We are over‐impressed just now by the importance of what are usually described as “the working‐classes,” as though there were any classes in this country which did not work with head or hand. There is “the middle‐class,” which is also a working class; and, if truth be told, probably the hardest working class. It knows nothing of the forty‐four hour week, of constantly rising incomes, or of ca' canny methods. This is the class which forms the backbone of the country, and its marked characteristics, as opposed to the manual workers, are its lack of class consciousness and its want of class cohesion. In years that have gone by, the assumption was, of course, that if anyone wore a black coat instead of fustian he must necessarily be in possession of a larger income than the ordinary working man. He became the target of every Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, nervous of offending the working‐classes, thought little or nothing of any injustice which he might place upon those who formed the middle‐class. That criticism bears upon no particular party, but upon all political parties. Correspondence which has recently appeared in our columns suggests that the middle‐class is beginning to realise the disabilities that patience and forbearance have brought upon it in cumulative measure. On the one hand, it forms a reservoir upon which the nation is always able to draw in times of emergency, as the Great War proved; and, on the other, its very pride and its cultivation of the virtue of individualism rob it of cohesion. As a rule, the man of the middle‐class is neither the direct producer of wealth nor even a minor captain of industry. He supplies, however, the intellect and industry without which Labour would be reduced to idleness and Capital would be denied its dividends. In addition, he and his fellows, besides “carrying on,” recruit the great professions, and are mainly responsible for the research which enables science to come to the aid of the manufacturer and workman. The secret of our prosperity is to be found less conspicuously in the foresight and courage of the Capitalist and the skill of the workman than in the trained intelligence and arduous and unremitting labours of those who constitute the middle‐class. We do not underrate the value of Capital or the achievement of Labour, but it cannot be doubted that the most important element in the community consists of those who occupy the midway position between the extremes. No one can enter a factory or an office without being impressed by the important functions which the great middle‐class performs. One of the greatest dangers associated with Sovietism is that its aim is to stamp out the middle‐class. As soon as Trotsky, Lenin, and their associates had successfully asserted their dictatorship, they turned upon what they described as the “bourgeoisie,” determined to extinguish it. What they did not realise was that without the middle‐class, with its trained knowledge, sense of discipline, and power of command, Russia would be reduced to misery. Soviet Russia is the theatre in which the follies of headstrong and ignorant men are illustrated to the world. We shall do well to take warning by its mistakes. The middle‐class in this country represents elements of strength which we cannot spare, and we trust that British statesmen will walk warily lest in these difficult times of financial stress and strain further burdens are pressed upon it which it cannot bear. — The Daily Telegraph.
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