(This excellent post by Neil Robertson, about wider awareness of poverty and coverage of things like the Edlington child torture case, prompted me to write the below – not a reply, just a riff on one of his themes.)
We hate the poor. And we’re right to hate them.
We try to ignore them, and usually we succeed. Then sometimes they go and do something monstrous, and they’re all over the news. We see it and we hate them all the more, and resolve to ignore them even harder. Everything we’re forced to find out about them is disgusting, and proves how right our instincts were, and proves that their material poverty is caused by their poverty of conscience. Is it any wonder we want to keep them far away?
But we’re good people. Really, we are. After all, we’re not poor, so that pretty much makes us good by definition. And, of course, hate isn’t a bad thing when it’s justified. So even despite our loathing for them and our desperate need to have nothing to do with them, we still want to help the poor. Even though they don’t deserve it, we show them such saintly kindness.
So we gave them social services. These are people we pay to go into whatever noxious holes poor people live their repellent lives and make them become, if they can, just a little bit less vile, just a little bit more like us. Especially the children. Because children born poor haven’t yet proved that they deserve their poverty (although almost inevitably they will grow into the kind of people who bloody well do – it’s like a kind of predictive natural justice, or at least a sign of their tainted genes).
Anyway, social services seemed like a good idea. And they did achieve some good – or, at least, we presume so. We weren’t really paying attention. But now two things have gone horribly wrong.
First of all, the people from social services sometimes give our own lives some of their suspicious, interfering attention. How dare they? We’re good people! What the hell right do they have coming into our homes and telling us how to raise our children? Don’t they know who we are?
Their attacks on us clearly prove that they too have been infected with the moral sickness of the poor, eager to cause us harm in their bitter resentment of the things that they have become. And we’ve had to protect ourselves from this contagion – which, after all, we’d only been trying to help with. Because if an intruder in your house threatens to come between you and your children, then you’re entitled – no, obligated – to defend yourself by any means necessary.
So we’ve done the only thing we possibly could, and got our politicians and newspapers to savage these jumped-up do-gooders who wouldn’t survive a day in the private sector, so that they would be too intimidated and too entangled in bureaucracy to ruin our lives, as the poor so surely ruin their own.
And then something else went wrong. Social services started tolerating the poisonous, callous irresponsibility that the poor are naturally driven towards. These dead-eyed, clipboarded council drones have clearly gone completely native and lost any sense of right and wrong. Overexposure to the poor has made them degenerate into part of the problem.
Poverty is a pestilence in our society. The poor corrupt everything and everyone that comes near them. We’ve tried, god only knows we’ve tried to help them, but in return they just threaten to engulf us in their plague.
This can’t go on. They don’t deserve our help, and we don’t deserve the evil that they spread. We can’t tolerate the threat the poor pose to us any more.
It is tragic that it’s come to this, but there is no alternative. And of course we must insist that it be carried out as humanely as possible.
We have to save ourselves. And in a way, by destroying the poor, we’ll be saving them too.