The Crude Marxism of the Wall Street Journal

by Jim Lobe

Tevi Troy and Lanhee Chen are two very smart individuals. But, for self-described “staunch conservatives,” they sure are Marxist in their explanations of partisan affiliation.

In an op-ed published in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal titled “The Mystery of Jewish and Asian-American Democratic Loyalty,” they argue that the two groups in question are suffering a severe case of what Marxists would call “false consciousness” for they don’t seem to realize what their class interest really is. Given their high socio-economic standing, according to the two scholar/policy wonks, Jews and Asian Americans should, of course, cast their lot with Republicans.

This issue is not one that usually preoccupies this blog, which specializes in the Middle East and U.S. policy relating thereto, as well as the influence of neoconservatives on foreign policy more generally. But this op-ed, published by perhaps the most influential of all neocon media platforms, offers a very good illustration of why the paper’s editorial pages don’t really need a comics section.

In the op-ed, Troy and Chen express genuine exasperation with the persistent “predominance of liberalism among both Jews and Asian-Americans”—a theme that, at least on the Jewish side, has been a source of exasperation for neoconservatives for decades. And here’s where the Marxism comes in. Just substitute “class” for what they call “socioeconomic factors” in the following passage:

These political affiliations remain despite socioeconomic factors that might suggest greater support for conservative causes and candidates—and wariness of Democrats who seem to regard success as shameful and higher taxes as a cure-all. For example, 25% of Jewish households in the U.S. have annual incomes over $150,000, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, compared with only 8% of American households generally. And despite differences between different ethnicities, the Asian-American media household income of $72,689 is about $20,000 higher than the U.S. average, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

So, it would seem contrary to nature, according to their analysis, that Jewish and Asian Americans don’t vote Republican! Like, what’s the matter with these people?

The main answer, according to the two authors, can be found (drum roll please)…in the liberal “dogma” these poor impressionable and misguided fools are exposed to in college, especially in the Ivy League schools, which explains their false consciousness.

So, what accounts for the predominance of liberalism among both Jews and Asian-Americans? Perhaps it’s higher education. In the U.S. population at large, the possession of a college or postgraduate degree has been a predictor of Democratic Party affiliation. We believe, in particular, that the liberal leanings of many professors at elite schools likely play an important role.

Thus, the following admonition:

[I]t’s not too soon for Jewish and Asian freshmen to start thinking about where their long-term interests lie. To them we say: Congratulations on your achievement, but don’t let it cloud your political judgment. Now that you’re heading to university, you need not sublimate your own views to impress your professors or others around you. College is an opportunity to explore, question and think—not merely to accept as dogma all that is heard in the classroom and on campus.

While parents have every reason to be proud as well, they should maintain a watchful eye. Those college tuition payments should be going toward their children’s education, not their indoctrination.

Excuse me?!

First, let’s concede that college professors, including and perhaps especially in elite colleges and universities, tend to be more liberal and Democratic than the population at large. But, really, are these poor little freshpeople so impressionable and intimidated when they get to college? And if their parents are predominantly liberal and Democratic in party affiliation already, why should they be so concerned about the alleged indoctrination of their impressionable little boys and girls? The parents have obviously been suffering false consciousness so long that they may actually approve of the purported brainwashing their kids are about to undergo.

But, as conservatives, surely the two authors have a more sophisticated understanding of—and appreciation for—the complexity of human beings and how they derive their political beliefs. Do they seriously believe, like the crudest of Marxists, that class (or socioeconomic status) determines, or should determine, political ideology? And, if so, that four years in college are sufficient to distort or overturn their understanding of “their long-term interests?” Is it possible that the moral values they may have absorbed in their family environment or been taught at church, temple, synagogue, or even kindergarten well before they entered college may actually incline them to care more about, say, social justice, the health of the natural environment, or racial and gender equality than how to maximize their household income and reduce their tax burden? Maybe these two “staunch conservatives” should be at least as concerned about what values Jewish- and Asian-American families are passing along to their children and what is being taught to them in schools and religious congregations between the ages of three and 18 as what all those subversive professors are doing to mess up their minds once they get to college?

But let’s put all that aside and return to the op-ed’s title, “The Mystery of Jewish and Asian-American Democratic Loyalty,” and think about the presumptive Republican presidential candidate and reflect on the fact that his nativist, misogynist, Islamophobic, racist, and xenophobic appeals has apparently won him his party’s nomination. And consider that most Republican officeholders are falling in behind him, even as some try (mostly weakly) to distance themselves from his more offensive remarks. A mystery? Really?

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Why are these two who are educated implying that we should not go to college and universities? Do they want us to be uneducated? Or are they saying only specific schools are responsible for this liberalism?

  2. All students are exposed to those evil liberal prof. However it doesn’t seem to effect them down the line whether they vote Dem. or Rep. when they get older. Could it just be the memory of Jews being excluded and probably Asian-Americans from clubs etc.

  3. The WSJ’s Troy and Chen apparently extol Kohlberg’s Stage 4 reasoning (maintaining the social order) and seem perplexed by the progressives’ adoption of Stage 5, and especially Stage 6 (universal principles), reasoning.

    This would appear to confirm Kohlberg’s thesis, in which those of a higher stage (e.g. Jim Lobe) can understand the reasoning of those at a lower stage (Troy and Chen) but not vice versa. ;-)

  4. What are these guys really suggesting? Blowing up Harvard or introducing an affirmative action program for conservatives? The reason our political and policy making leaders are still trying to breathe life into a moribund neoliberalism is that all of our MBA programs and economics departments are chock full of nothing but enchanted market fundamentalists.

    As for the professors in those dangerous arts programs, better a tax-and-spend liberal than a smash-and-grab conservative.

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