Angela West “Is the United States Becoming a Class Based Society?”


Topic on “The Republican Coffee Corner with Angela”

Over the past year, the new media mention of the “middle class” has gotten me to humming themes from “Evita” . For those of you who are theater buffs you will recall the story of Eva and Juan Perón . It is a modern “rock” opera of sorts concentrating on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita’s early life, rise to power, struggles, and finally her death. Most memorable is her following line:

A Meritocracy vs. Class Based Society

The term ‘meritocracy’ was first used in Michael Young’s 1958 book Rise of the Meritocracy. Young by no means meant for the term to be used in a complementary fashion. In fact a recent film regarding this idea showed a society in which the rich and talented actually LIVED longer while those who are poor and relatively untalented have shortened life spans. That negative connotation aside, we do, to some extent live in a meritocratic society. One can argue that famous musicians, artists, great thinkers and business people with high acumen have been able are representative of the success of the American meritocracy. Thomas Jefferson, relying upon the theories of John Locke’s “Second Treatise on Government” while crafting the “Declaration of Independence” stressed that the acquisition of property (read wealth) was not inherently wrong if were earned through one’s own labor. The end result is a society stratified not by class but by merit.

Opposing arguments of the concept of meritocracy speak of the inequality of starting points. Whether the starting point is gender, race, immigration status etc….

What do you think?

A class based society, according to Marxist theory, the capitalist stage of production consists of two main classes: the bourgeoisie who are the capitalists who own the means of production, and the much larger proletariat (or ‘working class’) who must work for the wages. Class warfare exists because the proletariat (larger group) feels exploited by the bourgeoisie who are in control of the means of production (read “producers). In addition, through a process “proletarianization “ more workers such as physicians and other professionals become proletariat’s either through industrialization or their business becoming absorbed thus making them simple wage earners — for example a former physician who runs his practice becoming an employee of a government hospital.

Mind you, the argument can become much more involved, and I urge you to explore this further, what signs to you see in our society of each? What do you think? Please refrain from negative strains about the present administration, just a thoughtful ponder….

Personally, I don’t believe that we are a class based society. I prefer the term “lower income”; “middle income” and “higher income” or “wealthy”. The problem with class structure is the continual struggle and friction between the classes that allow people to become satisfied and complacent.

We are defeated when the phraseology we use is dictated by the other side of the coin. This is very similar to the defeated town forced to fly the conquering army’s flag.

The USA represents one of the last places on earth where it is possible for a poor brown skinned immigrant to rise up, get an excellent education, perhaps even a Ph.D. It is truly still the bright and shining city on the hill. Not perfect, but almost….



The Republican Coffee Corner with Angela

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