Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Wed Aug 18 08:53:30 PDT 1999

Wojtek Sokolowski wrote:

>That is an excellent summary of the problem. The problem is the middle
>class boredom and the longing to escape it to a more "rugged" life style -
>the ghetto, the boheme, the country-side, the wilderness. So the main
>difference between the so-called "leftists" you are talking about and other
>segments of the middle class is the cultural icon that symbolize that
>escape: gangs, hip-hop, punk, bohemian lifestyle versus SUVs, safari,
>survivalism etc. But both fit well within th ecapitalism system - since
>both rely primarily on the consumption of cultural commodity.

This kind of fantasy is hardly limited to "leftists." In fact, leftists are probably more sensitivte to/guilty about any such identifications than are nonleftists. The whole wilderness thing is a cubicle-dweller's fantasy - look at the popularity of SUVs (imagine you're on a safari when you're actually going to the mall!), Everest books, and "extreme" everything. And the hip-hop audience is about half white suburban kids. You think MTV is running its "Downtown" cartoon - all about the alternative lifestyle on the Lower East Side, a life that is gradually being made impossible by the intrusion of stockbrokers and new media types into this formerly "bohemian" and more formerly poor/immigrant neighorhoood - to bring in a "leftist" audience? Gentrification thrives on packaging images of rebellion and rough living for people who don't want any part of the real thing. I had just that thought the other night when I was walking through Disneyfied Times Square, now full of people who wouldn't have dared set foot there 10 years ago: they come to blandified cityscapes from blander suburbs to dream of escapes from blandness.


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list