The convenient political myth says class is dead. Downton Abbey deference is no more, and look how differences among the young meld into universal estuary and mockney. Classlessness may be modern and hip – yet birth determines destiny more certainly than 50 years ago.
Polly Toynbee has written variations on this article several times over the past few years – but it can’t be repeated enough. In conversation after conversation I have been stunned by how ingrained the idea that we live in a ‘classless’ society is amongst many of my peers. The repeated mantra is that if you just work hard enough, you’ll make it. People resort to anecdotes about individuals who had secretary mothers and factory-working fathers and who now own their own house. Amazingly, many don’t seem to associate debt with class whatsoever, with more than one person telling me that the ‘working-class’ was meaningless when people could buy things using credit cards etc.
If social class was meaningfully taught in our schools, that would go a huge way to beginning to transform our country. As it is, inequality continues to rise and those at the top further cement their stranglehold – and everyone acquiesces. No – they cheerlead.