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Class, a better definition

Anarchism: What it is and what it is not.

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Class, a better definition

Postby Zeed » Sat Oct 04, 2003 4:29 pm

I think one of the biggest misunderstandings in the leftist world today (IE, anarchist, communist, socialist, green, etc.) is the definition of class. This misunderstanding comes from the fact that people define class based a persons wealth. I wrote a small essay...or rather a couple of paragraphs giving the best (as far as I can see it) definition of class. As follows: <br> <br>Definition of Class <br>I think one thing that causes a misunderstanding and confusion in all our theories and thoughts on anarchism is the definition of class, and who falls into what class. <br> <br>Most often when anyone says, this class or that class, they seem to be defining the class using wealth. IE, A person who makes this much and under is in the working class, a person who makes this much to this much is the middle and a person who makes this much or higher is the rich class (or ruling, or capitalist, etc.). I believe this definition of class is flawed greatly. This definition doesn’t take into account the fact that because of trade unions, inflation, neo-liberals, and a 20th century re-working of the capitalist system, most people are paid a living wage (don’t get me wrong, capitalism still sucks, and there are still homeless and everything…what I mean is, someone who you may define as middle class is actually working class, and is getting a living wage). This definition also leaves way too many gray areas, like making it hard to define an individual’s class, and making the idea of the working class being a majority, wrong. <br> <br>I personally like to define class this way: A person’s class is determined by the amount of authority s/he has in (and out of) their workplace. <br> <br>It works out as follows: <br> <br>The Working Class is those who have little to no authority in their workplace, people who have no one under their rule, and are ruled over by others (by bosses, managers, etc.). The working class is everyone who is a producer, distributor, or other actual provider of products and services...bakers, stock boys, cashiers, secretaries, nurses, construction workers, cleaners etc. <br> <br>The Middle Class are those who have limited authority in the workplace. They are in command of let’s say 20 people or less. The middle class is usually made up of managers and small business owners…they are also workers such as doctors, actors, lawyers, business men, etc. They are people who have authority over others to a limited extent. <br> <br>The Capitalist Class are those who are (almost) at the top of the chain, they have the most authority in (and out of) the workplace. They are the large business owners, and usually control about 21 or more people. They have almost no one over them, and almost everyone is under them. <br> <br>A "subclass" of the Capitalist Class is the Ruling Class; they are the top elites of the capitalist class, the huge corporation owners, the investors, and those who literally have NO ONE above them. They are the "gods" among men in the capitalist system (so to speak). <br> <br>A person’s wealth does play a part in their social standing...your wealth determines your privilege and opportunity (not class). A person who has a million dollars has more privilege and opportunity then one with $20. If you look at it my way, truly, a "Rich" man could be working class, and a poor man could be capitalist class (If the rich man has no authority in his job, and the poor man is running a business with over 21 people under him), although this is very rare (but it could happen if, for example, Bill Gates were to decide to go back to flipping burgers at McDonalds without giving up all his money…only his affiliation with Microsoft). <br>End. <br> <br> <br>My comments: <br>I personaly believe class and privilege are NOT life long positions. A person could be working class one minute, and capitalist the next week. Or a middle class person could become working class overnight, etc. Also, a privileged person could become unprivileged in a day, and an unprivileged person could become privileged in a few seconds (IE, the market crashes, or they win the lottery)... <br>Also I don't agree that someone takes on the class of their family. A person who has a job, is in a class, a person with no job takes the class of their family or are by default working class. IE, a house wife with no job takes the class of her husband. A teen with a part-time job (with no authority therein) is working class, even if his/her father or mother is middle or capitalist class. A homeless person defaults to working class, etc. <br> <br>If you look at the world with these definitions, it’s a lot easier to see why and how the working class is, have been and always will be the majority. I hope all anarchists and leftists can adopt the correct definition of class, it will make it alot easier to understand who we're fighting for, who we are, and why we are fighting. <br> <br>I am a teenage, working class anarchist. My mother owns a small medical business with a partner and very few workers, if any...hence shes middle class. My father is a working, retiree. He works currently as a partime delivery man. Before retiring he was a dairy manager at a supermarket, he had no one working for him at the time, but has had people underhim in the past. He has gone from working class to middle class, and back to working class. I am a porter at a local bakery, I have no one working under my rule, and I work for a small business owner. I am working class. <br> <br>----------------------------
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Zeed » Sat Oct 04, 2003 8:56 pm

Oh yeah...I forgot...What do you think?
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Guest » Sun Oct 05, 2003 3:38 pm

Didn't Marx, and the situationists too, say the same thing?
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Morpheus » Sun Oct 05, 2003 5:50 pm

Yes, except they didn't believe in a "middle class" (and neither do I).
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Guest » Mon Oct 06, 2003 8:11 am

No, the Situationists believed in a sort of "middle class", but they viewed it as such more in the sense that they were a meritocratic bourgeoisie, and a majority within the bourgeoisie since most petty bosses and managers were in that category. And I think the Situationist definition of a proletariat wasn't numerically-based, but something like "a proletarian is someone who has no control over their lives and knows it".
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Theobalt » Mon Oct 06, 2003 5:11 pm

Wouldn't it be better to define classes based on ownership of production means? <br> <br>Capitalist class: owns production means and hire people to run them. <br>Working class: owns nothing, and is hired by the capitalist class. <br> <br>On a more general level, we could define a social class as a set of people having common interests and being somewhat aware of this (although awareness might be considered as a secondary criterium to define classes, based on how broad we want the definition to be).
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Guest » Mon Oct 06, 2003 5:40 pm

Yeah, but that's a little old as a definition. In advanced capitalism, most of the bourgeoisie doesn't even own any means of production, like the middle management types, i.e. the REALLY pathetic bourgeois. Real capitalists who literally own factories are thinning out because of consolidation, but the management bureaucracy is gigantic now.
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Zeed » Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:53 pm

What so wrong with baseing a persons class on how much authority he/she has? <br> <br>Its simple, Capitalist has most authority. <br> <br>Working class has least authority. <br> <br>Middle (if you believe in it) has only some authority. <br> <br>We are against authority, aren't we? <br>
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Guest » Tue Oct 07, 2003 2:11 pm

I agree somewhat. But it's also important to remember how authority has changed in relation to consumer culture. You don't even have to own a factory to be bourgeois anymore. You don't even have to be a manager. Case in point, the faux-punks at my school who defend their miserable crumb of cultural authority by excluding others who don't fit the sub-ideology of their subculture. <br> <br>P.S.- I was the anon who posted before Zeed's last comment (forgot to enter a name that time.)
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Theobalt » Tue Oct 07, 2003 2:11 pm

Now, the problem of ownership of production means is more fucked up because corporations are now legal "people". So, the owner of the production means is the corporation. Then, the corporation property is administrated by a kind of bureaucracy, and workers are using this porperty to produce goods and services. When these goods and services are sold, a part of the money goes to the shareholders who lend it money. In many cases, a ghost is owning production means. Since it is ghost, it cannot be part of a social class. So, the capitalists of today are the shareholders, who lend money in hope of getting a surplus-value. They no longer own production means, but they still own a capital, money which generates surplus-value. <br> <br>We now get the problem of having workers who are also capitalists because they are shareholders of some corporations. From that we get paradoxal situations like unions asking corporations to fire people to increase profit for their workers retirement plans. Are they pro-workers or not? The answer is yes and no at the same time, because of the dual worker/capitalist nature of these people. And you get the situation of having workers who wants wages of other workers to lower for their own benefit as part-time capitalists. <br> <br>Things are sometimes getting grey...
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Zeed » Wed Oct 08, 2003 4:45 pm

I see what you mean there. <br> <br>Still if you anilyze what exactly the individual does and base that off this definition, you can find his/her class. <br> <br>For example, a worker as part of a union owns shares in this corp. As does a non-worker shareholder. What class are each of these. <br> The worker is still working class, becuase his actual authority over himself and others in this corp hasn't changed. He just is a silent owner. He still has to listen to his departments manager, and follow the directives the CEO makes. <br>The shareholder on the other hand does not do any work for the company and doesn't have to follow any of the orders of the managers or CEOs. The shareholder is of the Capitalist class. <br>Even if a shareholder doesn't own enough shares to become a board member, or to make policy, he is still a capitalist becuase he doesn't follow orders when investing (in the case of shareholders, they can sometimes be middle class as well. It depends on wether they are small time, day traders, big time stock trading companys, or just rich people who invest in other companys.) <br> <br> <br> <br>BTW, I got the original defenition of class (located in the first post) from a book called, "The Working Class Majority: America's Best Kept Secret" By, Michael Zweig. Its avalible here (on amazon...YUCK): http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0801487277/qid=1065656500/sr=2-3/ref=sr_2_3/102-5473761-1473708 <br> <br>Of course you don't have to buy it the if you wanted to buy it. <br>
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Re: Class, a better definition

Postby Chappuis » Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:42 am

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