New York’s intelligentsia are increasingly divided “between two warring scenes”, says Nick Burns in The New Statesman. Those in Brooklyn “retain their faith” in progressive, left-wing politics. But over in a “gentrifying area of Chinatown” in downtown Manhattan, something else is brewing: a twenty-something crowd which scorns the sanctimony of the “woke” left in favour of “brash hedonism” and reactionary ideals. Some “toy with converting to Catholicism” or put on “transgressive” film festivals bankrolled by the conservative venture-capitalist Peter Thiel. At one magazine launch, a performer criticised contemporary male sexuality “for being insufficiently dominant” – which was followed by “five full minutes of untranslated Japanese”.
This “Dimes Square” set – a portmanteau of Times Square and Dimes, one of their preferred restaurants – are even the subject of a hot new play, which includes in its cast Martin Amis’s daughter, Fernanda. Unsurprisingly, Brooklyn lefties aren’t fans of Dimes Square: one editor summed up the Manhattan scene as “shitty art and selfishness”. Easy as it is to dismiss these squabbles as petty and irrelevant, trends that start in New York tend to “percolate through US society”. So it’s possible that woke ideas currently in fashion at many powerful American institutions could be dropped in favour of the lower-Manhattan mindset. Of course, that would mean the Dimes Square lot could no longer pose as “detached observers” of leftism’s “ideological machine”. It’s hard to act cool when you hold the levers of power yourself.