Class war works great for conservatives and liberals

It does not, however, for hardworking Americans or this country's future. Here's why. Photo: Protestor with sign

FLORIDA, December 3, 2012 — Class warfare has always been an undertone, and in some cases even a dominant theme, in American politics.

Today, however, it is a bit different than in past years.

For much of the twentieth century, this massive inferiority complex was propagated principally by far-left activists and pseudo-intellectuals seeking to ignite an uprising against the capitalist establishment. Interestingly enough, this debacle did not take off during the 1900s and ‘10s, during which the fight for workers’ rights was raging. 

The concept of class conflict really gained steam during the 1930s, when the Great Depression left much of the nation facing the horrific prospect of either permanent unemployment or digging ditches for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. It then stagnated a bit during the mid-1940s’ post-World War II economic boom, and the stability derived from this during the succeeding decade. 

By the time of the social revolution of the 1960s, however, class warfare was raging once again. This time it was taking place in the minds of those attempting to overthrow civilized society in favor of a utopia with free love, free material goods, and plenty of free lunches. After that bit of nonsense fell out of public favor, the much-hyped class conflict came to naught and was essentially forgotten.

Despite popping in and out of the mainstream of American political discussion from time to time, class warfare remained more or less a quizzical absurdity relegated to a handful of history books. It would not return until the election of Barack Obama in 2008. 

However, unlike in past times, the left would not be to blame.

After the President’s inauguration, the far-right picked up where their opposite numbers left off and propelled the notion that it was not capitalists who were the true ruling class, but essentially all politicians belonging to the Democratic party, most moderate Republicans, and those just not seeming to be “Real Americans”.

It seems as if that last one is in reference to people who choose to refrain from becoming excited about hot-button social issues, dressing and speaking in a “down-home” fashion, or placing mythology above scientific data. 

Of course, this new-found vendetta makes about as much sense as its predecessor did, but such a thing is unimportant. The fact of the matter is that the radical right effectively proved itself to be no different from the radical left. Indeed, they are two peas in a rabble-rousing, crypto-authoritarian pod. 

Sadly, this is clear to see for all but their adherents, whose numbers, it would seem, are growing at an alarming rate.

Needless to say, the notion of a single elite group controlling the masses is totally false. While the United States is home to several very influential corporations and public officeholders — sometimes under the circumstances of the former pulling the latter’s strings — our entire system of governance was constructed so that there could never be an omnipotent force capable of bringing about class-based tyranny. 

The only way in which this could possibly happen is if we allow it. After all, even the strongest of companies is incapable of casting a ballot. As American citizens however, we can. This is why it is of the utmost importance that a civic-minded voting populace be present, so that even the most nefarious of politicians are forced to think twice about engaging in illicit activities. 

Complaining about how others are keeping one down when those in question are merely a group onto which he or she has projected a great deal of anger is, in a literal sense, wasted energy. On a deeper level, though, it is counterproductive toward really getting to the root of America’s most demanding socioeconomic problems.

Group-think has always been a bad thing, and class conflict is one of its worst products. Let us not fall for this easy way out of answering the tough questions. If we take responsibility and deal with the challenges at hand in a rational, pragmatic manner, then the subject of class warfare will be one of laughter and mockery, not serious consideration.

Much of this article was first published as The Ruling Class v. the Country Class: a Populist Fool’s Dream on Blogcritics.org


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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