Columns

Revolution and class war

Franklin JOHNSTON

Friday, March 22, 2013    

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The Communist maxim that class war would lead to the overthrow of capitalism has not materialised. Socialism proved a good option as welfare states of Europe attest; many would sell their Granny for a visa to Europe there to enjoy a free council house, education and unemployment pay. Capitalism also proved an integrator of social classes. Excess side-by-side with great disadvantage underlines the motives of rich and poor - the "have not's" want the same things as the "haves". The rich desire riches but the poor do not desire poverty. A few weeks ago I got into company with Wray & family and spouted much wisdom while under the influence - we thought so. There is no more fun in the IMF debates so we fixed Jamaica, retooled industry and discussed class war and revolution. Listen up!

We agreed that prosperity was a better integrator than colour, family or race and our tragedy is that we have never known prosperity. Much angst is fuelled by class prejudice. The working class is our bedrock but this breed is endangered and is more a statistic than real workers. We refer to class a lot and love hyperbole; he is a genius or a fool; a "dutty nasty negah" or a "good, good man". We speak of low class, last class, "wutliss". People refer to class to prefigure the negative. The way we cope in distress is to disembody; wickedness is bearable when we blot out the man with the knife before us but cite his class, race, colour; otherwise the pain of reality is hard to bear. The mind sanitises unbearable grief and pain.

Class is a divider. The proto rapist who feels the high class girl "tink she betta dan im" is intent on bringing her low. If we use value free terms as upper, middle and lower, we may understand how class works. Working class is no longer valid as all classes work. Some say that he middle class work hardest, as they get pressure from above and below; that upper class are effective; they "work smart", are productive and that the lower class limps along. The data say we are recklessly low on labour productivity in the civil service, farming, manufacturing, services. We do not produce to save our lives, our nation, our dignity and the IMF is here again to witness whether you are better than your parents who failed miserably last time. Can we emancipate ourselves from economic slavery with the white people's cash this time? Regrettably a few top minstrels and athletes cannot save our nation.

Many people recognise class as a marker. Their kids must not play with those from downtown, Cedar Valley, Standpipe, Chambers Lane. Even parents in those areas prefer their kids to have friends from outside. This is class war and choice of friends can help or hurt your future. What are you? lower, middle or upper class? How do you know? I was privy to a tirade about the "last class dutty negah dem" by a helper. She pays for extras so her kids come home late and have no time to fraternise locally. It revolts my sense of solidarity, but people living in the same space are not always a community. Most people want to be middle class, move to upper class and no one wants to be lower class - the default setting.

Following in father's footsteps and being proud of his class is big in the UK. Here we want to be better than father, not walk in his footsteps. No machete wielding farmer's son has ambitions to be like him. Does class have value? Middle class people tend to be flexible and tolerant. A lower class diner will cuss-out the waitress toe-to-toe as she sees her as equal; the middle class diner "looks down" on the waitress with a glance that could give her heart attack. Upper class leaves a measly tip to protest poor service. What makes class? Is it birth, education, job, money, behaviour? Read on!

When my market vendor lady says she will not tolerate any "low grade behaviour" round her stall, is she middle or upper class? My friend says he is lower class but his mother is middle class. Is class born or bred? His elder brother is upper class as Dad had money for the first child to go to "name brand" schools but he went to a new secondary so even their friends are different. His are working class, his doctor brother's are middle class. His brother talks English; they don't watch the same TV shows or cheer for the same school at Champs; he plays dominoes, his brother chess. He gets along with his brother but they don't go to the same parties. This is fascinating, one family three social classes. Class is powerful!

Are women naturally middle class? They are aspirational by attire, ambition and prod their man to be his better self. Men don't care much. Many children of lower class parents say they are middle class as they have degrees and cars but their speech and conduct betray them. My friend says he is working class (a well-paid rigger); he did poorly at school but got his choices - food, music, taste, values from his middle class parents. His mates have lower tastes. He goes to their pad for burger, beer and troll music but he cooks, glass of wine with Ella Fitzgerald on the disc manager. If kids get class values from parents then we have a big job with parents. Can the middle class have lower class values and lower class have middle class values? What are these values? Who is more snobbish, middle or lower class? The middle plan, have a sense of future, pay social dues. The lower lives day to day-is this true? Middle class values are valued by lower class but are values defining? Speech seems to be a part; if you talk posh (not speaky-spokey) you go places, if not you remain in place. They even sideline lawyers who speak poor English.

My lower class friend with his parent's middle class values does not relate to his work mates - feet on the sofa, cutting toenails in the living room. Karl Marx was wrong. Capitalism does not intensify class war here it subverts it. Will the lower class revolt because they watch Royal Palm, eat from a box and listen to Shabba? Is class war mediated by whether you watch soaps or Spartacus? This is crazy; revolution reduced to manners and mores? The conscious middle class may be our revolutionaries! Eat your heart out Marx. All change gentlemen Wray and Nephew has left the building! Stay conscious my friend!

LOTTERY SCAM ... This heinous crime means we have moved up the intellectual crime scale and are now unassailable top dog in crime, brutish or brainy, whichever no one comes close. You say Americans were gullible to be taken by the scam; yet months ago our business brains were scammed of billions in obvious Ponzi schemes. Some years ago in a banking crisis, men of fiscal wisdom were seduced by tempting interest rates and lost their shirts. Our wise ones fall prey twice in a decade; foolish? We berate Americans in their 80's what of our geniuses in their prime? We worry about impacts on tourism, telemarketing and our brand but who cares for the Americans? This is wrong! Tourism is people visiting places and people they like not hard, cold industry. We want them to visit and spend money but don't care a damn about them as individuals! Are families offering them some hospitality here? Sympathy? Does Cabinet offer reparations? It might alleviate tourist fallout if we show them we care! Our leaders created this monster when they failed to prosper our nation. God help us!

Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education.

franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com

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