I met a young man in Manchester called Dennon. His face was creased and stressed like an old leather satchel; he was as jumpy and wide-eyed as a rabbit before vivisection. He was also eighteen and homeless. He’d been stabbed in the head the week before for fifty pence. The night before, rats had eaten a hole in his leg. He’d been reduced to a piece of meat by his poverty; he’d become part of the city’s food-chain.
“It’s just the way it goes innit?” He said, when I asked him how he had ended up sleeping rough.
“I guess so” I said.
The police had given him a mobile phone to wear round his neck, like a modern day amulet, in case the man who stabbed him came back to finish the job. It was only capable of dialling 999 in case he was crafty enough to sell it for food. I took his number, passed him onto a friend of mine at Victim Support, and never forgot him. That’s the way our society is for some people. They are a product of its structure, churned up and spat out like some bitter chewing tobacco. Most people don’t like to think about it; it evokes feelings of sympathy and sadness. So why then do we put up with our fellow human-beings being treated so appallingly by a society we are all meant to have a say in creating? Surely none of us would agree with homelessness, so why do we actively support the political system which creates it?
It’s naive to think economics doesn’t drive our cultural ideals. Religion, politics, education, housing, our work-lives and all our personal relationships are tainted, influenced and animated by the harsh merciless hyper-capitalist culture we have long accepted as the proper natural order of a free society. Greedily we accept this way of living, desperately we protect it despite the fact we live in an openly cruel, unjust, & blatantly unequal society. Time and time again we fly in the face of anthropological reason & cling by the skin of our non-NHS dentures to capitalism only to be left wondering why we feel so disenfranchised, disillusioned, and not to mention fuckin’ miserable all the time.
Capitalism is like so many other ideologies; an illusion dressed up as common-sense logic. Just as a whore wears make-up to hide the scars of intolerable hardship, this country hid its blemishes with cheap credit, anti-working-class propaganda, and manic-consumerism. If you are wondering why your country has deserted you in the seventh circle of job-centre-plus, just know it’s the natural order of the political system which endorses the soulless new-age religion of over-consumption and glorification of tat and bullshit over substance and truth. If you are facing hardship it’s because of capitalism, not in spite of it, not due to the greed of a few, but due to the greed of entire nations. Your poverty is necessary to the rich. Boom and bust’s a must. You are expendable, obsolete, and easily silenced. Do you really think otherwise? Do you really think those in power care? And more to the point, who do you think has the power? The banks? The politicians? The media? The multi-national corporations?
It’s not even a question of which political party will fix things so we can all go back to spending money we don’t have on accumulating bits of plastic shit we don’t really need, made by oppressed slaves from far off lands we’ll never meet. It is a question of which political ideal do you want? Do we really want this weak phonie impression of democracy or the real deal? Do you want a fairer society with genuine re-distribution of wealth or to be party to a society where the richest 10% earn nine times more than the poorest 10%. Do you want real equality of the sexes or an economically driven divide? Do you want a fair education system where children’s growth and learning is dictated by their innate capacity rather than their parent’s occupation or heritage? Are you really happy that a third of M.P’s were privately educated? Do you think it’s fair we have a benefit-cheat hotline while the super-rich squirreling money away in off-shores? Are you happy 2 million families can’t meet their housing costs & 400,000 have fallen behind with rent or mortgage re-payments while a minority of others have second & third homes? Do you think the rich deserve their wealth, standing, and power? Do you really think they work harder; are naturally smarter? Perhaps you think they have superior genes? What responsibility do we the poor have to change things? Do we hold onto the status-quo in the hope of one day becoming part of the elite? Or do we all feel so de-moralized and powerless we don’t demand our right to a fair society?
I hope the credit-crunch sparks a change in society. As the middle-classes lose their jobs and become ‘benefit scroungers’, the working-class lose their homes and jobs, and the underclass becomes the majority class, I hold out for a movement of minds. Long held ideas of superiority and the idiotic beliefs that hard work and tenacity is enough to make it in the world will fall to ruins and our collective humanity will shine. We may starve as one nation – unless of course you have a wee bit stashed away in Swiss-account – but we can also rise as one by demanding change and forming a fairer society for all, not just the few.