Conservatives attempt to discredit Bernie Sanders by calling him a "socialist". Problem is, we need to be able to say what's wrong with that. The label alone does no work. It's instructive to read some of Maggie Thatcher's statements on socialism:
You can't make people good, kind, generous, thoughtful or dutiful by compulsion. True harmony comes from the willing cooperation of free men. It is not served by an over-regulated society.
Over a century before the French critic Bastiat had written, and I quote his own words:
‘Since the natural inclinations of mankind are so evil that its liberty must be taken away, how is it that the inclinations of the socialists are good? Are not the legislators and their agents part of the human race? Do they believe themselves moulded from another clay than the rest of mankind?
‘If they have received from heaven intelligence and virtues that place them beyond and above mankind, let them show their credentials.
‘They want to be shepherds, and they want us to be their sheep.’
The hon. Gentleman is saying that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided that the rich were less rich.
I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that I have the same contempt for his socialist policies as the people of east Europe, who have experienced them, have for theirs. I think that I must have hit the right nail on the head when I pointed out that the logic of those policies is that they would rather the poor were poorer. Once they start to talk about the gap, they would rather that the gap were that—[indicating[—down here, not this—[indicating[—but—[indicating.] So long as the gap is smaller, they would rather have the poor poorer. One does not create wealth and opportunity that way. One does not create a property-owning democracy that way.
My country, like yours, has several political parties but though there may be many party labels, there are only two political philosophies, only two ways of governing a country.
One is the Socialist-Marxist way in which what matters is not the people but the State. In which decisions affecting people's lives are taken from them, instead of being taken by them. In which property and savings are taken from the people instead of being more widely held among them. In which directives replace incentives. In which the State is the master of the individual, instead of the servant.
Mr. Chairman, in my country as in some others in Western Europe, Socialism has gone too far. Each year more of the decisions are made by the State, and fewer by the individual. Each year therefore the State takes more in tax and leaves less for the individual. This is Socialism in practice.[fo 2]
If we go on like this we shall become a pocket-money society. A society in which the fruits of our work belong mainly to the State, but where we are handed back a little each week for our personal use.
[By contrast] In which each individual is equally important but different in ability; equally entitled to rights, but equally free to rise to the heights of his talents.
In which the family is the foundation of society and the desire of parents to give their children a better start in life is honoured as one of the most powerful influences for good. In which freedom to choose goods, services, education and housing is steadily extended. In which savings and thrift are encouraged so that citizens become independent of the State rather than perpetually dependent on it. In which practical care and concern for others is not confined to demanding State benefits, but is a common purpose of daily life. In which the freedom of all is protected by a just and impartial rule of law.
The contrast between the United States and the Soviet Union is proof of the argument. After more than half a century of the most vigorous Marxism, the Russians are still unable to feed their own people. The Americans, on the other hand, produce not just food in plenty for their own citizens, but a surplus for export to the rest of the world, even to Russia.
We in Britain have seen that every advance to Socialism reduces the individual, exalts the State, exacerbates our economic problems and drains away our wealth. The bait which the Socialists use to gain the support of the people is the promise of increased personal gain without increased effort. But the result is the impoverishment both of the individual and of society.
It would certainly be true to say that as the Labour Government's gone on, State interference has got greater and greater into the ordinary lives of people, and therefore it's become much, much clearer that we would have far less of that, leave much more choice with the ordinary people about how they lead their own lives, about how they spend their pay packet in their pockets…
Perhaps I can summarise it best by saying this—Nations that have pursued equality, like the Iron Curtain countries, I think have finished up with neither equality, nor liberty. Nations, which like us, in the past have pursued liberty, as a fundamental objective, extending it to all, have finished up with liberty, human dignity, and far fewer inequalities than other people.
liberty is fundamental. Liberty, human dignity, a higher standard of living is fundamental. And, steadily, I think, people are beginning to realise that you don't have those things unless you have a pretty large private enterprise sector. Any Iron Curtain country has neither liberty, nor a very high standard of living. The two things go, economic and political freedom, go together.
I'm never quite sure what you mean be consensus politics. I believe that what most people want in their lives, is what the Conservative Party wants to have for them. I believe that our policies are fundamentally common sense policies. Just let's take taxation for an example. Wherever I go I hear enormous resentment about the amount which people are paying out of their own pay packet in tax. And, this goes right across the income ranges. Socialism started by saying it was going to tax the rich, very rapidly it was taxing the middle income groups. Now, it's taxing people quite highly with incomes way below average and pensioners with incomes way below average. You look at the figure on the beginning of a pay slip, sometimes it can look quite high, look along the slip to the other end, and see how many deductions you've had off, those deductions have increased enormously under Socialism…Public expenditure, which they always boast about, is financed out of the pay packet in our pockets. People are saying that they really think too much is being taken out of the pay packet for someone to spend on their behalf, and they'd rather be left with more, and it's now well-known that Socialist Governments put up taxes and Conservative Governments take them down. It's part of our fundamental belief giving the people more choice to spend their own money in their own way.
Don't look at pay separately. Once you start to cut off a man's pay from the fruits of his labour, he will inevitably feel enormous resentment. If he's going to work harder, of course he deserves more pay, and he doesn't want it all taken away in tax. But there are two sides of the equation you've got to look at.
Jobs really come in the productive sector of the economy. The real jobs are where people are producing goods or services which other people will buy. Now, dependent on those people producing those goods, are a lot of others in the public sector. Now if you run up the public sector, you can only do it by draining money out of industry and commerce. But that's where the jobs are. And one of the reasons why you have to cut public expenditure is to get the money back—one of the reasons why you have to cut public expenditure is to get money back out of the public sector, into industry and commerce, so that they, in fact, can invest, and improve, and expand; because that's where the secure jobs are.
Look, I think you're tackling public expenditure from the wrong end, if I might say so. Why don't you look at it as any housewife has to look at it? She has to look at her expenditure every week or every month, according to what she can afford to spend, and if she overspends[fo 11] one week or month, she's got to economise the next. Now governments really ought to look at it from the viewpoint of "What can we afford to spend?" They've already put up taxes, and yet the taxes they collect are not enough for the tremendous amount they're spending. They're having to borrow to a greater extent than ever before, and future generations will have to repay.
Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they're now trying to control everything by other means. They're progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people. Look at the trouble now we're having with choice of schools. Of course parents want a say in the kind of education their children have. Look at the William Tyndall School—an example where the parents finally rebelled. Of course they did. These schools are financed by taxpayers' money, but the choice to parents is being reduced.