Cross-Class alliances: Subverting capitalist class structure by re-imaging democracy, social justice activism, and class institutions
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This thesis explores the immense potential inherent in alliances between socio-economic classes. Such cross-class alliances defy capitalist class structure, a social system which compels people to fortify their differences. Expanding upon anti-capitalist theorists, I perceive cross-class alliances as an exercise that would assist anti-capitalist movements by promoting change that does not perpetuate injustice. Simultaneously, the forces which create class divides are exposed. Cross-class alliances also encourage the transformation of class consciousness, which is necessary to critically confront the injustices of capitalism. The effects of cross-class alliances would benefit the realms of democracy, social justice activism, and class institutions. Although democracy purports to be the ultimate alliance of social classes, it does not function as such within the more powerful system of U.S. capitalism. To what extent can democracy be actualized as cross-class action despite social cleavages which stratify participation? Likewise, how can cross-class alliances assist social change through activism when the activist identities tend to form around exclusive identity politics? Activist and coalition-builder Fred Rose proposes a technique of expanding language; for example, middle-class environmentalists should expand their definition of a healthy environment to include decent-wage jobs for all and freedom from inner-city violence. Finally, cross-class alliances play a crucial role in re-imagining class institutions such as higher education. Academia reproduces and accommodates the capitalist class system by maintaining the professional-managerial class. Through alliances with low-income organizations, can academia undermine its role as a perpetuator of capitalist class norms? Fostering a culture of cross-class action will help U.S. society re-imagine and therefore re-create the realms of democracy, activism, and class institutions in ways which subvert the existing class structure.