Friday, May 02, 2008

An Orwellian Advice, and poke, for Obama

given with the warm salutations of Jeff Greenfield in a wonderfully gentle poke, and never once does he mention the word arugula..

Real working-class folks, he says, might be drawn toward a socialist future centered around family life, the pub, football, and local politics. But those who speak in its name, he says, have a snobbish condescension toward such quotidian pleasures—even condemning coffee and tea. "Reformers" urged the poor to eat healthier food—less sugar, more brown bread. And their audience balked. "Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like organs and wholemeal bread, or [raw carrots]?" Orwell asks. "Yes it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would rather starve than live on brown bread and more carrots … a millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits. An unemployed man doesn't."

And so, Orwell ruefully concluded, the snobbish socialists succeeded in depleting their own ranks. "The ordinary decent person, who is in sympathy with the essential aims of Socialism, is given the impression that there is no room for his kind in any Socialist party that means business."

The perennial struggle of Democratic contenders to appeal to ordinary Americans seems very much of a piece with Orwell's sharp descriptions.

Read it here.


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