[Marxism] Re Changing class strucutre of the US; increased weight of middle class

Josh Saxe joshsaxe at gmail.com
Tue Nov 8 15:13:17 MST 2005

> Additionally, it is mistaken on its face, to assume that the middle
> class nationally has been expanding-- Quite the contrary, without
> getting into statistics. So if you're arguing for a "new working
> class" (a la Andre Gorz in the 1960s who was popular with elements in
> the New Left) based in the universities and other enclaves of
> intellectual labor I'd have to disagree totally.

It's not that the middle class intelligentsia is getting bigger
numerically or that it's a working class that in the typical case
produces value, but that its social weight is increasing.  I think we
agree.  The middle class plays a more and more central role in the
sections of the world economy that overlap with the political
boundaries of the core countries, because that's where the
intellectual labor now required to produce the constant capital
exists, as well as the intellectual labor required to manage capital. 
Of course there is the "brain drain" by which an intelligentsia of
third world countries is sucked off into first-world metropolises, and
now there are semi-peripheral zones of intellectual production in
places like India where software is produced, etc.  Anyways I never
said I was committed to the positions I'm describing in this thread
but simply exploring them and throwing them out for discussion.

I'm not suggesting the working class is on the decline or will play a
less central role in the coming struggles or that I'm any less
committed politically to it, or that we need to fundamentally revise
Marxism or any such nonsense.  This is a conclusion one would draw
only if one assumed that the class struggle unfolds in national arenas
shaped by national economies.  I think this has been an unspoken
assumption in a lot of Marxist discourse way back since Marx himself,
which has been valid at some points but is increasingly ridiculous. 
Clearly we live in a world economy and a global labor market that
makes compartmentalized nations-as-social-organisms with
compartmentalized class structures that can be analyzed independently
of the world system impossible.

Junaid has talked on this list about the fact that we live in a world
of nations that are fundamentally dissimilar - rich and poor nations -
not the core remaking mirror images of itself in periphery but the
core countries making and reproducing a dependent, subordinated
periphery.  It's not just that peripheral countries are poorer
replicas of the first world that produce different values in less
capital-intensive industries - increasingly the central industries in
the third world are also the central industries in the first world,
are highly capital intensive, but they carry out different sections of
the productive process - as a result a very different class makeup is
coming to exist within the borders of core and periphery nations
respectively.  Not the traditional enormous peasantry and tiny
proletariat, but a proletariat engaged in a different and arguably
more important section of the process of production (the production of
value and surplus-value itself!).  What are the implications for the
character of world revolutionary struggle if not just labor-intensive
but capital-intensive value production is taking place primarily in
the periphery, whereas intellectual labor is the central economic
process in the core countries?

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