Why social class is the most important issue.
Let’s be honest we all like a good joke right? Whether it is a racial observation about what exists within men’s underpants or why some people are less intelligent or better at athletics or have a specific body odour… OR it could be about sexual preferences in which one type reflects toughness and the other well doesn’t OR women are only good for keeping the kitchen sink from collapsing… They have been around for a long time and will probably continue to be so. Who tells these jokes? Well usually male, white heterosexuals! That isn’t to say that female, non white, homosexuals do not like a good joke it is just that they have less scope and range, which of course the former do not. Laughing at somebody else is always easier though isn’t it? It takes our minds off of our problems; our inadequacies; our circumstances. Our marriage is falling apart so let’s laugh at the old lady blown over by a strong gust of wind. We have just been made redundant so let’s have a laugh at the Indian guy who owns his own business which has just been robbed at knife point. We have just had a few drinks so let’s call our son a ‘poof’ in front of his mates for a laugh to hide our own cowardice and shambolic life. We have a hierarchy don’t we? Race, gender, sexuality… they all have inferiors and superiors and we are conditioned to understand the pecking order. Those who do not are being ‘politically correct’ liberals who are ruining the fun aren’t they? How dare they?
But what is missing? Um. Oh yes the unmentionable. An anachronism surely? I cannot say it can I? Oh well here goes… Social Class! Arrrgh that’s better. Why is it hiding in the long grass? Is it that ugly? I mean more ugly than racism; sexism; homophobia? I mean come on they do not mind exposing themselves anywhere. On the factory floor! In the office! In the pub! At the dinner table! In the House of Commons! Anywhere! We cannot move for them. No one is attempting to deny they are dead only that as individuals they are not culpable. But social class? We have working class denial; upper class erosion and middle class guilt (if we are lucky) but where is the humour? Where is the working class man walks into the pub and orders a pie and chips, a pint of best and stares at the TV set for the rest of the evening. No punch line there unless of course we add that he could have stayed at home with the wife and done that. Followed by ‘have you seen his wife’? It does not work without the utterable. Yet like all that is implicit little or nothing gets done. There is no political correctness let alone calls for the abolition of income, wealth and status differentiation. Merely a pretence that it no longer exists. Or an undying aspiration to be eternally someone else and not living in a damp house, with a rust bucket on four wheels and debts that we would rather were not mentioned. Now what is funny about that? Anyone?
Which is why, no matter how important race and ethnicity, sex and gender or sexuality is it will never be in the same league as social class. Why? Because when something is denied on such an industrial scale that we cannot even laugh at it, it must be too important. However until we challenge this presumption we are lumbered with the racism, sexism and homophobia that are its offspring.
A black poof enters a tug of war competition…