The Working Class Is the Vast Majority of Society

Excerpt from A People’s Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics (Haymarket Books, August 2020).

The working class — black, white, native-born, and immigrant — across a diverse set of experiences and facing myriad oppressions, collectively make up a class of people who are exploited to create profits for the few. Understanding how class works and on what basis class positions are determined help to reveal the structures of power and exploitation in our society.

A very basic definition of classes as they exist under capitalism begins with this premise: workers have to sell our ability to work, and capitalists buy and command our labor power. You can’t understand either the worker’s or the boss’s class position without understanding that the whole of the system is one in which labor is set to work, in order to produce a profit for someone else.

Class, in other words, is a

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