November 14, 2005
This must end II
The "lucky" man is now in hospital with crushed legs and a broken pelvis. Meanwhile Paul Martin, the Canadian Prime Minister, facing an election in a couple of months, has just promised a couple of big tax cuts, taking still more money out of social services than he has already. We no longer live in a world that can be called a "human" world in any of the possible senses of that word.
That crazy ideas of yours will lead us to... yeah you know where: communism!
If we were discussing this 100 years ago, this story wouldn't have existed, because it would be so commonplace (minus the modern machinery, of coure), no one would think to mention it. Poor people were treated like garbage, expected to survive or die however they could, and there was fuck-all anyone tried to do about it. There was charity from missionaries (which came with a price, of course), and that was it.
Only through people's movements have we gotten to the point where so many of us know this is our responsibility. We still have lots of work to do, but there has been progress.
I often write as a polemicist, which is I believe the kind of writing and thinking that is called for at the historical juncture we find ourselves in. To quote Farley Mowat, “I never let the facts stand in the way of the truth,” because there are more important truths than facts. Facts are static and two-dimensional, whereas the truth, contrary to what the conservatives and the mainstream believe, is dialectical.
The facts of the moment are exactly as you have described them. We do indeed live in a world where “for most of the world, life is better now than it ever has been.” But the truth of the moment is that we should not rest on our laurels, because the enemies of progress are also far more powerful and cunning than they have ever been.
The most important kind of criticism is self-criticism, because it helps us clarify what we have become and what we want to be. Otherwise, we end up arguing about whether Bush is really moral or not, and so on. At the current truly critical juncture, radical criticism is called for more than ever before. For instance, the left has been all too ready to accept the line that the Iraq invasion had something to do with spreading democracy and freedom. I believe we should begin by completely rejecting that line of thought, even if, in some sense or other, it corresponds to some facts. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the US government did its torturing in secret and through client states. Now it does it out in the open, so to speak. That is the sort of thing the Iraq invasion was about. It was a reaction against multilateralism and human progress. I think that is the sort of thing we should be talking about. The issue is not, for instance, whether Bush lied or not. The issue is, rather, that he represents the final triumph of an economic and political system that does not think of truth and humanity as relevant considerations.
Just found your blog when surfing...think I'll bookmark it if you don't mind :)
Oh dear... when has ever the world been a nice place? Forget everything! They deserve it, yes sir! Don´t you feel much better now?
Its not a question of 'deserving' or not 'deserving' falling asleep in a dumpster and then getting injured ... its a question of whose has responsibility for the actions of the homeless man. Are we as a society responsible for the actions of this man, or is he responsible for them?
What you are suggesting is very altruistic and heartfelt. You seem very passionate about helping others. Good. Great. I like helping other people as well. It makes me feel good knowing I've made others better off.
However, you are taking a very elitist position when you start implying that EVERYONE should feel as altruisticly as you. I give as much as I can to others - mostly in the form of donated work hours. But, I do not believe that my views should replace every other person's views. People can do what they wish with what is theirs.
This is something that makes any semi-socialist (liberal, if you will ... but I hate defouling it by applying it in this manner) unattractive to voters: what I want and feel is what YOU should/haveto want and feel.
Not everyone is created equal. Deal with it. Everyone should be equal under the eyes of the law, but this does not necessarily make them EQUAL. A bell shaped curve is much more representative of reality than one gargantuan middle class. There are going to be outliers on each end of the wealth spectrum.
Finally, don't write comments that suggest that other people are stupid for not wanting socialism/communism when your arguments have such overtly basic logistical flaws.
Have a fantastic day.
Mental illness is a much more common cause of homelessness than drug addiction. Acording to the study "The Forgotten Americans-Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve" [Link], 39% of all homeless have a mental illness, compared to 26% with a drug problem. I would suggest that for those with a drug problem, it is as likely to be a result of homelessness as a cause.
Also, To Jake: I personally wouldn't call someone stupid for not wanting socialism. That's a personal choice, and there are good arguments for both sides. That being said, those who oppose programs to help the homeless are not stupid, just selfish. You say that no one should be forced to help others if they don't want to. Many conservatives use this argument to get rid of all social programs that could be considered charity. Their argument quickly falls apart, however, when you consider the billions of dollars in corporate charity paid by the government to bail out bankrupt companies.
There is room for social programs to virtually eliminate homelessness. Here in the US, homelessness was not a real serious problem until the programs lost all their funding during the Reagan era of the 1980s. My point is that it's not logistically impossible, just opposed by selfish people who either don't feel obligated to help the society they are a part of, or don't consider the underprivilaged to be deserving members.
Links to this post:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.