The essay “The Problem of Proletarianisation” is, as befits anything from the hallowed cloisters of Aristasia, a masterly analysis of the symptoms of post-Eclipse decline and degeneration which characterise that cauldron of smirkingly self-righteous confusion known as the Pit. I would not presume for one moment to disagree with the thrust and substance of the discussion. It is, typically, a superlative piece of writing and offers a subtlety and depth of insight not to be found anywhere else. In particular the point about vocal degeneration being a symptom of a wider all-pervading degeneration is excellently made. My sole quibble lies in the fact of this process being referred to as proletarianisation. I cannot accept that the features of this degeneration, as outlined, are intrinsically proletarian or plebeian. Certainly they represent a falling away from “the ideal of the gentleman and the lady”. Undoubtedly they amount to a rejection of traditional hierarchy. But the phenomena described bespeak such a chaotic rejection of form as to defy ascription to any social class, even one which, like the working class, is not a part of any traditional estate, or caste.
Perhaps I am allowing personal circumstances to intrude too much. I am myself from a proletarian background, growing up in the shadow of pit and chapel, factory and Co-op. This was a world in which doorsteps were scrubbed, goods were paid for without asking for credit (not because ‘a refusal often offends’ but because you didn’t - at least not without incurring considerable disapproval); in which you were taught to respect your elders, not to throw litter, and that a job worth doing was worth doing properly; in which women would not allow the smallest strip of cloth to be thrown away; and in which working men in the club on Sunday lunchtime wore hats and waistcoats with chains. I knew the proletariat when it was a proletariat. They don’t know they’re born nowadays.
I appreciate that the above thumbnail sketch is somewhat idealised. This has clearly not always been the condition of working class communities. Indeed it would be dishonest of me to suggest that it applied to everyone in the community of my early years, though I still say it is broadly accurate. In particular the claim might plausibly be made that the picture drawn is a pre-Eclipse one, and there would be some truth in such a claim. The claim would not, however, be completely true: the picture retains a good deal of its accuracy until well into the Second Decade. In addition, working class people of no great age were among the most scathing and dismissively scornful of many of the developments which we now term bongo.
The upshot of the foregoing is that the proletariat was at heart socially conservative, being ever suspicious of new-fangled trends of every kind. (The exception to this was, of course, the case of working class young, who shared with the young of all social classes in the post-war period a shoal-like disposition to dart after everything shiny and new. In this, however, they were not being working class young; they were simply being young.) The conservatism of the working class was attacked constantly throughout the post-war period - including the first twenty, pre-Eclipse, years - from such seemingly diverse quarters as, on the one hand, the lower middle-class tabloids who saw in its entrenched unionisation a block on the development of “free enterprise” and, on the other, marxist ideologues who raged at its preoccupation with material benefits and working conditions when it was supposed to be fulfilling its “revolutionary destiny”. Neither to be overlooked is the fact that proletarian conservatism has frequently been savagely lampooned by middle-class bongo comedians.
It may be objected that this is a too concrete and narrowly specific view of the lower orders, and that what was meant - as demonstrated by the interchangeable use of “proletarian” and “plebeian” - was a general tendency toward the lowest stratum. However, among specific reference to class divisions and sub-divisions, there is mention of an attempt to promote “working class culture”. I therefore claim that my attempt to separate the proletariat from the symptoms of Pit degeneration is both fair and sound.
In mentioning “working class culture”, the authoress rightly describes it as an absurd concept. What is not stated, though admittedly implied, is that the attempt to promote it in the 1960s was made, not by the working class itself, but by the emerging “New Left”. It did not last long. Never mind the absurdity of the concept - other things were happening. Alongside and destined to supercede it were the issues of sex and race which would in due course take over the concerns of the left entirely, being far more to their middle-class tastes and to the requirements of the global powers. Indeed, many young leftists in the late First Decade had already dismissed the working class as “fascist” - a clear indication of where their loyalties lay. By the time those Second Decade “scheedents” arrived at “yeeniversity”, the Octopus’s agenda for dismantling the working class in this country was already well advanced. Its young middle-class radical foot soldiers were being moved on from supporting the proletariat with its uncooperative entrenchment — always a thorn in the side of big capital — to those newer concerns which were much more to the purpose of the Octopus’s drive towards deracinatation and dissolution.
My purpose in pointing this out is to suggest that, while the bongo accent is undeniably an “embarrassed” accent indicating a desire to escape from the clarity and precision of Received English, it does not correspondingly indicate a desire by the speaker to ensconce himself in anything which may be described as having proletarian affiliations. The bongo accent arose at a time when the proletariat was on its last legs, both as a political cause and a living reality. I would therefore take issue with the implication that the “tyeeoo o’clock” vowel emerged as a result of a conscious avoiding of “phoney cockney accents”, a deliberate compromise between the embarrassment of Received English and the embarrassment of a phoney proletarianism. The bongo accent seems to me to be characterised less by what it is than by what it is not. It is a flight from the real while possessing no reality of its own. The same could not be said of a proletarian regional accent - cockney, say, or geordie - which, while not being the Queen’s English, still has its own history and reality.
Here I admit I am moving into speculative territory. How can something exist and yet have no reality? Probably in the same way that the Pit itself exists and yet has no reality. The Pit is not a stage on an evolutionary journey to a higher form, as it constantly deludes itself into believing. It is a twisted rejection of its own essential form, which is that of a real social order. It is a Negation, a disobedience, a not-ness. Everything it is, everything it does, is a striving to disown its Tao, its essential being. This is what is meant by its having no reality: it is a shadow trying to wriggle free of the substance which casts it. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the Pit’s philosophical relativism, its rejection of the True, or of God, a condition which, in its advancing totalitarianism, it has eased steadily into the image-sphere of its mind-slaves. To assert the existence of such a thing as an ultimate truth is by now to live quite dangerously.
And what is true of the Pit as a whole is also true of its constituent features, including the bongo accent. It is undoubtedly true to say that the bongo accent is an embarrassed accent. It is also a smirkingly hubristic accent. It wears the furtive grin of the truant or the deliberate nuisance - the child whose natural playfulness is distorted into a defiance of proper authority. Take, for example, a phrase tailor-made for the bongo accent: “That’s really gyeeood.” If on hearing it you can bear to examine it closely, you will notice that it is spoken with a lingering, aching drawl - as if the speaker were locked in a narcissistic self-embrace, purring with deracinated pleasure. The bongo accent, bulging with me-ness, is itself a symptom of the headlong plunge toward nothingness. Notably it reflects the relativism of the Pit in the (by now oft-remarked upon) habit of introducing a questioning lift in the voice at the end of a phrase, thereby blurring the distinction between a question and a statement. This seems to be in direct line of descent from a similar earlier “form” in which an assertion, a question or a suggestion would take the form of a statement, but would end with the word “Yeah?” - indicating, one might suggest, an avoidance of responsibility, a sense that reality could be ascertained only by common assent. No wonder the middle-class liberal-left were shocked to the core by working class assertions of concrete reality, however limited, and would mock them with old saws like “nowt so queer as folk” or “where there’s muck there’s brass”!
Another thing: even where, as the authoress rightly says, lower class girls use a bongo accent (and it is more noticeable on the distaff side), it is not as self-consciously mannered as when girls of a higher class use it, that is, those who ought to be speaking the Queen’s English (surely a classic case of corruptio optimi pessima). I would guess also that there is a regional aspect to the phenomenon: the bongo accent insinuates itself more easily into the speech of the lower classes in the South East — where the Pit, insofar as it has a geographical element, is at its deepest and darkest — than in other parts of the country. This is precisely where type-threes are more numerous and there does exist greater contiguity between them and the lower classes. Interesting, I feel, that the “tyeeoo o’ clock” flagship vowel is more readily found in a cockney or sub-cockney accent than in other regional accents.
There ought to be a way of summing up the process of decline which, in and of itself, would imply a way back to sanity and soundness. My tentative suggestion is to refer to it as infantilisation. Since the emergence of “yeeth culture” around the time of the Eclipse, there has arisen an embargo, firstly on growing old, and latterly on even growing up. The whys and wherefores of this would occupy us for some time: loss of religious faith leading to a fear of death, mass consumerism leading to moral enfeeblement, psychological gobbledygook leading to a preoccupation with “me”, rapid changes leading to a horror of being out of touch. Whatever cause or causes, in the Pit the condition of being an upright adult who knows his duties and responsibilities; who understands that living properly entails a necessary continence and discipline, and who dresses and conducts himself accordingly; and who, ultimately, is prepared to lay down his life in obedience to a greater good - this type of individual has been eroded to such an extent as to cause one to wonder whether he can ever be recovered as a general model.
In all things there is a constant deferring to youth, both as a physical fact and a psychological condition. Middle-aged men wear open-air knee-length pyjamas. Parents act as their children’s equals, thereby subtly conferring upon them a de facto superiority, and vie with them as to whose generation was/is the more “rebellious”. Heart-rendingly, older people wear bouncy-soled trainers and baseball caps. We know, of course, that this is not some sudden, unheralded madness which has overtaken ordinary people. What I term infantilisation is clearly a part of the Octopus’s overall strategy. At the political level it includes the moulding and monitoring of opinion to curb belief in adult independence and individual responsibility; the undermining of rights of property and inheritance; and the inexorable rise of totalitarian economic corporatism. These are in any case mere details. The ultimate aim of the Octopus would seem to be a world filled with propertyless humanoid “children” of all ages and races joining hands in a fluorescent playhouse surrounded by barbed wire.
One may object that to be a child is every bit as natural and proper a condition as to be a member of the proletariat I have been defending. Yes, but only up to a point. A person may be a proletarian all his life. He may never rise above that station and yet live responsibly and admirably and make good spiritual progress. No one can make similar progress by remaining a child all his life. Certainly to be a child is for the very young an entirely proper condition. But it is a condition to grow beyond. Social survival requires that the child grow into an adult, even if such growth has in recent times entailed a rejecting of magic and enchantment and inculcated therefore a certain stiffness of soul.
I remember one Aristasian writer discussing the bongo notion of the “global village”. She said that it had all the negative features of village life, such as intrusive prying and gossip, and none of the positive ones, such as racinated familiarity and mutual support. One might say in a similar vein that bongo infantilisation has all the negative features of childhood, such as formlessness, messiness and a incessant demandingness, and none of the positive ones, such as joyful innocence and delight in discovery. May we not say, then, that the bongo accent — in its shapeless, whining, narcissistic self-regard — is a specific example of this?
The symptoms of bongo degeneration listed earlier (clearly a small selection from a multitude) are marked by a deformity that would be hooted to scorn had not people been subjected to perhaps the most all-pervading infantilising process - the deliberate eroding of their faculties of judgement by a stealthily applied Pit relativism with its sly introduction of psychologically immobilising words like “judgemental” and “reactionary”. Once people have their moral awareness and vigilance forcibly suspended, they are as babies in prams to be wheeled wherever the Octopus wish to wheel them.
I would suggest, then, that the recovery of a proper, dignified adulthood would be important in preparing the ground for the recovery of patrician speech. Since adulthood is a proper and desirable condition for all classes of people, whereas patrician speech will be the province of relatively few, this may appear to be a bottom-up, “evolutionist” type of suggestion; and we know, of course, that in any sound, racinated social order, the cultural and spiritual life-blood spreads from the Top (that Top being beyond the greatest of men) in a downward and outward direction. Yes, we are in a sense building upwards, but only in the sense that Chartres Cathedral or any of the great edifices of mediæval Europe was built from its foundations upward. The design which governed the building process necessarily already existed and was divinely ordained. Likewise is our design — a renewed, racinated social order nourished by an intellectual élite — already in existence and divinely ordained; it cannot be otherwise!
In any case, those who would embark on such a journey would be those who understood — if only in hazy outline — that an emerging Traditional order would necessarily be hierarchical and would depend on the ultimate emergence of a true élite to give it purpose, direction, and an inner spiritual resonance. The solid, loyal, dependable qualities of a racinated working class — those we call type ones — will be, in their own way, essential to our prospects of recovery, and may well be the pioneers of newly-revived craft tradition. More immediately they will be the tangible human presence which provides a dynamic vitality to the deliberations of the élite, without which such deliberations would seem, for all practical purposes, like finger drawings in the air.
That is all I have to say on the matter. It will be taken, I hope, as a contribution to a general understanding of the forces at work in the Pit, forces against which we are ..er... pitted. I hope my suggestions do not seem in any way disrespectful. Could I ever be other than profoundly appreciative of those whom I hold in the very highest regard? Nay lass!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful contribution. I have to sat that we find little to disagree with. Whether our model be proletarianisation or infantilisation, it is clear, as you say, that what the Pit seeks to create is not the genuine article (real child or real proletarian), but an ersatz parody which has all the faults of its prototype with none of its virtues: just as those "feminists" who ape men in dress and style always seem drawn to the worst aspects of masculinity — they do not aspire to be gentlemen but male slobs!
We certainly should never wish to deny or disparage the many and sterling virtues of the traditional working class — though the Octopus, of course, would and does. It was not these virtues that the grinning bourgeois idiots who promoted the 1960s Cult of the Working Class had in mind. In fact, their smug concept of working-classness was deeply insulting. They "valued" the working class precisely because they saw in it (or wanted to see in it) all the anti-values that their middle-class mothers had told them to beware of in “common people”. The more they came to know a little about the real working class, the more the respectability and decency of its majority disgusted them.
In the "multi-culturalism" other cultures are not valued for what they actually are in themselves (in fact whenever a type three has any close association with any non-Western culture she finds it abhorrently "racist" "sexist", "elitist" etc) but as potential corrosives of their own traditional white Western culture which they have been taught to hate. Similarly, the working class is not valued for what it really is, but as a corrosive against middle-class culture.
And insofar as infantilisation is promoted (though, of course this is not promoted explicitly as the other two are) it is not the good qualities of childhood that are valued — innocence, wonder, purity, faith — but its bad ones: irresponsibility, demandingness, petulance, lack of dignity, lack of self-control. The Pit ideal is not the child, but the brat.
But returning to the question of proletarianisation, a few further comments are in order to explain why we feel the term appropriate.
The classic Marxist definition of a proletariat is that they do not own the means of production, distribution and exchange; that they are dependent for survival on the sale of their labour. This is close to the real heart of proletarianisation. In Britain the patrician accent has traditionally been that of a free-born class, not dependent on the sale of its labour, and secondarily of the middle class — the capitalists who lived by their entrepreneurial talents rather than as hired labourers. The distinctions between the two were often blurred and a caste emerged which combined the spirit of the gentleman with that of the haute bourgeois, creating something that was distinctively British and fundamentally traditional.
In first half of the twentieth century that free-born, or gentlemanly class was progressively destroyed. Since the Eclipse the thrust has been toward a corporate structure in which all but the very few are in practice employees and dependent for survival on the fruits of their labours. The solid “ruling class” stood, in many ways, between international capital and its aims: tending to the preservation of nationhood, tradition and social order, when clearly, since the eclipse, the dissolution of all three has been the aim of the big money and its orchestrated international mass-media.
In Britain, where these things mattered, not only must the financial and political basis of the “ruling class” be destroyed, but so must its cultural and psychological existence. And a lot of that existence centred round the lynch-pin of traditional Received English speech. Therefore that speech must be derided and destroyed. And it pretty much has been. All the bastions of English speech from the B.B.C. to the Universities and Government have crumbled (only too willingly). Real “ruling-class” English speech is now found almost nowhere. Because the English are now a proletariat in the Marxist sense. All of them. There is no British ruling class now. It is international money that rules, for which British — and other — "Governments" merely act as middle-management.
You may argue that the traditional working class is under just as much attack as the traditional ruling class, and that is certainly true, but nowhere has any form of working-class speech been attacked and uprooted as ruling-class speech has. Indeed regional accents of all kinds are actively promoted alongside the bourgeoik bongo drawl. "Anything but the Queen's English" is the rule of the mass-media; certainly for all but the old.
And it is easy to see why. Societies are not built or maintained from the bottom up, but from the top down. Cut off the head of a society or a creature and you can leave the rest to rot in its own time.
Whatever the bongo accent is, it is an attack on patrician speech rather than any other. It affects the proletarian accents of South-East England more by its "fallout" than anything else, and has very little effect on regional speech outside the South East. In some sense it may be true to say (if we may play with an idea for a moment) that what it tries to produce is a sort of pseudo-proletariat, moulded out of bourgeois stock, and taking on the characteristics that the New Left would have liked to find in the genuine proletariat but didn’t.
Be that as it may, it is certainly the accent of a proletariat in the economic sense; of a class that used to be broadly bourgeois (again in the economic sense) but has, within a generation or so, turned into a class of waged employees.
But this is a very weird proletariat. A proletariat in a world with no higher class, like a school without teachers, an army without officers; a zoo where the monkeys have taken over.
Except, of course, that they haven’t. They still get their orders. Their consciousness is policed more rigorously than at any time in the past by the ideology of Political Correctness (Policed Consciousness) which is essentially the ideology of the New Left as adopted and adapted by international money.
This is why we speak of proletarianisation in a sense in no way intended to disparage the traditional working class. The new pseudo-proletariat of the pseudo-headless society is very different from the real working class, and is certainly not fit to black its boots.
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