On Class War

Class war can be a tricky subject. It is by no means a simple topic to discuss, even if examples of it can be found nearly everywhere. It’s a divisive concept in mainstream society, and one that isn’t necessarily as clear-cut as some on both sides would paint it. Even the meaning of the term itself can lead to philosophical arguments—what is the definition of war in this case? Should the word itself be considered an adequate?

I leave such philosophical debate up to those who feel burdened by the question. Indeed, even if we are to accept the term class war at face value, the topic itself is so large and convoluted that it cannot properly be tackled in a paper as short as the one you’re currently reading. There are a number of critical points that could be independently developed into a series of doctoral dissertations, and anyone intent on looking for holes might find themselves staring at them all day. For those who are looking for a more exhaustive treatment of global class strife, I highly recommend reading William Robinson’s “The Transnational Capitalist Class.” Likewise, I suggest a thorough review of E.K. Hunt’s “History of Economic Thought”, Thorstein Veblen’s “The Theory of the Leisure Class” and Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22.” I have found all three books to be indispensible for properly understanding class structure and its implications.

While the term “class war” is arguable, there are certain facts that cannot be philosophized away. For instance, there are significant differences between how the richest .01 percent of society lives compared to the vast majority of the world. Giant corporations have definitely spread across the world and exerted pressure on local and national governments everywhere they operate business. There is little rational argument that the planet appears to be heating up, though the cause of this is still debated by groups who tend to be apologetic for those who make money off of lax environmental regulations. Examples of class strife can be found worldwide, from Egypt, France, China, the United States, Brazil, Nigeria, to Cuba. For lack of a more general description, something is happening.

Whereas most people tend to have feelings towards economics in one way or another, actually understanding such a seemingly simple but realistically complicated subject is far from easy. Yet that does not mean we are not capable of breaking things down in a straight forward

and easy to ingest manner. I’m not suggesting it needs to be “dumbed down” for the average person—I just think social arrangements, including class war, can be effectively described through approaches such as humor. For example:

A capitalist, a tea party member, and a union worker all sit down at a table. On the table are 12 cookies. The capitalist picks up 11 of the cookies and shoves them in his pocket. The capitalist then turns to the tea party member and says, “Keep an eye on that guy,” pointing his finger at the union worker. “He’s gonna steal your cookie.”

If only jokes didn’t have their root in reality! Nowadays when people bring up class war in the United States, it’s often dismissed as some radical rhetoric spewed by anarchists, or even worse, godless communists. They’re painted as being more interested in tearing down the status quo than rebuilding a healthy economy, and full of notions not to be taken seriously. Concepts like the redistribution of wealth and social welfare programs are treated like utopian dreams conjured up by idealists, and class warfare is shrugged off as a divisive term used by a jealous (and highly impractical) fringe.

But, as the wealthy investor Warren Buffett noted, “There’s class warfare all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

It’s important that we recognize what is happening around us, because if we don’t, we’re all gonna get steamrolled. I say we talk about it in a straightforward manner. If we want to change the way the world is operating, the first thing we need to do is realize what we want to change. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, for I’m always one for open dialogue. Viva la revolution! Now off to the bar…

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