Has the Middle Class Been Forgotten?

In 1883, sociologist William Graham Sumner coined the term “The Forgotten Man” in a lecture at the Long Island Historical Society in Brooklyn, New York.

This lecture was later published with a collection of essays after his death in 1910.

Sumner correctly argued that the American middle class was being squeezed by those at the top and those at the bottom. Those at the top received government welfare through subsidies and what we generally call “corporate welfare,” while those at the bottom gained through government handouts.

The middle class paid for it all without receiving any tangible benefits.

Socialists would argue that government created jobs were the benefit, but most Americans don’t work for the government, even if so much of our economy is subsidized. The percentage of Americans receiving government benefits in any form in 1883 was far lower than today.

This is the disconnect in American society and why so many Americans in the middle class have become disillusioned politically.

Why keep voting for someone else to grab their paycheck?

Additionally, decades of government subsides for the top and bottom have eroded American culture. Consumerism, cancel culture, wokism, corporatism, etc., have atomized and secularized American society.

Middle class Americans feel lost because they work hard, pay their bills, do the right thing, even when it hurts, while they watch those at the top and bottom skirt the same system. White middle class Americans feel the pinch even more, as the establishment media hammers the “systemic white supremacist” narrative while promoting an agenda at odds with traditional American societal norms. Just take a peak at the Christmas trinkets at your local big box store or the casting for any Netflix, Disney, or frankly any modern television or movie production, including commercials or major sporting events.

The agenda does not line up with the primary audience.

Better clothes and more things doesn’t make anyone happy long term. Comfortable, yes, but not happy.

Sumner focused almost entirely on the economic ramifications of the warfare State, but the warfare State has also created the social justice State.

If Jefferson and the Old Republicans rightly feared the fusion of government and finance capital, modern middle class Americans should worry about the three-headed hydra of government, finance capital, and corporate society along with their willing proponents on the federal bench.

The warfare social justice State would not exist without the federal courts.

Of course, this all makes for great Podcast fodder, so I attempt to answer the question, “Is the Middle Class Forgotten” on episode 903 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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