The Apple and the Tree

The politicians in Britain are making a fuss (they like to make a fuss from time to time) about one of their number, the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Milliband, having a father described by the Daily Mail as a man who hated Britain. Mr Milliband’s father was written about in far from favourable terms. Some extremists have described the criticism of the deceased Milliband senior as antisemitic, others as without justification. 

It is never good to have others criticise your parent; Newspapers have a habit of being selective in their reporting of the facts, a habit that they share with politicians.

I never met Mr Milliband’s father. I have never read his wriitngs, only summaries of his ideas, so perhaps what follows does not do the man justice. I am anxious not to do the man injustice. Mr Ralph Milliband is accused of criticising Britain.  I can understand that one can be critical of one’s country without hating it, but that understanding spoils a good story for the newspapers.

For me the most important point about Ralph Milliband is that he was a Marxist, and a Marxist theoretician with a bent to philosophy. He apparently abhorred Stalin-ism, and the Vietnam war, and I share those abhorrence with him. Mr Ralph Milliband’s philosophy seemed to be based on a concept that genuine revolutionary socialism was what Britain needed to avoid the power being concentrated in a few dominant hands.

There has never been a socialist state which has not concentrated power in the hands of a dominant few; usually, after a revolution, one set of dominant tyrants and powerful people is replaced by another set of people who share the same habits and tendencies and who are just as keen and just as ruthless (if not more so) than those they replaced. After a revolution many people maintain positions of power and dominance; change is never more than the replacement of a few people at the top of society waving different flags in different colours and singing different words to different tunes.

Socialism and Marxism tries to provide a philosophical justification for this, but Karl Marx was no Plato, and seeing injustice is not the same as creating a system which prevents injustice. The philosophy of socialism and its connected ideas, is a philosophy, but it is in many ways the same as the philosophies that have attempted to justify fascism and other tyrannies.

We must remember that not all philosophy is benign and not all philosophy is useful to humanity.  Fascism, like communism, is based on philosophical concepts and both isms have led to the death of millions and the impoverishment of many millions more. Socialism has hardly improved the lot of humanity.

I suppose that the essence of the interest about Mr Ed Milliband’s father is the idea that the apple does not fall very far from the tree.  Apples do not fall far from the tree that bore them, but their seeds do not always sprout under the tree, but can be carried away to somewhere nearby.

Ed Milliband is not Ralph Milliband; he has his own personality and philosophy, but must have been influenced by the father whom he loved and no doubt still loves.



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