I’ve written several times
about the shift from left/right (economic) to open/closed (cultural) as the primary axis of political competition. Yascha Mounk has a new essay on the topic
, which looks at how the left can survive (and even win) in a new political landscape. It’s nuanced in argument and global in perspective, and well worth a read.
Mounk argues that the “bohemian-proletarian” coalition that sustained social democrats for most of the 20th century is falling apart. But why have affluent “bohemians” been willing to vote against their apparent economic interests for so long (certainly UK Labour did a lot better in 2017 talking about economics than it’s done since [not] talking about Brexit)? Or, to in Mounk’s words, why is “a worker in a car factory… far less likely to believe in socialism than an undergraduate at Oxford”?
I suspect the answer has to do with relative
economic status. Over last three decades the the truly rich have pulled ever further away from the merely affluent, despite similar levels of education. I wonder if those at the 90th percentile (~£50,000 income in the UK
) are willing to pay more absolute
tax to reduce the relative disparity between them and their university peers who chose the finance/law/tech route? It fits what we know about the psychology of inequality
- and also explains UK Labour’s surprisingly regressive 2017 manifesto
(and, I’m willing to guess, the 2020 US Democratic platform).