A Helot Society 307

So we are back with a vengeance to notions of the undeserving poor. Electronic cards are to ensure that the poor can only spend their benefits on basic necessities like food and clothing, and not on a lifestyle of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Having lived a rather spectacular life encompassing both ends of the social spectrum, I can state with utter conviction that consumption of illegal pleasure-giving stimulants is far higher among the very wealthy than among the very poor. The notion that only the rich should be allowed to have any enjoyment in life is deeply offensive. It is fine for the Bullingdon Club to get plastered on Krug and cocaine and smash up restaurants. That is all jolly japes and high spirits. For a desperate man to seek solace in four cans of Tennant’s strongest or a bottle of Buckfast is however a dreadful sin and sign of social irresponsibility.

The high streets of our poorest towns are strewn with betting shops, bargain booze outlets, pawnbrokers and payday lenders. For anybody to believe that state compulsion of the patrons is the answer to the problem is the ultimate counsel of despair. Forget giving people a better hope, a greater chance, more socially useful pleasures. Just ban the little solace they have now. We have a government which holds a large section of the population in contempt; which cannot imagine that given a different birth, these people might have been sitting next to them in the Bullingdon Club; in short, which has no notion whatsoever of human dignity.

This latest move against benefits claimants is consistent with the entire development of the modern British economy. High wage economies generate a self-sustaining high domestic demand which keeps the economy growing. Our three main political parties postulate a low wage economy, with a minimum wage below the level which can sustain a family. The low wage economy is defended as a guarantee of strong international competitiveness and thus export performance. In fact Britain’s low wage model is entirely different, and the vast majority of those on low wages have no relation to exports. What Britain has developed is a model where a thin layer at the top are on extremely high remuneration. This of course includes bankers and the financial services industry, but also through the cult of managerialism, CEOs and directors have vastly increased their remuneration. For the multiple between the highest and lowest paid in a company to be 70 – the cleaner on 15,000, the core level majority on 20,000 and the CEO on 3,000,000- is now absolutely routine.

Even the public sector is ruled by this pretence that executive work is harder, more stressful, more uniquely difficult than core work. Well, I have been an Ambassador and a barman, and I can tell you which was hardest work. University vice chancellors are on over 300,000. Local councils regularly have a score of people on over 100,000.

We have no media willing to take on the triumph of greed. The most “left wing” of British newspapers, the Guardian, pays its editor total remuneration of over half a million per year and “star” columnists 300,000, while exploiting interns and junior staff, and squandering 35 million pounds a year of C P Scott’s great endowment in losses – straight into its senior staff’s pockets.

Britain has developed a new kind of low wage economy – one where the bulk of those on low wages work to provide services to those on very, very high remuneration. In a sense it is very old. We have become a helot society. It should be stressed that low wage is a deliberate policy. There is absolutely no reason why those in work could not be paid more. The economy would not crash. In Norway the median wage of the lowest 10 percentile is over 20,000 pounds, while the multiple between the lowest ten percentile and the top ten percentile is less than one third what it is in Britain. The UK’s astonishing and accelerating wealth gap is a result of deliberate ideological policy, founded on a notion that those at the top are possessed of rare and extraordinary abilities – whereas in truth, in the UK more than anywhere, their main achievement was usually to be born into the right family.

The concomitant of that worship of the rich is the belief that money measures worth; that if you have a low income then you are scum. That is the attitude that underlies these benefit smart cards. It is truly disgusting.

307 thoughts on “A Helot Society

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  • John Goss

    Such good news I have just received so sorry to go off topic. All charges against Moazzam Begg have been dropped. I knew this was a fabrication from the start to seize his computers to try and find out what he has got on the secret service torturers. He has just spent another eight months in custody for what? They should leave people alone.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Old Mark, Canspeccy…all very cogent analysis, I’m sure. But I notice there’s another exception to the low-wage model. Management and shareholders. We don’t recruit our bosses – more accurately, they don’t recruit each other – from the ranks of Somali or Roma immigrants. We’d perhaps be better off if they did, as economic migrants are probably far more thrifty, and less immediately in need of nice houses and yachts. The low wage economy is designed to enrich nonproducers at the expense of producers, as the bottom line, and should not be accepted as a given by anyone in the range from unskilled to squeezed-middle professionals, or, especially, by those left unemployed as a matter of conscious policy.

    The low wage economy runs counter to any notion of democracy, and it’s bloody iniquitous. Discussions of how to mitigate it are beside the point. It’s wrong.

  • Republicofscotland

    Never mind just benefits claimants: Perhaps if we banned everyone from drinking and betting, and the whole country would be a happier place. These aren’t really pleasures but pointless, usually destructive compulsions that has the added benefit for the government of stopping the sheep asking awkward questions.


    Maybe they should bring back the Temperance Act of 1913 in Scotland.


  • John Goss

    Great news just in. Charges against Moazzam Begg have been dropped due to lack of evidence. I have known this was a fabrication from the start. It is why I have been promoting the #ReleaseMoazzam link for the last eight months. Craig suspected it too.


    Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE, said:

    “This has been a testing time for Moazzam, his family and the Muslim community. The criminalisation of virtually any Muslim that has been to Syria has only increased in intensity, while CAGE has been attacked from every angle by a host of government agencies. We hope that Moazzam’s release is a sign that the government are now willing to adopt a more measured strategy in relation to anti-terrorism policy and avoid the attempt to criminalise all dissent and crush any organisation like CAGE that stands up for the rule of law and justice.”

    “CAGE and Moazzam have been maligned , defamed and vilified by far too many and we hope that now our calls for the protection of basic rights and innovative approaches built on dialogue to dispute resolution will now be heeded. Violence and the destruction of freedoms and liberties inherent in the War on Terror doctrine can never be the solution.”

    “We thank everyone for their support of Moazzam, his family and the CAGE movement.”


    I know you will all share in this good news.

  • Ben E. Geserit Muad'Dib Further Confounding Gender Speculators

    ” So some hippy dude knocks on your door to inform you that your garage is on fire – he’s one of the liberal elite (we really must stop using the term ‘liberal’ as it has two opposite meanings)- so you assume he’s worried about the aesthetics of the smoke, crack another beer and settle back in front of a Simpsons rerun?”

    That’s a stretch but maybe I deserve that, Ba’al. I’m referring to those of the upper classes who mouth the words then donate some shekels to make it even. I did say it was the hypocrites, in my own defense.

    I didn’t mean those who use bicycles for transportation. 🙂

  • The Remembrancer

    Your City of London masters are displeased with your fractious behavior and you’re going to lose your free expression privileges.


    Don’t like it? Should have thought of that before you chose to submit to my rule.

    Now shut up.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I didn’t mean those who use bicycles for transportation

    Now you’re just being provocative. But if you mean Bono (has the bugger even got a name to indicate his parentage?)…I’m with you.

  • Republicofscotland

    Mainstream media outlets have censored the comments made by the Argentine president at the United Nations General Assembly where she harshly criticized the US international policies.

    During her speech before the United Nations 69th General Assembly on September 24, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner covered a variety of issues from economic reforms needed at the International Monetary Fund to the plight of Palestinians and the global fight against terrorism.

    The Argentine president questioned countries such as the United States for attacking groups, including the ISIL Takfiri terrorists which Washington previously backed against the Syrian government.

    “Where do ISIS (ISIL) and Al-Qaeda take their guns from? Yesterday’s freedom fighters are today’s terrorists,” Cristina Fernandez said, blasting US policies vis-a-vis terrorism.



    It would appear if you speak out against the “Axis of Evil” Washington, Westminster,Tel Aviv et al, (even if you’re a president)then the PTB will censor you. They wouldn’t want the truth coming out, God forbid.


  • Ben E. Geserit Muad'Dib Further Confounding Gender Speculators

    Paul David Hewson…Gaelic

    Irish, but a collaborator, Ba’al.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Thanks for that, Remembrancer. I particularly enjoyed:
    The Police chief believes tighter rules may be needed to prevent people from breaking the law in the future.

    IOW, people are breaking the law. Therefore, let’s make some more law.

  • Ben E. Geserit Muad'Dib Further Confounding Gender Speculators

    First rule of genocide; eliminate the lineage.

    ““The particular cynicism of this shelling is the very fact that today was the children’s first day at school. And on this day, artillery directly targets them. These are blatant, intolerable things,” the ministry’s human rights ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov said.”


  • Ben E. Geserit Muad'Dib Further Confounding Gender Speculators

    Don’t give them any ideas…..

    “in the event of a military strike against Syria, there’s a chance that a missile could hit a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) outside the capital city of Damascus, Russia has warned.

    “If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic,” according to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry, as quoted by Reuters.”


  • Republicofscotland

    Well,well, what do you know, Ebola may have made it the land of the free America, through a Liberian man.

    Cue Big Pharma and the US Government, to instigate a vaccination programme in the good old US of A. Or at the very least force US states to by and stock a so called antidote, to the Ebola virus, watch the dollars roll in.

  • Ben E. Geserit Muad'Dib Further Confounding Gender Speculators

    The hospital sent him home for two days with antibiotics. How many were exposed? Texas is closer than you think.

  • Republicofscotland

    The United States has stepped up its interference in China’s internal affairs, saying Washington “supports the aspirations of the Hong Kong people” amid continuing pro-democracy protests in the Chinese territory.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday Washington backs “universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people.”

    Earnest said the legitimacy of Hong Kong’s chief executive will be greatly enhanced if he is elected by universal suffrage according to the Basic Law.

    “We have consistently made our position known to Beijing, and will continue to do so,” he said. China has warned against foreign meddling in the demonstrations.

    His comments came as thousands of protesters rallied for a fourth night in Hong Kong demanding open nominations for candidates for the 2017 elections. That is against a China-backed framework that only allows candidates approved by Beijing.

    Its about to get very interesting in Hong Kong now that the US has given the nod of Universal Suffrage to its residents.


  • Leslie

    Craig –

    Your ‘tone’ as ever, reaches the stratosphere – but that’s your style. And many seem to like it.
    Your point about benefits and booze could almost be comically sent up – what’s the world coming to when a good, decent, honest claimant can’t get pissed on their benefit money! Well, some of the conspiracy theorists around here might see the booze as a capitalist trap – keep them drunk and apolitical! Either way it’s all small potatoes.
    You are correct in saying that wages could be higher. And there is an issue here – possibly an incendiary issue – about low wages. I think the pressure to raise them will become irresistible. Those who seek to improve the lot of working people should focus on this point – first the ‘living wage’ then a higher wage. Wages are the key to change.

  • doug scorgie

    1 Oct, 2014 – 12:31 pm

    “Doug Scorgie. “Selective quoting and adding of dots can make anything seem like a non-sequitur, Doug.”

    A non sequitur Anon1, is a logical fallacy where a stated conclusion is not supported by its premise.

    Your conclusion:

    “…while government is content to let British workers rot on benefits so that big business can make more profit from cheap labour.”

    Is not supported by the premise:

    “Sorry, Craig, but there are huge numbers of dossers in this country who are perfectly capable of work but are able to shirk because the benefits system allows it…”

    And it’s not selective quoting as you imply:

    The three dots… (called ellipsis) represent the omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding.

  • Abe Rene

    @John Goss “I knew this was a fabrication”

    I don’t know about a frame-up, but I think he should be compensated.

  • glenn_uk

    @Ben: “That’s a stretch but maybe I deserve that, Ba’al. I’m referring to those of the upper classes who mouth the words then donate some shekels to make it even. I did say it was the hypocrites, in my own defense.

    Perhaps it’s not realised, this side of the Atlantic, just how well-heeled groups like the Sierra Club actually are. They purport to be highly concerned about the environment, but show far more interest in, say, preventing windfarms from spoiling the views of the well-appointed homes of their members, who drink fine wine while never allowing their pinky-finger to stick out, speak through clenched teeth at all times, and know exactly where the shrimp fork is meant to be arranged.

    A good example of what they _don’t_ do is illustrated when it comes to the likes of Coal River Mountain Watch, trying to prevent the environmental catastrophe of mountain-top removal mining (open-cast mining):


    The major environmental groups give them no help or support whatsoever. Butt-kiss. Even when begged to support the likes of the ACHE act (which might stop mountain-top removal), there’s still nothing but silence.


    @Ba’al: Pointing out the above is not doing “shallow”.

  • glenn_uk

    @Canspeccy: “Actually, welfare costs the country 23% of GDP. If the unproductive sector continues to grow, the country as a whole would eventually face starvation.

    A rather unlikely scenario, but in any case – that money (even if the figure is true) isn’t just poured down some rat-hole. It isn’t even leaving the country, the way money given in huge bonuses to hedge-fund managers would be.

    Putting money in the pockets of the least well off is, in fact, a very good way to stimulate the economy. They tend to spend all of it, in pretty short order, and spend it locally. There’s a multiplying factor when money is introduced into a local economy, so the government eventually gets back a sizeable proportion if not more than the original investment.

    Never mind the fact that this welfare does stop people starving and living on the street (if that is a concern at all to you), it prevents crime and prostitution, and loan-sharks, as alternatives for raising the necessary cash.

    One glaring exception is where housing benefit goes directly to already wealthy landlords, and acts as a direct transfer of taxpayer money to the rich. This is why Tories hate public housing, and sold off the country’s stock of council houses on the cheap (the same way they sell all public assets, incidentally).

    So let’s not do the simplistic pretence that every pound of public spending (particularly on welfare) is a pound wasted, please.

  • nevermind, there's a future, still

    “oS; The Newsheads keep repeating the lie that ebola is not contagious during the incubation period.


    Lying to the public for their own good.”

    I have painted exactly this scenario of an ‘open barn door’ ebola spread around the globe, its crucial that flights are recorded and addresses are true, its in everyone’s own interest when flying. Somebody running past you on a plane trying top reach the toilets, coughing his/her guts out, can infect a whole plane of passengers.

    Everyone on this flight will now have to be contacted and their chains of contacts followed up, for a week, to see whether any contamination has happened onboard.

    The aircraft might want to exchange the row of seats and contact all passengers who sat there since the chap came off the plane. If there are more than three others infected by this texas man, scrapping the plane or fully decontaminating it, regardless what this might mean, is an option to the flight operators.

    Thanks for the great read, Old Mark Ba’al, John Goss et all, good to here that Moazzam finally has won his case, what a long ardous time he endured.

    Another point, do we know how long such a virus can survive on the top end of a seat/ the overhead locker surfaces, the most likely places a person would touch when walking through a plane?
    This si public information that should be offered to us so we can take our own precautions if necessarry.

    Airports should have ready areas fitted out and ready with staff ready to attend within 15-30 minutes. On long flights the risks increase, obviously.
    This will happen again and

  • Anon1


    “Perhaps it’s not realised, this side of the Atlantic, just how well-heeled groups like the Sierra Club actually are. They purport to be highly concerned about the environment, but show far more interest in, say, preventing windfarms from spoiling the views of the well-appointed homes of their members, who drink fine wine while never allowing their pinky-finger to stick out, speak through clenched teeth at all times, and know exactly where the shrimp fork is meant to be arranged.”

    The beginnings of a good post but unfortunately you went straight for the chip fork. 🙁

  • Anon1


    You’re doing exactly as before, selectively quoting so as to suggest inconsistencies without dealing with the substance of my post, namely mass-immigration. Not one of the quotes you have chosen even mentions my central point. So you are willfully misrepresenting my position down the thread either in the hope that nobody will be bothered to go back and check it, or that I will get bored of replying to you, which I now am.

  • fred

    “There’s a multiplying factor when money is introduced into a local economy, so the government eventually gets back a sizeable proportion if not more than the original investment. ”

    More so if the money is spent on a highly taxed item, such as alcohol or tobacco. Tax on a 50 gm packet of tobacco is £9. Then they charge you VAT on the tax you just paid at 20% so around £12 of a £15 packet of tobacco the government gets right back again.

  • John Goss

    Concerning Moazzam Begg it has been much worse than people imagine. Why was he not tagged. Even Abu Qatada, another innocent man targeted by Theresa May and the security services. Moazzam’s joint bank account with his wife was stopped and she was unable to pay her utility bills. Cage’s bank accounts (Barclays and Cooperative) were also closed. Moazzam is an outreach worker for Cage. It was a deliberate attempt to bankrupt honest people and organisations. There was a banning order on reporting this from those of us that knew about the closure of these accounts. Thankfully that did not deter Peter Oborne reporting it. Something has got to be done. Nobody has faith in the justice system in this country any more. Or in the mainstream media to report honestly and fairly.

    Hopefully some good will come from this evil.

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