Starting with this blog article, we want to introduce you to the most important element of our game: The four social classes. As you maybe know by now, Hegemony is an asymmetric game, which means that all the players have different roles with varying resources, objectives and tactics to reach those goals. In our case, the players take the roles of four classes: The working class, middle class, capitalist class and the government itself. We will dedicate a separate article to each of those classes. This time, however, let us begin with the working class:
What once was called the “proletariat” is nowadays widely referred to as the “working class”. Although the distinction to the middle class is blurry and lies in the eye of the beholder, members of the working class usually get paid a wage instead of salary and carry out blue-collar jobs, meaning occupations which require a certain amount of manual labor. Nonetheless, many low-paid pink-collar workers (hired in the care sector) and white-collar workers (usually employed in office settings) can be found there as well. Although the standard of living has been slowly rising in many parts of the world, the working class usually makes up the biggest part of every society.
As a player taking charge of the working class, your goal is to represent it in its entirety, defend its interests and tend to its needs. As the working class strives to increase its prosperity, this can happen through various channels: Higher wages, low taxes, affordable education and healthcare, luxurious items (just think for example about a big flat-screen TV, a computer or even just a regular smartphone), entertainment and of course low unemployment rates are some of the factors which can raise the collective standard of living. Just like the other players, while pursuing your goals, you will often be forced to cooperate with the other classes. For example, if you don’t staff the capitalist´ factories with your workers, they will not produce goods and, thus, profits for the capitalist, but also will not generate wages. Therefore, shifting alliances are almost bound to emerge. Notwithstanding these moments, you will also have a broad range of actions on your cards which can bring you closer to victory if played right and are unique to your class: If you declare a strike, for example, the concerning factory ceases production until the capitalist player agrees to raise its wage level. Or you could mobilize unions or student movements, initiate supplemental income programs or even evoke an international worker movement. Those and many more choices will be presented to you on your cards.
Apart from these dynamics taking place on the board, you could also channel your energies to exert influence in the parliament to pass policy proposals and move the state in a certain ideological direction. In general, the working class will be in favor of a strong welfare state (for free health and education), low taxation for workers, a flexible fiscal policy and tight labor regulations (for high wages) so pushing these policy markers to the left of the parliament board will certainly help your cause. Migration and foreign trade proposals, on the other hand, truly depend on the specific context at hand: If the borders are completely open, the working class might not be able to allocate all the workers in companies and a high unemployment rate might ensue. If migration regulations are too strict, however, there might be not enough workers to begin with. The same applies to foreign trade, where trade tariffs might increase the price of consumer goods but secure domestic jobs while globalized market structures could lower the prices but decrease the number of jobs available. The issue, therefore, for the working class is to find the right balance and quickly adapt to the situation on the board.
In this article, we introduced the first of our four social classes: The working class. While in control of it, you will have to think about your workers’ health and education first, but also take care of their other needs and use your political influence to move the state into a more socialist direction. Of course, the goals of the other classes are of a completely different nature and are often even in stark opposition to yours. Let us, therefore, look into the other classes in the next articles!