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Why the rich are revolting The Great Awokening and the 2020 protests are the product of growing radicalisation among the upper-middle-class

Horny-handed sons of toil protest at a Harvard v Yale game (Photo by Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Horny-handed sons of toil protest at a Harvard v Yale game (Photo by Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)


June 10, 2020   7 mins

“That strange revolution which sees the sons of the bourgeois throw cobblestones at the sons of proletarians.” So observed the French writer Jean Cau of Paris in 1968, when student protests about living conditions at the university erupted into a historic rebellion against the old guard.

That year, the United States was rocked by riots, assassinations and political crisis, and half a century later, history seems to be, if not repeating itself, then certainly rhyming. Yet while there are huge differences between the 1968 and 2020 disturbances, the one continuous theme running through both uprisings, and indeed all revolutions down the years, is the prominent role of the middle class. In particular, the upper-middle-class, the haute bourgeoise, are the driving force behind revolt and disorder throughout history, especially — as with today — when they feel they have no future.

Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism. The “Great Awokening”, the mass movement focused on eradicating racism in America and with a quasi-religious, almost hysterical feel to it, is dominated by the upper middle class.

Of course, when journalists say that any group of protesters are ‘middle class’ (in the British, rather than American, sense) they often mean to downplay their grievances or the value of their argument. Political debate, in British life in particular, is often about who genuinely represents the mystical proletariat, or ‘real people’, and opinion formers are obsessed with class and elitism. Most discourse goes something along the lines of ‘you’re the elite’, ‘no, YOU’RE the elite’, an endless, tedious game played by both Right and Left. I don’t think the composition of a group gives it any more moral weight, but it is true that revolutions and protests, even those ostensibly about the working class or other downtrodden groups, have historically been a bourgeois thing — and 2020 is no different.

The rich have always paradoxically been radical, something G.K. Chesterton observed over a hundred years ago when he wrote “You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.”

Before the industrial age established a political divide in which a middle-class conservative/liberal alliance opposed a working-class socialist movement, radicalism was usually an elite or at least bourgeois concern. The Reformation was disproportionately popular among the urban educated; later, while the Whigs were dominant among the wealthy London merchants, Toryism was much more common in the country as a whole.

When the French Revolution degenerated into violence a few intellectuals and aristocrats based in what is now Notting Hill sympathised with the Jacobins, but the English poor were largely unsympathetic, and showed their feelings with the brutal Priestley riots in Birmingham.

That revolution was itself largely a bourgeois affair, most of its leaders being lawyers, journalists or similar. The sans-culottes were idolised as an almost sacred group everyone had to pay lip service to, but they were often preferred in the abstract. Jean-Paul Marat called his newspaper L’Ami du peuple but in reality he despised them, partly because ‘the people’ are not that radical.

This the revolutionaries learned when they tried to overturn the old order and build the world anew, met with fierce resistance by the conservative peasantry in the Vendée region. In southern Italy French Jacobins invaders intent on liberating the country from religious oppression faced the Sanfedismo (‘Holy Faith’), a rural army fighting to defend the faith and king.

Likewise, the Russian Communist movement. While Karl Marx made endless references to the proletariat, he made very little effort to actually deal with them in the flesh, and when he did, he was disappointed by their moderation; when Marx’s comrades formed the First International they made sure that working-class socialists weren’t allowed anywhere near the important positions.

Marx had one proletarian colleague, Wilhelm Weitling, who he ended up putting through a ‘quasi-trial’, in Paul Johnson’s words, because he didn’t agree with all of Marx’s doctrine. The great communist intellectual believed that workers had to be instructed with a “body of doctrine and clear scientific ideas”, and because Weitling had his own opinions, he was cancelled — although Marx’s followers had a more permanent way of cancelling people.

Lenin’s Bolsheviks followed in this fashion, radicalised by their experience at universities, not factories. The Russian revolutionaries were so bourgeois that, as Daniel Kalder observed in Dictator Literature: “Only one solitary worker ever sat on the executive board of Lenin’s party, and he turned out to be a police spy.”

That noble tradition of haute bourgeoisie revolution continues today, especially in the US. The Occupy movement, for example, is deeply opposed to the 1% but largely because they come from the 2-5%; Amy Chua cited figures suggesting that in New York, more than half it members earned $75,000 or more while only 8% were on low incomes, compared to 30% of the city. They also have hugely disproportionate numbers of graduates and post-grads among their members.

The wider Great Awokening, of which the 2020 disturbances are a part, is a very elite phenomenon, with progressive activists nearly twice as likely as the average American to make more than $100,000 a year, nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree, and only one-quarter as likely to be black. Likewise with the radicalisation of American academia, with the safe spaces movement most prevalent at elite colleges, where students were much more likely to disinvite speakers or express more extreme views.

This indicates a significant radicalisation of the rich, a process that began in the 1960s when the heavily class-based politics of the 20th century began to shift. That social revolution, referred to in Britain as the permissive society, was entirely led by from above, a conflict epitomised in Britain by Midlands housewife Mary Whitehouse and her hopeless crusade against the public school liberal Hugh Greene.

In France, while Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist philosophy made huge headway among students of philosophy and future Cambodian mass murderers, it was less successful when he turned up at a Paris car factory to proclaim revolution. In 1968 the workers of Paris famously refused to side with the students, while in the US, as Christopher Caldwell noted in The Age of Entitlement, that year’s protests and the wider political conflict was partly about social status, with Ivy League students fighting working-class cops, many of whom had sons or brothers in Vietnam fighting a war they still believed in.

“When 135 students affiliated with Students for a Democratic Society occupied Harvard’s University Hall,” Caldwell writes: “the Harvard professor of Irish literature John Kelleher, a working-class Irishman from Lawrence, Massachusetts, called them ‘spoiled brats with an underdeveloped sense of history and a flair for self-protection’”. After 1968, “privileged Americans took out of the Vietnam era a sense of their own moral authority that was not battered but strangely enhanced.” The new class war had begun.

This trend would only accelerate, driven by a combination of media, expanding education and globalisation. In his highly prophetic The Revolt of the Elites, published after his death in 1994, Christopher Lasch argued that the new ruling class was becoming far more radicalised as its values diverged from a more parochial lumpen bourgeois. This more global-minded elite, used to seeing the world at 30,000ft, now embraced diversity as a mark of status but also a faith, with identity politics a replacement for religion — “or at least for the feeling of self-righteousness that is so commonly confused with religion”.

The Great Awokening certainly draws on America’s sectarian religious tradition, in a country formed by Calvinists, Quakers, Baptists and a dozen other Christian sects, but there are also materialist causes, in particular the expansion of the university system and runaway housing costs.

High house prices, in particular caused by planning restrictions, make it harder for the urban elite to settle down and have families — something likely to have a civilizing effect — and also pushes them radically to the Left.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the university system has created what Russian-American academic Peter Turchin called ‘elite overproduction’, the socially dangerous situation where too many people are chasing too few elite places in society, creating “a large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable… denied access to elite positions”.

So while around half of 18-year-olds are going onto college, only a far smaller number of jobs actually require a degree. Many of those graduates, under the impression they were joining the higher tier in society, will not even reach managerial level and will be left disappointed and hugely indebted. Many will have studied various activist-based subjects collectively referred to as ‘grievance studies’, so-called because they rest on a priori assumptions about power and oppression. Whether these disciplines push students towards the Left, or if it is just attending university that has this effect, people are coming out of university far more politically agitated. 

While the evidence on that is not clear, it’s arguable that a tiny number of very intelligent people being taught the theories of Marcuse or Foucault is probably going to have a limited social impact; when these ideas are disseminated among huge numbers of the young, many of them conformists sensitive to the social cues around them, then quite extreme ideas about dismantling society become normalised.

This has been bubbling up for years — and then along came the coronavirus, throwing millions of people out of work, many from exactly the sort of sections most likely to cause trouble. And what makes it slightly spooky is that a few years back Turchin predicted that there would be a violent flashpoint in American politics — in 2020.

History teaches us that disaffected and bored members of the elite can become a destabilising influence on society. In medieval Europe, the younger sons of lords, destined to never inherit land, were at the centre of numerous rebellions and wars, with the crusades acting as a pressure valve for their violent impulses. In China the term ‘bare branches’ is used to describe those excess males unable to find mates and who then went on to cause trouble, and modern America has record numbers of single people.

Perhaps the most famous example of elite overproduction is the War of the Roses. Edward III’s seven surviving children married into the most powerful families in the realm, helping to stabilise politics during his reign, but this fecund group produced huge numbers of grandchildren and great-grandchildren chasing a limited number of baronial positions, during a period when post-pandemic population decline had hugely decreased the wealth of the landowning class. When the king descended into listless insanity the rival factions turned English politics into a Shakespearean bloodbath.

The lesson of that crisis, as of every crises since, is that discontent and boredom among the rich and powerful can quickly descend into violence; it is they, in the words of the Beatles’ 1968 hit, who usually want to change the world.


Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable

edwest

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David Bell
David Bell
4 years ago

A very interesting read and brings a lot of historical context to today’s “mobs” who seeks to destroy historical contest in order to reorganise society.

This reminds me of a set of people who where on twitter (I am recovering now) who thought the EU Referendum result meant that universal suffrage should come to an end and people, presumably them, should appoint the government and decide important issues like EU membership instead of the “stupid” people who they felt didn’t understand the issues because they didn’t agree with those they thought where “intelligent”

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Yep…Remainac Scum who cheered on the Brexit Vote….right up until the anti-democratic scum lost. The reality is that a young man leaving Uni. with a 2:2 in ‘Media Studies’ from the ‘Uni. of Bolton’ is not an asset that a lot of employers will want…..

…the young woman leaving a RG Uni with a degree in physics….very much more employable.

Lots of young people, after being told that Uni. would open the doors towards the top…are going to be bitterly disappointed when four years at a fourth rate ‘Uni’ studying a third rate subject means they end up in jobs that were never, ever, ever, considered ‘graduate employment’.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

A very good and extensive analysis. I have just one minor historical quibble, based I think on my reading of Richard Cobb, the social historian par excellence of revolutionary France. And that is the fact that, apparently, the sans-culottes were not the poor or very poor, but the lower middle classes – the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

Either way, these middle class twits are indeed despicable and generally hated by the working classes. They are the reason I refused to go to university as long ago as 1984, despite having achieved the grades to attend almost any university in the country while attending nothing more than a bog-standard comprehensive in middle of nowhere.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Even worse, the Lawyers!
Maximilian Robespierre for example!

andy young
andy young
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

“d**k. The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

unconcurrentinconnu
unconcurrentinconnu
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The sans-culottes were not the drivers of the Revolution, just the foot soldiers. It was the lawyers, journos, etc – the so-called educated people – who brought it on and then plunged the country into a bloodbath. As always, most of them perished in the hell they had created.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

Yes, but my point is that the sans-culottes are generally thought to have been the very poor in whose name the revolution was enacted. Instead, they formed the artisan class.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

the reason I refused to go to university as long ago as 1984

But how did you advance in society and prosperity without doing so? Could it be like,.. your dad knew…..

nickhuntster
nickhuntster
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Remainers and leftists are largely from the middle and professional classes, are they not? They certainly fit the overly-polite category ‘twits’, exuding all the intellectual snobbery and moralising self-righteousness needed to distinguish themselves from those they see as the infamous ‘low-information’ voters, AKA the dumb gammons.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
4 years ago

There’s an age factor being ignored here. I was part of that revolutionary movement in 1968. Not because dissatisfied or unable to get a job or a home. Quite the reverse. Opportunity in those days was everywhere. I embraced it all because it was exciting and the thing to do. The movements it gave rise to – feminism, anti racism, gay rights – all made sense to me. The 70s were spent on marches of one kind or another, advancing causes I could readily make an argument for. I was even involved in producing the first TV aimed at minority groups. Yet here I am all these years later on the other side of the fence – ardent Brexiteer, Blue Labour, pro capitalism (because it’s one thing that offers individuals daily choice) and rediscovering the religion of my childhood, even though I can’t quite bring myself to embrace the literal credo. The people leading this “revolution” seem profoundly stupid to me. What the hell happened?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

Exactly, as WSC said “If you’re not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty, you have no brain”.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
4 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

That’s because the whole idea of socialism is stupid. Socialism cannot exist unless there is capitalism for it to feed off.

nickhuntster
nickhuntster
4 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

This point always deserves reiterating; the two systems are fundamentally different in kind. Capitalism is the economic system which precedes socialism and thrives without it. Socialism is a political system which tries to seize control of the capitalist economic system for its own ends. That means coercing and controlling the people who are producing, which requires huge government and a dependent-supportive elite class. Socialists are always the unknowing parasites of the working class, in disguise as their saviours. How I wish all this had been clear to me in my 20s rather than my 50s.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

And if capitalism was allowed to run riot….there would be constant rioting…which is why the UK is a mixed-economy…

…some capitalism (though more like corporatism today) with a public safety net for those people in danger of dropping into the s79t.

Why else did you think HMG decided to pay peoples wages?

hisenormity
hisenormity
4 years ago

As Marx commented, it is the bourgeois class who are the ‘most revolutionary class’: “The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part”. Thwart their ambitions and they will build on their natural tendency to disrupt ‘fast frozen relations’. Perhaps we can see in Cummings this bourgeois drive to disrupt for disruptions sake? I just want a modicum of security – financial, emotional and social – for me, my family, my community, in return for the labour I sell. Bourgeois ‘Creative Destruction’ is my enemy unless you build alongside it the opportunities to prosper. I don’t have the economic, social, cultural or political capital to shape my immediate life chances…born into nothing I’ll die with a pittance especially if I need to pay for social care. I see all around me bourgeois action over decades to destroy any mechanisms of positive social change for the working class. Working class associations, opportunities communities and cultures have been systematically ripped apart by bourgeois acts particularly from Thatcher onwards; their ‘one dimensional’ thinking, their biopower manifest today in a growing dystopia of the digital panopticon, their use of ideological tools of repression, are all extremely revolutionary acts in their favour. Many Bourgeois Middle class commentators bloviating in this and other unherd comments section will have very little experience of precarity and insecurity of the working lives of billions of people. They are ‘The Rich’. They are ‘revolting’. I can’t stand the smug, well off middle class blithely commenting on the lives and opportunities of people they know nothing about. Phew, that feels better. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
4 years ago
Reply to  hisenormity

“Bloviating” what a great word. And interesting comment. I fear I fall foul of your ire, but I’m interested to know because I’m a long way from that community, what were the working class associations, opportunities and cultures that supported positive change for the working class? And what are the biopowers being exerted? I just read through the Wikipedia entry on biopower and it doesn’t give a single example of how it’s actually manifested in reality. It uncomfortably reminds me of reading Foucault and, even more hopelessly, Derrida at university, earnestly agreeing with what they said, which might have had some substance, but there was so much a priori knowledge assumed in it that I didn’t have that it was in fact passing through my eyes to my brain as a very poorly assembled word salad. I encourage you to think of us Bourgeois bloviators in these terms, needing things to be absolutely spelled out if we’re to understand the plight that you describe, which I think would be worthwhile. To be clear, I mean this genuinely and in good spirits.

hisenormity
hisenormity
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

Apologies Jake for not getting back to you sooner. W/C opps etc: First, despite the shortcomings, Unions are an essential aspect of defence against precarity and employer caprice but this has to be translated into structural changes otherwise worker demand and solidarity is blown away by structural forces. For example, shifting production to a lower wage country in part as an employer response to worker demands in the home country makes a mockery of trying to improve conditions. Free education and support for technical, vocational as well as academic education was temporarily supported but then undercut. Housing: again despite shortcomings, we once had affordable and secure tenancies…I grew up secure in council house. We loved it as kids.

Biopower: you are right, it is associated with Foucault. The ability of a government or other powerful institutions, to control our bodies…not always adverse of course – think MMR – but now the potential for our bodies to be shaped, tracked and controlled using surveillance technologies. Another example is the automobile industry’s success, and our willing complicity to accept ‘Automobility’ This is a phenomenon that goes beyond a focus on the car itself. The is about the physical, social, economic, political and philosophical ramifications of cars and car infrastructure which requires much deeper thought and critique. Most of us have just grown up with an assumed understanding of cars in our lives, but of course as climate change and the health impacts of care use ask of us, we should not take for granted what ‘automobility’ means, how our physical selves are created by car use and culture, and how it affects our decision making.

jeremynash147
jeremynash147
4 years ago
Reply to  hisenormity

I may have been more fortunate than you in my life chances, however, your observations are very astute and resonate strongly. Great comment

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
4 years ago

Interesting article and some great comments.

My take on things (from Australia, but mostly applicable to Britain and US) is that Elite Overproduction is a result of our corporations selling out our artisan, tradies and manufacturing class for cheap labour overseas. The result is many kids without a clue heading off to uni to become radicalised by the anarchists Ed West talks of.

This change was going to turn us into ‘The Clever Country.’ Instead, with the no fail policies and overseas money driving the agenda, universities are slowly turning Australia into ‘The Idiot Country’ of unthinking conformists. That is how you forge a well paying career.

There has always been a City/Rural divide roughly translating to a Theory/Practical divide. Whilst technology continues to drive rural kids to the city as it has since the industrial revolution, what else can we expect from our disjointed youth?

To blame Marxists as the only cohort behind the radicalisation of our youth is a copout and lets one half of the Globalist push off the hook; The Neo-liberal economists , multinational corporations, their NGOs and mainstream media friends.

Most of my generation thought cheap production costs and cheap goods didn’t have a hidden price tag. It did. Our freedoms.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
4 years ago

Enjoyed this essay immensely. It’s helpful and interesting to have history put the issue of the day into perspective. That said, the Progressive Left Movement doesn’t study history (students majoring in History are at a ‘historical low’), ergo they don’t understand it and in fact, are really trying to obliterate it, via taking down statues, “burning books” (see NPR last week, suggesting to off load your ‘dusty old books’ of yore), etc. Their idea is to build history anew, to white-out what went before. So, it’s hard to have an conversation with ‘ignorance’. And it’s obvious they don’t really want to improve life and its complexities as much as they want to twist-&-shout about it. They don’t have many tools in their box to get any job done.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

When I was doing my Philosophy PhD, I knew a very pleasant young man doing an MA in History, who didn’t know whether the French Revolution happened before or after the American Civil War.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

The terrifying thing is that he is now, probably, teaching history. Truly, there is no hope…

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

My thoughts exactly.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I never came across anybody in teaching History who was quite that ill informed but, towards the end of my teaching career, the quality of entrants to teaching did fall. Colleagues in other subject departments noted the same of new teachers in science and languages departments.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

Ahh, yes, the, “These young teachers are s78t compared to how brilliant we were…did you know everything was better in my day….[cont forever]”

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I also found myself teaching 17th & 18th century rationalism & empiricism to a very nice middle class girl with a* a* a at a-level who was functionally illiterate.

Jon Shaw
Jon Shaw
4 years ago

Very well written article. The section: “a large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable”¦ denied access to elite positions” makes a lot of sense.
This explains the attitude of the millennial generation that attended a second rate University and emerged badly programmed, navel gazing, debt ridden and with a sense of privilege.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

‘.. it is they, in the words of the Beatles’ 1968 hit, who usually want to change the world.’

In one of the various bands of my youth our cover of Revolution featured the words: ‘If you go carrying pictures of Geoffrey Howe, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow’.

Vicki Robinson
Vicki Robinson
4 years ago

More practical people in positions of power and authority would be a stabilising influence. At the moment, academic intelligence is essential for most top jobs. We need to create routes to power for practical people. The Covid experience has given them the chance to shine — let’s give them opportunities.

benbow01
benbow01
4 years ago
Reply to  Vicki Robinson

I think there is a problem there. The sort of people who would be best, are in the private sector where they want to be.

Politics attracts people who crave power and control but have no marketable skills which would make them suitable for employment in the wealth producing private sector, or as entrepreneurs. Whereas politicians before were people from various jobs and careers, various wealth backgrounds, today politics is a career for those who have engaged in nothing else and nearly all from reasonably wealthy backgrounds.

Politics has become the sump for losers and the unemployable elsewhere.

chasfgr
chasfgr
4 years ago
Reply to  benbow01

Whoops – many a true word…
or does he not jest?

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago
Reply to  benbow01

I believe Rishi Sunak isn’t just very wealthy from family connections but from work in financial services. Ian Blackford of the SNP is attacked by Unionists because he is independently wealthy . I do agree though that politics has become a distinct path with people engaged in it who have done little else.

borgward2k
borgward2k
3 years ago
Reply to  benbow01

As one who works a blue-collar job in a US community college, I an attest to the rise of the “career politician”. A person who runs for college office (Student Body President, etc) with the expectation that their “political experience” can be parlayed into a local position, followed by a city council post, state assembly seat and eventually some position of power within the Federal arena (Congressperson). All the while going through life with absolutely zero experience with making a living or, heaven forbid, running a business and making payroll.
47 years later they could be President and honestly believe that they know what is best for each and every one of us.
Career politicians are the bane of existence.

Neil John
Neil John
4 years ago
Reply to  Vicki Robinson

I fear many confuse ‘academic intelligence’ with real practical intelligence, the former being based on certification which many employers assume indicates intelligence and ability, it does, very occasionally. Practical intelligence is much harder to define, so employers, (in)Human Resource departments run by graduates especially, continue to use graduate qualifications as there’s nothing much else to use to choose future staff of the ‘right’ sort.

Working in the university sector I deal with some quite intelligent people, a few might even manage to pass the MENSA test… My post grad. dept. takes the top 0.01% world wide to interview, and most of those don’t make the grade to be offered a PhD opportunity, the best ones have a good balance of not just ‘academically’ quantified intelligence but practical abilities too.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
4 years ago

Interesting, but I put it to you that the revolution in 2016 with the outcome of the EU Referendum was the real revolution … it was working people who won that battle with the establishment.
Now we are approaching the end of the EU transition … will Boris deliver … yes I think he will and then we are in new territory.
The Boris Govt will have a huge opportunity to end vested interest & crony capitalism which are a benefit to the professional establishment but are damaging to the lives of working people

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

I very much hope you are correct.

Neil John
Neil John
4 years ago

It’s not finished yet, but I too live in hope it will be delivered, the desperation and desire of the BBC and others however to bring down our elected Gov’t to stop it should not be underestimated.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago

The Boris government are part of crony capitalism. Have a good look at the Desmond/Jenrick situation. There’s a number of other examples but that, alone, should do.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago

Boris is a globalist…he wants mass immigration.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

A most informative essay, that appositely drew parallels with the restrained anarchy of 1968, and the abysmal failure of both the bourgeois French students and Anti Vietnam yuppies. Off course at the time many academic cretins in the UK were predicting the imminent fall of the US. Combat deaths in Vietnam peaked at about eighteen thousand that year.
Incidentally the Priestley Riots were a skilfully managed top down affair, with the Anglican oligarchy that controlled Birmingham directing the mob to preselected targets, with, it must be said, great success. Retribution was also on a very modest scale considering the carnage wrought, only two hanged and one second class to Botany Bay.
Your final point that boredom can quickly lead to violence among the cream of society, ie:the rich and thick, is very alarming,considering the recent anarchy in Bristol.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I cannot remember anybody predicting the fall of the USA in the late60s/early 70s.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

I presume you were alive and compos
mentis in say 1971?
Then you must remember the “Nixon Shock”, the end of Bretton Woods Agreement (Dollar convertibility to gold), followed by the defeat in Vietnam?
Then the upsurge of triumphalism in the Left Wing Press about the defeat of the Superpower by a Third World Pygmy? Even Kissinger is his magisterial tome the ‘White House Years’ was pessimistic. Frankly every Marxist scribbler was predicting that their day had come.
How did all this pass you by? Surely even your obsession with Scottish Nationalism didn’t blind you to contemporary events?

martavonfriedeburg
martavonfriedeburg
4 years ago

I savoured every paragraph – itching to send this to my privileged left wing friends😂

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

Everyone who can read English is HUGELY privileged, even though it gives them the misfortunes of being able to read the Guardian, listen to BBC “news”, speeches by His Honour Prof Sir B Johnson GBH,…..(and even the occasional tweet from the White House).

borisitin
borisitin
4 years ago

An excellent article. Thank you.
It was interesting to see white upper middle-class crowd looting (and justifying looters) Latino and African American corner stores in the name of Black Lives Matter.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago

Pier Paolo Pasolini noted this phenomenon in Italy back in the 60s and 70s with middle class brats attacking working class Italian cops. Pasolini contemptuously called the student ‘activists’ “figlio di papa” (daddies’ boys).

I’m glad to see that Christopher Lasch’s “Revolt of the Elites” is known to somebody in the UK. It does go a long way towards explaining the kind of steaming elite idiocy that we now see going on.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

Funnily enough I’m reading a collection of Pasolini’s poetry at the moment. It’s very boring and does not seem very good to me, but of course poetry rarely, if ever, works in translation. I do admire some of his films very much.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

He was a much better film director, thankfully.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

Perhaps also the idiotic ideas some people have about such as historical events as the Act of Union.
Prejudice trumps all, even Middle Class Brats (MCB), are not immune.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

What has the Act of Union to do with this?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

Nothing at all.
However your knowledge of that seminal event is so distorted that it rather invalidates all your other pronouncements, does it not?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

I forgot to add that glancing at your ‘posts’ over the past few weeks, you have on at least six occasions ended your epistle with the words “Let’s have some proof ” or “proof please ” and on one occasion, to the unfortunate Grindlay Forrest, “Proof, dates of membership, branch, because I think you are a liar”.
So where is the proof of your Act of Union “Invasion”,
you old hypocrite?
No wonder you were thumped in a Manchester pub fifty years ago and later ‘banned’ from the sainted ‘Guardian’. What is even worse is how many young minds did you poison with your distorted view of History, over your thirty year teaching career?
You allowed the miasma of base nationalism to override everything, and to what end? Did you really think you wouldn’t be found out eventually? Incredible.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

Lasch also wrote a seminal book on narcissism.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I read it on holiday last October. I’d highly recommend it.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

Astonishing is it not, that someone who has read Lasch, and is aquatinted with the work of Pasolini, yet is a complete ignoramus when it comes to the subject of Scottish History?
Worse, he pontificates on the subject with the voice of bogus authority, and no doubt genuinely believes such rubbish as the Mel Gibson film “Braveheart”, to be the gospel truth!
So much for the once much vaunted Scottish educational system.

John Munro
John Munro
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I think I’ve noted on numerous occasions that ‘Braveheart’ is historical garbage. The Scottish Wars of Independence were much more interesting than anything contained in Mr. Gibson’s film. However Britnat/ Unionist obsessives, like you, have got to obsess, I suppose.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

Please don’t tell me you taught History?
You still refuse to back up your preposterous claim made a few weeks ago that the “English” sent an army and a fleet to intimidate wee Scotland into signing the Act of Union? Even you national bard Robbie Burns new better, did he not?
“Bought and sold for English gold” I think were the words he very appositely used, were they not?
Own up to it! Blinded by facile nationalism you have ruined your case by a gross fabrication. Frankly I am astonished that one who taught history for so long, could be so base.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
4 years ago

The question each of us should be asking ourselves is: would you kneel when surrounded by a mob screaming at you to do so? When you know the friendly catchy name of the group is not really what the mob are after, instead like any pack or maybe the typical playground bully they only demand simple subservience now and possibly later a little bit of obedience. But you know what they want is wrong, and you really really disagree with them; but there are 10 of them screaming at you to, say, kneel and pledge fealty. Or may be there are only 5 of them but one is now shouting they know where you live. What would you do? You notice the people screaming at you are all youthfull and fit and it has been a quite while since you saw your teen years come and go, and the anger and the feeling of power the group are experiencing is clear in their eyes. May be you could look to our elected leaders but many are either obvious by their absence or seemingly diving to their knees in joyous abandon already. Perhaps on a more practical level you could turn to the law enforcement people for help who we pay to protect us. But they are either already kneeling or being beaten back by the mob and either seemingly unwilling or unable to tackle such lawlessness. Perhaps it seems the gathering of people around you only number two or three and they are your friends and may be they don’t want you to kneel as such, but instead they just want you to agree with them on this one thing. You still know what they really want is wrong. What would you do? ….. “Yeah, me to probably”

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

Are we allowed in a civilised free country to mention some facts which are probably irrelevant and offensive and certainly unenlightening? Such as….
When I was younger, shops did not need to have metal shutters. (Because we lived in a civiised country back then? Before the huge benefits of immigration?)
We also did not have riots until after millions of foreigners were invited to come here, presumably after a democratic referendum legitimated such a huge change. And what year was that referendum again?
And now as many shops as can afford to do so have metal shutters they close every night, and those that can’t afford get burnt down by anti-fascist liberators as recently in this city.
Could it be logical that immigrants sometimes have less commitment to their neighbourhoods so do not care about causing huge damage for no useful purpose, whereas people who have grown up in the same areas as their grannies have respect for their local areas and communities?
Anyway, maybe I was just having a bad dream….

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

HMG threw open the doors of the UK to the dross of the world…

…a few years later HMG screams in surprise at the behaviour of such dross.

I see that footballers are going to be wearing BLM slogans on their shirts…

…perhaps the same players could shout out to young people that going to school and not stabbing each other is a great start in life…

…and perhaps the same footballers might also tell young ladies not to have children until they can afford to have them…ideally when they are in a settled relationship.

Then perhaps a player like Ozil (who likes to shout about the treatment of Muslims by the Chinese), could also shout out on a regular basis about how terrible the mass rape of white girls by Muslim men in the UK is…

chris.cauwood
chris.cauwood
4 years ago

Here in UK, in nutshell, blame Blair and Campbell.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
4 years ago

Thanks, Ed, for a really excellent article, persuasive and interesting.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
4 years ago

Very interesting and confirmed my thoughts that in many ways the working class are often caught in the crossfire of elitist battles and do actually have their own point of view.

I certainly think that this chapter of the culture war is a culmination of Brexit with the Liberal middle classes fearing a cultural backlash from the Conservative Establishment on one level and fearing a loss of EU funded/facilitated jobs on another.

Thus The Great Awokening I feel is largely driven by survival anxiety and consequently intellectual skill sets are being expertly deployed in the form of media manipulation, sophistry driven debates, concerted attempts to undermine confidence in the elected government and democratic norms, radical identity politics to distort and confuse established biological and language meanings and of course, if all else fails rebellion in the name of critical theory.

That said, cultural change is, in my opinion, needed. We need a new social contract to usher in a New Post-Brexit Britain and one which creates a new cultural settlement that is focused on equal value, equal worth, equal dignity and equal respect.

We need this cultural change in order to enhance and maximise social productivity towards the goals of sustainable prosperity and a flourishing Nation in which the outcomes of national economic activity are better shared and better distributed for the sake of cultural integration.

This in my view means much better appreciating the deep interdependencies that exist between different jobs, different skills, different classes and different communities.

No person or their livelihood is an island, they all exist interdependently with one another.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
4 years ago

Mobs are mobs. I was 18 in the 60’s BravoSierra. Middle-class. Thought the idiots rioting then were being led by the nose by communist agent provocateurs. Then it was Russia (ChiComs maybe but not as prevalent). Today much the same. Bunch of little idiots being led about by rings in their noses by agent provocateurs who are funded by ChiCom agents and probably that disgusting POHFM Soros. Freedom is never free and often in a free country it can get messy at times. Capitalism will prevail and those writing off the US Now are of the same ilk that in the past wrote that the US will become moribund.

steveoverbury
steveoverbury
4 years ago

Fascinating and in my not-so-clever opinion spot on

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
4 years ago

It is patronising in the extreme to attribute rebellious feelings to “boredom”. It wasn’t boredom that drove the naive students of 1968 (of whom I was one), but the prospect of having to play a role in a social and economic system they didn’t respect and couldn’t identify with.

I think it’s much the same now, although West is certainly wrong if he thinks that working-class people don’t want change. A decade of austerity has made a large proportion of people feel that they have no stake in society. The 1% have doubled their wealth, whilst telling everyone else they have to tighten their belts. You don’t have to be a Marxist to realise that this unfairness is not sustainable. The evidence is that working class people tend to be economically radical, but socially conservative, although they have changed more in that respect than their parents would ever have thought possible.

A major inconsistency in this article is that it suggests the rich are “anarchists” who don’t wish to be governed, but also states that radical movements are led by the “elite”. Hard to reconcile those two. Also, it is simply wrong to suppose that only the “suburban elite” are interested in buying a house and raising a family. This wish is widespread, if not universal.

More to the point, I believe, is that throughout history (and not just since 1968) revolutionary sentiments have tended to become actions at the point where middle-class prosperity is threatened. This has often followed a period in which prosperity was increasing, but looks like it’s facing a downturn.

The fundamental truth is that the right-wing mantra “capitalism works” only applies to a small number of already rich beneficiaries. For the rest, it doesn’t seem to be working very well at all. I don’t think that revolution is the answer to this problem, but it is certain that the system as it is provides no answer.

unconcurrentinconnu
unconcurrentinconnu
4 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Capitalism has been very good at puting the food on MY table. And I ain’t rich

Carolyn Jackson
Carolyn Jackson
4 years ago

“They were idolised as an almost sacred group everyone had to pay lip service to, but they were often preferred in the abstract.” – isn’t that the same patronising attitude the left have to this day towards their special interest groups?

Steven Scott
Steven Scott
4 years ago

While your class analysis seems to statistically correct in terms of where the people are coming from, I am not sure the conclusions that it is all about money, and being left-behind (as per another article in this site). Is it really simply all about money and resentment for not being super-rich, and only comfortably rich? Perhaps, it is more a factor of education and becoming aware about how systematic injustice operates and wishing to change it. This too would explain the background: most university students come from the mid to upper middle class. This of course, can end up with another type of elitism (was Marx’s reaction to Weitling—besides Weitling disagreeing with Marx—simple due to class background or did he also think Weitling was not properly educated; naturally there is a big cross-over here). It is perhaps the education gap that best explains the divide better (I know lots of activists from lower-middle class, but most went to university). Understanding systematic problems can be complex, and something our news providers fail miserably at, and many people who work and raise families etc., have little spare time. The exception, of course, is when one is living it (Black Lives Matters; Gay Rights Groups etc,), which brings another aspect of the current progressive movement, those who are part of the social economy and part of organisations that are on the ground helping: from foodbanks to those who fight for renters rights. In this blend one can add environmentalists. Today’s progressive left is mix of groups, and I think disgruntled rich kids is far from providing a complete explanation or even a central part. To conclude, while there are some very interesting points made, and thank you for writing, I find it ends up being too reductionist. And my background is middle to upper-middle class (it changed as I grew older), I dropped out of university twice, before completing a doctorate in my 40s. I am gay, and worked most of my life as a waiter, and am presently part of the precariat. Thus, wage wise my life has been lower-middle class, but education wise high (always followed the news and am constantly learning). I am not a home owner and am entering old age with debt. Is my motivation due to resentment for being “left behind”? I still have no desire to join the upper middle class and would live my life mostly the same. My motivation in politics and activism is altruistic: it is the right thing to do. How about that for a concept! But such motivation is viewed by the cynical herd as being naive. However, one forgets, that altruism is the one characteristic that really distinguishes humans from the rest of animal species.

johnjamesspilker
johnjamesspilker
4 years ago
Reply to  Steven Scott

Interesting article. Yes the rich are revolting and some are even in revolt.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

Two shops in a poorer area of our city have been stupidly gutted by fire during the recent “protests”. Notably they were Indian/Pakistani in a context that some Black people resent that “Asians” own shops when they don’t. (Explain that disparity in terms of racism.)
These owners of shops too lowly to have shutters have probably been made homeless as well as jobless.
So this supposedly anti-racist outpouring has resulted in outright racist violence not coming from the usual evil whiteys.

Teo
Teo
4 years ago

Plague fear driving a herd mentality of (post-lockdown) disillusionment where a political cadre and a hysterical media have coralled the herd into a blissfully ignorant safe space. The reality crunch will come when those fair people will eventually have to compete for resources with the social capital interests they have elevated, some will become what they claim to oppose demanding differential for advantage.

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
4 years ago

Largely agree Ed, but a couple of historical corrections: British sympathisers with the French Revolution weren’t all rich Whigs like Charles James Fox, cf. the crowd at Peterloo and the Cato Street conspirators who were all working class, as was Stalin.
Also the king who ” descended into listless insanity” wasn’t Edward IV but Henry VI.
Interesting thesis though.

Carolyn Jackson
Carolyn Jackson
4 years ago

A few minutes ago there were four comments, now there are none. This happens frequently. Where do they go? Why are they removed?

Stephen Sellery
Stephen Sellery
4 years ago

Is it elite overproduction or the disintegration of the American middle class and the American promise that hard work will lead to a better life than that of your parents?

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
3 years ago

Probably both.

benbow01
benbow01
4 years ago

Great article. Thanks.

A group who did not have to struggle to earn the prosperity they have, have never had to go without, just inherited from previous generations, or fight for freedom and way of life, or even feel it threatened.

michael_stokes
michael_stokes
4 years ago

I am grateful to be introduced to an artist I don’t know. And more so to have summarised so elegantly in his work and the words of Dorothy L Sayers why I am so opposed to the statue overthrowers and what they would have us lose

robertbutterwick
robertbutterwick
4 years ago

I can confirm that sadly the BBC is institutionally Woke

B Slia
B Slia
3 years ago

I’m curious if the author could provide data to support the claim that “Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism.”
Is it not misleading to cite an article that’s over a year old? Surely, there’s more current research that would be relevant to the argument.

eamonnfoley
eamonnfoley
4 years ago

Interesting read, thanks.

Rob Arnold
Rob Arnold
4 years ago

Interesting read. It’s hard to disagree with your argument.
Perhaps workers are to busy working. Most radicals it would seem are from privilaged backgrounds. I read somewhere a study that Jihadist are often from wealthier families. Interesting that radicals often find the those they seek to represent disappointingly unrwdical ams intresred in rather more pratical solutions today as apposed to the overthrowing of all society.

I suppose historically literacy was a prerequisite for educated radicalism and thus deduced the likelihood or high profile radicals from the peasantry and working classss. Is it not the case of course upper middle classes dominate radicalism as they dominate all fields?

The salt of the earth purity of the masses is a trope of both left and right. The right has often gleefully portrained the masses as seeing through, with non nonsense, common sense, the emporors new clothes of the ivory tower leftists. Perhaps more so on the left as a result of a sort of progressive guilt. Tendency within identity politics is to portray certain demographics as bastions of true understanding and virtue

What I do see as a worrying trend is the conformist or doctrinal culture developing. As you say many in today’s progressive movements are “conformists sensitive to the social cues around them”. I do not see it in Burkeian terms as leading to possible violent upheaval but still problematic.It seeks coformity to a doctrinal, percriptive view or social reality. Meanwhile policing rigorously what can be said and by who. Some aspects of the cancel culture, identity politics etc go to the heart of this regressive instinct.

What is paradoxical for the left is that as society is increasing stratified (social economical and within online / media gated communities) we are not listening to those who do not support our othrodoxy. We are only interested in issues that are politically expedient or griviences from some quarters. This is regressive and problematic, it policies debate and even assessment of reality. Failure to take notice of some forms of inequality or the anger in some areas of society is. Dangerous phenomena you see the seed of Brexit, Trump and the dissonance in society and the failure to understand its cause

Rob Grayson
Rob Grayson
4 years ago

“With its millennial pink logo and its focus on social media influencers such as Love Island contestants, Klarna has successfully tapped into a tricky market that can often allude major retailers.”

The word you’re looking for is “elude”, not “allude”.

millermp1
millermp1
4 years ago

How is it that Peter Turchin is still not a household name?

John Mattingley
John Mattingley
4 years ago

A great article Ed. Thank you. I hope you don’t mind if I quote parts of it in my twitter postings.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

There’s a problem with the word “Elite”, which can mean a variety of things.
Mostly here it is used to mean people with high qualifications, a qualifications-elite.
Members of that “elite” tend to assume that their culture is the most superior, even though in reality “universities” rigidly exclude the most excellent (as per book Experts Catastrophe you can find on internet). Contrasting with the qualifications-elite there is the real cultural-creative elite, of competent independent-minded people who recognise the superiority of “evil” western culture such as so-called “Classical” music (in reality spanning from pre-Baroque through Classical and Romantic to 20th-Century modernist variants). And competent genuine science rather than much of the rubbish being mindlessly parrotted in “universities”.

More widely, the great A Study of History by Arnold Toynbee (predictably ignored in “universities”) noted that whereas new civilisations are characterised by a creative elite leading by charm, decadent civilisations have a dominant elite ruling by force. And here we are dealing with yet another category of elite, namely the power elite.

We are currently in a significantly decadent society, and consequently we are going to have the effects of the huge incompetence of that qualifications-“elite” to cope with. There’s plenty of it on regular display at a certain website beginning with G or at least “The G”……

Luke Lea
Luke Lea
4 years ago

Then there is the argument that identity politics keeps the rich in power. But in this case we are talking about the really rich, the top .0001 percent, who are the ones that own and control the corporate media among other institutions.. Divide and rule is their instinctive if not wholly conscious strategy. When a Hillary Clinton says that “diversity is our strength”, the “our” she refers to are the members of her own class. For the working classes, black, brown, and white, unity is strength — or would be if they could achieve it.

That is why Trump represents such an existential threat to the status quo. Though a rich man himself, his appeal is to the working classes of all races and genders. Trump change, not chump change is an idea that just might win over a substantial minority of the black working class in November, which, if it happens, will spell the end of the Democratic party.

Luke Lea
Luke Lea
4 years ago

Why was my recent comment marked as spam? That has to be a mistake as I am a friend of Ed West’s. Please let me know. thanks

Penny Gallagher
Penny Gallagher
4 years ago

Thank you for introducing me to Ravilious.

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
4 years ago

“but we are right to question their corporate responsibility when this service is so quick, easy and marketed chiefly at the young”

I sort of see the author’s point here, as it’s perhaps not a business that I’d personally want to run. That said, however, I assume that these “young” people are legally adults. There’s a real need to take individual responsibility. By and large, if you borrow money that you can’t back it, it’s your fault, not the fault of the lender who offered it to you. Much like, I would say, if you get grossly obese by gorging on desserts every day, it’s not the fault of the sweets shop.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
4 years ago

“When the king descended into listless insanity the rival factions turned English politics into a Shakespearean bloodbath.”

The King whose mental illness precipitated the Wars of the Roses was Henry VI rather than Edward III, as the article seems to imply.

John Eaton
John Eaton
4 years ago

Excellent article

james12
james12
4 years ago

What drivel. This argument relies on “know your place” shibboleths that rendered obselete by progress that is made evident by the examples presented.

David Lawler
David Lawler
4 years ago

Tolerance seems to be all one way. There is no tolerance from the far left thugs.

What was the point of voting conservative? Who governs this country, the Conservative Party of the Guardian?

pmccarthy283
pmccarthy283
4 years ago

There’s a valid point here. Is this a luxury? I would have narrowed the discussion. Also, there are corrections needed. In the last paragraph you mean to say ‘of every crisis’ not crises.
Where does legitimacy lie in these matters?
Peter

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
4 years ago

It’s certainly true hot house types are generally unsatisfactory, and natural ones, narrow and reactionary; but there’s a whole spectrum between. The Am Rev was bourgeois, but the Whiskey Rebellion against Hamilton’s taxation without representation was very progressive and very near succeeding. Haiti begun with the bourgeois became thoroughly prole, …. The original labor movement in the US, thoroughly prole, came so near succeeding it needed a “red scare” full blown police state purge to stop it.

Frest
Frest
4 years ago

“When people fear the collapse of their society, they want order and national greatness, not a more nurturing government.”

https://www.theguardian.com

https://youtu.be/sMBMn9bBzJ

Frest
Frest
4 years ago

“When people fear the collapse of their society, they want order and national greatness, not a more nurturing government.”

https://www.theguardian.com

https://youtu.be/sMBMn9bBzJ

https://youtu.be/P-2P3MSZrB

Misael Perez
Misael Perez
3 years ago

Quite enlightening. Useful to understand the politics of my country the Philippines. The post-Marcos political elite who are up in arms perpetually with our uncouth boorish president are just out of touch with the mass base when they cry out “end of press freedom”, “return of martial law tyranny”, and rise of populism. It’s particularly the denunciation of populism that bothers me.
I truly believe that Duterte rose to power precisely because mass grievance turned against the political elite who lorded it over since the fall of the dictator Marcos and sought the “strong leadership” of our ungentlemanly president.
Just like Trump. The populist president who won because the liberal elitist Democrats lost the ball. History will seem to repeat itself no matter how much bungling the US president does with their coronavirus crisis and racial conflict.
The read made sense of it all. It is mostly the upper middle class who will stir the revolt as they want more from their privilege after university education and finding less of the amenities afterwards. The lower middle and poorer classes will care more for their stomachs and that of their children’s. This is what motivates their moderation by seeking that strong leader whose promises appeal to them. For this, the upper middle class elite will denounce populism and cancel out all that do not speak their way.

B Slia
B Slia
3 years ago

I’m sincerely asking if the author can provide some current data to support his assertion that “Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism.”

Miguelito
Miguelito
3 years ago

I study far more prosaic aspects of human civilization but have wondered if we will need to expand into space as an outlet for a desire for challenge, growth and exploration. This essay sugests so.

Gerald gwarcuri
Gerald gwarcuri
3 years ago

The dots are so easy to connect here. This is what you get from 50 years of progressivist propaganda perpetuated by America’s universities, especially the elite ones. Bored, pampered children who were never taught to think critically ( logically ), raised on images instead of the printed word, sucked in by “critical race theory” ( a clear derivative of Marxism ) and all the other inanities and stupidities of academia. And, to top it all off, becoming in the process utterly convinced of their own moral and intellectual superiority.

The poster children for this phenomenon are Barack and Michelle Obama. Their smug, petulant condescension toward ordinary human beings is palpable.

Shyam Mehta
Shyam Mehta
3 years ago

Basically, in my opinion, it does not matter whether you have socialism or democracy or monarchy, it is all the few controlling others, often particularly easy targets such as yellow coloured hair people or rich people, or whoever they want. The few can steal through taxes or stealth taxes like VAT etc. and send people to jail or to Vietnam.
My view is that Western society for 2000+ years is sick, full of violence, wars,..And, it is not just sick, having all but destroyed all the ancient civilisations of the world it is since about 1834 in the process of destroying the world itself. Climate change. 5G is even worse, sending wireless waves into everybody.
If 5G does not destroy the world, then left radicals will in any case. Who will pay for social services, an ageing population left to die on their own having had the family institution destroyed? Of course the few will steal from the rich, for nearly 40 years in the UK the top rate of tax was 98%, some years 136%. In so called free market USA, from memory it was 92%. So you take their property, maybe if they object their freedom or their lives, because they are only a minority. I did a study to show that people are getting sicker and sicker at the rate of 1.5-4% pa. What can you expect when in a socialist state you cannot sue companies for polluting your food, water and atmosphere?
Food will become scarce. It has not been scarce for (5000) years. Then violence will erupt. Wars. Countries with nuclear/chemical weapons will ‘win’. And then with that pollution, the socialists will peter out as will the world.

morganstien04
morganstien04
3 years ago

“So while around half of 18-year-olds are going onto college, only a far smaller number of jobs actually require a degree.”That depends on what you mean by a “degree.” If you mean a bachelor’s degree, then yes, because only 36% of jobs require a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree. But if you instead mean any degree from a university, then no. Most jobs now require a bachelors’ degree or an associate’s degree, at least. https://cew.georgetown.edu/… But even then, not everyone who attends college graduates. https://www.cappex.com/arti
So it isn’t clear that there is any surplus of credentialed workers.

Doug Plumb
Doug Plumb
2 years ago

I don’t believe there is really such thing as “poor” in Western societies. Even government welfare gives one hot and cold running water, access to the world’s library, and video entertainment. There is no end to the possibilities in creativity. Eating well is cheaper than eating junk, and the most fun things are often cheap of free. It’s all about perception. But who wants status in a society gone mad?

Retanot King
Retanot King
1 year ago

A lot of this energy undoubtedly arises from a sense of failure, when the rich kid, pampered for all its life now needs to join the real working society, compete and make ends meet to their pampered lifestyle. When they discover life is not as easy as they had assumed to be, they put the blame on the ‘system’ and express their displeasure with an eye towards passing the blame around, by revolting.
In other words, it is a personal matter for most of these people. All the moralized claims about ‘vulnerable’ and ‘marginalized’ people should be taken with a big grain of salt. That is why hypocrisy and lack of ethical principles permeates among this class.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

My thoughtful informative comment appears not to have been allowed by the editors here. The fact that it wasn’t entirely flattering to some peoples’ egos and unexamined assumptions may or may not have had anything to do with that. But perhaps the correct spelling for this site should be unheard rather than “unherd”. And anyway, why is it that thinkers nowadays always have to go around in herds as in this (would-be UN-herd) case. Cheers.
PS, in comment from Fraser Bailey: “these middle class twits”
So it is fine to be offensively rude as long as you are in line with this herd’s deputy editor while doing so?

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

Patience is a virtue hard to maintain these days. I suffer from it too.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

Ok, my comment did appear (after some days and the above moan though). More disappointed that no-one has replied to its (presumed) brilliance than embarrassed at my insufficient patience!