I went shopping with my family on New Year’s Day at the “premium” outlet mall in Cabezon, California, outside Palm Springs — the kind of place where you traipse around for hours in the hopes of scoring a $225 Prada tie for 30 bucks, or a $700 Versace sweater for $135.
A large number, possibly a majority, of the shoppers there are well-heeled Chinese who have flown over to binge on Yves Saint Laurent, etc. products — many of which were made in their home country in the first place. Dressed in designer clothes, these mostly young and trendy Chinese are the privileged scions of the Communist Party. Their parents and grandparents are the ones who played along and did their best not to make waves, even cooperated, throughout the mass murders of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
Now, they and their kids are reaping the harvest of their modern state capitalist system that still flies under the banner of communism, a false flag operation if ever there was one. Ironies abound, and those same ironies provide a snapshot of what constitutes “leftism” in our own culture.
Idealism is not the point, nor has it been for ages.
Leftism has devolved into a kind of scam run not only on others but also on the self. Leftists are brilliant at convincing themselves of their own altruism and then broadcasting it to the public, thus providing cover for the most conventionally greedy and selfish behaviors. We see that in our society all the time: the quondam Marxists of Hollywood, the media, and the academy blathering on about economic equality while living lives the Medici could not have dreamed of.
Part of this construct is a “prevent game,” a public persona and system erected so privilege cannot be questioned or undermined. A nomenklatura more successful and sophisticated than anything ever conceived in the Soviet Union. The result of this is a highly stratified society. As is well known but scarcely reported, blacks and Latinos have actually done worse under Obama than other groups. Normally, that would be unconscionable, considering the rhetoric. But as we know, it’s all about the rhetoric. Reality is unimportant — an inconvenience.
Relatively unbridled capitalism has always been the best way out of this, the best way to true social mobility, but our nomenklatura doesn’t want to admit this because it might threaten them and their perquisites. It would blow their cover.
I suspect those Chinese shoppers knew this better than anyone, having lived through a similar experience ratcheted up to the nth degree. Although I was too polite to do it, I wanted to question them. I would have loved to know what they say to each other in the privacy of their own homes, not that they would be likely to tell me.
But there was something to learn from watching them. I felt like a detective and it made me think of Roman Polanski and Robert Towne’s Chinatown. I also thought of myself, of the way I was when I was a leftist. Yes, I drove a Porsche then (a used one). And had a house in the Hollywood Hills. And ate at gourmet restaurants. And there were plenty like me. I was part of a class. I felt safe and protected for many years, though finally I just left it. I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy anymore. Or maybe I just lost the ability to convince myself of my own altruism.
Whatever the case, when it comes to the truth about leftism, it’s about the cover it gives. Or, as Bob Towne put it: “It’s Chinatown.”