Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Stratification and Such
Stratification, by textbook definition, involves the “hierarchical or vertical division of society according to rank, caste, or class.” Relating to Marxist principles, essentially, stratification is the division of society as a result of economic factors into classes. Stratification is most prevalent in industrialized nations and developed nations. As Marx would point out, the social structures of stratified societies always provide for disparities between the various sects, classes, and/or ranks. The aforementioned disparities manifest themselves as inequality, usually in the form of unequal distribution of wealth, for we know that those who control the wealth also maintain socio-political power over those who don’t. In this sense, there is a direct correlation between stratification and inequality as a result of unequal distribution of wealth. Those who belong to the upper echelon directly and indirectly manipulate those of lower socio-economic standing.
As it stands today, we have a difference in opinions that are hard held on both sides of the spectrum, and these opposing opinions are very frequently held by people at opposite ends of the social strata. An example of the bourgeoisie trying to maintain the power balance in their favor is the economic strategy of “trickle down economics.” This system, though it looks functional on paper is a flawed because of the proven fact that consumer spending stimulates an economy, NOT giving tax breaks and welfare to corporate entities with the hope of job creation and economic growth trickling down to the average folks, (for example). Simply put, America’s working and poor classes spend about 98% and 100% of their incomes. What percentage of their income is spend by the wealthy, you ask? The answer: a comparatively minuscule 30%! This causes problems. It widens the income gap, makes rich people richer, and poor people poorer, it does nothing to help less fortunate people that desperately need it, and it fuels the frustration of America's poor and working poor.
As Marx put it, “capitalism causes internal tensions within a society.” While these tensions lead to things such as the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, they can also lead to violent protest as we are seeing with the events in Ferguson, MO. The gist is of the matter is that we should stop talking about the “thugs” that are inciting violence in these protests and instead talk about the factors that are causing their frustration, their alienation. To be more specific, people are angry about the chaos that is allowed to fester in their communities. This chaos is the direct result of the accumulated rage of folks in these communities not having access to higher paying jobs, huge income gaps between people and their inherently more privileged neighbors, media exploitation of minority groups (especially people of color), inadequate instruction and inferior education materials in their schools, not having access to adequate housing and reliance on government programs just to get by, not having adequate police protection, and generally not being able to live like their more privileged counterparts. These are quantifiable problems that are not real to many of us because of our privilege. People seem to have developed a reflex in response to situations like this...it’s almost reflexive for us to shrug off marginalized people and blame them for their own shortcomings...it’s almost reflexive for us to dismiss the Ferguson protesters as aimless “thugs,” but we must cure ourselves of this reflex and realize that the rage of the Ferguson protesters is silently shared by many of our fellow Americans. Let’s get to righting some of the wrongs being done to our very own people. Let’s make things more equitable for ALL people!