One word that sets many English people's teeth on edge: class. Is the class system now the last thing people will talk about in England? It seems we can talk about black rights, gay rights, immigrants' rights, women's rights, Muslims rights, perhaps even Christians rights, and many other things that, albeit very weakly, might be debated and challenged, but class seems to me the one issue that never gets debated. Why should this be?
If you accept the notion that someone from a perceived higher class background is better or more superior than someone from a perceived lower class background, then you can't complain when someone else is racist or sexist, or intolerant about someone else's beliefs or lack of beliefs or intolerant about immigrants or anything else for that matter, because quite simply you are also prejudiced too. You either tackle all prejudices and accept they are all unjust, or ultimately you tackle none of them in effect. One of the worst aspects about England is the class system, partially because it rarely if ever is challenged or debated, and more to the point because it nurtures all the other prejudices too. If you can blithely accept the unfairness of the class system, you can if pushed probably accept other prejudices too.
One of the reasons I am posting this is because I have written to a number of so-called equality organisations like 1) the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2) Liberty 3) The Resolution Foundation, 4) The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, to name but four I have emailed with a very carefully written email, asking them all why they don't mention class as an issue in most of the online patter on their websites. In some cases I have had replies barbed with anger, the very occasional open and honest reply, but more often than not I have been completely ignored. I can't understand why people, because all organisations are ultimately made up of people, who profess to be so concerned for equal rights and equality for all, seem to have a major blind spot to the class system and won't even debate it via an email for the most part. I can only assume that most of these organisations are made up of well-meaning politically correct Middle class people, who in their fervent crusades to save the world from racism and sexism and homophobia and other things, are in their own way just as prejudiced about class, simply because they are Middle class and benefit from the injustice and unfairness of the class system because of their privileged position within that system. More cynically, I feel that some so-called concerned Middle class activists actually use the issue of black rights, as opposed to equal rights for all, to drive a wedge between the socially disadvantaged whites and the socially disadvantaged blacks and actually create tension and bad feeling between the two communities, the very thing the Middle class claim to be against, so that yet again the privileged few can get the best jobs, the best housing, the best education and better lives, whilst the rest of us not so privileged fight each other at the bottom for low-paid jobs and see each other as the enemy. I hate to say this, but that is the conclusion I have come to.
If all these so-called equality commissions and equality organisations REALLY wanted to change anything, other than being Middle class talking shops and not much more, then they would join together and genuinely tackle injustice wherever they found it, instead of cherry-picking issues like `poverty in London' or `Black Rights' and so on, they would be talking about equal rights for all, and a living wage for all, a willingness to tax in a more fairer and equitable way and more openness and opportunity for Working class people in institutions that are usually dominated by the elites or sometimes even the Middle class. My view quite simply is that those who have something to lose, whether they be the very wealthy at the top or just the affluent Middle class in well paid careers, don't want anything fundamentally to change quite simply, but will pretend that they do and will pay lip-service to some forms of equality and social justice all day, whilst actually not doing anything much about it at all. And we know that anyone can `talk the talk', but usually they don't `walk the walk', talk is cheap after all and actions always speak louder than words. Until these organisations actually have more people from genuinely Working class backgrounds and more people from genuinely disadvantaged backgrounds in them, talking about social injustice and poverty actually because they have endured it and experienced it first hand in their lives, and not just rather Middle class, rather privileged, usually white and well-spoken people from London, I don't think we can expect anything to change, especially when it comes to tackling the injustices and prejudice of the class system. And, in the end, whatever your point of view, no one is seriously going to challenge a system that they personally benefit from in some way.
So, is class England's last taboo? And if not, why not?