Thursday, January 05, 2012

Whatever Happened to the Bourgeoisie?

... they were still young enough to laugh about it - the preparation for that epicurean, peaceful, refined but unsnobbish happiness that Western society offered the representatives of its middle-to-upper classes in middle age - from The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq

From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
Where working men defend their rights,
it's there you'll find Joe Hill,
it's there you'll find Joe Hill! - from the folk song " I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night", adapted by Earl Robinson

This one has me stumped.

Somehow, sometime, when I wasn't looking, America got rid of its working-class. Completely, permanently, absolutely. Linguistically.

"Working-Class Men", UK
Where have they gone, all those working-class guys and gals? They aren't unemployed because they don't exist, and you can't even begin to look for work if you aren't anywhere.

If I were a Mayan I might think they disappeared when our solar system turned upside down - putting by the way, Australia in its rightful place - on top.

But the working-class in America disappeared well before this year, 2012. So it isn't a Mayan thing.

Is it purely an American thing? I don't THINK so. I was listening (I can't bear to look at him) America CNN's token Englishman Piers Morgan, and I am pretty sure it was last year, when he made a more than usually ridiculous statement. He was talking to a guest, can't remember who, and he said something which was completely over-the-top. Had it not been Piers, I may have found what he said, innovative - provocative even. But unfortunately it WAS Piers and so it was merely simplistic.

The rich, he tried to explain to a dumbfounded politician, had to pay higher taxes PROPORTIONALLY because - wait for it - the class system in the UK means that you earn more money because of your dad.

WHEREAS, he deigned to explain, in America you earn more because you work harder - nothing to do with mom and dad.

An innovative idea perhaps to be included in Economics 101 at a community college.

Of course, Piers was talking of the "middle-class" and how the US budget couldn't be balanced because the middle-class didn't make enough money to pay enough taxes. I half expected him to get out a cake and make a pie-chart out of it. Perhaps he did. I seem to remember flicking the off-switch ...

Working-Class Washing, UK
When I was growing up in what is now on the top of the solar system, which in itself is weird as how can the solar system have a "top"? - the middle-class roughly equated with the bourgeoisie. The middle-class people were people from families where the male wage earner was a professional, the family owned their own mortgage and the kids, especially the males, received a university education. They also tended to live in brick veneer houses and were socially conservative.

Working-class people - when I was growing up - were people from families where the main wage-earner was a blue-collar worker. Maybe an abattoir employee or a railway linesman. Or a brick layer (now called "working in construction") or a shop assistant (now called "an associate in retail").

Uber-Class Dwelling, UK
You could more or less work out what you were. Upper-class was old money, royalty. Working-class was blue-collar workers. And middle-class was - well all those people in between.

Maybe that's how it still is everywhere else in the world. But not here in the USA. Here we only have "the middle-class". There's no "upper", "lower" "working". The middle-class here is anyone who earns a salary or is out of work. Sort of the 99% to coin a phrase. What the other, the 1% is, I do not know and would be VERY interested to find out.

Someone, and I suspect Mr Murdoch (tongue in cheek), has done a very clever linguistic piece of social engineering.

We no longer have the poor, the working-class, the under-class.

We just have the middle-class. We are all poor and unhappy and the same, and isn't that just what democracy is all about?

Who would have thunk that the class struggle à la Marx, would have been put to rest by the careful and hardly subtle use of linguistics?

And while I'm on the subject of linguistics, what's with this "uber" stuff. "It's oh so uber , sort of thing. What happened to "very"?

Maybe we'll have a "uber class"?

Maybe we already have.

Yep, I'm pretty sure the members of the uber-class are alive and well ... And living on Wall Street.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh but there is a lower class in the US, roughly 14 percent of the counted population is on food stamps, if that is not lower class then what is ??
Uncounted illegals ?

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