09/12/2008

Bugger Christmas



They’re closing down Woolworths in Jarrow, indeed all over the country; sacking in excess of some 30,000 workers. The company has gone into administration, with debts of £385 million. Saturday gone, the Jarrow branch had a sale on – 50% off everything, so naturally the place was choc-a-block, with queues stretching all the way back to the River Tyne (I know, I exaggerate, but you get the picture). People stood in the queue with their arms full, looking impatient and frustrated. Christmas only weeks away and these poor workers here looked sick of their lives, all of them hoping they can get through this period of unfettered, wallet-emptying consumerism with their sanity in tact.


The usual thing round here, bar the credit cards and the loan from the DWP social fund (that is if you’re on income support, otherwise you can fuck off and apply for a crisis loan, in which case they’ll tell you ever louder to “fuck off”) is the Provident loan. They give their loans to anyone, no questions asked and the interest rate is a staggering 68%. I know parents who have taken out a loan from the social fund as well as the “provi” loan. The former is interest-free and is deducted from your benefits at source. The two together amount to a hefty millstone when you’re struggling to survive on benefits.

So, if you’re on state benefits, it’s like your whole year centres on Xmas day, if not preparing for it then paying for it and having to do without essentials just to meet the loan agreements. You get your loans out just before Xmas and 50 weeks later you’re still paying them off and doing without other essentials throughout that period. I jest not – for many families, Jesus Christ, or rather what takes place in his name, has them skint year in, year out. I know parents who quite literally dread this time of year, who curse its approach. Do they know it’s Christmas? as Bob Geldof and friends once sang? Too fucking right they do – they pay for it every day of their adult lives.

And how this wonderful consumer society serves the poor; forever exposing the emptiness of our lives and kindly providing the means by which our lives can be enriched, provi
ng that we too can enjoy happiness over Christmas, just like the well-to-dos. As the Citizen Advice Bureau has found, interest on this ‘happiness’ can rise to as much as 1800 per cent a year – a happiness that’s cheap at half the price…eh?

And just where the fuck would we be without the advertising industry who continually alert us to needs we never even knew we had and who constantly remind us that our lives are really less satisfactory than we had hitherto imagined? I looked through an electrical store recently and was amazed to find items I honestly never even knew existed. Jeez, where’ve I been this last year? Thank God for PSPs, Nintendos, ipods, male face creams and the myriad gadgets we have amazingly managed to live without for 2 million years. Just how the fuck did our species survive without them? Sheesh! Consider this - according to the Worldwatch Institute, we have used more goods and services since 1960 than in all the rest of human history! Have all of these pleasure-inducing goods contributed to a general human happiness? No, over the same period, 25-year-olds in Britain have become ten times more likely to be afflicted by depression. The WHO recently estimated that by the end of the decade depression will be the second commonest disease in the developed world.

The unrelenting onslaught of advertising exerts constant press
ure on parents in particular who, fearful their kids will be labelled, belittled and humiliated if their pressies are not up to scratch when they compare notes in the school yard, are more than ready to satisfy the most outlandish wants and bugger the cost and inconvenience for the next 52 weeks. To hell if that present you’ve just paid £250 for will end up in a cupboard after a few weeks, the novelty having worn off to be sold for £50 on ebay in a few months time – you just can’t let the neighbours know your hard up.

And the sad thing is, we all know Christmas marketing is j
ust one big profit-oriented scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. We all know it’s a game of winners and losers. You don’t need a degree in ethics to realise that the Chrimbo "wish lists" and "gift exchanges", the giving in que demeans the real concept of giving. We know this annual orgy of consumption – 40% of what we buy is binned, unused – is detrimental to the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts. We know Christmas means misery for millions of families, depression for hundreds of thousands – the Samaritans say they receive an 8% increase in calls between Christmas day and New Year. Yet still we tag along with the damned charade, still we passively acquiesce in the madness. Even socialists take it seriously, for fuck’s sake. I know SPGB members, my comrades, who actually send out the conventional Christmas cards.

Seems the workers just need this annual fix, this distraction from the rat race, even if they do know its all bollocks

Me, as ever I’m pissed off with the unified bleatings of friends, family and associates, who mockingly call me "Scrooge" when I fail to fully endorse their ritual orgy of consum
ption or utter the hackneyed “are you set for Christmas yet?” type of remark. For I’m one of those dole wallahs with kids and grandkids, a single-parent to boot, who can say “Jesus Christ has got me skint.” And being a devout atheist, a Marxist, it smarts just that little bit more when you know you have to fucking conform – and phone up the ‘provi woman’ - just to save your kin humiliation.


So forgive me if you hear me say “Fuck Christmas! Stick yer Christmas tree up yer arse and put a match to that wee straw-filled manger.” To be sure, the class war is not suspended at Christmas as the religiously devout and profit mongers would have us believe. Indeed, the shameless robbery of our class is only accentuated when there are profits to be had.


If you’re looking for that anti-Xmas card, make your own like I do and use these pics below, courtesy of class warfare. Click to enlarge. Happy solstice :-)



2 comments:

Darren said...

Nice to see you back to blogging mate.

Totally agree with the sentiments . . . even if I won't be able to stop myself from getting sucked into it all.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your sentiments!