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The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class

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Once they were portrayed as the salt of the earth. Nowadays, they expose their lives in TV documentaries, they love Gucci and hate the Euro—the broadsheets cast them as xenophobes and exhibitionists and mock their tastes and attitudes. Who are the white working class and what have they done to deserve this portrayal? In this controversial book, South East-London born Micha Once they were portrayed as the salt of the earth. Nowadays, they expose their lives in TV documentaries, they love Gucci and hate the Euro—the broadsheets cast them as xenophobes and exhibitionists and mock their tastes and attitudes. Who are the white working class and what have they done to deserve this portrayal? In this controversial book, South East-London born Michael Collins defends the white working class against such slurs and caricatures. He argues that their culture is intimately linked to a landscape and a concept of home—in his case, Southwark, where his family lived for generations. As Collins delves into his family’s history, he discovers that missionaries from other classes have always descended to study, influence, patronise and politicise them, long before the contemporary intelligentsia began to demonize them. The Likes of Us is a fascinating and wholly original examination of London's white working class.


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Once they were portrayed as the salt of the earth. Nowadays, they expose their lives in TV documentaries, they love Gucci and hate the Euro—the broadsheets cast them as xenophobes and exhibitionists and mock their tastes and attitudes. Who are the white working class and what have they done to deserve this portrayal? In this controversial book, South East-London born Micha Once they were portrayed as the salt of the earth. Nowadays, they expose their lives in TV documentaries, they love Gucci and hate the Euro—the broadsheets cast them as xenophobes and exhibitionists and mock their tastes and attitudes. Who are the white working class and what have they done to deserve this portrayal? In this controversial book, South East-London born Michael Collins defends the white working class against such slurs and caricatures. He argues that their culture is intimately linked to a landscape and a concept of home—in his case, Southwark, where his family lived for generations. As Collins delves into his family’s history, he discovers that missionaries from other classes have always descended to study, influence, patronise and politicise them, long before the contemporary intelligentsia began to demonize them. The Likes of Us is a fascinating and wholly original examination of London's white working class.

30 review for The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I have a great affinity for Britain's white working class and fell they have been victims of gross social injustice through the centuries, with today those who discriminate against them and downright persecute them in fact being the Britain's modern left elite who have outrageously swapped the noble ideals classlessness to the vile multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' as the author explains in the latter chapters. Multiculturalism and anti-racism are used as a stick to beat the British white workin I have a great affinity for Britain's white working class and fell they have been victims of gross social injustice through the centuries, with today those who discriminate against them and downright persecute them in fact being the Britain's modern left elite who have outrageously swapped the noble ideals classlessness to the vile multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' as the author explains in the latter chapters. Multiculturalism and anti-racism are used as a stick to beat the British white working classes, who are the only group people in Britain it is acceptable for the chattering classes to mock and attack As the brilliant journalist and true voice of and conscience and nonconformity to the prejudices of Britain's left elites , Burchill captured with great skill as the author quotes in the book in a 2001 article from the Guardian " What we now have is a new version of the deserving and undeserving poor-the noble new British working class, who are ethnic and the thoroughly swinish old working class who are white" Julie Burchill also makes the very important and true point that it is easy for the middle and upper classes not affected negatively by immigration to condemn the working classes who suffer as a result of it: "That the working class might have a thoroughly legitimate reason for becoming more agitated about immigration that the tolerant middle class with their health insurance,private schools and comfy cars is never considered by these usually oh so caring people" This consummate, passionate and humane biography of Britain's white working class in the 19th and twentieth century is social history at it's best tracing the story of the author's own family with a sympathetic but non uncritical look at the culture and history of Britain's most abused people. People who have nevertheless have a rich and vibrant culture, which is a victim of a new class war by Britain's left wing middle class privileged hypocrite elite. The author covers much of the story from the viewpoint of the memories of his grandmother Nell Hall (Born in 1892 and passed away in 1991)The first three chapters cover the period of the industrial revolution when the British working classes suffered untold horrors, lived in diabolical conditions, and had no labour or human rights. If Blacks deserve reparations for slavery, then the equally miserable and cruel treatment of the British working classes at this time should entitle them to the same thing.There are chapters covering the immigrants from this class who migrated to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. A fascinating chapter on late 19th century working class literature , a chapter covering the real admirable efforts of socialist reformers like Robert Owen and William Cobbett who rightly pointed out how it took "a despicable hypocrite to pretend to belive that the slaves in the West Indies than the (white British) salves in the manufacturies" AS these and other European working classes are the people who inspired Karl Marx's writing, and nott he Blacks and Browns of Africa and Asia, the modern left of today should hang their heads in shame at taking up the baton of the middle and upper class ancestors in oppressing the white working class in the name of the despicable multi-multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' . There is a chapter on the tragic 4th August 1912 Boy Scouts Disaster at Leysdown, which was an event of great mourning for London's working classes. Then the author moves onto the beginning of social reform under the Labour Party, the heroic resistance by the British working class to Oswald Mosley's Fascist Blackshirts when the valiant English workers stopped a Black Shirt parade in Bermondsey in 1937. Who could forget the deprivations suffered by the British working classes who won World War II for Britain between 1939 and 1945. The golden age of the white working classes was no doubt the 50's (when Labour began the social reforms such as NHS and social welfare and the conservatives became more compassionate and reformist, a processed reversed in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher revived the cruel war on the British poor) The goal of the British left in the 1960 was classlessness, laudable and noble goal, and has today been replaced by multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' who have replaced the British white working class despicably with the ethnic immigrants as those to champion and justify their snobbery as they label the white working class as 'racist chavs' to justify their newly restored snobbery. A fascinating nostalgic chapter on the author's school days in the 1970s which captures working class youth culture of the time in the multi-racial school the author attended (so much for the charges of racism the white working class is persecuted with) Collins describes of a white middle class avant garde left-winger who had moved into previously working class area and complained the area is 'very white' When the author witnessed this he remarks how he saw the 'urban working class white population booted as far below the stairs as it may have been in the 1890s'-so much for social reform. HE also lambastes the media for sneering, prejudices documentaries where sound bites from selective interviews trump substance and real analysis in an effort to burn the white working class at the stake for 'racism' This book is a magisterial work , of which few of it's kind tragically exist and combined poignant and pungent analysis with stinging social commentary. The basic problem is that the privileged left and liberal elite are no longer interested in class equity or the basic rights of the British working class but only in 'non racism' which is a farcical label for favoring the third world exotic brown immigrants and persecuting and demonizing the local white working class who they label as chavs-not worthy in the eyes of the left/liberal toffs of having their suffering, feelings or rights considered. The British working class suffered as much in the Industrial Revolution as the Blacks did under slavery but are still suffering with the privileged elite classes using pc propaganda and favouring of the third world exotic browns against them. Britain's indigenous working classes are put last in line for employment, council housing, health care, education and bank loans in favour of the exotic Third world immigrants (especially Muslims) favoured by the pc left elites. . Those who are flabbergasted at discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality of religion (unless of course you attack Jews for being 'Zionists' or attack Israelis-that is acceptable among the chattering classes) think nothing of attacking the British working class and lumpenproletriat as chavs. This also translates to a politically correct anti-white racism. White British young people who suffer as a result of social problems such as juvenile crime, drug addiction , and teenage pregnancy, as well as child prostitution, and come from broken homes no longer elicit sympathy from the liberal and left elites who consider the white underclass the lowest of the low, not worth saving or empathizing with, whereas they would have the utmost sympathy and support for Third world immigrant youth under the same circumstances. The liberal and left elites now use the race card against he white under classes and point out since the latter are supposedly 'racist' and 'bigoted' they must be punished for this and are the unworthy poor as compared to the impoverished people of colour who are deemed worthy of empathy and upliftment. This amounts to an inverse racism whereby the classes that have so long suffered since the Industrial Revolution and who came under sustained attack under Thatcher are now being made victims again at the hands of the leftist and liberal elites now in charge of Britain, including the media, local councils and the courts. This is not a racist review as leftist correcto-fascists and reverse racist may charge but instead aims to speak up for Britain's most voiceless and unprotected

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Barker

    A well-considered insight into the working class spirit and the changes foisted upon its people without the chance of consultation or ownership. Collins has done a sterling job. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Kerridge

    One of the best book on white working class I have read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    I have a great affinity for Britain's white working class and fell they have been victims of gross social injustice through the centuries, with today those who discriminate against them and downright persecute them in fact being the Britain's modern left elite who have outrageously swapped the noble ideals classlessness to the vile multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' as the author explains in the latter chapters. Multiculturalism and anti-racism are used as a stick to beat the British white workin I have a great affinity for Britain's white working class and fell they have been victims of gross social injustice through the centuries, with today those who discriminate against them and downright persecute them in fact being the Britain's modern left elite who have outrageously swapped the noble ideals classlessness to the vile multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' as the author explains in the latter chapters. Multiculturalism and anti-racism are used as a stick to beat the British white working classes, who are the only group people in Britain it is acceptable for the chattering classes to mock and attack As the brilliant journalist and true voice of and conscience and nonconformity to the prejudices of Britain's left elites , Burchill captured with great skill as the author quotes in the book in a 2001 article from the Guardian " What we now have is a new version of the deserving and undeserving poor-the noble new British working class, who are ethnic and the thoroughly swinish old working class who are white" Julie Burchill also makes the very important and true point that it is easy for the middle and upper classes not affected negatively by immigration to condemn the working classes who suffer as a result of it: "That the working class might have a thoroughly legitimate reason for becoming more agitated about immigration that the tolerant middle class with their health insurance,private schools and comfy cars is never considered by these usually oh so caring people" This consummate, passionate and humane biography of Britain's white working class in the 19th and twentieth century is social history at it's best tracing the story of the author's own family with a sympathetic but non uncritical look at the culture and history of Britain's most abused people. People who have nevertheless have a rich and vibrant culture, which is a victim of a new class war by Britain's left wing middle class privileged hypocrite elite. The author covers much of the story from the viewpoint of the memories of his grandmother Nell Hall (Born in 1892 and passed away in 1991)The first three chapters cover the period of the industrial revolution when the British working classes suffered untold horrors, lived in diabolical conditions, and had no labour or human rights. If Blacks deserve reparations for slavery, then the equally miserable and cruel treatment of the British working classes at this time should entitle them to the same thing.There are chapters covering the immigrants from this class who migrated to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. A fascinating chapter on late 19th century working class literature , a chapter covering the real admirable efforts of socialist reformers like Robert Owen and William Cobbett who rightly pointed out how it took "a despicable hypocrite to pretend to belive that the slaves in the West Indies than the (white British) salves in the manufacturies" AS these and other European working classes are the people who inspired Karl Marx's writing, and nott he Blacks and Browns of Africa and Asia, the modern left of today should hang their heads in shame at taking up the baton of the middle and upper class ancestors in oppressing the white working class in the name of the despicable multi-multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' . There is a chapter on the tragic 4th August 1912 Boy Scouts Disaster at Leysdown, which was an event of great mourning for London's working classes. Then the author moves onto the beginning of social reform under the Labour Party, the heroic resistance by the British working class to Oswald Mosley's Fascist Blackshirts when the valiant English workers stopped a Black Shirt parade in Bermondsey in 1937. Who could forget the deprivations suffered by the British working classes who won World War II for Britain between 1939 and 1945. The golden age of the white working classes was no doubt the 50's (when Labour began the social reforms such as NHS and social welfare and the conservatives became more compassionate and reformist, a processed reversed in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher revived the cruel war on the British poor) The goal of the British left in the 1960 was classlessness, laudable and noble goal, and has today been replaced by multiculturalism and 'anti-racism' who have replaced the British white working class despicably with the ethnic immigrants as those to champion and justify their snobbery as they label the white working class as 'racist chavs' to justify their newly restored snobbery. A fascinating nostalgic chapter on the author's school days in the 1970s which captures working class youth culture of the time in the multi-racial school the author attended (so much for the charges of racism the white working class is persecuted with) Collins describes of a white middle class avant garde left-winger who had moved into previously working class area and complained the area is 'very white' When the author witnessed this he remarks how he saw the 'urban working class white population booted as far below the stairs as it may have been in the 1890s'-so much for social reform. HE also lambastes the media for sneering, prejudices documentaries where sound bites from selective interviews trump substance and real analysis in an effort to burn the white working class at the stake for 'racism' This book is a magisterial work , of which few of it's kind tragically exist and combined poignant and pungent analysis with stinging social commentary. The basic problem is that the privileged left and liberal elite are no longer interested in class equity or the basic rights of the British working class but only in 'non racism' which is a farcical label for favoring the third world exotic brown immigrants and persecuting and demonizing the local white working class who they label as chavs-not worthy in the eyes of the left/liberal toffs of having their suffering, feelings or rights considered. The British working class suffered as much in the Industrial Revolution as the Blacks did under slavery but are still suffering with the privileged elite classes using pc propaganda and favouring of the third world exotic browns against them. Britain's indigenous working classes are put last in line for employment, council housing, health care, education and bank loans in favour of the exotic Third world immigrants (especially Muslims) favoured by the pc left elites. . Those who are flabbergasted at discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality of religion (unless of course you attack Jews for being 'Zionists' or attack Israelis-that is acceptable among the chattering classes) think nothing of attacking the British working class and lumpenproletriat as chavs. This also translates to a politically correct anti-white racism. White British young people who suffer as a result of social problems such as juvenile crime, drug addiction , and teenage pregnancy, as well as child prostitution, and come from broken homes no longer elicit sympathy from the liberal and left elites who consider the white underclass the lowest of the low, not worth saving or empathizing with, whereas they would have the utmost sympathy and support for Third world immigrant youth under the same circumstances. The liberal and left elites now use the race card against he white under classes and point out since the latter are supposedly 'racist' and 'bigoted' they must be punished for this and are the unworthy poor as compared to the impoverished people of colour who are deemed worthy of empathy and upliftment. This amounts to an inverse racism whereby the classes that have so long suffered since the Industrial Revolution and who came under sustained attack under Thatcher are now being made victims again at the hands of the leftist and liberal elites now in charge of Britain, including the media, local councils and the courts. This is not a racist review as leftist correcto-fascists and reverse racist may charge but instead aims to speak up for Britain's most voiceless and unprotected.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve Birchmore

    I read this many years ago and had forgotten about it until I spotted it on another Goodreads user's list of books a few moments ago I really liked this book. I remember feeling that the author had written a book I very much identified with, almost as if he was friend from a very similar background. The author grew up in South London and its a book about the white working class over a few generations from that part of London. I am not a Londoner, I was born and grew up just outside the M25. But I I read this many years ago and had forgotten about it until I spotted it on another Goodreads user's list of books a few moments ago I really liked this book. I remember feeling that the author had written a book I very much identified with, almost as if he was friend from a very similar background. The author grew up in South London and its a book about the white working class over a few generations from that part of London. I am not a Londoner, I was born and grew up just outside the M25. But I grew up on council estates that were peopled mostly by ex-Londoners, as were my parents. My elder siblings were all born in London. I used to think of London as my city. I remember when 'Chavs' was published, and I got the feeling that 'Chavs' was a politically-correct counter to 'The Likes of Us'. I haven't read 'Chavs', but having read numerous articles and watched numerous TV appearances by the author of Chavs, Owen Jones, I very much doubt I would like it and suspect it would be a middle-class Guardian readers view of working-class people. I would be insulted, no irritated in an eye-rolling way, if I was called a chav. Nobody has ever called me a chav and I think it unlikely anyone would. It seems people assume when meeting me, or even knowing me on a superficial basis - such as work colleagues, that I am middle-class. My dad spent nearly all his working life after leaving the army, on the buses for London Transport, but he read a lot and had a vast general knowledge; he didn't like ITV, preferred BBC2 and could answer about 2/3rds of the general knowledge questions on Mastermind - everytime. He could have given Fred Housego, another working class hero, a run for his money if he were inclined. I suspect people often thought my dad was middle class as well. I mention these things because 'The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class' had that authentic feel. It could have been written by one of us.

  6. 4 out of 5

    SPE

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tasmin Betty

  8. 5 out of 5

    Luke

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jack Cooper

  10. 5 out of 5

    AnneMarie

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alan Hughes

  12. 5 out of 5

    Felicity

  13. 4 out of 5

    LAURI CRUMLEY COATES

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ben Mason

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gary

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard Daniels

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lee Stuart Evans

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. M. C. FAGAN

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hetti

  23. 5 out of 5

    Critical Mess

  24. 5 out of 5

    Warren Evans

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Samuel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Weaver

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

  30. 5 out of 5

    elaine thomas

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