Monday, June 02, 2008

This might be a contender...

... for the most cynical few sentences of the year—maybe even the decade...
There’s nothing particularly new, historically speaking, in the middle/upper classes having an attack of the vapours about the existence of a social underclass and all the social ills that go with it. The only difference this time around is that the UK hasn’t managed to address the problem in traditional fashion by arranging a war of sufficient size to cull the numbers of the great unwashed back to a manageable level, but to be fair to our political leaders, its not been for the lack of trying.

And yes, it did make me laugh. Nice work, Unity!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for Unity if you check the demographics for war deaths (at least in the last two world wars) then you find that casualties are highest amongst junior officers. Privates suffer a lower rate and senior officers the lowest of all.

Whilst the image of General Melchett sitting in a châteaux whilst his troops die in the trenches is appealing, you need to take into account that if such an old man were a private then he would have been retired.

Given that junior officers will be your "grammar school boys" it's not clear how a war will cull the working classes to a manageable level given that the managers are more likely to die.

At Trafalgar or Waterloo, the deaths were even more likely to impact the officers. On the Victory, the only people above deck were officers and marines. All the ratings were comparatively safe below decks. At Waterloo it was considered ungentlemanly to duck or dodge the cannonball coming your way.

Exile said...

Yes, junior officers, especially during the Great War, ran a far greater risk of being killed than my two conscripted grandfathers. However, there were far fewer of them, so if a platoon got wiped out going over the top, then that was one junior officer dead and heaven knows how many other ranks.

That is the point being made. In terms of total numbers, far more working men died than upper class men.