However, this was pure nonsense as American society was based on slavery and the trade and profits derived from it. Although the New England states had abolished slavery, they continued to control the trade, in fact, Rhode Island was the U.S. headquarters for the triangular trade. Moreover, there were distinct classes in America at the time of Tocqueville's visit, albeit they differed in form from those of Europe. Merchants and Planters formed the upper class, small farmers formed the middle class, while newly arriving immigrants and indentured servants formed the lower class, and enslaved Afrikans functioned as an underclass.
Looking at today's class structure we find that that there are six contemporary socioeconomic classes, which are group people according to wealth, income, education, occupation, and membership in a social network. For the sake of our discussion we will identify them as such: 1) an upper or capitalist class (bankers, CEO's) consisting of the rich and powerful, 2) an upper middle class consisting of highly educated and affluent professionals (creative class is part of this group, top entertainers, top athletes, top lawyers and doctors), 3) a middle class consisting of college-educated individuals employed in white-collar industries, 4) a lower middle class, 5) a working class constituted by clerical and blue collar workers whose work is highly routinized, and 6) a lower class divided between the working poor (service class) and the unemployed underclass.
Where does politics fit in this class divide? According to Robert Dahl, “a key characteristic of a democracy is the continued responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens, considered as political equals.” But in real politicks politicians do not considered all their constituents as equal. Wealthier and better-educated citizens are more likely than poorer and less-educated ones to have well-formulated and well-informed preferences. They are more likely to turn out to vote, much more likely to have direct contact with public officials, and much more likely to contribute money and energy to political campaigns. Dahl therefore asks, “In a political system where nearly every adult may vote but where knowledge, wealth, social position, access to officials, and other resources are unequally distributed, who actually governs?” Well, politicians have been answering this question all along, and the answer has never been clearer than in recent years.
The rise in inequality seems to be at the expense of the middle class, and to the benefit of the rising income of the upper class. The real income of the upper classes rose a total of 6.5 percent, while the middle-income quintiles fell nearly 1.9 percent. The rate of the extremely poor—people earning less than half of the official poverty threshold, it comprised 6.6 percent of the population. And it has nothing to do with whether one is a Republican or Democrat, as the increasing economic disparity has happened under both party's leadership in Congress and the oval office.
I guess the point of this article is America could do better. If a country like Venezuela, with a lower GDP, lower HDI, and a smaller economy can erase illiteracy, improve the standard of life for the poor, then why can't America. While the U.S. condemns Socialism, we continue to see nations with socialist or mixed economic approaches do a lot for their people. Yet America continues to cling to its Capitalism and Social Darwinist ideology. In “The Rebirth of Social Darwinism” political economist Robert Reich makes an interesting point about presidential candidates labeled conservatives. He says they are “regressives,” (reactionaries is the real word, he was being nice) desiring to take America back to the politics of the Gilded Age, when “social Darwinism offered a moral justification for the wild inequities and social cruelties of the late nineteenth century.” “Government should do little or nothing to help those in need because that would interfere with natural selection,” of which “millionaires are the product.” President Obama himself has even called Republican policy proposals “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” .Unfortunately, Social Darwinist ideology is shared by Republicans and Democrats alike--its the American way. The Horatio Alger "rags to riches" stories were masked Social Darwinist ideology.
This brings me to an essential point and one I argue in my book Distorted Truths: All inequalities and inhumanities are ultimately explained away because the human being is defined as an animal. How can we expect Western society to develop an equitable society when he views the world as a “rat race,” as “dog eat dog,“ or embraces ideas like “every man for himself?” These Western colloquialisms reflect the Western gestalt and have been reinforced by Western science’s canon that “man” is an animal, a gift from Charles Darwin. And if one believes he is an animal, he will act accordingly. At the core of his being he believes he is an animal. His rhetorical ethics speaks of human beings, human values, but Western behavior is animal-like. Afrikans do not perceive the human being as an animal, but as a composite of all life that exist in the universe. To the Afrikan, the Earth is our mother; Though the West has adopted this idea from us, true to his worldview, he treats the Earth more like an object, worst an enemy but not as a loved one.
It is this Western misconception of the human being and his relationship to the Earth that is at the basis of his classism, of his have versus have-nots system. We call it Capitalism now, but it'll be the same approach to the human being, and life itself, that will remain unchanged, but allow us to call his new system another name. The same game under a new name.