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A view from the trenches, General Topics, Germany, Hypocrisy, Industrial Strategies, UK politics

Dispatches – 10 June 2013 (Dichotomy – 1 of a series)

Dichotomy; what is the meaning of the word and how does it impact on a socialistic view of the world? The definition is quite simple, really, and examples of the confusion created by socialist directives and approaches, in the real world, make it clear why I have chosen it as the subject of this post.

First, the definition. (Wikipedia on Dichotomy)

Dichotomy

It is a partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets) that are:
. . . .jointly exhaustive: everything must belong to one part or the other, and
. . . .mutually exclusive: nothing can belong simultaneously to both parts.

Socialism is premised, or so they would have us believe, on furthering the welfare of the working classes. To remove the jackboot of capitalism from the throat of the oppressed masses. In truth, it is little more than a watered-down version of Marxist-Leninist ideology, designed to appeal to less revolutionary minds, such as those you find in Western Europe, especially British. In practice, it is a thinly-disguised method for using the democratic process to usher in a totalitarian regime. In this piece, reviewing a 1950s Czechoslovak Communist Party strategy paper, Snow explained that Kozak’s document is a blueprint of how a “representative government can be made authoritarian, legally, piece by piece. The form remains, an empty shell…. And not a shot is fired.”

The background to Communism, while pertinent to this blog, can wait for another day. Here, I’m interested in its modern-day sibling, Socialism, and its gradual take-over of all aspects of our daily lives; how it continually presents us with these examples of the gap between the rhetoric and the outcomes. This blog is the first in a series.

So, how does socialism fit into this debate?

  1. Socialism and the working man: – There would appear to be an important difference between the Trade Union movement in the UK compared to that in Germany, Europe’s dominant industrial nation. In the UK, the Unions have, from their beginnings, been closely tied with the Labour Party. The hard-left approach to running a command economy has infected every corner of its thinking and reinforced its aim of destroying the free-market thinking that enabled Britain to expand and maintain an Empire.

    Germany, on the other hand, was forced to rethink its previous relationship with organised labour in the aftermath of WWII.

    After World War II, labor leaders wanted to break with the past and form a trade union federation independent of political parties. The result was the establishment of the Federation of German Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund–DGB) in 1949.

    Four principles guided the founders of the DGB. First, the labor movement wanted representation through an organization that was unitary and autonomous, with no ties to particular religions or political parties. (Source: Germany Labor Unions )

    When we look at how Germany has developed since 1945, dominating European and World industrial output of high-quality products, and compare that to the decline in the UK’s share of similar products, we have part of the answer to this first section. In the UK, it has always appeared that the Unions’ main concerns were about protecting their own narrow self interest. The constant demarcation strikes, in a wide range of industries, reflected this inability to work for the greater good. Rather than cooperating with the management, to ensure an industry’s growth, their actions ensured a gradual decline in nearly every sector where the UK had previously had a strong, reputable presence.

    It’s fair to say that Germany did get a head start on us in the post-war years. German economic growth came not only from having its competitors like France and the UK slide into decades of industrial strife but also because Germany was also given considerable assistance, post-war, and thus was able to rebuild its ruined industrial infrastructure with up-to-date plant and utilities, often at reduced prices. It also reneged on huge reparations payments and still owes Greece, it is estimated, somewhere in the region of $95 billion. Hence the animosity to the German austerity imposed on Greece.

    The UK also handed over several key industries to the US, before during and shortly after WWII; we were, for example, world leaders in rocket engine technology. Almost all of which was given to the USA as part of post-war deals.

    The end result, easy to see in hindsight, is that the UK, whilst still an important trading nation, has handed the reins of industrial might to Germany, amongst others. This constant fight against improved productivity, aided and abetted by a succession of weak industrial leaders and compliant politicians, ensured that, rather than improving the potential for continued employment of highly-skilled workers, plus increased opportunities for future generations to join them, many of our core competencies disappeared overseas.

    Some will argue, no doubt, that the unions have improved workers’ conditions and there is some truth to that but at what cost? A union/management relationship, based on the German model, would have achieved most, if not all, of those improvements without sacrificing the future in the name of militant socialism.

    Unfortunately, the unions are still in the business of protecting their current employees at the expense of future growth in jobs. Times are tough and employers are finding many different ways to keep workers in place. Money invested in wages is money unavailable for plant and equipment etc. Couple this with high levels of taxation and businesses are forced to sit on cash to the detriment of expansion. In addition, the unions have stood in the way of every single technological innovation since WWII. Computerisation, robotics, driver-less trains, signalling, print technology to name just a few.

    Which, of course, brings us on to the question of why we face the punitive levels of taxation that we currently *enjoy*.

    The need to keep an over-staffed bureaucracy in their non-productive sinecures is the only game in town now for the most militant unions. Any hint of redundancy, or forced job losses, within the civil service is met with the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth. It doesn’t take a genius with a super-computer to work out how much this costs us in the short term but the real hidden cost is the ongoing pension entitlements that are building up.

    Many civil servants retire on a pension pot that few ordinary men and women can afford to fund. We are still carrying part of the burden that the last Labour Administration foisted on us during the Blair/Brown years. I’m sure that with a bit of effort, it wouldn’t be that difficult to find out just how much the little gems, shown below, are still costing us and what the future costs will be.

    For some insights into the arguments over civil service pensions, follow this link.

    It’s safe to assume it only got worse in the following five years!

    Every pound taken from the public’s purse, to fund non-productive bureaucrats, is a pound diverted from the Government’s ability to help industry and commerce. Even a small reduction in income/corporation tax would provide a stimulus to private enterprise; a stimulus that would automatically lead to increased employment leading to increased tax revenues, leading to lower levels of borrowing, leading to . . . Well I shouldn’t need to explain the rest, surely?

    It is rare, nowadays, to see a major strike in the private sector. Margaret Thatcher’s breaking of the militants’ stranglehold on strategic areas of the UK’s industrial landscape saw to that – something the rabid left have never forgotten or forgiven, needless to say. Any demands for a *day of action*, when they hit the headlines, come from the likes of Unite and other civil-service unions. They fail to inspire the sympathy of Mr & Mrs Average who are usually too busy fighting to make ends meet to be bothered with self-serving unions demanding ever more for themselves whilst taking more from ordinary folk.

    Considering that Gordon Brown, himself, calculated that civil service jobs cost the UK economy £billions, you have to ask by what false sense of logic the unions are working to improve the lot of the general population? Here is a quote from the Independent article listed above.

    In the last Budget Gordon Brown said 40,000 civil service jobs would be cut over the next four years and a further 20,000 moved out of London, freeing up £20bn to reinvest in front-line services. However, opposition politicians and business leaders questioned whether the savings would be that great.

    As the Yanks are fond of saying; “You do the math!

    So, there you have it; in all my working life, I have never found that socialism, as embodied by the organised-labour movement, has once spoken for me, my family, my children or the nation. It is there simply to thrust a collectivist ideology on the UK, something it was never able to do in Germany, thus gradually and stealthily doing what the Marxists of old failed to do; destroying capitalism at the very heart of what was once the leading light in world trade and industry.

    Socialism as the voice of the working man? You have to be joking!

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  1. Pingback: Dispatches – 23 August 2013 (Dichotomy – 2 of a series) | grumpydenier - August 23, 2013

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