David Thompson


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February 17, 2012



All our young lives.

What's Laurie going to do when she's a middle-aged, middle-class Guardian columnist? She won't be able to do this 'poor young radical' act forever.

Glen Slagg

Does the capitalism that she wishes to see come "crashing down" also include the company that made her "iPad"/"iPhone", the ISP that enables her and her buddies to be "digitally enabled" and the airlines that allow her to increase her "carbon"(dioxide?) foot print en-route to the next demo?


There is more than enough room for us to build new lives in the rubble.

Shouldn't someone call a medic?


'....rootless, ruthless, entitled,...'

At least there is some truth in her words. Also, I think, a hint of Jacobinism. Our private, intimate parts may well soon be colonised, but not by capitalism.


The sad, or possibly ironic, part of Ms. IWantMoneyPenny's world view is that she appears to be dismally ignorant of the fact that revolutions always eat their children. Given her voluble vitriol she would surely be one of the first up against the wall should her brave new world become manifest.

Karen M

Thank God Laurie wasn't around when my grandparents (or parents) were starting out in adult life. Her head would have exploded.


Oh dear, poor Laurie. This is almost too easy, but here goes:

"We are the new left: precarious, rootless, ruthless, entitled, digitally enabled, and we are beginning to set the agenda"

Note that first off they are not new 'people' but instead a newer shade of an already disgraced political ideology. Precarious? Perhaps she means clinging to an illusion and hoping it doesn't crumble, like a windswept man on a ledge. Rootless? That is an individual's choice, no one else's. You can either nurture your roots or wander off as you choose (though how they will become rooted in the brave new world of Penny Plain is hard to guess) Ruthless? Yes, the ferals are ruthlessly stupid. They will stop at nothing to break toys everywhere. Entitled? But to what, exactly? Free stuff, free shit, free wallowing in self pity... yes, they are entitled to the last one, but don't bring it to anyone's attention as it is incredibly boring. Digitally enabled? Ah yes, all that nasty corporate stuff the left hates. You know, people making things and selling them and designing systems and providing wi-fi and mobile devices... the sort of thing the socialists actually hate as it is the damned free market in action and which the friends of La Laurie resent. They just you know, use it, man. Beginning to set the agenda? Oh, maybe she has a point here. In the dumpsters and the back allies they set their own agenda, true enough. But once they rise in the lefty ranks, they will encounter endless sub-committees and the eternal struggle for 'consensus' and that's when the so-called agenda falls apart. Trust me on this one; nothing explodes like a policy disagreement among the newly self-appointed agenda-setters.


"There is more than enough room for us to build new lives in the rubble."

I guess Laurie's mostly a fan of romcoms, and not post-apocalyptic dystopia films?



This word makes me wonder she's been reading Judith Butler (though her short sentences say not, so I could be wrong). A horrible idea.

"If even the most private, intimate parts of us are being neutered and colonised by capitalism - stripped and shaved [etc] ... we could be forgiven for not having the space or energy to fight back"

Do you think there are people who read this and nod furiously, saying "yes! exactly!"

With this "precarious, rootless, ruthless", and most of all "entitled" new left*, I'm starting to miss the old version...

*possibly more "imaginary" than any of these things, though

Patrick Brown

Hey! Kids! It doesn't matter what you are - punks, skins, rastas, mods, rockers, Keith Chegwin even - everybody everywhere, stop snogging and pay attention to me! 'Cause if you're a wild-eyed loner at the gates of oblivion, then hitch a ride with us, 'cause we're riding on the last freedom moped out of nowhere, and we haven't even told our parents what time we're coming home!

carbon based lifeform

We are the new left

The left is screwed then.

Mine's a pint.


Where's Michael Ezra when you need him?


@Patrick Brown:
A true classic.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY

When Laurie started talking about glitter, I thought maybe this was a rehash of her classic screed against vajazzling.


Anna, still laughing at this line from the Michael Ezra article…

she expresses the views of many in coherent and well thought out articles.


I knew it was Laurie at the "f#$% money" and "...we were bullied into pursuing" parts. I'm still waiting for her rejection of all material things and a quiet life of asceticism devoid of Guardian coverage.


So marriage and monogamy are 'small, ugly ambitions' that should've been 'abandoned'?

I think LP has some personal issues to work out.

Torquil Macneil

"The lost boys and girls of the credit crunch with no jobs, no prospects, no safe places to live, none of the things we played the game for all our young lives… "

Because it's not like any of them have lived lies of unbroken wealth and privilege, or anything, is it? I mean not like those bastards out there who get sent to fantastically expensive and socially exclusive private schools and then wander complacently into Oxford University and from there straight into fun, comfortable media jobs in London.



“So marriage and monogamy are ‘small, ugly ambitions’ that should’ve been ‘abandoned’?”

Apparently. Why? Well, er, they just are, I suppose. So there.

What’s amusing (or tragic, depending how you look at it) is that some people act as though their hackneyed, wearisome anti-free market, anti-individual, anti-bourgeois posturing is somehow new and radical. As if the history of anti-free market, anti-individual, anti-bourgeois posturing began with them.


Patrick Brown. That is wonderful. Penny IS Rick.

It really is a shame we can't do an 'Escape from New York' with Penny, and anyone who wants to be part of her Brave New World. We could wall up, say, Hoxton (or Brighton if they need a sea-going port), and let them build their own People's Republic of Twitter. Of course we'd have to take their iPhones off them first, switch off the cell towers, the leccy, sewage, and gas (eeeevil carbon).

They could still have the Guardian delivered though. They'd probably be wearing it and burning it for heat within the week.


The first paragraph didn't really give me enough to go on to make a guess, but this;

"Doomed youth isn’t so sympathetic when it’s screaming defiance in your face."

I **KNEW** it was Laurie Penny and headed to the end of the article to confirm my (pretty confident) guess.

Could she be any more of a breathless cliche?


As if the history of anti-free market, anti-individual, anti-bourgeois posturing began with them.

It's the curse of the narcissist.



“It’s the curse of the narcissist.”

Well, yes, there is that.

And it’s almost as if another generation of students had been encouraged to find utopian collectivism very, very exciting but had been spared the actual history and dynamics of such things and why they tend to fail. (Or for that matter, any realistic criticism.) In much the same way that students can be taught plenty of Marxist theory on the slimmest pretext – say, in literature and ‘cultural studies’ - but with none of those mean and beastly rebuttals by Von Mises, Kolakowski, Sowell, et al.

I’m guessing, of course.


"Really proud to have been shortlisted for Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards"


Beyond. Parody.


Just followed @pennyred and added her to my LULZ list.


NB that Ms Penny's latest composition is just one article from an exciting new periodical, The New Inquiry. Subscriptions are $2 a month, but really it is priceless for those of us amused by the sight of others taking themselves overly seriously. Read, for example, Ben Gabriel on the burning issue of why Hello Kitty doesn't have a mouth. "Jason Han’s painting I Haz Mouth, commissioned for the Three Apples exhibition in 2009 on the occasion of Hello Kitty’s 35th birthday, whimsically addresses this issue... Han’s painting seems to invoke feminist and postcolonial concerns about lacking a voice only to wave them away." So farewell then, Kitty...


"Precarity" n. the state preceding tooth decay?


That Hello Kitty piece is brilliant.

"For the many being forced into more precarious and untenable situations, there are a few who carry the mask of freedoms that the commodity can impart to quiet the imagination. And therein lies Hello Kitty’s potential; she is no Bolshevik with a bomb, no outside agent attempting to revolutionize a system. She is the system, and she is the bomb within it."

Rousing stuff.

Nate Whilk

"The cracks in capitalism are getting wider"

More like the cracks in her head.


Phillipa Fallon?


Be sure to follow this spoof of PennyRed...




“Do you think there are people who read this and nod furiously, saying ‘yes! exactly!’”

Well, someone keeps commissioning her uninformed outbursts and keeps putting her on TV to enlighten the nation, so presumably they imagine there’s a sympathetic audience. No doubt there are people out there who don’t find Laurie hackneyed and ridiculous. But I fear that suggests a shortcoming of theirs rather than a merit of hers. Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if quite a few young people were excited by what she writes. Her delusions and rhetorical tactics are very much in vogue. And don’t forget, Laurie tends to flatter those on whose behalf she pretends to speak. And of course herself.

In fact, if you consider Laurie’s key messages – the ones she repeats again and again – it’s easy to see the appeal, at least for a certain demographic. She tells her readers that they are wronged and entitled - that drastic, even violent, measures are called for. Because the world is “on fire” and the sky is falling. They must therefore be radical heroes, like her. Radical and brave. Their degrees should be paid for by someone else, even if those degrees are worthless. They should demand more of other people’s earnings because that’s what brave, heroic, radical people do. And they are entitled to obstruct, threaten and intimidate because those who disagree with them are evil right-wingers. If someone else’s stuff gets smashed, looted, burned or “occupied”... well, that’s just too bad. Hey, it isn’t even violence.

It’s practically catnip for the vindictive and self-absorbed.


"She tells her readers that they are wronged and entitled - that drastic, even violent, measures are called for. Because the world is “on fire” and the sky is falling."

So it's 'Henny Penny' then.

"Henny Penny, also known as Chicken Licken or Chicken Little, is a fable in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase The sky is falling! features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent."

Col. Milquetoast

a cry of shock for many of the largely white-collar, white-skinned, educated people ... It was a shock that it was happening to people like us, too.

How provincial.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY

Oh my, somebody else who remembers Phillipa Fallon.

God I love High School Confidential!


The good thing about whipping up all of these entitlements is that when Penny and her cohorts sieze power, they can declare all those entitled as bourgeois enemies of the people and liquidate them.



"Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if quite a few young people were excited by what she writes"

Yeah I was starting to think that, there might be an appeal to rebellious teenagers, whose parents (not understanding them of course) shake their heads with dismay at Penny's scribblings.

I took issue with Penny's revolution-talk in an article of mine on the 'Graunwatch' site*. It was pounced upon by a sort of argumentative leftwing troll, with whom I had a long and remarkably unenlightening discussion. His claim that he'd not seen anything from her extolling revolution was a high-point.

* that maybe should have been 2 pieces.


"Fuck rising above your class rather than with it"

You hear that working class people? The lady from the wealthy upper middle class family who now has multiple luctrative jobs for London news companies is telling you not to try to rise above your station.

"sharing out whatever meagre bits of work and welfare we could get our hands on, nursing one another ineffectually through the shock of walking out of school and college into a world that didn’t want us"

Some young people are so deprived that by their early twenties they only have regular columns in the Guardian and New Statesman. Which they've landed in spite of the facts their writing style is painfully, comically awful and of having nothing of interest or value to contribute barring regular servings of unintentional low comedy.

David Davis

I blame Terry Eagleton.


“Fuck rising above your class rather than with it.”

Yes, it’s an odd sentiment. Like so much of what Laurie says, it’s a wee bit tendentious. In my experience, those who rail against the idea of rising above one’s birth tend to favour blocking off escape routes. How they’d improve anyone’s prospects isn’t always clear, but they do get very imaginative when thinking up ways to thwart people who might have a chance to escape. See, for instance, the Observer’s Kevin McKenna, who thinks that private education shouldn’t be “allowed” to exist and that everyone should have to make do with a state comprehensive. Likewise, the Guardian’s Zoe Williams, who passes the time by thinking up ways to humiliate the children of parents who’ve fallen on hard times: “As for vindictive, ha! Good.”

And so platitudes about “equality” lead to overt displays of sadism.


So by that logic penny shouldn't be able to benefit from any advantage until everyone else can.

Does that mean we're all getting jobs at the Guardian? I wonder how that will affect Rusbridger's bonus?

John D

Fuck marriage, mortgage, monogamy, and every other small, ugly ambition we were bullied into pursuing.

The 'small, ugly ambitions' that gave Laurie Penny her stable, comfortable upbringing.

I feel sorry for her parents.



“The ‘small, ugly ambitions’ that gave Laurie Penny her stable, comfortable upbringing.”

It’s one of the great problems for leftist ‘radicals’. In denouncing bourgeois habits (usually while enjoying the benefits of such behaviour, at least residually), they have little of practical use to offer their followers. If you do away with marriage, monogamy, responsibility, deferred gratification, personal territory, etc., you’re basically left with a recipe for failure, dependency and unhappiness.

Though I suppose the resentment that follows is useful to would-be prophets of the left.


Pretty good list here: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/the-new-commandments-on-the-barn-wall/?singlepage=true

David Gillies

I've said before that I can't imagine how relentlessly exhausting it must be to be Laurie Penny (or Julie Bindel, or 'Bidisha' etc. ad nauseam.) If Polly Jellyby is the doyenne of right-on middle class angst, then this gang of junior harpies have their very own versions of Borrioboola-Gha to get worked up about. It's all so adolescent - I'd say, in fact, that the histrionic juvenilia in which they seem to specialise is emblematic of the arrested development one sees on the Left. There's not a shred of accommodation to the real world. Everything is urgent, important and uncompromising, and you squares just don't get it, man. In effect, young Laurie gets paid handsomely to have teenage temper tantrums.


David, I think you'll appreciate the symbolism.


"Occupy hasn't even offered to pay him for the damages."

sackcloth and ashes

'She won't be able to do this 'poor young radical' act forever'.

I can see her playing up to this act when she's old enough for her free bus pass.

Incidentally, Ms Penny appears to have plagiarised another writer with reference to the phrase 'doomed youth'. His name was Wilfred Owen.

Tom Foster

Having just read the 'Bitch' interview I'm no nearer knowing what it is Laurie wants.

What *is* 'anticapitalist feminism'? She says, 'The crash of 2008 showed us that there are and indeed must be viable economic and social alternatives. . .' But she never gets round to telling us what they are. In this piece or anywhere else that I've seen.

Has she ever actually written anything constructive? Something that doesn't come across, as David Gillies put it above, as a 'teenage temper tantrum'?



She did once say that we should be spending more public money on things like this. Apparently the future of social progress depends on it.

Does that count?

Tom Foster

'She did once say that we should be spending more public money on things like this.'

Yes, always nice to be reminded of that one.

Given, though, that her 'thinking' really *doesn't* seem to go any deeper than this, maybe the question I should be asking is, what on earth does the New Statesman, the Guardian, the BBC, et al, think they're getting from her when they keep asking her back for more?



I can only repeat the suggestions I touched on here.


I think the masthead says it all at the New Inquisition:
"If cops are people too, than why are they cops?"

Possibly because of folks like Ms. Penny.


"maybe the question I should be asking is, what on earth does the New Statesman, the Guardian, the BBC, et al, think they're getting from her when they keep asking her back for more?"



"Does that mean we're all getting jobs at the Guardian?"

Actually, there's a good point. She did mention that "we" have tried to save each other by sharing out their meagre work and welfare. Seeing as her share of work seems a tad less meagre than most, I wonder how many of her media gigs she's tried to share with the emaciated raggamuffins she habitually claims to hang out with?

Laban Tall

She seems to have been channeling A L Kennedy.


Col. Milquetoast

stripped and shaved and made to sparkle like a chicken fillet covered in glitter

So she advocates a non-sparkling chicken fillet covered in hair?

I regret to be the bearer of bad news but it appears the Phallocracy's attempt to use the mind controlling power of Capitalism and the pressure of the patriarchy to convince Penny to pick up some KFC takeout for our next meeting has gone terribly wrong.

Col. Milquetoast

Give us Penny Red in a nutshell.  What was the idea behind compiling your columns?

The less than 200 word answer : To make money from work that's already been written and paid for.


George Barda explains the '99%' concept:

"The '99%' idea is very much an aspiration rather than an arrogation, and is based for me on the fact that 99% of people around the world believe in principle, that if it were up to them the world would be a much nicer place.."

There's more, oh, so much more here:




Ugh. He’s not exactly helping his cause, is he? But then, few of them are.

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