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Is the Class System England's Last Taboo?


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Showing 101-125 of 129 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 15:30:45 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'pixie says:

Not to make a sweeping statement but I have found the Middle class do not seem too bothered about manners. I am not saying all but in my experience the working class seem more inclined to know when the "Thank you's" are needed.
The friends that come from the same background as me, albeit they now have the trappings of a richer life, seem to encourage their children to write thank you letters, email the same, and are more inclined to be polite.'

Hahaha! That's exactly the opposite of what I just said! Seriously, it's your experiences of course and it's good to hear different POV's hey? You could be right. Growing up in a W/class town, I have experienced every kind of person, mostly W/class, and they have all been often very different; there are classes within classes. And, W/class people in general do have a culture of welcome and generosity and a kind of 'mateship' that other classes seem not to have so much, but want to copy! Of course, there is a rough element in the W/class too; but there is good and bad in all groups of people.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 15:38:29 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'pixie says:

My parents were real working class...came from the East end and mum Cleaned before her real job cleaning in a sweat shop...Dad on the railway. I never realised we were "Poor" There was always food on the table and lots of love.'

Similar background myself. Not a great deal of money but always food on the table and generally a lot of love. To some people in the wider world, that in itself would be a wonderful start in life.

'I would now say that athough I am working class I have tendancies to Middle........'

Yes I would say the same thing myself my dear!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 15:51:21 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'Garscadden says:

"I have noticed that the Nobel Prizes for Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine, and the Fields Medal for Mathematics, are overwhelmingly awarded to white males, year after year. Is this an example of 'inequity'?"

It is a really good illustration of who the best education is available to.'

That is a very good summary of Douglas' post. Who is the best education available to? Usually now those who can afford it. And the supposedly very best schools, Eton, Harrow, Rugby and the redbrick universities are peopled usually by the very rich and the very privileged. There are exceptions to this of course. But the very rich and privileged in our society generally tend to be white, UpperMiddle-class, well spoken, privately educated and mainly men from London and the Home Counties and the South in general. The further a person deviates from this, the more marginalised they become or are seen to be.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 21:51:00 BDT
Doug1943 says:
Garscadden: I believe you are correct, historically. Up to the last fifty years, that was surely the overwhelming reality. But it hasn't been true for decades now. In advanced liberal democracies like ours, anyone who wants it can get a decent education, if not for themselves, then for their children.

Refugees who come from a culture which values education -- Jews, Orientals, Sikhs -- can endure the worst possible circumstances, but when they arrive in a free society, they quickly take advantage of what it has to offer.

The Vietnamese Boat People, fleeing the blessings of an egalitarian social order, arrived in America penniless, often without any English, and facing a host population which largely despised them. In one generation, their children were capturing a huge proportion of the places at America's best universities in the areas where they settled. In fact, there is an unspoken racist quota system at the private universities to keep their numbers down, just as there was for the Jews fifty years ago. I have no doubt that we will see more and more Nobel Prizes in the serious subjects awarded to people from Vietnam, China and Korea, thus breaking the white male monopoly, despite the racist discrimination against them.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 22:07:37 BDT
Garscadden says:
I think it will take a generation for that to happen, though you do see a lot of interesting and highly regarded papers from blokes wiv foren names, dontcher?

My thoughts for why it will take a generation (apart from Nobel winners tending to be older), is that people tend to do best when highly inspired, and i think it may take people from those cultures to be in senior academic positions for the next generation to be so highly inspired.

I have absolutely nothing to back that up, and it does sound increasingly racist as i read it back. Please take it as me not putting my idea very well, rather than being a fascist loon.

Posted on 3 Jun 2013 22:15:15 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 4 Jun 2013 22:45:41 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 23:07:39 BDT
Spin says:
TSC: In my opinion, the employment of the concept of "Class" in western society reeks of the "Caste system" in India, even though the vocabulary differs.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 23:10:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jun 2013 23:18:46 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'David Rudd says:

Is the class system England's last taboo? I don't know - but it is rife in the Church of England.'

Well David, as a Christian, but being from an essentially and very traditional Working class background, I have felt this too; Christianity in England can seem as much about Middle class values than it is about any real yearnings to know and serve God. And someone once said about the Church of England that 'they are the Tory Party at prayer' I suppose we might say they are the establishment's religion of choice. If the Queen is the 'Supreme Head of the Church of England' specifically 'Defender of the Faith' then you don't need to be Einstein to see that class then becomes a part of religion, and that one can infer that the higher up the social scale you go, the closer you are to God; all very cosy hey if you are part of the elites or part of the establishment. This is religion however, the religion of the 'great and the good' the religion of the rich and powerful and the religion of the British Empire and 'might is right' and such things. Very nice, very convenient, but nothing much to do with real Christianity. It is people using religion for their own often selfish ends, religion rubber-stamping wealth for some and divisions and injustice, but saying that because this is from God, we can't question or challenge it; but, we may ask, is such division and injustice from God, or can human beings do that all by themselves?

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 23:18:11 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'Spin says:

TSC: In my opinion, the employment of the concept of "Class" in western society reeks of the "Caste system" in India, even though the vocabulary differs.'

Yes, you won't get an argument from me there. The Caste system was originally a colour bar; basically when the Persians conquered India they noticed that most Indians were darker, in some cases much darker, than them and so they instituted a system whereby those with lighter skin were high caste and those with darker skin were low caste. Over the thousands of years this has become much more complex indeed, but originally it was about colour, and of course the ruling Persians and dominated Indians. Although the class system can be between people of the same colour, originally it had its roots in the Irish, Welsh and Scottish poor seeking work in England; they became in time the Working class, or many of the Working class, so class prejudices and hatreds in England also involve a racial element too. It does seem rather curious how many Middle class people are vociferous about racism, but seem to blithely turn a blind eye to class prejudice, when they ultimately have the same roots.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 00:06:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2013 00:24:49 BDT
Doug1943 says:
Garscadden :We shall see. The other interesting development will be that of women in mathematics. I believe the majority of young people starting undergraduate degrees in mathematics in the US now are women, and I know two young women (the daughters of friends of mine) who have got, or are about to get, their PhD's in the subject.

I think all we can do is to try to give everyone a good opportunity to get an education. If we find that specific cultures, or biologically-rooted differences, shape the numbers of who actually succeeds, we can just acknowledge that fact and note that we have done our best to give everyone an opportunity.

TSC: I think the situation is much more complex than you think. You might ask yourself, how did it come about that these fine schools (the private schools for the children of the well-off, and the old grammars for the very able children of the working class, until Labour destroyed them) were created at all? Who did this? Why weren't such excellent schools created all over the world?

Here's a thought experiment for you: go into a 'deprived' area, take the kids just about to start attending a local comprehensive. Send them all to Eton. Do you think they would then turn out to be barristers, masters of industry, scientists, doctors, engineers? I suspect a few would, but I would predict most would not.

And on the other hand, take the kids now at Eton, and let them replace the comprehensive draft. I'll bet you would find that even with the indifferent teaching they would get at a state comprehensive, most of them would go on to be successful in life.

The key difference is IQ, and 'culture'. This is a fascinating subject, and one that should receive a lot more study than it does. A child with an IQ of 80, especially one coming from a bottom-of-society situation (single mother on welfare, say), will never become a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer, with the best education in the world. And a child with an IQ of 120, coming from a stable two-parent family, even one where the parents are not really well off, is likely to make a success of life.

Can these facts be changed? There have been dozens of attempts to raise the IQ of low-IQ children. They usually have some success -- IQ's can be increase by five or ten points, which would be significant for society if done for everyone, but is not likely to make a difference for the individual. Sadly, even these limited gains recede if the intervention is ended and the child returns to his natural environment.

So can IQ be changed? It can! We've been doing for decades, without realizing it (until recently) and without knowing how it's done. The mean IQ of the population increase by about three points every decade, and this has been going on since the 1930s. No one is really sure why. But something is causing it. This is why we need more research.

IQ is the real 'class' in modern society. If you have an IQ of X, you won't have many friends or close acquaintances with IQs widely different from yours. And your IQ plays a huge role in determining what sort of job you can do. Half the population have an IQ of less than 100, and they will never be able to be lawyers, doctors, managers. IQ is basically biologically determined, and so is beyond serious reach today. But some day, we ought to be able to determine our children's IQ, when genetic technology is sufficiently advanced. When that day comes, class society will be over.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 08:50:48 BDT
Garscadden says:
Don't most studies show that the correlation is with poverty. If you moved the inner city kids to Eton AND moved their family out of poverty, then I would suspect your results would be very very different. Likewise take your Eton starters, put their families in poverty, with associated malnutrition. Obviously the other aspect is parental education level.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 08:55:37 BDT
Garscadden says:
This is fascinating (Persian influence on the Indian caste system), but doesn't seem to be supported by any evidence (at least on a quick search). Can you point out a source?

I seem to remember reading of Dalits converting to Christianity primarily to escape the caste system. That sounds like the kind of missionary work that actually (possibly), does some good.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 10:39:39 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2013 10:40:19 BDT
MC Zaptone says:
T.S.C. I've long thought that much of successive governments lawmaking, especially on social issues have been directed at and pandered to the 'Mrs Bouquets' and 'Outraged of Tunbridge Wells' as a Little England vote catcher rather than reforms for the good of the subject at hand or the nation at large.

Posted on 4 Jun 2013 16:38:08 BDT
The working class is just that, working fodder for the wealthy and cannon fodder for their wars and purposely fobbed off with the lowest standard of education by the powers that be to keep them in their place.

As an elderly working class woman (with an IQ of 138) I still hope to witness a revolution in my lifetime that will completely destroy the class iniquities that exist in Britain.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 17:07:15 BDT
Doug1943 says:
Garscadden: yes, poverty correlates with educational success. But the question is, what's the causal direction, if there is one. My guess is that your experiment would not get very different results, because you're only talking about material poverty. Many sociologists who study class talk about three kinds of capital to which the upper classes have access: there is material capital of course, but also social and cultural capital.

Give that welfare mom a couple of thousand a week to spend while her children are at Eton, and you might be disappointed in the results for both mother and children.

The higher income groups don't just have more money, they have a different culture with respect to things like the importance of doing well in school, and how to behave in general. They read quality newspapers and books, and listen to Radio 4 and Panorama. They go to art museums and concerts. Their children grow up in this cultural matrix. If you took all this group's money away and sent them off to dump estates to live, they would be back on or near the top in one generation. (We've seen this experiment done a number of times in history: the Jews and the Vietnamese boat people for example. And as the adherents of the Wonderful Tolerant Religion of Peace come to power in the Middle East, we'll probably see it repeated with Christians.)

Of course it used to be true that the upper class was pretty much closed to new entrants. But in the last couple of centuries, that has changed a lot. Now, if you are of above-average intelligence, you have a pretty good chance of making it up the social ladder. And THIS is why IQ and educational success correlates with income. The causal relationship is the other way around.

However, we can do better. There are still bright kids born into poverty, but into homes that want to escape it, and that's why we need to make it as easy as possible for them (for their parents, actually) to get out of the culture of low expectations, and into a good school.

Let the government fund a couple of hundred by-examination scholarships to Eton, and the same for every other posh school, open only to the children of those in the bottom 20% of income. Better yet, let every area have a state-run "Eton", open to anyone who can qualify for a rigorous education.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 20:44:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2013 20:54:32 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'Garscadden says:

This is fascinating (Persian influence on the Indian caste system), but doesn't seem to be supported by any evidence (at least on a quick search). Can you point out a source?'

I typed 'where does the indian caste system come from' into google and the third and fourth answer down might interest you. There are probably more but those two mention Aryans and the invaders having lighter skin. I tried to put the links in but it wouldn't let me post to you! I wrote an essay on the subject many years ago and remember reading in a library book that the Persians (or Aryans) had conquered India in 1000BC. It was a while back.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 20:53:10 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'Douglas Hainline says:

TSC: I think the situation is much more complex than you think. You might ask yourself, how did it come about that these fine schools (the private schools for the children of the well-off, and the old grammars for the very able children of the working class, until Labour destroyed them) were created at all? Who did this? Why weren't such excellent schools created all over the world?

Here's a thought experiment for you: go into a 'deprived' area, take the kids just about to start attending a local comprehensive. Send them all to Eton. Do you think they would then turn out to be barristers, masters of industry, scientists, doctors, engineers? I suspect a few would, but I would predict most would not.

And on the other hand, take the kids now at Eton, and let them replace the comprehensive draft. I'll bet you would find that even with the indifferent teaching they would get at a state comprehensive, most of them would go on to be successful in life.'

It is more complex a situation than possibly we can understand. The first public schools to my knowledge were created in the late Middle Ages to take mostly poor kids from the poorest backgrounds who couldn't afford to pay; in theory anyway. Many kids from deprived areas do go onto higher education and do get good degrees, but sometimes with all that and all the best will in the world, privilege trumps merit most of the time. Doors open for even mediocre people who are connected in some way; sure, there are many privileged people who are very bright and well educated and rise through the ranks, but doors have opened for them too because of privilege and who they know; that is a reality.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 21:06:25 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'MC Zaptone says:

T.S.C. I've long thought that much of successive governments lawmaking, especially on social issues have been directed at and pandered to the 'Mrs Bouquets' and 'Outraged of Tunbridge Wells' as a Little England vote catcher rather than reforms for the good of the subject at hand or the nation at large.'

Well that's what it all amounts to doesn't it; poor people working for low wages; are we offended? No! Disabled people being attacked by the government; are we offended? No! Families going hungry and having to get food from food banks in one one of the richest countries in the world; are we offended? No! But little Englanders furious at someone getting overpaid a few more benefits and the world is going to hell in a handcart! Placating the angry over their irrelevant outrage and ignoring the reality of poverty and social injustice.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 21:09:59 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'Dance Veteran says:

The working class is just that, working fodder for the wealthy and cannon fodder for their wars and purposely fobbed off with the lowest standard of education by the powers that be to keep them in their place.

As an elderly working class woman (with an IQ of 138) I still hope to witness a revolution in my lifetime that will completely destroy the class iniquities that exist in Britain.'

And that sums up what I have been trying to say all along; that is reality.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 21:22:59 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'Douglas Hainline says:

Let the government fund a couple of hundred by-examination scholarships to Eton, and the same for every other posh school, open only to the children of those in the bottom 20% of income. Better yet, let every area have a state-run "Eton", open to anyone who can qualify for a rigorous education.'

If they did just that alone Douglas, then I believe they would want things to change. But I don't think they want to, to be honest. Those who have something to lose, and something to gain by the inequalities of the system, don't want anything fundamentally to change.

Posted on 4 Jun 2013 21:41:37 BDT
Doug1943 says:
TSC; you are right that being born into wealth and power gives you very useful connections -- what the sociologists, or some of them, call 'social capital'. And of course wealthy people, like all normal people, want the best for their children, as they see it, and will use those connections.

I think some people don't understand what has happened to the working class in this country (and, I suspect, in all other advanced countries as well). Dance Veteran represents a working class that no longer exists. I believe she is wrong, but her worldview is not an ignoble one. This moving obituary to Jimmy Reid, published, of all places, in the Telegraph three years ago, says it all: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/7939576/Jimmy-Reid-Last-of-the-great-Clyde-built-liners-slips-off.html

Posted on 4 Jun 2013 21:48:37 BDT
Doug1943 says:
TSC: There are contradictions within the ruling class. No doubt some have a 'screw 'em, after me the deluge' attitude. Others want to rule a strong and prosperous country. There are many particularist economic interests among the owners of capital, which clash with others. There is definitely a wing of the upper classes who are concerned, for their own reasons, with what they see as the inadequacies of the education system in this country, for example. There are no doubt others who see in these inadequacies merely a chance to make a few pounds thru privitization, or others who benefit from the status quo. If, for instance, the state were to open really excellent schools -- as good as any private school, and accepting and retaining pupils on the same basis that private schools do -- this would be a huge threat to the existing private schools, and they would fight it tooth and nail. But you might find others in the ruling elite who would think it's a good idea, especially in the middle class people who struggle to pay private school fees. One needs to use these contradictions to make social progress.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2013 00:58:06 BDT
J A R P says:
'IQ is the real 'class' in modern society.
IQ is basically biologically determined'

I am tired. So I am dabbling in social networks. I don't mean to get involved, or to rebut a bag of lies. But at this late hour it offends something in me to let this sort of rubbish stand.

At the end of the day, when all's said and done, you know what I mean..

1. IQ tests are well understood to be tests of acculturation. Immigrants take a couple of generations before they pick up the skill. And it is just a skill.

2. Genetic theory is a badly understood load of circular reasoning. 'Why do good genes prevail over bad ones? Because they have the instinct to prevail'

3. Class is a sorry fact of life - on some levels. On other levels, it is a natural outcome of scarcity of resources. Those with the greatest intellects, and the greatest imaginations, as I understand them, have never overdone the self-pity about being poor. We are all poor. The eternal ground of things is not to be found in possessions or worldly status. It is in the harmonious relationship of the 'soul' to the 'world', which you can achieve whether your rich or poor, old or young. It's a platitude, and career politicians would do well to adjust themselves to it.

Our problem today is not that there are too many of us without sufficient riches. Our problem is that there are too many of us, and we're all seeking the wrong things.

--

The rich, the Queen for instance, despite portrails of her as holy and duty bound, is most likely an obsessive about wealth. You might as well be an obsessive about working class things. A dull mind is dull, regardless of whether the crown it wears is a hen party hat on a drunken working class girl, or something more substantial.

Posted on 5 Jun 2013 14:48:59 BDT
Doug1943 says:
The issue of IQ always gets people hot under the collar. It's a very touchy subject, because it uncovers ugly realities that we would prefer not exist.

It's also difficult to argue about, because most people don't have the knowledge, including the mathematical knowledge, to discuss the topic seriously. You always get the old cliches -- "IQ tests only measure your ability to do well on IQ tests" -- "IQ tests are culturally biased" -- etc. None of these popular cliches are true.

Then you get the people who don't understand elementary statistics: "What do you mean, women are on average shorter than men? Why, I know a woman who's really tall!"

And it is a complex topic. We don't really understand the brain yet, by a million miles. Our technology for observing it is far too crude -- as someone put it, NMR scans are like flying over a city and opening the shutter of a camera for thirty seconds, and then trying to figure out what people down there are having for breakfast. We don't even know what genes affect IQ -- there are probably hundreds, all weakly interacting.

Plus, the academy is strongly influenced by Political Correctness. If you want to advance your career at a university, you had better be very careful what you say on this topic. Thoughtcrime is very possible here, and you won't be forgiven for contradicting Politically Correct Orthodoxy.

But here's what you can take to the bank, though: the IQ you are born with is pretty much the one you will die with. No intervention can take someone whose IQ is 85, and make it 125.

But .. IQ can be raised. It is at least partially dependent on environment. Children from lower class homes who are adopted into middle class homes, especially at an early age, will experience some increase in IQ, by five to ten points. Children from poor backgrounds who are subject to early intervention -- special schools, etc. -- will experience a modest increase in IQ, from five to ten points. These increases tend not to last, if the child is removed from the environment. A ten-point increase in IQ on the part of millions of lower-class children would be significant for society, but not very much for the individual.

Please note that IQ and knowledge are different things. Someone can have a below-average IQ, but get a very good education, and we should be aiming to provide a very good education for all our children, regardless of their IQs.

And ... somehow, without knowing how for sure, we have been raising IQ. It has been going up about 3 points per decade. That's why they have to renorm the IQ tests every ten years or so, or otherwise, the mean result on the tests would no longer be 100.

If you don't know much about this subject, but would like to learn, I recommend a short book by a professor at Edinburgh University, Ian Deary, Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions). It's easy to read and has a lot of fascinating information, and great reading list for further study if you want to learn more. And it's only a fiver! He avoids the politically-touchy aspects of IQ (he's no fool), but you will learn enough to know when you are being told what people would LIKE to be so, versus what actually IS so, from reading him.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2013 15:09:22 BDT
Spin says:
Douglas: The concept of "Intelligence Quotient" (IQ) is a myth. There is no such thing as "Intelligence" as you define it. Intelligence, reasoning and awareness are not measurable. You are defining "intelligence" only according to what you accept as being "intelligent". Your views are those which advocated slavery and derided Einstein.
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Initial post:  20 May 2013
Latest post:  6 Jun 2013

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