Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ainda a questão de quem é "classe média"

Money, class & power, por Chris Dillow:

It’s being widely claimed that the cut in child benefit for higher-rate taxpayers will lead to “real hardship” for the “middle-middle class.”
My immediate reaction to this is: get a grip. A two-adult, two-child household with an income of £50,000 a year is better off than 63% of the population. You can call this middle if you like, but I doubt if a fund manager who out-performs 63% of his peers would advertise his performance as middling.

Why, then, do we think of such people - and those earning significantly more - as “middle class”?
Isto faz lembrar a discussão entre o Luis Aguiar-Conraria, a Fernanda Câncio e participantes conexos sobre quem é classe média. No entanto Dillow faz outra observação:
But I suspect that something else is going on as well. The reason we don’t describe people on relatively high incomes as upper-class is that they lack something a true upper-class has - power.
Many - most - people on around £50,000 a year lack control over their fate. They are vulnerable to the sack; they can’t choose how long they work (it’s a cliché that “middle class” women are frowned upon if they take time off to look after the kids); and presenteeism traps them into long commutes.

In these respects quite high earners have more in common with minimum wage workers than they do with (some? many?) bosses.

What we think of as the “middle class” is instead - to borrow Erik Olin Wright’s phrase - a contradictory class location. Such people score highly for incomes, but lowly for power.

This, though, raises questions. Why is there so little political demand among the “middle class” for greater empowerment at work? Why are such people so reluctant to identify themselves with others who also lack power?
Uma possível resposta é que não há nenhum movimento significativo para dar poder aos trabalhadores no local de trabalho (o que a maior parte da esquerda actual defende é que o despotismo supostamente malevolente dos patrões seja compensado pelo despotismo supostamente benevolente do Estado), assim como é que a classe média se poderia identificar com esse movimento (inexistente) mesmo que quisesse?
Por outro lado, movimentos que pretendem efectivamente dar poder aos trabalhadores, como os anarquistas e os comunistas de conselhos (poderiamos também incluir os trotskistas, quando estes defendiam o controle operário em vez de funcionarem como uma espécie de social-democratas subsitutos) realmente costumvam ser relativamente populares entre a classe média (ou pelos menos entre as suas crias).

[Publicado também no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]