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Saturday, August 12, 2023


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Matt Taibbi has also noticed something along these lines.

(1) Lyons asserts but nowhere demonstrates that what he terms “the professional managerial class” constitutes, in fact, a distinct social class. If this be the case, he is obligated, first, to clarify what he means by the term social class, which he simply fails to do. At best, the requisite social unity of the class in question is simply assumed to arise from the function of its members, that of overseeing, in one way or another, the increasingly complex institutions of society: “In government, in business, in education, and in almost every other sphere of life, new methods and techniques of organization emerged in order to manage the growing complexities of mass and scale.” Unfortunately, once we examine the components of this supposed “managerial class” we find, in fact, that it is anything but unified. To begin with, while those classified as managers accounted for about 17% of tax units in 2011, only 2% of them could live on investments alone (rent, interest, capital gains, and so on) [Simon Mohon, “Class Structure and U.S. Income Distribution, 1918-2011” [ https://www.boeckler.de/pdf/v_2014_10_30_mohun.pdf], and “the top 1% of managers includes investment bankers, corporate lawyers, hedge fund and private equity managers and corporate executives. Moreover, two-thirds of the top 1% are managers only in name, as an increasing proportion of these executive occupations are in so-called ‘closely held businesses’. . . So the top 1-3%, . . . are still capitalists as Marx understood it, even if they pay themselves huge salaries and bonuses” (Michael Roberts, “Managers rule not capitalists? [https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/managers-rule-not-capitalists/]). The remaining managers, approximately 98% of the total, whatever their supervisory functions, and these can include anything from overseeing an industrial production line to a Wendy’s, are dependent on their wage labor for survival. Thus, “in no way can managers be considered a homogeneous group, because they are fundamentally divided into those who might sell their labour-power but do not have to do so, and those who do sell their labour-power because they have to do so” (Mohun, 15).

(2) “Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralized society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic.” While, I quite agree that authoritarianism is on the rise, it is simply false to advance the notion that capitalism is waning, either in the United States or in the West. This is a very grave error, for never has its power and reach been greater. Modern capitalism has developed into a huge network of interlocking companies with cross-shareholdings. To cite one study, “Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich developed a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analysed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They discovered that a dominant core of 147 firms through interlocking stakes in others together control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 companies control 80% of it all. This is the concentrated power of capital” (Roberts; for the study itself, see Stefani Vitali, et al. “The Network of Global Corporate Control”
[https://thenextrecession.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/147-control.pdf]. It is this corporate dominance that explains the extraordinary concentration of wealth in the hands of the capitalists and elite managers, just 1% of the American population, who “in 2016 held 40 % of total net wealth, while the bottom 80% of the population held just 10%” (Roberts). To obscure these economic and social realities, the very ones that are driving the destruction of nation, morality, and tradition, does not help us understand our present predicament.

Thanks, Vito.

Ad (1). How would you define 'social class'?

Ad (2). I think you are quite right on this point. I get a 404 error on the Wordpress site to which you link.

Thanks for the link, Trudy.

Although, as you know, I am not a Marxist, I believe that Marx made important contributions to our understanding of social class. Thus, in this matter, I essentially follow him in holding that classes arise from their relations in given modes of production. Thus, under the capitalist mode of production, we have the classical modal of a capitalist class, one that has ownership of and exercises legal and practical control over the means of production, land, factories, means of transport, and so on, and a working class that lacks such ownership (or that disposes of very small shares in it, as with small stock holding) so that it must sell its labor power on the market for wages in order to survive and support itself. Alongside these classes, we have in this classical model, which still holds in basic respects, classes composed of independent producers, either rural or urban of one type or another, and the small bourgeoisie. Toward the end of this life, Marx was cognizant of the emergence of managerial strata, which he called functional capitalists, in that they oversaw the operation of capitalist enterprises and drew their salaries from profit, which he regarded as a portion of what he termed the surplus value that accrued to the capitalists themselves. His comments on this subject are merely suggestive and rudimentary, as can be deduced from my earlier comment. Thus, the emergence of the managerial classes requires an updating of the classical model, something that has occupied Marxist theorist for decades and that has yielded various, sometimes contradictory models. I find alternative notions of class, those based on income or mode of life and so on far less satisfactory.

Here is the link again; when I paste it in the search bar, it works: https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/managers-rule-not-capitalists/

By the way, I reject Lyons notion of a managerial class, for two reasons: (1) It obscures the real power relations within capitalist global system, and hence turns our attention away from the small elite that is driving the agenda that is the ruin of nations and civilization; this elite, of which the top management is one component, is at the root of our present political, social, and economic ills. Without them, much of what is going on would collapse. (2) It masks the internal divisions within the managerial class and, hence, prevents us from seeking the means to attract lower and middle level managers, whose security and freedom, whether they know it or not, are also under siege, to our cause. The managers of a Target store, a production line, or a computer animation studio, for instance, are not Bill Gates and are, hence, not lost causes.

The elite scorn those who make their life possible, but there will be a reckoning as this No. 1 song shows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqSA-SY5Hro

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