If readers look closely they will see that Steve Hammer has exposed the class division that so many today say does not exist. They believe they too can become the next Oprah or Bill Gates if they just keep putting faith and effort into the current capitalist system, which is reinforced by both major political parties. The rich downtown office workers that Hammer is referring to (“Downtown Observations,” Feb. 13-20) is what Karl Marx described as the “petty bourgeoisie”: the class of managers and small business owners. They avoid the laid-off auto workers, the unemployed African-Americans, the homeless war veterans and undocumented immigrants, or the working class, partly out of fear of being mugged but mostly because they remind the petty bourgeoisie that the system is rigged towards their bosses, the ruling class, and they too could very easily wind up on the streets if the economy continues to worsen.
This February marks the 160th anniversary of the first printing of the Communist Manifesto. Instead of mulling around downtown looking for free cigarettes I urge the oppressed masses to walk to their nearest library and do some research online for free and Google the term “What is communism.” Armed with a free copy of People’s Weekly World in one hand and a free copy of NUVO Newsweekly in the other and with the organization of a worker’s vanguard party, we can change the system that causes people to relight a cigarette from a collector on a downtown street.