- Alodia Heijmans
The Great Phenomenon of the Gauche Caviar
In the United Kingdom, we use the term “Champagne socialist”, in Germany “Salonkommunist” and in France it is called “Gauche de Salon” or “la Gauche Caviar”, this term is all over Europe and even beyond. However, who are these fascinating people?
To solve this mystery, we must go back a few years, when the taste of caviar came close to that of potatoes. Indeed, this term made its appearance in the 1980s with the rise of socialist parties in Europe. Many members of these parties have become more centrist, even more, right-wing than they thought they were. We could find this phenomenon in France with the partisans of Mitterand, coldly criticizing the system in which they were comfortably installed or in the United Kingdom, where Ramsay Macdonald came to power while being suspected to have betrayed the labor movement. In brief, someone who is “gauche caviar” gathers all the clichés of someone that mentally belongs to the left but that does not live according to these values. In other words, someone who has his head on the left side while his wallet is on the right side. This concept began in the ‘80s but is nowadays still very present. The caviar left has now become a left feeding itself with demonstrations for its good conscience, with organic products to stay in shape and practicing yoga to stay zen in front of the world of others that is collapsing. The “Caviar Left” is watching all the filth going on in our capitalist society comfortably seated, eating healthy food with recycled, recyclable, and reusable wooden cutleries. Meanwhile, these cutleries are probably safely washed in a Smeg washing machine in a 300 m2 apartment in the heart of Paris. That is it, that is the caviar left.
Stepping back, it is certain that when you read this, you identify this speech with people you know from afar, or closely, perhaps even people in your family, or even yourself. Then, is the awareness of being left-wing and having left-wing ideas enough? It does make us question ourselves and our thoughts, almost our motto in life which might seem a bit too much and ridiculous. Therefore, we can ask ourselves about these values; is it my essence to be like this or would I not do all this for a certain standing, an impression that I would like to give to others, or myself? Aristotle considered the “good man” as the most egoistic of all. An egoism that is not considered as offensive, either as a default. Instead, considered noble since being assumed. According to Aristotle, it is our reason that dominates our egoism; therefore, it diminishes the negative side of egoism and reinforces its positive side: if reason dictates it, it only makes it more vulnerable and purer. In the same way, the epicureans think that the only research of the man is his own pleasure and is to avoid suffering and pain. We can consider these thoughts as a reassurance; that it is our nature to have a part of egoism in us which pushes us to make good by remaining in comfort which gets us a sort of pleasure. However, it should not be forgotten that it is also our feeling of being good and our ideas in general, our philosophy, which brings us happiness.
In the end, the “Gauche Caviar” might be a mindset and a lifestyle that combines the pleasure of thoughts and the pleasure of being. Can we say that the caviar-eating leftists have understood everything? It is still a topic to debate on. We can always reassure ourselves with this philosophical side of things that brings us back to the very essence of being human, but you can be sure that the purists of the left and the right will not see it the same way. There is still a chance that the “Gauche Caviar” keeps going until global warming kills us all. There is and there will always be criticism towards it, as there have always been in politics. Being aware of its existence is already a step forward, being able to ask yourself if you are good enough for the values you support can be an extra. Otherwise, eating caviar with wooden cutlery doesn't change the taste, does it?