- What is the distinction that Reading 4.3 makes between owners and employees? Give an example of each.
Parenti defines owners as those who own wealth. That is to say, people who lives from investments, or the value that the labor of others create and they keep. On the opposite, there are employees who Parenti defines as: those who sell their labor in exchange of wages and salaries.
An example of this would be the relationship I have with my Boss. My boss owns a restaurant. Following Parenti’s idea, my boss is the one that owns the wealth. He owns the place and the tools that his employees need to labor. On the other hand, I’m just and employee I get a wage. I give my labor and I produce value. However, he keeps all the value that my labor produces and gives me a wage in exchange.
2. How do you understand the quote by Adam Smith on pg. 28? What is it saying about labor?
Smith’s labor theory of value describes the action of labor as the one and only standard by which the value of all commodities can be estimated and compared. If we understand labor as the activity that adds measurable value to commodities, wages and salary can not be a real representation of the value of labor. Only labor can represent the added value that goods get from itself.
Then, Smith with this claim explains the capitalist economical system, where those who own wealth benefit from the labor of others. Under this context, those who own wealth keep the added value that employees give to goods. Later, employees obtain wages and salaries that don’t reflect the real value they have added to the goods. In other words, the owning class uses the employees to continue enriching themselves.
3. What are your thoughts on the main argument of Reading 4.4 that class is NOT an identity?
In the lecture Heideman exposes the difference between how liberals and socialist understand classes in politics. On the one hand, he claims that liberals define class as : “ some combination of things like wealth, income, and education which combine to form a kind of aggregated ranking” ( Heideman, 3). In other words, he is basically stating that for liberals, class is a construction of preexisting conditions that set a measurable advantage or disadvantage for individuals to be comfortable or not with their inherited position in the world. Later, he argues that it makes complete sense that liberals categorize class as type of identity (as they do with race and gender) because of the way that they think of it. However, Heideman claims that class is more than just an identity, he states : “class refers to an entire structure that imposes very specific logics of action on people in society” ( Heideman, 2) . That is to say, socialists see class as a form of social oppression. The main form of social oppression.
Both of these arguments are powerful, but they are rooted in ideologies. As a result, I must disagree with both points of view. I don’t believe class is an identity. Indeed, it is an inherited condition but is not something that will predict what an individual becomes in the future. It is something that can be changed. On the other hand, I don’t see class as the main type of oppression. Oppression is what it is on its own, class is just another structure behind which oppression is framed. On the opposite, for me class is nothing more than a way of measuring my finances. It doesn’t necessarily define who I am. It only defines the amount of tools and commodities that I can afford with my capital. The later consequences that these conditions can bring to my life are separated from my identity as well as they are just another challenge to face, but not the one an only. It’s not like in the American society a person doesn’t have the opportunity to accumulate capital from its labor. Hence, invalidating the argument that is necessary to destroy the capital in order to fight oppression. If a person accumulates capital she/he will be able to avoid to some level this specific kind of oppression. In a nutshell, the capital is not the problem, oppression is. Specially the one that forbids people to reach its highest potential in life.
4. How do you understand the argument Reading 4.4. makes when stating that “class structures are built around a close form of dependency”? What is this close form of dependency, and can you think of an example?
From that argument, I understand that there is a structure of society that relies on the other; thus one can’t work without the other. This close form of dependency is the relation from the owning class with the employed class. To illustrate: My boss who owns a restaurant can only create profits if his restaurant is open. In order for him to have his restaurant opened he needs people to work for him. Similarly, there is people like me, who need the money they get from their labor to afford their living. Then, when a person like me gets involved with a company like the one my boss owns we create a “close form of dependency” He can’t get profits without somebody that works for him and I can’t afford my living if I don’t work. We rely on each other.