Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Blimpish on Chavs

What Burchill and her Chav Chic chums seemed to entirely be missing in their analysis is the notion of respectability. Yes, this country has always had a working class and it has always had its rougher side. On the whole though, certainly from mid Victorian times, the English working classes did not pride themselves on living to that rough side. Historically, the English working classes were possessed of a hardy moral puritanism, after all - morals were something that they tended to look down on the middle classes for.

Here is where they miss the importance of the sixties (first) and then the Thatcher episode: not that it was a betrayal of the working class, but the end of it.

I'd agree, with the proviso that the working class as previously known vanished in the 1980s. During the 1960s the cultural revolution removed the moral foundations, but it was not until the economic scaffolding was taken down during the 1980s that the house actually collapsed. (During the 1920s and 30s the economic scaffolding had also been removed, but the moral foundation remained). Places like the mining villages of Yorkshire, the South Wales Valleys, or the heavy industrial areas of the North East, went from tight-knit, self-reliant communities to smack-ridden disaster zones in a generation.

The kind of behaviour that Julie thinks authentically working class was despised by actual working class people. It was college types who loved people like the hero of Alan Sillitoe's late 50s novel "Saturday Night And Sunday Morning", an early protochav.

Here's Daniel come to judgement again, Rod Liddle on the white working class male.

And my hero Norman Dennis (last chapter) on the old socialist ideal of the family.

"Old Labour (properly so-called) saw each successful, decent family, egalitarian in its division of labour and benefits through the willingness of each to be self-sacrificing for all the others, as itself a socialist commonwealth in action. Such families were believed to be both common in the respectable working class and achievable as the norm in all classes. Their widespread existence — as these ethical socialists believed — proved that it was not ‘against human nature’ to be dutiful and unselfish. "

"No loss of reputation has been swifter or steeper on the left than that of the working-class male: from heroic proletarian father to unspeakable abusive beast in one generation."

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