The Inequality of Social Capital
At this point the conversation is focused on income inequality. But that’s too narrow. The economic top 20 percent has gained a near monopoly on social capital. This moral and cultural inequality is a deeper problem, and more explosive ...
The same top end that gets the money also controls the new, postmodern ways of defining morality, culture, and public life. They have the social capital and moral agency necessary to get and stay married in the new culture they dominate. Given this glaring inequality, it’s a painful mockery that gay marriage, which is both based on and contributes to the progressive deconstruction of traditional moral wisdom, is being marketed as “marriage equality.”
Let’s talk about income inequality. It’s a real problem. But let’s also talk about the moral and civic inequality that progressivism is creating today. The signs of the times suggest that this inequality is more decisive. The most influential forms of populism today are cultural–religious. Globally, fundamentalism is on the rise because it promises agency to those who feel themselves increasingly dominated by Western and global forces. This is especially true in the Muslim world. In America, Tea Party populism wants to “take our country back.” From whom? Not billionaires, but the editors of the New York Times.
It’s not just the populist rebels who reveal the larger reality of our age. The editors of the New York Times intuit the deepest basis of their power. They are willing to pay higher taxes—or at least volunteer others to pay them. But a redistribution of cultural power? Not a chance. The same goes for faculty at universities. They’ll rally round the call for greater economic equality, but God forbid that a social or religious conservative should receive an appointment. That tells us a great deal about the inequalities and equalities that matter.