Thank you, Suzanne Moore.
All summer, I have been defending the thesis in my book Broke: Who Killed the Middle Classes. I have had a great deal of support, as well as a great deal, of the opposite thrown in my direction as the weeks have gone by, but have felt pretty alone in the argument.
Most recently, I was called a 'gentleman squire in London'. On my own blog too. If only I was...
And now, here is Suzanne Moore in the Guardian coming up with much the same thesis (thank you, Simon), though basing it on the virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier. The middle classes have had their economic purpose surgically removed by a combination of management re-engineering, globalisation and the internet – and it matters.
It matters because the existence of a middle – rather than the huge sprawling proletariat and tiny elite that Marx predicted, which seems to be emerging ever faster – is absolutely vital for democracy.
If the middle class can’t escape, then nobody can.
Suzanne, God bless her, points out – as I did – that the traditional values of the middle classes, smug as they may be, are completely at odds with the demonstrable values of the new elite. Greed instead of thrift, irresponsibility instead of responsibility, immediate gratification instead of deferred.
Again, this matters.
One reason that she points out is that that it may produce – not so much a middle class fightback – but a bitter campaign to blame the poor.
This is true. The English middle classes are so naive, so ignorant about economics (this is not so true of the Scots, Americas, still less the Brazilians) that you see them flailing around confused, when it ought to be obvious that they are being manipulated and impoverished.
So you get people pointing out how wealthy the poor have become (they have widescreen TVs, shock horror). You have the poor manipulated put-upon middle class punters in Legoland hitting each other with iron bars, when they ought to have been laying into their monopolistic hosts.
But we are in the early stages of this process. The middle classes – so clever in money, so stupid in politics, said George Bernard Shaw.