THE Department for Work and Pensions has admitted lying to the public by making up stories from fictional claimants, and passing them off as real, in a desperate attempt to boost Duncan Smith’s policy of cutting welfare by all means possible, using sanctions, starvation and other tools.
The lies were necessary to try to show that those at the business end of his sanctioning and benefit-cutting policies have been redeemed by it, saved by his intervention, and now understand that not only was it for their own good, but that it has done them good. The idea is that the likes of Duncan Smith are their real ‘Big Brother’ doing his best for them, and they should be grateful.
Since there are no real people who think like this, they have to be invented. In fact, it has always been the basic belief of all oppressive ruling classes that the poor are poor because they deserve to be poor and refuse to work their way out of it. They have to be rescued – essentially by the knout, and state violence.
Historically, they were always helped by good beatings and brandings! This is how the rural English population was convinced to become part of the working class, once their land had been enclosed and they were driven onto the highways and the byways. Marx in his work Capital showed how they were branded, beaten, slashed with knives and burnt with pokers till they appreciated the benefits of being part of a new order.
A similar notion possessed the Tsars of all the Russias and their feudal lords. The peasant only understood the knout and was all the better when he or she felt it across their backs. The early English bourgeoisie saw as abominations, not just Roman Catholic mysticism, but all those non-working saints days that spread idleness and a sense of entitlement.
Workhouse master Duncan Smith isn’t fighting Roman Catholic mysticism, he is fighting what he believes are the results of the Welfare State, free state education and over-mighty trade unions. These he considers have bred a sense of entitlement that only the ruling class can be allowed to have. In the place of the branding iron, the whip and the knout, he has his sanctions, the abolition of benefits, and the vision of the charity of the rich returning to give the poor some spare bread in food banks, replacing the welfare state.
The propaganda war to push through these measures is intense and not guaranteed to succeed since the working class and the poor are attached to their rights that they have won from the ruling class and will not give them up. The propaganda war, the battle of ideas, is therefore a vital part of the class struggle.
In this vital propaganda war, it is very difficult to find real people who support being sanctioned, losing their benefits and their homes, depending on food banks to try and keep their families fed and starvation from their door. It is easier to invent them. This is just what Duncan Smith has done in the spirit of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. The purpose of this government body in Orwell’s book ‘1984’ was to construct lies that fit with the government’s current interpretation of reality.
This method of rule, that Orwell witnessed in his work in various ministries during World War Two, inexorably led him to rename the Ministry for War, the Ministry of Love, and to the concept that ‘Big Brother’ is watching you, and that this is the only way that you will be safe – the reality of which we see and feel today with round-the-clock surveillance ‘a necessity for our peace’.
Stephen Timms, Labour’s acting shadow work and pensions secretary, said yesterday: ‘You couldn’t make it up – but it seems Iain Duncan Smith can. The only way he can find backers for his sanctions regime is by inventing them.’
Not so long ago a Minister that consciously lied to the electors (and was found out) in order to continue with a failed policy that it could not get anybody to support publicly would have been made to resign.
Not so today, and Labour does not even bother to demand that Duncan Smith resign, so he soldiers on regardless! All the more reason for the workers and the trade unions to force the TUC to call a general strike at its September Congress, to bring the Tories down, and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.