Richard McAleavey on the Irish Times series ‘the squeezed middle’; the series concentrates on the effects of the crises on Ireland’s ‘middle’ class. Richard’s excellent critique concentrates on the ideological assumptions and politics underlying the articles.
CMR can’t help but wonder if this series is an example how for the Irish Times it is acceptable for the poor or working class to suffer in a recession; but that it is not acceptable that the the mythical ‘middle class’ should suffer. The middle class as articulated by the Irish Times (by ‘normal’ Irish petite bourgeois standards) should be happily insulated from government cutbacks by private education and health systems and speculative property portfolios. The truth of the matter of course is very different (and quite shocking to the morals of the Irish Times opinion pages) as more and more of the so called ‘middle’ class are finding out for themselves that the title ‘middle class’ is little more than a cheap re-branding of their true class status.
In his critique Richard McAleavey notes:
“If one descended from outer space, one might expect a newspaper interested in a fuller and healthier democracy to address some of the threats to democracy of the day: such as the concentration of immense decisive power in the hands of financial elites, the confiscation of prosperity and imposition of misery by institutions such as the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, which are not accountable to any popular powe. These are questions of immense importance, which demand collective discussion and the development of collective solutions. In their stead, we get the cheery voluntarism of the unitary and isolated bourgeois subject, in which exploitation is of no importance and solidarity is unheard of…”
And he draws the conclusion the the squeezed middle series shows:
“The function of the Irish Times, along with that of other Irish newspapers, is to present a political programme, the imposition of mass unemployment and the destruction of the welfare state, which is being conducted in the interests of the wealthiest groups in Irish society, as a moral imperative, divinely ordained.
“For its successful execution, every traditional petty bourgeois prejudice must be mobilised, and questions of class conflict have to be extinguished – whether by denying they exist (‘we’re all middle class now’ – O’Brien); by displacing them – through mobilising resentment against grotesques like Sean Fitzpatrick or faceless mandarins in the civil service and presenting the public sector as a whole as a ruling class; and by fostering a common identity by creating common enemies: welfare recipients, migrants…”
For the entire article:
The ‘squeezed middle’ series can be found here: