[Marxism] what is 'working class' (was Skewering...)

Jack F. Vogel jfv at trane.bluesong.net
Fri Jul 2 14:47:51 MDT 2004

On Fri, Jul 02, 2004 at 03:59:23PM -0400, Scotlive at aol.com wrote:
>> Carrol writes:
> > We are not sorting laundry into baskets.
> > 
> I agree. But this also applies to lumping people into a certain class, with 
> the same interests and outlook merely according to their position in the 
> process of wealth creation. To me a member of the working class is someone who 
> identifies him or herself as such. Most workers in the US, for example, consider 
> themselves middle class, because they've been socially conditioned to think by a 
> conscious ruling class that the indiviualism implicit in a middle class 
> outlook on life is more desirable than the collective aspirations of a conscious 
> working class outlook.
'middle class' is a made-up term that is not particularly helpful in a
Marxist analysis, except maybe to understand ruling class ideology in this

Marxism is materialist, often this is misunderstood... In this case it
means 'what you are', your class, precedes "what you consider yourself to
be". Even if you never develop class consciousness, it doesnt alter the
fact of what class you are...

> Consciousness CAN take place in struggle. That doesn't mean that it 
> necessarily will. 
Ya, and so what?

> Economic conditions today differ enormously from those which existed 100 
> years ago. Of course you know that. It's therefore crucial that our understanding 
> and application of Marx's method is adapted to meet these changes. This 
> involves our conception of class. Objectively, a worker is anyone who survives by 
> selling their labour power. Where do professionals fall into this? I spoke with 
> a socialist the other night at an event who claimed to be working class, even 
> though he's a teacher. Then there are workers who, by trade, are organically 
> linked to the ruling class and their interests. Security guards, I've 
> mentioned. Also soldiers, cops, workers who produce munitions and armaments, who work 
> for the Federal Government.

Much is different today than 100 years ago, true, but much more is
fundamentally unchanged. I was just reading Rosa Luxemburg's "Reform or
Revolution", written 104 years ago, and its amazing just how relevant
and useful it still is. I suggest you not dismiss the past too quickly.
I dont see why you feel the need to be confused... I am a 'professional', yet
I am a wage slave. What you can say about the upper 'priveleged' sector of
the working class is, like the house slaves of the past, they often will be
strongly disposed to align with and defend their slave masters.. :)

> If you apply such an objective analysis you only end up confused. Much 
> better, I think, to be subjective. Every one has the potential to join the working 
> class. Consciousness is the determining and deciding factor. Inductive 
> reasoning does not apply. 

One might say that anyone has the potential to join the struggle (although
in practice this isnt true), however this is not the same as joining
"the working class", joining 'with' them to fight for socialism, yes.

The whole thing about a materialist marxist analysis is it DOESN'T depend
on the consciousness of some random 'joe sixpack', just the opposite of
what you seem to say.



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