Does class standing make you rich?

Or other way around?

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By Jim Bowman


Class determines wealth except when it doesn't, and thereby falls the Marxian analysis, says Joseph Schumpeter in his 1942 book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.

"Obvious and indisputable" facts of history "do not show on the Marxian canvas" because of their "un-Marxian implications." But Marx can't ignore the "distant past" if he means to demonstrate class warfare as essential to the human condition. The problem is that

class positions, though in most cases reflected in more or less corresponding economic positions, are more often the cause than the consequence of [economic success]: business achievement is obviously not . . . the only avenue to social eminence and only where it is can ownership of means of production . . . determine a group's position in the social structure. [italics mine]

In this which-came-first scenario, in other words, economic dominance — owning the means of production — has not always dictated lord-of-the-manner standing.

Moreover, becoming a capitalist (or proletarian) is not a "once for all" phenomenon. This is "not only utterly unrealistic . . . but it misses the salient point about social classes—the incessant rise and fall of individual families into and out of the upper strata."

Nouveau riche and social climbers we call the up-and-comers, shabby genteel the once-up-now-downers.

"I've been rich, I've been poor," said the red-hot-mama songstress. "Rich is better."

Email: Twitter: @BlitheSp

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