Parasitism (social offense)

From Academic Kids

This article describes parasitism as a social offence in the human society. For parasitism in the animal world, see Parasitism.
The   poster titled New People reads: "This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the people 60,000 Reichmarks during his lifetime. People, that is your money."
The Nazi propaganda poster titled New People reads: "This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the people 60,000 Reichmarks during his lifetime. People, that is your money."

Social parasite is a derogatory term denoting a member detrimental to the rest of society by taking advantage of it. In some cases the term is related to specific notions.


Parasitic social classes


In various countries at various times, especially during the periods of social unrest, such as French Revolution or Russian Revolution, the whole social classes, such as aristocracy, rentiers, or bourgeoisie were accused of living off unearned income, and hence declared parasitic, as opposed to the working class.

The text of the The Internationale, the famous socialist song, later adopted as the hymn of the Soviet Union (from 1917 to 1941), in a number of languages contains lines that refer to parasites. For example, the Russian text reads:

Лишь мы, работники всемирной
Великой армии труда!
Владеть землёй имеем право,
Но паразиты - никогда!
Only we, the workers of the all-world
Great army of labor,
Have the right to own the land,
But parasites — never!

Soviet Union

In the USSR, which was supposed to be a workers' state, every adult able-bodied person was obliged to work until the official retirement. Exceptions were study and military service. Those who did not work, study or serve were criminally charged with social parasitism (Russian: тунея́дство) and pronounced enemies of workers. The sentence, quite naturally, was Gulag labor camps.

Charges of parasitism frequently applied to dissidents and refuseniks. Many of them were people of mental labor (writers, journalists, lectors). Since their writings were against the regime, the state prevented those who struggled against it from employment according to their skills altogether. To avoid trials for parasitism, many of them took unskilled, but not especially time-consuming jobs, that allowed them to continue their literary or research work: jobs of street sweepers, fire-keepers, etc.

The list of those arrested and charged with the crime of social parasitism contains many notable names. Among them is Joseph Brodsky who was sentenced in 1964 to five years of hard labor for being nothing but a poet. In 1987 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Nazi Germany

In Nazi Germany, a propaganda campaign was launched to portray the mentally ill as parasites of the society, as a part of the racial hygiene doctrine. See T-4 Euthanasia Program for more.


Those who view Jews and other groups as subhuman or untermensch often describe them as, or compare them to, parasites, rats, or other vermin.


Parasite singles (パラサイトシングル, parasaito shinguru) is a Japanese expression for people who live with their parents until their late twenties or early thirties in order to enjoy a carefree and comfortable life. The expression parasitic singles is sometimes used also.

See also


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