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Opinion

‘Socialist’ Twitch star Hasan Piker buys $2.7mn LA mansion & those crying hypocrisy are being told there are ‘bigger fish to fry’?

Outspoken socialist and Twitch streamer Hasan Piker has faced a heavy – and understandable – backlash for his recent purchase of a $2.7 million home, though his defenders are suspiciously quick to wipe the controversy to the side.

Piker’s purchase of the $2.7 million Los Angeles home – which includes five bedrooms and 5.5 baths – has become the focus of heated controversy, with some arguing profiting off espousing socialism, especially to the degree where you’re living in what is a mansion to most, is hypocritical, and others insisting that, bad optics aside, there are just “bigger fish to fry.”

For those who don’t know – otherwise known as the ‘lucky ones’ – Piker is a popular influencer and left-wing streamer. He previously worked for The Young Turks, of which his uncle Cenk Uygur is a co-founder. He is a self-described “democratic socialist” who has supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in the past, and he’s been described as a “hyper-masculine socialist.”

The streamer has amassed well over a million followers on Twitch and that success undoubtedly put him in the fortunate position of being able to purchase such a lavish home. The buy, however, has left many understandably confused.

Activist Alexis Isabel described the purchase as “unethical.”

idk man it’s just flat out unethical to be profiting off of socialism and buying yourself a 3 million dollar home in a state that has one of the highest homelessness rates in the country. if you’re mad I find this to be gross and unprincipled behavior I don’t really care lol

— Alexis (they/he) (@lexi4prez) August 19, 2021

Others have questioned the obvious incongruence of how one can be a “democratic socialist” and also a successful capitalist choosing to live among other successful capitalists on an expensive piece of property, far away from the economic horrors Piker and others often discuss. 

Much props to Hasan on his $3M house

Honest question though

In a socialist society, full public ownership of the means of production, how do you get to have such an extravagant house relative to others?

I am legit asking how you see it working https://t.co/KbMnQIubZW

— Tim Pool (@Timcast) August 20, 2021

I think it’s perfectly fine that Hasan owns an expensive house.

The only people shocked or offended by this are those who didn’t realise internet socialism is a LARP.

This shirt is cosplay.

Let them have fun! pic.twitter.com/N6omHAaIh3

— Lauren Southern (@Lauren_Southern) August 20, 2021

Piker has told critics to “calm down” and described the housing market in Los Angeles County as “f**ked.” Moving somewhere else, he argued, would be “gentrifying” another community. 

Of course Piker can find a way to intellectually justify the purchase and the socialist profit machine because, at the end of the day, he’s going to be sitting in his choice of one of five bedrooms, one way or another. 

Some, however, have also rushed to Piker’s defense and insisted that this sort of blatant hypocrisy is an issue that doesn’t warrant mass attention.

“Y’all really think Hasan shouldn’t be able to own a nice house and also champion for the poor and underprivileged?” podcaster Ethan Klein tweeted, adding that there is a difference between a millionaire like Piker and a billionaire skirting their ‘fair’ share of taxes like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Yall really think Hasan shouldnt be able to own a nice house and also champion for the poor and underprivileged? There is a difference between making millions on twitch and paying 50% in taxes, and Jeff Bezos being worth 150 billion and paying no taxes. Happy hasan is crushing it

— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) August 20, 2021

Arwa Mahdawi argued in The Guardian that there are “bigger fish to fry” and we should just “let Piker enjoy his fancy new pool.” 

Astonishingly, Mahdawi’s arguments spanned nearly 400 words when she only needed one to answer her headline’s burning question: “Can a socialist live in a $2.7 million home?”

If that question is being posed in the US, the answer is undoubtedly yes. We see it every day. Self-described socialist Hollywood liberals – such as Stephen King – promote things like increases to 50% federal income taxes for themselves and others, while offering up no extra money willingly to the IRS in favor of the fancy, capitalist perks that come with being as successful as they are. 

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“Should a socialist live in a $2.7 million mansion?” is a much better question. The answer in the US today is absolutely no. The idea of profiting off of a platform based on socialist values itself is questionable, though that doesn’t mean Piker’s success is not earned. He has the ability to live in a fancy West Hollywood neighborhood, so he has every right to. Do he and others honestly find it difficult to believe, though, that such a contrast in words versus personal reality would not raise people’s curiosity?

Piker is absolutely correct about the housing market in places like Los Angeles. Properties are insanely priced because it is a significantly high-end market, but why in a world where so many in America and around the world suffer economically, would they as the upper 1% –as they live in the US– not give a significant portion of their earnings to a government that they claim is so much more needing of such funds to solve issues like poverty and the widening class gap?

Piker is not the only person guilty of this, nor the only one who has received backlash from critics. 

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, a self-described Marxist, was similarly labeled a hypocrite for buying multiple expensive properties recently, which looks especially bad in light of reports about local chapters of the movement struggling to keep together financially. 

Piker’s buddy Sanders has also come under scrutiny at times when his personal wealth has been reported on, including the fact that he owns three homes. 

Piker and other celebrities and activists who live so lavishly compared to most is the exact sort of hypocrisy that should not be ignored because these are people making money in a capitalist system, but promoting vague socialist ideals to the world without providing any practical or real evidence of it working on a mass level. 

For folks like Piker, he gets direct support from people who like what he has to say. It doesn’t get much simpler or more capitalist than that. His audience has put value on his content creation, as audiences have for so many left-wing commenters and performers. The trouble is the incomes, livelihoods, and class standing of these representatives of the poor and disenfranchised then depends on the very notion of promoting socialist values of bigger government and less personal wealth in the US while they live better and better lives, thanks to a standing in a system they benefit greatly from every single day. 

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In streams addressing his controversy, Piker has explained his move by saying he does not live alone and the response is only part of an “outrage cycle” in the media. Most outrage, though, has come from individuals on social media getting a kick out of an obviously ridiculous contrast in rhetoric versus lifestyle. 

In fact, the media has given plenty of digital space for Piker to be defended as the ‘intellectuals’ of the world inform us plebs why it’s actually A-OK to be a socialist living in the US, profiting off of a capitalist system, and living in a home worth millions of dollars while you promote fear and destructive class differences to the masses. It’s an inherent issue to your ‘more equality’ message when your messengers are so often as economically successful as the very people they criticize. 

Piker has the right to live however and wherever he wants. It’s one of the beauties of being part of the capitalist system he profits off of, as well as a benefit to living in the US. To think, however, that people need to “calm down” their outrage and wait for “bigger fish” to come along is ridiculous. Millionaire socialists profiting off of doom and gloom socialist rhetoric while lavishly living in capitalist ivory towers is a hypocrisy the public should – and hopefully will – never tire of calling out. 

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