Socialism is liberalism with a messianic figurehead and a secularized day of judgement. The questions posed by liberalism about economic self-sufficiency, human freedom, and equality are answered by the socialists (and when I say ‘answered’ I mean a verbal answer and not a real answer of substance). Because it appeals with great gusto to the masses, going far beyond the rather pragmatic promises of liberalism, it galvanises the wide-eyed and innocent who have become disillusioned with the quest for the true God and who instead pine for earthly utopia.
In the US, Bernie Sanders has broken the mould and become the first viable presidential candidate to proclaim the possibility of a socialist America. Bernie really should be pitting his wits against Trump as we speak. He was ‘shafted.’ Its not those who vote, but those who count the votes.
His success reveals a growing atheism in the US. Socialism often thrives where people want the fruits of heaven on Earth, retain some semblance of religious ethics, but no longer have the religious belief in God to know that such yearnings exact a heavy price. Their yearnings are chimeric. 100 years ago, Bernie wouldn’t have had a prayer in the environment of the US. Back then, worshipful piety met hard-headed practicality.
But Bernie is a champagne socialist. He’s not the real McCoy. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, a bona fide Trotskyite, steeped in Marxism (no exaggeration, watch it here) is drawing massive crowds. As Jakob Burckhardt said, people no longer believe in principles but periodically believe in saviours. Corbyn is here to save.
Of course its understandable why Corbyn is popular. I am almost tempted to join him! The siphoning off of public wealth and private money via the neo-liberal agenda is disgraceful. Consumerism, debt, evictions … you don’t need to be a socialist to see that these are wrong. In particular the ‘too-big-to-fail’ mentality is anti-business and anti-free enterprise. Don’t get me started on the security state. So, no, I’m not a hack for Theresa May or the Blairite clones debunking Corbynism.
As it did in the grime and brutality of the industrial revolution, socialism is offering answers to a failed liberalism. It is doing so with messianic fervour and offering a secularized day of judgement. People are beginning to believe, not from the light of any intellectual quarter, but from the darkness of despair.
And this is what makes people think that it will be different this time. Somehow we will be able to control the vast web of transactions that constitute a business environment. Somehow wealth will flow from rich to poor without an inflated bureaucracy. Somehow runaway inflation will be avoided. Somehow …
Corbyn is the pied piper of British politics. He is leading the disillusioned kids away from the neglectful villagers. He has made socialism sexy … again. He even has forged a new political leadership style. What he can’t do is change the fundamental characteristics of socialism. It will remain a godless, over-rationalistic, ineffective, pseudo-religious ideology. Even if it comes in a charity shop wardrobe!