I'm a firm believer in the right to fisk: to quote every line, word, letter, jot and tittle of a publicly-made argument, providing that you're doing so for the sake of answering, or as in this case, taking the extreme piss out of, every line, word, etc. My support for this contention lies in the fact that, or so I assume, the writer of that argument was trying to make a point with each line, word, etc; and in any debate, all points made should be answerable.
Unfortunately, I have this odd feeling that the Guardian might just see my copy-pasting an entire essay published on their site, interspaced though it may be by my own words, as infringement of copyright. In which case, all I can do, Gentle Reader, is provide you with a link to the article in question.
And here, with a comment about the picture heading the article, begins my parafisk:
Look at this picture of two evidently well-fed, well-clothed children, playing with an obviously nearly-new football! Poverty! Don't you dare compare it to photos you've seen of children starving to death in sub-Saharan Africa, or being worked to death in far-eastern sweatshops. With their clothes and their football and their well-nourished bodies and their education, they are a striking example of horrendous poverty! And don't you forget it, matey! Broken Britain! The existence in this country of even better fed, clothed and educated children proves that the secularist, nihilistic, atheistic agenda of equality-of-opportunity is NOT WORKING!
Given the ease with which it's possible to garner sympathy by shouting "Will somebody please think of the children!?," and adding in the word "community" because it feels nice and cuddly, I thought I'd say a few things about The State (Boo! Hiss!) and child poverty; because "The State" (Boo! Hiss!) makes an easy, nasty-sounding target, whilst being ill-defined enough that I might get away with saying nasty stuff about it.
The State (Boo! Hiss!) has, in recent years, given much emphasis to specifically child poverty. This emphasis on child poverty is something that has happened, I must stress, in recent years. Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Kingsley—they had nothing—nothing I tell you—to say on the subject of child poverty. Nor will I attempt to show, in any way, that an increase in emphasis on any kind of poverty has, in actual fact, been in existence in recent years. I shall skip lightly past the fact that most news-stories involving children in recent years have been about their rather insalubrious treatment at the hands of various churches, or those of various celebrities. I shall wander quietly past, without glancing in the direction of, the glaring possibility that politicians might like to mention Helping The Dear Little Children a lot, not because they actually place much emphasis on Helping The Poor Wee Lambs, but because it's the latest version of the age old vote-getting tactic of kissing babies.
Nope; in much the same way that I promote the worship of The Invisible Man In The Sky in my day job—that is, with absolutely no evidence to support my contentions—I hereby proclaim that there has, indeed, and only recently, been an unusually large amount of emphasis placed on child poverty. And, again without a shred of evidence, I now claim that this unevidenced emphasis derives (though I don't propose to explain how it derives) from The State's (Boo! Hiss!) focus on giving everyone an equal chance to be fed, educated, clothed and so on.
That's all well and good, but in every system of measuring people's worth, be it power, prestige, money, critical acclaim, being examined for one's ability to talk knowledgably about The Invisible Man In The Sky, there will be an average. I define falling below that average as failure. And what about those poor sods who, using my definition, fail eh? What about them? Will somebody please think of the failures!?
Well, obviously, us followers of the dictates of The Invisible
Genocidal Maniac Loving Father Figure In The Sky, follow our Heavenly Leader's example by drowning every last one of loving these poor pathetic failures, and we do so by talking patronisingly of the dignity of their labour. (And, while we talk of their labour, let us quietly assume that the things they do to put bread on the table and pay the rent are the only things which define them, and thus define their failure in our eyes.) Because that's so much more effective than The State's (Boo! Hiss!) method—that of actually doing stuff; of enforcing a minimum-wage policy, providing social security, free-at-the-point-of-use health care, education, laws to prevent discriminatory employment policies, child benefits and so on.
The priority of Invisible-Man-worshippers, therefore, should not be that of giving them an equal start and letting them find their own level.
It should not even be that of letting folks, erm, find their own level (Yes I know I just said the same thing twice. Shut up, will you.), except in terms of us patronisingly allowing them to feel dignified in what I define as their failure, and proud of their paltry little dish-washing, floor-scrubbing efforts to improve the lives of us, the great and noble non-failures. (Did I mention that my non-failure is in the form of a career spent discussing the consequences of living in a universe created by a an Invisible Man In The Sky? So much more importanter than a well-made burger!)
If we—meaning I—redefine "equality" to mean "the same" rather than its current meaning of "of equal worth," then only an idiot thinks there could ever be equality. Instead, we should be striving to make everyone's efforts be viewed as
being equal having equal worth. Yes; even the poor dim-witted Morlocks' failures' efforts.
The weight of Zombie-Son-Of-The-Invisible-Man-Cult tradition over the centuries supports that view. Well, apart from when we supported slavery, the burning of non-believers at the stake, killing each other over which version of the Bumper Book Of Fairy-Tales we should be reading, making women marry their rapists, decrying the use of anaesthetic in child-birth, lying about condoms spreading AIDS, and all that other stuff. Apart from all those times, we really have espoused the treatment of all people as equal. Ish.
Not knowing what equality means leads to unjustified not-sameness. Erm, no. Hold on, now I mean to use the proper definition, not my made-up one. Start again…
Not knowing what equality means leads to unjustified inequality. That leads to rule by shallow, ruthless people with no useful talent and no virtues—people who are obscenely and undeservedly rich, and probably criminal. Obviously not at all like people who belong to organisations which make millions per anum by pretending to talk to, and interpret the wishes of, the creator of the entire freakin' universe, or people who have supported slavery, burned non-believers at the stake, killed each other over which version of the Bumper Book Of Fairy-Tales we should be reading, made women marry their rapists, decried the use of anaesthetic in child-birth, lied about condoms spreading AIDS, and all that other stuff.
Focussing on child poverty now doesn't mean that it might not be a problem in future. And if we're going to need to carry on focussing on it and helping children in the future, well… it's all so bloody futile, isn't it? What do we want? A quick fix! When do we want it? Yesterday!
I now want to introduce the word "holistic," because it makes me sound all edumacated. Basically, it means not just getting tough on poverty, but on the causes of poverty. Right on!
Zombie-Son-Of-The-Invisible-Man-Cult care is care for all children. Not like The State's (Boo! Hiss!) care, which consists of allowing one child in a hundred access to health care, picking one in a thousand by lottery and letting them go to school, giving one family in fifty, chosen at random, child-benefits. Thusly does The State (Boo! Hiss!) pluck one lucky individual, here and there, from poverty, whilst leaving the rest to rot. Not like us, with our discriminatory faith-schools, our advocation of second-hand citizenship for gay people and our generally unhealthy fascination with other people's sex-lives and why they shouldn't be allowed to do what they do.
This top-down, paternalistic (Whoops, I nearly said "nanny state." That's the version for the Daily Mail next week.) attempt to give everyone equal access to, at the very least, basic education, health care and so on, can never give everyone access to basic education, health care and so on. It's the wrong sort of
nanny paternalistic state. We need my kind of paternalistic state, which would promote virtues like belief in the face of zero evidence, letting women die rather than abort their pregnancies, discriminating against gay people, banning the sale of condoms—that sort of thing. My kind of paternalistic state would encourage people to wonder about what makes people happy. Then ban it on general principal by order of The Invisible Man In The Sky, if they look too happy.
Overlooking the obvious point that people in this country have been less and less likely to have to endure abject poverty, in almost direct correlation to the decline of the power of the Church, I'd like to mention, as if it's a startlingly new thought, that people who've never had to deal with much poverty have grown increasingly unlikely to know how to deal with poverty. Not like the good old days, when people dealt with it by quietly starving to death. These days, we're collectively unable to deal with poverty, as evidenced by the way we collectively use our State (Boo! Hiss!) to help people via education, health care, child benefit, income support, and so on. Damn, if there were only a way we could collectively help poor people…
Having thus made myself look like a bloody idiot, I'd now like to throw in some educated-looking philosophical buzz-words and some vague, obfuscatory language, without giving them any context or explaining what the hell I mean by them. Then I want to mention a Great Catholic Thinker; because, like all mediocre philosophers, I think mentioning someone Great™ saying something which I can't be bothered to explain makes my own vaguely alluded to point appear automatically much stronger.
Poor kids have poor parents. This is because it's the parents who earn the money, and their earnings determine whether the family is poor or not. So if we want the kids to be less poor, we need to make the parents less poor. Gawd, I'm clever!
The Zombie-Son-Of-The-Invisible-Man-Cultists' view of community holds the relationships between all sub-groups and members—not just children—of the community central to how the various relationships within the community should be viewed. This in contrast to The State (Boo! Hiss!), which only ever tries to address children's problems, like pensions, post-natal care, unemployment and so forth.
If you realise that the Zombie-Son-Of-The-Invisible-Man-Cult itself can function as a social sub-group which can, but usually doesn't—especially given that twenty six of its leading shamans are permanently ensconced at the heart of our political institution—avoid politics, then you realise that Zombie-Son-Of-The-Invisible-Man-Cult is uniquely able to help the poor. Just like it always has done, obviously. But now we need to do it, erm, more.
The church needs to get involved in welfare, medicine, education and all that stuff. Because that's what the poor need! And, as I've non-explained, it's not like they're getting it from The State (Boo! Hiss!), now is it?
The social dimension needs again to be the defining consideration of our social dimension. Erm. Yes. That.
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