In a comment to my piece “The adjusting economy” yesterday, Arthur Cordell writes; “How do we get income to those who can no longer find a job? It will have to be done. Do we wait until the society fractures and there is ‘blood in the streets?’ ”
I suggest that it won’t be ‘blood in the streets’ — at least not spilled by the poor. Most demonstrations in the streets are due to angry young people — but they’re only incidentally poor. Most — at least so far — have jobs in due course. Demonstrations in the streets that are potentially dangerous to governments are not by poor people but middle-class ones.
This is why the Labour government tried every which way to prevent the Anti-Iraq-Invasion protest from being held in Hyde Park in 2003. The Rose Revolution in Georgia, also in 2003, was where middle-class people simply walked into government offices and peaceably took them over. The great Peasants Revolt of 1381 in this country which almost took over the government was not of poor peasants but a well-armed prosperous segment of them.
The poor — that is, the genuinely poor by accident or job redundancy or age or illness, not the free-loaders or the irresponsible — are usually isolated and disorganised and also ignored by workers’ trade unions. Arthur goes on to say “Surely this is can be solved. Takes some leadership”.
Poverty can’t be solved. In every society since civilisation and he use of money began, rich and poor have existed in every country, region, culture or district. We are all born with genetic differences from one another and our differences are further refined by early upbringing. We are, as much as we are a social species, also a rank-ordered species according to our individual abilities.
If only socialist politicians would realise this then there would be less talk of how to extinguish poverty — or even to lessen the numbers of the poor — and more of how do we diminish the large income differences between the social elite and the poor.
If only right-wing politicians — who agree that we are a hierarchical society almost axiomatically — would realise that too many potentially talented individuals at birth are subsequently blunted by poor parentage and subpar schools.
It will, indeed, take “some leadership” to bang politicians’ heads together in both Labour and Tory parties in this country, Republicans and Democrats in America and their equivalent Left and Right parties in all advanced governments.