Culture Wars/Current Controversies

What’s wrong with the cultural elite?

By Simon Kuper, Financial Times

‘Trump voters see a class that talks equality while living privilege and exuding contempt’

Picture a coffee shop in a big city almost anywhere on earth. It is filled with stylish, firm-bodied people aged under 50 drinking $5 coffees. Fresh from yoga class, they are reading New Yorker magazine articles about inequality before returning to their tiny $1.5m apartments. This is the cultural elite — or what Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, professor of public policy at the University of Southern California, calls the “aspirational class”. Her book The Sum of Small Things anatomises it using fascinating American consumption data. Currid-Halkett herself is a class member (as are some of my best friends), and yet she helps explain why the cultural elite is so despised as to have generated a global political movement against it. Though Trump is the unmentioned elephant in the room in her book, you think of him on almost every page as the antithesis of this class — indeed, in the minds of his supporters, as the antidote to it.

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