Yesterday, a fellow precariat posted this on the internet. I don’t know who this brother is or whether he has acted on his feelings but I know the rage he feels about how he has been treated because I feel much the same way when I am suicidal. If he has committed suicide, then his blog speaks the same language as Stephanie Botterill and Vicky Harrison. Indeed, if this brother does take his own life then, in truth, it might be a kinder ending than experienced by some in his position given the way the impoverished and homeless are treated by some in our community.
Let’s be quite plain here – when the number of deaths, per week, due to Welfare Reform, had risen to 73 last October, we can make an educated guess which way those numbers have gone since the latest round of welfare cuts kicked in last April. This is murder-by-government.
When I worked as a psychotherapist I attracted, for some reason, a statistically-significant number of clients who were the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. The fact that my professional supervisor was German enabled me to deepen my knowledge of what went on under that facsist regime. During one discussion, I pointed out to her that there had been many other holocausts since and asked why, in her opinion, the German version was so bad. She replied that, for her, the fact that the wholesale murder of people had been done by an elected government – it had been systematic and ‘legal’ done in the name of an entire country’s people – therefore carried a far greater ‘weight of sin’. Whilst I wasn’t certain I agreed with her at the time – I hadn’t lived the experience then – it is much harder to disagree with her now. I mention this wisdom, learned over twenty years ago, because it has informed me ever since and might suggest that I know what I am talking about when I say that the British parliament is filled with fascists in all of our political parties.
When we – anyone, really, not just precariats – is faced with others who believe our only value to our community is by being dead, one of the first things we might try is communication. This is a fascinating exercise for anyone who has tried it. In the UK, Spartacus tried. The outcome is detailed here and matches my own experience. True fascists avoid such conversations – even if they are ‘obliged’ by standards and rules to listen. It’s an interesting avoidance because, once we force the issue (usually following months of ignoring us), they switch the focus from content (“You are systematically killing people”) to ‘process’ (“You aren’t being polite so I’m not going to talk to you”). I’ve always been interested by the emphasis those with murderous intent place on politeness, although it’s taken me years to see how this process works well enough to put it into words.
There’s an example of this occurring at the moment. A collection of our church leaders in the UK have demanded an apology from Coalition ministers for their misuse of statistics as a means of demonising the poor. The same church leaders have worked hard, alongside other anti-poverty campaigns, to counter this propaganda but seem to be having as much success as Spartacus, the courts and the EU. It doesn’t matter how much evidence well-meaning people present; how many laws we enforce; how many petitions we sign or how many protests we attend – the government isn’t listening because it doesn’t want to.
What interests me is the peoples’ response. Speaking as a precariat, with my brothers and sisters unlawfully suffering and dying in their tens of thousands around me, I want to know when our ‘supporters’ are going to wake up to what is really going on around them and understand that apologies will never be enough. To truly apologise is to acknowledge our wrong-doing, provide restitution where possible and never commit that sin again. Show me the evidence that our parliamentarians understand this because, with the exception of a very few, I see no sign of such awareness. What I see are these ‘people’ not giving a toss for what anyone else thinks and carrying on regardless, whilst closing their minds on the grounds that we aren’t being polite. Exactly where does this behaviour fuck off in the minds of our middle-classes?
The Wannsee Conference (Berlin 1942) on the “Final Solution”…
“ushered in the final stage of escalation of the extermination policy – the incorporation of the whole of German-occupied Europe in a comprehensive programme of systematic annihilation of the Jews. The evolution of such a programme, once intiated as a planned operation, rapidly gathered pace in the spring…”
Ian Kershaw: “Hitler, the Germans and the Final Solution” 2008
Following the publication of the first of my precariat pieces, I came across a blog by Dan Silver which, in its own academic way, says that we will not achieve any meaningful social change without talking to those presently excluded from social discourse. As a precariat, I would agree entirely but for three reasons: firstly, precariats have experienced nothing but being ‘talked at’ – only the few actually listen; secondly, if you want us to listen to what you have to say, it might help if you started talking in plain English and, finally, any conversation has to be translated into action, otherwise why should we waste our time and intelligence with you?
There is a very big problem that gets in the way of any meaningful communication between various sections of our community and that resides in emotional intelligence and experience. Unless someone has actually experienced the underlying intent of our all-party UK government policy, you are going to have to take our precariat word and evidence that it is already murderous and many don’t ‘get’ this. Those in more comfortable circumstances (like having a sound roof over your head, a bed to sleep in and food to eat when you are hungry) won’t have experienced the feelings that erupt as a result of not having them. These are the people who complain about our precariat ‘attitude-problem’. To those I would say this – if someone is systematically trying to kill me, how the fuck am I supposed to feel?
As a psychotherapist, I learned that anger is the healthy response to abuse. As a precariat, I am not supposed to express this anger, so what am I supposed to do with it? According to the fascist doctor I met in prison, I’m not supposed to feel anger at all! Well, that can fuck off for a start. In human terms, anger is the impetus enabling our ability to change things that are unhealthy for us. So when the comfortably-off chattering classes start bitching about my attitude, that tells me they don’t want anything to change that might affect them even slightly – like the discomfort of listening to those they have systematically silenced whilst colluding with our wholesale murder. You see, that’s the thing about precariats – we have a tendency to call a spade a fucking shovel.
Th problem continues closer to the precariat class too. The working class are getting hit as hard or, in some cases, harder (although I haven’t seen evidence that they are dying in the same numbers as precariats). They also have a history of organising themselves – which is what they are doing now. As a former Trade Union official, I’ll wave to my comrades of the People’s Assembly; recognise our common enemy; and then say this:
“You are not going to change a fucking thing until you get right down to the bottom of society. Your Peoples’ Assembly fails to include the precariats because, hey, we’re going to cost you money to listen to us. You’re going to have to shell out for bus-fares to get precariats (and, for that matter, your poorest TU members) to your meetings. Perhaps you may need to feed us too. Remember that when you go out for a pint afterwards, if you want us there you’re the one that’s buying because we can’t afford to. In rural areas like mine, you may need to give me a lift back to my precarious home because the buses stop running early – or, if my worst imaginings come true, back to my tent if it’s still there when I get back. This isn’t some kind of socialist replay of ‘our glorious past’, we’re slap bang in the middle of a fascist government implementing wholesale murder.
Has the People’s Assembly got any plans for how to care for our existing homeless or is that something that can wait until our glorious revolution has been won? If that is what you are thinking, you’re as bad as the fascists and you’re still learning the lessons of how the German people ‘didn’t know’ about the Holocaust. ”
At this point, I would probably walk away from the mic because I would hope, at least, I’d been talking to folk who are half-awake and not closed down entirely. To carry on in that vein would meet my own definition of impolite.
The thing about true change or growth is that we have to start with grim reality and this is as true for personal as well as social transformations. For as long as the population is governed by what it chooses to believe rather than what is real, nothing changes. We have to be as disillusioned, disenchanted and authentic as we can be if we want to change the world. Those uncomfortable with my kind of authenticity are those who, at present, collude with murderers. For those who ‘getting’ what I am saying, take a look at this and then see how you feel. What you are feeling gets deeper and stronger the further down the social scale we live, because every other bloody class above us is saying the same thing whilst, at the same time, passing the buck of blame down too. To the rich, I’d like to say ‘I feel your pain’ but, hey, precariats have our own and it’s bigger, better and definitely more colourful than yours. To the rich, I’d say that I’ve never seen such a bigger bunch of incompetents than you and if that’s what your expensive education taught you, I’d be closing those establishments down. If all you can come up with is more of the same, get out of the fucking way so the people can do the job you refuse to do.
As a retired psychotherapist; as a practising shaman; as part of what I believe are my social responsibilities, I have to exercise tolerance but I tell you this – there is a moment where my tolerance for irresponsible social cruelty to others crosses a line into absolute refusal to play your game of social niceties. I hope inactive non-precariats start to feel deeply uncomfortable with my self-educated, intelligent and eloquent stare coming right back at you from the Abyss because you won’t change without it.
We can make changes right now to how we behave but those changes have to be authentic and meet a real need. Waiting until you’ve organised this; or prepared that report; or had a discussion; or whatever other delaying tactics you choose to employ is no damn use to anyone. If your imagination can’t stretch to what you, personally, could do why not take a few lessons from those who know how to.
Who knows – one day you might discover that you were wrong about those you despised.
If nothing else, that would be a step in the right direction.