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Sociology & Socialism

Nov 8, 2008
Michael Hogan

Sociology and Socialism study the class system in society.  As an academic, the sociologist observes, analyzes and describes the class system. The academic is neutral or disinterested in regard to class. The finest such sociological investigation is, to my mind, "The Urban Villagers" by Professor Herbert Ganz. It is a study of working class Italian Americans in Boston in the 1950\'s. I think of it as a monumental historical work.

There is no acknowledgment of the working class in modern mass media. There is only the middle class and middle class wannabees (working class folks who want to be middle class). Therefore, we in Post Modernity, have no knowledge of the poor and working class. There are only hate filled mass media mis-characterizations or caricatures that blame the poor and working class for being lower class. Where mass media is judgmental, the best sociologists give it to us straight. "The Urban Villagers" examines the wonderful customs, mores and values of the working class. Other sociologists have examined the middle class and the upper class in similar disinterested fashion.

The finest understanding of the middle class is David Reisman\'s "The Lonely Crowd."  When the work was publihed in the late 1940\'s, it was hailed by Jean Paul Sartre and Simone De Bourvoir. According to intellectuals of the time, he middle class are "other directed" and alienated. In the intervening 60 years, man has become absorbed in a virtual reality of TV, Internet & video games and the heroic materialism of mass consumption. All this is evidence of Reisman\'s thesis that Post Modern middle class man is "other directed."

Rather then develop his or her own world view and possibly an ideal, modern middle class man receives direction form the other. The competitive marketplace of ideas has been replaced by raw flack. Much of the flack is funded and directed by government. If and when middle class man seeks information about real society and politics beyond virtual reality, he or she is attacked by the flack wurlitzer that uses mis-characterizations and caricatures to blame the lower class folks for their fate. This blame the victim strategy works well as the middle class and upper class sleep tight at night.

While sociologists limit themselves to observation, analysis and descriptions of class, Socialists well understand there is a class war in progress. The upper class folks use the middle class as foot soldiers to make war on the poor and working class. Socialists understand the power of the Power Elite since a Columbia sociologist named C. Wright Mills first used the term writing as a professor at Columbia in the 1950\'s. The Power Elite pattern the middle class to believe the major American myths - Social Darwinism, Militarism, Empire, Imperialism. This Socialist sees the middle class as a vast Hitler Youth program designed to justify any criminal acts done in their name.

As a Socialist and an economist, it is easy to recognize America as a Transfer of Wealth Machine (TWM). The war in Iraq represents a huge transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper class. It\'s the type of transfer Socialists dream about. America is essentially Socialist. While the war in Iraq is paid for by all, it is only upper class folks who own Chevron, and the rest of the American oil companies, in Iraq who benefit. It\'s Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor and working class who must join the military to survive in America.

Taxpayers pay for the education, salaries and benefits of the men who fight and die, yet it is the American oil companies and construction companies stockholders who benefit. While middle class man may own hundreds or thousands of shares of such stock, members of the Power Elite own millions of shares. Meanwhile, crass heroic materialism justifies mass murder for profit.

Yet, the poor and working class are unseen and unheard. The middle class are lost in virtual reality and crass heroic materialism. The choice in American democracy is between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. However, there is hope. The Democrats and Republicans have become so aggressively ugly, plain vanilla Americans are looking for alternatives. This weeks issue of the Pascack Press has a letter from Walter Renninghoff of the Twp of Washington. Mr Renninghoff is advocating for the Green Party. Good for him. The Green Party has taken Socialist red and replaced it with Green. If you read Mr Renninghoff\'s article he lists the various positions of the Green Party. Any Socialist could endorse such stands.
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