The last time I looked at social trends here, I was urged in the comment section to look at third-wave feminism as a disruptive force in the SFF community. However, I’m thinking the issue is broader than that, as the New Left also seems to incorporate elements of race and class in its platform.

Checking around for other thoughts on this, I came up with a couple of interesting articles. The first is “The Big Uneasy” by Nathan Heller and published in the New Yorker. Heller investigates at Oberlin College, an elite school where student demands were recently rejected by the college president and ridiculed by alumni. He does a good job of covering both sides of the issue, interviewing both students and administrators.

Heller notes that this group of activists has come of age during the Obama administration with expectations that we have achieved social and racial equality in the US. However, when you look around, it’s easy to see this hasn’t happened, so students are now making demands that reality match the ideal they’ve been raised to expect. This, of course, leads to social conflict. That’s the easy part—Heller’s interviews also expose something else that’s harder to reconcile, which is that these students have badly misconceived how power and wealth really work. Running up against this has left them disillusioned, where one interviewee has already dropped out of school and another says she will leave the US when she graduates because she thinks it is “a sinking ship.”

Oberlin is an elite school. Graduating from this college is expected to open doors, giving students the background and contacts to join the elite in the power and wealth structure—all they have to do is absorb the values and conform to what’s expected. Like many universities, the school has tried to encourage diversity, pursuing bright and talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, the most interesting thing that comes out of this article is that the interviewed students have rejected this privilege, apparently finding that “capitalism” doesn’t fit their worldview.

This is a paradox. How can you diversity the elite if minorities reject the worldview?