I would never claim to be a socialist, but I have read the works of Karl Marx (1818 – 1883). I would also not claim to be a revolutionist, but I have read the works of Jean-Jacque Rousseau (1712 – 1778). Although I may not fully agree with their works and ideologies, I do appreciate the problems they revealed and the results they suggested. Even now, much of what they said back then is still, if not more so, relevant today.
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” (Karl Marx – The Communist Manifesto )
Karl Marx discussed the shackles associated with class struggles and Rousseau stated that; “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” The French Revolution in 1789 devised the concept of; “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity).
In fact I am adamant that if you stripped away much of the aged descriptions and tone of these philosophers and event, they could happily sit amongst modern people talking and experiencing modern problems and difficulties.
War for no purpose
Wars have been declared under the banners and mantra of ‘freedom’. The English Civil War was fought to combat Royal tyranny. The American civil war was fought for the freedom of slavery from the shackles of the land owner (I am aware there were also other reasons too). Both World Wars and the Cold War were fought to stop the spread of ideologies that halted freedoms of individuals and states. In fact, the lies associated with the Iraq War were eventually and conveniently twisted to eventually argue that it was to free the Iraqi people from the brutal regime of Sadam Hussain.
But there is a tyranny alive and well within every democratic and civil society. It is the tyranny of money (or the lack of it in many cases). The power and rule of those who have it and those of whom don’t and never will.
The Welfare State
In England the development of the Welfare State was, and has been, hailed as a great success. But who for exactly? The English aristocracy had always been scared and wary of the rising and revolutionary poor following the French Revolution. Trained and armed men returned from the trenches after World War 1, and found the golden promises made to them to sacrifice their lives had not born fruit. So, the welfare state was created to keep the poor in check (and ultimately in their place). From the 18th and 19th century, the authorities had been aware that the people would rise if hunger was evident and felt across the population. As a result, the state gave ‘just enough’ to feed the poor and stave off hunger to secure their place at the top of the social scale and the poor to remain in blissful ignorance of the trick that had been played.
It has often been said that money is the root of all evil. Even George Orwell (1903 – 1950) implied that the ‘tramp on the street is dictated by money – he has none, thus, he is forced to live the way he does, when he said; “Poverty frees them from ordinary standards of behaviour, just as money frees people from work.” (Down and Out in Paris and London ).
Even from Orwell’s perspective in his book ‘1984’ (1949) he could recognise that the poor or working classes would allow empathy because it is the easier option when the alternative is not recognised.
“It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because, being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice.”
Yet the state finds a reason to keep access to legal services a privilege exclusively for the rich.
An unequal access to the rights of law.
Access to a lawyer is accomplished via two means. Either paying for a service (of which I will discuss further) or via Legal Aid (in the UK).
However, access to this benefit has been shrunk beyond any form of grasp. If your income was considered to be low and you met certain criteria you could make a claim for legal aid to assist you find and employ a solicitor to tackle, discuss or direct you on legal matters. To be fair, I too was able to take advantage of this many years ago whilst obtaining custody of my children. Yet, due to government cut backs access to this ‘Aid’ has become almost impossible to the point of almost none existent.
The reality and dawning of this emerged a few years ago when the highly paid lawyers decided to strike because it effected their pay packets and not for the legal protection of the poor (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9731800/Barristers-rake-in-fortunes-from-legal-aid.html).
The second way of accessing a lawyer is by directly paying for them. But let’s look at this a little bit closer. I recently employed a lawyer (and will need to again) at £200 per hour. That’s right 5 hours work equates to £1000. Many of my friends and colleagues have not had a pay rise in many years and the cost of living is constantly putting a squeeze on any available cash that one requires at the end of the month. And any disposable income, alas, is rapidly shrinking at an alarming rate. Homes are being re-possessed and the use of food banks are beyond stretched. Yet, lawyers are reaping the profits of the miserable state of affairs we are in. And they still demand their high fees regardless of the rights of people to seek legal protection and rights. God forbid morality have a higher precedence than commerce.
I have recently fought social services, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service but I have only been able to gather information myself by trawling the internet or books. But what if I was not able to do this? What if I did not the ability or knowledge to pursue this myself. Well, put simply, I would need a lawyer. But not coming from an affluent background or have an over inflated income, I would not be able to afford one. Thus, the people and authorities I have challenged would get away with their unprofessionalism, arrogance and failings managing to hide behind the unreasonable price of the law.
In effect to get justice you need to be wealthy. Thus, law is not fair, equal and blind. It is expensive, discriminatory and (as a result) biased. How can this be allowed? Well, put simply, in my view it has been allowed to prosper because it keeps the working people in check. How dare the little person challenge the authorities whether right or wrong. How dare people question the great and good. Or, as it was once put to me by a social worker; “how dare I challenge him when he is a social worker”.
It is common sense to state that money does not buy you intellect or common sense. It buys you privilege and opportunities that others do not have. By not being able to pay the astronomical fees associated with lawyers or having access to Legal Aid we all fail to have access to the real protection of the law and what it claims to uphold. And as a result, we are constantly at the mercy of the heavy handed, unchallengeable and (I hasten to add) public funded (hence endless pit of money) authorities.
The battle has been lost
So, the battle against tyranny and police states (historically the police are not the only force to have worn black in the execution of their duties) has never really been won contrary to what we have all been told. It has conveniently been re-wrapped in a fancy wrapping called ‘human rights’ or ‘constitution’ with a constricting bow and ribbon only allowing the people with means the access to its contents.
The fact is this, normal working people cannot afford lawyers. The disabled, sick or the needy cannot obtain the Legal Aid they need. But the rule makers and imposers, the policy makers and implementers, the rich and ill informed, all have access to push their wishes with the full force of the law both wrongly and now, it appears, unchallenged.
They were right then and they are right now
Karl Marx was right when he highlighted the class struggles 170 years ago. The French revolutionaries were right when they extinguished the excesses of the elite. But what has really changed? Okay, people are now better fed and housed. But who is really benefiting if it stops the majority from speaking out or seeking the protection that our ancestors believed in and fought for?
Rousseau suggests that the original Social Contract, which led to the modern state, was made at the suggestion of the rich and powerful, who tricked the general population into surrendering their liberties to them and instituted inequality as a fundamental feature of human society. Rousseau’s own conception of the Social Contract can be understood as an alternative to this fraudulent form of association.
You may say that the beauty of living in a democratic society ensures a level of liberty. If we don’t like a certain politician we can vote them out. But what do we get in return? Another narrow minded, ill informed individual who is corruptible in the den of snakes. Perhaps Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658) was right when he dismissed the Rump Parliament in 1653. Oliver Cromwell was recorded as saying;
“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.
Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government. Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?
Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?
Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.
Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.
I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.
Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
In the name of God, go!”
I know that without doubt he would (if he had one) be spinning in his grave if he could see the mess that this country has become. At the loss of virtue and decency that had never been afforded to those of whom needed the protection from the state and its corrupt operatives.
In the Kingdom of the blind the one eyed is king
The law is not for you and I. It is a tool for the authorities to keep the lies and corruption going. You may think we have rights but you try and get access to them when your money won’t stretch that far.