This week, the irrepressible, irreplaceable, So Fresh, So Face™ Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Twitch), made her latest important contribution to America’s political culture: she showed up at the much-ballyhooed Met Gala wearing a dress festooned with the slogan “TAX THE RICH.” It was a magical moment: this soldier of revolution striding into the court of the wealthy glitterati, risking everything to purvey her message — a message universally celebrated and approved by those same wealthy glitterati, who had apparently given her a ticket to the $30,000 event, created her oh-so-audacious dress, and who now cheered her dauntless fearlessness.
So bold. So valorous.
And AOC was not one to underestimate her achievement: in the face of criticism, she swung into full-throated defense of her own intrepidity. “I thought about the criticism I’d get,” she wrote, “but honestly I and my body have been so heavily and relentlessly policed from all corners politically since the moment I won my election that it’s kind of become expected and normalized to me…we all had a conversation about Taxing the Rich in front of the very people who lobby against it, and punctured the 4th wall of excess and spectacle.”
Of course, none of this is true. But the grift is real, it it is spectacular.
True revolutionaries eat the rich. Cosplaying revolutionaries wear dresses reading “EAT THE RICH” to gaudy parties with the rich, snap pictures with the rich, go home to their Teslas and their fridges stocked with Whole Foods, and then brag on their Instagrams about changing the world.
This, writ large, is the beauty of American-style Marxism: all the fun, none of the cost. The most ardent Marxists in America aren’t the downtrodden poor, but the well-educated, wealthy patrons of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They live off the fat of the land, but free themselves of the burden of their guilt by associating with pseudo-revolutionary Twitch streamers. Our corporations clear billions while advertising their adherence to critical race theory nonsense about the evils of capitalism; our celebrities — the beneficiaries of a system so rich that even a modicum of talent, combined with unmitigated gall, is rewarded with millions of dollars — wear thousand-dollar outfits to ostentatious balls with slogans emblazoned “PEG THE PATRIARCHY.”
Indeed, not much has changed for the radical Left over the past few decades. In 1970, Tom Wolfe wrote a cover essay for New York magazine, titled “Radical Chic.” In it, he described a party at the home of New York Leonard and Felicia Bernstein thrown on behalf of the Black Panthers. Here is his characterization of the Radical Chic phenomenon:
From the beginning it was pointless to argue about the sincerity of Radical Chic. Unquestionably the basic impulse, “red diaper” or otherwise, was sincere. But, as in most human endeavors focused upon an ideal, there seemed to be some double-track thinking going on. On the first track—well, one does have a sincere concern for the poor and the underprivileged and an honest outrage against discrimination….On the other hand—on the second track in one’s mind, that is—one also has a sincere concern for maintaining a proper East Side lifestyle in New York Society. And this concern is just as sincere as the first, and just as deep. It really is. It really does become part of one’s psyche.
Nothing is new under the sun.
But there is something new happening in America today: the cosplay has become part and parcel of the culture rather than the counterculture. Leonard Bernstein held his little party in 1970, while Richard Nixon was president; the Black Panthers were an actual revolutionary gang. AOC is a member of Congress. The people with whom she attended the Met Gala aren’t merely the height of culture, they’re the height of corporate and political power. What happens when the powerful cosplay the revolution?
Complete fragmentation. Because when the powerful are playing at revolution — when the institutions of power are complicit in the revolution — the revolution can only be directed downward. It is no coincidence that the president of the United States, who considers himself a revolutionary fellow traveler, trafficking in “equity” and cradle-to-grave government support and foreign policy withdrawal, seeks to channel ire from himself toward normal American citizens who don’t wish to be subjected to vaccine and mask mandates: at whom else could he direct his energies? Our nation’s largest institutions know that the simplest way to immunize themselves from the revolutionaries is to join them. Prop up a semantically-overloaded sign on your vast Hancock Park lawn, and the revolutionaries will pass your doorpost like the Angel of Death during the plague of the firstborn.
And so the Met Gala represents something beyond hypocrisy and decadence — something more sinister. It represents the simple truth that today’s supposed brave revolutionaries are the powerful, and that revolution from above eventually manifests as tyranny.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.