Rose coloured glasses?

Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:47

Socialists are often accused of wearing rose-coloured glasses — of not recognizing that the world is a horrible place full of horrible people. This accusation is particularly bizarre coming from people who also believe that society, today, is not really all that bad, and not bad enough to justify expending any energy trying to solve whatever (apparently minor) problems do exist.

This accusation derives, we suppose, from our insistence that people are not naturally, incurably horrible, and can cooperate to build a society better than the one we all know.

Socialists see, extremely clearly, that sometimes some people act very anti-socially. That recognition, however, is not the end of the story for anyone who wants to understand why people act as they do.

Capitalism’s Gravediggers insists that after the Boxing Day, 2004, tsunami in south Asia and India, millions of people around the world were moved by their human nature, to contribute — in some cases, very generously — to the many relief funds set up around the world. People of every social classification cooperated, globally — doing what our nature as humans requires. We helped other humans.

Capitalism’s Gravediggers insists that the huge outpouring of honest, heartfelt, grief and eagerness to assist, is extremely powerful evidence that people are not as horrible as non-socialists tell us. Capitalism’s Gravediggers insists that this is not the first and will not be the last disaster which has highlighted this evidence of the nature of humanity.

Capitalism’s Gravediggers did not hallucinate the Boxing Day tsunami so that we could fantasize about how people would respond if they were not naturally horrible. The tsunami killed over 200,000 people. That is reality. People want to help. That is reality. Horrible human nature? That is a fantasy. It is a self-defeating, self-destructive, nightmare which maintains capitalism — a society which allows preventable catastrophes every year, killing far more people than the Boxing Day catastrophe.

Human beings are naturally gregarious creatures. Almost every human being wants to live close to other humans and cooperate with them. Almost every human being is hurt if they know that another human being is hurt. These human beings — almost the entirety of our species — are not the inherently horrible, non-cooperative, creatures which non-socialists believe we are.

Instead, we are naturally cooperative and loving.

We need to understand this dichotomous behaviour. Why are we sometimes so anti-social?

The generally accepted answer is that humans are a mixture of good and evil. The mixture, and which face will emerge at any time, is supposedly unknowable.

Capitalism’s Gravediggers does not accept that answer because it is not consistent with what we know about reality. We know: We do these things for our enlightened self interest, and because we have an extremely powerful need to be with and help others.

We also know: Socialists wear very clear lenses. We see past the superficial trickery, and we are repelled by what we see. It is not us who wear the rose-coloured glasses. It is those who are duped by capitalism, and see a society which works for the capitalists, as if it worked for the rest of us. They see a world which is not bad enough to fix. They do not see the future which they can make.
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