In graduate school, we had a clever term to describe faculty members who talked the politics of revolutionaries—the rabid hatred of capitalist materialism and the desire to replace it with a socialist utopia—while living in upper bourgeois materialist über-comfort.
This was at the University of California, San Diego—which is not really in San Diego, but in the much pricier real estate of La Jolla. Professors couldn’t quite afford to live there, but many could and did afford to live in another high-income neighborhood, just a bit further north of campus along the coast: Del Mar. From there, they commuted down to UCSD to deliver lectures on the moral inadmissibility of a social system in which some people, disproportionately whites, lived in comparative splendor while others, often people of color, were impoverished. After their lectures, they went home to their big houses in a wealthy and 95 percent white coastal town and had a glass of wine while working on their latest exposition for some rarified academic press of how the revolutionary fight should proceed.
We called them Del Marxists.
I’m in central Pennsylvania now, a long way from Del Mar. Yet the phenomenon we noted in my grad school days is ubiquitous. Wherever there is a college campus and a hoity-toity neighborhood or two, you can bet the faculty fans of BLM and Antifa will collectively associate in these communities of material comfort and like-minded high-mindedness. In these neighborhoods, they live in complete assurance that they will never meet the riotous criminals they applaud in their classrooms as righteous freedom fighters. They will never pass them on their well-kept streets or see them in the same checkout line at their local high-priced health food market.
Our Pennsylvanian Del Marxists don’t have seaside digs because there is no sea here. But they are married to corporate lawyers and medical doctors and college administrators and other college professors, so their collective incomes are impressive. These are people who talk constantly about the great good of diversity, but their families are the least diverse social bodies you will ever see. They invariably marry other members of the upper-middle classes of their same racial and ethnic group, and with whom they share the same beliefs and values. Couples often physically resemble one another in their quasi-total cultural uniformity. All their friends are also members of the same class, and they agree on everything important.
Though they preach fellowship with the disenfranchised, most of them would squirm with discomfort at the mere thought of having to be in the company of people who watch a significant amount of television, listen to country music, or do their grocery shopping at Walmart.
They find lavish homes near their faculty friends in these hoity-toity neighborhoods—homes that are more than 4,000 square feet, that boast five bathrooms, and that are worth upwards of a cool million dollars. Just for comparative purposes, you might be interested to know that the median home price in this part of central Pennsylvania is somewhere around a quarter of that amount.
The Pennsylvanian Del Marxists are a local aristocracy every bit as materially and culturally distant from the peasants around them as the royals of the Old Regime. The difference, of course, is that the Del Marxists spend their time on the job constantly singing the praises of precisely the peasants with whom they avoid close contact as though they were all carriers of a fatal infectious disease.
The Del Marxists make comfortable salaries and have generous private medical insurance plans. They are perfectly financially able to put away large sums of money for their retirements. They are ideologically committed to eliminating all inequality and they support single-payer healthcare, but somehow none of them are lining up to hand over any portion of the material surplus they control to those less fortunate.
Many have wealth that greatly exceeds their incomes, thanks to their well-to-do families of birth. Some have inherited fortunes from the occasional millionaire attorney uncle or a grandparent who made a killing on the stock market. They own expensive summer places in desirable areas just outside one or another big East Coast city that they rent out at exorbitant rates the rest of the year. They complain about the responsibilities of the landlord in blasé, aristocratic tones. Every few years, they make additions to their pricey homes that are themselves frequently more costly than many of the homes in the surrounding area.
They do all this while preaching socialism and attacking housing inequality and segregation, of course.
They also pay big bucks to send their children to educational summer camps and for expensive personal tutoring for the SAT and ACT and other standardized tests. When they know none of the plebes are within hearing range, they chuckle haughtily at those quaint working-class families who are thrilled to send a child to Penn State or to a community college, who are proud to be the first in their families to pursue any formal education beyond high school. Their children also look with scarcely concealed contempt at their fellows who are not applying to Ivy League universities and posh northeastern liberal arts colleges.
These young people have learned this attitude from their parents, who of course purport to hate the elitism that ensures the children of the wealthy have much greater career and overall life prospects than those of the working classes.
They have profited enormously from a system they purport to hate and want to destroy, all while carefully doing nothing substantive to disturb their position in it or even to act in accordance with their beliefs by doing some significant redistribution with the material wealth they have ready-at-hand.
Del Marxism. The academic way of saying hypocrisy.