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The World

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.

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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.

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28 comments

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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.

  11. AR

    No friends/cards could also possibly because you are a self satisfied, not very bright termagant with more chip that shoulders?
    Like the person praying to god to win the lottery but never doing so until a loud voice comes down from Heaven, “Help me a little, buy a ticket!”.
    There was a good idea in this article so perhaps someone can write it.
    Enjoy the holiday, stay drunk and when/if you resurface be grateful and resolve to be a better person.

    1. Kfix

      Mostly I try to ignore your cheap unpleasantness AR, but it’s the season after all.

      I hope santa leaves nothing but coal for you.

      1. MAC TEZ

        I prefer the wit of AR to the waffle from Helen, to each their own.

        1. MAC TEZ

          That said, I’ve enjoyed a big chunk of Razor writing recently and hope Helen will continue to challenge opinions and provoke thought and debate in 2017 , just in a more concise manner.
          For AR’s sake , I hope he weans himself off his regular dose of 2GB which will only make ones blood boil and add anger to the day. Tuning into that rubbish when you know what to expect is like self-flagellation !

          1. AR

            MacT – so sez my better (infinitely superior – Ed.) half who can be quite waspish that I listen to Blot, the Poison Dwarf (Hobbesian in being nasty, brutish & short), Rat Hately et aal.

    2. Duncan Gilbey

      You’ve addressed each and every point made with clear, rational rebuttals and have added greatly to both the quality and tone of the debate.
      Just kidding… actually it reads like you hit the grumpy pills a bit early today.

  12. Nicholas

    I like your critique of the mainstream left’s neglect of economic justice and livelihood issues and the mainstream left’s obsession with cultural identity concerns.

  13. Kfix

    Cheers Helen, to another year of bothering your friends. Much appreciate your work here and at the Review.

  14. gerald butler

    Happy xmas war is over (not). I was in the UK at the time of the brexit vote and racism was a big factor in the leave vote, believe me I talked to a lot of people. Also, reading articles from the US, many blacks believe that Obama inadvertently became an enabler of Trump. ” Make America great again” and ” take our country back”, are spin for let the White “big daddies” take back control. I’ve never been to the US but racism does seem to be endemic, similar to the aboriginal tragedy in Australia.
    On top of the racism sits the inequality thing. An old Aussie “salt of the earth” mate of mine was agog at the salaries paid to CEO’s, consultants, PR monsters and various other blood suckers. ” They don’t earn it”, he said,” and we probably don’t need half of them”. He hated Australia’s two tier system for health and education which he thought entrenched division. Elites, not including scientists,some journalists and teachers, he would have put on the 3rd spaceship and left them wondering where everybody had got to. His opinions are quite general in regional Australia. Gerry.

  15. Joe Fitzpatrick

    I think you’re a bit harsh on Sam Harris, certainly in terms of his more recent work. I don’t think he’s ever asserted that calling Islam preposterous and dangerous would cure anyone; he has claimed that too many people who share this view are too deferentially silent. He’s certainly accepted that the west’s interventions in the Middle East have exacerbated things … but that there had to be something to exacerbate in the first place. You don’t see widespread Vietnamese/Cambodian Buddhist suicide bombings caused by the Vietnam War, do you?
    I think for an article that implicitly advocates sticking up for your beliefs (and I tend to believe as Sam Harris does) and railing against the simplists, your reductive depiction of his stance was borderline hypocritical.
    Have a wonderful break and thankyou for a year of stimulating articles.

  16. Northy

    Merry Christmas Helen! I have thoroughly enjoyed your contributions this year. Top stuff.

  17. Calypso Northcliffe

    Thank you again dear Helen. Merry Christmas, sweetie! I love your writing. Polly

  18. Kyle Geaney

    Nothing like the school holidays to bring the liberals to the comment section..Merry Xmas Helen.

  19. Susan Walsh

    I would totally send you a Christmas card! Discovered you this year after your brilliant article exposing banality of Sylvia’s Kitchen Table (or whatever it was called) and haven’t looked back. It hurts my brain sometimes but your writing is exhilarating and challenging and has got me thinking about the world differently.

  20. Mike Smith

    It’s not what you’re saying, Helen, that merits you getting or not getting cards, people do Birthdays and Xmas stuff on social media rather than snail mail.

  21. Charlie Chaplin

    Thought provoking, Helen.

    I hadn’t considered small “L” liberals actually equate cultural capital with economic capital so thoroughly.

    It explains a lot.

  22. davelec

    Arguments are good.
    My best mate and I agree on 99% of things, making discussion of most topics impossible. So we argue about the 1%. And we argue with the world too.
    In the noughties we were appalled at the nonsense being espoused about climate change – especially the sort of comments being made by people who seemed to expand pontifically on mere headline data (eg Tim Flannery). So Ross and I set out to get to the bottom of the data ourselves, and several years later (2006/7) we finally agreed that the data was credible, though, especially in regard to sea level rise, many public predictions seemed way off. We are both much happier that the days of wild public speculation are gone.

    With power generation, Ross was scheptical of wind and solar, and given the nonsense spouted for the technology, he had every right to be dubious. But we argued; argued for many years in fact. He eventually accepted that both were viable and necessary. We are both still angry at the nonsense said by the left about these technologys – as their nonsense has made conservative opposition so easy.
    We argued about nuclear power for nearly 10 years. But he has worn down my fashionable left wing rooted opposition. We are both a strange breed, strongly in favour of wind, solar, and nuclear power.

    There is one truism that we both agree on – the right and the left are much closer than they think – they both like to cherry-pick their history, and their science, they both dream of some distorted and/or romanticised view of the past, they both use NIMBY-ism as a propaganda tool, and they are both – at heart – conservative.

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