Class Clarity


From class consciousness comes clarity. We've lost that consciousness and clarity, and as a consequence we're all squeezed between left wing populism versus right wing populism. Here's a short post about how we got here.


source: YouTube

When we talk about the increasing socioeconomic problems of our times as leftists, we often fall back to the struggle between the very rich and everyone else. It's the rich versus the poor, the 1 percent versus the 99 percent; I often make that reference myself, especially since it was popularized during the "Occupy" protests after the 2008 financial meltdown. While this is a good framework to describe the consequences of capitalism's inner failings, it fails to pinpoint the real problem. Sure, in general it's okay to say that what's good for the 1 percent is bad for the 99 percent, but for a proper understanding of the real struggle, the real reason why the gap between rich and poor keeps growing, it's important to identify who the 1 percent are.

For socialists, the picture is clear: there are two classes, the capitalists and the workers. Understanding their relationship, and how they relate to the material goods we all need to function individually and as a society, is the key to understanding how society works, and what the solution is to most of the problems identified by populists on both sides. In the socialist worldview, the capitalist class and the working class are defined by their relationship to each other, not by how much wealth or money one has compared to the other; this is a very important departure from the populist framework of the rich versus the poor. A few people, the capitalist class, own the means of production, like factories, tools, land and everything else needed to produce the goods that society needs to function. The rest of us are, ideally, working class people who don't own the means of production (or a little piece of land to grow our own food), but instead have to sell our labor to capitalists.

That's how our world is organized, real simple, and that's how we get the class divide that matters. Without this clear material distinction between the two classes, discussions around our socioeconomic problems often degenerate into a picture of some vaguely defined group of "elites" who conspire to suck the rest of us dry. With the loss of this clear materialistic foundation beneath the class divide, the political left has shifted its focus to cultural differences between itself and the political right; "Culture War," anyone? Speaking of the political right; they've never had this clear distinction between the actual classes, so right wing populism has always been about that undefined class of elites conspiring against them. And in addition to that class of elites, they also have conjured up a class of "freeloaders" beneath themselves who take advantage of the tax-income leftist politicians have stolen from them.

If you believe that capitalism is the best thing since sliced bread, you can not blame the capitalists for your predicament, so it must be a conspiracy, by leftists, communists even, who conspire against you while assisting the freeloading immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, single unwedded mothers and fathers, welfare queens and so on; there you have the basic ingredients for right wing populism, and they also stem from a lacking class consciousness.

What's also important to note here, is that the relationship between capitalists and workers is one of mutual dependency. The biggest power workers have, is to deny the capitalists their labor. If class consciousness was stronger, if the 99 percent had a good understanding of the class they belong to, if they were organized and set aside their other differences, they could do that, they could go on strike and the capitalists would soon see their profits go down. But as things stand now, that's a thing of the past. It's like I said at the start: we've lost that class consciousness, and as a consequence we're all squeezed between left wing populism versus right wing populism, as exemplified by the below linked video. I highly recommend you watch it though, as it's bringing the bad news from the past month in a highly entertaining manner. From the video's description: "It's a real hodgepodge of terrible news. Yay."

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