One of the most distressing psychological tricks socialism performs on its adherers is not only to give raw human emotions such as greed and envy ideological justification, but also to encourage people to think that their selfishness is somehow compassionate.
People become drawn to socialism primarily because they want things for “free”: free state benefits, handouts for schools, hospitals and public services, free tuition, free TV licences and free winter heating – the list goes on.
Nor do they want want taxes to rise, or at least, not if it means they have to make a contribution. Instead, it’s “the rich” who should be fleeced, bankers who sould be taxed, big business who should be forced to cough up eye-watering sums – all for the privilege of employing people and providing us with the goods and services we wish to buy. Everyone should pay, except of course, for “us”.
Even government borrowing, an ingenious way of taxing as yet unborn children to fund things in the present, is seen as somehow “progressive”. It is difficult to imagine anything less virtuous than using the power of the state to take other people’s money – be they alive or yet to be born – to fund things we don’t want to pay for ourselves.
But this is the brilliance of socialism. It turns morality completely on its head, allowing people to feel morally superior for succumbing to their primordial desires.
Feelings of envy, generated by the realisation that some people in society may (either through luck or endeavour) be wealthier than others, are converted into calls for greater “solidarity” and “equality”. These become demands that “they” be taxed more.
Taking money from others to make ourselves feel better becomes a moral good. We get a nice warm fuzzy feeling when we call publically for our own lives to be made easier at “their” expense.
So how do we fight the pernicious mind games of the Left? Making economic arguments to counter their narrative, something the Government failed spectacularly to do prior to the last election, would be a start. According to the Centre for Policy Studies, for example, Labour manifesto promises would have burdened the young with £150bn in extra debt. But this is no riposte to the ethical muscle flexing of socialism. This battle must be fought on grounds of liberty and freedom.
The socialist cry of “power to the people”, in fact means quite the opposite. It means handing over the control of and responsibility for our lives to the state. Take the Left’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy: Corbyn began openly calling for people’s houses and flats to be requisitioned.
The very concept of private property would be threatened under a Labour government. Any or all of our possessions could be taken from us “for the greater good”, rendering us powerless against the whims of leviathan.
To counter this ever increasing threat from the Left, we must repeatedly make the case that people power is strengthened by aspiration, allowing individuals to keep their own money, own their property, and make their own decisions over matters which affect their lives.
Freedom, as any Christian will tell you, allows individuals to make judgements according to their conscience. Similarly, liberty enables people to become moral actors.
Socialism, on the other hand, outsources all moral decisions to a few individuals at the top, leaving no space for personal morality. Things are either banned or made compulsory; provided by the state or not at all.
If we sincerely care about the fate of others in society, then those of us who can see through the socialist pretence must make the case that the most compassionate course of action is not to rely on the state but to take responsibility for our own actions; to preserve our ability to work and trade freely with one another without state interference; to promote aspiration through low taxes and the preservation of property rights; to get a grip on state finances so as not to burden future generations; and to use our personal liberty to help others wherever possible.
If freedom is to endure, the moral battle against socialism must be fought anew.
George Maggs works as a constituency coordinator for Charlotte Leslie MP and is a final year PhD researcher at the University of the West of England