Dorothy Day, a Christian who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, defended her religion by vigorously saving the poor. She wrote for The Call, a socialist paper, in the 1930s before her popularity soared. In Dorothy’s time, communistic principles were understood and debated by the high-brow intellectual class, which examined the tenets of socialistic and Marxist theory and its effect on the laboring class. Dorothy fought against conscription and the exploitation of the poor and for much-needed labor rights. Pockets of resistors who recognized the growing 1% fought on the urban American inner-city streets against mogul capitalists like J.P. Morgan, who opulently seized more wealth by controlling the raw materials, means of production, and labor capital. Communism was sometimes viewed as godless by those who feared change.

In Dorothy Day’s era, American communists had an equivalent goal of reducing class division and privilege by petitioning on the streets for basic worker rights and safety. Although Dorothy Day was spiritually saved, Nicodemus style, she aligned with Lenin who stated that the bourgeois class fomented religious disputes by guilt to distract workers’ attention from solidifying their goals to seek economic fairness. Lenin advised like-minded Christians with Marxists to mobilize as proletariats against the dark forces of capitalism. Certain strains of the Catholic and protestant churches felt that countering the authoritarian capitalists was an act of disobedience and that yielding to servitude was easier.

The modern working class that identifies factors of wheat-chafing superiority as to who is a good American attempts to divide or disassociate itself from other classes of society involved in similar struggles for their own dignified justice. White males in factories don’t equate themselves with Mexicans in vineyards. Those fully aligned with President Donald Trump view other members of society as outcasts and not worthy of their collective condition. While Trump brags about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States, he supposedly is trying to guarantee the blue-collar working class a job, but little is said about the behind-the-scenes profiteers negotiating their relocation to the continental U.S. Are these owners of the means of production still exceedingly benefitting by coming back to the U.S. under Trump’s geographic repatriation of these companies? Or is it a convenient way for Americans who have not re-trained themselves in this computer age beyond a high school education to just take a 40-year job of guaranteed labor so they can feel a part of Trump’s inner circle?

Thrasymachus, a sophist philosopher in Plato’s republic, argued that justice is nothing but the advantage of the stronger to support socially constructed moral values that are simply the reflection of particular political communities. Trump followers relish in vilifying political opponents who don’t adopt their worship style of the current presidential leadership. His polarizing speeches of moral clarity have become the verbal warfare in strategize chess moves to signify the worthiness of Americans. Mainstream Christians, right-wing guardians of scripture, modern day Bernie Bolsheviks, and blue-collar cult prey cannot collectively bargain their philosophical agenda with blood-letting dissenters.

A Baptist church member and friend from Beverly Hills called me a Luciferean Marxist because I publicly challenged her position on economic elitism and on denying her own race. She said I was liberally indoctrinated. She viewed my endgame as a false martyrdom, like John the Baptist who stood his ground and was beheaded. Learning the historical struggle between these philosophies offers insight into exactly why each aspect of century-long economic-systemic melee keeps surfacing during election cycles. Public health care, public pensions, environmental preservation, and the legal protection of all Americans are on the table right now. Re-examining past tensions and perceptions about how effective economic systems work may be the key to understanding how effective government can perpetuate and maintain change.

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Jane Hoffman of Duluth has a master's degree in political science, taught political science, and hosted a political radio show for 10 years.