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Karl Marx has shown us how “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” In this course, we have looked at this statement from a historical perspective as well as a contemporary one. Class struggle still exists in America. Indeed, it is deeply embedded in both the small-scale and the large-scale social relations of our nation. We see it played out on political stages and in the news as well as in our everyday lives. But whereas Marx’s critique of the struggle between bourgeois and proletariat drew on observations about a clearly disenfranchised working class, approaching the issue of class struggle in a modern America that holds as one of its central tenets equal opportunity for all is not as straightforward. Class struggle is often hidden from our view – covered up with the naïve assumption that the word “equality” on a piece of paper equals actual equality in the real world.
Kathleen Arnold, in America’s New Working Class, has demonstrated for us how our welfare and workfare systems deeply restrict and even punish those they are intended to benefit. Slavoj Zizek has suggested that charity has become an essential piece of our capitalist system, and that it is in many ways more destructive than productive. Timothy Noah, in The Great Divergence, has illustrated the growing gap between the extremely wealthy in our country and everybody else.
Assignment: Argue the degree to which you believe that equality of economic opportunity is a myth in modern America.
Respond to the above prompt with a thesis-driven, persuasive essay that draws meaningfully on the readings we have done for class, the videos we have watched, and your own thoughts, observations, and experiences. NO OUTSIDE RESEARCH. You must refer to at least two of the above sources to meet the requirements of this essay. You are welcome to address them all if you wish.
Your essay must be roughly 1000 words.
Your essay must follow all conventions of MLA format. Remember – 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, 1 inch margins.
Your essay should begin with an introductory paragraph that contains a clear, concise thesis statement.
Your essay should have several paragraphs of support for the assertion you make in your thesis statement. I do not care how many paragraphs you write so long as you substantiate your point sufficiently.
Each body paragraph should develop a single piece of evidence or support for your thesis.
Your essay should end with a brief conclusion that summarizes the major points of your argument and finally responds to the question “so what?” In other words, why does the argument you are making matter?
Clarity and conciseness of prose should be your guiding principles stylistically.
Strive for unity – remember that everything you say should be working to establish or develop ONE point.
Karl Marx has shown us how “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” In this course, we have looked at this statement from a historical perspective as well as a contemporary one. Class struggle still exists in America. Indeed, it is deeply embedded in both the small-scale and the large-scale social relations of our nation.