Charity events would not be out of place in a democratic socialist society

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am


During the Occupy Central protest last month, I gave my views on charity events like the Central Rat Race ('Anti-Wall Street protest reaches Asia's capitals', October 16).

The report prompted a critical response from Maggie W. C. Cheng ('Restricted view of philanthropy', October 20).

I do appreciate people making the effort and contributing to charity events, including the Central Rat Race, which raises funds for a mental health charity.

However, instead of relying on personal goodwill through contributing to charity events, what we need are institutional mechanisms to ensure that disadvantaged people receive adequate assistance.

This is why it is important to tax big corporations properly, because the money could then be redistributed to help the disadvantaged in our society.

Moreover, in a society where wealth inequality is so great, it is inevitable that most charities largely depend on support from big corporations or rich people.

This is why many charity events, including the Central Rat Race organised by Hongkong Land, also serve as platforms for big corporations to portray a positive image to the public. If our wealth gap continues to widen, contributing to charity could eventually become a privilege for wealthy people.

Being a member of Left 21, I understand that the poor human rights records of authoritarian socialist regimes have greatly affected how people understand socialism. Ms Cheng seems to think that people like me, who are attracted by left-wing ideas, believe we need not care about other people in our ideal world. But, fraternity is an important basis of socialist thought.

One major problem of contemporary capitalism is that we are witnessing the celebration of cut-throat competition between individuals, enterprises and nations.

I would like to see a democratic socialist society, where political and economic decisions are made according to democratic principles. In such a society, there would be institutional mechanisms to guarantee disadvantaged people a decent standard of living.

Of course there would be individuals doing volunteer work, and charity events might also take place, though these events would no longer offer opportunities for big corporations to advertise their products or brand names.

Lee Chun-wing, Hung Hom