Monday, 11 July 2016
"Middle class intellectuals" meme
Back in the noughties, there were extensive blog debates about the pros and cons of invading Iraq. One of the more curious memes employed by the pro-war writers was the idea that anti-war opinion was largely the preserve of the middle class ‘dinner party’ left, with their “bruschetta orthodoxies”. All this seems rather arcane and silly now (for some of us it did at the time) not only because the anti-war concerns were rational and warranted, and non class specific, but also because those using the “dinner-party” meme were themselves middle-class intellectuals like David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen. The gesture is one of fake populism, pretending that your own view stands heroically opposed to some nebulous liberal-left middle-class consensus and, by implication, with ‘ordinary people’ and “the bloke down the pub”. This might not be worth mentioning were it not that the same rhetoric is surfacing again with regards to Brexit, where the Remain/ Brexit divide is narrated as the conflict between a metropolitan/ liberal/ middle-class elite and the “ordinary people” defying them. Once again, it’s nonsense.