Everything I Know About Elite America I Learned From ‘Fresh Prince’ and ‘West Wing’

by Wei_Dai1 min read11th Oct 202017 comments

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Social & Cultural DynamicsHuman ValuesPractical
Personal Blog

Rob Henderson is one of a few writers outside of the rationalist community that I follow obsessively, for his consistently high insight-to-length ratio, and his general writing style which appeals to me in some hard to articulate way. Here in a recent NY Times Opinion piece, he writes about social class, social mobility, and how (some) people form their values.

Whether upwards social mobility is a real value for many people (as it seems to be), and how to achieve it if it is, I think is an important topic that I seldomly see discussed around here, so this could be a good time to do that. Personally I seem to have little desire or motivation to join the "elite" or "upper class", and would even prefer my kids to not go to an elite university, which would foreclose much of the opportunity for them to do that as well. Is that wrong? If "it all adds up to normality", what might explain that "joining or staying in the elite class" is a real value? Or conversely, how can we be pretty sure that it's not? (To be clear, these are not rhetorical questions, and I'm expressing genuine moral/axiological uncertainty.)