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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

'Send in the Clowns!'


Mick Hall • 14 September 2005

Poor = destitute, impoverished, reduced, barren, sterile, unproductive, inadequate, insignificant, trivial, unimportant, valueless, inferior,beggarly, unsound, spiritless, tame, mediocre imperfect, wretched,luckless, pitiable, unhappy, faulty, unsatisfactory, feeble.

If you look up the word 'poor' in almost any Dictionary or Thesaurus the above words as to its meaning will spill out. Yet today's mainstream politicians, media and middle class do-gooder's continue to use the words 'the poor' to describe people who, through no fault of their own, live in economic poverty. Nit picking on my part some might say, perhaps, but I can assure you, I like billions of people around
the world, who have either grown up in an environment that was economically disenfranchised or continue to live in one, find the above use of the words 'the poor' to describe and categorize us extremely insulting and patronizing, as indeed it is meant to be by the majority of people who describe us in this manner.
Not least as it is a throw back to Victorian values and thought processes, with all
the wretchedness that entails.

For example, I and my family like billions of people today in a similar situation, were never wretched, spiritless or unsound. Nor were we pitiable, mediocre or feeble and despite certain hardships, we were far from unhappy. As to being luckless, the very thought is ridiculous, as to be part of a loving family placed me and my sister amongst the more fortunate in life. As far as my father and mother being unproductive, well my dad like millions on low incomes had two jobs working from dawn to dusk. Admittedly for a pitiful wage, but the blame for that lay at another's
door, and my Mum was much the same, except one of her two jobs was bringing up her family.

The fact is, like billions of people around the world today, they did their best in difficult circumstances not of their making, thus any talk of their being unproductive, spiritless, inferior, etc., is both nonsensical, insensitive and judgmental.

From the end of the Second World War up until the early 1980s, Democratic Socialism/Welfare Statism was the norm for most Western governments, whether they be of the social democratic left, Christian democratic right or UK Tory/Irish FF/FG right. The words 'the poor' by and large disappeared from the media and the lips of Western Politicians, as due to the progressive outlook of the age it became
socially unacceptable to blanket large swathes of people in such a derogatory manner. Plus back then, despite enormous economic problems and manpower shortages, caused by the dreadful legacy of WW2, progress in reducing poverty both in the west and the third world was slowly inching forward.

However once the 'free market' became the economic orthodoxy in the West with Reaganomics/Thatcherism and in the East after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a concerted attempt to pull back these gains was made by the multinationals' political bagmen and women within Western governments, with Reagan, Bush, Thatcher and Blair at the forefront, until we have reached the stage today where in almost every country in the world the rich get richer and the economically
disenfranchised become worse off in a million different and totally unnecessary ways.

In the West, especially in the US and UK this has been covered up with bread and circuses for the economically comfortable two thirds of the population, whilst those who have fallen by the way side or refused a ride on the gravy train are portrayed in the media as the feckless poor, unable or unwilling to help themselves, much as they were portrayed in Victorian and Edwardian times. Which incidentally was the last time the free market was given such an unbridled free reign.

Nowhere has this been better demonstrated than in the recent attempt by the Bush Administration and their place-men in the media to demonize the New Orleans working class as rapists, killers and looters. The message sent out to working people: if we refuse to accept the passive role allocated for us, we will be criminalized and demonized and indeed as happened in New Orleans, at times of crisis shot on sight without charge or trial.

However it is the Third World which has been hit hardest by the 'free market', especially in Africa. Many of the continent's nations, since the physical withdrawal of the imperialist powers, have been governed by Western sponsored satraps who pocketed much of their countries wealth for themselves, often with the help of Western banks who transfered it abroad to be laundered, whilst leaving multi-national corporations free to enrich themselves at the people's expense.

Of course the last thing Western governments want is for their own electorate to understand the real reasons why in a world of plenty, millions of people live in appalling poverty, i. e., the said governments are a major part of the problem, as this might bring these governments down. So with a little help from their friends, 'the poor' have been resurrected as in Victorian times. The 'poor', we are now told, are incapable of doing any thing for themselves; and this is especially true of Africa, thus they have once again become part of the 'white mans burden.'

This is where the free markets very own court jesters such as Bob Geldof and Bono enter the picture from time to time. Forget asking why the people of Africa suffer such unnecessary poverty, no need, our very own ding-a-lings have the ear of the G8 leaders, leave the great continent in their hands, after all according to Bono and 'Lord' Bob freeman of Dublin's fair city, the likes of George Bush and Tony Blair are honorable people.

In other words the political representatives of the very people who were responsible for plundering Africa are going to fix it, as if it was a task set on the TV show 'Jim will fix it.' Those who ask awkward [sensible] questions are treated much as the German guests were in an episode of TVs Fawlty Towers, i. e., "don't
mention the war." Which is especially helpful for George and Tony when they pontificate about their great works to the world's media after the G8 conferences, whilst Iraq burns and much of Africa wallows in starvation and disease.

To those who cry that at least Geldof and Bono are doing something, I would say, is this not what the imperialists said when they first came across the African continent. Better we bring our civilized ways to these heathens than leave them in their present godless state. We now know this was window dressing whilst the real plundering and en-serfment went on. Geldof's pantomime is nothing more than that, for if the truth cannot be spoken, how can the truth out? For example artists performing at the 2005 G8 concerts in London and Philadelphia were apparently asked not to mention the Iraq war; and to their shame, as far as I am aware, very few of them did so. That is a measure of how reliable and useful these multi-national court jesters are to their masters.

The money spent on the US/UK war on Iraq alone could have been used in a trillion productive ways in the third world, but no one thought of mentioning this fact. The arguments our court jesters put forward for not mentioning the war was they did not wish to upset the G8 leaders but get them on side. Now if you take into account the majority of the G8 nations opposed the war on Iraq, including five of its most important powers, then you get a better understanding of who is really pulling Mr Geldof and Mr. Bono's strings and whose interest they really serve.

I will leave you with two final thoughts on the Live 8 2005 concert in London. The show began with the trumpeters of the Cold-stream Guards, a British regiment officered in the main by members of the English ruling class. This regiment represented the military wing of the British Empire and has acted as the enforcers and muscle of the sort of international exploitation that has plundered and pillaged countless colonies in the name of Western civilization, not least Ireland. Plus, during the concert, Bob Geldof introduced Microsoft boss Bill Gates to the audience as an example to us all or some such rubbish. Think about that? Past and present exploitation all rolled into respectability.

Nuff said!




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

15 September 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Treating the Symptoms Will Not Cure the Disease
N. Corey

We Shall Not Be Challenged
Anthony McIntyre

Riots for 'Recognition'
Brendan O'Neill

Dr John Coulter

Ireland: Nationalists Resist Loyalist Intimidation
Paul Mallon

Facing the Truth About the North
David Adams

Mowlam and the Status Quo
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh

Exports for the North Mean Exploitation for the South
Cedric Gouverneur

Snapshots from Occupied Bil'in
Greta Berlin

'Send in the Clowns!'
Mick Hall

Times Are A-Changing, Part II
Michael Youlton

Along Baltimore City's Peace Path
William Hughes

The Critic and the Clown
Anthony McIntyre

29 August 2005

Historic Censorship Battle Set for High Court

Evident Steps Needs Support
Tara LaFreniere

Reading the Tea Leaves
Dr John Coulter

London death shows North policing problems not unique
Eamonn McCann

Mo Mowlam
David Adams

A Snapshot of Gerry Fitt
Fr Sean Mac Manus

The Big Picture in Colombia
Mick Hall

Fred A Wilcox

Times Are A-Changing
Michael Youlton

Blame Vulture Capitalism, not God, for Pat Robertson!
William Hughes

Fundamentalist Holyman: The Singing Bigot
Anthony McIntyre

Of Lesser Imps and Demons
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

No Victory So Sweet
Anthony McIntyre



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