Class based analysis of the system is what is required in order to raise consciousness so the work can be done to change the ground rules that are making a hot mess of things .

“A now-retired colleague of Marxist persuasion once remarked on what he saw as a telling omission on the part of many academics who study inequality. He observed that while everyone agrees that racism and sexism are wrong and should be eradicated, few people make the same argument about class. “Why is it imperative to oppose racism and sexism,” he asked, “and not class?” Between us, it was mostly a rhetorical question. We knew that the answer had to do with academics’ class privilege and need to embrace an ideology of meritocracy to justify that privilege. To call class into question would be to question not just a system of inequality but our own deservingness.

While social scientists certainly haven’t ignored class, the attention we’ve paid to it usually takes one of two forms: using class as a variable to predict the attitudes or behaviors of individuals; or studying the lives of people in certain class categories (e.g., ethnographic studies of working-class communities). Such studies can be useful for showing how people experience and are affected by their class locations. What’s typically missing, however, is analysis of how the class system works—how it is used by those who control the means of production and administration—to generate and maintain the inequalities that shape people’s lives.

Part of the problem is that some of the conceptual language useful for unpacking these matters has been stigmatized. The language exists but using it carries a high risk of being dismissed as an ideologue. To speak of a growing gap between productivity and wages over the last thirty years is acceptable. To speak of wage stagnation as a partial result of declining union membership is okay. To speak of ever more wealth accruing to the richest 1% is now within respectable bounds. But to speak of an increasing rate of expropriation enabled by capitalist victories in the class struggle is to invite trouble. Or invisibility.

This is not just a matter of how class is talked about in academic circles. How we study, talk about, and write about class has wider consequences. Focusing solely on diversity, inclusion, privilege, and mobility means having little to contribute when it comes to challenging capitalist power, advancing working-class interests, or transforming capitalism as a whole. It means, in effect, accepting a soft ringside seat.”

by Michael Schwalbe (writing in Counterpunch).

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