Opportunities for Slaves

When a person first wakes up to the fact that most jobs offer no more than cripplingly boring, soul-destroying drudgery, two “respectable” options present themselves:

1. “Positive Attitude” – A change in attitude to “help” the person cope with the drudgery. Anything from “positive” corporate slogans to genuine attempts of the individual to reduce her/his misery (eg self-help books, religious faiths etc).

2. “Conventional Belief” – Belief that the market will make things better. Just have patience. “The system is benign, so don’t complain”. Think of all those market-created “trickle-down” improvements to your life – digital TV, electric toothbrushes, etc. Ignore the fact that, over the last 25 years, working-hours have risen and true wage-levels/benefits fallen.

These two options were available to slaves (ie “real” slaves as well as wage slaves). Option 1 obviously. Option 2 – slavery was embraced by the early market, slavery being a highly profitable mainstay of the “agricultural factory” economy. The conditions under which slaves lived did improve, due to a kind of “trickle-down” market prosperity.

Slaves and employees – both free to adopt any attitude they want (even a positive attitude). Both benefiting from “opportunities” created by an increasingly prosperous society. Slaves didn’t complain. Modern bosses seem to believe that, for similar reasons, employees also shouldn’t complain.

"Hey Jones, stop whining – at least in this system you have opportunities to improve your situation..."

"Hey Smith, stop complaining – you’re better off now than you were twenty years ago..."

(Two pro-slavery arguments often heard in America and Britain in the early 19th and early 21st centuries).

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Government Advertising (aka propaganda)

The UK government is now the UK’s biggest spender on advertising, spending more each year than corporate giants like Renault and British Telecom.

In February alone, the government spent £16,383,600 of taxpayers’ money on advertising. While some of this advertising includes useful information about public services etc, much of it appears to promote a political agenda (even though UK regulations strictly forbid political advertising).

A case in point is the recent TV campaign encouraging people to snitch on “welfare fraudsters”. This campaign presents not a single shred of helpful information or sociological fact – it looks more like a dubious, politically-loaded perspective on an emotive social issue. Where, we ask, are the government advertisements asking us to snitch on corporate fraud or bank fraud? (Corporate tax evasion costs the UK far more than welfare fraud).

Be suspicious of people,
but always trust institutions

Government information campaigns always scapegoat lone individuals – eg unemployed people, TV licence dodgers, drug users etc – and never institutions or corporations. Are they trying to tell us the greatest threat to civilisation comes from individuals who don’t fit into respectable society?

It’s like the “lone nut” theory (the official explanation for political assassinations). Are we to believe that “lone misbehaved persons” are responsible for everything bad that happens?

Like institutions are never the cause of anything bad.

Like: if misbehaved persons had some respect, the economic system would suddenly work great, and we’d all see how peachy it is.

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The Right to Refuse Wage Slavery

Two disturbing trends in the world of work:

1. The loss of “decent” jobs and the rise of pointless, low-paid, demeaning slave-jobs (eg telesales and call centres – the fastest growing UK sector).

2. The move away from an unconditional right to welfare benefits.

If you lose your job, or if you’ve never had a job, you may find that your life is not your own. Your access to income will be conditional upon your doing exactly what the government tells you – you’ll have to take the job given you. You won’t have the option to say no. You will not be able to say: “can’t I wait until something more suitable appears.” You will be obliged to take something immediately. It won’t make any difference if you’ve paid tax and NI all your life.

So, does an economically marginalised person have any rights at all? Maybe. I was recently sent a newspaper article which contains the following:

The European Convention on Human Rights says everyone is entitled to a fair hearing by an “independent and impartial tribunal” when decisions are being made about their civil rights (including rights to benefits).

Currently the UK welfare appeals system breaches human rights legislation, as appeals are decided by the same organisation that makes the decisions being appealed against. Reading between the lines, it seems that Human Rights legislation might be the last line of defence against the tough approach taken by government towards “economically inactive” people.


Crime – is it rising or falling?

[For an update on crime statistics, see Media scaremongering on crime]

“Violent crime is soaring” seems to be the news headline at the moment, yet only a few months ago the British Crime Survey (BCS) showed violent crime to be falling. People are confused. What is going on?

Let’s go back a few years. Police figures showed a fall in overall recorded crime. Many newspapers said these figures were unsatisfactory as they didn’t take account of unreported or unrecorded crime. The media, in fact, said the BCS was more accurate and authoritative than the police figures, as the BCS measures unreported crime as well as recorded and reported crime.

The latest BCS shows a 10% overall fall in crime over two years, including a 4% fall in violent crime, whereas the most recent police figures show an 8% increase in violent crime in the last year. So, which figures do you think the media is focusing on: the “authoritative” BCS, or the “unsatisfactory” police figures? Yes, you guessed it – they report whichever figures show the biggest crime increases.

Let’s take a closer look at the figures behind the news headline hysteria. The recent police figures show increases in street crime (eg robbery and assault), domestic violence and racial attacks. Of the 589,000 cases of assault, 557,000 were “less serious attacks such as harassment and common assault”, largely due to drunken youths outside clubs and pubs. The 21% increase in robberies was, to a large extent, due to theft of mobile phones from teenagers by other teenagers. The recorded increases in domestic and racial violence were partly due to “changes in police recording practices and the increased willingness of victims of domestic violence and racial attacks to report the offences” (quotes taken from The Guardian 17/1/2001).

Newspapers continue to sensationalise every crime story, and they continue to focus on isolated crime statistics (which they never fully explain) while ignoring the larger statistical picture. Whether they do this to sell more newspapers or to further a political agenda, the sad result is that fear of crime is out of all proportion to the risk of crime for most people.

Charity or Dark Propaganda?

The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – a UK charity) spends more on propaganda (£38m last year) than on children’s services (£28m) – according to a BBC report. In contrast, other charities, eg the Children’s Society and Barnado’s, spend nearly 80% of their budgets on children’s services.

The NSPCC claimed the £38 million was spent on “raising public awareness of child cruelty”. Many media commentators, however, argue that TV and newspapers are already saturated with coverage of child-abuse. (One recent paedophile case attracted media attention for weeks, leading to angry mobs attacking the homes of suspected paedophiles).

UK government figures show very low rates of child murder by strangers – averaging only seven per year – yet the NSPCC has been busy raising fear and paranoia with its aggressive propaganda blitz on the media, including expensive TV and newspaper ads.

The NSPCC undoubtedly does good work for children. But maybe it should leave fear-inducing, rabble-rousing “black propaganda” to the likes of MI5 and the CIA.

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Work, Lies & Politicians

One thing seems certain about the forthcoming UK election campaigns: no politicians will talk of how we can all work less.

Despite media reports on the unhealthy effects of increasing working hours and the extreme work ethic, politicians will be talking about creating more work, putting more people into work and getting people to work harder.

They will also talk about “getting tough on the workshy” and “abolishing dependency culture”. And they will justify their ‘tough’ approach, as they always do, by claiming welfare costs are “spiralling through the roof.”

Are they misinformed or just lying? Judge for yourself – the official figures are clear enough:-

UK Welfare Costs
Unemployment £6.2 billion £5.3 billion
Elderly people (eg pensions) £42.8 billion £44.5 billion
Other welfare (for the sick and disabled, low-paid families, widows – plus administration costs) £48.9 billion £49.5 billion
Total £97.9 billion £99.3 billion

These figures show that unemployment accounts for only a small part of total welfare, and that unemployment costs are falling rather than “going through the roof.”

Total welfare is rising (slowly) – mainly due to an increase in the cost of retirement pensions caused by an ageing population. Yet politicians portray welfare in the usual scaremongering way, as an “out-of-control culture of dependency.”

Another misleading statement we often hear from UK politicians is: “welfare costs more than all other government expenditure combined”. They usually say this when discussing unemployment, as if to imply that the unemployed are bringing the country to its knees financially. (They never mention that only 5% of the total welfare budget goes to the unemployed).

Compare the yearly cost of unemployment welfare, £5.3bn, to some other large expenses:

• Development of new British-US fighter plane (as quoted by UK newspapers) £250 billion
• Total of individual consumer debt in Britain £115 billion
• Money wasted by UK consumers on defective goods purchased each year £8 billion
• New Deal welfare-to-work scheme (UK) £5.2 billion
• Estimated cost to UK of depression-related illness (through lost working days) £5 billion
• Overspend on Eurofighter 2000 fighter plane £4 billion
• UK revenue lost, per year, due to cigarette smuggling £3.5 billion
• Small, botched upgrade to Tornado fighter jet £1 billion
• Scrapped UK “fraud prevention” welfare claimant ID card £1 billion
• Construction work on MI5 and MI6 HQ buildings
£0.5 billion

The list doesn’t end there. There are countless examples of huge government expenditures which aren’t widely publicised. The military, in particular, has a long history of extremely costly projects which are often botched or mismanaged.

The US dissident writer, Gore Vidal, once wrote an essay illustrating how the US establishment plays up the cost of welfare, but plays down the cost of the military – in order to make it seem that economic problems are caused by the “lazy” unemployed rather than by Pentagon overspending. It appears that a similar political scam operates in the UK.

Meanwhile, the World Game Institute has shown how most of the world’s social, environmental and economic problems can be solved using 30% of the money currently spent on the military.

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OH NO! Crime is Falling!

[For an update on crime statistics, see Media scaremongering on crime]

The latest crime figures (from the authoritative British Crime Survey) show falling crime across the board. So why is the conservative press so dismayed? From their reactions, you’d think they actually want crime to soar.

For example, the Daily Telegraph (a right-leaning UK newspaper) covered the recent crime figures (which showed falls in burglary, violent crime and total crime) by focusing on a few minor areas where crime actually rose, as if to console themselves: “hey, it’s all right, crime is still rising in some areas.”

The few areas where crime increased – eg 16 yr-olds snatching mobile phones off each other in school playgrounds – hardly seem too significant, but another conservative newspaper, the Daily Mail, decided that the phone-snatching “playground plague” (their phrase) warranted more attention than the large overall decreases in crime.

Meanwhile, the BBC (which normally wallows unhealthily in crime sensationalism with shows like Crimewatch UK) decided that the falling crime statistics required only a brief two-line mention, way down the list of its news coverage.

So why is falling crime not celebrated by conservative types? Well, it’s fairly obvious when you think about it. Conservatives believe tradition is threatened by: “moral decay”, “lack of respect for authority”, “declining family values”, etc. All these threats are subjective – as is their claim that the threats are increasing. In fact the only objective measure of increasing threat is rising crime rate.

Falling crime therefore undermines their whole game. It makes their claims of “moral decline”, etc, seem paranoid; it makes their plans to “get tough” and “clamp down” look like silly overreactions.

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The Confused Cult of Normality

There’s a commercial on TV which shows a woman shouting, with great relief, “I’m normal!” The ad’s catchline is “if you’re not average, you’re normal”.

It’s one of advertising’s greatest coups to disguise the fact that they’re selling us two opposing qualities at the same time: “individuality” and “conformity”, or in other terms: “specialness” and “normality”. It’s not surprising that consumers feel confused and eternally unsatisfied.

This confusion extends to TV shows. For example, in Sex and the City and Ally McBeal, the main characters superficially strive to be individualistic, but the dialogue is entirely about their obsessive fears that their relationships are not normal enough.

Everyone wants to be normal – even film stars, who are always insisting: “hey, I’m just a normal guy”. But nobody wants to be “just average”. Are we completely hypnotised by the language we use?

From the Concise Oxford Dictionary:
Normal a. – conforming to standard
Average a. – of the ordinary standard.

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Rags to Riches – The “Opportunity” Myth

The media is currently full of stories about “opportunities” for making “dotcom” fortunes on the Internet. It’s the old “rags-to-riches” myth wheeled out again.

A recent survey revealed that nearly all this year’s top start-up companies were created by wealthy people. This doesn’t surprise us. Setting up in business – and surviving for the first few years, while you slowly build up a customer base – is usually very costly. And it’s no different for Internet businesses: Amazon had to bear initial losses of millions before it became profitable.

It’s all about Big Advertising. It doesn’t matter how talented or hard-working you are, nor how competitive the pricing of your product/service. What matters is how much you spend on advertising. If you don’t have a few million to spare, forget it.

“Rags-to-riches” is Hollywood wish-fulfilment mythology, as is the idea that we’re living in a “meritocracy”. For the well-off, “enterprise culture” may be affordable, but the rest of us are stuck with the “opportunity” of choosing between a job or welfare.

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Licensed to Watch TV

In the UK it’s a criminal offence to watch TV without a licence. Many poor people are sent to prison because they can’t afford the yearly £104 cost of the licence.

TV Detector Vans patrol our streets seeking illicit TV viewers to prosecute. According to the small print on the back of TV licences:

• The licence holder may watch a TV outside the licensed premises, provided it is powered only by internal batteries.

• The licence does not allow use of a TV in a caravan at the same time as at the licensed premises.

• The licence does not guarantee a good picture.

We didn’t make that up.

UK Politicians who support the “free market” never say a word against TV licensing, yet it would be difficult to imagine a practice more against free market principles.

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Dynamic Management Phrases
No. 2: “You Should be Grateful”

Eg: “You’re always complaining... you should be grateful you have a job.”

This is the medieval logic of “lower expectations”: no complaint is valid, since things can always be worse than they are, and we should always be grateful.

In other words, you should be grateful for being burnt at the stake, because the alternative – the Devil gets your soul – is worse. You should be grateful for being tortured only eight hours a day, rather than twenty-four. Such are the nonsensical conclusions of “lower expectations” logic.

Anyone who says “you should be grateful” is using psychological coercion, in an attempt to gain power over you by making you feel guilty. Don’t let them put you under.

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“Achievements” of New Labour (UK)

Perhaps the most significant achievement of the New Labour government is their admission that poverty and homelessness are major problems in the UK.

This honest admission of societal failure is a remarkable feat for an established government (considering the otherwise endless self-congratulation over the “success” of Capitalism).

Ironically, the “achievement” which Labour touts most is not this frankness, but rather their dubious New Deal – an expensively hyped welfare-to-work scheme (advertising budget: £18 million of taxpayers’ money), which we regard as the most pointless, stupid scheme of the decade.

Research by the Employment Policy Institute, Prince’s Trust and the Institute for Personnel & Development, shows widespread abuse of the New Deal by employers. Under the scheme, companies receive wage subsidies from the government and then renege on their obligation to provide training.

In other words, the New Deal can be seen as an expensive (total cost: £5.2 billion) way to create pointless, subsidised slave-jobs which are of no benefit to anyone. The government believes that creating more jobs is the answer to all social problems. They would be wise to consider the words of Buckminster Fuller in his book Critical Path:

“About 90 percent of all USA employment is engaged in tasks producing no life-support wealth. These non-life-support-producing employees are spending three, four, and more gallons of gasoline daily to go to their non-wealth-producing jobs – ergo, we are completely wasting $3 trillion of cosmic wealth per day in the USA.”

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Jobs aren’t the Cure

The UK government has pledged to end poverty by creating jobs. However, we’ve now had 20 years of increased job creation, and poverty has tripled – it’s time to challenge the idea that jobs are a cure-all remedy.

The number of UK citizens living in poverty has trebled since 1979. During this period a record number of people found jobs. The official unemployment count is now at a 19-year low.

Let’s take this slow, as we don’t often hear it:-

a) The number of people in work has risen.
b) Poverty has risen.

Creating jobs won’t cure poverty if 90% of the new jobs have hopelessly inadequate pay. Contrary to popular belief, more welfare is spent on people with jobs than on the jobless. Only 5% of welfare spending goes on the unemployed.

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Gordon Brown Declares War on the Unemployed

The Times,17/9/99 reported the UK government’s plans to toughen up on welfare. Unemployed people refusing to accept a “job opportunity” face a six month stoppage of welfare payments.

In other words, if you lose your job you may be forced to sweep roads (the only alternative being escalating debt/poverty).

“I will not relax the toughness of our approach” (Gordon Brown)

“Penalties for the persistent unemployed will be harsher” (gov. advisers, quoted in the Times, 17/9/99).

(strange language, that – almost as if the government regards the unemployed as... criminals.)

These press releases came just after news of the unemployment count falling to a 19-year low (1,212,000). Clearly, then, there’s no pressing economic reason for crucifying the jobless. Contrary to popular belief, the welfare expenditure on unemployment is relatively low – only 5% of the total welfare budget (see our earlier rant, The “Workshy” & the Myth of Spiralling Welfare Costs, below).

No, this “war” on the jobless has more to do with ideology than economics. The politicians behind Labour’s forced-work policy come from strongly Protestant families. Gordon Brown’s father was a minister in the Calvinist-influenced Church of Scotland. Calvinism was an extremist anti-pleasure doctrine. Tony Blair and others also have backgrounds in stoic work-obsessed Protestantism (for more details see Toil and Trouble – New Labour’s Puritan Agenda).

The sad irony is that we could all work much, much less – due to the advances in technology. Consider, as one small example, the number of telephone operators freed from drudgery by speech recognition systems (OK, the machines are irritating, but would you really wish that job on a human being? Only Gordon Brown is that sadistic.)

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Work & Original Sin

Whenever I mention “Original Sin” in connection with work, the usual reaction is “Huh?..” So here’s a “Christian parable” to illustrate what I mean:-

Imagine you’re nearly 2000 years old. For most of your life you’ve been in a semi-conscious state, with a hypnotist sitting close to your left ear. Every day for the first 1800 years or so, the hypnotist gave you the following hypnotic suggestions, over and over and over:

“You are a son/daughter of Adam who betrayed God”
“You betrayed God by being born”
“You are evil in essence”
“You are no good”
“You are lower than low”
“You are totally depraved”
“You are damned”

These are followed by a series of instructions: “If you cleanse yourself with a life of suffering (denying pleasure) and obedience to the priests, you may, with God’s grace, receive redemption. However, there is no guarantee of this.”

This goes on every day, for centuries. Then, when you were about 1700 years old, the instructions changed a little, according to Protestantism:

“You may earn redemption if you work hard. There’s still no guarantee of redemption, but an outward sign of your virtue and redemption would be possession of CAPITAL. Laziness and a lack of property are sure signs that you are damned eternally to hell.” (See Max Weber for the link between Protestantism and Capitalism).

Now you’re 1999 years old and have woken up a bit. There’s no sign of the hypnotist anymore. It’s 8.15am, and you’re driving to work. Despite a weekend of buying nice new furniture, you still feel vaguely depressed and unsatisfied. You don’t understand why – after all, you’re everything you’re supposed to be: a hard worker, a loyal, obedient corporate teamplayer. And you’ve got a lot of nice, expensive consumer products.

On your way to work, you pass a vagrant, and you feel a sudden, intense anger towards this lazy “good-for-nothing.” Then a little later you have a vague feeling of guilt. But once you get to your desk and have a few cups of CAFFEINE, these vague uneasy feelings disappear, so you can do your job.

Later, after work, the vague feelings of depression and futility return – but happily, a few glasses of ALCOHOL numb those troubling feelings, so that when you go to bed you can sink into oblivion, ready for another early morning start. “Original sin” means absolutely nothing to you.

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UK Government Declares War
on “Sick-Note Culture”

The UK government has once again shown how out of touch it is. In early November 1998, they declared war on absenteeism, or the “sick-note culture”, as the Daily Mail called it. Measures to be introduced in the public sector include visits to the homes of sick staff (to check up on them) and interviews (ie interrogations) with those who are off sick a lot.

A few points come to mind –

• If there is so much absenteeism, what does it signify? To us it signifies that a large portion of the public are fed up with long working hours and little in the way of rests or holidays.

• Absentees are accused of effectively “cheating” or “stealing” from their employers. We think the main point here is that they have NO CHOICE, since most companies don’t let staff take unpaid leave. This leaves paid holiday allowance of 20-25 days – enough only for a few short breaks and a few days off at Xmas.

• In our experience, a far greater problem is the number of people who go into work when they are ill (spreading the illness to the whole office). One survey, quoted in The Independent, revealed that 75% of managers feel obliged to go into work when they’re ill. Meanwhile stress-related illness (caused mainly by work) is reaching epidemic proportions.

• Taking a day off sick when you’re not sick may actually have a preventative effect. Take one day’s (much needed) rest and you’re less likely to come down with an illness that might put you out for weeks.

• Absenteeism is estimated to cost the taxpayers £600 million a year. This is a dubious statistic, because it assumes that if the person actually went into work rather than go AWOL, she/he’d put in a productive day’s work. More likely, the person is so tired / fed up / cheesed off / unmotivated / resistant to drudgery (why else take a day off) that their productivity would be zero – making the above figure completely bogus.

• One of the remedies proposed (in the newspaper report we read) was to “encourage” people into feeling more positive about their work. What this fails to take into account is that we are humans with shifting moods, not units of productivity. Even the most loyal, brainwashed employee will get tired or fed up with work once in a while.

• Another proposed “cure” for absenteeism was a kind of emotional blackmail – employees would be made to feel GUILTY for letting their colleagues down if they took sick leave. This says a lot (it says that people who dream up such “cures” are complete assholes. The one thing we don’t need more of is guilt).

• The possibility, in one’s mind, of taking a sick day off when things get too horrible at work (even if you don’t actually end up taking the day off) is an important safety valve. If it didn’t exist, we’d probably see more stress-related illness, and more bad feeling and sabotage in the workplace.

Employers should probably feel grateful that their staff are taking sick days, because it’s actually benefiting the company, both in terms of morale and productivity. If they can’t go as far as feeling grateful, they could at least savour the irony.

(For a slightly different perspective on sick days, see the Decadent Action website, for their “World Phone in sick Day”).

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The “Workshy” & the Myth of Spiralling Welfare Costs

The front page newspaper headlines on March 27th, 1998 (following the UK government’s announcement of its welfare reforms) were as follows:


Did anyone notice the weird contradiction between the media coverage blaming “spiralling” welfare costs on the “workshy”, and the official unemployed count showing the lowest figure for 18 years? (given as 1,383,800 in The Daily Telegraph, 19/3/98).

According to the DSS’s own figures, only 5% of welfare expenditure goes on the unemployed, and that apparently includes benefit fraud.

“..ministers should stop conniving in the fallacy that the welfare state is in a terminal crisis when it palpably is not...What is not legitimate is to pretend that welfare is a luxury Britain cannot afford”.
(Larry Elliot, in The Guardian, 19/1/98)

In fact, welfare spending isn’t spiralling out of control. During the four terms of Tory government, welfare spending rose, relative to GDP, by only 2.5% – a small amount, given an ageing population, two recessions and the increased demands for healthcare of the chronically stressed and overworked. Britain is near the bottom of the league table of developed nations in terms of welfare spending. In the European Union, only Portugal, Ireland and Greece spend less on welfare.

So why this frenzied media attack on people without jobs? To us, it sounds like the imposition of an outdated and unhealthy Puritan morality. But maybe it also serves to distract us from the real “scandals” such as the billions lost through the gaping loopholes in the tax system which make tax virtually optional for the super-rich.

Why the hell is the government spending £5.2 billion on a Welfare to Work scheme that will do nothing but artificially create low-paid jobs that nobody really wants? (According to the Idler magazine, signing up to the armed forces will be one of the ‘options’ that people will be forced to ‘choose’ from, under Welfare to Work).

Why don’t they do something sensible – like the French, for instance, who have considered encouraging companies (via tax incentives) to offer employees an optional four day week. More staff are then hired (to fill the gap left by employees opting for a shorter week), thereby reducing unemployment, and repaying (in saved social security) the amount initially spent on the tax incentives (see Jeremy Rifkin’s article, Vanishing Jobs for further details).

Everyone could benefit under such a scheme and nobody is forced to do anything (unlike the Welfare to Work scheme, where people are threatened with loss of benefits if they don’t do as told). Studies have shown that approximately 60 % of British workers feel they work too many hours (sources: NOP poll and BSA national survey), and a significant proportion of these would choose to work less hours (even with a cut in pay).

Let’s stop deluding ourselves with the childish slogan of the politicians: “getting people back into work”, and let’s think instead of how we can get people OUT of work (where they want out).

The Political Drama Triangle

A branch of psychology called Transactional Analysis (TA) has a diagram called The Drama Triangle which is used for analysing psychological games.

Interestingly, this triangle seems equally applicable to political games. The Persecutor/Rescuer polarity appears to reflect the conservative/liberal dichotomy in politics. In the TA psychological model, both persecutors and rescuers need victims in order to play their psychological power games. The same seems true in traditional politics: the conservative game requires victims to criticise, castigate, scapegoat and punish; the liberal game requires victims to “help”, patronise, pity and redeem. The liberal game appears more altruistic, but, like the conservative game, it’s about power – it’s about the monkey urge to be higher up in the tree. This can be seen from the fact that many liberal schemes for “helping” people are compulsory, ie “you must accept our help” (meaning: “you must play the role of victim”).

The survival of traditional politics depends on the existence of a large pool of “victims” – ie poor people – to rescue or persecute. Hence the continuing (in fact increasing) gap between rich and poor, even under relatively liberal governments (latest government reports show that a third of UK children live in poverty).

A fairer distribution of wealth would drastically shrink the pool of “victims”, thereby threatening the survival of traditional politics. When people say “with the political will, poverty could easily be abolished” they perhaps don’t appreciate the irony. The will to abolish a power game never arises from within the power game itself.

When individuals – eg a wife and husband – get stuck in dysfunctional power games, a therapist can help them “evolve” out of their destructive game-playing. But who is going to help politics evolve?

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