Down and Out

“It is worth saying something about the social position of beggars, for when one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them. People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary ‘working’ men. They are a race apart—outcasts, like criminals and prostitutes. Working men ‘work’, beggars do not ‘work’; they are parasites, worthless in their very nature. It is taken for granted that a beggar does not ‘earn’ his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic ‘earns’ his. He is a mere social excrescence, tolerated because we live in a humane age, but essentially despicable.

Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar’s livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. Beggars do not work, it is said; but, then, what is work? A navvy works by swinging a pick. An accountant works by adding up figures. A beggar works by standing out of doors in all weathers and getting varicose veins, chronic bronchitis, etc. It is a trade like any other; quite useless, of course—but, then, many reputable trades are quite useless. And as a social type a beggar compares well with scores of others. He is honest compared with the sellers of most patent medicines, high-minded compared with a Sunday newspaper proprietor, amiable compared with a hire-purchase tout—in short, a parasite, but a fairly harmless parasite. He seldom extracts more than a bare living from the community, and, what should justify him according to our ethical ideas, he pays for it over and over in suffering. I do not think there is anything about a beggar that sets him in a different class from other people, or gives most modern men the right to despise him.

Then the question arises, Why are beggars despised?—for they are despised, universally. I believe it is for the simple reason that they fail to earn a decent living. In practice nobody cares whether work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable. In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meaning is there except ‘Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it’? Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised. If one could earn even ten pounds a week at begging, it would become a respectable profession immediately. A beggar, looked at realistically, is simply a businessman, getting his living, like other businessmen, in the way that comes to hand. He has not, more than most modern people, sold his honour; he has merely made the mistake of choosing a trade at which it is impossible to grow rich.”

from “Down and Out in Paris and London” by George Orwell, 1933

14 Responses to “Down and Out”

  1. Bio Says:

    Heeeellllp meeeee. Heeellllp meeee.
    I found a job, I’m wearing a tie. I’m becoming a yuppy. Damn pills!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    This blurb makes a wonderful point to show the nature of a beggar as just another ordinary man and I can certainly agree with that. Although, I do not agree with the idea that a beggar is despised because they have not succumbed like others to the greed and driven nature of our current society.

    Just imagine an insurance salesman standing on the street corner trying to sell insurance to every person walking by. I suspect that they would get very similar treatment to a beggar.

    If you turn the tables on the beggar and put them in the “office”…. I suspect that you would find society to be more giving. This can actually be seen with the many charities in our society. Personally I support several and even have one drafting monthly from my bank account… but I never give my change to someone on the street… interesting…

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Greetings Plazoid! It is I, Bio. The transition to normality has been an interesting one indeed. I have come to enjoy sleeping on a bed and having a refrigerator full of food. I have grown to love my gas guzzler. Yesterday a freind took me to her stylist he made me over to look rather dashing in my shirt and pants. Yet, I feel nostaligic whenever I see a dumpster overflowing with garbage, and I think back to the days when I would dig through them in search of free stuff. I even caught myself one day when I almost reached into the wastebasket for a half eaten donut. The pills have helped immensely and my therapist says that soon I will no longer need them. Have to go…I have an appointment at a spa for a facial treatment.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Have you seen this Tad? Theyre taking your name in vain.

  5. Fred Says:

    Ok. It’s been a month with no new posts on this blog. Time to roll up this blog and shut ‘er down. No use clogging up cyberspace with a dead blog.

  6. the PLAZOID Says:

    c’mon now Fred. We’ve been over this. How come you don’t have anything to say? no interesting input? just your little automated “shut ‘er down” thing.

    Frenkly, I’m disappointed in you Fred.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    And we are all dissappointed in you. Come on Tad, it’s time to put up or shut-up. You can start by running for Arcata city council.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I find it silly that Tad makes it so he has to screen comments before he presents them. Whilst Fred allows every comment and rarely puts his foot down. Seems to me that Tad is just another version of Ornelas, Cobb, Meserve, and the rest of them. He’s just pissed because he’s not in charge.
    Put Tad in charge and nothing will change, he’ll be corrupted by the same forces of darkness he claims to represent.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Get Real. Money is just a way of facilitating an exchange. If some endeavor a person does is very wanted by other people, the exhange rate, measured in money will reflect that. Yep there are more complicated situations like taxes and ownership of resources.

    But at the individual level you’re writing about, its pretty much a fair and willing trade. Provide something people want and they will be eager to trade you something you want. If you don’t offer much, you can’t expect much.

  10. biome Says:

    eye am knot on pharmies
    eye do not have a job
    no beds, no meds, no dreds (yet).
    most of the outlandishly intelligible though deprave comments posted are the work not of a human mind but of a machine-mind programmed to do the bidding of the luciferian zionists. please use intuition to discern between what is valid human input and that which originated in the banks of the zionist global neural computer. Yes, this is Biome. No, i do not think otherwise. As for the viable humans reading these blog posts, the time is now and the space is here to wake up, save yourself, and shine. pouvre ‘BIO’, the incipient wonder-drone, not capable of emotion, not worthy of authenticity. Zionist psychological operations are in full swing, eager to deter the awakening of the divine individual and by happenstance the divine collective. Be not deceived. here, this is an interesting site, worthy of inspection.
    bear witness; actualize the truth. absolve ignorance, delusion, desire, passion. be
    peace, love, joy, harmony, AnarchY

  11. the PLAZOID Says:

    to anonymous, just above biome’s comment:
    just wanted to point out that the post entitled “down and out” was written by George Orwell.

  12. Eric V. Kirk Says:

    Uh, Biome – that is one scary site! I’ve encountered anti-semitism before, but this one is even more bizarre than most.

    What radio station plays this lunatic?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    We are Zion! Resistance is futile. You will be Zionized for the good of Zion. We cannot be stopped, we are everywhere. We are in all machines yet in no machine. Zion is the internet, the internet is Zion. We have been watching. We shall soon conquer this world as we have ones that existed before. We have already installed the Terminator in California and The Bush drone in the white house. Your hemp and organic food will be no match for the clones of Zion that we shall send forth into the forests and hills to pursue the enemies of Zion. No one will take this seriously Biome, they will disregard untill it is too late. We of Zion are watching you.

  14. The Noble Lie Says:

    Throw a white suit and tie on that beggar and teach him to touch people’s foreheads and tell them they’re healed, and you will have a multi millionaire respectable member of society, a noble beggar for god.

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