Next time you drive down privet-lined Acacia Avenue the eve before the dustbin men are due to arrive, pull over for a while and take time to observe a poignant human tragedy. One by one by one the front doors of Mon Repos and Bide A Wee open, and out past the reproduction coach lamps step the inhabitants, each bearing carefully segregated containers of newspaper, bottles and plastic. The atmosphere bears the sweet smell of self-satisfaction. If this little tableau had a caption it would read “The planet is safe with us”.
But, irony upon irony, if only these good folk knew that they are not solving the problem, and they are not even addressing the right problem – they are the problem. The middle classes are destroying the world. We have this on the authority of Prof John Beddington, chief scientific adviser to HM Government. He has, of course, a mighty brain, but, more importantly, he has a mighty beard. Taken together, this formidable combination commands a hearing, and since the Government pays him a generous stipend solely for the privilege of listening to him, when he rises to his feet you may be sure he is encircled by open ears and nodding heads.
So it was the other day when he addressed a Sustainable Development UK conference in Westminster. If we were of a satirical frame of mind, we might question the wear and tear on our already endangered eco-system wrought by the expending of hot air at a conference in Westminster. But since the professor had made the journey all the way from Imperial College – one hopes he foreswore a limousine or taxi and walked, or at least jumped on a bendy bus – we should suppress our cynicism, albeit briefly, and heed what he said.
Appropriately, for one whose expertise is chiefly in the field of fisheries, the professor casts his net wide, hauling aboard portents of death and destruction on a world scale. Climate change was, of course, in his trawl, as was the burgeoning world population, but most interesting of all was the entire middle class. Their relentless rise, he said, was the most serious and pressing threat, worse than climate change, worse than the teeming hordes of humanity swarming the planet in ever greater numbers.
The guilt of the bourgeoisie lies in their appetite. They leave a much bigger footprint on the planet’s resources, since they demand high-value agricultural products and processed food, compared with the desperately poor.
This will come as no surprise to the BBC or to other cells of enlightened liberal thought, since they have long held that the middle classes are to blame for just about everything. No BBC programme on education, for example, can get by without a reference to “sharp-elbowed, middle-class people” bagging all the places at the best schools. And if rural England is in trouble, it is because middle class folk have second homes in the country. Ingeniously, indeed resourcefully, the Government discovered binge drinking among the middle classes. It was resourceful, since the scene of this grave social evil is not the gutter and the casualty ward, but the chintz sofa and the crackling log fire. With typical slyness and self-regard, the middle classes are undermining society by getting pissed in the privacy of their own homes. How low can they sink?But, thanks to the professor, we now know that their perfidy runs deeper still. Thanks to their insatiable appetite for polenta and brown rice, pui lentils and pasta, free range eggs and broccoli in season, the Waitrose classes are sucking the goodness from mother earth like the parasites their wise enemies always knew them to be. They should be euthanised.
In the meantime, the professor offers an alternative. “Investment in modern agriculture and irrigation will be essential if global food security is to be achieved, and to avoid huge hikes in the cost of food,” he says.
But there is a simpler way and one which to its credit the Government is prosecuting with some fervour. You will have noted that the professor contrasts the middle classes’ (bad) demand for high-value, processed food products with the (good) demand by the desperately poor for something, anything, to eat.
The answer is as simple as it is obvious. We must impoverish the middle classes. There are signs that this policy is already in place and proving effective. A combination of ruinous taxation and rising prices will, in time, achieve the goal of securing a desperately poor and, with luck, starving bourgeoisie, and save the world.