Once A Socialist


"The man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart, but the man who is a socialist at 40 has no brain".

We've all heard that quote. I know I have many times, mainly from people who expect I will grow out of my politics, just as they hope I will grow out of being a Goth. I'm afraid that the latter hasn't happened yet, and I'm guessing the former won't either.

As I get older I'm shifting more to the left, and I'm not alone. Last week I went to see Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, speak at Leichhardt Town Hall (one of the joys of community involvement is spending a lot of time in cold halls eating cake). I expected the audience to be full of dreadlocked student types, but instead the bulk of the crowd was aged between 40 and 60. It could be because students are a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings who didn't want to shell out $15 on a rainy winter night, but I rather think that the more decent people get to look at the world, the more leftist their views become.

The underlying philosophy behind left wing politics is the belief that what happens to other people is as important as what happens to you - the values that Barack Obama spoke of at the 2004 Democratic Convention. The ethos of the conservative, on the other hand, is "Screw you, I've got mine (and I want more)". We see this not just in big business, but in "average families" telling the Daily Telegraph that they will cheerfully switch allegiance to whoever keeps interest rates low, plies them with tax cuts whilst services suffer, and keeps those nasty boat people who are crowding the country away. It's a mindset we can thank John Howard for; part of the shameful legacy he left this country with. But there is another way, a better way. I won't be sopped to by the major parties.

And I don't think capitalism works. Oh, I know it "works" financially, a bit, sometimes. Kind of. But there's more to humanity than that. The idea that the market is the perfect arbiter of value is insane - as I declared to myself when, not long after having been laid off last year, my partner working double shifts as a nurse to support us, I saw a poster advertising that the Chk-chk-boom chick was making a guest appearance at Home nightclub and no doubt, getting more money for showing up than we would see in a month. But the market says that is all fair, right and good.

So yeah, I'm a socialist.

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I'm always upset when I hear of acquaintances having their baby sons circumcised (not as upset as the baby, of course). My feelings about it are so strong that I never quite know what to say, fearing I'll go too far and be labelled a lunatic. But now, if I hear someone is considering the procedure I'll just ask them respectfully to read this, by far the best piece I have read for the case against circumcision. It's respectful, non-hysterical, compassionate and accurate. I'd encourage everyone to read it and pass on what you have learned. Please.

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