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The Sins of the Educated Class


In my youth, I found myself firmly aligned with left-wing ideals. Spending hours in libraries pouring over early 20th-century issues of publications like The Masses and The New Republic, I was captivated by the stories of workers standing up against the elites, whether at Haymarket, the Battle of Blair Mountain, or in the struggles of the Pullman sleeping car porters for fair wages. My heroes were icons of the left: John Reed, Clifford Odets, Frances Perkins, and Hubert Humphrey.

However, as I transitioned into adulthood, I realized that the landscape had shifted. We were no longer in the industrial age; we were now firmly entrenched in the information age. Progressive energy had migrated from the working class to the universities, particularly the elite ones.

Elite universities became bastions of progressivism, with a majority of students identifying as progressive or very progressive. This progressive dominance was reflected not only in academia but also in cultural institutions and the foundations that support them. Yet, there emerged a striking contradiction: the very institutions that espoused anti-elite values now constituted the elite themselves.

This contradiction gave rise to what I term “false consciousness” among the educated class. Despite their privileged positions, many progressives grappled with reconciling their identity as champions of the oppressed with their own privileged status. This cognitive dissonance often led to radicalization, with individuals doubling down on their progressive beliefs to prove their authenticity.

Moreover, elite overproduction exacerbated social tensions, as highly educated individuals vied for limited opportunities in sectors like finance, consulting, and tech. The resultant alienation and disillusionment fueled culture wars and political polarization, ultimately eroding societal cohesion.

The inflammation of discourse further exacerbated these divisions, turning ideological differences into existential battles for social status and power. In the absence of religious beliefs, moral wars became the primary means through which individuals sought meaning and purpose.

Yet, amidst this turmoil, there is the potential for a new coalition to emerge—a multiracial, multipronged alliance against the educated class. This alliance, while still nascent, could fundamentally challenge the existing power structures.

For those of us in the educated class, the time for introspection and reform is now. We must confront the contradictions within our own ranks and work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society. Failure to do so risks being swept aside by the very forces we helped to unleash.