Sunday, 15 June 2014

Scapegoats United

From FDR’s New Deal to Attlee’s Welfare State, wise leaders have recognised that the strength of nations comes from the solidarity of their citizens. They know there is no upside in handing power to a superrich elite. Divisive polarisation feeds insatiable greed and suffocates those in need. And it inevitably breeds the grotesque practice of scapegoating – goading the poor to turn on the vulnerable, deflecting attention from bankers’ reckless gambles and wider corporate irresponsibility.

Instead of bowing down to this pernicious con, and conceding ever more to the malicious and the misguided, it is time for citizens to join forces. The attack on any one of us is an attack on us all. To lay the foundation, here is a simple five-point platform around which unions, cooperators, anti-poverty, anti-discrimination, sustainability & disability activists can rally and fight as one:

1. Poverty (Want)
When people cannot even afford basic necessities like food and energy, we shall not allow them to be cast aside and disparaged as scroungers.
We will work together for universal social security, and access to low-cost mutually owned renewable energy & local sustainable food supply.

2. Disease & Disability
When people are sick, frail or disabled, we shall not allow them to be mistreated just because they cannot pay for private care.
We will work together to secure quality healthcare for all, prioritise public resources for the care of children and the elderly, and extend user-controlled health and social care.

3. Squalor & Homelessness
When people end up living in cramped space, squalid conditions or out on the street, we shall not allow them to be blamed for their predicament.
We will work together to build enough affordable homes for the citizens of the country, and expand co-operative & commons-based housing and land tenure.

4. Ignorance & Prejudice
When people face prejudice and abuse because of their ethnicity, gender or sexuality, we shall not allow them to be mocked or insulted by others who should know better.
We will work together to educate everyone about the importance of mutual respect & cooperation, and build shared understanding through school & community activities.

5. Redundancy
When people organise unions to ensure everyone can earn a living wage under safe working conditions, we shall not allow them to be demonised as anti-business.
We will work together to support those who strive to defend working people and steer investment to responsible enterprise respectful of all stakeholders.

By coming together as Scapegoats United, instead of competing with each other along single-issue lines, activists will be able to help each other:
• Unite behind a more powerful voice in countering lies and denigration;
• Keep public attention on the key policy issues that really matter to people; and
• Encourage voters to back candidates who will most effectively address their concerns.

Niemöller warned us that if we let oppressors pick off others one by one, then by the time they came for us, there would be no one left to turn to for help. So the need to join forces is paramount. The time to act is now.

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[William Beveridge’s vision for a civilised society calls for the slaying of the ‘five giants’ of: want (poverty), disease, squalor, ignorance, and idleness (redundancy). For more on Martin Niemöller: see http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392]

4 comments:

Woodman59 said...

I'm currently fighting for the life of a small community organization against a fellow socialist who suddenly has his own seat of power (a community space) which he simply will not share - however badly this is needed.

It's always so much easier to point the finger at others...

Henry Benedict Tam said...

It is a indeed shame when those fighting the same cause cannot join forces. Hope he has a change of heart.

Thomas Scarborough said...

The (indirect) Niemöller quote is worrying. We do let oppressors pick off others one by one. That paragraph opens a world of questions.

Henry Benedict Tam said...

Hi Thomas, it really is ominous how easy it is to be picked off one by one. In the name of 'austerity', scapegoats are herded to be sacrificed every day. On a separate note, it's good to hear from you. Drop me an email via hbt21@cam.ac.uk & we can have more discussions offline. Hope you're well. H.