17 August 2018

The cultural elite and the “upper middle class”

Has it become acceptable yet, in polite circles, to criticise the il-liberal elite?

(Attacking the elite may smack of “populism”. Populism is, at the moment, widely regarded as bad — though why it’s supposed to be bad is rarely elucidated.)

Judging by Radio 4 presenter Justin Webb’s article in yesterday’s Times, it may be okay, provided you can demonstrate your egalitarian credentials.

Webb talks of polarisation between America’s cultural elite, and the many ordinary Americans who do not partake of the beliefs of political correctness, e.g. self-righteous indignation at white people or men.

However, instead of using the description “politically correct cultural elite” — which might sound critical of moderately-paid but highly-ideologised groups such as teachers, academics and government employees — Webb labels his targets as the “upper middle class”.

“Who will challenge the American upper middle classes?” he asks. “Who will take away their tax breaks?”

Inviting resentment of a class because it is said to possess privileges it doesn’t deserve? Doesn’t seem that different from what the subjects of Webb’s critique do.