Classism is a failing of a community to find and hold its soul. We seek to create material, professional and educational status because we are so desperate for recognition from communities too large to care. Status is not the same as role. Some higher status comes with certain roles, doctors for instance. But holding that status as a marker of exclusivity is the disease rooted in a lack of community.
All oppression is about dominance, and keeping people down economically is a core component of this. Dominance is a result of unchecked capitalism, but not a necessary component of it. As Adam Smith, the very father of capitalism wrote “Wherever there is property there is inequality….By having the minds constantly employed on the arts of luxury, people grow …dastardly” (As quoted in How Much do We Deserve by Richard Gilbert, Skinner House 2001) My mother, who came from the upper class used to say that class is the greatest divide. Of course this is from the same woman who, when her grandchildren asked her what a household convenience was in her day, she replied “servants”
We hardly deal with the economic realities that affect each member of our society as whole. Viewing class changed with the financial meltdown and subsequent aftermath. In fact, we have been in this position twice before, during the gilded age of the robber barons and the roaring twenties. Now the real question in the press is the middle class disappearing? (see The Atlantic Sept. 2011 “Can the Middle Class Survive?” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/09/can-the-middle-class-be-saved/8600/)
While that is important, the deeper question is what happened to the soul of our communities that has fostered this new unbridled classism?
The question is, how can we counter this growing classism which is deeply symptomatic with the growing economic disparity this recession has wrought? Creating jobs, which ought to be the job of our government is too large an issue for my topic today, but creating community so that we can counter the growing classism of our little corner of the world is something we can do.
With Grace and Grit, John