Socialist sheep

 

This is a great little WW2 cartoon – The Spirit of ’43 – on the virtues of saving.

I am curious of why the attitudes in the US has changed so dramatically since then, both in terms of saving – at individual and national levels – and paying taxes. It is of course partly due to consumerist ideology, fueled by corporations and politicians who partly serve these corporations. But it is curious how so many individuals have bought into it, when it doesn’t really serve them in the long run.

Fortunately, saving is still very much an alive virtue among many, and even more so in many other countries. (As this chart of household savings show.) And it seems that most people here in Norway, and probably many other places, are very happy to pay taxes. After all, their use benefits us all.

I put that as a question in a particularly virulent anti-taxes thread under one of the youtube postings on this video, and the reply was that we in Norway are happy to pay taxes because we are socialist sheep.

Those type of responses are worth their weight on gold, because they help me see where I am still stuck (especially in trying to hold up a particular image), and also because there is always – at least – a grain of truth in it.

I can’t really answer it on behalf of others, so will answer from what I find in myself.

The socialist part is easy. Yes, I find a great deal of value in socialism, especially in a more tempered form, and combined with a strong democracy. The essence of socialism is for all of us to take care of each other, and especially the weakest in society. That benefits the society as a whole, as research shows (less crime, better education, healthier and longer lives, higher quality of life). And it benefits all of us as individuals as well, also because any of us may benefit from a safety net at some point in our lives, no matter how conscientious and hard-working we are.

What about the sheep part? Do I mindlessly follow the crowd? Well, yes, in many ways, and I am probably not aware of most of them. I have obviously absorbed a great deal of attitudes and norms from having grown up in Norway. More generally, I see that whatever thoughts are here come from somewhere else. They come from culture, history, a long chain of individuals. They are not “mine” in that sense, and that even goes for the stories of “I thought that” or “I see that as a good guideline”.

If I had a more individualistic ideology, then those thoughts come from somewhere else too. We are in the same boat here.

So, yes, I can find it here. As with any label, “socialist sheep”, has truth and validity to it. Yet so does any number of other ways of looking at it, including its reversals.

Am I socialist? Not really. My views don’t fit the traditional definitions and forms of socialism. It is really only the essence that is left. Also, I cannot find that I “am” any label. The more closely I look, the less any story or description makes sense. They only work as a shorthand, with some practical value in some situations.

Am I a sheep? Obviously not in a literal sense, although we are quite closely related genetically (which I am happy for). Do I mindlessly follow the crowd, or my culture? Yes, I obviously do, as mentioned above. And yet, there are ways I don’t. I try to examine stories whenever I am aware of them, even if rarely – if ever – do it as thoroughly as is possible. I have many views that don’t quite match the norm or what is expected, included in the groups I find I have most in common with. And that’s another place where we all are in the same boat.

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  • socialist sheep
    • socialist – yes, social democracy, works very well (the proof is in the pudding)
    • sheep – yes, do follow culture/society/others in many ways, probably in all ways – all thoughts come from somewhere else
      • if I had a more individualistic ideology, those thoughts come from somewhere else too + are shared w/in a culture
      • also, christian associations – taking care of the least fortunate, as jesus taught
    • feels like coming home, recognizing both

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