Class 1B

Letter by John Donaldson, London

Thanks for the article on Betsy.

One of the reasons working class people may be reluctant to become involved in stuff like ‘Activist Class Culture’ besides being too busy scratching a living, is because they have a highly-developed bullshit detector. ‘If in doubt, don’t’, my lot used to say. Betsy’s right – people who laugh at the same jokes do hang out together – it’s to do with where you come from rather than where you’re at, I think. It is to do with feeling safe and comfortable in what is familiar.

Her research about how many words the middle class use (139) on average compared to the working class (51) sounds right. Working class people frequently like to check things out before opening their mouths, and then get to the point. They may lack confidence due to not being encouraged to speak out growing up or not having those kind of role models. However, typically, it is the workers who are clued in and have an accurate picture of what is going on.

When referring to the working class list of self-identified strengths, she says these are pretty consistent: ‘We’re resilient, we know how to stretch a dollar, we have intense loyalty to our family, our people, our neighbours; we’re straightshooters, we hate bullshit’. And as she says ‘every institution in our society and every group in our movements need these strengths....’

Amen to that!