right to vote, but we shouldn’t either be blinkered to the reality of the situation or driven to extreme political agitation by it. It’s just not worth it. Huge amounts of political vitriol are spewed out and not one bit of it fundamentally changes anything.
Somebody once said that if voting could effect real change we simply wouldn’t be allowed to do it, and that’s overwhelmingly accurate.
This sounds like a grim appraisal and it is, but I’m mainly talking about pure politics, economics and money here. The world is capable of change in other areas with things like equality, conservation and the environment. There is a lot of global momentum for this sort of thing and change is happening, albeit slowly.
The human race has a long way to go but it isn’t a complete loss.