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Charles N. Steele

To be a "Rich People's Leftist" one doesn't really have to be rich. The description above fits most of the leftist professors I know (that's a lot of people) almost all of whom are simply well-off academics. One thing I have noticed about them is their remarkable propensity to speak contemptuously of lower class whites, "poor white trash," in certain circumstances that arise rather frequently (i.e. any time they speak about what that imagine such people supposedly believe). I also know quite a surprising number of conservative academics (surprising, since there aren't so many), and while I hear them say plenty of things I disagree with, I simply never hear anything equivalent, i.e. holding a particular class or race in contempt.

John Pepple

I agree that one doesn't have to be rich to be part of Rich People's Leftism. I was a part of it for many years, even though I am from the lower-middle class. The rhetoric of RPL sounds pleasing to the poor, so they get sucked in. My claim about them is that it is the wealthy more than the poor who control the left and who generate the ideas that are on its agenda. Poorer people simply fall in with the prevailing ideas.

As for professors, I believe that most of them these days come from the upper half rather than the bottom half. It was quite different when I was young. There was a demand for professors, and people like my father-in-law, who came from the working class, had an easy time getting a job.

Then about 1971 the job market in academia changed, and colleges could afford to be choosy about whom they were hiring. They could afford the best, which means they could afford to get people from elite schools, and the people from elite schools are generally from the upper half economically.

The result is that class issues have receded in importance because they don't mean much to professors these days. And when they do talk about class, they are hopeless because they don't really understand lower-class whites the way they used to.

I've talked about the receding interest in class elsewhere. Here, for example:


What's sad is that nothing has changed, and nothing is likely to change because the academic job market is still awful. That means most professors will be drawn from the elite schools, and most will come from wealthy backgrounds.

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