A Prophetic Blast from the Past

Currently reading part 2 of Doris Lessing’s autobiography called “Walking in the Shade.” She may be the single most influential person in my life right now (despite the fact that she’s dead and I only have access to her through her writing.) I decided that I wanted to hear her voice, so I searched for old interviews of her and found the following:


It’s an interview from 1963 with writer Richard Keffler. Near the end of the interview, she talks a little bit about her experience of the English class system. Both of her parents were English, but she was born in Iran and grew up in Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia, where she observed and spoke out against the strict “Colour Bar.” When she moved to London as an adult, she was an outsider, a colonial. And she was immediately struck by the ‘ludicrous’ class relationships in her new home country. (She also writes about this in “Walking in the Shade.”) What struck me in the interview, was this her reflection on class in America compared to Britain:

…But I gather that America is developing a, not so much a class system, but a wealth, a wealth thing. Which probably turns out to be very much the same thing in the long run.

Remember she did this interview in 1963, and here we are, 50 years later, gearing up for a presidential election, and one of the most common phrases we hear is “the problem of income inequality in the US.” Along with copious comparisons between executive pay during the Eisenhower years and executive pay now. Conversations about minimum wage and the ‘living wage.’ Etc. Her foresight is remarkable.

It just hit me like a hammer. I’ve been thinking about WORK and the VALUE OF LABOR so much lately. I have so much empathy for people who WORK. But it does not necessarily make you better off…

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