[Marxism] Millionaire mullahs

steve heeren tzsche at shaw.ca
Mon Aug 14 11:00:33 MDT 2006

I think there is a problem with this whole way of looking at things. 
We're talking about the "dream" of upward mobility which is a main prop 
in keeping the system going. BUT, it is (potential) upward mobility only 
for individuals, not for whole classes. Individuals rise and fall 
between classes but the classes themselves are, if i may say, immobile. 
They are inherent "positions" created and given out by the system which 
are then filled by individuals.

the system keeps the class structure intact, even as it continually 
transforms the means of production. We do not see "upward class 
mobility" because capital must keep the class of wage labour intact in 
order to accumulate. let's not talk about this in terms of individuals 
rising and (mostly) falling: it doesn't steer our thinking in the right 
direction. However, it is still a good idea to smash the ideology of 
(individual) upward mobility, as several of you have done.

This was off the top of my head, so I am open to criticism or correction.

Michael Perelman wrote:
> There is a problem with this statistical analysis.  Imagine that a 
> rich kid gets a part-time job.  He falls in the bottom of the 
> distribution of income.  Later after he graduates college, he becomes 
> a vice president in his dad's business.
> Normally, many people tend to move up in income as they gain 
> experience.  As they do so within a static system, other younger 
> people soon replace them at the bottom.
> Looking at the probability of a person moving up is beyond the level 
> of his or her parents gives a less optimistic picture.
> Sayan Bhattacharyya wrote:
>> "A 1992 study done by the U.S. Treasury confirmed [..] [that] [a]fter
>> tracking before-tax income for 14,351 taxpayers between 1979 and 1988,
>> the Treasury economists found that of the taxpayers in the bottom
>> quintile in 1979, only 14.2 percent (or one in seven) were still there
>> in 1988. Meanwhile, 20.7 percent had moved to the next higher fifth,
>> 25 percent to the middle fifth, 25.3 percent to the second-highest
>> fifth, and 14.7 percent to the highest fifth.
>> "Thus, a taxpayer in the lowest bracket in 1979 was about as likely to
>> be in the highest fifth nine years later as to have stayed in the
>> lowest fifth."
>>  -- <http://www.hooverdigest.org/981/henderson1.html>
>> If this is true, it might explain why voters in the USA don't vote for
>> socialist candidates. Given these circumstances, what argument should
>> be advanced to US workers to win them to socialism? (Of course, this
>> is 2006, not 1992, and things have probably gotten a lot worse now.)

More information about the Marxism mailing list