Class versus Identity Politics?

by | Apr 20, 2024

Parts of the “left” and “right” often lament that class politics has given way to identity politics. I don’t get that. Class was the original modern political identity, and state privilege was part of the cause. Libertarians and classical liberals long warned that lethal and impoverishing social disintegration would result from an ideology — socialism– based on Marxist class conflict, which pits business people against working people (as if business people don’t work).

We need to abolish politics, not reform it because it’s toxic. That won’t eliminate classes, or useful social categories. We’ll always have people who own businesses, people who manage them, and people employed by them. But those are not and won’t be pure categories. Owners work. Managers work. And workers own — shares in corporations. (Check your retirement account.) Ultimately, in the free market everyone has the same boss: the consumers.

What we must strive for is, to coin a phrase, classes without borders. That is, mobility. To get it we need free markets, which would end: occupational licensure, home-bulding restrictions, business permits, the minimum wage, immigration control, and so much more.

About Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and a contributing editor at He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies; former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education; and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest books are Coming to Palestine and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other.

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