There’s an old saying along the lines of: People aren’t interested in socialism, they’re interested in putting food on the table.
I think it’s meant to discourage enthusiastic lefty types from talking openly about their political ideas on the grounds that nobody will be interested.
I don’t buy it. I know how caught-up large numbers of people can become in arguments about political ideas, labels and all, because I’ve been on the internet. People get personally interested in all kinds of things.
But even if it’s true, I don’t know why the general public are imagined to give any more of a shit about capitalism as an abstract political notion, so singling socialism out as beyond the scope of public interest seems unfair.
But maybe there’s something to it. Maybe all this outright radicalism isn’t that useful, and won’t change any minds.
Maybe most people don’t pay that much attention to the minority like us, who insist on taking societal change and complex jargonistic political ideas seriously, because they’re focused on things like how their children are going to be fed and clothed, and how much the taxman is going to take away out of what they earn at their bullshit job.
Except, y’know, all that is exactly the kind of stuff most socialists want you to take an interest in. It’s not just about fixating on explicitly political ideas; it’s about the things people just believe about how the world works, without really thinking about it or questioning it or considering it a matter of politics at all.
What kind of parent you want to be is an overtly political question. The lessons kids learn from their interactions with grown-ups will shape the way they see interactions with everyone else, on a society-wide level, for the rest of their lives. And that’s basically what politics is. The ways you choose to raise your children has a direct effect on the eventual political engagement of at least one future member of adult society.
Will they learn to view their interactions with others through the lens of domination, where the way you get what you want is by beating your enemies until they are totally defeated and you win? (The answer is: probably, unless you shield them from basically all of culture as well as treating them differently yourselves.)
If you’re going through tough times, is it demeaning to ask for help? Does it always feel shameful to have to rely on charity? Or is it a normal and beneficial part of life that a safety net should exist to support those who can’t fully support themselves and their own families, for whatever reason and over whatever length of time? It’d be odd to claim that everyday folk don’t take a direct personal interest in this kind of thing, and this is exactly what many people are talking about when they talk politics, socialists included.
There certainly exists plenty of socialist rhetoric which won’t mean much to anyone not already entangled in political intrigue, about uprisings of the proletariat and whatnot, but a lot of what I see is inspired by real-world relatable issues, to talk about those issues in a political context. Sometimes talking about socialism literally is talking about putting food on the table.
People might not care about “socialism” as an abstract set of ideas in political philosophy, or be swung by its promises in a political theoretical sense. But they already have strong feelings about the things it represents.