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6 Sep, 2020 07:06

Democracy is failing Britain and a revolution is coming… but it’ll be led by the middle class and achieve nothing

Democracy is failing Britain and a revolution is coming… but it’ll be led by the middle class and achieve nothing

With dissent rising over the way the UK is being run, it’s clear some kind of change is on the cards. But it will be driven by a middle class determined to keep the poor in their place.

There are always signs when a society’s social and economic structure is weakening and coming to an end.

The Roman Empire faltered because its constant need for expansion meant it ran out of territory and booty to bring back to Rome. This left its empire deeply economically divided between the excess wealth of the predatory Roman cities and the exploited and poverty-stricken rural areas in its territories. Plus, there was an ever-decreasing group of elites that could be chosen to rule.

In the 1700s, France faced the same decline in its aristocratic and autocratic society, where again those at the top moved further away from the rest, living lives of irrational excess, while those at the bottom suffered short and brutal lives.

The very nature of being at the bottom of society means that you become powerless, hopeless and physically unwell, which is why there are very few successful uprisings and revolutions that come from the ranks of the poorest in any society.

I would love for this not to be true, but it is – most revolutions come through bourgeoisie dissatisfaction and a realization they are losing a grip on that middle-class lifestyle of safety and stability.

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This is probably why poverty and a class system have always been with us, because these are not priorities for any middle-class revolution.

Unlike most of Europe, the UK has never had a middle-class revolution, mostly because they have always held a firm grip on the institutions of power: the media, party politics, charities and universities.

Until now. Ten years of austerity, the increasing marketization of all social goods, services and systems, Brexit and now the fallout from Covid-19 have created levels of precarity for the middle class that they have never previously experienced, and they are not happy.

In my work as a sociologist and ethnographer over the past 10 years, there have been increasing signs among my working-class respondents of a total dissatisfaction, anger and lack of trust and faith in the system.

Politicians in Westminster and in town halls across the country are hated by the working class, who over the years have experienced the same struggles, no matter what political party they vote for.

They have to fight those politicians on a daily basis in a number of battles, from knocking down council housing to selling off public land to private property developers, and more recently closing off roads, making life difficult for local communities. No one voted for these things to happen.

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There is no class solidarity, because the working classes are losers of the middle class’ gains. Consequently, the working class have come to acknowledge that either there is no democracy or that democracy does not apply to them.

And while their anger is rising daily, so too are the powers of the punitive state to arrest and fine them. There is more surveillance equipment in local communities, and there are tighter definitions in profiling problem people. This makes any real street uprising by the working class almost impossible, although their awareness of the failing system is sharp.

However, it seems that the middle class are also disillusioned and angry, but for very different reasons. Their lives are becoming less secure, and their children are not guaranteed that middle-class space their parents have tried to pass on to them either through property ownership, nepotism in the institutions, or education.

These are the tools that the middle class have always used to game the system and keep the working class away from their secure lives, but they are becoming more difficult to acquire as the system becomes narrower and narrower at the top.

So, are we to have a middle-class revolution? Will the ongoing Brexit talks, and the final reality that we have left the EU, push them over the edge, or will it be the fear of their children’s places at Oxbridge no longer being in the bag?

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Like all middle-class revolutions and uprisings, their first priority will be to ensure that the class system continues, because they need it to. Their lives cannot be secure if there is no unfair and unequal system that favors them.

So, if the middle class do finally become sick of Boris Johnson’s tiresome mess of a government, and the thought of Brexit is too much, do not expect the guillotine and the rolling heads of royalty, and the storming of the unelected House of Lords.

Instead, there will be pleas to Meghan and Harry to return and be their mascots, more cycle lanes and fewer buses, calls for ‘people’s assemblies’ (where ‘they’ are the people) and campaigns for open borders after Brexit so their cleaners, nannies and gardeners can be free to work for them on the minimum wage.

I anticipate a middle-class challenge to our current system, but not a move to recognize and accept that democracy has failed. Because if the poorest stay poor and the class system remains, there is no democracy.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.