Education and classstruggle
She advocated for those she represented, the popular control of all schools,
non-provided as well as provided; and urged that the schools – elementary,
secondary and technical – should be free to all; and that no child should
receive education that was in need of food first. As to secular education,
she pleaded for this in the interest of justice and expediency. There should
be no favour to any one Church in this matter. As to the Bible itself, she
would retain that in the schools, side by side with other standard works
Chapter 3 explores the issue of class relations in the Renaissance. Sir Thomas Smith’s De Republica Anglorum (published in 1583) has an elaborate taxonomy of social ranks from those born to govern down to those who cannot rule ‘and yet they be not altogether neglected’. The classification of social strata was applied to literary texts by George Puttenham, indicating that class and literature were connected by contemporary literary theorists and that writers in Renaissance England certainly had the intellectual tools at their disposal to think about class. The chapter explores the economic prospects and social assumptions of a number of writers, most of whom came from the ‘middling sort’, many of whom felt themselves over-educated given their prospects – one reason why they gravitated towards writing. A number of plays are analysed, including Arden of Faversham, which explores the social changes inaugurated by the Reformation and the availability of cheap land; The Shoemaker’s Holiday, which examines fantasies about work and holiday; and Massinger’s A New Way To Pay Old Debts, which laments the destruction of stable social values and the rise of the unscrupulously wealthy under James I. Edmund Spenser demonstrates an acute sense of class status in the Amoretti; Richard Barnfield represents Lady Pecunia, an allegorical representation of wealth. The chapter concludes with an exploration of the career of John Taylor the water poet, a writer whose work expresses the anxieties of uncertain class status and who fashions himself as someone outside social systems, able to speak truth to power.
How do we think about radical politics today, in the wake of the collapse of Marxist-Leninism and the triumph of neo-liberal capitalism? How should radical political theory respond to new challenges posed by globalisation, postmodernity, the ‘war on terror’ and the rise of religious fundamentalism? How are we to take account of the new social movements and political struggles appearing on the global horizon? In addressing these questions, this book explores the theme of universality and its place in radical political theory. It argues that both Marxist politics of class struggle and the postmodern politics of difference have reached their historical and political limits, and that what is needed is a new approach to universality, a new way of thinking about collective politics. By exploring various themes and ideas within poststructuralist and post-Marxist theory, the book develops a new approach to universality — one that has implications for politics today, particularly on questions of power, subjectivity, ethics and democracy. In so doing, it engages in debates with thinkers such as Laclau, Žižek, Badiou and Rancière over the future of radical politics. The book also applies theoretical insights to contemporary events such as the emergence of the anti-globalisation movement, the ‘war on terrorism’, the rise of anti-immigrant racism and the nihilistic violence that lurks at the margins of the political.
’ because she
believed that humane ethical attitudes, rather than blind market forces,
should govern social relationships (see also Hopkins, 1931: 60).
Mary Barton develops a contrast between two ethical systems, that
of the working class, based on caring and co-operation, and that of
the middle class, based on ownership, authority and the law. The
dichotomy is similar to the conventional gender-role division, and
Elizabeth Gaskell has been criticised (e.g. Lucas, l966: 174) for trying
evade the question of class-struggle with an inappropriate domestic
ethic. She had
. Nevertheless, as a way of intervening in current debates about
the nature and composition of the working class, there is much to be
learned from attempting to conceptualise, with the greatest possible
respect for his anti-theoreticism, a notion of class from Thompson’s
writings. This chapter will attempt to synthesise a concept of class
from specific texts by Thompson and to explain why the continuation of Thompson’s project is both relevant and necessary for today’s
debates regarding class and classstruggle.
The problem with theory
Thompson was, and with good reason
that can function as regulative ideas, even for subjects themselves.
Žižek’s main point of contention with Butler and Laclau, or with the proponents of micropolitical identity struggles, is that they accept capitalism as ‘the only game in town’ and as the basis, the price to pay, for the pursuit of identity agendas. 8 The repression of class politics in the new left mantra of ‘race, class, gender and sexuality’ limits classstruggle to the assessment of how it is that capitalism creates sexist and racist oppression. Micropolitics avoids
From a cultural point of view, classstruggle is difficult to fathom when unemployed graduates with low-wage jobs share more or less the same culture as middle and upper-class professionals. 8
Adam Turl, Ares Coffee Riot (Red Mars) , 2016. Acrylic, coffee, sharpie meteorite dust, glitter stickers, photocopies and wheatpaste on canvas, 121.92 x 91.44 cm. Red Mars is part of the 13 Baristas project, a series of works about a group of fictional coffee shop workers and artists living in a socially precarious not
commodities’. Acknowledging that such activity could be
positive, he nonetheless described it as ‘therapy by
hibernation’ and a ‘sleep-cure’.
The PCA saw urban working-classstruggle as central;
Fanon saw it as secondary. The working class in colonised societies help
to run the ‘colonial machine’, he argued. By virtue of its
relatively privileged position vis-à-vis the impoverished
1960s radicals and political defeat: a lost cause?
After the 1960s rebellions, hope and resistance soon gave way to despair and
retreat: as Mike Davis has observed, the eclipse of this radical period in the
US was characterised by downturns in levels of political activity, splits within
organisations such as the SDS, mass state repression targeted at the Black
Panthers and others, and, most crucially, a steep decline in classstruggle (Davis,
1986: 222–3). Tom Hayden recalled the ‘death upon death’ inflicted on the
left (Hayden, 1988: 505). Hirschman
, they developed an Industrial Relations Bill
which proposed replacing the collectivist laissez-faire system of industrial
relations with a comprehensive legal framework intended to restrict
conflict.19 Such increased intervention by the state in employer–labour
relations induced a major change in trade union strategy and resulted
in a dramatic re-configuration of the classstruggle. Many trade union
activists and rank and file workers began to recognise that their material
interests could no longer be maintained solely through the operation of