Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Thought 539: Considerations on the Right-Wing Working Class Vote

People of a left-wing persuasion often attribute the right-wing working class vote to the influence of the media and typically working-class newspapers such as The Sun and other tabloids since it is hard for them to understand why the working class would lucidly vote in favour of elites who give priority to the well-off and affluent rather than the struggling majority.

This view, however, raises the question of how political sensibility is formed in the first place.

For it seems to me this argument raises a chicken and egg dilemma. If the majority of the working class were left-wing in both temperament and persuasion this would no doubt be reflected by the propagation of left-wing ideas and memes not only in the press and televised/airwave media who need to please and pander to their reading/viewing/listening audience but also in the tropes and language used by political representatives who need to secure for themselves the working-class vote. 

It seems unlikely to me that the right-wing sensibility of many working class voters is entirely due to the self-serving perception management of the ruling class who control the media, i.e. that their right-wing views are purely achieved through the instruments of mass persuasion rather than equally emanating from inner sensibility and preference.

To be sure, sensibility is formed by in-formation, i.e. all that we take in with our senses, but there is perhaps, to use Kant's expression, an à priori element of political understanding reflective of one's social/economic circumstances, milieu, prejudices, resentments, likes and dislikes, interests and background upbringing, an understanding formed not just by the media but by actual living conditions

Right-wing preoccupations with nationalist pride, as reflected in competitive sports that appeal to many working class voters, the presumed ills of immigrant populations supplanting English workers and traditions, the perceived worthlessness and criminality of welfare claimants 'who get something for nothing' as well as the huge status accorded to the activity of money-making, the value of hard work, self-reliance in the financial sense and even strong leadership in the military sense clearly speak more to many right-wing working class voters than typical left-wing preoccupations with equality, socialised public services, tax-funded safety nets, military pacifism, redistribution, internationalism, global warming, minority rights, consumer/environmental protections and so forth which arguably seem more fuzzy, elusive, comfortable, removed from reality, middle-class, lazy, intellectual, self-righteous and feeble than their right-wing counterparts.

I think perhaps these phenomena have to do with a natural and understandable tendency of the human animal to assert its superiority over those lower in the social ladder rather than those above, since in the state of nature it is ill-advised to pick on those bigger and stronger than you are as opposed to those who are more vulnerable.

This tendency in my view explains why many working class voters, who are used to hierarchical, boss-employee relationships and the rigours of real-world employment and therefore as a result less troubled by them than people who work more sparsely and in more egalitarian fields, as well as used to being looked down upon as being intellectually or morally inadequate as opposed to middle-class people who do well at school and go to university, respond more to discourses that kick downwards - e.g. on immigrant populations, refugees, the disabled and sick, the unemployed, the mentally ill, gay people, women - than discourses that kick upwards in defiance of coercive, worldly authority. 

In other words, my argument is that there is an emotional factor in the right-wing working class vote, informed as I said as much by real life conditions and their resultant psychology as media influence, which has less to do with rational philosophies of providing safeguards against power abuse - which the middle-class Left believe would be in the interests of the labouring classes - but more to do with will-to-power in the sense of the pleasure of having one's identity, status, worldview, resentments and relative superiority over others recognised, including the colour of your skin, where you come from and the fact that you have a job and pay taxes unlike those dirty scroungers and bleeding-heart liberals who are perceived as having it so easy by comparison.

Thus, while I concede that large parts of the media help perpetuate and even foster right-wing views on the working classes, I am also of the opinion that they reflect what is already present in the psychology of such voters, creating, as is so often the case in modernity, a self-sustaining, self-justifying and self-expanding feedback loop. The exact same thing could be said of the liberal, left-wing media and its intended audience and indeed many other facets of the way information and social phenomena are propagated and internalised.