Thanks to gowning incomes, among a privileged few citizens benefiting from Barack Obama’s latest iteration of “crony capitalism” – funneling government contracts & grants to privileged political allies of the Obama administration — marketers are excited about the re-emergence of a once-familiar American lifestyle group, a social phenomenon which is setting marketing mavens’ greedy hearts aflutter.
These are the affluent class of consumers who, in the past, have variously been nicknamed (1) “bobos” (bourgeois bohemians); (2) “creators”; and (3) LOHAS (enthusiastic advocates of “Lifestyles Of Health & Sustainability”).
And in regard to the third group, just count in most of Hollywood.
LEFTIST MEDIA CHIC:
Basically, all these high fallutin’ labels are simply marketers’ way of acknowledging that a familiar breed of liberal-minded blowhards is re-emerging in America — rich, accomplished & (pretentious) “social responsible” glitterati in Washington, New York & Tinseltown (Hollywood)
In other words, think of everyone’s favorite leftist-chic media baroness – the founder & publisher of “The Huffington Post”: Arianna Huffington (known to some as the fifth Gabor sister).
Or how about Babs Streisand, George Clooney, or Bill Maher?
Or maybe even that eccentric MBA or MIT graduate, down the street, who is making a fortune working for such social-media cash cows as Facebook or Google.
After all, doesn’t that social-media guy wear Birkenstocks to PTA meetings, and natter on endlessly about the evils of irresponsible neighbors who offer his kids Cocoa Puffs for breakfast (when his children attend sleepovers at their friends’ homes)?
And how about the way this wealth monger loudly denounces the decadence of life in the West (as contrasted to the “spirituality” of the East), and yet spends seven thousand dollars on a new Italian ultra-light ten-speed racing bike?
Not to mention that Mr. “Rich & Sensitive” is planning another fundraiser for America’s most charismatic political visionary, Barack Obama!
Of course, what we’re talking about here is LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH & HYPOCRITICAL
TAKING THE MORAL HIGH GROUND:
And taking a look at this ever-growing social stratum of progressive achievers tells us a lot about what liberalism is all about these days.
From a socio-cultural perspective, today’s liberalism provides a socio-political world view which allows affluent, privileged achievers to salve their consciences, and feel morally superior to everyone else (particularly working-class “shlubs” who shop exclusively at Walmart).
Their unspoken motto is: “I’m rich & you aren’t (sneer, sneer) … and though I may be guilty of conspicuous consumption, all my excesses are excused by my morally-superior belief system.”
In the meantime, with their consciences clear, these same gluttons of affluent consumerism continue to (a) spend excessively on “bling” of all kinds; (b) employ domestic help at low wages; and (c) generally spend money just as decadently as the “greedy” ruling class whom they so often publicly condemn (though the rich & hypocritical spend their money on more “socially-responsible” consumer goods — for example on $7,000 ultra-light ten-speed racing bikes).
As a few keen observers have noted, THE ESSENCE OF THIS LIFESTYLE IS BEING WEALTHY AND LIVING THE GOOD LIFE WHILE PRETENDING YOU’RE NOT.
One espouses (and maybe even fakes) — in one’s politics and social discourse — a sophisticated progressivism that allows one to feel morally superior to the great unwashed.
Meanwhile, it’s business as usual in dealing with the practicalities of real-world living — exhibiting as much ostentatious snobbishness, greed & immorality, in your private behavior, as the worst of capitalism’s original “robber barons”.
To form a clearer, real-life picture of these high-achieving hypocrites, just think of Michelle Obama and her many super-rich cronies.
Or how about the personal history & behavior of wealthy social climber & ersatz deep thinker, Arianna Huffington?
Once married to a wealthy Republican (who is rumored to have left poor Arianna for another…er, man), the jilted former conservative commentator (and society queen) switched political ideologies with surprising alacrity … once she became determined to worm her way into Hollywood’s notorious ruling liberal social clique.
Of course, Arianna Huffington still continues to travel around town by limousine, fly around the country in a private jet, and employ members of L.A.’s economically-marginal immigrant class as household help.
But now Ms. Huffington has discovered the guilt-alleviating joys of espousing a progressive leftist political & social philosophy.
VICTIMS ARE EVERYWHERE AND MUST BE SAVED:
Following in the path of such groundbreaking Hollywood liberals as Babs Streisand, Ariana Huffington has also discovered that not only are America’s economically-marginal ‘proletariat’ useful for preparing her meals, cleaning her mansion, washing her cars & doing her laundry … they are even more useful as ‘victims‘ to be saved & liberated by her progressive politics — the expression of which helps cleanse any conscience she might have, and make her feel like a super “good’ & ethical person”.
Robotically spouting liberal ‘talking points’ also help her feel morally superior to the materialistic, passé bluebloods who had previously been her lifestyle soul mates.
Not to mention that it also helps reinforce her sense of social superiority vs. the vast masses of polyester-crazed suburbanite women with big hair — as well as all those déclassé ‘bubbas’ with big paunches — whom Hollywood’s ‘glitterati’ have always looked down upon.
Not that Ms. Huffington hasn’t continued to be a wealthy, materialistic, social-climbing snob. It’s just that — like her fellow wealthy liberal arrivistes in Hollywood — she has discovered a lifestyle that allows her to mask her elitism, materialism & selfish ambition in a superficial but ostentatious public sensibility of social responsibility & caring.
For example, in terms of her wealth, conspicuous spending & employment of various domestic servants, Arianna Huffington might still resemble the selfish, rich capitalists loathed by Karl Marx & company.
But unlike yesterday’s stereotypical bourgeois capitalist ‘exploiters’, Arianna Huffington now “cares”.
She espouses a progressive politics of equality, empowerment & liberation for the many victims of American corporate thievery, exploitation & empire.
And so she is now dedicated to saving the world’s exploited masses from the, well, um, Ariannas of the world.
Similarly, Arianna might now conspicuously spend thirty thousand dollars on a useless, decorative object d’art to display in her 800-square-foot living room. But these days she makes sure she’s spending such an obscene sum on a useless, decorative object d’art from a Third World country.
After all, how can it be decadent to spend fifteen thousand dollars on a bit of interior decorating when the money is being spent on Third World culture — the ultimate expression of cultural authenticity & anti-consumerism (even if the Rodeo Drive art dealer keeps about 85% of the $15,000-dollar expenditure as his or her cut, leaving the Third World artist in still desperate economic straits)?
In essence, this lifestyle flim-flam is a way for wealthy arrivistes like Arianna to fool themselves into thinking they’re really not the greedy, self-indulgent, wealthy elitists which they really are.
It’s how this emergent liberal lifestyle of “the rich and hypocritical” fulfills the contradictory needs of its enthusiasts — to live like a wealthy person but to cultivate the outward sensibility of a selfless monk.
THE HYPOCRITIC OATH:
It is a lifestyle medicine designed to heal the affluent soul — allowing the rich & self-indulgent to take a hypothetical “HYPOCRITIC OATH” and ostensibly cure both the ills of the world and their guilty consciences — all the while behaving just like the wealthy class always has.
And recent magazine “puff pieces” indicate that Arianna has indeed taken the liberal “Hypocritic Oath.”
And that’s because her new political ideology hasn’t stopped St. Arianna from living in an 8,000 square-foot home in Brentwood, flying around America in private jets, and indulgently living what used to be called ‘the good life”.
But let’s stop picking on Arianna Huffington, fun as it is. Let’s turn to a completely different example of hypocritical liberal excess & handwringing.
URBAN RENEWAL FOR THE PRIVILEGED:
For example, let’s look at the pleasant, enlightened, liberal enclave of San Francisco.
Progressive San Francisco liberals — like liberals in Manhattan & Brookline — spend a lot of time rhyming off ‘talking points’ regarding the need for “affordable housing”.
Yet, although these same liberals have dominated San Francisco’s municipal politics for years, San Francisco — just like Manhattan and Brookline — has become an urban shrine to the joys (for the affluent) of unaffordable housing.
Affluent and self-righteous San Franciscan liberals may shout their compassion for, and solidarity with, disadvantaged minorities & low-income earners.
But it’s the disadvantaged urban classes who have been squeezed out of the compassionate “city by the bay” … by soaring rents & property values created by San Francisco’s anointed class (read affluent liberal leftists).
Propertied San Franciscans have much invested in keeping property values rising.
And onerous “environmental-friendly” zoning & building restrictions have only accelerated this trend, and the accompanying scarcity of affordable housing.
Consequently, according to various census reports, the black population of San Francisco has declined precipitously in the last decade.
And despite San Francisco’s elite’s love for the poor, it is a city that has increasingly become an urban enclave for the wealthy & privileged (often boasting the highest average income of any city in America).
Enlightened San Franciscans may vocally identify with, and advocate for, the poor & disadvantaged.
But that doesn’t mean these progressives have to actually live with such people.
Better that the “servant class” commute from the suburbs every day for two hours — to work at low-income jobs servicing the needs of affluent liberals — rather than reside among the anointed and bring down property values.
The truth is that blinded by their smug pomposity and self-righteousness, the urban elites of Manhattan, Brookline, San Francisco (and other left-liberal American enclaves) have increasingly chosen to ignore the social & economic underpinnings of their privileged existence.
After all, they enjoy their affluence & freedoms thanks to the free-enterprise American political & economic system which they chronically criticize.
And they remain safe, in their upscale mansions & condos, thanks to the millions of less sophisticated and supposed “reactionary” working-class “rednecks” & “philistines” who defend their country & neighborhoods as members of America’s armed forces, as policemen/ policewomen, and as firefighters – even combating disasters, such as the 9/11 terror attacks, with loss of their lives.
Most important, the privileged practitioners of today’s hypocritical liberal lifestyles live so comfortably thanks to the working class stiffs whom they despise for “cluelessly” voting for such alleged political villains as George W. Bush & Governor Scott Walker.
Yet these same working-class “ignoramuses” are the ones who mow the lawns of the privileged progressives, pave their roads, pick up their garbage, unplug their sinks, and transport & deliver so many of their expensive lifestyle toys.
However, class-based snobbishness and condescension is what this kind of acquisitive liberalism is really all about.
And as indicated previously, it’s through this lifestyle –which mixes a sophisticated “bohemian” consumerism with progressive politics– that this snobby, elitist bent can find expression.
THE PROGESSIVE POLITICS OF SELF INTEREST:
This “hip” new sensibility ultimately expresses & celebrates a paradoxical lifestyle of (1) conspicuous caring and (2) consuming self interest.
And what better an example than never-ending environmentalist dustup in the exclusive Nantucket Sound region – the former yachting home base of liberal-left icon, Walter Cronkite (the famous CBS news broadcaster).
Walter Cronkite was just one of the many rich & hypocritical Cape Codders who signed on to the Hypocritic Oath — shilling for environmental causes when the cameras are on, but taking a completely different tack when their comfy & exclusive lifestyles are being threatened.
For years, Mr. Cronkite, and his rich yachting friends, were up in arms regarding a plan by Cape Wind Associates — an environmentally-friendly, clean-power company — to use windpower to generate pollution-free electricity for 75% of the region.
The bad guys at Cape Winds Associates announced plans to place 130 windmills, spaced one-third to one-half mile apart, seven miles off the coast of Hyannis — right in the way of the pristine views enjoyed by privileged yachting enthusiasts like Mr. Cronkite & and his friends.
Never mind that this environmentally-friendly power project was not going to use one drop of oil or natural gas from the pristine, undisturbed tundra of Northern Alaska; nor burn an ounce of pollutant-generating coal; nor depend upon the alleged risky technology of nuclear power.
The hypocritical Martha’s Vineyard liberal elite quickly dropped their fascination with environmentally-clean wind power, and went about selfishly defending their yachting turf with the militant abandon of a riled-up Navy Seal veteran.
After all, when it comes down to what counts most for the progressive Cape Cod yachting crowd, happy sailing for the FEW rates higher than eliminating air-borne pollutants that damage the MANY.
In the past, hypocritical Martha’s Vineyard liberals like Walter Cronkite were happy to righteously vocalize their support for the concept of clean power. It just never occurred to them that some corporate interloper would have the chutzpah to plunk its environmentally-friendly windmills down in the exclusive waters in which Walter Cronkite & his privileged friends liked to sail.
In fact, it wasn’t till last month that legal actions against the project, brought by the Cape Cod yachting cabal, were finally settled completely in favor of Cape Wind Associates.
In a set of major legal victories for Cape Wind Associates, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton issued rulings against project opponents in their four lawsuits challenging Cape Wind’s permitting approval by the U.S. Department of Interior.
In America, justice is allegedly swift for the just.
But it took 10 long years for the Cape Wind wind-power initiative to finally get approval, from the Department of Interior, for its clean-energy power project (the decision upheld by Judge Walton).
THE MORAL OF THIS LONG STORY:
Sadly this is the essence of today’s lifestyles of the rich & hypocritical:
This emergent new privileged liberal sensibility has one primary function — to mask the selfish elitism of its affluent proponents.
And as soon as one pokes beneath the surface caring & righteousness — of this “socially-responsible” subculture — one finds the very same self-indulgent & self-serving “me-first” consumerism which these righteous advocates of progressive taste are constantly criticizing & sneering at.