geography of middle classes

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Fri Jul 7 02:04:56 MDT 1995


I try to connect Leo's recent post with Scott's comment here.

Commenting upon Kari Polanyi Levitt, Scott Marshall wrote:

>This is hardly new. Marcuse and Debray and many others struggling to find a
>"new" or "third" force as a base for the left explored this many years ago.

Scott, thanks for replying.  If I read Levitt correctly,  s/he is arguing
that these middle classes actually pose a problem for radical movements,
that their interests are intertwined with that of creditors. I do not think
that Levitt is abandoning the proletariat in New Leftist fashion.

I think that s/he is saying that some wage-earners are not necessarily
potentially part of a revolutionary proletariat.

Levitt notes that the interest of some wage-earners, who are  only formally
proletarians, in maintaining the value of their assets ("whether in the
form of institutional savings or home ownership") will lead them to  align
with the same "creditor interests which drive restrictive monetary policy
and the privatiziation of public and social infrastructure".

This connects to Leo Casey's recent post on the geography of class
struggle.  Levitt's savings-rich middle classes may well live or own homes
in the suburbs or gentrified parts of cities, may well be perceived to be
of the majority ethnic group (whatever that is).  Would it better to see
the conflict as one between middle classes and proletarians proper; one
between geographical locations; or one between ethnic groups?  It does not
seem to me that it would be easy to clarify the interests of a geographical
site or a class-divided ethnic group. But then perhaps there is no real
conflict, no antagonistic contradiction here in the face of monopoly
capital.

Leo, your post reminded me of a book which I read three years ago, the
Edsalls' Chain Reaction which highlights a suburban-driven racist backlash
in American politics.  If you have read it, I would be interested in your
thoughts about it.  I also found provocative your discussion of the
disintegration of the industrial working class.

Rakesh Bhandari





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