Thursday, May 14, 2015


The Socialist Party has often come under criticism to holding to what is frequently called a simplistic two-class model for the structure of capitalism. The working class are paid to produce goods and services which are then sold for a profit. The profit is gained by the capitalist class because they can make more money selling what we have produced than we cost to buy on the labour market. In this sense, the working class are exploited by the capitalist class. The capitalists live off the profits they obtain from exploiting the working class whilst reinvesting some of their profits for the further accumulation of wealth. This is what we mean when we say there are two classes in society. It is a claim based upon simple facts about the society we live in today. This class division is the essential feature of capitalism. It may be popular to talk (usually vaguely) about various other 'classes' existing such as the 'middle class', but it is the two classes defined here that are the key to understanding capitalism.

So it is always helpful to the case for socialism when others express similar opinions to ourselves and confirm much of our position. Jack A. Smith, editor of the Activist Newsletter and a former editor of the American radical newsweekly, the Guardian has written an interesting article on theDissident Voice website which is worth quoting extracts from. 

“A complex class system exists in the United States, but the mass media and political rhetoric generally reduces it to three components — one middle class, and two economic generalizations — rich and the poor…
… Virtually the only class ever mentioned these days is the middle class, and now that seems on the way out, at least until the next election if not longer. The New York Times reported May 12 that political candidates for election in 2016 are no longer mentioning the middle class because it may remind people that this once sacrosanct vehicle for attaining the “American Dream” seems to be falling apart and taking the dream down with it… “Hillary Rodham Clinton calls them ‘everyday Americans.’ Scott Walker prefers ‘hard-working taxpayers.’ Rand Paul says he speaks for ‘people who work for the people who own businesses.’ Bernie Sanders talks about ‘ordinary Americans.’ The once ubiquitous term ‘middle class’ has gone conspicuously missing from the 2016 campaign trail” - New York Times
… Whatever happened to the term upper class? It’s hardly used at all these days Gone as well is general usage of lower class, lower middle class, and upper middle class — all popular designations in the past but rare now. They may not have been scientific, but people knew what they meant….
… Remember when there was a “working class” in our country? The frequent reference to this class a few decades ago has nearly vanished today, except in some academic and economic circles, a few militant unions and in the political left. The working class was split up. Its members became sold on the idea that benefits and security awaited their families in the middle class. The poor and very low-wage workers were pushed into their own weaker category, belonging neither to the working class nor middle class. One reason for this entire transformation was to suppress the memory and continuing existence of a more militant era in U.S. history when the working class and the union movement was strong and tough. Nearly all unions now avoid mention of the working class, substituting “working families” or “employees,” but mostly the unions now identify their members as part of that all-embracing and utterly misleading ticket to paradise known as membership in the middle class. The U.S. government and the corporate elite worked together to transform a bothersome working class into a relatively placid middle class desiring to retain its new status.…

…Virtually obliterated is the term “ruling class” to describe that relatively small group of billionaire and upper millionaire capitalist plutocrats, corporate leaders, bank presidents, financiers and their highly paid henchmen who possess the power to decisively influence if not totally control the political system…

… The popularization of the idea that “We are the 99%” (in opposition to the 1% who rule America) was the best thing Occupy Wall Street did in its relatively brief existence. It was an eye-opener for so many people. It gave a concrete form to an abstract idea. So that’s who’s doing this to us! It would be shortsighted in the extreme for the progressive and left movements not to follow up in a big way on the deepened consciousness of the American people about unequal distribution of wealth, Washington’s failure to protect democracy, the degeneration of the electoral process, the increasing exploitation of workers, the decline of the vaunted middle class and the extraordinary power of the 1% ruling class that controls the U.S. on behalf of a neoliberal form of warrior capitalism.

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