Reading the French news, over the past couple of weeks I find myself wondering about the out-datedness of our socio-economic words:
‘Working Class’ is an industrial age term. Who in a service economy is ‘working class.’? Is there still a ‘proletariat’? Why would no one in America call themselves ‘working class,’ but rather ‘middle class’ and would they distinguish between ‘lower,’ ‘middle’ and ‘upper’? Where do the boundaries fall? What about property ownership? In the USA it has long been considered socially and politically propitious to help everyone become a property owner, I suppose, so they have a stake in their village, town, city and are less apt to go after other people’s property. In France probably more people are renters? The ‘bourgeoisie” are property owners in towns. The nobility own property but also hereditary titles. They scorn the bourgeoisie, historically, who kick the dog one rung lower on the social ladder. Who are the people in the streets of Paris and other French cities (but which you sometimes see in Quebec, though it is embedded in Canada’s rather placid society)? Do they own property? Not the ones breaking things, presumably, but the others? The ordinary folk manning and womanning the barricades? Why does France break out in this rash of anger, a phenomenon foreign to Anglo-Saxon culture by and large? Is it the repressiveness, say, of the education system, the institutionalized top-down practices, the engrained hierarchies?
Those yellow vests are a potent signal, one that could be very quickly globalised.