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Thread: Class System in Ireland

  1. #1
    Starkadder
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    Default Class System in Ireland

    I was reading this fascinating essay on the Irish Left Review website,

    Michael Zweig, Class, Consumerism and Ireland
    http://www.irishleftreview.org/2008/02/ ... m-ireland/
    and it struck me that in many discussions about Irish politics and society in general, there's
    little discussion of social class and how it affects us.
    This essay puts the Irish class system under its spotlight, and the
    results are very interesting.

    For instance, the essay mentions Edward Bernays and his influential method of classifying
    people by how much they consumed. It goes on:

    Today, in Ireland, it is an accepted truism that the consumerist classes used by marketing agencies - ‘ABC1s’, ’self actualisers’, ‘esteem seekers’, etc - can also be used to reflect the class divisions of Irish societal power. Indeed, the appeal of David McWilliams’ generation labels is that they resonate with the accepted ideas of consumerist groupings as the true picture of societal influence. With all the talk of breakfast rolls and Mick Jaggers, McWilliams is offering nothing more than a PowerPoint presentation for the Director General of whatever company you care to think of.
    This certainly affects, for instance, the newspaper industry-Independent Newspapers place a strong emphasis
    on selling to the "ABC1" (most wealthy,most consumerist) segment of the market,with a consequent
    slant to its reporting.

    Any thoughts on social class in Ireland?

  2. #2
    Politics.ie Member farnaby's Avatar
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    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    If I can summarise the article, it argues that increased levels of consumption merely paper over real existing class differences, which have to do with power - power in the workplace and also power to influence government and legislation. Consumerism has undermined working class identity, leaving the working class fragmented and therefore powerless to make real changes to the system (the underlying premise being that if the economy tanks, the working class will be the ones dropped in it while the capitalists will survive comfortably).

    Sounds to me like another attempt to lump as many people as possible into the 'working class' bracket, declare the working class is in the majority, and claim their interests are under threat from the rich and powerful - to eventually bring down capitalism. Nothing new here. It even implies that comparing current, improved living standards with the 'ghosts of the past' is irrelevant in judging the success or failure of capitalism! All that matters is increased wealth equality! Bollox.

    In defining working class in terms of power in the workplace the article seems to rely on the view that the higher you go in corporate organisations the less pressure there is from above, the more delighted people are with their power and the more squeezed the people on the bottom rung are. The lazy fat cat vs the noble working man. Yet the higher you get in management the more work infiltrates your life to the point where it is your life, you get more responsibility for ever more complex situations, and your job security is actually less than many of those below you. Basically, very few people have absolute power over a organisation in a capitalist society (most CEOs have shareholders, shareholders have their own bosses etc.) and even if they do they have to satisfy those pesky consumers to stay there. Democratic workplaces don't exist and don't work where they are tried so I don't understand anyone who complains about the existence of power structures in the workplace - they are necessary to achieve objectives, not to keep the working man down.
    I stand with two thousand years of darkness and bafflement and hunger behind me... and I couldn't give a ha'penny jizz for your internet-assembled philosophy. Evil Vicar

  3. #3

    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by farnaby
    If I can summarise the article, it argues that increased levels of consumption merely paper over real existing class differences, which have to do with power - power in the workplace and also power to influence government and legislation. Consumerism has undermined working class identity, leaving the working class fragmented and therefore powerless to make real changes to the system (the underlying premise being that if the economy tanks, the working class will be the ones dropped in it while the capitalists will survive comfortably).
    This is what really makes me grate. This fundemental mis-understanding od the free market and its passing through the guise of the nineteenth century is just silly. Let me put it this way:
    I don't know if anyone has ever read a hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it follows the adventures of its earth-born hero as he hitchhikes through space. As the story goes, a govt announces that the planet is doomed, and therefore it will move the population to a new planet on three ships. The smallest, the "A" ship, holds the best and brightest the doomed planet has to offer: scientific researchers and key executives, people upon whose shoulders the economy is underpinned. The sizable "C" ship contains those who do the actual work, such as manufacturing, mining farming and fishing. The “B” ship carries those in the middle:. Hairdressers, TV presenters, insurance salesmen, security guards, professional footballers, management consultants infact consultants of all classes, you name it.

    The “B” ship’s passengers are told by the "A" ship leaders that because they are really important people on the doomed planet, they must go first to find the refuge. In truth, the planet is not doomed, and the "A" and "C" ships are never built. "A" ship types concocted the story to rid their planet of the useless ballast that is the "B" ship.

    And to understand how our economy is constructed, we should categarise our economy thusly:

    On the "A" ship are those talented enough to add value regardless of the strength of the economy—perhaps 1 percent of our working population.


    On the "C" ship are those in hard industries that have survived a decade of the strong dollar—I'd guestimate 25% of the population(farmers, durable industries, fishermen)


    On the "B" ship is everyone else.

    When the economy does contract a dicky tummy then, it is the "B" workers who lose out as the economy has always survived because our political and economic leaders understood that a periodic “riding out” was necessary to cleanse the system of excesses and enable it to return to real growth.

    Moral of the story, get a job that will give you callouses or go back to college and do a proper degree.
    Liquidate labour, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    class will always be with us....but i think mobility has improved somewhat
    The political establishment lacks both vision and courage.

  5. #5
    Politics.ie Member Victor Meldrew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by irishpeoplearewhingers
    class will always be with us....but i think mobility has improved somewhat
    Mobility may have become easier, but that may become a two way street soon for the new arrivals and "old lower middle class" (ie mortgage paying "coping classes".

    Interesting how both this article and this forum tend to define "Class" in terms of consumerism and salary rather than education or "Seed/Creed/Breed". If this forum existed 20 years ago we'd all be skint, so socio-economic indicators would be different.

    Note, I said it's interesting, not "bad" .
    You have disgraced yourselves again...

  6. #6
    Starkadder
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    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    Fianna Fail were built on being a party that drew support from all social classes-they
    emphasized that all Irish people should work together for the good of the nation. In the
    wrong hands, this ideology could have degenerated into something like fascism,but instead
    it became more like a conservative communitarianism.

    From Wikipedia, describing the "One Nation" faction of the British Tories:

    The term denotes a political stance aspiring towards unity of the citizenry in the nation, as well as harmony between divergent classes and interest groups, as opposed to the societal polarisation seen in the likes of both militant socialism and Thatcherism.
    Doesn't this sound similar to the policies of De Valera ?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    Quote Originally Posted by irishpeoplearewhingers
    class will always be with us....but i think mobility has improved somewhat

    It certainly has. Sure isn't every skanger driving a car these days.

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    Politics.ie Member FutureTaoiseach's Avatar
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    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    I agree with McDowell's views on this as professed before the election, that economic inequality was a necessary evil. That does not mean I want anyone to be in economic destitution - I don't. But different people have to be richer than others, in order to provide incentives for entrepreneurship, inventiveness (including in science) and job-creation. If greater economic reward were not given to those exhibiting such talents, then the incentive for people to use those talents would not exist, and the net-effect would be a worse quality of living for the working-class, who could not find jobs consequent on the use of these talents, and could not be medically treated for certain conditions.

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    Politics.ie Member farnaby's Avatar
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    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    Was just reminded of Jimmy Carr's routine on class, along the lines of "i'm middle class, but i'm still hard. Well, more al dente" (cue for laughter) "And the good thing about that joke is, if you get it, you're middle class!"

    The left believes classes are set along the faultlines of economic power struggles, breaking down ultimately into working class and capitalists (with paid-off middle class professionals e.g. lawyers, doctors etc. in the mix). I don't, I think there are multiple classes that can be carved up in different but valid ways such as wealth but also the family history of wealth, education, the sector you work in, where you live, how you socialise, foreign travel experience, level and direction of political activity etc.
    I stand with two thousand years of darkness and bafflement and hunger behind me... and I couldn't give a ha'penny jizz for your internet-assembled philosophy. Evil Vicar

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    Default Re: Class System in Ireland

    Marxists attempting to rationalise the utter horror of socialism when put into practise, and the patent failure of its psuedo scientific analysis of the world, have been purveying the line contained in the essay for almost 50 years. Basically boiled down to the claim that the working class have been bought off or 'embourgeoisfied' by consumerism. Old Joe and Joan Six Pack have had the bloody nerve to choose real improvements in their life styles over following some lunatic - usually of middle or upper class origin - into recreating the joys of Minsk circa 1937 or the killing fields of Kampuchea. The deluded fools. Think of what they've missed while wasting their lives in their comfortable houses, lazing on the beaches of southern Europe and eating meat every day. Dear oh dear

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