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Standing Out From The Crowd

Standing Out From The Crowd

Standing Out From The Crowd

For centuries, it did not require much more education than ‘average’ to stand out head and shoulders above the ‘average guy’, because the ‘average guy’ had no education at all. Standing out from the crowd was as simple as having money or being a priest.

However, not only that, but there were few books to read outside monasteries and universities, so it was pointless learning how to read anyway, if you could find a teacher. Only the clergy and the rich could afford the time and the money to learn.

A man, for women were not eligible, who could read and had access to books, was a genius, even though most of the books were wrong anyway – standing out from the crowd was that easy.

Move forward to the 19th Century and things improve slightly for the poor, but the quality of knowledge in books was still pretty low and all the well-educated were from the upper-class or the new class of ‘nouveau riche’ industrialists and adventurers in the colonies.

Even in the early 20th Century, most of the ‘geniuses’ came from the educated upper classes not from the working class, which was exploited so much that they had to work all week just to keep their large families alive.

The old order had to start adapting after the Second World War, when soldiers, returning from the war, expected what they had been promised: ‘a land fit for heroes’. However, it was not. They were expected to just pick up their hammers and shovels and get on with where they had left off.

However, it was not to be, and Baby Boomers were the first generation of working class children ever who were given a decent education free of charge. One of the consequences of this was that children from rich families could no longer expect to become ‘bosses’ just because they could read, which had been the case for a very long time.

Being able to read was becoming normal and working class kids resented being passed over just because someone’s family had money. It was becoming too difficult for rich kids their better jobs and their parents did not and do not like it. The consequence of this has been the running down of state education and the re-emergence of a two-tier educational system in the UK and probably elsewhere too.

Another consequence is that working-class kids see that they have less and less chance of rising to the top, so they crave celebrity as a short-cut to riches, which is obvious from the plethora of so-called ‘reality’ TV shows, which allow kids the chance to dream that they may be ‘spotted’ as a rising star and be swept off to Hollywood or at least Pinewood.

Being outrageous is now an acceptable way of seeking fame and fortune and standing out from the crowd. However, the desire for celebrity is cruel because very few can obtain it, so it leaves thousands of dissatisfied, ordinary kids in its wake who can hardly speak English, while the children of the rich get on with learning French.

If you would like to read more by Owen Jones, please click on his Bookshop link.

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