Paul Sullivan, Neurotic Class Warrior

I have found a new treasure: The New York Times‘ Paul Sullivan, a priggish, neurotic class warrior who does a marvelous job of demonstrating elite perspective, in all its venal, bankrupt, vacuous capitalist glory. If you somehow had failed to recognize elite class war at this point, all that will change once you cozy up with the precious, preppy, fatuous Sullivan. (Check out his photo. He’s vewy, vewy sewious. And he’s wearing a purple bow tie! That’s just how confident in his uppercrust hegemonic masculinity he wishes you to perceive him to be.)

Recapping the business advice originally delivered in a satirical February 5, 1968 Barron’s article (and excerpted on pp. 73-74 of Sweezy, Paul M. & Harry Magdoff’s Economic History as it Happened, V. I), here Sullivan describes how the real estate convergence of three NYC banking families boldly overcame vulgar inertia in the face of business pressure, manfully pulling out a “clutch performance” by… getting out fast, and firing twice the number of employees his business partners advised him to fire! Such is the tendentious pseudo-innovation we’ve come to admire from our capitalist leadership. Sullivan, hawking his businessman’s self-help book, uses this as a model of his magical “five traits of people who are great under pressure” formula, which turns out to be (drumroll, please): “focus, discipline, adaptability, being present and a mix of entrepreneurial desire and fear of losing his business”! It’s like a tablet from Moses.

Sullivan starts an article, ostensibly on whether you should get rid of your second home, by revealing that his gated FL second home is causing him stress, as it is situated next door to the second home of an asshole. Fair enough. We’ve all been there, sort of. He then concludes the article with especial aplomb by arriving at the piercing insight that the reason why his second-home neighbor is an asshole is probably because the neighbor is slightly lower class and probably also from the hinterlands, compared to he, Paul Sullivan, NYTimes “Wealth Matters” columnist, and what he imagines to be his other, properly elite and manners-tastic gated community fraternity.

Sullivan could use some analytical help from political sociologist Val Burris. Val Burris once reminded a colleague of mine that the hoi poloi may well be idiots who we would be worried to let rule. But the rich are equally morons. We save ourselves no pain by rejecting equality and democracy; and in rejecting equality and democracy, we forego the opportunity to devise more humanistic, developmental, responsive institutions and culture.

I can’t wait to see what other glimpses into the elite capitalist hivemind Mr. Paul Sullivan, New York Times Journalist of Wealth, will afford us! Because there’s nothing to put a little spring in your step like seeing the cold, hard evidence that the US capitalist class is devoid of sympathy, self-awareness, and ideas.


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