I love Andrew Sullivan, but every now and then he betrays an elitism that does his writing no service. Here he is on David Cameron, Britain’s new Prime Minister:
Oddly, I have never met him, and only heard from those close to him. I
believe he has done an immensely difficult thing – he has tried to
transcend his social class out of a sense of patriotic duty that is, in
many ways, a function of his social class. And this, I think, is a
deeply Tory instinct – where the elites take their broader
responsibilities seriously, and act out of decency.
In one paragraph Sullivan is letting his readers know that:
1. He moves in the same circles as powerful politicians.
2. As a self confessed Tory (and elite) his duty is not to call for a fairer society, but to make sure he is kind to poor people.
Toryism does not care about the structural causes of poverty. It is a self serving ideology that justifies a deeply entrenched class system using ‘tradition’ as an excuse for the massive exploitation of one group of people by another.
Sullivan has benefited from the same schooling as Cameron and no doubt believes he is entitled to wealth, influence and power. I know this because I was brought up in the same schools and social circles and catch myself believing the same nonsense. But I know that any ideology that justifies such a ludicrously antiquated class system and gigantic economic divide must be bogus.
I do believe that those more fortunate have a duty to help others, but the causes of poverty are not down to a lack of kindness – they are a feature of modern capitalism. A fairer society won’t come around because decent toffs decide to donate parts of their fortune to charity. It will come around if we tackle issues like corporate welfare, the failure to provide people with a living wage and substandard education.
Sullivan, like Cameron, is a nice person. He wants people to get along and he would like to see a more humane society. But niceness, unfortunately, doesn’t solve problems.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.