By Susan Rosenthal
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On the middle classes

This article is over 5 years, 5 months old
Issue 443

I want to thank Leahy and Thomas for their comments regarding the professional middle class (Feedback, January SR). As the capitalist class shrink in numbers and the working class grow in numbers, professionals become more important as a managerial class. The professional class do not create surplus value; they facilitate its creation in the working class.

The “piece of paper” bestowed upon professional graduates certifies that they have been sufficiently indoctrinated to the values of the capitalist system that they can be entrusted with its management. After graduation, professional regulatory bodies continue to monitor professional compliance.

The professional middle class is not uniform in composition but layered in a hierarchy. Those at the top have so much power over others that they can barely be distinguished from the capitalists above them. Those at the bottom have so little power over others that they can barely be distinguished from the workers below them.

Professionals can acquire more power by proving their loyalty to the system and those who run it. Different levels of power in the system lead to different degrees of loyalty to the system. Those with the most power and privilege are organised into a state that functions as the fist of the ruling class. Those with the least power can be found on the front lines of working class struggle. Those in the middle are pulled toward whichever class is gaining power.

Lower-level professionals experience class conflict on a personal level. Their loyalty to superiors, on which their careers depend, is increasingly challenged by the needs of the people they serve or by the public good. Professionals who break ranks, such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, are severely punished to warn the rest.

The task of socialists is to expose and sharpen the class conflict of lower-level professionals in order to pull them to the side of the working class and keep them there.

We need to be clear about the political role of the professional class in promoting reformism, especially within the labour movement. As Luxemburg warned, “The question of reform or revolution, of the final goal and the movement, is basically, in another form, the question of the middle class or working class leadership of the labour movement.”

Susan Rosenthal

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