When I was a lot younger, my boyfriend read Loaded. It was a new magazine, lots of interesting articles, stuff about interesting writers, places, lifestyle stuff, I read it when he’d finished with it. He stopped buying it in the first year, because it turned into something else and he didn’t like it. I read this quite frank interview by one of the longest serving editors of Loaded and I thought it was quite interesting.
I don’t recognise half of what is passed off as being represented as this mythical ‘white working class male’. I realised quite recently that quite a lot of politics is based on what this mythical racist, sexist, god knows what else ist excuse for the lowest common denominator wants or the risk he poses. The need to appease the hatred of those who fall outside the contributory principle of Beveridge’s welfare system, comes from the need to appease this man.
I read this today, by Louise Whittle, about Ken Loach’s film ‘Spirit of ’45, and I don’t need to add anything. But what I will say is this. This mythical white working class culture they all had to preserve in aspic to generate nostalgia, went for a reason. We evolved past it, chavvy or not, and the men I grew up with knew why we were growing past it and wanted to. Working class women have always worked and grown men were not emasculated by something that had always been the case. Working class Britain has never been dulux white and homogenous. The people manufacturing these white working class male ghosts to guide future political action, don’t want you to notice it is their prejudices they are projecting on to something that doesn’t come close to looking like that. The country would not function if everyone thought like that.
The manufacture of the EDL depends on this group of rag tag casuals who can’t afford the football, being treated as representative of this figure, failure to please this figure loses elections don’t you know? This man hates everyone. We are the true political will of this man.
Beware the populist threat because they will represent this nasty racist motherfucker who can’t be educated into reason. When I read that article about the very posh boys projecting their nasty and juvenile wants and desires onto men they would never really meet for market share(you don’t want to write ‘come across’ when discussing Loaded) it clicked.
The fight against the EDL is generated and inadequately fought by those whose entire political ambition is imagined round this figure and the need to liberate him while protecting everyone from him. They whip up the risk that generates the threat they pose. I thought it was interesting that the boys at Loaded had no idea that they were manufacturing the perception of culture. I thought the assumption that the response they generated was validation of their projection, the lengths they would go to to protect that, was also interesting.
For our political and media culture, the white working class male has been something to adapt according to their own needs and which of their nastiest traits they want to justify. They are going to get a shock now that meeting his many variations is unavoidable, because white working class men moved past that shit by necessity, because they wanted to, and the ones that wanted to preserve that in aspic had to tolerate the left or drink in the type of pubs where people who agree with the EDL congregate. I never saw racism and misogyny bare naked before I started talking to those who sell it as representative of everyone’s secret feelings.
I’ll tell you something else, the people hit by austerity were hit by the blindness of the Spirit of ’45. This is a cumulation of the failures of the systems that evolved from that blindness, and that is why people were hit along intersecting lines of race, gender, illness, disability. The intersection of race, class, and economic inequality happens there and they know they are bound by debt, welfare, low wages, and the mismanagement over generations by an entire political class. The bureaucracies that turned labrynthine from that blindness are doing the damage.
It’s the distaste of the nasty white misogynist culture the unions carried through generations where they claimed guardianship of working class political influence. Pillocks like Dave Prentis and Len McCluskey got to emerge from the cesspit in which it had to be preserved, at the expense of everyone. It’s not a blue print for political action, it’s a piece of nostalgia that demonstrates what went wrong and stayed wrong. But that’s why they need a film like the Spirit of ’45. The complexity of reality is beyond them and implicates them.
The white working class male is a euphemism for the sacrifices which were made for our current system to function, and the industries that gave legitimacy to that culture. The culture nostalgic for ’45 was preserved to mask discussions of the changes our credit based economy and political culture required. Just admitting those changes happened makes this lot irrelevant. The only masculinity crisis on the horizon is the delayed reaction of our political class/