Dec 15, 2016

Razer: why I have not received a single Christmas card this year

I have lost many friends this year arguing about the distribution of cultural capital versus the distribution of actual capital, writes Helen Razer.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

So, 2016 may well be remembered by political scientists as the year in which the median voter theorem became about as useful as tits on a windmill. The time may be more personally remembered by us as one when we stopped talking to so-and-so. Brexit, Trump and Hanson were among the public shocks that provoked our private disagreements. Of course, there are far worse outcomes that the rise of right populism will produce than frosty relations on Facebook. But, being now largely friendless, I have had time to consider how these small and intimate arguments help me understand the large events at their centre. Perhaps your own brawls have been similarly instructive.

I don’t suppose that my private arguments, most of which have been quite serious and one of which resulted in the end to a professional arrangement, have precisely the same nature as yours. For a start, I have long been a member of the media class, so we can rationally suppose that the people with whom I am familiar are way more stupid than your mates. I mean, seriously. These journalist people have become quite thick. The man who came to fix my fence in June provided me with a far more enriching exchange on class-motivated voting than anyone I know at Fairfax. He could see plainly what was invisible to that class: the Democratic National Committee had made a terrible mistake in grinding “to a pulp” the candidate who dared talk about economic capital.

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28 thoughts on “Razer: why I have not received a single Christmas card this year

  1. andrew

    If I sent Christmas cards I would send you one.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Hugh Harris

      I’m a Sam Harris type so I won’t be sending any Xmas cards.
      But I am aggrieved at Razer’s appalling simplification of Sam Harris views, and the hypocrisy of labelling him an Islamophobe while critiquing identity politics. Please become familiar with secular centrist views before straw manning them.
      The remaining argument is self defeating. If economic inequality causes cultural discontent then by definition you have both factors to deal with. No one says both are not an issue. But identity politics forbids honest discussion of the Islamism and cultural issues: now, there’s a factor in the rise of the hard right. Break out of your bubble and acknowledge that.

  2. form1planet

    I received two Christmas cards this year, one from a real estate agent and one from the bank. It’s so good to know there are some relationships that endure, regardless of differences in political views.

    Helen, I’m not your friend, I don’t have your address and I don’t do cards anyway, but in lieu of a printed missive let me just say that I have thoroughly enjoyed being ranted at by you this year. It’s been thought-provoking and funny, it has made me question my views on some occasions and caused me to splutter expletives at the screen on others. I don’t always agree with you but I will keep reading. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, however uncomfortable they make us and however unpopular they make you.

  3. Petra Raptor

    >being now largely friendless
    Moving in a circle of like-minded supports one’s beliefs and therefore validates one’s self-esteem.

  4. Damien Flattery

    Disenfranchised voters wanted to talk about the distribution of actual capital, sure.

    But in the era of fetishised capitalism where “small government”, tax cuts and budget surpluses are the be-all and end-all, the vast majority still only see it in terms of acquisition of their own PERSONAL wealth, being only what they “deserve” for their “hard work”.

    It does not matter how many strings the government pulls to rig the system in THEIR favour instead of the banks’, they will believe that they EARNED that wealth through their own personal “hard work” and sure as hell don’t want to pay tax to the bloody government to redistribute to losers!

    After all, the average voter also LIKES to see others worse off than themselves. This applies across the board from coal miners to housing speculators – they all need someone lower down the pecking order to kick to boost themselves up.

    The unexamined life loves a scapegoat.

    Hence the belief that openly socialist Sanders would have been able to break through is delusional to say the least. The voters who turn to hard right candidates do not want to be “equal”. They want to be dominant.

    And to say that “centrists” can act to recapture this demographic simply by talking about economic redistribution is equally delusional.

    We are witnessing the political equivalent of the Stanford Prison Experiment, and this idea that there is some latent Marxist revolution out there at this stage is as unhelpful as a “Feel the Bern” bumper sticker.

  5. Will

    Well said, Helen. The rise of the political hard right across the developed world is clearly a consequence of the deleterious effects of the concentration of economic capital. What confuses centrists is that those effects are mediated by the state, so structural injustice appears (like cultural injustice) to be caused by political exclusion. Which is exactly what the hard right is saying! How did it go? “The best trick the devil ever pulled what convincing us that he didn’t exist.” Merry Christmas!

  6. Keith1

    I think it goes like this in rust belt America, “Give us secure jobs and incomes that increase very gradually over our lifetimes and you can pretty much do what you like: send us to war, make nice about minorities, feather your own nest, call us scum – whatever floats your boat. But if you can’t give us secure jobs and incomes that increase very gradually over our lifetimes, then we reserve the right to behave badly – very badly in fact.”
    I don’t know if that puts me in the same camp as HR, but curiously enough I don’t get any Christmas cards either, except from real estate people. Maybe a lifetime dedicated to not sending them has something to do with it.
    Anyway, have some happy couch time, Helen, and come back in 2017 full of vigour, good health, and enough energy to be as pissed off as is required.

  7. zut alors

    ‘I have not received a single Christmas card.’

    But did you actually send any?

    I ignore 25th December but maintain the practice of sending cards to keep in touch via hard copy. Also, it’s vital to support Oz Post lest it be dismantled.

  8. wadholloway

    Love your work, Helen. I probably wouldn’t send you a xmas card, I’ve nothing to sell, but if it’s any consolation I wrote the following in my xmas blogpost: My favourite on-line writer remains Helen Razer, our last remaining marxist-feminist, at Daily Review and Crikey. As an example here is ‘How Hillary Clinton uses feminism to advance her neoliberal, hawkish agenda’, Daily Review, 13 June 2016.

  9. Jackol

    Meh, Christmas cards are overrated.

    Thanks for your writing, Helen, it’s always thought provoking and enlightening, and for that I am grateful.

    Keep up the good work, and Merry Christmas, or whatever floats your boat.

  10. Dog's Breakfast

    “Bernie needs to be ground to a pulp. We can’t start believing our own primary bullshit.”

    Wasn’t aware of that little tidbit. Made me shudder.

    Thanks Helen, f#$%K xmas cards.

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