portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

actions & protests | labor | political theory

To add to the class discussion

I've never felt comforable with the "working class" and "middle class" definitions because they are divisive and designed to split the Proletariat.
Capital is not THINGS as much as THINGS INVESTED TO PRODUCE MORE THINGS. This can be represented by the famous M-C-M' equation.

The Bourgeois/Captialist are those who invest Capital( goods, information, money, services, equipment) and get MORE IN RETURN.

The Proletariat are those who's investments (Labor, time, money, etc) return less or break even. Their life energy is skimmed off to increase the Bourgeois return .

By this definition, both the lower and middle classes in this country are Proletariat.

The best way for the Bourgeois to redender the Proletariat impotent is to divide it into the Working and Middle classes. The middle class is able to live fairly well, concidering it is trapped in endless work and acruing credit debt. Because the middle class beleives that the situation isn't that bad, it tends to blame the worklower class for not working "hard enought." Likewise, the lower class veiws the middle class as Bourgeois.

This division keeps the Bourgeois out of the spotlight. They are able to craft economic policy, speculate not only in goods and services but also in financial markets. Just please remember that it is those who control the MEANS OF PRODUCTION who are on the other side of class conflict.
I was just thinking this today 30.Aug.2003 17:22


while shopping at the store

(and face it, almost all of us purchase at least some of our basic food/grocery needs at stores)

just by the way people are dressed, what cars they drive, jewelry, their manicures, what wine or groceries they purchase--

you can tell who is a member of which CLASS.

constant reminders of it everywhere you go, and yet no-one wants to acknowledge that America is socially and economically CLASS-stratified.

all while the owners behind the grocery store security cameras watch, making sure their customers' CLASS needs and preferences are fully satisfied.

that's what Consumer Marketing is all about:

"our research tells us that there is an entire CLASS of people who will buy X product at Y price."

You can tell the activist's class by which issues they feel are most important 30.Aug.2003 17:58


Open Mind linked to this site on a different thread, and I think it would benefit the IMC readers to read some of it. The second link is of particular importance, and speaks to some of the problems I've experienced in activist circles.


I was a working-class anarchist:

Security won't take their eyes off me 30.Aug.2003 22:14


Ah yes shopping at the store, I was given a reminder of class distinction just the other day whilst perusing le aisles.
My usual shopping store is the Fred Meyer just off Lombard in St. Johns. (sorry y'all Freddies is damn cheap!) Now everyone knows the Saint is Blue collar and after the closing of the St. Johns bridge - I live on the west side of said span- I shopped the Fred Meyer Stadium store which is just off of Burnside and Northwest 21st.
The northwest Portland store was recently remodeled and it was remodeled with the upper crust in mind, and I don't mean the bread.

In the produce area there is only one scale to weigh your produce and it's a little one almost hiding at the end of an aisle. The idea being that people don't really need to weigh produce, just buy it. Most grocery stores have at least two large scales in the produce section.
The produce plastic bags are huge, about 50% bigger than other stores.
A huge meat/poultry/fish section with two butchers standing at the ready to take your order. Freddies in St. John's has an aisle with a small selection of packaged meat, and no butchers.
Huge aisles, monstrous wine section , wonderful coffee sit-down area, just a lovely, lovely, lovely store.
And of course the security up the wazoo.

I know some will say that the store fit's the neighborhood, but this is a perfect example of how classes are defined in a most subtle way.
The argument of ... ... "well if they had the pretty store in the unpretty place nobody would buy the pretty things." How about giving St. John's a chance to see if they would buy the pretty things? Or how about One butcher for fucks sake.
This is minor stuff, butt, it's little things like this, that if one is so inclined, tends to eat away at you. Especially when both stores are in the same chain and the same city.

money is the blood of the poor 31.Aug.2003 01:11

Leon Bloy

Money is the Blood of the Poor.

--Leon Bloy

Cool 31.Aug.2003 01:50


That really sums it up Leon. Now what are we gonna do about it? We need bigger bandages, i.e labor unions. A better circulatory system, i.e a progressive Congress. And a functioning nervous system would be nice, too, i.e a literate Executive branch. Ahhh, the power of analogy! Don't get me started on the digestive system.

house 31.Aug.2003 13:50

just wondering what you think

does owning a house, then, make you a borgy? it increases on its investment. but you might be paying the relative same amount for rent, while feeding the borgy's with your money.

Classism goes far beyond mere "markers"... 01.Sep.2003 00:25

Portland Ponderer

For those of you unfamiliar with the term ,"Social Markers" are the visible or readily noticed things we use to identify class. Clothing, cars, jewelery, speech patterns, language used, posture and gait are all social markers.

Not only do we live in a society that has the "bourgoise" intentionally or unintentionally pitting middle vs lower class, we have lower classes to pit the lower class against. Think of it - who does the working class blame? Upper class (untouchable) and homeless, single mothers, mentally ill, and of course, criminals.

Who do those blamed by the working class blame? Homeless can blame business elite, government and others. Single mothers can blame the father, the government, the system created as it is to leave them disadvantaged and criminals. Who do criminals blame....the list of finger pointing goes on, and in so many circles it cannot be followed to its end.

Point being - this never ending cycle of blame pits all against each other, in a very confusing game of "he said, she said" that leaves us all at the mercy of the bourgoise and their creations - the large corporations and government. I doubt the government and corporations were created with the sole purpose of keeping the poor slaving away to increase the bourgoise's welath and power.

I think it is an unfortunate side effect of a poorly planned system that has gotten out of control. I find it hard to believe that even those we most love to vilify (Bill Gates has been a personal favorite, along with "big oil") are truly evil at heart. Sure, now and then we run across a Cheney here and there, but I think most CEO's are more like Bush - not so bright, truly a dupe for someone else's cause.

How do we fix it?

Take alot of the emphasis off of blaming others, and focus more on fixing the roots of the causes of the injustices we see. Attacking leaders, corporations and bourgoise really just perpetuates the cycle.

I mean - give me a million bucks, and you can feel free to call me anything you want - I have a million bucks for Christ's sake!

Must be nice to be the Portland Ponderer 01.Sep.2003 19:47


Portland Ponderer actually says "I doubt the government and corporations were created with the sole purpose of keeping the poor slaving away to increase the bourgoise's welath and power."

Wow. Where to begin? I suggest to you, Ponderer, that you start educating yourself with the history of governments and corporations. Keeping the working class slaving away to enrich the ruling elite is PRECISELY why governments and corporations were created. Get some Noam Chomsky - that's some good introductory level reading.

The current political and social system is not at all "poorly planned" like you claim. Actually it is working exactly as it was planned to. It was designed to enrich the ruling elite and their middle-class lackeys at the expense of those who do the most actual work. I suggest Howard Zinn's A PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES as another good resource. Why weren't slaves allowed to fight in the "revolution" of the US from the UK? Why were white and black workers seperated and played against each other? Why has the media ALWAYS been owned and run by upper-middle class ruling-elite wannabes?

Your "why can't we all get along" strikes me as ignorant. Even your moniker strikes me as very middle-class and recreational. You seem confused as to why everyone is so darned upset. You even mention that you are confused by all the (what you call) "he said, she said." Confusion is a luxury. Only those with an excess of time and energy spend it on confusion. Perhaps you should deal with your social privilege, which is all that can be done. The fact is that the middle-class has held on to its wealth precisely because its role is to defend the status quo. The middle-class activists co-opt most all activist organisations, even working-class ones. They have the time, the energy, the sense of entitlement, the education.

Quit being so defensive and look at yourself. Yes, the middle class IS part of the problem. But you don't have to be. You identify so strongly as middle-class that you take umbrage when people dare criticise the middle class. Working for the working class improves EVERYONE'S position, regardless of class. Instead of delaying the deaths of laboratory animals, perhaps work with a striking union and get something real done. Your defensiveness is getting in the way of your understanding of the situation. Maybe you should stop and listen to the working class for once. Just an idea.

What to say? 02.Sep.2003 00:21

Portland Ponderer

Ok, first off - I fall squarely into working class, well, until I quit my job to become a student, when I magically fell into "poor-dom".

While I welcome your disagreeing with me, and encourage debate - please don't brand me middle class. If I had middle class resources and income, I would not be where I am today, I would instead have a good office job somewhere, and be eating filet mignon on weekends in McCormick's downtown.

My opinion is merely shaped by my life experience and education to this point, just as yours is. Having worked for the military for a few years, I would say I have seen ineptitude at its most inefficient. Is it so hard to believe that other elements of the government could not too be filled with maybe well intentioned, maybe not people making mistakes and ill-conceived decisions?

Yes, anyone who pays attention knows that trickle down economics doesn't work - but that does not mean that there is not a large portion of America, poor, working class, middle class and wealthy who believe otherwise. Just because you see through the wool pulled ovver your eyes does not mean everyone else does or should. Maybe they need to have the seed of doubt planted, and discover your truth for themselves.

The problem with taking a near fundamentalist view on your opinion is this - it has the potential to blind you to what the other side truly believes. Does it make them right? No. But listening to what they think, why they think it gives you a better opportunity to counter what they say and believe effectively, and maybe persuade them to see the truth.

Or does allowing your opinion to be open to question make you afraid that you might find that you were the one who was wrong?

Oops I'm wrong again 02.Sep.2003 00:56


Yes, I adhere to certain basic principles. Apparently that makes me "fundamentalist." It comes from a lot of time spent researching. As a student, you should have the tools to read various histories and see how things happened. You can compare sources and assess their validity.

How the US was founded by white rich men who sought to cement their power and wealth by creating the US the way they envisioned it. Almost all of it was in their own words, the Federalist papers or other such documents. The proof, though, is in the pudding. What does the working class get for all the labor? Very little, and it's diminishing regularly. Has it always been this way? Yes.

I know for a fact that many people believe otherwise. School and mass media are both indoctrinators, and successful ones at that. It keeps people happily in the dark, reaching for bling-blings instead of real things. I am prepared to debate the validity of my views with anyone, and am prepared to debate the validity of their views with them as well. It's how the truth comes out. But getting defensive always ends all communication. Which is why I am prepared to rethink my ideas - precisely because I ask people to rethink their ideas. Sometimes it's a matter of not having all the information, or questioning the accuracy of certain information. I don't blame people for not knowing certain things because I sure as hell don't know everything and no one else does.

Good intentions pave the road to hell (I think the saying goes) and people slaughter civilians in order to "protect freedoms" or because intentionally false intelligence is used to make a person or country a scapegoat. I believe that only the highest levels of government and business are truly trying the gouge the general populace for their own benefit. This is obvious in their willingness to sacrifice the lives and livelihoods of those beneath them in their own organisations - just to personally gain. Work-related deaths are way too high for a supposedly civilised country as the USA. Yet someone decided that to spend the extra money to equip and train workers towards safety wouldn't be as profitable. I could go through so many individual cases where CEOs and Secretarys of State have intentionally sacrificed the well-being or lives of their workers, customers, servicemen/women to convince you but the information is out there for you to find already.

You're right that most middle-management or officers or whatnot do not have the big picture on their mind. they were merely doing their job. Or as the Nazis excuse went: "I was merely following orders."

The difference between a free human and a typical human is the ability to take responsibility for what you do not know. The ability to look past the propaganda fed you day in and day out by teachers, the TV, bosses, and commanding officers. Another difference is taking responsibility for your own actions. If people owned up to their own actions and those actions' consequences, there would be no possible way for the ruling elite to siphon the energy/money/time it sucks from working people. It takes order-followers to commit the crimes that the CEOs and Secretarys of State plan.

Sorry to brand you middle-class. I call as I see em, and I saw wrong. It's fairly common for a class to act/think/express themselves as the class they are striving to become, to the point of being apologists. It's why southern voters in the early nineteen century ALWAYS voted for slaveowners rights, even though 98 percent of them did not own slaves - and probably never would. The point was that they all wanted to own one eventually. So they acted and thought like slaveowners until that day came.