Following on from yesterday’s post, I have another criticism of Jones basic thesis that the demonization of the working class is due to deindustrialisation and Margaret Thatcher. In my opinion, Jones ignores the long-term evolution of the working class. Why were the working class enfranchised in the first place? Why did democratic governments redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor? Why have the working class been under attack? Why have the working class been effectively disenfranchised?
One possible explanation provided by Hickson and Thompson goes as follows: the working classes were enfranchised as they were required to defend the country in the era of mass warfare and large citizen armies. The enfranchisement of the working classes in Britain begins in the late nineteenth century, and coincides with the rise of Imperial Germany. It is completed in the aftermath of World War I, and between 1918 and 1946 large-scale redistribution occurs. This was a simply a transfer from those who had benefited from the sacrifices of working-class men and women.
However, the rise of high-technology and nuclear warfare means that nations no longer need mass-citizen armies for their defence. Consequently, the rich no longer need or care about the working class. The demonization of the working class highlighted by Jones may simply be one manifestation of this phenomenon.