chapter  3
17 Pages

Two gears of class

Social change does not move in only one direction. Imagine the United Kingdom as a vast steam locomotive headed for its destination, a city called Classlessness. Inside its engine, two different gear-wheels are grinding away. The first is small and whirrs quickly. For thirty-five years after the war, it drove the country to the situation where many sectors of the working class enjoyed an inC01l1e and lifestyle associated before the war solely with the 'middle' or 'upper' classes. It generated new opportunities for an expanding portion of the population and eliminated SOlne ofthe harsher aspects ofpoverty by creating a welfare state. The second gear is vast, slow and inexorable. It is the gear ofwealth, ofpower, ofwhat Marxists call the means of production. Reorganizations of the nation's occupational structure, redistributions ofincome and wealth and reforms of health and welfare have done little to interrupt the remorseless turning of this wheel. It seems to have rotated at its own pace, quite independently ofwheel number one and regardless ofthe efforts ofengineers to speed it up. Since 1980 the two gears have changed direction, driving the train in reverse.