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Homelessness in Capitalist Society

By: Justin Smith

Homelessness and poverty in general have afflicted man every since the beginning of civilization. “Early in the development of what we call civilization a few folks realized that they could live easily and grow rich by making other people work for them. These people used cunning or brute force to institute themselves as chieftains, shamans, kings or priest. Though threats and superstition they kept people in line. Now and then their subjects would revolt and they would either grant enough reform to placate them or be replaced by a new ruler. Such is the nature of government (and human civilization).” (Felix, “Professor Felix’s Very Short History of Anarchism,” Profane Existence #1, Dec. 1989) At the extreme end of those who are being ruled are the homeless.
Over the 5000 years of civilization homelessness has changed little. The problem has afflicted almost every culture. The only thing that has changed about the issue is how those suffering from homelessness are treated, and unfortunately it has not gotten better. During the Roman Empire, there was a man named Jesus. He was a homeless man. Jesus and those who later proclaimed his message, traveled all over the Roman Empire depending on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter. That was the only way they could survive.

In today’s world the thought of taking in someone from the streets is totally preposterous. To attempt to make up for their unwillingness to open their home, many people today give to homeless shelters. That course of action is chosen by many because even though they are helping the poor the rigid class structure is still present and enforced. Instead of treating the less fortunate as equals they are treated as children who are not worthy of trust or respect. It is clear who suffers; not only from the condition of homelessness, but also from the self-gratifying acts that are called charity.

Homelessness is a direct result of the economics involved in capitalist society. “While it is true that a capitalist system affords great luxuries to many members of its society, this seems to have a direct link to the exploitation of those who do not have these luxuries.” (Craig O’Hara, The Philosophy of Punk: More Than Noise!). “ Capitalism relies on a theoretical model that assumes that everyone is out to maximize their individual profit(**–>more)

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