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BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?

jimmyt 08 Apr 05 - 04:10 PM
TheBigPinkLad 08 Apr 05 - 04:20 PM
jimmyt 08 Apr 05 - 04:25 PM
John MacKenzie 08 Apr 05 - 04:32 PM
Once Famous 08 Apr 05 - 05:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Apr 05 - 05:19 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 Apr 05 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Penelope Rutledge 08 Apr 05 - 05:25 PM
PoppaGator 08 Apr 05 - 05:29 PM
Georgiansilver 08 Apr 05 - 05:34 PM
s&r 08 Apr 05 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,Frug 08 Apr 05 - 05:38 PM
Piers 08 Apr 05 - 05:42 PM
s&r 08 Apr 05 - 05:46 PM
PoppaGator 08 Apr 05 - 05:49 PM
Once Famous 08 Apr 05 - 05:54 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 Apr 05 - 06:10 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Apr 05 - 06:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Apr 05 - 06:46 PM
PoppaGator 08 Apr 05 - 07:19 PM
s&r 08 Apr 05 - 07:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Apr 05 - 07:27 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Apr 05 - 07:30 PM
Dave4Guild 08 Apr 05 - 07:33 PM
dianavan 08 Apr 05 - 08:28 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 08 Apr 05 - 08:50 PM
GUEST 08 Apr 05 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 08 Apr 05 - 09:02 PM
Ebbie 08 Apr 05 - 09:46 PM
Ebbie 08 Apr 05 - 10:10 PM
jacqui.c 08 Apr 05 - 10:35 PM
jimmyt 08 Apr 05 - 11:03 PM
GUEST 09 Apr 05 - 03:26 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Apr 05 - 03:41 AM
John MacKenzie 09 Apr 05 - 05:05 AM
Roger the Skiffler 09 Apr 05 - 06:31 AM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Apr 05 - 07:30 AM
jimmyt 09 Apr 05 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 09 Apr 05 - 10:56 AM
jimmyt 09 Apr 05 - 11:47 AM
John MacKenzie 09 Apr 05 - 11:47 AM
heric 09 Apr 05 - 12:00 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Apr 05 - 12:16 PM
JohnInKansas 09 Apr 05 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,smiler 09 Apr 05 - 12:53 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Apr 05 - 12:55 PM
s&r 09 Apr 05 - 01:20 PM
GUEST 09 Apr 05 - 01:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Apr 05 - 01:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Apr 05 - 01:36 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 09 Apr 05 - 01:49 PM
Ebbie 09 Apr 05 - 01:57 PM
John MacKenzie 09 Apr 05 - 02:39 PM
GUEST 09 Apr 05 - 02:41 PM
John MacKenzie 09 Apr 05 - 02:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Apr 05 - 03:13 PM
HuwG 09 Apr 05 - 03:37 PM
heric 09 Apr 05 - 03:47 PM
jimmyt 09 Apr 05 - 04:01 PM
GUEST 09 Apr 05 - 05:32 PM
heric 09 Apr 05 - 05:48 PM
PoppaGator 09 Apr 05 - 06:00 PM
jimmyt 09 Apr 05 - 06:06 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Apr 05 - 06:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Apr 05 - 06:16 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Apr 05 - 06:24 PM
dianavan 09 Apr 05 - 06:51 PM
Ebbie 09 Apr 05 - 09:53 PM
jimmyt 09 Apr 05 - 10:42 PM
Ebbie 10 Apr 05 - 03:35 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Apr 05 - 05:33 AM
John MacKenzie 10 Apr 05 - 06:09 AM
GUEST 10 Apr 05 - 06:11 AM
John MacKenzie 10 Apr 05 - 06:54 AM
jacqui.c 10 Apr 05 - 07:27 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Apr 05 - 08:11 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Apr 05 - 08:12 AM
Murray MacLeod 10 Apr 05 - 10:04 AM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Apr 05 - 10:34 AM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Apr 05 - 10:40 AM
heric 10 Apr 05 - 11:20 AM
Long Firm Freddie 10 Apr 05 - 12:04 PM
John MacKenzie 10 Apr 05 - 12:59 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Apr 05 - 02:20 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Apr 05 - 02:23 PM
jacqui.c 10 Apr 05 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Sidewinder 10 Apr 05 - 10:31 PM
Terry K 11 Apr 05 - 02:48 AM
Piers 11 Apr 05 - 03:44 AM
s&r 11 Apr 05 - 04:11 AM
Piers 11 Apr 05 - 05:37 AM
s&r 11 Apr 05 - 05:39 AM
HuwG 11 Apr 05 - 09:08 AM
Leadfingers 11 Apr 05 - 12:36 PM
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Ebbie 11 Apr 05 - 02:36 PM
GUEST,Sidewinder. 11 Apr 05 - 10:40 PM
Bonecruncher 12 Apr 05 - 12:28 AM
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GUEST,Bill the Collie 12 Apr 05 - 01:44 AM
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
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Subject: UK and Class system
From: jimmyt
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 04:10 PM

Wow, Let me say I approach this question with some trepidation, but I would like honest opinions. I am presently reading Nicholas Nickleby, a Dickens comedy novel. Near the end of the novel, much is made of "marrying within one's class" and staying within one's class, etc. The statement is made that unequal marriages always make the upper class member of the couple as making the extreme sacrifice and the lower class member as getting a great deal. (I paraphrase but you get the gist.)

My question is basically is this sentiment more a matter of the Victorian age or is it in fact a way of thinking in the United Kingdom? I have to say that there are no clearcut distinctions in America as I see it. Granted more priviledged people continue to be priviledged, and more than likely marry people of thier socio-economic class, but with people of all walks of life having university degrees here, it tends to cloud thise issues quite a bit and I know many many people who grew up in a poverty or near poverty background who have now become members of the country club, etc.

I really do not want to start arguments with this thread, but I am just curious if people of the UK seem to feel more in tune with this "class thing" than their American counterparts. Jimmyt


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 04:20 PM

It's a thing of the past Jimmy. None of us have any class these days. ;o)


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: jimmyt
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 04:25 PM

I agree BPL! My wife assures me of this fact daily! grin


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 04:32 PM

Curiously enough Jimmy the only definition of class these days seems to be people with a decent income and a mortgage, who proudly claim to be working class. Class here used to be definitive, and was the measure of one set of people by another. Nowadays so many people from what used to be regarded as working class backgrounds have all the attributes of what used to be upper class, like a university degree, and a mortgage. There is still a lingering resentment of the 'upper classes' by self styled 'working class people', but so many of the people perceived by them as 'upper class' are in fact from a similar background to themselves, just that they've made good. As the days of the Cabots and the Lodges are disappearing in the US, so are class definitions becoming the stuff of history in the UK.
We are in the age of the meritocracy, and a damn good thing too!
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Once Famous
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:10 PM

Nah.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:19 PM

Class doesn't die off as easily as that. It's as much an obsession, in England anyway, as race appears to be in the States. Cultural class rather than economic class, I mean, which doesn't at all coincide.

I don't mean so much in terms of big class categories, like "working class" or "middle class" - it seems much more about a fascination with people wanting to place other and themselves in a very complicated gradation, with infinite number of divisions.

It's an obsession that is implicit in much English humour, in stories in TV soaps, in advertising. In fact it's the guest at every table where strangers are meeting.

But I notice that American politicians seem to spend a lot of their time talking about class, more especially about "the middle class". English politicians tend to avoid that particular expression, largely because 'middle class" tends to be seen as a kind of an insult - they tend to say sayd "middle England" instead. (I don't think they say "middle Scotland" though - perhaps Giok can confirm that.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:22 PM

Apart from a few leftover "Upper class twits", we are pretty classless these days. I would go as far as to say more so than the US. There are few golf clubs, or country clubs in the UK which would freeze out a plumber or a taxi driver these days.

However there is one hangover from the past as Giok says, and that is the reverse snobbery of certain people who have not yet lost the old "Us and Them" habit.

Most of us realise that you can't have jobs without employers, and that essentially workers and bosses have the same objectives. The only bone of contention is finding the balance between the employers' wish to cut down wage costs, and the workers' desire to achieve the best possible standard of living.

The argument as to where that balance lies is now probably the last vestige of the old class system remaining.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST,Penelope Rutledge
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:25 PM

Class is an innate quality. You can tell anyone's natural class within a minute or so of meeting them, I think. It's really quite obvious, and it doesn't have a whole lot to do with money, although the leisure time provided by having a great deal of money can certainly help a person to spend time developing social skills and bringing forth an enhanced awareness of cultural richness and subtlety.

*PR


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:29 PM

Things have come to a pretty pass when the title of a thread asks permission to address a given topic!

Just kidding ~ sort of...

Back to the topic:

I'm an American whose brother has lived in England for two recent stertches of several years each, so I learn his take on various "Britishisms" that strike him as suprising, unusual, etc.

One insight that he found surprising, as did I: to have been a "scholarship boy" at a British university does not have exclusively positive connotations. The implication is that the student in question never "really" belonged among his upper- and upper-middle class peers, simply because his family couldn't afford to pay his way.

I'm sure that this kind of thinking is on the way out ~ slowly ~ and I also know quite well that the same kind of snobbery exists in the US. However, in the US, the words "scholarship student" carry an exclusively positive connotation, and Paul and I were both astonished to learn that any perjorative meaning could ever have been attached to this phrase, anywhere at any time. I think this is just one piece of evidence that class-consciousness in the UK, while perhaps finally fading into history, has a stronger residual presence and a more recent history than in the US.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:34 PM

IMHO.....The class system does still exist here...you only have to look at the royal wedding to ascertain that, apart from a few well known comedians and entertainers, who happen to be favourites of the royals...the only people with invitations to Charlie and Camillas wedding are the aristocracy.
The middle and lower classes have become blurred by the nouveau-riche who have won on the premium bonds, pools or the lottery...But the grafters are still the working class.... and doctors, dentists and other equal professionals are middle class and the "businessmen" or owners are the upper middle and function at a distance from the lower class.
Although communication has become easier between the classes, the behaviour and expectations from degrees of the "classes" has not really changed so much.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: s&r
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:36 PM

Surely, Poppagator, to ask permission one would use 'may'. 'Can' is simply a question of the possibility. That's what I learned at my cramer anyway.

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST,Frug
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:38 PM

Yes I was a victim of the class system...........1Z then 2z......3z followed by a brief promotion to 4c and 5c but when I flunked out a return to 5r.........

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:42 PM

As a red hot, commie, Marxist type I don't hold much for tophat or bowler or flatcap definition of class or whether you've got a mortgage or a degree. What defines class is your relationship to the means of producting and distributing food, clothing, shelter, Nintendo x-boxes, etc. For those that control the means of production, control the means of life itself. In present society, over most of the world, society is divided (not necessarily cleanly) into those who produce (apply labour) but do not possess means of production and those who posses but do not produce (apply labour). Examples of the former type would be someone who lives off the dole, wages, salaries, self-employed, often small to medium company owners still have to labour. Examples of the latter would be someone who lives off profits (dividends from shares, remuneration of directorships - often so enormous they obviously out of all proportion to any work that has been done, fatcat 'salaries').

The state doesn't go around asking what Marxian class you are, but from the figures for marketable wealth, less dwellings, we can infer that the class system is still very much with us. In fact, the class divide is getting greater:
(From www.statistics.gov.uk)
Marketable wealth less value of dwellings (since people's homes are means of production).

1992
The top 1% owned 29%
The top 2-5% owned 24%
The top 6-10% owned 12%
The top 11-25% owned 17%
The top 26-50% owned 12%
The bottom 50% owned 6%

2002
The top 1% owned 35%
The top 2-5% owned 27%
The top 6-10% owned 13%
The top 11-25% owned 13%
The top 26-50% owned 10%
The bottom 50% owned 2%

In 1992, the top 5% owned more than 50% the bottom 95%, but in 2002 the top 5% own almost twice as much. (Thank you Tony)

So I feel working class, in tune with other redhot commie types in the states, and of course working class culture is a result of the above mentioned divisions. But more important than what class you are is the recognition that division of society into classes, the inherent antagonism between classes is a rubbish way of doing things and we could have a society where 100% of people own 100% of the wealth, and then you wouldn't have to worry about class.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: s&r
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:46 PM

To respond to the original questioner though, there is I believe still a feeling in many people that the worst thing in the world is to be 'common'. Dialect and regional accent are frowned upon by many. Table manners are thought to be an asset to normal society, and many would find for example the manner of the American use of a knife and fork a little upsetting.

A gentleman is expected to possess certain attributes: the ability to tie a bow tie, and the knowledge of when to wear one. The difference between morning dress, evening dress and a dinner suit is instinctive.

The Honours system is condemned by many as an anachronism: few refuse when offered a 'gong' however.

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:49 PM

Statistics for the US would also show the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the middle disappearing.

What's most disheartening in the States these days is that way too many working middle-class folks want to pretend that they're rich, and therefore vote with and for the very people who are taking money out of their pockets.

Granted, even poor folks in the US are downright wealthy in comparison to most humans around the world and throughout history. But life here requires an absurd degree of wealth; for example, you need a car if you want to find a job.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Once Famous
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 05:54 PM

As a red, hot commie type, I really don't care what you think.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 06:10 PM

Mike,
For the Charles/Camilla thing, and their guests, refer to my comment re. "a few upper class twits". I think that covers the whole affair.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 06:16 PM

As PR correctly points out class and wealth are by no means synonymous, and most at least upper middle class members in the UK (who did that song, "The Upper Side of Lower Middle Class"?) find it rather amazing that Americans do not understand this.

Class is also little to do with political beliefs - Tony Benn for example is upper class but is fairly left wing.

Speech habits have a huge amount to do with it, probably more than dress - witness the difficulty the press have understanding that Camilla is not a clothes horse, and that while TPT may be of good stock, her taste in clothes is more credit card chic than classy. "New Money" is a term of condescension. The so-called "Posh" (who is jumped up lower middle class of the worst type" nad "Becks" exemplify all that horrifies about "New Money" (and credit card chic).

Those with class of course should be gracious (so the behaviour of Charles has class, but William less so and Harry not at all, probably the wrong sort of Diana's blood showing) so they would never dream of letting those with whom they mix, if of lesser standing, know that they were thought of lesser standing.

I of course am not upper class, but at school I was close enough (in a closed society) to a few of them to understand.

The "scholarship boy" ex hypothesi is working class, usually trying to become middle class (which now is an insult from both ends of thescale whereas it used to be so only from above) so he is a class traitor from below and at best a parvenu from above.

S+R should understand that for "PLU" it is worse to be "vulgar" as Sarah Ferguson was said to be, than "common". It is the lower middle class who fear to be "common" for it is a fault into which they might slip.

Does that help to make it any clearer?


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 06:46 PM

For some people the British Royal Family have always been seen as a bit common, or rather, "middle class" (well, since the Hanoverians came in anyway). I think one problem with Diana was a sense she had "married beneath her".


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:19 PM

Clear as mud, Richard. As one born into the American shanty-Irish-trying-to-pass-for-lace-curtain class, the subtleties of the British class system are simply beyond me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: s&r
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:23 PM

Perhaps this is one of those cases where to ask the question means that the answer will be incomprehensible. The term 'system' is inaccurate - structure would be closer, or perhaps state. Generally in England (Scotland and Wales may be different) one knows one's place in society.

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:27 PM

"Genteel" means "a bit common". The taxonomy of the English social class structure is fascinating. In some ways I think it's got more in commnon with the Indian caste system than with economic class.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:30 PM

With that, S&R, I concur.

Magrath I agree that there are Scottish families much older than Hanover/Windsor (this is getting close to the issue of whether fish knives and forks are lower middle class), but do not forget most of Charles bloodlines go back via Victoria. I do not agree with your conclusion. There was something not quite right about Diana.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Dave4Guild
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:33 PM

If you are "working class", you have your name on your uniform.

If you are "middle class" ,you have your name on your office desk, or door.

If you are "upper class", you have your name on a building.

If you are "a musician", you have your name on a fly poster!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: dianavan
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 08:28 PM

I agree with Richard Bridge concerning speech habits and class.

I read some statistics at one time that showed that the closer your speech was to 'standard English' the higher your income would be. I also know of an English couple who eventually amassed a small fortune and their accents changed at the same time!

Another aspect of class that has been well documented is that it is quite acceptable for a woman to marry 'up' but very unusual for a man to marry 'up'.

I remember walking the streets around Victoria Station at about 5:00 A.M. and being astounded by the class differences I witnessed. There were the 'street rats' and the wealthy in their limosines. There was absolutely nothing in between. What a contrast!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 08:50 PM

.. sory i'm too drunk to read whats gone befor on thi threaed..

i'm council estate working clas grammer schoiol boy..

and i think any comfy privelaged liberal trust fund inheritance life style
hippy twat who denies the reality of class war existance

is next on my punching some sense into their stupid sorry mushty head ......




sorry .. i could continue..

but i reckon the decent people on the same level as me

probably know how contemptuous i feel..


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 08:53 PM

Round here, we're basically all the same class, living in rented houses on the vast estate of our dear Prince!
There's them that own our land and them that rents a little bit. Apparantly only 6% of the British Isles is available for the non-landed gentry to buy, sell, and live on, and that includes our cities.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 09:02 PM

... pleeeease dont you dimwit floatin vote pro-hunting / anti war
single issue voting twathead cunts vote the torys back in
.. i can not afford my old mum & mum in laws health care..


or even me and the wifes..


please stop and think about the ramifications
of voting tony care blairs new labour out


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Ebbie
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 09:46 PM

When we talk about 'class' it seems obvious that the US and the UK aren't talking at all about the same thing.

When we in the US say something like "S/he has/showed a lot of class." we are actually admiring the person's poise in a difficult situation or perhaps a lack of vindictiveness in response to it. We really are not referring to their upbringing or how much money they have.

In the US, the upper class refers to someone who has enough money to live the way they want to or that other people would want to. The middle class also has enough money but may have to budget funds for certain things, like a desired college for their child. The lower middle class also lives well but doesn't have the expectations that people with more money have.

Lower class people- now, here it gets tricky because we are referring not to money but to a way of life or a lack of character. Nobody wants to belong to this class.

So, it seems to me that in the UK, you can be poor but upper class while in the US that is an oxymoron.

This, of course, is a gross generalization, and specific to my own perceptions only.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Ebbie
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 10:10 PM

Sorry about the html gone awry.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 10:35 PM

The UK class system is not as rigid as the Indian caste system. It is possible to move between the classes, both up and down.

I think that, overall, education in particular has led to a bit of blurring of the lines here. A bright kid from what was called a working class background can get to university and move up in the 'ratings' more easily than might have been the case 50 or 100 years ago.

Money helps as well. As happened in the 18th and 19th century when tradesmen and factory owners made their money, enabling their children and grandchildren to move more easily into the higher echelons so today's Nouveau Riche will give their children easier access to that area.

Whether any of this upward striving is really worthwhile must be up to the individual. In this day and age can we say that the 'upper classes' are any happier or more fulfilled than the rest of us?


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: jimmyt
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 11:03 PM

This is all quite interesting and I appreciate all the information.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:26 AM

The hard thing Jimmyt is to determine which of the British posters have tongue in cheek - you could be being teased just a little


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:41 AM

I think, JC, the generality is that it takes a minimum of three generations to assimilate the norms of the class to which you seek to migrate. So if Pater Nouveau Riche seeks to behave as if one of the upper class, and if his children do likewise, it will be their children who first effectively achieve emulation.

It can take more - Geldorf for example is I believe rich, and his landed estate near Faversham quite impressive, but does anyone think his children will be thought of as upper class?

I remember (long ago) being told why many were not fooled by the pretensions of one of the hangers on of Lord Hesketh in his foolish younger days was not of the class to which he pretended - he was monetarily mean with servants.

And, to repeat, for the benefit of those in the US who do not believe it, yes, in England (and, I suspect, Scotland) it is entirely possible to be upper class but poor. It is not, however, possible to remain upper class or even upper middle class if you do not speak properly (which means rather like Prince Charles or Brian Sewell).


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 05:05 AM

One of the main differences between upper class and the rest of us is this. When an upper class twit breaks the law, he is accepted back into the community as if nothing had happened. When ordinary people break the law the local police come knocking on their door every time something goes wrong. As evidence I cite Lord Charles Brockett convicted and jailed for a £5 million fraud, who is now a 'media personality', but then he was cutting up Ferraris, and not common cars like Nissans, so that's all right!
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 06:31 AM

For a modern take on the remaining vestiges read Snobs by Julian Fellows.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 07:30 AM

The UK class system is not as rigid as the Indian caste system. It is possible to move between the classes, both up and down.

True enough - but it tends to take a generation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: jimmyt
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 08:25 AM

s and r. The reference to use of knife and fork by Americans is interesting. It is obvious that the actual use of knife and fork is different completely in UK than in America. That does not preclude that either system is correct, just different. For those wondering, Americans tend to use their fork (tines up) in their dominant hand, and use their knife when they need to cut something. Our British counterparts une the fork (tines down) in their opposite hand and use their knives very effeciently to maneuver food onto the back of the fork with thier dominant hand. It is really fascinating to observe for me as an American, but I still don't get the concept that it is better. It is just different.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 10:56 AM

The rule with forks seems fairly arbitrary - when you are using a knife you hold it in your right hand with the tines pointing down, as jimmyt described. Quite trcky.

But it's OK to put down the knife, when you've cut up the food, and to transfer the fork to the right hand. When in the right hand the fork is always tines up, making it much more convenient for picking up food.

I don't actually think this is directly class related, except insofar as worrying about such things is more a middle class thing. Posh people are quite likely to use their fingers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: jimmyt
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 11:47 AM

I have seen folks in resturants who never seem to put the knife down and are extremely adept at transferring food to the back of the fork for eating, though and this skill seems to be very British and not continental. Watching an Englishman eat fish while skillfully dissecting the bones out and managing to carry on a conversation at the same time is akin to watching a fine surgeon replace a heart valve. Maybe I should just quit gawking in resturants! grin


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 11:47 AM

They're having a 'finger buffet' at Windsor Castle as we speak, and I believe there will be one or two posh people at the do.
Giok ¦¬]


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: heric
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 12:00 PM

There was an espionage novel way back in which the spy, adept as he was, gave himself away by switching his fork to his right hand. Got him killed, I think.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 12:16 PM

we're not as democratic as the Americans. i saw a man marry his pony on the Jerry Springer show....that kind of equality between species...well its visionary!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 12:45 PM

weelittledrummer

Obviously, the man and the pony were of opposite sexes. We have recently confirmed, by popular vote, that that is the only thing that matters - (except that they must have sex, since that is what defines "holy matrimony" here).

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST,smiler
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 12:53 PM

The class system in the UK not only still exists, but is stronger than ever.

You only have to read your broadsheet daily rag to find out the columnists went to Eton Harrow etc. It runs through every medium. Out of every ten talented people the one three rungs up the class ladder will succeed. Its money, landownership, and social networking that keeps it there.

Bring on the revolution!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 12:55 PM

"But it's OK to put down the knife, when you've cut up the food, and to transfer the fork to the right hand. "

Magrath, I am deeply shocked. It is not OK. People do it, but not the sort of people who are "OK".


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: s&r
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 01:20 PM

Perhaps it's something to do with lavatory, toilet, and bathroom (or even powder room).

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 01:24 PM

I find it upsetting to read a newspaper that hasn't been properly ironed


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 01:35 PM

Genteel people might not do it, but as I said, genteel is a bit common... "Not quite top" as they say. It's a very intricate business.

But turning your fork over so the tines point up, well, that just isn't done. Much worse than licking the plate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 01:36 PM

Genteel people might not do it, but as I said, genteel is a bit common... "Not quite top drawer" as they say. It's a very intricate business.

But turning your fork over so the tines point up, well, that just isn't done. Much worse than licking the plate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 01:49 PM

I find it upsetting to read a newspaper...

A lot of people here consider themselves, or are considered by others, to belong to a particular 'class'....whether this has any practical consequences is debatable. The upper classes, certainly, seem to be increasingly inneffective, having lost a lot of their hereditary powers. Any remaining influence they have seems to be confined to within their own social circles. The middle classes (a relatively recent invention) are busy tring to project an image of libertarianism whilst secretly shitting themselves when a black man walks towards them in the street, and worrying that sending their kids to private school might not give them an advantage over the working class, who are becoming more affluent. This, of course, leaves room at the bottom for a new working class for everyone to shit upon... the terminally unemployed, the homeless, the asylum seekers.....hell, anyone who the rest of society feels like using as a scapegoat, really...


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Ebbie
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 01:57 PM

Now that, McGrath, I hope is tongue in cheek! I once read how the differing fashions regarding fork tines came about- at one time it was fashionable for the Brits to use the fork tines down, and then the upper class changed it to tines up and then they changed it to tines down, where it has remained, and the hoi polloi faithfully (slavishly?) followed. Sounds to me a bit like copying the proverbial lisp of a former monarch.

I'm going to look it up again.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 02:39 PM

Sign of the tines Ebbie.
G


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 02:41 PM

In France do they have 'frog on the tines'? (s'all mine s'all mine.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 02:55 PM

Grenouille a la Fourchette, sounds tasty.
Nice pun Guest ;~)
G


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:13 PM

The tines they are a-changing.

What is strange is that it isn't a matter of "tines up bad, tines down good", or the other way round. It's "tines up in the left hand, bad, tines up in the right hand, good". (Or the other way round if you are left-handed.) Now that is peculiar.

And it's got nothing to do with class as such.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: HuwG
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:37 PM

In World War II Britain, a GI gets on a crowded train. There are no vacant seats, but a woman has her poodle on one next to her.

"Pardon me, ma'am, but may I use that seat ?" says the yank.

"Certainly not !", she says. "Can't you see that it's taken by my darling Fifi ? How rude and uncouth you Americans are !"

The unfortunate GI goes from end to end of the train, checking every compartment, but every other seat is occupied. He goes back to the woman. "I beg your pardon ma'am, but I have several hours' journey to make to join my unit, there are no other seats free, and I am sure the dog hasn't paid for its ticket. May I use that seat ?"

"I have told you once, my Fifi is occupying it. I am surprised at your sheer effrontery."

The GI opens the window, throws the pampered dog through it and sits down. The woman turns to the rest of the compartment and demands that somebody shows the GI exactly what they think of him. A retired officer stands up, clears his throat and says, "Sir, I have noticed that you Americans do much that we find foreign to our ways. You drive, for example, on the wrong side of the road. You eat with the fork held in the wrong hand. And now Sir, you have just thrown the wrong bitch through the window."


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: heric
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 03:47 PM

It's "tines up in the left hand, bad, tines up in the right hand, good"

It's been that way in NA all my life. Peculiar perhaps, but absolutely mandatory in all places and at all times, with the possible exception of truck stops, but I doubt even that. I'll be interested if Ebbie's research shows that any reversals occurred here as well, or when it started.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: jimmyt
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 04:01 PM

I hate to belabor this cutlery business but ths folks I am referring to in UK have tines down, and not only that, but hold the knife with an almost pencil grasp while the fork is helf tines down in a palm grasp. It is really quite interesting to observe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 05:32 PM

The movement of the soup spoon is away from one.
Cutlery is generally used from the outside in.
The napkin is used across the lap and folded after use.
Wine is not tasted before being poured for the guests (it, and the cork may be inspected).
Salt is used with a salt spoon.
Food is served from the left, and the dishes removed from the right.
Side orders, french fries, large beef steaks, salad with everything, are frowned upon at the British table.

Lower classes don't follow this, but they do aspire to it. Middle classes adhere to it. Upper classes adhere to it but don't realise that the rulse exist - it's just what is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: heric
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 05:48 PM

I've always wanted to watch Elizabeth II eat roasted chicken. A peculiar aspiration, I know.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 06:00 PM

I have never given a thought to fork tines up or down, but plenty to the left-hand/right-hand issue.

The American table manners I was taught as a child dictated that you hold fork in left and knife in right ~ just as they are placed in the table setting ~ to cut your food, and then to put down the knife and transfer the fork over to the right hand to pick up the pieces and shovel them into your cakehole. Oh, and you're only supposed to cut one piece (of meat, or pancake, or whatever) at a time, so you are supposed to be constantly passing your fork back and forth from one hand to another.

I was successfully conditioned to use the prescribed hands for cutting and eating, but was never cured of my propensity to cut off multiple little bites to minimize the hand-switching. I am sometimes even so defiantly ill-mannered as to slice up an entire stack of flapjacks at once!

It was many years before I learned that Europeans endorsed the much more sensible system of keeping the fork in the left hand full-time, both for cutting and for eating. Makes much better sense; I use this method sometimes when no one's looking, and during the two weeks out of my entire lifetime that I spent in England and Ireland, I forked with my left hand exclusively the entire time.

I think I keep tines-down, unconsciously, most or all of the time. That's how you hold the fork to pin down whatever morsel you're cutting with the knife, right? I don't believe I ever turn the fork over for any reason when I'm not switching hands.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: jimmyt
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 06:06 PM

I took you for a southpaw forker Poppagator! grin


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the CLass system in UK?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 06:07 PM

yeh I had this thing I wanted to shave Jane Glover (the conductor's) legs - preferably while she was conducting Mozart....

chicken, Mozart,...... I think its called expecting too much of life


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 06:16 PM

Spooning the soup away from you is different,because it's got a reason - to reduce the risk of slopping it on to your lap.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 06:24 PM

Penholder grip for knife is anathema - it is the working class trying to be genteel, and even the middle classes don't do it.

Oh, and "the hoi polloi" is also unacceptable. In the first place it isn't really "hoi" but a rough breathing before "oi". In the second place, and more importantly, "hoi" means "the", so saying "the hoi polloi" shows you did not learn classical greek at school.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: dianavan
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 06:51 PM

This thread is creating ANGST!

I know a family of thirteen who have what I would call terrible table manners (and I'm from a lower, working-class family).

They, however, had absolutely the best education in the arts and languages. Their terrible manners came from the fact that there were so many kids that dinner was survival of the fittest. The parents were middle class but they were from 'old money' and in every other way were genteel and smoothly polished. Seems to me that nowadays you can be a little of every class, depending on which social skill you're looking at.

Regarding class distinction: There are many theories - One theory holds that class is a a social ladder. It seems that the lower classes can see the lives of those on the higher rungs but that those higher on the ladder cannot see the people below them.

Seems a bit simplistic but there might be some general truth there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Ebbie
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 09:53 PM

"In the first place it isn't really "hoi" but a rough breathing before "oi". In the second place, and more importantly, "hoi" means "the", so saying "the hoi polloi" shows you did not learn classical greek at school. " Richard Bridge

In future I will spell it 'Oi polloi", so that that readers will understand that I am indicating "rough breathing. *G*

And you are right. I definitely did not learn classical greek (Shouldn't that be a capital?) in school. I barely learnt English. (or english, as the case may be.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: jimmyt
Date: 09 Apr 05 - 10:42 PM

Ebbie, I understand you very well!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Ebbie
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 03:35 AM

I hope that's not bad?


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 05:33 AM

Yes. You need to get the curl in the apostrophe the right way round to indicate the rough breathing. My Greek (sic, no mis-type this time) was always awful - my worst subject, but I remember that much.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 06:09 AM

If you drop the aspirate it will work.

Cockney goes into the doctor's surgery and says, "'Ere Doc I got an 'orrible 'eadache" The doctor said "Have you tried taking a couple of aspirates"

Giok ¦¬]


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 06:11 AM

Well, the class system keeps these people in a job...


All about posh people

LFF


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 06:54 AM

Well among those listed with birthdays this week there are 2 actors a circus proprietor, an MP a PR practitioner, and a person of Pakistani descent who was educated at a secondary modern, and a Polytechnic. Not what I'd define as 'posh people' really. Just done well for themselves, as any of us could do. We live in a meritocracy and not an aristocracy, and everybody can rise above their fellows by dint of a little application or talent. How they hold their fork doesn't hold them back at all.
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 07:27 AM

And real aristocracy will accept them for what they are. It's basically the parvenues who aren't accepted. And those who rely on the class system to the nth degree have usually just climbed the greasy pole and aren't all that secure in their own minds about staying there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 08:11 AM

That is the real point: the real upper class will accept them FOR WHAT THEY ARE!


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 08:12 AM

PS. although tolerably spoken, I am not "upper class".


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:04 AM

The whole British class system can be summed up in one simple aphorism:

A gentleman is defined as a man who never gives offence unintentionally.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:34 AM

I'd say that is how we should all try to behave. Balanced with the position that we should never take offence where the offence is unintentional.

And that's nothing to do with social class as such.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:40 AM

The suggestion that social class dictates whether people are likely to courteous or not is just not in accordance with reality. Social conventions can vary, but that just means that people have different ways of expressing such things.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: heric
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 11:20 AM

I'd hesitated to bring my personal experiences into this conversation, as they represent the limited exposure of one yankee in the UK over a little less than two years, a quarter century ago. However, in my college days, I had some schooling there. I also met many of my father's business associates, and I spent a great deal of time hitchhiking and hanging around with people of very little means. My overall impressions, however, seem to be largely verified above.

The people of little means might sometimes joke about issues of class standing, but, as a rule, had no worries whatsoever about such subjects. The "merchant class," middle class business types were often full of angst about appearances, and could be insulting in their retenses. The educated ones I interacted with, Eton and Oxford types, were invariably charming and inoffensive. Some had obviously strong parental connections; some were there purely on merit. Both types, however, had the obvious self-confdence and self-esteem that would prevent them from displaying pretentiousness or condescension (or at least condescension that would be detectable by me.)

Last, I met a few of faded family glory, with ancestral estates but no educational triumphs of their own. Some of this type were insufferable, cartoonish caricatures.

My impression from this thread is that this breakdown has faded and continues to fade.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 12:04 PM

Guest was me, sans cookie.

I was referring more to Debrett's Peerage, Etiquette, and Season books, but you're right, Giok, things are changing - Debrett's have published People of Today since 1982, and achievement is as important as genealogy to gain an entry in the book, they say.

I had a jolly time looking round the Debrett's site, and I was almost tempted to buy a copy of Etiquette and Modern Manners (it's still a dreadful faux pas to pass the port to the right, I'm glad to hear, and on a more mdern note, one should always remember to wipe down gym equipment for the next user if one's made it terribly sweaty). Then I got to the checkout - you have a choice. You can either ask them to send you a proforma invoice, or if you indicate that you want to pay by one of these new-fangled credit card thingies, they'll telephone you to arrange it! How quaint, bless 'em.

LFF


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 12:59 PM

This is what most knuckleheads think you mean when you say posh these days, it's a bit like calling a 6'6" 200 lbs guy Tiny.
The so called new royalty ???
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 02:20 PM

I've said it before, and so have others. She is, categorically, not posh (save in the Romany meaning). She is a noov.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 02:23 PM

port


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 02:53 PM

But so many people can't get enough of the latest exploits of the Beckhams, can they? Otherwise they would cease to be newsworthy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST,Sidewinder
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:31 PM

I was one to initially agree with the first postings in this thread   ( i.e.there is no class system ) until I read Trollopes' " The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist " and I realised the stereotypes of the class system, as depicted in the book, are still around today nearly a hundred years later. The ideological grounding is still inherent within todays scale of development despite the augmentations.

Regards.

Sidewinder.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Terry K
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 02:48 AM

I believe it was Robert Tressell (not his real name) who wrote that book. I read it ages ago and found it simplistic to the point of naivety, dreadfully bigoted, full of cartoonesque stereotypes and totally devoid of any literary merit. Complete bollocks in fact.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 03:44 AM

I agree that Tressel's (Noonan's) book isn't the best bit of literature ever written. However, he wasn't a writer, he was a painter and decorator, and that considered the book is an amazing acheivement.

As for 'I read it ages ago and found it simplistic to the point of naivety, dreadfully bigoted, full of cartoonesque stereotypes , you'll have to enlighten me.

Piers


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: s&r
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 04:11 AM

"The ideological grounding is still inherent within todays scale of development despite the augmentations."

Thanks Sidewinder for the best sentence I've seen for ages. Not too sure what it means, but watch me drop it into conversation

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Piers
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 05:37 AM

"The ideological grounding is still inherent within todays scale of development despite the augmentations."

What I hope this means is that the grounding (material cause - i.e. capitalistic organisation) of the differences in behaviour between classes (e.g. how you hold your knife and fork or whether you say 'wicked innit' or 'fabulous darling') is still the same today despite increased productivity (through technological advance) meaning the material standard of living is greater for everyone but for some more than others (i.e. relative poverty is increasing (as Marx said it would)).

Piers


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: s&r
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 05:39 AM

Wow.

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: HuwG
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 09:08 AM

An oddity with the "passing the port" routine. In British Army messes, the water glasses are removed from the table before the port is served.

This dates from the eighteenth century, when there were Stuart pretenders to the throne (James, son of the deposed James II, "the Old Pretender", and his son Prince Charles Edward, "the Young Pretender".)

The practice was adopted so that officers, when drinking the loyal toast, could not wave their port glasses over the water glasses, and thereby drink to "the King over the water" i.e. the pretender.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 12:36 PM

'God Bless the Squire and his relations
And keep us in our proper stations'


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 01:08 PM

Most of the definitions and explanations here appear to me to be "external" ones - i.e. how to talk about others.

It always seemed to me that the definition of a "class" had to be an "internal" one. You don't know, and aren't supposed to know, who is a member of "the class" unless you are a member. And those who really are may be polite enough to let you think you are - but they all know better.

Economic standing, education, and all the other obvious "criteria" are accurate enough for categorizing and (dis)cussing people as groups, but aren't really very helpful in understanding a "class system" as originally posited for discussion.

But of course I have no class so I may be mistaken ...

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Ebbie
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 02:36 PM

But do you have money, JohninKansas?


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST,Sidewinder.
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 10:40 PM

Thanks Stu for the kind words and you are quite welcome to use the sentence in all your conversations where a soundbite would suffice. Terry K you need to offload all of your negativity in a more productive manner - I suggest you take up the position of Critic for the Sunday Times or rejoin the Conservative Party they need people like you. As for Piers; please do not give definitions of my meanings as I found, as I am sure you will appreciate, you missed the fundamental ideological subtext of the statement completely.Marx would be ashamed of you- even Harpo would have picked up on this.I stand corrected on the author (it is Robert Tressell and not Anthony Trollope as I stated - but when you get to my age the memory ain't what it used to be) but I still maintain it is a valid book for anyone interested in societal structure and development over the last hundred or so years.I could not care less what Tressell's (or Noonan's) profession was I just applaud his efforts to highlight the human condition(ing).

Regards.

Sidewinder.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: Bonecruncher
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 12:28 AM

In my profession as an osteopath I see people from all walks of life.
It really does not matter to which "class" they belong.
Titled persons as well as the most down-on-their-luck can still have holes in their knickers!
Regarding the use of knife and fork:-
I eat my peas with honey
I've done so all my life.
It makes my peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife.
Colyn.


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST,Love You All
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 01:43 AM

corblimeyandnomistake
getyerplatesomeatupthemapplesandpears
atendotdaytobehonest


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Subject: RE: BS: Can we discuss the Class system in UK?
From: GUEST,Bill the Collie
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 01:44 AM

100


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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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