The subjugation of the psyche of the middle classes (by what Reich called mysticism, or by Lacan, fantasy) is illustrated by Richard Murphy’s comment in his blog written as a new year summary, shortly after the UK Labour Party suffered a resounding General Election defeat in 2019.
“Most (on the left) instead obsessed about identity issues of little consequence to most people and about which nothing could be achieved without power. At the same time they becoming increasingly fixated on concepts of socialism based on material constructs of well-being and notions of class that have long been dead and now appear patronising.”
Murphy appears to be saying something about notions of class being ‘dead’. But what are these notions?
Could they include the idea, and I think clear fact, that increases in material economic inequality are due to the continuing and worsening exploitation of the worse off (a lower socioeconomic class) by the better off (a higher socioeconomic class). This is shown by increases in in-work poverty, the need for food banks etc. I don’t see this as a dead notion but one that is very much alive.
His comment about people apparently feeling patronised by such material notions of class suggests to me two things. First, some do not realise they are being exploited by employers and the state partly because they are satisfied with their current status, let’s say for argument sake, lower middle class, in a simple semi on an estate, with some inherited wealth – enough to buy a few extras and handouts for the kids. Whilst ‘comfortable’ they are still less well off than many even though they feel their needs are met. That may also be petit bourgeoisie having rented out a flat and enjoyed the profits and proceeds of rent at the expense of others. Second, feeling ‘sufficiently comfortable’ blinds them to their exploitation, even makes them prone to being frightened by the prospects of losing their wealth at the hands of any kind of political move to the left that threatens to re-distribute wealth, and so they vote for the most right wing party they can find.
The relatively large numbers of sufficiently satisfied lower middle classes voting for right wing political parties are what sustains right wing and ultimately the kind of authoritarian governments that we now have in the UK today.
Being blinded to your exploitation and blind to the value of the lives that are exploited and sacrificed to sustain material inequalities is the way ideology works under nationalist and imperialist capitalist regimes to construct the enslaved psyche of the masses.
The psyche is subjugated by a right wing ideology that preaches: more security against the left and the poor (and the alien immigrant other) is always a good thing because they are the threat to your comfort that you must fear and cannot overestimate.
It is through fear (and other abstract concepts such as conservative patriotic values, honour etc.) that the psyche of the masses is controlled.
More can be said about this, but, briefly, such self-control, under the illusion of freedom, is generating ever more authoritarian and racist regimes. This is leading to greater instability globally and is bound to lead to the collapse of existing social structures. In the drive for individualised and selfish security man is creating insecurity for all.