Editorial: Who are ‘we’?
Listen to almost anyone talking on the radio or television and when pontificating on the troubles and problems of the world, they all, without exception seem to default to the ‘we’ word.
Recently Gordon Brown, although frankly it could have been any of the party leaders, explaining how ‘we’ must make sacrifices and enter a new era of austerity if ‘we’ are to resolve the current economic crisis. On another programme, probably Sunday Worship or a similar few minutes of escapist ministry, it appeared again as the minister chastised his congregation saying how ‘we’ must not be selfish and how ‘we’ must think of others. It is astonishingly conveniently how the term ‘we’ can be substituted for the word that seems to have escaped all those who turn the ills of the world inward on themselves or their fellow men or women. The correct word is, of course, society; or probably, to be more precise, the existing society.
We human beings are not inherently selfish; we are not inherently warlike; we would not in a natural state of affairs allow children to starve, even singly, let alone in their thousands. We would not pollute and damage our oceans in the full knowledge that within the next 30-40 years they would be almost devoid of edible fish. We would not cut down vast tracts of primary rain forests knowing that the loss of this forest will detrimentally affect the very planet we live on. We would not expend vast amounts of material and energy on the manufacture of devices whose sole purpose is to kill and maim other human beings, other ‘we’s’. It is so convenient to ascribe the hard-to-face, awful and terrifying things that are perpetrated throughout the world to an abstract ‘we’. ‘We’ are not, as individuals, responsible for these ills and the sooner, when referring to what is wrong with this system, the word ‘we’ is dropped and replaced with ‘this society’ then perhaps all those poor people who after slogging hard at work all day and who are made to feel wretched and guilty and who are accused of contributing. through their avarice, greed and selfishness, to almost every shortcoming of this obsolete and dangerous society, the better.
If ‘we’ can be used to good effect it will be when ‘we’ realise the wonderful and great future humanity could achieve if ‘we’ united and stopped voting for left or right politics and voted for a new politics, straight ahead politics – true world socialism.