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(en) Britain, The Politics of Class War

Date Thu, 27 Jul 2006 10:12:38 +0300

From the book Unfinished Business: The Politics of Class War from which the text of
this pamphlet is taken The anarchist Class War federation website can be found at:
*Outline of the Class Structure in Britain.
*The Working Class - Political Divisions.
*The Working Class - Economic Divisions.
*Summing up on Class.
> *INTRODUCTION So far we have covered capitalism and the State * and shown how these two
forces have produced the kind of society we live in. As capitalism represents
exploitation and the State domination then it is hardly surprising that the society they
have produced is split into different categories or classes of people who occupy a
position or status by virtue of their relation to capitalism and the State. In this chap-
ter * on class we get down to the business of applying to society what we have found
out about capitalism and the State. As you might expect, we have a lot to say on the
subject of class.
*class Structure
The traditional view of the class division of society still holds true, this sees three
main divisions:
*The ruling class; at the top, composed of the capitalists and State managers.
*The middle class; in the middle, composed of the 'middle management' of capital-
ism and the State.
*The working class; they are the people who are exploited and dominated by the
other two classes. They consist of those who live and work in the industrialised
world, and those who live and work in parts of the world that are not very industri-
alised, consisting of rural workers and farmers; called peasants. We see these rural
workers as belonging to the same class, the oppressed. The Left traditionally looks
upon them as reactionary and a problem, a view we do not share, and a view that
history shows is nonsense (as in Spain, Russia, Haiti, Jamaica, The Ukraine, China,
Mexico, South America, etc.) This then is the broad outline of the class structure. It
will be useful to try and fill in a bit more detail in this picture of the class system, in the UK.
Class War Federation - Page 3
Please note - the sizes of the classes quoted here have been derived from the
1981 census returns. The State has lists of social classes and socio-economic
groups. Both are defined by occupation. Their allocation of occupation to class and
socio-economic group does not always agree with our conception of class. For
instance much of the white-collar work we would regard to be working class they
consider to be middle class, hence the assertion recently by some British politicians
that the working class is disappearing.
*The Ruling Class
SIZE: absolute maximum of about 5% (probably much less) of population =
approx. 2.75 million people.
IDENTITY: examples of capitalists; owners of companies and major sharehold-
ers, executive and managing directors of the top British companies, bankers, senior
managers of investment and insurance companies, stockbrokers, property and
landowners, not forgetting the royals and other aristocrats who pervade all the top
levels of British society,
Examples of state managers; top civil service managers in national and local
government, cabinet ministers, high court judges and law lords, members of the privy
council, staff officers of the armed forces, police chiefs, high level advisors such as
some economists and top academics such as Oxbridge dons, and of course church
FUNCTION: to maintain their own and their class's domination over society.
Their favourite method is 'divide and rule'; notably setting whites against blacks and
other races against each other, called racism; setting men against women, called
sexism and setting worker against worker. Of course these divisions do not apply to
the ruling class. They are intended only for working class consumption. The morals,
rules and laws of the ruling class do not apply to themselves; their purpose is to keep
us in our place. The strategy of the ruling class is to keep their class united and oth-
ers divided.
*The ruling classes compete fiercely with each other for markets, resources and
political power. War between nation-states and civil war is often the result.
ORIGINS: many are born into the class in Britain but in other countries they tend
to come from all sections of society.
*The Middle Class
SIZE: about 20% of population = approx. 11 million people.
IDENTITY: examples of 'professional' people who work for capitalism and the
C L A S S - Page 4
State; J.P.'s, journalists, doctors, officers in the armed forces, researchers; manage-
ment: in manufacture, sales, distribution and service industries; small employers (i.e.
small capitalists), social workers, vicars and priests, teachers, etc.
FUNCTION: to manage the working class in the interests of the ruling class. To
ensure the smooth running of capitalist society. To watch out for potential crisis in
capitalism and devise avoiding action. To manufacture 'culture', both high and pop-
ular: including pop music, fashion, philosophy, opera and TV.
*To provide technical skills for capitalism and the State in the realm of production
and especially management. A section of the middle class employed by the State
form what has been nicknamed 'the mandarin class' (named after the old Chinese
Imperial civil service who formed a powerful group in their own right). Then there are
the 'failed mandarins' often of a Lefty persuasion who content themselves with cre-
ating small time job opportunities in local government to do 'good works' in an
attempt to 'save' the working class.
*To research into different methods of production and social organisation for
instance 'green' economics or 'communes'. To promote ideas that keep us divided
like racism and sexism by means of the media, education and religion that they con-
trol. To explain and justify the existing organisation of society. To divert our energy
into harmless activity that is called reformism e.g. Greenpeace, CND, feminism,
trades unions - activities that at best will only modify your misery and will not do any-
thing to change the fundamental nature of society.
*The Working Class
SIZE: about 75% of the population = approx. 41.25 million people.
IDENTITY: the briefest way of describing our class is to say they are everyone
who is not in the middle and ruling classes! This is not just a smart arse remark. In
general the working class are people who live by their labour (even the dole can be
seen as a 'wage' - its the deal the State strikes with us to prevent unrest by the unem-
ployed); the ownership of property that generates wealth is a dividing line. If you
have enough property or money not to have to work then you are not working class.
The other component of class Identity is 'social power'. The working classes do not
have power. They are the ones who are told what to do. As a class we are defined
by the activities of capitalism and the State, and the two classes that benefit most
from the status quo; the ruling class and the middle class.
is not to say that we are powerless, far from it. Huge amounts of effort and money
are devoted to keeping us in our place. The working class are the only people capa-
ble of destroying capitalism and the State, and building a better world for everyone.
Because our work is at the centre of everyday practical economic activity in capital-
ism it would be fair to say it all hinges around whether we want to 'play the game'.
IDENTITY: examples; factory workers, distribution workers in road, rail, air and
sea, retail workers in shops, construction and building, service industries such as
Class War Federation - Page 5
leisure, cleaning, catering and the finance industry up to section supervisors.
Agricultural workers, workers in the chemicals, steel, drugs, coal, electronics, engi-
neering industries, many of the self-employed e.g. brickies, plasterers, truck drivers
etc., nurses (over 500,000 - the biggest single work group), secretaries, bank clerks,
computer operators, soldiers up to NCO level, the unemployed, the poor, the desti-
tute - those of no property.
*The Question of Working Class Identity
The working class has its identity questioned and attacked from the cradle to the
grave. Instead of their obvious and real identity, together with their real need for
mutual solidarity, they are offered a warped image of themselves. This image is def-
erential to their 'betters' and a patriotic pride in the State (the UK) and Royalty. Their
self-confidence is comprehensively attacked by education, religion and the media.
Superstitious and bigoted ideas are encouraged at every opportunity.
The people who do this to us (the middle class) then have the cheek to moan
about how awful we are! For instance our young men are encouraged to be aggres-
sive and competitive and are praised as patriots when they go to fight for their mas-
ters in Ireland, Argentina and Iraq. Yet when they swagger down the street on
Saturday nights they are 'louts' or worse according to what paper you read.
If you look at the media in the UK you will find that the working class are allowed
only three kinds of image and are encouraged to look at themselves in the following
*The honest, loyal, hard working, good-hearted citizen.
*The stupid and the misguided, to be patronised.
*The rest, who are portrayed as scum, animals and evil who are constantly to be
put in their place; who are to be shot down like dogs when the need arises.
Into this third category the media will shuffle anybody that stands up against
injustice and oppression e.g. strikers, prisoners, gays, blacks, rioters, etc. and us. All
we can say is that we are in good company!
We are offered a way of life by our rulers that is 'normal'. In this false world of
'normal', patriotism is considered good when in fact all it represents is loyalty to our
rulers. Parochialism, i.e. being concerned with only what happens in your own small
corner of the world, is encouraged at every turn from the 'Little Englander attitudes
of the southern counties of England, to the 'Tyke Nationalism' of Yorkshire and the
sentimental myths surrounding Scottish nationalism. Ignorance and racism are ele-
vated to virtues in the 'normal' outlook and reinforced at every opportunity by the
media and advertising. Even the way we speak becomes a way of assigning class
identity and privilege in our society. BBC English has the police jumping through
C L A S S - Page 6
*Function of the Working Class
Exploited: to produce goods and services for the capitalists in return for a wage.
To buy back what we produce, (whether we need it or not!) To act as a market for
capitalism. In short to be exploited.
Dominated: to be ordered around by the State's laws, police and the bosses
rules; to be the target for vile political campaigns aimed at splitting and antagonising
our class from each other e.g. young and old, workers and unemployed, black and
white, men and women, gays and heterosexuals, parents and kids.
Exterminated: to be the cannon fodder in the military adventures of their gov-
ernments, yet the middle and upper class express horror at the class they have
helped create as if it has nothing to do with them. Yes we are wild and brutal at times
- oppression does not necessarily make you a nice person.
*Class Structure - General Points
In general there are two main components that give you your place in the class
system, WEALTH and SOCIAL POWER. Confused? If there is any doubt in plac-
ing someone in class terms then social power is definitely the deciding factor.
This is a good time to talk about the main divisions that afflict our class and keep
us weak. The main divisions are nationalism, racism, sexism, and anti-gay bigotry.
We are not born like this. It is an artificial state of affairs and can be changed. In
fact we have a strong tendency to unity and solidarity because daily around the world
our class shares the same experiences; essentially to be bossed around (dominat-
ed) and ripped off (exploited). In fact we have so much in common and so much to
gain from coming together that it is obvious to those that rule us that we must be
stopped from doing so at all costs.
Their method is the tried and tested one of 'divide and rule'. They use national-
ism, sexism, racism, religion and hatred of gays to turn us against each other.
Education, religion, culture, the media and advertising are the carriers of these poi-
sonous ideas. As each generation gets battered down by this process they tend to
bring their kids up the same way. Yet not all of us get fooled and sometimes in the
course of struggles such as strikes and wars we get to see what is really going on in
this world. This is what the ruling class dread. They know that solidarity and ideas
Class War Federation - Page 7
can spread like wildfire amongst us. The pressure from us toward unity is so strong
that the ruling class has to devote lots of time, energy and money to keeping our
heads full of nonsense. They employ some of the middle class to do this for them.
This is much more important than many of us in the UK at first realise. We will
concentrate here on Christianity, the 'official' religion of the British State, but much of
what follows applies to all religions. Much of what we say here follows on from the
points made about the relation between religion and the State in Chapter Two. *
Throughout history, the growth and control of organised religions has been a per-
version of natural and social needs that people have felt: the hunger to explain our-
selves, how we relate to each other and the world, and the curiosity about where we
come from. This is a positive and useful inquisitiveness that we all have.
The religious leaders have worked hand in hand with the capitalists, the State
and politicians to exercise moral, social, and political control over the world's work-
ing classes. This is all to keep themselves in mystical positions of power by forcing
social and religious beliefs upon us, (often at the point of death: look at the mission-
ary work in the early days of capitalist imperialism). In the UK many of us are sup-
posed to believe in the official religion of Christianity. We are told that Christ was a
guy who knocked around 2000 years ago, was born by a woman who never had sex
with a man, worked magic tricks, got crucified, rose from the dead and went to a
place called heaven where everything is nice. Come on! Pull the other one! We are
told that this is the "true faith" and that other religions such as Islam, Buddhism,
Taoism etc. are 'backward', which is a laugh.
The Catholic Church is a massive multinational company, a landowner with the rich-
est city (the Vatican) in the world as the jewel in its rotten crown. The majority of the
Catholics in the world are working class and peasants, living in poverty. But they are
expected to give, and live, for the greater glory of a God whose spokesman on earth
is the Pope, a close friend of some of the most right-wing regimes in the world, and
who vindictively opposes both contraception and abortion, condemning many
women to poverty and ill health.
*Church of England
These religious leaders regularly change their ideas to hang on to their followers.
In the 1950's Rock and Roll was seen by most Christian 'thinkers' as "the Devil's
Music". But now in 1992 the present Archbishop of Canterbury says he loves pop
music in an effort to attract young people back to his church. The same church, the
Church of England, is officially part of the government of this country, and regularly
C L A S S - Page 8
blesses weapons of mass destruction and j
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