A Hobson Choice, in terms of discrimination, is a choice where only one option that doesn’t have a severe detrimental effect on you, but any other choice is undesirable and unfair also.
In Marxism it became clear that there was an unfair balance of power between the workers and the factory owners. The owners gave the workers a Hobson’s Choice: “Either you work for what I am willing to give you, or you don’t work at all.” – the consequences of not working meaning not being able to afford subsistence. They were in effect ‘financially impaired,’ and this lack of finance was disabling them in terms of the opportunities they could access.
In Feminism it was clear an equal unfair balance of power needed to be addressed. Men would give a Hobson’s Choice: “No one will give you a job, either you do what I say with the money I give you, or you can walk the streets.” – the consequences were clear, that one has to do what one is told or one gets nothing. Women were therefore also ‘financially impaired‘ – their sex meant they couldn’t get jobs from the bigoted men who controlled the workplace, meaning they couldn’t get money, meaning they had to depend on men rather than themselves.
I have epilepsy and can’t drive. I do not have much money available, so live with my parents. My parents live in a village where it is difficult to get out of without a car. On this basis I am ‘driving impaired‘ and ”financially impaired.’ Here are some of the Hobson Choices I get given by my parents on a regular basis:
- “If you don’t do what we tell you, you won’t be getting that lift I promised you tomorrow.” (or: They will use my epilepsy against me, if it means they can try to control me more)
- “You can buy anything you want, so long as it is not an expensive take-away because are you only able to do that because you are living with us.” (or: by paying nearly £15 for a Chinese must prove I am using them, as they wouldn’t spend that for one person. In other words; anything I buy that is an unfair price to them is clearly me using them in their minds!)
- “You don’t have to live here, no one is forcing you to” (I can always become homeless now Housing Benefit has been cut).
I was abused when I was at school, and here are some of the Hobson Choices I was given there:
- If you don’t do what we say, we will tell your parents who will be disappointed in you.
- You can have any haircut you want, so long as it is done by the one we force you to use.
- If you don’t do what I tell you, I’ll tip your bed over and make you make it.
- If you don’t do what we tell you, we’ll put your strip-bare by an ice cold window.
- It is either you go or we go.
On this basis, my parents are no better than the people who abused me at school. Any impairment I have they try to use to bribe me, and thus turning it into a disability. At one point women were disabled as people, because their sex was made into an impairment by men. Many working people are opportunity impaired because they need a job to survive. That impairment becomes a disability when they are given a Hobson Choice – “you either like it or lump it.”
For every protected or personal characteristic we hold there is a potential impairment – ones caused by one’s body, the environment or what we are able to possess. It is other people by either not accommodating or abusing power over that impairment that make us disabled.
As soon as one is given a Hobson Choice – you either do what I tell you or I’ll use your impairment against you, the person is discriminating against you, and making you disabled on the grounds of that impairment. For instance:
- “Anyone is allowed to apply for this job” (so long as they are not gay, disabled, Black, a parent, young, or women).
- “You’ll be able to do something in politics, you are the future, you have youth on your side” (or: you are not going to get anywhere at your age, but please stay around to help older people get elected).
- “You could be the first Black person to make it here” (or: they are bigots and you are not going to get anywhere however hard you try).
- “We are very welcoming to disabled people, we don’t discriminate” (or: they will treat you the same as everyone else, even if it means walking then flights of stairs when you are not able to).
One thing common among Marxism, Feminism, and even Fascism, there is a person with power who is abusing that power to control others. In also all cases this abuse of power involves a Hobson Choice – you either do a particular thing or get nothing.
I was in the Labour Party for 14 years. One thing most people will remember about me was how I spoke up for all-women shortlists and decried the way women were forced into traditional gender roles, like making their tea in Ogmore or taking in the minutes in Pontypridd. I challenged both of these by taking on the role of Secretary in both constituencies, and showing the men in Ogmore CLP how to make tea – don’t ask me how to boil an egg though!
Most of the women I know in Pontypridd CLP are neo-feminists – they want to be treated on the same terms as men because their values are still outdated, so they adopt all their negative traits such as being delusional about their true abilities and worthiness and try to control where they have no competency.
The women I know in Ogmore CLP are not even feminists – they know the men won’t listen anyway because they think they know it all so let them get on with it and keep making mistakes.
The women I know in Rhondda CLP on the other had have no such hang-ups; they are assertive yet tolerant and competent and strong willed – the men in Rhondda know they have met their match! The women in the Rhondda CLP are proud to be women and proud to be from Rhondda – they know they don’t need to be treated the same as Rhondda men, because they are confident in their abilities and who they are and in being themselves.
Tony Blair was defined as a Labour Leader by taking on the idealistic failures of his party to redefine Labour as party fit for government. Gordon Brown needs to take on the political classes to transform Britain into a country where power, wealth
and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few.
Periods in history have always been struggles for identity, whether it be the working class struggling against the bourgeoisie under Marxism, or the battle between repressive men and ambitious women under Feminism, people have fought battles to secure equality and self-respect.
For me, the present time is a battle between the ordinary people who have a profession and work for a living against the political elite who wield power like it is their weapon of choice, who consume wealth like they have sole access to a tuck shop and who deprive others of opportunity like they are the only ones who have a right to achieve their goals.
As a recently elected Town Councillor who aspires to be a Member of Parliament, and a Chartered IT Professional who aspires to be on the Board of Directors of a leading IT firm, I experience the difficulties of an ordinary person seeking
responsibility in a world where only the elite prosper, and where difference is seen as a disadvantage.
The party political system favours the elite, the people who are remote from everyday people, who have the talents of a salesman, the cunning of a cameleon, and who have struggled as much as someone trying to put a hot knife through
It was once illegal to live on earnings from the oldest profession in the world; this should be the case for elected representatives. Being a politician should only ever be a part-time unpaid position as this would mean that elected representatives would be required to have a real job and face the same financial struggles as the people in society they claim to represent. Brown should tackle the elite who cling on to power to preserve their publicly funded lifestyles, rather than to serve the public interest.
House of Lords reform is often talked about as a class battle, but all the government want to do is replace an unelected elite with another political elite.
The House of Lords should be made up of professional people and members diverse interest groups rather than consider of more members of the political class.
Brown needs to tackle the inequalities created by the political class, firstly in his own party and then in political institutions in the country as a whole.