Why Some of Them Believe

What happens when you have too much money, especially of the sort handed down from your parents? I mean, so much money that you don't really have to work, or work much at any rate, to survive? Some, like Paris Hilton, decide to slut themselves out physically. Others do it intellectually. Michael Barone explores the "trustfunder left" in an insightful look at a main element of the soft Left.
Who are the trustfunders? People with enough money not to have to work for a living, or not to have to work very hard. People who can live more or less wherever they want. The "nomadic affluent," as demographic analyst Joel Kotkin calls them.

These people tend to be very liberal politically. Aware that they have done nothing to earn their money, they feel a certain sense of guilt. At the elite private or public high schools they attend, and even more at their colleges and universities, they are propagandized about the evils of capitalism and globalization, and the virtues of environmentalism and pacifism. Patriotism is equated with Hiterlism.

The emphasis is mine. Barone goes on to explain the political effects, but I'm interested in their philosophical effects. Barone's observation about the propensity of trustfund kids to join the political Left is also echoed more widely in America, as Kurt Andersen observes about liberal guilt in Manhattan.
Like "radical chic," a related New York specialty, "liberal guilt" once meant feeling discomfort over one’s good fortune in an unjust world. As this last U.S. election cycle began, however, a new subspecies of liberal guilt arose—over the pleasure liberals took in bad news from Iraq, which seemed sure to hurt the administration. But with Bush reelected, any shred of tacit moral rationale is gone. In other words, feel the guilt, and let it be a pang that leads to moral clarity.

With these two pieces, we see then that "liberal guilt" as a phenomenon not only motivates its sufferers search out "morally redeeming" projects, but that it indentures them to their political masters much as feudal oaths of fealty bound vassals to their lords. So when their masters are partisan demagogues, they pour their energies, both financial and intellectual, into wresting power for their masters, regardless of the consequential hypocrisy. The are the poor souls that confuse the Left for liberalism, and must be engaged. Perhaps abolishing that estate tax isn't such a grand idea after all.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

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