December 20, 2007

Nouveau riche as a term of abuse

You don't hear "bourgeois" used as a swear word very much anymore, yet "nouveau riche" still serves the purpose well. If this were coming from old money people, it would be understandable, but it's mostly coming from the nouveau riche themselves. That's typical of the culture's obsession with making the enviable self-flagellate in public (another example is "White guilt," a disease that only successful Whites suffer from), but in this case there does seem to be a deeper hatred.

What usually makes a person newly rich is that improving environmental conditions produce more smart people, and that the economy begins to offer more opportunities for smart hard-working people to make good use of these traits. You'd think that, since we so treasure the rags-to-riches ideal, we'd be more comfortable with the nouveau riche, as questionable as its tastes may at times be. Instead, we focus so much on how gaudy are the women's purses or the men's cars -- sins which are really more venial than cardinal -- that we overlook the wonderful fact that the smart and hard-working do not have to squander their talents picking potatoes anymore.


  1. It's much more fun and self-gratifying to focus on the negative side of everything.

  2. Why do you say that it's mostly the nouveau riche themselves who use the term? That's not my understanding at all.

    Iron Rails & Iron Weights

  3. "You don't hear "bourgeois" used as a swear word very much anymore"

    "Corporate" is the new "bourgeois" -- and its overuse is similarly ridiculous.

  4. Re: "corporate," yeah, good observation.


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