This is Tony Benn, one of the most outspoken politicians in the British political system. The interview is conducted by Michael Moore in the movie ‘Sicko’, but forget what you think about Moore, what Benn is saying is laden with wisdom and clarity.
Remember: scared, indebted, unhealthy and uneducated people are easier to control.
2 thoughts on “Tony Benn”
I have recently done a lot of reading on Tony Benn, thanks to this posting. He has done a lot for the disenfranchised in Britain, and he is a very moral man who votes with his heart and not popular opinion. In his introduction, he thought it was wrong to tax the educated, but it was OK to tax the rich. That seems impossible since most people who do earn an income that could be defined as “rich” are educated people (I would like to know his monetary definition of rich). These people do sacrifice many years out of the workforce and come out of school heavily indebted, to get jobs so they could be “rich” or at least comfortable. This salary also goes to make up for the years of lost wages and debt from higher education to pay off student loans. People work hard to make a lot of money, then they will be punished for being prosperous and educated. Benn’s argument seems to be, “I will not get them now, I will get them later.” It is a simple math problem. If a teacher were to give all of the children a test, and took away 10 points from the ones who received a 90, and gave 10 points to the kids who received a 70, what do you think would happen? The kids who studied hard would not do so anymore, and the ones who did poorly would not have a reason to better themselves since they are carried by others. They will learn to slide by for the rest of their lives and learn to rely on a nanny state. I do agree with his views on the monarchy and the House of Lords, which he decided not to become a member since he is the 2nd Viscount Stansgate, and he helped to produce the Peerage Act of 1963. This basically says that he does not have to serve in the House of Lords and he could be a member of the House of Commons, which was once illegal to men with titles. Now men with titles can rule both houses, which they do anyway. The Viscount became a “committed Socialist, who wants to increase taxation.” Just what the poor need. Benn does want to abolish the monarchy and the House of Lords, which would be a needed improvement since it is possible to have a democracy or a republic in a constitutional monarchy where the reigning monarch is the executive, and there is no written constitution. The only thing the English truly vote for are MP’s, since the referendums are not decided by the common vote and MP’s are not legally bound to vote the same as the constituency. They are basically just opinion polls, and not true elections. The strict class structure will have to brought down in England by taking away hereditary titles, land, perks, and all things that foster that sort of patrician class. The hereditary land holders in England do not pay taxes on that land, and they own most of the land in England. That does not even include the Queen, then the National Trust (which should not be taxed since they are a non-for-profit organization to preserve history and nature). The Queen and the other inbreds should go and pay taxes to boot. The reason that there were no bloody revolutions or taking down of the system of blue-bloods is because the elite simply throw the “commoners” a metaphorical bone whenever they get restless. First they created a parliament controlled by the land holding Lords, then they let land holders vote, then men above the age of 21, then universal suffrage, then they started the NHS after WW II when MP’s threatened to abolish the monarchy and landed lords since the government could no longer afford their welfare checks for being born in a certain bed. So, the NHS became a trade for letting the “good old boys and girls” stay in control, which has always underfunded and poorly staffed. So, Benn is also a “committed democrat” (small d, not the party), which I support and would like to see happen. Many may say the monarchy is “ceremonial,” but when one finds out that all the land is still actually owned by the monarch, the PM is not an elected position and that PM must receive “Royal approval” by the way of royal prerogative, which means the monarch can disapprove a PM if he/she feels the need. The reigning monarch also lets people know feelings on certain subjects which are held in private meetings to sway votes. I do agree with Benn on these points, but you cannot be a “committed socialist” and “democrat” at the same time since the two ideas are vinegar and water. He is trying to have his cake and eat it too. Democracy is control of the government by votes from the people, and socialism is control of the people by the state to retard financial growth and freedoms, which we have seen historically. The socialist, populist Utopian rhetoric is fine in front of a crowd, and looks good on paper, but it simply proven not to work because of human nature. It is hard to say whether Jesus was a socialist since he never discussed politics and said it was wise to stay out of earthly politics since those of faith will receive a crown in the after-life. Life is such a short time compared to eternity, that earthly concerns do not matter as much as “matters of the soul.” Benn also believes that there is never a reason to go to war, so I would be curious to know his thoughts on Neville Chamberlain, and ironically, Benn is a former RAF pilot that flew in Africa during WW II. I also do not agree with his vision of people of lower income. He said, “they are poor, frightened and demoralized,” like they are holocaust victims, and there are no roads of prosperity available at all. He also takes out the issue of self motivation and reliance, which there are numerous examples of people who are born into poverty and become very prosperous in both England and America. It sounds a little like, “The White Man’s Burden”–“Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;”-Kipling.
Monarchy in any society worth its salt is just plain wrong. A modern evolving country should be a democratic republic. Yes,human nature often gets in the way,and Utopia is probably un-attainable,but without a positive hopeful attitude we might as well climb back into the Primeval Ooze. Regarding taxation, I think Tony Benn believes in fair taxation,that is ensuring that some people do not get far too much,no matter what they have done. It is a fact that some low paid workers often work just as hard as millionaires. No body really needs millions,it is a social perversion and an obscenity.Benn believes in less greed in society,and that is right. I feel he is something of a Leveller. It is daft to think every person should be given exactly the same,there is no doubt that some would just drink or party it away.However a society needs to share its money and resources properly. There should also be no toleration of laziness in a Socialist society,unless they are genuinely incapable.Everyone would work,but a curb would be put on grossly distorted rewards for the few.