Modern thinking on welfare benefits is based on the false belief in individualism which forms the basis of mainstream political ideologies and the premise that someone is less deserving of an income and individual human dignity than someone who works. The fundamental basis for such thinking lies in the belief in personal integrity and self-sufficiency which forms the basis of all indidividualistic and collectivist political ideologies which is a form of environmental ignorance, because it is also based on the false illusion of the separatedness of the individual from socuiety as a whole and the universe.
Joblessness as a a personal failing
Modern thinking on welfare benefits differs from traditional thinking on welfare benefits because traditional thinking was based on the State's desire to empower the individual and ensure some degree of human dignity through giving them a basic income on which they could live, and eventually find some form of work or occupation to become fully self-sufficient and financially independent. While based on the same belief in individualism it differs from modern thinking which is based on the premise that the individual should be part of the 'system' through working for an organization and the failure of the individual to work is seen as a personal failing - because the individual is seen as self-sufficient and capable of work - and thus people who are not working for whatever reason are considered to be less deserving of an income and human dignity and as a result are stigmatized by the State and society as a whole.
The example of the UK welfare benefits system
A good example of the modern approach to welfare benefits is the UK welfare benefits system which as a result of remodelling over a period of 20 years or so has become an extreme form of environmental ignorance and individualistic thinking. In order to be effective welfare benefits systems need to empower the individual through a community type approach based on mutual trust and cooperation between the State and the individual. However the UK system has been remodelled to function as a corporate organization where there is no trust between State and individual, rigid inflexible rules and a harsh system of conditionality. This has resulted in a shift away from empowerment by the State of the individual to disempowerment of the individual by the State.
Welfare benefit conditionality
Welfare benefit conditioninality in the UK is based environmental ignorance and a belief in indidualism which is based on the ideals of personal integrity and self-suffiency. The fundamental premise of welfare benefit conditionality in the UK is also based on the assumption that joblessness is a personal failing and that any individual person who is jobless is failing in both self-sufficiency and personal integrity and assumed to be out to cheat the system. At every step of the welfare benefit process the State treats all claims as potentially fraudulent and also assumes that anyone claiming benefits is not to be trusted. This results in disempowerment of the individual and the loss of human dignity
Incapacity and disability
The environmental ignorance of the State and the obsession with work and getting individuals into the 'system' extends to benefit claimants who are deemed to be too incapacitated or have a disability. Rather than trying to understand the nature of the health condition or disability and provide support to try and connect the individual to society the State has a points system for how unfit someone is for work or deserving of additional support through payment of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Beyond payment of benefits the State views support as leaving someone alone, disempowered and isolated, to fend for themselves in society and other organizations such as charities and support groups have to pick up the slack. The State has no interest in empowering the individual.
At all times and in all situations the individual on benefits is deemed to be self-sufficient but potentially dishonest and fraudulent. Failure to show personal integrity and a commitment to being part of the 'system' results in further disempowerment and marginalization through the upunitive implementation of benefit sanctions for a period of between 7 days and 3 years. During this period the individual is deemed to be undeserving of personal income and is forced into social exclusion and absolute poverty through deprivation of personal income. The individual can be sanctioned for any failure to show personal integrity or commitment, including failure to arrive at an appointment on time, provide documentary evidence of one's commitment, or follow an instruction. There is no consciousness in the system of any sort of connectedness of the individual to their environment, such as an illness, a bus being late, or some other environmental cause. The individual is always held fully responsible and as they are not to be rtusted, individual personal experience is never acknowledged, recognized or taken into account.
Universal Credit is another step forward in the State's agenda to disempower individuals who they perceive as refusing to comply with the system through working for an organization according to their plan. Other (older benefits) such as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and other income based benefits are deemed 'legacy benefits as they are older and are to be phased out and replaced by Universal Credit. Any claimant of Universal credit can be jobless, or they can be working, yet the same charsh conditionality applies. Additionally, unlike legacy benefits which had fixed rates, Universal credit has a monthly assessment period during which income is examined and the State decides what support or payment of benefits the individual claimant 'deserves'. In effect Universal credit is not a continuous benefit like legacy benefits, but is essentially a monthly benefit system which usually has a variable outcome as many people have found out.
Another example of the collectivist-individualist dynamic
The State uses fear motivation against the jobless individual through the persistent threat of benefit sanctions, refusal to trust the individual, or cooperate with them in any way - welfare benefit conditionality in the UK is a one sided relationship. The State is never responsible and never wrong because it believes in individualism and that the individual is always self-sufficient. But once again we see how collectivism and individualism are the exact same belief because the State justifies its diempowerment of the individual and the removal of human dignity through its collectivist belief that in not working as part of the system, the jobless individual is undeserving of dignity and trust and is certainly not considered part of mainstream society equal to everyone else.
Avoidance of State responsibility
It's important to understand the aspects to the State's refusal to take responsibility for addressing the issues created by what is an abusive, disempowering and ineffective welfare benefits strategy. The State is proactive about promoting the ideology of individualism, environmental ignorance and the illusion of separatedness between the individual and everything else. The State has repeatedly shown its ability to switch between promoting individualism and collectivism to justify its agenda, therefore choosing to remain environmentally ignorant and uphold the false belief in the separate nature between the individual and everything else. the State is capable at any time of changing any of these beliefs.
Effects on individual people
People who claim benefits either as part or for all of their income suffer disempowerment which takes forms not shared by other people in society. Due to the popularity of belief in external authority and ideology based on the individualismt-collectvist dynamic the State's perspective that through not working such people are untrustworthy and irresponsible because they are seen as choosing not to work. This has led to the creation of social stigma and proves counterproductive in social situations, where such people face further sanctions from others in society leading to a loss of friendships and a deprivation of opportunities in housing, education and emoployment. Many people fail to understand or even acknowledge that people who claim benefits are still people, no different than they are.
This disempowermentn can often be more extreme because while on the one hand they can suffer a loss of opportunities and the opportunity to gain experience through being stigmatized by others in society or a community they are also placed under a lot of pressure by the State to find a job and move into work and this pressure is placed on people who claim benefits through fear motivation and regular, systematic demands to prove their personal integrity and commitment to moving into work through the Claimant Commitment. There is no attempt by the Srtate or indeed many people to provide meaningful or practical support to those with illnesses and disabilities and this can lead to further disempowerment.
Furthermore some people who claim benefits can end up disempowering themselves, particularly if they themselves believe in either external authority or the same idfeology on the collectivist-individualist dynamic. This can lead to two things. Firstly the individual can believe that the system is real and acttually designed to help them, and this can cause thhem to knock themselves out trying to fit in and follow all the rules and then get disappointed when the system doesn't work. They can also end up with a victim mentalityyn through expecting someone bigger and more powerful to change the system. This is part of the psychology by the calls to 'Scrap Universal Credit'. Wake up! The State gave up on cooperating with people who claim benefits about 20 years ago.
Depersonalization and loss of Selfhood
People who claim benefits are often depersonalized and devalued, and in some cases dehumanized because in the eyes of those who believe in this iindividualist-collectivist ideology, both within the State and throughout society, they lie outside the collective, i.e. people who work. People who believe in such ideology are often self-centred and environmentally ignorant seeing themselves as the centre of their physical environment and perspective of the universe. These people work on the basis of a social hierarchy where the more similar other people are and easier to relate to the more they are valued and those further away are valued or accepted much less and come further down the hierarchy.
This depersonalization doesn't just apply to people who claim benefits, it also applues to people of a different skin colour, people with disabilities, migrants, and sexual minorities. This can cause real issues among such people who previously had a position in society and saw themselves as part of the collective when they lose that position and that perceived social status and they end up becoming one of the people they previously looked down on.
Loss of autonomy
This is by far the most serrious because it is the one which does the most damage and because it does the damage we at Qultura consider this to be a breach of human rights. People who claim benefits have already been disempowered through loss of independence and the need to claim benefits to make up part or all their income. They also suffer depersonalization and a loss of Selfhood through being perceivved as being outside the collective and not part of the system, and therefore, in the eyes of the State and many people in society, are not part of society - the same people who walk past human beings on the street who are homeless and also not considered part of society. They also have to deal with a loss of autonomy which takes over their entire life through the Claimant Commitment.
Let's try and give this some wider perspective. Let's switch the State for an Employer and make you, the reader, the person claiming benefits. how would you feel about being treated as lesser? How would you feel about having to prove yourself on demand by your Employer? How would you feel about being made to follow rigid, inflexible rules every minute in work knowing that, if you make a mistake or turn up five minutes late for work, you could end up losing your salary for a week, a month, a year, or even three years? How would you feel about not being trusted, at all, so that your experience and what you say is never taken into account? How would you feel about being scored on a points system if you fell ill and rang in sick, and to be told that you still have to come to work because you scored no points?
This is the normal reality fof the relationship between the State and people who claim benefits. To their credit many work coaches working in the system try to dilute this reality but it is not a given and not guaranteed. Please also bear in mind that people who claim benefits are also stigmatized in society which makes it much harder and more difficult to find work and they also get little to no support when it comes to deamnds to change the way the benefits system works or facing up to the reality of how people end up eneding to claim benefits in teh first place.
These three factors together can ahve profound and devastating effects on people's lives, their perspective of themselves and others, and also their physical and mental health. Experiencing these three issues together without getting any meaningful support can lead to a loss of congitive functioning ability which in turn can cause impairment of the left hemisphere of the brain, creating an anxiety disorder, depression, mental illness, an eating disorder, an addiction, demotivation, triggering far more serious health issues. A loss of autonomy with no perceived way out and a loss of Selfhood can often cause people to feel that they have nothing left to live for and this can create suicide ideation.
Many people who claim benefits end up comitting suicide
The State remains adamant that the system works effectively.
Our position on welfare benefits
Empowerment, experience, autonomy, Selfhood
People can make mistakes in life and, being connected to everybody else, can often be subjected to the mistakes of others, e.g. the loss of work through a business failure. They can fall ill, or suffer any number of personal circumsatnces which can change their positionn in society.
Being without work or sufficient income is never a personal failing. It can be a failure in life, a social failure, an economic failure. No government or political party knows what's going on anyway, so the process of government and political process is a process of trial and error. the exact same thing is true of life when it coemss to the indviidual. Pointing fingers, apportioning blame and holding people responsible, whether they be a government, a political party or an individual, is never productive, always counterproductive, and is a game which is part of environmental ignorance and belief in the individualist-collectiveist ideology system.
In order to function effectively any welfare benefits system needs to be based on mutual trust, community support, empowerment of the indivvidual, acceptance of failure and mistakes, and provide sufficient resources to enable a lifestyle befitting of human dignity which allows for the pursuit of Selfhood through the connection to others, connection to a community, the gathering of experience, and the pursuit of personal autonomy. The State needs to be in the business of empowering the individual, not disempowering them.
In it's present condition we cannot accept the welfare benefits system or Universal Credit as a serious governmental welfare benefits system, or anything more than a neoliberal fantasy and therefore an artefact of cultural tradition, such as the tooth fairy or Santa Claus.
Advice for people who claim welfare benefits
For your own survival and wellbeing we strongly advise that you play along and ;play the game' so as to ensure continuity of income but for reasons of your own health and sanity do not treat the system seriously and get too involved in the fear motivation aspect. It's importnt to remember that this fear motivation works only if you share a belief in the same individualist-collectivist ideology belief system and are not grounded in reality.
We strongly advise focussing on finding ways to connect to others, gather experience, make the most of whatever opportunities come your way, and work towards a better sense of Selfhoodd through being more connected to others and the world around you, as this will make you more interesting as an individual and therefore more employable.