by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds
Class wars are the inevitable result of an economic system in which ‘anything goes if you’re rich enough and winners take most’.
The traditional class war has been waged between wage-earners (who sell their labor) and their employers (owners of capital and the means of production). These classes have been assigned various names (proletariat, bourgeoisie, capitalists, etc.) but these broad class definitions don’t describe all the class conflicts emerging in the modern U.S. economy.
Before we dig deeper, let’s stipulate that ownership of various forms of capital still defines class: the wealthy live off unearned income skimmed from capital and everyone else lives off earned income from selling their labor. (Those without either source of income become dependents of the State).
What you own or don’t own defines your class interests, but these have been fragmented into a multitude of sub-classes. Six years ago I took a stab at defining America’s Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy (April 29, 2014), to which I would now add a tenth class, gig economy precariat, who paradoxically may own one of the means of production such as the car needed to become an Uber driver, but the precariat doesn’t own the controlling means of production, which is the Uber platform.