Monday, 14 November 2011

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Is it conceivable for a person from a very rich and privileged background to genuinely care about the plight of the poor? I really don’t know about that at all, but I think it is much harder for such a person to have any real comprehension of what it feels like to live in poverty, with little or no prospect and a diminishing possibility of escape, no matter how hard they work.

To call living on benefits in any shape or form a "lifestyle choice" is the most inconsiderate and insulting demonstration of titled insensitivity and ignorance to have crossed the lips of any politician or commentator in recent times.

There is no such thing as easy money, in fact there never has been unless of course you are one of the very few who own the means of production and are able to profit off-the-peg and from those who may think they are fortunate to have employment in these hard times of austerity and economic chaos to be able to earn some sort of a living, and then that’s no guarantee that you are any better off than those on the benefits treadmill.

When someone thinks of poverty, it’s usually imaged the physical likeness or representation of people who are out of work due to illness, unemployment or retirement that first come to mind. And as this year’s new levels for the national minimum wage were being introduced, the BBC’s Panorama programme discovered that many British workers are still being paid much less than the law states and finds the problem particularly acute especially in the care work sector. The programme went on to show that there is general agreement that minimum wage underpayment is widespread, the difficulties of investigation and proof mean there have only been seven criminal prosecutions over the national minimum wage in more than a decade. And I would suggest and suspect now in such an economic climate where these sorts of abuses are likely to occur more frequently.

The Tories hatred of the poor is so deep seated that since they came to power 80% of their work has reduced income for the poor. And like their predecessors in government New Labour, they have continued to use a stick against working people in attacking the welfare system and cultivating through fear the desired result that workers would be willing to take up low and part-time employment, also an important point to be made here, though, is that this "ideology" of the privatised family is a way of thinking which arises out of particular private property (class) relations and as such works to reproduce these class relations. In short, the idea that the parents (biological or adoptive) of a child are the ones responsible for the economic well-being of that child works to reproduce all the inequalities of class society that we have today.

I believe that "ideology" is gradually but increasingly being rejected today by a new emerging generation who are under no illusions that the system that kept workers in their place in the past is breaking down as it fails to meet expectations, as employment and opportunity for many permanently dries-up. The system of capitalism is stuck in a Cul-de-sac that it’s not getting out of it in a hurry or at all for that matter.

It seems that everywhere I go these day’s I hear the call being made not just for change but for ‘revolution’ and it may only be uttered and voiced at the moment by just a few thousand in Britain whenever, each and every time I attend an event, demonstration or occupation, but the most important factor is its being called for around the world and gaining traction. Yesterday I became transfixed and engrossed to the developments as they accrued on the live feed provided from Occupy Portland as Several hundred protesters, some wearing goggles and gas masks, marched past authorities and downtown on a Sunday, hours after riot police forced Occupy Portland demonstrators out of two encampments in parks. Police moved in shortly before noon and drove protesters into the street after dozens remained in the camps in defiance of city officials. The City Mayor Sam Adams had ordered that the camps be shut down on Saturday at midnight, citing unhealthy conditions and claiming that an increasing number of drug users and thieves were utilising, operating and exploiting the camps of with I am sure this was only a fabricated lie and tall tale to discredit and demean the occupy movement.

In other US cities over the weekend:

Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran who suffered a skull fracture during a police raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment, had been released from the hospital. Olsen was injured Oct. 25, and Occupy supporters around the country had rallied around his plight.

And for the third time in three days, Oakland city officials warned protesters that they did not have the right to camp in the plaza in front of City Hall and that they would face immediate arrest.

In Salt Lake City, police arrested 19 people Saturday when protesters refused to leave a park a day after a man was found dead inside his tent at the encampment.

Police in New York arrested 24 Occupy Albany protesters after they defied an 11 p.m. curfew in a state-owned park. They were charged with trespassing.

In Denver, authorities forced protesters to leave a downtown encampment and arrested four people for interfering with officers who removed illegally pitched tents.

In San Francisco, police said two demonstrators attacked two officers in separate incidents during a march.

I was also able to attend the occupation at St Paul’s yesterday afternoon, where sprits, enthusiasm, passion and support remain very high. I did notice some changes since my last visit that improve the camp more toilets and a new welfare tent set-up to deal and give support to comrades that had or have issues or personal problems to deal with, very thoughtful and considerate I thought. In addition I was able to attend the university tent and take part in a very lively debate on food sovereignty and reclaiming the global food system but more about that possibly in my next posting.

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