It is not uncommon in the Conservative discourse for its proponents to create terminology that delegitimizes their working class opponents and gives a sense of justification for their feelings of superiority. In the Marxist cultural perspective we would describe this as the hegemonic order inventing a stereotype to keep less privileged, subordinate groups in place.
One such instance is the invention of the term scrounger. It is perhaps most poignant of all because of the dehumanising effect it has on the subject. To call someone a scrounger is a deliberate act of marginalisation. It not only works to disregard the hardships of the subordinate class and discredit their point of view. The ultimate goal is to draw public attention away from the socio-economic conditions by which the under class is kept destitute. This diversion is quite natural given that it is the dominant class themselves who have created these unfavourable conditions wherein state dependence fosters.
What is most interesting about this term though, is the hypocrisy involved with its usage. A scrounger as we are to understand it, is someone who relies on the work of others in order to get by. The imposed classification for this is some unfortunate, usually unemployed person who goes to food banks and signs on for benefits to get by.
Yet if we are to understand this definition as someone who is reliant on state and public subsidy, there is perhaps no greater scrounger in a society than those belonging to the dominant class. For the capitalist, the seminal figure of this group, is beyond reliant on the production of the worker. In fact without the work of others, the dominant class has nothing.
We need only look at the central tenet of power in the elite class — the corporation. The corporation, whether it be technological, financial or productive is the most heavily subsidised entity in any given society.
Government funded research and development provides much of the technology, innovation and expertise, by which something like a tech company can thrive. Without state sponsored projects in the sciences and in education, the technology simply would not be there for this type of corporation.
There are other corporate sectors however, wherein the scrounging is more obvious. Without government bonds, guarantees and ultimately bailouts for banks and other financial institutions, many more of these companies would have gone bankrupt long ago. In 2008, the general public paid out over £500bn to financial institutions in a move that has crippled our economy ever since. This hand out is both a clear example of the dominant class’ reliance on the state and of their ability to deflect blame for economic stagnation onto the poor underclass using terms like scrounger to do it.
You would be forgiven for thinking that after all of this government support; the corporate class would be first to give back to the society upon which it so heavily relies. You would also be forgiven for thinking that there would be conditions attached by a government in the wake of such an expensive hand out, conditions that if not followed would mean the support would stop.
Yet the rich and their companies are most reluctant to pay their taxes and find increasingly devious ways to get out of contributing. By the same token, governments continually increase the amount of support and leniencies offered and decrease the amount of regulation. This seems like a highly unhealthy relationship that warrants far more examination than the magnifying glass currently being held over the subordinate underclass.
It cannot be disputed that there are certain underprivileged individuals out there who have no interest to work. But these are in such tiny minority; it seems hardly worth mentioning them. The vast majority of subordinate peoples are highly aspirational and trying desperately to improve their circumstances. Yet they are obstructed every step of the way by a government who has failed to support them, by a conservative conspiracy that invents terms to marginalize them and by a dominant class which refuses to make a fair contribution.
So do not be fooled when presented with this elitist argument. When challenged by a conservative or right leaning person on your support of those who are scrounging off the state, remind them who is the greatest scrounger of all.