Jack Wharton contends that, in their objections to zero hours contracts, the left have exposed some of their inherent contradictions
Have you ever wondered why you can’t reason with a leftie? Why the militant left is so pathologically incapable of partaking in rational discussion? Undoubtedly because, whether from nature or nurture, the hostile creature that is the modern day ‘socialist’ perceives the world in a way wholly alien to most.
In the battle between structure and agency, in the mind of people like Owen Jones, the former will always prevail. It is this world-view that makes the unrelenting lefties of the Socialist Workers variety so paranoid and odious. Viewed through the prism of structure, the world is hostile place. The composition of society in the 21st century, the social and economic model, is an evil and oppressive threat, from which protection is needed.
A threat to whom, though, I’m not quite sure; and this is where the leftie “logic” becomes comprehensively illogical.
Owen Jones recently blustered that workers were being ruthlessly, ‘thrown out of work,’ by unscrupulous companies. The evil structure of capitalism is crushing the ordinary man like an ant. But the mistake Jones and others like him make is to personify institutions and companies, attributing human actions to corporations and economic structures.
But we all know that, in the real world, a corporation or company can no more sack a worker than it can pay the taxes levied against its name. Only a person can pay tax, and likewise only a person can lay off a worker.
Therefore, the people who make up these institutions, those with the power to hire and fire, they must be the evil ones right? It must, on the leftist analysis, be the jump from bog-standard worker to bog-standard floor manager, an extra pound’s pay above minimum wage, which converts ordinary workers to predatory capitalists in the style of Gordon Gekko.
Of course not: this is ludicrous. But regardless, it is the view of human nature held by those on the far left. To them, voluntary co-operation is a myth. All human interactions are by definition exploitative. As a result, their ideology is crushed under the weight of its contradictions.
For example, Len McCluskey the leader of the UK’s biggest trade union, Unite, began his riposte to zero hours contracts by saying they, ‘exploit workers, creating a throwaway workforce.’ But who is doing the throwing away? A company cannot throw away a worker, nor can it hire a worker on a zero hours contract; only a person can do these things.
McCluskey’s view of human nature is appalling. His statements on zero hours contract assume that those responsible for hiring and firing do so with glee; that supervisors and small business owners revel in handing out insecure contracts and sacking workers.
Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party is more explicit, saying that zero hours contracts leave ‘workers at the mercy of supervisors’ whims and fancies,’ as if managers and owners up and down Britain sit in their offices like puppet-masters cum torturers, subjecting their workforce to a game of Russian roulette with only a zero hours contract in the barrel.
I find these allegations distasteful and laughable in equal measure. I know McCluskey has probably never met anyone as productive as a small business owner, but, for most, having to lose a member of their small workforce would be a thoroughly distressing experience. It is done not out of pleasure, but rather desperation.
Nevertheless, in the world of the hard left, worker is pitched against worker; any form of business is a zero sum game. As a result, they undermine the principle they claim to hold so dear, namely collectivism. For how can workers, communities or societies stick together if people are allegedly only one promotion or pay rise away from wilfully trampling their comrades?
If the bluster of McCluskey and Bennett is to be believed, and we’re all in it for ourselves, then socialism is surely a lost cause. They advance their ideology in the name of the workers, but simultaneously view those very same workers with the highest level of contempt.
But a long time ago, the left decided they could not reconcile their ideology and the worldview from which it comes. Instead they choose to blind themselves to these contradictions by humanising structure and rejecting the very notion of human agency. But we know the truth; that lefty-logical is rather illogical.
Jack is a 21-year-old classical liberal who lives in London. He has a BA in Politics and Social Policy from the University of Leeds. Once described as ‘the love child of James Dean and Ayn Rand,’ he works to expose the inherent contradictions of the left, tweeting as @JustJack1991.