The Rhetoric of Class Warfare

Posted on September 30, 2011 by


Joshua Holland of , AlterNet recently posted an article addressing six narratives circulating within the mainstream media, which plays off the Gilded Age’s Myth of Hard Work.

Most everyone will recognize the old German variant of this myth – “Hard Work will Set You Free.” As Joshua Holland pointed out in his article – “class war”: habitually vilifying the unfortunate; claiming that their plight is a manifestation of some personal flaw or cultural deficiency. Conservatives wage this form of class warfare virtually every day, consigning millions of people who are down on their luck to some subhuman underclass.

The belief that there exists a large pool of “undeserving poor” who suck the lifeblood out of the rest of society lies at the heart of the right’s demonstrably false “culture of poverty” narrative. It’s a narrative that runs through Ayn Rand’s works. It comes to us in bizarre spin that holds up the rich as “wealth producers” and “job creators.”

Joshua Holland’s six narratives are as follows:
1.Registering the Poor to Vote Is “Un-American”
2.Unemployment Benefits Have Created a “Nation of Slackers”
3.You Can’t Really Be Poor if You Have a Color TV!
4.Food-Stamps: “A Fossil That Repeats All the Errors of the War on Poverty”
5.”The Main Causes of Child Poverty Are Low Levels of Parental Work and the Absence of Fathers”
6.Taxing Working People Less Than the Rich Is “Perverse”

Class War
All of these narratives are designed to protect a status quo that’s serving the interests of a rarefied elite… All are intended to distract (concerned citizens) from the structural causes of poverty and inequality, or to ignore the fact that some people will always experience genuine misfortune — the myriad surprises in life that can happen to anyone — because they’d choose low taxes over caring for them.

Another myth is “the United States is meritocracy.” Nevertheless, research consistently demonstrates people are not promoted based on merit. There are structural barriers that prevent people from getting ahead in this economy. Not everyone can sit at the top of the pyramid. The only solution is to flatten out the pyramid so everyone is able to live on more or less equal terms.

Posted in: General Interest