The most successful indoctrination to the mainstream ideology, is when an individual feels that has overcome ideologies—in most cases, this means that the individual in question, has internalised the dominant ideology, whatever that may be. This is what seems to be going on across the middle classes of Europe. I cannot authoritatively talk about the whole of Europe, but as far as Cyprus and England is concerned, I have quite a strong opinion.
The middle class that I am talking about, is the urban white-collar middle-class worker, like a bank clerk, an accountant, a lawyer, a civil worker and so on; workers whose income is enough to differentiate them from what was traditionally understood as the proletariat. These are the people who live by the measures of value, merit and wealth that have been institutionalised by the class above them. These are the people who will talk about “the poor working class”, or the “uneducated workers” with an air of superiority. The “urban white-collar middle-class worker” has the ability to get a taste of the luxuries of the upper-class, yet does not have the chance to actually experience those luxuries. As such, s/he is in constant condition of misplacement.
Two sentiments arise by this condition: (i) the individual constantly feels that s/he does not belong here, whether ‘here’ is the socialisation with the proletariat, or the upper-class; or (ii) that everything is ‘here’ and that the norm is his/her place, and all others have deviated from that place, either by going up or by going down. Sometimes, these two sentiments are combined, and the individual feels that s/he is in a place that feels comfortable, but not quite right, since the disparities are obvious enough, but not quite prominent in his/her everyday life.
Our individual socialises with people of his/her own class, and sometimes with people of the upper class, but rarely with people of the ‘proletariat’. As such, his/her socialisation within the urban environment makes him/her unable to understand the conditions, the variations, or the magnitude of the ‘proletariat’. This is why our individual engages in a ‘monkey-see-monkey-do’ business, even though s/he lack the ability to actually ‘do’; that is, s/he lacks the ability to become upper-class, and goes through life with an aspiration and a resentment towards them, which in turn produces a resentment towards his/her fellow “urban white-collar middle-class workers” but most importantly towards the ‘proletariat’.
In short, our individual, although s/he understands the concept of ‘class’, s/he interprets the class hierarchy as a deviation rather than as a social fact and a product of inequality. As such, s/he has no claims in the name of his/her class, and this is reflected in the continuously diminishing labour conditions that s/he experiences. How many such white-collar workers do you know that have long office-hours, often extending up to 8-9pm? How many times did you hear about “the busy season”, especially from accountants who consider the deprivation of time outside work a rational demand on behalf of their employer?