"Here is the world that awaits you
if you are ever penniless."
ORWELL DOWN & OUT
"I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up.
I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels,
nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny,
nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy."
Down and Out in Paris and London is Orwell's first book. It was published in 1933 when he was twenty-nine years old. It was part documentary and part novel and the culmination of his experiences over a two year period (1928-1930) in Paris and London. Although he wasn't the first author to write about unemployed or poorly paid homeless people, he was the first to actually live their lifestyle for an extended period of time. His empathy for their plight is also unique to Orwell. ~ Jackie Jura
Here's excerpts containing some of Orwell's conclusions:
...Indeed, if one remembers that a tramp is only an Englishman out of work, forced by law to live as a vagabond, then the tramp-monster vanishes. I am not saying, of course, that most tramps are ideal characters; I am only saying that they are ordinary human beings, and that if they are worse than other people it is the result and not the cause of their way of life.
It follows that the ‘Serve them damned well right’ attitude that is normally taken towards tramps is no fairer than it would be towards cripples or invalids. When one has realized that, one begins to put oneself in a tramp’s place and understand what his life is like. It is an extraordinarily futile, acutely unpleasant life. I have described the casual ward — the routine of a tramp’s day — but there are three especial evils that need insisting upon. The first is hunger, which is the almost general fate of tramps. The casual ward gives them a ration which is probably not even meant to be sufficient, and anything beyond this must be got by begging — that is, by breaking the law. The result is that nearly every tramp is rotted by malnutrition; for proof of which one need only look at the men lining up outside any casual ward. The second great evil of a tramp’s life — it seems much smaller at first sight, but it is a good second — is that he is entirely cut off from contact with women...
The other great evil of a tramp’s life is enforced idleness. By our vagrancy laws things are so arranged that when he is not walking the road he is sitting in a cell; or, in the intervals, lying on the ground waiting for the casual ward to open. It is obvious that this is a dismal, demoralizing way of life, especially for an uneducated man...
The problem is how to turn the tramp from a bored, half alive vagrant into a self-respecting human being. A mere increase of comfort cannot do this. Even if the casual wards became positively luxurious (they never will) a tramp’s life would still be wasted. He would still be a pauper, cut off from marriage and home life, and a dead loss to the community. What is needed is to depauperize him, and this can only be done by finding him work — not work for the sake of working, but work of which he can enjoy the benefit. At present, in the great majority of casual wards, tramps do no work whatever. At one time they were made to break stones for their food, but this was stopped when they had broken enough stone for years ahead and put the stone-breakers out of work. Nowadays they are kept idle, because there is seemingly nothing for them to do. Yet there is a fairly obvious way of making them useful, namely this: Each workhouse could run a small farm, or at least a kitchen garden, and every able-bodied tramp who presented himself could be made to do a sound day’s work. The produce of the farm or garden could be used for feeding the tramps, and at the worst it would be better than the filthy diet of bread and margarine and tea. Of course, the casual wards could never be quite self-supporting, but they could go a long way towards it, and the rates would probably benefit in the long run. It must be remembered that under the present system tramps are as dead a loss to the country as they could possibly be, for they do not only do no work, but they live on a diet that is bound to undermine their health; the system, therefore, loses lives as well as money. A scheme which fed them decently, and made them produce at least a part of their own food, would be worth trying.
It may be objected that a farm or even a garden could not be run with casual labour. But there is no real reason why tramps should only stay a day at each casual ward; they might stay a month or even a year, if there were work for them to do. The constant circulation of tramps is something quite artificial. At present a tramp is an expense to the rates, and the object of each workhouse is therefore to push him on to the next; hence the rule that he can stay only one night. If he returns within a month he is penalized by being confined for a week, and, as this is much the same as being in prison, naturally he keeps moving. But if he represented labour to the workhouse, and the workhouse represented sound food to him, it would be another matter. The workhouses would develop into partially self-supporting institutions, and the tramps, settling down here or there according as they were needed, would cease to be tramps. They would be doing something comparatively useful, getting decent food, and living a settled life. By degrees, if the scheme worked well, they might even cease to be regarded as paupers, and be able to marry and take a respectable place in society.
This is only a rough idea, and there are some obvious objections to it. Nevertheless, it does suggest a way of improving the status of tramps without piling new burdens on the rates. And the solution must, in any case, be something of this kind. For the question is, what to do with men who are underfed and idle; and the answer — to make them grow their own food — imposes itself automatically...
BIRTH OF GEORGE ORWELL NAME
GEORGE ORWELL'S PEN NAME
DOWN & OUT ON RADIO (a shocking, previously hidden world). BBC, Apr 29, 2007
9.Keeping Masses Down and 8.Classes of People and 35.The Brotherhood
BANKS FORECLOSE UNIVERSALLY
GOVERNMENT TOUGH ON TOBACCO
DRUG DEFECATORS NEED TOILETS
MAJOR'S SPEECH IN ORWELL SPEAK
COAL SCRAMBLING IN WIGAN
CRACK KITS HIT STREET
CANADA FORCED LABOUR CAMPS?
SIMS CANADA REALITY
SLOT MACHINE PICKPOCKETS
EVIL PURVERYORS FEEDING OFF MISERY
DRUG WAR & PEACE
ORWELL'S OTHER BOOKS
HOMAGE TO ORWELL
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~