Sunday 21 October 2012

The Working Class Can Let Me Pass

Social mobility works two ways.  One is up, the other is down.  In life’s journey it can be difficult to tell how it will go.  For some it will go up and then down, others down and then up and for some up and up, for others down and down. 

If that is applied to many members of a family it is more complicated.  If it is a large family it can be very complicated.  At an early stage in the 19th Century the statisticians began to examine this and gave us a putative class structure in a form that suggested that class was a fixed entity and passed on this assumption to later generations and thinkers. 

But it was all a great deal messier than that in reality.  One complication was how people saw themselves and the lifestyles they adopted.  Another was the size of families.  Anyone who has trawled enough of the census returns over a long period will be aware of this.

As the then rich and upper class knew full well, if they all bred numbers of children that were much greater in succeeding generations it was apparent that a good many would be heading for the down escalator and it would take effort and expense to ensure at least a respectable position in society.

If the family estates were dissipated by an attempt to keep large broods in the upper reaches then there was a serious risk that they could all go down, unless some individuals did well for themselves or daughters made marriages that turned out to be lucky in that the right choice was made or fortune smiled on them.

Then down all the generations there were the new men of wealth claiming a place at the top and further down the ladders a lot more clawing their way up whilst treading numbers of others down as they went.  We have forgotten the terrifying fear of decline, ruin or disgrace that held the upper and middling orders in thrall at one time.

This was very real, because if there were only so many top jobs with many more of the upper class progeny than vacancies the others were relegated to the middle classes, also with problems of maintaining their young at the appropriate status.  Darwin’s survival of the fittest was for real.  The decline in birth rates at the top and middle ends together with increasing wealth have eased the situation. 

In the middle of the 20th Century we began to have other ideas.  As “equality” became more feasible, up to a point and more opportunities created by the expansion both of wealth in the private sector and senior jobs in the public, governments began to propagate the notion that the only way was up.

Education is meant to do the trick.  If by mischance or misjudgement there is a failure to progress then the State will ensure that they will enjoy a least a basic prosperity and care.  In the UK recently we have sought to manage this by education and benefits while the dirty and difficult ends of the work and relative poverty go to new immigrants.

But what happens if the private sector no long expands enough and also the public sector has to contract at the same time?  Also, what happens if the private sector changes its basis and its new form means much larger migration into the top ends?  Add to that if cost structures entail advantage to cheap migrant or outsourced labour then again with what consequences

As a Plebocrat as opposed to aristocrat, no money, no job, no future, anyone who comes across with the snobbery or arrogance is a fair target.  They are to be found not just amongst the Tories, many of the Labour lot are as bad in their own way.  Our Faux Democracy has leaders who actively dislike and distrust the Demos.

A choice example is Alex Salmond, a member of the elite of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which you may recall is largely reliant on the public purse controlled by our present elite.  He had a rant about Tory Toffs at the SNP Conference. 

Given that RBS has Coutts Bank as one of its crown jewels, in more ways than one and that the Earl of Home is the present Chairman this is rich in the fullest sense of the word. 

When it comes to Toffs, it takes one to know one.

1 comment:

  1. "When it comes to Toffs, it takes one to know one."

    As I suspect they do - in private.