Sunday, May 29, 2005

David Brooks on the Class Struggle

According to David Brooks, if Karl Marx came back from the realm of the dead he'd yell and scream about the American class struggle, not that David Brooks believes in a class struggle (he believes in the OT god). But in any case, Marx would point out that it's the educated elite that holds the power in the U.S. now, the educated elite which has destroyed the concept of family (read: patriarchal family) and it's the educated elite which runs this country now.

And, ta-ram-pam-pam! This educated elite consists of us latte-sipping-ivory-tower liberals! Yes, even though the wingnuts are in power everywhere you look, the real power is held by people like Echidne of the snakes!

So Brooks is right: there is a problem with class mobility in this country. And then he's horribly wrong: class is about money, not about the lefty values by some of those who are educated. He even admits as much in his column:

The information age elite exercises artful dominion of the means of production, the education system. The median family income of a Harvard student is $150,000. According to the Educational Testing Service, only 3 percent of freshmen at the top 146 colleges come from the poorest quarter of the population. The educated class ostentatiously offers financial aid to poor students who attend these colleges and then rigs the admission criteria to ensure that only a small, co-optable portion of them can get in.

The educated class reaps the benefits of the modern economy - seizing for itself most of the income gains of the past decades - and then ruthlessly exploits its position to ensure the continued dominance of its class.

It's the moneyed class that does this, David, not the educated class, though the two overlap. Check what you say yourself in this quote: the families of the students entering Harvard are wealthy, on average. The wealth was there first, David.

Brooks is trying to make a right-wing populist case here: Let's get rid of the educated liberals and the system will be fairer! Indeed, he appears to advocate getting rid of education as a way to make the system fairer. History doesn't support David in this assertion, and in any case the educated liberals are not in power right now. The wingnuts are, David, and you're their poster child for being educated and wingnut.