I often wonder how we reached the situation when honourable words like ‘enterprise’, ‘initiative’ and ‘self-help’ are automatically associated with the political right and the defense of capitalism, while it is assumed that the political left stands for the big brother state with a responsibility to provide a pauper’s income for all and an inflation-proof income for its own functionaries.
Ninety years ago people’s mental image of a socialist was a radical self-employed cobbler, sitting in his shop with a copy of William Morris’ Useful Work versus Useless Toil on the workbench, his hammer in his hand and his lips full of brass tacks. His mind was full of notions of liberating his fellow workers from industrial serfdom in a dark satanic mill. No doubt the current mental picture is of a university lecturer with a copy of The Inevitable Crisis of Capitalism in one hand and a banner labelled ‘Fight the Cuts’ in the other, while his mind is full of strategies for unseating the sitting Labour candidate in the local pocket borough.
- Colin Ward, 1985, introduction to Kropotkin’s Fields, Factories and Workshops of Tomorrow