Karl Marx, through his 50 volumes of work produced during his lifetime, analysed the exploitative nature of the capitalist system that had developed during the Industrial Revolution in England. The sudden, dramatic and sustained social and cultural changes produced a brutish and highly ignorant mindset in those forced to work 15 hours or more a day, including men, women and children. Whilst selling their labour cheaply, the working class suffered a paralysis of mind that conformed to a body required to perform the same task, at the same efficiency rate, minute after minute, and hour after hour, for some body else’s well-being and profit. As the physical body of the worker was not allowed to deviate from the labouring task at hand, and given that generally speaking, none of the workers received any true education outside of the working environment, the mind became dull, aggressive, violent, and unable to see its own predicament. This is the false consciousness of the lost working class that Marx and Engels both observed and discussed. This false consciousness is still here today, despite a State education system, which after all only exists to produce suitably exploitable labourers.
Only the bourgeois, with their elitist establishments, receive an education that is self-transcending, but only as far as the Judeo-Christian traditions allows. Bourgeois transcendence is merely only the cultivated ability to perceive their own privilege, and understand that it is not in their best interests to change the working and living conditions of the working class. Therefore, the bourgeois allow the working class to fester in their ignorance and prevent any development of self-awareness from occurring by making it very difficult for the working class to access higher education. Instead, the working class take on the mindset of the derisive attitude that is projected onto them by the bourgeois – the new wage-slave masters. It is in the bourgeoisie’s best interests to allow and encourage working class ignorance, with its alcoholism, drug addiction, superstition, sexual abuse, sexism, physical violence, racism, and selfishness. These attitudes are everything the bourgeois despise, but which are the very foundation of bourgeois exploitation. The working class, through their abhorrent behaviour, are the antithesis to the bourgeois thesis of conservativism. As long as the working class remain unable to perceive the true nature of their existential predicament, they will keep replicating the modes of ignorance transmitted from one generation to the next, and be completely unable to change their negative attitudes of mind, and detrimental physical behaviours.
Recently, on a train in south London, a working class mother was sat with her two young children – a boy and a girl. Three middle-aged, shaven headed and drunken men – football supporters returning from a Chelsea game – got on the train shouting loudly and gesturing wildly. One of them wanted to tell the latest racist jokes he had picked up on the terraces, but stopped himself short when he saw a Chinese woman with her child sat quietly in another part of the carriage. The young girl – around 8 years old – the daughter of the working class woman, started to play in a half empty carriage whilst her mother flirted with a boyfriend over her mobile ‘phone. One of the football supporters said to the mother that he could make her child behave, and astonishingly the mother told him to go ahead. This brutish and ignorant man stood-up and loomed over the little girl and shouted in a manner typical of the English Defence League – “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!” There was a shocked silence for a moment, and then the child, in a state of shock, burst into tears, whilst her mother just sat their laughing, stating that the child deserved what she got. The three football supporters started laughing and swapping jokes about Gary Glitter, Jimmy Savile, and visits by Social Services, etc.
Here is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with historical oppression and the distorted psychology it produces. These people are responsible for their actions; this is true beyond a shadow of a doubt, but they are also victims of some one else’s oppression inflicted upon them as a class. The woman described above is manifesting all the cultural markers of a submissive female, simultaneously reinforcing patriarchal stereotypes, whilst pandering to the presumed dominance of the ignorant men involved. This poor excuse of a mother allowed her own daughter to be verbally assaulted by a complete stranger in a public place, and then further betrayed her by siding with the perpetrator of the assault. The damage done psychologically and physically to this child will permeate through her life. The men themselves, being the good working class thugs that they are, see themselves as superior to women and other ethnic groups, blame all the unfairness they experience in life on immigrants, fight amongst themselves, work for a pittance, vote Tory and read the Sun Newspaper. They are despicable examples of ignorance as a virus that spreads through minds and bodies soon after birth (and probably before), as historical materialism makes its presence felt. This ignorance has to stop and the working class must make every effort to raise its own consciousness. Although there are many progressive working class people, the movement is only as strong as its weakest link.