Pollyanna's socialist crisis

A few weeks ago, doing kitchen stuff at the kitchen sink with National Radio on beside me, I started to question my Pollyanna approach to rejecting capitalism. No doubt it had been brewing for a while, in a similar way to when I started to question precepts of the Catholic Church as a teenager. Tonight's post is an attempt to put into words the conversations I have with myself in my head during the day.

I had hippy tendencies long before I became a mother, but when I did give birth, the green movement filled an almost emotional gap. My vision of being an earth mother was challenged from the very beginning, as feeding turned out to be very problematic. Putting my baby into cloth nappies and sourcing organic baby salves and eschewing much that was plastic was something I could control, and it meant I got to hang out with the other earth mothers.

An interest in peak oil scenarios was a logical development from this. Once we had our own garden, first in London and later on the West Coast of New Zealand, I could marry this to my love of gardening. The vegetable growing project continues.

But frankly, given the current scale of global financial uncertainty, I'm more inclined these days to pin my apocalyptic horror fascination to financial narratives. I've lived a very sheltered life and never ever gone hungry because of lack of money. Despite a blue collar and blue voting family background, I've been a leftie as long as I can remember. To a large extent, I'm all about redistribution of wealth for the greatest breadth of good. I tend to only do competition in limited forms.

But given that the consequences of the global situation maybe really widespread and long lasting drops in living standards even in New Zealand, then I just may have to accept Darwin and accept more competition.

Which doesn't quite fit with being a socialist. Being good at my work job or at my home jobs is not the same as being competitive. Competitive, taken to its logical conclusion, means others will miss out.

That is as far as I can manage tonight. The UK riots came along while I was still grappling with how to express myself on capitalism and economic apocalypse (I do love the sound of that word), and they are far more challenging and yet also related. I think my deeper question is not so much why did the riots happen (many better conjectures than mine are out there) but rather 'how do I make peace with a world in which this happens?' It's safe to say that the answer doesn't come in a neatly packaged box.


Heather said…
Dear Sandra,

I've been pondering this post off and on all weekend.  I think I know what you mean.  I've always been a leftie (as are my parents), but I've also been questioning my own economic assumptions in recent years.

Something that you might find helpful in your thinking is the talk posted here.  It is, of all things, a call to a gathering of Social Studies and History teachers to inculcate the skills to work for peace in their students.  I found it hopeful, in the light of the rioting in London, and it seems to sketch out an alternate path from the one where, as you say, "Competitive, taken to its logical conclusion, means others will miss out."


--Heather :-)
Sandra said…
Thanks Heather.

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