It’s easy for Scott Walker to pick fights with labor–thanks to the brave workers and their allies protesting, not as easy as might be expected, but still easier than it should be.  Let me make my point clearly: If the majority of Americans identified as working class, and not middle class, (1) unionization battles would be easy, and (2) an attack on any laborers in favor of business would be seen as an attack on all (class consciousness, anyone?).  Americans don’t identify as working class, as workers, and so pro-business ideologies such as “neoconservatism” and “libertarianism,” acting like they have some real freedom, some virtue in them, have ‘selling points.’ They sound good, and they continue to sound good because (thank goodness!) they’ve never been tried in a pure form, and shown to be the Trojan Horse ideologies that they are.

[Commercial Break]

From the makers of the all-time classic teenage hits “You Can’t Tell Me What To Do (You’re Not My Mom!)” and “I Hate Everyone! Leave Me Alone!!” comes that political philosophy for the ages. . . Libertarianism!

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(Right) Libertarianism is predatory callousness masquerading as the advocacy of freedom.  Realistically, though, little in libertarianism is distinct from what is known in general as ‘classical liberal’ ideology–loosely meaning that early pro-capitalist set of beliefs that the Market, left to its own devices, will stay competitive and solve all the world’s problems in the absence of government.  You have varieties of libertarianism–your quasi-sociopathic Objectivism, your rigid Austrian variety, and your Chicago school Friedmanesque version, to name a few–and each worships the ‘entrepreneur,’ the myth that the people at the top of the economic food chain are really just better than the rest of us, a special breed of human, who are the trendsetters and inventors that, over time, have made the world.

But what makes their dreams real? And why do they have the luxury to pursue them?

In all these cases, it is the labor behind the dream that turns idle ideals into something that actually makes life better.  And in most cases, it is those with the luxury of time and resources to pump out inventions–long ago the province of the inspired and obsessed few, but now of the well-financed R+D department.  The daily capacity of the everyday person to be inventive with the labor they do all day is forbidden by a system that centralizes autonomy in a select number of engineers and ‘thinkers’ at the top, and dictates commands to the bottom of the economic food chain of the firm.  You get no more credit for being the source of invention in a system that prevents anyone but you from inventing (and by thinly veiled force at that) than you would for being the one guy with a lemonade stand in a country that forbids the selling of lemonade from anyone other than you.

Our entrepreneur mythos, quite frankly, is an intellectually cancerous bullshit fable, preached by those at the top of the pyramid to defend their ‘Greatness’ to the mass of people lugging boulders up the ramps.  “Why do I have to lug these damned boulders?” laborers ask.  “Because I’m the reincarnation of Ra a hardworking entrepreneur, and you’re lucky I’m building this pyramid for you!” the entrepreneurs reply.

[This commercial interruption is brought to you by my cat, who at this point jumped on my keyboard to give you an important message:  nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn                                      bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb,,.  We now resume our regularly scheduled blog post.]

The majority of the population of every country works, but yet we’re told that the majority of the population are most accurately defined as a politically apathetic, culturally bankrupt, all-consuming herd animals who follow the trends promoted by these ‘entrepreneurs’ –consumers, not producers; receivers, not creators.  This is how libertarians, classical liberals, ‘Tea Partiers,’ and conservatives see workers and the everyday population.  And this is the opposite of what we actually are, and of how we should see ourselves if we are to take America back from the Right wing juggernaut.

I want people to see themselves as ‘working class.’  It is common in America to see yourself as ‘middle class’. . . but what does that mean?  “Working class” intuitively references what you do and makes sense of your social role in society, conceptually lumping you with the other people who, you know, work for a living.  “Middle class” implies, what, you’re in the middle between other classes? What other classes, and in the middle by what criteria? It is common in popular discourse, on the very, verrrry rare occasion that class is mentioned, to define classes not by your place in the structure of society, in the scheme of working-versus-owning, or controlling-others-labor versus controlling only your own (or no one’s), but by income–by how much stuff you can buy.  In this frame (which has bled into sociology) we are all merely different levels of consumers.  Not only does this hide how much social power you gain from ownership (not to mention income) but it hides the question of how you feel about work itself in all its aspects.  ‘Work’ doesn’t exist–and even ‘working class’ (if it makes it into this income-style schema) is somehow transformed into an income category, not a structural position.

It is work that is the background of society, of civilization.  People should be proud to see themselves as workers, whose identity is embedded not in what they have, but who they create themselves to be through their action, and through the ways their actions have benefitted society.  Work makes life work, and without work. . . what would there be to consumer, anyway?  Entrepreneurs, the favored Right term for capitalists, clamp down on resources, holding them for ransom until conditions are profitable–and we don’t need ‘them’.  We need a world where we can manifest our creativity and meet our needs freely, proudly, and where something like Scott Walker’s valorization of business combined with disrespect towards teachers and public servants is completely foreign–we need to see ourselves proudly as working class, and take this country back.