Posts Tagged ‘the Poor’

On the 120th Anniversary Performance of the Bundist Song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’

May 10, 2022

There’s a fascinating video on YouTube of the performance by Jewish radical musicians Daniel Kahn and Psoy Korolenko of the Bundist song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’. It was sent over the internet to the Melbourne Bund as part of the 120th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Bund, the mass Russian and Polish Jewish socialist party in 1897. Korolenko sings it in three languages, Yiddish, English and Russian. It’s militantly socialist and stridently attacks the rich and Zionism in no uncertain terms.

It begins with the tears of the Jews running into the sea, but the tears of the rich are clear, while those of the poor are bloody. It also sings about Jews and gentiles marching together are comrades in their shared homelands. As for Zionism, it says that the call for Jews to return to Israel is what they’ve heard from the priests. It’s just putting Jews back into another ghetto. The Zionists are concerned with the Jewish people’s fathers in their grave, but have no concerns for the present generation. But there’s a new messiah – the working man, who will transform the world.

It’s a great song which makes the Bund’s anti-Zionism very clear, preformed by too excellent musicians. It also adds further weight to the amount of historical scholarship showing that it was the secular Bund that represented the majority Jewish opinion in Poland and eastern Europe before the Second World War, and not Zionism. That said, I have issues with it that prevent me from putting the video up on this blog. I’m an Anglican Christian, but I found the rejection of the Jewish hope for the Messiah actually shocking and blasphemous. And if it shocks a gentile like me, I wonder how offensive it must be to religious Jews. I also realise that many religious Jews, even some Israelis, are critical of Israel or just disgusted at its treatment of the Palestinians. I’ve blogged before now of Haredi and other very Orthodox Jews, who believe their religious duty is remain in the countries to which Jews have been scattered, until Israel is redeemed by the Messiah. I understand from one of the Jewish anti-Zionist bloggers that one former Chief Rabbi held that view. When he was asked whether the redemption of Israel then would have the same result in the removal of the Palestinians, he replied that under the Messiah it would be done peacefully through negotiation. There are Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem that are under attack from the right-wing Israeli establishment because they criticise their country for its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I also remember the way Israeli nationalists attacked and vilified a group of liberal Israelis because they said the kadish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over a dying Palestinian who’d been shot by the IDF. The song interests me as a historical artefact and as part of an alternative tradition of Jewish radicalism that still holds a place in current Jewish society.

But I don’t feel I can put it up on this blog because I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs.

My issue is with the Israel lobby and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and with the way Zionist groups are trying to rewrite history so that only they appear as the true champions and expression of Jewish political aspirations, and definitely not with Jews or Judaism.

If you want to see the video for yourself, it’s on the Bund Melbourne channel on YouTube, and has the Yiddish title of ‘In Zaltsikn Yam – Bund 120 Yoyvl 2017’.

Attila the Stockbroker’s Celebratory Song on Thatcher’s Death

May 9, 2022

A few days ago I posted Chumbawamba’s ‘So Long So Long’ looking forward to Thatcher’s demise. Or at least it did when it was written. Here’s Attila the Stockbroker’s song on the same them, ‘Maggots 1 Thatcher Nil’ which I found on Beau Nafyde’s channel on YouTube.

It starts by singing about how the poor used to look up at the gibbeted remains of tyrants in previous centuries. And so people today will look at Margaret Thatcher as she’s buried – food for the larva of the fly. It also says that Arthur Scargill will lead the cheers, and everyone will get drunk and have a party, especially the homeless, hopeless and ill. It tears into her saying, ‘There’s no such thing as society’ with the vicious response ‘No such thing as you!’ The chorus is like a football chant ‘Maggots 1, Maggie Nil, alleluia.’ It’s a very upbeat, rather cheerful song for all its vicious condemnation of Thatcher.

Commoners Choir – ‘These Are the Bastards’

May 5, 2022

And now, as the late, sorely missed computer-generated video jockey Max Headroom said, ‘More – of the same’. Here’s another deeply satirical musical attack on the Tories and their backers in industry, the media and the aristocratic landlords from Commoners Choir and their channel on YouTube.

It’s presented as a school lesson, showing us the bastards who underfund everything, rarely work, don’t pay tax, print lies, fiddle accounts, and frame our laws. The bastards making money responsible for starting wars, play golf while damning the poor, privatising everything they can while going grouse shooting, and tell lies. The same people who botched the response to the Coronavirus, failed to prevent further deaths by going into lockdown as soon as possible, botched supplying the protective masks and equipment. The Tory and industrial elite that deliberately don’t employ enough staff and underpay those they do, curtail public rights of way, cut grants and condemn the sick. The aristos and toffs who use public school arithmetic to drag everything back to the 19th century and before. They are arms merchants, landowners, the proprietors of the news media, and the rich figures who hypocritically front appeals while enjoying obscene wealth themselves. It also has a go at beardie Branson for suing the NHS and then grovelling for the state to bail him out. It ends with the request that people remember what they learned today, with images of people demonstrating against the privatisation of the NHS and the message spoofing the government’s own warnings about the Coronavirus – ‘Stay alert> Stop the bastards> Save Lives.

It’s less music than an old-fashioned schoolroom chant accompanied with the images of the offenders themselves. They are too numerous to list, but obviously include Johnson, Cameron and co. as well as Murdoch, the Barclay twins, Margaret Thatcher and many, many more.

Jewish Left-Wing Song – March of the Jobless Corps/ Arbetslozer Marsh

May 4, 2022

More Jewish music from the left. This comes from the Klezmer group of Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, one the Oriente Musik YouTube channel. It bitterly attacks the corporate rich and the culpability for mass unemployment in America. It talks about how the factories have been closed down, ‘there’s no manufacturing in the land’, workers are being made made hungry and homeless, living in tents and subsisting on bread and water while lazy CEOs guzzle fine wine. It also attacks useless unions, for taking the dues from the workers but not standing up for them, so all their work goes in making goods for the rich. This is repeated in Yiddish, and the final verse ends with an optimistic look for a new, just land where everyone has work.

The video shows the band marching and dancing through abandoned factories, meeting solitary workers doing carpentry or working at a sewing machine, before people finally come together for a stately traditional Jewish dance.

It’s an excellent riposte to the racist nonsense that Jews are all rich businessmen, somehow responsible for the evils of modern capitalism. This is the real, murderous anti-Semitic conspiracy theory pushed by Hitler and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Unfortunately, the Blairites in the Labour party didn’t get the message. Remember a few years back when Jezza was leading the party, and one of the female MPs appeared on Radio 4 to blithely declare that socialism was anti-Semitic because it attacked capitalism, which was somehow synonymous with Judaism? That was torn to shreds by the Corbynist left, as it should have been by any decent person who knows their history. Because Hitler and the wretched Protocols also claimed that ‘Marxist socialism’ was also controlled by Jews to enslave Aryans. And Corbyn was supported in the party by a strong Jewish contingent, like Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Jewish Voice for Labour, who stood for Jewish working people, who like their gentile comrades were worried about deteriorating working conditions, the destruction of the welfare state, cuts to public services and the privatisation of the NHS. Who wondered how they would pay for the social care their elderly parents and relatives needed, and support their families with the wage freeze.

But there also was in Britain are real ‘Jobless Corps’ – the National Union of the Unemployed, which I think was set up by the Communist Party. As part of their protest, they staged a kind of invasion of the Ritz hotel in London. They went in and ordered a meal. Of course, as working people they weren’t welcome in such an exclusive establishment. They replied by pointing out that plenty of the rich also went down and had their meals in cafes in the working class parts of the capital. They called this ‘slumming it’, but the protesters said they were perfectly welcome there, just as they should be in the Ritz.

We’re supposed to have the lowest unemployment rate for years, but I don’t trust official figures. They’ve been fiddle too often. One of the problems is that they only count people receiving benefit. This obviously doesn’t include the masses who’ve been thrown off thanks to the sanctions system. And it doesn’t count the underemployed, like the poor souls on zero hours contracts, who are effectively unemployed when their employers don’t need ’em.

Perhaps we need a revival of the idea of unemployed workers’ unions, that will attack current neoliberal capitalism and the Thatcherites and Reaganites who are doing their best to prop it up to deprive ordinary people of properly paying work for their own profits.

Satirical Song: Ain’t No Party Like a Tory Party

April 26, 2022

Here’s another piece of musical satire against the Tories to go along with the biting ditties of PoliticsJoe’s and others. This time it’s from Mitch Benn’s channel on YouTube, and it’s a bitter attack on the way the Tories partied while the masses suffered. The song has the Tories saying ‘We f**king hate the poor’, and talk about partying with the super-rich, including gangsters and Russian oligarchs on their superyachts. Everyone else, meanwhile, had to obey the rules even though it meant that they couldn’t be with their dying mothers. The Tories are dancing the night away, fuelled by copious amounts of champagne until they puke in the vestibules, while the queues for food banks stretch around the block. They hate the poor, but pretend to like them until they disenfranchise them through boundary changes and voter ID laws. But no-one mention Brexit. And, of course, the song starts of with a call out to the Bullingdon Club, whose members shout back ‘rather rather’. As for the north, the song talks about how they destroyed the red wall, and in return have given northern voters ‘bugger all’. And Priti Patel is attacked for ‘pandering to racists’.

It’s a savage indictment of the Tory party set to music, made even more incisive by the images chosen to illustrate the lyrics. The picture of the queue for a food bank on its own should be enough to convict the Tories and show how much, in the words of the song, they ‘f**king hate the plebs.’ If there was any sense or justice in British society, the cost of living crisis should see Johnson thrown out of government. But I’m afraid the right-wing media – and the song gibes about how it kissed their behinds with a picture of Johnson and Laura Kuensberg – have such a grip on the country that, if an election was called tomorrow, they’d be re-elected.

Email from Local Labour MP Karin Smyth about Health and Social Care Bill

April 8, 2022

I got a message today from my local constituency MP, Karin Smyth, who holds Bristol South for Labour informing me about the progress and attempts by Labour and the House of Lords to amend the government’s vile Health and Social Care bill. I’d written to her previously as part of a campaign to defend the NHS from the government’s latest push for privatisation by We Own It, and she has sent me messages before keeping me updated on this issue. She’s a supporter of Keir Starmer, but I have to give her due credit for working hard to protect the NHS and I believe that she does work hard for her constituents. As you can see, she is pleased that they have been able to keep private healthcare companies off the new NHS boards, but the opposition was not able to stop the further centralisation of power in the hands of the Health Secretary. She also describes how the act does nothing to solve the problem of understaffing in the NHS and social care sector, among other criticisms.

I don’t believe for a single moment that the government has any intention of solving these problems. The Tories have been pushing for the privatisation of the NHS ever since Thatcher, an aim that Alan Milburn in Blair’s government also shared. Blair, however, kept the NHS well funded. BoJob is doing the opposite to run it down ready for privatisation, which will no doubt be applauded by right-wingers like Alex Belfield, GB News and the Murdoch press. Here’s the email:

Dear David 

Last week, MPs debated Lords amendments to the Health and Care Bill. I am writing to update you further to our previous correspondence.

As you know, this wide-ranging Government Bill covers NHS structural reorganisation, procurement, an expansion of powers to the Health Secretary, social care charges and public health measures.

Like many in the health sector, I agree with the objective of more integrated health and care services. But I am concerned that this Bill represents a rushed, top-down reorganisation that will fail to integrate care and erode local accountability. It will do nothing to address workforce shortages or improve the standards of health and social care.

I commend members of the House of Lords who secured several amendments to improve the Bill, including powers to create a new licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures, provisions to ban hymenoplasty, positive recognition towards parity of esteem for mental health, and the introduction of mandatory training on learning disabilities and autism for all regulated health and care staff providing these services.

I am pleased that, at every stage, Labour has sought to amend the Bill to remove any possibility that private firms can have any role on the boards of Integrated Care Systems, as well as ensuring transparency around the awarding of contracts to non-NHS providers. Following pressure from the House of Lords, the Government amended the Bill to prevent chairs of these new boards appointing members involved with the private sector, who could undermine the independence of the health service. I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated, and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it.

The House of Commons also supported an amendment to continue the provision of telemedical abortion services. Maintaining the existing provision of at-home early medical abortion following a telephone or video consultation with a clinician is crucial for women’s healthcare. Not only did that preserve access to a vital service during the pandemic, it enabled thousands of women to gain access to urgently needed care more quickly, more safely and more effectively. I believe it is right that women’s healthcare reflects the needs of those whom it serves.

I am disappointed, however, that the Government rejected several Lords amendments, including proposals for a consultation on a scheme to regulate the prices and profits of tobacco manufacturers and importers, with the funds raised to reduce smoking prevalence and improve public health. Smoking is responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest in society. I urge Ministers to publish their delayed Tobacco Control Plan and ensure its focus is on eradicating these vast health inequalities.

On workforce, there is a shortage of 100,000 staff across the NHS as well as 105,000 vacancies in social care. Staff and NHS leaders across the country are exhausted after their heroic efforts of the past two years. They are burned-out and overstretched, and there are simply not enough of them. Despite chronic shortages, the Government rejected a Lords amendment that would have required Ministers to publish – every two years – a full and transparent assessment of current and future workforce requirements. Health and care services must have the workforce they need to deliver safe high-quality services now and in the future. This amendment was an opportunity for Ministers to ensure a strategic, long-term approach to health and care workforce planning. I am disappointed they rejected it.

More widely, I agreed with the Lords’ decision to overturn a Government amendment to change the social care cap, which campaigners and health charities warned would leave people with low levels of wealth exposed to very high care costs. Unfortunately, Ministers rejected the Lords’ decision, and their amendment was reinstated. I am concerned that it will leave people with moderate assets living in poorer areas forced to sell their home to pay for their care, while wealthier people from richer parts of the country will be protected.

The Bill also gives, in my view, unnecessary and sweeping powers to the Health Secretary to intervene in the running of NHS services. It includes a requirement for Ministers to be informed of every single service changes and every single reconfiguration, with the Health Secretary deciding whether each should go ahead; effectively ending the operational independence of NHS England. While I supported a Lords amendment to prevent excessive ministerial interference in the NHS, the Government rejected it and these powers were reinstated into the Bill.

This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS: a record six million people are now waiting for treatment and public satisfaction with the NHS is at its lowest level in 25 years. Yet this Bill fails to address these immediate challenges. It does nothing to improve the provision or quality of social care and it will not achieve better integration or strengthen accountability to patients.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South’

Government Wastes £440 Million Trying to Overturn Disability Benefit Claims

April 5, 2022

This was the headline for one of the videos pasted up by GB News this morning, and it’s one where I felt I didn’t need to watch the item itself. Because Mike and the other great left-wing bloggers and YouTubers have covered this issue before, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, and Private Eye would say. The Tories and Blairites – ’caused it was Blair who introduced the vile Work Capability Tests – are convinced and would like you to believe that a large portion of claims for disability benefit are fraudulent. Thanks to right-wing rags like the Heil, the British public believes that 25% of all disability claims are fake. In fact the opposite is true: the overwhelming number of claims for disability benefits are genuine. Only a vanishingly small number, less than 1 per cent, are attempts to defraud the benefits system. But obviously, this detracts from the Tory desire to punish the poor for not working or being able to work, while they could be gainfully exploited by all the rich industrialists they want to give massive tax cuts to. And so we have suffered 40 odd years of Thatcherite cuts to the benefits system while Tory and Blairite mouthpieces have told us that such cuts are ‘self-help’, encouraging self-reliance, going to revive proper Christian charity and private initiative without the safety net of the state. I’ve put up a number of posts about how Thatcher viewed the principle of less eligibility – how the whole process of claiming state support was to be as unpleasant as possible in order to deter people from doing so – was one of her ‘Victorian Values’ that she wished to reintroduce into the welfare system. So did Blair, who created the Work Capability Tests because of pseudoscientific, discredited research on behalf of US insurance fraudster Unum. This assumed that most disability claims were fake, and that getting people back into work would do them good.

Complete, destructive bilge.

The assumption that a certain percentage of all disability claims were fake has led, according to whistleblowers, to the imposition of quotas inside the DHSS which demand that a set percentage of disability claims should be turned down. This has led to severely ill, even terminally so patients, being judged fit for work. It has led to moronic D.H.S.S. clerks asking amputees when their absent limbs are expected to grow back. And it has led to hundreds, if not thousands of genuinely sick and disabled people dying from poverty and hunger because they were denied an income. This included people with serious mental health problems and conditions like diabetes, who were found starved to death.

It’s been denounced by disability activists as a genocide. Harsh words, but this is mass murder by governments who know exactly what the consequences of these sanctions are. They just don’t want you to know.

And whatever money has been saved by overturning benefit claims, has been massively outweighed by the cost to the government of challenging them in the courts. And the courts have upheld British law to the point where the overwhelming number of disability claims have been upheld.

This is a government that wasted nigh on nearly half a billion on a vindictive persecution of those who genuinely cannot work. It shows the real sadism at the heart of Tory attitudes to the poor.

Scrap Thatcherism, ditch Johnson and get rid of Starmer, who I believe will also do absolutely nothing to overturn this vile, murderous policy.

Do Immigrants Come Here to Sponge Off the Welfare State? Or Simply Looking for Work and Opportunities?

March 22, 2022

This is a response to a video posted up today on YouTube by Simon Webb of History Debunked. I’ve posted up a number of his videos because I think he does have a point when it comes to some of the bad history, if not plain myths and fabrications that are being retailed as sound, authoritative Black History. I’ve been criticised for some of this by some of great commenters on this channel, who take issue with some of his views and believe he had an agenda. And they’re right. Webb is a right-wing, Telegraph-reading Tory, some of whose views are deeply suspect if not actually abhorrent. He believes in the ‘Bell Curve’ nonsense that says that Blacks are intellectually inferior to Whites, who are in turn inferior to Asians. Interestingly, the American Conservative Thomas Sowell, who is no supporter of affirmative action programmes, consigns that one to the bin in a video about the myths surround Black education. This states that the fall in Black scholastic achievement has been so sudden that even the writer of the Bell Curve said it could not be explained by genetic factors. He also put up a video stating he didn’t want a wave of eastern European refugees coming to this country, and has posted pieces about the deportation of immigrants and defending Enoch Powell. Today he posted a video discussing Milton Friedman’s pronouncement that you couldn’t have unlimited immigration and a welfare state.

Yeah, that Milton Friedman. The Chicago economist who believed in absolute free markets and wanted to privatise everything and end the welfare state. The man who supported General Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile, because the Fascist butcher was a follower of his wretched economic doctrines. The man who supported Fascist coups, because the masses were so much in favour of the welfare state that they would never vote into power politicians who would destroy them. The Milton Friedman who cursed the world with Monetarism before that spectacularly showed itself to be a colossal failure in the late 1980s-early ’90s. I see absolutely no reason why any sensible or decent person should take Friedman and his views at all seriously.

Webb seems to believe that the welfare state is under pressure because of continued mass immigration. This brings to this country waves of the global poor, who must be fed, clothed and housed with the resources of the welfare state. But people cannot afford to pay the additional taxes required to fund this, hence the welfare state and the NHS are under considerable pressure and near collapse.

Now he’s right in that very many immigrants to this country are extremely poor, especially those from outside Europe. Hence the demands for specific policies and welfare expenditure for Blacks and ethnic minorities. But his video seems to assume that extra-European immigrants really come here to sponge off the welfare state. That’s certainly the impression you get from the Tory propaganda regurgitated by the right-wing press. But is it true?

I honestly don’t think so. In fact the reality may be the complete opposite. I don’t believe that all of the immigrants arriving here are simply refugees seeking asylum. But I don’t think they’re here to sponge off the welfare state either. I think many come here seeking better opportunities and jobs. Years ago I tried doing a postgraduate degree on Islam in Britain. I had to give it up, but not before I’d done some reading about Islam, history and immigration. One of the books I bought was a series of potted biographies of people from the Middle East from the early 19th century to the present day, their lives illustrating the wider history, conflicts and issues affecting the region and its peoples. One of these was of a Moroccan immigrant to the Netherlands. This man had immigrated to Europe simply looking for work. There wasn’t any available in his native country. The immensely profitable fig groves were all owned by wealthy and powerful landowners, who kept outsiders out. There were also little jobs in manufacturing, as Moroccans preferred to buy foreign goods from countries like Italy. And so it was left to him and others like him to come to Europe searching work. He was scathing about European attempts to limit immigration, as when he had first arrived in the 1970s employers, such as the one he worked for in Germany, were so desperate for labour that they gave out the necessary forms there and then.

I’ve also read that it’s immigrant labour which also contributes disproportionately to the tax burden. They tend to work in poorly paid jobs that we wouldn’t normally take, and don’t take as much time off or rely so much on the welfare state, contrary to what the Tories allege. But claiming that they do serves the purpose of whipping up hatred against them and allowing the Tories a pretext for cutting welfare benefits. Because you don’t want all that money spent on foreign scroungers. But as Tony Benn said, how the government treats immigrants shows how it would also like to treat native Brits. And this has been born out by the expansion of food banks. These were set up after Tony Blair stopped illegal immigrants from being eligible for state benefits. Then the Tories under Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith decided that they would be whizzo for keeping native Brits from starvation – just – if they took their benefits away through sanctions and increased legislation designed to restrict eligibility. Because the poor are also scroungers, at least to the editors of papers like the Meil, Depress and Torygraph.

As for problems funding the NHS and the welfare state, these exist not because of asylum seekers, but because the Tories have massively cut expenditure in order to give massive tax cuts to the rich. While shifting the tax burden to the poor. And in the case of the NHS, it’s also being done to prepare for its privatisation. It has zip to do with the burden of caring for extra people through immigration.

I think there are problems with mass immigration, not least that of separate, parallel communities. But I don’t believe that people are coming to this country because of the welfare state.

If they are not coming here seeking refuge and sanctuary from persecution, it seems to me that they are coming here to work. Anything else is just right-wing propaganda.

The Enlightenment Philosophers Who Wanted the Enslavement of the British Poor

March 22, 2022

I found this very interesting snippet in Jonathan A.C. Brown’s Slavery & Islam. Brown’s an American lecturer on Islam and a White convert to the religion. The book is an overview of slavery in the Muslim world and its abolition. Brown was partly moved to write the book from the horror and outrage the vast majority of Muslims around the world feel at the revival of sex slavery by ISIS’ monstrous fanatics. But it also attempts to tackle a series of related problems this raises – how can slavery be effectively condemned when it can differ so immensely across different times and places; and how can ancient religious, philosophical and political authorities still be respected and used for moral guidance when all of them, until very recently, accepted slavery. Slavery was accepted not just by Islam, but also by Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Philosophers from Aristotle to Kant also believed it was acceptable on rational grounds. The book therefore not only provides a detailed study of slavery in the dar al-Islam, but also western attitudes and arguments concerning slavery and its legitimacy from the ancient world onwards. And one of the interesting facts it discusses regarding western slavery is that during the 18th century three British philosophers argued for the enslavement of the British poor as a way of saving them from poverty.

‘Slavery was a choice made, sometimes by the powerful and sometimes by the vulnerable, because it was the preferred solution to the material, economic challenges at hand. This is how we explain three British Enlightenment thinkers, each an advocate of the natural right of liberty, separately proposing that the problem of widespread and severe poverty in eighteenth century Britain be dealt with by enslaving the poor to save them from ruin. Liberty was of tremendous importance to these philosophers, but it could not be enjoyed by all people all the time. They concluded that, in the case of the very poor in their society, it had to be sacrificed to stabilise what they saw as the bottom rung of that society. (Ironically, their description of this restricted form of slavery was similar to riqq in Islamic law.) (p. 180)

This sound very much like the Tory MP in Blackadder III whose policies included slavery for everyone who didn’t have a knighthood, and Dean Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’ that the poor should eat their children, but made seriously. And I wonder if it’s also the ultimate endpoint of the welfare to work programmes, which send the unemployed out to work for the profit of private companies for their welfare cheques.

Should we expect Boris to include it in the next Tory manifesto, enthusiastically supported by Iain Duncan Smith and embraced by Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves and Jess Philips as true Labour values?

Despatches: 2/3 of People Believe Disabled A Waste of Money

December 18, 2021

Okay, I only caught the tail end of the Despatches programme on Channel 4 Mike was recommending on his blog. This was a searing expose of the DWP’s persecution and denial of benefits to disabled claimants. Mike was urging his readers to watch it, as it is exactly the kind of programme Bojob and his fellow privileged, elite band of murderers really don’t want you to see. I heard the last few minutes of it, and that was enough. It included interviews with the relatives of people who had died after being thrown off the benefits they needed. One grieving mother, I remember, called the DWP exactly what they are: murderers. And then there were the stats of how harassment from the DWP had made disabled people’s conditions worse, further damaging their mental health and even giving them conditions they hadn’t had before. None of this is new or revelatory: Disabled rights groups like DPAC, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists and carers have been talking about this for years, ever since the loathsome Iain Duncan Smith and the Esther ‘Wicked Witch of the Worral’ ran the DWP under Dodgy Dave Cameron and began their eugenic cull of the disabled. But what really shocked me was the closing comment. This was a statistic. A poll had found that 2/3 of the British considered the disabled a waste of money.

This is deeply shocking stuff. If it’s true, I can only conclude that it comes from the incessant propaganda from middle-market tabloids like the Heil and Depress, not to mention the dregs of print media, the Scum, to convince voters to support further cuts in welfare benefits to allow the Tories give more tax breaks to the bloated superrich. It’s no doubt related to all the propaganda that has convinced voters that most welfare claims are fraudulent, whereas such claims account for less than one per cent, a vanishingly small proportion.

More frightening still, it’s the attitude behind the Nazi sterilisation of the ‘dysgenic’, the biologically unfit, and the murder of the disabled and mentally ill under Aktion T4. Social Darwinist doctrine across the world, including Britain and America, claimed that it was useless supporting the biologically unfit, which included those with learning conditions. This wouldn’t solve their problems, and would only encourage them to breed, further contaminating the gene pool. The disabled should instead be isolated and prevented from breeding. The Nazis went further. The congenitally disabled and incurable schizophrenics were declared lebensunwertigen, ‘life unworthy of life’. The SS set up a special ambulance wing, in which the disabled were gassed in a horrifying prefiguration of the murder of the Jews later on. They were also transferred to specific hospitals and clinics, where again they were murdered. This caused a massive scandal and there was a successful campaign to stop it by the Roman Catholic nobleman, Count Galen. This episode also shows that, had there been sufficient opposition by the Christian churches, the Nazis would also have been forced to back down and halt the Holocaust. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few heroic clergymen and Christian laymen, the churches largely cooperated with the regime, despite papal opposition expressed in the encyclical ‘Mit brennenden Sorge‘ – ‘With Burning Sorrow’.

This attitude should be completely anathema to Christians. Christian theology has traditionally been opposed to euthanasia, viewing it as murder, because it holds that all humans have an intrinsic essential worth that makes their lives precious. We are all, male and female, Black and White, Jew and Greek, made in the image of the Almighty. And I also disagree with it on rational, practical grounds.

Technology is increasingly able to give the disabled the opportunities to live better lives and hold down jobs that they otherwise may not have been able to do. Becky Taylor, one of the artists exhibited in Grayson Perry’s Art Club exhibition at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, is an example of this. Left paralysed in a wheelchair and unable to speak naturally, she nevertheless is able to speak through the same kind of computerised voice synthesis used by Stephen Hawking. She was also able to paint a superb portrait of Perry through computer software that tracked the movements of her eyes. She is currently studying computers at university, and I predict she will have an excellent career ahead of her. Over a decade ago I met a similar young man at a social evening in a pub. This was a lad, who was also totally paralysed, though he still had the power of speech. But he was extremely intelligent, had a girlfriend, and, I learned later, held a very well paid job in computing. And I’ve heard of other disabled peeps in wheelchairs like him. Companies don’t pay the kind of money he was earning to people who can’t do the job. A waste of money? Nonsense! And nobody ever said that about Stephen Hawking.

I realise most disabled people aren’t computer geniuses, but they can do other jobs, although it might mean that they have to use adapted equipment. Or that in the case of those left brain damaged through head injury, they just take a little longer than everyone else. Unfortunately, I got the impression that the economics crisis caused by austerity has led firms to lay off these workers, even though having a job allows them to support themselves and contribute to the economy through their expenditure. And then the DWP harass them as if it’s their fault. And even those, who are unable to work, have an intrinsic worth that goes far beyond money. I was told years ago that some foster parents, for example, prefer to foster children with Down’s Syndrome, because they are more loving. Caring for the severely disabled is not a job I could do, but nevertheless I am extremely impressed by those who do and find it rewarding.

How we treat the poor, the sick and the disabled is a vital measure of how genuinely civilised a society is. The Byzantine Empire, the Greek-speaking eastern Roman Empire, had public hospitals. As did Islam. According to the programme, What Islam Did For Us, one of a series of programmes which examined the scientific contributions of civilisations around the world present by Adam Harte-Davis back in the ’90s, Haroun al-Rashid, one of the medieval Arab emperors, founded a hospital in Baghdad. Its staff included musicians, who were employed as it was believed their music would calm the shattered minds of the insane incarcerated there. Truly, a humane institution.

And unfortunately, these humane attitudes that have raised human civilisation up from the Dark Ages are being undermined by the vicious persecution of the disabled by the DWP and the vile propaganda of the right-wing press.

And the result of this is a return to the underlying attitudes of Nazi barbarism.