It’s interesting how the US is developing a class system similar to Latin America. I don’t think the reasons for this can be traced to a singular cause. It probably has several dozen causes.
It’s also interesting how all the different political factions have their proposed ideal solutions. Liberals and social democrats want a more progressive tax code and a larger welfare state. Nationalists want restricted immigration and high tariffs. An-caps want to abolish central banking. Conservatives want to abolish welfare to the inner city. Libertarians want to reduce taxes and regulation. The far Left wants some kind of socialist revolution. Probably none of those by themselves would produce the results they want even if a general political and popular consensus for their implementation could be developed, which is unlikely given the ongoing fragmentation and polarization of US political culture.
Globalization and the cyber revolution seem to be having the same effect as the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century, where there was a similar explosion in technological and economic development, and which had the effect of dramatically raising living standards in the parts of the world that experienced industrialization, in the sense of fostering the growth of a large middle class with unprecedented levels of wealth and affluence. The global economy has dramatically raised the living standards of people in East Asia, and traditionally impoverished regions like Latin America and even parts of Africa are starting to improve as well.
At the same time, the Industrial Revolution had the negative side effect of producing a massive class polarization between the newly emergent capitalist class and the growth of the classical industrial proletariat of wage workers (all of the stuff that was written about by Charles Dickens and Karl Marx). The global economy and the cyber revolution seem to be producing the same effect in the United States in terms of producing a rising upper middle class that is extraordinarily affluent and a class of “newly rich” super billionaires that originate from outside the traditional elite, and whose wealth is largely rooted in the development of information technology (Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Peter Thiel, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos are some examples). Meanwhile, the domestic working to middle classes are being reproletarianized into low wage, part time workers in service industries.
Historic proletarianization was overcome in the Western countries through a combination of further technological and economic development (something that was not anticipated by Marx), unionization and the creation of labor parties representing working class interests (“class struggle” as the commies call it), and a range of legal, political, and economic reforms (universal suffrage, legal recognition of unions, social safety nets, corporate pensions and benefits programs, etc.) The effect of neoliberal economic policies, particularly in the United States, has been to attack and undermine all of these reforms that were carried out in the mid-twentieth century, and instigate a gradual return to the model of class relations that existed in the pre-Great Depression era. Indeed, the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States at present is the widest it has been since the period leading up to the Great Depression.
This has led some imminent doomsayers to predict an imminent or at least eventual economic collapse in the United States comparable to the Great Depression. However, the evidence actually undermines apocalyptic claims of these kinds. Instead, it is far more likely that the USA will continue to drift towards a Brazilian economic model where the general economy is relatively stable and reasonably prosperous, but where huge class divisions continue to become deeply entrenched and institutionalized.
Categories: Economics/Class Relations