Are you class conscious?

One cannot understand the world around them without a heightened class perspective. A class perspective can be seen as recognizing the inequalities and conflicts among classes that are inevitably present in every nation, apparent in countless circumstances. It must first be understood that every class within a society has different interests; what is good for the rich, is almost always bad for the poor, and vice versa. In order for the lower class to have a better standard of living, the upper class must inevitably have theirs lowered. This fact is the natural offspring of capitalism itself, which designates an owner and worker class, creating interests that are forever in conflict; for example, it is in the interests of profit that wages are as low as possible, as there is a direct relationship between raising labor costs and shrinking revenue. This is the basis of the varying classes of society, with interests that are in a constant state of instability. Since capitalism has integrated the world economy, these specific, fundamental contradictions have been transplanted into every corner of the globe.
When different class interests materialize into open conflict, the origin of the problem is always distorted or ignored by the media. For instance, when one hears news about the war in Iraq, the understanding of the situation is purposely confused. We are told that Iraqis are terrorizing Iraqis, apparently with no other reason than to destabilize the country; this perspective, lacking all signs of logic, falsely perpetuates the belief that these ‘terrorists’ are nothing but extremist lunatics. If one looks at the same sequence of events from a class perspective, the haze of incomprehension is lifted, and an actual understanding of events can be made. For instance, it is well known that Shiites have been the main victims of terrorist attacks in Iraq, but little effort has been made in understanding why. The answer is easy: Shiites, backed by American military power, have become the ruling class in Iraq, while the Sunnis, who dominated under Sadaam, have been relegated to the bottom of the economic extremity. The resulting class battle has the Sunnis labeled as insurgents, or terrorists, while The Shiites ‘legal’ repression of the Sunnis is now sanctioned by state authority, giving their side of the daily brutality a sad legitimacy— it is thus no surprise that the new Iraq military consists mainly of Shiite and Kurdish recruits. In every country of the world, the subjugated class, in some form or another, struggles against the oppressor class. They are called insurgents, guerillas, rebels, revolutionaries, African Americans, thieves, terrorists, criminals, and the poor. It is often forgotten that America was founded upon the same guerilla tactics that we condemn today, and in fact, invented.
By using a ‘class perspective’, one can explain countless historical events where before, simple irrationality was given as a motive; one such occurrence is the Rwandan catastrophe. When the Dutch first entered Africa seeking to expand their empire, they followed the example of other colonizers before them and looked for a minority section of the native population to help them control the country. Since at the time there was no conflicting class groups in Rwanda, they had to be created. Hence, the origins of the Hutus and Tootsies— this distinction, based on phony physical differences, became the basis of what came to be one of humanities most horrific massacres. The Hutus learned to hate the Tootsies, not based on racism, religion or ethnicity, but because of the position of economic superiority that was handed to them by the Dutch. These two stories of battling classes are not exceptions, but instead rules of political reality under capitalism. Every country in the world, in some form or another, has these opposing forces— in some places the struggle is shielded from the public eye (the United States), in other places, civil war decides the outcome. This analysis can be applied to every country that is currently in a state of war or continued ‘instability’, while also applicable to countries where riots, strikes, and mass protests take place, since the root causes of these phenomena are shared.
Another issue that has been repeatedly and intentionally distorted is the happenings in Haiti, the country whose atrocities are— thanks to the collaboration and general racism of the American media— easily forgettable. In Haiti, a very popular democratically elected president was for the second time, overthrown by a military coup—in each instance sponsored by the United States (the country who is typically behind any anti-democratic coup in the western hemisphere). The U.S has a long history of intervening with countries democratic process, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. Haiti’s president was removed, not because he was a tyrant, but because he was supported by the impoverished majority, which means he opposed imperialistic capitalism. The Haiti example can be extended to the current U.S policy towards Venezuela, where once again we have a popularly elected president whose policies are favorable to the lower classes, and thus in conflict with U.S interests. As a general rule, any ally country of the United States is governed by rich elites who are benefactors and loyal servants to free market policies, straying from this condition is enough to brand one an enemy. Commerce, not aggression, is the deciding factor here.
The above topics, all with opposing class interests as their basis, become confused when explanations are given— as they are in the United States— without any mention of their actual cause. To shield the truth from the public, government uses various techniques and phrases to conjure up fear and distraction. For the longest time, a phobia of communism was used to rouse support of the suppression of third world nations, all who had a majority of the population fighting the economic system which had ravaged their country, and impoverished the people. Because its propaganda campaign had been reveled as a farce, the U.S had to resort to more covert campaigns to continue its aggression in foreign nations. Although unknown to much of the U.S population, Latin America continues to be the battleground of the United States relentless war against actual democracy. In a continent purged by first world nations, extreme poverty has been the outcome. It is inevitable then that these countries citizens continually support socialist governments and are instinctually weary of the economic policies of the United States.

In the United States, the theories of Karl Marx are often referred to as interesting yet obsolete ideas. It is the purpose of the revolutionary activist to reopen these ideas to debate, to investigate political phenomena and to explain them in the context of a class perspective, and thus awaken the population’s awareness of what side they fall into in this interminable fight. Since the overwhelmingly majority of the world falls under the category of the ‘repressed’, or poor, then it is in most people’s interest to learn about these forgotten concepts.
Being class conscious means you understand the relationship between wealth and democracy. Why is it that every democratic country in the world is run by representatives from the upper class, and has administrations wrought with corruption and scandal? A democracy, under the umbrella of capitalism, implies that the wealthy will be overly represented, while the converse is true for the poor. The wealthy can sponsor political candidates using the power of media and other institutions to influence the population to vote for their candidate, while the lower classes have not the resources, education, nor free time to consider such an action; this is the real reason why America feels the need to export our style of fake democracy— it’s good for business. In America, as in all of the ‘great’ nations of the world, the main opposition parties are typically a front, opposing nothing of the economic and foreign policies that poorly represent the lower classes. In the ultimate case of irony, opposition parties consistently support wars that are waged for the expansion of corporate profit and regional influence, using soldiers from their constituency (the lower classes) to achieve these conquests.
In a system that has it’s foundation in commerce, the people actually producing the countries wealth are inevitably left unrepresented. The system has matured to a point where social change within the confines of capitalism is becoming almost unrealistic, as big capital’s control over the country is strengthened yearly. Reformist politicians, i.e. democrats, greens, etc, are subject to the laws of capitalism as well, and find themselves unable to offer a true alternative to conservatives, since liberal policies often equal inflation, unemployment, and corporate flight. In this context, it is no surprise that a countries progressive party constantly finds itself in agreement with its opposition in regards to economic and foreign policy— always being of course, in conflict with the interests of the class it claims to represent.
Contrary to what our politicians would have us believe, a capitalist nation can have no ‘national interest’. Dueling classes within the country have, by their nature, differing interests; it is in the interest of imperialism to hide and distort this fact. To conjure support for a war, nationalistic tendencies are always appealed to, usually in the context of being “good for the country”; however, a countries economic and foreign policy are always representations of upper class interests; what is good for the economy is not necessarily good for all of its adherents. In America for instance, gross national product has risen consistently while wages and standard of living (for the working classes) have been in decline. The state of world capitalism is in such a crises that workers are told that accepting constant wage cuts are the only way for them to retain their jobs, whose employers threaten bankruptcy or international flight. The promises of free trade and globalization to provide the world with unlimited wealth and an amazing standard of living have proved to be false. World statistics on poverty show that this epoch of capitalism is the worse in world history; never before have so much of the earth’s population lived on so little. In America alone, well over 40 million people are living in poverty.
Part of being class conscious means interpreting events, laws and policies from a class perspective. For instance, a flat-tax on cigarettes to produce state revenue creates a problem: the poor pay a substantially larger part of their income in such a policy, while the rich fail to think twice about the issue. This of course applies to all flat-taxes, fees, or fines that are impossible to avoid on a daily basis; a speeding ticket for a rich person may produce anger, while economic sacrifices are required for someone from an inferior class. A class perspective can be applied to innumerable experiences in our daily life; the prices of required goods such as gas, food, stamps, energy, and property all contain in them seeds of controversy. As prices rise and wages lowered, those near the poverty line are gradually pulled underneath. The same issue rears its head when food-stamps and Medicaid are cut, items that are of importance to only the lower classes, and therefore consistently ignored or purged by our political representatives.
Reintroducing the class struggle into American political debate is the first step of actual social change. Until the public has a firmer grasp on the above ideas, the government will continue to muddle the debate, directing political discussion in to channels that serve elite interests at the expense of everybody else. Unlike what we are all taught in school, the class struggle is an actual phenomenon, and not just an out of date theory. The impact of these ideas is impossible to ignore once one becomes aware of them; to truly analyze events to find out ‘who benefits’, and likewise ‘who loses’, is an empowering feeling, oftentimes strong enough to make one a revolutionary.