Identity politics. Three Women MPs are attempting to form an emergency cabinet of women in order to reverse the Brexit vote. Please note that according to the above only women can save Britain from a fate worse than death. But how and why do the above think that they can reverse the democratically elected outcome of Brexit? Caroline Lucas, Green MP – left – has openly stated that she does not accept the outcome of the Brexit vote.
Middle-class hubris on display.
The outer-party, a category used by Orwell in 1984, would in modern terminology be called the middle-class (in British not American terms).
This is not a compact group, but a highly stratified and differentiated social formation wedged between the ruling, inner-party and the proles, and recognisable by its wearing, in Orwell’s novel, of the blue boiler suit.
The inner-party, black boiler suit, is in our own times the haute bourgeoisie; an assemblage as diffuse and variegated in many ways as the outer-party, and being composed of an informal coalition of ruling class strata including political coteries at the higher levels of state and leadership of political parties, the media, the judiciary, cultural elites (the trendsetters) and economic elites: industry, banking, finance and land ownership.
And then, of course, there are the proles.
At a rough guess, I would say that the proles represent around 60% of the population, the middle-class (petit-bourgeois) around 30% and a ruling class of a further 10%. But this latter figure can be almost infinitely sub-divided into a 10%, 5%, 1%, 0.1% ad infinitum.
The stability of the overall social structure needs as an absolute prerequisite the support of the 30% of the middle-classes. Generally speaking, this has usually been achieved through the endowment of material benefits such as income, housing, education for themselves and their children and some middle-range luxury goods including expensive holidays and travel.
But perhaps, more importantly, status is involved: the middle-class must be politically and ideologically cultivated into a sense of their superiority – inured and inducted into a worldview which corresponds to the values and priorities of the ruling class proper. But there is a slight snag here: namely, that some of the middle-class may get radical ideas into their heads and start to stir up the proles with views which are antithetical to the given social order and an affront to the ruling class. But in general, these are very minor disturbances not difficult to contain and did not constitute a problem for the elites.
However, it could and does become problematic when the system experiences strains and crises. In these situations, the middle-class is whipped into obedience and reminded in no uncertain manner that its privileges are not necessarily irrevocable and should not be taken for granted.
At the present time a new and ruthless dispensation has seemingly emerged where what was taken for granted is now being contested. The PTB have rewritten the rules and the middle-strata are required not only to obey, but also to enthusiastically endorse and practise the new credo. (See Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman: The Manufacture of Consent).
This phenomenon of enthusiastically endorsing the new credo, is vividly instanced in 1984 during the ‘two minutes hate’. During these hate sessions the elite members, who are much fewer than the outer-party mob, sit in the front of the hall totally impassive throughout with deadpan expressions on their faces, but the outer-party mob seated behind are reduced to screaming banshees as the images of the renegade leader, Emmanuel Goldstein, are flashed up on the enlarged telescreen.
Comparisons between the outer party and the Brexit Remainers come readily to mind.
The class hatred is palpable. The Guardian, New York Times readers have become militant defenders of the faith. There are apparently now correct opinions, and incorrect opinions, and woe betide anyone who transgresses the border between the two. Dangerous thoughts and utterances must be stopped.
That there is an area of ‘dangerous thoughts’ in every society is scarcely debatable. Whilst we recognise what is dangerous to think about from one country to another and from one epoch to another, on the whole the subject marked with “Danger – do not touch” are those which the society, or the controlling elements in it, believe to be so vital and hence so sacred that they will not allow toleration of their profanation by discussion.
But what is not so easily recognised is the fact that thought, even in the absence of official censorship, is disturbing, and under certain circumstances dangerous and subversive.
For thought is the catalytic agent that is capable of unsettling routines, disorganizing habits, breaking up customs, and generating scepticism. This also must be stopped!
Knowing which way the wind is blowing the middle classes are falling into line.
The liberal press – the Guardian, New York Times, Die Welt, Le Figaro, Le Monde – are now the most partisan and uncritical spokespersons of the liberal-globalist establishment. Reading any of these publications this much is self-evident.
But what is interesting is the social and political structure of the middle class. Traditionally, The Guardian and more generally the liberal press were at one time the news-sheets of record for the left.
Basically, social-democratic these publications gave their unstinting support to the social-democratic parties including the Labour party and various good causes around the world which were vaguely anti-imperialist.
Today, however, the ‘left’ MSM is a staunch defender of the liberal-globalist order having basically gone over to the other side. I would argue that this was a top-down Damascene conversion rather than a bottom-up mutiny.
This was amply illustrated by the Brexit vote. In England London and the Southeast and one or two other cities Oxford/Cambridge voted to Remain whilst of the rest of the country voted Leave. The middle-class, private sector and public sector, teachers, solicitors, small potatoes businesspersons, PR executives, and so forth, went ballistic. Disaster! How could this have happened!
This is perhaps because the middle-class always has a choice, and it chose its advantages, albeit in a mediated fashion. The middle class is now inherently conservative, and the Brexit vote provided ample evidence of this. The gloves were off, and a threatened middle class promptly went into class war overdrive. What is new, however, is the sight of the liberal-left middle-class joining with the traditional conservative-right middle-class in defence of their interests, imagined or real.
This ability to adapt themselves and attach themselves to classes to which they originally did not belong – in this instance the haute bourgeoisie – was possible for bourgeois intellectuals because they could adapt themselves to any viewpoint and because they and they alone were in a position to choose their class affiliation whilst those who were immediately bound by class affiliation were only in rare exceptionable to transcend the limitations of their class outlook.
Returning to Orwell and the outer-party, we can pinpoint two or possibly three types of the Remainer typology.
- Parsons: The absolute dolt who will believe quite unselfconsciously any claptrap which the party will impart to him through the propaganda machine.
- Syme: The party intellectual is also able to imbibe the most abject ideological and political theories but with some difficulty including the use of doublethink and doubletalk.
- Winston Smith: Who doesn’t believe a word of it but simply lacks the courage of his convictions.
This seems to be an unstable social/political coalition brought about by the independent variable of economic and political upheaval at a more fundamental level. Where it will end is a matter of guesswork, but we can be sure of a really quite vicious backlash from these people as their sense of worth and entitlement begins to erode. This is just the beginning of a very nasty period bordering on open warfare. Time to choose sides, I think.
Political discussion possesses a character fundamentally different from academic discussion. It seeks not only to be in the right but also to demolish the basis of its opponents social and intellectual existence. Political discussion, therefore, penetrates more profoundly into the existential foundation of thinking than the kind of discussion which thinks only in terms of a few selected ‘’points of view’’ and considers only the ‘’theoretical relevance’’ of an argument. Political conflict, since it is from the very beginning a rationalised form of the struggle for social predominance, attacks the social status of the opponent, his public prestige and his self-confidence.”
Karl Mannheim – Ideology and Utopia – p.34)