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Razer: The road to hell is paved by Bono, Geldof and, now, Jennifer Lawrence

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Readers of Daily Review may be aware of my view that the world is on a steady course to hell. Please be advised, I have amended this opinion. We are not headed to hell but have, in fact, arrived there.
Allow me to reconstruct the pavement on our trip to blazes.
Hope, which is most easily viewed through the monocle of the culture, is dead. There is no future. The guardians of a hopeful future, which are, of course, our brightest youngsters, have killed it. And this is not to charge all youngsters with murder of the future and it is not even to charge most youngsters—those whose mass criminal predilections we will shortly discuss—with anything more than involuntary manslaughter. They don’t know what they are doing, but they are doing it anyway.
So, yes, yes. Before you take this rather personally and shout “NOT ALL KIDS ARE LIKE THAT, YOU CRANKY OLD COOT”, and/or “WHAT HAVE YOU EVER DONE FOR THE PLANET, GRANNY?”, I offer these respective answers in advance of passionate complaint. (1) Yes. I know not all Millennials are identical. I am speaking here about a broadly held attitude which is currently very evident in the culture—see below and try not to receive what is intended broadly personally—and (2) I have done nothing for the planet, save for the fact that I have not, until today, abandoned hope for its future. It is my understanding, which I seek to clarify by description of recent cultural events, that hope has been otherwise largely left to perish in a frozen millennial desert.
I believe we can clearly see the cold relics of hope in (a) that stupid concert all those idiots had in New York’s Central Park a few weeks ago and (b) in the recent pronouncements of the young and talented actor, Jennifer Lawrence.
The Global Citizens Festival, which attracted very positive international press, Sexy Celebs and a sell-out crowd of 60,000, is an event that seeks to, and succeeds in, engaging young persons. It is the brainchild of former Young Australian of the Year, Hugh Evans who believes that his age-mates must hold governments accountable.
On the face of it, this is a marvellous goal. But, tbh, almost any political goal is marvellous, even one which gives a stage to Coldplay which is, as you know, actually the shittest band in the world. Just about everybody wants to make the world marvellous and that such intentions are very good does not alter the fact that they often turn immediately to an asphalt hell express.
We can say, of course, that Bob Geldof’s preposterous Live Aid concerts of the 1980s were as hell-paving as Evans’ attempt. But, they were also a little differently naïve. While Geldof felt that fundraising alone could solve the enormous problem of poverty-creating debt, Evans feels that debt, and a whole bunch of other problems, can be solved by endorsing the very organisation that helps create it. Evans Festival and his entire Global Citizens hell-road is, at the time of writing, an unambiguous endorsement of the goals of the UN.
I am hardly the only casual critic of this liberal institution to say, “Geez. Those Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seem dodgy”. They have been characterised by more learned analysts as “A high-school wish-list for how to save the world”. While they seek, as Evans does, to end extreme poverty, they take as their basis, as Evans does, the data from the monopoly provider on poverty, the World Bank. Which is to say—and again, I’m hardly alone here in proposing this—that they are quite possibly utter bullshit.
One can say until one is blue in the face as a Liberal Party tie that bajillions of people have been lifted out of poverty by liberal institutions, such as that which Evans endorses. But, it is seems very likely that they have not. We would do well to remember that the organisation charged with the task of unhuddling the masses, the World Bank, is also the organisation that provides the record of its own success. The World Bank, of which Evans is a great fan, gives itself full-marks by regularly changing its own forms of assessment—it’s a bit like allowing me to give myself an A for Cultural Critique. The WB’s methodology for the measurement of poverty changes over time. And, look, yes I know this is getting tedious and out of sheer good manners, I should simply provide one last link to well-regarded critique of liberal lending for those eager to unpick the lies that numbers often tell.
But the point is, WTF, Western World? Why do you accept that an event that is all but UN authorised is, in any way, a demand for accountability? This gig, at which Ban Ki-Moon and Michelle Obama spoke, is not protest. It’s a big advertisement for accepting the policies of the UN and its close partner, the World Bank. And, bugger me, the International Monetary Fund. Christine LaGarde, MD of the IMF, was cheered at the Global Citizens Festival. But, when she visits some of the nations who have suffered poverty as the result of her austerity measures, she is booed.
Of course, you might independently come to the conclusion that everything the UN and its partner organisations does is marvellous and all of its data is to be instantly believed. If that is the case, you can, with a clear conscience, sign the “I Refuse To Be a Bystander” petition circulated online and at the dumb concert and really mean it. But, if you choose to accept, without interrogation, that what the UN and liberal lending institutions have done is awesome, then your support for Global Citizens is an act of pure, hellish orthodoxy. Which is to say, you have been a bystander.
And, sure, Beyoncé, Leonardo, Salma, Matt and, inevitably, Bono were all there. But, you know, celebrities don’t often have a lot of spare moments to read or think about the consequences of their activism, which brings us to you, Jennifer Lawrence.
J-Law seems like a very sparky and bright person and I enjoyed very much her uncompromised attack on those who stole and viewed her nude selfies. It is, of course, a pleasure to see a young and talented biscuit exceed the cookie-cutter margins for a Hollywood Starlet. She is, clearly, much “more” than a pretty face—not, in any way, to disparage those whose chief work it is simply to please us with their looks. Those people are awesome.
So, we can enjoy and commend J-Law’s rancour in certain moments. We can even commend what she believes to be her aim of challenging gender stereotypes, just as we can enjoy the aim of Evans’ World Bank Festival. But this does not mean that we must remain uncritical of the wrong turn she takes to hell.
In recent days, Lawrence has received wide approbation for the essay she wrote in Lenny decrying the difference in standards of pay for male and female Hollywood actors.
Lawrence is forthright and noble in her understanding that the millions of dollars she commands for her work is not “relatable”. She does have the sort of clear head that allows her to see that her particular privilege is not shared by the rest of the world. Where she errs, though, is in her advice to other young women, which is essentially “be feisty when negotiating for fair wages”.
As a pathologically “feisty” lady, I can tell you that this is appalling advice. As someone with a basic knowledge of the process of industrial reform, I can tell you this is appalling advice. Unless you are very, very good at your gig and a one-of-a-kind proposition, like Lawrence, a feisty presentation will just get you the sack. Employers are in the business of protecting their profits and they’re not going to give them up just because you say “I’m worth it”.
Like a lot of people, I am not worth it. I am a middling middle-income self-employed pain who is very easily replaced. And I say this not because I am “down on myself” but because my annual taxation returns tell this story in a much less duplicitous way than the World Bank. It is not a lack of personal empowerment, such as Evans and L-Law recommend, that determines my financial future. It is the market.
The most effective means of changing one’s working conditions is not letting go of self-doubt, but of organising your labour with others. The most effective way to close the gender pay gap is not through individual feisty presentation but collective action. And this isn’t me talking through my arse. It’s just the boring fact of the matter.
This is not to say that J-Law isn’t lovely and bright and it is not to actively dissuade young ladies from unchecked acts of self-esteem. It is, just to say, that the belief, advanced by J-Law and widely applauded, that YOU are responsible for your own destiny is bunkum. I mean. If that were the case, there would be no need for a World Bank.
Arguably, there is a very great need for a World Bank. Perhaps one that is reliable in its methodology and non-partisan in its lending. If we can believe in the need, as per Evans, for such institutions, then perhaps we can also believe in the need for their very close scrutiny. And perhaps we can begin to believe that persons like the very excellent J-Law also sometimes bear critical scrutiny when they say, as she very much has, that ladies just need to “speak their minds” in order to receive financial reward.
Ladies need to join a union. “Bystanders” need to look at the nature of their protests and see, perhaps, that they may not be protest, but a propaganda exercise for a very flawed institution. And all of us, perhaps, at some point must learn to see that the fact alone of individual, self-esteem packed action may not be as effective as we initially suppose.
All of which is to say, hope dies when its shiny replica takes its place.
Big glamorous concerts and small feisty actors feel great and feel hopeful. I know they do. But if these apparently hopeful moments, which are often so empty of substance, are permitted to stand in for real solutions, we truly let hope go.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The first stop en route to hope is, very often, to assess the great hopelessness surrounding us. Without hopelessness, there can be no hope.
Kids. Mum is very frightened and wants you to turn this car around. Despite my worst fears, I still hopelessly hope you can collectively save us from hell.
[box]Jennifer Lawrence at the 83rd Academy Awards. Photo: Creative Commons Flikr [/box]

37 responses to “Razer: The road to hell is paved by Bono, Geldof and, now, Jennifer Lawrence

    1. Oh, I really enjoyed the dump you took on them, Marl. Thank you for hating Bono so fully in a week I have forgotten to do it as absolutely as one must.
      To add to the jeremiad:
      Do you remember how on the Zoo TV tour, or whatever the choad it was called, they replayed local broadcast transmissions in the stadium? OOH HOW POSTMODERN APPROPRIATION OF THE CULTURE.
      At this time, they also sued a SF art-band for releasing a really marginal single called “U2”.
      The song was hilarious and really had more of a go at the late American Top 40 host, Casey Kasem by replaying his famous “Fluffy love song dedication” dummy spit over a kazoo version of, I think, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
      Nonetheless, U2 took action. Took action against a virtual not-for-profit art band whose entire project was, in the then po-mo style, centred around copyright. The VERY THING U2 used as an idea to elevate their early ’90s rot and tours.
      “The Edge” did talk to the band and apologised personally. But, it is my understanding that the art band was seriously impeded by fear and legal costs despite “The Edge’s” efforts to be publicly “hip”.
      I remember working at a radio station all those years ago and playing the song “U2” and getting absolutely bollocked by a rep from U2’s record company. A lot of people did. It is hard to believe that this protection of their “intellectual property”, which in the US at least could be seen as fair use (we don’t have that here) did not come from the band. The band which, at the time, was absolutely in the business of cheekily violating copyright in concert.
      For mine, the only thing to really like about U2 is their self-importance. It’s so camp.
      Oh. Also. This.
      How the HELL can this guy be so resistant to actual economic theory? He has actual access to Stiglitz, Krugman and all those reasonable liberals. To go about saying this palaver when you actually have been directly told by the world’s most prominent economists you’re wrong is to be a neoliberal. That’s what he is. And he should just own up to it.
      God. I hate U2.

  1. You shit me sometimes, Helen, but you’re spot on more often than I would care to admit.
    As one of the earliest members of gen Y I have become increasingly worried about the proliferation of little Willie Loman’s among my peers.
    All too often I notice hat those who see themselves as the flagbearers of all entries in the great book of “millennial causes” seem to have picked up the wrong flag and don’t appear to realize it.

    1. Well, you know. So long as you don’t go maligning me all over the internet, it’s okay that I shit you! Oh, heck. Even if you do.
      I am actually flattered that I have the occasional force to disturb your thinking to the point where you are pissed off with me. I know you are actually pissed off with the ideas which I happen to communicate and it’s important for ALL OF US not to take even personal attack personally. But, I would say, as per my piece earlier in the week that it’s also good not to personalise your discomfort with an idea in the first place.
      Anyhow. Thanks!

  2. “While Geldof felt that fundraising alone could solve the enormous problem of poverty-creating debt, Evans feels that debt, and a whole bunch of other problems, can be solved by endorsing the very organisation that helps create it”
    Where or when did Geldof ever say that? My take is that he thought if he could put food in mouths for the next few months he could save a lot of lives until some better answers were found. His language was very clear about that during the Live Aid event “just send us fucking money now, that’s all”.
    It’s my understanding that Ethiopia was shipping grain out of the country during the famine. That provided money for guns and munitions, more important than feeding their population. Sure, attack Bono without a scant reference every week for the rest of the year but put up some evidence for your grossly harsh characterisation of Geldof and his intentions… although if he really was into Crowley like they said he was maybe you can read each other’s thoughts from afar and through time?

    1. Bob Geldof who advertised his charity with the slogan “Feed the World?”
      To say that he did not then, and does not now, believe himself to be an agent of great structural change is to ignore everything he said, aside from that three-second grab on Live Aid.
      As for the focus on Ethiopia’s profligacy as a nation. Surely you know that this view was explicit propaganda at the time of the Cold War?

      1. almost Godwin’s law invoked by Helen Razor, how shocking.
        his intention was never to “feed the world” with the live aid event. his stated intention, and if you follow the money it validates this, was to raise money for disaster relief, and also to bring awareness to world inequality, not to fix it with one concert. did he achieve these two aims? I don’t actually know, but please don’t pretend a three word slogan — and every such event has a three word slogan — represents his intentions for the purposes of refusing to admit that exaggeration and verbaling the great and the good is not your MO (admittedly on this rarest of occasions).

  3. ok otherwise I find myself saying this is a good column, even if it avoids at all costs the question of why is the ‘road to hell paved with good intentions’? wiser people than me say it’s because of the role delusion plays in our minds, bringing confusion mixed with over confidence in what we think we perceive to be reality.
    Can’t let this one go either, a Razer-scale attempt to conclude on profundity bomb:
    “The first stop en route to hope is, very often, to assess the great hopelessness surrounding us. Without hopelessness, there can be no hope.”
    meaning? without black there can be no white, be grateful to the blackness children for your white is born of it’s suffering? errrk Razer in the last para just when I thought I enjoyed one.

    1. I reckon it meant what she said— hope would be more meaningful/useful if we examined the cause for the hopelessness more critically. True, not a very poetic way of putting it.

      1. well I guess this is the problem for me, if it’s meaning don’t be a Pollyanna be more of a professor and then your hope will be more valuable. it’s confusing too fairly independent things and implying the absences of one (knowledge) is a corruption of the other (hope). This is a false conclusion to draw. But it takes a little explaining I think to make this point in a way anyone can accept at face value.
        Hope, by definition, has a lot to do with optimism. There’s a optimism test in the bestseller book “Learnt Optimism” by Martin Seligman (recommended) you can take that gives you a ‘hope’ index as part of its results (by adding the results of the indexes that assess one’s inclinations with regard to permanence and pervasiveness).
        So Optimism and hope are a mental conditioning independent of the object or situation in view, completely independent as it turns out in the literature.
        So it’s wrong of Razor to say “The first stop en route to hope is, very often, to assess the great hopelessness surrounding us”. The literature on optimism tells us very clearly that having a better understanding of the situation is not a pre-cursor to hope or hopelessness, these things tend to be pre-determined to a large extent by existing mental conditioning.
        Both the psychology of optimism (and it’s corollary pessimism) and tribal/political identifications for/against solutions have far more influence on our hopefulness regarding an issue like poverty or injustice than reading about the causes. Climate psychology literature is conclusive on that. And learned optimism/pessimism lit goes back decades and is a large edifice now.
        (We know conservatives express much less of the illogical climate denials that say Murdoch media outlets are so full of when the solutions broached do not involved redistribution of wealth type actions like energy independence via rooftopPV)
        That’s not to say that knowledge of a problem is not important in solving it, of cause it’s essential. As are many other things like clear minded strategy, determination, creative tactical ability and of course the thing so many NGOs put their efforts into raising: non-human resources i.e. money for campaigning (and keeping themselves in the conversation).

    2. In previous proximate sentences, “hope” as it functions in large-scale purportedly political events is described as a simulation of itself.
      The statement with which you have misgivings (or, rather, one of them) is not “yin and yang” but intended to mean that unless one divests oneself of hope detached from solutions, there will be no true hope.
      Honestly, I think this is pretty plain. I spend several pars describing how the World Bank and its propagandists actually and actively offer a truly false hope. I say, just before the faux profundity you criticise, “”Hope dies when its shiny replica takes its place”.
      It is: look at how hopeless things are without the filter of the lies, damn lies of the World Bank or of Jennifer Lawrence. When you see how hope has been extinguished (i.e. acknowledge the hopelessness of the situation) there will be hope.
      But, feel free to continue to be irritated by me for the sake of it. This generates clicks.

      1. not for the sake of it, for the sake of truthfulness and rational debate. pls see my response to Mandi re the independence of hope/optimism and knowledge about any given situations causation.
        I get that false prophets of hope are infuriating to you, but even if people following them start talking about an issue for all the wrong reasons, with all the wrong solutions at least it’s better than them completely ignoring a problem under there noses.
        once they emotionally commit to the finding a solution they can in many cases be educated by intelligent and strategic campaigners. if they stay engaged and throwing a facts like baseballs at them may or may not win them over. I like to think there are more creative ploys available.

      2. and i should add that false prophets of hope in the climate space are something I spend a good deal of time trying to combat, but wouldn’t write about them in the way you have. Flannery with his doom-and-gloom-turned-now-i’m-an-evangelical-for-geo-engineering-and-i-even-heard-solar-and-storage-is-getting-cheaper-which-makes-me-smile-in-the-morning.
        Bill Mckibben with his *carbon budget* line of politically palatable compromise that provides the comfort of an illusion of time up our sleeve if we just were to start today, when actually we needed to start very seriously yesterday. tomorrow is getting worse by the day as far as a safe climate is concerned.
        I usually try to refute those arguments when they arise in my day to day experiences not condemn the messenger. These individuals have usually done a tremendous amount of good, or at least put a lot of effort in to getting climate action on the agenda of governments and corporations. There’s only a few in the climate movement i really have a lot of disrespect for. I’d rather put my efforts into defeating the blockers of rapid climate decarbonisation, they are the Coalocracy and it’s fossil mafia, the holders of great — but waning — power in this country.

    3. As for the aphorism, five seconds of Googling will clear it up for you. I have used it in the spirit it is almost always used.
      It is about the failure, for many reasons, to take good action.

  4. Just wanted to say that whether or not I agree with everything you say, I enjoy reading your column. And, whether ‘they’ like it or not, you write very well. You even seem to make readers think!

  5. Agree re good intentions, but what else can an individual do? We can’t all go around organizing our labour with others.
    If I could sing a song and a few people would get food and water, I’d probably do it.
    Kinda agree with you, but don’t know what the answer is for me personally make the world better. (Please don’t say go and top yourself)

    1. Of course I would not say “top yourself”!
      The answer to “what can I do?” is to think about it. Read about it. Find books that address your concerns. There are loads.
      I am presuming you are currently not in the labour market and this is why you don’t have the option of joining a union. But, given that my statements were about J-Law’s advice to those in the labour market, you’ll just have to allow me a response to her in particular.
      I would also say that “what can I personally do?” is the wrong question. Individuals don’t significantly transform history. Exceptional individuals, good or bad, can move it along at a faster pace. But history has its own mechanisms.
      If you personally want to change its course, then all you can really do is look for ways to shift the gears.
      Think and read. Do not presume that the question is “what can I DO?”, it’s more like “what means are available for effective action?” None of us can place ourselves at the centre. If we don’t look at how history moves and we keep supposing that it is personal, separate moments of bravery rather than of shared insight that changes things, then what we get is a whole lot of “not in my name” rot.
      It’s not about us as individuals. Of course, the endpoint is about widespread individual freedom. This is what most people agree on as the ultimate aim. But this only happens because of (a) hard thinking and (b) collective action. The first has to happen before the second, obvi.
      So, for the present, what you can do is think. Action comes a long time after.

      1. Hello Helen,
        Bono is always a sign that the cause is bullshit! As soon as he pops up in a doco I turn that shit off!
        The World Bank and U.N are criminal organisations that are a blight upon humanity. They bankrupt nations, commit mass murder and rape. Begone with them!
        As dire as the situation can seem about millenials there is also much hope. Many are rejecting the labor market mentality and becoming their own bosses, innovating and creating with their own start-ups rather than just getting a job and wage like Gen X slaves.
        Unions are at best just a bandaid upon a cancer. The longer the bandaid is on the cancer the more decayed it becomes. I was a member of a union for 8 years. It was sell out. Ineffective to it members who were really just milk cows for their leaders prestige and lifestyle. Hell, I even thought I could help change the union and joined a left wing faction of the union. Just a bandaid upon a bandaid upon a cancer (government). Best to get rid of the cancer altogether!
        If unions use force, either directly (physically) or indirectly – through government mandate, e.g compulsory membership then they are immoral institutions. Real solutions may involve collective action but must not involve force or coercion. This is why historically revolutions do not work.
        The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This is why socialism/communism does not work. One must work for the ‘greater good’ and as such individual freedom will be sacrificed.
        “Individuals don’t significantly transform history.” – individuals, good or bad, can move it along at a faster pace, yes, but they can absolutely change it themselves! Tesla almost single-handedly created the 20th C as we have know it with his inventions. Einstein? Rosa Parks certainly effected great change with a heroic individual act even though she may have just been a gear. This is not so black and white. Helen Razer does not write this blog as part of a collective (although their may be editors and others collaborating).

        1. Rosa Parks was strategically reproducing the actions of a less publicity friendly unwed teen mother, Claudette Colvin.
          Parks did not act alone. She was consciously part of a history and a movement that was rigorously debated and informed by the labourist movement you despise.
          As for “Tesla almost singlehandedly created the 20the century”. Is this something we can see inscribed on a Rand Paul all-gold memorial coin?
          That is utter nonsense.
          Please. You will not convert me to your free market anarchism. Stop trying. Or, if you are going to try, quit it with the bad history and the Tesla fanboyism.

          1. Hello Helen,
            re: Claudette Colvin. – interesting, I will have to look into that.
            “Parks did not act alone. She was consciously part of a history and a movement” maybe so, but did she not act as an individual or was there a group on the bus?
            Tesla – you are making a logical fallacy strawman argument here by changing the subject to Rand Paul and gold of who I never mentioned. Is there even a point there?
            “labourist movement you despise” – I did not state this! What I advocate is the prevention not cure. I said unions were a bandaid. I do not dismiss group action, only the use of force. I will however defend against slavery – forcing others to submit to the will of others, be it a dictator or a collective. That is, individualism must be paramount.
            I will not convert you to market anarchism – fine! Others reading here may however get to hear about the morality of Voluntaryism, which I advocate.
            “Stop trying”? Do you not value discourse?? In the world of ideas, I say let every one speak and the the best system prevail.
            Thank you for your passionate reply.

  6. Helen,
    a couple of articles back I posed a question on why the left media (SMH Daily Life being the prime example – which thankfully you partly agreed with me on) think all feminists have to be of the left. You graciously spoke of the history of conservative women helping that cause – and supported their role (while also suggesting that those from the left were using the “correct pathway” – or words to that effect).
    So it might not come as much of a surprise that I disagree with your stock standard “every women to the barricades” attack on individuals dealing directly with those dastardly boss. Surely in the aftermath of the HSU scandals and the shenanigans of the AWU/CFMEU that have recently come to light, aren’t you, to quote your line from above, merely a bystander to a cliche’ “workchoices, workchoice, workchoices” response?

    1. That the trade union movement is not, in every case, ideal (but I would say that an $80M TURC was an expensive way to go about revealing a few bad apples) does not change the premise of labourism. The statement that collective organisation is more effective than individual negotiation is not a left-wing bias. It’s just history and maths. Wage inequality has risen while union membership has fallen. There is strength in numbers.
      More to the point, few employers give up money just because they’re nice guys.
      Think about your assumptions before arguing them only in the terms of your assumptions.

  7. What an excellent rant. One that can be repeated for almost any event, group or person. Cause none is perfect. So well done in creating a great spiel for future generations/plagiarists. In terms of greater meaning you should have finished at point 2 or placed point 2 at the finish. Really did enjoy it thank you.
    Now ignoring my own words re greater meaning.
    In terms of your advice to Jennifer Lawrence, could she really talk about joining unions and still have a career in USA?
    On the other hand her advice is relevant to many women and men who are hard working and have specialist skills ie hard or expensive to replace. Not the majority sure but an important minority.
    Feistiness (not an i before e word thanks spell check) perhaps has a scale starting with backbone and internal strength and ending with rude, big bully and really really scary. Maybe she is talking about the lower end of the scale.
    Is the road to hell paved with good intentions or just apathy? Is caring in someway more of problem than not caring at all?

  8. The letter Jennifer Lawrence wrote for Lenny seems like a mighty small thing to develop a Cassandra-prophet complex over. It is an anecdote about her pay negotiations, where she wonders about how both her own personality and a patriarchal culture played into them. She doesn’t pretend to have advice for women, and she couldn’t have given advice without going outside the scope of the letter – whether it be about self-esteem, feistiness, speaking her mind, or any other sentiments you wish to project on her.

    1. Sure. It’s always just a “personal story” these days, right? Even when it’s the featured story in a feminist newsletter.
      There is nothing more than the individual. There is no such thing as society.
      Maggie would love this new world.

      1. Woof. That’s one of the sharper false dichotomies I’ve encountered lately. That I believe in the existence of personal anecdotes hardly implies that I believe society is ‘merely a collection of individuals’ or any such nonsense.
        My point stands that Lawrence is not offering advice. If she is guilty of anything, it is of taking Sheryl Sandberg’s advice. “I was too deferential, I didn’t lean in.” She’s the one who’s been told that the reason she was underpaid (the term being used loosely here) is a personal failing on her part. She might have swallowed the kool-aid on that one, but she isn’t the one selling it.

        1. “Woof?”
          I am unfamiliar with this exclamation.Is it an internet thing and am I to take it that you believe me to be canine?
          Lawrence may have intended for her presentation to be received in an utterly personal way. Although, given that she frets twice within it that she is not sufficiently “relatable” to an audience explicitly described on the newsletter’s website, I think we can safely say she is worried about being “relatable”. Which is to say, her Personal Story is offered up in order that a mass audience of self-described feminist women who subscribe to a feminist newsletter that talks, it claims, directly to their concerns.
          Let’s allow Lawrence the benefit of the doubt and say that she merely wished to get something off her chest and that she has no awareness of being a “role model” and no inclination to have young women follow her advice.
          This is improbable for a strictly scripted bankable Hollywood star, but, let’s allow it.
          So what? This is explicitly an advice newsletter. This is an explicitly feminist and political newsletter. This is explicitly the advice of putatively “left” liberalism.
          You may not have a problem with self-actualisation standing in for collective action. I do.
          There are no false equivalences here. You just think that there are benefits to this kind of empowered thought, or, at least, that there is no harm.
          I see it as the production of ideology. We disagree. So, please don’t invoke a logical fallacy when all you need to do is say that you don’t think this sort of stuff is harmful. I do. You don’t. That’s fine.

          1. I pointed out that Lawrence was giving a personal account of a pay negotiation rather than offering advice. You responded as if I were asserting that there are *only* personal stories, and implied I am some sort of neo-Thatcherite for doing so.
            I didn’t, and I’m not. Somewhat disagreeing with you does not mean I embody the extreme polar opposite view from yours. You bet it was a fallacy – it is playing the player, killing a strawman, and labouring under a false dichotomy – whereby stating that something is a personal account is tantamount to a wholesale denial of social forces.
            Hence: woof, yowsers, blimey, etc. I’m fine with disagreement, but I was surprised at being placed on the same ideological ground as Thatcher given the little that I actually said. (And now less surprised that you’ve gone on to imply I’m for the World Bank.)
            Lawrence wonders whether she would be able to negotiate for higher wages if she were less deferential. But she concludes that no matter how deferential she is, the game is weighted against her. Not exactly the most radical political statement, I’ll grant you, but not exactly an expression of the ‘you are responsible for your own success’ narrative, either.
            I get that there are problems with the lean-in narrative, but I think it’s disingenuous to pretend as if that’s all Lawrence is doing here, or all that her readers will get from her letter. And I do have a problem with self-actualisation standing in for collective action, but I don’t think it then follows that there is no place at all for self-actualisation – in liberal feminist publications or otherwise.

      2. What is meant by society? Can a large group of individuals in a geographical area share cultural similarities? Of course they can!
        Most of the time this word is trotted out however is because social engineers want to conform us all into a manageable herd. On one had it is very primitive and tribal. This mind set taps into the base human emotions causing nationalism, racism and exceptionalism. The ugly footy supporter mentality.
        On the other hand it causes abstractions trying to force many different races and individuals into a false categorisation. e.g a cohesive strong rich celebrated culture v’s forcing an assimilated multi-cultural society because of lines drawn on a map.
        Society gets too confused with nationality.
        Humans are still very tribal. This was a protection mechanism for survival but also means a society can fear outsiders causing Nationalism with idiots wearing oz flags as capes. In others ways we are becoming post-tribal choosing to connect with others through shared interests and values across geographical borders.
        Freedom of association is preferable to some abstract notion of “society”.

  9. HR, couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the World Bank et al, holding the smoking gun on poverty and proclaiming innocence.
    I’d cut Lawrence some slack. Some serious academic feminist writers have championed more non-sequitur solutions to the problem of gender pay equity. It’s actually a pretty complex problem. No, I don’t mean to sound patronising there, I’m sure yo knew that.
    She’s a pretty good stick, Jen Lawrence (god I hate the J-Law epithet!). The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but bad intentions also put in a pretty strong bid.
    And the idea of collective bargaining being a solution to gender pay equity may address some of the important parts of the movement/debate/social issue, but the result won’t necessarily be gender pay equity.
    I have a fair understanding of this, and have worked in providing the actual statistics on gender pay equity. As I said, it’s complex. Furthermore, the thought that this movement might be being usurped to fight for the rights of women who are already getting paid hundreds of thousands to get paid millions like their male counterparts just makes me want to puke.
    So in summation, generally I agree, but J-Law wasn’t as bad as you seem to lament. It’s much worse, believe me, when notable feminist academics bollocks up the arguments.
    But there is hope. We still have years to go of dealing with the pampered progeny of baby boomers, and what bloody good was likely to come out of them? The children of Gen X are yet to hit the stage, and by god, there is some talent and hope in them.
    Or at least there is in my mind.

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