Hypocrisy is the ultimate power move. It is a way of demonstrating that one plays by a different set of rules from the ones adhered to by common people. Hypocrisy demonstrates how unaccountable one is to conventional morality.
Such displays work because, unlike wealth, status is inherently subjective. The more of it you are perceived to have, the more of it you actually have.
Michael Shellenberger continues (since his article is really about climate evangelism):
Al Gore wouldn’t have been busted by Associated Press for living in a 20-room home that used 12 times more energy than the average home in Nashville, Tennessee had he not claimed that “we are going to have to change the way we live our lives” to solve climate change.
Prince Harry wouldn’t have been in trouble for private jetting around the world had he not claimed: “every action makes a difference.”
And the media wouldn’t be having a field day with Greta Thunberg’s carbon-intensive yacht trip had she not represented herself a paragon of climate virtue.
The problem for Greta, Harry, and Gore is that moralizing isn’t incidental to their climate advocacy but rather central to it. They are famous not simply for sounding the alarm but for claiming to be morally superior and setting an example.
I now think that I have misunderstood hypocrisy.
We see this in organizations where managers behave as if the rules do not apply to them.
Or just think about our current Danish Prime Minister’s statements about private schools and then sending her own children to those same private schools.
A power move: “I am above you”.