This is a fun, easy read and a delightful expose of many supposedly unbiased American institutions for what they truly are: instruments of the ruling elite. Lehmann’s book covers the obvious (Ayn Rand) and the less-obvious (Malcolm Gladwell); it would probably be most usefully read by liberals to disabuse them of their assumptions that groups like the Democratic Party or institutions like The New York Times are not organs of class rule. For the reader well-versed in radical ideas, however, most of the chapters make fairly obvious points, though with considerable panache. Particularly amusing is Lehmann’s chapter on the iPad.
There isn’t much objectionable content in here; although Lehmann doesn’t offer alternatives or make any comprehensive conclusions, that isn’t the point of the book. He simply aims to illustrate the class-biased nature of almost every aspect of American life. Perhaps the only chapter that I would criticize would be the one on Malcolm Gladwell. While it may be true that Gladwell’s writing is geared toward the wealthy and his arguments for reform where he makes them are hardly agreeable, his book Outliers in my opinion is a valuable takedown of the widely-held notion that successful people in this society; whether in business, sports or academics; achieve that success through their innate superiority most of the time. Instead, Gladwell shows how they more often reach it through something like random chance via economic conditions, birth order, etc. It is certainly not a radical argument, but it is useful, like Lehmann’s book, in undermining certain mistaken notions about the nature of this society.
I’d recommend this book as a gift to give to all your liberal friends and family.
Rich People Things: Real-Life Secrets of the Predator Class
by Chris Lehmann
2011, Haymarket Books