This piece from 1937 envisions the forces that make a demagogue like Trump possible.
Of the various strata of human society the small tradesmen – clerks – white-collar workers and poorer farmers who constitute the so-called lower middle class would seem to the casual observer to be least capable of fulfilling a fateful role in contemporary social history.
Yet the indications are that they hold a position in modern society of such strategic significance that the fate of modern civilization may well be decided by them.
If this should prove true it is also fairly certain that their decision will be an unfortunate one.
The significance of the lower middle class does not derive from its possession of any particular political virtue or capacity.
On the contrary it exceeds all classes in political ineptitude.
But recent developments in lower middle class politics prove that social desperation may be compounded with political confusion into an independent political impulse of such fanatic power and such ambiguous direction that it may become the chief source of confusion in an age of confusion.
Individual life is probably under stricter personal discipline in lower middle class existence than anywhere else in society.
In that sense the genteel poor are a force for stability in a social structure.
But they are least able to find themselves amidst the complexities of a technical civilization and the perplexities of a period of change.
They are therefore potentially the chief source of social disease in modern history.