Austerity Chic and Class Politics

The revival of austerity regalia is linked to another revival: that of the idea of empire. In the same tacky gift shops in which one finds the “Keep Calm and Carry On” dinner plates, one also finds the “British Empire Was Built on Cups of Tea” trays. This melancholic sense of loss is associated with the idea that today’s poor have lost their way. They’re not like the poor in the good old days; they are seen as feral, mindlessly self-indulgent, and stupid. In this purview, virtue can only be restored by a return to traditional families using traditional cooking and traditional husbandry.

  • Richard Seymour