We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers…and here was this wonderful man who could tell you about the inhabitants of the sea, and who knew that the future was not going to be what respectable people imagined

– George Orwell on his discovery of the writing of H.G. Wells, as quoted by Cynthia Crossen of the Wall Street Journal, in a context that is quite worth reading, as is the follow up discussion at io9. Come to think of it, these sorts of “respectable people” (along with those who believe that housing is not a high risk investment and therefore expect to be bailed out with my savings when this turns out not to be so, those who are in favour of the television licence fee, and…) may be what I have in mind when I proclaim how much I despise the middle class, as I am prone to do.

22 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • HG Wells was one of those “respectable” people who, among other things, believed in eugenics.

    He also wrote some utter crap, like the novel and screenplay for Things to Come.

  • RAB

    I read almost everything that H G Wells ever wrote around the age of 12. I didn’t realise he was a raving socialist at the time. I looked more to his intuitive vision of the future.
    His War in the Air for instance. The imagining of carpet bombing whole cities, when the Wright brothers had barely got their plane out of the barn.

    What class do you consider yourself then Michael?

    That is if you feel the need to pigionhole yourself.

  • cjf

    Joseph Conrad dedicated (if I recall correctly) “The Secret Agent” to H G Wells….at a time they disagreed.

    The primary distinction between respectable politician
    and found agent provocateur is in rewards for disservice

    The collapse of the housing market has nothing to do
    with classes. The media have been covering-up the fact
    that it was theft and corruption. In 1986, Texas Commerce had a similar housing scandal. The feds bulldozed a lot of housing, then.

    The right hand of government is the enforcement of law
    The left hand of government is organized crime. They
    work hand-in-hand.

    Count De Monet. Take the money Enron. Bernie Madoff
    with the money. All were known long before the
    “collapse”. Social engineering.

    I have no class. I’m old enough to have seen that none
    of the classes has any, either. Groucho Marx was right

  • Ah, but what is the “middle class”, these days?

    If class continues to exist at all, it seems that the only way to not be “middle class” is to have either a stately home or an ASBO.

    If there’s still considered to be a class structure at all, I count myself as either outside it, or living a life of sufficient contradiction as to be impossible to pin down.

  • The primary distinction between respectable politician and found agent provocateur is in rewards for disservice rendered.


  • Kim du Toit

    “…when I proclaim how much I despise the middle class, as I am prone to do.”

    You know, I’m getting heartily sick of people who claim to despise the middle class or the bourgeoisie, or whatever they want to call it.

    Lest we forget, it’s the despised middle class who create and manage jobs, who keep society running with their purchasing, and who until fairly recently paid the bulk of the taxes.

    The middle classes own an enormous amount of property, and it’s that ownership which creates the glue which keeps our modern societies together.

    More importantly, it’s the middle class who provide a much-derided set of values to a society where the top- and bottom classes have proven to have the morals of stoats.

    Academics and other denizens of the intelligentsia despise the bourgeoisie (despite being decidedly middle-class themselves); the working classes sneer at them; and the upper classes look down on them.

    But I’d rather be part of the middle class than any of the above.

    The middle classes are not perfect — no one is — but they are certainly better than the alternative. And one thing the middle class has always been able to do is improve themselves — a trait seldom found in their upper- and lower counterparts.

  • Oh, I don’t despise the bourgeoisie. I rather like the bourgeoisie. The middle class is something else, and it is perhaps because the middle class has such contempt for the bourgeoisie (and is simultaneously so sanctimonious and judgmental about things it does not understand such as the climate, the meaning of the word “organic”, the concept of leverage when borrowing money, the impact of free trade on the world, and I could go on and on…) that I dislike it. There may be a difference in usage here – the British meaning of “middle class” is not quite the same as the US meaning. And the observations of earlier commenters who said that “middle class” is such a broad term that it is possibly not useful do have some merit, yes.

  • cjf

    I’ve met people so precise in their communications that I had difficulty understanding them. Meanings, like pottery, dashed upon the concrete.

  • RAB

    Michael, quite a lot of us here are British, we have no idea what Bourgeoisie means, it is a French revolutionary piece of bulshit, that the instant we here it we turn off.It usually means that the person using it has an idealogical agenda.

    We have a fair idea what middle class means though, and we are fed up with the denegration of it.

    If you looked at my lifestyle, because I know which knives and forks to use at a dinner party, which wines to order to complement various foods, then a kneejerker would deem me middle class, oh and I belong to a golf club too! Take me out and shoot me now!
    But I am also Welsh, and because whatever passed for aristocracy there was wiped out hundreds of years ago and the population pretty small, if you asked a lawyer or a dustman what class they were, they would answer Working Class.
    Yes some are considerably richer and smarter than others, but the matter of Class consciousness rarely comes into the equation. There dialogue is across the whole spectrum of supposed classes.
    Kinda like the USA.
    I am what I am, and can be, not what some leftie twat labels me.

  • RayD

    Kim du Toit, hear, hear!

    All economies have rich people and poor people, the successful ones have people in the middle.

    I do worry about the proportion of state employees in the economic middle class, though.

  • Few years ago, in Streatham, I spent the entire evening being abused for being dinner party going middle class by one single idiot. I spoke with a middle class English accent and that had me nailed. At the end of the evening one of the others present remarked, in passing, on my being Australian, and the attitude of the abusive moron change completely.

    Oh, I didn’t realise you were Australian he said. That changes everything.

    I told him it changed nothing, that he was an ignorant bigoted dipshit, and I was happy to be exactly what he originally thought.

    How my nationality made all the features about me that he initially disliked suddenly acceptable is beyond me. My brain just doesn’t think like that.

    Kim, hear hear.

  • Give the guy a break CC. I have been in his position more times than I would possibly like to admit (granted, he may have been a dipshit regardless, which I’d like to think I am not). We all have a tendency to pigeonhole people (as well as everything else), because it seems to help us sort out the great mess that this world is. Of course there is (or should be) quite a distance between pigeonholing someone and denigrating them based on that.

  • Jack Olson

    Barack Obama’s church, Trinity United, had a list of theological principles you don’t find in most Christian churches such as official allegiance to Africa instead of the United States. Among other tenets, Trinity United Church said its parishioners were supposed to rid themselves of “middle-classness”. As opposed to what–upper classness, lower classness? They didn’t mention avoiding class distinctions, they just didn’t want to be associated with those in the middle.

    Obama said he could no more disown the minister of Trinity United, Jeremiah Wright, than he could disown his white grandmother, “a typical white person.” Then Obama courageously resigned from the church after twenty years of membership. I assume he had a divine revelation that middle-classness is objectionable when you’re running for the Senate but acceptable when you’re running for President.

  • Barack Obama’s church, Trinity United, had a list of theological principles you don’t find in most Christian churches such as official allegiance to Africa instead of the United States.

    Huh? Laving aside Obama’s wacko church for a moment, you mean to say “allegiance to the United States” is something typically found in other churches? I realise nationalism does have considerable overtones of a secular religion but…

  • Sunfish

    Okay…who wants to explain to this Yanktard what “middle-class” means in context?

  • Jack Olson

    I have attended several Protestant churches in the United States and none of them made allegiance to the country an official part of their theology although they made patriotic gestures like displaying the national flag and special recognition of veterans on Veteran’s Day. They included patriotic songs in their hymnals. What’s unusual about Obama’s Trinity United Church is that a church congregation consisting entirely of U.S. citizens would pledge allegiance to a distant continent which none of them lived in or were citizens of, and few if any of them had ever seen.

    To return to the subject at hand, the church’s website cited the church’s official “disavowal of the pursuit of middle-classness”. They define the latter as “a way for American society to snare blacks rather than killing them off directly or placing them in concentration camps just as the country structures an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jail and prisons.” If you’re middle class or trying to be, then Wright accuses you of contributing to the imprisonment of young black people through economic oppression. It’s a feeble argument, since in a country with as wide a disparity of wealth as the United States it is the upper class and not the middle who wield the greatest economic power whether they be racist or not.

  • RAB

    It used to go something like this, Sunfish. 😉

  • RAB

    Erm, even better if I’d put the bloody link in.

    I generally belong to the idiot class by the way…


  • cjf

    A very good website of a Canadian whose family came
    from near Orwell’s http://www.orwelltoday.com/

    Is it true there is no monument to Orwell in Britain ?

  • Richard Thomas

    cjf, I fear that the British government is a monument to Orwell.

  • Paul Marks

    Actually I have some sympathy for Rev. Wright – “Paul has finally lost it….” but read on.

    Rev. Wright was the son of a clergyman in Philidelphia – and he studied theology.

    Sadly the young Wright studied under Marxists and was coverted – and it sad when someone loses their faith in God (even some athiests I have known have told me that their loss of hope for indivdual survival after physical death was a sad thing for them – but they had to face the truth as they saw it).

    But the tragedy did not stop there – J. Wright was then told that he had to teach Liberation Theology (i.e. he could not be an open athiest – he had to live a lie and pretend he had not lost his faith at all).

    That is the point of Liberation “Theology” it is a way of using the Christian church for the cause of Marxist athiesm – but that will not work if some people are not prepared to live a lie and actually go out teaching the “new theology” to the masses.

    And it did not even stop there – J. Wright was told he add to a racist element to Liberation Theology in order to make it appeal to black people.

    So it became “Black Liberation Theology” – Wright did NOT invent this (not at all), he just had to teach it. That was the duty laid down upon him.

    The young Wright was no fool (far from it) he know that “Black Liberation Theology” was an absurd botch. The athiest “theology” of “Liberation” with a bit of racist stuff tossed in.

    It must have made him want to throw up to teach this crap, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

    In fact I suspect it is has driven him insane, hence how he spends his retirement days – raving about “the Jews” and their plots.

    The “joke” being that many of the leading comrades in Chicago (and elsewhere) are from Jewish families (William Ayers being one of many).

    But Wright has forgotten that – indeed he has forgotten most of what he once knew.

    He lives in a mental nightmare now – where everything is confused, and he believes the crap he taught (as a con trick to decieve “the masses”) for decades.

    A tragic figure – a man worthy of pity.

    And, of course, a man betayed by the person he regarded as his son.

    No longer the “Audacity of Hope” (did he get royalities on the title of that book – which is from him), just despair and mental confusion.