What Socialists Mean by Poverty
June 2023 › Forums › General discussion › What Socialists Mean by Poverty
- This topic has 23 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 4 months ago by Anonymous.
January 9, 2018 at 10:58 am #85974AnonymousInactive
'What do YOU mean by poverty, then?' asked Easton.
'What I call poverty is when people are not able to secure for
themselves all the benefits of civilization; the necessaries, comforts,
pleasures and refinements of life, leisure, books, theatres, pictures,
music, holidays, travel, good and beautiful homes, good clothes, good
and pleasant food.'
'If a man is only able to provide himself and his family with the bare
necessaries of existence, that man's family is living in poverty. Since
he cannot enjoy the advantages of civilization he might just as well be
a savage: better, in fact, for a savage knows nothing of what he is
What we call civilization–the accumulation of knowledge
which has come down to us from our forefathers–is the fruit of
thousands of years of human thought and toil. It is not the result of
the labour of the ancestors of any separate class of people who exist
today, and therefore it is by right the common heritage of all.
Every little child that is born into the world, no matter whether he is
clever or full, whether he is physically perfect or lame, or blind; no
matter how much he may excel or fall short of his fellows in other
respects, in one thing at least he is their equal–he is one of the
heirs of all the ages that have gone before.'
'Why is it,' continued Owen, 'that we are not only deprived of our
inheritance–we are not only deprived of nearly all the benefits of
civilization, but we and our children and also often unable to obtain
even the bare necessaries of existence?'
'All these things,' Owen proceeded, 'are produced by those who work. We
do our full share of the work, therefore we should have a full share of
the things that are made by work.'
'As things are now,' went on Owen, 'instead of enjoying the advantages
of civilization we are really worse off than slaves, for if we were
slaves our owners in their own interest would see to it that we always
had food and–'
'Oh, I don't see that,' roughly interrupted old Linden, who had been
listening with evident anger and impatience. 'You can speak for
yourself, but I can tell yer I don't put MYSELF down as a slave.'
'Nor me neither,' said Crass sturdily. 'Let them call their selves
slaves as wants to.'
At this moment a footstep was heard in the passage leading to the
kitchen. Old Misery! or perhaps the bloke himself! Crass hurriedly
pulled out his watch.
'Jesus Christ!' he gasped. 'It's four minutes past one!'
Linden frantically seized hold of a pair of steps and began wandering
about the room with them.
Robert Tressell, Ragged Trousered PhilanthropistJanuary 9, 2018 at 12:44 pm #131382AnonymousInactive
This has been moved to the wrong section. This section is used to discuss SS articles. At least that is what I was told the last time I posted here. It was .trashed.Poverty has everything to do with this section here >>>>>>>>> General discussionAnything and everything related to socialism and capitalism. Economics, philosophy, current affairs, radical history etc. and I was intending to open a discussion on the philosophy, economics, radical history and current views of poverty It has a lot more to do with working class interests and our case than a lot of the trash currentl being discussedJanuary 10, 2018 at 7:08 pm #131383AnonymousInactive
Poverty is wage slaveryJanuary 15, 2018 at 10:50 am #131384AnonymousInactive
One of the arguments against socialism is that the majority of workers no longer live in poverty. Many members believe this.Tressell's definition proves workers do live in in poverty.January 15, 2018 at 11:42 am #131385Rusty PigfumblerParticipant
Well, I'm out of fags at the moment.January 16, 2018 at 9:06 pm #131386AnonymousInactiveVin wrote:One of the arguments against socialism is that the majority of workers no longer live in poverty. Many members believe this.Tressell's definition proves workers do live in in poverty.
Members of the working class, or members of the socialist party?January 19, 2018 at 4:33 pm #131387ALBKeymasterOwen wrote:'What I call poverty is when people are not able to secure for themselves all the benefits of civilization; the necessaries, comforts, pleasures and refinements of life, leisure, books, theatres, pictures, music, holidays, travel, good and beautiful homes, good clothes, good and pleasant food.''If a man is only able to provide himself and his family with the bare necessaries of existence, that man's family is living in poverty.'
Owen is giving two different definitions of poverty here. One, that someone is poor if they don't have access to "all the benefits of civilisation" and, two, that someone is poor when they can only access the"bare necessaries of existence".The ambiguity arises with someone who has access to more than the "bare necessaries" but not to "all" the benefits of civilisation but only to some of them, e.g. from Owen's list to books, music, holidays. Which is the situation of most workers today and always has been the position of some. This no doubt is what is behind the claim that most workes are not poor.The Party used to get round this by drawing a distinction between "destitution" (access only to the socially-determined mimumum necessaries) and "poverty" (exclusion from ownership and control of means of production). This definition of "poverty" moves away from access to means of consumption to access to means of production, even if it goes against the popular usage of the term.On Owen's second definition, most workers are not poor (only about 10-15% in Britain are). On Owen's first definition all workers are (as are many small business owners). On the definition the Party has used, all workers are too (but no small owners).January 20, 2018 at 10:09 am #131388AnonymousInactiveALB wrote:Owen is giving two different definitions of poverty here. One, that someone is poor if they don't have access to "all the benefits of civilisation" and, two, that someone is poor when they can only access the"bare necessaries of existence".
Not sure there is a contradiction here. The 'bare necessaries of existence' change over time. They are relative and are not the same today as in Tresell's life time. His explanation is in line with Marx's explanation of what 'wages' are. The monetary expression of the value of labour power. Workers will receive roughly the cost of producing and reproducing labour power – 'the bare necessaries of life' and not 'all the benefits of civilisation'January 20, 2018 at 10:25 am #131389ALBKeymaster
Agreed that what constitutes "the bare necessaries of existence" is socially-determined and in Britain will be higher now that it was over a hundred years ago in Tressell's time but I don't think we could get away with saying that a worker living in a centrally-heated house with two or three rooms, hot and cold running water, freezer, television, computer, mobile phone, three meals a day, etc is only getting the "bare necessaries of existence". Such a worker is only "poor" in the sense of being excluded from ownership of means of production and therefore forced by economic necessity to sell their mental and physical energies for a wage or salary in order to live. Also, of course, in some parts of the world, there are people not getting enough to stay alive properly. Few people in Britain are in that position.January 20, 2018 at 10:47 am #131390AnonymousInactiveALB wrote:but I don't think we could get away with saying that a worker living in a centrally-heated house with two or three rooms, hot and cold running water, freezer, television, computer, mobile phone, three meals a day, etc is only getting the "bare necessaries of existence".
The fact that workers believe this, is one of the main obstacles to class consciousness. Workers are conditioned by the 'Daily Obscurer' and 'The Weekly Fog' to believe that a car to get them to work is a luxury. I hope I don't sound like a little Bird here but the working class needs to define the Truth of poverty.The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist is as relevant to day as it ever was. Preparing next quoteJanuary 20, 2018 at 10:58 am #131391Rusty PigfumblerParticipant
ALB didn't say a car was a luxury.January 20, 2018 at 11:28 am #131392LBirdParticipantVin wrote:I hope I don't sound like a little Bird here but the working class needs to define the Truth of poverty.
That's what 'power' is all about, Vin. The power to 'define'. Without that power, someone else will 'define'.Where we differ is not in this view of sociology, but in that Marxists extend your insight to physics, too.Simply put, someone socially produces 'definitions', in all areas of production.January 20, 2018 at 11:54 am #131393AnonymousInactive
My roots lie in the lumpen-proletariat and I spent christmas and the New Year in Bodrum. On a State pension. So I don't consider myself poor. Try the Tressell definition on workers today and they will look at you as if you were barmy.The only time my old dad went overseas was when they sent him to war.Bodrum was heaving with Geordies. A strange people. Their sole interest, apart from drinking, was starting punch-ups with the locals after deliberately misinterpreting something said or done as an insult or a challenge to a fight.Totally upset my holiday.January 20, 2018 at 3:04 pm #131395AnonymousInactiveBob Andrews wrote:Totally upset my holiday.
Howay the Lads!! Ya'r a proppa Doylem!Ya soft Suthen T**t. Haddawayandshite, manJanuary 20, 2018 at 4:51 pm #131396moderator1Participant
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