Monday, January 14, 2013

The Hipster Facade

Victor Davis Hanson:

America has always been a country of self-invention. Yet there used to be some correlation between the life that one lived and the life that one professed. It was hard to be a phony in the grimy reality of the coal mine, the steel mill, the south 40 acres, or atop a girder over Manhattan.

No longer in our post-modern, post-industrial, metrosexual fantasyland. The nexus of big government, big money, and globalization has created a new creed of squaring the circle of being both liberal and yet elitist, egalitarian-talking but rich-acting, talking like a 99 percenter and living like a 1 percenter. And the rub is not that the two poles are contradictory, but that they are, in fact, necessary for each other: talking about the people means it is OK to live unlike the people.
In short, we can all be just what we profess to be. The key in our world of blue-jeaned billionaires is being hip — or rather at least professing to be hip.
But what is hip? Mostly it is a state of mind, a religion, a talk, a look, an outward persona that is the key that unlocks you from the ramifications of your ideology.
Hip is like “cool”, whose power I wrote about not long ago: a general sense of tapping into the popular youth culture of music, fashion, food, electronics, easy left-wing politics, and adolescent habit. Hipness is a tool designed to justify enjoying the riches and leisure produced by the American brand of Western market capitalism by poking fun at it, teasing it some, dressing it up a bit to suggest ambivalence over its benefits without ever seriously either understanding their source or, much less, losing them. We feel hip at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but not so much in the organic section of Safeway.
Hip also plays out as professed caring — worrying in the abstract about all sorts of endangered species, starving peoples, or degraded environments. It is being loudly angry at retrograde forces — white males, the rich, gun owners, Christians, family types, and suburbanites, the sorts who ostensibly crafted the toxicity of Western civilization that you are forced to use and enjoy. Yet embrace hip, and all things become possible. A Martian would see the modern university as an elitist enclave, where life-long tenured professors make lots of money overseen by hordes of even better-paid administrators, that together cause tuition for cash-strapped and indebted students to rise faster than the rate of inflation without any promises that their eventual certifications will result in commensurate good jobs. A non-Martian would instead appreciate the hip nexus of diversity, eco-caring, and gender-neutral inclusivity.
Hip is a sort of Neanderthal mentality that is terrified of serious thinking, and thus substitutes the superfluous for the profound.
Palestinians are hip in a way that Israelis are not; but pro-Palestinian reporters stay in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv without a clue why the two cities are different from Ramallah. Hip is loud support for the Dream Act, but avoidance of places like Mendota or San Joaquin, or any serious contemplation about why millions of Mexican nationals wish to cross their northern but not their southern border. Hip is shopping at Whole Foods, but supporting more food stamps for those who shop at a distant Food 4 Less and weigh more than you do. Hip decries school choice and vouchers, but means Sidwell Friends is under armed guards for your own progenies.
Tell an uninformed hipster that Obama wants to outlaw abortion, and abortion can suddenly become very unhip.
Hip is furor over Cheneyite Scooter Libby — tried for an Orwellian crime that didn’t exist, and if it did exist, it was committed by someone else — while snoozing through Fast and Furious and Benghazi.
Hip is certainly not Halliburton, but most certainly is Solyndra. The unhip Patriot Act, renditions, and Guantanamo are suddenly now kind of hip; so are drone targeted-assassinations — a sort of “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Predator.” If we bomb Iran, we will be OK — if only Snoop Dogg high-fives the mission, the pilots are gay, the bombers run on biofuels, and the shrapnel is recyclable. Let us hope that the outgoing F-22s have a Che logo painted on the side as they blow stuff up.

The rest here.

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