Is there a coordinator class? The question seems too ridiculous to even consider. (Though ďridiculousĒ is in the eye of the beholder.) So letís do it.
To a Marxist, class relations spring entirely from ownership relations. There are people who own General Motors. These people are capitalists. There are people who work at General Motors. These people are workers.
But who runs General Motors, day-to-day? Not the capitalists. There arenít enough of them to go around. And certainly not the workers. That should be a point so obvious as to require not even a single sentence to justify it.
So who runs GM?
By conceptual definition, the coordinator class is that group of people who do not own the means of production, but who run the means of production on behalf of the owners. The owners canít run it all themselves, and theyíre certainly not going to hand power over to the workers. So they hire people to run it for them.
These people -- the coordinator class -- are people like doctors, lawyers, managers, engineers. Coordinators are generally well-educated, knowledgeable, confident, and not uncommonly quite arrogant. They are usually intelligent, though it is not entirely uncommon for them to be less intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.
Coordinators generally have a high degree of control over their own work lives, as well as over the work lives of many others. Coordinators do largely conceptual work that is highly empowering and makes them quite valuable to the organization. They generally receive above-average remuneration.
Members of this class can be found in virtually any resource-handling organization you can even think of. And in organizations that arenít scraping by or continually on life-support, the presence of the coordinator class is a 100% certainty.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this class, at least from my own experience, is its inability to see itself as a class. Workers have no trouble understanding they are (virtually totally disempowered) workers. And capitalists have no trouble understanding they are capitalists.
But the coordinator class exhibits a seemingly religious, almost-fundamentalist refusal to identify itself as a separate class in the economy. Itís like men who refuse to see their male privilege, or whites who refuse to see their white privilege. Coordinators exhibit this same refusal to see their class privilege.
Why are coordinators, like many whites or many men, so unable to see themselves as a privileged element in society, while capitalists have no trouble seeing themselves as privileged? Capitalists comprise roughly 1% of the population -- certainly not more than 2%. Relative to the other 99% of society, they have gargantuan wealth and power. Only a capitalist whose IQ was smaller than his classís percentage of the population could fail to be aware of this.
Prior to the civil rights movement of the 60s and the womenís movement of the 70s, how many whites and males really understood that they were socially privileged? Was it more than a few percent -- if it was even that high? Even now, in the first part of the twenty-first century, how many whites and males really understand how their race and/or gender benefits them socially? There can be no doubt that racism and sexism are still alive and well.
What about classism? (Microsoft Wordís spell checker doesnít even know the word.) When was the last time we had a movement in the U.S. against classism? Perhaps during the Depression. Certainly not since then.
So why should it be any great surprise that the coordinator class -- roughly 20% of the population, and while privileged, certainly not privileged on the scale of the top 1% -- canít see its class privileges? Actually, any other outcome would probably be shocking.
True working-class liberation can never be attained until existence of the coordinator class is recognized and addressed.
Eric Patton lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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