Conflict theory

We all agree – this is surprising: we all do agree – that our children’s futures will be less bright than ours as kids. We all agree that money purchases politicians, and legislation is no longer written for the American people. The regular headline is: ‘families earn the same as in 1970.’

What isn’t clear, anywhere, is why.

Decades ago I was educated in Conflict Theory (then called Marxism), and I was recently chided for being out of date. It was well taken. I am out of date. So I started thinking – did I ever understand conflict theory in the first place?

I was a deep blue collar kid and it seemed to me there were two classes: workers and owners. Workers were broken and cowed, and owners were deliberately beating them down. For all my acquired, and sophisticated, language, I never really got much beyond that. But today, at least publicly, we don’t see a bunch of owners – even the lauded billionaires – out there concertedly attacking the middle class and demonstrably beating it down.

Yet there is a small group of owners who live life quite differently than the multitudes, and the multitudes’ prospects are universally seen declining. Now I wonder, is it possible conflict doesn’t imply enmity?

Conflict theory is nice because we can see how a change in relative power might cause something positive to occur in history. Today’s eroding liberties and declining opportunities invite the idea most of us are under attack – certainly, we’re suffering physical damage. But we can’ t really blame the rich if we want to be just like them.

So I’m left with no useful theory at all.

Comments are closed.