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Proletarian issue 59 (April 2014)
A girl called Jack
A rare and harrowing insight into the realities of poverty in Britain.
There is a blog on the internet by the name of A Girl Called Jack, which is run by Jack Monroe, a self-confessed liberal-leftie type. Today, Jack writes recipes in the Guardian aimed at those who suffer from the kind of poverty she herself used to live in, finding incredibly creative solutions to the problem of how an adult and a child can eat for a week on the unbelievably measly £10.00 that was all she found she had left when bills and other expenses had been covered.

She wrote a book on her own experiences of living in poverty in Britain and so was able to personally escape its mind-crushing, mental-illness-inducing reality. Her blog still relates to, and pulls out and exposes real poverty in Britain from behind the many gossamer-like layers of lies and tawdry distractions that our bourgeois media spin, and for that she must be admired.

Of course, it would be easy to criticise – how many in dire poverty read the Guardian to get the recipes, for example? The Guardian itself is part of that lie spinning media, and so on. But, as we stated above, Jack is no communist; she has simply managed to find a way out for her son and herself within the system.

We could hardly condemn her for that. Most people who work in a capitalist society could be said to be assisting the system in some way by their labour. We’ve all got to eat, and at least Ms Munroe continues to bring to light on her blog some of the truths about life below the bread-line that the corporate media won’t usually tell you.

Ms Monroe does come in for some serious criticism though from ‘establishment’ figures, such as former Tory cabinet minister Edwina Currie, who was supposed to debate poverty with her on a TV programme called The Big Benefits Row on Channel 5.

The despicable (we can’t think of a kinder description) Ms Currie had no intention of actually debating though, as that is not in the interests of the bourgeoisie and its paid assassins of the truth. No, her weapons of choice were constant heckling and besmirching her opponent’s character.

Wasn’t Jack grammar-school educated? Wasn’t she just playing at ‘living in poverty’ in order to write a book? She even stooped to questioning Jack’s sexual activity – an area where she is ill-fitted to cast moral aspersions, given her own book that not only named her many partners and gave details of their activity but even listed the various places where they performed their activities.

These attacks by Currie are actually very revealing about the nature of capitalism, as a ‘good’ education is not enough of itself to keep you from falling into poverty, although it can assist an escape in a way that is generally not open to the poorly or uneducated person.

As Jack herself wrote in a reply to Ms Currie: “Poverty can happen to anyone. That’s why I unsettle you and your cronies. Because the Tory party rhetoric of ‘work hard and get on’ can fall apart in the blink of an eyelid. I worked hard. I got on. And I still spent a year and a half scrabbling around in a festering pit of depression, joblessness, benefit delays and suspensions, hunger, and the entrenching, gut-wrenching fear that I was failing as a parent.”

We would rather say ‘bourgeois’ rhetoric, as the simplistic and fraudulent line about ‘hard work’ belongs as much to Labour and the LibDems as it does to the Tories. Jack also pointed out to Currie the obvious truism that: “When you descend into personal attacks against your opponent, it is because you have no political argument left.”

The defenders of capitalism will always try to avoid a serious debate about poverty, as, were it really to be carried out, it would rip every last mask from the hideous, wasteful and bloody political system that they champion.

When those of us who exist on benefits are attacked for being work-shy and for allegedly fraudulently claiming unemployment or sickness benefits, it should be remembered that by the government’s own reckoning a mere 0.7 percent of all benefits claims are ‘fraudulent’, leaving 99.3 percent to be considered as genuine.

In any event, what is very rarely discussed is that less than a third of the benefits paid out by the state actually go to the unemployed, the sick or the disabled. In fact, the vast majority of benefits are paid to those actually in work in order to top up their wages to what the state has decreed is the amount needed to survive.

These payments should not, however, be regarded primarily as benefits being kindly given to low-paid workers. In essence, they are state subsidies for employers, who thus are able to pay their workers at rates that are well below a living wage and to maximise their profits accordingly at the public’s expense. That is to say, their profits are paid for not only by the sweat of their own workers, but out of the tax collected from all working people.

Poverty is real. It destroys people, wastes their lives, and undermines their potential to contribute to society. We do appreciate the fact that Jack carries on unmasking the beast, but the point now is to organise to kill it – and we will not do that without killing capitalism.

There is only one proven weapon for uniting workers to overthrow capitalism and build socialism, and that is Marxism Leninism. The job of communists is to organise workers – employed and unemployed, able-bodied and disabled, ill and healthy, young and old, male and female, black and white, born in Britain or not – behind a party that knows how to use this revolutionary ideology, and which has a programme aimed at overthrowing capitalism and establishing a socialist economy where planning to meet people’s needs replaces the anarchy and waste of producing for private profit.

We believe that we will eventually be that party. If you are not already a member, please join us and help to make it happen.
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