Saturday, 22 October 2011
Reports of the eviction of travellers, the incarceration of ‘dole cheats’ or the severe treatment of ‘scroungers’ and the like in some media—the Daily Mail and their analogues—often contain an unmistakeable tone of glee. Where does this come from? Where originates the little kick of satisfaction in the soul of the representative reader of such journals? Presumably it is occasioned by the thought that these people are being punished for ‘getting away with something’ (‘at last!’) that the Mr and Mrs Daily Mail Reader is not—enjoying something the Mailreader is denied. But what? In what manner do such people envy the Lumpenproletariat? The obvious retort is that if one envies the lowest members of society, one has not properly understood what poverty entails. But the truth is simpler: what Mailreader envies in the Lumpenproletariat is their idleness. It's not that they're sponging, getting money they're not entitled too; it is not, that is to say, really about money (Mailreader doesn't feel the same inner satisfaction when s/he reads of a crooked banker getting caught). These lumpenproletariat are unemployed, and so poor; but more to the point they are unemployed and so without employment. Mailereader resents the fact that s/he must work. Worse, s/he knows subconsciously that working harder, and earning more money, will result in more work and more stress, not more leisure and more joy. Instinctively, and however much s/he reacts against it, s/he comprehends that the only way out of the erg-mill is down, not up. But of course s/he lacks the courage to make such a move. Hence the ferocity of his/her pleased reaction when reading that the police tasered a group of squatters—it is her own weaker will that is being punished.