How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Needy or greedy: a blind political assumption
There is a general election soon in the United Kingdom, and the parties are out canvassing for votes. Manifestos are being leaked and steadily revealed in attempts at grabbing the daily headlines. Politicians are thumping the table on TV and in town halls up and down the realm.
The UK, as with other countries is politically divided along socio-economic lines (although this has been complicated of late by separatist issues). And herein lies a common trap. The left looks at the right and caricatures it as greedy, while the right looks at the left and sees it as needy. There is some truth in this, but the whole truth is very different.
The general right wing concern for low taxes and small government seems to indicate they serve the rich only, who greedily want to hang onto their fortunes and not to give any of this for the greater good.
The left, on the other hand, seem concerned only for the needy, who are caricatured as being lazy and given to fraudulent seeking more state benefits than they deserve. In this way, the right also sees the left as greedy, and perhaps themselves still needing all their relative riches.
The UK has a history of aristocracy and feudalism. Paradoxically, it also has a far more generous welfare system than many other countries. This was largely ushered in by the political left which grew out of civil war and industrial unrest. This has led to polarized politics and a focus on the needy-greedy debate. It has also caused internalization of this dualist-materialist view, where each focuses on greedy self-interested needs while framing the other side as being more greedy and less needy.
Within this schism lies a huge middle ground, where people seem more understanding and generous, where they are more than willing to pay their taxes in order to help others and fund a stable, safe society. In the UK the Liberal Democrats perhaps represent this best, yet they have few parliamentary seats as oppositional, polarized views hold sway. Maybe this election will see them recover though, like the left, they have weak leadership.
The most likely result this time will be a Conservative landslide, giving a strong, right-wing government. They have been promising social policies to help the needy, but history suggests these will be weak and subordinate to greedier drives. History also suggests a long rule with arrogant hubris as their eventual downfall. Yet again, the gaping hole in the middle ground could provide an alternative to a reactive swing to the far left.
Who knows. The monochrome, planar pendulum has a powerful tendency to swing
between opposites. It will take a strong, visionary leader and an emergent,
intelligent following to damp the forces of left-right, needy-greedy history.