3. Classes and Class Struggle in the US
A. The Class Structure of US Society
US society is divided into two main classes: capitalists (bourgeoisie) and wage-workers (proletariat). As Marx and Engels explained in the Communist Manifesto: “By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. By proletariat, the class of modern wage laborers, who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor-power in order to live.” In addition to these two main classes, there are also the gentry, the petty-bourgeoisie, the oppressed masses, and the lumpen proletariat.
The bourgeoisie - the parasitic exploiter class - owns the majority of the means of production and distribution, does no productive labor but lives off the surplus value extracted from labor power. A bourgeois who employs 50 or more wage laborers belongs to a class that comprises less than 2% of the population and is dominated by the monopoly capitalists, a strata of several hundred thousand who have concentrated and centralized ownership and control of the largest and most important sectors of industry agriculture, and finance. The seat of economic and political power of the monopoly capitalists lies in the financial oligarchy, a select and tiny group of representatives from the leading monopolist factions and allied circles that subjugate the key levers of the state to implement their rule.
Between the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie falls the gentry - the servile class - consisting of those who “work” for the capitalists by administering the exploitation and oppression of the proletariat and broad masses. Among them are the big executives, technocrats, professional hypocrites (politicians), government bureaucrats, corporate lawyers, etc., that comprise less than 5% of the working population. Because they are highly over-paid, they can turn their huge earnings into capital, and thus come close to achieving the social status of a bourgeois. But also in this class are large numbers of the much lower-paid middle-managers, supervisors, nonworking-foremen, and other “bosses” - the inferior gentry - that are delegated the role of implementing and overseeing the policies designed by their superiors to exploit the toilers to the maximum and are given certain “privileges” for their dirty work.
The petty-bourgeoisie - the “independent” class - is a large and diverse class that occupies an intermediate position between the proletariat and bourgeoisie and distinguishes itself by possessing its own means to earn a living and, therefore not compelled to sell its labor power directly to the capitalists. The petty-bourgeoisie includes farmers, merchants and other entrepreneurs, tradesmen and handicraftsmen; professionals, such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, technicians; writers, artists, musicians, and other intellectuals. The class itself can be divided into upper, middle, and lower strata, depending on wealth, from the “rich” to the impoverished.
By far the largest class is the proletariat - the working class - which has no other means to live than by selling its labor power. At the heart of this class is the industrial proletariat, which is directly involved in the production in the factories, mills, and mines. Today the industrial proletariat comprises only about 14% of the working class, down from 26% in 1979 and 41% in 1947. Presently, the majority of workers are employed in the service and technical industries, health and education, and in the administrative / auxiliary sectors of business and government.
The oppressed masses are actually idle or incapacitated workers, chronically unemployed due to capitalism’s general crisis and societal decay. Poverty stricken, they are mainly concentrated in the run-down sections of the inner city, the depressed rural areas and suburban districts.
As US capitalism continues to degenerate, criminal activities increase, leading to the steady growth of the lumpen proletariat -the "dangerous class" - made up of gangsters, drug-runners, pimps, prostitutes, and other social scum that do not earn a living legally. A significant section of lumpen, known as “organized crime,” or "street gangs" are mechanisms of the subterranean neo-fascist state. Large numbers of this section are employed in various roles to suppress the working class and people, for example, as thugs to terrorize the labor movement and as traffickers of psychiatric drugs used to pacify and stupefy the oppressed while degrading the culture of the masses generally.
B. The Class Struggle: Forces of Revolution and Counter-Revolution
The major antagonistic contradiction in US society is between its two main classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, between exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed. This contradiction is expressed in the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, and this struggle is the powerful lever for transforming capitalist society into Socialism and, ultimately, Communism. As the revolutionary class, the proletariat stands out among all other classes as the main and leading force to effect this transformation. However, it strives to liberate not only itself but all other classes oppressed by capital through realizing its historic mission of establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat and constructing Socialism.
Standing with the proletariat as allies of the revolution within the US are the lower strata of the petty-bourgeoisie and the oppressed masses. Allies outside of the country include the international proletariat and all anti-imperialist and democratic forces fighting with the working class in a common revolutionary front against world imperialism and the US “new world order.”
Classes opposed to the revolution are the bourgeoisie headed by the financial oligarchy and defended by the neo-fascist state, the gentry, and the lumpen proletariat. Particularly dangerous enemies of the working class struggles are the counter-revolutionary forces of the subterranean state, from the white supremacists, neo-nazis, gangster elements, and the so-called "religious extremists" on the “right” to the fifth column social-fascist, labor-fascist, liberal-fascist, trotskyite, and other anti-worker units on the “left.”
The middle and upper petty-bourgeoisie are a vacillating strata that, in the main, cannot be relied on to firmly support the revolution. The proletariat takes special account of their disposition and circumstances to temporarily win them over or at least neutralize them so they will not become a reserve of the bourgeoisie in the class struggle.