I Am Not DSK
July 6, 2011, 12:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I suggest there have been two large clusters of reactions to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

The first reaction – when it seemed to be a story about the self-induced downfall of an arrogant, powerful French bastard – was gloating and finger-wagging from an unholy alliance of anti-elitist Francophobes (such as, oh, myself) and shrill feminists. What these groups had in common in their reaction was a desire to bring down the powerful, or at least some subset of them. And DSK happens to reside in an interesting intersection of those subsets (the ones hated both by American conservatives – e.g., privileged socialist Euro types – and shrill feminists – e.g., men).

The reaction I expect now that DSK’s accuser has been exposed as a liar and a fraud will come primarily from a different quarter. This contingent will focus on how bad and horrible it was that such a powerful man could be so easily brought down. They will fret over whether DSK can get back into whatever political race he was aiming towards, and focus on how ‘unfair’ it will be if he can’t. They will take DSK’s future political fate as a barometer of how enlightened we, or at least the French, are; they will elevate an ability to ‘separate’ the personal qualities of DSK from his political dimension to a form of high morality. Finally, should DSK rise back to the top of French politics, i.e. attain the French Presidency, their reaction will be one of cheers and high-fives. Basically, they will now shift into full-on rooting for DSK from here on out.

What group of people do I expect will react this way? People who identify with powerful people. That is, people who see powerful people as proxies for themselves. Which is to say, people who see themselves as potentially powerful people.

To such people, it’s very important to understand and circumscribe (and limit) how powerful people can be dethroned. The rules of navigating, climbing to, and keeping power are very high on such peoples’ lists of interests. For the powerful to be easily-dethroned offends them; because then after all, it could happen to them, too. Since they see themselves as DSK standins.

Granted, this is just a reaction I expect to observe based on past experience, not one I’ve seen a huge amount of – yet. Consider this a pre-emptive response.

Because, since I’m not in this group, my reaction will not be one of rooting for DSK. However terrible I think it was that a fraudulent accusation was allowed to proceed this far (in my view the accuser should probably be in jail), I am unable to cross that extra bridge of starting to feel sympathy for an arrogant, spoiled, privileged, ‘socialist’ French prick who lives high on the hog and (as has come out) fucks whatever stupid power-worshipping broads he wants while cloaking himself in the purple drapery of The People. Sorry.

He has my total support for his freedom and presumed innocence. I am unable to summon up actual sympathy for him however. I do not sympathize or empathize with him, in the sense that I do not see myself as being like him nor can I imagine myself in his shoes (which for starters would involve me being several orders of magnitude wealthier). I do not see him as being just like me. I do not come away thinking ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. And I do not feel the follow-on compulsion to drop everything to bend over backwards to change society’s rules to make it easier for the DSKs of the world to stay in their powerful, wealthy, privileged positions unmolested, or see ‘whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn or someone very much like him can become the French President’ as some sort of civil rights issue.

I just don’t. Sorry. What can I say. All of the folks out there who do identify with DSK, and think the take-away lesson here is how can we as a society now change all of our laws and structures to ensure that a wealthy French socialist-poser prick is never again inconvenienced, because you think that you yourself could be (and aspire to be?) in that cushy position some day, feel free to speak up in comments however. I’m listening. I’m just not that moved.

12 Comments so far
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You may be the quirkiest populist in the world.

Comment by Pastorius

Coming of political age under President Clinton (another powerful, wealthy person who a lot of people annoyed me by fretting about how/whether he can keep his power/privilege) must be what did that to me.

Comment by Sonic Charmer

As you know, I’m somewhat leftist myself and a strong socialist sympathizer. Nevertheless, I’m not really at all interested in DSK (beyond the criminal justice/sexual politics of the case, which I’d be interested in regardless who he was, but his prestige lets his particular case actually make it into print). The future of progressivism is not a future of leaders and figureheads. The Greeks and the Spanish and the Arabs are showing us change is possible without the banner of a leader or a party. The corrupt powers that be are terrified of these developments because unlike traditional progressive movements, *there’s nobody they can bribe, arrest, assassinate, or discredit with sex-crime allegations*. And this is why I say DSK and any other centralized leaders like him are obsolete dinosaurs.

Comment by Xamuel

Good thoughts, although wake me when the Greeks, Spanish and Arabs actually change something.

Comment by Sonic Charmer

>The Greeks and the Spanish and the Arabs are showing us change is possible without the banner of a leader or a party.

Strange sources of inspiration, Xamuel.


Comment by Anonymous

I am somewhat old-fashioned in respect to wealthy “leaders of society” like Strauss-Kahn. I believe that they are obligated, by the wealth they have been allowed to amass, the power that has been granted them over the lives of others, and so on, to be more moral in their public and private lives than most people. I believe they have to set an example for the people. With power comes responsibility, etc.

Not that I mean to give the accuser a pass. I think she should suffer whatever penalties to law has for people who make false accusations. However, isn’t there some sort of law this man broke? I thought it was against the law in New York to hire prostitutes. If not, or if it can’t be proved, he still should have no political career after this. Ideally he should resign whatever his position in France is, and give up whatever political aspirations he had, and make an abject speech of groveling apology to France and the world before going off to join a monastery. Of course he won’t, because this isn’t the 19th century, and he’s French. But that’s what I think he should do. That’s also what Clinton should have done after the Monica fiasco. (On the other hand, we’d have been saddled with President Gore. But maybe being president would have given Al Gore such satisfaction that he would never have glommed onto that global warming nonsense to fill the void inside.)

Comment by Andrea Harris

I dunno Andrea,

I think the more important you become the less you should be bound by common laws of morality, perhaps not all of them, but certainly trite ‘laws’ like who you go to bed with.

Even letting go of that notion, the idea of taxing the wealthy with extra moral commitments somehow doesn’t appeal to me. Where will it end?

Don’t we suffer enough at the hands of the Bonos of this world, having to listen to tiresome nonsense which has everything to do with “I am important, therefore I have a responsibility to be moral and to be seen to be moral”? And should a poor person’s good or bad deeds really be deemed to be lesser than that of someone wealthy?

How about a strict separation between a person’s job and his personal life.

>Ideally he should resign whatever his position in France is, and give up whatever political aspirations he had, and make an abject speech of groveling apology to France and the world before going off to join a monastery.

I do however admit this particular idea of yours very much appeals to me since it has the merit of being funny. Things amuse us when they make no sense. If he’d really apologize to France (not for having sex with someone quite ugly, but for having a quicky, perhaps something he paid for) it would make France be even sillier than it already is and it would indicate the man is quite insane. No kidding.



Comment by Anonymous

All I can say is, thanks for being anonymous, Anonymous. I’d rather not know who you are.

Comment by Andrea Harris

Not anonymous, but Anon., Andreea.

Seriously, it’s not a personal thing. I just disagree with the views you put up. My own views are so different.


Comment by Anon

In most respects, I could care less about DSK. He confirms my expectations about the privileged transnational elite, but that’s about it.

I’d be interested in knowing more about how common false accusations like this one really are, and what happens in cases where the accused doesn’t have the money and power of DSK. There are some hints in this story that the situation is better than I’d expected – the experienced sex crimes prosecutor knew the accuser was lying from the start, but was shoved aside in favor of those who wanted to go after the Great White Defendant.

Comment by SkepticalCynical

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