Against Populist Philistinism

A former manosphere blogger I respect criticized the “limousine liberalism” of Seattle’s effete SWPLs. His argument was that liberal activism hurts the working class people it purports to help. In support of his case, he pointed out that liberal economics such as high minimum wage don’t affect the non-profitable memento stores ran by rich men’s wives or the local-flavor art studios owned by trust-funders playing entrepreneur. But they do, as he argued, impact the hard-working owners of franchise restaurants.

Something about that line of dialectic struck a false note: in our reaction to liberalism, why the rush to philistinism? We don’t need another ugly Subway restaurant. There is a virtue-signaling tendency of our own, in which we evoke a stock character working-class hero who doesn’t actually exist except as an object of our pietistic pity.

In one of her early essays, Camille Paglia wrote about the lecture tours she gave at factories in the United States. Her academic colleagues wanted to inspire the factory workers with Marxist morality plays about peasants in Guatemala, but Paglia understood that working-class Americans are not interested in class struggle. They enjoyed her lectures about Chaucer and Shakespeare instead.

store3

Above: if dilettante shopkeepers are what it takes to create those snapshots of urban streetscape, then I’m in favor of more millionaires’ wives. I took that photo above at right. Partially covered by a shadow cast over the storefront glass, it is a stunning original oil painting I saw while walking past a small art gallery.

Right-wing populism serves Truth and Beauty. Alt-Right blogs that get it:

1) Laguna Beach Fogey’s Admiral Cod, with its tagline An Essay in Attitudes. It’s the place to visit for English high-patrician aesthetic, fascist surfers, visual wit, and an appreciation of hand-knit tartan:

twed1

2) The group-blog Uncouth Reflections, co-founded by Paleo Retiree. He was formerly known as Michael Blowhard of the pioneering art-and-culture Two Blowhards site that ran from 2002 to 2010. One of the regular features at Uncouth Reflections that echoes Two Blowhards is Paleo Retiree’s regular Architecture and Color series:

arch6

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

— John Keats, from “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

 

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25 thoughts on “Against Populist Philistinism

  1. Pingback: Against Populist Philistinism | Reaction Times

  2. Visiting boutique shops is one of my favorite things to do. I have wondered how they manage to make money. I think you would definitely need a second, more steady income. I don’t see the point in picking on these women. We don’t know what their politics are. They make any town or city a nicer place.

  3. Running these stores is a lot of work. I doubt they have a lot of free time for political activism, even if they do lean liberal.

  4. There is a virtue-signaling tendency of our own, in which we evoke a stock character working-class hero who doesn’t actually exist except as an object of our pietistic pity…..In one of her early essays, Camille Paglia wrote about the lecture tours she gave at factories in the United States. Her academic colleagues wanted to inspire the factory workers with Marxist morality plays about peasants in Guatemala, but Paglia understood that working-class Americans are not interested in class struggle. They enjoyed her lectures about Chaucer and Shakespeare instead.

    Yes, I think you make a very good point, one that is all but entirely overlooked in today’s political and cultural-academic discourse: whether it’s overpaid academics and media types with national profiles, they always summon this hypothetical ‘proletariat greater-good,’ when rationalizing their grand schemes, be they theoretical or fiscal. And with the way western labor markets are declining, the 21st-century ‘proletariat’ is just as likely to be a MFA in renaissance painting studies than he a pressing plant operator or key press lifter.

    And it’s downright funny how the middle-and-upper-classes of the GOP don’t realize that fact; they are frighteningly similar to the limousine-libs who oversee day-to-day operations of the prog-ism and center-left realpolitik.

    Consider this quote from an amusing Tucker Carlson piece lamenting the stuff raised here; from Politico magazine:

    “On immigration policy, party elders were caught completely by surprise. Even canny operators like Ted Cruz didn’t appreciate the depth of voter anger on the subject. And why would they? If you live in an affluent ZIP code, it’s hard to see a downside to mass low-wage immigration. Your kids don’t go to public school. You don’t take the bus or use the emergency room for health care. No immigrant is competing for your job. (The day Hondurans start getting hired as green energy lobbyists is the day my neighbors become nativists.) Plus, you get cheap servants, and get to feel welcoming and virtuous while paying them less per hour than your kids make at a summer job on Nantucket. It’s all good.

    Here’s the rest of the article, which IMO is pretty good basic breakdown of Trump’s appeal and the current poliltical zeitgeist folly that made possible a Trump figure’s rise to prominence.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-is-shocking-vulgar-and-right-213572

  5. The rising minimum wage is also deadly to unskilled American youth who are on the duller end of the bell curve and not college material. They just don’t have any skill that is worth the $15 per hour that is being mandated in places like Seattle, and they’re not being integrated into the workforce at the bottom.

    Unemployment is extremely high amongst unskilled youth now, especially with the pressure of being outclassed by working-class (illegal) immigrants who can outprice them by their ability to work off the books or outclass them as workers due to stronger work ethic and maturity.

  6. Visiting boutique shops is one of my favorite things to do. I have wondered how they manage to make money.

    Well, boutiques generally have big margins when they do make a sale, but the volume is low, of course. One of the most common ones in gentrifying areas is the antique furniture shop that fills out an old warehouse or distribution center. As long as they don’t lose too much money to be excessively painful they can be a big tax writeoff to their owners, who can hide profit elsewhere in other business endeavors through creative accounting.

  7. seems the “all day breakfast” menu has been a huge hit.

    I see evidence of that in the various schools i go to; they love that crap, really the worst thing they could be eating —- processed grain with sugar, sugar, sugar. And they’re already hopped up on energy drinks and other sugar waters.

    And the McDonald’s and new Taco Bell breakfasts are their ‘real full meals’ of the days, with the hours inbetween supplemented by steady bags of Skittles and Jalapeno-flavored Cheetos.

  8. And the McDonald’s and new Taco Bell breakfasts are their ‘real full meals’ of the days, with the hours inbetween supplemented by steady bags of Skittles and Jalapeno-flavored Cheetos.

    Yeah, the fast food meals aren’t as bad as they could be, though. At least they’re filling and stave off hunger for quite a while. Usain Bolt is known for eating like 75 chicken nuggets in a day, even during race training. Major league baseball players actually sit there in the dugout and have hot dog or burger eating contests. (but they’re not necessarily known for low body fat)

    But the in-between snacking on the skittles and cheetos and sugary/energy drinks give massive caloric intake without filling you up at all. BTW, I don’t know if you read him but that Jamaican HBD blogger “Jayman” has been posting a lot of stuff about obesity lately, he’s got some very interesting ideas.

  9. PA, I think your point is an important one. It broadly distinguishes Buckleyite, neo-conservative, libertarian, GOP conservativism from an older, more tradition-minded right, as set forth, say, by the Southern Agrarians, the Chesterbelloc, Evelyn Waugh, D.B. Wyndham Lewis, Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Russel Kirk, to name just a few.
    Hell, even a normal Kennedy liberal seems like a throne and altar reactionary in these pozzed-out days.
    Gregory Hood recently noted the distinction between the left’s celebration of equality and the right’s of hierarchy, and how the conservatives have assimilated to liberal values, as for example on race. I’m not sure I’d want to associate Trump with, say, Catholic distributism, but he does get back to an older version of even traditional GOP foreign policy (Charles Lindbergh, America First, Robert Taft, and even the liberal John T. Flynn). Hood is arguing that a new realignment is coming, with race and the hierarchy/equality distinction becoming more important than left-right opinions — and he appears to be right, with Trump speeding up the pace of history.
    Oh and yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve had a Tartan Tuesday. We can always find a pic on the web, but whatever community the web can help create is by sharing such things among fellow-minds.

  10. Is that what ‘upper class’ Scots girls look like? Is that even what they are called?

    It would be interesting to read a good current summary of class distinctions in Britain, that was written for an American audience. I know that there are layers and levels of class that are very fine, and nowadays must be subject to some weirdness.

    In America of course, class status is a well worn topic. And it is relatively simple. There is the middle class, and the underclass, and the monied class. And then a class between each of those two juncture: an aspiring UMC class, and a struggling lower class.

  11. Ha, the Admiral’s been busy the last few days, I’ll pour a rye on the rocks this evening and peruse. I guess we can thank twitter for that. Perhaps another Baudelaire is the real Che pic is in the offing as well …

  12. The UK is literally satanic now. I laughed at future lamppost ornament Detective Inspector David Cockburn effusing about the pain and suffering to the minority community.

  13. Although it feels like yesterday, it was about a decade ago that I first discovered the world of clothing blogs and forums (fora). I would visit one or two dozen blogs per day, and to my mind the two best were Heavy Tweed Jacket and Admiral Cod.

    These days I spend much more of my online time in this corner of the web. Heavy Tweed Jacket is defunct, and I no longer visit the other clothing blogs. Admiral Cod is the sole exception. Although Laguna Beach Fogey no longer updates AC as much as he used to, the archives are full of gold, and I suggest the readers here spend the time to look through them.

    It would be impossible to pick just one post, but here are a few examples of what makes Admiral Cod so great:

    http://admiralcod.blogspot.com/2008/05/weejun-love.html
    http://admiralcod.blogspot.com/2012/03/italian-sense-of-style.html
    http://admiralcod.blogspot.com/2011/07/old-palm-springs.html
    http://admiralcod.blogspot.com/2010/12/new-years-resolutions-2011-part-1_30.html
    http://admiralcod.blogspot.com/2010/12/new-years-resolutions-2011-part-2.html

  14. Those are all good links. I liked the new year resolution to wear more tweed. Something that LBF once wrote that always stayed with me — I think that was a comment he made at Firepower’s Eradica — was “face the sun.”

  15. That’s in one of the worst neighborhoods in Philly. I’m actually a little surprised no one intervened, since it was excessive. The news women is shocked because she probably goes to $200/hour counseling sessions when she has problems with her husband. Less intelligent people tend to solve things with their fists.

  16. @Cam,

    this was my favorite part of the article; notice the little shoutout to black american soul-food trends in the last sentence; lol…

    “Later in the day, the Nordic officials will reconvene at the White House for a state dinner, the highest honor conferred upon visiting heads of government.
    The decor and menu all reflect a heavy nod to the guests. Absent are the fussy arrangements featured for past dinners, replaced with uncluttered, functional settings featuring natural materials and clean lines. There are no tablecloths; instead, rented dark wood tables are featured with only a woven white runner down the center.
    The dinner will take place in a tent on the South Lawn with a transparent ceiling the White House says will “evoke shadowy spaces in the arctic night.”
    On the menu: salt-cured ahi tuna served in a hard-carved ice tray; tomato tartare salad; and red-wine-braised short ribs. Dessert is caramel almond mille feuille.
    White House chef Cris Comerford said the cuisine was partially inspired by New Nordic cooking — exemplified by Copenhagen food mecca Noma — that places emphasis on local, sometimes foraged, ingredients. That includes the presentation of canapes, one of which is served on old branches gathered from the South Lawn. The White House is also serving small bites of chicken and waffles, citing the popularity of waffles in Northern Europe.”

    I think the whole ‘chicken and waffles’ thing, which peaked about ten years ago, is gross! Alo, IMO, Scandinavian food is the one thing that is inferior to the rest of the west. yuk!!

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