A rather puzzling situation indeed. Why would society’s most well-to-do generally support higher income taxes, estate taxes, business regulations, Keynesianism, myriad social programs and the diminution of individual liberty? It may seem perplexing that the plutocrats opt for political candidates who are the most hostile towards capitalism. The majority of economic interventions harm the smallest businesses the most. Larger companies can enjoy lobbying power and a large hand in drafting regulations. Large companies also boast greater economies of scale, revenues, reserves, legal advice and political bargaining power enabling them to avoid the full force of business crippling policies which smaller companies are left exposed to. Furthermore, by stifling competition, the potential profit margins to be earned are higher than under a truly free market. The ability to lobby yields an astronomically greater return on investment than bog standard research and development. Barriers to entry are heightened thus reducing the supply of both specialized workers for that industry (which drives up wages) and consumer or lower order goods produced (thus driving up prices). Progressive income tax stunts capital investment for a huge portion of the lower-middle classes. It keeps those at the top at arm’s length from up and coming middle-class investors as a crucial chunk of their income is sucked away to be ‘invested’ by the State.
George Orwell, an Old Etonian and self-proclaimed socialist, observed that the bulk of bourgeois socialists did not hold their socialist convictions as a means to improve the living conditions of the lower classes, but to do away with their individual liberty and to usher in their personal brand of social order. (For more on this see Hoppe’s “Marxist and Austrian Class Analysis”) Irony speaks volumes given that the vast majority of original socialist writers were of bourgeois upbringings and not of the proletarian classes!
Education, or indoctrination, plays a redoubtable role in instilling leftist values among the young upper-middle classes. Top universities are often swarming with tenured professors leisurely propagating their revolutionary politics. Many of them become professors as they cannot attain higher wages in the market, thus veer towards academia for a comparatively luxurious life. Consequently, their personal inadequacies in the market are transposed onto their teachings, forming a harmonious marriage with their anti-capitalist politics. Western universities have become notoriously and rabidly intolerant of non-leftist politics on campus. Blinkered students come away with a rigorous indoctrination fraught with fallacies, revisionism, positivism, nihilism and determinism. Upper-middle class students are spoon-fed intellectual tripe, without a sniff of contradictory study, until they are churned out into their insular patrician echo chambers 3-4 years later.
Within leftist circles, variations of atheism dominate religious beliefs. While historically speaking, atheism has contributed much towards intellectual progress, in recent times, it has been more of a burden than a blessing. This is partly because atheism, by and large, has precipitated the extirpation of Western Christian values and failed to offer a concrete replacement. In the sudden absence of a collective belief in a something greater (a God), people have begun to seek guidance in the State – Ferdinand Lasalle, Marx’s intellectual rival at the time, once pronounced “the State is God!” In these turbulent amoral times, many have flocked to the State, praising the various rights they confer upon various sections of society. In other words, many on the left look to be shepherded by the State and faithfully laud the State when it has spoken. State action has substituted morality. Alarmingly, a substantial swathe of society will never question bills passed when their political party is in power and staunchly defend these without interrogating their substance, validity, necessity or effects. To question the State has become akin to questioning God’s beneficence in more culturally conservative societies. Many “educated” individuals, adopt atheism through their education and fading religious tendencies among their demographic. Why believe in God when you can play God? Being so close to reins of power, it benefits society’s creme de la creme to expand State power as it cements their personal social standing.
Commonly, inherited wealth combusts quickly as it is passed down a few generations, due to capital inertia, new competition, and prodigality. The Marxist dictum “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need” holds true when it comes to early childhood. Obviously, an infant cannot generate revenue alone. Up until adolescence, the child is wholly dependent upon their parents for shelter, nourishment, and other basic needs. For wealthier families, the need for their scions to enter employment in early adulthood is less than a poorer family. The upper-middle class scion can reach their mid-late twenties without ever needing to secure employment. The relationship a child has with their parents is similar to that of a nonproductive citizen and the State. The State offers abundant resources in exchange for the nonproductive citizen’s unwavering support. Of course, being cradled in such an environment for the first quarter century of one’s life may develop a certain aversion towards work ethic and competition. Previously accumulated family wealth will endow the heir with many goods or services at their fingertips. Notwithstanding social class or erudition, not having to wait for things and having things abundantly available will shift their time preferences upwards. High time preferences and statism intermingle superbly as the easy, impatient answer for any social problem must invoke state intervention for a quick fix.
According to r/K selection theory (crudely condensed as r-selection representing the left and K-selection representing the right, or rabbits as r and wolves as K) humans can exhibit characteristics of both selections. Resource abundance can shift one’s political outlook drastically. For example, rabbits, being r-selected, do not need much parental investment in their children as 1) they reproduce very often and 2) grass, abundantly available, is their primary food source and does not elicit strategy or competition to obtain. Wealthier parents do not necessarily need as much parental investment in their children as they can afford round-the-clock childcare, au pairs or nannies. Money is never an issue in the eyes of the child, therefore, competition becomes a pointless endeavor. Being surrounded by wealth, a perceivable dearth of competition and perhaps less parental investment in them to learn heart-hardening discipline; capitalism appears to be a disorderly, unstable, dog-eat-dog mess rife with inequality and hardship.
Order, stability and equalized income to the toiling public appear to be the desirable and humane ideal. Poverty is an incomprehensible state of affairs and the temptation to partition society into faceless collective groups is irresistible. A cavalier mission to alleviate the world’s suffering via the power of the State then becomes the only noble choice in the eyes of the elitist leftist.