Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dickens #socialistreviews

Dickens was not a Socialist. Indeed in A Tale of Two Cities he portrays the plebs as a bloodstained mob who would have all decent people decapitated. So far so Tory.
And yet it is a paradox that more people have been brought to Socialism through Dickens than through explicit Socialist writers like London and Orwell. It is Dickens' heart which appeals to the heart of those who want a better world. Reading Oliver Twist or Hard Times gets the most mild-mannered reader ready to tear a strip off the next hypocritical Pecksniff they come across. Be they Cameron or Blair!
Nobody can read Hard Times and Nicholas Nickleby without wanting to take Wilshire, Gove or Morgan aside to ridicule their outdated educational thinking. It is strange to think Dickens never even met the Gove when he can read the mind of the hypocrite so clearly.
Dickens takes things to extremes. While Bumble the Beadle, Josiah Bounderby and Wackford Squeers dine in luxury, they decry the greed of the plebs who dare ask for more. He cannot have realised that this is mild compared to the behaviour of the British cabinet who dine on caviar and champagne while three quarters of those paying the bedroom tax are cutting back on essentials and endangering their health.
Dickens appealed to the conscience of the rich. In Chrismas Carol, Scrooge is a version of Ian Duncan Smith until he sees the light. One percent of the population hog the wealth and make sure they use the power of the state to keep their wealth. Anyone who breaks ranks to help the poor can wave goodbye to all that. 

Ostentatious charity matched by private penny-pinching is the best you can expect from this canaille.
Dickens would have approved of the “trickle down” theory. Capitalism is fine but the poor need help from the rich so perforce the rich must be generous. The rich have no such scruples. In their view -enforced by the state -the poor and disenfranchised must be kept that way.
A user of a food bank in Horsham once shared this with me. “Any trickle-down is the effect of being peed on from a great height.”
Dickens' host of characters and caricatures have been a source of delight and enlightenment. This is true of the books, which had a genuine working-class following through "Household Words" and did not confine their audience to the novel-reading middle class. 
It is equally true of the television adaptations although the temptation to emasculate the social message of Dickens and focus on the humour is too much for the spineless BBC to resist.
Oliver Twist asked for more. The ruling class usually need more than asking. Lord George Brown used to say that "no ruling class in history has given up its position without a fight and that usually meant a fight to the finish with no holds barred."

Why should the poor be content with a piece of the cake when they could take over the bakery?

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