Rubbish and Racism


A suburban roadside verge, with a hedgerow and fields beyond, the margin where town and country meet. Such a pleasure to walk or drive along there, or it should be. Only, it is not blossoming may but rubbish, litter, hanging on the hawthorn.

An urban street, a teenager stands at a bus stop. With little warning a mixed up mob thirty or so strong surround him. Volleys of abuse escalate into a vicious, physical assault which is only curtailed by approaching police sirens.

The link between the blight of litter and fly-tipping inflicted on the general community and the attack on someone from a specific community is an all too common attitude of dismissive self-superiority.

Those who regard themselves as far too important to properly dispose of their waste presumably think there are some lesser beings who should be cleaning up after them. A sort of sub-imperial attitude that leaves it all to the lackeys. After all, it’s what they’re for, whoever “they” may be.

It is the same attitude that rounds on an asylum seeker at a bus stop. Having escaped from a barbarism so dreadful he’s been forced to flee his home, his attackers will see no irony in the barbarism they then inflict so casually.

They may justify their cruelty to each other by agreeing, without any evidence, that their victim is in reality merely an economic migrant. Even if this be true then all he is guilty of is pursuing work in the way fundamental to capitalism.

Unemployed lead miners tramped to the coalfields. Farm labourers left the land to work in the then new textile mills. From the middle of the eighteenth century or so, the working population of Britain was on the move from region to region, in search of employment.

Today, transnational capitalism has transformed the migration of labour from a national into an international phenomenon. It is the economics of capitalism that creates the wars and the failed economies setting labour on the move.

If there is to be a challenge to capitalism, a socialist change, then there will need to be a radical alteration of thinking amongst so many of the working class. The sub-imperial, petty nationalist, anti-social attitudes must be dispensed with.

The present ideological structure of society cannot be transformed without people consciously deciding to think and act in different ways. It is about accepting responsibility, personally and collectively.

Not dumping litter at the roadside, not attacking the vulnerable (or anyone, for that matter) will not bring capitalism down. But, it would be a start!

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