Class

W is for workers

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As economic crisis, war and poverty sweep the globe many people rightly feel that capitalism is failing us. For anyone wanting to challenge the system the question of who has the power to bring about change in society becomes crucial.

There are many different groups of people suffering in the world and many divisions that exist in society. Why do revolutionary socialists talk about the working class in particular being the key to transforming society?

Discussion about class becomes confused by academics using superficialities to try to define class. For them you can be described as working class based on the contents of your fridge, where you shop, or even what kind of accent you have.

Myths of the white working class

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Talk of the existence of a unique and specifically deprived white working class being discriminated against conceals the real issue of class inequalities

A series of walkouts under the divisive slogan "British jobs for British workers" early in the year drew unprecedented attention from the press and put strikers on the front page of a sympathetic Daily Mail. The strikes were hugely contradictory - a godsend to nationalism, racism and the British National Party while defying the anti-union laws. The mainstream media focused on the former and were broadly delighted.

Mobilise against system

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The protests that have shaken Greece are a sign of things to come. Initially over the shooting of a teenager by police in Athens, demonstrations and riots spread across the country, threatening the future of the government and crystallising the depth of bitterness and anger among working class people.

A deep economic crisis of the sort not seen in most of our lifetimes, following from a credit fuelled boom which failed to deliver for many people, creates a highly explosive situation. Inequality has grown, workers are under greater pressure of exploitation, and there is an ideology which repeatedly blames those at the bottom for everything that goes wrong in their lives.

Class, food and poverty

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You won't be surprised to know that I don't have much in common with Jamie Oliver.

He, after all, is an internationally renowned chef, while my cooking skills are so bad that on occasions I have been known to burn water. He has a media fortune estimated to be worth a cool £25 million, while according to the latest correspondence from my bank I am part of its toxic debt.

Barack Obama and the working class

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I always say that if Obama was delivered to the White House with Jesus Christ, a five-piece band and six gilded seraphims holding up his fucking balls he still won't be able to do anything because the country's broke and Congress is bought and sold.

We'll get things that don't cost money. We'll get our civil liberties back to some degree, habeas corpus will be restored. And god knows he's not trigger-happy, he won't be bombing Iran. Damn, I voted for him, I'm glad to see him there. A brilliant campaign went out and found everybody in every cubbyhole that would possibly vote for him and registered them like crazy. That was a massive accomplishment.

Challenging the whitewash: ruling class stereotypes of workers

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The recent BBC White Season painted a bleak picture of the white working class in Britain today as bigoted and broken. Martin Smith argues that these stereotypes are encouraged by politicians and the media to divide us and are far from the experiences of working people's real lives.

The white working class is an embittered minority: racist, bigoted, broken and fragmented. That was the view of several programmes in the recent BBC television series The White Season. The problem, according to the programme makers, is that the white working class has lost its identity due to the impact of de-industrialisation and immigration. Richard Klein, the commissioning editor of the White Season, went further, saying "I feel that the white working class has been ignored by the political classes because they feel the pressure of political correctness."

Class war at Christmas

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A Woody Guthrie song commemorates the heroic attempts by Michigan copper miners to achieve union recognition in 1913. The bosses resorted to any murderous means they could and in one incident 62 children were crushed to death. John Newsinger looks at how class war was waged in the US.

Take a trip with me in 1913
To Calumet, Michigan in the copper country
I'll take you to a place called the Italian Hall
And the miners are having their big Christmas ball

Woody Guthrie, The 1913 Massacre

A War Waged by the Wealthy

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Acclaimed Marxist geographer David Harvey talks to Joseph Choonara about the rise of neo-liberalism, and why it should be seen as a ruling class project.

In January New York based academic David Harvey spoke at a packed London School of Economics public lecture to promote his latest book, A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism. He set out, with characteristic precision, the story of three decades of assaults carried out by a global ruling class. These attacks, made in the name of neo-liberalism, have seen growing social polarisation, the rise of new elites and the impoverishment of many of those at the bottom of society.

British Politics: A Matter of Opinion

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The latest British Social Attitudes survey contains many indicators that our strategy is correct - and a few surprises.

The National Centre for Social Research has just published the 2003/04 edition of the British Social Attitudes survey. This is the 20th report in a series that began in 1983, and over this time the report has established a reputation for itself as the authoritative source on contemporary values and attitudes in Britain.

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