Winner 2013 Webby Awards for Best Political Website
Top Banner, Site wide
Apr 17, 2014

 Choose a size
Text Size

Top Leaderboard, Site wide

Jeb Bush’s Optimism School
Climate Costs ‘May Prove Much Higher’

Paul Robeson: A Life

Truthdig Bazaar
A River Dies of Thirst: journals

A River Dies of Thirst: journals

By Mahmoud Darwish

more items

Ear to the Ground

Whose Class War?

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Sep 29, 2011
Flickr / SamPac

A soldier in the long, ongoing class war takes a moment to rest.

One week after President Obama proposed his deficit reduction plan, the cries of “class warfare” that escaped the mouths of alarmed politicians and media pundits around the country can still be heard by anyone standing near a radio, television set or computer.

To those nodding along with this assessment, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine would like to point out the following: Under Obama’s proposal, the tax rate paid by households making between half a million and $1 million per year would rise only 2.7 percentage points, while the taxes paid by earners of $1 million and over would suffer a piddling increase of 5.5 percentage points.

Other antidotes to the omissions, distortions and untruths poisoning the national conversation about taxation appear below. —ARK

Daily Intel at New York:

How do you take this state of affairs and portray it as a kind of quasi-Bolshevism? First, you ignore the taxes that burden average Americans most heavily. The income tax is progressive, taxing the rich at higher rates and the poor not at all. On the other hand, payroll taxes, which finance all of Social Security and most of Medicare, levy higher rates on the poor and middle class. And state and local governments tend to employ sales taxes and other levies that are more regressive still. The overall progressive character of the American tax system is quite mild. But if you pretend income taxes are the whole of the tax system, then it can be made to look as if the rich are being oppressed.

... It’s important to note that the interminable campaign to persuade Americans that the rich are overtaxed has not succeeded one iota. Raising taxes on the rich remains highly popular. Among voters, raising taxes on the rich unites Democrats, independent voters, and even many Republicans, isolating a small, recalcitrant base of committed right-wingers. At the level of political elites, by contrast, it works just the other way around. Higher taxes for the rich is “class warfare,” a left-wing play for the Democratic base, alienating thoughtful centrists. Proposals like Obama’s deficit reduction plan will be met with gasps of horror, not just from conservatives but from moderate Republicans like David Brooks and even moderate Democrats like Mark Penn.

Read more

More Below the Ad


Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By WR Curley, October 2, 2011 at 10:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No, no. I mean it. Class warfare? Sign me up.

I will be a shock warrior for the death of the
capitalist exploitation of hope.

We need to shut it down.

For a day, for a week, for a year, for a generation.

We can shut it all down. We can live with less.

And when the Masters knuckle under, and when we are
satisfied that we have a fair deal - a deal that
fills our larders, and that nurtures ourselves and
our children, and that guarantees peace and
prosperity - then we will man the mills and the malls
and the global network of imperialist militarism that
promises hope.

Until then…Shut it down.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, October 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment

gerard—Good analysis.  The Times article is class warfare, if anyone was looking for any.

Report this

By hgrlex, October 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Gerard for bringing the NYT piece to our attention.  It is a beauty! This type of journalism is another small reason why we’re in trouble.  Here is the way I’ve provided an account for some friends:
The New York Times account by Kleinfeld and Buckley on the hodgepodge, rabble-rousing, noisy occupation daring to express “what THEY feel is an inequitable financial system” (and they won’t even say when they will quit this rude business)!  Two quotes. 

“The hodgepodge Lower Manhattan encampment known as Occupy Wall Street has no appointed leaders, no expiration date for its rabble-rousing stay and still-evolving goals and demands. Yet its two weeks of noisy occupation has lured a sturdily faithful and fervent constituency willing to express discontentment with what they feel is an inequitable financial system until, well, whenever.  “

and a bit later:

  ‘Most of the demonstrators are in their teens or 20s, but plenty are older. Many are students. Many are jobless. A few are well-worn anarchists. Others have put their normal lives on pause to try out protesting and see how it feels.

Not all of them can articulate exactly why they are here or what they want. Yet there is a conviction rippling through them that however the global economy works, it does not work for them.

“I’m angry because I don’t have millions of dollars to give to my representative, so my voice is invalidated,” said Amanda Clarke, 21, a student at the New School. “And the fact that I’m graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in loans and there’s no job market.”

Their politics zigzag wildly. An unemployed schoolteacher calls herself a fierce independent, while an employed teacher is a conservative. An anarchist photographer wants libertarianism to be reclaimed by the left. ” ‘

... and this article zigzags & misses an easy opportunity to pinpoint a coherent, analytically rational account of why this is happening!!!!!!!!!!!!  Try Borosage and van den Heuvel in the Oct. 10 issue of The Nation for that.  Or you can go back to various articles of the 1980s when a few analysts predicted this global jobs crisis as the result of corporate restructuring the national economy to access and exploit the global labor & other markets usually combined with politically authoritarian regimes.  Oh, I forgot!  “Its OK folks.  I’ve got my bowtie, my MBA, and my well-worn copy of Atlas Shrugged and I am “the little engine that could.”  Ah, but there is that nagging suspicion George Carlin was on to something when he said:  “The owners of this country know the truth:  It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” 

Report this

By gerard, October 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Just a line or two more on “discombobliating” the ordinary person’s feeling of security:  Take a close look at the way language is misused to “report” on the Occupy Wall Street protests in today’s New York Times (courtesy Kleinfield and Buckley, who apparently learned how to do this in Journalism classes):
  1. Introducton:  Two guys with odd-ball monikers “Hero” and “Germ”—(implications, egotism and disease) Then “a waitress from a dim sum restaurant in Evanston, Ill.” (implication: obscurity, how could such a person carry any “weight”?)Then “a liquor store worker” a “Google consutant” a “circus performer” and “a Brooklyn nanny”.  Get it? Obscure assorted know-nothings by implication.  (Motley fools presented in a tone of insult)
  2. Next:  “The hodgepodge Lower Manahttan encampment—leaderless, rabble-rousing, no set goals, noisy, “expressing discontentment with “what they feel is an inequitable financial system (as though that was not an evident fact to everybody on earth) and—they have set no reasonable time limit to their intrusion on business as usual.  Tsk! Tsk!
  3.  Next:  More indibiduals belittled. Reluctant admission of increasing numbers “enlisting support from well-known liberals.  (Enter Sarandon, West and Gov. Paterson) Part of one sentence on pepper-spraying incident tnat “elevated the visibility of the demonstrators”)
  4.One sentence on the march to Police Headquarters to cricitize police biolence.
  5. More “hodge-podge” individuals in attendance up to and including a “guest from Japan and the irrelevance of a man wearing a tuxedo and carrying a sigh that “said in part:  SUPPORT THE RICH presumably by collecting coins in his coffee-cup.
  6. Finally getting around to who started the demos, that they are mostly young jobless or students and “a few well-worn anarchists”.  Others “are trying out protesting to see how it feels.”
This goes on and on, but the above is enough to recognize the utter perfidy of such “reporting”—which is totally acceptable to “management” apparently.
  Conclusion: “...the bedraggled look of the matress-and-sleeping-bag-strewn camp and how it is subsisting.  Turns out there is a good deal of organization, after all—if you read that far!
  And the hopeful close:  “When will all this end?”
The answer—as foretold in the headlines—“whenever.” 

Report this

By hgrlex, October 1, 2011 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

Five years ago, Jeff Faux began his important book on the global class war by discussing a corporate lobbyist’s appeal to the new form of class solidarity that some corporate media people want to hide.  The Many are expected to believe that the Few are getting the most of what there is to get by the inevitable and automatic workings of the global market.  “Government” is portrayed negatively because anything resembling democracy threatens this state of affairs.  Jon Jeter’s excellent book of two years ago puts it well:  “Worldwide, widening inequality has increasingly estranged ordinary working people from the proxies they choose to represent them in democratic discussion.”  This situation is likely to be worsened when we let “diversity” talk exclude questions of democratic equality.  Democracy loses when such talk feeds tribal identities at the expense of recognizing class realities.  Jeff Faux begins his last chapter with a quote from Benjamin Franklin:  “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”  The so-called Tea Party’s extreme libertarianism advances the latter.  There is some evidence that most Americans grasp their true role noted many years ago by C. Wright Mills:  that in the USA the petty right often serve, sometimes unwittingly, as the political shocktroops of the power elite.

Report this

By Salome, October 1, 2011 at 6:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gerard:  great summary of current situation.  I would only add Ben Franklin’s remark:  Those who would give up liberty for security, deserve neither.

Report this

By gerard, September 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment

My impression of “class warfare” as currently used is that the idea is being created and popularized by people who think it will serve their political interest to create vague feelings of disunity, dissention and danger.
  Actually, we have more “warfare” than any country needs—divisiveness, antagonisms, barriers, class consciousness—all anti-democratic and destructive of democratic values. Not to mention the fact that the majority of Americans are fed up to their ears on “warfare” in general. They are looking for ways to make peace with their neighbors, their fellow-unemployed affiliates, their relatives, their politicians, their adversaries, their elite overlords. “Class warfare” tends to prevent social cohesion.
  Most people want to withdraw from conflict—even if there is no other way than to dope up on drugs and pharmaceuticals, hide in front of their TVs, and refuse to take any interest in politics. If they want any “friends” at all, it is either of the Facebook kind, or to find some group as near like them as possible to give them reassurance that they are themselves okay, safe, smart enough, popular and
“correct.”  They want reassurance, even as they know that they are in a losing battle with uncertainties.
  The idea of “class warfare” serves the purpose of “discombobilating” their frail “security” by intensifying the idea that others are out to get them and that they need “security”. It tends to increase uncertainty, and hence dependency.  All the idea of “class warfare” needs to do is to imply that “getting out of line” is dangerous.  To protest is to “get out of line.”  To express your opinion, ditto.  To reach out to others and develop commonalities, the same.  You get the idea.

Report this

By WR Curley, September 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m not going to bother to read the piece. Class
warfare? Sign me up.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, September 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

You cannot have a capitalist social order without at least two classes, the class of those who own the means of production, and the class of those who work for them.

Report this
Hulk2008's avatar

By Hulk2008, September 30, 2011 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

1.  As an American citizen, not a Brit or recent immigrant (we are ALL immigrants - even the so-called “native” Americans), I totally reject the term “class” as an offensive perjorative left-over from older undemocratic cultures.  We don’t have royalty.  We believe each citizen is responsible for pursuing his/her own future, not an inherited birthright or divine designation of rank.  e.g. The term “middle class” should be revised to be “middle income” etc. 
2. Re: “...Morganthal (FDR’s treasury secretary) said….‘We’re Spending More Than Ever and It Doesn’t Work’  -  Morganthal was not always of the same opinion as FDR and was not elected by the people.  Moreover, FDR changed policy and went back to stimulus rather than cutting - history itself shows FDR made the correct choice in the end.  And the money supply is regulated by the Federal Reserve now - can’t compare apples and cumquats. 

3.  Robespierre found his just desserts in the mechanism of his own device.  He lost his head first with words ..... and then in REALITY.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, September 30, 2011 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Class is war.  The term ‘class warfare’ is redundant.

Report this
John M's avatar

By John M, September 30, 2011 at 5:45 am Link to this comment

“By SteveL, 
1936 the Republicans forced Roosevelt into budget
balancing austerity and made things worse.  Do any of
our current leaders so much as peek into history

Dig a little deeper than the history books (the
winner writes the history) and look at the records
for the FED in 1936. You will find that the FED
removed 25% of the money supply from circulation in

Then read what Morganthal (FDR’s treasury secretary) said….

‘We’re Spending More Than Ever and It Doesn’t Work’

Report this

By Alcam, September 30, 2011 at 4:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re SteveL comment:

For politicians and their minions, history starts tomorrow.  Their planning horizon
is yesterday.    Greed is good and if being a politician gets you connections for
later on, greed is honourable, while integrity is a swear word.

Report this
Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, September 29, 2011 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

REAL Class Warfare:

Obama is all fluff.

Report this

By SteveL, September 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment

1936 the Republicans forced Roosevelt into budget balancing austerity and made things worse.  Do any of our current leaders so much as peek into history books?

Report this

By suzanne jefferis, September 29, 2011 at 9:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The tea drinkers thought that the dumming down was so effective, that when they threw the ‘class warfare’ slogan out there, they would get some sympathy, poor victims, and no one would ever notice their brillant 1984 tactical reversal.

Report this

sign up to get updates

Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.