The New Class Conflict

The New Class Conflict

Joel Kotkin

Language: English

Pages: 137

ISBN: 091438628X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"In ways not seen since the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century, America is becoming a nation of increasingly sharply divided classes. Joel Kotkin's The New Class Conflict breaks down these new divisions for the first time, focusing on the ascendency of two classes: the tech Oligarchy, based in Silicon Valley; and the Clerisy, which includes much of the nation's policy, media, and academic elites.

The New Class Conflict is written largely from the point of view of those who are, to date, the losers in this class conflict: the middle class. This group, which Kotkin calls the Yeomanry, has been the traditional bulwark of American society, politics, and economy. Yet under pressure from the ascendant Oligarchs and ever more powerful Clerisy, their prospects have diminished the American dream of class mobility that has animated its history and sustained its global appeal.

This book is both a call to arms and a unique piece of analysis about the possible evolution of our society into an increasingly quasi-feudal order. Looking beyond the conventional views of both left and right, conservative and liberal, Kotkin provides a tough but evenhanded analysis of our evolving class system, and suggests some approaches that might restore the middle class to its proper role as the dominant group in the American future."













the earliest firms in the personal computer and Internet space were not only indifferent to governance, but even vaguely anarchistic.2 In contrast, the new autocrats boast far broader and more sweeping ambitions to influence politics and public policies. Like Skynet in the Terminator movie series, the tech Oligarchs can be said to have achieved “self-consciousness,” and now recognize their ability to influence the public and the political class. “Politics for me is the most obvious area [to be

with rising tax rates.13 For the most part, it’s not surprising that Republicans, with their long, historic ties to Wall Street and laissez-faire ideology, would accept such inequity. But there’s something mildly risible about this discordant message of populism among a progressive administration that has targeted corporate and individual greed among the “one percent,” hurting the feelings of some oligarchs, even in Silicon Valley, while pursuing an agenda that has greatly expanded their share

sustainability has proven a boon both for the public sector, particularly those working in regulatory agencies and politicians who now have new ways to elicit contributions, and for those parts of the private sector that work most closely with government. Other beneficiaries include connected investors, such as the many who benefit from “green” energy subsidies, which, particularly when measured by their production of energy, are considerably higher than those secured over the past century by oil

phenomenon is not just seen in inner cities or in areas where the economy has been in decline for decades.36 The End of Intergenerational Optimism? Once known for their optimism, many millennials, not surprisingly, are becoming somewhat less sanguine about the future, particularly in comparison with their parents. According to a Rutgers study, 56 percent of recent high school graduates feel they would not be financially more successful than their parents; only 14 percent thought they would

66–67, 136–37. 81. Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, pp. 168–69, 380, 387. 82. Frank Furedi, “Elevating Environmentalism over ‘Less Worthy’ Lifestyles,” Spiked, November 9, 2009, 83. Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (New York: Penguin, 2005), p. 10. 84. Ibid., p. 29. 85. Alex Knapp, “Ray Kurzweil’s Predictions For 2009 Were Mostly Inaccurate,” Forbes, March 20, 2012,

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