On the Passing of the Working Class

And Other Linguistic Shackles Guiding Us Into Slavery

When people ask, “Why is it that we have such a corrupt government, with rigged elections and an economy which serves only wealthy transnational investors and their transnational corporations?” I would offer, “In part, because our language is being redefined by regents of the ruling Forces of Greed.”

Useful terms which could better explain our circumstances have been purposefully perverted so that they are now all but unintelligible. Such are the fruit of “think tanks” which strive to convert most of society into an ignorant, subservient class on behalf of corporate greed at any cost to the public interest. The American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institution, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and many others are funded by transnational corporations to create a climate of ignorance on behalf of corporate rule.

Following are examples of such linguistic changes. They happen gradually over several decades, so that only an old person such as myself who keeps remote from popular culture can see them. Many elderly people have become inured to them through gradual but persistent exposure.

The working class

When I was a boy we had a working class. It made up about 75% of the population. The poor made up about 15%. The 10% at the top, just under the rich, were called the middle class.

The middle class were the professional classes and the small business owners. They were never thought of as median income people– in fact, poor people saw them as being rich.

The original meaning of “middle class” described those between the European royalty and the peasants. Later it was applied to the capitalists, those with enough wealth to rival the nobility.

The mainstream press have dropped working class from their vocabulary. The term is anathema to the propaganda system as it has developed. It is too descriptive– makes it too obvious that this is the class which does most of the work and produces most of the wealth.

Today the working class are called middle class in the mainstream media, and the original meaning is buried deeper than Atlantis. For that matter, the poor are made to be nearly as invisible. This propaganda maneuver has made it easier to hide what’s happening in our economy, when combined with other terms and economic adjustments.

So it’s not as obvious in media that American workers are being pushed off a cliff into hell economically, with average wages dropping for over 40 years. Though we can’t miss it, we don’t see it as clearly when nearly everyone is tucked into one giant “middle class.” I miss the term working class.


When I was a young man the word “progressive” meant leftist. It was a term used to unite the left. Communists, socialists, labor and even many liberals often defined themselves as progressive. Liberals, in those days, were thought of as centrist. To the right were conservatives, business, and neo-fascists– those who control the American economy and mainstream press.

But the ruling Forces of Greed don’t want leftists to unite, so mainstream press now call centrist liberals “leftist” and “progressive.” By doing so, and completely ignoring the genuine left which has no regular TV program on any of the hundreds of cable channels, the language has been twisted into propaganda helpful toward making zombies of the masses, who have no idea what a real leftist is.

Bill and Hillary Clinton are called “progressive” in the mainstream media. This is like calling the segregationist George Wallace a civil rights leader. Richard Nixon, who I thought of as extremely right wing when he was president, was far to the left of the Clintons. It was Nixon who signed the bills that authorized the EPA, OSHA, the ABM Treaty and a great many other progressive laws the Clintons would have nothing to do with today.

In the time of his presidency, Nixon wouldn’t have dreamed that he could push the Clinton agenda of free trade to curse labor and environmental movements. He wouldn’t have deregulated the banksters and Big Media, or thrown poor children out into the streets with Clinton’s “welfare reform.” During Nixon’s presidency the public were more aware, and the Congress was far to the left of Nixon, tying his hands.

Which is why Nixon couldn’t get his medical care system (the precursor to Obamacare) through Congress. Much of the Congress of that time wanted to pass Medicare for all, and opposed Nixon’s plan, which never went anywhere. It took a conservative Democrat, Obama, to get Nixon’s plan approved.


The entire nation has moved far to the right over my lifetime, and the debate has been narrowed everywhere in the influential mass media, particularly TV, where most Americans get their news.

But the ruling Forces of Greed haven’t stopped there.  They also bought the major publishing houses and have been consolidating them for decades (there are still a few small leftist publishers, but they are unknown to 99% of the public).

The dictionaries are involved now in corporate propaganda. Decades ago I remarked about how a politician had taken bribes and someone “corrected” me that he had not been bribed, because bribes are illegal, and the money the politician had taken was a legal campaign contribution.

But this wasn’t previously true in many alternate definitions. My old dictionary from college, the Random House College Dictionary, First Edition, for example, defined “bribe” as “Anything given or serving to persuade or induce.” Sounds like a campaign contribution from Big Pharma, the defense cheats, banksters or polluters to me.

Abroad, the Oxford English Dictionary uses an example, “You weren’t willing to be good to your sister without being bribed with a lollipop,” showing that a bribe does not have to be illegal.

But today a bribe is something illegal pretty much everywhere in American dictionaries, conveniently leaving it acceptable to stuff the pockets of politicians with campaign contributions. One may no longer use the most applicable word, “bribe,” to describe that which is prominent in our elections.

We hear on our TV news programs that we can’t prove that the politician who got truckloads of money from a special interest and let that special interest write a bill which cleaned out the treasury on their behalf, had taken a bribe. It’s just a coincidence, you see, not a bribe in the modern lexicon.

The confusion is everywhere, allowing the masses to be more easily controlled. I spoke with a truck driver about wanting to see a living wage for American workers. “I ain’t for that commie stuff myself,” he said, “I’m a capitalist.” The fellow had no capital, nor hope that I could see.

Jack Balkwill is an activist in Virginia. He can be reached at libertyuv@hotmail.com Read other articles by Jack.