The HBDers and paleocons have adopted the acronym “SWPL” as a noun. Pronounced, I assume, as “swipple” it originates with the Christian Lander blog “Stuff White People Like” at http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com.
The affection that a certain type of white person has for expensive coffee, sushi, foreign travel, living by the water, or Asian girls is not what draws their attention, but rather the almost universal adherence among these folks for the kind of holier-than-thou progressive politics long espoused on NPR and epitomized by Obama. The HBDers/PCers, led by Steve Sailer, identify the status aspect of progressive politics and its importance to these people. I think they make a critical mistake however- they mention it as a minor feature, while I think it is one of the cornerstones of the system.
Where do our values come from? Why do we think things are important? Since this is a status issue, the value held must be one held by people of high status. Who is of high status? That obviously changes over time, but the change we are concerned about dates to the early 19th century. In what is called the Victorian era, power in English society moved from the landed gentry to merchants, bankers and manufacturers, who were Calvinists and necessarily had different social mores.
When we think of a “gentleman” we think of a courteous, restrained person who treats others well. In reality a gentleman is no such thing. I read somewhere the literal definition of the word was a man who was not a nobleman but related to one, however distantly. More practically it was a man who derived income from agricultural rents and did not work. Such a man, before the era we speak of, could cavort with prostitutes, drink heavily, assault persons of lower social status, and generally make a complete ass of himself. His status came from his family and assets and not his behavior.
If your ability to make money depends on your acceptance by others, particularly those of a conservative religious community, you have no such freedom. You will be at pains to avoid offending people and be thought well of. As this class of people multiplied and gained power, this type of behavior came to be seen as the way people should concuct themselves.
So not offending people is an important matter for the upper middle class of today. To be offensive, in the manner that these people define it, is a matter of social life or death.
In this way liberal policies become matters of simple decency, the way any person with a conscience would conduct themselves. Racism is a matter of offending black people, of making them feel bad; one must not exclude them, criticize them, or say anything bad about them, because it is mean. Same thing with homosexuals; do not criticize them or say anything bad about them, or even imply their behavior is not completely normal and healthy, or other than to be celebrated.
Income transfer policy is a little different but with the same basic idea. Transfers are a simple matter of human decency to those less fortunate, and to question them is cruel and heartless.
In a “free” society people ought not to be too dependent on what others think or too concerned, but actually we have the exact opposite. People are terribly afraid to be portrayed as outside the group or outside the norm, and in any case where leftists can establish the frame in this way they drag along the amorphous middle that looks for comfort and consensus over all else.
You have to either be the right sort of person, or vote for the right sort of person; this explains the absolute horror with which Sarah Palin is received, because middle-middle class people and below are not to participate beyond voting or perhaps precinct work.
If you think Victorianism is relatively marginal to the American experience, consider the very Victorian nature of modern Irish Catholicism, even its Calvinistic nature. Or if you won’t or haven’t, I will. My mother came from the kind of Irish Catholic family that was desperate to prove they were just as good as the Protestants; the intense social control established by the Church after the famine was largely a matter of bringing in Victorian mores.
Many things can be thought, but can’t be said; but our world is based on the things that can be said. Humans are social animals and if you can make something socially painful it will recede to the margins.