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A permanent underclass is required for the United States' capitalist machine to function

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,051 times Debate No: 67196
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
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The capitalist market must have an underclass to provide labor and be the consumer. There is no night without day. The upper class requires an opposite to serve as a measuring stick of their arbitrary class stratification system.


I would like to counter this assertion if I may.

The American capitalist market differs little from other models including the European in that it requires a balanced stratification of labour classes, however this does not validate a claim that any section in particular should be an "under" class per se.

Presumably the underclass to which you refer would be the working class, which would indeed be required to provide labour, but does not everyone gainfully employed in some way apply their labour to that job? Does not an affluent banker "labour" for his wage as much as a street sweeper? Perhaps you mean "manual" labour. Why is it, then, that a street sweeper who may toil longer and harder than the banker be paid so much less? Upon what basis should a wage be determined? One might evade any ethical or pragmatic philosophical considerations by dismissively asserting the market as arbiter, but I could demonstrate its fallacy if you wished to resort to this platitude.

As for an under-class to be consumers, here again no more so than any upper-class, but by contrast, an underclass would consume less were they not more affluent. As for being permanently constrained under the authoritarian boot of a ruling class above " what then of aspiration to rise to the upper-class and, indeed, the "American Dream"? Is it indeed nought but a dream and just as ephemeral?

One class need not measure its affluence by the poverty of those below, for classes have existed since feudal times yet never has the gap between rich and poor been as great as it is now, and never more so than in America. Maybe the measuring stick is broken.

I could even dispute that there cannot be night without day, for in Antarctica right now it is permanent day, and beyond the bounds of the solar system it is permanent night, but that"s mere sophistry. :-)

Thank you and I look forward to hearing your views on these points.
Debate Round No. 1


Indeed, sophistry actually alludes to the basis of my argument. As the Sophos were accustomed to using any platform of argument to take advantage of less savvy audiences. To what end-why money of course. Education itself in the United States and abroad has been used as a means of promoting an elitist mindset. European women in the soon to be United States were not allowed to attend schools until the 19th century. Whereas, the first schools were developed in the 1600's for European males. At that time, the indigenous Americans were being brutally and savagely slaughtered by these supposedly 'civil' European invaders who deemed all native and indigenous peoples to be savages. These same 'discoverers' of a 'New World' that was already occupied went on to violate mostly every treaty that was ever formed between them an the original American inhabitants. The United States was admittedly founded for affluent landowners.
Education itself, historically and to this day, is used as one method of validating and maintaining a hierarchal class structure. This is one of the reasons for the differences in the quality of education between public and private schools. This education is really training or brainwashing as it serves to install a subservient mindset into those forced to attend by compulsory statute. Currently, this hypocrisy can be seen most evidently in colleges and universities where the status of one's education is based on quantity of money spent to attain the degree rather than the quality of the education received or the ability of a student to illustrate their comprehension of knowledge.
As for wages received by workers, I think it is disingenuous for one to suggest that a street sweeper and a banker labor equally. Wages are arbitrarily set by the elitist paradigm in accordance to what they deem valuable or amusing. They are also used as a way to give structure and credence to the hierarchy. Wage slavery, as it is called, has been called "a system of slavery as absolute if not as degrading as that which lately prevailed at the South"
The true determinant of 'class' in the United States is one's pre existing wealth and their access to resources. In the United States, arbitrary constructs such as race and false factors such as gender are used to distract the mass' attention away from the agenda being used by the affluent minority to control wealth and regulate access to resources. These are used as buffer classes to keep the 'upper' class separated and keep the 'lower' classes arguing about trivial mattersand competing for what amounts to crumbs on the table.
Class is also maintained by subtlety so as to publicly proclaim a system of justice while secretly practice nepotism, classism, etc.
As for the American dream, it has always been achieved by creating a nightmare for some other group of people. It is now dangled like a carrot in front of the naive to keep them working hard without questioning the inherent flaws and injustices present in the system.
An underclass is required by capitalism to allow the wealthy to maintain their standard of living. When is the last time you have seen a wealthy person sweeping streets or flipping burgers for wages? Quite simply the upper class creates a surplus of resources and overprice them to sell to those in need. Thus living off of the sweat of others. This is where the term sweatshop comes from...and why a pair of Nike's costs about $15 to make but can cost astronomical amounts to buy.
As for night without day...even in Antarctica there is an eventual night. Beyond the bounds of the solar system there are still stars to provide definition to the darkness you are calling night.


Thank you for your reply, however much of what you write appears to be a potentially screwed historical interpretation of *how* a class imbalance was perpetrated rather than *why* it is requisite for American capitalism to flourish. To pass comment upon this part therefore may only server to distract us from the initial assertion and its pertinent analysis.

If I may be permitted to quickly counter a couple of the your assertions however: sophists wouldn"t be the best example of profit motivation since if you think my rhetoric is sophistry I can assure you that this website is not paying me anything for my contributions. :-) And as for the more expensive universities only producing students more arrogant rather than better educated, a simple published league table would show that Oxford and Cambridge are indeed justified as the pre-eminent educators, as this one does for example:

I am interested in why you dispute that a street sweeper might labour as earnestly as a banker (since you provide no argument as to why it might not be so). I would say it depends upon how you specifically define hard work. Would you consider one element to be the hours worked? One would be lucky to find a high-street bank still open after 16:00. Would work that is physically tiring be considered laborious? In which case the banker does no physically demanding work at all! Would the conditions be at all relevant? The street sweeper endures all the elements of every season whilst the banker would likely not even walk through them on the way to his or her office. What about the intellectual exertions of the job? Ah, here I may be able to throw you a bone after all! Perhaps you see this as the definition of labour worthy of greater remuneration. Please, by all means let me know if this is the one and only true definition of how the worth of a man"s labour should be judged. I would be delighted to show the weakness of such an argument if you chose to adopt it.

You go on to describe the un-evidenced means of how a modern class divide is maintained, but unfortunately once more without saying why it is strictly necessary. If we look to the poverty gap from the middle of the last century onwards it is clear to see it widening without any benefits to the capitalist economy at all, indeed it proves to be counter productive. In the 1950s when America was the world"s most powerful economy there was a much greater equality in living standards. In the modern world where China has stolen that mantle of pre-eminence we see economic decline in America and the weakening of the US dollar. To draw direct correlation would be to rely upon the tenuous evidence of bivariates, but since the aim of my thesis is merely to disprove that an underclass is necessarily requisite for American capitalism to function, it proves adequately that a more equal society would not only function as efficiently, but function better. I could go further and postulate upon a capitalist based society with an inequality so slight as to be almost indefinable, but I don"t need to go that far, only as far as proving that an oppressed underclass is not required.

Although therefore arbitrary, it was the permanence I had disputed by reference to the American dream, which I had always interpreted as the concept of anyone from any class of society having the freedom and opportunity to achieve whatever their aspirations wished. Conceptually I"m sure that would be indisputable. If, however, you wish to challenge its practical application, there would be grounds for debate there too I"m sure.

There does seem to be some contradictory statements proffered, for example, wealthy people most often are wealthy from having well paid jobs, thus a wealthy person wouldn"t be "sweeping streets or flipping burgers for wages" because their wages would come from their normal, well paid jobs. I can"t therefore see your point. Also, do you not say that the under-class are required for their labour, but then you say the "upper class creates a surplus of resources" and were they to "overprice them to sell to those in need" then those in need wouldn"t be able to afford them. I"m sure you suggested the under-class was required so that the upper-class could enjoy the fruits of the underclass" labour, not the other way around.

I was only really being flippant about the night and day issue, but if you really wanted to pursue it, then Antarctica does indeed eventually become shrouded in perpetual darkness as well, but that comes in its winter, thus it is more the changing of the season rather than the changing of the day which alternates the light and the dark. Beyond the bounds of the solar system there is indeed the light of the stars, which we define as part of the night, thus perpetual night without day. I can"t see any additional light being shined upon the argument by your counter unfortunately. By all means try again though. :-)
Debate Round No. 2


I thank you for your response...Firstly, my point regarding the Sophists was not a personal attack. It was a reference to the use and manipulation of education to con less savvy peoples. The money was just a bonus. I do not purport to know the intent of your rhetoric.

Tables such as the one you presented only serve to validate the arbitrary status claimed by the 'upper' class, as the measurements or standards are based on culturally biased assessments. As for work. I agree it depends on one's definition as there are many to choose from. However, implying that intellectual capacity is labor worthy of more 'remuneration' is flawed as it assumes bankers are able to act on their own thought. Bankers are defined as mediators or safeguards who must go by the guidelines of the Federal Reserve, to ensure customers may withdraw their money from their accounts without disruptions. Who are they safeguarding? Who are they representing as mediators? - the upper class. Bankers actually are used as tool to prevent undesired individuals from obtaining money and they remunerated well for their espionage. Whereas, a street sweeper, though still a cog in the system does not protect the interests of the upper class. This willingness to protect and maintain the status quo is why the banker receives more wages and also the true intent of his highly accredited academia or should I say training. A good metaphor would be doctors, who although they know the effectiveness of natural medicine are explicitly instructed to sell the public on pharmaceuticals.
Capitalism is about making money not productivity. As such, the so called 'upper' class could care less about the widening poverty gap as long as they remain in the upper tier. The widening gap just provides more excess labor in their opinion and provides them the opportunity to lower wages even more based on the principles of supply and demand. This lack of efficiency through over-productivity is illustrated by what I termed surplus of resources. A reason why most of the populace is urged to consume so as to feed the machine. The under class does not require the upper class' labors they require access to the resources that are unequally and unjustly guarded, manipulated and regulated by the so called 'upper' class. Honestly, the upper class rarely works, they monitor and manipulate. They desire others to do their dirty work for them for a host of reasons.
The one issue you didn't mention is perhaps most key in the upper class' maintenance of the status quo. That would be the inequality in education - or the difference between public and private schools. Students in certain public schools are economically destined for the lower class based on their zip code. This has come to be defined as the school to prison pipeline. A pipeline that is just one of the many hypocrisies that destroy the false concept of the American dream. The truly wealthy are not wealthy from there normal well paid jobs, they are wealthy from historical abuses of power or 'old money'. A fact that you alluded to as a "screwed historical interpretation of *how* a class imbalance was perpetrated."
As for the periphery debate regarding the night and the day. Let us degree that there would be no distinction for light if dark did not exist.
I look forward to your made some interesting remarks....


Don"t worry, I didn"t take the sophists remark personally. :-) But personally I would say those who use rhetoric, or even sophistry, to try to trick people are merely endeavouring to win them over in the same way anyone would in challenged conversation, or even in something such as a debate! :-) It doesn"t really have any bearing I wouldn"t say on capitalism, especially if you say the monetary factor was only a "bonus" after all anyway.

I"m quite sure my referenced table is genuinely authoritative and, being for the service of both student and student"s parents alike, takes into consideration all aspects of a university"s merits, and most emphatically not merely cultural considerations. Please do tell, after all, where you would draw this arbitrary line of class distinction between Oxford and Cambridge at one end and Bolton and London Met at the other.

I"m surprised you took the bone I threw you regarding the worth of a man"s labour and then threw it away yourself. So even intellectual capacity isn"t a good guide? Interesting. OK, so you think it"s just because the banker can"t work independently but according to governmental guidelines. Well even the road sweeper is following those. Oh, but the stakes are higher I suppose for the banker, but you"ve already discounted any liability by saying the work is not autonomously independently. So, maybe because you think the banker only works for the upper class? Well, I have a bank account, I have a banker that looks after my money, and, I"m sorry to tell you, but I"m bouncing around somewhere down around the working class level I"m afraid. I wonder, whose streets is the street sweeper cleaning? He doesn"t come down my working class street too often, probably concentrating on your upper class wouldn"t you say? After all, that"s what the "under-class" is there for isn"t it? Well, better pay him the same as that banker then since you can"t really find for me any defining difference between them. I"m sure Mr. Street sweeper will be very grateful to you for your failed argument that allowed him such a wage. :-)

I thought quite a fundamental aspect of capitalism is about making money *through* productivity. If, as you say, it has nothing to do with productivity, how do you think the money is going to be made?

It"s true the upper-class wouldn"t care about a poverty gap, but the argument was, remember, that the under-class was required to maintain, not the upper-class (which I"d also dispute), but American capitalism at all. Unfortunately you seem to further describe perceived means of maintaining a divide, without ever really explaining why it is necessary. Even the means seem dubious. Inequality is encouraged because it will provide an excess of labour? Did you mean excess labourers (otherwise it sounds like workers are working harder than they need to all the time)? The former might suggest you mean increased production. Really? Drawing money out of the lower economic echelon helps increase its productivity? The latter would mean the excess of labourers due to redundancies and such like, with surely concomitant reduced production. So it"s hard to square that circle. But either way it would allow the lowering of wages further? Really? I can"t see how. You can only get it down to minimum wage and the closer one gets to it the less likely your employee is going to continue to work for you.

Rich parents; rich kids; rich school; rich future. Sure, that happens a lot. Status quo? To a degree perhaps, but, so what? I thought you were just arguing that you needed an upper and lower-class and the one cannot be without the other. Would it matter then if there was a non-ideological revolution (just a greedy one) and the under class rose up and became the upper class, and the upper relegated to do the lower"s chores? Still the same system isn"t it? So that"s why I didn"t really address your status quo very much. It"s irrelevant.

So I conclude by suggesting that unfortunately the opportunity to justify the statement that an under-class is required for capitalism to function has been lost, largely by distractions about how the current American model is perceived to operate. A better tact I"m sure would have been to suggest how it might operate, or fail to operate, were there no such under-class, but I think I have demonstrated sufficiently that even within the same American model it operated better when there was no under-class per se, merely an accommodating structured society of workers.

But lastly, time for our periphery debate, which I find quite fun, since I still won"t budge. :-) Unlike "hot" and "cold" which are subjective definitions found somewhere upon the continuum of temperature, "light" and "dark" are disparate concepts. "Light" is simply "light" and "dark" is an absence of light. Within a star there is light without any evidence of darkness to define it in any way. Within a non-volcanic planet there is a complete absence of light - there is just darkness. Light can be varied just as water can be varied in quantity, but if a container has a quantity of water, it does not need to define that quantity by the amount of any particular gas which is also in the container. On Earth a half filled container would likely contain air in the other half, but "water" isn"t defined in any way in relation to "air". When the universe ends however there will be no more light, and it will be the end of all days.

Quite an apt place to end I think. :-)
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mentalist 2 years ago
It appears that someone has entered the realm of the insane...a common by product of cognitive dissonance
Posted by Vajrasattva-LeRoy 2 years ago
I really can't consider Being Forced to chop cotton, tobacco, etc. , as
"building this country" .
Nobody becomes wealthy & powerful by being immoral.
It just doesn't work like that.
Blacks, on average, score about 16 points lower on IQ tests than Whites.
Blacks are substantially less intelligent than, & genetically inferior to, Whites.
Study "The Bell Curve" , "The Global Bell Curve" , books by Philosophical Professor Richard Lynn
of The University of Ulster, etc.
(See Images.)
Blacks cannot be allowed to vote in, participate in, etc. , White elections.
Barack Obama ISN'T, & NEVER WAS, the president.
Posted by mentalist 2 years ago
It's cool...these debates just keep the mind's not really talking unless it's face 2 face
Posted by gomergcc 2 years ago
There is no point in trying to talk to cheyennebodie. You will never get cheyennebodie to see the truth or to accept a real debate.
Posted by mentalist 2 years ago
Nobody becomes wealthy, powerful, etc. , by exploiting or ripping off
or conning others...Maybe you haven't heard, but, America was built by slave labor. Capitalism puts more value on material than people. This leads to a degradation of morals, but, let's be honest the capitalist never had much moral character anyway.
Posted by Vajrasattva-LeRoy 2 years ago
I continue to hope that cheyennebodie would TRY to get his head out of his ,
& stop writing Stupid things.
The idea that people who make more $ automatically spend more doesn't make sense.
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
In fact, the only permanent class that exists today is generational freeloading.Welfare.
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
That has to be the dumbest statement I have seen on here so far. The wealthy wants wealth in all people.If the labor force gets smaller, then the wealthy will simply pay more to attract who they need.As long as government keeps their greedy paws off peoples money, everyone will increase.If a person makes more, they will spend more. Unless they have to spend extra to pay for government intrusion.Then all that money is wasted.
Posted by Vajrasattva-LeRoy 2 years ago
... working proves that capitalism ISN'T flawed.
Posted by Vajrasattva-LeRoy 2 years ago
You should study books by Austrian Economics Professor Ludwig von Mises,
such as his 1949 book "Human Nature: a Treatise on Economics" , etc.
Pro's premise can be easily disproved.
Capitalist countries don't have classes, let alone underclasses,
let alone permanent ones.
Just ONE of Capitalism's Great Strengths is Economic Mobility.
Yesterday's penniless paupers, immigrants, etc. can, & do, become the titans of industry,
wealthy & powerful beyond peoples' wildest dreams.
I remember reading about a group of foreign communists who visited a
huge car manufacturing plant here in the U.S.
They were very impressed.
They were shown a huge parking lot filled with many Expensive Foreign,
& Domestic cars.
They were very impressed.
But, finally, one of the communists, bewildered, asked
"But where are the workers cars? "
The guides pointed at the parking lot ...
Nobody becomes wealthy, powerful, etc. , by exploiting or ripping off
or conning others,
but by Productive Work- Hard and/or Smart.
This country is, & will remain, #1 in the world.
Productive Workers Work, & Earn $, so they can Spend it.
The Free market is ethical, moral, fair, pragmatic.
Adam Smith was right about "the Invisible Hand" .
Another of Capitalism's Great Strengths is what some denounce as
the great divide between the rich & the poor.
Super Lazy Karl Marx, for example, apparently spent his life doing nothing but reading &
writing & talking garbage,
trying desperately to explain why he, & so many others, were
Complete Failures in life,
when he, & they, were so obviously Really Superior.
(Extreme Paranoia)
"It's all Capitalism's fault!" he thundered.
"Capitalism can't possibly work!" he ranted.
"There are inherent contradictions in Capitalism! " he screamed.
Capitalism ISN'T to blame.
Capitalism WORKS.
So what?
We LIKE contradictions.

Get a job.

If wages get too low for people to consume, the Capitalists will raise wages.
Regulated capitalism
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