22 January 2007

Britain's White Trash: an ugly term

"White trash" is a term of abuse applied to victims of New Labour's capitalism

One starling fact is how quickly working class people at play have been reclassified as ‘white trash’ – a rather nasty term which is borrowed like much else from across the Atlantic. While of course I would say nothing to defend the racism, bigotry and ignorance of the women on ‘Big Brother,’ the lot of their class is not an easy one.

The assault on working-class communities gathered pace in the 1970s. Job security disappeared in the 1980s with unemployment, and the job creation since then has been of the flexible here-today-gone-tomorrow sort. Globalisation sped up geographical mobility and commercialised most areas of life, destroying the fabric of working class communities. Immigration – Black, Asian or Polish – has intensified competition for work and housing.

The upswing of capitalism, however, since the late nineties has increased working class disposable income which has furnished more people with consumer durables, leisure and touristic opportunities. The middle class has been able to accumulate sufficient resources to guarantee for itself a measure of security and has adapted its lifestyle to the rhythms of globalism both economically and ideologically. By contrast a large part of the traditional working class is swirled around like confetti on a turbulent ocean. It is thus significant to note that it is these victims of globalisation who are the portrayed as the trash of the system.

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