Thursday, March 04, 2021

Comment on Class

As I follow up on the readings, and the readings within readings about Tribes and Classes in America, I will pass on particularly interesting quotes.

“You don’t understand the class structure of American society,” said Smetana, “or you would not ask such a question. In the United States, the working class are Democrats. The middle class are Republicans. The upper class are Communists.” Whitaker Chambers, Witness (1952)


Sam L. said...

I was going to say I agreed, but as I see it, the Democrat PARTY are Communists, and the workers are the pee-ons.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

How do you interpret the change over 70 years since he wrote it?

Grim said...

That's complex, since both the class structure and the position of the parties ideologically has changed. The working class has diverged into a part that is entirely supported by government largesse since the Great Society (and thus no longer 'working'); another part that is largely so, but works very hard indeed, struggling at 2-3 jobs in addition to still being poor enough for government payments; and a smaller class of skilled labor that may do very well. The upper part of that branch now owns its own businesses, and is plausibly 'middle class' if anyone is.

The middle class bifurcated into the part that joined the New Class, became government, corporate, or academic administrators; those are semi-secure, but slowly seeing their positions erode. That 'slowly' may become 'suddenly,' like bankruptcy. The other part of the bifurcation are corporate middle managers, many of whom were downsized out of the workforce or into working class jobs.

Meanwhile, the Democrats of JFK-era are gone, gone away. Some joined the Republicans in the Reagan era; more did in the Newt Gingrich era. Those who remain Democrats are either corporate-aligned New Class people of the Bill Clinton stripe, or radical left of the Bernie Sanders stripe.

The Republicans maintained some stability, until recently, stability sort of being their brand. But their basic appeal to the middle class has been undermined by the destruction of part of the middle class, and the shift of the other part into Democrat-aligned New Class members. So they tried appealing to the corporate upper class, and joining in Clintonian triangulation to undercut workers in the interest of the Chamber of Commerce, and stalled out there.

Now there's a populist movement among the upper levels of the old working class, especially the small business owners and skilled workers; but beginning to encompass the middle part that is struggling so hard and whose lot could be improved most by better working wages. It also encompasses the small rump of the middle class that managed to hang on, and who still believes in America in the old ways that the middle class used to do. These are nominally Republicans, and certainly have no other home, but they're completely opposed to the interests and the principles of the old Republicans.

So you have a divided Democratic Party appealing to the very bottom and very top; and a divided Republican party appealing to the lower-middle and middle. Yet the divisions within the parties are stark and mutually hostile; the Communists in the Democratic Party really aren't friendly to the corporations to whom the Lords of the Democratic Party align; and to whom the Lords of the Republican Party also align; but against whom the populists are also firmly set.

Plausibly you could see another major shift: the two establishment parties merge into a single pro-corporate, pro-China, pro-immigration, pro-globalization party. The Communists and the populists get together to wage war on the establishment. ("Fine, single payer and UBI, but first we have to seize the corporate means of production, close the border, and ensure rifles to every free American.") The establishment side might bring in those UN Blue Helmet troops after all, because they'd be waging war against the interests of the mass of their citizens, but in the interests of international powers including major corporations and foreign governments.