The Rise and Rise of the World's Homeless: Capitalism's Empty Promises

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself [sic] and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Fine words. As far as housing is concerned this means more than a shack in a shanty town without running water and basic amenities. In reality though, the number of people living in slums is growing year by year. The UN estimates that by last year there were 55 million more slum dwellers in the world than in 2000. It’s all put down to “rapid urbanisation” and a “mal-functioning housing sector”. From Africa, through Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of people forced to exist in essentially sub-human conditions is projected to reach about 3 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population.

There is no bigger indictment of capitalism. No more glaring need to get rid of this system which has outrun its usefulness to humanity and is now responsible for increasing human misery on a gargantuan scale. Forget the argument that the ‘third world’ must be allowed to go through the teething pains of its own industrial revolution in order to ‘catch up’ with the west. We live in a world where architects win prizes for prestige skyscrapers for businesses and speculative dwellings for billionaires. No prizes are won for providing a civilised alternative for slum dwellers.

There is no rosy future ahead. Today the whole globe belongs to capitalism and its profit-based system. It is a system in deep crisis. The working class the world over are being made to pay severely, both as victims of warfare and in terms of lower wages, unemployment and every aspect of welfare. Last year, for the first time since the Second World War more than 50 million were forced to flee their homes and became refugees as a result of capitalism’s wars. In Britain 1 in 10 of people sleeping rough are ex-squaddies, ‘heroes’ whose upkeep the state prefers to forget about. Whichever way you look at it capitalism is the problem not the solution. Homelessness is not just a blip, it is endemic and growing.

The powers-that-be try to sweep it out of sight and make it a crime, but homelessness is on the increase in the first world. In the rich and desirable land of plenty called the United Kingdom 500,000 are currently thought to be homeless. The bottom line is the growing number of people sleeping rough on our streets at night. Last year nearly six and a half thousand people were estimated to be sleeping on the streets of London alone. In the UK as a whole 112,000 have told councils they are actually on the streets whilst the rest make up the “hidden homeless”, not telling the councils or sleeping wherever they can, on relatives’ or friends’ floors etc. Since the 2008 financial crisis the most common cause of homelessness in Britain is quite simply the growing number of people who are being kicked out of ‘short-hold tenancies’ by private landlords. Time to have done with it. Time to get rid of rotting capitalism and replace it with a classless, moneyless society without exploitation which meets all human needs. We call it communism. Whatever the name, this is the only viable alternative.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.