By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter
George Orwell is a timeless author who has become more relevant as political systems which sowed their seeds at the start of the 20th century grow into the unrelenting beasts that had been prophesied.
The feature below highlights how relevant Orwell’s messages are today. It is a piece of work engineered to reflect the reproductive nature of politics and power struggles and to emphasise how the political underbelly has barely changed in the past century, despite being irrelevant to the people it should serve.
Every word in this article was taken from George Orwell’s “The road to Wigan Pier.” Published 1937
Every middle-class person has a dormant class-prejudice which needs only a small thing to arouse it, and if he is over forty he probably has a firm conviction that his own class has been sacrificed to the class below.
The notion that the working class have been absurdly pampered, hopelessly demoralised by doles, old-age pensions, free education etc is still widely held.
The middle classes still talking about “lazy idle loafers on the dole” and saying that “these men could find work if they wanted to.” And naturally these opinions percolate to the working class themselves.
Meanwhile the thinking person, by intellect usually left-wing but by temperament often right-wing, hovers at the gate of the socialist fold. He is no doubt aware that he ought to be socialist. But he observes first the dullness of individual socialists, then the apparent flabbiness of socialist ideals and veers away.
The average thinking person nowadays is not merely not a socialist, he is actively hostile to socialism.
It means that socialism, in the form of which it is now presented to us, drives away the very people who ought to be flocking to its support.
This must be due chiefly to mistaken methods of propaganda. They have never made it sufficiently clear that the essential aims of socialism are justice and liberty.
When you see unemployment figures quoted at two million it is fatally easy to take this meaning that two million people are out of work and the rest of the population is comparatively comfortable. I admit that until recently I was in the habit of doing it myself. This is an enormous under estimate.
There are great numbers of people who are in work but who, from a financial point of view, might equally well be unemployed because they are not drawing anything that can be described as the living wage.
I did not know that “respectable” poverty is always the worst, agonised struggles against economic laws which they do not understand.
A working man does not disintegrate under the strain of poverty as a middle-class person does, take for instance the fact that the working class think nothing of getting married on the dole.
They realise that losing your job does not mean that you cease to be a human being. So that in one way things in the distressed areas are not as bad as they might be. Life is still fairly normal, more normal than one really has the right to expect. Families are impoverished, but the family-system has not broken up.
But they don’t necessarily lower their standards more often it is the other way around, the more natural way, if you come to think of it.
Hence in a decade of unparalleled depression, the consumption of cheap luxuries has increased.
And above all there is gambling, even people on the verge of starvation can buy a few days hope.
Whole sections of the working class who have been plundered of all they really need are being compensated, in part, by cheap luxuries which mitigate the surface of life.
Do you consider all this desirable? No, I don’t. But it might be that the psychological adjustment which the working class are visibly making is the best they could make in the circumstances.
Most of the people I talked to had given up the idea of ever getting decent habitation again. They were all out of work, and a job and a house seemed to them about equally remote and impossible. There is certainly a great variation in the speed at which the different towns are attacking the housing problem. In some towns building seems to be almost at a standstill.
They have neither turned revolutionary nor lost their self-respect, merely they have kept their tempers and settled down to make the best of things.
Instead of raging against their destiny they have made things tolerable by lowering their standards.
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