In the US there seem to be few words to describe the white underclass; ‘redneck,’ ‘trailer trash’ or even the old fashioned ‘rubes’. In the UK we have a much richer vocabulary of abuse. This is especially so in English English which has as many words for the poor as we Scots have for drunkenness.
It is perfectly acceptable for the politically correct elites controlling the media to pour contempt upon the working class in a way which would be denounced if applied to any other social grouping. Next time you read sneering references to ‘chavs,’ ‘oiks,’ ‘yobs,’ ‘hoodies’ or any of the many terms of abuse we have for the working class poor just substitute ‘Paki,’ or ‘poof’ and ask how acceptable they would be.
In the UK we have TV programmes like Shameless and The Royale Family in which feckless, workshy layabouts living in chaotic families are portrayed as objects of ridicule. Perhaps more insidious we have ‘reality’ TV shows such as the unlamented Big Brother, which are engineered to exacerbate and highlight loutish behaviour by the underclass and their media heroes. Such television programmes encourage us to laugh at, denigrate, and feel superior to the working class poor.
These programmes are the modern day equivalent of Bedlam. This south London insane asylum charged eighteenth century visitors an entrance fee to wander around and be amused by the antic of the inmates and then go home feeling oh so superior. Big Brother’s producer Peter Bazalgette was knighted in the 2012 New Years Honours List for “services to television.”
There are two main rationales given for this abuse of the poor. The first is that in our PC world the white underclass are the only group it is permissible to laugh at and we need an outlet for laughter. But this is description rather than explanation.
For an explanation on anything to do with class it is always useful to turn to Marx. This is especially true when those who are indulging in class warfare are influenced by Marxist thought. In The Communist Manifesto Marx wrote: “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of old ones.”
The new ruling class, the bourgeois progressive elites who have a stranglehold on politics, the media, education and business, are so afraid of the underclass that they can be accused, in the term appropriated by Roger Scruton from Robert Southey, of ‘oikophobia.’ Scruton uses the term as indicating a fear of the known, the antithesis of xenophobia. It can be seen in the progressive attitude to Western culture and the now severely attenuated educational curriculum which once sought to transmit that culture.
But it is more than that. There is also an attitude of fear amongst the controlling progressive elite for the underclass. This manifests itself in scorn, ridicule and exclusion. Class warfare is alive and well at Notting Hill and Islington dinner parties.
The two great classes in conflict today are the dispensers of therapeutic authoritarianism and their clients.
The therapeutic authoritarians belong to the ever expanding state sector who run the nation and their acolytes in the media who tell their clients, the rest of us, how we should live and behave. The clients exist to be manipulated into keeping the controlling class in power, because, as they assure us, they really know best.
Progressives wrap their actions in a cloak of compassion and claim to be defending the underclass. Progressives wish, and need, the underclass to remain dependent. They invariably oppose any who would challenge the attitudes or behaviour of the underclass, who would try to change their lot. ‘Elitism’ is one of the favourite terms of condemnation from progressives, as though it were wrong to try to improve one’s abilities.
A prime example came a few days ago in, where else, the Guardian. The poet Michael Rosen wrote an article damning English grammar as being crassly elitist. Martin Gwynne has been giving highly popular lessons in English grammar in Selfridges store in London. Rosen writes “This is not a neutral activity. It is part of how a certain caste of people have staked a claim over literacy. In effect, they state over and over again that literacy belongs to them. Other people (the wrong ones) have less of it or none of it. If we are serious about enabling those who want to acquire what we have called standard English then first we should be honest about change and its lack of encoded rules.”
Firstly there is the logical error. True all languages change, but that does not mean that at definable points in time there are not generally accepted forms of use of the language. Then there is the simple fact that Rosen uses pretty good standard grammar to communicate his meaning to the readers of the Guardian who, one assumes, employ standard grammar themselves.
These are minor matters behind which lurks a very dangerous and harmful idea, dangerous and harmful to the underclass about whom Rosen affects to be concerned.
Rosen sees grammar as a tool of oppression whereby an educated elite keep down the underclass. Yet we rely on precision. In every aspect of human endeavour precision is a mark of a developed society and a useful and productive citizen. No-one wants an imprecise electrician working on the wiring of their house. Very few of us would elect to be operated on by a sloppy surgeon. The Guardian itself is not going to offer employment to a journalist who has little idea of normally accepted grammar. Accuracy matters.
Rosen has written an article using standard grammar in which he insists that grammatical rules don’t exist. Just another attempt by the patronising progressive elite to keep the underclass in their place, firmly below those who control our society.
There is still a class warfare in Britain today. It is not the aristocracy grinding the faces of the poor into the ground, it is the progressive elites ensuring that the proletariat never throw off their chains and forever remain dependent on the largesse and under the control of their betters. Having climbed to the top of the ladder themselves they eagerly kick it away so that others can’t climb up.