“The Eminent Dignity of the Poor in the Church vs. the Imminent Threat of the Poor to the State” writes Ed Udovic, CM of 17th century France while
Barbara Ehrenreich writes of 21st century America “… the criminalization of poverty has actually been intensifying as the recession generates ever more poverty.” commenting on a new study from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty which found that “the number of ordinances against the publicly poor has been rising since 2006, along with ticketing and arrests for more “neutral” infractions like jaywalking, littering or carrying an open container of alcohol.” Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor? – NYTimes.com Aug 9, 2009
In 17th century France …
This war … was a war which would be fought against an enemy within the borders of France itself, it was a war that was declared against the poor of France. This declaration of war, which was issued in the form of a royal decree read in part:
We expressly prohibit and forbid all persons of either sex, of any locality and of any age, of whatever breeding and birth, and in whatever conditions they may be, able-bodied or invalid, sick or convalescent, curable or incurable, to beg in the city and suburbs of Paris, neither in the churches, nor at the doors of such, nor at the doors of houses nor in the streets, nor anywhere else in public, nor in secret, by day or night … under pain of being whipped for the first offense, and for the second condemned
to the galleys if men and boys, banished if women or girls.’
This new phase of the long war that was waged by the French state against the most impoverished, powerless, marginalized, and abandoned of its own subjects could aptly be described as the “War of the Great Confinement.”
The royal prohibition against all forms of public begging by the countless numbers of the destitute poor of the city of Paris was accompanied by a strict prohibition against all private almsgiving to these beggars. These measures against both begging and private almsgiving were designed to facilitate the creation of what can only be described as
a system of “apartheid” which legislated the forced and punitive institutionalization, or confinement, of the poor in a series of specialized institutions of state control, charity, and profit, which came to be known as the General Hospital of Paris.
There seems to be much food for thought for followers of Vincent and Louise.
Tags: Advocacy, Ehrenreich, poverty, Udovic