The NY Times published a piece today about a group of young and very wealthy socialists who are doing their best to take down capitalism using the money they inherited from their families. For instance, 25-year-old Sam Jacobs has a $30 million trust fund that he wants to use to fight the system:
A socialist since college, Mr. Jacobs sees his family’s “extreme, plutocratic wealth” as both a moral and economic failure. He wants to put his inheritance toward ending capitalism, and by that he means using his money to undo systems that accumulate money for those at the top, and that have played a large role in widening economic and racial inequality…
Mr. Jacobs, whose grandfather was a founder of Qualcomm, expects to receive up to $100 million over the course of his lifetime.
The exact plan for destroying capitalism is a bit vague. Rachel Gelman, who is 30, is planning to donate her money to Black Lives Matter and other anti-police groups:
Ms. Gelman supports groups devoted to ending inequality, including the Movement for Black Lives, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Critical Resistance, a leading prison abolition group.
Then there’s Pierce Delahunt whose family money came from a string of outlet malls:
Pierce Delahunt, a 32-year-old “socialist, anarchist, Marxist, communist or all of the above,” has a trust fund that was financed by their former stepfather’s outlet mall empire. (Mx. Delahunt takes nongendered pronouns.)
“When I think about outlet malls, I think about intersectional oppression,” Mx. Delahunt said. There’s the originally Indigenous land each mall was built on, plus the low wages paid to retail and food service workers, who are disproportionately people of color, and the carbon emissions of manufacturing and transporting the goods. With that on their mind, Mx. Delahunt gives away $10,000 a month, divided between 50 small organizations, most of which have an anticapitalist mission and in some way tackle the externalities of discount shopping.
$10,000 a month is not that much money for a multi-millionaire. If this person has millions in a trust fund, he’s barely spending the interest he’s earning on the money. It’s a drop in the bucket.
Helping to organize all of this anti-capitalist giving is a group called Resource Generation which exists to radicalize young inheritors of wealth. Here’s a sample of their social media:
This is a pretty odd niche but it makes sense if you think about it. If you’re a Marxist millionaire you have a serious social problem that can only be cured by getting rid of that capitalism-tainted money. So along comes Resource Generation which is selling a kind of social credibility to wealthy leftists. You’re not a hypocrite, they tell these people, you’re a “transformative leader” so long as you let us guide your divestment.
Really it wouldn’t be hard to give away ten million dollars if you saw it as a burden. You could probably arrange that in a week. But these kids are making the slow spending of that money on left-wing causes into a part-time job that makes them feel good about themselves. And in the meantime they’ll continue to have control over that unearned nest egg.
What I’d be most interested in hearing about the people mentioned in this story (and the hundreds more who are members of Resource Generation but not mentioned by name) is how they actually live. Do they refuse to live off the family money? I don’t mean just that they aren’t getting a monthly allowance, I mean refusing to live in a home paid for by the money? Do any of them have full time jobs to support themselves (jobs not connected to their inherited wealth)?
It’s one thing to say you want to fight capitalism with your money. It’s another to actually try to make it through life without the money capitalism gave you. I wonder how many of these Marxists are doing that in a serious way, meaning no free homes, higher education, travel or the other perks of being really wealthy. Are any of them living lives they made for themselves apart from their money and the connections it gave them? I’d really like to know how seriously they are taking their Marxism.
I don’t know but I suspect there’s a bit of moral licensing going on here. These are people who are eager to show they are committed to the cause and because they are committed to the cause and giving their money away to radical groups they can allow themselves to spend a little extra on themselves once in a while. That part of the story won’t show up in the NY Times though.