|Philanthropy at its best (picture published by praza.com)|
Tressell's must-read book is an all too depressingly familiar criticism of Capitalism as a system that will inevitably ensure wealth and privileges for a selected elite who can only prosper thanks to the systematic abuse, oppression and robbery of the working classes. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is considered to be the first Socialist novel, which largely focuses on the miserable lives of a group of workers in Southern England. The author considers these hungry, exploited poor wretches as the real philanthropists, as it is only thanks to the appalling conditions they live in -not far from slavery- that their 'Masters' can live in obnoxious luxury, whilst pretending to care about the well-being of their 'inferiors'. As the writer says, they are 'loathsome hypocrites'. What the book so well reflects is the way these deprived men and women are willing to maintain this farce, much to the dismay of Owen and Barrington, the only characters who are able to see and fight such injustices.
All these thoughts about the relationship between the 'Masters' and their serfs came to me as I was following the results of the aforementioned Galician parliamentary elections, which somehow reinforced Tressell's theories. Once again, those who are really screwed and bear the brunt of a crumbling system voted in support of their masters, perhaps in the hope of obtaining some minor favour or simply because their ignorance and fear is bigger than their sense.The masters' dogs (in the novel represented so well by Hunter-also known as Misery) did everything they could to help perpetuate this vicious situation, as illustrated in the above picture.
The 21st Century's philanthropist don't have their trousers ragged but instead they have a system that is falling apart behind their eyes and they are not even getting the breadcrumbs.A despicable spectacle indeed.