Social class in the UK, despite the best efforts of Politicians trying to convince us otherwise is as strong as ever in terms of the division and privileges associated with it. This piece is not about causing antagonisms between people from different backgrounds, there is enough of that sort of thing going on by the very fact that there is a class system so heavily rooted in British society, it is more an attempt to discuss some of the issues relating to social class and ecology.
Social class and access
A persons social class, particularly if you are in the lower echelons has a profound effect on a persons ability to access a whole host of things, including – Health, education, a decent living wage, and all of the resources that many take for granted. The higher up the greasy pole of the social ladder a person is, the greater all round access they have to what I have mentioned above.
Social class and ecology
It is fair to say that those who have a greater access to general resources create more waste and pollution than those with a limited access. For working class people who live on a tight budget the waste that they generate is likely to be lower than those from middle and upper class backgrounds simply because they do not have the economic means to generate the levels of waste and pollution that those with disposable incomes do. The green movement, for want of a title is very middle class, this isn’t because people down the social ladder are unwilling to live ecologically sound lives, it is down to the fact that people from working class backgrounds are not educated about social issues and do not come from cultural backgrounds where education is promoted with any sort of vigour, people from lower down the social ladder also cannot afford to buy products that are ecologically sensitive. Coming from a very working class background myself, my entrance into understanding politics and ecology came about through my involvement with alternative culture in the 80s and 90s, which had its origins in Punk rock music which I got into whilst I was at secondary school in the late 70s. At the time I was seen as an outcast by some members of my own community because I chose not to ‘get my head down and work’ However once I explained to them what I was trying to achieve and learn as part of following this different life route I received some sympathy and moral support from those who I grew up with.
Breaking down the class barriers
Breaking down the barriers of social class is no small task, a true classless society would mean dismantling the hierarchical mechanism through taking control of the means of production, and running the industries of the future in the manner of cooperatives, guilds and associations, but isn’t this what we all want, A world free of divisions?
Social class and a permanent culture
There is no place for social class in the type of future that we need where the well being of people and planet walk hand in hand, Capitalism, and the control of resources by Capitalists has created and perpetuated the class system which divides us all, it is also capitalism that is draining away the last of the worlds resources to service the colossal debt generated by the Banking sector during the credit crunch. A world without social class can only occur in a world without capitalism, an ecologically sound future can only occur without capitalism. If there is to be anything like a class war, it should mean that we wage war on the class system itself and come together to share resource, skills and new practices.