Class Struggles

Class struggles in American history

After free market purists Coolidge and Hoover denigrated the important role that government has to perform in a just society, we found ourselves in a deep depression. The New Deal eased some of the pain for the underclass, but needed a war in Europe and Asia, plus a strong labor movement to create a middle class.

Before the Depression, the working class worked for wages at the poverty level with no fringe benefits. The blame has been put on Hoover, but like Obama, he inherited an economy ready to burst and sat on the sidelines while the underclass suffered. Obama inherited an economy that had already burst and is making a futile effort to repair it with corporate power fighting his efforts.

We have been an unequal two- and three-class society since before the Revolutionary War. The most broadly shared prosperity was from the 1940s to the 1970s. This ended with a return to an uncontrolled free market with tax cuts for the wealthy. The middle class, whose wages remained stagnant, retained their standard of living through the use of easy credit while the controlling class prospered.

Since the ’80s, the middle class has been slowly shrinking, with the gap between haves and have-nots widening. Another tax cut for the wealthy and free marketing in the 2000s helped energize the economic crisis we are experiencing today and are on our way to a lifestyle many aren’t familiar with.

Some in Congress are now fighting to maintain the last tax cut for the affluent 2 percent and a move toward less government regulations. This — trickle-down economics — can lead to a growing inequality and a two-class society of rich and poor. Big money has a firmer grip on government than the 1930s, so a positive outlook for the populous is very dim.

Our country was founded as a three-class society and although our founding fathers wrote our Constitution, they were wealthy landowners and merchants who profited financially from the war; quite similar to the rich speculators who profit from all wars.

The poor who fought the war remained poor and in about the same class as the persecuted slaves, indentured servants and American Indians who worked the land for them. Madison once bragged that it cost him less than $13 to maintain a slave and derived $256 from each slave.

I could expand on the inhumane treatment of other human beings during colonial days and carried on into the 20th century. The treatment of laborers in the 1800s and early 1900s could be best described by the poet Edwin Markham in his 1907 article in Cosmopolitan magazine:

“In unaired room, mothers and fathers sew by day and night. Those in the home sweatshops must work harder than those in factory sweat shops — and children are called in from play to drive and drudge beside their elders —

“All the year in New York and in other cities you may watch children radiating from such pitiful homes. Nearly an hour on the East Side of New York City you can see Them—pallid boy or spinning girl-their faces dulled, their backs bent under a heavy load of garments piled on their head and shoulders the muscles of the whole frame in a long strain.

“Is it not a cruel civilization that allows little hearts and little shoulders to strain under grownup responsibilities, while in the same city a pet cat is jeweled and aired on a fine lady’s velvet lap on the beautiful boulevard?”

This sounds similar to the Mexican farm workers and their families working a 60-hour week in the heat with no overtime pay. In 1938, the Fair Labor Act was passed regulating child labor and other labor laws, but as usual some employers find ways to get around laws.

My reason for writing this dismal look at our history is, having been a witness to the conflict between management and labor, I have a haunting fear that we may be moving in that direction again.

Nationalist fervor has permeated our educational system since I went to school and history has been whitewashed so a large segment of our population, not like the fine lady with the velvet lap, has been invisible.

History repeats itself as the class struggle continues. The November election will have little effect on the class struggle as our country is dominated by corporate wealth and military power, plus a dysfunctional, mediocre two-party system and destructive media.


4 responses to “Class Struggles

  1. It seems that our society is ripe for a new party, a counter part to the tea party, a labor party. Doesn’t England have such a party ? Such a party could be the logical conclusion of what the Dem politicians profess to represent, as the tea party, in many ways, is what the Repubs profess to represent.

    This article makes me think of a quote that I heard from Michael Moore on a talk show, “The economic crisis is merely a product of extreme greed. The wealth is all still here in the U.S.; it’s just been redistributed into the pockets of the wealthy.”

    What is amazing to me is that the poor and the middle class buy the lie of the politicians controlled by the wealthy. I think of the matrix when Morpheus asks Neo to choose between the red and the blue pill. One pill would allow Neo to go back and live in captivity in a state of delusion created by his captors; the other pill would release Neo from his captivity and force him to live in the harsh reality in the “real” world created by his captors, a scorched earth.

    It amazes me that the 99%, the poor and what is left of the middle class, chooses to take the pill that causes them to live in captivity and in delusional state. I suppose that the media is “the pill” that perpetuates the false reality that protects the wealth of the wealthy, and all of us poor and struggling vote and support the wealthy and their schemes, amazing.
    Amazing that the masses persist in a delusion. We are seeing the result of “the system” over milking the masses for their meager resources and breaking the entire system, yet the masses persist in believing the lie and live captive to ship on a course toward the proverbial ice-berg.

    My parting thought comes from the Apostle Paul “The love of money is ‘the root’ of all kinds of evil.” mmmmmm, that sounds familiar….. Isn’t Paul describing the what we now know as “capitalism” ? Is there a connection between crime and injustice, all kinds of sin, associated with the love of money, capitalism? Aren’t “the so called people of faith” supporting those politicians who fight tooth and nail to protect and preserve “the love of money”?

    Will we take the blue or red pill?

  2. Vicki Sue McKinnis


  3. Wow, incredible weblog structure! How long have you been running a blog for? you make running a blog look easy. The full glance of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!

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