As we drift blindly into a rabid consumerism that seems to be completely bolstered by submission to the fascist tactics of rampant capitalist ideology, I am not comforted to learn it's all quite accurately predicted in literature.
I have been reading the book Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell and have been reflecting on his observations of poverty that cause a shiver down my spine.
As we see our Government remove the safety net for unemployed, people with disabilities and even the elderly, while they vilify refugees, take away their support and give handouts to big business, a very grim picture of life in Australia is emerging.
Though Orwell deliberately turns his back on the pursuit of Money as an Ends he illustrates quite clearly how the absence of money in a capitalistic society can rob from people all sense of basic human dignity.
There is a concept of the failure of the individual in an environment that (possibly mostly in the author’s eyes) puts far too much importance on money as the measure of success. Capitalist ideology is dependent on a system that promotes ‘failure’ in order to motivate people to ‘success’. It is a producer of failure, and success is the illusion of those who manage not to be perceived to fail. The toll this attitude takes on individuals and society is devastating. The temptation of the successful to kick the ladder out from the feet of those aspiring to ‘do well’ seems a completely natural response to living in this kind of society. It is by nature cannibalistic and will create an underclass who have very few prospects and have very little cause for hope. Demoralization of the ‘underclasses’, the proletariat, or just plain ordinary folk seems to be the ultimate goal of this kind of social system.
In Australia I thought we aspired to a kind of democratic socialism that understood the need to protect the whole of society against the ravages of destitution, financial bankruptcy and the subsequent moral and social squalor that accompany it, because we could see that it produces a net loss to the country as a whole.
That was the old way. We are now living in a very different country. For the financial elite it probably doesn’t seem any worse, they will amass more wealth and so will invest more into security, prison’s, military and punitive legislation to keep the rabble from messing with their comfort…
I think Keep the Aspidistra Flying is a book that is worth reading as the conditions in Australia today are becoming very relevant to the themes in this book.