We’re all in this together?

Guy Fawkes maskJanet Daley has conflated technological advance and economic growth,  which I’m fairly certain she spends most of her other life extolling,  and must have lived in a very different 1960s and 70s to me.

Single mothers were mostly reviled, not used as cuddly childminders you kept in the attic; my black neighbours and Irish family were faced daily with outright bigotry; homosexuality was only partially decriminalised in ‘67; my mother didn’t go out to work because we didn’t own a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner and most of her time was spent doing housework; my father decided what went on TV because he was the ‘head of the house’; when we didn’t have a car, we walked or used public transport so I saw my grandmother rarely because she lived an expensive train journey away in…Cheshire.

Nowadays, people like me can have a (15-year-old) car to get to work in, can study independently because we own computers, keep in touch with friends and family and stay up to date with current affairs, and even drop a thought or two of our own in, because we have smartphones.

That’s what the elite – the political leaders, the rich, the chattering classes – are threatened by: the erosion of their influence by the democratisation of knowledge and autonomy: ‘chavs’ like me have the same access to what they’ve had for a long time; people have fought for and won equality, as a political right, with the few who could afford it back in the golden era when we were all under their ‘superior’ thumb. The hypocrisy of the meritocrat is that they are always more meritorious than the rest of us.

On the other hand, we have 2.5m people out of work, nearly 1m or 25% of our young people; we’re seeing pay freezes and pension cuts; the financial sector gambles with our money and takes tax handouts when it goes wrong; politicians think they’re above the law; corporations are fleecing us and trying to make profit out of our public services.

So it’s not about social breakdown, or celebrity culture, or individual ‘acquisitiveness’. It’s a social revolution: people just aren’t engaged in the existing political and economic infrastructures and they’re beginning to do something about it.

Paul Mason says it much better than I can: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15326636.

And here are the four charts that explain what the protesters are angry about: http://read.bi/4Charts.