Class, race, wealth: Britain is a nation blighted by divisions | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian

A child playing in Manchester: ‘Confinement by monoculture is the enemy of aspiration.’ [Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.]

A child playing in Manchester: ‘Confinement by monoculture is the enemy of aspiration.’ [Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.]


Interesting discussion. I’d hope the entrenched left-right views suggested by Mr Behr can be overcome to find a useful way forward.

But, in the current political climate – well…

I have doubts.

I’d say a taste of something is better than starvation. And the effect of inaction is accelerated segregation and the dissolution of any sense that Britain is a shared national endeavour.

That prospect will be the focus of heated debate next week with the publication of a report by Dame Louise Casey, who was commissioned in 2015 to lead a review into “integration and opportunity in some of our most isolated communities.” Casey has worked in this field for governments of different stripes since the late 1990s, giving her ample opportunity to upset people across the spectrum. She is no mincer of words.

In a speech earlier this year, Casey warned that the review would demand “brave conversations” on a range of issues: the educational underperformance of white working-class children; misguided squeamishness around “causing offence” that inhibits efforts to support women and girls held back by “patriarchal and misogynistic attitudes”; the normalisation of Islamophobia; and social conditions that incubate jihadi and far-right fanaticism.

There will be something to ignite outrage wherever dry ideological tinder is stored.

On the left there will be sparks of fury when it is suggested that some communities nurture insular habits of self-segregation. Tricky cultural questions will be overlooked in the rush to locate social exclusion as a consequence of discrimination, inequality and austerity.

On the right the muscle memory of finger-wagging blame will kick in: open borders as the root of national decline; the lazy conflation of religious conservatism and terrorist sympathy; the demand that minorities demonstrate commitment to “British values”, which will be ill-defined and muddied with a presumption that civic virtue is the automatic inheritance of an indigenous culture to which less enlightened newcomers must swear fealty.

Those precooked positions will emerge as vituperative charges of racism and counter-charges of potty political correctness.

Source: Class, race, wealth: Britain is a nation blighted by divisions | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian

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6 thoughts on “Class, race, wealth: Britain is a nation blighted by divisions | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian

  1. NMac

    This is the way the Tories want it. They deliberately create and encourage divisions in society in order to keep wealth and power in the hands of the aristocratic, landowning and monied classes.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        You also want people to think your name is Sanjit when it is actually Brian Carr. Why?

  2. Zippi

    Call me a cynic but I speak as I see and from what I experience. This country has always been one of divisions, particularly those of class, race and wealth. I don’t see that much change from when I was a boy. Obviously, there will be more than one black person in a class, or indeed, the school but the prejudices are still there, the snobbery, those who believe that they are better than everybody else. The difference, I suppose, is the kind of people who believe these things and the reasons why but essentially, people are exactly the same. People don’t like change, especially when it forced upon them.
    The level of immigration in the last 20 years has been far and away what it was when I was growing up and the influx of that number of people in such a short space of time is bound to have a measurable effect on neighbourhoods and society at large. The demographic of certain areas has changed beyond recognition. I would argue that some places have struggled to keep pace with the speed and volume of immigration. We have large areas of one kind of people, which makes integration harder. Back in the day, these would have been called ghettos. For a country that prides itself on its multi-ethnic population, there is a great deal of isolationism and separatism, rather than social cohesion and integration. This, I believe, is at the heart of much of the anti-immigrant feeling and a want to the end of free movement of peoples, particularly given that, it would seem, a good many people want to come here, possibly because we speak English.
    I have said, many times, that we have been living under the illusion that everything is fine, however, you don’t have to peel back much paper to find that this is not the case. Do really think that a few years of Tory governance could create this much ill feeling, or a single referendum about our membership of a political institution? This feeling, this sentiment has ALWAYS been here. I have always said “education, not legislation,” with regard to Political Correctness. You cannot police people’s thoughts and arrest the bad ones, were that the case, there would be no crime. The gentle art of persuasion seems to have been lost. The public and private are vastly different.
    We cannot and must not look for others to blame. We must look at ourselves and ask difficult questions and give ourselves honest answers. Do we value footballers more than we do nurses? Why do our children look to pop stars rather than to their parents? Why does our youth aspire to wealth for no effort? we are being bred to be consumers and this has been happening for years. The need for things has overtaken the need for relationships. People are used and things loved. Who are the Middle Classes? Wealth has always divided us but it was easier to see where the wealth was. Race has always divided us but it was easier to integrate. Religious ostracisation has been with us for centuries; anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, now anti-Islam can be added to the list. We know that the others have not gone away, in fact, anti-Islam goes back hundreds of years, too. These things are not going to disappear overnight and just because some people get on, that doesn’t mean that the barriers have gone, it just means that some people get on. Tolerance is the word of the hour. Who wants to be tolerated? People want to be loved, accepted however, we don’t even LIKE everybody who we meet.
    We, by our nature, are tribal. The difference is in what these tribes are, be it people who speak the same language, listen to the same kinds of music, have the same colour skin, or are strangers from the same country in another, those who drink ale, or go to festivals, share our faith, our ideals, our sexuality, a love of animals etc. Aye, there is more that unites us than divides us but the same things that unite us also divide us. Ah think that these things are cyclical; we’ll go through a rotten time then, things will settle. You cannot force change and change happens slowly. £asting change happens either slowly, or suddenly and devastatingly. As I said, education, not legislation. People have to accept change. What do we want and what do we need? People are cheap and will take the path of least resistance, however, when people are repressed, unable to express themselves, trouble lies ahead.
    Britain is a nation of divisions, because there is so much to divide us but those things are the same things that make Britain Great. We have to take the rough with the smooth. Oxygen is poisonous but with out it, we die.

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