Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Quote For The Day : Connolly On Pensions

With the continuing attacks on pensions and benefits in the UK, accompanied by the usual chorus of apologetics sounding off about 'welfare dependency' and 'demotivation', it is interesting to note that the ruling class and their apologists do not alter their position in a century. Nor should we. Massive gains may have been made by the working people of Europe and to a lesser extent other parts of the developed world, but they are always dependent on our willingness to fight to defend them. Likewise, workers in developing economies will have to fight in a determined and united fashion to gain even the most basic of the limited rights and welfare of workers in the developed world. With this in mind, read the words of James Connolly on the battle for decent pensions in his Workshop Talks of almost a century ago -

But the Socialist proposals, they say, would destroy the individual character of the worker. He would lean on the community, instead of upon his own efforts.

Yes: Giving evidence before the Old Age Pensions’ Committee in England, Sir John Dorrington, M.P., expressed the belief that the “provision of Old Age Pensions by the State, for instance, would do more harm than good. It was an objectionable principle, and would lead to improvidence.”

There now! You will always observe that it is some member of what an Irish revolutionist called “the canting, fed classes,” who is anxious that nothing should be done by the State to give the working class habits of “improvidence,” or to do us any “harm.” Dear, kind souls!

To do them justice they are most consistent. For both in public and private their efforts are most whole-heartedly bent in the same direction, viz., to prevent improvidence – ON OUR PART.

They lower our wages – to prevent improvidence; they increase our rent – to prevent improvidence, they periodically suspend us from our employment – to prevent improvidence, and as soon as we are worn out in their service they send us to a semi-convict establishment, known as the Workhouse, where we are scientifically starved to death – to prevent improvidence.

Old Age Pensions might do us harm. Ah, yes! And yet, come to think of it, I know quite a number of people who draw Old Age Pensions and it doesn’t do them a bit of harm. Strange, isn't it?

Then all the Royal Families have pensions, and they don't seem to do them any harm; royal babies, in fact, begin to draw pensions and milk from a bottle at the same time.

Afterwards they drop the milk, but they never drop the pension – nor the bottle.

Then all our judges get pensions, and are not corrupted thereby – at least not more than usual. In fact, all well-paid officials in governmental or municipal service get pensions, and there are no fears expressed that the receipt of the same may do them harm.

But the underpaid, overworked wage-slave. To give him a pension would ruin his moral fibre, weaken his stamina, debase his manhood, sap his integrity, corrupt his morals, check his prudence, emasculate his character, lower his aspirations, vitiate his resolves, destroy his self-reliance, annihilate his rectitude, corrode his virility – and – and – other things.

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