You kind of expect the blogs to talk about Mayor Richie Rich’s third term as an oligarchical scam, but it’s weird when mainstream types basically agree — even though they see that as a good thing.
“It’s actually [Bloomberg’s] multi-million dollar peers who seem to be supporting him the most,” says John Slattery at WCBS, running through the A-list names among Bloomberg backers (including Time-Warner CEO Dick Parsons and publisher Mort Zuckerman) as conscientiously as any society columnist.
This reminds us of Judith Warner’s Times column, in which she complains that, as obnoxious as Wall Street douchebags are, she can’t enjoy their downfall because it’s her (and everybody else’s) downfall as well. “Now, the world of Wall Street has become our world,” she wrote. “There is no outside to it, there is no other option than to pay and play.”
There’s something to this. Many of us can no longer muster the traditional emotions — shock, outrage, disgust — with which people used to greet the excesses of politicians and billionaires, because we’re so co-opted by them. In New York now, even artists and philosophers have to book a pretty healthy income just to survive. Would Emma Goldman and Jack Reed have been able to work on their American Bolshevism if the rent on their Greenwich Village apartments was $3000? These days it seems our choices are conformity or vagrancy.
But when it comes to the schadenfreude Judith Warner says she can’t quite enjoy, we have a better choice. We can put the shoe on the other foot and proceed as if it’s they who are being taken down by us.
Some of this is easily done. Just decline to vote for Bloomberg and hold out against the financial bailout. Others may succumb to money and marketing, but that doesn’t mean we have to. And if a gnawing, Warneresque doubt is impeding your enjoyment of the comeuppance of your social betters, recognize it as a species of the self-doubt battered children carry into adulthood, and dispel it with therapy — for example, you can go down to Wall Street and join one of the protests they seem to have there every day.
If you’re less sociable, you can blog.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 3, 2008