Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Deserving/Undeserving


I hope we can all be agreed at least that this is absolutely fucking grotesque - the horrible return of the Victorian distinction between deserving and undeserving poor, dressed up in true NewLab style as social concern. What exactly this arbeit-macht-wohnen position will mean when this recession kicks in is a particularly moot point. Anyway, for the moment I'll let Oscar have the last word on the subject.

The virtues of the poor may be readily admitted, and are much to be regretted. We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so. Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. Why should they be grateful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table? They should be seated at the board, and are beginning to know it...

No: a poor man who is ungrateful, unthrifty, discontented, and rebellious, is probably a real personality, and has much in him. He is at any rate a healthy protest. As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them. They have made private terms with the enemy, and sold their birthright for very bad pottage. They must also be extraordinarily stupid.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dan said...

I used that exact same picture in a collage that now hangs next to my bed. Beneath it was pasted Industrial Records' ad slogan, "Industrial music for industrial people" (the Death Factory was based in Hackney). Now there was a case of refusing to make "private terms with the enemy", if ever I saw one (on the part of G. P-Orridge, obvs., not me.)

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