I’m also disgusted at myself for writing a blog, my first blog, on the same topic as my latest essay. But bear with me. This isn’t going to be about the historical analytical power of the concept, but more a discussion on an a view I’ve had for a while. Rather than reciting my essay, I’m going to discuss what class is, the problems with it, and why it is important. Enjoy.
Since Thatcher was in power the British population have had it drilled into them time and time again that there is no longer a class system, and specifically no longer a working class. The idea that we are all middle class now is an interesting one. But I believe it’s wrong. Thatcher, Major and Blair have all tried to install into the country that a class system doesn’t exist, only choosing to refer to ‘class’ when discussing something they want rid of, something negative. (Ironically, the only way Thatcher could defeat the classes was to be obsessed with it). Thatchers time in government ended with a massive decline in the manufacturing power of Britain, replaced by the service industries. Twenty years on, the people that now belong to those industries believe they are middle class. You are not.
Marx defined the working class or proletariats as people that sold their labour for money, but do not have the means for production. Today, this would mean builders, factory workers, nurses etc. These people are working class. Occasionly people try to hide from it behind their education or ‘middle-class jobs’, but you’re fooling only yourselves. Why do people try so hard to claim this ‘middle-class’ status? Because the government say it’s what you are, and what it’s normal to be.
“BUT PEOPLE NOW WORK IN OFFICES“.. I hear you shout. You’re right. And when Marx wrote his theory, those people would have been seen as middle-class; to be a clerk was very classy (best pun ever). But now consider the skills required to have the majority of office positions? They require a basic literacy to fill in a few forms and tick a few boxes. All degree’s have devalued somewhat, some becoming practically useless. These aren’t the middle class of Marx’s day, they are the working class of the 21st Century. Office work has become so de-skilled it’s almost on a par with manual labour, and with this comes the pay cuts. White-collar work is mechanised. Pay cuts and redundancies run rampant among this ‘middle-class’ while being told that the financial bonuses those at the top receive are worth every penny. These pay cuts will continue to increase on par with the increase of the ‘de-skilled middle class’.
I’m not knocking these people, far from it. I’m telling them to embrace that they are working class. A class that isn’t dying, regardless of what the politicians want you to believe. It’s growing. Their re-branding should not fool anyone. In terms of income, the UK is the fourth most unequal country in the world. Yet we are supposed to believe everyone is moving towards the middle? No. Sure, the revolution that Marx predicted has not happened – but the polarisation he predicted? The numbers speak for themselves.
Only through realisation and unity can anyone hope to make a difference. To challenge the gross underpayment of people that are ‘unskilled’. The sooner this realisation happens, the better. Cheers.
.. Time to go write 4,000 words on ritual in Imperial India.