The Coming Class Wars: The Forces Dividing Us Are Overwhelming Those That Unite Us

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Charles Hugh Smith with PeakProsperity.com.

In the modern era, the phrase Class War is rooted in the socialist/Marxist concept that the conflict between labor (the working class) and capital (owners of capital) is not just inevitable—it’s the fulcrum of history. In this view, this Class War is the inevitable result of the asymmetry between the elite who own/control the capital and the much larger class of people whose livelihood is earned solely by their labor.

In Marx’s analysis, the inner dynamics of capitalism inevitably lead to the concentration of capital in monopolies/cartels whose great wealth enables them to influence the government to serve the interests of capital. Subservient to capital, the laboring class must overthrow this unholy partnership of capital and the state to become politically free via ownership of the means of production, i.e. productive assets.

This Class War did not unfold as Marx anticipated. The laboring class gained sufficient political power in the early 20th century to win the fundamentals of economic security: universal public education, labor laws that prohibited outright exploitation, the right to unionize, and publicly funded pensions.

(The alternative explanation for this wave of progressive policies is that prescient leaders of the capital/state class ushered in these reforms as the only alternative to the dissolution of the status quo. Labor reforms began in Germany and Great Britain in the late 19th century Gilded Age, and another wave of reforms were enacted in the decade-long crisis of capitalism in the Great Depression.)

Though the conventional view is that this failure of capitalism to devolve as expected proves Marx’s analysis is without merit, it can also be argued that the state-capital partnership was far more flexible than early Marxists anticipated: sharing enough of the wealth generated in the industrial revolution with the laboring class to enable a stable, productive middle class benefited the state-capital class by creating a new strata of consumers (of goods, services and credit) who greatly enriched industrial and financial capitalists and the state, which could raise unprecedented sums in payroll and income taxes.

Basking in the luxury of hindsight, it’s easy for us in the present day to forget the often-violent struggles between labor and capital that characterized the early 20th century: anarchists bombed Wall Street, and the Powers That Be sent in armed forces to suppress efforts to unionize entire swaths of industrial workers.

While the middle class of professionals, small business owners, traders and entrepreneurs can be traced back to the birth of modern capitalism in the 15th century, the emergence of a mass middle class of tens of millions of wage-earners with the purchasing and borrowing power created by stable employment was a unique feature of 20th century capitalism.

In effect, the middle class was the Grand Truce in the class war: the state’s imposition of regulations and a social safety net on unfettered capital resolved labor and capital’s primary conflict by sharing the output of capitalism’s bounty.

Many assets had to be put in place to enable this vast distribution of wealth to tens of millions of laborers: a cheap, abundant source of energy (fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas), an efficient, accessible transportation network, a financial system that could extend credit to millions of households, and a government with the tax revenues and resources to fund public works that were too risky or out of reach for private-sector capital.

In the latter third of the 20th century, the permanence of this version of state-capitalism was unquestioned: laborers would always be able to enter the middle class, and opportunities for advancement would always be open to those with middle class access to education and credit.

There was no compelling reason to believe this consensus was about to fray and potentially dissolve, and no reason to think that rather than being a permanent feature of advanced capitalism, the middle class was a one-off based on cheap energy, surging productivity and the boost-phase of credit expansion.

But now income and wealth inequality are rising sharply, and capital is pulling far ahead of labor, which is creating a vast and quickly-widening divide between the classes.

Class Warfare: It’s More Than Just Income

Fast-forward to today, and an unexpected series of class wars are emerging as this longstanding social contract frays: social mobility has declined, fostering a divide between the traditional working class (also known as the lower-middle class) which finds itself increasingly exposed to the corrosive winds of globalization and neoliberal policies, and the upper-middle class of highly educated professionals and technocrats who have benefited from these policies, securing protected employment in higher education, government and Corporate America.

Commentator Peggy Noonan’s influential essay described America’s nascent class war as pitting the protected class—those with secure pay and benefits —against the unprotected class of those with insecure employment and benefits.

In other words, the divisive economic issue is not simply the quantity of each class’s income and wealth, but the quality of their respective economic security.

For example, if an unprotected household earns $80,000 in wages and $30,000 in benefits in a good year of full employment in benefits-rich jobs, and $30,000 in wages and no benefits in the following not-so-good year of zero-benefits part-time work, their average total earnings are $70,000 per year—a very respectable middle class income.

But compare the difficulties posed by losing healthcare benefits and getting by on a $50,000 decline in wages vs the secure $70,000 earned year-after-year-after-year by a protected household.

Consider the anxieties burdening the insecure household of two workers who cannot count on having benefits and full-time employment, who see their savings or retirement accounts built up in good years drained in bad years. Houses bought in good years are forced into foreclosure in bad years.

To take another example: compare the security of a tenured professor in higher education with the insecure zero-benefits earnings of an “adjunct professor” whose annual teaching contract is subject to cancelation or modification every year of his/her career.

Not only is the adjunct paid about half the salary of the tenured professor, when the adjunct nears retirement age, he/she has no pension other than Social Security, while the tenured professor has an ample retirement package of pension and healthcare coverage. Both taught the same courses, but one faces a sunset of poverty or the need to keep working far past the conventional retirement age of 65, while the other can retire comfortably and continue teaching or doing research for satisfaction rather than financial necessity.

Class Warfare: Economic and Cultural

This widening gap between the Protected and the Unprotected is not just economic; it's also cultural.

The Mobile Cosmopolitans who secure protected positions have little exposure to the challenges of the unprotected, whom they typically interact with only as an employer giving instructions to maids, nannies, dog-walkers, waiters, etc. Sociologist Charles Murray described this widening cultural gap in his 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010.

Murray made the case that America’s cultural elite—the mobile, highly educated and largely urban upper middle class, i.e. the protected class—is a reservoir of the traditional values (marriage, attending church, setting goals, etc.) that are fading in working-class unprotected America.

Murray posited that various behaviors and associations characterize each class. The working class, for example, volunteers to serve in the U.S. military, while the elites are in civilian positions of power (for example, those who order the working-class volunteers into America’s permanent wars.) The working class attend NASCAR races, the elite class pursues cultural enrichment, and so on.

While many commentators view Murray’s conclusions as overly negative, the recent presidential election has heightened the cultural divide he described between Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” (who President Obama chided for their attachment to “guns and Jesus”) and the self-described (and oh so morally superior) “progressives.”

(The word is in parentheses because I have suggested that these self-anointed “betters” are at best fake-progressives, as they support exploitive neoliberal policies that are anything but progressive.)

It’s painfully obvious that the economic division between protected and unprotected overlays all too well on Murray’s cultural divisions.

The upper-middle “progressive” class has the sort of social/financial mobility and security—both higher quantities of income and wealth and higher qualities of security--that are out of reach of most of the country's much larger number of unprotected households.

All the advantages that accrue to the upper-middle class—social mobility, access to higher education minus the crushing burdens of student loan debt, family and social connections that lead to lucrative careers, parents who can afford to give their offspring cars and down payments for homes—are accretive: each reinforces the others.

The intensity of life’s challenges is considerably different for each class. With higher income and greater security (such as having stable healthcare insurance), the protected class can afford to take better care of themselves; they have multiple layers of financial cushions against life’s inevitable difficulties such as layoffs, illnesses that require sick leave/costly procedures, auto accidents, etc.

For the protected elites, the intensity of these challenges is lessened by financial and social resources. Social connections lead to new employment in the same profession, gold-plated healthcare insurance covers most of the costs of illness, and ample auto insurance replaces the wrecked vehicle with minimum disruption.

Meanwhile, to the unprotected household, each of these difficulties is potentially devastating: a secure job may never be replaced, an illness may lead to bankruptcy, and the loss of a reliable vehicle may cripple the household’s ability to get to work and earn the money needed to buy another car.

The social contract of the 20th century established state-funded safety nets for those who experience layoffs and medical emergencies. But these programs were by and large designed to provide temporary aid to those who were “getting back on their feet.”

As the foundations of middle class mobility and security erode, these programs are now morphing into permanent, lifelong welfare systems. This is creating new social stresses and divisions.

The Pitchforks Are Being Sharpened

But this protected vs. unprotected isn't the only Class War that’s brewing.

In Part 2: The Class War Playbook we show why the shrinking resource pie—of cheap energy, of cheap debt, of labors’ share of the economy, of the low-hanging fruit of globalization—will soon cleave any mass movement into competing classes.

Our complex, interdependent civil society will spawn equally complex and interdependent class conflicts as a result. In short: there won’t be one class war, there will be many, raging across social, political and economic battlefields.

Understanding how these many wars will be waged is critical to surviving them intact.

Read Part 2: The Class War Playbook

Are your kids doing well in school? They might not be doing as well as you think.

A recent study found that the majority of parents in the US think their children are doing better in school than they actually are, and we largely have COVID to thank for that.

Due to the disastrous educational and social policies implemented during the COVID pandemic, millions of kids across the country are lagging and are struggling to catch up. They are further impeded by technology addiction, mental illness, and the school system, which is trying to mask just how bad things are. However, due to continued COVID-era policies like grade inflation, your kid's report card may not reflect the fallen educational standards since 2020.

Here are five facts that show the real state of America's youngest citizens. It's time to demand that schools abandon the harmful COVID-era policies that are failing to set our children up for success.

Gen Alpha is struggling to read

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Literacy is the foundation of education. Being able to read and write is paramount to learning, so when a young student struggles to gain literacy, it severely impacts the rest of their education. According to a 2021 report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

In 2019, some 35 percent of 4th-grade students and 34 percent of 8th-grade students performed at or above NAEP Proficient.

This means that 65 percent of 4th-graders and 66 percent of 8th-graders performed below NAEP proficient. As to be expected, the effects of this lack of literacy are still being felt. A 2024 report called the "Education Recovery Scorecard" created by Harvard and Stanford researchers found that in 17 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, in 14 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind in reading specifically.

Grade inflation

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If you thought the U.S. dollar was the only thing suffering from inflation, you would unfortunately be mistaken. Grades are also being inflated, caused by more lenient grading practices that began during the pandemic and have yet to return to normal. While students undoubtedly love this practice at the momentafter all, who doesn't like an easy A?in the long run, it only makes their lives more difficult.

This practice has seen attendance and test scores drop while GPAs rise, making it more difficult for colleges to decide which students to accept, as more and more students have 4.0s. Students are also less prepared for the increased workload and stricter standards they will face when they start college. Overall, there has been a decline in preparedness among students, which will inevitably cause issues later in life.

Failure is no longer an option (literally)

To mask just how ill-prepared students have become, some universities have decided to double down on their grading system. Some schools, like Oregon University, have decided that they will no longer give students failing grades. Instead, if a student fails a class, they will simply receive no grade, thus keeping their academic record blemish-freebecause heaven forbid a student should face the consequences of their own actions.

These universities are doing a real disservice to an entire generation of students. To cover up their failures, they are waving students through their programs, failing to prepare them for the world they will face.

Addiction to tech

Tech addiction has been a concern for parents since before the pandemic, but unsurprisingly, the lockdowns only made it worse. A 2023 study showed that internet addiction in adolescents nearly doubled during the lockdowns when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. This doesn't come as a surprise. Forcing kids to stay inside for months with the internet as their sole connection to the outside world is the perfect recipe for addiction to tech.

Mental illness

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The mental health crisis has been growing across the world for decades now, but it took a turn for the worse during the pandemic. Both a study from Iceland and Australia recorded a decline in the mental health of their youth during the pandemic, and a study out of San Francisco measured physical changes to the brains of children that resembled the brains of people who suffered childhood trauma.

5 SURPRISING ways space tech is used in your daily life

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Is your vacuum cleaner from SPACE?

This week, Glenn is discussing his recent purchase of a Sputnik satellite, which has got many of us thinking about space and space technology. More specifically, we've been wondering how technology initially designed for use outside Earth's atmosphere impacted our lives down here on terra firma. The U.S. spent approximately $30 billion ($110 billion in today's money) between the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the Moon Landing in 1969. What do we have to show for it besides some moon rocks?

As it turns out, a LOT of tech originally developed for space missions has made its way into products that most people use every day. From memory foam to cordless vacuums here are 5 pieces of space tech that you use every day:

Cellphone camera

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Have you ever seen a photograph of an early camera, the big ones with the tripod and curtain, and wondered how we went from that to the tiny little cameras that fit inside your cellphone? Thank NASA for that brilliant innovation. When you are launching a spaceship or satellite out of the atmosphere, the space onboard comes at a premium. In order to make more room for other equipment, NASA wanted smaller, lighter cameras without compromising image quality, and the innovations made to accomplish this goal paved the way for the cameras in your phone.

Cordless vacuums and power tools

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When exploring the moon, NASA wanted astronauts to use a drill to collect samples from the lunar surface. The problem: the moon has a severe lack of electrical outlets to power the drills. NASA tasked Black & Decker with developing a battery-powered motor powerful enough to take chunks out of the moon. The resulting motor was later adapted to power cordless power tools and vacuums in households across America.

Infrared ear thermometer

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What do distant stars and planets have in common with your eardrum? Both have their temperature read by the same infrared technology. The thermometers that can be found in medicine cabinets and doctors' offices across the world can trace their origins back to the astronomers at NASA who came up with the idea to measure the temperature of distant objects by the infrared light they emit.

Grooved pavement

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This one may seem obvious, but sometimes you need a massively complicated problem to come up with simple solutions. During the Space Shuttle program, NASA had a big problem: hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is dangerous enough when you are going 70 miles an hour in your car, but when you're talking about a Space Shuttle landing at about 215 miles per hour, it's an entirely different animal. So what was NASA's space-age solution? Cutting grooves in the pavement to quickly divert water off the runway, a practice now common on many highways across the world.

Memory foam

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If you've ever slept on a memory foam mattress, it probably won't come as a shock to find out that the foam was created to cushion falls from orbit. Charles Yotes was an astronautical engineer who is credited with the invention of memory foam. Yotes developed the technology for the foam while working on the recovery system for the Apollo command module. The foam was originally designed to help cushion the astronauts and their equipment during their descent from space. Now, the space foam is used to create some of the most comfortable mattresses on Earth. Far out.

5 most HORRIFIC practices condoned by WPATH

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Whatever you know about the "trans movement" is only the tip of the iceberg.

In a recent Glenn TV special, Glenn delved into Michael Schellenberger's "WPATH files," a collection of leaked internal communications from within the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Glenn's research team got their hands on the WPATH files and compiled the highlights in Glenn's exclusive PDF guide which can be downloaded here. These documents reveal the appalling "standards" created and upheld by WPATH, which appear to be designed to allow radical progressive surgeons to perform bizarre, experimental, and mutilating surgeries on the dime of insurance companies rather than to protect the health and well-being of their patients. These disturbing procedures are justified in the name of "gender-affirming care" and are defended zealously as "life-saving" by the dogmatic surgeons who perform them.

The communications leaked by Schellenberger reveal one horrific procedure after another committed in the name of and defended by radical gender ideology and WPATH fanatics. Here are five of the most horrifying practices condoned by WPATH members:

1.Trans surgeries on minors as young as 14

One particular conversation was initiated by a doctor asking for advice on performing irreversible male-to-female surgery on a 14-year-old boy's genitals. WPATH doctors chimed in encouraging the surgery. One doctor, Dr. McGinn, confessed that he had performed 20 such surgeries on minors over the last 17 years!

2.Amputation of healthy, normal limbs

BIID, or Body Integrity Identity Disorder, is an “extremely rare phenomenon of persons who desire the amputation of one or more healthy limbs or who desire a paralysis.” As you might suspect, some WPATH members are in favor of enabling this destructive behavior. One WPATH commenter suggested that people suffering from BIID received "hostile" treatment from the medical community, many of whom would recommend psychiatric care over amputation. Apparently, telling people not to chop off perfectly healthy limbs is now considered "violence."

3.Trans surgeries on patients with severe mental illnesses

WPATH claims to operate off of a principle known as "informed consent," which requires doctors to inform patients of the risks associated with a procedure. It also requires patients be in a clear state of mind to comprehend those risks. However, this rule is taken very lightly among many WPATH members. When one of the so-called "gender experts" asked about the ethicality of giving hormones to a patient already diagnosed with several major mental illnesses, they were met with a tidal wave of backlash from their "enlightened" colleges.

4.Non-standard procedures, such as “nullification” and other experimental, abominable surgeries

If you have never heard of "nullification" until now, consider yourself lucky. Nullification is the removal of all genitals, intending to create a sort of genderless person, or a eunuch. But that's just the beginning. Some WPATH doctors admitted in these chatlogs that they weren't afraid to get... creative. They seemed willing to create "custom" genitals for these people that combine elements of the two natural options.

5.Experimental, untested, un-researched, use of carcinogenic drugs 

Finasteride is a drug used to treat BPH, a prostate condition, and is known to increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer as well as breast cancer. Why is this relevant? When a WPATH doctor asked if anyone had used Finasteride "to prevent bottom growth," which refers to the healthy development of genitals during puberty. The answer from the community was, "That's a neat idea, someone should give it a go."

If your state isn’t on this list, it begs the question... why?

The 2020 election exposed a wide range of questionable practices, much of which Glenn covered in a recent TV special. A particularly sinister practice is the use of private money to fund the election. This money came from a slew of partisan private sources, including Mark Zuckerberg, entailed a host of caveats and conditions and were targeted at big city election offices— predominantly democratic areas. The intention is clear: this private money was being used to target Democrat voters and to facilitate their election process over their Republican counterparts.

The use of private funds poses a major flaw in the integrity of our election, one which many states recognized and corrected after the 2020 election. This begs the question: why haven't all states banned private funding in elections? Why do they need private funding? Why don't they care about the strings attached?

Below is the list of all 28 states that have banned private funding in elections. If you don't see your state on this list, it's time to call your state's election board and demand reform.

Alabama

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Arizona

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Arkansas

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Florida

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Georgia

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Idaho

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Indiana

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Iowa

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Kansas

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Kentucky

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Louisiana

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Mississippi

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Missouri

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Montana

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Nebraska

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North Carolina

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North Dakota

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Ohio

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Oklahoma

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Pennsylvania

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South Carolina

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South Dakota

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Tennessee

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Texas

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Utah

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Virginia

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West Virginia

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Wisconsin

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