Tuesday, 27 July 2010

How to Divide and Rule.

A great post from Ouch! I asked:

I can't get my head around it - it's always the *super* rich who despise welfare so much, the likes of H.L. Hunt. If you're so well off as that, why does it matter to you if somebody gets welfare?

Sunny Clouds replied:

It's because if you want to stay rich, you want to exploit ordinary people. The best way to do that without them all revolting against you and overturning your power is to do two things that overlap - set one against the other and make some look down on others.

Think about it.

Two people - benefits claimant and working man.

Working man is made to feel that benefits claimant is ripping him off. He is barely better off than benefits claimant (or so he thinks) and he is encouraged to resent benefits claimant.

Whilst he is busy venting that resentment, he is not demanding better pay himself. He is too busy lambasting benefits claimant for getting almost as much as he does on minimum wage to join together with other working men to demand better wages.

Meanwhile, benefits claimant has been portrayed as a lesser being, so if he speaks out about his position, no one wants to be seen to side with him. The venom heaped upon him by working man makes him an incentive for others to keep working so as not to become another benefits claimant themselves. Again, working man is so desperate not to be seen as a benefits claimant that he will accept minimum wage.

To reinforce this divide, benefits paid to benefits claimant on no other income or little other income are described as handouts. That he may have paid many years tax is is not mentioned. The importance of supporting the most needy in society is not mentioned. The risk of working man at some point needing benefits is not mentioned.

However, some benefits are paid to middle class man. If he is not wealthy, he's described as a benefits scrounger and reclassified as benefits man. If he's wealthy, he's not. He's paid his taxes so he's entitled to his child benefit, although he probably won't mention it very often. If he's wealthy, his child benefit will never be described as a handout, nor will his bus pass or winter fuel payment.

Divide and rule has a long history. It is very effective at making rich people richer and poor people poorer.

Note, however, that it is important that not too many people starve. It is also important that working man has just enough to enjoy himself with. Bread and circuses as the Romans would have it, or Booze and television as we would have it. If you take that away, there is a risk that working man will unite with benefits claimant and revolt.

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