Editorial from the 20 June issue of The Militant
The political war on the working class
“Blame the Trump voter for the drop in the labor force,” declared columnist Rex Nutting on the news site MarketWatchJune 3. “Older, uneducated whites,” he said, have disproportionately given up looking for a job, while those with a college diploma do well. “It’s the degree, stupid,” Nutting concluded.
“The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles,” sneered Kevin Williamson in theNational Review in March.
Their contempt is typical of the mounting propaganda war against the working class, from both the left and right of capitalist politics. The hysterical denunciations of Donald Trump are not aimed at the bourgeois politician, but rather at the workers who’ve turned out to hear him, fed up with “politics as usual” and the effects of capitalism’s slow-burning world depression and non-stop wars.
There is a growing openness among workers to discuss and debate the broadest social and political questions. This is above all what the ruling class fears.
The bosses and their spokespeople denigrate workers, trying to convince us not only to accept deteriorating conditions of life, but to blame ourselves. If we don’t have a college diploma, unemployment and low pay are what we deserve. Health problems and addictions are a consequence of lifestyle choices resulting from our “ignorance.” And on it goes.
Such anti-working-class slanders have long been directed against workers who are African American. Today they are also aimed at “poor Hispanics” and “poor whites” — that is, our whole class.
This propaganda war is articulated above all by voices among the self-designated “meritocracy,” a high-earning professional and upper middle-class layer seeking to justify its wealth and position.
The new book Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party, explains the rise of this meritocracy and sharpening class inequality in the United States, and answers the anti-working-class propaganda war of the mouthpieces for capitalism.
Above all, as Barnes explains, it is about “the battle to throw off the self-image the rulers teach us, and to recognize that we are capable of taking power and organizing society.” Workers will find this book a valuable tool as we discuss and organize along that course.