Archive for May 13th, 2012

May 13, 2012

Gauche Caviar


Gauche [gohshcaviar [kav-ee-ahr] (‘Caviar left’) is a pejorative French term to describe someone who claims to be a socialist while living in a way that contradicts socialist values. The expression is a political neologism dating from the 1980s and implies a degree of hypocrisy. It is broadly similar to the English ‘champagne socialist,’ the American ‘Limousine liberal,’ the German ‘Salonkommunist,’ the Italian ‘Radical Chic,’ and the Danish ‘Kystbanesocialist’ (referring to well-off coastal neighborhoods north of Copenhagen). French encyclopedia ‘Petit Larousse’ defines ‘left caviar’ as a pejorative expression for a, ‘Progressivism combined with a taste for society life and its accoutrements.’

The term was once prevalent in Parisian circles, applied deprecatingly to those who professed allegiance to the Socialist Party, but who maintained a far from proletariat lifestyle that distinguished them from the working-class base of the French Socialist Party. It was often employed by detractors of former French President François Mitterrand. In early 2007, French politician Ségolène Royal was identified with the ‘gauche caviar’ when it was revealed that she had been avoiding paying taxes. The description damaged her campaign for the French presidency. The weekly French news magazine, ‘Le Nouvel Observateur,’ has been described as the ‘quasi-official organ of France’s ‘gauche caviar.”