[Marxism] A ruling class split? (Was Richardson... etc)

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Wed Jun 11 08:28:13 MDT 2008

Rod Holt writes:

> Walter states, as though it were a fact, "... The ruling class is
> divided on what tactical orientation to take toward the world." On what
> are they divided, pray tell? Where are their lines? These are not
> rhetorical questions.

> If it is true that Obama represents a "progressive" split inside the
> America ruling class, I'd like to know more about this phenomenon. This
> is not a minor question; FDR...represented the victory of the Keynsians
> over the
> Hooverites. Even though history has taught us all a lesson on this
> subject, where is the Obama-McCain "line in the sand"? Frankly, I
> haven't seen any sign that the U.S. ruling class has learned anything,
> not that they wish to take a different path. Please help me out.
Read the New York Times alongside the Wall Street Journal, watch Fox's Bill 
O'Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on cable, listen to Rush Limbaugh 
versus Al Franken and Rachel Maddow on talk radio, and it's clear these 
divergent media views reflect a split between the liberal and conservative 
wings of the US bourgeoisie on a wide range of economic, social, and 
political questions: Iraq, Iran, environmental policy, state spending and 
taxation, judicial doctrine, civil liberties and presidential powers, the 
role of religion, abortion, the rights of trade unionists, national 
minorities, women, immigrants, gays, etc.

These differences manifest themselves in the political sphere in the contest 
between the two major bourgeois parties, each resting on different bases of 
popular support - the DP favoured in the more cosmopolitan, liberal cities; 
the Republicans favoured in the conservative white hinterlands surrounding 
them. The upcoming debates between Obama and McCain will provide further 
illustration of the divisions on these issues, although each will mute their 
positions to "capture the centre". Similar differences within the 
bourgeoisie elsewhere express themselves through the social democratic 
parties and the parties to their right. If there weren't these political 
splits within the bourgeoisie - both of a fixed and conjunctural nature - 
they wouldn't have formed (in the case of the social democrats, 
appropriated) competing bourgeois parties.

These intra- as well as inter-class differences are more acute and apparent 
in times of foreign or domestic crisis, as during the Great Depression which 
Rod cites above. Today, the Bush administration has provoked a crisis in US 
foreign policy, with Iraq and latterly Iran having generated an angry and 
often public debate within the foreign policy and defence establishment over 
multilateral diplomacy versus unilateral "preemptive" military action as the 
most effective means of maintaining imperial control. This internal split 
has been sharp enough to cross party lines into the Republican party and to 
extend into the military high command. When the discretely liberal New York 
Times departs from form and describes the "trash-talking" Bush 
administration as a "crazy American government" (October 29, 2007), that 
does seem to me to be evidence of a line in the sand as clearly drawn as any 
within the ruling class since Vietnam.

It's possible that the disagreements on this list turn not so much on 
whether the ruling class is split as described above, but over how 
significant are these divisions and of what relevance they are to the left. 
Rod and others clearly think they are not present or are largely irrelevant. 
I suspect that's because none touch on questions of power and property, the 
standard set by the now defunct socialist movement from which we're 
descended, and because there is concern that highlighting them feeds into 
support for the Democratic party. But the left has always paid close 
attention to differences at the top and tried to exploit them. The internal 
ruling class differences today in the US are mirrored within the population 
and of particular concern to the social constituencies we support, and their 
resolution has enormous consequences for the rest of the world.

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