Real Class Warfare In America Today


Those who believe in individual rights and liberty always have tended to reject the Marxian paradigm that pits the rich against the poor.

I have bad news for both those on the right and those on the left: Yes, there is class warfare in America, but it’s not between the rich and poor, but between the political class and the rest of the citizenry who bear the brunt of political power and pay the price in lost liberty, property, and opportunity.

In a truly free market, the fortunes are made by those who deliver value to others, quite often to millions of others. Those who think it’s fair to impose discriminatory and punitive higher tax rates on society’s economic benefactors have a warped sense of justice. (How dare those capitalists improve so many lives!) Of course, many of today’s upper-income Americans obtain much, if not all, of their income through cronyism. Their cronies, of course, are those who wield political power in Washington. Such cronyism is the antithesis of true capitalism; rather, it is the age-old story of political elites rigging the system to their financial benefit at the expense of the majority of the population. This typifies the corruption of the political class.

Signs abound of the economic unfairness perpetrated by the political class:

Recent articles in the financial press tell how much more bank regulators in the taxpayer-funded federal bureaucracies make than the average banker in the taxpaying private sector earns.

Various economists have pointed out that if all the money spent on federal antipoverty programs were given to those below the official poverty line, a poor family of four would have an annual income near $70,000. As it is, the poor get less than half the money appropriated in their name; most of it goes to fund the bureaucracies that administer those programs.

Don’t get me started on government pensions. Many are the state and municipal governments and local school districts with gigantic pension liabilities that hover as a crushing burden over private sector taxpayers.

Why do you think seven of the 10 richest counties surround Washington, DC? Actually, they held five of the top 10 places before the Great Recession, but apparently President Obama’s “stimulus” plan and subsequent actions benefited the political class more than the average American. Yet, brazen political demagogues living in glass houses dare to throw rocks at Americans who get rich in the marketplace of voluntary exchange, and not in the political marketplace of legalized plunder and redistribution.

In his 1944 book, “Bureaucracy,” besides a superb economic analysis of the bureaucratic structure, Ludwig von Mises reminds us of a salient feature of bureaucracies: it has been the mechanism of tyranny for ancient pharaohs and emperors to modern socialist and progressive would-be totalitarians (pp. 15, 17, and 4). We have seen this playing out with the IRS sabotaging conservative groups and the EPA waging jihad against coal. More recently the Bureau of Land Management let its power go to its head, sending SWAT teams, snipers, and (as one commentator wryly put it) far more firepower than the president sent to help the four Americans killed in Benghazi against a man who is, at worst, a squatter or a scofflaw, but whom Harry Reid demonized as a “domestic terrorist” for daring to challenge the political class’ power.

There definitely is class warfare in America today, but not enough Americans perceive the battle lines. Those of us who go about our lives earning a living and leaving others alone are the targets of an aggressive progressive political class that is erecting a formidable mechanism of bureaucratic domination. At this point in time, “we the people” of the private, taxpaying sector are losing the war.

We can kick and scream on here as long and loud as we want but, it will not help.

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New Class War

By Daniel McCarthy (editor of The American Conservative)

The Trump phenomenon is less about Trump or his voters than it is about the elites they are against. Resistance to the bipartisan establishment keeps growing.

Since the Cold War ended, U.S. politics has seen a series of insurgent candidacies. Pat Buchanan prefigured Trump in the Republican contests of 1992 and 1996. Ralph Nader challenged the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party from the outside in 2000. Ron Paul vexed establishment Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012. Trump was not the only candidate to confound his party’s elite: Bernie Sanders harried Hillary Clinton right up to the Democratic convention.

What might have appeared to be a class conflict—in this case between a democratic socialist and an elite liberal with ties to high finance—was explained away as really about race.

Race, like religion, is a real factor in how people vote. Its relevance to elite politics, however, is less clear. Something else has to account for why the establishment in both parties almost uniformly favors one approach to war, trade, and immigration, while outsider candidates as dissimilar as Buchanan, Nader, Paul, and Trump, and to a lesser extent Sanders, depart from the consensus.

The insurgents clearly do not represent a single class: they appeal to eclectic interests and groups. The foe they have all faced down, however—the bipartisan establishment—does resemble a class in its striking unity of outlook and interest. So what is this class, effectively the ruling class of the country?

Some critics on the right have identified it with the “managerial” class described by James Burnham in his 1941 book The Managerial Revolution. But it bears a stronger resemblance to what what others have called “the New Class.” In fact, the interests of this New Class of college-educated “verbalists” are antithetical to those of the industrial managers that Burnham described. Understanding the relationship between these two often conflated concepts provides insight into politics today, which can be seen as a clash between managerial and New Class elites.

The archetypal model of class conflict, the one associated with Karl Marx, pits capitalists against workers—or, at an earlier stage, capitalists against the landed nobility. The capitalists’ victory over the nobility was inevitable, and so too, Marx believed, was the coming triumph of the workers over the capitalists.

Over the next century, however, history did not follow the script. By 1992, the Soviet Union was gone, Communist China had embarked on market reforms, and Western Europe was turning away from democratic socialism. There was no need to predict the future; mankind had achieved its destiny, a universal order of liberal democracy. Marx had it backwards: capitalism was the end of history.

But was the truth as simple as that? Long before the collapse of the USSR, many former communists—some of whom remained socialists, while others joined the right—thought not. The Soviet Union had never been a workers’ state at all, they argued, but was run by a class of apparatchiks such as Marx had never imagined.

Among the first to advance this argument was James Burnham, a professor of philosophy at New York University who became a leading Trotskyist thinker. As he broke with Trotsky and began moving toward the right, Burnham recognized affinities between the Soviet mode of organization—in which much real power lay in the hands of the commissars who controlled industry and the bureaucratic organs of the state—and the corporatism that characterized fascist states. Even the U.S., under the New Deal and with ongoing changes to the balance between ownership and management in the private sector, seemed to be moving in the same direction.

Burnham called this the “managerial revolution.” The managers of industry and technically trained government officials did not own the means of production, like the capitalists of old. But they did control the means of production, thanks to their expertise and administrative prowess.

The rise of this managerial class would have far-reaching consequences, he predicted. Burnham wrote in his 1943 book, The Machiavellians: “that the managers may function, the economic and political structure must be modified, as it is now being modified, so as to rest no longer on private ownership and small-scale nationalist sovereignty, but primarily upon state control of the economy, and continental or vast regional world political organization.” Burnham pointed to Nazi Germany, imperial Japan—which became a “continental” power by annexing Korea and Manchuria—and the Soviet Union as examples.

The defeat of the Axis powers did not halt the progress of the managerial revolution. Far from it: not only did the Soviets retain their form of managerialism, but the West increasingly adopted a managerial corporatism of its own, marked by cooperation between big business and big government: high-tech industrial crony capitalism, of the sort that characterizes the military-industrial complex to this day.

Another great transformation of business and government began in the Carter administration, with moves to deregulate transportation and telecommunications. This partial unwinding of the managerial revolution accelerated under Ronald Reagan. Regulatory and welfare-state reforms, even privatization of formerly nationalized industries, also took off in the UK and Western Europe. All this did not, however, amount to a restoration of the old capitalism or anything resembling laissez-faire.

The “liberal democracy” that triumphed at “the end of history”—to use Francis Fukuyama’s words—was not the managerial capitalism of the mid-20th century, either. It was instead the New Class’s form of capitalism, one that could be embraced by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair as readily as by any Republican or Thatcherite.

Burnham had observed that the New Class did not have the means—either money or manpower—to wield power the way the managers or the capitalists of old did. It had to borrow power from other classes. Discovering where the New Class gets it is as easy as following the money, which leads straight to the finance sector—practically to the doorstep of Goldman Sachs. Jerry Rubin’s journey from Yippie to yuppie was the paradigm of a generation.

Part of the tale can be told in a favorable light. New Left activists like Carl Oglesby fought the spiritual aridity and murderous militarism of what they called “corporate liberalism”—Burnham’s managerialism—while sincere young libertarians attacked the regulatory state and seeded technological entrepreneurship.

Even the New Class’s support for deregulation—to the advantage of its allies on Wall Street—was no sign of consistent commitment to free-market principles. On the contrary, the New Class favors new kinds of crony finance capitalism, even as it opposes the protectionism that would benefit hard industry and managerial interests.

The alliance between finance and the New Class accounts for the disposition of power in America today. The New Class has also enlisted another invaluable ally: the managerial classes of East Asia. Trade with China—the modern managerial state par excellence—helps keep American industry weak relative to finance and the service economy’s verbalist-dominated sectors. America’s class war, like many others, is not in the end a contest between up and down. It’s a fight between rival elites: in this case, between the declining managerial elite and the triumphant (for now) New Class and financial elites.

The New Class, after all, lacks a popular base as well as money of its own, and just as it relies on Wall Street to underwrite its power, it depends on its competing brands of identity politics to co-opt popular support. For the center-left establishment, minority voters supply the electoral muscle. Religion and the culture war have served the same purpose for the establishment’s center-right faction. Trump showed that at least one of these sides could be beaten on its own turf—and it seems conceivable that if Bernie Sanders had been black, he might have similarly beaten Clinton, without having to make concessions to New Class tastes.

The New Class establishment of both parties may be seriously misjudging what is happening here. Far from being the last gasp of the demographically doomed—old, racially isolated white people, as Gallup’s analysis says—Trump’s insurgency may be the prototype of an aggressive new politics, of either left or right, that could restore the managerial elite to power.

This is not something that conservatives—or libertarians who admire the old capitalism rather than New Class’s simulacrum—might welcome. Read more: AmericanConservative

Class Wars By Kenneth T. Walsh

Bernie Sanders declared, “I say to Mr. Trump and his supporters that the billionaires in this country will not continue to own this nation.”

Trump has labeled Sanders a “wacko.”

52 percent of Americans say the American Dream – the belief that an individual could be successful with hard work and adequate opportunity – once held true but no longer does.

Frum, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush, points out that, “The Great Recession ended in the summer of 2009. Since then, the U.S. economy has been growing, but most incomes have not grown comparably. In 2014, real median household income remained almost $4,000 below the pre-recession level, and well below the level in 1999. The country has recovered from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Most of its people have not. Many Republicans haven’t shared in the recovery.”

Political scientist Bill Galston, a former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Americans are confused and worried. They know that the economy isn’t working for them the way it once did, but they don’t understand why. This opens the door to candidates who can blame specific malign forces – bureaucrats, plutocrats, autocrats, whatever – and offer sound-bite solutions to complex problems.”

These dynamics make for a volatile and rebellious electorate. And the candidates who downplay or ignore the voters’ anger and resentment do so at their peril.

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