Going to a rally for Wisconsin workers organized by MoveOn.org I noticed a lot of signs calling for protection of “the Middle Class”. There were a good number of signs to the same effect at last weeks’ AFSCME rally. Here’s a cartoon sympathetic to the average “Middle Class” people. And of course Obama talks all the time about how he’s sticking up for the Middle Class.
It’s rubbish. Working people are not middle class.
The whole thing is propaganda. It was Reagan who did the trick well, convincing the “Hard Working People” that they had nothing in common with “The Poor”, you know the shiftless bums, welfare queens (most of whom were minorities, wink, wink). Crap.
Middle class people are doctors, lawyers, small business owners, managers, school principals and the like. They’re self-employed, petty bosses or often employers themselves.
There is no “Poor” class. Working people become poorer or totally destitute when they’re out of luck, either because they got sick and had lousy or no insurance, because their company got wiped out or moved away, or they suffer catastrophes in the family. Some of the hardest working people on earth are very poor workers, holding several jobs at once, sleeping very little and scrambling to keep their family together. When they get better luck, a new skill or when they stick together and win something through a strike or some other action they once again have some money.
Does it matter what you call the classes? It sure does. It matters when it comes to a fight. Out in Wisconsin and Ohio and Indiana the core of the people in the struggle are public employees and other working people. Those are people you can depend on, teachers, factory workers, firefighters, working people who have lost their jobs or haven’t yet got one. They get it. They understand how a boss squeezes the profit out of their work or casts them aside when they get someone younger and more productive. They understand the need for collective action.
You do get some middle class people who get inspired by mass protests and who join in, shopkeepers who’ll give out free pizza and the like. Problem is they’re not reliable. They often identify with the big capitalists. They dream that they or their kids will be millionaires some day so they’re often swayed by Libertarian fantasies, Tea Party nonsense or worse.
I’m a retired teacher with a good pension (at least for the moment). I’m not middle class. I’m working class.