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Being left… November 6, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Anyone read this and thanks to the person who sent the link. A fair bit of truth in it I’d have thought even if the ‘left’ isn’t a party…

The implication for parties on the left are that party members were increasingly from the educated middle class rather than working class, and this has gradually changed the structure, platforms and leaders of left parties. Together with the decline in trade unions, the counterpart to this will be a less visible representation of the working class. Piketty describes this as the emergence of the “Brahmin Left” elite, which can be compared to the “Merchant” elite on the right.

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1. Joe - November 6, 2018

It’s a broader topic though isn’t it? A hundred years ago the working class was the clear majority of the population in the developed world. But now? The ‘educated middle class’ is bigger numerically than ‘the working class’.
But how do we define who belongs to which class?
I remember this debate when I was a member of the WP. One argument was that all workers are working class, no matter how ‘educated’ or ‘middle class’ they appear to be.

And people’s understanding of what class they belong to is another thing. I canvassed in what I would describe as a working class, local authority, housing estate back in the eighties. I told the twenty something year old lad at the door that our Party represented the working class. He replied that he’s not working class, cos he had no work.

In Ireland, tuppence halfpenny looking down on tuppence is rampant. Many (most?) people would define ‘working class’ as people living in local authority-built houses or social housing. Or people judge what class someone is from by their accent.

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WorldbyStorm - November 6, 2018

Very true – and it calls to mind the issue of expectations – canvassing for TG in the mid 2000s on one occasion I recall being up in Cabra on a former corps estate and noting to someone else on the canvass who id classify as left wing how many cars were in drives and how many were Beemers etc and their response was ‘it’s great isn’t it?’

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EWI - November 6, 2018

I remember this debate when I was a member of the WP. One argument was that all workers are working class, no matter how ‘educated’ or ‘middle class’ they appear to be.

There’s a lot of people struggling with housing, childcare, precarious work, debt, ‘middle class’ or not.

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WorldbyStorm - November 6, 2018

Yep, the WP definition wasn’t too far from the truth in my view.

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2. GW - November 6, 2018

Having glanced at the original paper from Piketty (pdf) the conclusions are more diverse than that cherry-picked by Wren-Lewis.

For instance Piketty concludes in the abstract:

without a strong egalitarian-internationalist platform, it is difficult to unite low-education, low-income voters from all origins within the same party.

Well worth a read by the looks of it.

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3. CL - November 6, 2018

In a class-based society the highly educated are predominantly not from the working class. The educated have succumbed to neoliberal nostrums. They may be ‘liberal’, or what some call ‘left-wing’, on identity issues but not on political economy.

“They will also be more likely to consume state subsidised culture.”
?

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4. Gerryboy - November 6, 2018

In the 1970s there was common talk about ‘smoked salmon socialists’ in the Irish Labour Party. At the same time there was talk about ‘champagne socialists’ among the leadership of the BLP.

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