[lbo-talk] Entitlements and Rights

123hop at comcast.net 123hop at comcast.net
Sat Apr 9 11:37:13 PDT 2011

----- Original Message ----- From: "// ravi" <ravi at platosbeard.org>

I am writing up a response to this libertarian blog post that was quoted by a friend:


------------ This caught my eye:

"Welfarism was once touted as the great Marxist vision, but is actually intrinsic to all democracies and capitalist systems. Britain’s Poor Laws dating from the 16th century provided workfare to the destitute through workhouses, at very low wages. This was not called a right to work or to doles. It was seen as Christian charity, and as a way of stopping desperate people from taking to crime."

Very few discussions of the poor laws mention two facts: the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry 8 (where charity used to be found) and the increasing enclosure of the commons, lands held in common by the people and whose resources could be used as sustenance.

For detail look here under "Tudor Period" and subsequent.... Basically all common land was "privatised" from the 12th to the 19th century in England.


The gist of this is that the poverty and destitution that necessitated the poor laws were created by the ruling class. Their "charity" in creating workhouses was indeed required to prevent desperate people from resorting to crime or revolution, but your guy never bothers with what made people desperate in the first place. And, of course, the poor houses provided desperately cheap labor.

Interestingly enough the first poor laws were created after the black death killed 1/3 of European workers and there was a shortage of labor. In that case the laws were about forcing the surviving people to work.

Kudos to you for wanting to engage this individual.

The numbers he throws out for Mao and Lenin can certainly be matched by the millions sacrificed to western industrial development.

Oh and his reference to "welfarism" as Marxist vision is nonsense.


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