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Thread: Middle Class Self Loathing

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    My point bring, I suppose,that hoisting yourself into the middle class doesn't necessarily mean you start identifying with people who were raised middle class, or effortlessly shed certain class anxieties and resentments
    Yes, there is that, I guess. Still doesn't mean you have to go through life with this Us Vs Them mentality - but who knows what kind of experiences he had growing up? We don't get to make ourselves.
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  2. #17
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    As with you lot my mum was the first to go to uni (and the only one of her siblings to do so). Strangely she she speaks in a middle class accent while her siblings speak in their native Essex.

    Obviously there are many components of middle class self loathing. One is that people don't like the idea of being privileged as it can feel like it belittles their problems. Another is that as a middle class person you actually socialise and live around working class people in a way that the upper class wouldn't, so that you're more aware of class.

    I once heard a 2nd generation immigrant say that they felt loads of pressure to accomplish something ("save the world" as they put it) due of the relative privilege they experienced and their parents didn't. I feel a similar pressure being a 2nd generation middle classer.

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    Also, within the last 20,30 years within westrn societies, the value system of middle class has been imposed onto the working class, too. Meaning: your life is supposed to revolve not only around your "job", you are now supposed to have a "career" with all its implications. In the old sense of working class, there was work's drudgery, and then there was leasure time. Now you are supposed to be working on your skillset and/or networking in your "free" time too.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboon2004 View Post
    In answer to the initial question posed, I think a lot of middle class people realise (consciously or subconsciously) that they have a massive advantage in their career etc, and so everything they achieve is tainted by being achieved within a system weighted towards them and against potential competitors who grow up working class. So achievement feels hollow, whether m-c people are consciously aware of that or not. If there was a level playing field, then their high-flying jobs wouldn't have come so easily, if at all.
    True up to a point, but the middle classes in many countries - certainly this one - have been getting absolutely shat on since 2007-8. Having a degree from a Russell Group university and knowing how to pronounce 'quinoa' are not the ticket to a decent job that they once were.

    At this point it's probably worth distinguishing between class as a cultural phenomenon and class in purely economic terms, because really, contra Tony Blair, the great majority of people are economically working class, in that they sell their labour to an employer, regardless of whether they're a teacher, a bus driver, an engineer or whatever. Going by this classification, most people you'd call middle class have far more interests in common with working-class people than they do with the upper middle class, who increasingly are looking like the aristocracy of days gone by, in that they don't actually 'work' at all but generate wealth simply by owning wealth (the investor/speculator/landlord class).

    Unfortunately, right-wing politicians and the media entities that support them have got extremely good at persuading the struggling lower middle classes that their plight is due to the indigence and greed of the people lower down the ladder than themselves - immigrants, 'scroungers', single mums, all the usual suspects - instead of directing their anger upwards at the cunts that are running (and ruining) the whole show. So what's needed is a political movement that can appeal to workers in the most general sense, regardless of whether they sit at a desk or a checkout.
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 20-01-2017 at 12:19 PM.
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  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    I've not read loads of Mark Fisher's writing like some people here have, but in what I have read, it's notable that never fails to big up his own working-class credentials, and that anything he doesn't like can pretty much automatically be dismissed as 'bourgeois', which is k-punk for 'self-evidently worthless and quite possibly evil'.
    As you've not read much of his material you should be able to provide a reference for the bits you have quoted?

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    That value system was also imposed on the middle class in a similar timeframe as well. Life didn't always revolve around career, lifestyle and leisure activities.

  7. #22
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    Also I think one of the points K-Punk was making was that teaching/lecturing was becoming increasingly precarious and proletarianised. Which is correct, but that has broadly happened to all workers in recent history.

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    Unfortunately, right-wing politicians and the media entities that support them have got extremely good at persuading the struggling lower middle classes that their plight is due to the indigence and greed of the people lower down the ladder than themselves - immigrants, 'scroungers', single mums, all the usual suspects - instead of directing their anger upwards at the cunts that are running (and ruining) the whole show. So what's needed is a political movement that can appeal to workers in the most general sense, regardless of whether they sit at a desk or a checkout.
    And that's not going to happen while the left is fractured between old-school socialists who still talk about 'the bourgeoisie' like they're The Enemy, because to them 'middle class' means stockbrokers who live in big houses in Surrey, and middle-class students who see the world only through the lens of identity politics and have a strong suspicion that working-class people - the white ones, anyway - are a bunch of ghastly ignorant racists.
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    The 'champagne socialists' thing is interesting, because it's essentially saying that you've no right to wish to change or abolish a system from which you've benefited (and in all probability continue to benefit from). I guess the idea is that 'champagne socialists' aren't doing more than playing at being socialists, because, if push came to shove, they wouldn't want to give up their bourgeoisie accoutrements for the sake of egalitarianism.

    Perhaps this is something to do with it. Is BSL a liberal/left phenomenon, for the most part? I doubt the sort of middle class people who read The Daily Mail are self-loathing, although they may still deride liberal/left people as 'middle class lefties', I suppose. There's this guilt, among liberal middle class people, surrounding the enjoyment of privileges which we're conscious of not 'deserving' - because we believe (in theory, at least), in egalitarianism, and therefore feel a profound anxiety over our own enjoyment of quinoa and Glastonbury Festival.

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    Well somebody had to.

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  12. #26
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    As for the broader question, middle class self loathing is probably an OK price to pay for being middle class.

    I suspect that it is only really something that affects more socially aware middle class people though.

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  14. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    True up to a point, but the middle classes in many countries - certainly this one - have been getting absolutely shat on since 2007-8. Having a degree from a Russell Group university and knowing how to pronounce 'quinoa' are not the ticket to a decent job that they once were.

    At this point it's probably worth distinguishing between class as a cultural phenomenon and class in purely economic terms, because really, contra Tony Blair, the great majority of people are economically working class, in that they sell their labour to an employer, regardless of whether they're a teacher, a bus driver, an engineer or whatever. Going by this classification, most people you'd call middle class have far more interests in common with working-class people than they do with the upper middle class, who increasingly are looking like the aristocracy of days gone by, in that they don't actually 'work' at all but generate wealth simply by owning wealth (the investor/speculator/landlord class).
    I do agree with your first paragraph, but important to qualify what that means in reality. That SOME middle class people (mostly under 35) are finding it much more difficult to get a decent job than they once did. Certainly. But, if you look at most professions, they're still colonised by middle class people - there's a hell of a lot of people still walking into high-flying jobs who aren't anything special but have the right class profile. Plus middle class people aged 35-50, say, they have the track record sown up already (whether they're useless in reality or not) and so didn't get shat on in the same way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john eden View Post

    I suspect that it is only really something that affects more socially aware middle class people though.
    Yeah, I think it is more of a leftist thing. I guess left-leaning people just generally feel guilty and depressed about the whole social system as a whole. And being middle class is in a sense being complicit in that system, whereas if you're working class you're sort of in opposition to it. (Because you're losing it.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    Perhaps this is something to do with it. Is BSL a liberal/left phenomenon, for the most part? I doubt the sort of middle class people who read The Daily Mail are self-loathing, although they may still deride liberal/left people as 'middle class lefties', I suppose.
    The middle class oscilates between self-guilt and self-righteousness.

  17. #30

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    Another related question is whether "middle class self-loathing" is directed against the middle class as a class or whether its a broader notion of the self that the middle class is able to distance itself from.

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