Technically speaking, the First World petty-bourgeoisie includes all people whose wage income includes surplus value. Its existence is an elephant in the room for much of the nominal left. But for everyone else, it is common knowledge.

Recently for example, a meme called ‘First World Problems’ was created which epitomized and gave voice to its existence. Here are some images associated with this meme:

Besides images, there is a website with selected quotes, including this one posted on September 4th, 2012: “I have to get dressed so I don’t look lazy when I go out and pay the gardener,” and this one posted on August 29th, 2012: “I went to go babysit for an hour and the kids didn’t know what their wifi password was.”

There is a ‘First World problems’ section on reddit, a popular social media website, where quotes are submitted daily by average First World Joes, including these from October 6th, 2012:

“The battery on my laptop is about to die; my power cable, netbook, pc and other laptop are all upstairs & I’m really comfortable on the sofa.”

“I turned off the shower too slowly and got cold water for a few seconds.”

“My wallet is uncomfortable to sit on because I have too much cash in it.”

“I want to listen to NPR, but the Home Prairie Companion is on.”

“I only got four dipping sauces with my 20 piece chicken fingers.”

“I can download porn faster than I can watch it.”

There is even a First World problems rap video on youtube, in which various trivial and ridiculous things are recited.


In sum, ‘First World problems’ are those which wouldn’t be readily solved with more money or a marginally higher standard of living. In the music video, this is made apparent when a dollar bill used to kill a spider and then flushed down a toilet because the teen rapper “didn’t have a tissue.”

Given all of this popular lighthearted banter about the idiosyncratic problems facing the First World petty-bourgeoisie, one would think an analysis of its existence would be requisite for any group claiming to have a scientific or revolutionary understanding of the world. While various academics may recognize the nuances in classes today, the vast majority of nominally ‘revolutionary,’ ‘socialist,’ or ‘communist’ organizations have next to no real analysis of these issues.

And not surprisingly, much of the so-called ‘revolutionary’ and ‘radical left’ is moribund and as divorced as ever from the masses it claims to represent.

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Imperialism, Political Economy


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