I'm reading my first book on Winston Churchill finally. Churchill has been on my "I'm Intrigued" list for awhile and so far his story is NOTHING like I expected.
I read this quote today and it immediately got transcribed into my reading journal for future reference. I find it fascinating and though provoking:
"Socialism seeks to pull down wealth, Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty...Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference."
Well, I agree. What has gotten me so deep into thought on this is how completely opposite public perception is now on this issue in America. Most people seem to think that liberalism and socialism are one and the same, whereas Churchill portrayed them as opposites. Also, it seems that in our country, it's exactly true that our capitalist system now needs rescuing "from the trammels of privilege and preference". Yet to suggest that now suggests socialism, whereas to Churchill is suggested liberalism.
Churchill espoused a political philosophy that allowed for unlimited growth (wealth of the individual) but not for unlimited poverty; a capitalist system in which individuals could gain as much as capitalism would grant for their efforts, but not allow for boundless poverty that was impossible to escape. Sounds like a, gasp, social safety net. Hopeless poverty is bad for individuals but equally damaging to societies, as his fight for prison reform demonstrated.
What I see in our own country, 100 years after Churchill said the above, is a class of people who ARE stuck in poverty without a systemic hope for a different future. Yes, some people make it out, but they are the exceptions. They don't make it out because of the culture they live in but despite it. And I don't know anyone who would argue that the privilege and preference of big business is trammeling on our democracy and capitalist society in some ways.
Perhaps I read this quote and related it back to another book I just read on the Civil War and southern culture. Slavery, Jim Crow, segregation. We are still on a journey to equality in this country, and I believe in my heart that Churchill is right - where there is inequality on a broad level, it's hard to have a democratic capitalist system without built-in restrictions on privileged gain.
What I want to see is an answer to that, from either side of the political spectrum. And an answer to why I voted for the Libertarian candidate in the last presidential election. Because that doesn't make much sense in hindsight, does it?