In a recent post, I said that I felt that the attention being given to an allegation involving British prime minister David Cameron engaging in a sex act with a dead pig while a student at Oxford University was excessive, given that he was a young man at the time and young people do stupid things. I suggested that we give people a pass for the things they did before the age of 25 and not hold it against them later in life.
The author says that by focusing on the embarrassing details of the pig story and speculation that its revelation was an act of revenge by someone whom Cameron had not rewarded sufficiently, we are missing the far more important story about what it says about the class-dominance in Britain, where a small coterie of wealthy people who join elite secret societies use these acts as both team building exercises and also to serve as blackmail fodder to make sure that people work for the benefit of other members of the ruling class and not entertain thoughts of becoming traitors to their class.
When Cameron was at Oxford, he was a member of several secret societies of rich young men. The most famous of these is the Bullingdon Club, after which Yale’s infamous Skull and Bones is fashioned. The aim of the Bullingdon Club is ostensibly to dress up fancy with the chaps, get blind drunk at an expensive restaurant or private dining room, and trash the place – because they can afford to pay for the damages without doing a day’s work. Among their known initiation rites, they are said to have to burn a £50 bill in front of a homeless person.
And that leads to the other side of what the Bullingdon Club (and societies like it) is about: upper class right wing team-building. The friendships and alliances forged in the secret drinking societies of powerful rich kids go on to define their careers, and these young men all have access to the highest rungs of British society. Three prominent members of Cameron’s cabinet were members, whilst many others went on to run the banks that crashed the economy in 2008 and the media empires that protect them.
Burning money in front of a homeless person isn’t just intended to be a nasty prank, it serves to train a Bullingdon boy’s senses, to make other humans seem somehow less. That David Cameron and his allies George Osborne and Boris Johnson have all done this, and that they have all presided over a sharp spike in homelessness in London and throughout the UK, are not coincidental. The MP who provided Lord Ashcroft with the details of the pig story attended one meeting of the expensive club but left in disgust because ‘it was all about despising poor people’.
There is a lot to find objectionable about these acts but the one about burning a £50 bill in front of a homeless person really angers me, like the story from a few years ago about another wealthy young man who gave a homeless man in Los Angeles some money to pour soda over himself, to the great amusement of the young man and his friends.
But there’s more.
The pig scandal that now has the world laughing at Cameron wasn’t from the Bullingdon Club but the Piers Gaverston, less well-known (until this week), but with a reputation for bizarre sexual rituals and initiation rites. Where the Bullingdon boys built their fraternity around shared values of hating the poor, the Piers Gaverston was about sexual humiliation and the creation of shared secrets. Its structural function is as an agreement of mutually assured destruction between the rulers of tomorrow – I know your secret and you know mine, so let’s stay on the same side, yeah?
This forms one of the core mechanics of the British ruling class – why reveal someone’s dirty little secret when you can keep schtum about it and control them? This forms the basis of the parliamentary whipping system, where the Chief Whip of each respective party is expected to have an arsenal of dirt locked away in their office so that when the time comes, their party leader can ‘whip’ rebellious backbenchers with threats that sometimes include leaking that story about you that you really don’t want to be leaked.
In this elite culture not all corruption is financial. When it comes to the top of British politics, sound character and a clean record do not make you an asset. You’ll have a hard time joining unless they can confirm that you are scum – and can make sure that the public don’t know about it.
The power circles are riddled with these scum who prattle loudly about how they believe in a meritocracy (and of course see their own exalted position as due to being meritorious) when in reality they have only reached their positions because of birth and connections.
Something grievously misunderstood by many members of the British ruling class is that they believe hatred of the ‘Bullingdon boy’ archetype comes from mere jealousy. The vast majority of the privately educated men who run the country really think that everyone wants to be more like them, and that therefore any criticism of elites comes first and foremost from envy.
This is in large part because one of the core beliefs instilled into the 7% of pupils who attend Britain’s divisive independent schools is that of meritocracy. This despite the fact that not only can most people not afford to send their children to these fee-paying schools, the ones who do attend them end up getting an easy ladder up to high society. They make up a third of MPs, nearly half of all newspaper columnists, a majority of Lords, diplomats and senior civil servants, and over 70% of senior judges. It is common knowledge that the old boys’ network looks after its own.
This shows why anyone who truly represents a threat to this class’s power and speaks to the needs of ordinary people, like Jeremy Corbyn, will have scorn heaped upon him by the so-called objective newspaper columnists.
The US is no different. There is a ruling class of business-politics-media people who all protect each other from any threat posed by an outsider to their dominance.