Fear of Monkeys
Middle Class Aspirations in an Ominous Economy
by Alison Ross
So, my quasi-hypocritical disdain of the perennially infantilizing Facebook aside, there can be some good things about it. For one, social justice causes and groups are rife at the networking site, and often more liberal-minded friends can post provocatively progressive links.
Case in point: recently a friend posted a link entitled, "The Middle Class in America is Radically Shrinking. Here are the Stats to Prove it".
There have been many such articles written in recent years about this disconcerting, disheartening phenomenon. But when I think a little deeper about this topic (and if you're not careful, Facebook has a way of deriding and deterring deep-thinking proclivities), what perturbs me most about these articles is that they all act on the presumption that it's "normal" and "healthy" to have class hierarchies at all.
If that sounds like I am courting a socialist dogma, so be it. I'd rather be accused of fondling socialist ideologies than fellating fascist ones. Pure socialism has its detractions, to be sure, and ultimately I espouse a more modified approach - social democracy - because it marries individual autonomy with communal justice.
So yeah. It's no snarling secret to those who are even peripherally interested in social and economic matters that the middle class in America is eroding at an alarming pace and in an alarming way.
The erosion of the middle class has been going on forever, and it is a deliberate tactic, if stealthily employed. Because, you see, the only way that radicalized capitalism can sustain itself is through cultivating stark rich-poor disparities. The middle class, of course, has always been the buffer between rich and poor. If you're poor, then the existence of a middle class is tantalizing "proof" that you too, can "make it," if only you stop breeding and boozing and start trying a little harder. And perhaps maybe even use your eventual middle class status as a stepping stone toward the upper classes.
And for the middle classers, the existence of a wealthy economic realm is "evidence" that one day you too might climb toward prosperity, through your "tenacious" work ethic. The existence of a rich class tempts one toward wild and perverted fantasies of affluence. The upper caste is the most economically erotic class.
And for these middle classers, the existence of a poor class "signifies" abject failure - it's what happens when you lapse into a more cavalier (i.e., "lazy") approach to life. So the middle class is really almost one of the more desirable places to be in a culture that nurtures the dastardly rich-poor polarity. It is the blissful purgatory between economic heaven and economic hell.
Never mind that we are made to THINK it's our fault that we are not all multi-gazillionaires living in Texas-sized mansions with diamond-encrusted commodes and driving vehicles on steroids that span five lanes. Never mind that it's through various menacing methods that we are being bled dry by the elitist one percent.
And never mind that middle class should be the ONLY class that exists, from an economic justice standpoint. But we'll get to that in a minute.
So anyway, the middle class is being eroded in order that rich-poor polarities will be that much more bluntly ubiquitous.
But why, you might ask? Because, DUH: The best way for governments (and their cunnilingus cronies, corporations) to control the masses is through economics. When there is a massive poor class, as in Haiti, we are that much more easily subjugated to the sinister whims of the affluent.
I am not going to pollute this polemic with statistics, though, to prove my point. You can read those statistics in that article I linked to and find further stats online.
No, instead, I am going to beat you over the head with the Excruciatingly Overtly Obvious. Because while some people may not require a simplified sermon on How Things Should Be, others are too swirled up in the vortex of their own petty nonsense to be able to penetrate through to the vivid veracity of things. I don't fully blame anyone, mind you, because part of the genius of the system is how, primarily through media, it seduces us into a state of blurry-eyed benightedness, how it obfuscates reality and gives it a shimmer and shine, as though all is well in the world, and any economic problems we as individuals might have are self-generated, rather than structural and systematic.
But it is frustrating, too, that otherwise intelligent people allow mental mushiness to prevail when deliberating socio-political/economic matters.
I mean, how fucking hard is it to discern that it's simply more HUMANE that everyone have a level playing ground from which to operate, and that NO ONE's labor is worth millions, and that NO ONE should have to work two and three jobs just to be able to afford a roach-riddled rathole, and that NO ONE should have to starve in the vermin-infested gutters, while others are gorging themselves on caviar d' foie gras.
It's just common freaking sense, and common fucking humanity to ensure equal economic opportunity among all. And common freakin' sense that the only "class" we should have is the middle class. The Buddha preached the middle way as the most sensible approach toward living - a reasonable equilibrium between two offensive extremes. The middle class might be seen as economic limbo by some (namely, the poor and rich who purchase the inane ideology of "persistent economic ascendancy." Though I blame the rich for perniciously perpetuating this ideology; the poor are pawns, however you slice it).
But in reality, the middle class lifestyle is the most logical way to live. It is the most comfortable and liberating of all the classes. Living in the wealthy caste means you are always wanting to acquire more luxuries, thereby creating a perpetual draining desire that can never be sated. You are constrained by your lust for compulsive acquisition.
Living in the poor caste means you are doubly cursed. Living in the poor caste signifies that you don't even have the means to acquire basic essentials, let alone luxuries. You are severely constrained by both by your severe fiscal limitations, which preclude sound living, as well as a lust to acquire the luxuries that the rich caste so blithely affords.
So the middle class should be pervasive to the point that the other two extreme castes are eradicated. A pervasive middle class does not want; it exists contentedly, even complacently. Material concerns are immaterial. A pervasive middle class has all it needs because there is no looming nagging idea of "more more more."
A pervasive middle class means radically diminished crime. White collar crime breeds blue collar crime - meaning, the rich caste, which achieved its privilege disingenuously (on the backs of everyone else), creates economic neediness on behalf of the masses, which in turn gives birth to criminal action such as break-ins, armed robberies, etc. But without the existence of a rich caste, there is no poverty. A pervasive middle class razes the rich class, which as a by-product of its demolition, causes the extinction of the poor class.
I'd rather not have burglar bars and an alarm system in my house to protect me from the gangs of poverty-ridden thugs engendered by the throngs of affluent thugs. I'd rather live in a society founded on economic parity, an ideal which organically flows forth from standard human rights tenets. I'd rather not be besieged by free-roaming corporate criminals who rapaciously prey on us with their profit-promiscuous libidos, through their abundant scams and frauds posing as benevolent gestures. It's an elaborate costume party and the real thugs are the ones wearing the happy-face masks.
Our political system harbors a sociopathic economic system and it WILL implode. Rapid middle class erosion is the first step toward that implosion. It's an economic armageddon, and only the rich have the means to survive.