by Ahjamu Umi
We constantly hear the term “middle class” thrown around by politicians and the corporate media as a term designed to define everyday people, but never do these folks make even a half-hearted attempt to define what that term means. I would argue that a major reason why the term is never defined is to make sure the concept of class is vague because a true discussion about class will potentially generate a higher understanding of the concept. This higher understanding could result in the development of a class-conscious movement. The potential for this type of movement to develop is the ruling capitalist classes worst fear, because a class-conscious movement quickly and clearly defines capitalism as the enemy of all working people.
So let’s speed up this train by stating loudly and clearly that there really is no such thing an upper class, middle class, and lower class. Instead, there is a ruling class, a bourgeois class, a petite bourgeois class, a working class, a lumpen class, and a peasant class (in technologically underdeveloped countries). These various classes represent different class interests. Examples of the ruling classes are the oil companies; Shell, Texaco, Chevron. The banks, Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc. The top Fortune 500 companies that are owned by about 49 people…total. Those ruling family names like Rockefeller, Dupont, Kellogg, Rothchilds, Morgan. The Bourgeois represents those within the ruling class, but also their spokespersons. For example, Chevron pays millions through their subsidiaries to support candidates for office. When those candidates become “our elected officials” in reality they become representatives and spokespersons for the ruling class. The petite bourgeois are the middle managers for the ruling class and these are the people that the term “middle class” probably symbolizes the most. These are college grads, the people who aspire to make it in the capitalist system. The ruling class dangles carrots to this segment; houses, cars, salaried positions, prestige. Their job is to keep the workers in line. The working class, whether industrial or service, are the producers in this society and they’re historically exploited. For example, you work at McDonalds and your job is to cook burgers. Say you make 30 burgers in an hour. The restaurant sells those at $5.00 a piece. Not considering McDonald’s incredibly cheap ingredients, that means McDonalds makes $150.00 an hour off your labor while paying you minimum wage e.g. $8.00. The lumpen class is the criminal class. The best example of this is the mafia which has made money for decades by preying on people through drug sales, prostitution, etc. Finally, the peasant class is the class of people in poorer countries who produce products and sell them without any organized relationship to government. For example, when I stayed in Africa, I worked selling charcoal on the side of the road with my friend.
These elements represent the classes that make up the society we live in. Anyone from any class can represent the ruling classes interests. All you have to do is do nothing to change the conditions of inequity and inequality that are dominant within this society because doing nothing benefits the ruling classes. By the same token, anyone can also represent the people’s classes. All that’s required is the willingness to commit class suicide and go against the interests of the anti-people’s classes e.g. the ruling, bourgeois, and petite-bourgeois classes.
Occupy the Dream is organizing a “Don’t Let School Interfere with your Education” discussion series presenting in depth classes to address these types of critical issues. The first one is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 8th from 6-8PM at the North Portland Library (512 N Killingsworth Street, Portland OR). For more information, email Occupy the Dream here.