What’s left?

In: Uncategorized

25 Mar 2010

Nowadays the elite typically sees itself as liberal and cosmopolitan. But despite the radical rhetoric it is easily the most conservative section of society.

Take a couple of examples. The Left Foot Forward blog identifies itself as “a political blog for progressives” (its American sister site is thinkprogress.org). Its editor is Will Straw, the son of Jack Straw (one of the most prominent Labour politicians).

The first of four things it describes itself as being against is “public greed”. From looking at the site it is clear that this includes the popular aspiration to lead a more prosperous life. For example, one of its regular writers is Joss Garman, a co-founder of Plane Stupid (an organisation which lives up to its name in campaigning against mass air transport).

Then there is Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times who undoubtedly sees himself as a radical campaigner for worthwhile causes (see my review of his recent book ).  In yesterday’s column he defined the fight against deprivation as a struggle to regulate people’s behaviour:

“what’s needed to overcome poverty in part seems to be a change of culture, to break self-destructive behaviors — resignation to unemployment, self-doubt, alcohol and drug abuse, disintegrating families, lack of engagement in children’s education — that create self-replicating cycles of poverty”.

One of the things such commentators typically hate more than anything else is the popular desire for a more prosperous life. They despise it so much they are willing to curb our freedom in all sorts of ways: restricting air travel, curbing car transport, putting restrictions on the food we eat and much more.

They view popular consumption with such contempt as they want to defend their elite status against what they see as the revolting and greedy masses.