Do You Live in a Bubble?


We’ll be talking about poverty and the idea of relative deprivation this week, topics that relate to our ongoing discussion of the culture wars and this weird political season. Conservative political scientist Charles Murray (the Bell Curve thesis guy in Conley’s Chapter 10) developed a quiz that is useful for helping us think about whether there is a real cultural separation between an upper class “bubble” and the larger mainstream American culture. Take the quiz and we’ll discuss. And here’s an essay by Yale Professor Gerald Jaynes, who disagrees with the whole premise of Murray’s quiz: “‘Mainstream America’ Doesn’t Actually Exist.”

Hostility to Identity Politics


In class today we discussed economic arrangements that perpetuate inequality, and that got us into a bit of discussion about identity politics, white privilege, and so forth. Here’s the op/ed I quoted from, by (conservative) Hoover Institution Fellow Shelby Steele, who is hostile to what he sees as liberal political correctness: “The Exhaustion of American Liberalism.” Whether you agree or disagree with him (and you will surely do one or the other), note the battle lines implied in his critique of liberalism. Americans are not talking much these days about labor unions, or the communists, or military budgets. In 2017, we’re all supposed to be partisans, it seems, in the culture wars.