Living with dignity

Far-right ideas are gaining influence around the world. Center and right-wing parties are adopting their ideas. They are attractive because they propose to restore dignity by affirming national identity.

Indeed, many areas have been abandoned (public services, healthcare, transport, etc.) in favor of the cities. The people who live there are deemed at fault by the omnipresent neoliberalism: if they fail, it’s their fault! If they’re unemployed or overweight, it’s because they’re undeserving. The far right wants them to think they’re above foreigners. Their heredity is enough; without doing anything, they gain value.

But there are ways of restoring dignity that are more in keeping with democracy and community life. There’s no need to attack immigrants. We need to recognize the existence of these “deplorable” people and give them back their place in society.

Sufficient income to feed ourselves in harmony with the environment (organic permaculture) and public services are essential. We need to invest massively in infrastructure and introduce an universal basic income.

Working well in good conditions means dignity! Competition must be banned when it does not respect quality, social and environmental criteria.

Subsidies are a trap. It doesn’t raise living standards, it just gives public money to the rich. For example, giving a housing allowance means that landlords can raise the price of rents, so that public money ends up in landlords’ pockets. Another example: subsidizing agriculture according to the quantity of pesticides used forces farmers to pay back what they receive to the agri-food industry.

Price controls on the essentials of food, housing and health are essential if we are to live in dignity. First and foremost, producers and breeders must be able to make a living from their work, instead of being subsidized by the community through conditional welfare payments. The selling price must be dignified so that producers or farmers can work according to their will, and be autonomous and responsible. Otherwise, Cargill, for example, will be able to buy products that do not respect nature for almost nothing. Secondly, urban housing excludes people from the countryside. It has become too expensive to find a place to live, and therefore to study. Rents need to be controlled.

What’s unacceptable here is unacceptable elsewhere. Conditions must be imposed on imports. Multi-nationals must be held accountable for their anti-social and anti-environmental actions at home and abroad.

Private property cannot be absolute. The pollution and the destruction of forests cannot be accepted. Freedom is limited by the need to avoid harming others.

Capitalism must be fought, because in a company, ownership gives full decision-making power. Employees and society must have their say, because they have contributed to the company’s success: roads, police, schools, training, etc. And they also have their say on the impact on the environment and the treatment of employees and animals. The future of the company must be in their hands, and they must be able to influence the future of their jobs. It’s true that owners take risks. But employees take risks too: they’ve invested with their studies, they’re moving, they’re sending their children to school. Capital moves freely and travels from one company to another. Property is not a sacred right. No empty houses when there are people sleeping in the street!

Charity doesn’t make you worthy. You have to be able to stand on your own two feet because you’re doing something positive for society. If people feel good, they get sick less and it costs society less. Those who own property and are responsible for the burn-outs and even suicides of their employees, and who pollute to excess for their own personal gain, are valued, whereas an unemployed person who cultivates his vegetable garden and looks after the young and the old is not.

To fight the far right, we need to stop simply demonizing it, even if it is true that it is a real danger to democracies and the values of the revolution. We need to propose measures that restore dignity to all, that enable us to live together without exclusion.

Bernard Lavilliers – Les mains d’or:

Aurianne Or by Aurianne Or is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0