By Arnold Kling
when the New York Times sets out on a multi-week series on “class” in America, it is shocking to see the authors writing so stupidly about the issue…
What Marx argued was that the nature of capitalism was encouraging a flattening of class distinctions, where the vast numbers of the population would increasingly make their income through wage labor, while a very small number would own enough capital to earn most of their income through returns on their wealth…
There are interesting classic issues of class to analyze in the modern economy, say the status of the owners of subcontractors, companies totally dependent on big corporations but officially operating as separate firms. This is a pervasive phenomenon but does not override the increasing domination of the economy by larger and larger companies that straddle the globe, even as more and more workers around the world share a common position as workers for those global corporations.
Given the complexity of society, it’s actually an easy intellectual exercise to catalog the differences between people — the apparent program of the New York Times authors in coming weeks — but the harder exercise is to understand commonalities that transcend those surface differences. The interests of the elite are in emphasizing those differences to keep workers divided against each other economically and politically.
Since I no longer own my small business, and since I do not control billions in assets, I suppose that I should identify with the oppressed labor class.
UPDATE: On a related note, the Washington Post reports on Pew study of current political coalitions.
Both parties now are coalitions of the wealthy and not-so-wealthy, and of well-educated and less-educated voters.
It appears to be an interesting study.