Stay Classy

In sum, our economic, political, social reality – and thus our system – is determined by identity, and in turn identity is determined by a set of beliefs, characteristics, and qualities which are shaped by a particular discourse and language. But the question is whether these beliefs, characteristics, qualities, and the discourse and language which underlie these various things are determined by class or race. Thus, the core question is whether class or race is the main determinant of our social reality.

            Kissinger once suggested that the system is divided between three different classes, namely, the political class, the bureaucracy, and the people. Each class has its own set of behaviors and mores. For example, there are certain Islamists who drink alcohol, even though most Muslims are discouraged from drinking alcohol. Thus, there is an elite class and a popular class in every society or system. Certain individuals are able to traverse both classes, whereas most individuals are limited to a certain class based on education levels and life experiences.

            Karl Marx became the legend that he is because of his emphasis and focus on class divisions. Marx defined world history as a struggle between these two different classes – namely, the bourgeoisie and the working class. And in Marx’s view, this class struggle would end with the working class prevailing over the bourgeoisie, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons why Marx suggested that the working class would conquer the bourgeoisie was due to population and numbers. The working class outnumbered the bourgeoise, and because of this, the long-run advantage rested with the working class, according to Marx. There are other factors such as the dependence of the bourgeoisie upon the working class to keep the trains running per se, along with technology as a means by which the working class will advance their agenda and the supposed inability of the bourgeoisie to maintain uninhibited growth.

            But from a bourgeoisie standpoint, class does not equate to social status. There are factors other than class which determine an individual’s social status, such as education and ideas. Nor is success always granted based on class. Rather, from a Weberian standpoint, success is a God-given favor. Thus, there is a religious element to social status and success which transcends factors such as class and race. Nor does wealth always determine a person’s class or social status, which was evinced as of late with the case of Donald Trump.

            Thus, from a Weberian standpoint, beliefs and religion determine a person’s class and social status, not the material conditions which are emphasized and stressed from a Marxist point of view. And from a Weberian standpoint, Protestantism and Judaism accelerate class and social mobility more than any other belief set or religion. From a Weberian standpoint, Catholics and Muslims are generally poorer than Protestants and Jews because of basic beliefs and religious views. As a result, a number of Westerners such as the neocons have argued in the past that if people of color adopted Western values and a Western “way of life,” then people of color would also have class, social status, and wealth. Whether this argument rests on truth or on a logical fallacy is something that social scientists should deconstruct and explore. Personally, I would argue the latter.

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