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Thread: Middle Class Self Loathing

  1. #1
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    Default Middle Class Self Loathing

    Any good articles/books about this phenomenon?

    It's a feeling I'm intimately acquainted with, and it occurred to me as a point of discussion when reading tributes to K Punk which made reference to his pride in being working class. I feel I naturally, unthinkingly inherited it, without ever really understanding it.

    What is it about the middle class which compels this shame and self loathing? Is it the awareness of being neither one thing nor the other, of having roots in a working class culture, less buttoned down and servile towards the loathed and envied upper class, and of aspiring towards a condition of upper class cultivation, without possessing the proper credentials to get past the doorman?

    And is the concept of 'working class pride' something of a sentimental fantasy (or projection of self loathing) on the part of the middle class?

    Anyway, I'll stop banging on now, because I'm sure others will have much more interesting and informed things to say on the subject. Unless they're middle-class, in which case it'll be pretentious waffle (and they're probably drinking posh coffee, the cunts).
    Last edited by Corpsey; 22-01-2017 at 07:51 PM.

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    Deracinated, inherently conservative buffer class, perpetually afraid of losing what little they have? No culture or traditions only one, or two generations away from their plebby predecessors? Quisling servant class of wealth and privilege? Paid off class traitors?
    Last edited by luka; 20-01-2017 at 09:36 AM.

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    No culture or traditions? What about memes?

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    I fucking love memes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    No culture or traditions only one, or two generations away from their plebby predecessors?
    This reminds me (indirectly) of Pip in 'Great Expectations', provided a means of escape from (relative) poverty through patronage and education, but soon rendered a snob, guilty for leaving his loved ones behind and yet loathing their lack of cultivation, etc.

    Dickens' class origins are quite fascinating, really (son of a clerk who ended up in debtor's prison, with Charles forced to work in a factory at the age of 12). You're right to point out the precariousness of the middle-classes.

    A particularly common form of middle-class self-loathing is the '#firstworldproblems' thing. Feeling that any misery or even 'moaning' about the state of the world is self-indulgent and hypocritical. Also 'champagne socialism'.

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    I am middle class and so have a special insight into their ways and values. Obviously there's a few different flavours of middle class. Can't wait for Mr tea to start frothing at the gash once he sees this thread.

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    Haha, I knew luka was gonna say something like that. It's funny how we know each other so well.
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    I've noticed that the older I get the more seduced I am by the middle-class trappings I formerly affected to despise.

    I'm now sinking comfortably into my middle-class status, like an imitation leather armchair from John Lewis.

    Coveting furniture. Enjoying BBC Four documentaries about Rome and Fleetwood Mac. Posh cheese. Wine. Holidays to the South of France. Sounds delightful.

    Wouldn't swap with my plebby forefathers for all the brie in Waitrose.

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    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'. But - and without wishing to diss the guy - as I understand it, he made a living as a university lecturer, author and occasional opinion journalist, which is not most people's idea of proletarian labour. In fact it's a classically bourgeois occupation. So what exactly was it about him that was 'working class' in any meaningful way? If it's just that he came from a working-class background, I'm afraid I don't really buy that because class is not genetically encoded, is it? My parents are almost stereotypically middle-class but all of their parents were about as working-class as it gets (or got). I don't identify as a miner or a farm labourer just because some of my recent ancestors did those things, that would be ridiculous.

    So I wonder if MCSL played some important part in Mark's psychological makeup.
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    My dad grew up working class but he was proud of being the first person in his family to go university etc on the other hand he never got free of a certain class antagonism and prickly relationship with his more privileged peers. He certainly identified as middle class but it was complicated. I guess I've inherited a lot of that despite being a generation further removed from being skint.

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    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post

    A particularly common form of middle-class self-loathing is the '#firstworldproblems' thing. Feeling that any misery or even 'moaning' about the state of the world is self-indulgent and hypocritical. Also 'champagne socialism'.
    to me that appears to be more about being a bit of a hypocrite and/or feeling guilty than self-loathing.

    IMO there is middle class self loathing, but in the context of not having met the self-imposed "goals" of reaching "upper" middle class /upper class status.

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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
    Very true. My mum was raised in a working class area, first person to go to university, similar story, now she presents as middle class in a lot of ways. And her relationship to middle classness is much more complicated than mine (I grew up in a classically middle class household) as a result - she cleaves to the trappings of middle classness more whereas I, taking it for granted, can take it or leave it knowing that I can play the middle class 'card' when it suits me, with no self-questioning attached. But then in certain moments my mum shows a real deep-set class resentment against a very particular kind of bourgeois person, and it's a surprise because it'e infrequent and at odds with her usual manner.

    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. (Also the cultural shame of knowing that as soon as the (upper?) middle class definitively took over pop music in the 2000s, it went all Mumford and Sons very quickly)

    I'm drinking posh coffee while writing this.
    Last edited by baboon2004; 20-01-2017 at 12:21 PM.

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    I had a posh coffee earlier today.

    I wouldn't be surprised if many of us on Dissensus come from similar class backgrounds. My parents went to university, their parents didn't. I feel additionally emposhened by having been born and raised in Oxfordshire, while they were born and raised in Manchester and Liverpool. (Although my mum's side were slightly posher Liverpudlians and my Grandfather on my Dad's side was a policeman.)

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    "working class pride" however is a thing of the past, as is the working class as a group of self aware people unified by their solidarity. Conservative parties throughout the West played a big role in demolishing the working class AS a class. But even worse were formerly social democratic parties (like New Labour and SPD in Germany in particular) which sold out the blue collar people to the ruling class (the 2% of the really rich). Just look at how the working class is being represented in the media/popular culture. If they actually are being made a topic at all, it's usually in a negative way - welfare fraud, violence, malfunctioning families etc.

    I am usually referring to the german speaking countries in my posts and here, "working class proud" ment learning a trade/become a skilled worker, be in a union, strive for knowledge etc.

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