Posts Tagged ‘Pistoleros’

The Feral Children of the Upper Classes

July 23, 2014

I was reading A Gay Mentalist’s blog a little while ago, and a term he used to describe the middle classes struck me. He called them ‘feral’. It’s not a word that usually applied to the upper ranks of society. Usually it’s given to the underclass and their children, the type of people, leading bleak lives of deprivation and pointless moral squalor. The type of people with no jobs, and no self-respect, whose chief and often only activities seem to be drunkenness, drug dealing, violence and sexual promiscuity. The type of people who provide the raw fodder for Jeremy Kyle, as they slouch onto his show to present their sordid tales of domestic abuse and accuse each other of stealing each other’s partners.

It does, however, also perfectly describe the attitude of the middle classes, and particularly the hysterical ranting of the middle market tabloids and the vicious, punitive attitude of the Tory front bench. ‘Feral’ implies savage, wild, extremely aggressive, vicious and untameable. You apply it to animals, like feral dogs infected with rabies, and vicious creatures like wolverines and pole-cats. It’s applied to creatures that most definitely stand outside the safe, decent and civilised, like the notorious ‘rat boy’, who got into the news a few years ago. This was a small boy, who already had racked up a long list of offences despite his extreme youth. He got his name because he used to disappear down the various service pipes lying about his estate to escape from the police.

The Murderous, Middle Class Persecution of the Poor, Disabled and Unemployed

Yet ‘savage’, ‘vicious’ also describes the Tory attitude to bullying the weakest members of society – the unemployed, the disabled, asylum seekers, everyone, who got on to the Tories’ wretched little list of people they want to persecute. The violence isn’t necessarily physical. They haven’t quite descended to the level of the Nazi party just yet in sending stormtroopers in to beat and murder benefit claimants, but it’s there nevertheless. Think of all the people Mike, Johnny Void, Kittysjones, Stilloaks, Glynismillward, Tom Pride, the Angry Yorkshireman, Untyneweare and so many others have blogged about, dying in hunger and squalor due to benefit sanctions. It’s the result of a vicious, murderous attitude to those they deem below them every bit as vicious and unrestrained as the type of gang hatreds you can see acted out on street corners in the sink estates. Fuelling it is a palpable sense of threat and status anxiety – that the working class and the unemployed are somehow a threat to middle class society and its precarious norms – every bit as vehement as that of the local thug or bully, who declares that he just wants a bit of ‘respect’.

Eton and Public School Bullying

It also accurately describes the culture of bullying and violence that pervades private, and particularly elite, education. The bullying in public schools is notorious. A friend of mine, who came from such a background, told me that in the public schools you were bullied horrifically in your first year, only for this to stop and you to become a bully in your term in the second. And some of the bullying truly is horrific. Way back in the 1980s Private Eye reviewed yet another book on Eton, and said that the accounts of the bullying there were so extreme and revolting, that if they occurred in state education it would result in a public outrage and demands for the school closed down or placed in special measures. One example of the type of bullying that went on came from one old Etonian, who said there was one boy, who forced others to eat ice cream mixed with human excrement. The bully is not named. It was, however, stated that he was now a prominent lawyer. And some of the bullying was sexual. Given the sexual nature of some of the cruelty, it’s probably not surprising that the elite covered up the paedophile activities of their members for so long. Exposure to that kind of bullying at public school may well have inculcated a kind of indifference to it, in the same way it is argued that too much exposure to porn or extreme violence in the movies will habituate viewers to even more extreme and depraved acts in normal society.

Physical Attacks on the Poor by Public School Children

And the children of the rich are violent too. A friend of mine once told me that ‘Eton Rifles’ was about a gang fight in which a group of public school boys beat up a group of lower class lads. It also affects the security measures some local businesses adopt to protect their property and customers from assault from the rich and privately educated. A little while ago I went on a tour of East Anglia and the Fen Country with a group of friends. One of the hotels we stayed in, a magnificent inn dating back to the Middle Ages, had various measures up to stop people causing trouble. They weren’t particularly intrusive, and I can’t remember now what they were, only that they were there. They weren’t imposed to stop the usual drunks and thugs starting fights in the bar. They were actually aimed at protecting the premises, customers and staff from the pupils at the private school nearby. At the end of the school year, or the term, these children would leave school to start fights and smash up the shops in the time. Presumably they felt entitled to this as their parents were rich enough to pay the £40,000 a year school fees.

The Public School Gun-Nuts of Snapchat and Pistolero Violence in the Developing World

You can see some of that same attitude on the story I reblogged this week about Snapchat, the Facebook site for public schoolchildren. This featured them showing off their wealth and contempt for the rest of the society in the most offensive ways possible. Among them were using £20 and £50 notes as toilet paper, and waving around guns. These, they claimed, were to protect their estates from ‘the peasants’.

Let’s examine the double standards going on here. If a Black lad or someone from the White underclass put up a photograph of themselves waving a gun around, trying to be ‘gangsta’ or mouthing off about protecting his ‘manor’, there would be angry and excited columns in the Mail and other papers screaming about ‘gun crime’ Britain. And not without reason, either. Gun crime and gang shootings are a problem in many British cities. You could also compare it, and the attitude underpinning it, to the right-wing gun-nuts in America. They’re affluent, but not necessarily rich, and the image tends to be of rural red-necks announcing that the government will only be able to take their guns away from ‘their cold, dead hands’. They’re as much objects of ridicule and contempt as seen as a threat.

No such opprobrium seems to be applied to these children, probably because the upper classes have always had a fascination with guns and shooting. Orwell remarked that the aristocracy and middle classes were brought up for war and battle. Which makes them sound like Dr Who’s Sontarans: bred for war. The stereotype is of aristocratic families, who have supplied a long line of soldiers and generals since the founder first came over with William the Conqueror, and who list various antecedents who fought at Agincourt, conquered India under Clive, and then did their patriotic duty at various battles in the Napoleonic, First and Second World Wars. The Combined Cadet Force frequently formed part of their education, training them for further service and leadership in the armed forces.

Now there are certainly parts of the world where, if you’re rich, you most certainly do need armed protection. There’s some extremely grisly photos around the web of the White farmers, who were killed by armed robbers in South Africa. In other parts of the Developing World, it’s historically been the other way, and the poor have most definitely needed protection from people like the gun-crazed youngster on Snapchat. In many parts of the Developing World the rural poor were kept in serfdom by the masters of the estate, who hired guns to intimidate and kill anyone who stepped out of line. Way back when I was at school about thirty years ago, the BBC screened a series, Brazil, Brazil covering that country and its history. This covered that aspect of Brazilian society, the owners of massive estates in their haciendas, and the pistoleros, the gunmen they employed. They talked to the peasants, who’d been threatened and attacked by these men for asking for wage rises or otherwise daring to challenge the absolute domination of their lives by their masters. Now you can conclude from this that the rich kids now showing off their guns on Snapchat and ranting about protecting their property from peasants are just reacting to the real violence against the wealthy in many parts of the world. Or they’re simply rich brats, with a feudal sense of entitlement, who really do believe that the lower orders are peasants, who should be kept down with armed force, exactly like their public school friends in Latin America do with the peons on their plantations. Considering the way Priti Patel and the other authors of Britannia Unchained believed that Britain should follow the exploitative employment practices of developing nations like India, this is a real possibility.

In short, A Gay Mentalist is exactly right: there is a culture of vicious, feral violence amongst the middle classes. It’s shown in the horrendous bullying for which the public schools have been notorious since the publication of Tom Brown’s Schooldays. It’s shown in the violent contempt so many have for the lower orders. And its there in the need to humiliate, persecute and kill the working and lower middle classes, the unemployed and the disabled, as expressed in the system of benefit sanctions, and physical testing now being used to decimate the welfare state. It’s there to satisfy the sadistic cruelty of RTU, Fester McLie and latest upper middle class thugs now taking up residence and valuable office space in the DWP. And its present in the terrible sense of threat clearly felt by the Daily Mail, the Express and every right-wing newspaper, not excluding the Torygraph and the Times in their editorials and their need to drum up further hatred against the poor, marginalised and underprivileged.

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