Title: So what is “CLASS” anyway?
Topics: class, introductory
Source: Retrieved on 28th October 2021 from struggle.ws
Notes: Published in Freedom, a South African anarchist magzine that was one of the groups that formed the Workers Soldarity Federation.

CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS: Knowing which side you’re on.

CLASS ANALYSIS: Knowing who’s there with you.

For those people who don’t understand what we mean by “class”, and for those who have been misled by people who want you to think that they are on your side, to get you to trust and follow them, we give this basic outline of what we mean by “class”. This analysis does not include the privileged offspring of the Middle and Ruling class, who still have more power than an average working class person. This power includes security and access to money or work and being able to gain respect from those in authority by knowing the values, attitudes, self-confidence and assertiveness that goes with a middle class upbringing.

— The Ruling Class —

SIZE: absolute maximum of 5% (probably much less) of population.


Examples of Capitalists: owners of companies and major shareholders, executive and managing directors of the top companies, bankers, senior managers of investment and insurance companies, stockbrokers, property and landowners, not forgetting the parasites sitting in parliament.

Examples of State Managers: top civil service managers in national and local government, cabinet ministers, judges and law lords, staff officers of the armed forces, police chiefs, high level advisors such as some economists and top academics, and of course church leaders.

FUNCTION: to maintain their own and their class’s domination over society. Their favourite method is ‘divide and rule’; notably setting whites against blacks and other ‘races’ against each other, called racism; setting men against women, called sexism and setting worker against worker. Of course these divisions do not apply to the Ruling Class. They are intended only for Working Class consumption. The morals, rules and laws of the Ruling Class do not apply to themselves, their purpose is to keep us in our place. The strategy of the Ruling Class is to keep their class united and ours divided.

The Ruling Classes compete fiercely with each other for markets, resources and political power. War between nation-states and civil war is often the result.

— The Middle Class —

SIZE: about 20% of population.

IDENTITY: journalists, doctors, officers in the armed forces, researchers; management: in manufacture, sales, distribution and service industries; small employers (i.e. small capitalists), social workers, vicars and priests of the various religions, teachers, etc.

FUNCTION: to manage the Working Class in the interests of the Ruling Class. To ensure the smooth running of capitalist society. To watch out for potential crisis in capitalism and work out avoiding action. To manufacture popular ‘culture’: including music, fashion, philosophy, opera and TV.

To provide technical skills for capitalism and the State in the realm of production and especially management.

To research into different methods of production and social organisation for instance ‘green’ economics or ‘communes’. To promote ideas that keep us divided like racism and sexism by means of the media, education and religion that they control. To explain and justify the existing organisation of society. To divert our energy into harmless activity that is called reformism e.g. feminism, ecology, trade unions — activities which at best only change the face of misery and will not do anything to change the fundamental nature of society.

— The Working Class —

SIZE: at least 75% of the population.

IDENTITY: The quickest way of describing our class is to say that they are everyone who is not in the Middle and Ruling Classes! This is not just a smart arse remark. In general the Working Class are people who live by their labour; the ownership of property that generates wealth is a dividing line. If you have enough property or money not to have to work then you are not Working Class. The other part of class identity is ‘social power’ i.e. having access to opportunities to improve your position within the system. The Working Class does not have power. We are the ones who are told what to do. As a class we are defined by the activities of Capitalism and the State, and the two classes that benefit most from the status-quo; the Ruling Class and the Middle Class.

THE WORKING CLASS IS DEFINED NOT BY WHAT WE DO BUT BY WHAT IS DONE TO US. WE ARE THE CREATION OF CAPITALISM. This is not to say that we are powerless, far from it. Huge amounts of effort and money are devoted to keeping us in our place. The Working Class are the only people who can destroy Capitalism and the State, and build a better world for everyone. Because our work is at the centre of everyday practical economic activity in capitalism it would be fair to say that it all depends on whether or not we want to ‘play the game’.

Examples: factory workers, distribution workers in road, rail, air and sea, retail workers in shops, construction and building, service industries such as leisure, cleaning, catering and the finance industry up to section supervisors. Agricultural workers, workers in the chemicals, printing, steel, drugs, mining, electronics, engineering industries, many of the self-employed e.g. bricklayers, plasterers, truck drivers etc., nurses, secretaries, bank clerks, computer operators, soldiers up to NCO level, the unemployed, the poor, the destitute — those of no property.