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Class Struggle In The USA

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William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.

Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

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