Roughly 18 months have passed since New York Magazine published a cover story declaring that, in the age of President Trump, all the new “it” kids in Brooklyn (we use the term “kids” loosely; most are well into their 30s) are avowed socialists.
As the reporter explains, the new generation of Brooklyn cool kids have blue check marks on twitter and low-paying editorial jobs at digital magazines like the (now defunct) Outline, Deadspin (a media outlet ostensibly dedicated to sports but realistically covered whatever its reporters and editors felt like writing about on any given day) or Jacobin, a magazine that has been described by some as “straight up Marxist” in its editorial slant. Almost all of them were white women, the most oppressed class.
One year later, a staff uprising at the NYT exposed just how deeply embedded these new crypto-marxist values have become in the modern American media environment. Staffers successfully ousted Opinion Page editor James Bennett over his decision to curate an essay from Republican Sen. Tom Cotton despite the fact that the opinion page is supposed to be an entirely separate editorial entity from the NYT’s newsgathering operation.
This week, the NYT has published a story about a handful of wealthy heirs who have embraced the socialist credo, and who see their massive piles of inherited wealth as a symbol of shame, not a blessing for which they should be extremely grateful.
Take 25-year-old Sam Jacobs, for example. Described as “a socialist since college”, he reportedly sees his family’s “‘extreme plutocratic wealth’ as both a moral and economic failure”.
“I want to build a world where someone like me, a young person who controls tens of millions of dollars, is impossible,” he said.
Fortunately for Jacobs, his grandfather was one of the founders of Qualcomm, the ubiquitous chipmaker. And even if he gives $30 million away, he’ll still have another $70 million or so coming to him over the course of his lifetime. And what’s more, he’s not alone. As the NYT reports, for all their kvetching about student loans, American millennials will soon become the beneficiaries of what social scientists are calling “the great wealth transfer”: tens of trillions of dollars are expected to pass from the hands of baby boomers to their millennial and Gen X spawn over the coming decade.
However, most American millennials won’t inherit anything, except for “debt, dim job prospects” and a “figment” of the social safety net (that seems like an exaggeration, especially considering that literally every single American citizen who reaches the required age will receive a monthly check from the federal government, part of a program called “social security”, not to mention medicare/medicaid).
But as both a “trust-fund kid and an anticapitalist”, Jacobs “is in a rare position among leftists fighting against economic inequality”. And he’s hardly along in trying to navigate “what it means to be with the 99%, when you’re the 1%” – embracing the type of reductive, us-vs.-them thinking promoted by Bernie Sanders and his allies.
30-year-old Rachel Gelman is another example. Her wealthy family gave generously to liberal causes growing up. Now, as a 30-year-old preparing to inherit millions from her parents, Gelman is trying to find a way to give back since most of her family’s money “comes from stocks…which means it comes from underpaying and undervaluing working-class people, and that’s impossible to disconnect from the economic legacies of Indigenous genocide and slavery.”
Of course, no story about modern day socialism would be complete without a quote from professor Richard Wolff, an “economist” who currently teaches at the New School in Manhattan (an overpriced university dedicated to serving the overprivileged elite who could score high enough on their SATs to get into NYU).
As Wolff, known to millions of millennials for his guest appearances on the left wing podcast “Chapo Trap House”, explains, all the money being inherited by today’s millennials came from “a mammoth redistribution away from the working masses, creating a super-rich tiny minority at the expense of a fleeting American dream.”
Later on in the story, one of the heirs whose wealth comes from a chain of strip malls, said the business model just reeks of “intersectional oppression”.
Heirs whose wealth has come from a specific source sometimes use that history to guide their giving. Pierce Delahunt, a 32-year-old “socialist, anarchist, Marxist, communist or all of the above,” has a trust fund that was financed by their former stepfather’s outlet mall empire. (Mx. Delahunt takes nongendered pronouns.)
“When I think about outlet malls, I think about intersectional oppression,” Mx. Delahunt said. There’s the originally Indigenous land each mall was built on, plus the low wages paid to retail and food service workers, who are disproportionately people of color, and the carbon emissions of manufacturing and transporting the goods. With that on their mind, Mx. Delahunt gives away $10,000 a month, divided between 50 small organizations, most of which have an anticapitalist mission and in some way tackle the externalities of discount shopping.
In reality, most of the wealth held by baby boomers wasn’t redistributed, but was in fact created during the 20th century during the post-war economic boom – an economic movement that generated more prosperity, and dragged more people out of poverty, than any earlier period in human history.