There have always been privileged elites. There have always been elites who hold the ‘common folk’ in disdain. Less common have been privileged elites who deny their privilege and justify it, nonetheless, on the elimination of privilege, on the redistribution of wealth, and, simultaneously, on the possession of vastly superior knowledge of what their society and culture really needs to achieve that seemingly self-destructive goal. This is the position of the Privileged Left in the USA in 2010.
Here is one of the points of origin of that mindset. It began four decades ago…..
Eventually, in the late, unlamented 1960’s, most campus baby-boomers not in the hard or applied sciences came to the stinging realization that life and outlooks based on:
• Rock & roll
• The politics of affluent self-righteousness
• And down-the-line cushy inheritances from those depression-era parents and relatives
— righteous and love-based though they might be, were not going to suffice in getting on in the personal/financial here and now!
For some, there were de rigeur rites of passage spent in civil rights, anti-war, or poverty politics, organizing, the Peace Corps, etc.; but sooner rather than later in most cases, the time came when even they must needs assume their proper places in the professional, technical, academic, or similar elite worlds for which they had been atraining — — but never, Gaia forbid, in the putrescent soul-rotting profit-grubbing private sector.
One remembers the inevitable retreats and papers of the ‘Radicals in the Professions’ option of the late 60’s [but those ‘strategies’ are shards for a later excavation].
More telling for the non-SDS mainstream was the obnoxious Eugene McCarthy presidential primary campaign vs. Robert Kennedy of 1968, in which the campus proto-yuppies found their perfectly-pitched political vehicle.
“At least our supporters can read.”[or something very similar, I can only find references to the utterance,; not an exact quote.], he intoned in Oregon, in contrast to Kennedy’s more working-class, “less intelligent” electoral base. And the unenlightened Indiana electorate that had given Kennedy a primary victory had “produced no poet” of the stature of McCarthy’s pal, Robert Lowell.
How resonant, how very contemporary was that lamented Pied-Piper of the privileged! I mean, really! How many politician-poets do you know who could make poor Bobby Kennedy sound like a pre-incarnation of the MSNBC version of Sarah Palin?
And so, began the left/liberal stations of the occupational/economic cross — basically from campus to commitment to campaign to certification to career. In time, the raging flames of youth dwindled to mildly- sputtering embers: always voting democratic, hating ‘hatred’, avoiding ‘judgementalism’ [the ideologically condemned varieties only], and always [at least when the like-minded might overhear] paying due obeisance to ‘victim’ groups, multiculturalism, ‘diversity’ [of the right kind], and environmentalism.
Only now, some forty years later, do we reap the fully-ripened fruit of this process of generational self-actualization. A nice, very consistent world in which the enlightened, interpartnered disciples of Gene McCarthy, the red diaper babies, and John Lennon control, along with their younger appointees, the majority of posts in all levels of education, foundations, mainline Protestantism, public sector bureaucracies, the upper-administrative levels of the helping professions, the law, the media, publishing, the arts, ‘entertainment’, union bureaucracies, corporate diversity programs, and on and on..
And somehow — despite the very best of intentions and the combined effort and planning of the best, most well-equipped minds, most progress-committed minds that federal and institutional grants can produce — all those enlightened, progressive, positions they hold pay salaries that place them and their interpartnered ‘domestic arrangements’ easily in the top 20% of domestic income and the top 1% of world income.
Sometimes, real change comes slowly. No doubt, we need a lot more funding for research, pilot programs, and awareness-raising programs in order to achieve the true transformative redistribution we all seek………