Communist revolutionary Friedrich Engels’ ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’ described working class lives and working conditions in industry in the early to mid-nineteenth century. His description included analysis of causes and consequences of the state of people’s lives. He elucidated the political causes in the context of propertied class versus working class and exposed the aims of the former and its relentless exploitation of the latter.
In the final chapter, Results – a description of typical daily lives of people living in towns and cities, Engels posited the hardships of such lives not only as a direct and inevitable consequence of capitalist methodology but also as the result of deliberate policy.
“But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.“
He devised the charge ‘Social Murder.’
“I have now to prove that society in England daily and hourly commits what the working-men’s organs, with perfect correctness, characterise as social murder, that it has placed the workers under conditions in which they can neither retain health nor live long; that it undermines the vital force of these workers gradually, little by little, and so hurries them to the grave before their time. I have further to prove that society knows how injurious such conditions are to the health and the life of the workers, and yet does nothing to improve these conditions. That it knows the consequences of its deeds; that its act is, therefore, not mere manslaughter, but murder, I shall have proved, when I cite official documents, reports of Parliament and of the Government, in substantiation of my charge.”
(The remainder of the chapter provided the proof that Engels claimed.)
Social Murder is a necessary facet of capitalist and imperialist exploitation. Without the continuous presence of this crime the exponential unearned profits for an elite would decline. Clearly, the fightback by the people had achieved apparent diminished prevalence of Social Murder since the mid-nineteenth century but this reduction is illusory: The criminal acts just moved to other countries through the use of first colonialist imperialism and later economic imperialism.
In Britain from 1945 to 2010 there had been a steady (though occasionally stalled) attempt to remove Social Murder via creation of and continuous improvement of the NHS, extensive social housing building (until 1979) and laws to protect workers and tenants. In the three decades immediately preceding 2010 the fight against Social Murder had been piecemeal with some retardation.
Since 2010 a reversal has occurred. All the progress attained since 1945 is being destroyed rapidly. Seven years of government from obedient servants of wealth terrorists, the former trained in inhumane and extreme anti-social elitism at some of the top private schools in Britain, has been a relentless single-minded violent destruction of anything that counters Social Murder. The most destructive acts are the following.
The deliberate destruction of the NHS
Healthcare is a necessity. Therefore, in a society without an NHS, healthcare is an enormous source of unearned income for the wealth terrorists via health insurance and direct payment, the latter often leading to a lifetime of debt for the patient; those who are too poor to afford adequate insurance and those with chronic illnesses are left to become more ill and die. The current impasse in the USA regarding the president’s attempts to make changes to public healthcare is a debate between republicans about how best to exploit the ill for the benefit of the vulture health insurers. In Britain, the two most recent Tory Health Ministers, Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt, have been well-schooled by health bandits from the USA in how to destroy the NHS and how best to prepare the UK healthcare system for exploitation. Whilst maintaining a shameless unblinking presentation of lies the two health ministers have oversaw
- NHS property and land given away to developers
- Continuous arbitrary closures of hospitals, health centres and GP’s surgeries
- Removal of bursaries for nursing students leading to a huge reduction in applicants
- Deliberate over-working of doctors, accompanied by a campaign against legitimate concerns raised by junior doctors, with the intent of encouraging doctors to leave the NHS
- Management of services, including ambulances, paramedics, cleaning staff, telephone services (including 999 calls) “outsourced” to made-up companies that have no interest in providing an adequate service and who subject their employees to overlong working hours and low pay
- Introduction of “optional” payments to fast-track patient access to a doctor; those who are unable to pay are shunted to the back of the queue
The above and other tactics are part of the strategy to destroy the NHS. Its destruction has been narrated by ghouls who repeat the mantra: “Look how bad the NHS is performing. It needs to be replaced.”
The removal of the NHS is a deliberate social policy that views ill people as commodities or as burdens. The former are fleeced and the latter are left to die. Healthcare insurers and financial vultures profiteer. Clear Social Murder.
Vicious campaign against people with disabilities
Even for the expert money-grabbers in the wealth terrorism industry there is no profit to be made out of a person with a disability or chronic illness that severely inhibits their ability to work. Tories view disabled people as a cost in healthcare, welfare and housing with no financial return. The ethos of the conservative mind cannot accept that it is appropriate to provide support for someone without there also being an unearned profit for the wealth pillagers. Thus, since their return to government in 2010, the Tories have been engaged in multi-layered attacks on people with disabilities and/or chronic debilitating illnesses. Basic financial support, access to housing and life-dependent healthcare have all been slashed in quantity and in quality including the following.
‘Fit For Work’ tests
The dehumanising and incompetent ‘fit for work’ tests are imposed by the DWP on anyone claiming any disability benefit. Conducted by poorly trained unsuitable personnel the monitoring of the tests is designed so that almost every person forced to take part will be declared fit for work. As soon as such a judgement is passed, benefit related to disability stops and the participant must begin to look for work and make a claim for unemployment benefits.
If someone is too ill to attend or their disability makes attendance impossible then that person has all their benefits removed. The appeals procedure to challenge ‘fit for work’ decisions is designed to fail – staff are given bonuses for failing an appeal – and takes months which is too long for many people, and the appeals procedure against benefit sanctioning does not exist. Doctors have been coerced into charging exorbitant fees for medical letters of support for someone attending a ‘fit for work’ test or who is unable to attend one.
Many have received a demand to attend such a test or a notification of benefit sanction due to non-attendance while they lay on their death-bed suffering from a terminal illness. Attendees have exasperated their illnesses by taking part in a ‘fit for work’ test when not well enough to do so. Some people have had to be rushed to hospital after becoming severely ill at a test and subsequently had their benefits sanctioned due to abandoning the test.
The devastating consequences of the ‘fit for work’ tests and the accompanying conduct by decision-making DWP staff are eviction, destitution, illness relapse and death. Thousands of deaths. Deaths caused by attending tests when not fit to attend, deaths caused by removal of vital financial support including people unable to purchase necessary medication and some people starving after benefit sanctions, deaths as a consequence of eviction and deaths caused by taking on jobs when not well enough to do so.
The bedroom tax, a partial removal of housing benefit if a residence has what is arbitrarily deemed to be an extra room or rooms, has particularly affected people with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses because, often, a residence has been adapted to assist with the specific needs of the resident. Thus, moving to a smaller property has been impossible for many disabled people and, therefore, their financial support is reduced causing hardship, affecting health and leading to eviction.
Removal of disability vehicles
Many disabled people have had their vehicles removed. Mobility scooters and specially adapted cars have been taken from people. The senselessness of the snatching of these vehicles is palpable: Most of the cars are specifically adapted for one person and are not easily transferable to someone else. Some people have had to abandon work because of the removal of their vehicles. It is a policy that appears to have been enacted purely out of spite.
None of the government’s assaults on the lives and livelihoods of people with disabilities “saves” any money for the tax payers. Driven by warped extreme ideology that had been created in anti-human think-tanks Centre For Social Justice, Institute of Economic Affairs, Adam Smith Institute and others, the Tory targetting of disabled people started as the typically right-wing strategy of dividing the public by trying to cast some people as an enemy to be got at. This strategy morphed quickly into a many-headed relentless attack that served no logical purpose and continues because the Tories hate to admit bad judgement and because they are unwilling to perceive the deaths and broken livelihoods as problematic. “That it knows the consequences of its deeds; that its act is, therefore, not mere manslaughter, but murder” explained Engels.
Grenfell Tower fire
The causes of the rapid spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington, London and the reasons for a high death toll are clear:
- Reckless management of fire safety at Grenfell by various incompetent contractors hired by an indifferent council that led to flammable cladding attached to outside of building, no fire alarms and insufficient fire escape plans
- Contempt by Kensington and Chelsea Council toward hundreds of legitimate concerns raised by Grenfell tenants over several years regarding fire safety including threats of legal action by the council against tenants to force complainants to remove publicly accessible documents that described fire safety issues
- Pyre of health and safety regulations and concomitant legal obligations for property owners and businesses since 2010
- Devastating cuts to fire service (personnel, equipment and stations) in London by former mayor Boris Johnson
All of the causes of the fire were created by the same ideology and the same intent. The ideology is that everything and everybody exists as means to help service the profits of the wealth terrorists. Vital fire stations are, in the eyes of Eton-educated buffoon Johnson, property to be handed over; from the perspective of exploitative businesses and property owners, health and safety regulations are an obstacle to maximising profit; social housing is taking up space that could be used by luxury property developers; social tenants are not only in the way of said developers and profiteers but also less likely to vote Tory: In the first of this year’s general elections Labour’s Emma Coad won the Kensington parliamentary seat from the Tories with a majority of just twenty, a number much lower than the number of people who later died in Grenfell Tower.
The behaviour of Kensington and Chelsea council since the fire has combined indifference, incompetence, contempt and abuse. It has failed abjectly to provide adequate assistance to displaced residents, it has restricted access for victims and media to attend public council meetings, councillors have abused survivors on social media and the council has tried to “rehouse” survivors outside the borough, presumably with that aforesaid constituency majority of twenty in mind. The Tory government’s response has been cursory and distant and it purposefully chose an entirely inappropriate judge to lead an “inquiry.” Nothing said or done by the government or the council since the fire suggests that either is willing to perceive culpability and, disturbingly, the Grenfell fire hasn’t surprised or shocked them. The lack of surprise at such a horrific incident reveals knowledge that reckless administration can have, and is very likely to have, awful consequences. That is a difference between manslaughter and murder. “That it knows the consequences of its deeds; that its act is, therefore, not mere manslaughter, but murder.“
Murder or Social Murder
Engel’s description of Social Murder remains applicable 170 years later. Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell used the description in reference to the Grenfell Tower fire. McDonnell is not a communist but one doesn’t need to be to see the clarity and accuracy of Engel’s phrase. For Grenfell, for the destruction of the NHS and for the constant assault on the lives and livelihoods of disabled people, it is necessary only to consider whether the acts are Social Murder or murder.