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Thread: Middle Class Self Loathing

  1. #31
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    A chapter from a book on the bourgeoisie concerning 'Bourgeoisophobes', Flaubert being the most infamous:

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/g/gay-pleasure.html

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by john eden View Post
    As you've not read much of his material you should be able to provide a reference for the bits you have quoted?
    The piece that really sticks in my mind was him writing about feeling his heart swell with working-class pride at the sight of obese mums passing their obese kids pies and burgers through the gates of a school at lunch break, thereby sabotaging that awful middle-class do-gooder Jamie Oliver’s healthy school meals programme. It’s like, following the collapse of heavy industry and most kinds of traditional manual labour, the best way for working-class people to express their class identity is by eating as shitty a diet as possible to spite ‘do-gooders’? It just struck me as amazingly puerile and nihilistic – and, quite frankly, snobbish. As if it’s somehow appropriate for working-class people to eat mass-produced crap. The sort of attitude a cartoon toff might have, but with the value judgement reversed – just like zhao used to do all the time with race stereotypes.

    (BTW, I totally get the Jamie hatred. I think his healthy school meals crusade is largely earnest but his insistence on aping the diction and mannerisms of a 1950s cockney barrow boy despite having had a reasonably privileged upbringing is extremely grating.)
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboon2004 View Post
    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.
    Sure, but I think the point I was making is that the gap in wealth and opportunity between the top and bottom ends of the middle class is a lot bigger than that between working class and lower-middle. Or to put it another way, does it make sense to put a teacher earning 25k and an executive earning ten times that in the 'same' social class?
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  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    Or to put it another way, does it make sense to put a teacher earning 25k and an executive earning ten times that in the 'same' social class?
    Depends on where you put your emphasis on. Both groups may have a very similar formal way of education (both groups college educated), but likely differ in terms of not only income, but also values/political views.

    Probematic also when being used ("collage graduates vote this") as a category regarding social science/polling/explaining election results. Add to that, there are still relatively high paid blue color jobs out there.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    Sure, but I think the point I was making is that the gap in wealth and opportunity between the top and bottom ends of the middle class is a lot bigger than that between working class and lower-middle. Or to put it another way, does it make sense to put a teacher earning 25k and an executive earning ten times that in the 'same' social class?
    I think you're right on wealth, but wrong on opportunity (to make that wealth), which is the more important factor in the whole argument To the question - yes, up to a point, because mostly they came from the same strata of opportunity - the rest depends on their choices. Not to put too fine a point on it, I had all the middle class advantages to be able to go and make a sizeable amount of money in my early 20s if I had wanted to - it was a choice not to, not a direct choice not to make money, but to work in another part of the economy where money is less plentiful. Perhaps more fool me that I didn't...

    the attributes of middle classness gain you access to all kinds of opportunities, if you want to take them. I think anyone who denies that is fooling themselves. That said, obvioulsy more middle class people have been squeezed since 2008, no argument with that.
    Last edited by baboon2004; 20-01-2017 at 02:41 PM.

  6. #36
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    This thread is so inherently British, it's adorable.

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  8. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboon2004 View Post
    I think you're right on wealth, but wrong on opportunity (to make that wealth), which is the more important factor in the whole argument To the question - yes, up to a point, because mostly they came from the same strata of opportunity - the rest depends on their choices. Not to put too fine a point on it, I had all the middle class advantages to be able to go and make a sizeable amount of money in my early 20s if I had wanted to - it was a choice not to, not a direct choice not to make money, but to work in another part of the economy where money is less plentiful. Perhaps more fool me that I didn't...

    the attributes of middle classness gain you access to all kinds of opportunities, if you want to take them. I think anyone who denies that is fooling themselves. That said, obvioulsy more middle class people have been squeezed since 2008, no argument with that.
    You also need to take into account the critical importance of a university education for many (most?) worthwhile kinds of careers these days, and how much this now costs. We're now looking at significant numbers of young people whose parents got a university education for free but who will either choose not to go at all, or will go and suffer the financial effects for years and perhaps decades after they graduate.
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  9. #38
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    Default "I am privileged with my nausea, my nausea is a privilege."

    Middle class self-loathing, resentment, etc is a form of slave morality that helps keep the middle class (all classes) complaisant & betwitched, by operating as a material obstacle for creating friendships/groups that cut across class lines. The subversive political move must be to externalize privilege, where it exists, into concrete actions, á la Engels, in other words, to spend it, instead of internalizing functionally depressing identities. "Check your privilege" means, in effect, "Subjectivize yourself as an unhappy consciousness." That is, put yourself under the control of a crypto-priest.

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  11. #39
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    I've missed you, josef. Good to have you back.
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  12. #40
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    When I was growing up in Southampton (in the 1980s) I felt resolutely middle class, by virtue of the fact that my mum fixated on middle class signifiers like accent and behaviour when we were young, and because (as far as I was aware) we lived in a reasonably nice house in a reasonably nice part of Hampshire. I think I might even have been taunted as posh at one point because my dad made sure our shoes were polished every day before we went to school (he had a skilled job outside of the traditional professions).

    Then I went to university (first generation in my family to do so) and wound up working at a big tech company in London. Pretty much everyone I have worked with subsequently was privately educated, had university educated professional parents, yet would identify as middle class if challenged. So, you can go from middle class posho to oily prole in this country just by changing where you live.

  13. #41
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    ^ sounds a bit like my experience - called 'posh' at school, grew up, went to Uni, met people who are *properly* posh. Actually not so much the uni I went to (although there were some pretty privileged people there, many were overseas students, and while filthy rich, nonetheless not really part of the class tradition peculiar to this country) but after meeting my girlfriend, who studied in Oxford and at one of the older/richer/snobbier colleges, at that.

    In fact her experience was like mine but moreso, as her accent is if anything a bit plummier than mine (and I could plausibly present a programme on Radio 3) but that's just a result of her parents both having Oxbridge educations. But they were both useless with money and the family was often pretty much on the breadline while she and her siblings were growing up and she's not had any financial help whatsoever since she was 18, but has got used to people assuming she's loaded because of her accent. Which is an odd example of a class 'privilege' actually being potentially a disadvantage.
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  14. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    The piece that really sticks in my mind was him writing about feeling his heart swell with working-class pride at the sight of obese mums passing their obese kids pies and burgers through the gates of a school at lunch break, thereby sabotaging that awful middle-class do-gooder Jamie Oliver’s healthy school meals programme. It’s like, following the collapse of heavy industry and most kinds of traditional manual labour, the best way for working-class people to express their class identity is by eating as shitty a diet as possible to spite ‘do-gooders’? It just struck me as amazingly puerile and nihilistic – and, quite frankly, snobbish. As if it’s somehow appropriate for working-class people to eat mass-produced crap. The sort of attitude a cartoon toff might have, but with the value judgement reversed – just like zhao used to do all the time with race stereotypes.

    (BTW, I totally get the Jamie hatred. I think his healthy school meals crusade is largely earnest but his insistence on aping the diction and mannerisms of a 1950s cockney barrow boy despite having had a reasonably privileged upbringing is extremely grating.)
    That isn't what he ACTUALLY said though is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by K-Punk
    Fearnley-Whittingstall exemplifies that combination of charm and bullish certainty which is characteristic of the English Master Class at their most winning and and their most irritating. Describing himself on the One Show as 'a posh boy with a farm' Fearnley-Whittingstall is more ingenuousness about his class background than Jamie Oliver, which meant that the resistance and class resentment his 'Chicken Out' campaign faced was different to that encountered by Oliver when he took on the problem of school dinners a few years back. Oliver was famously resisted by parents who passed fast food through the fences of schools that had converted to more nourishing meals, but whether this was an act of class defiance to bourgeois do-gooding or an act of entrepreneurialism, or some combination of both, was unclear.

  15. #43
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    Tea only sees what he wants to see.

  16. #44
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    I didn't say that's what he wrote, I said that's what stuck in my head. o_0

    Either it was a different piece of his that I was thinking of, or I've mixed that article up with something written by someone else entirely. My bad.
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 20-01-2017 at 09:11 PM.
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    Angela Nagle, The Scourge of Self-Flagellating Politics:

    From the gospel according to Luke, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” If we are to take Luke at his word, then there must be plenty of heavenly exaltation in store for Jeopardy contestant turned social justice columnist caricature Arthur Chu who once tweeted: “As a dude who cares about feminism sometimes I want to join all men arm-in-arm & then run off a cliff and drag the whole gender into the sea.” Or for those who, on the morning following the election of Donald Trump, took to social media to publicly humble themselves to their followers, expressing their intense inward-turned shame and self-hatred. Typical of the style, New Statesman editor Laurie Penny wrote: “I’ve had white liberal guilt before. Today is the first time I’ve actually been truly horrified and ashamed to be white.” Others expressed their self-disgust at being straight white males and assured followers that while they of course did not vote for Trump, merely looking like those who did required some readily self-inflicted penance.

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