‘The traditional class war has been waged between wage-earners (who sell their labor) and their employers (owners of capital and the means of production). These classes have been assigned various names (proletariat, bourgeoisie, capitalists, etc.) but these broad class definitions don’t describe all the class conflicts emerging in the modern U.S. economy…. Six years ago I took a stab at defining America’s Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy (April 29, 2014), to which I would now add a tenth class, gig economy precariat, …’ (charleshughsmith.blogspot.com, 27 August). We should clarify that workers sell labour power, and capitalists extract surplus value. Smith’s ten ‘classes’ – the Deep State, Oligarchs, New Nobility, Upper Caste, State Nomenklatura, Middle Class, Working Poor, State Dependents, Mobile Creatives and Gig Economy Precariat – add further confusion. All people are either workers or they are capitalists and if they are in the former class they are robbed and they are relatively poor and they have a world to win, if they are in the latter class they are exploiters and they are relatively rich and the world is theirs, literally: ‘Study Shows Richest 0.00025% Owns More Wealth Than Bottom 150 Million Americans’ (Common Dreams, 10 February, 2019) and every 38 seconds a US citizen dies of poverty and poverty-related social conditions. Warren Buffett, whose 82 billion dollar fortune makes him the 6th richest person on Earth, once stated: ‘there’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’ Winning worldwide.
Pie in the sky
‘…Anna Howard Shaw, an American Methodist pastor and suffragette, became the first clergywoman to preach in Sweden. That was in 1911, at an international women’s suffrage conference, and long before women could be ordained in the Church of Sweden, in 1958’ (yahoo.com, 23 August). Today female priests there outnumber men, but earn less: ‘…around 2,200 kronor (213 euros, $253) less a month than their male counterparts…’ It should not be imagined that the mundane campaign for equal pay is new – it was , for example, commented on in The Socialist Standard of December 1904. And according to a report from 2017, women will have to wait 217 years for wage equality! Yet believers are in conflict over the status quo. Consider, ‘Christian fundamentalist Stacey Shiflett insisted that Trump was sent by God himself to govern the U.S..’ (alternet.org, October 21, 2019) v. ‘Right now, in America with this movement there is love and truth and justice breathing, the American people are resisting the suffocation and resisting the death. And thank God it is happening’ (alternet.org, June 19). Neither campaigns for wage equality or to abolish religion will end exploitation. The supreme aim of the workers must be their emancipation from wage-slavery, and the fight against superstition is but one phase of this great fight. But it must never be forgotten that since religion is always used as a weapon by the ruling class against the workers, no socialist in the struggle for working class emancipation can honestly avoid the religious conflict.
Priests, police and politicians
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, quoted above in opposition to the Trump-supporting Christian, is president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival. With regard to the killing of George Floyd, he ‘…experienced a range of feelings. Derek Chauvin, that white police officer, the way he posed was something I have seen a hundred times — it was how people pose over dead animals’ (op. cit.). Barber blames the President: ‘Trump is fundamentally against the things that would help all Americans. Trump may have started talking about Latinos and Mexicans being rapists, but he will not even protect the country from COVID-19 which is killing everybody.’ If Trump is removed next month, it will be business as usual: the capitalist system which robs, slaughters and degrades will continue. To be clear, police are workers. They, like the vast majority of society, need to work in order to live. Yes, they have been used to break strikes but some have used the strike weapon themselves. The nature of their work does not exclude them from other members of their class. This is also true of those who form the vast bulk of the military. Should they leave, these workers need to find employment elsewhere, in order to support themselves, one of many problems not experienced by the 1 percent.
The chutzpah of philanthropy
‘Li Lu says he walked into a lecture Buffett was giving years ago at Columbia University and “…was instantaneously taken by him. What he basically taught me in that course was that somebody with high moral principles and integrity can make a lot of money off the market by being wise and smart and moral,” Lu says. …Says author Miles: “He’s transformed my life personally, more than anyone else in terms of modeling good behavior and having fun. He’s made me a better person, made me rethink my own philanthropy, in terms of helping those who through no fault of their own were born on the wrong side of the track” (finance.yahoo.com, 29 August). The capitalist class is charitable out of self-interest; it gives nothing outright, but regards its gifts as a business matter, and makes a deal with the poor saying: ‘If I spend this much upon benevolent institutions, I thereby purchase the right not to be troubled any further, and you are bound thereby to stay in your dusky holes and not to irritate my tender nerves by exposing your misery. You shall despair as before, but you shall despair unseen, this I require, this I purchase with my subscription of twenty pounds for the infirmary!’ (Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1844). Such chutzpah – the capitalists suck out our very life-blood and then place themselves before the world as mighty benefactors of humanity when they give back to us a mere fraction of the wealth generated by our class.