capital of britain

nytimes.com
Opinion | Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich
Forget the 1 percent for a moment. It’s the top fifth that rules.
By Richard V. Reeves

When I was growing up, my mother would sometimes threaten my brother and me with elocution lessons. It is no secret that how you talk matters a lot in a class-saturated society like the United Kingdom. Peterborough, our increasingly diverse hometown, was prosperous enough, but not upscale. Six in 10 of the city’s residents voted for Brexit — a useful inverse poshness indicator. (In Thursday’s general election, Peterborough returned a Labour MP for the first time since 2001.)

Our mother, from a rural working-class background herself, wanted us to be able to rise up the class ladder, unencumbered by the wrong accent. The elocution lessons never materialized, but we did have to attend ballroom dancing lessons on Saturday mornings. She didn’t want us to put a foot wrong there, either.

As it turned out, my brother and I did just fine, in no small part because of the stable, loving, middle-class home in which we were raised. Any lingering working-class traces in my own accent were wiped away by three disinfectant years at Oxford. My wife claims they resurface when I drink, but she doesn’t know what she’s talking about — she’s American.

I always found the class consciousness of Britain depressing. It is one of the reasons we brought our British-born sons to America. Here, class is quaint, something to observe in wonder through imported TV shows like “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

So imagine my horror at discovering that the United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top. The big difference is that most of the people on the highest rung in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty.

In Britain, it is politically impossible to be prime minister and send your children to the equivalent of a private high school. Even Old Etonian David Cameron couldn’t do it. In the United States, the most liberal politician can pay for a lavish education in the private sector. Some of my most progressive friends send their children to $30,000-a-year high schools. The surprise is not that they do it. It is that they do it without so much as a murmur of moral disquiet.

Beneath a veneer of classlessness, the American class reproduction machine operates with ruthless efficiency. In particular, the upper middle class is solidifying. This favored fifth at the top of the income distribution, with an average annual household income of $200,000, has been separating from the 80 percent below. Collectively, this top fifth has seen a $4 trillion-plus increase in pretax income since 1979, compared to just over $3 trillion for everyone else. Some of those gains went to the top 1 percent. But most went to the 19 percent just beneath them.

The rhetoric of “We are the 99 percent” has in fact been dangerously self-serving, allowing people with healthy six-figure incomes to convince themselves that they are somehow in the same economic boat as ordinary Americans, and that it is just the so-called super rich who are to blame for inequality.

Politicians and policy wonks worry about the persistence of poverty across generations, but affluence is inherited more strongly. Most disturbing, we now know how firmly class positions are being transmitted across generations. Most of the children born into households in the top 20 percent will stay there or drop only as far as the next quintile. As Gary Solon, one of the leading scholars of social mobility, put it recently, “Rather than a poverty trap, there seems instead to be more stickiness at the other end: a ‘wealth trap,’ if you will.”

There’s a kind of class double-think going on here. On the one hand, upper-middle-class Americans believe they are operating in a meritocracy (a belief that allows them to feel entitled to their winnings); on the other hand, they constantly engage in antimeritocratic behavior in order to give their own children a leg up. To the extent that there is any ethical deliberation, it usually results in a justification along the lines of “Well, maybe it’s wrong, but everyone’s doing it.”

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The signs as historical women

Aries: Jeanne d'Arc

Also known as the Maid of Orléans, Jeanne d’Arc (1412 - 1431) was a leader of french troops during the Hundred Years War. She came from a peasant family and could neither read nor write. When she was 12, it is said that she began hearing heavenly voices (one of them is said to have been the Archangel Michael), who told her to save her country. At this time, almost all of France was controlled by England. She went to Bourges to meet the dauphin, Charles VII, and when she left, she was the commander of the french troops. Her most famous battle was the Siege of Orléans, where the siege was lifted after only nine days. 1430 she was captured by Burgundians (allied with the english) and was burned at the stake on May 30th, 1431, at the age of 19. 

Taurus: Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great (1729 - 1796) was the Empress of Russia. She came to power after her husband, Peter III was assassinated. During her reign she expanded the Russian boundaries considerably and promoted education and Enlightenment - Russia grew larger and stronger than ever before. Russian borders spread as far as to the Black Sea and Central Europe. During her reign Russia became known as one of the great powers of Europe. She is the longest ruling female of Russia. 

Gemini: Nakano Takeko

Nakano Takeko (1847 - 1868) was a Japanese female warrior of the Aizu domain, who fought and died during the Boshin War. She was thoroughly trained in the martial and literary arts. During the Battle of Aizu, she fought with a naginata and was the leader of a group of female combatans who fought in the battle independently, as the senior Aizu retainers did not allow them to fight as an official part of the domain’s army.  While leading a charge against Imperial Japanese Army troops, she was fatally shot in the chest. Rather than let the enemy capture her head as a trophy, she asked her sister, to cut it off and have it buried. It was taken to Hōkai Temple and buried under a pine tree.

Cancer: Queen Christina of Sweden

Christina (1626 - 1689) was the Queen of Sweden, Grand Princess of Finland and Duchess of Estonia. She was the only surviving child of King Gustaf II Adolf, and when he died during the Battle of Lützen in the Thirty Years War, she became queen. However, she was only 6 years old when this happened. When she was born, she was believed to be a boy. When it was discovered that she was a girl, her father didn’t matter; he had become very closely attached to her. She was raised as a king, and her father made sure that she would inherit the throne when he died, even though she was a girl. Christina is remembered as being one of the most well educated women of the 1600s. She rejected the sexual role of a woman, and decided to never marry. In 1654 she abdicated, converted to Roman Catholicism (Sweden was a protestant country) and moved to Rome. 

Leo: Boudica

Boudica (dead 60-61 AD) was the Celtic war queen of the british tribe Iceni, who lead a major uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Her warriors successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain. She was later captured by Roman soldiers, but instead of letting them kill her she is believed to have poisoned herself.

Virgo: Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1603) is remembered as one of the greatest monarchs to ever have ruled England (and Ireland). Her rule is known as “Englands golden age”. She is also known as the Virgin Queen or Good Queen Bess. She never married, nor had any children. Therefore, her death marked the end of the Tudor Era. When the Spanish Armada invaded England in 1588, Elizabeth defended her strength as a female leader, saying: “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.” 

Libra: Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn (c. 1501 - 1536) was the second wife of King Henry VIII. Henry had wanted her to become his mistress during the 1520s, but she refused, telling him she had to become his wife first. In order to marry Anne, Henry had to get divorced from Catherine of Aragon. However, as the pope refused to acknowledge the divorce, Henry broke with the catholic church, making England a protestant country. Anne Boleyn married the king in 1533 and was crowned the Queen of England, and gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, September 7th 1533. Henry VIII was mad at her for not giving birth to a son, and searched for a reason to get rid of her. 1536 Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery, incest and being a witch. She was found guilty, and on May 19th, 1536, she was beheaded. After her daughter was crowned as Queen Elizabeth I, Anne was venerated as a martyr and a heroine of the English Reformation.

Scorpio: Lyudmila Pavlichenko 

Lyudmila Pavlichenko (1916 - 1974) was an Ukrainian Soviet sniper during World War II. She is regarded as the most successful female sniper in history with 309 kills. In 1943 she was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union. During the war she was also known as Lady Death.

Sagittarius: Grace O’Malley

Grace O’Malley (1530 - 1603) was a female pirate and Irish queen in the 16th century. She  is sometimes known as “The Sea Queen of Connacht”.  She was apparently well-educated and was regarded by contemporaries as being exceptionally formidable and competent. Upon her father’s death she inherited his large shipping and trading business (a trade sometimes referred to as mere piracy). She once met Queen Elizabeth I of England, and refused to bow down before her, as Elizabeth didn’t recognize her as the Queen of Ireland.

Capricorn: Natalia Peshkova

Natalia Peshkova  joined the Russian Army when she was just 17, during World War II. She served as a combat medic, and spent three years at the front, accompanying wounded soldiers from the front to the hospital and fought diseases and starvation among the troops. As the war went on, Peshkova was promoted to Sergeant Major and after the war, she was awarded the Order of the Red Star for bravery.

Aquarius: Elizabeth Coleman

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman (1892 - 1926) was the first female pilot of african american descent. She was an american civil aviator. She was denied pilot training in USA, so she learned french and went to France where she could become a pilot. She died in 1926, after flying an unsafe plane, which after ten minutes, unexpectedly went in for a dive and spun around. This lead to Coleman being thrown out of the plane at 610 m (2 100 ft), and she died instantly when she hit the ground.

Pisces: Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart (1897 - 1937) was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and also the first woman to recieve a National Geographic Society gold medal. She was a pioneering female pilot, determined and independant, and a supporter of women’s rights. She disappeared in 1937 when she tried to fly around the globe, but she is to this day still remembered as a legend.

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London, England, UK

anonymous asked:

The SNP are pretty centrist/very slightly left leaning from my understanding. How is the SNP's nationalism different from other right wing nationalist parties such as UKIP? Or to paraphrase, how can 2 nationalist parties such as UKIP and the SNP be quite far apart on the political spectrum?

Ultimately my knowledge of British Isles political parties is going to be pretty limited because I’m an American, but yeah, as is my understanding, the SNP seems to be a center/center-left party focused on Scottish independence while UKIP is a far-right party focused on British nationalism. I may have mentioned at one point that not all nationalisms are created equal, in that historically-dominated nations have a better claim on anti-imperialist progressive nationalism than prominent imperialist nations do. Scotland fits more into the former while Britain fits more into the latter – Scotland’s nationalist tendencies typically line up with progressive or left-wing ends (even the socialist party is demanding an independent, socialist Scotland), whereas Britain’s nationalist tendencies typically align with reactionary celebration of the monarchy, aristocracy, historical imperialist conquest, anti-immigrant sentiment, etc. Scottish independence is about getting out from under Britain’s boot.

This is all keeping in mind that I ultimately think the nation state itself needs to wither away with the full establishment of socialism/communism. Even in cases of more progressive nationalism, the end result is that you’re ultimately siding with your own nation’s bourgeoisie over the dominator nation’s bourgeoisie; in the long run it isn’t sustainable, and there would need to still be growing class consciousness happening in tandem with independence-focused nationalism for the trend to have a cumulative net positive. In the present circumstances, I do support independence-focused nationalism if it means a weakening of power for imperialist nations, especially if progressive grassroots movements happening within those countries are building the class consciousness necessary to eventually cast aside their own bourgeoisie as well.

-Daividh