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28 August 2016 @ 11:31 pm
"The Greatest Divide Of All"  
Found this article on a politics blog. Christ, it hit home in the context of trying to make sense of my big catastrophic crash at UEA and (to a lesser extent) my school education.


This was my response:

This is hellishly familiar. You only mention Britain in passing, but all the ideas you describe concerning the economic divide in the USA are even more deeply entrenched here. Our social class system is all-pervasive and all-encompassing and it’s had far longer to entrench itself. (On my own journal pages I’m struggling to work out a fairly traumatic time I had in childhood and at university and this sort of writing really resonated. This is useful to help me focus my thoughts. Thank you.) It’s said of Britain that the idea of “upward social mobility” is even more of an illusion and a chimera than it ever was. That people in British society will — despite a few exceptions — end up in the same socio-economic bands as their parents and pretty much remain there for their lives. I was one of the last decade or so of British people to get completely free university education and some sort of maintainence grant to sustain me while I was there. Today students have to meet the full cost of their tuition and take loans to live on. The effect of this is obvious. People from poorer backgrounds are deterred from higher education by the cost and the only people who can take it on are those with independent incomes or whose parents can support them through the three or four years. Universities become part of the process by which the affluent classes self-select to ensure their “own people” receive preferment. This is pretty much an ongoing process: people self-select to mix and socialise with others who are “just like them” and go for familiarity. Even in the 1980’s at a typical British university, it became obvious that while you might mix with people from all backgrounds and socialise with them and co-exist with them, all the subtle markers and recognition signals of British society still applied. You could be friends, at some levels, with people from outside your social class or socio-economic stratum, but you could never be fully accepted by them. It became more and more obvious that the relatively small numbers of white male undergraduates from the lowest socio-economic levels were a sort of curiosity. At my own uni, for instance, it was estimated that sixty per cent of undergraduates had been privately educated. And it was a hell of a gulf. My own painful memory of having a girlfriend from the upper middle classes was of her parents approving that “given my background, I spoke really nicely”. The feling dawned some time afterwards that I was being seen as some sort of trained performing animal, an experiment in seeing how a scruff from the wrong part of the wrong sort of town with the wrong sort of family background could be “socialised” to be more middle class. And I was being conditionally permitted to be C’s sowing of wild oats, her permitted "slumming it" for a year or two before she met and married somebody far more suitable. Not a good boost for a shaky ego there…

Sums it up! Christ, I wish this had been released when I was at UEA Norwich - 1984-1988, where it was estimated over 50% of undergrads had been to public schools. Jarvis Cocker evidently got the same bullshit I did - only he handled it with more style...


Anyway, you mention Nigel Farage. He’s just the pus at the top of the pimple, to be honest. Britain has millions of people who have been scorned and disregarded and marginalised by politicians and a social elite increasingly drawn from a narrower and narrower segment of society. Just as the USA has undergone a similar process in which the decision-makers and the governing classes are drawn from a small tranche of society which is utterly divorced from reality as seen by millions of people. Our disregarded millions turned to Farage and Brexit to give the governing classes a great big kick up the arse. The wrong man, in the wrong way, for the wrong cause. Your disaffected people are doing the same with Trump. Wrong man, wrong cause, wrong reasons — but he is seen as their champion. This process of alienation where an élite ignores an inconvenient underclass creates demagogues. And it’s dangerous.

Current Mood: horrible recognition
Current Music: Pulp, "Common People"