As an idealist I would love to see a society based on equality, fairness and compassion. In my Utopia the illusory walls of nationalism and religion that set people against each other would vanish. Work would be meaningful and fulfilling, those unable to work would be cared for without judgement. We would learn to fairly govern ourselves and look after each other.
However, as a realist I know humanity is a long way from being ready for this sort of responsibility. I am no revolutionary. Were the gates of power to be stormed tomorrow chaos and destruction would be the end result. Those obsessed with power would soon take control, more unchecked than ever before. We need to evolve together towards the freedom we all deserve.
Whilst competition may push innovation, consumerism needs constant novelty regardless of value. This results in the creation of false desires and the seeding of dissatisfaction. Insecurity, greed and jealousy are ruthlessly exploited by the advertising industry to grease the wheels of the economy. Competition becomes not a measure of improvement but a measure of how superior you are to your neighbour. We are trapped on a treadmill of fleeting distractions and unhappy comparisons.
Politicians also take advantage of our psychological weaknesses, using the media to add fuel to the fire. Frightened by the muslim bogeyman, provoked by caricatures of benefit scroungers and spooked by the possibility his house might lose value the little Englander scurries into the arms of his oppressor in a case of mass Stockholm syndrome.
However it's not all bad news. We have made steps forward and there are still people who care enough to take a stand. We have seen the abolition of discriminatory laws, progressions in women's rights and - despite the fear-mongering - more understanding and acceptance of other cultures. We care about the environment and put more thought into what we consume. Whilst none of these issues are by any means resolved we can at least think of ourselves as a more tolerant and considerate country than ever before.
So it's a case of idealism by degrees. That's why I voted labour yesterday and that's why I'm disappointed that they lost. Not because I particularly stand by their policies but because they're the first step on a path. As long as the right-wing have the stage we can expect more attacks on the weak, more finger pointing and blame culture, smoke and mirrors to avert the gaze from the real problems. The poor and disenfranchised will be held resposible for the woes of the country whilst the rich sell off everything they can to line their own pockets.
We cannot take this lying down.