Political Ideology and Class Formation: A Study of the Middle Class

By Carolyn Howe | Go to book overview

6
Class Formation in the United States and Sweden: The Problem of Class Alliances

Marx argued that capitalism would lead to a polarization between workers and capitalists, and that capitalism itself would create the opportunity for the working class to assume control over production and create an egalitarian society, in which both political democracy and economic democracy are present. Supporting this view, some scholars like Piven and Cloward ( 1982) have argued that, while the middle class that emerged from the eighteenth-century bourgeois revolutions wanted to create democracy, it was not interested in extending democracy beyond its own class. The struggles of the working class itself eventually made political democracy available to everyone--that is, to everyone who was white and male.

New-class theorists like Eastern Europeans Djilas ( 1957) or Szelenyi ( 1982), and U.S. new-left theorists like Ehrenreich and Ehrenreich ( 1979) believe that knowledge controllers may betray the social movements of which they are a part whenever they see the possibility for rising into a position of dominance. However, Ehrenreich and Ehrenreich ( 1979) claim that an alliance of knowledge controllers and the working class is both desirable and necessary if a socialist transformation is ever to occur. But, they argue, it is important for the working class to recognize the limits of knowledge controllers' allegiance to a social transformation, lest the working class be misled into helping a new class assume

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