If I were a political party

Here’s what I would do

Illustration: ©Wilfred Hildonen

First of all, I would lay down the philosophical groundwork, which goes as follows: a society consists of individuals and it has to benefit the individuals, not the other way round. In practical terms, a basic universal income would be the logical consequence of that. Everyone born into the society should receive a small amount of money, from the day they were born.

Oh, come on! I can hear the uproar. Completely unrealistic! An utopian fantasy! Who would pay for it? Et cetera. Et cetera.

As you may have heard, though, there have been several experiments on this and among them one in Finland. The results showed that the people who participated became happier overall, although they weren’t more likely to find new jobs. Well, what’s wrong with being happy? Isn’t it what most of us want to be? It even affect our health.

Politics come from polis which meant town or village in Ancient Greek. Society in other words.

What’s the purpose of a society? I would say that it helps the individual to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world, creating a platform for him or her. That’s one of the reasons why the most feared punishment in earlier times, wasn’t capital punishment, but to be expelled – thrown out of society, banished, cast out into the wild.

If we go back to the beginning, when human beings formed small groups roaming the wilderness, I’m quite sure that they shared whatever food they managed to procure, like they also shared shelter, the heat from the fire and so on. Everyman for himself as a strategy for survival wouldn’t have worked out well in the long run. It would have made the group weaker and more vulnerable.

Survival of the fittest” doesn’t read survival of the strongest, but of the most adaptable. Therefore it makes sense to see to that your entire group survives, even the weaker or the weakened.

I once read about an explorer, Danish I think, who spent some time with an Inuit tribe in Greenland. Each year, the best and most successful of the hunters invited the rest of the tribe to a party. The more the champ spent on the party, showering his guests with lavish gifts and so on, the more popular he became and everybody were drunk and happy. Or drunk with happiness.

The day after, the master hunter was flat broke, but the rest of the tribe was well off because of his generosity, and everybody offered him help out of their prosperity, remembering his generosity, until another year passed and it all repeated itself.

When you think of the extremely harsh and unforgiving environment they lived in, it actually makes sense, as crazy as it sounds.

To me, that sounds like a good platform for a political party, because it combines social welfare with the element of competition, individualism with collectivism. How one would implement such a policy within a modern society, is another story and problem, but problems are challenges to be met and solved.

A society is a complex and diverse unit, consisting of various elements, each of which should be guided by its own principles.

If we go back to our polis or town, we’ll find the market place in th centre. That’s where people sell their produce and around it, you’ll find shops and cafes and eateries et cetera, places for business as well as social intercourse. You will probably also find a centre for spiritual contemplation and worship – and in Portugal people told me that if you are new in town and want to find a bar, you just have to look for the church’s steeple. Next to it you’ll find your bar.

The market is a limited area and it functions according to certain rules and principles. It would be illogical to apply those to the entire polis, though. There’s more to human life than commerce.

In addition to what we have mentioned so far, we also have centres for learning and knowledge; schools and libraries. If the rules and principles governing the market, would be applied to all areas of our polis, we would run the risk of becoming commodities in the market as well, bought and sold to the highest bidder.

It doesn’t make sense at all. I doubt that our Inuit friends would have been enamoured with the idea. Neither am I and if I was a political party, I wouldn’t have supported it, but I would have allowed the market to exist, within its boundaries, in the centre of the polis.

There had to be laws, of course, governing life in our polis and the law must be the same for all, but we shouldn’t forget the words of Anatole France:

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

Again, our polis is a complex place, just like we are, full of seemingly contradictions and paradoxes. Simple solutions won’t do. Complex problems require complex solutions. There isn’t one fix which will fit all and everything and the problem with most political ideologies and solutions is that they are mostly one-eyed, turning the blind eye to the rest of reality.

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Wilfred Hildonen

Wilfred Hildonen

Editorial cartoonist, illustrator and artist, originally from the Arctic part of Norway. Been living in Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Brazil, Greece and Spain.