Barry Sutton on Class

Barry’s Sutton on Class and where we are politically:

We have to be careful when we talk about ideas like is the curse of the drinking classes. Socialism and working-class often refers to a ‘golden age’ of the left from 1945-70. But that world only exists in photographs and left-wing nostalgia. Ask a Deliveroo or Uber driver what they think about Marx...and these are workers who would benefit most from his thinking! From L4 but went to grammar school, geographically working-class, educationally middle-class. Where this model falls down is that real power lies with people who control capital-irrespective of their class. Also, sale of labour is not just a class question, just overlapping Venn diagrams.

The question of how people are treated because of class is the same, too broad for a meaningful answer. Politics is understanding nuanced trends experienced by billions over time, slapping an arbitrary label on a group is lazy thinking. The city feels much better now in my opinion, and although politics had Hatton in the 80s, they’ve still got the champagne socialist cunt. I can’t agree with ‘working class rejected Labour.’ An idea was sold to the electorate which delivered a mandate to leave the EU. My analysis is the Brexit campaign tapped into some latent and actual racism which is beyond class boundaries. This delivered a bloodless far-right coup which will turn UK into a low wage/tax/benefit system like US. We’re talking about the voting patterns of tens of millions of people here, all have different views and motivations. As soon as we generalise, there is no point valid to be made. I’ve been doing some work for a good friend of mine who is in the Labour Party, we share common ground politically. Hilariously, Kier Starmer represents most of the things that I’m against.

‘Does the old school working-class demographic exist anymore’ rather than ‘does the Labour Party represents it?’ (Not sure what it represents. Starmer is a slimy opportunist, not a visionary). Society has changed so much since these definitions were valid, it’s a Call Center no union culture now...not militant factories with strong unions, that model is 40+ years old. Hedonism and vanity are the new politics. I say that gazing into a mirror with my face covered in high-grade coke. I guess that some people are doing okay materially and they don’t feel the need to collectivise and engage with their communities anymore. Society has become increasingly atomised...PS5, Zoom and social media instead of meaningful face-to-face connections-lockdown has sped this process up.

But some form of collectivism is inevitable in the future, especially when the systems underpinning global society-banking, agriculture, industry-start feeling the bite of entropy and collapse...Covid and climate change pour petrol (ironically) on this bonfire.

I had a highly political job for years, was trade union rep for the place, which had the fortunate result of making me even more left-wing. I’ve been interested in politics since I was a teenager, always to the far left of centre. Having said that, terms like working-class socialist, Marxist, capitalist etc. should be under constant review because they can be extremely misleading. I stopped calling myself a Marxist because unless the other person has exactly the same concept of the word, then you started a conversation based on a misunderstood premise. ‘Conceptual baggage.’

Music had very little impact on the development of my political views, however, my Mum and I share the same worldview. I cannot answer questions about the experiences of other people, the working-class, children because I would just be speculating. I celebrate having consciousness, divorce myself from any ideas of class. Broad labelling shows me nothing. From my perspective, I don’t think mainstream politics can change the world for the better –but systemic failure inevitably will. and culture are marketable, anyone making money will not consider what class someone is from before they release a record. B

Barry added this comment:

“We need a contemporary definition. The way the class system presents in this country is becoming more nuanced.”

My thoughts:

If we want to avert an increasingly exploitative and authoritarian state then we need urgent assessment of what has gone wrong, who has most been failed and how we unify and challenge what is happening. I don’t believe that can ever be achieved without the politically invisible section of the working class. I do think there needs to be some form of political home for that to happen and I can’t see that there is one for the working class anywhere currently.

The working class itself is much, much more disempowered and atomised, much more apathetic, for many reasons. It serves those who exploit all of us for that to remain the case. Barry and me agree that the underlying problem is capitalism itself.

Anyway, here is Barry performing Steer Calmer and the Liverpool Nightmare and I am grateful to him for his honesty and willingness to take part in the discussion.