On the 25th of October The New York Times reported that the number of people living in poverty in the suburbs has more than doubled since 2000. This unprecedented increase in poverty in what was a symbol of the middle class shows the acute contradictions of capitalism becoming more and more stark. Suburbs for a long time have been a symbol of the supposed greatness of American capitalism, the so-called proof that the capitalist system does not leave the masses in poverty. At least that was how it was presented to us.
“The increase in the suburbs was 53 percent, compared with 26 percent in cities. The recession accelerated the pace: two-thirds of the new suburban poor were added from 2007 to 2010.”
– New York Times, Oct. 25th
The middle class was original built upon and maintained by the exploitation of the Third World. In the 1900s to 1950s the reality of a class based system could not be ignored. The gap between rich and poor was stark, it was simply undeniable. This gave rise to the class antagonisms that threatened to destroy American society as it was known. The bourgeoisie had just about completed creating their own grave diggers, to put it as Marx would have. This is to say nothing of the longstanding racial and gender inequality, which also had an impact.
In order to combat this impending destruction of the ruling class, a third class was created, the middle class. A wealthier group of workers was created in order to provide a cushion between the rich and the poor. If the poor wanted to rise up against the wealthy elite, they had to go through a wealthier group of proletarians first. This successfully created a huge section of the working class that was willing to work against its own interests. The capitalist class had managed to build a nice protective barrier between itself and its class enemy.
To build this divide it required two parts to make a whole. First it was necessary to increase the wealth of a section of the working class, not as high as the ruling elites, but enough to create a class divide between them and the rest of the workers. This is the time when white-collar jobs became, more often, better paying jobs. The advancement of management and the necessity of positions like advisers, salesmen, middle management, coordinators, provided the new middle class with employment.
This set the physical structure for a new class. All that was needed now was to create an increased living stand through the perpetuation of frivolous (and some not) luxury commodities. The problem was making these commodities affordable to the middle class. It was also at this time that the benefits of outsourcing labour were discovered. This meant that those “incentivizing” commodities could be made affordable and increase production profits simultaneously. Now the barrier between not only the working class and the elite had been built, but a barrier between the working class and the middle class had been built as well. A genius tactic that turned a part of the exploited class against itself.
It was at this point that the Third World was beginning to be the new source of exploitation, one that soon allowed even some of the poorest of the working class in the First World to be able to afford luxuries. The advancement of the middle and lower class came at the expense of the Third World. That is why anytime a Third World nation begins to develop, it weakens its ties with the Western powers. These eventuality turn into instances where the country must be invaded under the pretext of it being for the good of its own people. This has happened countless times in the past and threatens to do so again with Venezuela. Venezuela has developed on its own away from capitalism and cut its poverty rate in half.
This new revelation about poverty among the suburbs clearly demonstrates that this exploitation of the Third World isn’t enough anymore. It is also a stark indication that the buffer between the rich and the poor is shrinking. As the middle class sinks further impoverishment, the acute contradictions of capitalism will make themselves more visible. The disappearance of the middle class is the only thing that will finally make them realize they are not special, they are not more virtuous and that the ruling class doesn’t care about them. Then hopefully they realize their their fate is bound up with those in the class that they perceive to be lower than them.