On bohemian punditry
some quick thoughts
There's a kind of anti-respectability politics, which views everything that appeals to conventional people or values as either hopelessly naive and dowdy or thoroughly hypocritical, and sometimes as both. This sensibility is often fostered in a bohemian milieu of artists and actors, where a shared commitment to 'epater la bourgeoisie' and cultivated anti-conformism mistakes itself for a set of principles to live by. (It's almost beneath mentioning that this becomes its own sort of conformism.)
With this sensibility we get the importation of the intellectual habits of art criticism and social appraisal into politics. In some ways, this is a welcome new perspective for political judgment to consider, but it does have the unfortunate result of turning everything into a question of the appropriate affect or pose. There is always a performative aspect of politics, it's a kind of theater, so the eye trained to either judge artistic or social performances is going to make very witty and sometimes penetrating observations about politics, but usually they have more wit than substance. The judgments it produces, which are the judgments of those accustomed social climbing, identifying and cutting down other climbers, are often just cruel and shallow. The sense for and suspicion of posing is often most acute in those who’ve struggled in their own social climb, who themselves bear the lifelong insecurity and hypersensitivity that comes from being a poser. When you're an actor everything appears to be theater: this entire mode of criticism comes from a milieu where the most essential thing in life is public presentation and the biggest crime is making some sort of embarrassing faux pas in that regard.
This type of politics, or rather form of commentary on politics, is one of the last places where someone can maintain the very 19th century pretension of being simultaneously totally ensconced in a tiny elite cult of decadence while convincing themselves they understand the feelings of "the people.”
Some of the points of the bohemian political commentators are undoubtedly correct: much of conventional society and its ruling class are often hypocritical and stupid, and their vaunted norms both hide their misconduct and prevent them from thinking. But they don't really have much of substantial position beyond “seeing through” these things and flaunting their own superiority to it all. Very fond of armchair sociology, they can't really theorize their own sociological position vis-a-vis the squares and dupes and how they need them for their own existence. What they provide is histrionic in the old sense of the word: it’s a kind of theater of poses and attitudes, which might provide worthwhile critique of a serious world that is actually full of pretense if it ever could drop its own arrogance and pretense to authenticity. But it can’t, and remains just as corrupt and false as the mainstream society it reviles, if not more so .