Sunday, 27 March 2011
A Sociological Account of the Middle-Class SWP/UAF
[Left: Lord Callinicos, of the SWP Central Committee. A descendant of Lord Acton and other toffs, he went to the private school, St George's College, in Zimbabwe (colonialist style) and then went to Balliol College, Oxford (of course!). Since then he's been sucking the Brown Exotic more or less non-stop. Top: typical revolutionary-for-3-years student, talking about liberating the Brown Exotic but thinking about garlic gourbalees. Right: Waugh - a middle class man who pretended to be upper class - it works both ways!]
EDL Extra comments on The Telegraph piece, 'Only members of the middle classes pretend that they're not', by Michael Deacon, 27th March, 2011. (Comments are in red.) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Seven out of 10 British people call themselves middle-class, says a poll. [None of them left wing or a member of UAF/SWP. Actually, the Central Committee of the SWP, if anything, has been more upper middle class or even aristocratic over the years than middle class. Many SWP leaders have been to public schools and Alex Callinicos has an aristocratic background.
So even if they are a bunch of ‘snobs’ like the gentry of the Conservative Party, or the hidden-toffs of the SWP, these people are clearly a class who think that they were born to rule the working class and others. So let’s now also include the super-posh New Labourites like Tony Blair, Harriet Harman and the Milibands for good measure.] The remaining three either call themselves working-class or don't know what they are. I'd be interested to meet those three. I bet at least one of them is as middle-class as a play about Waitrose on Radio 4. They just won't admit it, either to pollsters or themselves. [The situation is even worse at our universities. The levels middle-class students go to pretend they’re working class or sometimes even black!
I remember many SWP and Revolutionary Communist Group female students, from villages in Berkshire or various Islingtons in London, who only went out with black men, usually the drug sellers, and who would only ever listened to reggae music. Indeed, the posher they were the worse their patronisation would be.
But there is a long tradition of posh boys and girls condescending to the Brown and Black Exotic. Prince Charles does it about Islam and the Brown Exotic Arab, just as Richard Burton, another aristo in the 19th century, did about the Arabs – as well as Laurence of Arabia, etc.] There has always been a small sector of the British population – invariably well-educated and artsy – that scoffs at the middle class, and uses the term "middle-class" as an insult, to denote something banal, prim and philistine.[Yes, self-hate or just pure guilt about being so privileged.] In the early part of the 20th century, this sector attacked the middle class from above; since the 1960s, it's attacked the middle class from below. [From ‘below’? I’m not sure about that. As I said, over the years the leadership of the SWP, and many of those ultra-privileged reggae-loving SWP and RCG students, were higher up in the glorious class system than your basic middle class.] So, in the 1930s, a writer like Evelyn Waugh, ashamed of his middle-class origins, would affect to be upper class – and in the 1970s, a singer like Joe Strummer of The Clash, ashamed of his middle-class origins, would affect to be working class. Even Kate Winslet, at one time the head girl at an independent theatre school, claims to be working-class. [Yes. These artistic types, being actors, are masters at playing at being working class, or even upper class when they need to. However, the Leftist activists are the worst and the most cynical practitioners of this. As Alan Partridge claimed that Tony Blair said: ‘I like a pint, just like you.’ Partridge concluded: ‘And then he went on to hoodwink an entire nation.’] I've met people who write for glossy magazines, studied English at Oxford, drink in Soho members' clubs, wouldn't dare set foot on a council estate – and yet proudly insist they're working-class, on the grounds that their father didn't do a degree or their great-grandmother was an Irish immigrant. [A massive distinction needs to be made between those who were indeed brought up in working-class families, and what these people actually are now (or have been since adults or even since, say, grammar school). For example, take all those Conservative and Labour MPs who were brought up in poor backgrounds. But does that really matter when you think that most of their early lives were spent away from their council estates and at school? That is, they went to grammar school. Spent their free time in grammar school social clubs. Then they went into sixth forms and did similar things there. Then they went to Oxbridge. That means that although these people were officially brought up in working-class backgrounds, from the ages of eleven or whenever, they had been brought up almost exclusively in school and academic environments – from grammar schools to Oxbridge to becoming MPs.] Nothing would offend them more than to be called middle-class. It's as if they think calling themselves working-class confers on them the righteousness of the underdog, the bruised glamour of the downtrodden. I'd probably feel patronised by that, if I were working-class. But, unlike these weekend proletarians [like student members of the UAF/SWP – which is strange, because they both hate the working class now and don’t even try to support it], I'll admit that I'm not. Their preoccupation with their own class identity makes it obvious which rung of the social ladder they're really on. As the 19th-century French writer Jules Renard said: "To have a horror of the bourgeois is bourgeois." [Just as hating the West is a thoroughly Western phenomenon - it has usually been the only place that has allowed it (as also with England and the English).]