A middle class redeemed

Roxy Music crooner Bryan Ferry once said some cute rock-star thing about “give me high class, give me low class; anything but middle class.” It could have been Bowie or Elton John who said it, any haute hedonist with uptown and downtown appetites, a stylin’ and a slummin’.

But we hear it all the time: Middle-class hypocrisy, middle-class philistinism, hollow middle-class values, bland middle-class tastes, middle-class boredom, middle-class cliché, staid middle-class complacency, middle-class platitudes, tone-deaf middle-class ostentation, shallow, sentimental, empty, unreflective, fatuous, doped, plump, corny, petty, pinched, prudish, pedantic middle-class dullards like me.

Hey man, I am really for a middle class, not the white-ish one I grew up ensconced in (Dad was college professor, which is to say far more cultural capital than capital capital), but a new middle class: diverse and inclusive, streamlined for leaner times and attuned to planetary crisis, reduced to a more basic and enlightened set of principles, protections, and universal privileges: a safety net for times of disaster, protections in workplace and environment, healthcare, community resources, playing field consciously repaired and leveled for all who have been under the thumb of exploitation, and just enough in the way of education, free time, and disposable income to feed a flourishing culture, vibrant with the aforementioned diversity, and with a place for me. You know?

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Is that really so offensive to you, Bryan?

Read more installments of Village Voices by John Burdick.