Saturday, 17 March 2012

Class War in America

This article written by David Rosen from the political news website Counter Punch, argues how there is a prominent class struggle within contemporary USA. Rosen tackles the primary importance of how America has always been in the midst of a class system, despite the fact that it has been commonly denied. Rosen argues, ‘The fiction that America is a nation without class, a lie since its inception a half-century ago, gets more and more untenable as actual class struggle daily intensifies.’

As discussed in Wednesday’s workshop, the class system is not just a problem for the poor - it surrounds America much more broadly. Rosen argues how, unlike other countries, the United States refuse to accept an issue which currently defines the nation. ‘Class struggle is being explicitly fought out in France and Britain. In France, it is expressed as mass and often-violent resistance, with blood on the streets. In the U.K., it’s being imposed as a ruling class demand for austerity through huge public-sector layoffs, cuts in public services and little overt resistance. In … the U.S., the mediating lubricants of legal niceties and political parties continue to contain and blunt direct class conflict.’ In his article, Rosen argues that the Class System and conflict has been a feature of American political culture from as early as 1766 with ‘the New York Tenant uprising’, and yet since this time is still an issue which firstly, has never been remotely resolved and secondly, an issue which has been denied time and again. Rosen continues to note how since the Reagan Revolution in the 1980’s the ‘abundance for middle class has increasingly been replaced by debt’. Most Americans recognise class struggle through the high rates of unemployment and low wage income, which in turn increases, Rosen argues, the amount of unpaid bills and the ‘unspeakable bonuses paid to financial wheeler-dealers’. This presents a very powerful representation of class difference, but in turn complicates the deeper conflict over the growing division of wealth throughout America.

Rosen also implies how the middle class is an ‘effectively slippery category in American political discourse.’ Here Rosen argues that this category applies to everyone and no one. He uses the example of how the U.S Census Bureau does not define the ‘middle class’, yet has set the median income for a family of four in 2008 to 2009 at $70,000, a category which the 2008 Pew Research survey found that half of all Americans fell in to. The use of this shows how by making people apply to one category is an attempt to cover up class war. Thus, this reiterates the fact that government officials fail to see, or do not want to see, that there is a clear class division.

In general, Rosen believes that America needs to recognise that the country is divided by social class. He states, ‘It is time for Americans to reclaim the concept of class war. This needs to be done for two reasons: first, to actively combat the great squeeze ruining the lives of untold millions of Americans faced with financial catastrophe; and, second, to end the campaign by the
super-rich (in league with government tax policies, subsidies and other give-aways) and the media to keep alive the fiction of America is a classless society free of class war.’ In terms of the American Dream, although many people maintain that getting through the class struggle is to work hard, insomuch that the poor refuse that poverty is permanent, it could be argued that Rosen argues that the Dream is not possible until America admits and recognises the fact that they have this societal problem. It will not allow people to move forward, until the problem is addressed and a solution becomes imminent. Rosen argues that this class struggle is a key aspect in America’s identity, and needs to be addressed in order to create equality and a free class America.

No comments:

Post a Comment