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BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?

Piers 12 Apr 05 - 02:19 AM
Gervase 12 Apr 05 - 06:50 AM
Terry K 12 Apr 05 - 12:39 PM
Terry K 12 Apr 05 - 12:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Apr 05 - 12:55 PM
Piers 12 Apr 05 - 04:51 PM
Terry K 12 Apr 05 - 05:33 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Apr 05 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,Sidewinder. 12 Apr 05 - 10:44 PM
Piers 13 Apr 05 - 04:28 AM
John MacKenzie 13 Apr 05 - 04:43 AM
Gervase 13 Apr 05 - 05:36 AM
Piers 13 Apr 05 - 08:24 AM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Apr 05 - 08:52 AM
Gervase 13 Apr 05 - 09:06 AM
Piers 13 Apr 05 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,Sidewinder. 13 Apr 05 - 11:29 AM
s&r 14 Apr 05 - 04:33 AM
GUEST,Sidewinder. 15 Apr 05 - 11:43 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 02:19 AM

Sidewinder, I obviously hoped in vain, what is the ideological subtext of your statement?

Piers


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Gervase
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 06:50 AM

Liz, Debrett's can't be that good a yardstick for class - they stooped low enough to have me it for a while (by virtue of marriage, I'll admit)!
Unfortunately there will always be a class system in England - it seems to be hard-wired into the Anglo-Saxon psyche, and the more money that the great mass of the pople have (thus eroding the economic distinctions) the more that the behavoural and cultural distinctions will come into play as people adopt or even invent shibboleths to show that they are in some way superior to someone else. Just pick up a copy of the Daily Mail or the Express and you'll see a host of articles designed to reinforce the worst kind of societal distinction.
Even if we were to become an idealised socialist state, you'd still find a nomenklatura and a pool of people desperate to ascend to that status. It's one of those depressingly English things - as if the trainspotter's urge to pigeonhole and collate everything has been applied to people, underpinned with a large slice of insecurity and prejudice.
The worst offenders always seem to be the middle classes, who constantly seem to be in need both of scapegoats and aspirational models; thus spending their lives in a constant twitch of anxiety looking over one should and another to see wherre they stand in the pecking order.
The true working class and the upper class have far more in common, including a disdain for class distinctions, liberal use of the workd 'fuck' and an ability to enjoy themselves whatever the neighbours might think. Just visit any racecourse or beaters' day on a shoot and you'll see happy co-existence and proof that the 'old order' chugs on.
Bizarrely, though, there's a trend now among the upper classes to speak Estuarine English, together with lashings of glottal stops and rising terminals. All of when means that anyone you hear speaking RP is either over 40, a counter-jumper or - horrors - an immigrant!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Terry K
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 12:39 PM

Guest Sidewinder, I will not be drawn. Especially as I think my criticism of the book is more meaningful and a lot more adult than your pathetic attempt to categorise me, and a lot less pretentious than your pseudo-intellectual attempt at a sentence.

Aw shit, I just was drawn....


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Terry K
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 12:40 PM

Just in case you are not English - only joking!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 12:55 PM

The idea of a Trollope version of the "Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" is intriguing.   A bit like the Dickens version of "Pride and Prejudice", or Thomas Hardy's "Treasure Island"... I wish we could have them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 04:51 PM

I feel I should just point out the flaws in Gervase's disturbing and anti-social 'observations' and opinions.

Unfortunately there will always be a class system in England - it seems to be hard-wired into the Anglo-Saxon psyche,

Not that 'anglo-saxon' could really be a distinct type of person in modern England or could a social behaviour as complex as is being discussed be hard-wired into the brain. If class really was hard wired, we could not have had a change from slave to feudal to capital based class society. So I have reasonable faith that we can change again.

and the more money that the great mass of the pople have (thus eroding the economic distinctions) the more that the behavoural and cultural distinctions will come into play

Actually economic class are now even more distinct the more money the 'mass' of people have because the rich have even more, as the figures I quoted earlier show.

as people adopt or even invent shibboleths to show that they are in some way superior to someone else.

Not me.

Just pick up a copy of the Daily Mail or the Express and you'll see a host of articles designed to reinforce the worst kind of societal distinction.

I agree.

Even if we were to become an idealised socialist state, you'd still find a nomenklatura and a pool of people desperate to ascend to that status.

Socialist state is an oxymoron, if something is socialised then it cannot at the same time be a centralised power structure. You might find the need to feel greater status than others.

It's one of those depressingly English things - as if the trainspotter's urge to pigeonhole and collate everything has been applied to people, underpinned with a large slice of insecurity and prejudice.

I'm interested in class because it explains a lot about the workings of society. You could equally say that those who live off the backs of others, naturally, are insecure and prejudiced against the people, who they live off, understanding social relations in class terms.

The true working class and the upper class have far more in common, including a disdain for class distinctions

Well obviously I'm not true working class, I won't do any tomorrow and think the bills paid and the food into the cupboard.

TerryK, I had a feeling you could not back up your statement about TRTP.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Terry K
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 05:33 PM

Read the book Piers, that's how I found it. But the greatest ill of all is it being totally devoid of literary merit. My opinion - what exactly is your point?


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 07:52 PM

"Bizarrely, though, there's a trend now among the upper classes to speak Estuarine English, together with lashings of glottal stops and rising terminals."

Hell, I must be getting old! And I still belive in RP!

Piers, your criticised sentence is a non-sequitur.

And you confuse class with wealth.

If a revolution is necessary (it might be) it is necessary to identify the enemy.

A state necessarily involves a structure. Therefore there will be those who have power in that structure, whether you call it/them a nomenklatura or not. In the absence of that structure you will have unfettered competition or even total anarchy resulting in an armed struggle for advantage - until co-operation widely replaces selfishness in the human behaviour pattern.

I do not seek to attack (as such) Marx - I am broadly sympathetic, but while I do not necessarily support class power, I do believe that class differences exist (and that Americans find them largely incomprehensible although Gervase (not, I think, American) seems to be close to the button in quite a lot of what he says about them). I think you will find he does not ascribe merit to the class structure, simply its existence. Once must observe before understanding, and understand before judging.

I tried reading the RTP once. About 3 pages was enough for me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST,Sidewinder.
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 10:44 PM

The class issue really draws people out of their apathy and inspires them to wax lyrical (which is a good thing) but you can't help but wonder why such denial exists within the over educated as opposed to the average "man on the street"? Maybe our Tressell book has the answer and that is why certain individuals ridicule it with evangelical fervour.We are by nature afraid of the things we don't understand and some are more afraid than others of changing or affecting the status quo.My pseudo intellectual attempts to categorise are merely skimming stones across the water and bear no malice or intent to devalue or ridicule anyones point of view - which is, after all, what we are sharing here.

Regards.

Sidewinder.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 04:28 AM

Richard, I don't confuse class with wealth, I am saying that economic class is the base on which social and cultural behaviour is built. Hungry people don't worry about whether they hold their knife and fork properly or like an american. Class (you mean cultural behaviour) differences exist because there are differences in the relationships to the means of production (class as I understand it). If cultural distinctions are dissolving (because cultural commodities, e.g. clothes, restaurants, etc., are relatively cheaper) despite increased inequality, then all well and good but it doesn't take away the antagonism between labour and capital and the power of the rich over the rest.

The state has arisen out of, and functions to preserve, the minority control of economic power, it is, and can only be, a centralised power structure accordingly. Where production is controlled democratically, producers freely associate and production organised according to need (socialism) the need for compulsion and a sorting out the mess caused by capitalist production (the state) is negated.

When there are a majority of people who understand what socialism is and how socialist production is organised then we can use the machinery of government to abolish minority economic power and thus the state without the anarchy of unorganised production or unfettered capitalist production.

TerryK, thanks I have read it, in fact I went to a meeting where we tore it apart for an afternoon. You can't just throw 'simplistic to the point of naivety, dreadfully bigoted, full of cartoonesque stereotypes and totally devoid of any literary merit' without saying why you think so and expect to be taken seriously. Yes, there is a little bit of sexism in it (but nothing compared to most novels written at that time) and OK it isn't the best written novel, but considering the manuscript was found in a box and the author was not a professional writer who didn't see the final draft it is fair enough to make allowances. In my opinion, from talking to people about socialism and from watching the Nimrods and Graball D'Enclosedlands of this world in action he gets it off to a tee, which I presume is why they are still publishing it and while lots of people think it's a brilliant book.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 04:43 AM

I blame the Australian soaps for the rising inflection at the end of sentences which have become so much a part of todays 'yoofspeak'. In extreme cases it makes every sentence sound like a question, they certainly wouldn't get a job reading the football scores on radio.
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Gervase
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 05:36 AM

Piers:
I am saying that economic class is the base on which social and cultural behaviour is built Absolutely right! But that base was set in place many years ago and has crumbled and shifted hugely since: and that demonstrates one of the absurdities of the English class system and also one of the recurrent traits of the English character - an inate and abiding conservatism.
Look at the monarchy, the judicial system, the fact that we always vote on a Thursday and many other aspects of life in England. All of these are archaic and inefficient, yet we cling to them 'because it's what we always done.'
The same with class. The bourgeois attempts to ape the upper classes are just as anachronistic and absurd, what with fake marble columns outside their executive homes, coaching lamps by the door and a Gadarene rush to send their children to third-rate private schools. It's nothing to do with the relationship between labour and capital; it's the result of an insecurity that falls back on a bogus prelapsarian idyll, when all was right with the world, everyone knew their place and everything was tickety-boo - summed up by John Major's Pooterish paeon to 'Englishness' which evoked old ladies cycling across the village green to Evensong.
I believe that class is now largely distinct from capital. There are people who have money and spend it just the way they want to, regardless of whether or not their choices are 'genteel'. The snobs and those obsessed with class will write snide letters to the Daily Mail about such lapses of taste, but they probably have less disposable income than those they're railing against.
Again, those who have the most power in the country could hardly be described as 'upper class' in the traditional sense. Many of them are from the same sort of backgrounds as the rest of us. Many of them aren't individuals at all but institutions, run by people of all nationalities and backgrounds.
Hungry people don't worry about whether they hold their knife and fork properly or like an american Again true! Which shows that class has now become a sideshow, irrelevant to most except the poor, paranoid middle classes and a few old tankies still waiting for the revolution to start.
Largely unnoticed by them, except when the Daily Mail or Michael Howard jerks the knee of asylum-seeker prejudice, is the hungry underclass of people who don't show up on the traditional spectrum of class distinction.
They are the people who have little voice and who barely register on the radar of most of us. They're the people who clean our trains and hospitals and who sweat in our fast-food kitchens if they have work, or who cling on in silent desperation if they don't. They are so marginalised as to be almost outside the traditional capital/labour equation. They have few rights, little industrial solidarity and no voice, so don't expect them to arise like starvelings from their slumbers!
So, while class in a social sense will always be with us, I believe it is an increasingly unimportant and irrelevant part of our make-up. OK, the public-school money-broker may still be alive and well and getting up your nose, but he's a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The sooner we update Marx and Engels and realise that society does change, the better we can manage that change for the benefit of all. I, too, would like a more socialistic society, but it can't be built on outdated 19th Century ideas - of which class is one.
And, despite the tenor of the above, I an not 'New' Labour and will certainly not be voting for Blair!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 08:24 AM

Gervase, Marx's and Engels' principles of defining class in terms of social relations to the means of production are just as valid today, but I agree equating class in this Marxian sense and cultural behaviour, as many are talking about here, is no longer tenable. However, it is not irrelevant because Marxian class does still explain why some people have lots of income and some don't have any, and what's more cultural behaviour is still built upon the economic basis of society, and, yes, that is different in some ways from when Marx and Engels described it. But most Marxists are interested in the principles of historical materialism and class struggle rather than
expecting capitalists to still wear tophats. I believe that your observations cultural behaviour of capitalists is reflected from the gradual domination of capital over the last vestiges of hereditary wealth and privilege that have been dissappearing since before Marx's time, rather than any pseudo-biological 'English' trait. However, capitalism breeds inseurity, even for the capitalist, so you might be correct in some sense, hence why we still have people who believe in the supernatural goings on and other such mumbo-jumbo - illusions that people create to make life a bit more bearable.

I really can't see where you are coming from with the They are so marginalised as to be almost outside the traditional capital/labour equation. comment. Capital is used to buy labour and materials and the goods or services resulting from that labour are sold, peasants or artisans might get out of the capitalist scheme but I don't see how workers can.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 08:52 AM

Here's the TUC online version of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - you can read in parallel the printed text and Tressell's handwritten manuscript.

"John Major's Pooterish paeon to 'Englishness' which evoked old ladies cycling across the village green to Evensong." Which was actually lifted straight from George Orwell. John Major had his Pooterish aspect, but that's not the best way to characterise George Orwell.

I think it's helpful to keep in mind the distinction between Economic Class and Social Class - they overlap but they don't coincide. The latter is the one that fascinates people in England, and very often people trying to suggest that Economic class doesn't matter or even that it doesn't exist, make use of this. They point out ways in which some Social Class markers have changed and in some cases been eroded.

The implication is that because people might perhaps wear similar jeans or listen to the same music, or echo each others vowel sounds, that means that we've achieved an egalitarian society. Which isn't really that different from suggesting that because the squire and the poacher both liked eating the same game they were on equal terms.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Gervase
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 09:06 AM

By marginalised I meant that they are unable to participate in any struggle to balance the equation. They lack the cohesion and solidarity effectively to withdraw their labour, and many of them are anyway on the fringes of the black economy, living in fear for being deported or having their meagre benefits stopped.
The Trades Union movement was a product of the traditional capital/labour equation, but I see precious few union leaders today making a genuine effort to help the underclass, so keen are they to trumpet their bourgeois credentials. In that sense, the underclass is marginalised and forgotten, even by the Left. But it is among them that the class struggle should be being fought - and sod the fishknives!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 09:59 AM

Aye, for real!

Piers


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST,Sidewinder.
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 11:29 AM

It is interesting to see that "TRTP" is still a touchstone within many of the points raised and continues to be praised and villified in equal terms.I would have thought Orwells most thought provoking and inspired works would have achieved the same reactions, at the time of publication, but seem now to be merely established works of "safe" fiction that are part of most school curriculums after effectively being depoliticised.Whereas, "TRTP" is a staple of Universities studies in various social, political, business study streams and in this context has influence far beyond the run of the mill modern day dogma in shaping perceptions of class distinctions even with cartoonesque stereotypes it still registers on the scale of greater literary works and this is the important factor in all of this regurgitation -Marx said potato, Mao said potatos.It is the masses that evoke change and it is the masses that accept the existing order.Within the masses are individuals that are dealing with important self interests and hang ups that shape their existence. It is only by understanding what it takes for them to drop their inherent struggle and take on board a new set of all encompassing values that could bring about a truly classless society and this would have to begin from birth.

Regards.

Sidewinder.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: s&r
Date: 14 Apr 05 - 04:33 AM

We've just been asked to sponsor the local Gala Week; one of the returns promised for the donation is a ticket which allows one to mix with the rich and famous in a reserved enclosure at the grand opening. We shall of course attend in morning dress.

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST,Sidewinder.
Date: 15 Apr 05 - 11:43 AM

The Silence is Deafening!

Regards.

Sidewinder.


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