Economics/Class Relations

Why Class Politics Fails in the US

The US has a two-tiered and multi-dimensional class system that largely pits unionized public sector workers against private-sector workers, and highly skilled blue/white-collar workers against the low-skilled, unskilled, or unemployed. It’s one of the main reasons why the “free market vs welfare statist” and “unions vs right to work” divide is much more extreme than it is in a lot of developed countries. It’s also one of the reasons why class politics doesn’t play nearly as well in the US as it does in some places.

Public sector workers are mostly interested in job security and protecting their state benefits, which means that “big government and high taxes” work in their interests. Private sector workers view taxes, regulation, etc as impeding job creation, upward mobility, economic stability, etc. High-paid workers in the private sector tend to view unions as a nuisance that takes your dues money and doesn’t do anything for you in return. Public sector workers like unions that protect job security, and low-income workers tend to be too transient to effectively organize into unions. But this pits different layers and sectors of the working class against each other (which is compounded why wider demographic, cultural, ideological, and other conflicts) so “working-class solidarity” becomes impossible.

We’re developing a Latin American or 19th century American/English class system in the US. So class-based politics are becoming more popular again. Although class politics are still subordinated to the intra-elite conflict (Pareto’s elites vs. counter-elites observation) and the wider existential/quasi-religious conflict. But economic populists are becoming an increasingly important subset of both the left and right.

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