Australia Classless Society Essay

Australia Classless Society Essay-87
South Africa is in many ways a very different country to that envisaged by political activists of the 1970s.For one, the equitable society they anticipated would replace apartheid remains a chimera.Shannon argues that progressives need to listen to lower class points of view rather than deriding or belittling them.

South Africa is in many ways a very different country to that envisaged by political activists of the 1970s.For one, the equitable society they anticipated would replace apartheid remains a chimera.

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Instead, a process has taken place that political geographer Gillian Hart calls the “denationalisation” and “renationlisation” of the economy under the African National Congress (ANC).

As one abiding achievement of that decade – the trade union movement – begins to splinter, it is important to revisit the 1970s and engage critically with both its mistakes and achievements.

These are the typical supporters of Trump and One Nation, who see themselves as having been abandoned by the progressive liberal class who have taken the lion’s share of advantages at a time of expanding economies and opportunities.

We must face the facts that this is the class that has suffered the most from the annihilation of industries such as the auto industry and the thousands of jobs that went with it.

Two key activists of the era stand out: Steve Biko, leading light of the Black Consciousness Movement, and Rick Turner, leading advocate of ideas associated with the New Left.

Both Biko and Turner continue to inspire and inform the critiques of post-apartheid South Africa.

I too view the ‘bad, white working class’ as one source of casual racism, misogyny and homophobia.

But as Shannon expresses it, my ‘middle-class grievances now drown out lower class pain.’ My dilemma is that I don’t honestly identify with most working class preoccupations.

A recent essay in the 2017 Winter issue of Meanjin, entitled ‘In Defence of the Bad, White Working Class’, got me thinking about the vexed question of class and whether indeed Australia can still pride itself on being a classless society.

The author, Shannon Burns, grew up in a white working class suburb of Adelaide but ‘migrated’ over time, through education and employment opportunities, into the liberal, middle-class, and hence fully qualifies as a commentator on class disparities.

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