World Socialist Party (Auckland branch)

Charity

Viewed from a socialist aspect, Organised Charity bestows its beneficence upon the capitalist class in addition to the favours that it patronisingly grants to the deprived and destitute. The biblical intonation "it is just as blessed to give as to receive" has in this instance an element of truth and social insight. After all, if it can be substantiated that the existing system operates in the interests of the capitalist class, as it most assuredly does, against the interests of the vast majority, any process that acts as a salve for the "sores" of society, such as abject poverty, should be acknowledged as a benefit just as meaningful to the givers as to the recipients.

Charitable donations afford the capitalist class an outlet for surplus funds that would otherwise be taxed to help support the state machine which exists to preserve and operate their system; in choosing the charity route, capitalism is enabled to run somewhat more smoothly by creating slightly more tolerable conditions for the impoverished. Either way, the ruling class are not critically deprived, but on the contrary, charity becomes "good business"; public relations with the workers are improved; tax deductions are allowed; and a warm feeling of "humanity" is graciously exuded.

Without the auspices of Charity, consider how many gala balls woud lose their sponsorship. High society and the debutantes would have to discover other excuses for displaying, either with restrained discretion or flamboyant ostentation, the tokens of their wealth and status. Through charity, the wives and daughters of the rich become involved in their chosen causes, providing a welcome outlet for altruistic energies, protecting them from boredom, while husbands and fathers are busily engaged either in the fine art of exploitation, swapping stories at the club, or exercising on the golf course. Consider the buildings, opera houses, and civic centres that establish the all-important status of their benefactors by displaying names, engraved on impressive plaques, publicly sanctifying the tax deduction and acting as an advertisement in attempted perpetuity for the donor.

Organised Religion and Organised Charity are of course permanent, inseparable bed-fellows. From the office of the Vatican, presiding over the Roman Catholic Church, which is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world, to the lowly church bazaar and rummage sale, charity is blessedly promoted, poverty is accepted, and the system that supports and breeds both is never challenged! And ever present, sometimes with a brass band, in pseudo-military uniforms the Salvation Army dispenses soup, free meals, and temporary lodging for the destitute, incessantly imploring the starved and indigent to turn to the good Lord for salvation. But never a word to encourage social revolution; never an accusation levied against the system that produces the misery and gives them their excuse for being.

The working class find themselves in an ironic dual position, of which unfortunately they are, as yet, unaware. The acquiescence displayed by the workers towards their exploitation is an act of political reprehensible charity wherein they supply the capitalist class with a magnificent, ever-bountiful contribution, conveyed by the creation of surplus values. This constitutes an example of "charity" unparalleled in man's history – examine the accumulated wealth of the capitalist class for verification! Paradoxically, the working class, precisely because they are so charitable towards the system, have made themselves dependent upon charity, in the accepted sense of the term, as circumstances warrant. The capitalist receives "his charity" as a legal right, justified by society without question – except of course from the socialist. The worker, however, is obliged to receive charity with social embarassment and humility – not as a right, but as a gratuitous favour granted from those more fortunate.

Capitalism abounds with charity, it is the unmistakable symbol, the accepted pillar, of a system incapable of solving its own basic problems. The state machine provides state-operated hospitals, institutions, unemployment insurance, food stamps, a variety of social services; all examples of bureaucratic charity, administered generally with an impersonal approach to human suffering, together with a scrutiny of the applicant which adds indignity to misery.

Privately endowed foundations and trusts have for years been a popular tax technique for conserving and controlling wealth which might have been lost completely to the government in direct taxation. With the formation of foundations and trusts, taxes are saved, public images enhanced, and a degree of control can still be maintained. Capitalism is a tremendously wasteful system that requires fantastic sums for its bureaucracy, wars, armed forces, military instruments and accompanying technology. This is the price the capitalist class are forced to pay for the maintenance of their system; they adapt themselves, as best they can, to its subsidy whether it be through taxation or charity. Whichever direction they choose, their fundamental position of ownership remains unaffected.

The necessity and prevalence of charity in a world capable of producing a sufficiency of food, goods, houses, services, etc. to easily satisfy the needs of all, is an obvious indication that something, somehow, somewhere, is rotten to the core. The socialist claims that it is capitalism. While we must reluctantly advise our fellow workers to "take the crumbs from the rich man's table" if this should be necessary to sustain life, we at the same time deplore such a condition. Charity is a social abomination that should be politically rejected by the working class without hesitation together with its modern day sponsor – capitalism. Eliminate the cause, and you eradicate the disease. Capitalism automatically produces poverty which in its turn perpetuates charity.

The Holy Bible will ask that you "be charitable". The socialist despises the necessity for charity in a world that should belong to the whole of the human race. Charity, oh sweet Charity, one day we will deprive the capitalist class not only of their monopoly of wealth but you also will be removed from their benevolent custody and dispatched to the dark ages from whence you came!

 

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World Socialist Party (Auckland branch), a part of the World Socialist Movement.
P. O. Box 1929, Auckland,
Aotearoa/New Zealand.