Social researchers are increasingly finding that a link does exist between poverty and stupidity, but not in the direction of indolence and mental sluggishness leading to poverty, but rather the other way around.
One of the reasons for the creation of the police force was to control or police the underclass which had been pitted against the working class in the slums of old London. Now that this derelict class has grown as a consequence of neoliberal policies, the need for its control has become a serious preoccupation of Western states.
“Sick houses” have always been a feature of the cheapest housing in Dublin; houses and flats that are sodden with dampness and eaten by moths and mildew, and the government – not wishing to cost itself any expense – is loath to intervene.
Any time a police van or car approaches the entrance, those who see it let out a loud whistle which is repeated by its hearers all the way to the very back of the complex. Even when there is nothing illegal happening the warning is sounded because the folk know from hard experience that the police will find something.
Marx described this segment of the industrial working class as the lumpenproletariat or the dangerous class. In both North America and Europe we have come to label and frequently demonise this group of the urban poor as an underclass which, for the comfort and security of the more privileged classes, must be controlled and pacified at all costs – even if this means the use of state-sanctioned violence.