Being Nowhere
Circus Tradition
Class Politics
Enormous Loss
Haditha Tragedy
Homeless Being
Illegal Camping Ordinance
Journalism Priviledge
Keep Us Safe
Leadership and the People

Lesser Evils
Lynching Iraq
News for Working People
Nice Cops
Palestinian Democracy
Poison Fish
Political Communication
Selective Memory
Vestigial Entrances

Class Politics

According to news reports, around March 14 democrats in the Senate managed to force the republicans into embarrassing votes by proposing more funding for veterans health benefits and for firefighters. Since revenue to fund these increases was to be raised by repealing tax breaks for the very wealthy, republicans voted to defeat them.

If their traditional ineptitude in such matters holds, democrats will be unable to make much of these failures of care on the part of republicans. If they try to make anything of these events they will be accused of fomenting class warfare. In American political-speak that means being leftist, and leftist equals socialist if not communist. Confronted with this slam democrats get that dejected and beaten look, acknowledging they have lost the initiative.

In the very short run nothing can be done about this dynamic. Discursive channels are gouged out of the landscape by long running, thin streams of talk. Change is certainly possible, however by educating people about actual class warfare in 20th century America.

Ancestors of contemporary anti-class warriors opposed workplace safety regulations, child labor regulations, workplace health requirements, the freedom to chose a union or not, a minimum wage ( and ALL increases thereof ever since), race equality, gender equality, health insurance for the elderly and infirm, all forms of consumer protection from cars unsafe at any speed to securities fraud, and of course social security itself.

Having lost most of these anti-class struggles the anti-class warriors turned their attention to money. Thirty years ago or so American corporations paid about 17% of the total federal take; today they pay abouty 7%. The income tax ceiling has been reduced by about 60%. From 1950 to the end of the 70’s the growth in the American economy benefited people at all levels of income; from the late 70’s to the mid 90’s the bottom 3/5 of the population lost some ground, and 98% of the gain went to the upper 20%.

These snips of history will not convince anyone to change political orientation or party. But it is the sort of thing democrats need to iterate in order to enrich the conversation about class competition in America. It has been around for some time, it is real, and it is not going away.













©Al Katz • Prof. of law SUNY, Buffalo, 1969-1989 (ret.)