The recent outcry against striking nurses, ambulance drivers, paramedics, train drivers, teachers is revealing about the lack of social unity and a lack of intelligent thinking. The well paid media and politicians in particular are scurrilously trying to publicly embarrass low paid, struggling workers in essential services by pointing out people will be inconvenienced and might even die as a result of strike action. Let’s be clear, people are already inconvenienced and dying from low pay, precarious occupations, high food and energy costs, yet very little outcry against government austerity measures have been voiced by these same well paid voices.

The moaning, well paid, middle-class who patronisingly clapped for a few minutes during 2020 Covid19 lock-downs, would now be happy to see low paid workers and pensioners, slowly become homeless or freeze and starve to death as long as they are not personally inconvenienced. Considering that all the working and productive sections of our modern societies (including the middle class) are totally dependent upon each other for everything they do and everything they need, that indifference (and even current hostility) to economic and welfare struggles by the low paid is an enormous and myopic contradiction.

It ought not to be a matter of either passive indifference or downright hostility by the rest of us that teachers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, drivers, carers, power and sewage workers, etc., may not be in the best of health physically and mentally because of low pay, poor conditions and financial worries. When we need them – and everyone will need most of them at some time – we should want them to be in the best of health and focused upon the task at hand, not distracted or impaired by ill health, possible eviction or mental stress. Shame on those people that use workers services when they need them and then abuse workers when they don’t.

It also should be a cause for shame among the middle and upper classes that they treat people who provide their electricity; water; treat their sewage; staff their hospital wards, stack their supermarket shelves, drive their public transport (etc), as little more than forelock touching slaves. In other words they treat working people like slaves (wage-slaves) who should serve in silence and who should not assert their rights to have decent standards of living and working and be forcibly stopped if they ever do.

But of course their middle class class arrogance is impervious to shame and self criticism. Instead of blaming themselves for neglecting to use their considerable abilities and influences to improve the impoverished condition of the workers – essential to the functioning of all modern societies – they typically continue to blame the victims. Their me, me, self – indulgent life styles indicates their absolute inability to further the cause of humanity, including the struggling part of us.

The rest of us instead, of being drawn into joining the ruling elites (and their middle class dupes) counter-productive indifference and hostility, to the cause of working people we should begin to actively support and vocally defend all citizens both economically and socially. We need to function in accordance with our real world inter-dependent reality. Working people should support all the workers going on strike but also begin to demand of governments that the rights of all citizens to adequate levels of pay, housing, energy supplies, health and care services and old age retirement.

So let’s stop blaming the many, many victims of our current dysfunctional form of social living and start blaming the government and – blaming ourselves – for any indifference we may have shown for other victims of low pay, violence, and government inspired neglect. We either survive the coming economic and climate crisis together or we will sink separately.

Roy Ratcliffe (December 2022)


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