Fight Poverty With Oscar Wilde
Many bloggers will write about poverty on today’s Blog Action Day 2008. Most of their visions, however, will be quite similar to all that has been said before. Therefore I’d like to cite one of the great writers of all time: Oscar Wilde. Although a symbol of decadence, Wilde is also known for his social views.
“I think I am rather more than a Socialist. I am something of an Anarchist, I believe.” At the height of his success, he wrote a very moralistic essay, ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’. Quoting Wilde is always a feast, but this time it is for the good cause: fighting poverty.
In this essay, Wilde turned his wit on private property and the injustices that stem from it, according to Green Left Weekly. The famous Irish writer mocked the hypocrisy of charity and insisted instead that “the proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty is impossible.” Maybe his best poverty quote: “Why should [the poor] be grateful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table? They should be seated at the table and are beginning to know it.”
Wilde celebrated rebellion, declaring it “finer to take than to beg”. More specifically he stated: “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress is made.”
Wilde hailed socialism as the means by which humanity would liberate itself from the necessity to live and work for others and argued that through socialism all individuals would be able to achieve their full potential, something impossible in a world marred by poverty and suffering.
‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’ is explicitly revolutionary. Wilde openly rejects all plans for piecemeal reform, arguing that nothing less than a complete transformation of social relations is necessary.
“Is this Utopian?” Wilde openly asked himself. “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And when humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”