Okies, chavs and responsibility deficits

, . Filed under Thinking.

Been reading The Grapes of Wrath.

It suits these times. See how the haves describe the have–nots:

Outlanders. Foreigners.

Sure, they talk the same language, but they ain’t the same.

In these times you’d call Okies Chavs. Make them seem fundamentally different from you. They’re not, of course, just poorer:

We ain’t foreign. Seven generations back Americans, and beyond that Irish, Scotch, English, German.

Then as now, the haves blamed the have–nots for their situation:

Look how they live. Think any of us folks’d live like that? Hell, no.

Unsurprisingly, Steinbeck was seen as a red. He outlines the economic reasons for the Okies’ plight:

The town men, little bankers, hated Okies, because there was nothing to gain from them. They had nothing, And the labouring people hated Okies because a hungry man must work, and if he must work, if he had to work, the wage payer automatically gives him less for his work.

Of course, things are different now. The welfare state provides some protection for the poor.

But the have–nots are still blamed for having no money. The haves see welfare as a favour. It comes with a healthy dose of moralising, to cure the responsibility deficit, for example.