Socialism is a wonderful and supremely Christian idea. Basically, it means making some sort of sacrifice to ensure the well-being of people less well-off than yourself. I would say it also means:
“From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”
….. but like the idea of socialism itself, this once-inspiring soundbite has been tarnished by its Marxist origins and the history of so-called communist Soviet Union, even though it was not Marx’s fault that Stalin ensured that many people equate communism with totalitarianism.
Trying to forget the aberrations of the USSR, there is really no moral alternative to “socialism”, the opposite of which is of course “Every man for himself.” Yet this wonderful idea does not in fact have the universal support it would seem to deserve. Why then do “socialists” so often lose elections?
Well, …….the problem is that if it is not to do more harm than good, socialism must be designed and administered by people who:
understand economics and human psychology (both equally important)
conclude from 1. that only a certain amount of “capitalism” can create the wealth needed for “socialism” to succeed
operate on the basis of commonsense, pragmatism, a dose of altruism and an absence of dogma and class hatred
Such people are very thin on the ground indeed, so that we get an endless cycle that goes like this:
A) “Capitalists” gain power, create lots of wealth and spread a fair bit of it about to keep the plebs happy, but in the end keep so much for themselves and get such a bad image that the people get fed up and envious and demand a complete change.
B) Socialists are therefore elected who invariably lack the qualities defined above and – despite the most pure and saintly of intentions – eventually run the economy into the sand, thereby impoverishing the very people the socialists sought to help. (God does indeed have a sense of humour.)
C) The voters lose their idealistic hopes and vote once more pragmatically for the people who can at least create wealth instead of simply stealing it off the most-productive until the camel collapses to the ground.
If you look at this in a detached way it is quite funny, since it is a seemingly-endless cycle from which the participants (including the voters) never seem to learn. And the main thing about voters is that they always believe the promises of a new dawn made by all those seeking election. Indeed, anyone idiotic enough to speak the truth along Churchillian lines (“All I can promise is blood, sweat and tears.”) is sure to get an absolute hammering at the polls. You are likely do much better if you promise to reduce taxes and put up welfare benefits, even though it does not take an Einstein to realize that this is impossible.
In the UK, success is also usually boosted by the degree to which a pseudo-socialist party slags off any of the following: bankers, capitalists, Tories, toffs, the idle rich and of course Mrs Thatcher – which is also quite funny, except when the socialists win an election and start on the B) part of the above-mentioned cycle.
One day we may all be “socialists” (which is really the only moral choice), and will vote merely for different shades of “socialism” and people whose faces we like. However, I doubt whether I shall see this day in my lifetime. In the meantime, if you happen to know any “socialists” who fit the description in 1 to 3 above, do encourage them to go into politics: they are desperately needed.