The Distinctions of Social Classes: An Analysis of the American Socioeconomic Classes and the Classes within a Communist Regime – Samantha Chaiken – Honorbound

The American Society is comprised of three main social classes: the upper class, the middle class, and the lower class. The class system is conducted depending on many factors of life. According to Word IQ, a social class can be defined as a group of people that have similar social status. The social classes that pertain to economics are known as socioeconomic classes. According to many scholars, these socioeconomic classes are based on economic status, wealth, and income. The upper class mainly consists of the wealthy. They are generally highly educated and are extremely powerful and effective at what they do. The upper class generally plays a large role in society. These citizens are viewed as the “rich”. If they were to be stereotyped, they would be the ones that have the mansions, the summer homes in exotic locations, and the glamorous automobiles. In short, although it may not be true for all upper class Americans, the stereotypical view is that they have money and they love to flaunt it. Upper class citizens are viewed to have the upper hand when compared to the middle and the lower classes; they have better opportunities and are able to live extravagant lifestyles. The middle class is comprised of college-educated individuals employed in white collar industries. These white collar workers can be found performing professional, managerial or administrative duties. The middle class citizens have the luxury of sitting down at a desk or cubicle for the majority of their work day. In my opinion, the middle class citizens are the “average” people. They do well enough to get by and live a nice life, but still manage to face hardships along the way. The lower class is defined as the working poor or the unemployed underclass. The citizens in the lower class that are fortunate to have an occupation are generally classified as blue –collar workers which means that rather than sitting at a desk, they are doing manual labor for pay. The lower class citizens that are unable to find work are at an extreme loss because they have no source of income, which forces them even further down in the socioeconomic class system. Together, these socioeconomic classes help to form the United States economic system. Without these socioeconomic classes, the United States economy would be extremely unbalanced and much less diverse.

Karl Marx “was a revolutionary German economist and philosopher, and the founder of the Communist movement. Marx was writing against a backdrop of great industrial change.” (In the excerpt from Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”, Marx declares that history is a series of class struggles and revolutionary upheavals. Marx states that the struggle is between two socioeconomic classes within the Communist regime, the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie. Marx defines the Proletariat as the wage- workers who fuel the Communist party. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Bourgeoisie, they are considered the upper class citizens. The members of the Bourgeoisie own all the means of production which exploits the Proletariat. The Proletariat does not enjoy being exploited. In the end, the socioeconomic class with the most power is the Proletariat, I’m sure you were thinking otherwise. Allow me to explain… even through the Bourgeoisie controls all the means of production, that does not mean that they have all the power too. In fact, the Bourgeoisie is actually the minority. The majority of the citizens in the Communist regime fall under the title of Proletariat. The simple fact is that the Proletariat could easily overthrow the Bourgeoisie simply by refusing to work as a whole. The Bourgeoisie is unable to control the entire mass of citizens solely by controlling all means of production. In a way, without the work of the Proletariat, the citizens of the Bourgeoisie would not be able to live their lavish lifestyles. The way I see it, the members of the Proletariat are basically enslaved to the Bourgeoisie, but if the “slaves” refused to work, then the entire system would fall apart. The British Library’s background on Karl Marx’s, Communist Manifesto, further proves my stance when they state,” Marx believed that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. He described how the wealth of the bourgeoisie depended on the work of the proletariat. Therefore, capitalism requires an underclass. But Marx predicted that the continued exploitation of this underclass would create great resentment. Eventually the proletariat would lead a revolution against the bourgeoisie. The final struggle would lead to the overthrow of capitalism and its supporters. Marx wrote that modern bourgeois society ‘is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the neither world whom he has called up by his spells.” I agree with Marx. The Proletariat and Bourgeoisie system is flawed. How could it be that the “powerful” people actually have no power at all? When Marx states, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” he is completely accurate. Those that are oppressed wish to not be oppressed and those that are not oppressed wish to stay that way. As you can see, there will always be a lower class and their struggle to no longer be a part of the lower class will always be the challenge.

Think about comparing the American socioeconomic classes to those of the Communist regime. The Proletariat compares to the lower class while the Bourgeoisie compares to the upper class. Those two comparisons are completely accurate, however, where would the middle class fit in? If you were to take the definitions of Proletariat and Bourgeoisie quite literally, then you would understand that the structure of the middle class is more along the lines of the Proletariat rather than the Bourgeoisie. The citizens in the middle class have some of the same luxuries as those in the Bourgeoisie, but they must also work in order to provide for themselves and their families. Due to the fact that they must work, I believe that the middle class citizens fall into the Proletariat category. My reasoning is because the middle class citizens in the United States economy are forced to work. Although they are in higher class jobs compared to manual labor jobs of the lower class, they still answer to an employer. I view the employer as the Bourgeoisie and the employees as the Proletariat. The employer provides the work for the employees to complete which parallels with the Bourgeoisie controlling the means of production for the Proletariat. If the employees were to stop working or go on strike for example, their “powerful” bosses would be left completely powerless. This reasoning could be why when workers go on strike they generally end up winning the argument because the employers need them.
Overall, on the surface, the middle class in the United States economic system seems very difficult to translate into the Communist regime; however, a case can be made to say that it actually can fit in. Looking at the specifications of each social class, it can be determined that, yes, the middle class does share a significant amount of characteristics with the Proletariat. Although the United States economy and the Communist regime share many blaring differences, there are still some small characteristics that uniquely resemble each other. As one can see, history truly is “a series of class struggles”. The quest to not be oppressed is the challenge for many lower class citizens to overcome. By understanding the characteristics of each socioeconomic class in the United States, one may be able to compare those characteristics to those of another system such as the Communist regime for example. By learning that the Proletariat actually has the ability to overcome their oppression and over throw the Bourgeoisie should give hope to all of those attempting to overcome their own oppression.

“Main Page.” Wikimedia Commons. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
“Proletariat.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
“Social Class – Definition.” Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
“Social Class in the United States.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
“The Communist Manifesto – Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.” The Communist Manifesto – Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.


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