THE MIDDLE CLASS STRUGGLE
In the late 1990s, Tony Blair announced – several times – that “the class war was over”. He did not say, you will note, that the class system was “over” – just the internal struggles and resentments that were associated with it.
At the time, you could at least see what he meant. Most of us were getting better off. We had yet to realise how badly social mobility was decreasing. And with the decline of 20th century-style socialism, fewer and fewer of us thought “the workers” en masse could take on “the bosses” and win.
Because back then, that’s what most people thought “class struggle” was – workers versus bosses. The poor old neglected middle classes had to choose one side or another to sympathise with.
At the moment, however, this is all being somewhat reversed. Firstly, as The Economist recently reported, globally-speaking the middle is becoming the biggest of all classes.
Secondly, the nature of bosses and workers has changed.
In Britain the post-war welfare state has created a client class of long-term dependents, and thus the old working class has split into dependents and workers – and an increasing number of workers are aspiring middle class. And because so many people remained on benefits during the recent period of near-full employment, a significant number of people who work feel that welfare dependency is becoming a lifestyle choice.
Meanwhile, the old “boss” category contains a lot of international financiers whose recklessness was underwritten by a supposedly left wing government when it bailed out the banks with taxpayer’s money.
And so the middle classes find that come the recession, not only are they having to work harder – they are also having to see their tax being used to support people above and below them on the income scale who do not share their own values of thrift and restraint.
Increasingly, they feel embattled by this – and by a government that upholds the situation and targets middle class tax and services as a source of money to help it through the downturn.
Chavs and bankers know how to play the system. Chavs and bankers don’t ever seem to be troubled by money worries. Chavs and bankers both seem to regard the middle classes with a mixture of pity, contempt and predatoriness. But, angered by this, the middle classes are turning.
It’s only an emergent trend at the time of writing, but it is detectable in the sort of politically incorrect people will now say in public (“if they want to have ten kids by ten different fathers it’s ot my concern”, “they should let the banks go bankrupt” etc etc), and possibly in recent voting patterns in by elections. There more specific examples linked from the blog contents in this site.
Who knows – if we can sort out a time between picking the kids up from nursery, being in for the Ocado delivery and getting those reports finished, we may find time to use some old IKEA flat-pack furniture to make some tasteful barricades outside RBS.