RE: [OPE] proletarianization and the economic crisis

Date: Wed Mar 11 2009 - 10:02:19 EDT


 The point of my question was, since you had written in a previous post

(primarily) about the crisis in the US economy and "out of that, you get a

truly massive proletarianization process happening", to ask _which_ groups

(classes and class _segments_) in the US economy are likely to be



It's unlikely that the capitalist class is going to be massively proletarianized,

there isn't a rich landowning class, and there aren't masses of peasants (or

small family farmers) in the US. There are 'middle' classes, though, and the

point of my question was to probe how you saw the proletarianization

process of these classes unfolding on a 'truly massive' scale during the crisis.


Just as a point of reference, according to estimates based on Erik Olin Wright

(1997), the US class structure today can be (roughly) broken down as follows:
* Capitalist class - 5%

* Old middle class - 12%

* New middle class - 29%

* Working class - 54%

(Bowles, Edwards, Roosevelt _Understanding Capitalism_, 3rd ed., p.
156) [NB: Other estimates, I think, would suggest that the above underestimates

the size of the working class and overestimates the size of the middle classes.

As always, there are issues of classification and measurement.]


Obviously, this isn't the same as the class composition of other capitalist societies

today and this would cause the proletarianization process which you expect to

be heightened during the crisis to be different in those other societies.

But, insofar as the US economy is concerned, it's still unclear to me exactly which

sections of the middle classes you anticipate will become proletarianized and why you

think it will be on a "truly massive" scale. The 'new middle class' came to mind and

that's why I asked the question.


In solidarity, Jerry
[JB wrote:]
> The "new middle class" consists of skilled,
> higher-educated more genteel professionals who earn higher incomes than
> the working class does, are able to save and accumulate assets on a
> significant scale, and can insure themselves comprehensively. Typically
> they are the first to reap the benefits of new technologies and products.
> They may be able to work on own account. Once they accumulate a certain
> amount of wealth, working becomes optional, or, at any rate, a free choice
> that can be decided in good time, rather than an urgent survival
> necessity. If however, the high incomes, the savings and the assets are
> reduced or disappear, the new middle class becomes proletarianized as well
> - the socio-economic compulsion to work for a boss and earn wages begins
> to assert itself more, and more forcefully.

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Received on Wed Mar 11 10:06:53 2009

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