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Johnson thinks a ‘culture war’ will win crucial working-class votes. He’s wrong | Lynsey Hanley | Opinion | The Guardian
Successful community life is not about who chats to whom on the doorstep or about mystical working-class values. It is about whether the essential needs of everyone in that community are met to the extent that they can look beyond that day’s survival and outwards towards others. In Lawrence’s wise words, “the task for politicians is to imagine the conditions which will enable people most fully to reconcile self and society in their daily lives”.

So when the Conservative party sends their representatives to court the working-class vote, they should be asked a few questions. Have they ever tried to apply for benefits to which they are entitled, or sought help from Citizens Advice? Have their local branch library and children’s centre been closed? Have they ever tried to get a bus on a Sunday, or after 8pm, outside London? Have they noticed that children no longer play out on the street? Have they ever peeled “Free Tommy Robinson” stickers off the bus shelter and the playground gates? What did they feel on visiting any city centre and seeing the lines of destitute people trying to keep their tents pegged to the pavement and their sleeping bags clean?

The very idea of a culture war, invoking supposed working-class values, is empty. What we are really talking about is quality of life. The problem of our times and our communities is that a full, rich life, free of avoidable stresses, in which the right to stay and the right to move are equally taken for granted, now feels so hard to achieve for so many people.
UK  politics  Brexit  workingClass  resentment  exclusion  Leave  community  culture  livingStandards  cultureWar  JohnsonBoris  dctagged  dc:creator=HanleyLynsey 
9 weeks ago by petej
Without a transformation on Brexit, Labour's election chances are dead
Labour was right, after the 2017 general election, to respect the referendum result. There was no concrete Tory Brexit plan laid out; there was every prospect of negotiating a Norway-style deal; and the toxic xenophobia of the 2016 referendum campaign had dissipated.

Three years on from the referendum, the political dynamics have changed dramatically. Since July 2018 it has been clear that no form of Brexit acceptable to the Tory party can get through parliament. The only Brexit MPs could vote for is unpalatable to the Tory right. Among the right-wing electorate, support for a no-deal Brexit has grown. As defined by who wants it, Brexit is now a right-wing project.
UK  politics  LabourParty  EU  Brexit  policy  McCluskeyLen  MarrAndrew  CorbynJeremy  Remain  Leave  TheLeft  referendum  generalElection  FarageNigel  JohnsonBoris  BrexitParty  ToryParty  workingClass  LaveryIan  NandyLisa  class  race  xenophobia  migrants  BlueLabour  tradeUnions  SWP  ReesJohn  DempseyEddie  Stalinism  Lexit  dctagged  dc:creator=MasonPaul 
july 2019 by petej
This latest attack on the left Remain/Transform position by @JonCruddas_1 mischaracterises years of work by me and others, on networked individualism and post capitalism. Switch off if you find social theory too hard to do on Twitter...
This latest attack on the left Remain/Transform position by @JonCruddas_1 mischaracterises years of work by me and others, on networked individualism and post capitalism. Switch off if you find social theory too hard to do on Twitter...
UK  politics  LabourParty  Brexit  Remain  Leave  referendum  post-capitalism  class  workingClass  dctagged  dc:creator=MasonPaul 
june 2019 by petej
oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: Misplaced Pride: Most of the "Middle Class" Is Actually Working Class
"If we look at these charts, it looks like only the top 10%, or perhaps the top 20% at best, might qualify as "middle class" by the metrics described below.

The conventional definition of working class is based on income and education:the working class household earns between $30,000 and $69,000 annually, and the highest education credential in the household is a two-year community college degree or trade certification.

The definition of the middle class is also based on on income and education, but adds financial security as a metric: the middle class household earns $80,000 or more, holds 4-year college diplomas or graduate degrees, owns a home, has a 401K retirement account and so on.

(My own definition is much more rigorous, as I reckon "middle class" today should have the same basic assets as the "middle class" held 40 years ago: What Does It Take To Be Middle Class? (December 5, 2013.)

But in some key ways, income and education are misleading metrics: the key attributes that actually define the working class are:

1. Stagnant incomes: incomes that over time barely keep up with real-world inflation or even lose purchasing power.

2. Income insecurity: wages, benefits and pensions are not as guaranteed as advertised.

3. Not enough ownership of financial capital to be meaningful. Financial capital excludes household items, vehicles, etc. Financial capital includes stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, ownership of a profitable business, equity in real estate, precious metals, bitcoin, etc.

By meaningful I mean enough to:

-- augment Social Security benefits in a way that greatly improves the household's lifestyle and retirement options

-- equity that is significant enough to fund college educations so one's children do not have to become debt-serfs to attend college

-- enough capital to fund (or help with) a down payment for a house, i.e. inheritable wealth that transforms the children's lives while the parents are still alive

-- income from capital, i.e. income isn't dependent on a government agency or government transfer.

How many U.S. households qualify to be middle class if that means:

-- the household income has outpaced real-world inflation over the past 20 years

-- the household's financial capital/assets have grown to become meaningful (as defined above) in the past 20 years

-- the household doesn't depend on government transfers for much of its income / spending

-- the household income and wealth are not dependent on financial bubbles, corporate guarantees, local government pensions on the verge of insolvency, etc.

While tens of millions of households qualify as "middle class" based on college diplomas and income, far fewer qualify when wealth and financial security are the key metrics. Plenty of households earn well in excess of $100,000 annually, but their financial status is as precarious and threadbare as any working class household.

They don't own enough assets or capital to move the needle, and what they do own is generally dependent on financial bubbles or speculative gambles.

Feeling like we belong to the "middle class" because we have a college diploma and make a good income offers up a false sense of pride and progress.If we're realistic about the financial wealth and security of "middle class" households, most qualify as working class: stagnant incomes, precarious financial circumstances, very little meaningful wealth and even less meaningful wealth that isn't dependent on the bubble du jour or promises that might not be kept.

If we look at these charts, it looks like only the top 10%, or perhaps the top 20% at best, might qualify as "middle class" by the metrics described above.

What sort of society do we have if the bottom 20% of households are poor, the next 60% are working class/precariat and only the top 20% (at best) have any of the core attributes of "middle class" financial security and wealth?

[charts]

If we take off our rose-colored glasses, we have a much more stratified economy and society than we might like to believe: there's the top 1%, the next 4% "upper middle class," the next 10% "middle class," the next 65% working class, and the bottom 20% poor, those largely dependent on government transfers.

The "middle" has eroded away, leaving the top 15% who are doing very well in the status quo and the bottom 85% who are struggling to maintain a meaningful sense of prosperity and progress.

Personally, I'm proud to be working class in terms of my skillsets and values. Labels mean nothing. What counts is having skills, drive, agency, curiosity, frugality, integrity, self-discipline and kindness. Those forms of wealth cannot be taken from you when the bubble du jour pops and all the phantom "wealth" vanishes like mist in Death Valley."
charleshighsmith  middleclass  inequality  us  workingclass  education  class  2019  wealth  precarity 
june 2019 by robertogreco

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