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Solidarity with Working Class People Statement

As part of Arika’s beliefs and in conjunction with both our public and local organising programmes we want to extend solidarity to working class people via the following statement. Those most directly affected by specific oppressions are those best placed to develop methods to overcome them. Globally working class people have suggested a variety of approaches to bring about an end to capitalism and various oppressions. To further these aims we first advocate for:

  • Recognition that the category of working class people is both contended and subject to ongoing exploration but (if meaningful) spans the globe and encompasses a huge diversity of peoples, nations and cultures
  • Recognition that (to simplify) this term could either encompass:
    • People who do not own the means of production and are reliant on selling their labour to those who do to gain the necessities of life
    • People who – in the context of the nation state in which they dwell – have comparatively less economic and social resources (in the form of income, property, cultural capital, social influence, educational opportunities, material possessions etc.)
  • And further:
    • That denigrating cultural mystification has been built up around people with less wealth and power, primarily by people who have more of both.
    • That these various beliefs that entail class prejudice intersect in complex ways with other forms of oppression – ableism, racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia etc.
  • Recognition whether one adheres to either definition i) or ii) working class people encompass the majority of the world and as such include people from a multiplicity of cultural heritages, racial origins, genders, bodies, sexualities etc.
  • Recognition that the definition of working class that states – People who do not own the means of production and are reliant on selling their labour to those who do in order to gain the necessities of life – holds enormous revolutionary potential; highlighting as it does the fact that the vast majority of people are disenfranchised from economic and political power. It emphasises the hierarchical nature of a class-based society and that only a tiny minority hold significant power within such a structure. Stemming from political analysis that exhorts us to create a society without class divisions it asserts the potential to make common cause between the vast majority of the world’s population.
  • Recognition that the definition of working class which states – People who – in the context of the nation state in which they dwell – have comparatively less economic and social resources (in the form of income, property, cultural capital, social influence, educational opportunities, material possessions etc.) – speaks to the significance of the stratification of power and resources that exist in a class based society. It opens space to explore and challenge the specific insights, experiences, misrepresentation, disadvantages and oppression of working class peoples’ (aka lower income) lives. It avoids the pitfalls of collapsing distinct experiences into one false amalgamation and allows for a nuanced analysis of how the class system functions. Yet a more purely sociological analysis of class also carries the risk of ignoring the inherent structural violence of capitalism and the collective suffering it brings.
  • Recognition that globally most working class people are people of colour
  • Recognition that globally most working class people live in the global south
  • Recognition that globally most working class people are women
  • Recognition that the majority of disabled people are working class
  • Recognition that the creation and maintenance of the current class system is dependent upon patriarchy and white supremacy

From this point on in this solidarity statement we wish to focus on the definition “All people who – in the context of the nation state in which they dwell – have comparatively less economic and social resources (in the form of income, property, cultural capital, social influence, educational opportunities, material possessions etc.)” in order to bring meaningful focus to the class stratification of our society here in the Scotland/UK.

  • Recognition that working class people suffer more – from ill health, earlier mortality (as both babies, children and adults), inferior health care, more dangerous working conditions, less personal autonomies, poor accommodation, more polluted living environments etc.
  • Recognition that the working class people are more subject to state violence and control e.g. police repression etc.
  • Recognition that working class people are subject to denigrating representations e.g. dirty, lewd, over-sexual, loud, indiscriminating, greedy, stupid, quick to anger, mindless, lacking in self-control, inarticulate, fawning, undisciplined, selfish, over-numerous, teeming, criminal, suppressed, insensitive, dishonest, servile, over-emotional, failed, lazy, sentimental, unreliable, stolid, plodding, lumpen, rough, comedic, foolish, genetically inferior, drunken, crass, monstrous, fatalistic, voiceless, ugly, rude, possessed of poor taste, sly, manipulative, immoral, thieving, looting, demanding, dangerous, reckless, macho, inclined to a mob mentality, incapable of analysis, messy, sick, unhygienic, cruel, brutish, animalistic, instinctive, irrational, restless, superstitious, inferior, expendable – other and lesser than.
  • Recognition that this list of negative traits associated with working class people can be subject to converse romanticisation and fetishisation, with attendant dehumanisation.
  • Recognition that cultural signifiers such as accent, language, spoken vernacular, specific art forms, specific sports associated with working class identity will be often interpreted in a critical or fetishised way, as detailed above.
  • Recognition that all these stereotypes intersect with racist, sexist, ableist, trans/homophobic etc. ideas in a most frequently toxic brew
  • Recognition that the class system places untenable and contradictory demands upon working class people which contributes to a culture of internalised oppression and self-harm
  • Recognition that the realities of working class life are systemically mispresented via public communication mediums e.g. journalism, entertainment and academic publications.
  • Recognition that working class people are systematically disenfranchised from participating in these channels of communication
  • Recognition that working class people are systematically disenfranchised from participating in mediums of communication frequently called the arts – i.e. dance, theatre, writing, visual arts, film, live performance etc.
  • Recognition that when working class people do generate art in their own right it is frequently denied not only economic support and access to a larger public platform but often the very right to exist
  • Recognition that when working class people do generate art in their own right it is more frequently granted economic support and a larger public platform when the political views therein correlate closely with those approved by the ruling classes
  • Recognition that a vast expanse of culture, wisdom, art, joy, science and liberating insight has been generated by working class people
  • Recognition that these achievements are sometimes subject to cultural appropriation and commercial exploitation by more dominant social groups
  • Recognition that capitalism does not necessarily prevent working class people from having agency or abusing power over others and that whilst the greatest suffering is experienced by those who are directly oppressed, the oppressor too is damaged
  • Recognition that the direct and lateral communication by working class people on the above areas of concern and many other matters is consistently invisibilised and actively eradicated from public view

We recognise that the following reforms would reduce suffering and save lives:

  • A true global commitment to minimising the process of climate change as a matter of collective urgency
  • An immediate end to the military industrial complex – war solves nothing
  • Reform that recognises and protects the lands, right to political autonomy/self-governance and cultures of indigenous peoples
  • Payment of reparations by colonising nation states to those they colonised and enslaved
  • Cancellation of all international debts, exploitative free trade deals and structural adjustment policies
  • Reforms that begin to place land, workplaces, services and other vital resources into collective ownership
  • An immediate end to homelessness via the reallocation of unoccupied built property into collective ownership
  • Prevention of the promotion of fascist ideas and public gatherings #nopasaran
  • Defunding the police
  • An immediate end to the prison industrial complex to be replaced with more humane ways of collectively preventing acts of violence and abuse of power
  • Enforcement and/or development of legislation that aims to prevent discrimination, racist hate speech and physical racist attacks
  • Support for all victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and violence
  • Full radical reform of public sex education to a consent and pleasure based model
  • Due diligence and investment of resources in investigating crimes against working class people
  • Instigation of societal decision-making structures (e.g. democratic local assemblies) that enable mass participation in key decision-making processes
  • Affirmative action that involves the support of autonomous organisations/projects/culture/other provisions by and for working class people
  • Access to free universal healthcare of a high standard with an inbuilt commitment to the support of everyone’s bodily autonomy
  • A societal wide commitment to reproductive justice
  • Cessation of the patenting of plants and other medicinal, culinary etc. substances that would be better held within the commons
  • Access for all to clean, potable water
  • Provision of a universal basic income (paid to all) at a rate that enables a good standard of living
  • Decriminalisation of sex work
  • Rent caps on all rented property and an end to winter evictions
  • Payment of rent costs for all who need it
  • Re-nationalisation of public transport
  • An end to workplace expectations that entail working anti-social and/or long hours
  • Free provision of high-quality nursery and childcare
  • Extension of the time periods available for paid paternity/ primary carer/maternity leave from work
  • Reform of grant giving processes and resource distribution for arts and/or community projects with the intent of de-professionalising and de-institutionalising the arts so that everyone can participate
  • Expansion of free educational opportunities for all both without and within existing bodies

The above listed reforms are both critical and yet inherently limited in nature. We are clear that for full liberation of working class people to come about change on a profound, revolutionary, level is necessary. For such changes to occur would entail the end of capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy. This would involve collective re-organisation of society on a mass level and equitable redistribution of resources and decision-making powers.

The process of struggling for these changes – both long term and immediate – is complex and takes place in challenging circumstances. We recognise that working class people – in the sense of those with the least economic resources and power – are best placed to develop effective strategies and guiding visions around the eradication of oppression. However the process of ending capitalism and class hierarchies (recognising such hierarchies have existed, though not universally, over thousands of years) and creating a world where respect for the autonomy of all of us is honoured is inherently a matter of collective responsibility, to which we can all directly contribute.