This week, the AFL-CIO promoted a video produced by “Means TV,” which bills itself as “the first anti-capitalist worker-owned streaming platform,” featuring a self-described Marxist arguing that the American middle class had developed a false consciousness. “Class is actually determined by a person’s relationship to or ownership of the means of production,” the agitator said. The very idea of a middle class is supposedly a “myth” that obscure the realities of the “conflict between workers and the owners of society.”
The post-millennial intern manning the AFL-CIO’s Twitter account may not realize it, but this kind of unreconstructed 19th-century revolutionary socialist dogma was once anathema to American organized labor leaders. The labor movement in the United States was once thoroughly infiltrated by the Soviet Union, and it was only through the coordinated exertions of the Democratic Party and labor’s leaders that those elements were isolated and, eventually, purged.
Related: The AFL-CIO’s Daft Marxism.
The Left has in recent years shifted its emphasis from the troubles of the poor to the troubles of the middle class, for obvious reasons: The Democratic party has become a middle-class party, one that is dominated by college-educated white professionals in relatively affluent urban centers rather than the “farmer-labor” party of a generation ago, the agricultural communities having gone solidly Republican, a fact that would have mystified members of my grandfather’s generation, when the socioeconomic poles of the parties were roughly reversed. (The Republican march through the South, notably, began in the relatively affluent and educated suburbs; the Democrats are now doing something very similar in places such as Texas and Georgia.) For this reason, the Democrats have a heavy investment in convincing the middle class that it is miserable, that it is the victim of Republicans, that it is a victim of Wall Street (which is politically dominated by Democrats, but never mind), or — in the silly Marxist analysis — that it does not exist, that it has had the wool of false consciousness pulled over its eyes.
If the plight of the middle class under capitalism seems to you unbearable, you should consider what has happened to the working class under Marxism, if only for comparison. “Build the Wall!” was a socialist program long before it was Trump’s.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders was on this week’s Meet the Press, and rather than grill him on his background, “Chuck Todd Warns Bernie ‘The Right’s Gonna Hammer and Sickle You to Death.’”
But first, Get To Know Sanders, in His Own Words: “What prompts this rumination is the extraordinary interview the New York Times issued today with the Socialist senator. If it doesn’t scupper his chances at winning the presidency, we don’t know what will. It recounts Mr. Sanders currying favor with the Soviets and their hench-regimes in our hemisphere. ‘I did my best to stop American foreign policy,’ the Times quotes the senator as saying.”