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Why do a lot of middle-class and rich kids pretend they're from poorer backgrounds?

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BeccaJ87
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Jul 31 2013 18:24
Why do a lot of middle-class and rich kids pretend they're from poorer backgrounds?

I understand if you're a lefty you don't want to go around bragging about being from a rich background and want to show solidarity with the working-class, but you can do that without denying your privileged background. I'm a socialist but my family are quite well-off, I attended private school and went to a good University. I wouldn't go around bragging about this and it is something I am embarrassed by, but I also wouldn't lie. However a lot of my fellow 'posh lefties' seem to feel the need to make up a poor back story for themselves, which I just feel is completely wrong, and almost insulting to people actually from poor and working-class backgrounds. Why don't people just say, yeah I've had a privileged background, but I also have empathy for the oppressed and down-trodden and want to help them in their struggle?

wojtek
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Jul 31 2013 19:41

To legitimise themselves as political actors, the fetishisation of the w/c for itself as opposed to against itself, original sin, I don't know. Don't be embarrassed.

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Noah Fence
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Jul 31 2013 20:08

Yeah, I'd echo Wojtek here. I don't see why being from a privileged background is embarrassing.
Conversely, I see no reason for pride in background. It's something that you are powerless over and can take no credit or criticism for.
This may not be the general view on here but I don't agree with the idea of helping the working class with THEIR struggle. If you want to see a changed world and the abolition of class then it's your struggle too. Otherwise it sets you up as a detached benefactor, which, from my small knowledge of class politics would be a very bad fit.

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Agent of the In...
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Jul 31 2013 21:12

What do you mean by 'privileged'? Is your family capitalists?

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Chilli Sauce
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Jul 31 2013 21:41

Conflation of sociological class with economic class?

And, to be honest, a discourse that focuses more on privilege than actual material interest. Which is not to say privilege doesn't exist of course, but you can't just chuck class in there as it's just some of privilege people have because of their accents or their parents' jobs. (Not saying you do that Becca, btw.)

BeccaJ87
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Jul 31 2013 21:31

What do you mean by 'privileged'? Is your family capitalists?

Not millionaires, but my dad owns his own surveying company. Petit-Bourgeois maybe?

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plasmatelly
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Aug 1 2013 22:44

Who cares? Just get on with it and be yourself. Tell your mates that people love honesty.

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Agent of the In...
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Aug 1 2013 23:22
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Conflation of sociological class with economic class?

And, to be honest, a discourse that focuses more on privilege than actual material interest. Which is not to say privilege doesn't exist of course, but you can't just chuck class in there as it's just some of privilege people have because of their accents or their parents' jobs. (Not saying you do that Becca, btw.)

This thread reminds me of my sister's sociology course on families and children upbringing. There is a lot of discussion about how 'middle class' people make schedules (for their children) on their refrigerator doors and prepare decent and healthy breakfasts while 'working class' people are a bit loose and irresponsible. But class, unfortunately, is never defined. So they automatically assume cultural definitions (i.e. your middle class if you have a calendar on your refrigerator door).

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Noah Fence
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Aug 2 2013 05:51
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So they automatically assume cultural definitions (i.e. your middle class if you have a calendar on your refrigerator door

In my house we have a magnetic alphabet that we use to spell out rude words. What class does that make us ?!!!

redsdisease
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Aug 2 2013 06:00
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
But class, unfortunately, is never defined. So they automatically assume cultural definitions (i.e. your middle class if you have a calendar on your refrigerator door).

Why would a sociology course use anything but a sociological definition of class?

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Cooked
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Aug 2 2013 06:06
BeccaJ87 wrote:
However a lot of my fellow 'posh lefties' seem to feel the need to make up a poor back story for themselves...

Does this actually happen to any great extent or is this just another urban myth that gets repeated again and again?

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 2 2013 07:03
redsdisease wrote:
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
But class, unfortunately, is never defined. So they automatically assume cultural definitions (i.e. your middle class if you have a calendar on your refrigerator door).

Why would a sociology course use anything but a sociological definition of class?

To be fair, I took a sociology class in high school that would give us a topic and then give us various theories to which view it through, including a Marxist one and a feminist one. Although it also included a super-capitalist explanation each time, as well.

Looking back, I think the teacher was probably a pretty radical. She once told us a story about how she burned a flag as a part of a presentation she we giving in a packed lecture hall when she was in university.

factvalue
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Aug 2 2013 09:17

Perhaps they have other reasons for wanting to put their past behind them or for hiding themselves in some way, apart from street-cred? I used to feel a vague hostility towards someone I used to know who identified as an anarchist and who I later found out had an incredibly well-developed mockney, who's uncle was a major figure of the 'labour old left', went to an extremely posh private school and had changed names. On further reflection I realised that it wasn't any of this which I disliked, the person had been fairly active and successful in organising in certain ways. It was the sustained level of outright duplicity, cruelty and spite in the person's daily life and dealings with others which had caused my skin to crawl, not the social background. Kropotkin and Bakunin were both aristos but very different individuals.

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D
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Aug 2 2013 13:31

I'd say it's a way of legitimizing their politics (not that they need to do this IMO)

Also, whilst society in general exhibits a lot of prejudice attitudes towards working class/poor people (sociologically speaking) amongst some of the left I feel that this can sometimes be reversed and instead it becomes acceptable to be prejudice towards more privileged people (class wise). Mocking someone for having a posh accent say, is generally deemed ok when it shouldnt be IMO as since when do you choose the accent you have? This can make people feel they need to be seen as 'truly working class' to be taken seriously

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Aug 2 2013 13:41
redsdisease wrote:
Why would a sociology course use anything but a sociological definition of class?

wikipedia wrote:
Sociology is the scientific study of human social behavior and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions.

I mean, this could be semantics, but one could say 'middle class' is a cultural identity or a socially-constructed identity, not sociological. And I would argue that to make a decent sociological observation, one would have to have an analysis rooted on a material basis (i.e. economic), as a starting point. So I think the sociology discipline would do itself a favor if it adopted a definition of class based in terms of economic positions. Otherwise, it would all be wishy-washy.

So, yeah, I don't see why sociology should be detached from a more material grasp of things. It would actually hurt its results.

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boozemonarchy
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Aug 2 2013 13:46
Cooked wrote:
Quote:
BeccaJ87 wrote:

However a lot of my fellow 'posh lefties' seem to feel the need to make up a poor back story for themselves...

Does this actually happen to any great extent or is this just another urban myth that gets repeated again and again?

Seen it in the punk/traveler subculture of the US, usually folks hailing from out east who've migrated west. Haven't really seen ii in organized anarchism or anything, people seem pretty honest about their backgrounds. That said, I've been in the same region of the US for my whole life. But yea, things like this will tend to stick out in folks minds when they come across it and well want to be all chatty about it and it eventually seems like the phenomenon has great extent I suppose.

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Noah Fence
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Aug 2 2013 17:42
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Also, whilst society in general exhibits a lot of prejudice attitudes towards working class/poor people (sociologically speaking) amongst some of the left I feel that this can sometimes be reversed and instead it becomes acceptable to be prejudice towards more privileged people

This is a point that I tried to make numerous times when I first started posting on Libcom and I still think it's the case that there is an enormous amount of prejudice and reverse snobbery from the working class towards people that are perceived to be of another class.
I have a friend that is by any definition working class but who's diction is very clear and precise and he regularly gets called a snobby bastard or posh cunt which is just so innacurate. What's interesting is that on the reverse side he seems to be given more respect by authority than I ever would.

Mike S.
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Aug 2 2013 19:21

I pretend to be rich.

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Serge Forward
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Aug 2 2013 20:52
Mike S. wrote:
I pretend to be rich.

That's nothing, I am rich.

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Standfield
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Aug 2 2013 23:40
Webby wrote:
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So they automatically assume cultural definitions (i.e. your middle class if you have a calendar on your refrigerator door

In my house we have a magnetic alphabet that we use to spell out rude words. What class does that make us ?!!!

Depends. Does your household contain a wine rack... that is in use?

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ultraviolet
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Aug 2 2013 23:59

when i was a teenager i used to try to seem like i was from a poor background, but this was due to having a crush on hip-hop culture (which itself fetishizes both extreme poverty and extreme wealth). also because i was depressed and angsty and thought coming from a privileged background somehow made my pain invalid.

i had no concept of class and what that really meant in those days. and probably wouldn't have cared if i'd known.

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plasmatelly
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Aug 3 2013 08:49

I guess the hope for a revolutionary workers movement is that it is populated by workers and not bosses! Some people come from better off backgrounds and other don't; but to reflect the genuine make up of workers, you'd expect the overwhelming majority to come from poor backgrounds (not to forget other considerations such as being made up of just as many, if not more, women than men).
Obviously if any structure that purports to be a revolutionary workers organisation is heavily endowed by workers from rich, priviledged backgrounds (or overwhelmingly male or - in Britain - white), then there's a strong case for reviewing why you only pull in those people.
Of course people can't help who their parents are and everyone needs to recognise that; but there is a tendency to gravitate towards your own, if you know what I mean, and this is turn can create dynamics that alienate people.
Becca - I suppose if your friends are living by their own means, then they're every bit workers as someone who didn't have the same luck as a kid. Class over identity, every time.

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Aug 3 2013 11:44
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Conflation of sociological class with economic class?

I should have pointed it out, but you also used "sociological" class.

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Noah Fence
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Aug 3 2013 13:06
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Depends. Does your household contain a wine rack... that is in use?

Sort of, but we use it to store our Lambert and Butler Fags, Skol lager and lottery tickets.

Thomas Luxemburg
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Aug 4 2013 00:53

Where I live, I come from an upper middle-class background. Even with a decent salary and good benefits, my parents still faced the oppresion and authoritarian structure of the American (and in some ways, uniquely Southern) class system. So for the most part, well-off or poor, I think we can find common ground in the effects that statist and capitaliat institutions have had on our lives, negative and positive, and work from there to build an anti-statist socialist movement. The standard industrial proletariat of Marxian economics is now largely non-existent...and I think it is necessary for a new framework of class-cooperation to overcome capitalism, class, and the State.

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 4 2013 01:03

^ do you even know what proletariat means?

Thomas Luxemburg
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Aug 4 2013 01:10

Yes, the class that sells their labor to the bourgoise for wages, essentially wage slavery.

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 4 2013 01:16

and you come to the conclusion it doesn't exist any more how?

Thomas Luxemburg
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Aug 4 2013 01:23

The proletariat certainly exists; I am referring to deindustrialzation and how the proletariat is now concentrated largely in retail and consumer goods, in the Western world not so much in industries.

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 4 2013 01:26

so now the majority manufacturing is done out side "the west"
which leads to a need for class collaboration how?

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ultraviolet
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Aug 4 2013 03:04
Thomas Luxemburg wrote:
Where I live, I come from an upper middle-class background. Even with a decent salary and good benefits, my parents still faced the oppresion and authoritarian structure of the American (and in some ways, uniquely Southern) class system. So for the most part, well-off or poor, I think we can find common ground in the effects that statist and capitaliat institutions have had on our lives, negative and positive, and work from there to build an anti-statist socialist movement. The standard industrial proletariat of Marxian economics is now largely non-existent...and I think it is necessary for a new framework of class-cooperation to overcome capitalism, class, and the State.

I'm not sure what you mean here. It would be pretty easy to interpret what you're saying as contradicting anarchist theory. But I'm going to try not to do that, and give the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe by class collaboration you mean collaboration of workers of various incomes. That's fine. (Aside from using a wrong definition of class.)

Or maybe you mean collaboration of non-exploiting classes - workers, self-employed people (who don't employ others), and - if they're around in your country - peasants. This too is fine. But there are also exploiting classes - the petite bourgeoisie and the big capitalists, the landlords. Cooperating with them would be a problem because we have opposing class interests.

Having opposing class interests doesn't mean all our interests are opposed. As human beings and earthlings, we share various interests and needs. Interestingly, their class interests actually oppose some of their very own human/earthling interests - such as not creating global warming.

I can agree that people of all classes will benefit from an anarchist society and the abolition of class. It will enable us to solve our environmental crisis (and thus survive), it will enable us to create a happier and healthier social-interpersonal dynamic and culture. And other awesome shit. Better to be an equal in heaven then a king in hell, right?

Some members of the exploiting classes will realize this and want to come over to fight for creating anarchism. But in order to be part of this movement, they will have to cease to be a member of the exploiting class - give up their position as employer, or manager, or landlord... or politician or cop (not exactly exploiters, but enablers and defenders of them). If they don't do this, then they don't show a sincere commitment to or understanding of the kind of world we're trying to create.