Anyone who has read me knows full well that I can’t bear the identitarian politics bandwagon and increasingly I’ve been arguing this is a middle class issue.
This is a personal monologue and will need refining over time but for the time being this is what I think it’s all about.
This is firmly aimed at the middle class “woke”.
The middle class have their own culture, habits and beliefs and are able to hide behind language, politeness and a general “civilised” air. To some extent regardless of political, cultural and racial divides these are things they have in common and newcomers adopt as signs of belonging (more of this later).
All people and groups struggle with the ideas of inherent superiority and inferiority.
The middle classes are no different. In general, being in the middle is fine when looking down (good I’m better) but not when looking up. They feel wrongly done by – how awful that they should be in the middle when they (obviously) should be on top – the rich having undeserved inherited wealth and washing in money/titles/history they can only dream of (the font of all middle class envy). This envy drives greed. On the right this is in the form of wealth, for the liberals (18thC-19thC) this was moral and intellectual and later, for those in Labour it was ideological.
The poor, when they provide fodder for their wealth (workers), pity (charity) or their ideology (as left as possible, of course, ideological purity denotes how much better anyone is right?) can be coped with. It gives the liberal/left an outlet for their benevolence and largesse (see rich people we are better even if we don’t have your mansions and titles, and we are better than the right wing middle class who are just cruel and selfish, we feel more, we care more and by god we are going to show it – virtue signalling is a hallmark behaviour here) then all is good..
Of course when the poor don’t serve their allotted function, then a nasty edge emerges from the middle classes, as there is no outlet for being superior and being equal is not an option.
The need to be superior is what drives middle class pretentiousness – seeing themselves as a cut above the rest. It doesn’t matter how much philosophy is read, how well meaning and sincere they make themselves sound, how strongly they believe in humanitarian causes this belief in innate superiority is singularly the thing that prevents them from being humanists in practice.
That tension between the idea of moral equality of human beings and being better than them is one that plays itself out and (if you are lucky) you get the former so the latter slowly disappear from ones conscience. The former is the easily achieved idealised belief that one can at times carry around when one is young, it comes from experience and an appreciation that one day one’s life is going to end (as it does for all people no matter how lowly or great).
What happens if it doesn’t? Well one of the things that happens is that one starts to confuse this sense of superiority and inferiority with right and wrong. It is precisely because the liberal/left are in this muddle that we have so many issues and tensions in society.
I find it fascinating how the far left will highlight the bias of all people except Marx’s, so I thought I would. Marx was middle class. Despite his abject failure to predict a revolution (or possibly because of it?) Marxism has survived and driven so many of his class around the world to attempt revolutionary change in his name. Instead of seeing his failed theory as just that, they adapted it so that they could take centre stage as the vanguard.
The bourgeoise and proletariat never existed in reality. They are merely conceptualisations of groups. He only spent a brief time with the working class and his innate snobbery means that Marx’s ideas and assumptions are infused with middle class pretensions and prejudices.
In the wake of it’s failure emerged the idea of false consciousness – the belief that middle class people know the interests of the poor better than themselves (something which Nicolas Taleb calls out in his concept of “Skin in the Game” and as part of the Intellectual Yet Idiot phenomenon). The trope that the “working class failed to rise” is to scapegoat them for Marx’s failure to predict their behaviour (a failure which is replicated in Marxian theories on race and gender also). This is true even when they claim they have no such knowledge of Marxism.
He transposed the battles of the middle class with the upper class (the hatred, the envy) onto the working class as it was his anti-enlightment section of the middle class that wanted to overthrow the upper class. Those of us who are born working class know full well that while we may want to be rich we don’t waste our time hating them.
Perhaps his greatest flaw was in dismissing the very thing that meant the working class in England rejected his ideas repeatedly, their Methodism. He never understood the single most powerful function of religion which was to give the individual the capacity to understand themselves as humans (and not mere socio-economic units as he thought of them) and that this, in turn, developed the individual conscience which has been shown to be one of the powerful forces in history. Political values are no substitute for moral ones and the individual conscience can not be substituted for a collective one. The collective conscience was nothing more than figleaf concept which would create a mechanism to destroy individual agency and dissent.
Race and Gender:
One of the questions I’ve asked myself is why are white people who say they are anti-racist now prepared to call themselves inherently racist in order to be the “white allies” of BAME individuals who promote this.
How can a person go from being anti-racist to racist in such a short period of time? Well if the only goal is to be a cut above the rest then it is done easily, without thought and certainly without any need to delve in too deep. If anyone says anything to burst this bubble then best to dismiss this.
I’ve read around the whole issue of whiteness for example and the truth is that it’s not even race theory anymore. The advocates of it have no coherent definition and more importantly, any explanation that is intellectually rigorous.
In education, we spend so much time looking at the outcomes for poor children and what has been happening to them in the education system (rightly so). But what we’ve ignored is what the education system has done to the middle classes.
While opportunities have reduced for the working class, they have increased for the middle class. Virtually all middle-class children now go to university.
While not diving into all the arguments about IQ, genetics, environment, etc. it is clear that correlation is not causation. Just as poor parents are capable of having academically gifted children so too are middle-class parents capable of having ones that are not. And herein lies the issue.
It’s easy for working-class parents to spot their child as being intelligent compared to themselves. That’s not to say they always encourage or know how to cope with it. Ambitious working class parents from all communities can overcome this because they like the reflected glory of their child achieving. A trait they share with the middle class.
But the middle classes have a different problem – how do you spot that your child is not academic?
Well for a start they don’t want to believe that they are and more importantly it’s harder to know because just as poor children mimic the poor language skills of their parents, their children mimic their good language skills.
But it doesn’t make them any more academic just more articulate which just makes it harder for he middle-class parent, particularly when they are young, to be able to assess their abilities honestly. Middle-class envy dictates that they must, of course, enter the education arms race and not give up at any cost (while pretending they are not doing so at all and their child is gifted naturally despite increasingly resorting to paying for tuition that others don’t know about).
The education system has made it easier for them to maintain illusions about the true abilities of their children. The knowledge light, skills-based curriculum favours the least bright middle-class child as they will gain general knowledge from home that their working class equivalent won’t. Whether it was intended or not (and I am inclined to believe it was an unintended consequence), the middle classes have sewn up the best of the education system for themselves as the left-wing among them have degraded the education of the poorest over the last 50 years. New Labour’s goal to increase university participation means that it is highly unlikely that a middle class child will fail to attend.
So where do the least academic middle class children end up? Well, it would appear that at least some of the articulate but a bit dim have made a beeline for the far left, lecturer-activists led courses relating to race/gender/sexuality, where they are openly indoctrinated into the SJW cult.
These university sanctioned echo chambers are where the students learn to parrot the ideas and statistics being fed to them. In terms of race, attempts to shoehorn in the narrow lived experiences into a US-centric model of white/non-white relations is what is behind students of all ethnicities buying into an ahistorical, culturally illiterate, fictional ethno-politcal grouping called “people of colour”.
The indoctrination is not called out because of the extent to which such lecturer activists play on their students narcissism by getting them to focus on themselves and rewarding them so long as they deconstruct their experiences to find racism everywhere in everyday encounters no matter whether there are reasonable alternative explanations (which are not taught rigorously and if referred to, explained away as a form of right wing ideology – hence “humanism is fascism”).
Were this confined to the campus with little news coverage in a basically stable society, there would be less concern. But it’s not. We live in a society that is fragmented in many different ways, serious issues facing the poorest and disadvantaged and a need for greater integration. It is for this reason that the woke get their way – for now. It won’t last.
None of it will – not the English industrial working class (in whose name Marx wrote his ideas – need not have bothered to be fair given how little of a shit they care for his ideas), not the Blairites (who at least tried to make society better but did so with the excesses of the upper class), not the left wing middle class pretensions (when they could, if they at least tried like their Conservative equivalents have a set of moral and values they could abide by for a day), and certainly not the woke (who are quite frankly too stupid to work out electoral politics).
We don’t have the society we deserve right now but we do have the capacity to produce one if we agree to a set of values and abide by them long enough for ourselves and others to see that we are one of the best nations on this earth and not having an empire doesn’t mean a jot.