Income Inequality and the New Class Warfare
Income inequality could be the most destructive force in the United States today because it can trigger class warfare by pitting Americans against each other. What’s truly frightening is that this New Class Warfare goes far beyond the simple rich vs. poor or the majority vs. one percent paradigm that the Neo Marxists keep warning us about.
Instead, the new class warfare often involves conflicts between middle and even working class Americans over the limited money and resources available to them. Average people are literally fighting over the scraps that fall off the one percent’s table.
Class Warfare in Colorado
A prime example of this is occurring in Costilla County, Colorado, a dusty backwater that lies just north of the New Mexico state line in the San Luis Valley. The once peaceful community has been thrown into complete disarray by the arrival of hundreds of mostly poor newcomers, Colorado Public Radio, or CPR, reported.
The newcomers are young, largely white, working class people that want to grow marijuana and homestead on the very cheap land that’s available in the county. Lots in the area can sell for as little as $3,250, The Denver Post reported. These lots, which have no electricity or water and sometimes no road access, are the only property those young people can afford.
“People who come out here have already been through a lot,” newcomer Chloe Everhart told CPR. “For a lot of us, there’s not much of a home to go back to. … What’s next could be under a bridge in Denver.”
Everhart and her husband, Hyrum Jenson, are trying to build a home on their land. They were camping out on their land while building their home, but they may have to leave because Costilla County has effectively banned camping on such lots by placing a moratorium on camping permits. That drives out many newcomers that cannot afford to stay at hotels or rent a place while they build their homes.
The county’s commissioners were also considering requiring people to have water, electricity, and septic tanks to get building permits, CPR reported. Those are middle class amenities that many of the new residents simply cannot afford. A later CPR report indicated the county government had backed down on the regulation changes, possibly because of bad publicity.
A routine county commissioners meeting in which the issue was discussed led to a shouting match on the street outside the Costilla County courthouse. During the fracas, longtime residents, mostly working class Hispanics, jeered newcomers as they were arrested by sheriff’s deputies.
A video of the melee shows deputies threatening to use TASERs on protestors and newcomers, mostly young hipsters, being arrested for little or no reason. One of the protestors on the video complains about government, but the real reason for the conflict appears to be class warfare triggered by income inequality.
Long-term residents want to protect and preserve their middle-class lifestyle at all costs, while newcomers want access to the kind of life their parents and grandparents took for granted. One has to wonder if this is a preview of a situation that will soon be occurring all over America in a wide variety of communities.
Sudden Influx of the Poor
The battle will consist of the poor vs. the working class or, worse, the poor vs. the poor. The poverty of the newcomers in Costilla County is also disturbing.
“Kids are coming to school [who have] no access to running water, no access to proper toilets, no access to laundry,” Costilla County’s Chief Administrative Officer Ben Doon said of the newcomers in a CPR interview. Costilla County is dealing with a sudden influx of severely poor people, and the results are disturbing.
One has to wonder when such conflicts will spiral out of control into violence. Will people be shot, or will the modern-day homesteaders find themselves getting burned out by ranchers?
Particularly disturbing is the behavior of the increasingly militarized law enforcement in rural America. The video from Costilla County shows sheriff’s deputies in black uniforms that look more like big city cops or Stormtroopers from a British science fiction show than Andy and Barney. The deputies—big, tough-looking Hispanic men—were willing to use TASERs (electric stun guns) to enforce order and seemed dismissive of the protesters’ basic rights.
My prediction is that it will not be long before one of these altercations between militaristic cops and poor hipsters in some small Western town results in a fatality or fatalities. Particularly bothersome is the probability that many of the deputies and newcomers are veterans of the U.S. military and recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the newcomers are veterans with PTSD, who are trying to create a life for themselves. When will some deputy or officer shoot down one of his army buddies?
The Majority of Americans Are No Longer Middle Class
Some other frightening aspects of class warfare and income inequality are highlighted over at one of our most thoughtful publications: The American Conservative.
The most disturbing conclusion there is that most Americans can no longer afford the traditional trappings of a “middle class lifestyle,” such as cars, a house, health insurance, summer camp for the kids, etc. In this bothersome article, author and investment expert Charles Hugh Smith estimates that it would cost around $120,000 to pay for a typical middle-class lifestyle for a family of four in today’s economy. Yet the average household income is around $53,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
You can see the recipe for class warfare here. Most Americans can no longer afford the American Dream. The potential for social unrest and violence, particularly from those that fall through the cracks, is great. One result is open class warfare, often with ugly racial overtones.
Class Warfare and Race
In two posts, another intelligent American Conservative writer, Rod Dreher, points out an obvious truth that the media has been ignoring and possibly trying to suppress: the Charleston Church shootings that so perturbed the nation in June were as much an act of class warfare as they were of racism.
The alleged killer of nine people at a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is Dylann Roof, a poor white man who comes from a broken home. Dreher points to a very disturbing Washington Post feature that chronicles the lifestyle of the Meeks, a poor white family, in whose trailer Roof stayed for several weeks leading up to the massacre.
In the trailer, Joseph Meek Jr., age 21, and his brothers, Justin and Jacob, spent their days playing violent video games and doing little else. There is little else for the family, which has little money, to do. The Meeks’ only other activity was apparently drinking. There is no mention of jobs, education, or the future in The Post piece, only video games. Here is a frightening description of the Meeks’ home from The Post:
“There are no books here, no magazines, and the wood-paneled walls are bare. A stained blue towel hangs over the window in the door. The only furniture in the living room is the couch, two side tables and a metal stool positioned in front of the TV, which is wired to two large speakers and the Xbox that one of the Meek brothers is always playing.”
Roof apparently told the Meeks of his plans to shoot up the church, and they did nothing. He even showed them the Glock automatic pistol identified as the murder weapon. Yet nobody called police and told them what Roof was planning.
Joseph Meek has now been arrested for failing to cooperate with police and making false statements to investigators, NBC News reported. Yet his arrest has not been covered by the media, possibly because it raises disturbing questions the chattering classes are afraid to ask.
One reason why the Meeks did not turn Roof in was class solidarity because to poor people, police officers are the enemy. The cops are the guys with the badges that come and hassle you when you break a rule you did not understand or care about, such as driving with a broken tail light or smoking marijuana. Respect for law and order and support for the police are middle-class concepts that are alien to the Meeks, much as they are alien to poor blacks in the inner city.
Targeting the Middle Class
Dylann Roof’s action can be seen as class warfare because of those he targeted. He did not gun down young black men on the street or shoot at drug dealers. Instead, Roof deliberately chose an AME Church—a middle-class institution full of successful black people who had the lifestyle he lacked. Roof was lashing out at the prosperous middle class as much as he was attacking African Americans.
My guess is that we are likely to see many more such outrages in the years ahead as dispossessed Americans of all races and backgrounds take out their rage at the system. The ideological claims of these attackers will be diverse; some will turn to racism to justify their violence, others to Marxism, Communism, anarchism, or some perversion of Islam to excuse their terrorism, but the motivation will be the same: anger and frustration created by poverty.
Another similarity is that these attackers will target the symbols or institutions of a middle-class lifestyle that is now out of their reach. They will aim their bombs and guns at churches, shopping malls, colleges, movie theaters, country clubs, public libraries, department stores, insurance offices, real estate agencies, mortgage brokerages, banks, car dealerships, public schools, and anything else that smells of money or middle-class conformity.
England’s Class Warfare Is America’s Future
The next logical escalation of this will be organized violence such as is already occurring in London. There, riot police had to be called out to protect a cereal café, a small business that caters to the affluent, from a mob of self-styled anti-gentrification protestors, The Guardian reported. Members of the mob threw cereal, paint, and smoke bombs at the café and tried to break in even though it was full of customers, including families with children.
The mob, which was apparently composed of working-class Brits, attacked The Cereal Killer Café, a small family business owned by the Keery brothers, who are also working-class Brits. Here is the new class warfare in a nutshell: those who have nothing attacking those who have a little.
According to The Guardian, the attack was organized by an anarchist hate group called the Class War Party that used tactics reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan. Its members wore masks and carried torches just like the Klan. Class War issued this communique to justify its actions:
“We don’t want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing. We don’t want pop-up gin bars or brioche buns, we want community.”
It also issued a rambling, hate-filled diatribe blaming Jews, Arabs, Russians, Americans, gays, and the British upper class for the dispossession of the English working class. What’s truly scary is Class War’s website; if this is not hate speech, I do not know what is. The question is not if but when this kind of violence will spread to America.
This is the new class warfare, folks. It is ugly, and it will only get worse in the years ahead. If our leaders continue to ignore income inequality, the body count will only grow higher and higher as our society unravels, pitting Americans against each other in a brutal struggle for economic survival.