I just finished reading a great book a few days ago: Exquisite Rebel: The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre-Feminist, Anarchist, Genius. I love Voltairine de Cleyre’s writing!
She wrote about various topics, but poverty came up often. In her essay Why I Am An Anarchist, she wrote something with which I completely agree: “The problem is not how to find a way to relieve temporary distress, not to make people dependent upon the kindness of others, but to allow every one to be able to stand upon his own feet.”
People will not have freedom and will not fully escape poverty unless they have self-sufficiency. We can not rely on charity to end poverty. We need to find ways to empower people. We need to make as many individuals self-sufficient as possible. Also, we need to make families self-sufficient as a whole, which we can do by ensuring that the working members of a family can provide enough for their entire family.
I believe we need to take two general steps to empower the masses and make all families self-sufficient.
Firstly, we need to use education. Education gives people the skills and credentials to support themselves in society.
Secondly, we need to give people freedom. The working people could support themselves if they received the full fruits of their labor. But the working people cannot receive the full fruits of their labor because they have to sell it out to those who control the natural resources. They cannot just go to work on the land to grow food because a ruling class has claimed to “own” the land and other natural resources. The working people must get permission to use the natural resources from those who have unjustifiably usurped control of the natural resources of the world. As a result, the working people have to give away much of the fruits of their labor to get permission to work. This unfair system has made the working class dependent on a parasitic ruling class. And I doubt we can end poverty and other similar problems without making people as independent and self-sufficient as possible.
Voltairine de Cleyre wrote, “…any man who must wait the complicated working of a mass of unseen powers before he may engage in the productive labor necessary to get his food is the last thing but a free man.”
I agree with her! The working people are not free, and that lack of freedom causes poverty and related problems.
To end poverty and make society free, we must make it so that all people have an equal right to the natural resources. We can not let one class of people oppress another class of people by monopolizing control of natural resources such as land, water, lumber, metal or oil.