The president of the Chicago teachers’ union’s comments about beheading the rich, when taken with Obama’s desire to de-capitalize those making $400,000, shows a misunderstanding of the French Revolution and its importance to Marxist doctrine about the rich. In America, by Marx’s own standards, those making $400,000 a year are not the rich, evil, bourgeoisie.
Bourgeoisie is a term for a social class during the French Revolution that eventually became the enemy of every good Communist. Marx claimed that the bourgeoisie of the French revolution, the talented, but far from rich members of the French 3rd estate, evolved through industrialization into the evil, crony-capitalist, monopolistic, ruling rich that workers (the proletariat) must destroy. Marx’s post-industrial evil bourgeoisie had a single distinguishing characteristic: they owned the means of production.
Of course, today, most free market types recognize that any monopoly is counter productive, but Marx had a far better solution than deregulation. His was much like Karen Lewis’ “off with their heads!” Karen should be warned though, after the French Revolutionary ruling committee, the one with Orwellian name: the Committee of Public Safety, was done beheading the members of the French 1st and 2nd estates, they went after everyone else for almost anything else. They were sort of prototypes for Mau Tse-Tung and Joseph Stalin.
Dear Marxists everywhere, this is not a coincidence. Whether you read Edmund Burke or Friedrich von Hayek, the reality is this: the rights of property protect us all. To unmake the foundational relationship between a law-abiding man’s work and his earnings destroys the fabric of law, and leaves only lawless tyranny. But I digress. Back to whom Karen Davis and Obama ought to be beheading according to the purist Marxist doctrine.
Karen ought to be beheading those who own the means of production, for they are Marx’s evil rich. They are the French 1st and 2nd estate. They are also, as Karen sort of alluded to when she said: “… there is one party in this country – that is, the party of money, with two branches…” By this she seems to mean that today’s political elite are the modern bourgeoisie. In this she was talking Marxist doctrine, for the French 2nd estate were those who were exempt from the taxes and the rules the rest of France had to live by. Today these are elected officials, judicial appointees, lobbyists and all the political bureaucrats currently eating us out of house and home.
Karen, though, like far too many modern American Marxists, in the spirit of the Reign of Terror, has redefined the bourgeoisie, the “rich” in search of more victims for the tax guillotine. Karen and Obama need to review American class structure, not according to yearly salary, but according to the characteristics described by Marx.
There are two leisure classes in modern America, the lower class and the upper class. Both classes exert tremendous control over the means of production. The entire working class is the middle class.
The American middle class itself can be broken down into the Upper-Middle Class, Middle Class, and the Lower-Middle Class. America’s upper middle class are the skilled artisans and traders of the Middle Ages. These are not the land holders of medieval society, nor are they the bourgeoisie of the industrial society that spawned Marx’s analysis.
The American lower-middle class are unskilled workers who, in many ways, are similar to the Marxist proletariat. Unlike a true proletariat, the American lower-middle class worker can develop marketable skills. Some will and some won’t.
The core of the American middle class are the semi-skilled or highly educated class. This class is dependent on institutional structures for their social status. Not everyone can succeed in America’s bureaucracies, but most can. This group is exemplified by policemen, teachers, military officers, college professors, and tax collectors. These are not the pure capitalists of Marxist ideology, for they don’t control the means of production and, independently, they produce nothing of value. Members of the modern Committee of Public Safety, often found in our institutions of higher learning, want to call these middle class Americans the upper-middle class. This is for two reasons: first, it makes intellectuals feel better to call themselves the upper-middle class, and, secondly, this allows the political class to argue that all evil comes from doctors, lawyers, and pizza franchise owners. Conveniently, this allows both of these subgroups of the middle class to avoid responsibility for their own monumental failures. But when the characteristics of each class are considered, it is plain that, in America, $400,000 a year makes you part of the working upper-middle class.
America’s upper-middle class are skilled workers. This class is exemplified by doctors, certain kinds of engineers, computer programmers, and those capable of sophisticated repair work. Likewise, lawyers, and those skilled in business investment or organization are members of this class. These individuals can prosper without the help of a bureaucratic organization or a union. This financially mobile upper-middle class produces services that are independently valuable. In America, these upper middle class members do not control the means of production; they are the means of production.
Doctors are the CEO’s of their small businesses because they produce the essential services first hand. Even the investors and entrepreneurs at this level often invest borrowed money. Part of their skill involves presenting and selling business plans to those who do own the means of production. Like the doctor, their ability to recognize value and market share means they quarterback a team of workers that, together, produce value.
America’s upper middle class are the skilled artisans and traders of the Middle Ages. These are not the land holders of medieval society, nor are they the bourgeoisie of the industrial society that spawned Marx’s analysis. Even though some of these may break the $400,000 per year mark, they are not the classic Marxist bourgeoisie.
Within this group are also those in the entertainment business such as actors and professional athletes. These later groups, like salesmen, may produce income in short, intense bursts. To be properly understood within the American class structure, an athlete’s or an entertainer’s yearly income should be amortized over the lifespan of the earner.
The bourgeoisie, those of inherited leisure who control the means of production in America are not those who gain status within the bureaucracy of the banks, they are the bankers we don’t see. Likewise, the leisure class are not those who are working their way up in a Wall Street firm, those of inherited leisure are the massive invisible, individual investors. While Americans who live by interest on their bonds and the dividends of their stock are the leisure upper class, the true haute bourgeoisie, those who hold the means of all production in the industrialized West, are those who provide fossil fuels.
The failure to truly explain class structure in America using Marxist language, has allowed the word “rich” to be demagogued. For instance, while statistics become susceptible to great error when taxable income is the question, it does seem that in any one year, those who make more than $400,000 can’t be greater than 4 or 5 % of the population. But it is a often a different 4 or 5 % every year. The years an American breaks $400,000 are often the years of his “bumper crop.” These are the best years of the entrepreneur’s life. From these years of peak salary and production, an upper-middle class member lays the basis for buying the means of production back from China or Saudi Arabia. To tax the upper middle class of America is to practice the Bush doctrine of preemption, not on terrorists, but on “the rich.”
Obama and Lewis must remember that Marx lumps the teachers and the business owners together as the petite bourgeoisie. Unless these two want Fascism, as good Marxists they must support the unity of these to strata of society against the truly evil rich, the 1st and 2nd estates in the French Revolution and the haute bourgeoisie of industrialization.
Ironically, the French thought they were America. At first, the French were applauded by the English liberals for their glorious rout of tyranny; ultimately, as the Reign of Terror ignited, even the best liberals were utterly disillusioned. From the beginning, however, the French Revolution was condemned by Edmund Burke. The strength of Burke’s conservatism was his ability to distinguish the failed elements of the French Revolution from the tyrant shaking ideals of America.
If Liberals want to be disillusioned, they will ignore this Marxist analysis of American class structure and charge forward, taxing everyone that has more money than the leisure lower class. Ultimately, we could all end up not only a proletariat from Marx’s demented dreams, but a starving serfdom in a medieval fiefdom.