One of the terrible things this government (here in UK) is achieving is to cause us believe that our dignity and even value as human beings is dependent on us having paid work; this is wrong partly because the capitalist system this government espouses actually makes decently paid employment for all impossible, certainly in the current economic circumstances, which their policies perpetuate.
However it is mainly wrong because human dignity and value comes from being human. “Work”, if that is what we feel we must value, covers a wide variety of activity and direct or indirect remuneration, monetary or otherwise; that’s the subject of a bigger treatise (doubtless there are some out there) but it is, I believe, a relevant point.
In my view, our humanity is undermined by the increasing individualisation of the society in which we live, as well as the insidious whispers that those who have disabilities of one kind or another are less than whole and therefore worthy of less respect. The variety in the human condition, combined with the system, means that there will be a small percentage of people who play the system unfairly, but the majority should never, ever, be punished for this, as is increasingly happening.
Worse is to come as the provisions of Universal Credit kick in, beginning next year, and increasing over the following years. As Laurie Penny suggests, we may have to redefine what power means, and some of us will learn of necessity to combat our powerlessness with our own inner resources and those of each other in order to survive.
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