1/7/11

Class Warfare Decried Anew

Valdez: Divisive Progs run leftwing limousine into ditch
I won’t attempt a similarly comprehensive exegesis of the term “class war” or “class warfare.” But I will say that I don’t like the term, nor do I like the efforts in some quarters of the progressive community to suggest that we ought to vilify rich people, drawing out class differences in order to persuade the middle class to embrace big policy changes. I’d argue that the class war narrative won’t work because it is divisive and superficial, and I suspect it will backfire for progressives.

The narrative of class warfare serves politicians better than it does a progressive agenda because it divides people. If there is an enemy out there—an “us against them” proposition—politicians can play on that to motivate people to vote in whatever way will neutralize that enemy, regardless of the facts.

Plus, the idea of declaring a class war on the rich on behalf of the poor is superficial. Suggesting that the rich are really out to get us dumbs down the Marxist term—Class Struggle—which is the origin of the term class war. The Marxist expression was an analysis of systemic problem with capitalism that leads to a maldistribution of resources resulting in poverty.

Marxists had hoped to end class struggle by fundamentally transforming the system. Class war language is an attempt to assign blame, rather than fix the system.

The late William Safire, my travel guide for bushwhacking through the undergrowth of the English language, said it well when he wrote that class warfare:
applies political demography to outdated sociology. The divisive Marxist concept of class is social as well as economic, and Americans should never accept its confines. Class is not determined by income alone; richies can be low-class slobs and the genteel down-at-the-heels can be high-class povertarians.
(full story at daily.sightline.org)

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