Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Are the lower and middle classes responsible for “Class warfare” as many members of the Mass Media often claim or imply?
In order to know for certain whether or not it is the upper middle or lower classes responsible for class conflicts some of which lead to violence and even real wars it will take time to sort through the details; but it seems pretty obvious to me that the view that the lower and middle classes and some radical elements are solely responsible for the class conflict won’t hold up to much if any scrutiny. The lower and middle classes almost certainly do the vast majority of the work in society; but the upper classes receive a much larger share of the benefits. Even though this is clear to me and presumably many other people it will still help to review the details to figure out what if anything to do about it. One of the biggest reasons the upper classes receive the lions share of the benefits from the work done by society is because the control the most powerful institutions and the have education they need available to them however this isn’t the only part of the problem that needs to be considered.
A review of the history of the conflict between the classes will help understand this better. Unfortunately the history books controlled by the most powerful institutions have been influenced by the upper classes and many of the most extreme conspiracy theorists or rebels tend to exaggerate in the other direction but a few more credible books include “The People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn; “Lies My teacher Told Me” by James Loewen and "Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State" by Alfred McCoy. These books indicate a history where the most powerful people in the USA have routinely pursued one course of action, that often involved suppressing the rights of the poor at home and abroad, and told the public another story that indicated they were protecting democracy. They are well sourced and collect a large amount of information that has been available for a long time but not widely presented to the public. Many members of the public have been aware of small portions of this information since they had to live through it but the information that has been taught by the Mass Media and the history books tend to demonstrate a strong bias in favor of the richest members of society. This isn’t limited to the history of the USA; there is evidence of class discrepancies that go back thousands of years; however the history of the USA has been recorded better and to some degree presented to the public than the rest of history. Also the history of the USA is more applicable to the current class conflicts in the USA and around the world since right or wrong the USA is the sole remaining superpower.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the USA that contributes to class conflict is the assumption that the USA is a democracy; this is false it is a republic. The US constitution has often been glorified as being almost or in some cases entirely above reproach. This should also be considered false. In fact even the founding fathers who many consider above reproach didn’t think it was perfect. Thomas Jefferson once said that the dead shouldn’t rule the living. As he indicated in a speech at the end of the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin also had reservations about the constitution but they signed it because they had to start somewhere. The original constitution didn’t allow woman, Native Americans or blacks to vote. In fact the majority of the control at that time was a small percentage of the white males most of which owned property. In many cases those with less property or political power wound up having to fight for their rights all over again. One of the earliest examples of this was Shays rebellion and as time went on there was the civil war, woman’s suffragette movement, civil rights movements, environmental movements and more.
In most if not all of these movements they had to fight or debate against the most powerful entrenched segments of society which until recently consisted of whit males who rarely did much if any thing to help other political factions unless there was something it for them. The most powerful business men have often brought in labor from other parts of the world and hired security forces and often even used political connections to obtain help from the police or National Guard rather than allow wages to increase for the working classes. In many cases they would have almost certainly saved money by negotiating higher wages instead of using a lot of money to hire security and truck in labor from other parts of the country or even world. They have at times even resorted to violence that would have been considered mass murder if not for the fact that they had political power. This isn’t something unique to the USA; in England they once applied the death penalty for a poor person who stole a rasher of cotton from the rich and they forbade the poor from hunting in the kings’ forest. This essentially meant that just to survive for many poor people meant that they had to break one law or another. Many people now claim that we should get over it since these things happened so long ago but in many cases in some parts of the worlds similar things are still happening and the things that happened decades or even hundreds of years ago helped set up today’s institutions which maintain the class differences. Also when the upper classes find it suits their purposes they routinely use historical balances of power to justify their hold on power as part of tradition and precedent; the get over it request doesn’t usually come up until the lower classes start bringing up the problems with history that contradict the glorified versions the upper classes present.
Controlling or influencing the most powerful religious educational and media institutions is one of the most important ways the rich maintain their power over the lower classes. They control a large percentage of the information the poor need to make many of the most important decisions of their lives and they often present it in a distorted way which tends to favor the rich in subtle ways that many people have a hard time recognizing. The celebrities from the upper classes are often portrayed as beneficial especially businesses while the concerns of the poor are often ignored or presented in a way that makes them look bad. They use their control or partially influence over these powerful institutions to control just about everything we do. The most powerful businesses are controlled by a small percentage of board members or CEOs; in many cases the board members are just rubber stamps for the CEOs many of whom may serve as rubber stamps as board members of other companies. The consumers and employees are not entitled to know many of the most important facts about many business transactions. They have a much more difficult time obtaining a fair deal if they have a problem. They may often have to rely on lawyers or accountants who charge a lot of money interpreting a complex system that most people don’t understand but one way or another it provides the lions share of the benefits to the upper classes whoa also have the most influence making these confusing laws. It is often considered beneficial to stand up for business; but rarely ever considered beneficial to stand up for consumers. That doesn’t mean it is portrayed this way though; they usually come up with a explanation about how the market protects the consumer by providing choices or competition. The problem is that the competition, if there is any, is usually controlled by many of the same corporations creating oligopolies that don’t compete in the most important matters that benefit the consumer since they would lower the profits for the corporations.
In a truly democratic country the public would have more influence over many of the most powerful institutions especially since there are many cases where people from the lower classes have often given up their lives and continue to have their environment threatened by the activities of many of the most powerful corporations. The assumption that only the business owners should have the information they need to conduct business is highly undemocratic and is an invitation to wide spread fraud which has been happening for hundreds of years. In most cases they aren’t exposed until after it is to late to do anything about it; but the incidents in the past should indicate that unless something is done to change the fact that corporations are allowed to conduct most of their activities in secrecy, until a disaster happens and then avoid more than a token amount of compensation for the victims, then it is virtually guaranteed that more of this criminal activities will happen in the future. They have often made laws to protect the consumer when it was necessary to appease the public but then they allow the corporations to act in secrecy so that there is no way they can enforce these laws making these laws almost meaningless.
One major contributing factor to the class conflicts is what some academics including Melvin Kohn call conservative authoritarianism and self direction. Conservative authoritarianism refers to the belief that authority should be respected often without question; in the strictest cases the followers will obey orders no matter what like the Nazi’s obeyed their leaders. This isn’t necessarily this extreme; when they are led by leaders with good intentions that have the best interest of the public in mind this would in theory lead to a well organized group of people working for a common cause. The problem is that throughout history there have been few if any leaders that really did have the best interest of the majority in mind; and even if they did that doesn’t mean they know enough about all the relevant subjects especially in the modern complex society, to make the best decision. Self direction is the ability for people to work on their own and figure things out for themselves. Kohn has found that the highest and the lowest classes tend to value conservative authoritarianism more; however they don’t necessarily do so in the same manner. The lowest classes tend to obey authority and believe what they’re told even in many cases when it doesn’t make any sense. They often tend to teach this to their children as well; this is one of the rare cases where they are the authority figure since they are at the bottom of the economic ladder in the adult world although in many cases they look down on people of other races perhaps for prejudicial reasons.
The members of the higher classes tend to teach their children to respect authority more as well but they have the expectation in many cases that they will be at the top of the economic ladder when they work their way up under the instruction of their leaders. These leaders tend to teach their children to maintain the current class system. Regardless of which class it is the belief in conservative authoritarianism is generally taught at a young age. This is often taught with strict disciplinarian methods that often begin before the child even learns to talk. In many of the most extreme cases the child is punished with harsh methods before he understands why he is being punished. Other academic sources have done more research into this subject including Alice Miller, Philip Greven and Murray Strauss; many of them have found that, in the most extreme cases, this type of child rearing leads to dysfunctional behavior and blind trust in the authority figure regardless of whether or not they are right. Murray Strauss and Alice Miller as well as Benjamin Spock have stated that any physical discipline of children is counter productive in the long run.
This leads to more violent behavior later in life and it teaches children to conform and obey authority with little or no scrutiny. This type of child rearing prevents children from using discretion on their own and learning to figure things out for themselves. It also prevents them from developing the thinking skills required to hold their leaders accountable. Children that are raised in this way are much more likely to accept ideological belief systems as being above reproach without actually understanding them; therefore if there is a problem with the belief system they won’t be able to recognize and fix it. This type of child rearing is one of the biggest and least recognized obstacles to a true democracy. In order for there to be a true democracy the public has to have access to the information they need to make decisions and they have to have the capacity to think rationally about it and come to reasonable conclusions.
Melvin Kohn and other researchers have also found that schizophrenia is much more common among the lower classes and those that are abused the most ass children. They don’t all agree that child abuse is the cause of schizophrenia but they do agree that even if it isn’t it makes it much worse and leads to more emotional problems and violence later in life. Trauma early in life often leads to much less capacity to rise up in the class system and ensures that many of the people from the lower classes and their descendents remain there. This also contributes to anger which makes divide and rule tactics more effective leading people to blame other races or creeds for their problems preventing the lower classes from uniting and helping to correct the most important problems in a class society. This leads to many people in the lower classes to following beliefs that are clearly against their best interest. People with conservative authoritarian values are more likely to accept the argument that certain members of the lower classes are responsible for the class conflicts and they often take the side of the upper classes even when it is against their own best interests. They are more likely to accept the claim that the upper classes deserve the lion’s share of the credit for creating the corporations that provide the necessities of life and jobs. People with more self direction skills are more likely to believe that they deserve a bigger share of the benefits from the work done by cooperation among the workers and the owners.
This enables the upper classes to turn the two sides against each other using divide and rule tactics. The people with conservative authoritarian values are often rewarded with a modest raise of the ability to keep their jobs abut usually no more than the upper classes need to provide to get them back to work. In order for their to be a better balance their needs to be more people raised to have self direction skills necessary to think independently instead of blindly following orders. In many cases if those with conservative authoritarian values are told to do something wrong they will keep on doing it that way until they are told to stop. In many cases if they have a problem they won’t be able to figure out how to solve it even if it is relatively simple. This could be the result of insecurity developed as a young child. When they challenge authority as a young child they may have been subject to severe and often violent punishment. This leads to more concern about avoiding punishment given out when disobeying authority than it does the ability to figure out how to solve the problem. Even if they do see the problem they may be to insecure to speak out against authority. They may not even remember what caused the fear of punishment consciously but they react to it anyway. This is because if it happens early in life, the first few years, chi8ldren often forget the details but this is the time where they develop many of the personality characteristics that develop throughout their lives whether they remember it or not.
A sincere democracy requires more people, if not all people, that have the ability to think for themselves. This will also be required to solve class conflicts in the most effective way possible. Teaching self direction skills means relying more on nonviolent ways of raising children and spending time with them. This often means letting them make small mistakes and learn from them then explaining things to them. Many parents that were raised in strict disciplinarian ways may not know how to do this so they may need help, assuming their willing to accept help. This may seem like more work but in the long run it takes much less time to raise children properly than it does to deal with them when they become dysfunctional adults one way or another. Either they get involved in a violent crowd a cult or they become less productive and wind up causing other kinds of problems.
Ideologies have often contributed to the differences in classes and the way they’re understood or not understood. Part of the problem is that many people don’t truly understand what the most well known ideologies mean. This leads to what I consider a difference between rational ideologies which are based on a clear understanding of the beliefs and cult ideologies which are based on the way they are presented to the public by their leaders often in an emotional way. In order to understand the difference it will help to consider the literal meaning of most ideologies and the way they are used in practice. This may not be as easy as it sound initially since many of the people that define these ideologies rely on the way people use them and people that use them don’t use them consistently. The easiest way that I know of to address this would be to look at the literal meaning of many of these ideologies many of which are made up of suffixes and prefixes. This could start with the word ideology itself. This is a word made of the word idea with the suffix ology. The suffix ology means the study of in this case the study of ideas or an ideology is essentially a belief system based on a group of ideas. These ideas can be defined in an organized fashion so that people will have the opportunity to understand them and use a consistent definition. Unfortunately this isn’t the way it is done with the general public. People in the academic world may do this but the message delivered to the public often tends to be from demagogues sometimes like Joe McCarthy.
The three most well known fiscal ideologies are examples of what happens when the definition given to the public is confusing and often contradictory. This has a major impact on class conflicts. Capitalist is based on the word capital which means those with the most money. It has often been said that the new “Golden rule” is that the person with the gold makes the rules. This seems to be the way things work more often than not in the USA unless the public provides a major amount of organization in order to get their point across. Other wise the leaders seem to continue consulting with their contributors and political operatives to figure out how to make decisions and what to tell the public to keep them compliant. In practice the belief in capitalism seems to be that the private industry can do everything best and the government is incompetent. This isn’t actually the way it works but they present it this way. In fact in many cases throughout history the major corporations have relied on government help to build up their power. The railroads obtained property through huge government giveaways. The Mass Media received the rights to the airways from the government then when small operators tried to use micro-radio they relied on the government to protect their oligopolies. When there were strikes from unions throughout the history of the USA the government almost always took the side of the businesses in many cases using the police or National Guard to break up strikes and get people back to work without improving the living standards of the workers. The concern about Big Government doesn’t seem to get much air time until Big Government stands up for the rights of the poor of the environment. Then it is redefined in a confusing way that seems to make it sound like they are infringing on the rights of the poor not the other way around. Another problem with the complaint about the government being incompetent is that they are often incompetent because of political appointees who are sometimes chosen at the request of those that do the complaining about the incompetence. In other words in a confusing round about way the people that complain about government incompetence may be partially responsible for it. If we had election reform and a more open government there might be more competent officials hired based on qualifications instead of patronage. Letting those that don’t want government to be competent make the decisions won’t help things.
Communism and Socialism are also ideologies that have been misrepresented and badly understood. Communism is based on the word Commune which is a group of people living together. The earliest versions of this that I know of involved making decisions as a group and sharing the benefits among all. This may have worked out fairly well in many less known cases on a small and local basis. When it was put into place by the Soviet Union it was done by a dictator in a manner that didn’t take into the consideration any input from the people doing the work and it was a total disaster. This wasn’t the version of communism that many people including Karl Marx described but Marx’s name was used by Stalin because it served his purpose to make him seem legitimate by those who believed in Marx. It also served the best interest of the believers in Capitalism because they could demonize it. Socialism is very similar; it is based on the word social which means people working together. Both these ideologies have broad potential definitions and they are presented to the public in a way that suits the purpose of those that have the most political power and demagogues that serve their purpose. Both these ideologies are supposed to stand up for the rights of the poor and the workers as well as students. It is hard to say that the poor, the students and the workers shouldn’t have rights so many of the demagogues use a round about way of distorting these ideologies to get their distorted message out. This doesn’t deliver a clear message but it confuses the issue and enables many politicians to accomplish what they want. In order to address this; the public needs to review many of the ideologies many of them thought they understood. Those that see problems with theses ideologies or at least admit they don’t understand them will have a much easier time with this. Some people with conservative authoritarian values may have a harder time with this. In many cases they have had catch phrases drilled into their heads for years and they equate this with understanding even though they are often full of contradictions.
In order to set up a rational fiscal ideology it will be necessary to sort through the details. Deciding that the government should either do everything or nothing sounds simple but when it comes to putting it into practice it isn’t that easy and despite the rhetoric of many of the advocates of all the most popular ideologies none of them do this. The capitalist ideology has never been entirely run by businesses nor should it. Recently when they broke down as many of the regulations that they could it lead to an enormous amount of corruption and they proved that the corporations without any accountability could be as bad as a government without accountability. The current system isn’t doing much if anything to accomplish many of the most important jobs for the majority including educating the poor and middle classes, protecting the consumers and protecting the environment. The claim that government is incompetent is true as indicated before but it is partly because they aren’t open and they have been corrupted by the corporations. Some of the governments like the USSR and China didn’t apply their ideologies in a manner that protected the poor either but they may have had some good ideas that are worth considering. Some of the other countries may have had more success than these two countries and in some cases some of the countries in central America and other parts of the world may have tried to implement more reasonable versions but they were unsuccessful due to the interference of the USA and the CIA. If not for the interference they probably wouldn’t have been perfect but they would have at least had a chance to try some better ideas. Finding a good middle ground between the two may involve reviewing the way both USA capitalism and the Socialism versions of other country’s work as well as considering new ideas if it doesn’t appear that one of these systems provide the best answer. Assuming that the way people do thing in America is the only way to do things is foolish especially with all the damage being done to the environment and the non stop wars we keep fighting.
The biggest difference between a cult ideology and a rational academic ideology may be whether they organize the information and check the facts or they use hype and propaganda to advance an agenda which most people don’t understand.
Many wars including the cold war, the drug war and the war on terror are also primarily class conflicts. Throughout the centuries the decisions about war have almost always been made by the upper classes but the lower and middle classes are the ones that do the most fighting for them while the upper classes obtain most of the benefits from the wars assuming there are benefits from the wars. If there wasn’t so much effort put into fighting one war or another there would be much more benefits from the work that people do. Instead of fighting to destroy things over and over again they could build more and keep what they build then set up better education systems that benefit everything. Instead war is one of the most powerful methods the upper classes use to maintain power over the poor.
In the case of the cold war it was based on a distorted interpretation of ideologies and the threat of a conflict with the USSR. This conflict never turned into a active battle; at least not on a major scale. Many sources that have been revealed since then indicate that many of the conflicts during the cold war weren’t against the USSR as we have been led to believe but against many poor countries that had much less military or espionage resources. In other words the USSR and the USA have both taken advantage of those countries who are easy prey. In both cases they often claimed to be standing up for the best interest of the local people while they were actually suppressing the closest thing they had in these countries to a popular movement supported by the local populations. One of the clearest cases was Viet Nam which was fought to attempt to install one puppet government or another under the claim that they were fighting communism. The USA also over threw the governments in many other countries including Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua and more. They never did much if any thing that they should have done if they were fighting to defend democracy like providing education to the local populations or asking them how they wanted to run their countries.
The drug war was misrepresented just as badly if not worse. This was actually started when the cold war was still going on and it was often influenced by the cold war in the early days of the drug war. As indicated in the entry about a truth and education commission the CIA has been involved in tacit approval of drug running when it was done by the allies of the USA including in Nicaragua where it appears the CIA was partially responsible for the rise of the crack cocaine epidemic. This doesn’t mean they did it intentionally but when it became clear that there was a major problem developing they continued to allow the allies of the CIA to run drugs to the USA to raise funds for the contras which were made up of the old Guardia that previously ran the security for the country when Somoza was in power. Somoza was a dictator who relied on the Guardia as his death squads to maintain power and suppressed the rights of the poor. This meant that the CIA was involved in allowing drugs in that mainly affected the poor in the USA in order to support an organization with a history of suppressing the poor. The combination of the war on drugs and the war on communism has destabilized and weakened governments throughout the America’s and other parts of the world and most of the damage has been done to the lowest classes.
The war on terror is also against the poor mostly. There are some people with money that receive a lot of attention but the vast majority of them are poor people that have been suppressed in their own countries and raised with fanatical ideologies that are no more reasonable than the distorted ideologies presented to the public of the USA. Many of these people are so desperate that they have little or nothing to live for which is part of the reason they rely on suicide bombers. In stead of trying to address the lack of education they have and the fact that they have little or nothing to live for the USA is maintaining a constant state of fear to keep people in control of demagogues who manipulate their emotions.
The biggest problem with class conflicts is the lack of education available to many of the middle and lower classes. Part of the problem is the way education is financed. For the most part it is financed at the local level. This means that towns with plenty of money can afford a good education but those that need it the most can’t afford it. The upper classes often have a disproportionate control over what is taught as well and they even use unreasonable copyright laws that are now in place to prevent people from having access to many of the most important books they might need unless they can afford to pay for them. In order to address the class conflicts this discrepancy needs to be addressed in the most efficient way possible. This could be done by revising the copyright laws so that they are available for a much shorter time, perhaps the original fourteen years with an option for a single fourteen year extension. There could also be something done so that the people that get their pay through copyrights can get just as much by selling a larger volume at a lower price. This is an option that is much more practical with modern technology that enables people to copy material for little or no costs. Study groups can be used to help students learn from each other and lectures can be recorded and be made available to everyone. A lot more can be done if the decisions are being made by those that benefit from doing this in the most efficient way possible instead of allowing those that benefit from withholding education to make decisions.
The environment has also been handled in a manner that is primarily designed to benefit the upper classes. The biggest environmental disasters tend to happen in the areas where the people with the least political power live and the benefits for the business goes to the rich as usual. The opposition for power plants is much higher in areas where the rich live even if it is for clean power plants like wind turbines. In Nantucket Sound there is an enormous amount of resistance to the wind turbines primarily because they are trying to put them in an area controlled and used mainly by the rich. They may have some legitimate concerns which should be addressed but the point is that when they put a much larger number of power plants that are worse for the environment in poor areas there is little if any concerns for any of the considerations of those with less political power or education. These wind turbines would probably do much less damage to the environment than the coal plants and the nuclear plants already in place throughout the countries and they could cut down on pollution and global warming with much less cost to society; however they are in the backyard of the rich whom are often put above reproach no matter what the costs.
Recent disasters in the coal mines and the off shore oil drilling disaster have both led to dead workers from the lower classes and they are both threatening the environment in areas where the lower classes and they are both in industries that are designed to benefit primarily the rich. The way it has been reported by some of the members of the Mass media seems to indicate that some of the biggest problems is the way it will affect business and interfere with profits. There have been stories about how the oil companies are waiting to start drilling in another location and it was put off, stories about how this will affect shipping in the Gulf coast and stories about how it will affect tourism and the money they will lose due to lost business. The damage to the environment seems to be important to some only if it effects the bottom line for their business. One company that sells soap has been quick to use the damage to the environment to sell it’s products and present itself as friendly to the environment. This is an example of where the environment is being used primarily to find another way to make profit for another corporation instead of figuring how to protect the environment first and make profit second they continue to put profit first. These aren’t the only people expressing concerns though; there are other people that are more concerned about the damage that it will do to the environment and how it will effect wild life whether or not people profit off the fish or impact the profits in another way. These people may get attention in the short term and obtain some improvements at least for a little while but in the long run those with the most political power may erode those improvements since they tend to have the power when the public isn’t paying attention. Unless the system is reformed any solutions may only be temporary.
The term illegal alien alone is part of a conflict between the classes. If they are illegal what is their crime? In many cases it may be that they were simply born in the wrong country and wanted a better life for themselves in the most effective way possible. Many of these people come from countries that don’t have as many rights as the USA and in many cases part of the reason for that may be due to the interference from the USA government and the CIA. Thirty or forty years ago the USA welcomed immigrants at least to some degree and they taught in the schools that we welcomed the poor the needy and those fleeing from repression. The history books were full of claims about people who fled repression in Europe for class or religious reasons and found a better life in the USA. This wasn’t always as good as it was made out to be, they often omit cases where they come to the USA then tried to suppress those with less power than them including the native Americans who were almost wiped out, however there was a lot of truth to this in some cases. If we applied these rules retroactively we would have to send every back to Europe. This is of course not practical nor will it solve any problems but demonizing foreigners won’t solve problems either.
The problem with immigration is part of the way we are conducting a new global society in some ways but in many ways it is also the same problem the Romans had with their empire. Both the USA and the ancient Romans treated foreign countries and their citizens as second class citizens and pretended they were doing what was best for them at the same time. Part of the current problem with the borders is the problem they are having with drug gangs killing each other and sometimes innocent people are caught in the cross fire. In order to understand the drug problem it will be necessary to understand the problems previously indicated with the CIA’s involvement with drug dealers while fighting the war on communism. This is a continuation of policies that covered up the causes if they implicated the most powerful people in the USA including the CIA. The best way to solve the immigration problem will involve doing the best to expose corruption in these foreign governments even when it involves activities by the USA government and it’s agencies and correcting them. Instead of conducting activities to suppress communism the USA should rely more on the help of organizations like the peace corp. to teach people how to look out for their own best interest. If security is needed it should protect the schools and the peace organizations not just the best interest of the corporations. In to many cases the people fleeing suppression abroad are doing so partially because the CIA and American corporations are supporting the local dictators.
In many cases the upper classes have often ridiculed the lower classes and demonized them without looking to close at why there might be problems with many members of the lower classes. Both Hitler and Pius XII as well as many of the people debating the constitution over two hundred years ago claimed that they couldn’t allow the mobs to rule themselves because they were so irrational. If they are right about some of the members of the lower classes it may help to consider why the lower classes are so irrational and if it is due to lack of education. A closer look will clearly indicate that part of the reason is because of lack of educational opportunities which are controlled by the rich and another part of the reason is because they are constantly being manipulated by demagogues. Many members of the lower classes are more susceptible to influence from demagogues because they are often raised in strict disciplinarian manners that often result tin conservative authoritarian values. These child rearing methods are what they learn from their parents but it is also partially a result of what many of the religious leaders taught them with the attitude that they shouldn’t spare the rod and spoil the child. What this means is that the upper classes are often depriving the lower classes of the opportunities they need to learn then they ridicule them because they are ignorant. Many of the worst crime committed by some of the members of the lower classes almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if the upper classes weren’t depriving of the opportunities they need to get ahead.
Nepotism is also a clear indication of problems between the classes. Without even looking hard it is clear that many of the most powerful politicians come from powerful families that give them name recognition and the power they need to get ahead and obtain office. People from the lower classes are much less likely to have these opportunities. They often say that anyone can be president but that clearly isn’t true. At least four of the 44 presidents to date were related to other presidents that previously held office. This include two sons of presidents, one grandson of a president and one distant cousin of a president. Many of the senators are also sons of other senators or other powerful people and in the case of some of the most powerful generals including Norman Schwarzkopf and Douglas McArthur had powerful fathers. It is clear that privilege has often been passed down from generation to generation. The USA has claimed that it provides opportunity for everyone unlike the countries that used to have royalty but this clearly doesn’t work in practice. If they implemented some of the social policies that were advocated by some socialists they might have accomplished something closer to fairness but instead they demonized socialism without understanding it. Unless there is more done to educate the lower classes and break the cycle the claims of equality will be mostly if not all propaganda.
Racism has often influenced class conflicts. In many cases the people of different races have often been used as scapegoats for the problems with society. In most cases the people with the most power are in the best position to either address these problems or divert the blame; unfortunately more often than not they divert the blame. They often do this by latching onto a real concern then exaggerating it and playing on people emotions. Bigotry is also involved between the classes as well. In many cases the upper classes have been bigoted against other races but when it has suited their purposes in the past they rely on them for cheap labor to compete with the lower class people of their own race, usually white. They often create bigotry among the lower classes and they often blame each other instead of realizing that they are both being used by the upper classes. This is much more likely with people who have conservative authoritarian values and trust the claims by the most powerful people in society so when they look for someone to blame it is often people of other races even if they are in the same position.
Research about social values and how to market towards the public also contributes a lot to class conflicts. The benefits of this research is generally given mainly to those with educational opportunities first then in some cases a small amount of it may make it’s way to the majority but this is often mixed in with propaganda and many of the lower classes don’t have the education necessary to tell the difference. This is even true when the research is done by people with good intentions, presumably including Melvin Kohn and Murray Strauss and many others, but there also some people that do there research in a manner that is clearly unethical. This includes the research done by Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo and others. The research they do is clearly designed to learn how to understand manipulation tactics. If the majority of the public was taught about this then it would have done more to help the problem than hurt it but that isn’t the case. The research done by both Milgram and Zimbadro was only presented to the public on a limited basis but those who wanted to use it to manipulate the public almost certainly paid much more attention. Research done by Kohn and Strauss could also be used to understand manipulation tactics but it wasn’t designed for that purpose and in both these cases to the best of my knowledge they attempted to get this information to the public using a flawed system that didn’t work very well. The biggest problem with the research that Kohn and Strauss did doesn’t seem to be with them but with the system to educate the public.
It seems pretty clear that the closer you look assuming you do so sincerely the less credible it seems to put the bulk of the blame on the middle and lower classes when the upper classes have the most power and control over the system. However if the middle and lower classes gain more power over the system they should assume more responsibility to make sure it works right without diverting the blame.
Ultimately the best way to resolve these class differences in a fair way would involve input from everyone not just the upper classes and the poor and middle classes should have the education they need in order to express their concerns in the most effective way possible.
First posted on tripod on 5/1/10
Ben Franklin’s speech at the end of the Constitutional convention
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