So I registered as a post graduate student at the London School of Economics 3 weeks ago. Social work, which is my background, used to be about critical reflection on the political economy. Generally in social work you are working along an inequality faultline, inequality is not just about money, it’s about dynamics between groups. It’s about power imbalances, power and abuse. Social work exists along the cracks of those faultlines, in my case over 11s. One of the ways you have to learn to think in social work, is about how institutions function, or don’t. You have to know thisbecause you have to use that knowledge to make institutions function together in children’s lives. Lives that are lived in the private domain of the family, their friendships, notably in my last social work post, their exploitation as they are pulled into the world of adults and sexually exploited.
Social work has been reshaped over the years, that critical reflection gradually reshaped into ‘child protection’ that ignores ugly realities that are politically unpalatable. I always knew that when economics started looking to examine inequality, institutions would realise that they had to learn to embrace multi-disciplinary study.
Someone messaged me in January to tell me that the London School of Economics was establishing an International Inequalities Institute, and I applied. This multi-disciplinary institute is LSE’s attempt to do just that.
The early weeks of my attendance have been revealing and much of what I am beginning to learn, I assume will become evident in the blog that has always recorded my changing perspective.
One of the really striking things about these early weeks, has been how right I was about the elite left. Attendance at a Russell Group university has confirmed that yes, the network I identified was in fact operating with the level of privilege the elite offspring eager to inherit media power blindly demonstrate. When I want to see a social policy academic at LSE, I get to speak to the foremost social policy academics in the country. If I want to see an economist, it will be the likes of Piketty I approach. On the day I enrolled, and my(very lovely) group introduced themselves and described what they wanted from this course, it was very different to when I enrolled at Bradford. The people at that university will spend their lives delivering the policy devised by the people at this one.
The careers service, the support offered, the teaching, the access to the primary institutions in our political economy, all a given at this institution. The social network it produces, a by product and the thing that will hold the most power.
The cries of the elite ‘radical’ left are bullshit. The cries of ‘my grandmother once chomped an eccles cake am working class’ are bullshit. You may be working class when you walk into those institutions. The privilege they bring is not open to most. Not open to any more than a fraction of the population. And those who pretend it is are lying. And they are lying because they don’t want to admit it, because admitting that the institution they attended is a parachute over the rest of the country is difficult. It is worse than the people who use comparison of themselves to those on benefits to make themselves feel better, because those people who recite Daily Mail nonsense to salve their egos are not doing so to exercise power. The lefties who pretend their elite educations, and the social and professional network they gain through those educations did not place them above the glass floor that disenfranchises millions, WILL have power. Over the very people who will never have access to those institutions.
When ‘the movement’ or ‘feminism’ is a ‘we’ and a social network that formed within those institutions, the ‘we’ is just the seal who will prevent their class being porous and maintain the status quo.