Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Bernie Sanders, US politicians and self-described Democrat Socialists, have in recent years been lampooned as Champagne Socialists.
Among AOC’s sins include her fourteen-thousand dollar ensemble for a recent Vanity Fair cover, one merely borrowed for the shoot. (Did she dance in those Louboutins?)
Bernie, meanwhile, triggered moralisers in 2016 when he bought his third home, this for some six-hundred-thousand dollars on Vermont’s Lake Champlain. Presumably the cantankerous grandpa should be living in a forest cabin, Unabomber style.
The label is as old and tired as it is persistent, over the years spawning countless others such as Gauche caviar and latte liberal. Despite its obvious inherent fallacy—supposedly only the poor have the moral right to fight for equality—it always elicits a sort of frenzied smugness among conservatives who are against greater redistribution. There are few more galvanising ripostes, more rewarding forms of “Got you!”, than the exposing of a political opponent’s apparent hypocrisy.
One wonders what those who brand their opponents “Champagne Socialist” really want. Would they rather the socialist forgo all trappings, and lead society through an agrarian Pol Pot-style revolution? Black pyjamas, sickles, onward to the countryside.
Perhaps the Champagne Socialist label is best viewed simply as a symptom of capitalism. As long as there is inequality, there will always be some further up the income ladder who are uncomfortable with the privilege of their class, with perceived injustices. Their attempts to promote greater social justice will, in turn, inevitably invite scorn.
“…it forms an ugly paradox that applies only to the left,” writes Elizabeth Bruenig of The Washington Post. “If you care about material equality and you aren’t destitute, you’re a hypocrite; if you care about material equality and you are destitute, you’re never going to have a real shot at political engagement to begin with.”
Last week in Singapore Jamus Lim, a Workers’ Party (WP) member of parliament and chief advocate of a minimum wage, sparked outrage through a social media post about eating panettone this Christmas.Continue reading “Why are there so many Champagne (Panettone) Socialists in Singapore?”