On Class Part 1: Working-class Versus ‘Middle-class’

On working-class versus ‘middle-class’

On Class Part 1 (Part 2 available as pdf here)

“In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious artistic or philosophic–in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out — K Marx, “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.” Preface.”

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/preface.htm

Prima facie, accepting the above from Marx, damned if the above ain’t a difference that can be analogized (applied) so as to differentiate between a scientific economic category, the working class, and the so-called ‘middle class’ which, IMO, is a sociological convention, a ‘state of mind’—‘upper’ and ‘lower’ class too—that is of a “…legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic–in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.”—

Let me start again. I read “material transformation of the economic conditions” not just as being technical changes in the means of production but also as fundamental changes in the modes of production and, by that, changes in the nature of the classes to be found therein. Such as, for instance, a change in status of a man from being an Independent Worker IWi perhaps, running after prey armed with bow and arrows of his own fashioning—to being a slave Bii who had been captured while trying to run away from a predator armed with factory manufactured musket and cannon. The hunting predator become captured prey.iii This change of class status is, obviously, independent of what the ‘prey’ thinks, i.e. from his ‘state of mind’.iv

But when, with repetition of cruelties, in direct proportion, to the same extent, as mental as physical, over centuries of generations, as these come to be imbued, inbred, into the mind and body of the slaves then one can see how it is that the difference, in American slavery, between the “House Negro” and the field hand could come to resemble a ‘class’ distinction that it is not.v It is ‘caste’-like but not even classic caste (being something one is born into and dies with) as this is a ‘caste’-like privilege that is bestowed by, and can be stripped away by, the Other, the ‘Massah’, at this one’s whim. This division continues to this day in blacks with those of a lighter complexion often looking down upon their darker hued brethren.vi

And just as surely are the affects of the ‘class-like’ mien of the upper-paid levels of today’s working-class.vii The fact that they can be fired at the will of the Other, the Owner—may be out of their consciousness but is still buried in, burned into, their sub-consciousnesses. But such a fact is abandoned, allying them with the capitalist against their own interests, against their own class, against their own brother and sister members, who are not paid enough to be, what the capitalist has taught these that they, the formers, are…’middle class’. Even ‘upper middle class’, if you will.

But, quantitatively, just what is ‘middle class’? 50G’s, 100G’s??? Where is the dividing point? If it is 50G’s then is the person making $49,999.99 not in the same ‘class’ as the 50G + 1er? Is it something that like the castigation, as it is pejoratively used, the term ‘petit-bourgeois’viii—itself a scientifically determined class—that is hurled outwards by too many self-asserted and self-assured hands guided by ill-informed ‘Marxist’ ‘minds’? Meaning it must be a something like a “We’ll know it when we see it.” Is economic class that superficial? That ill-defined?


“What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”ix

That’s where the bullshit comes from. From the ruling class. A ruling class, the bourgeois capitalist class, that has subverted, stolen away from us, the community and commonality of our own humanity. And should the better paid members of the ’middle class’ continue in the errs of their ways then they too will deservedly be trashed into history’s ashcan alongside the masters they gladly and greedily served.

JAI

Part 2 is available as a pdf at

i All classes, such as the IW, postulated here will be placed on a solid, scientific if you will, basis in a second part to this posting.

ii. B’ for ‘boundsman’ (sic). In Marx’ economics ‘s’ has historically been assigned as the abbreviation for surplus-value.

iii “What’s this ole world coming to, things just ain’t the same, anytime the hunter…gets captured (as) the game.” Very slight paraphrase of “Hunter gets captured by the Game.” The Marvelettes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBa746RVNHA (Thanx to S.Artesian.)

iv “The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production…with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. “ Marx “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/preface.htm

v On this see Malcolm X. “The House Negro and the Field Negro.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwgJewsy2BI

vi “Frank arrives at work and then heads for lunch at the Capital C club…He is questioned at length by the snobby Mr. Broussard, who seems to hold some outdated opinions on race and class…Frank returns to the restaurant…and when he mentions that he may be invited to join the Capital C, Anna-May informs him that the club used to be known for performing the “paper bag test” and inviting only light-skinned blacks, or capital-C “Creoles,” to join the club…” Frank’s Place: “Frank Joins the Club.” https://www.paleycenter.org/collection/item/?q=ray+charles&f=people&c=tv&advanced=1&p=10&item=B:67536

The ‘paper bag test’: to join a society one has to be lighter than a brown paper bag. It is hard to imagine the ‘minds’ of these Negroes (sic) who are proud of their ancestors yielding to the slave-masters’ rapes while looking down upon with denigration those blacks of a darker hue whose ancestors, obviously, must have resisted more.

vii “We shall assume that he is a mere wage-labourer, even one of the better paid, for all the difference it makes. Whatever his pay, as a wage-labourer, he works part of his time for nothing.” “Vol 2.” Chap 6.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/ch06.htm

viii On the economic description of the petit-bourgeois as a class, see Part Two of this paper: “What constitutes a class?

ix “The Communist Manifesto.” Chap 2. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm

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