For many decades the Western intellectual classes have been firm supporters of liberalism. But why?
I want to put forward two reasons. The first is that liberals have been able to dominate the question of what makes a good person, albeit in a roundabout kind of way. After all, liberalism begins by claiming that we should self-define our own concept of the good. You would think that would then leave open the question of what makes a person good.
But the question is not left open. Instead, liberals do set up moral criteria of goodness, according to the following logic:
a) There either is no objective moral good or else we cannot know what it is
b) Therefore we can only subjectively define our own good
c) Therefore we should not interfere with other people defining their own good
d) Therefore qualities of non-interference are what are moral: for instance, tolerance, diversity, openness, non-discrimination
e) Therefore it is right to suppress those who contravene a morality of non-interference, even if this involves high levels of coercive interference
f) We can show we are a good person by following the morality of non-interference, for instance, by showing how far we will support diversity and non-discrimination
This has been thoroughly accepted as the criteria of what shows that we are a good, compassionate person; it doesn't really require a test of character, or any personal sacrifices, only a willingness to adopt a certain world view. If you sign up to liberal political causes, you therefore get to believe that you pass the test of good personhood. This is, I believe, a feel-good factor that attracts the intellectual classes to liberalism.
The second reason for liberalism attracting intellectual support is that liberalism has acted as a kind of tribal marker for those who aspire to intellectual status. Young intellectual types often have a sense of themselves as different from the hoi polloi. They don't like the ordinary, outer suburban lifestyle and mentality - they feel themselves to be set apart from it.
There has been a trend for such aspiring young intellectual types to gather together into lifestyle communities of their own. Such communities often employ boundary markers to set themselves apart from others. The markers might include where you live; for instance, in Australia the intellectual classes have preferred inner urban locations, so that even the Greens will live far away from any forests in suburbs like Fitzroy or St Kilda. Similarly, it can be a marker of intellectual hipness to follow an academic fashion - it doesn't really matter how true or profound the academic theory is as the point of reciting it is to prove your intellectual credentials. It's much the same with the arts; the liberal intelligentsia don't really care much for highbrow art and are happy to cede this ground to conservatives (think of the house conservative in MASH, Charles Winchester III, with his classical music); what matters more is that the art is cutting edge (a sign of being trendy or with the in crowd).
To be fair, the liberal intelligentsia have shown some skill at establishing a pleasant lifestyle culture for themselves. They often pick out the inner suburbs with the most character in which to pursue a pleasant, gentrified, café latte lifestyle.
What does all this mean? It helps to explain why it can be so difficult to shift the intelligentsia from liberalism, even as the long-term negative effects of liberalism become more obvious and immediate. It means as well that to break intellectuals from liberalism we need to:
a) revisit the criteria of what it means to be a good person
b) find a way to allow intellectuals to distinguish themselves and to have a niche in society they feel comfortable in, without defining themselves in opposition to the ordinary members of their own ethny.