I have become intrigued, however, by the conjunction of a high material standard of living with liberal opinion, especially the way in which the possession of the former protects the holder of the latter from its outcomes. To put the matter in terms that most people recognize: a breach characterizes the behavior of liberals (for that is how I will refer to my neighbors from here on out), a breach between preaching and practice. This breach, however, is accompanied by an anomaly. It is not simply the case, say, that liberals favor the rainbow curriculum for other people’s children while sending their own children to private schools where they will be protected from trendy social ideas while learning the basics. Liberals, after all, pay taxes too, a lot of taxes if I am correct about the combination of material affluence and liberal views—while paying exorbitant sums for private school tuition. Clearly liberals do not have faith in the public institutions they espouse. I have come to conclude that liberals have a very aberrant view of the way the world works, one that stands sharply at variance with the experience of generations of mankind. And I have also come to conclude that it is their material affluence that has produced this aberrant view.
Habermas on the Upper West Side by Elizabeth Powers | Articles | First Things