Detractors of the Passover Manifesto feel uneasy about that august document’s pointing an accusing finger toward the leftism of America’s Jewry. So sometimes, to explain away Jewish (and Indian!) leftism, they bring up a powerful excuse. “No,” they proclaim, “there is nothing unique about Jewish [and Indian!] leftism, it’s just a feature of the upper class!”
They argue that the professional classes are a leftist blob of diversity and inclusion, infecting with leftism whoever belongs to them. And since so many Jews (and Indians!), thanks to their talents, belong to the professional classes, they become leftists. It’s not the Jews’ (or Indians’!) fault, it’s the class that so many of them end up belonging to.
So it’s really a compliment! Jews are so talented, so high-IQ, so gifted and dynamic, that they can’t control climbing up and belonging to the happy classes of attorneys, consultants, media executives, and journalists. If those classes were composed of nationalists, Jews would be nationalists too, but, alas, the happy classes are liberal so Jews by osmosis are liberals too!
Sorry, but I’m not persuaded by the blob hypothesis.
First, if leftism is the effect of being a wealthy management consultant, are less successful Jews less leftist? I don’t think so. Jewish social workers, if anything, are more leftist than Jewish investment bankers.
Second, Orthodox Jews are by and large politically conservative, yet they too mostly belong to the professional classes (show me an Orthodox farmer or a Hassidic oil rig man). Why are they not leftists? The correlation breaks.
Third, the blob of the professional classes was not always a leftist blob. Not too long ago corporate America was the emblem of Reaganite conservatism. Yet Jews have always been leftists. Back when the upper classes were still conservative the old adage was coined that Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans.
The reason Jews (and Indians!) are leftists is not their success and belonging to the professional class. This is a classic homo economicus fallacy that seeks to explain human behavior through the deterministic means of economic activity. Whereas the American elite has oscillated between conservatism and leftism, Reform and secular Jews have always been leftists. Jews couple with elite orthodoxies when they are leftist-progressive, and decouple from them when they are not.
Class consciousness, or groupthink, is certainly a meaningful factor. But ultimately, regardless of our economic status, we all choose what to believe, whom to resent, and how to act. The underlying causes of Jewish (and Indian!) leftism are much older and more profound than economic success.
Follow us on Twitter!
And sign up for updates here!