THE UNDERCLASS THEORY AND ITS POLITICAL AND POLICY CONSEQUENCES

Bourgeois theories of class, class struggle and racism have assumed new ideological significance. More than mere academic brain games these theories embrace partisan class commitments. As such they have become an unalterable component of the general ideological struggle. Uppermost are the new efforts to redefine the working class and the class struggle. Much of this theorizing focuses upon the unemployed and that stratum of the workingclass that live in the deepest misery. Because Afro-Americans not only constitute a disproportionate number of the poor, but are a significant and decisive component of the workingclass, such theories inevitably propose a reinterpretation of the importance of racism to the determination of inequality and even of class membership. The poorest stratum of the Afro-American community are labelled a “ghetto underclass” . The underclass are defined as a new lumpenproletariat.

As well, some bourgeois theorist have recently “discovered” that race ceases to play a major role in determining the social status of Afro-Americans. Suddenly, and as a result of the passage of civil rights legislation and structural changes in the economy, racism, and especially institutionalized racism, has “declined in significance”. For them the question of Afro-American oppression is a “class question”. However, their class concept obscures the actual class position of the bulk of Afro-Americans and places one third of them in what the underclass.
Class, from this bourgeois perspective, is a concept that reflects income and occupation , social values and behaviors. It is descriptive rather than substantive. As such the fundamental aspect of class relationships in capitalist societies is missed — the antagonism between labor and capital, between monopoly capital and the broad working masses. The underclass, therefore, are people with very low or no incomes, criminal behavior and social values which are antisocial. All of this creates a “tangle of pathologies”. The concept social pathology is fundamental to the definition and theory of the underclass. It is argued that deep poverty produces social pathology. The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences defines social pathology as “behavior [which] proceeds from a sick, damaged or defective personality.”

The Urban Institute , for instance, in its definition of the underclass “focus[es] on behavior rather than income as the distinguishing characteristic.” For them, the underclass are people who live in neighborhoods “where welfare dependency, female headed families, male joblessness, and dropping out of high school are all common occurrences.” William Julius Wilson’s definition also sees the “underclass” as a socially deviant population. He, like the researchers at the Urban Institute, reflects the dominant position in American sociology, that the social position of the poorest sections of the population produces latent and overt social illnesses and deviance. Wilson defines his view as a “refocused liberal perspective”. It essentially seeks to discover a consensus between prevailing liberal and conservative views concerning poverty and the underclass.
The underclass idea has deep roots in the history of American sociology and social philosophy. Its earliest roots are to be found in the Chicago School of sociology. Poverty was viewed as a condition of socially non-assimilated immigrants. There poverty was blamed upon their lack of appropriate social values and their social disorganization. Robert Merton’s theory of deviance contributes an
important dimension to this thinking. He argues that the position of the poor within the social structure produces social deviance and marginality. Thus, extreme poverty , for Merton, inevitably produces social deviance. Neither position seriously looked at the capitalist accumulation and the drive for maximum profit as the principle source of poverty.
PROBLEMS IN THE LOGIC OF THE UNDERCLASS CONCEPT
The underclass concept and the reasoning which informs it, has significant logical problems. Important questions must therefore be placed. For instance, is there a dialectical opposite of the concept underclass? Or is it logically disconnected from other class categories? If so, is the concept purely descriptive and therefore incapable of probing beyond the mere surface of class relationships? From the standpoint of its logic the underclass concept is (a) a descriptive concept which is not dialectically connected to other class concepts:(b) it , therefore does not emerge from an understanding of actual social relationships of production, which are the material foundation of social classes: (c) its scientific value is limited by the fact that it merely describes the external properties of the class phenomena it purports to explain.
The logic inherent to this approach leads to formalization of class explanations and the reduction of class defintion to properties of individuals. for instance, classes, are viewed, therefore, as collections of individuals, with the emphasis being placed upon the individual, rather than the class. Thus, not only is class struggle denied, but so is any concept of class consciousness. Moreover, economic relationships, or indeed relationships of production, have no place in this approach. For instance, bourgeois class concepts hierarchically organize social indicators such as incomes , occupations and social values . The fundamentals of social life which produce and reproduce classes and class relationships over historical time are without reflection in this approach. Those with the highest incomes have the most prestigious occupations and the highest social values–ultimately this is the bourgeois. Those with the lowest incomes and the least prestigious occupations (to be read the working class) have the lowest social values. This hierarchy establishes white male bourgeois values and behaviors as the standard to which all of society should orient itself. The values, behavior and class consciousness of the working class and poor are, therefore, viewed as levels of deviation from the bourgeois norm. This hierarchy of classes is obviously inherently anti-workingclass and carries also racist and sexist implications. It is therefore not accidental that most underclass theorist define it as a “class” consisting primarily of Afro-Americans . This superficial description of classes totally dismisses the economic class relationship between workers and capitalist which produces surplus value and profit.

AN UNCHANGING PROJECT OF BOURGEOIS SOCIAL THEORY
An unchanging project of bourgeois social theory is to disprove or “improve” upon the Marxist Leninist concept of the working class. In the late 19th century Bhoem-Bawerk argued that Marx’s idea of exploitation was without scientific justification. More recently it has been argued that Marx either never provided a consistent definition of class or that his theory of the sources of capitalist profit fails to stand up to analytic scrutiny. The French “socialist” Andre Gorz has argued that the unemployed are no longer a part of the working class, because according to him, they lack class consciousness. The US right social democrat Bayard Rustin, argued that urban poverty had transformed a significant part of the Afro-American workingclass into a lumpenproletariat or an ” underclass”. After all is said and done, the principle substance of these theories denies the existence of exploitation and the class struggle as the dominant factors of capitalist society. Inseparably connected to these efforts to “prove” the nonexistence of exploitation, the class struggle and finally the workingclass itself are efforts that seek to redefine the Afro-american people and the nature of their oppression. The most racist among bourgeois circles maintain that inequality is to be blamed upon the culture, genes, intelligence, psychology, lack of motivation, family breakup and other factors which they claim are “inherent” to the Afro-American people. Others have suggested that the racially oppressed are no different than other ethnic groups; thus denying the existence of racial oppression as a current reality for Afro-Americans. D.P. Moynihan and Nathan Glazer have been prominent advocates of this position. Dismissing racism as a principle factor in the lives of Afro-Americans, Moynihan argued for a policy of “benign neglect” or retreat on the part of government and society from support for affirmative action and social and economic programs that assist in overcoming centuries of enforced inequality. Nathan Glazers’ “affirmative discrimination” idea dovetails with Moynihan’s benign neglect thesis but adds to it the idea that governmental efforts on behalf of Afro-Americans, especially affirmative action, is a form of reverse discrimination against white males. William Julius Wilson has labelled affirmative action programs as “race specific” and of little value in overcoming the problems of those in the deepest poverty. He argues that such efforts are unable to gather broad political support and therefore are politically unfeasible. More importantly for his argument, racism itself is no longer a principle aspect of the problem, therefore special measures to address its consequences have minimal importance. In essence what is being said is that the inequality of Afro-americans is not a special question which requires special measures to address it. For Moynihan and Glazer Afro-Americans are but one of many ethnic groups. For Wilson once one excludes historic racism the problems of Afro-Americans have little to do with contemporary racism.

BOURGEOIS THEORY’S DOMINANT POSITION
Currently, the dominant line in contemporary bourgeois theory from the right and “left” is that the primary explanation of the persistence of racial inequality should be an economic or “class analysis”. Its class and economic analyses obscure actual class relationships and presents the economy in a onesided and mechanical way. Racism is factored out of the equation. The indicators of persistent inequality and rising poverty among the masses of Afro-Americans and other oppressed nationalities is viewed as a reflection of changes in the economy. Professor John Kassarda put forward the hypothesis that the Black poor are not where the jobs are. This is known as the mismatch hypothesis–i.e. the unemployed are geographically and in terms of training not matched to existing jobs. Though this line uses economic categories its understanding of the economy eliminates any notion of structural, cyclical and general crises of capitalism. They speak of the economy in terms that suggest it is a machine that is free of inherent contradictions and crises. As such, what one is left with is a a onesided “technical” explanation of economics, which is devoid of any notion of class conflict. More fundamental issues such as the permanence of unemployment and poverty under capitalism and the relationship of these phenomenon to the process of the maximization of profit finds no reflection in th is mechanical and purely technical understanding of the economy. Thus the economic categories are extremely narrow and thus fail to fully address the problem of poverty and its intensifcation.

THE UNDERCLASS A MAJOR FOCUS OF BOURGEOIS CLASS THEORY
A good part of bourgeois class theory is focused upon explaining the underclass . Although the proponents of this concept differ in their political complexion, the concept itself is rooted in immutable ideological commitments.
Academic theorists and researchers have for a decade refined and reformulated the concept into a theory that now claims to explain “permanent poverty”.
Journalist and propagandists have given this concept broad exposure. Circles as varied as liberal and conservative think tanks and academic institutes, as well as civil rights and trade union organizations regularly use the concept. It has even begun to be reflected in the writings and discussions of some left circles.
Nicholas Lemann writing in the Atlantic Monthly proclaimed, “the negative power of the ghetto culture all but guarantees that any attempt to solve the problems of the underclass in the ghetto won’t work– the culture is too strong by now.” Lemann goes on to argue that the “ghetto underclass” is the transplanted agricultural proletariat and sharecroppers from the South who have brought values, behaviors and psychology of dependency to the North. Mickey Kaus in the New Republic repeats this culture of poverty approach adding, “it is stupid to pretend that the culture of poverty isn’t largely a black culture”. Eleanor Holmes Norton in the New York Times Magazine arguing that Moynihanism was fundamentally corrected in its explanation of Afro-american inequality, suggests that a new lumpen proletariat of young Afro-american males have appeared in the urban ghettos who threaten the institutional stability of the Black community. Pete Hamill writing in Esquire claims that the underclass is the greatest threat to the US social structure. In each instance the underclass concept is used to argue that racism is no longer significant in explaining Afro-American poverty and the deteriorating conditions among the Afro-American poor. Norman Hill in a review of Wilson’s book, The Truly Disadvantaged, holds that “dramatic economic progress of the black middle class” is evidence that racism or what he terms “race specific explanations” cannot explain increasing poverty. Wilson argues, “If contemporary discrimination is the main culprit, why did it produce the most severe problems of urban social dislocation during the 1970’s , a decade that followed an unprecedented period of civil rights legislation and ushered in affirmative action programs?” The question is phrased in a way that suggests its answer. That is that since legal discrimination was outlawed with the civil rights legislation than racism is no longer primarily able to explain growing poverty. However, it seems strange to argue that the removal of legal barriers has meant that the substance of racism and inequality is removed from the social system. This is precisely the argument however.
A wide debate over the meaning , size and racial characteristics of the underclass is occurring. Differences over its size range from 1.6 million to 9 million. Ken Auletta, whose book The Underclass helped to popularize the concept, divides the underclass into four groups–(a)the passive poor, what he calls long term welfare recipients:( b)hostile street criminals (c)hustlers who earn their living in the underground economy, but rarely commit violent crime: (d) traumatized drunks, drifters , mental patients. Auletta sees class generally and the underclass in particular as made up of individuals who share similar behaviors.
Liberals and conservatives alike view the behaviors of the “underclass” as a significant part of the problem. Each ultimately views the poor as pathological and that their social pathology is considered partly, if not solely, determinant of their “class” position. For example researchers at the Urban Institution in Washington look at the underclass as a geographic clustering of certain kinds of behaviors. Robert Reischauer of the Brookings Institute formulates his position in a way that identifies the underclass with female headed families who live in poverty. Professor John Kassarda argues that urban economic development and urban demographics are on a “collision course”, which suggests that the Black poor no longer have a place in large cities. They are not matched to the jobs and the economies of so-called “information” and “post industrial” cities.

UNDERCLASS, A RACIAL CATEGORY
The underclass theory is perverted by the fact that it is racially colored.William Wilson differentiates the underclass from the rest of the poor by what he considers the “permanence”, or long term nature of their poverty. He contends that the underclass, as well, are geographically segregated and socially isolated from the general population. He holds that this isolation produces a “concentration effect” or a situation in which “pathologies” reproduce the underclass. Wilson also differentiates the Afro-American “underclass” from the white poor. He claims that the white poor are not subject to the effects of social isolation and therefore do not manifest the same level of “social pathologies”. His argument is that while whites may be just as poor as their Afro-American counterparts the white poor have the advantage of living in communities where the social fabric is intact. In a recent article Wilson makes this point strongly. He says,” If one were to conduct a study that simply compared the responses of poor urban whites with those of poor urban blacks independent of concentration effects, that is , without taking into account the different neighborhoods in which pooor whites and poor blacks tend to live, one would reach conclusions about attitudes, norms, behavior and human capital traits that would be favorable to poor whites and unfavorable to poor blacks.[my emphais, TM] To put this thinking in more direct terms, what Wilson is saying is that the poorest stratum of Afro-Americans, unlike whites living in similar poverty, have become lumpenproletariats. More significantly what he is suggesting is that the Afro-American poor, unlike the white poor, are separated from the working class, class consciousness and the class struggle. Wilson defines the underclass as ” that heterogeneous grouping of inner-city families who are outside the mainstream of the American occupational system. Included in this population are persons who lack training and skills and either experience long term unemployment or have dropped out of the labor force altogether; who are long-term public assistance recipients; and who are engaged in street criminal activity and other forms of abberant behaviors.” According to Wilson, “about one third of the entire black population” is included in the underclass. Wilson literally defines one third of Afro-Americans as a declassed and surplus population. To place 1/3 of Afro-Americans in the “underclass” which is inseparable from criminals and others who victimize the working people and threaten the social fabric is at best a characterization of the Afro-American poor which capitulates to racism.

INCREASE AND INTENSIFICATION OF POVERTY
Although a good part of current writing upon poverty looks at some of its economic causes in such factors as structural changes in the economy and the movement of industries away from the inner cities and even outside the country, inevitably the focus is upon what are considered the social pathologies of the poor. Inevitably the focus shifts away from the economy and to the poor themselves. Poverty is, thereby, studied as a thing in itself. In referring to those in deepest poverty as a lumpenproletariat what is being said is that its values and social psychology are in part responsible for reproducing and perpetuating poverty and misery.
On the other hand an increasing body of research has demonstrated that race and class operate jointly in determining the lives of Afro-Americans and other oppressed minorities. Economist Victor Perlo demonstrate that racism generated from the system of production accounts for 220 billion dollars annually of extra profits for the transnational corporations. Of this total 166 billion dollars are generated extra through the exploitation of Afro-American workers alone. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of impoverished Afro-Americans either work every day or are consistently seeking work. Michael Reich argues that the buying and selling of labor itself is infused with racism which confines Afro-American workers to the lowest paying jobs.
Underclass theorist have underestimated the magnitude of poverty as well. In this regard, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has recently suggested that poverty is a far larger problem than previously stated by the government. They now consider that at least 43.5 million people live in poverty. Economist Victor Perlo brings the BLS family budget up to current cost of basic necessities and concludes that 60 million people live in or near poverty. That is, one of every four Americans. As far as Afro-Americans are concerned the figure could conceivably be close to 60% of the total population. Even when using official figures some 7 million people have been added to the poverty roles during the years of Reaganism. In this same period, Afro-Americans lost 27% of previously held manufacturing jobs .
Daniel Lichter in explaining the economic situation of Afro-Americans sees a situation of economic underemployment. This category combines unemployment, underemployment, workers who work at poverty wages and those discouraged from looking for work. According to his research, Black workers are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than white workers and 4.8 times as likely to be discouraged. Moreover more than 1/3 of Afro-american workers 36.2% are underemployed. Litcher’s analysis suggests that the large and persistent body of impoverished Afro-Americans are primarily low paid and part time worker, as well as, unemployed and discouraged workers. Hence rather than a socially deviant and isolated underclass they are a part of the working class. Licther concludes, “race had more bearing on the likelihood of being underemployed in 1982 than it did in 1970. There is little evidence of the `declining significance of race’, at least as it pertains to labor force marginality in the urban core.”

FEMALE-HEADED HOUSEHOLDS ARE PART OF THE WORKINGCLASS
Underclass theorist place strong emphasis upon the social psychological conditions that supposedly keep people in poverty. Uppermost in this respect is the female headed household. Wilson for instance, argues that female headed households where the mother does not participate in the work force are pathological. The rise of female headedness is general to the society. However, the more rapid rate at which this occurred through the late 1970’s among Afro-Americans took place in the midst of an overall decline in the birthrates among black women and a much more rapid decline among married Afro-american women. However, more than 41% of Afro-american families headed by women did not live in poverty, and the majority of those who did were female heads who work at poverty wages. The point is that the majority of female headed households do not fit even Wilson’s description of the “underclass” . Moreover, it can be suggested that a good part of those forced into “permanent welfare dependency” are either discouraged workers, women for whom day care is unavailable thus limiting labor force participation or low paid female workers for whom welfare benefits are critical to the survival of their families. Rather than an underclass, poor families headed by females are overwhelmingly workingclass. Moreover, the majority of welfare recipients do not use these benefits continuously, confirming their on going links to the labor force and the workingclass.
What is significant is that as a whole the Afro-American workingclass has gotten poorer in absolute terms. However, what the underclass theory minimizes and in fact obscures is that the crisis of capitalism has had devastating affects on Blacks. Wilson expresses the inability to grasp this point when he says the following: “In the economic realm, then, the black experience has moved historically from economic racial oppression experienced by virtually all blacks to economic subordination for the black underclass….The ultimate basis of current racial division is the deleterious effect of basic structural changes in modern American economy on black and white lower income groups.” This is to suggest that race is no longer a major factor. But is “economic subordination” only a problem of the “underclass” or is class exploitation and racism a problem for all Afro-American workers? Furthermore, “class subordination” and exploitation is the situation of all workers under capitalism. Afro-American workers experience both class exploitation and racial oppression on the job and in their communities.

CAPITALISM AND POVERTY
A genuine theory of poverty and its frightful rise and horrible consequences must begin with the political economy of capitalism. That is, the drive for maximum profit, the globalization of the economy, the domination of the US economy by transnational corporations and banks, the enormous military budget, the use of the advances of science and technology in ways that increases poverty and unemployment and intensifies exploitation, the intensification of institutionalized racism and sexism in the drive for maximum profit. Beginning here one can than speak of policies to do away with homelessness, hunger, unemployment etc. Thus an anti-poverty program must be an anti-monopoly, anti-military budget, anti-racist and anti-reaganism program. It must be rooted in the united struggles of the workingclass, the Afro-american, Hispanic and other minorities, women and youth. The discussion of poverty which attempts to diagnose it by “understanding the poor” and labelling them the underclass ends up apologizing for monopoly capital and obscuring its fundamental role in creating and perpetuating poverty.
Rejecting the underclass theory and its application to the problems of Afro-American inequality and poverty, does not indicate a failure to recognize the profound social, moral and psychological problems that class exploitation, racism, sexism,militarism and poverty create for the working class. As has been indicated, these problems do not originate in the workingclass, or among Afro-Americans, but are the product , finally, of the capitalist system of production. In part this fact is demonstrated by the general social nature of these problems. Current data indicate these problems are neither ghetto or Afro-American specific. A 1985 study conducted by the Education Commission for the States reports:
-Drug and alcohol abuse among young people is up 60 fold since 1960.
-Teen pregnancy is up 109% among whites and 10% among non-whites since 1960.
-Teen homicide is up “an astounding 232% for whites” and 16% for nonwhites since 1950.
-Suicide is up more than 150% since 1950 with a teenager committing suicide every 90 minutes.
What this data begins to suggest is that the identification of these social problems with the “ghetto underclass” is a distortion of their social scope. Moreover, the popular belief, which is contributed to by underclass theorists, that all major social problems are primarily and in some instances exclusively Afro-American,is false and tends to contribute to a racist characterization of the Afro-American community. Lastly, their general scope suggests that their roots are enmeshed in the basic fabric of the US capitalist system. Conversely, to identify them as “underclass” or “ghetto specific” is to obscure their roots and to shift blame from the system and place it in whole or part upon the main victims of the capitalist system.
The decline of two parent households is held to be responsible for a major part of the poverty in the Afro-American community and the creation of the underclass. Wilson argues that their are fewer “marriageable” Afro-American men than in the past. This emerges , he contends, from the lack of jobs. This is partially true. However, the trend toward single parenthood is neither an Afro-American nor poor peoples problem. Sociologist Christopher Jencks argues that the trend is similar across racial and income groups. Jencks argues, “Single parenthood began to spread during the 1960’s, when the economy was booming. It spread during the 1970’s, when the economy stagnated. It spread in the early 1980’s during the worst economic downturn in a half century.” His point is that cultural changes and changing values must be seen as having a major influence.
As well, it is fashionable among a number of writers to label all Afro-American, Hispanic or workingclass behavior, linguistic styles, body language, dress, music and other national and class specific behaviors that do not bow to bourgeois norms as deviant. For instance rap music, which grows out of a specifically urban Afro-American experience and increasingly takes on a progressive content, is sometimes viewed as “underclass” and therefore reflective of deviance. When in reality its form often manifests a militant rejection of the sharp edge of racism and its impact upon nonwhite youth. Douglas Glasgow contends that much of the behavior that bourgeois journalist and academics call deviant are social forms that prepare Afro-American youth at an early age for life of inequality and denial of opportunity. Such behaviors, which should not be confused with anti-social and criminal activity , according to Glasgow have the effect of partially neutralizing the personality destructive effects of institutionalized racism. At the same time there exists a wide range of spontaneous behaviors among Afro-American youth that manifest deep anti-racist and anti-militarist feelings. Moreover, any assertive and self confident behavior on the part of Afro-American youth is viewed by many in the establishment as threatening and labeled as deviant or pathological.

THE POOR AND THE LUMPENPROLETARIAT
It would be unscientific to deny that there is a lumpenproletariat in our society. It comes from all classes and racial groups . However, it is a minuscule portion of the population. The lumpenproletariat is qualitatively different from the majority of the poor. Unlike the lumpenproletariat, the majority of the poor are inseparable from the workingclass. The lumpen not only are not a part of the workingclass, but in their values, consciousness and psychology are deeply anti-workingclass. At the same time those strata of the workingclass that have suffered severe and prolonged unemployment and underemployment do not share the same level of class organization, class discipline and class consciousness of regularly employed workers in basic industry and service sectors of the economy. Moreover, the organized section of the workingclass are by far the most class conscious and reflect this in their overall leadership of the workingclass. However, the self organization of the poorest segments of the working class, such as the National Union of the Homeless and its affiliation with the National Hospital Workers Union, reflect the growing class consciousness of that stratum of the workingclass. The National Union of the Homeless have fought corporate efforts to recruit homeless men and women as scabs and cheap labor against the interest of the trade union movement. Furthermore, the political mobilization of this stratum in the political campaigns of Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson, among others, is further indication of their growing unity with the entire struggle of the workingclass.

THE UNDERCLASS THEORY OBSCURES THE REAL SITUATION
Does the underclass theory clarify or obscure poverty and unemployment? Does it explain the class struggle and the struggle against racism or obscure them? Why has it appeared now and why has it received such broad acceptance in the media? In the final analysis the underclass label obscures the real causes of poverty. Most of research on the so-called underclass examines everything but the basis of poverty in the capitalist system, the growing military budget, an economy dominated by transnational banks and corporations, the policies of Reaganism, etc. Moreover, it is a useful handle in denying the existence of racism and the need for a continued struggle against it, especially a more determined fight for strong affirmative action programs. It is also an attempt to redefine the workingclass. to exclude from its ranks large numbers of Afro-Americans and to label this excluded stratum an underclass that is anti-social.
Some would suggest that a good part of the underclass theory is useful to progressive movements. The opposite, however, is the case. Under conditions of sharpening class struggle and rising class solidarity this theory provides ammunition for those who would divide the working class and anti-racist forces. It is a special attack upon Afro-Americans and is compatible with those of the most racist forces in our society.
The policy recommendations that emerge from this theory neither address the horrible growth in poverty, nor its awful impact upon the Afro-American working people. Their policy proposals avoid any infringement upon the super profits of the multinational corporations, as well as their tax and other privileges. They fail to seriously address the bloated military budget. In terms of jobs programs nothing is said of legislative and other measures to prevent plant closures, runaway plants and the general flight of capital from the US. Nothing is said of either nationalization of industries that are disinvesting in the US or the conversion of military industries to civilian production. Strong affirmative action programs are either totally rejected or defined as a narrow ” middle class” recommendation not suited to the needs of the poor. Nothing beyond mild liberal remedies are offered to reverse mounting poverty. Nothing approaching radical democratic or anti-monopoly transformations of the economy are ever mentioned.

THE WORKINGCLASS IN BOURGOEIS THEORY
Bourgoeis theory, in the last analysis, expresses utter contempt for the workingclass and its interests. In fact, it is capable of little more than the most perverse distortions of the working people and their struggles. Moreover, it expresses equal contempt for the Afro-American people. The designation of the most impoverished sections of the Afro-American people as an underclass, which boils down to labelling them a social subclass, is the most recent expression of this contempt. The idea that the Afro-American poor are mired in social pathology and deviance is further indication of this this position. In each case the working people and the poor, especially Afro-Americans, are seen as a passive mass, incapable of class consciousness and unified class action. In this context the system of monopoly capital is pictured as capable of solving the problems of class expolitation, racism and poverty. On these matters the underclass theorist are unequivocal in their defense of the capitalist system. As such, it is but the most recent version of anti-workingclass ideology.

REFERENCES
William Julius Wilson, The Declining Significance of Race (Chicago:University Of Chicago Press,1978)
This is the concept used extensively by sociologist and social psychologist. The concept social pathology is differentiated from deviance in social science. Kenneth Clark in Dark Ghetto: Dilemmas of Social Power (New York: Harper and Row,1965) made extensive use of this concept to describe the Afro-American community. It has subsequently been used as an alternative explanation which suggests that the internal social psychological dynamics within the Afro-American community are such that institutionalized racism plays a minor and dinimishing role in understanding and producing inequality. 
Isabell V. Sawhill, “What About America”s Underclass”, in Challenge:The Magazine of Economic Affairs, p.28 
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York: The Macmillan Company and The Free Press, 1968) Vol. 4, pp151-52. 
Robert K. Merton”Social Structure and Anomie” in Social Theory and Social Structure( New york: Free Press, 1957) pp131–60 , also see,The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, (New York, The Macmillan Co. and The Free Press, 1968) Vol. 4 ,pp. 151. 
Karl Marx, “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation”,Capital, Vol.1 ( Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1966) Here Marx demonstrates the inevitable relationship of the process of capitalist accumulation to the creation of poverty. As well he discusses the varying strata of impoverished workers. Marx referred to the vast majority of the unemployed as a reserve army of unemployed and a surplus population. 
Karl Marx and the Close of his System ( London: Unwin,1898) 
Among others see John Roemer, A General Theory of Exploitation and Class (Cambridge:Harvard University Press,1982) He is a chief proponent of a trend called “Analytic Marxism”, which in essence is anti-Marxism. 
Bayard Rustin,Strategies for Freedom (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976),chapter,3. 
Charles Murray’s Losing Ground, Edward Banfield’s Unheavenly City, Thomas Sowell’s Ethnic America and Economics and Politics of Race, are recent examples of this right wing position. 
Nathan Glazer and Daniel Moynihan, Beyond The Melting Pot,( Cambridge: MIT Press 1970)
“Affirmative Discrimination: For and Against” in, Ethnic Dilemmas: 1964–1982,(Cambridge: Harvard University Press,1983)
William Julius Wilson,The Truly Disadvantaged, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) chapter,5.
For a discussion of this see, Norman Fainstien, “The Underclass/Mismatch Hypothesis as an Explanation for Black Economic Deprivation”, in Politics and Society, p.405.
Nicholas Lemann, “The Origins of the Underclass” The Atlantic Monthly, (June, 1986) p.36.
Mickey Kaus, “The Work Ethic State”, The New Republic, (July 7, 1986), p.22.
Pete Hamill, “Breaking The Silence:A letter to a black friend”,Esquire, March 1988.
Norman Hill, “The Loss of Jobs and the Rise of the Underclass”, American Educator,(Summer, 1988) p.18
William Julius Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged, p.11.
Ken Auletta, The Underclass (New york: Vintage 1983) p.xvi.
quoted in “Worsening Plight of the `Underclass’ Catches Attention of Researchers”, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, p.7
.ibid.
. William Julius Wilson, ” The Ghetto Underclass and the Social Transformation of the Inner City”, p.15 The Black Scholar, May/June 1988.
. William J. Wilson, “The Underclass in Advanced Industrial Society” in The New Urban Reality, ed. Paul E. Peterson (Washington D>C: Brookings Institution, 1985, p.133.
William J. Wilson, The Declining Significance of Race, pp.151-52.
Victor Perlo, Super Profits And Crises (New York: International Publishers,1988) p.
Victor Perlo, “How Prevalent is Poverty?” People’s Daily World, Tuesday , August, 2,1988, p.9.
Daniel Lichter, “Racial Difference in Underemployment in American Cities” American Journal of Sociology,(January, 1988) p.779
ibid. p.789.
Fainstein, op. cit. pp. 407–8.
Wilson, “The Urban Underclass in Advanced Industrial Society” op. cit.
cited in Charles P. Henry, “Understanding the Underclass: Culture And Economic Progress” paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, Washington D.C. March 24-26, 1988, p.11.
Christopher Jencks, “Deadly Neighborhoods”,in The New Republic, (June 13, 1988) p.28



About Anthony Monteiro

I am a activist and scholar who is a professor in the Department of African American Studies at Temple University.
This entry was posted in Black Oppression, AIDS, Poverty and Unemployment, Race , class and sociological studies and theories. Bookmark the permalink.

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