Monday, April 15, 2013

The Philpott case: indictment of capitalism

There can hardly be anyone on these islands who has not heard of Mick Philpott, the father of six children who died in a house fire of which he was the arsonist. The court which found him guilty ordered that he serve a minimum of 17 years and not be released until the probation service was satisfied that he was no longer a threat to the public (it later emerged that he had previously served time for attempted murder).

But was he a product of the welfare state or of capitalist society?

It seems Philpott desired the life of a capitalist, to do no work and live off the sweat of others. This would be seen to be quite a normal ambition if he had attended Eton or Harrow. Indeed those who go there would probably consider themselves to have failed if they didn’t leave school with this ambition. The only problem for Phillott was that he didn’t have rich parents or didn’t win the lottery.

He took a risk with children’s lives. Politicians and armament manufacturers do this calculation every day. They even have a phrase for it, ‘collateral damage’. Sounds so much more pleasant than ‘victims of war’, doesn’t it? The difference of course is that it is not usually their own children who take the risks.

Philpott was worried about losing the child benefit from the five children of a different relationship that he wanted back and was prepared to devise such a risky scheme to achieve this. Capitalists are also prepared to go to extreme lengths to get or get back markets and/or raw materials. A few deaths here or there don’t make any difference to them. The difference occurs in the way society judges them. And to be callous, those capitalists opposed to welfare state should be delighted that they have saved six lots of child benefit.

For some Philpott is a god-given example to the right to bash people on benefits in general. Such an outpouring against the welfare state was not heard when the ultra-rich Rausing family had a preventable death within the family. It seems the workshy rich who like to snort cocaine are judged differently to the workshy poor, both in the perceived depravity of their behaviour and in the severity of the punishment handed out by the courts.
In a socialist society of free access your access to wealth would not depend on how many children lived with you. Philpott’s wife and his mistress were not only emotionally but economically bound to him (contrast this with the coverage of the Charles/ Camilla/ Diana triangle). In socialism they would have been free at least of financial links to him.

There may be some rapists, paedophiles and partner-beaters who have to be restrained in socialist society, but the ending of the very conditions which make them behave in such a way will hopefully be eradicated within a couple of generations.

Unrequited love will no doubt also exist in socialism. A jealous person even in socialism may be tempted to take revenge on an ex-partner. No one will however be neglected due to lack of money or resources.

In a socialist society housing would have all possible technical developments to make them fire-proof or fire resistant. No one would be forced to risk their life because they couldn’t afford a battery for the fire alarm, or indeed the alarm itself.

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