The almost-comical tale of Lady A
It's hard to think of a more evocative example of woke capital at work...
The platinum-selling country band formerly known as Lady Antebellum has changed its name to Lady A, for fear that a name referencing the time before America’s Civil War might imply endorsement of the slavery that characterised that period in history.
This has been done, we’re told, out of respect to the many black people whose ancestors were victims of the slave trade and the post-abolition racism that has dogged the lives of black Americans since those times.
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It’s nice to see the music industry stepping up to our brave new moment of ending racism. Only there’s a problem. The name ‘Lady A’ is already taken. Anita White, a black blues singer has been performing under that name since 1987.
Lady A (band) is now suing Lady A (singer) for the trademark rights to the name ‘Lady A’. Anita White has responded furiously, pointing out that the band’s rebrand has already made it nigh-on impossible for her fans to find her work on streaming services, and highlighting the irony of a white band seeking to appear less racist by steamrollering a black artist:
It’s not original to remark on the hypocrisy of ‘woke capital’ adopting cosmetically PC postures alongside zero substantive change. But it’s hard to think of a more evocative example of this process at work, nor of the difference between virtue and the signalling thereof.
Anita White herself correctly identifies the dominant force in this disagreement as those deep-sea currents of money and influence left largely undisturbed by the surface squalls of woke branding. Other independent artists, she says, have contacted her since the story broke about ‘name feuds that they lost because they were on the opposite side of big money and privilege’. That the appropriation is happening in the name of anti-racism only adds a layer of bitter irony.
I don’t think we should be cancelling anyone. But while the internet debates the existence and/or merits of ‘cancel culture’, it’s striking that Lady A (the band) is yet to be cancelled for casually claiming a brand a black woman has spent her lifetime building.
Asking ‘why?’ invites reflection about the actual operation of power, money and class in relation to a movement for ‘social justice’ that claims to be about ‘moral clarity’. But the young would-be brahmins busy harnessing legitimate anger at racial injustice, to power a political movement Oliver Traldi recently described as a ‘guild hall’, for some reason don’t discuss power, money or class very often.
If they did, they might notice that much of the genuine and often racialised injustice evident today follows these axes. And that this is so despite (or, increasingly, because of) the enthusiasm displayed by woke capital for treating those injustices as chiefly matters of representation, language and branding.
Can we stop repeating “busy harnessing legitimate anger at racial injustice” without making this case?I do not think the current anger is legitimate, it seems mostly driven by the underbelly and hysteria. There is been no place in history with so little racism and that tries so hard to eradicate racism as in our current Western societies. Now that true fact is something we should repeat more often.
Thank you for stating this Peter. For example, it is not even true that “all lives matter”. There are many odious lives that would be better ended, and even more that ultimately we have no reason to care particularly about one way or another, just as they have no particular reason to care about ours. It is not immoral to care about your loved ones more than strangers.
Completely agree. No other society has done more to eradicate discrimination and allow other cultures to integrate, and with such success. Enough of this ‘white guilt’ please -it’s getting really boring and infantile now.
Fundamentally, we must accept that the multicultural model has failed. It was not unreasonable to attempt it, if one believed that human beings were autonomous rational agents, or close to being so.
But humans are still animals. We still have those bestial urges not only inherent within us, but strongly so ““ for many, over-whelming. We thrive best in communities of those who are as like us as possible. This is not an argument of political philosophy, but of ontology. We are what we are, and well-meaning attempts to force us to act against our nature will only backfire.
Surely ‘the multicultural model’ was the result of having to accept the integration that the early proponents of mass migration had assumed would take place was not going to happen, largely because the migrants themselves didn’t want to integrate.
Of course no one really likes living in a low trust ,incohesive ‘multicultural society’.The left just pretend they do
Just a thought: if you have Spotify, download an album or two by Lady A (the singer). That will show support, help her financially at minimal cost to you, push her up the download charts for more publicity – and as a bonus, the lady is very talented!
No, no, no!!! Do *not* go through Spotify, as the artists usually get a
handful of cents *if that* after hundreds of thousands of streams. If
you want to support an artist, buy physical merchandise directly from
the artist, or donate directly if possible. The streaming middleman-platforms people have flocked to for convenience, does not in any way shape or form contribute to an independent artist’s income. It is robbery.
I had heard vaguely that the name Lady A was already taken, but I didn’t know that black blues singer Anita White, using the name since 1987, was the original Lady A. The name change in itself was silly. The band members are all Southern whites. They say their name comes from the Antebellum-style home where they shot their first band photos. If so, it relates to a style of architecture and has nothing to do with oppression of blacks. In any case, they have sued Anita White on the basis that they have also been using the name Lady A since the mid-2000’s. It’s been just an abbreviation of Lady Antebellum for years now, so if the initial name was offensive (it isn’t) then the new name is still offensive. If they have any decency they will simply vacate the space that Anita White has already occupied for a third of a century and go back to their original name.
Unsurprising. It sits alongside the quasi-religious act of getting down on one knee in order to dispel centuries-old evils. The real complexities and menaces of the world as it exists today are being inexorably retreated from into a politics of identity, gesture, and symbol, with the reference point in the past.
This sounds like the plot of a contemporary satire, except that the original Lady A being a black lady called Anita White would have been a conceit too far.
The Left is increasingly irrelevant on China and just about everything else. The principal function of the Left ‘s having any ‘China policy’ is that it allows Labour MPs to take ‘fact finding ‘ trips to China and cruise around at the taxpayer’s expense achieving precisely nothing.
In America, so statistics relate, black people constitute about ten per cent of the population.but are involved in about forty percent of police contact involving serious criminal incidents.
Some with a political axe to grind claim this as evidence of racial bias though other, much less widely publicised, data suggest that around forty per cent of murders also are committed by black men (and, incidentally, that the victims of those murders are in the main other black men).
This being so the story would appear to indicate little or no bias. It would be as legitimate to claim that the police are misandristic (man hating) as well as racist on account that ninety percent of those arrests are of men without regard to the proportion of men versus women involved in such incidents.
Two conclusions it seems to me can be drawn from all this by an unbiased non axe grinding observer. The first is that the majority of black people (ie those at risk of being murdered by other black people) are well served by the American police and the second is that the best way of avoiding possibly life threatening contact with the police whoever you are is to avoid being involved in crime.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that much the same applies to the situation here in Britain.
What we call ‘left’ is a negative identity: what Roger Scruton termed a ‘culture of repudiation’. Thus its ‘principles’ are fluid, contradictory, mutually antagonistic. Leave (‘Out’) was left at time of first Referendum in 1975; right or ‘racist’ in 2020. Marxist class antagonisms now transferred to race and culture: ‘racism’ displacing ‘capitalism’ as animating principle or ‘scapegoat’ legitimising ‘struggle’ / political violence, a new ‘proletariat’ having been imported by the ‘elite’. Native working class now expendable, their political representation condemned as ‘far-right’ by ‘left’ and ‘right’ nomenklatura alike. Thus de facto coalition between global capital and public sector professional classes or ‘deep state’, an amorphous mass of consumers with no loyalties greater than to their Netflix shows or football teams being as congenial to mandarins as purveyors of bread and circuses.
Very interesting. I only really got seriously engaged in politics in 2016 although I had already formulated many of my socio-politico-ecological ideas from a more ethics platform. So for me it is hugely interesting to get a historical perspective on how our current politics emerged.
Similarly, it is always hugely disturbing that many of the more dysfunctional trajectories seem to always begin with Tony Blair. I might be widely misinformed but what is it with this man that he always seems to be behind every disaster that has befallen Britain over the last couple of decades.
Anyway, thanks for another great read and I’m glad that Boris and Co seem to be taking the country back into the right direction and spreading prosperity and opporunities more evenly. It will certainly be interesting to see how the free port idea pans out.
Let’s get going. Joking ðŸ˜ŠðŸµï¸ðŸŒ¸ðŸ’®
Great essay Paul. Sums up exactly the grotesque problem and the solution. Those UK politicians and business leaders who have failed to act against the Chinese tyranny and its expansion of economic and military power and influence for whatever reason e.g. wishing we were like China and they were in charge; a deliberate ignoring of the horror of Chinese rule for economic or personal gain; or thick as mince and can’t see what is going on, should be named and removed from positions of economic or political influence in this country. The only business we should be doing with paramount leaders like Xi Jinping is telling them to get in touch once they realise we are no longer living in 1949. Sell them nothing and buy nothing from them until their people can write comments like this without being arrested, tortured and disappeared.
Our armed forces should be double their current size but only deployed in Britain’s interests.
Good article, Finkelstein is wrong. Dispersion of civil service whole departments is needed not just campuses, and massive redirecting of resource spending. If the department of transport was in the north say Newcastle they might change their priorities, the same for other departments maybe education in Rotherham, health Glasgow etc..
As for education a terrible waste, money spent on low grade universities and courses and gross under funding of technical education and training, a significant change is needed with a large amount of university funding being redirected to a revitalised technical college sector and proper apprenticeships.
Excellent piece, with much to ponder on, but I wonder how those multinationals can be “aggressively ideological” if their only reason for “parking” in the Repulblic of Ireland is for tax purposes. Perhaps money/profit is their ideology?
Tax harmonization, if introduced throughout the EU, will end Ireland’s tax advantage.
Finkelstein needs to get out more. The more members of the “elite” there are, the less elite it is. Doh!
China’s rise pivoted/locked on to the post WW2 examples of settlements for Germany, Japan etc. I.e. unencumbered collaborative industrial/commercial focus on world markets.
The game is now moving on for the European democracies – the problem is how to deal with climate change, resources, automation in organisational processes and manufacturing/assembly.
Finkelstein doesn’t seem to realise that the more members an elite class has, the less elite it is.
We Irish didn’t just topple statues. In 1966 we BLEW UP Admiral Nelson’s statue on his column in Dublin. “WE” then possibly being the IRA or its sympathizers. The regular Irish Army then blew up the column itself, wrecking much of O’Connell Street in the process.
But Leo Varadkar is very far from an economic Thatcherite. Like his predecessors for the last decade he presides over a raft of jealousy taxes, including a 55% top income tax rate which is far from limited to millionaires. The “low tax policies introduced in the late Nineties” were all reversed after the 2008 crash, except for the 12.5% Corporation Tax. A tax haven for huge multinational corporations but a tax hell for individuals.
As for George Bernad Shaw, he was a devoted Stalinist to the end of his days, as well as an anti-Semite. So good riddance to bad rubbish!
Unlike Ms Nagle, I see great value in Ireland’s Foreign Direct Investment policy, partly because I remember what Ireland was like before she was born. A popular joke of the time was to ask that whoever left the country last should please turn off the lights! The slightly-independent Irish state was in fact dependent on the vast safety valve of unlimited emigration to Britain for the first half century or more of its existence. We were NEVER economically independent.
As for the current “Wokism” of US tech corporations, that could change in a moment. It is very much an anomaly for corporations rather than anything endemic or inevitable in them.
Excellent reply. And remember the Southern Irish Protestant community all but disappeared in the new triumphalist Catholic ethno-nationalist state. All in my book Buried Lives. The Protestants of Southern Ireland.
As if the EU has a military significance. Four donkeys don’t make a horse!
A sad eulogy for the grande finale of the Celtic Tiger.
Thanks to the EU, the Irish agricultural economy will soon be sacrificed on the altar of Brussels orthodoxy. There will be “much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth”.
California can offer no consolation.
No longer the vaunted Celtic Tiger but rather the Celtic Weasel, the Shriekers of the Dublin Dail will rejoice on their grotesquely generous EU pensions, and pretend it isn’t happening.
Perhaps it is time for “Britannia’s Huns, with their long range guns”, to offer an alternative?
“Like all doomed traditions, our banal ethno-nationalism has been passively held by the majority while the intellectual and moral foundations that once justified it have been slowly replaced and degraded while nobody was paying attention. When a full confrontation with the liberal internationalism we invited in during the Celtic Tiger years inevitably happens, those foundations will already be gone and we will no longer be able to explain why having any right to a national culture or national sovereignty is anything other than racist and exclusionary.”
Remove “Celtic Tiger” and this paragraph could be applied to just about every European country.
No Ireland was not a ‘colony’. This is nationalism at large. An Irish chieftain invited the Normans to invade to help him with a fight he was having against his chieftain. Has anyone ever argued that Wales and Scotland are ‘colonies’? Also England as it was invaded uninvited by the French Normans.Ethno nationalism in Ireland is based on the fiction that the Irish race is pure. So please Angela desist. Read Ireland and Empire by Howe to get the real history.
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