May 15, 2014

The monstrous philosophy at the core of Alex & Ani

Steve Ahlquist
April 1, 2014

Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of the jewelry company Alex & Ani, an almost unique Rhode Island business success story, was interviewed by Mark Oppenheimer of the New York Times recently about her company and her astounding success.

Those moderately familiar with Alex & Ani’s jewelry line are aware of the pseudo-religious “new age” veneer the company puts on its products, and Oppenheimer wonders if the company is a “capitalist success story” or a “worldwide church,” before quickly declaring the answer to be “both.”

The core philosophy of Rafaelian’s church is monstrous and anti-human. Alex & Ani profits from selling a worldview based on fear and superstition, one that especially targets the gullible and ignorant. Worse, the company puts forth the idea that everyone deserves what they get, a sort of new-age Calvinism/prosperity gospel in which those who have good lives are reaping the benefits of the positive energy they put forth, and those who are struggling are the recipients of the life lessons needed to turn their sorry lives around.

Oppenheimer links Alex & Ani’s philosophy to Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” a 2006 book that highlights the importance of the “Law of Attraction” which says “if you put out good energy, good things will come back to you.” Oppenheimer explores this idea in the following exchange with Rafaelian:

"On the flip side, the law of attraction implies that people are responsible for the bad things that befall them: put out bad energy, get back bad energy. Ms. Rafaelian said she does not believe that people bring tragedy on themselves. But when I proposed the hypothetical case of, say, a woman who had been raped multiple times, her reply suggested that if the woman was not to blame, somehow her energy was.

“That poor person may have to experience some horrific things until they learn something on such a subconscious level that they can elevate from that place, and they won’t have to deal with that experience again,” she said. “When these things happen over and over to the same people, they have to have their own space to remember their true beautiful self and say, ‘Physically and emotionally, this isn’t for me anymore.’ ”

Some people, it seems, need to be repeatedly raped before they learn the valuable life lessons they need. Hold on a second, I have to throw up…

Okay, I’m back. I submit that no decent person can truly believe this twaddle whose mind is not completely overtaken with trite platitudes, theological nonsense and class privilege. Rafaelian’s statements to Oppenheimer are obscene, monstrous, anti-human and nauseating.

The idea that people are always and ultimately responsible for their lot in life should be immediately recognizable as idiocy. Were all the passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 putting bad energy out into the universe? Are the children being treated at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in need of valuable life lessons? How many homeless people need to say “physically and emotionally, this isn’t for me anymore” before than can secure safe living spaces?

The philosophical ideas of Alex & Ani are narcissistic nonsense that insults the dignity of those who are leading impossibly difficult lives. Further, selling jewelry under the claim that “they hold vibration of pure energy, healing love” and that before being sold “every product has been blessed by my priests, it has been blessed by my shaman friends, protected from radio frequency, from radioactivity” may not be illegal, but it is certainly morally reprehensible. These claims are bullshit, and every penny that supports such bullshit does so at the expense of those the money spent could have helped.