Part I of II, by Claudio Grass, Switzerland
It is a worn-out cliché that many (if not most) political zealots meet their downfall because of their arrogance. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall,” the proverb goes, and it does prove true more often than not. The specific kind of pride, or haughty spirit, or plain hubris in this case, has to do with the certainty that some people have (one can’t imagine how and why it could have been originally acquired, so it must have been bestowed) that they are smarter, wiser, or just simply better than their fellow humans.
Perhaps they seek to dominate, to subjugate, to tyrannize and to oppress – to bully others, for no conceivable reason, merely for bullying’s sake. Or perhaps their motivations are not that sinister. Maybe they truly believe that their self-declared intellectual supremacy renders them not only fit, but also duty-bound, to “guide” those less fortunate, to direct and to control and to govern them, to rule over them and to command them, to make decisions for them, to curb their free will, even to police their thoughts and ideas – all of it intended for their own good, of course.
Regardless of the motivation, the result is. and has been for millennia, the very same. A small minority gets to rule a vast majority. And most of the time, the most disdained, the most denigrated and the most abused are the poorest and the weakest, the most unfortunate, the helpless and the most vulnerable among us. Many different names have been used to describe this predominant and overwhelmingly populous group of people – some kinder than others, from “commoners” and “peasants” to “the hoi polloi” and “the masses”. These days, this regularly derided, yet democratically almighty, majority is referred to as “the working class”.
They have been vilified almost as often and as heavily as they’ve been exploited and abused, since time immemorial. Every empire was built on their backs, funded by their labor, defended by their blood and eventually and inevitably demolished by their anger. They’ve been cast as sadistic, self-serving, malicious accomplices to the most horrific crimes against humanity and they’ve been portrayed as rudderless, purposeless, mindless sub-humans that do not possess even the bare minimum of intelligence required to be able to hold someone accountable for their own decisions and their own actions.
For hundreds – if not thousands – of years, the “common man” has served either as a scapegoat (e.g. for arguments like “evil regimes reigned for as long as they did because the “populace” actually wanted them to”) or as a convenient justification (e.g. for arguments like “evil regimes reigned for as long as they did because the “populace” was lied to, manipulated, deceived and tricked”). Both generalizations are obviously equally as inane as they are absurd and meaningless.
This is what makes the establishment’s perception of the “working class” even more bizarre and baffling. It is an amalgamation of common stereotypes, it is a synthesis of all vulgar biases and ignorant preconceptions. It is a repulsive chimera of hateful prejudice, of primitive fear, of blunt dehumanization. For those who see themselves as the rightful rulers, the working class is comprised of ignorant, naive, vulnerable, uncultivated, helpless children, in dire need of “adult” guidance and vigilant supervision.
The working class is a group that is looked down upon, that is ridiculed or just simply dismissed by politicians, disparaged by the media, infantilised and manipulated by State institutions. Even though the members of this class represent the majority of the population, form the very foundation of any economy and constitute the basis of any society or civilization, they have always been treated as expendable and insignificant. Especially in democratic systems, the working class is viewed as a monolithic, uniform entity, composed of identical and interchangeable units instead of individual human beings with different talents, needs and goals.
This is why both the Left and the Right strive to declare themselves the “friend of the people” – and try to buy them off with spending promises that are either too vague, too unrealistic or generally too good to be true. Most importantly, however, these promises are too often based upon erroneous assumptions and overconfident generalizations, like the notion that all working class people are in favor of big government and of the welfare state and implicitly support higher spending and other government interventions that promise to “level the playing field”.
There is no doubt that one can find some that embrace these ideas and policies within this vast class, however it would be a grave mistake to assume that everyone, or even a majority, concurs.
In the upcoming second part, we’ll focus on the wider socioeconomic implications of this misguided worldview and on the direct impact it has on the ordinary citizen.
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