Economics/Class Relations

Class Antagonisms Under Digital Capitalism

This article by self-described “national socialist” comparing the MAGA rioters to the san culottes of revolutionary France is quite interesting.

The way I see class relationships at present is something like this: In the 19th century, we had the industrial revolution in the context of classical liberalism and “free trade” which resulted in the bourgeoisie superseding the ancient regime as the ruling class, with various social dislocations that led to the decline of the artisans and peasant farmers and the growth of the proletariat, along with rapid social and technological change.

In the 21st century, we’ve had the digital revolution in the context of neoliberalism and “free trade” (globalization) which resulted in the tech/financial oligarchs and professional-managerial class superseding the old bourgeoisie as the ruling class, with various social dislocations that led to the decline of the working to middle class and the growth of the precariat/gig economy/reproletarianized labor along with rapid social and technological change.

“Fascio” is right that our new elites resemble the elites of pre-revolutionary France. Joel Kotkin makes the same argument. In some ways, the MAGA thing could be compared to the san culottes but I think it could also be compared to the supporters of Napoleon III (see Marx’s 18th Brumaire). The best contemporary class analysis I’ve seen to date is Thomas Piketty, who draws an analogy to the Hindu castes. He argues that in the West today, the Left is comprised of the “Brahmins” (priests and religious scholars, a role played by educated elites, professionals, and managers, who are the arbiters of the dominant values in the society, and I would include tech oligarchs and hedge fund managers in this class as well), while the Right is comprised of the “Vaisyas” (merchants or what the Marxists called the petite bourgeoisie). We see a lot of that among Trump supporters (e.g. MTG the fitness center owner, Boebert the restaurant owner, etc). I would go further and say that the “Shudras” (working class) tend to be aligned with the Right in the West today, the “Kshatriyas” (soldiers) tend to be politically mixed due to the diversity of the military, while the “Brahmin elites” cynically present themselves as the champions of the “Dalits” (historical outgroups, which for us would be blacks, immigrants, gays, etc).

This analysis is supported by Bill Bishop’s examination of class voting patterns as well. Increasingly the lower class and lower middle-class vote Republican, while the upper middle and upper-class vote Democratic, with race being an outlier (consistent with my analysis of the Brahmin/Dalit alliance).

All of this is consistent with the class analysis of Joel Kotkin and Michael Lind, which is similar to that of Sam Francis. For obvious reasons, Kotkin and Lind have jettisoned the racialist aspect of Francis’ original thesis, but the analysis of Bishop (and myself) upholds Francis’ analysis of the relationship between race and class as well. Now that the vilification of minorities is no longer socially acceptable, ruling class rhetoric has turned on Poor and working-class whites (the “deplorables”).  The center-right now represents the traditional business class while the populist right represents the working to middle class, along with demographic and cultural groups (e.g. white Christians) that are in a state of decline. The Left seems to be fragmented into Brahmin elites and the cosmopolitan professional class, along with traditional labor union “bread and butter” voters, and rising sectors among traditional outgroups, with an uneasy relationship existing between all of these. Another issue is that most union workers today are in the public sector which means they have a common interest with the professional-managerial in expanding the public sector for the sake of job security and benefits, while private sector workers are more concerned about taxes and inflation.

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