Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I walked 13km to lunch with my Dutch friend Peter today. And, after it, 13km back to my car. I’m not sure why. But, anyway, one of the things we discussed over the meal was whether there’s a “working class” in Spain and, if so, what it’s called in Spanish. Peter’s view was at one with that of reader Mike, viz. that the basic dividing line here is not between ‘classes’ but between Right and Left, with the overlay of a religion (Catholic, of course) which favours the former. Meaning that the Right comprises both very rich and very poor. As to whether Spain’s (pallid?) version of the industrial revolution had thrown up what’s called in the UK a working class, we weren’t sure. But it certainly seems as if (as reader Moscow has said) the label is not commonly used here.

But the real discussion was of bullfighting, as Peter represents the Contra side of the dialogue I mentioned the other day and which will be featured here soon, after it’s reached a conclusion and I can post it in an easy-to-follow format. As it happens, this is a dialogue between two foreigners, both of whom have lived here some time. As and when it’s posted, Spanish readers will be free to contribute as they wish. Plus everyone else, of course. Except, need I say, the ineffable Cade.

In The Times today, Anatole Kaletsky claims that, in the two years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Anglo economies have failed to draw the appropriate lessons and to make the changes introduced elsewhere. Possibly because most forecasts made two years ago have proved over-pessimistic. Contrary to expectation, for example, public opinion moved to the right, not to the left. And the demise of ‘free-market fundamentalism’ has yet to occur. Instead . . . “Business as usual has prevailed. Not only have the banks escaped any wide-ranging regulation, but politics has reverted to the language of the Thatcher-Reagan period.” This Anglo complacency, says Kaletsky, is not shared by China, India, Japan, Korea and Continental Europe, where “the Lehman crisis has inspired new thinking about alternative approaches to managing a capitalist economy.” “In short, the rest of the world appears to be learning from the mistakes that led to the financial crisis and is beginning to forget some of the prejudices instilled by the market fundamentalism of the 1980s and 1990s, which served their useful purpose under Thatcher and Reagan but have now run out of time. The US and Britain, by contrast, seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing from the past two years.” Assuming this is true, where would Spain lie in the spectrum, one wonders. If either the government or the opposition has tabled a vision of the future – whether Leftist or Rightist - I must have missed it.

Finally . . . Does anyone still reply to things like this – “You have been awarded the sum of 850.000.00 USD. in the EXXON-MOBIL OIL AND GAS COMPANY AWARD 2010”. I guess they must.

An apology: Sorry about the 352 in yesterday's post. My brain was obviously thinking of both weeks and days when I typed it.


Tailnote for new readers: My elder daughter has now net-published five chapters of a novel she describes as “A fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” Set in a fictionalised Cuba, it’s being e-published at the rate of at least a couple of chapters a week. Click here, if this entices you. If you do go and you enjoy it, please comment. It’s tough being an aspirant novelist.

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7 comments:

moscow said...

Colin,
My best friends here in Moscow are Dutch. They are like lice, they are everywhere.

If your friend Peter had been more forthgright with you he would have bluntly told you that also in Holland there is no concept of "class" - as there is in the UK. He was probably being polite.

My emphasis wass on "class" not on "working". In Britain the industrial revolution took place in the 18th century, about a 100 years before the rest of Europe (with the exception of Belgium). If it was 'pallid' overall in Spain, it was definitely not pallid in Catalonia, the Basque country and (to a lesser extent ) in Asturias. No trace of class consciousness there.

You see, I realise that the concept has evolved. Nowadays we have moved on from the 70s. And the boundaries between working, middle and upper (if still exists) classes have been blurred. I also realise, that the "better" forms of speech have mutated. Nick Clegg doesn't speak like Harold MacMilland did. I, like you daughters, find the Blackadder/Fast Show persiflage imitating officer class&LordWhatHaveYou imitations simply hilarious.

Colin said...

Moscow, "Polite" is a word rarely used in respect of Peter and "too polite" never.

We did talk about Holland (and Germany) but I will leave him to remind me/us exactly what he said. But basically I think he said what you have said - that there was little/no concept of a 'working class' culture in Holland. Just Haves and Have-nots, as in Spain.

What stimulated the discussion was an article in the left of centre Prospect by a left wing writer on the way the Labour party must go in the future. The expressions "Working class" and "working class culture" where used several times and I wondered how such an article would be written/phrased in non-Anglo countries, perhaps where the industrial revolution had not created what it did in the UK. And perhaps the USA ('blue collar').

Colin said...

Yes, Peter and I discussed the possibility of things being different in the Basque country and (perhaps less so) in Cataluña. And my friend Richard from Ferrol has just written of his experiences in industry in Bilbao. So . . . is there an expression in Basque for 'working class'? Or even in Spanish up there? Or, at the minimum, are society's strata differently regarded there?

Colin said...

Oh, I've just seen that you say there's no class consciousness there.

Going south - Don't the Andalucian owners of the latifundios regard themselves as a superior class?

CafeMark said...

Don't the Spanish categorise people as "educated" and those that are not? Ricos and pijos are definitely a class, but I'm not sure that working class is a term I've heard there.

Mike the Traditionalist said...

Working class refers to how well educated you are and not necessarily the job you do. As most British youth left school at 14 and went out to work they didn't have the education to get into the best jobs. Those that managed to get into an apprenticeship were still looked down upon even though they had to study to get their qualifications. However, working in a factory even if you were the electrician was still considered lowly. When I arrived in England from Canada I was told my education was not up to British standards. So each time I changed jobs I always went for jobs where I had to take a written examination to get a position. I have had five years experience as a calculating machine mechanic working in the City of London going to all the major banks and insurance offices where I had to deal with management. Your accent and manner were very important if you wanted to get into any managerial position. Oh and before I forget if necessary I did use the well posted tradesman's entrance usually somewhere around the back of the building.

jorge said...

Colin,
Working class = Clase obrera. The term is used moderately for the lower members of the labor force.

Jorge,
SF Bay Area

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