Friday, February 05, 2010

A Middle Class Ruled By The Upper Class

I am no Marxist, though I have earlier professed to sympathy with the Marxist class critique as expressed by anarcho-capitalist Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Hoppe argues that the rich are in positions to exploit the middle and lower classes through government power, creating a class struggle. While historian Howard Zinn is no anarcho-capitalist, he does apply this critique to pre-revolutionary America. His critique seems to apply, too, to contemporary America. It is evident, is it not, that it is upper-class America that rules America? Read Zinn, and it becomes apparent that little has changed:

"The Pennsylvania Journal wrote in 1756: 'The people of this province are generally of the middling sort, and at present pretty much upon a level. They are chiefly industrious farmers, artificers or men in trade; they enjoy and are fond of freedom, and the meanest among them thinks he has a right to civility from the greatest.' Indeed, there was a substantial middle class fitting that description. To call them "the people" was to omit black slaves, white servants, displaced Indians. And the term "middle class" concealed a fact long true about this country, that, as Richard Hofstadter said: 'It was... a middle-class society governed for the most part by its upper classes."

Those upper classes, to rule, needed to make concessions to the middle class, without damage to their own wealth or power, at the expense of slaves, Indians, and poor whites. This bought loyalty. And to bind that loyalty with something more powerful even than material advantage, the ruling roup found, in the 1760s and 1770s, a wonderfully useful device. That device was the language of liberty and equality, which could unite just enough whites to fight a Revolution against England, without ending either slavery or inequality."

The People's History of the United States: 1492 to the Present
by Howard Zinn, pages 57-58

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bobbydale said...

I think that Marx made a very good critique of the problems of Capitalism - his solution was flawed, but he did a great job of pointing out the failings which create the wealth inequality we currently face:

"In 1974, the typical chief executive officer of a large U.S. company earned about 35 times the wages paid to the average factory worker, a gap that had widened to a 326-1 ratio by 1998..."

Zev Ginzburg said...

It's an integral part of the American system, to disenfranchise what isn't considered middle class by the upper class.