How the Middle Classes Appropriated “Oppression”

When I were a lad (yes, even Londoners had northern accents back then), and a left-wing activist, we were greatly concerned about oppression; and in the 1980s, there was no shortage of examples. The South African police had shot dead schoolchildren in Soweto in 1976, and continued to gun down innocents on a regular basis. In Latin America, US-backed dictatorships kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands of activists. In Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, US-backed terrorists attacked civilians on a wide scale, with a special love of atrocity. In Africa, civilians were slaughtered in proxy wars between the US and USSR. Asia saw brutality on an unimaginable scale.

The left stood for the rights of oppressed peoples, but understood clearly that oppression is primarily a function of economic means, not of race, sex or sexuality. While we also opposed prejudice on these grounds, and supported women’s rights, gay rights and anti-racism causes, we knew that ultimately, oppression and poverty were inextricably linked.

But the left slowly died as the Cold War came to an end, and capitalism (coupled with social democracy) proved itself more resilient than Marx had predicted. The death of the British left can be located to a particular date: 3rd March 1985, when the miners sadly walked back to work after their long strike. For me, and many of my friends, this marked the point when our activism ended and we drifted away to live our lives.

But the organs of the left remained, and were rapidly taken over by a new breed: overwhelmingly white, middle-class and rooted in academia rather than trade unionism. This new left failed to understand the economics of poverty and oppression (never having witnessed these things themselves), so set about writing themselves a new ideology. So we found ourselves thrust into the era of identity politics.

The new left lacked the intellect of the old, and found itself making the most fundamental of all mistakes: confusing correlation with causation. So the left now sought out new groups that appeared to oppressed. Because white people held the most economic power, the moronic left reasoned that skin colour was a cause of oppression, and labelled all non-whites as victims. And since laws had been rigged against women, the left decided that mere possession of a vagina was equivalent to oppression.

While paying lip service to the oppression of the poor, the overwhelming white, academic, middle-class left no longer had any links with the working class, and so they focused on rescuing the oppressed groups they knew best: themselves. Largely, this meant that the individuals with the most “oppressions” (yes, I’ve really seen it used in the plural) were fast-tracked to the top. Those who screamed their self-pity the loudest became the most powerful, fast-tracked into political power.

But the rise of gay and black (often both) individuals was orchestrated by the white people who kept a firm hand on the reins. Black people would only be allowed into the hierarchy if they accepted that they were oppressed. Gay and non-white people who didn’t see themselves as oppressed by their colour or sexuality were labelled self-haters, and side-tracked. Non-white activists like Linda Bellos, Lee Jasper and Diane Abbott were only acceptable because they echoed the view of the white, middle-class establishment that they were oppressed.

In the intervening years, the self-pitying rhetoric of “oppression” and “privilege” has only gained further ground, to the extent that the meaning of these two words has been twisted almost beyond recognition. Almost comically, white, middle-class women appear to have decided that they are the most oppressed of all. Now, oppression isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something that you are. Now, oppression isn’t having your children shot dead, or a daily struggle to feed one’s family. No, oppression is a white middle-class woman, with a good job, having to endure the fact that men like looking at pictures of breasts. The following is a genuine tweet from just such an oppressed woman:

On tube sat next to a man reading The Sun and thus I start my day feeling a continuing sense of oppression

One wonders if Prozac might be the solution to this sort of oppression… or perhaps just a nice spliff. But I digress.

The old left tried to overturn oppression, but to the new left, this is pointless. Rather than fix inequalities, the left has decided to cement inequality into place permanently. Now, anybody labelled Oppressed must be given special privileges as compensation. In a deeply Orwellian twist, the more oppressed one is deemed to be, the more privilege they must be given in return.

Thus, the woman who finds Page 3 imagery objectionable need not merely boycott the Sun (as I’ve done my whole life). Now she has the right to demand that Page 3 is removed from the Sun. As an oppressed woman, she has won the privilege of censorship. Don’t Page 3 models also have a right to work? Apparently not – the rights of the oppressed middle-class woman are far greater than those of the working class one.

The “black community” (an almost meaningless phrase) is also deemed to be oppressed. Those black individuals who accept their oppression (and scream loudly about it) are welcomed by the left. Black individuals who doubt their own oppression, or who see the dangers in teaching black children that they’re automatically oppressed, are screamed down as self-haters.

This was most clearly shown by the recent London art exhibition, Exhibit Bwhich was forced to close after the “black community” (or rather, a mob of 200 people) blockaded it. Thus, black people are SO oppressed that they too are granted the right of censorship of anything that offends them. Never mind that the exhibition had been critically acclaimed in multiple cities before reaching London, or that black people were far from united in hating it, or that those who protested against it had never seen it.

The irony with Exhibit B is that the mob was enabled by the white elite. Their oppression (and thus, their privilege) was granted to them by white people. Their language of “oppression” and “privilege” was forged by the white middle-classes in universities around the country. Far from being “conscious” or liberated, this black minority is determined to follow a white agenda to the bitter end. The left is determined to tell black people that they are doomed to fail; and give them a handy excuse for failure – their skin colour.

So now, the left doesn’t expect black people to conform to the rules affecting whites. And so, politics has turned full circle. In accepting that black people, women, and other groups, are oppressed, the left has attempted to destroy the very thing it used to fight for: equality. Now, groups deemed oppressed by the white elite are granted special allowances. And the fight for equality takes a huge step backwards.

So is it any surprise that groups have sprung up on the right to declare men and white people oppressed? Sure, these people are laughable – but no more laughable than the claims of oppression by the left. Self-pity is the new black.

If you’re born into a middle-class existence in the UK, you aren’t oppressed. This is true regardless of your skin colour, who you choose to fuck, or the shape of your genitals. It’s genuinely sickening to watch the pity-fest that has replaced left-wing politics in the 21st century. Get over yourselves.

20 thoughts on “How the Middle Classes Appropriated “Oppression””

  1. Also remember white middle class women feel oppressed by icky things such as strip clubs in their area and lads mags on supermarket shelves.

    This can of course be comparable to having your children shot dead or starving to death.

        1. #Object #RozHardie
          #Rosalind #Hardie #Ejiohuo
          #SpearmintRhino #Spearmint #Rhino
          #radfem #radical #feminist
          #Rapistgate #rapist #loser #scum

  2. The entire movement against oppression is not about getting “privileges”, and it’s not giving up because we’re “victims”. It is about fighting privilege. It is about getting rights that we should be entitled to but do not receive. Women and people of colour are simply aware of the fact that they are not treated the same way white men are. Women know they’re not getting paid the same as a men even if they do the same work, women know they could be attacked/hurt/raped/killed any day just because they are women. And people of colour know there’s a bigger chance they can get arrested/shot, not be employed/promoted and be portrayed by the media with a bunch of racist stereotypes.

    Oppression is currently the result of systematic discrimination. You can argue this is a result of who has the more money, it makes sense because they have the most power and get to make the rules. But regardless, the results in anyone who is not white and male being discriminated against because they are not white or male. A black person can be middle/upper class but they can still experience racism.

    I don’t think it’s possible to get an accurate assessment of any of these issues while ignoring their historical contexts. Oppression is the result of patriarchy and white colonisation.

    I do agree that “oppression” is currently trying to be re-defined so that it can be applied to anyone whose feelings get hurt. But like you said, these people are laughable and no one who is really oppressed listens to them or takes them seriously.

    It is true there are many feminists out there who are very uptight (which is why I’m not a fan of mainstream/white feminism) and they’re not always onto the right target. And there are people of colour who may at times take it too far (like claiming Jesus was really black, etc). But it is unfair and incorrect to paint us all under the same brush and think these are the only people in these communities who are actively working to create change.

    I do also object to the fight against oppression being something white people gave us. If that’s the case I’m sure they’re regretting it by now. Because every time a woman writes an article on feminism and every time a person of colour writes about racism, white people (men especially) jump down their throats and start trolling like there’s not tomorrow.

    Women and people of colour don’t think they’re victims who need to just give up and are destined to fail. A lot of us are ready to fight as hard as we can so that we get the best shot at success, we are fighting precisely because we’re full of ambition. We just know that we don’t get the same treatment and we are not valued as much as white men. And that’s not OK, and we should not shut up about it.

    1. My problem is in part that, as human rights have moved forward a long way in 40 years, the cries of “oppression” have grown louder, and largely not from people who could really be considered oppressed.

      I agree rich black people can – and do – experience racism (a successful friend of mine was always being stopped because he drove a nice car in the 80s, when black men were rarely seen with money). But racism and racial oppression are different things, and the lines have become blurred. It could be argued that poor black Americans still suffer racial oppression (check out the prison stats), but certainly that doesn’t apply to black people globally. I’ve posted recently that here in Britain, children of African immigrant origin outperform white kids at school. There are large, successful African communities in London. Clearly, racism isn’t stopping people in Britain from achieving economic success.

      But I take issue with this kind of thinking, which is now commonplace: “women know they could be attacked/hurt/raped/killed any day just because they are women”. Excluding rape, all of the above things happen far more often to men than women. In the UK, men are about twice as likely to be murdered than women. If there was a significant misogynistic motivation for violence, it would show statistically in the murder rate – but it doesn’t.

      Men are also far more likely to die in war, industrial accidents, etc… all of which spoils the “women are oppressed” storyline, so tends to be ignored. Feminists will focus on the fact that men dominate CEO positions while ignoring that men also dominate jobs in coal mining, fishing, the military, heavy industry, construction, etc, all of which are high-risk jobs… surely if the world was run by Patriarchy, women would do all the dangerous work?

      There are interesting reasons for why men and women make different career choices, but the “glass ceiling” model is wearing thin.

      1. As a minor point, there is very little coal mining or heavy industry left in this country. Its loss leaves certain areas in the UK with endemically high unemployment. Which may or may not be “oppression”.

        On the Sun, I won’t buy any paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, but that’s my call. I should have thought (OK, I know) there is far more explicit material easily available online than anything that appears on Page 3). Generally, i think it’s worth remembering that a lot of these “oppressions” are actually people taking offence at something, usually at a liberal approach to sexuality. Yup, let’s go back to the 1950’s.

        1. I don’t think that miner point’s a minor point. Economic oppression is perhaps the realest of all real oppressions, really. Neo-feudalism, etc.

      2. : “women know they could be attacked/hurt/raped/killed any day just because they are women”. This is why the Yesallwomen thing was miserablist,fear mongering and painted all women as victims.

        Too many progressives spend time going on about how terrible life is for women instead of celebrating their achievements.

        1. And conversely, wilfully ignore / are blissfuly ignorant of the many areas of life in which ordinary men are routinely disadvantaged nowadays.

    2. What bizarro universe do you come from? It surely isn’t the 21st century West, where as an entity in possession of a vagina you are automatically a member of the most privileged, pampered, entitled demographic to have ever walked this Earth. Who do you think you’re kidding?

    3. White men are valued? In the 21st century West? LOL You’ve no clue, have you? Maybe if they’re gay I suppose, but your average ordinary heterosexual man is, if not a member of the super-rich governing elite, the most picked on, abused, despised member of society – despite being the ones who actually built and continue to maintain this female-centric society you protesteth to be so mad about.

        1. Well, routinely portrayed as helpless idiots and desexualised in the media in general, and by the advertising industry in particular. And don’t get me started on stereotypes re violent crime…

    4. “I don’t think it’s possible to get an accurate assessment of any of these issues while ignoring their historical contexts. Oppression is the result of patriarchy and white colonisation.”

      Oppression is the result of ANY imbalance of power which is open to abuse. Are you unfamiliar with the history of Ireland (800 years of foreign colonisation, famines caused by ‘cash crop’ farming by absentee British landlords, ‘indentured servitude’ – i.e. slavery in all but name – and deportation for petty crimes, etc.), for example? Or the centuries of working class struggle, often in the face of organised violence, which eventually resulted in the freedom to form trades unions and the Labour movement, education for children of all classes and the universal franchise? Neither of those are neat fit for your rather narrow social model.

      As for ‘patriarchy’…Patriarchy Theory was first formulated by Friedrich Engels, at a time when British society could very easily be regarded as patriarchal, but can the same claim be made realistically today?

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