This post is for people like me: 30-somethings with multiple degrees who come from families that own their homes and work white collar jobs.
For much of my life, I identified as “middle class”, that nebulous term so often leveraged to homogenize people, tamp down class consciousness, obfuscate power structures, and declaw class struggle. When I heard the term “working class”, I thought only of blue collar workers living paycheck to paycheck. Culturally, this is generally how we identify the working class.
The classic Marxist definition of working class includes all those who rely on selling their labor for wages. By that definition, the working class includes white collar workers who sell their mental labor (skills and knowledge) to business owners in exchange for salaries.
What possibilities emerge if white collar millenials like myself self-identify as working class? By the way, I am pretty averse to millenial as a label, but I think the term can function as a way to call forth a certain demographic of people as interlocutors in this important conversation. I think a great deal of collective power could emerge if we could build solidarity across sectors and across social categories that subdivide our class position.
In other words, we could build the power needed to improve and control our lives if we began to see ourselves in much closer proximity to blue collar workers than we imagined. We, too, sell our labor to those who own the means of production. We stand to gain from joining the acts of resistance and struggle by workers…not because we are allied with them but because we are them.