Friday, 28 October 2011

The mainstream liberals and the poor

Following my last article, where I looked at mainstream liberal prejudice of the 'extreme left-wing', which I see to be in itself a prejudice against the left-wing, I came across this article: Occupiers have to convince the other 99 percent.

It's interesting.  It's basic premise is that the white liberal class has abandoned the 'core issue of economic justice with the poor and working class' as well as with black people (this is, by the way, written from a US perspective).  It contains the following: "Marginalised people of color have been organizing, protesting and suffering for years with little help or even acknowledgment from the white liberal class. With some justification, those who live in these marginalized communities often view this movement as one dominated by white sons and daughters of the middle class who began to decry police abuse and the lack of economic opportunities only after they and their families were affected".

It goes on to say that the divisions between the poor and working class on one side and the white, liberal middle class on the other side have been in existence since the anti-Vietnam war movement.  The white protesters of the 1960's took their inspirations not from Martin Luther King Jr or Malcolm X, rather from people like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs, members of the so-named 'Beat Generation'.  "It was a movement that, while it incorporated a healthy dose of disrespect for authority, focused on self-indulgent schemes for inner peace and fulfillment."

Modern-day work against discrimination: For example, volunteer service abroad

Let's move forward in history, to the 1970's and 1980's.  I was a child then and that that time racist jokes were common.  Comedians like Jim Davidson and Bernhard Manning were making racist jokes on mainstream television.  Homophobic jokes were also rampant.  Across GB such abusive forms of humour were common place.  We've come a long way since then.
Thanks to EU legislation money is invested in supporting the Youth in Action structure, which aims towards, among other things
  • Develop solidarity and promote tolerance among young people, in particular in order to foster social cohesion in the European Union;
  • Foster mutual understanding between young people in different countries.
These are good things.  I am partly financed by this through seminars and trainings I do, as are many of my friends and colleagues who do youth exchanges.  Such work contributes towards the aim of fighting prejudice and building solidarity between people outside of their usual social networks.


Who benefits from state anti-discrimination work?

As I wrote here, I believe that the work of anti-discrimination has become something approximate to a commodity; I show my tolerance by liking French cheese, by dancing Flamenco, by drinking rakia, by going to a Sushi bar.  Such things provide positive associations with people from foreign countries, which is good, but at the same time I don't believe the money invested in such measures to be so egalitarian.  Tolerance is being promoted along the lines of being tolerant towards the things you like, something that you can buy.  

The deeper issues of the aforementioned poor, of disabled people, Romany or of travellers are not quite so marketable.

Certainly, the European Commission puts an emphasis on people from socially-neglected backgrounds.  I believe, however (within and without EU structures), that the world of 'going abroad, meeting people from different countries, learning new languages' has more in common with the 1960's mood of self-fulfillment than in fighting poverty and prejudice.  (Here, to be clear, I am not talking about all volunteers with any programme; rather I am focussing upon the culture they are more likely to be influenced by.)  While it is poorer people who can be more consumeristically minded, it is the middle or hedonistic classes which are more likely to do things like be volunteers abroad, to try to get to know new national cultures.

What this means now

It is largely the left-wing which is standing up for the socially neglected groups (not always, as the article above makes clear.)  However, groups of people like disabled people are not quite so sexy as other groups which are bigger.  People are, as the article says, much more likely to campaign on issues when they feel personally affected by them.

It's when people feel personally affected when they are more likely to do 'radical' things like protests, or, to be more topical, occupations.

The right-wing media and its acolytes are always ready to call left-wing protesters all kinds of names and try to discredit their campaigns.  That the liberal comfortable-life male or female wants to be on the side of law and nothing 'extreme', such protests or other methods cause emotional discomfort.  'One must obey the law', they say, forgetting that the law can do very dodgy things.  This leads politicians to become more bland and slowly the centre turns right (making the left much more 'extreme').

A brief look at history shows that a lot of necessary changes in societies have involved people breaking the law or doing things against state structures.  They have blocked streets,  done illegal marches, gone on strike and chained themselves to railings.  Note that these examples were not all in countries with dictatorships.  Two were done in GB.  Good changes do not take place without pissing people off, and that can include the media, or, indeed, the liberal mainstream, who, as the quoted article argues, cared more about their own enlightenment than state racism in the US during the 1960's.

Even if one does not want to 'step to the left' an avoiding of issues such as unemployment plays into the hands of the far-right, who can utilise such themes in order to blame the usual scapegoats.  If you're against the far-right, it's too late to wait till they start parading.

Nah, don't do nowt, do owt.  Various actions needs your support: (National Demo: Defend Education, Fight Privatisation) (A 5th November that will never, ever, been forgot) (Sign this letter from the Royal School of Nursing to the House of Lords about the future of the NHS)

Thank you for your time.

I wish you a blessed All Saints!

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I'm either not looking in the right places or there's no 'contact me' button ;) I'd really like to get in touch with you as I'm in a process of writing an article about Brits/foreign people living in Wroclaw and I have a feeling you'd be a great help. I also think your blog deserves some publicity - really impressing! Please contact me if possible, my email address is I'd be happy to call you if you leave your phone number, and I'll explain more about what I'm doing. Thanks!Edyta