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Why do we pretend to be working-class? Progressives are tormented by reverse aspiration

Are we all middle-class now? A protest from 1999 (Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Are we all middle-class now? A protest from 1999 (Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


December 14, 2022   6 mins

Are we, to quote New Labour in the Nineties, “all middle-class now”? Do we all want to be? Not according to recent polling; far from middle-class norms pervading, British people disproportionately see themselves as working-class.

To understand why, it’s worth reading a paper by the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) from earlier this year, written by former YouGov president Peter Kellner. The report breaks the population into four subsets.

There are two “consistent” groups: those who are middle-class by occupation and say they are middle-class (26% of the population) and those who are working-class “on paper” and say they are working-class (31%). And there are two “crossover” groups: those in middle-class jobs who say they are working-class (31%) and those in working-class professions who say they are middle-class (12%).

The dynamic between the “crossover” groups speaks to some of the most interesting elements of post-war politics. Underlying it is an abiding non-sequitur — thanks to both segments believing themselves to be a member of the opposite class. Hence, these groups include some of politics’ most familiar stock characters, from the self-hating liberal to the bootstraps Tory, via the beret-wearing student and White Van Man.

Much commentary has been spent analysing the last of the four tribes — those who are working-class “on paper” but don’t identify as such. Described as “blue collar aspirational”, this upwardly mobile group were Tony Blair’s target market. Having been successfully courted by Margaret Thatcher, they were won back by New Labour in 1997, drifting away again after 2010. The progressive need to speak to these voters is, Blair says, “entirely familiar”. And he’s right that parts of the labour movement struggle to do this.

Yet less attention is paid to the other “crossover” group. Dubbed “white collar progressives” in the report, this section of society embodies the reverse of blue-collar aspiration. They are middle-class in professional terms but see themselves as working-class, and are the joint largest group.

This cohort has, I suspect, grown significantly in recent years — as both white-collar jobs and progressive values have become more common. It seems highly unlikely that they would have outnumbered blue-collar aspirationals five-to-two in the Eighties, as they do now. Peter Kellner himself conducted the same polling exercise in 2014, and even then there were fewer white-collar progressives. Since then, around a fifth of the ABC1 population seems to have switched to a working-class identity. Even among those earning over £62,000, half now say they’re working-class, according to the most recent poll.

The politics of Kellner’s four segments goes some way to explaining this discrepancy. White-collar progressives are the most straightforwardly Left-wing — the only grouping which backed Labour in 2019. They represent, in this respect, a set of progressive values which is on the rise in developed nations — something which drives, you could argue, their identification with those who have less.

Problem solved? Well yes, a bit. But although political leaning may explain why white-collar progressives vote “against their interests”, it doesn’t tell us why they see themselves as working-class. This matters, I think, and we’ll come onto why shortly.

The fact that so many do misidentify as working-class is frequently a source of ridicule, and this is often well-deserved. In his 2014 analysis, Kellner likened them to Dave Spart, Private Eye’s satire of a middle-class radical. The parody Twitter account Corbyn Superfan was Spart’s digital descendent: the privately educated son of a Berkshire executive, Corbyn Superfan was avowedly working-class and expected that his hardship would be alleviated under “Jez”.

We tend to treat white collar progressives — unlike the aspirational working-classes — as a nuisance more than a phenomenon, and rarely take them seriously. But look at the data and it quickly becomes clear that they’re not all hipsters and revolutionaries.

Do white-collar progressives wish simply to “descend” the social rungs — to perform aspiration in reverse? Do they want to get off the property ladder, as working-class Thatcherites aimed to buy their council houses and get onto it? This is the implication, if you invert the idea that a working-class person identifying as middle-class is evidence of “aspiration”.

There are, of course, some methodological factors we cannot ignore: the major role which our parents’ social class plays in how we identify, and the limitations of the ABC1/C2DE grading system in a service-based economy, which means that many non-manual jobs carry low pay or low status. But the blue-collar aspirational group are also prey to some of these caveats, and have remained smaller and more stable. So it seems there must be wider elements at play.

My own theory is that three factors explain the rise of reverse aspiration: a society which is increasingly egalitarian, an economy which is unequal, and a culture which is individualistic. Let’s begin with the first. Many of the assumptions which govern our politics and society are broadly egalitarian. All the main parties acknowledge the notion of equality, and the “on your bike” mantras of Thatcherism are largely unsayable — as Liz Truss can testify.

Different political strains apply this in conflicting ways, attacking different “elites”. The Right claim to speak for those who are truly self-made, while the Left wish to champion those who have overcome genuine oppression and hardship. But neither would be keen to admit to being born with a silver spoon, and both purport to “punch up”.

Our political ethos, then, prizes humble beginnings, encounters with adversity and connection to the lives of ordinary people. This is so ubiquitous that it’s only when you read a Penguin Classic novel — when a Victorian character hides their “low” birth, or experiences the public shame of losing their fortune — that you remember it was not ever thus. Of course, today’s egalitarian norms are unquestionably a good thing. But they make people more likely to disguise their advantages, and to focus on the aspects of their identity which are untainted by privilege.

The second factor is economic. Despite the egalitarian mores described above, the UK economy is in fact — like many developed nations — deeply unequal and getting more so. This contradiction reflects the phenomenon of the past 70 years, whereby the Left have won cultural battles but lost economic ones. You’re more likely to hear a Geordie accent reading the news, but your economic prospects if you’re from the North-East are comparatively worse. An unequal economy leads to working-class identification, I think, because the human tendency is often to look upwards for comparisons rather than down. The presence among us of people with vast riches make us all feel poorer.

An economically unequal society also means, over time, that wealth — particularly housing wealth, often thanks to inheritance — begins to matter more than income. This compounds the importance of our parents’ social class, as a determinant of identity. Let’s take a working-class-born 30-something in a well-paid job. If this person cannot afford a property inside the M25 despite a good salary, they’ll probably feel more closely wedded to their upbringing — especially if they watch middle-class-born contemporaries gifted money from parents to buy a house.

The final factor is our individualistic culture. A study from a few years ago, for example, found that “language in American books has become increasingly focused on the self and uniqueness in the decades since 1960”. Each person, it seems, wants to feel that they have a distinctive merit and story of their own. This has surely accelerated in the age of social media, and nor is it necessarily a bad thing. A focus on the innate value of the individual can lead away from nativism, just as it can open the door to narcissism.

But it means that we put a greater focus on our own personal narratives. And these narratives usually need a hurdle or two to overcome, in order to carry meaning. Otherwise, you’re starting the book at the end. One effect of individualism, therefore, is that you get large numbers of embarrassed meritocrats, who feel they need to construct a reality in which they’re swimming against the tide.

Given the deterministic quality of the above, one could be forgiven for asking: does any of it matter? But for those looking to advance fairness and equality, I believe it does. Part of the reason why concerns the political debate itself. Many elements of our modern culture war boil down, on both Left and Right, to arguments around who is truly privileged, who is pretending to be and who has the right to decide. These can never be resolved without a full audit of each person’s “lived experience”. But they cause a massive distraction and leave all parties feeling misunderstood.

The other aspect is particularly important for progressive politics. Policy-making gets a lot harder, from a Left-liberal perspective, if large numbers of society’s “haves” believe they are its “have nots”. The Corbyn project’s focus on free higher education was a good example of where this leads — to initiatives which pose as egalitarian victories, while in effect helping those who are already doing well.

During the Eighties and Nineties, political arguments on the Left were often about the need to understand aspiration. Maybe, two decades into a new century, we need to start thinking about how we handle its opposite.


Chris Clarke is a social researcher and former political press officer, and is the author of The Dark Knight and the Puppet Master

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Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

If you consider the Allyship narrative, that “we” are Allies, fighting with the Oppressed Peoples against the White Oppressors, I think you can see why many educated middle-class professionals identify as working class.
Plus, of course, many educated professionals are really nothing more than educated salaried Barnacles working for some corporate or NGO or gubmint Circumlocution Office.
Like the lefty twits at Twitter.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Good comment. I’m a total fan of Little Dorrit.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

There are quite a few well-salaried fools nowadays who quite clearly only advanced at all due to mouthing the correct political pieties at university and in job interviews. There’s no denying that if “useful idiot” was a formal job title, it would represent a profession in its own right by now.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It would be interesting to read a Job Description and Person Spec for such a post.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

It starts with “PPE graduate from Oxford”

Julian Stephenson
Julian Stephenson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

First, before name, pronouns.

CV’s
“I’ve always loved the idea of throwing half in the bin unread to avoid employing unlucky people.”

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

It starts with “PPE graduate from Oxford”

Julian Stephenson
Julian Stephenson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

First, before name, pronouns.

CV’s
“I’ve always loved the idea of throwing half in the bin unread to avoid employing unlucky people.”

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It would be interesting to read a Job Description and Person Spec for such a post.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Most educated people these days are exactly that. Salaried barnacles. Therefore they are workers and therefore belong to the class of workers, and therefore to the working class.

For some reason the definition of working class changed over time to mean a certain type of work, or accent or even location of birth. It’s on the way to describing mostly non workers now

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

What an insult to the actual working class. The working class are the brick layers, plumbers, electricians and more. In short, the country would cease to operate without their labour. Salaried barnacles, such as a Diversity and Inclusion Officer on £65k a year are most definitely not workers! It seems obvious to me that an ever-increasing percentage of the population hold pointless nonjobs, produce nothing and do nothing of value. Deep down they know this to be true. It’s a reality so horrifying, they desperately try to identify as working class to feel better about themselves.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

You, however, are absolutely vital, no doubt.
There are an awful lot of newspaper columnists who fret about the same thing- ‘whyohwhy are there so many useless people ding useless jobs’, says Daily Mail columnist Vera Rantingcolumnist.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I won’t be specific but work for a large utility that operates as a form of private monopoly. I have no delusions of grandeur. Plenty of others could do my job if I were not here. However, the job itself is essential. Assuming you enjoy water, gas and electricity? As I sit here typing this in a massive, luxury headquarters building, filled with thousands of staff. I can tell you as a matter of fact, if more than 50% of them vanished over night, nothing would change. I know this to be true because – COVID. It immediately became apparent, exactly who was vital and who was not. The whole organisation could operate perfectly well with a fraction of current staff, working from a cheap industrial estate somewhere.
Why you have such a hostile bad attitude I don’t know. You are the one who is paying for all this profligate waste through your utility bills. You would have to be blind or long since retired not to understand, just how much of the UK workforce carry out jobs that produce nothing of value. Perhaps you are “of the left” and my mention of Diversity Officers triggered you. I only picked that example as the new DEI religion has run riot though this organisation. All it has done is added to the thousands of people studiously compiling figures that no one cares about and participating in meetings that achieve the square route of nothing. What drives it, is the same thing driving growth in all other “non jobs”. An over educated, self interested, virtue signalling, elite class, who game the system to benefit them selves and anyone who looks and sounds like them. “Diverse” they are not!
20 years of ever declining interest rates. Over active money printing and the continuing de-industrialisation of the Western world have helped them lead us here. Why do you think average incomes have barely moved in decades? Mark my words… Some day we will experience the kind of recession that can’t be avoided by a bit of clever financial engineering – 1929 style. When that day comes anyone not 100% essential to the survival of a business will get canned faster than a latte quaffing, tofu munching twitter employee, post Elon.

George Stone
George Stone
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

AI will change this no doubt.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I won’t be specific but work for a large utility that operates as a form of private monopoly. I have no delusions of grandeur. Plenty of others could do my job if I were not here. However, the job itself is essential. Assuming you enjoy water, gas and electricity? As I sit here typing this in a massive, luxury headquarters building, filled with thousands of staff. I can tell you as a matter of fact, if more than 50% of them vanished over night, nothing would change. I know this to be true because – COVID. It immediately became apparent, exactly who was vital and who was not. The whole organisation could operate perfectly well with a fraction of current staff, working from a cheap industrial estate somewhere.
Why you have such a hostile bad attitude I don’t know. You are the one who is paying for all this profligate waste through your utility bills. You would have to be blind or long since retired not to understand, just how much of the UK workforce carry out jobs that produce nothing of value. Perhaps you are “of the left” and my mention of Diversity Officers triggered you. I only picked that example as the new DEI religion has run riot though this organisation. All it has done is added to the thousands of people studiously compiling figures that no one cares about and participating in meetings that achieve the square route of nothing. What drives it, is the same thing driving growth in all other “non jobs”. An over educated, self interested, virtue signalling, elite class, who game the system to benefit them selves and anyone who looks and sounds like them. “Diverse” they are not!
20 years of ever declining interest rates. Over active money printing and the continuing de-industrialisation of the Western world have helped them lead us here. Why do you think average incomes have barely moved in decades? Mark my words… Some day we will experience the kind of recession that can’t be avoided by a bit of clever financial engineering – 1929 style. When that day comes anyone not 100% essential to the survival of a business will get canned faster than a latte quaffing, tofu munching twitter employee, post Elon.

George Stone
George Stone
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

AI will change this no doubt.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

If this carries on, what we will eventually end up with is nobody willing to do anything but still wanting to get paid for it (and at a premium rate). Yes as someone said earlier, the true working class are those that actually do physical work (farmers (not gentlemen farmers, who tell others what to do), engineers, builders, carpenters etc). Yes skilled workers progress into management, telling others what to do but they didn’t start off there, if they are any good. Inheriting any position in society through family connections, can be disastrous. This doesn’t mean I believe in the myth that the middle and upper classes have an easy life and are spoon fed.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Hi Adam. Anybody who works for a wage or a salary, and has to to live, is a worker. Anybody who rents is a renter. Whether or not companies should be hiring diversity officers is moot (they shouldn’t). In fact electricians, plumbers and bricklayers often work for themselves and are not employees – which is often the definition of working class.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

I’m not sure what the point you’re trying to make is…
Technically, a “Head of Diversity and Inclusion” officer on ÂŁ100k, renting a massive 5 bedroom detached mansion in Surrey, is both a worker and a renter…
As they float around the attached swimming pool, I’m not sure many people would accuse them of being working class.
Maybe we need a better, more specific definition. One fit for the 21st century. Producer / Exploiter…? Possibly the only thing Marx and I would both approve of 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Adam 0
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

I’m not sure what the point you’re trying to make is…
Technically, a “Head of Diversity and Inclusion” officer on ÂŁ100k, renting a massive 5 bedroom detached mansion in Surrey, is both a worker and a renter…
As they float around the attached swimming pool, I’m not sure many people would accuse them of being working class.
Maybe we need a better, more specific definition. One fit for the 21st century. Producer / Exploiter…? Possibly the only thing Marx and I would both approve of 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Adam 0
John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

You, however, are absolutely vital, no doubt.
There are an awful lot of newspaper columnists who fret about the same thing- ‘whyohwhy are there so many useless people ding useless jobs’, says Daily Mail columnist Vera Rantingcolumnist.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

If this carries on, what we will eventually end up with is nobody willing to do anything but still wanting to get paid for it (and at a premium rate). Yes as someone said earlier, the true working class are those that actually do physical work (farmers (not gentlemen farmers, who tell others what to do), engineers, builders, carpenters etc). Yes skilled workers progress into management, telling others what to do but they didn’t start off there, if they are any good. Inheriting any position in society through family connections, can be disastrous. This doesn’t mean I believe in the myth that the middle and upper classes have an easy life and are spoon fed.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Hi Adam. Anybody who works for a wage or a salary, and has to to live, is a worker. Anybody who rents is a renter. Whether or not companies should be hiring diversity officers is moot (they shouldn’t). In fact electricians, plumbers and bricklayers often work for themselves and are not employees – which is often the definition of working class.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

What an insult to the actual working class. The working class are the brick layers, plumbers, electricians and more. In short, the country would cease to operate without their labour. Salaried barnacles, such as a Diversity and Inclusion Officer on £65k a year are most definitely not workers! It seems obvious to me that an ever-increasing percentage of the population hold pointless nonjobs, produce nothing and do nothing of value. Deep down they know this to be true. It’s a reality so horrifying, they desperately try to identify as working class to feel better about themselves.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Good comment. I’m a total fan of Little Dorrit.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

There are quite a few well-salaried fools nowadays who quite clearly only advanced at all due to mouthing the correct political pieties at university and in job interviews. There’s no denying that if “useful idiot” was a formal job title, it would represent a profession in its own right by now.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Most educated people these days are exactly that. Salaried barnacles. Therefore they are workers and therefore belong to the class of workers, and therefore to the working class.

For some reason the definition of working class changed over time to mean a certain type of work, or accent or even location of birth. It’s on the way to describing mostly non workers now

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

If you consider the Allyship narrative, that “we” are Allies, fighting with the Oppressed Peoples against the White Oppressors, I think you can see why many educated middle-class professionals identify as working class.
Plus, of course, many educated professionals are really nothing more than educated salaried Barnacles working for some corporate or NGO or gubmint Circumlocution Office.
Like the lefty twits at Twitter.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

Ever since I purchased a petrol operated lawnmower and a greenhouse, I have considered myself a member of the bourgeoisie.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

They used to say that you are middle class if your bookshelf is bigger than your TV flat screen. We no longer have a telly because we can watch the same rubbish on the computer. So we became middle class by default.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

By that metric I’m almost upper class, though given my bookshelves are half-full of Thomas Sowell, Roger Scruton, Jeremy Clarkson and a load of climate sceptical publications amongst my large collection of popular science books, I’m not sure I’d be welcome amongst the self-declared intelligentsia who also satisfy the requirement.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Guy Aston
Guy Aston
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I have a wall and-a-half of bookshelves, does that make me royalty?(My TV is 36”)

George Kellaway
George Kellaway
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

What? Only 36″!

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

I have just measured my TV and bookshelves and now self-identify as an aristocrat – probably an Earl or Duke. Now I need to construct a humble back story and will use Chris Clarke’s theory here, together with Thomas Piketty’s overarching division of Brahmin Left (where the progressive down-players are found) and Merchant Right (boot-strappers etc). For my playbook I’ll use the thoughts of Jo Strummer from The Clash (public school, son of a diplomat) who apparently spoke on behalf of the ‘downtrodden kids’. I’ll need to explain how much I care while doing pretty much exactly as I please, and construct clever answers when I’m accused of being all about rights rather than responsibilities. Any tips?

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  John Roseveare

Yes, I have a tip. You should read another of today’s offerings “The Art World’s Lost Sense of Humour” and then consider whether the intention of your words could be misinterpreted.

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Lawrence

Thanks for the tip. I read the ‘Lost Sense of Humour’ article and agree with all of it.
Fair enough. Like the splayed frog, my satiric joke might look lame were it to be dissected. The racing certainty is that satire – even in its weaker forms – will overcome the nonsense currently infecting our cultural institutions. Metaphors, absurdities, juxtapositions, ambiguities and paradoxes will arrive in our funny bones come what may. My AI-robot friends simply don’t get it – though they might bore us to death in the trying.

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Lawrence

Thanks for the tip. I read the ‘Lost Sense of Humour’ article and agree with all of it.
Fair enough. Like the splayed frog, my satiric joke might look lame were it to be dissected. The racing certainty is that satire – even in its weaker forms – will overcome the nonsense currently infecting our cultural institutions. Metaphors, absurdities, juxtapositions, ambiguities and paradoxes will arrive in our funny bones come what may. My AI-robot friends simply don’t get it – though they might bore us to death in the trying.

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
1 year ago
Reply to  John Roseveare

Yes, I have a tip. You should read another of today’s offerings “The Art World’s Lost Sense of Humour” and then consider whether the intention of your words could be misinterpreted.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

Our television is 42″, but we have about 7,000 books (I haven’t counted them for some time). So I’m clearly Empress of the World.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

How long is your wall? Most toilet walls probably don’t count.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Well if it is a toilet wall, then that means working class. A lavatory wall, by contratst, definitely counts as middle class.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

rears, jakes….

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

rears, jakes….

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

toilet?

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Well if it is a toilet wall, then that means working class. A lavatory wall, by contratst, definitely counts as middle class.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

toilet?

George Kellaway
George Kellaway
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

What? Only 36″!

John Roseveare
John Roseveare
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

I have just measured my TV and bookshelves and now self-identify as an aristocrat – probably an Earl or Duke. Now I need to construct a humble back story and will use Chris Clarke’s theory here, together with Thomas Piketty’s overarching division of Brahmin Left (where the progressive down-players are found) and Merchant Right (boot-strappers etc). For my playbook I’ll use the thoughts of Jo Strummer from The Clash (public school, son of a diplomat) who apparently spoke on behalf of the ‘downtrodden kids’. I’ll need to explain how much I care while doing pretty much exactly as I please, and construct clever answers when I’m accused of being all about rights rather than responsibilities. Any tips?

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

Our television is 42″, but we have about 7,000 books (I haven’t counted them for some time). So I’m clearly Empress of the World.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago
Reply to  Guy Aston

How long is your wall? Most toilet walls probably don’t count.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

If you have a big thing about “climate sceptical” (i.e., scientifically confused) publications, then you probably wouldn’t impress any actual scientists, either- as opposed to know-nothing blowhards like Clarkson, Dellingpole et al.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Right back at you. Adherence to a secular doom-cult religion does not entitle you to make such remarks and get taken seriously. Climate sceptical science is entirely sound – it is the politicised rubbish that promotes alarmism that has no place in any rational debate.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

Right back at you. Adherence to a secular doom-cult religion does not entitle you to make such remarks and get taken seriously. Climate sceptical science is entirely sound – it is the politicised rubbish that promotes alarmism that has no place in any rational debate.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Guy Aston
Guy Aston
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I have a wall and-a-half of bookshelves, does that make me royalty?(My TV is 36”)

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

If you have a big thing about “climate sceptical” (i.e., scientifically confused) publications, then you probably wouldn’t impress any actual scientists, either- as opposed to know-nothing blowhards like Clarkson, Dellingpole et al.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I never heard that before. Yipee! I pass the test and can leave my working class roots behind. (Reality check. I never had any.)

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Are you required to have read all the books (excluding reference works)? I have a fairly big telly and also a well stocked bookcase, but I often buy books faster than I read them.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Good point. I reckon you are still middle class because at least you must have had an aspiration to read them. I have a different problem with our bookshelf. I always hide the “penny dreadfuls” at the back of the respectable books, but my missus insists on shelving the trashy wee novelettes where visitors can see the titles.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

The aspirational element is certainly relevant. My parents used Grammar School education and vocational training to enter the world of well paid professional careers. Both came from working class families and epitomised post war aspiration. I am very grateful to them for giving me a decent start and have no desire to either make myself poorer or engage in expressing luxury beliefs.

Essentially, I hold the aspirational, working class Tory values of the older generations of my family and loathe the middle class virtue-signalling and faux victimhood that I see every day. But my telly to book ratio, education level and white collar job mark me out as hopelessly middle class. I do feel that this experience, which is common to many people I know, is missing from this article.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

The aspirational element is certainly relevant. My parents used Grammar School education and vocational training to enter the world of well paid professional careers. Both came from working class families and epitomised post war aspiration. I am very grateful to them for giving me a decent start and have no desire to either make myself poorer or engage in expressing luxury beliefs.

Essentially, I hold the aspirational, working class Tory values of the older generations of my family and loathe the middle class virtue-signalling and faux victimhood that I see every day. But my telly to book ratio, education level and white collar job mark me out as hopelessly middle class. I do feel that this experience, which is common to many people I know, is missing from this article.

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
1 year ago

I have a massive telly, so big that it won’t go on the wall and I can’t find a stand big enough for it. Therefore I have constructed a stand made up of my collection of classic books by such literary giants as Tolstoy, Waugh, Dickens and Jeffrey Archer amongst many others.Can anyone help as I am confused re my social status? Thanks

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

As my students would say: “Actual LOLs” ( if I’ve remembered the term correctly). Mr Hansen wins the Net.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

You have now taken the theory into the realm of conceptual art. May I congratulate you on both your ingenuity and creativity.

However, this merely moves the debate on to the question of whether your domestic sculpture has its roots in working or middle class consciousness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alphonse Pfarti
Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

These comments are a laugh a minute. I am having a high old time reading them. Thanks!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

otherwise known as a ” cretins super lantern”

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

As my students would say: “Actual LOLs” ( if I’ve remembered the term correctly). Mr Hansen wins the Net.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

You have now taken the theory into the realm of conceptual art. May I congratulate you on both your ingenuity and creativity.

However, this merely moves the debate on to the question of whether your domestic sculpture has its roots in working or middle class consciousness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alphonse Pfarti
Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

These comments are a laugh a minute. I am having a high old time reading them. Thanks!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin Hansen

otherwise known as a ” cretins super lantern”

Jim Quirk
Jim Quirk
1 year ago

I keep the books in case I want to read them and have forgotten what’s in them or why I bought them.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Good point. I reckon you are still middle class because at least you must have had an aspiration to read them. I have a different problem with our bookshelf. I always hide the “penny dreadfuls” at the back of the respectable books, but my missus insists on shelving the trashy wee novelettes where visitors can see the titles.

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen
1 year ago

I have a massive telly, so big that it won’t go on the wall and I can’t find a stand big enough for it. Therefore I have constructed a stand made up of my collection of classic books by such literary giants as Tolstoy, Waugh, Dickens and Jeffrey Archer amongst many others.Can anyone help as I am confused re my social status? Thanks

Jim Quirk
Jim Quirk
1 year ago

I keep the books in case I want to read them and have forgotten what’s in them or why I bought them.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Or if you keep your lawnmower in the garage and your BMW parked outside the house.

Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

I am still laughing!

Brenda Holliday
Brenda Holliday
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

I am still laughing!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I’ve got a big bookshelf, but nowhere near enough books to fill it. It’s mostly stacked with pictures, kids toys and any other array of rubbish so what does that make me?

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I couldn’t say but a novel idea would be to re-name it a storage shelf – you could get arty and take a page out of the useful idiots guide on Banksy and gush at dinner parties that it’s a ‘work in progress’ – no, wait, shelve that idea! Take a leaf out of Andy Warhol’s book! With a few flourishes you book your place in art history by transforming it into something that a useful idiot would photograph and hang in some posh exhibition – which will, of course, require one to book in advance!

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Good one. Much as I was called out as a middle-classer by my intention to read all the books on my overflowing shelves, did you purchase your bookcase with the intention of filling it with books, rather than pictures, toys and knick-knacks? If so, then I fear that yours is the same fate.

Diane Tasker
Diane Tasker
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I couldn’t say but a novel idea would be to re-name it a storage shelf – you could get arty and take a page out of the useful idiots guide on Banksy and gush at dinner parties that it’s a ‘work in progress’ – no, wait, shelve that idea! Take a leaf out of Andy Warhol’s book! With a few flourishes you book your place in art history by transforming it into something that a useful idiot would photograph and hang in some posh exhibition – which will, of course, require one to book in advance!

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Good one. Much as I was called out as a middle-classer by my intention to read all the books on my overflowing shelves, did you purchase your bookcase with the intention of filling it with books, rather than pictures, toys and knick-knacks? If so, then I fear that yours is the same fate.

Anna Knowles
Anna Knowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I have 4000+ books and no TV. I got rid of my TV when the BBC became totally woke. I’ll buy another one when the BBC is funded by subscription rather than the licence fee.
I’m retired now, but describe myself as middle class from a working class background: family northern miners or army other ranks, but aspirational. Encouraged by my father I went to university 60 years ago when cleverer girls than I did secretarial courses.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

By that metric I’m almost upper class, though given my bookshelves are half-full of Thomas Sowell, Roger Scruton, Jeremy Clarkson and a load of climate sceptical publications amongst my large collection of popular science books, I’m not sure I’d be welcome amongst the self-declared intelligentsia who also satisfy the requirement.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I never heard that before. Yipee! I pass the test and can leave my working class roots behind. (Reality check. I never had any.)

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Are you required to have read all the books (excluding reference works)? I have a fairly big telly and also a well stocked bookcase, but I often buy books faster than I read them.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Or if you keep your lawnmower in the garage and your BMW parked outside the house.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I’ve got a big bookshelf, but nowhere near enough books to fill it. It’s mostly stacked with pictures, kids toys and any other array of rubbish so what does that make me?

Anna Knowles
Anna Knowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

I have 4000+ books and no TV. I got rid of my TV when the BBC became totally woke. I’ll buy another one when the BBC is funded by subscription rather than the licence fee.
I’m retired now, but describe myself as middle class from a working class background: family northern miners or army other ranks, but aspirational. Encouraged by my father I went to university 60 years ago when cleverer girls than I did secretarial courses.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

My children say that they must be a disappointment to me by being middleclass

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

It’s the opposite for me – I think my kids find my muddy Kent accent far too estuarine


John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

“Estuarine” suggests that you’ve crossed the divide, whatever your accent.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

“Estuarine” suggests that you’ve crossed the divide, whatever your accent.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

It’s the opposite for me – I think my kids find my muddy Kent accent far too estuarine


Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

They used to say that you are middle class if your bookshelf is bigger than your TV flat screen. We no longer have a telly because we can watch the same rubbish on the computer. So we became middle class by default.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

My children say that they must be a disappointment to me by being middleclass

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

Ever since I purchased a petrol operated lawnmower and a greenhouse, I have considered myself a member of the bourgeoisie.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Around sixty percent of us own property or have parents who do. To win elections politicians have to appeal to this class. Their policies will inevitably therefore prioritise the interests of the middle class – however supposedly egalitarian the rhetoric.

Ask yourself: who benefitted most from New Labour? Was it the blue collar classes who were finally completely excluded from the housing market by rising prices and whose social assets where destroyed by mass immigration?

Clearly not.

The best way to interpret intersectional progressivism is as a deflection: ‘no need to worry about the pauperisation of paramedics and fork lift drivers; they’re white and therefore privileged by definition. It’s us, the wealthy playpen workers who are suffering because we’re women or black or gay or just depressed’.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I think you’d need to back up your claim of “social assets destroyed by mass immigration” with something more than mere bald assertion. Even a definition of the phrase would be a start.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I think you’d need to back up your claim of “social assets destroyed by mass immigration” with something more than mere bald assertion. Even a definition of the phrase would be a start.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Around sixty percent of us own property or have parents who do. To win elections politicians have to appeal to this class. Their policies will inevitably therefore prioritise the interests of the middle class – however supposedly egalitarian the rhetoric.

Ask yourself: who benefitted most from New Labour? Was it the blue collar classes who were finally completely excluded from the housing market by rising prices and whose social assets where destroyed by mass immigration?

Clearly not.

The best way to interpret intersectional progressivism is as a deflection: ‘no need to worry about the pauperisation of paramedics and fork lift drivers; they’re white and therefore privileged by definition. It’s us, the wealthy playpen workers who are suffering because we’re women or black or gay or just depressed’.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

It certainly matches anecdotal experience, this notion that there are more people now who possess what appears to be reverse aspiration. And I think the cult of victimhood plays a part here: victimhood is now the most valuable social currency, so everyone is trying to grab a slice of that identity. The point, though, is that this is still aspiration. It merely takes a peculiarly self-deluding and intellectually dishonest form, that’s all.

In a way it’s not that different to the traditional social climber of old: just because those people were typically viewed with snobbish disdain doesn’t mean that the modern day equivalent is any different in principle because the snobbery, too, has changed along with the pretence required for the aspiration.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

It certainly matches anecdotal experience, this notion that there are more people now who possess what appears to be reverse aspiration. And I think the cult of victimhood plays a part here: victimhood is now the most valuable social currency, so everyone is trying to grab a slice of that identity. The point, though, is that this is still aspiration. It merely takes a peculiarly self-deluding and intellectually dishonest form, that’s all.

In a way it’s not that different to the traditional social climber of old: just because those people were typically viewed with snobbish disdain doesn’t mean that the modern day equivalent is any different in principle because the snobbery, too, has changed along with the pretence required for the aspiration.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Thanks, Chris Clarke, for a great article! (More like this, please, Unherd.) A very long time ago when I was a student, my recollection is of middle class students pretending to be working class and the tiny number of working class students pretending to be middle class. According to Napoleon Bonaparte “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.” Maybe that experience of handling dual identities as students (i.e. when they were twenty years old) has stayed with them, especially when they are responding to survey questions.
BTW, the majority of the middle-class-pretentending-to-be-proles gave the game away because they could never resist a bit of snobbery whenever they spotted another of us (usually me) committing a faux-pas.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
1 year ago

Thanks, Chris Clarke, for a great article! (More like this, please, Unherd.) A very long time ago when I was a student, my recollection is of middle class students pretending to be working class and the tiny number of working class students pretending to be middle class. According to Napoleon Bonaparte “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.” Maybe that experience of handling dual identities as students (i.e. when they were twenty years old) has stayed with them, especially when they are responding to survey questions.
BTW, the majority of the middle-class-pretentending-to-be-proles gave the game away because they could never resist a bit of snobbery whenever they spotted another of us (usually me) committing a faux-pas.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

Even among those earning over £62,000, half now say they’re working-class
So, what is the difference between this and a person who sports dreadlocks and a fake tan and identifies as a black person? Are not both egregious examples of cultural appropriation?

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Quite ! As I said in another comment “Down with self-identification in all its forms !”. It’s all nonsense.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

Agreed. And why can someone self-identify as female but not as black?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Someone tried that a few years back. It didn’t end well for them.
I’ll try and dig up some articles as the absurdity did it make it quite funny.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

The woman concerned actually said that she identified as “trans-black”

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

The woman concerned actually said that she identified as “trans-black”

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Someone tried that a few years back. It didn’t end well for them.
I’ll try and dig up some articles as the absurdity did it make it quite funny.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Because someone earning over £62k could be a worker? Honestly the commentary section here isn’t the smartest.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Will Crozier
Will Crozier
1 year ago

I always understood both working class and middle class to be “workers” in the literal sense. The upper class were the ones so rich they didn’t need to work to remain wealthy. Middle class is basically a white collar worker (professional), at least one car, homeowner, building a decent pension, university educated, that sort of thing

Will Crozier
Will Crozier
1 year ago

I always understood both working class and middle class to be “workers” in the literal sense. The upper class were the ones so rich they didn’t need to work to remain wealthy. Middle class is basically a white collar worker (professional), at least one car, homeowner, building a decent pension, university educated, that sort of thing

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Quite ! As I said in another comment “Down with self-identification in all its forms !”. It’s all nonsense.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

Agreed. And why can someone self-identify as female but not as black?

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

Because someone earning over £62k could be a worker? Honestly the commentary section here isn’t the smartest.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

Even among those earning over £62,000, half now say they’re working-class
So, what is the difference between this and a person who sports dreadlocks and a fake tan and identifies as a black person? Are not both egregious examples of cultural appropriation?

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

Victimhood is all the rage. The only upside of a recession is it kicks some of the latte sipping faux middle class back down to earth.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

My husband and I introduced a Christmas game last year in which all participants try to score victim points. Obviously, the females and ethic minorities all have one point to start with, but there are others to be had: an immigrant great-grand-parent, Scottish/Irish/Welsh ancestry somewhere, having gone to university recently (remember going to university is a sure sign of victimhood). I am putting together a Scottish version of the game which allows a participant to put on a frock and identify as trans for the duration of the competition, along with characteristics which can cause a points deduction i.e. being English. Lots of fun to be had, and in the end you can all look disgustedly at the one straight, white, cis-, middle-class, non-university educated, middle-aged Englishman in the corner (how can he even bear to go on?)

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago

lol – best comment so far

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago

Do I get to claim victim points for being Scottish now? I thought that being a straight white male of very pale complexion I was easilty bottom of the opression heirarchy.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Scots are traditionally blue, rather than white. As comics used to say, they only achieve ‘white’ after a week on holiday.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

So you’re complaining of being at the bottom of the heirachy of victims- i.e, you’re claiming top victim status?
Bit ironic….

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Yes, but only if you live in England (maybe in Wales too, but I leave that to the Welsh to decide), however you have to claim your status.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Scots are traditionally blue, rather than white. As comics used to say, they only achieve ‘white’ after a week on holiday.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

So you’re complaining of being at the bottom of the heirachy of victims- i.e, you’re claiming top victim status?
Bit ironic….

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

Yes, but only if you live in England (maybe in Wales too, but I leave that to the Welsh to decide), however you have to claim your status.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

What a tiresomely trite and self-satisfied Christmas you have. Thank God I’m not invited. It must be lie having festive teeth pulled.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

And yours seems to be an irony-free zone.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

And yours seems to be an irony-free zone.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago

Sounds great. Can this be developed and sold for profit, like Monopoly? I could see this being wonderful fun after one’s turkey and Christmas pud.

Quick question – I own a kilt in the family plaid. Does this count as a frock if worn south of the border?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

This is the whole fun of the game, you can agreed different rules in different countries and even different households.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

This is the whole fun of the game, you can agreed different rules in different countries and even different households.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago

lol – best comment so far

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago

Do I get to claim victim points for being Scottish now? I thought that being a straight white male of very pale complexion I was easilty bottom of the opression heirarchy.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago

What a tiresomely trite and self-satisfied Christmas you have. Thank God I’m not invited. It must be lie having festive teeth pulled.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago

Sounds great. Can this be developed and sold for profit, like Monopoly? I could see this being wonderful fun after one’s turkey and Christmas pud.

Quick question – I own a kilt in the family plaid. Does this count as a frock if worn south of the border?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

That’s not the only upside to the recession that’s been ducked for far too long. It should clean out a lot of zombie companies and fraud (I feel we’re still scratching the surface on some of this – still getting started with the crypto mess). I’m going to sound callous here, but the creative destruction of recessions is necessary. We need to get away from this “no one can lost from change” mentality that’s set in in this country.
Ideally, we’d get rid of a lot of the fake universities (and a few fake charities) that the government insists on propping up. And starting putting the resources being wasted there to better use.
A correction to sensible house prices would also be welcome (I care far more about my son’s chance of owning a house than the inflated value of mine).
But I don’t see any of this happening.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I agree with you about house prices, though in my present situation – a house and a flat rented out both with mortgages – I should probably hope for a survival of the status quo.

But we have to get real: the present situation cannot survive if the next two generations include homeowners as a decreasing minority. It’s either prices falling to realistic levels, or wealth taxes dropped like a bomb on people who own property. There is no chance that millions of people will work hard and pay both taxes AND rents forever, which is what the existing socioeconomic situation clearly demands.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

John, I’d like to think there will be some corrective action so that younger people aren’t permanently locked out of home ownership (at least those without wealthy parents). I just don’t see it happening any time soon. Waiting one of two generations is too slow. There is no sign that any politicians take this seriously. Or really care about it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

John, I’d like to think there will be some corrective action so that younger people aren’t permanently locked out of home ownership (at least those without wealthy parents). I just don’t see it happening any time soon. Waiting one of two generations is too slow. There is no sign that any politicians take this seriously. Or really care about it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

I agree with you about house prices, though in my present situation – a house and a flat rented out both with mortgages – I should probably hope for a survival of the status quo.

But we have to get real: the present situation cannot survive if the next two generations include homeowners as a decreasing minority. It’s either prices falling to realistic levels, or wealth taxes dropped like a bomb on people who own property. There is no chance that millions of people will work hard and pay both taxes AND rents forever, which is what the existing socioeconomic situation clearly demands.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Recessions rarely affect the middle classes, properly defined.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

My husband and I introduced a Christmas game last year in which all participants try to score victim points. Obviously, the females and ethic minorities all have one point to start with, but there are others to be had: an immigrant great-grand-parent, Scottish/Irish/Welsh ancestry somewhere, having gone to university recently (remember going to university is a sure sign of victimhood). I am putting together a Scottish version of the game which allows a participant to put on a frock and identify as trans for the duration of the competition, along with characteristics which can cause a points deduction i.e. being English. Lots of fun to be had, and in the end you can all look disgustedly at the one straight, white, cis-, middle-class, non-university educated, middle-aged Englishman in the corner (how can he even bear to go on?)

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

That’s not the only upside to the recession that’s been ducked for far too long. It should clean out a lot of zombie companies and fraud (I feel we’re still scratching the surface on some of this – still getting started with the crypto mess). I’m going to sound callous here, but the creative destruction of recessions is necessary. We need to get away from this “no one can lost from change” mentality that’s set in in this country.
Ideally, we’d get rid of a lot of the fake universities (and a few fake charities) that the government insists on propping up. And starting putting the resources being wasted there to better use.
A correction to sensible house prices would also be welcome (I care far more about my son’s chance of owning a house than the inflated value of mine).
But I don’t see any of this happening.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Recessions rarely affect the middle classes, properly defined.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

Victimhood is all the rage. The only upside of a recession is it kicks some of the latte sipping faux middle class back down to earth.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I’m always tempted to say “who cares” about these labels any more. I consider myself someone who works for a living. Period. Labelling some people as “workers” or “working class” and not other workers seems absurd. And well past it’s use by date.
As ever with such labels, there’s no certain test for any of them. Coming from an engineering background, such unmeasurable and untestable terms are deeply suspect ! Down with self-identification in all its forms !
If we put a fraction of the time and energy that goes into this sort of debate into solving real problems, I think we’d be in a better place.
Quite by coincidence, I came across a quote from Warren Buffett this morning: “the world is driven by envy, not greed”.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The labels have a different meaning and purpose in different contexts.

To a marketing exec the A-B-C classification informs who you sell to and how you pitch that sale.

The traditional British Class System is based entirely on birth & family – you can be poor as a church mouse so long as you speak with a cut glass accent and have a pier in the family tree (preferably recently)

The Americans never understood that bit of the British class system – they think its purely income based and that its possible to move from one class to another

And you have the theory this article seems to follow that its your job description that determines your class. Closer to the ABC model but steeped in the language of class war.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

I live in Bournemouth, and we have a lovely pier. Does that count?

Roger le Clercq
Roger le Clercq
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Peerless, Rapierlike, Nuff Said.

Roger le Clercq
Roger le Clercq
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Peerless, Rapierlike, Nuff Said.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

He didn’t engage in „class war“ at all. He said he worked for a living. That makes him a worker.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

I live in Bournemouth, and we have a lovely pier. Does that count?

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

He didn’t engage in „class war“ at all. He said he worked for a living. That makes him a worker.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Quite. The author asks the question: “Given the deterministic quality of the above, one could be forgiven for asking: does any of it matter?” I would have stopped there while I was ahead.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Statistically, yes- it does. It matters hugely to your life prospects what your birth ‘class’ is, and that fact has been increasing.
You don’t like mentioning this, but that’s an entirely different matter.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Statistically, yes- it does. It matters hugely to your life prospects what your birth ‘class’ is, and that fact has been increasing.
You don’t like mentioning this, but that’s an entirely different matter.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

So if your birth ‘class’ (i.e., your wealth, property and job prospects) counts more now in terms of your ultimate ‘class’ than it has for some sixty years, that is of no consequence whatsoever?
If social and economic mobility is significantly declining, you think even mentioning this is mere “envy”? You find meritocracy an ‘envious’ idea?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I’m not into the people classification stuff, period. The fact that’s it’s all totally subjective these days (effectively self-identified) just tells me what a waste of time it is. In many ways, it’s just another sort of virtue signalling for a lot of people – claiming to be “working class” when it defies credulity.
You’ve made some assumptions about me that aren’t quite right.
I quite like meritocracy. Always have. Partly because it dispenses with class and such nonsense (or at least would do if we really had it). And precisely because it should give opportunities based on ability and determination and not inherited wealth or contacts (I despise the nepotism you see in the arts, media and politics). All that said, in practice it’s impossible to level the playing field completely in a free society – not without losing freedom. And we may well find that some aspects of skills and perhaps intelligence are inherited. In which case we just have to accept that life’s unfair in some respects. We may not like that – I don’t particularly – but if that’s they way things are, we cannot change it.
If social and economic mobility truly is declining, that’s not a trend I welcome. But that’s an “if”. I’m fairly certain that “poverty” isn’t anywhere near as bad as claimed in the UK. Likewise, the definition of disability has been stretched so wide that it’s at risk of becoming meaningless. and diverting attention and resources from those really in need. We’d need to take a serious look at what measurements are being taken and how meaningful they really are.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  John Holland

I’m not into the people classification stuff, period. The fact that’s it’s all totally subjective these days (effectively self-identified) just tells me what a waste of time it is. In many ways, it’s just another sort of virtue signalling for a lot of people – claiming to be “working class” when it defies credulity.
You’ve made some assumptions about me that aren’t quite right.
I quite like meritocracy. Always have. Partly because it dispenses with class and such nonsense (or at least would do if we really had it). And precisely because it should give opportunities based on ability and determination and not inherited wealth or contacts (I despise the nepotism you see in the arts, media and politics). All that said, in practice it’s impossible to level the playing field completely in a free society – not without losing freedom. And we may well find that some aspects of skills and perhaps intelligence are inherited. In which case we just have to accept that life’s unfair in some respects. We may not like that – I don’t particularly – but if that’s they way things are, we cannot change it.
If social and economic mobility truly is declining, that’s not a trend I welcome. But that’s an “if”. I’m fairly certain that “poverty” isn’t anywhere near as bad as claimed in the UK. Likewise, the definition of disability has been stretched so wide that it’s at risk of becoming meaningless. and diverting attention and resources from those really in need. We’d need to take a serious look at what measurements are being taken and how meaningful they really are.

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

To be accurate, it was Charlie Munger, Buffet’s business partner who uttered the memorable words, not Buffet.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Thanks for the correction ! I find they’re both well worth listening to.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Thanks for the correction ! I find they’re both well worth listening to.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

The labels have a different meaning and purpose in different contexts.

To a marketing exec the A-B-C classification informs who you sell to and how you pitch that sale.

The traditional British Class System is based entirely on birth & family – you can be poor as a church mouse so long as you speak with a cut glass accent and have a pier in the family tree (preferably recently)

The Americans never understood that bit of the British class system – they think its purely income based and that its possible to move from one class to another

And you have the theory this article seems to follow that its your job description that determines your class. Closer to the ABC model but steeped in the language of class war.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Quite. The author asks the question: “Given the deterministic quality of the above, one could be forgiven for asking: does any of it matter?” I would have stopped there while I was ahead.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

So if your birth ‘class’ (i.e., your wealth, property and job prospects) counts more now in terms of your ultimate ‘class’ than it has for some sixty years, that is of no consequence whatsoever?
If social and economic mobility is significantly declining, you think even mentioning this is mere “envy”? You find meritocracy an ‘envious’ idea?

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

To be accurate, it was Charlie Munger, Buffet’s business partner who uttered the memorable words, not Buffet.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I’m always tempted to say “who cares” about these labels any more. I consider myself someone who works for a living. Period. Labelling some people as “workers” or “working class” and not other workers seems absurd. And well past it’s use by date.
As ever with such labels, there’s no certain test for any of them. Coming from an engineering background, such unmeasurable and untestable terms are deeply suspect ! Down with self-identification in all its forms !
If we put a fraction of the time and energy that goes into this sort of debate into solving real problems, I think we’d be in a better place.
Quite by coincidence, I came across a quote from Warren Buffett this morning: “the world is driven by envy, not greed”.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

Egalitarian is a tricky word. If it means you seek equality before the law and equality of opportunity Margaret Thatcher was an egalitarian to her fingertips. If it means you seek equality of outcome you must look to someone like Jeremy Corbyn.

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Indeed, I am deeply suspicious of anyone “fighting for equality” without defining what they mean. Equality of opportunity is pretty much the opposite of equality of outcome in practical terms.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

We have never had equality of opportunity, so I’m not sure what you base this on.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin K

We have never had equality of opportunity, so I’m not sure what you base this on.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

No-one who supports private education and inherited wealth believes in egalitarianism. They are mutually exclusive.
There is a pay-off here- individual freedom from state dictat over your children’s status, OR meritocracy. You cannot have both- Thatcher and her followers fudged this in the hope that no-one would notice, but it’s fake.

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Indeed, I am deeply suspicious of anyone “fighting for equality” without defining what they mean. Equality of opportunity is pretty much the opposite of equality of outcome in practical terms.

John Holland
John Holland
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

No-one who supports private education and inherited wealth believes in egalitarianism. They are mutually exclusive.
There is a pay-off here- individual freedom from state dictat over your children’s status, OR meritocracy. You cannot have both- Thatcher and her followers fudged this in the hope that no-one would notice, but it’s fake.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

Egalitarian is a tricky word. If it means you seek equality before the law and equality of opportunity Margaret Thatcher was an egalitarian to her fingertips. If it means you seek equality of outcome you must look to someone like Jeremy Corbyn.

MĂŽnica
MĂŽnica
1 year ago

There’s something else, I think. In the UK, people conflate class and culture. Being working class is not only about jobs and income, but the food you eat and the sports you like. I know people who, despite their income, would never see themselves as middle-class, given they are not “fancy” – and this is unconnected to political leanings.

Keith J
Keith J
1 year ago
Reply to  MĂŽnica

You make a good point about the conflation between class and culture – something that I have come to recognise in my own travels through life. Born into poverty but managed to get an education and a white-collar job and, sort of, became middle class, or at least lower middle class. That was 1990’s and 2000’s, but then things changed. I came to realise that that I did not share the values of my middle-class friends and colleagues, and that they did not understand my values or my background. Class prejudices became more noticeable – especially judgements based on accent and family background. Still have the white-collar job, but have withdrawn (socially) from middle class circles and retreated to my working class roots, where I feel at home. Except, having the white-collar job, I am just a little further away from poverty than my working class friends. In truth, I have not so much retreated to my own class, but to my own culture, and this was driven more by wokeness amongst the middle classes than by anything else – the middle-class friends I still have are not woke. Someone said that class is not where you are now, but where you are from, and I think that is true. It is as much about culture and attitude as it about income.  

Keith J
Keith J
1 year ago
Reply to  MĂŽnica

You make a good point about the conflation between class and culture – something that I have come to recognise in my own travels through life. Born into poverty but managed to get an education and a white-collar job and, sort of, became middle class, or at least lower middle class. That was 1990’s and 2000’s, but then things changed. I came to realise that that I did not share the values of my middle-class friends and colleagues, and that they did not understand my values or my background. Class prejudices became more noticeable – especially judgements based on accent and family background. Still have the white-collar job, but have withdrawn (socially) from middle class circles and retreated to my working class roots, where I feel at home. Except, having the white-collar job, I am just a little further away from poverty than my working class friends. In truth, I have not so much retreated to my own class, but to my own culture, and this was driven more by wokeness amongst the middle classes than by anything else – the middle-class friends I still have are not woke. Someone said that class is not where you are now, but where you are from, and I think that is true. It is as much about culture and attitude as it about income.  

MĂŽnica
MĂŽnica
1 year ago

There’s something else, I think. In the UK, people conflate class and culture. Being working class is not only about jobs and income, but the food you eat and the sports you like. I know people who, despite their income, would never see themselves as middle-class, given they are not “fancy” – and this is unconnected to political leanings.

sal b dyer
sal b dyer
1 year ago

“you get large numbers of embarrassed meritocrats, who feel they need to construct a reality in which they’re swimming against the tide.
It might not matter. They’ll still be first up against the wall come the revolution.

sal b dyer
sal b dyer
1 year ago

“you get large numbers of embarrassed meritocrats, who feel they need to construct a reality in which they’re swimming against the tide.
It might not matter. They’ll still be first up against the wall come the revolution.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

Shades of the 4 Yorkshireman sketch on Monty Python.
But “class” and “income” are not always closely overlapping on any venn diagram, and have become less so over time.
So shoe-horning people into “class” boxes rarely if ever works. I was brought up poor, by modern standards, in a house with no bathroom and an outside toilet, so could probably claim to be “working class”. But I then went to University, had a career in management and all that, and am (now?) inescapably middle class.
It also relates to one of my my pet peeves, definitions of “poverty” when you actually talking about “income inequality”.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Aye. Tell kids today and they don’t believe you.
Python aside, the three class system was probably fairly accurate from the renaissance through to the late 19th/early 20th century. It’s far too coarse for the early 21st century though. Although whether it remains inaccurate remains to be seen.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

I think that you have hit the nail. Like you, I was brought up in a house with no bathroom and an outside toilet, (I considered myself working-class until my career kicked off and I found it difficult to maintain this pretence), however, when I was young I didn’t consider my family to be poor as everyone around us was in the same boat. It wasn’t until I went to grammar school and made friends with middle-class girls that I realised that some people had more money and more things than my family did, which I found hard to understand as I knew that both my parents worked very hard.

Another point worth making is that income inequality does affect poorer people as it pushes up prices of some goods, especially houses and often food too. So, you are correct in that the two are separate issues the one does influence the other.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Aye. Tell kids today and they don’t believe you.
Python aside, the three class system was probably fairly accurate from the renaissance through to the late 19th/early 20th century. It’s far too coarse for the early 21st century though. Although whether it remains inaccurate remains to be seen.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

I think that you have hit the nail. Like you, I was brought up in a house with no bathroom and an outside toilet, (I considered myself working-class until my career kicked off and I found it difficult to maintain this pretence), however, when I was young I didn’t consider my family to be poor as everyone around us was in the same boat. It wasn’t until I went to grammar school and made friends with middle-class girls that I realised that some people had more money and more things than my family did, which I found hard to understand as I knew that both my parents worked very hard.

Another point worth making is that income inequality does affect poorer people as it pushes up prices of some goods, especially houses and often food too. So, you are correct in that the two are separate issues the one does influence the other.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
1 year ago

Shades of the 4 Yorkshireman sketch on Monty Python.
But “class” and “income” are not always closely overlapping on any venn diagram, and have become less so over time.
So shoe-horning people into “class” boxes rarely if ever works. I was brought up poor, by modern standards, in a house with no bathroom and an outside toilet, so could probably claim to be “working class”. But I then went to University, had a career in management and all that, and am (now?) inescapably middle class.
It also relates to one of my my pet peeves, definitions of “poverty” when you actually talking about “income inequality”.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

I hate to break it to you, Chris, but by 2030, there will only be two classes. And the vast majority of us will be the ones who “own nothing” and will “be happy”. Enjoy what’s left of the next seven years. You can tell your children – if the world government allows you to see them – what life was like when humans had choice.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

I thought that there were already just the two classes – the have-nots and the have-yachts.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

I thought that there were already just the two classes – the have-nots and the have-yachts.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

I hate to break it to you, Chris, but by 2030, there will only be two classes. And the vast majority of us will be the ones who “own nothing” and will “be happy”. Enjoy what’s left of the next seven years. You can tell your children – if the world government allows you to see them – what life was like when humans had choice.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Re: the Socialist Workers Party, the followin is part of their mission stament:
” We think the solution is a revolution, where the majority of people take control of society and run it from the bottom up without the billionaires, bosses and landlords.”
The irony is that the SWP, like the Democrats in the US is bankrolled by billionaires such as George Soros who aim to take away workers rights and destroy the middle classes.
Labour, the Left in the UK, the DNC in the US want to make everyone completely dependent on the state.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Re: the Socialist Workers Party, the followin is part of their mission stament:
” We think the solution is a revolution, where the majority of people take control of society and run it from the bottom up without the billionaires, bosses and landlords.”
The irony is that the SWP, like the Democrats in the US is bankrolled by billionaires such as George Soros who aim to take away workers rights and destroy the middle classes.
Labour, the Left in the UK, the DNC in the US want to make everyone completely dependent on the state.

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago

The useful idiots. The bourgeoisie thinking they are fighting the establishment, while doing precisely the opposite.

Colin K
Colin K
1 year ago

The useful idiots. The bourgeoisie thinking they are fighting the establishment, while doing precisely the opposite.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago

I believe that the large number of middle-class (or higher) people who think they are working-class are the very ones leading the woke crusade.

As middle-class people (or higher) they are educated and better able to state the woke agenda than the genuine working class. They have probably started life as genuine working class but then left it all behind. Now they see inequality, (in their view), and lead verbal crusades against it.

Also, they must feel guilty. They know they are different but want to be part of the gang. They want to show their old friends that they haven’t really changed so they pick a cause, talk about it and constantly overstate the case. This is clearly guilt.

People who contribute to UnHerd may have working class backgrounds but they have reached escape velocity. They believe that everyone else should be trying to escape as well. So politicians who are constantly talking about poverty, without really knowing anything about it, are stopping the working class from escaping by feeding their needs of the moment.

Both sides are extremists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris W
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

“As middle-class people (or higher) they are educated and better able to state the woke agenda than the genuine working class.”

They adopt that pretence, certainly, but it is untrue for two important reasons:

1) Genuine working class values – by which I mean the things working people actually believe in – do not include Woke morals. Wokery is a degraded bourgeois morality used principally to shield the wealthy and powerful from any direct accountability to any other class or group of interests.
2) Wokery is a direct ideological descendent of the classic Marxist school of thought in which a key concept was that the interests of the working class were too complex for the working class itself to defend, and so the ideological notion of an “authentic” voice of the protetariat was created in order that bourgeois intellectuals could then lay claim to being the only people qualified to use it. It was just another political fraud in which democracy was to be subverted, that’s all.

The wheels have always come off this sort of nonsense in the past, and it won’t be any different this time.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

“As middle-class people (or higher) they are educated and better able to state the woke agenda than the genuine working class.”

They adopt that pretence, certainly, but it is untrue for two important reasons:

1) Genuine working class values – by which I mean the things working people actually believe in – do not include Woke morals. Wokery is a degraded bourgeois morality used principally to shield the wealthy and powerful from any direct accountability to any other class or group of interests.
2) Wokery is a direct ideological descendent of the classic Marxist school of thought in which a key concept was that the interests of the working class were too complex for the working class itself to defend, and so the ideological notion of an “authentic” voice of the protetariat was created in order that bourgeois intellectuals could then lay claim to being the only people qualified to use it. It was just another political fraud in which democracy was to be subverted, that’s all.

The wheels have always come off this sort of nonsense in the past, and it won’t be any different this time.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago

I believe that the large number of middle-class (or higher) people who think they are working-class are the very ones leading the woke crusade.

As middle-class people (or higher) they are educated and better able to state the woke agenda than the genuine working class. They have probably started life as genuine working class but then left it all behind. Now they see inequality, (in their view), and lead verbal crusades against it.

Also, they must feel guilty. They know they are different but want to be part of the gang. They want to show their old friends that they haven’t really changed so they pick a cause, talk about it and constantly overstate the case. This is clearly guilt.

People who contribute to UnHerd may have working class backgrounds but they have reached escape velocity. They believe that everyone else should be trying to escape as well. So politicians who are constantly talking about poverty, without really knowing anything about it, are stopping the working class from escaping by feeding their needs of the moment.

Both sides are extremists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris W
Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago

About 10 years back there was a survey which concluded there were seven distinct social classes.
Elite
Established Middle Class
Technical Middle Class
New Affluent Workers
Traditional Working Class
Emergent Service Workers
Precariat
This breakdown incorporated social and cultural capital alongside financial and asset capital.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2013/newsspec_5093/index.stm

I thought it was an interesting way of dividing the classes up and perhaps a bit more reflective of the modern political climate as it took social and cultural standing into account.

edit – bullet points keep breaking

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago

About 10 years back there was a survey which concluded there were seven distinct social classes.
Elite
Established Middle Class
Technical Middle Class
New Affluent Workers
Traditional Working Class
Emergent Service Workers
Precariat
This breakdown incorporated social and cultural capital alongside financial and asset capital.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2013/newsspec_5093/index.stm

I thought it was an interesting way of dividing the classes up and perhaps a bit more reflective of the modern political climate as it took social and cultural standing into account.

edit – bullet points keep breaking

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Dalton
Andy Waye
Andy Waye
1 year ago

If you have to work to survive, you are “working class”.
If you don’t have to work to survive then you are not “working class”.
I have no idea what “class” you are in because all other “class” definitions are ambiguous inventions the purpose of which is to confuse the shit out of us.

Andy Waye
Andy Waye
1 year ago

If you have to work to survive, you are “working class”.
If you don’t have to work to survive then you are not “working class”.
I have no idea what “class” you are in because all other “class” definitions are ambiguous inventions the purpose of which is to confuse the shit out of us.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Note that in the picture, the banners are almost exclusively SWP supplied banners.
Is the SWP a workers party ?
No. These agitators are mostly far Left middle class know- nothings and people who are not members of the SWP who have unthinkingly accepted the SWP banners and placards.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Note that in the picture, the banners are almost exclusively SWP supplied banners.
Is the SWP a workers party ?
No. These agitators are mostly far Left middle class know- nothings and people who are not members of the SWP who have unthinkingly accepted the SWP banners and placards.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

The term working class used to mean the workers. In the 19C there were landlords, capitalists, genteel middle classes – who sometimes were small business owners but mostly lived on passive earnings. At the bottom 5-20% were the beggars and lumpens. Everybody else was working class. Same is true now.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
1 year ago

The term working class used to mean the workers. In the 19C there were landlords, capitalists, genteel middle classes – who sometimes were small business owners but mostly lived on passive earnings. At the bottom 5-20% were the beggars and lumpens. Everybody else was working class. Same is true now.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

The article has its roots in analysis for political purposes.
The only group that seems to be important at the moment is the academic left-wing progressives. They dominate the agenda.
They had, still do, specific views on Brexit but do not recognize the failings of Europe as a trading block with others or its inability to address any of its structural problems( North-South). Nor do they see the importance of its impotence in terms of real power cf Ukraine’s invasion by Russia.
They ran from Covid without considering the disastrous consequences. This will be with us for a generation.
They are obsessed with issues that the large majority have no interest in and only do the minority interests they banner wave harm, by making people irritated and antagonistic whether it’s the genuinely small number of people who suffer from Gender Dysphoria or the Maori diaspora.
And they are everywhere in the “West.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

The article has its roots in analysis for political purposes.
The only group that seems to be important at the moment is the academic left-wing progressives. They dominate the agenda.
They had, still do, specific views on Brexit but do not recognize the failings of Europe as a trading block with others or its inability to address any of its structural problems( North-South). Nor do they see the importance of its impotence in terms of real power cf Ukraine’s invasion by Russia.
They ran from Covid without considering the disastrous consequences. This will be with us for a generation.
They are obsessed with issues that the large majority have no interest in and only do the minority interests they banner wave harm, by making people irritated and antagonistic whether it’s the genuinely small number of people who suffer from Gender Dysphoria or the Maori diaspora.
And they are everywhere in the “West.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

‘Let’s take a working-class-born 30-something in a well-paid job. If this person cannot afford a property inside the M25 despite a good salary, they’ll probably feel more closely wedded to their upbringing’
Wtf? I’m a 30 something, I have no aspiration what so ever to buy within the m25, sounds like a stupid idea, London is over expensive, over populated, tiny house no garden. No thank you. That makes no sense to me that part at all.
I will demonstrate, by my own experience, why you should not attempt to box people, drawing on the white van man reference, for your entertainment, the perspective of a kid raised by a real white van man. I don’t know how many of us there are on here:
White van man – that’s my dad, fag on, in a rush, swearing loudly, tailgating Pro (time is money!), build or fix absolutely anything, no time for Labour, lefties, swore at Tony Blair a lot when he was on news at tea time when we were kids, with a fag on. Old school, no nonsense opinions. Always worked for himself. So hates hmrc too, they used to be shit to try and deal with. Probably why I think in expletives. Taught me how to be an electrician lady. Wouldn’t change him for the world.
My parents live on a narrow boat now, very cool, mum paints roses and castles, very liberated, eccentric, polar opposite to dad, very entertaining, dad still has a van. They are very non conformist, question everything, treat the state as something that is useful but not to be relied upon for support, good decisions, or necessarily delivery of good services, the very structure of state means it is always slightly encumbered, make your own choice regardless of the herd – they let us homeschool, my brother was doing badly the teachers were incapable so they took it into their own hands, my sister and I thought this a marvellous idea. We ceremonially burt our uniforms and (for some reason unclear to me now, probably just burning authority 🙂 ) our bibles. God’s not letting me in. Because of this and my mum though I’ve been to a lot of art galleries, museums, pretty much every national trust house in the country (got to get moneys worth from the membership! :)). We had like 20 different lizards and snakes, mum bred many chickens, like 5-7 dogs at any given time, a cat, stick insects, hermit crabs, tortoise, pretty much most things you can buy in a pet shop, at some point. Mum is also awesome. I used to spend hours on a reptile forum being a massive herp nerd. Bit more fringe than here. We had guns, catapults, cross bows, (all used responsibility, apart from the catapults sometimes) fishing, important in dad’s view for my brother. My sister and I can also shoot a shot gun, skin a rabbit, make pigeon pie, dress a pheasant. Lived in an end of terrace cottage 1800s cottage on the edge of a village, woods, allotments lovely.
I would change none of my experience. I’m angry at America, china and Russia right now, pissed over covid and dispair of the shambles in number 10 I’m pissed about that too. I want a boat or a small field (nothing near the m25) both of which I know are achievable. Because of my dad I am nearly capable now of actually building my own small, alternative house, with a fag on, swearing loudly 🙂 I’m happy with that. Im trying to give up the fags though.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

ahhh Top man indeed !

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

ahhh Top man indeed !

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

‘Let’s take a working-class-born 30-something in a well-paid job. If this person cannot afford a property inside the M25 despite a good salary, they’ll probably feel more closely wedded to their upbringing’
Wtf? I’m a 30 something, I have no aspiration what so ever to buy within the m25, sounds like a stupid idea, London is over expensive, over populated, tiny house no garden. No thank you. That makes no sense to me that part at all.
I will demonstrate, by my own experience, why you should not attempt to box people, drawing on the white van man reference, for your entertainment, the perspective of a kid raised by a real white van man. I don’t know how many of us there are on here:
White van man – that’s my dad, fag on, in a rush, swearing loudly, tailgating Pro (time is money!), build or fix absolutely anything, no time for Labour, lefties, swore at Tony Blair a lot when he was on news at tea time when we were kids, with a fag on. Old school, no nonsense opinions. Always worked for himself. So hates hmrc too, they used to be shit to try and deal with. Probably why I think in expletives. Taught me how to be an electrician lady. Wouldn’t change him for the world.
My parents live on a narrow boat now, very cool, mum paints roses and castles, very liberated, eccentric, polar opposite to dad, very entertaining, dad still has a van. They are very non conformist, question everything, treat the state as something that is useful but not to be relied upon for support, good decisions, or necessarily delivery of good services, the very structure of state means it is always slightly encumbered, make your own choice regardless of the herd – they let us homeschool, my brother was doing badly the teachers were incapable so they took it into their own hands, my sister and I thought this a marvellous idea. We ceremonially burt our uniforms and (for some reason unclear to me now, probably just burning authority 🙂 ) our bibles. God’s not letting me in. Because of this and my mum though I’ve been to a lot of art galleries, museums, pretty much every national trust house in the country (got to get moneys worth from the membership! :)). We had like 20 different lizards and snakes, mum bred many chickens, like 5-7 dogs at any given time, a cat, stick insects, hermit crabs, tortoise, pretty much most things you can buy in a pet shop, at some point. Mum is also awesome. I used to spend hours on a reptile forum being a massive herp nerd. Bit more fringe than here. We had guns, catapults, cross bows, (all used responsibility, apart from the catapults sometimes) fishing, important in dad’s view for my brother. My sister and I can also shoot a shot gun, skin a rabbit, make pigeon pie, dress a pheasant. Lived in an end of terrace cottage 1800s cottage on the edge of a village, woods, allotments lovely.
I would change none of my experience. I’m angry at America, china and Russia right now, pissed over covid and dispair of the shambles in number 10 I’m pissed about that too. I want a boat or a small field (nothing near the m25) both of which I know are achievable. Because of my dad I am nearly capable now of actually building my own small, alternative house, with a fag on, swearing loudly 🙂 I’m happy with that. Im trying to give up the fags though.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Or, to summarise, middle class Lefties want to be victims too.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Or, to summarise, middle class Lefties want to be victims too.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago

“the Left wish to champion those who have overcome genuine oppression and hardship.”
Only until they become financially successful. Then, depending on skin colour the successful become either racists, or coconuts.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago

“the Left wish to champion those who have overcome genuine oppression and hardship.”
Only until they become financially successful. Then, depending on skin colour the successful become either racists, or coconuts.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Call me contrarian if you wish, but might I suggest that people are not misidentifying themselves for sentimental reasons, satisfying political biases, or simply wrong in their perceptions, but instead rational actors responding to the purpose and theme of a question rather than its technical meaning, identifying themselves by their political class rather than their economic class? In an era where even national governments have become subservient to the forces of financial markets and whose power is sometimes less than private multinational corporations, perhaps many people are correctly perceiving that their political power today is no greater than a hotel maid or truck driver when compared to the billionaires who dominate the news and political circles. Perhaps, the local accountant, dentist, or insurance agent down the street identifies with his employees today more than he does with any politician? Perhaps they feel they are as much at the mercy of multinational corporations as the employees of those companies are. The shrinking of the middle class in western nations is well documented and it isn’t hard to understand why. Unlimited immigration and free trade push the price of labor in all fields, including many if not most traditionally white collar upper middle class fields so low that we’re increasingly a society of a very few ultra-wealthy powerful billionaires and corporations, the 1% and their nearest servant high-management servant classes vs. everybody else, the 99%. What is the difference between a doctor and his receptionist when compared to the difference between the same doctor and the faceless corporation that owns the hospital where he practices? How is it unreasonable that accountants, nurses, doctors, lawyers, programmers, entrepreneurs, etc. now feel more of a sense of common purpose and shared destiny with factory workers, miners, and truck drivers than with the likes of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos? If two people feel equally at the mercy of some third party, isn’t their identification with one another reasonable? Isn’t their banding together politically against a shared foe a rational decision? If they all feel politically downtrodden and powerless against the machinations of multinational corporations and corrupt governments, why shouldn’t they identify themselves in the same way as those entities seem to regard them, as laborers to be exploited or ignorant peasants standing in the way of “progress” or both? Perhaps things are different in the UK, but my take on this article is that the author is missing the forest for the trees. I am continually floored by how people in journalism, media, and government who never tire of telling the peasantry, lower and middle class alike, how stupid and wrong they are, cannot grasp why nobody likes or trusts them anymore.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Jolly
Rebecca Shalloe
Rebecca Shalloe
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I agree.

I would just like to add: Tax accountants are loved (they’re on our side)
Management accountants are loathed (they’re on the 1percent’s side)