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October 28, 2009



Oh look, "a lilywhite daughter of the Sussex middle classes" attempting to downplay class issues through the particularly entitled medium of bald assertion.

Are others amused by the transparency of post-socialist bourgeois revanchism?

juegos de estrategia

Thanks for sharing this article, greetings


he tendency for some white men to complain that they are under-privileged and marginalized when in fact they are not

When in fact they are quite discriminated on the ground in jobseeking.

Laurie Penny

Where have I attempted to downplay class issues?

Sure, this particular post doesn't focus on them exclusively, but I do mention them, and I do mention poverty, as factors in identity politics, which is what the main thrust of the post is about.

Yes, I think class is important, although not, in these post-Thatcherite days, as important as objective poverty, because people have far less of a sense of class identity these days. In the article, I acknowledge my own privilege - hence the self-depracating phrase 'lilywhite daughter of the Sussex middle classes' - that I have the privileges of a stunningly good education, a well-off family, and white skin. Those things do not make me blind to the fact that others don't have them. But nor do they prevent me from talking about identity politics - including gender politics and other things you appear to think aren't important - with any legitimacy.


I think they're much less important. Trevor McDonald's kids aren't my neighbour's kids, black or white.

Dividing and grading the working class majority is well, divisive, obviously. Equally obviously counterproductive if one is to presume one's self a socialist and, coming from a daughter of privilege, really rather rude.

I'd also argue that the glaring (and deliberate) absence of class from bourgeois discourse doesn't necessarily mean that "people have far less of a sense of class identity these days," especially given the ongoing entrenchment of class divisions, widening inequality and mainstreaming of barefaced snobbery.


I'm always stunned at how bad various campaigners (and I'm afraid Laurie Penny is one of these) are at making the widest possible common cause in favour of their case. Making the point that "it's not about people like [me]" is hardly conducive to getting me to support her case, even though I share many of the basic liberal-left views that she does. It's almost as if the point is more about annoying people like me than it is about improving society. Unless, that is, society is somehow improved by causing me to waste another 10 minutes arguing on the internet.

The thing is, many of the most justice-improving policy options before us would be beneficial to nearly everyone. Human rights are great precisely because everyone benefits and it's not about trying to help or hinder one group relative to another. I could happily support (effective) policies to reduce poverty without a care in the world about whether the beneficiaries are of any minority group. Most people in society are a member of some minority group in some way, most people in society are working class and are net losers from the class system, most people in society will not achieve their potential. And yet plenty of seemingly well-meaning people insist on creating divisions between them, finding some way to privilege one cause over another, insisting that we can't possibly share in an ambition to improve society that benefits all of us. I don't understand it.

Luis Enrique


"Are others amused by the transparency of post-socialist bourgeois revanchism?"

I might be, if I had a clue what you were on about.


Some are unhappy about “feminazis”, the “gay rights lobby” or the “race relations industry” because they feel less privileged now than in the past - even though, objectively, they are still privileged.

Alternatively some people have no problem with the promotion of equality of opportunity throughout everyday life, but just don't see why it needs self-interested, self-perpetuating, rent-seeking cottage industries filled with “experts”, “professionals” and “entrepreneurs” with euphemistic job titles who sustain historic grievance, entitlement and divisiveness (whilst lining their own pockets) under the pretext of equality.

Tim Worstall

"If people are less badly off now than before, or have high expectations for their children, they will report that they are satisfied with their lives even if, by objective standards, these are awful."

And therein lies the answer to those who argue that economic growth doesn't make us happier.

It may well be true that any given level of economic wealth doesn't make us happier: but as long as that level is growing then it does.


"This suggests that subjective indicators - how people feel, what they say - are an imperfect measure of actual inequality."

Well, yes. But arguably they are the best indicators of subjective well-being.

Well-being is not the same as equality, or wealth, or health. All important issues, but requiring different indicators to inform us of different situations requiring different responses.

Luis Enrique

A famous economist tells the following story to suggest that subjective well-being is not the right thing to measure (I can't vouch for truth of it): the subjective well-being scores of people who have had a colostomy are much worse shortly after the operation, but statistically indistinguishable from equivalent individual still in possession of their bowels, after about 1 year.

One would not want to conclude from this that having ones own bowels is of no importance; one should not use well-being to measure importance.

john b

"Dividing and grading the working class majority"

FAIL: the working class are a minority in the UK.

Igor Belanov

The working class are in a minority????

Well quite. I have to wear a shirt and a pair of shoes at work. That must make me a capitalist. Plus I own a washing machine, so I've been throughly embourgeoisfied.

ostomy supplies

This question, "what is the relationship between stated grievances and actual, genuine hardship?" is really hard to answer.


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