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The Last Stage of the Middle Class

by Robert Kurz
Money capital is fleeing into the speculative financial markets because investments in new factories have become unprofitable. While growing parts of society are impoverished or even impoverished outside of production, only a simulative accumulation of capital through financial bubbles takes place...
[This is an excerpt of Robert Kurz' "The Last Stage of the Middle Class. From the classical petty bourgeoisie to universal human capital," Sept 2004. https://exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=schwerpunkte&index=4&posnr=151&backtext1=text1.php.]

...In the crisis and throughout the crisis, a structural change in capitalist society takes place once again, which dissolves the old, seemingly clear social situations. The core of the crisis lies precisely in the fact that the new productive forces of microelectronics are melting down labor and thus the substance of capital itself. The increasing reduction of the industrial working class creates less and less real surplus value. Money capital is fleeing into the speculative financial markets because investments in new factories have become unprofitable. While growing parts of society are impoverished or even impoverished outside of production, only a simulative accumulation of capital through financial bubbles takes place...

This is logically nothing new, because this development has shaped global capitalism for two decades. What is new, however, is that the middle class in the Western countries is now also coming under the wheels. The American essayist Barbara Ehrenreich had already published a book in 1989 about "the middle class's fear of the crash"...

The crisis of real industrial exploitation led deeper and deeper into the financial crisis of the state. Suddenly, many areas that had previously been considered proud achievements appeared as unnecessary luxuries and ballast.

The keyword of the "lean state" made the rounds; funds for education and culture, health care and numerous other public institutions have been slashed; the dismantling of the welfare state began. In large enterprises, too, entire sectors of skilled activity fell victim to rationalization. Due to the crash of the New Economy, even the qualifications of many high-tech specialists have been devalued. Today it can no longer be overlooked that the rise of the new middle class did not have an independent capitalist basis but was dependent on the social redistribution of surplus value from the industrial sectors. To the same extent that the real social production of surplus value enters a structural crisis as a result of the 3rd Industrial Revolution, the secondary areas of the new middle class are gradually being deprived of the breeding ground.

The result is not only a growing unemployment of academics. Through privatization and outsourcing, the "human capital" of qualifications is also devalued within employment and degraded in status. Intellectual day laborers, cheap workers and miserable entrepreneurs as "freelancers" in the media, private universities, law firms or private clinics are no longer exceptions, but the rule...
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