Friday, 7 September 2007

Freedom, Responsibility and a Democratic Wales

It is time to move on from controversy, get down to basics and look at the problems facing Wales today.

Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand, or if they do not there is something wrong with society. It is true to say there is a great deal that is wrong with society today, and it is evident all around, particularly in our towns and cities across the land. Society has lost its fundamental values which are there to underpin the structure of the nation. When these values are eroded society crumbles and degenerates, and crime and violence proliferate, together with more minor transgressions such as drunkenness, drug-taking, vandalism and littering. This is the state of our society today, both in Wales and in the other nations that make up Britain. With the freedom to act according to one’s desires or inclination comes the responsibility to one’s fellow man, and to the community as a whole, or else society becomes dysfunctional and diseased. This awareness of the needs and requirements of others is what is lacking in the consciousness of the citizens of today, as society is in the grip of rampant materialism and the lust for gain, often at the expense of others.

Traditionally Wales was not like this at all, and was a nation made up of communities which co-operated with one another in the spirit of goodwill. They were interdependent and resilient, and were sustained by a common purpose and shared identity. The remnants of this approach to life are still extant in Wales, but in England they have largely disappeared. The rise of mass-marketing techniques imported from America and later England and the abandonment of socialistic and co-operative principles in favour of rabid capitalism and globalisation have put paid to the egalitarian and communal enterprises of the common folk. There is a new class structure based on the acquirement of wealth and a self-seeking ambition for power and prestige. There is a mistaken apprehension that one is British and British is best, which simply is not true and which does not apply to Wales in any case. Yet it is all-pervasive and makes its subtle presence known through many aspects of Welsh life, and permeates into the consciousness of the people who know no better. They know no better because they have been conditioned into thinking in a certain pattern, a form of brainwashing no less.

When we talk of making a difference and creating a better Wales for the benefit of the people of Wales, we are not alluding to a mystical paradise of the mind. We are talking about restoring those lost values and attributes that make up a living and dynamic community. We are talking about regeneration of local communities which to an extent are self-contained, with their own facilities and amenities surrounding them for the ease and benefit of the inhabitants. We are talking about schools, community halls, hospitals, sports facilities, playgrounds and leisure centres. We need to put into practice pragmatic plans for affordable housing, environmental projects, road systems and railways (rebuilding the line to Aberystwyth for example) and eliminate poverty and unemployment in the valley towns. The vision is to create a unified Wales, in terms of infrastructure and community living. Without this vision and the purpose and determination to carry it through, despite obstacles and the detractors who are ever wont to deride and belittle these attempts, Wales will remain a backwater of Europe, noted only for its feats on the rugby field. This is no mystical romp; it is the way to a new renaissance for Wales.

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