Background Class

A grouping of things or people with some common or arbitrarily defined characteristic, this grouping may, or may not be, precisely defined. In America and in much of the currently evolving world there is an attempt to use a system wide definition of Upper, Middle and Working Class based solely on monetary wealth, or lack of it. The definitions and lines of demarcation are unclear and in these environment(s) everyone claims to be Middle Class. In older Europe, it was the Aristocracy (land owning class), the Merchant, Capitalist and Management grouping (Middle Class, also regarded as the nouveau riche, petite bourgeoisie esp. by the aristocracies) and the Laboring (working) Class. In each of these classes their is a correlation with power, education and style. Through this tunnel of education some professionals slowly gained access to the Middle Class. In both cases cultural and other biases can prevent one from crossing these lines of demarcation and be accepted into another class. The Jewish experience in Europe is an example of this, although being bankers and business owners. In some cases some persons may not even fit into any class and so form an ‘outclass’ – a virtual “out-caste”! The Romani (Gypsies) in Europe, the Dalits (Untouchables) of India, Blacks in the Americas and many other groups worldwide are examples of this.

We regard class as an economic phenomenon, as an economic phenomena it is a direct derivative of the means of production and distribution. Ignoring what has become popular, class in the economic sense is based on the relationship to the means of production and distribution. Here, we see only two classes those who provide labor and are the creators of value and those who provide money, facilitators that own the process. These two classes make or earn their livelihood based on these relationships to the respective means.

This classification differs somewhat from the three tiered structure proposed by Max Weber and others, and ignores the traditional European Aristocracy and Landed Gentry. The latter are now obsoleted, stripped of their power, and in many locations maintaining their status only as historical, cultural and titular artifacts.

This trend to classify a person’s class based on a Upper, Middle and Working Class defined solely on monetary wealth, serves only to fragment the Working Class. The people who sell their labor, whether they are machinist, janitors, accountants, clerks, managers, scientists or engineers all sell their labor for wages and for all intent and purposes are working class persons. The differences in incomes or earnings only produce strata or layers within the classes.

Position All persons who sell their labor for wages are working class, those who own the means of production and control the distribution system constitute the upper class that earns their livelihood from the money games they play. Some persons, like many small business people can exist in both classes. Although the latter hardly ever have the means to play the games significantly to provide for an independent living off of it.

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