THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES
FEAR OF LEADING A LIFE OF CONTRADICTION
Whether we are conscious of the following ideas or not, we probably measure the certainties of our beliefs in a god, an ideology, nationalism, racism, misogyny and the capitalist profit motive against the starvation, privation and murdering of others.
Tragically, most of us unconsciously accept or consciously ignore that the maintenance of our lifestyle and beliefs are worth other’s suffering. This implies a refusal to accept our common story that whispers about our shared humanity with all others, including those we allow to be condemned to poverty and violence. If nothing else, this hypocrisy is enough to undermine the moral fibre of our civilization
When individuals, indeed whole groups, classes, races or nationalities can neither see who or what they have become, nor are able to gain consciousness of their limitations – either imposed from within themselves or imposed externally by the institutions of power and wealth – frustration, anxiety, anger and then hatred of others is fostered.
Ultimately authoritarians spawn social discontent as a consequence of people’s unhappiness. This is one path towards a seemingly innocent acceptance of other’s suffering leading people to quietly participate in other’s destruction.
Trump and Brexit, Johnson and his crew of BIG LIARS, as Hitler and Mussolini, are superficial signs of destructive conditions self-imposed by large numbers of disillusioned people who have accepted subservience and obedience in return for material baubles and simplistic, intellectually unchallenging single dimensional solutions. For many it is less difficult to emotionally respond than to think about contradictory ideas or to confront the possibility that they themselves have become morally compromised.
Much of the broad middle-classes allow themselves this emotional escape and thus participate in their own oppression, because hiding under their accepted belief-system, they remain in tow to materialism, self-preoccupation and the resulting venality. At some point in this repetitive cycle of self-justifying decisions, the middle-classes take comfort in stories sold and told to them by clever media owners and politicians about their world – usually a world of simple dualities:
Islam = terrorism laziness = poverty immigrants = housing crisis war = peace
and so on.
In that a people will partly define and determine their lives by the stories they tell each other, when those stories become emptied of truth, distorted by ideology and corrupted by an engagement with hatred and violence, the society itself becomes, at least in part, a reflection of those maladies. When those stories become self-justifying myths told and retold to hide people’s inability to embrace truth, love and beauty, individuals become corrupted and emotionally hollowed out.
All of the above is explainable but morally reprehensible. Yes the middle-classes, as all classes have been misled by the way the news and the popular culture have manipulated them, but this is partly so because to question their own oppression is to create a more fundamental duality, that of opposition between what they know to be true and what they know to secure their financial stake in life.
From my experience of interviewing many people, I can say that there is a creeping Stalinism in our society, a condition in which people self censor themselves, suspecting to say something in public will injure their positions, power and security in relation to their corporate or bureaucratic managers.
To speak out or to question is to jeopardise the traditional middle-class journey from school to the grave, securing on route possessions, reputations and a retirement plan.
Above all else, this duality is key to the tragedies of modern life.
Acceptances or capitulation to the above is in part because of hopelessness and helplessness – a sense that what must be done is beyond their reach. This has led people into SOLASTALGIA – being overwhelmed by the destruction of one’s home, region, and future by huge changes caused by the climate crisis and/or by the actions of huge corporations.
But there are solutions and solace to be found in creating or partaking in local community projects to gain control and create fairness over power supplies (as has been successfully done in Germany); over sharing tools, cars and bikes to help solve local transport problems; over hunger by helping with food banks, overseeing food distribution, planting gardens everywhere so no one goes hungry in your community; helping to mentor underserved and under educated members of your community, and so on. Placing arts at the centre of a lot of this can help build a communal spirit. Involving young people and especially teenagers into contributing to the wellbeing of the community would be to create a powerful cement in the community.
The other positive and powerful thing to do is to demand of your town, county and national representatives that they begin to serve the community rather than the party and the corporations; that they remind themselves every morning that they are in office by the will and voice of the people. I believe that friendly harassment is vital. Writing many many letters demanding they address your group’s concerns and demanding that they act for change that will benefit your community and not big business and the politician’s friends. Also they must be endlessly pursued about any whiff of corruption.
Whatever is done needs to be enjoyable, filled with humour and pleasure, and good will as everyone in the community is served by the community, regardless of age, colour, race, gender, class and all the other differences which exist.
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