I’m Not a Socialist, Just a Discerning Citizen

If I bundled all my views on various issues, the bundle would probably be labelled social democrat. I am certainly a democrat, but I don’t think of myself as tied to any particular political philosophy, socialist or anything else. I am as much an atheist politically as I am religiously. The word “progressive” might work but only to describe the general direction of my thinking. It requires neither ideology not dogma, just a willingness to favour constructive change.

If I have any political philosophy at all, it’s that no one person or group has all the answers. Indeed the notion (Read more…) one person or group has all the answers has led to the greatest mischief that humanity has gotten up to, politically and religiously.

I like to think of myself simply as a discerning citizen. I try to listen to everything on offer, do my research, think the issue through, and then choose the best ideas. I listen to charismatic leaders and zealous groups, certainly, but I maintain a certain sceptical distance.

I make my choices based on two criteria: one, are they practical, will they work; and two, will they result in a kinder, better world. Ideology and dogma have no place in the process. Based on these criteria, I find the left consistently has the best ideas. The welfare state, for example, a socialist construct, is perhaps the greatest social idea in history. It allows us to create a thoroughly decent society even while exploiting the wealth-creating, but destabilizing, potential of capitalism.

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to consistently lack better ideas. For example, the federal conservative party’s plan to deal with global warming. It has its moments, but rejects some of the best approaches, e.g. a carbon tax, and overall is hopelessly ill-equipped to do the job. It betrays a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the threat or perhaps an attempt to create a plan that appropriately serves conservative dogma. I believe former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper once said, “Ignore the experts, go with your gut,” suggesting a commitment to ideology that is unpalatable to me.

I don’t mind being called a socialist, or a liberal, or a progressive, or even a conservative for that matter. I’ll select ideas from anywhere if I think they have merit, so at any moment in time I may be any one of these. At the end of the day, however, I will probably be stereotyped as in the socialist camp, but don’t blame me for that, blame the ideas.