Friday, August 27, 2010

Class

If you've ever noticed, sometimes, when there is an argument over politics, and people start taking sides, sometimes, someone will say, "Well all politicians are corrupt anyway."  Which elicits immediate head nodding all around and puts a quick end to the argument. It's one of those things we can all easily understand.
 

Likewise it is sometimes pointed out that rich folks never have to pay the penalty for breaking the law the way ordinary folks do because the system is such that it benefits the rich, or that they can afford to buy their way out.

No one has any trouble understanding that kind of analysis either.

But where is that analysis when it comes to things like the ongoing discussions about the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque," or about the economy, or about prayer in school or abortion or anything else? That "class" analysis is not there. Why? Where did it go? Why is it that we always need to be reminded. Why do we get caught up in argumentation until someone, as in the first example I quoted, remembers what is really going on?

The purpose of this web log is to be a reminder. To point out that the class analysis is the one we should be focused on. The way "they" have demonized socialism and anything that sounds near to socialism, it's difficult to even raise issues of class. Why they demonized socialism is another matter. It used to not be that way in the United States. At one time there were many elected officials in this country who openly identified themselves as socialists. As late as the 1960s, the mayor of Milwaukee, WI, a major U.S. city, was a Socialist. Frank Zeidler. No one remembers that history. It erasure was part of the demonization process, but in order to get at things like that we first have to be able to see things in terms of class.

We can see it, if it comes up in the right context. We can see it if it is pointed out to us in a certain way as, again, in the examples I gave at the beginning. But how do we keep it in the forefront? How do we raise it up in our consciousness so that it becomes a useful tool for understanding things and for asserting our latent power as a class? How do we prevent ourselves from being led down that road that ends up with two groups of working class people standing on the street at some rally and shouting hatred at each other?

This is what this web log is about, in case you wondered.

Incidentally, when I use the term "working class" I mean people who work for a living. I mean those of us who are not rich and not in that other class of people who own small businesses, although the working class and small business owners have many interests in common, a lot more than small business and big business do. Just ask the owners of Mom and Pop stores in an area where a new Wal Mart goes in. Former owners of Mom and Pop stores, I should say.

In America we began to call ourselves "middle class" at some point. That term was imposed specifically to make it difficult to identify as a class. It was a division, into us and them. It was easily imposed however due to the high standard of living achieved by the working class in the 20th century. A standard of living that was achieved, by the way, as a result of class struggle, the history of which, as I said, is not well known nowadays. I will be pointing that out, too, and listing some sources.

No comments:

Post a Comment