My theory that the October Revolution screwed up an entire century of social science comes in part from my anecdotal sociology of Marxists. Gen Xers who spout class revolution in my Facebook feed are uniformly smart white kids who consciously decided to be iconoclasts, usually around age 16.
From this emerges a general theory of the educated rebel as an identity based on rejecting... something. That something is his teachers and his parents. Not only is Marxism something parents and teachers are on record as disliking, it comes complete with a high-minded philosophy explaining why stupid people are so stupid (false consciousness), and jargony epithets like “corporatist wage slave” to throw at them that sound much better than the simple complaint of the rock n roller: “You’re so stupid, I hate you!”
Ideology is adopted as an identity in this way.
The messy, non-ideological democracy that generated the New Deal might have kept on working right through to the present despite the work of academics to claim that the success of democracy was actually the product of their brains. But we entered a new world after WWII. The technological era which followed and the education it required made college professors into the gatekeepers to all the wealth and power the world had to offer.
Along comes William F. Buckley who says:
This is fantastic. If those are the terms of the argument, a political party run by robber barons and elected by racists just got a lot more tenable. In the old days such a party would be called “rapacious” or “racist” or maybe “rapacious racists!” But Pulitzer is dead. Tell the New York Times to call us “conservative.” We’re intellectuals, just like the Communists in the universities.
The Times said, “Perfect. Then we can be objective by printing both sides! The liberals and the conservatives with truth in the middle!”