I am a white, educated middle-aged man.
It would be nice to think that everything I have done is through my own endeavour, but the crushing reality is, through no fault of my own,(and often without me ever realising it) I probably owe my relatively happy life to circumstance and luck, through being a white, educated man, more than talent, ability or endeavour.
More importantly than that, however, I have a sense of identity. I know who I am. I belong to a church, I belong to God, I belong to a group of people who I know will care and love me. I believe in things theological, ideological, philosophical. And again, all of this is not through my own doing. It is through the kindness of others, through grace, that I feel like a whole human being.
Atheists can feel that too, of course. I’m not saying “I’m right”, I’m saying “I’m terribly fortunate, and thankful for it.
It’s important that I keep remembering that luck and good fortune play an important part, because it’s too easy to feel like you’re part of a minority –even when you’re a privileged few.
James Delingpole, journalist and frantic self-publicist, said “[I am] a member of probably the most discriminated-against subsection in the whole of British society—the white, middle-aged, public-school-and-Oxbridge educated middle-class male,” He said this without a hint of irony.
The last few years have seen the rise of the over-privileged acting like a minority. Step up two fellows who really know what it’s like to be “not part of the Establishment”. Dulwich college educated ex-Stockbroker Nigel Farage, and Repton educated friend-of-the-prime-minister Jeremy Clarkson.
Both of these folk will claim to stand up for “the common man” (gender specificity intended), not realising that they stand up for the privileged few.
I think I’ve said before on this blog, that we have moved from being a nation of “belongers”, to a nation of “passive critics”. Allegiance to social clubs, Unions, political parties and of course churches has declined. I believe we’re coming to the end of that process, as people see their need for belonging and believing in things, but at the moment, we are in a sociological position where people feel rootless, listless, isolated.
And without the “knowing who you are” bit, without the self-identity, be it philosophy, ideology, religion or sense of belonging, then however privileged you are, you’re going to feel that someone else is in charge of your life. Because in a very real way, you aren’t.
Now if you have no power and influence, and you blame others for how you are feeling about your spiritual ennui, then it’s a sadness. But when you are massively influential, when you have gifts of persuasion and charisma and confidence, when you have contacts and ambitions, all of which have been improved by your privileged background, and you blame your spiritual ennui on minority groups with less influence and less privilege, then you are a bully. The more power you have, the more of a bully you are.
Nigel Farage has said today that we don’t need most of our race legislation, especially in the workplace, because it just hampers businesses, and we are not a racist country. Even though members of his own party say they would not sit down with a black man at dinner, because they don’t like them.
Jeremy Clarkson is being treated as the underdog because he’s been suspended by the BBC. Because he tried to punch an underling when they hadn’t provided him dinner.
We live in an time, it seems, when everyone, even the white, male elite, lays claim to be part of a discriminated-against minority. There are responsibilities to being powerful, rich, privileged. But more than ever, without the sense of identity which gives us our core, our balance, our security, there is a new wave of anxious, powerful, childish white men.
When the privileged persuade themselves they are a minority, they become bullies. Which is exactly what I think Farage and Clarkson are.