Over the last period, the public discourse over class has changed. Classes and class struggle are now back on the agenda, but in way that the left had not hoped for. Nowadays, it is often presented like this: the ‘ordinary person’, the ‘working man’ is fighting the ‘bad system’ controlled by an invading state, an inoperant public sector, a sinister labor movement, in brief, a sort of an overclass. Right wing demagogues, trash but also mainstream media, anyone that wants to become popular, are now talking about this ‘class struggle’ where the ordinary ‘men’ is overexploited, abused, threatened in his security.

And it works because it is true: all of this happens. What used to be the Yuppies of the 1970s are now Dumppies (going down in the social ladder). They struggle to finance their suburban house, as they cannot afford to live downtown. The idea of a cozy and early retirement is gone in smoke as they know that their savings will be worth little and they will have to work until and maybe beyond their seventies. They feel their kids will be lucky if they don’t have to face even worse situations. More importantly perhaps, they have lost any sense of security as tomorrow can bring unpredictable disaster.

They are angry and they should be.

In the meantime, the left has more or less abandoned the language of class struggle. It talks more about inclusiveness, tolerance, democracy, post -modern themes of identity. It has been displaced by the rightwing as it fails to address what the ‘ordinary man’ has in mind. So there is no surprise if we see these descendant middle classes ending up with Bush, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and closer to home, with Mario Dumont and Stephen Harper.

There are many other reasons but for sure, the ordinary ‘man’ is now in the hands of our adversaries although objectively and in ‘real class terms’, he is a victim of course of this turbo capitalism called neoliberalism.


Pierre Beaudet

Pierre Beaudet, active in international solidarity and social movements in Quebec, is founder of Quebec NGO Alternatives, and Editor of the Nouveaux cahiers du socialisme. He blogs on rabble.ca in English...