We have suggested that the marxist obsession with the ‘working class’ invokes a phantom, creates a misleading picture of the mechanics of revolution, and has in the current case produced what the left asked for: control of government by the working class under a fascist Trump. This is mostly nonsense, of course: I challenge the idea Trump got any serious portion of the working class, either locally or globally. But he got enough for us to make the point. The whole emphasis of Marx/Engels here corresponds to a different era. With the idea of the ‘universal class’ we invite people from all classes to contribute to a common effort based on principles of democracy and equality, etc…And we would immediately tailor social progessivism to studied subsets of the working class so-called, mindful that many who are ‘workers’ are excluded from the whole botched definition. I am a college educated person, but I am surely working class: I have worked in numberless places from the Washington apple orchards to Arizona short handle hoe truck farms. And yet in many working environments that were two-tier with labor pool dailies and union workers I always seemed to be considered riffraff compared to the real ‘working class’ who were paid a premium and wouldn’t talk with their inferiors. This wasn’t marx-ville.
The whole emphasis on the working class is thus misleading. It would work much better to change the definitions and offer a guarantee of economic rights to all workers in all combinations. Complete idiots like the rustbelt sectors voting for Trump should be called out. We owe them nothing in such a case. A comprehensive focus on the universal class would give the working class dignity and a promise of a future beyond class and the curious way that marxists condemned the working class to inferiority by another name.
In the nonce, this could invigorate very strong efforts to create a new union movement beside a larger initiative of revolutionary action, etc…
I have to say it again: leftists often focus on the working class and demand that the working class seize power. But in the typical irony of Murphy’s Law we just did that with Trump and the rust belt lumpens who deserve a bit of scorn. Couldn’t they see they might lose medicare?
I thoroughly ‘betcha’ that invoking the universal class would energize many in the working class to radical action.
The question of jobs and economy is now beset with a new misfortune: we can no longer think in terms of growth economies (this view can be tempered with new conceptions of, say, green growth economies,…). There is a new stampede to try and win back the rustbelt working class and the immediate plug is for growth to produce jobs in the usual now nauseating stump speech economics.
We need, as far as I can tell, a post-growth economics and this sends the usual rhetoric out the window.
To the rustbelt supporters of Trump I would say: you are a bunch of idiots. The offshored jobs aren’t coming back, but you may lose medicare, social security and end up completely impoverished.