Not a war. Just a big change in my small life.
Six working days left as an employee. We in the English-speaking world apparently misattribute the following quote to Stalin:
The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.
I think I’ve been thinking about this issue for the past few days – this issue of one versus the masses. You can see it in my posts on the fragility of the Internet – not in its global whole but, rather, for its discrete users. And I remember how I used to be quite libertarian in my outlook – at least according to that Political Compass test you can take, which some years ago for me produced the result in the image.
And so it is that I see myself: not as a tragic individual exactly – but it’s true, after all, that when you are just one of 27,000, your significance and import, the path you tread, become far less relevant to anyone at all. We live in a world where the individual is unimportant – and statistics define our realities.
Which is also when I find myself wondering if some of the rhetoric the terrible Tories are using doesn’t bear closer examination. When we are forced into a corner we tend to react … well … as anyone forced into a corner reacts. It’s a clever political strategy too, because instead of answering in a measured way, we get all emotional and excessively protective of our own. The voters out there then perceive not that the terrible Tories are being terrible but, instead, that we are being ever-so-slightly shifty. And so we begin again to fail to regain their trust.
My former attachment to libertarianism is perhaps me indulging myself. On the other hand, maybe it’s a sign that, in some way, it’s me thinking we should be more critical of our achievements – for if they were entirely solvent, surely even the terrible Tories wouldn’t be able to take them apart as they are currently doing. In some way, we missed out on cementing the sense that socialism is about you and me. As well as about the crowd we inevitably form a part of.
“Critical of our achievements?” I hear you ask. “In what way?”
Can we, for example, argue that we’re overly medicated by a profession which is encouraged by the pharmaceuticals industry to spend more on drugs than tender loving care? And is this a result of the fairly open-ended cheque that is what our NHS has become?
I know. The rich always have open-ended cheques and will queue-jump whenever they need to. If the poor don’t have the support the current NHS engenders, they will die sooner. Simple as that. I, for one, am sad to discover that Mr Richard Branson is looking to benefit from the carving up of the NHS – not because I feel he doesn’t have the right to look to make money where he sees the opportunity but, rather, that he is prepared to form part of a system whereby bureaucracy will manifestly increase: all that form-filling the GPs and hospitals will always have to carry out will now be multiplied by those patients who have the nous to complete their insurance claims. Whilst those who don’t will simply be allowed to rot by the roadside in a ballooning private maze of paperwork.
Even so, I do think we should address the issue of whether our current freedom of access to medical care doesn’t need to be organised in some other way. I’m not suggesting that the government’s proposals are the right ones – all I’m saying is that the way it works right now seems to reward high-tech solutions over low-tech care, when low-tech care may be what we primarily need. And whilst we must never lose our focus on levelling out inequality of provision (the alternative we should always remind the wealthy would be outright revolution), we must also remember there are powerful forces which may be encouraging us to fill pockets which are already far too deep for our own good. Just because the rich may choose to spend millions on high-tech solutions to resist the march of death doesn’t mean they are right in the choices they are making.
Nor, indeed, that our health service should have as its mission the mimicking of such hubris-loaded philosophies.