The Rise of the Common Man

Brits at least tend to complain endlessly about their lot. But there was a time when, unless you were born into “genteel society”, or the aristocracy, then you were pretty much stuck with the way things were for you and the best most people could hope for was that things would get no worse for them.

Those of “high birth rank” were generally reasonably wealthy simply as a by-product of their status and actually working for a living was mostly regarded as something that was way beneath them. Good craftsmen were of course valued, but they had to know their place and stay in it since they were almost entirely dependent upon patronage. Consequently, both the craftsmen and the general population were tightly controlled. The old joke was that the Squire said of the common people to the Parson, “You keep ’em ignorant, old boy, and I’ll keep ’em poor. That way they’ll stay in line.”

With the industrial revolution, though, came the beginnings of the consumer society, as ever increasing production required an ever expanding market – which meant that you and me had to become clients with disposable income.

So, when you feel that life is crowding in on you and you’re working your tail off for nothing, just remember how things have changed … haven’t they?

Er … well … I’m not so sure about that. I’d have to say, not a lot really. We’ve swapped one set of masters for another (in fact, many of them are the same people wearing a different hat). Where once patronage, obedience and snobbery were the key, now advertising, consumerism and spin have become our Aristocrats, Squires and Parsons. It’s repeatedly drummed into us that we really do need that new washing machine, car, fridge, 38″ Plasma TV, holiday in the Seychelles, or whatever. But do we? Or have we just been brainwashed?

No way am I advocating a return to the old ways of the nineteenth century and before, but what I am saying is that we’re being had! It’s all baloney! Yes, the labour saving appliances are great, but we only really need them in order to give us more time to work for the system. Likewise the car is necessary for us to get to/carry out our work and the TV is essential because we’ve been told it is and that’s where we get most of our daily dose of indoctrination from the conglomerates telling us what to buy next – oh and it also serves as the new “Parson” telling us what to think. The holiday in the Seychelles? Well, where we once worked without respite until we dropped at an early age, now we need to be maintained in reasonable working order so we can keep on going as both producers and customers, plus it’s another reason for us to keep on with the daily grind for the rest of the year – it’s both a carrot and a stick!

It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?

2 Responses to “The Rise of the Common Man”

  1. You know what? I like you. I’m subscribing to your blog.

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