Luxury Beliefs — Blaming the Libs

August 20, 2019
Posted by Jay Livingston

If I could buy stock in words and phrases, I’d invest heavily in “luxury beliefs.” I predict that we’re going to be hearing a lot more of it, especially from the right wing.

The idea is an an update of Charles Murray. Nine years ago in Coming Apart, Murray argued that the economic and moral decline of the White working class (those whose education ended in high school or earlier) had been caused by educated liberals. It wasn’t that elite liberals were promoting harmful policies, and it wasn’t because they were setting a bad example. Just the opposite. They were following the “success sequence” — getting more education, working hard at their jobs, waiting till after marriage to have kids. The trouble was that they were not trying to inculcate these practices in others. They were not preaching what they practiced.

Murray had no data for this claim, and I thought that the idea had disappeared. But over on the right, blaming the libs is just too tempting. Why let it wither away just because there’s no evidence?

So now Rob Henderson goes Murray one better. In a New York Post op-ed , he argues that those successful, educated liberals caused the decline of the White working class by holding “luxury beliefs.” It’s a clever coinage which will no doubt bring Henderson a lot of attention, especially from conservatives.

Normally, I would not pay much attention to the New York Post (see this from 2007), but the article is already bouncing around the conservative Internet, and Caitlin Flanagan, who turns up in mainstream publications like The Atlantic, tweeted it.

Luxury beliefs are “ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.” For example,

Affluent, educated people raised by two married parents are more likely than others to believe monogamy is outdated, marriage is a sham or that all families are the same.

It’s safe for the affluent educated to hold these beliefs about marriage, says Henderson, because in their own marriages they are conventionally monogamous. But that belief was disastrous for the less educated and less affluent.

This luxury belief contributed to the erosion of the family. Today, the marriage rates of affluent Americans are nearly the same as they were in the 1960s. But working-class people are far less likely to get married. Furthermore, out-of-wedlock birthrates are more than 10 times higher than they were in 1960, mostly among the poor and working class. Affluent people seldom have kids out of wedlock but are more likely than others to express the luxury belief that doing so is of no consequence.

How did that happen? How did the beliefs of the educated become the beliefs of the lower classes? Henderson’s answer: they “trickled down.”

You can see the contradiction here. Henderson is saying that elite ideas trickled down to the working class and poor. But he begins by saying that those people are less likely than are the affluent to believe that “monogamy is outdated.”

Nor does he say how that trickle-down happened. Tracking the diffusion of an idea is not so easy to do, especially when you are trying to document the diffusion across class lines. The double meaning in the title Coming Apart was not just that the White working class was coming apart but that the educated and affluent lived in a bubble separated from the working class and poor, having little interaction with them and sharing almost none of their culture.

But if Henderson is correct, somehow those beliefs just trickled out of the affluent bubble and poisoned the minds of the less educated, causing them to do things that undermined their chances for a better life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why is it that haute couture one year is "ready to wear" the next and knock off versions of it are in Walmart the next again? How do such frivolous things as Hunter boots, silver toned hair and special eyeliners that are in gel form manage to mysteriously just "trickle down" to the lower classes if the rich who start these trends are so insulated from them?

I am, broadly speaking, on the Left and quite poor and I am sad to report that things have not changed much in 500 years. I still know the nobility and what it's values are while it knows zilch about me. They are insulated from me but I am not insulated from them. 500 years ago there was virtually no chance of advancement, now that carrot is dangled in front of the poor constantly. "If only you did yourself up a bit (spent more money than you have to appear several classes higher than you are) you could get a promotion or better job (which would not pay enough to justify the fact that I'd be expected to keep up this new level of expensive self-maintenance).

Every leftist ever can understand the tyrany of things like the fashion cycle and the need to keep up with the joneses, but you dislike this because it treads on your sacred turf in ways that disposable fashions or other luxury signals never will. Before the Internet and social media it took 10-20 years for a luxury belief to trickle down so the cycle was less obvious, but the speed is ever increasing.

It just kills you that we poor people are starting to cotton on that our (supposedly) Marxist saviors and the elites that benefit from our oppression are one and the same people now. The end is nigh for this form of limousine leftism and thank fucking God!