June 29, 2020

RICHARD FERNANDEZ The Man Dies, but the Radical Chic Remains.

What is radical chic?

“Radical chic” is a term coined by journalist Tom Wolfe in his 1970 essay “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s” to describe the adoption and promotion of radical political causes by celebrities, socialites, and high society. In languages such as American English, French and Italian the term has become widely used to indicate people identifying themselves as socialists or radical leftists while conducting upper-class lifestyles.

Unlike dedicated activists, revolutionaries, or dissenters, those who engage in “radical chic” remain frivolous political agitators—ideologically invested in their cause of choice only so far as it advances their social standing.

The concept has been described as “an exercise in double-tracking one’s public image: on the one hand, defining oneself through committed allegiance to a radical cause, but on the other, vitally, demonstrating this allegiance because it is the fashionable, au courant way to be seen in moneyed, name-conscious Society.”

The adulation of the rich provided 20th-century radicals the chance to become not merely heroes of the masses but icons of style. People may not remember him now, but Carlos the Jackal was quite the international celebrity. Nine books, some fictional, featured Carlos as a character, including one by Tom Clancy. That’s in addition to ten movies. Even after being captured, Carlos had no shortage of admirers.

Read the whole thing. I can’t wait until I get unplugged from 2020’s version of the Matrix, because I’m convinced that our current simulacrum was entirely programmed by Tom Wolfe shortly before his death in 2018.

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