Among all demographics, the so-called middle class (the petty bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy) has the least ability to grasp the reality of how society works, and are most intellectually adrift.
Because like, the working class confronts the obvious day-to-day reality that they are at the bottom of a systematically violent class structure—and at the top, the capitalist class has to grasp class as well in order to remain successful and stay in power.
But the middle class has neither of those methods for encountering reality. Middle-class people are free (and doomed) to speculate wildly about the workings of society and humanity, and never encounter any real data to confirm or deny their theories.
This is why utopian socialism is so common in this demographic. (Utopian socialism is the idea to build a communism-in-miniature and hope that by doing so you can make the idea to build more of them go viral and overtake all of society—e.g., a commune / community garden / anarchist space / Food Not Bombs chapter / worker-owned co-op). This is why “everyone should just follow their bliss and we’d all be happy” is often accepted as a meaningful political outlook in this demographic.
It is also why the twins of fascism & “democratic socialism” find their mass social base in this demographic. (The shared idea between these two is to repair our “degenerate”/greedy society and resolve class conflict not by overturning capitalism, which is the root of class conflict, but instead by returning to the ideals of mythical bygone days—Trump’s “make America great again”… Sanders’s “restore our democracy”).
This is all the more true for white straight cis men* in this demographic. They are padded on all sides from encountering the truth. They face extremely few snags or roadbumps that call into question the official explanations for how society works. I can corroborate this because I grew up in this position. I look back and am flabbergasted at how long I spent as a libertarian (until I was 24), totally mystified as to the real workings of society, oblivious of my obliviousness, even to such now-obvious-to-me facts as the daily, brutal pervasiveness of patriarchy. Everything in the world—including the very ideology I had been taught—was set up to make these things invisible to me, and make me feel skeptical of and superior to anyone who tried to bring them to my attention.
My instinct is to pity or talk shit about people caught in this ideological trap (because they are so often smug and stubborn), but I think as revolutionaries we have to do better.
When we do try to work with them—and I understand that doing so is an emotionally labor-intensive process—we have to dispassionately understand that they can’t really help it: their theories are just what the human mind gets up to when it’s thrust into this political-economic positioning. The strategy has to be to act with both principled firmness *and* compassion as we help them find their way out of the labyrinth of mystification and egotism they were born and raised in.
(* or at least people whose identity can float not-super-uncomfortably within the category of “straight man” as white amab middle-class people are expected to perform it)