Class Is Not Style

Why Marx Was RightWe have seen already that Marxists have a problem with the idea of utopia. This is one reason why they reject the illusion that, just because chief executives nowadays might sport sneakers, listen to Rage Against the Machine and beseech their employees to call them “Cuddlykins,” social class has been swept from the face of the earth. Marxism does not define class in terms of style, status, income, accent, occupation or whether you have ducks or Degas on the wall. Socialist men and women have not fought and sometimes died over the centuries simply to bring an end to snobbery.

The quaint American concept of “classism” would seem to suggest that class is mostly a question of attitude. The middle class should stop feeling contemptuous of the working class rather as whites should stop feeling superior to African Americans. But Marxism is not a question of attitude. Class for Marxism, rather like virtue for Aristotle, is not a matter of how you are feeling but of what you are doing. It is a question of where you stand within a particular mode of production—whether as a slave, self-employed peasant, agricultural tenant, owner of capital, financier, seller of one’s labour power, petty proprietor and so on. Marxism has not been put out of business because Etonians have started to drop their aitches, princes of the royal household puke in the gutter outside nightclubs, or some more antique forms of class distinction have been blurred by the universal solvent known as money. The fact that the European aristocracy are honoured to hobnob with Mick Jagger has signally failed to usher in the classless society.

—Terry Eagleton
Why Marx Was Right

4 thoughts on “Class Is Not Style

  1. Hence why the American rich love far-right Christianity. You can live in the biggest mansion, destroy the most air/water, underpay the most workers, buy the most political influence — and if you proclaim loudly enough your hatred of gays, a majority of the people you turd on will see you as a culture hero.

    Let’s hope the small-but-alive "social justice" evangelical movement continues to gain followers. And that Hispanic Catholics don’t turn evil. (You know the Church will be a wee bit more selective with the next Pope!)

  2. @JMF – I’m pretty sure the Catholic Church decided it needed to clean itself up and so that’s why they picked a Franciscan.

    Did you see this article [url=http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/clergy-protest-hobby-lobby-condoms]Illinois Clergy Protest SCOTUS Ruling By Giving Out Condoms At Hobby Lobby[/url]

  3. That’s great. We should have more of this! Some years back, I was at a rural store in Nowhere, MN that didn’t sell condoms. The owner didn’t approve, a clerk told me. The response of my Danish friends (the ones who wanted the condoms) was that the store shouldn’t sell diapers and baby food, then. (Incidentally the Danes ended up with a new baby. But they have good benefits for parents over there, they can afford it.)

  4. @JMF – I have been on this one for decades, I think. It ain’t about abortion or babies, it’s about controlling women. The Catholics have a long way to go on that, but at least they are consistent.

    And yes: the Universalists rock! The only way I could ever accept Christianity would be as a Universalists: everybody gets into heaven! Although we hope Hitler and Rick Perry get a good talking to first.

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