October 22, 2017

THOMAS FRANK: What Harvey Weinstein tells us about the liberal world: Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in. This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement.

What explains Weinstein’s identification with progressive causes? Perhaps it was all about cozying up to power, the thrill of being a friend of Bill Clinton.

Perhaps it was all about moral absolution, in the same way that lists of corporations-that-care always turn out to be led by outfits like Walmart, Goldman Sachs and Exxon-Mobil. In the world of the wealthy, liberalism is something you do to offset your rapacious behavior in other spheres. It’s no coincidence that, in Weinstein’s desperate first response to the accusations against him, he thought to promise war against the National Rifle Association and to support scholarships for women.

But it’s also something deeper than that. Most people on the left think of themselves as resisters of authority, but for certain of their leaders, modern-day liberalism is a way of rationalizing and exercising class power. Specifically, the power of what some like to call the “creative class”, by which they mean well-heeled executives in industries like Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Worshiping these very special people is the doctrine that has allowed Democrats to pull even with Republicans in fundraising and that has buoyed the party’s fortunes in every wealthy suburb in America.

That this strain of liberalism also attracts hypocrites like Harvey Weinstein, with his superlative fundraising powers and his reverence for “great artists”, should probably not surprise us. Remember, too, that Weinstein is the man who once wrote an essay demanding leniency for Roman Polanski, partially on the grounds that he too was a “great artist”.

Narcissism coupled with entitlement.