THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY TO PRESENT DAY
If we go back in time and consider the lot of the fabled “hard working family” in the 17thth century we would see a family divided internally by gender and sociologically by class. This was the period when the feudal system was going through its death throes.
The old certainties so beloved of the rich and powerful were being challenged by an aggressive merchant class who were not prepared to bow down to “natural authority” but who were increasingly of the opinion that they were as good as anyone else and indeed could prove this through what they could achieve socially and economically. The capitalist system was being born. Its father was the old feudal system and its mother Protestantism and the ranks of people who had died to preserve it in the face of Catholicism’s sclerotic stranglehold over economic growth and social progress.
Like the King and Queen based feudal system, Catholicism (another feudal system with a Pope) didn’t like the demand for freedom to do one’s own thing. Authority was top down. The people who could see opportunity for self-advancement were initially considered a threat but through sheer perseverance over the next century they held their nerve and by the middle of the eighteenth-century Britain was a prosperous, technologically advanced nation of entrepreneurs. On the continent, the feudal ways continued; this feudal and Papal patronage gave rise to poverty and revolution. As with Brexit, Britons saw the writing on the wall even then.
With a protestant, Britain powering out value from its factories and farms, wealth grew, and with global expansion the culture of Britain’s capitalist system became more embedded in Britain’s empire than any other empire since. Tribalism went into a slow retreat as Britain’s Empire became a proletarianising force. Just as feudal serfs became “workers” under capitalism, so the tribes of Africa where they were urbanised became “workers” too.
Now those on the traditional “left” will claim this was all immoral, a cultural imperialism. However, we at a Blue Revolution don’t claim it was all good, but we need to be objective because our feudal or tribal family was riddled with inequalities and cultural abuse. Many horrors we observe today were cultural norms until capitalism challenged the legitimacy of them. Those who claim some golden age of tribal culture are as naive as someone saying “please sir I’d like to be a serf”!
Like tribal families, feudal families also had to live with an economic uncertainty (called starvation!) that capitalism had started to eradicate. These are practical improvements, however. What was important about the capitalist legacy and its spread into the British Empire was that it created the principles of “Contract”, “Choice” and “Consent”, the three C’s.
No person alive in the free world would in our view want to go back to a situation where their lives were contingent upon the erratic will of another. Capitalism’s relentless march from Britain to her colonies at least in theory, stopped arbitrary abuse in its tracks. Of course, abuse went on but wherever the light of capitalism shone it was clearly immoral abuse. Capitalism was a system that had at least in theory, personal freedom at its core and that freedom was premised on the three C’s.
Now anyone reading this will say “what about the working class” and “what about women”. Those with some knowledge of left wing politics might ask about “alienation” and “exploitation”. To which we would say; yes, you are right. All of those were issues for capitalism.
In capitalism’s defence, we would argue that its mother might have been Protestantism and the three C’s but its father was the feudal system. So, like feudalism it comprised structure and hierarchy. It might have created theoretical principles and thus conferred “rights” but if you were poor, or a woman you could not exercise those rights. The last two hundred years has been about rights that existed in theory (and for some; heterosexual, middle class men in practice) being extended to other groups too. But before condemning Capitalism outright please consider that without Capitalism these “rights” (Contract, Choice and Consent, freedom and democracy) would not have existed at all. So, whether you are a woman, gay, trans, bi, or simply poor, the rights and freedoms you have you owe to Capitalism. Which brings us nicely onto “socialism”.
In the previous section, we looked at “rights” and identified that the important rights we now enjoy were created when Capitalism emerged from the feudal system. It has taken a long time to extend the rights afforded by capitalism to as many people as possible. Roughly the progress of rights went something like this; it began with a working class man’s right to contract freely for employment, then an unmarried woman’s right to contract freely for employment, the right to vote for working class men, the right to clean water and air, the right to a decent home, the right to vote for women, the right to a good education which could elevate the workers into the establishment, the right to health care, the right to freely contract and gain fairness at work for all women, then more latterly the right to be who you feel you are, unconstrained by social norms or conventions. These are a throwback to tribal or feudal ideas. More recently these latter rights have been described as “identity politics” but the link to capitalism has been obscured by the liberal left claiming them as their own.
To extend the rights to as wide a constituency as possible and certainly to extend rights beyond those which were simply necessary for the capitalist system to function (rights to contract for work by unmarried women for example) it was necessary after the Second World War for the government to step in. Capitalism had some of its father’s feudal DNA so when the hierarchy was working for the benefit of the capitalist class, the capitalist class saw no need to change anything. The whole system of government and the law propped up this capitalist perspective and the system became like the old feudal system, sclerotic or fossilised. The class system became more fixed than free to move up and down for too many people. After the war working people wanted change.
In 1945 the landslide Labour Government came to power and introduced a programme which had been influenced by left wing thinkers and academics like Karl Marx. These thinkers could see that whilst capitalism had liberated men from feudalism it had stopped short of liberating everyone and the reason was that the value or wealth created by capitalists, the capitalists wanted to keep. The government had the power to intervene and re-distribute the capitalists wealth and did so, nationalising industries and creating the welfare state. This was remarkable and for an adult population many of whom were born during Queen Victoria’s reign or raised by people born during Victoria’s s reign. It was liberating, offering freedoms and opportunities only capitalist money could have afforded previously, such as the working classes entering the “establishment” and complex health care free at the point of delivery.
Unfortunately, things started to go wrong in the 1950s. Where we are now (2017) is a legacy of things going wrong back then. Some of the things that went wrong are down to “the establishment” feeling threatened by the power of the workers and some of what went wrong is down to the workers themselves.
The Blue Revolution is an attempt by informed “non-experts” to start a new revolution, to take the legacy of capitalism and socialism and forge a new future of freedom and personal fulfilment whilst continuing to deliver the food that graces the table and a hand to rock the cradle. Be part of this revolution.
Next – The New Elite