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Saturday, April 16, 2011

once again, time to write about -

I seldom write about politics so it wasn't hard to try and find anything on this 8 year old blog that was vaguely political in content. I found two posts. One was the post I got quoted on Today from. The other is on Marxism. Those two are all there are on the topic of politics.

I guess the Marxist post still resonates with me because re-reading it inspired me to write this post, here, now. I see Marx as a sociologist more so as than the founder of Communism so I have no qualms about publicly writing that I agree with Marx.

Where I stand exactly on this - agreement - is what I shall clarify tonight.

There are books that are Communist-angled that have truly inspired me: Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook. Che Guevera's The Motorcycle Diaries. Even Tash Aw's The Harmony Silk Factory is somewhat uplifting. I love the ideology that drives social change even if it is Marx-derived and therefore dangerous to admit so.

Recently SDA's Chiam See Tong (once again, I am not related to him) made a declaration to participate in this year's elections because even though it is hard for him at his age, he says that it is more truly difficult for the people who are suffering in today's Singapore and it is for them that he is continuing to campaign. His declaration made me shed a tear. This is what should inspire political ambition. The sight of masses of humanity in need in your own nation - or in Che Guevera's case, continent - is what should trigger the need for a revolution.

Hence I support the ideals behind Communists such as Che Guevera because of the fact that the ideology, the ambition, and the cause were all because of the masses whose lives could be made far better.

But I disagree with Communism in practice. In reality, Communism as an administrative system does not work, as we can see in so many countries today. Imagery of bespectacled citizens being executed or exiled from their countries because they are educated does not sit with me at all and conjures up tears. Capitalism is still necessary and is in my opinion not the polar opposite of Communism such that they cannot co-exist in the same system. How else will we have food to eat? I am Protestant and believe in the Protestant work-ethic too, so no way am I against capitalism because I believe in Karl Marx's theory.

A new ideology needs to come up from another mind in present times that will be as brilliant as Marx was in his time, one that will be relevant to today's social structures, today's literacy levels, and one that can co-exist with capitalism without unfair power imbalances. If you ever write a thesis on such an theory, let me know. 

Marx essentially said that the regular man (the peasant, the proletariat) will eventually 'wake up idea' and a revolution will definitely take place for a complete paradigm shift in the balance of power. But today, we are educated enough to have woken up our ideas so to speak. The problem today is not about realising that the bourgeoisie have intrinsic power over the people, because we already realise that. We have realised, and we are upset about it.

This emotional response breeds two kinds of behaviour in our society. One is nonchalance, where we admit that the ruling party simply has too much power shrouded in elitism - untouchable - then we sigh and shrug and just go on with our daily lives. The other response is to support left-centre ideology parties that have actually good plans in place to better our fellow man's welfare in this country simply because we want to fight the bourgeois elite ruling party.

As for those partisans contesting the ruling party, the real challenge is still Marxist in nature. To what extent have we woken up our ideas that the ruling party has too much power? What the opposition parties need to do is to realign the ideas that need to be 'woken up'. Ideas that will inspire them to change and want change and want your party to be the one to change the face of Singapore. Sylvia Lim of WP is doing a good job of that.

Obviously, a revolution Egyptian 2011 style is not going to take place because in Singapore, participation in anything remotely like that is going to be suicide in this country. But when the proletariat masses finally awaken and realise that, 'Hey, ruling party buys our votes with monetary gains, do I want my kids to be materialistic Singaporeans and nothing else?' a revolution of another kind will come into play. It will be slow, it will be small at first, but eventually, the tide will turn, and as it has been written - the Tipping Point will emerge to change the face of our political climate and therefore our societal power balances.

No revolution involved that involves guerrillas fighting in jungles or masses gathering with banners shouting for so-and-so to resign. But still a revolution is needed, and will happen. And that thought is Marxist is nature, because his pyramid imagery of society always turns over.

And that's that. Now you know where I stand on Marxism in relation to today's political climate in my own country. Sounds like a lot armchair-theorising about a very real and practical issue at hand, but Marxist ideology drives a lot of admirable politicians and change-makers whether they realise it or not. If you ever were moved to change something somewhere in society because you came face-to-face with a marginalised member of society in suffering - you have had a Che Guevera moment. Go buy a tee-shirt with his face on it, he looks better than Karl Marx.

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