On recent attacks on the ICC on libcom

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jk1921
On recent attacks on the ICC on libcom
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: On recent attacks on the ICC on libcom. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

jk1921
I didn't see anything

I didn't see anything "trans-phobic" about the ICC's statement on these events, but it doesn't surprise me at all that such an allegation is raised. We are in a cultural moment where there is little moderation and debate is marked by an inability to accept that there are degrees of misundstanding and confusion regarding multifaceted topics like the clash between "trans-activism" and certain strains of "fenimism." Just putting the quotation marks in the wrong place can get you accussed of a grievous violation of human rights. Calling the ICC's statement "transphobic" does a real disservice to the victims of real anti-trans violence. 

Still, I can already anticipate the objections to the following formulations in the article:

"For our part, we want to emphasise that not only do we not take sides in this clash between different brands of identity politics: we are opposed to all of them. As our sympathiser Baboon put it in a post on our forum: 'I don't think that the fight between radical feminists and trans activists has any possible advantage for the proletariat or in any way assists the pressing needs of the class … I'd seen these two groups confronting each other on the TV weeks before the bookfair on Channel 4 news where (at a Gay Pride march I think) their confrontation was turning very ugly and very nasty[4]. At the bookfair apparently the police were called by one faction and both factions were involved in mobbing and scapegoating, a situation that showed nothing positive from a working class perspective and was entirely in line with certain populist developments arising from capitalism's decomposition'[5 ]"

Certainly, one side is this dispute is more right than the other? The fact that the dispute offers "no advantage for the proletariat" will be seen as beside the point. If there is an emancipatory moment in this confrontation, would it not be the task of those committed to human emancipation to tease out the significance, not to simply ignore the issues at hand because it frustrates a more long term unity? Of course, it is possible that there is no emancipatory potential at all in either side, but then it has to be explained why not. Still, if the "proletariat's needs" get in the way of understanding certain forms of oppression and exclusion, then why wouldn't we just say "so much the worse for the proletariat"? I think we need a better method here.

baboon
Given the nature of the

Given the nature of the responses to the position of the ICC so far - 'shut-up and fuck-off', 'ban it', comments on it from someone who admits to only reading part of it, complete refusal to engage in discussion on the major points of the article, then, in my opinion, further negative responses or none at all can be assumed.

The furious activism around this issue is an example of the dead-end of identity politics and an expression of the dissolution of revolutionary energies. These single-issue campaigns follow a pattern which inevitably ends up, one way or another, in, around, and bolstering the democratic process. They openly boast about it. First comes the restriction of consciousness from the increasingly narrow focus and then its perversion meaning that the fundamental issues of the class struggle are smothered and lost. I didn't see anything emancipatory in the confrontation just abuse and a readiness to attack each other.

Feminism, as an ideological campaign, has always been a feed for division within the working class and an attack on the latter's identity. Radical feminism and the whole overblown "space" argument take this to new levels. I think that trans people, just like everyone else, are entitled to be respected, especially for their "difference" (or, if you prefer, difference). I don't see why they shouldn't have access to what they consider to be their "space" in conditions they feel comfortable in (I'm thinking of toilets, some use the "prison" argument). Given the very small numbers of such encounters it's not exactly a pressing issue for the working class. And I would suggest, from my limited experience in this area, that from women in general, particularly working class women, there's a genuine feminine solidarity with trans people, a generous tolerance that the radical feminists should take note of.

 

zimmerwald1915
The confrontation had

The confrontation had probably been building for a while, but it's worth noting the spark anyway; the question of how to respond to legislation coming out of the bourgeoisie's Parliament. To which the orientation really ought to be, "that's not for you to decide in any case, because your decadent class ought not to be ruling society and dragging it into the abyss with you." There is no question that the Gender Recognition Act or whatever they're calling it is an instrument of divide and rule; even if it could hardly be otherwise, the proof is in the pudding.

jk1921
I fear that any attempt to

I fear that any attempt to weigh in on the substance of the dispute would only reveal a deep ignorance of the issues and likely infuriate both sides, but here it goes anyway:

My first instinct as someone concerned, as the young Marx was, with human emancipation is to sympathize with the transactivists who seek to live with dignity in the identity of their choosing. The altitude of the TERFs reeks of intolerance of individual freedom in order to protect a group identity that the mere existence of trans people threatens form their perspective. On the other hand, the main way in which trans identity is being framed today, as not really a choice, but an expression of who these people really are on some level of interiority smells to me like a form of biological essentialism that has potentially problematic outcomes. Some feminist critics have criticized this and warn against seeing "gender dysphoria" as a disorder that has a medical solution. I can also sympathize with this point of view.

It is interesting that trans sexual issues have become something of a cause celebre for leftists today, whereas "trans-racialism" is considered something abhorrent and wrong (see Rachel Dolezal case). There is a clash of competing essentialisms there that reveals a certain incoherence in the underlying assumptions of identity politics. Is identity something you should be able to construct by free will and choice or is it something rooted in biology which it is wrong and injurious to the the self to suppress? It seems like the partisans of identity politics want to have it both ways, depending on the particular identity in question.

That said, it seems to me that the problem for Marxists is to differentiate what "partial struggles" are legitimate expressions of a human instinct for emancipation from the multifarious forms of oppression and domination that has characterized class society for millennia and which capitalism reinforces and which "identity claims" are more a product of late (decomposing) capitalism's creation of ever more alienated and reified forms of subjectivity in an agonistic culture where one group's mere existence threatens another's own identity construction. I don't think this task is a particularly easy one and it is only made more difficult by a cultural and political environment that increasingly lacks proportionality in how it deals with differences of opinion, misunderstandings and mistakes.

zimmerwald1915
Subject field

jk1921 wrote:
It is interesting that trans sexual issues have become something of a cause celebre for leftists today, whereas "trans-racialism" is considered something abhorrent and wrong (see Rachel Dolezal case). There is a clash of competing essentialisms there that reveals a certain incoherence in the underlying assumptions of identity politics. Is identity something you should be able to construct by free will and choice or is it something rooted in biology which it is wrong and injurious to the the self to suppress? It seems like the partisans of identity politics want to have it both ways, depending on the particular identity in question.

The reasons for this lack of theoretical coherence can be found to some extent in the histories of the politics in question - histories I'm the plural, because their current allied political constellation is comparatively recent. Antiracist politics defined itself against, among other things, pseudoscientific racial classification schemes that purported to base themselves in biology and denied the equal humanity of the races. So you get denials of race as biology as part of antiracist politics. Queer liberation politics defined itself against, among other things, charges that "alternative lifestyles" were a matter of individual choice and examples of antisocial behavior. So Queer liberationists marshal biology and innate qualities to their defense.

Of course that cursory description barely scratches the surface and, more importantly, incorrectly situates the construction of politics on the terrain of ideas justifying oppressions rather than on the oppressions themselves. Hence the "among other things," which alludes to vistas I'm scarcely aware of and don't have it in me to describe
or analyze (not least because I'm typing on a phone!).

It would also be incorrect to say, as my cursory description carelessly does, that antiracism is particularist and queer liberation is essentialist. jk1921 is correct to point out that there is essentialism and particularism in both camps, which only adds to the overall confusion. What is important is the historical perspective. What is likewise important is jk's question: what is the usefulness of the present constellation of identity-political forces for human freedom?

Put another way, does the alliance/coalition of all the "partial struggles" help to create a revolutionary subject? Leftists certainly seem to think so, whether they're of the persuasion that this coalition is itself a revolutionary subject against the oppressive majority, or whether they think this sort of alliance can overcome capitalist efforts at dividing and ruling the workers. That leftists think this should make us suspicious. But we can see for ourselves that that isn't true. Despite decades of coalition-building, the perspective against capitalism is gloomier today than it's been since 1967, and the disintegration of the whole society proceeds apace.

baboon
jk1921 post 5

Specifically in response to the post by jk above and generally relevant to the coming MDF meeting on single issue campaigns and reforms, then I recommed a reading (or re-reading) of the text on this website: "The question of the relation between nature and culture, on the book by Patrick Tort, Sexe, Race & Culture". The text shows how the multiculturism and inclusiveness of bourgeois society reproduces the ideas of identity politics and the fear of the Other, opposing against this the unification of diversity in the conscious struggle for revolution. As the text shows the contribution of Charles Darwin is immense in this very profound area.

Hawkeye
ICC v libcom

I'm sorry to say that all this seems like a storm in an eggcup at the far end of a cul-de-sac. Never mind. Take care. Cheers.

Link
Nature and culture

Thanks for the link Baboon.  It was hard reading but it made an interesting point re human social development and evolution and an interesting argument against the idea of a non-sexist or non racist capitalism

 

baboon
I'm not entirely sure that

I'm not entirely sure that the over-the-top reaction from some of the Libcom administration was totally down to the "terf" question, though that was certainly involved. I think that the short mention in Alf's original post, which I think was a fundamentally important marxism v anarchism contribution, of libcom's links to the police and their defence of them, also contributed to their response to the piece (Steven: 'I haven't read it, but ban it'). There was of course no response from them on the fundamental issues about the weaknesses of anarchism. Since then there's been a more nuanced response from them which has taken the form of a deeper attack on the Bolsheviks. An in-depth piece by Mike Harman called "Lenin orders the massacre of sex workers" has whipped up an anti-Bolshevik hysteria quoting some things out of context and some not. The discussion has continued with a split by Noa Rodman where the argument has degenerated further into a body count tally with the libcom admin and their sympathisers saying that the terror and atrocities of the anarchists in the Spanish civil war wasn't as bad as the Bolsheviks because it was more limited in scale. This argument ignores the 'limited scale' of the Spanish Civil War compared to the Russian revolution but, more importantly, it ignores the political lessons of a red terror for the working class.One of the striking features of the anarchists response on the question of the Bolsheviks, and it's typical of anarchism, is that of the complete absence of the bourgeoisie from the equations of the Russian and Spanish uprisings and what it falls back on is its partial view largely based on petty-bourgeois and anarchist morality.

jk1921
Race vs. Sex?

Link wrote:

Thanks for the link Baboon.  It was hard reading but it made an interesting point re human social development and evolution and an interesting argument against the idea of a non-sexist or non racist capitalism

Interesting. The popular Hulu show "A Handmaids Tale" (The 2nd season just started a couple of weeks ago)--based on a decades old book by a Canadian author, which depicts society in a dystopian post christian fascist takeover of the United States, has come in for assault from "critical race theorists" for its depicition of African Americans in the imagined society. In the Hulu version, African Americans are present in the social space and there appears to be little to no racial animus or even awareness of racial categories. While its not clear to me that there are any African-Americans among the highest caste, African American women function as handmaids, meaning they have sex with their Commanders in order that their infertile wives can appropriate the offspring. Presumingly, the biracial offspring would be accepted as the children of the Commander class. For some critics, however, this depiction is totaly unrealistic, because it fails to appreciate the essential nature of racial oppression to the functioning of American society. The centering of women's oppression as the central oppression that allows this society to reproduce itself (literally and figuratively) is itself a form of racial mariginalization in that it falsely imagines a form of American society that is not racist (but can't imagine one that is not sexist).

This all rather ironic, because in Margaret Atwood's original book, the racial issue was dealt with by imagining that in this post-coup society African Americans were simply expelled from the community and sent to live on Bantusans in the Midwest somewhere (or something to that effect). Of course, this version of the story is also attacked as a form of racial marginalization in that it simply does away with the race problem by literary fiat--there is a kind of deus ex machina that alleviates the author from having to think through racial problems, but also a failure to depict a viable form of American socity, because no American society--even a Chrisitan fascist one that perhaps takes its rheoric about all humanity being the children of god seriously--can function without a racial caste. Of course, this leaves open the question about whether this caste must be "racial" or if it could be "racialized"? Is there actually a racialized caste in Handmaid's Tale after all? If so, who is it?

This controversy illustrates a few things: 1.) Its hard to please in identity politics; 2) More importantly though it poses the question of whether it is possible to imagine a non-racist captialism or a non-sexist captialism and if one form of oppression is really more essential to the operation of capitalism than the other(s). This is not a new question obviously. It has been the subject of a long running debate between the theorists Charles Mills and Carole Pateman who alternatley examined the "racial contract" and the "sexual contract" that were moments in the construction of capitalist modernity.

Could these forms of marginalization, oppression, exclusion, etc. be remedied in the context of neo-libeal progressivism or are they more rooted in the very nature of the system itself. Is racial oppression really different from sexual oppression? Do the "advancements" in race, sex and gender consciousness in recent decades suggest a possible resolution of these problems within captialist relations or is it the case that the backlash these advancements engender renders them unsolvable within capitalism? Is it merely the political backlash that is the problem or is there something more fundamental and structual about these forms of oppression, which cannot be eradicated by cultural and ideational changes, but which require the ovethrow of captialism to really address?

jk1921
Lessons?

baboon wrote:

 This argument ignores the 'limited scale' of the Spanish Civil War compared to the Russian revolution but, more importantly, it ignores the political lessons of a red terror for the working class.

What are those lessons?

baboon wrote:

One of the striking features of the anarchists response on the question of the Bolsheviks, and it's typical of anarchism, is that of the complete absence of the bourgeoisie from the equations of the Russian and Spanish uprisings and what it falls back on is its partial view largely based on petty-bourgeois and anarchist morality.

I didn't quite understand that part. Could you explain the absence of the bourgeoise part?

baboon
1. The fundamental lesson is

1. The fundamental lesson is the need to avoid violence within the working class, either by using a Red Terror or by using an invasion of force in order to spread the revolution. It's a position that the ICC defends along with Rosa Luxemburg. Nowhere is this question even raised in the outpourings of the anarchists, libertarians, etc. on Libcom.

2. Again, nowhere in these discussions on Libcom is the question of what the bourgeoisie, mainly its western and democratic components, are up to in and around the Russian revolution and the Spanish civil war. Quite simply the anarchists, etc,, do not see the bourgeoisie and its actions as part of the class struggle; there is only the workers' struggle and its deficiences in the abstract. This is typical of the petty-bourgeois moralism of anarchism.

The Libcom admin (some of them), in this centenary year of the Russian revolution have done a hatchet job on the Bolsheviks in the abstract and have thereby contributed to the widespread campaign of the  demonisation of the Bolsheviks and the devil Lenin, which is entirely complementary to the campaign of the bourgeoisie today on this issue.

jk1921
Sense

baboon wrote:

1. The fundamental lesson is the need to avoid violence within the working class, either by using a Red Terror or by using an invasion of force in order to spread the revolution. It's a position that the ICC defends along with Rosa Luxemburg. Nowhere is this question even raised in the outpourings of the anarchists, libertarians, etc. on Libcom.

I agree of course, but what about the accusation that Lenin "massacred" sex workers? Is this even true? What purpose could this have possibly served? I remember a discussion in history class years ago where one student kept attempting to call Lenin an anti-Semite. After about four or five times of making this claim, the professor (no fan of Lenin), quite exasperated, retorted, "LOOK! LENIN SHOT ANTI-SEMITES!" Should the working class shoot anti-semites? Probably not, but I can at least see some tactical sense in repressing anti-Semitism, where I can't see any in murdering sex workers. But what is the historical evidence this actually happened?

baboon wrote:

2. Again, nowhere in these discussions on Libcom is the question of what the bourgeoisie, mainly its western and democratic components, are up to in and around the Russian revolution and the Spanish civil war. Quite simply the anarchists, etc,, do not see the bourgeoisie and its actions as part of the class struggle; there is only the workers' struggle and its deficiences in the abstract. This is typical of the petty-bourgeois moralism of anarchism.

The Libcom admin (some of them), in this centenary year of the Russian revolution have done a hatchet job on the Bolsheviks in the abstract and have thereby contributed to the widespread campaign of the  demonisation of the Bolsheviks and the devil Lenin, which is entirely complementary to the campaign of the bourgeoisie today on this issue.

So the RR and SCW are understood in purely national terms and there is no understanding of the role of international actors in the degeneration of the revolution? That makes sense.

d-man
to jk

There is no evidence for it Jk. The problem was with the alcohol consumption among the red soldiers, i.e. lack of vigor/moral (this when Whiteguard front was approaching), I won't bore you with the textual interpretations (the thread is 8 pages long). Baboon was probably sarcastic when he wrote "An in-depth piece by Mike Harman", because it was just a copy-paste of Lenin's text, no depth whatsoever. The point was indeed to portray any Marxist/communist critique of "identity politics" as driven by hatred of minorities/women etc. (or in this case prostitutes, which apparently can be considered an identity).

Tagore2
Like drug dealers,

Like drug dealers, prostitutes can be a powerful factor of disorder in the military.

The complete quote is:

Quote:

It is obvious that a whiteguard insurrection is being prepared in Nizhni. You must strain every effort, appoint three men will) dictatorial powers (yourself, Markin and one other), organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes who are making drunkards of the soldiers, former officers and the like.

In other words, a white insurrection is being prepared, prostitutes are trafficking in alcohol and breaking the discipline of the Red Army.

Lenin does not care about prostitutes as prostitutes. The problem is that they disorganize the communist army on the eve of a white insurrection. What will the red soldiers do, the pants on their ankles, completely alcoholic, and not having slept all night, when the white scum goes into the barracks?

It is a common military tactic to send prostitutes who traffic drugs and alcohol to the enemy, just before a military operation, or chronically, to destroy the army through drug addiction and carelessness. This is one of the reasons for the defeat of the Americans in Vietnam.

Pimps and drug barons sell this kind of service to the armies. Lenin's orders are perfectly rational. Bourgeois manicheism is ridiculous.

baboon
Agree with Dman, alcohol was

Agree with Dman, alcohol was a major problem. I can't find the source - it might have been Trotsky - but the first soldiers sent to guard the Winter Palace got rotten drunk, so did the second lot sent to replace them, and the third I think. Finally an armoured outfit sent to sort it out also got rat-arsed. It was an anarchist unit, recalled from the front, that sorted the mess out, disciplined and effective.

https://libcom.org/history/drugov-fyodor-pavlovich-1891-1934. This is a short piece on libcom on the anarchist Fyoder Drugon, who fought for the revolution and became overwhelmed by the forces of its degeneration.

Tagore2
John Reed, in Ten days that

John Reed, in Ten days that chock the world wrote:

Toward the end of November occurred the “wine-pogroms” [7] — looting of the wine-cellars—beginning with the plundering of the Winter Palace vaults. For days there were drunken soldiers on the streets... In all this was evident the hand of the counter-revolutionists, who distributed among the regiments plans showing the location of the stores of liquor. The Commissars of Smolny began by pleading and arguing, which did not stop the growing disorder, followed by pitched battles between soldiers and Red Guards... Finally the Military Revolutionary Committee sent out companies of sailors with machine-guns, who fired mercilessly upon the rioters, killing many; and by executive order the wine-cellars were invaded by Committees with hatchets, who smashed the bottles—or blew them up with dynamite...

[7] Wine “Pogroms”

It was afterward discovered that there was a regular organisation, maintained by the Cadets, for provoking rioting among the soldiers. There would be telephone messages to the different barracks, announcing that wine was being given away at such and such an address, and when the soldiers arrived at the spot an individual would point out the location of the cellar...

The Council of People’s Commissars appointed a Commissar for the Fight Against Drunkenness, who, besides mercilessly putting down the wine riots, destroyed hundreds of thousands of bottles of liquor. The Winter Palace cellars, containing rare vintages valued at more than five million dollars, were at first flooded, and then the liquor was removed to Cronstadt and destroyed.

In this work the Cronstadt sailors, “flower and pride of the revolutionary forces,” as Trotzky called them, acquitted themselves with iron self discipline...

Source

jk1921
Perhaps off-topic, but the

Perhaps off-topic, but the recent van attack in Toronto was supposedly carried out by a young man enraged by his "inceb" status (Involuntarily celibate). There was a similar incident some years back in California. There is a growing presence online of those speaking out against their "involuntarily celibate" status (sometimes they are linked with the alt-right), which has, of course, led to a feminist backlash at the patriarchial idea that men are somehow entitled to women's bodies--a clear example of "rape culture."

Obviously, the idea that any man is entitled to any individual woman's body is abhorrent, but at the same time it is also the case that the fact that there appear to be growing numbers of young men who cannot engage in the human experience of sex with a willing partner is itself a troubling and sad reality. These men could always visit a sex worker in order to be relieved of the immediate biological needs/desires--but that is probably not all of what they are after. The inability to form a sexual relationship with ties of love and intimacy with another only highlights the atomisation and personal degradation of this society and fuels a certain (de)masculinized rage against women, along with the feminist backlash--both of which appear as symptoms of growing social division, interpersonal suspicion and hostility.

But should sex workers be seen as part of the working class or should they be subjected to the contempt that Marxists often have for the "lumpenproletariat?" How do we make a social-political analysis of this without falling into some kind of moralism in either direction?

baboon
Persoal experience

A bit of an aside really, but I was a sex worker. After being dismissed, asked to leave, my job of ten years because of the disruptions I'd been involved in, I couldn't get a job locally so, through various connections, I travelled to the bright lights to get a job (on the books) as a projectionist in a cinema showing pornographic films. There's a hint of Midnight Cowboy about it; selling what was left of my soul. It was sordid stuff but the money was good and I'd get home every couple of weeks - thus restoring my soul. At work I usually spliced a number of films together on a large spool and read a book. They would inevitably go out of focus,but no-one complained - except one of the bosses who came in screaming and shouting every time. The two bosses, ex-workers, were a couple of bastards and no-one had much time for them. When I knew that I had the bouncers on side I organised a meeting in the cinema, asking for more money but really establishing our dignity in the face of things. It was a good meeting; projectionists, the bouncers, cleaners, receptionists, one of them a working girl. We sat round in a circle in one of the cinemas and had a good discussion, though strictly limited to our immediate concerns. One of the bosses burst in f-ing and blinding and said "you won't get another penny out of me". How wrong he was. We had now facilated communal networks in a business relying entirely on cash and specious records and we simply made our individual adjustments to the cash-flow. Nothing remotely dramatic but we did well in the circumstances to rise above them somewhat..

Comunero
jk, I have my doubts about

jk, I have my doubts about feminism being the backlash. One just has to look at the chronology of the appearance of this "intersectional" (postmodern) feminism and the alt-right and this "incel" Reddit thing. The foundations of this postmodern identity politics are laid in the beginning of the 90s, the alt-right around 2016. It took a while for idpol to get momentum beyond the academia, but in the English-speaking world it surely happened way before 2016. This idpol is inherently self-righteous and moralizing, and relies heavily on labelling in a demonizing way anyone who dares to criticize it, avoiding any kind of debate through characterizing any of their critics as being absolutely despicable (racist, transphobe, ableist, fascist, ageist --you name it). In a practical way, this serves pretty well the purpose of dividing the working class, particularly by attacking and scapegoating the white, male workers. I think this whole alt-right nonsense, deliberately offensive and full of hatred, is in fact the backlash of (mostly young) white male workers whom feel attacked. The Trump phenomenon was partially fueled by this backlash, I think.

Any succesful lie has its roots in some degree of truth. Identity politics have this roots in the very real problem and suffering that lots of workers have to face for having some different qualities. Idpol then procceeds to create a fixed, rigid, all-encompassing identity out of some of this particular qualities (the fact that Idpol starts just after the fall of Stalinism, at the same time that the anti-communist campaign attacking the identity of the proletariat as a class, deserves a closer look imho). In the same fashion, the backlash-ish alt-right movement (which probably can qualify as a kind of identity politics as well) creates a rigid individual identity out of the feelings of being attacked caused by postmodern Idpol among some sectors of workers.

I don't know. Overall, this is a big mess and a big nonsense. The alt-right and its sister ideologies are disgusting, abhorrent and deeply dehumanizing. Idpol attacks everybody, including between its ranks, and replaces everywhere it takes root the very little amount of debate that could exist for permanent outrage, scapegoating and attacks. It's deeply isolating.

Sorry for not developing this ideas further, but I become quite demoralized, overwhelmed and despaired every time I try to dive deeper in this "ideological k-hole".

Are sex workers well, workers? Probably not per se, but the petite bourgeoises aren't either, and regardless of that some of them (notably Marx and Engels) are among the best militants of the working class. I think this is the best way to address the question.

I find very interesting what jk says about the growing difficulty for the experience of sex, and I'ld add, the general difficulty for any genuine human interaction. But yes, specially of the most human interaction, i.e. love. The dictatorship of commodities. Want sex? Well, pay. Want a boyfriend? Give him your body. Want a girlfriend? Pay, pay, pay, even presents are commodity exchange if they are given for something in return. And so goes.

We workers are still persistent in our human qualities and needs though. We still love, we still have friendship. It's increasingly difficult, yes. But we still struggle. I think this very basic struggle, deep down, is political too.

jk1921
Backlash

Comunero wrote:

jk, I have my doubts about feminism being the backlash. One just has to look at the chronology of the appearance of this "intersectional" (postmodern) feminism and the alt-right and this "incel" Reddit thing. The foundations of this postmodern identity politics are laid in the beginning of the 90s, the alt-right around 2016. It took a while for idpol to get momentum beyond the academia, but in the English-speaking world it surely happened way before 2016. This idpol is inherently self-righteous and moralizing, and relies heavily on labelling in a demonizing way anyone who dares to criticize it, avoiding any kind of debate through characterizing any of their critics as being absolutely despicable (racist, transphobe, ableist, fascist, ageist --you name it). In a practical way, this serves pretty well the purpose of dividing the working class, particularly by attacking and scapegoating the white, male workers. I think this whole alt-right nonsense, deliberately offensive and full of hatred, is in fact the backlash of (mostly young) white male workers whom feel attacked. The Trump phenomenon was partially fueled by this backlash, I think.

Right, I don't think feminism itself is a backlash, but there certainly is a rather agressive feminist backlash to the inceb thing. Perhaps, in some ways the outrage is warranted, but I am concerned by what appears to be a deficit of emphathy for the condition of the socially isolated young male who cannot find someone to love him and who is then often ridiculed for what society considers a personal failure. The tone of the "left" today is increasingly less about empathy and more and more takes on the tone of a kind of "carceral left" of incipient Jacobins waiting to get the chance to use the repressive power of the state against their enemies. This was one of the problems with the so called "March for our Lives," against gun violence in the US. While there was much righteous anger over the murderous effects of decomposition on young people, there has so far been little protest against the state's desire to execute the perpetrator--even though he is obviously a very emotional distubed individual who must have been a lot of pain. The "bleeding heart" left is in decline and there seems to be a new prosecutorial left taking its place, I think spurred on at least in part by some of the trends in idpol Communero identifies in his post.

Tagore2
I know a man who has not had

I know a man who has not had a girlfriend for 9 years. Nobody seems to care. He is not a violent person: he has never assaulted or even insulted a woman. He is unemployed.

I know a celibate woman for decades. She is slightly disabled. In recent years, she believes that her neighbor is watching her. He would have installed surveillance cameras in his apartment to look at her naked. She looked for these cameras, but did not find them.

She explained to me that if she had a boyfriend, she would like to be looked naked. But since she has none, since she has never had one, since she is now too old, too ugly, and disabled, it is a crime to look at her by mysterious means. She never met this neighbor, but if she saw him, she would break his mouth. She would like to kill him.

I think the lack of love makes everybody crazy.

Comunero
I deeply second the feeling

I deeply second the feeling of this last two posts.

d-man
after all, we're not intersectionalists
zimmerwald1915
Funny meme, doesn't much

Funny meme, doesn't much conform to my experience. But then, what do I know?

d-man
banned from libcom
Alf
Thanks for telling us....

D-man - I have tried to follow the enormous 'poverty of identity politics' thread on libcom, which is no easy task, but I was certainly not aware that you had been banned. This is the culmination of a thread which marks a definite and serious downward turn by the libcom collective. This is a development which needs to be answered in some depth. In the meantime, solidarity to you, as well as to Link, Craftwork and one or two others who, whatever theoretical or tactical mistakes you may have made, had the merit of trying to introduce a marxist critique of identity politics (and, by extension, of anarchism) into the debate, and were rewarded by further abuse, accusations of trans and homo phobia, and perhaps most serious of all, of acting as a Trojan Horse for the new right. Having gone through a very similar process myself, I know what it feels like, but we can recover our composure and confidence if we first discuss among ourselves and try to deepen our understanding. The thread I am on right now could serve as a point of departure.

d-man
rien que des mots

My effort to look into the origin of keywords of identity politics, like "identity" and "gender", was mocked as irrevelant etymology. Meanwhile, one of the defining characteristics of IP is precisely its focus on words (pronouns, the myriad of gender-typology, etc.).

The modern concept of "gender" was popularized by John Money (an American sexologist/psychologist, originally from New Zealand). There is one earlier use by the American psychologist Madison Bentley in a 1945 article, which btw also claims that animals don't have a gender. In languages other than English, there is no word for this modern concept of "gender". In French there is "genre", but the new American meaning of it is I think still rarely used (and they simply use the English "gender theory"). A normal use is e.g. le genre humain (humankind/ the human species).

The "gender" concept has since taken another meaning, namely one completely divorced from sex (which many second-wave femininsts and John Money himself rejects). It's not clear why "sex" is even still used, since sex itself is relativised/culturalised.

Let me add here just one point about Bentley's claim that animals don't have a gender (I already think it's impossible to simply mention this on libcom). According to the new theory, humans can change gender, which now also means their sex (if the word sex is still used at all), so then what about the sex of animals? I'm not talking about the question whether animals haven't also some sort of cultural code/gender/sex roles. Simply, do the animals (let's take just the more developed species) have a ("strictly biological") sex, i.e. a division into male/female? And if we can recognise that they do, then as "vulgar" materialists, I think we should recongise the same is true for humans.

Comunero
On sex, gender

D-man, I think the argument about animals can be interesting, but it needs further development. Most animal species do have sex, that's out of any question. Human beings happen to be animals and from the kind that does have sex, that can only be doubted from an extremely idealist relativism which doesn't have, has never had and will never have any revolutionary potential as it is an extreme case of mind-matter, theory-practice division which doesn't allow for any kind of debate.

As Engels put it, the first division of labor was between man and woman, sex-based. That wasnt originated by absolutely any other feature than the capacity to have babies and feed them in their early months. It was a harsh, community-based life, so I can imagine having children was a fundamental endeavor.

With the further development of society, that task became culturally codified. All the ideology justifying, for example, the masculine tasks of going to war or the feminine tasks of staying faithful and submissive to the husband and his family, needed for being effective to be expressed in an external, social way, from clothing to language. It really is an historical and cultural product (not "construct"), the cultural expression of the male-female labor division.

I think that's the root of what can be called sexual roles, and that root has been destroyed by the capitalist mode of production. The role of educator and even caretaker of the children is being assumed more and more by the State in the culmination of the process of incorporating all the human race into the cycle of commodity production. Sexual role culture keeps existing, but is everyday more divorced from the material reality. It has become a fetishised object, an identity. It's very relevant that idpol started to get wings almost just after the falling of the USSR.

Sexual roles are as divorced from the current material reality and necessities as religion (although not as ideological tools, as we can see), so indeed anyone can assume any of this roles as its "identity" and "nature" without any further contradiction to reality. It's fetishised and commodified, so it's not surprising that the bourgeois ideologues are trying to "classify" it. An absurd attempt, as now any number of characteristics of the traditional sexual roles can be mixed, potentially generating an almost infinite amount of different "gender identities".
But they are swimming among quite a lot of incoherence even from an internal pov: for example, although "gender" is "a social construct", for some reason the concordance of an external physical appearance related to the genetic male/female characteristics is needed to properly fulfill a supposed intrinsic "gender" role-identity.

All of this won't make sense in a worldwide human communist society. If the human race harnesses it's own capacity of production, even sexual labor division will be overcome, beyond the only true biological division, giving birth or not. And so, the cultural sexual roles that emerged from it, together with it's ideological justification, will disappear to never come back again. People will be able to build their personality, aspirations, love, dreams, activity and relationships without the burden of any ideological inheritance from the history of class society..

I myself have had a period of very important personal doubts and confusion about all of this, and it has been difficult and painful. We have to understand that it's being painful and confusing for some people, but that's not an argument for avoiding to discuss about this topic: it's the opposite. Clarification can never be threatening for struggling people.

We must carry on this discussion regardless of threats and accusations. We must turn the attacks of this ideologues into a reminder and reason to articulate a good and coherent analysis.

My solidarity to the ICC, d-man, Alf and every comrade going through attacks for defending the Marxist method. I'm being attacked here as well by some hateful elements, but that probably means that we are doing something right.

jk1921
I can't comment on the

I can't comment on the substantive issues of sex and gender here, but I think it is important to express solidarity with those subjected to the most grievous accusations of moral turpitude that the current culture deems worthy of something approaching social death for having asked questions about issues that are accorded the status of a secular religion among parts of the "left," extending into the swamp and even the proletarian milieu perhaps.

But I think this moment is worthy of a few more general thoughts:

1.) I have to ask what the Marxist method would be on these questions? Is there even one? Or just one? What does Marxism even have to say about it? This doesn't mean that the topics should be verboden for discussion (just like the issue of science in the other thread), but I wonder if all we can really offer are personal musings at this point, informed by the literature perhaps, but not specifically Marxist?

2.) I think what the fate of the LibCom thread shows is the increasingly problematic conceptions of left and right today in the context of the social and, above all ideological, decomposition of capitalist society. Its rather breathtaking to me to see someone attempting to use a materialist method (right or wrongly) to understand thorny questions of identity, gender, sex, etc. denounced as a vehicle for the "New Right" (I assume this means "Alt-right"?).

But, would it be sacrelige to suggest that amid all the garbage and provocation that occasionally critics that may be associated in some way with some of these currents, might have a point twice a day? Even before this latest controversy, I remarked at one point that it might be possible for a Marxist to agree with Jordan Peterson (Or Bill Maher, or Sam Harris or whoever) regarding issues related to free speech, even if in the next sentence he denounces "Marxists" for destroying free speech! I think there may be a certain genetic fallacy at work here that demonstrates some of the current pathologies that impede critical thinking on much of what passes for the "Left" today.

This becomes an issue in the question of the nature of "populism" as it has been playing out in other discussions. The ICC has argued that there is no left populism, populism can only be right-wing today, in part because the bourgeois left continues to be the more responsible among ruling class factions, more capable of governing, because they retain at a certain level a commitment to Enlightenment notions of rationality, liberal values, etc. While this may be true at the level of "high politics" the governing level of parties and the state, I think the current controversies over identity politics, the behavior of the supposedly liberal media in destroying individual moral transgressors by drumming them out of public life, the development of a vicious and aggressive "social justice warrior" culture among purported liberals online, suggest that beneath the surface, the bourgeois left is experiencing as much of an ideological and intellectual breakdown as the right. And apparently, this now happens on LibCom as well. If you had to look for the totalitarians today, they may be found on the Left, (although there is also obviously clear "authoritarian" tendencies developing on the right).

The effect of all this, of course, is to turn many people off from politics, or even just informed discussion and debate, in utter disgust and fear of being branded a moral degenerate for asking the wrong question or saying the wrong thing, or the right thing in a wrong way. It also provides grist for the mill of the ideological idea that the Left--which the Alt-right claims is really just a Marxist conspiracy anyway--always contains within it the seeds of Stalinism. I have heard it suggested, although I do not know the veracity of the claim (maybe its a right-wing myth?), that Generation Z--the youngest adults--are starting to identify as "conservative," differentiating themselves from the intolerance and moral piousness about politics and personal behavior they see in the Millennials just ahead of them. Its not for nothing that Jordan Peterson is a YouTube star and its not just the reactionary baby boomers who are watching him. Or at least, that is how the narrative goes. Heck, the BBs can't even figure out YouTube! (Good natured, but probably ageist joke that would likely not be tolerated on a university campus today if said in the open).

In any event, it seems important to monitor these trends in our analysis of the political and cultural life of the bourgeoisie, because the idea that it is the bourgeois left that continues to defend something like the "gains of the bourgeois revolutions" (at least at the ideological level and in intra-bourgeois affairs) is starting to look more spurious.

3.) Finally, on the specific treatment that posters have been subjected to on LibCom. Much of it seems rather appalling. I can't follow the entire thread, but I did notice some claims made by what looked like LibCom admins defending the use of "cunt" as a synonym for "stupid." Well, I just learned that it is no longer permissible to characterize an opponent's arguments as "stupid," not becasue its not a very nice thing to do, but because that's offensive to "stupid people." Does this individual realize he may be offending one identity group in order to protect another? And around the drain of identity politics we circle.

But broader than this there is the issue of "shaming" and its role in pushing forward particular values. This seems as much an issue for revolutionaries as it does for the broader culture. To what extent is the kind of shaming culture that has developed online appropriate for advancing a "progressive" or even one might say working-class values? What are those values first of all? And how do we defend them in the public space (be it online or at a meeting)? In today's online and social media culture, it is all too easy for one moral transgression to become a sentence of social death, to have your legitimacy as a "speaking subject" destroyed for all time.

This seems like a very ominous and destructive reality today, but does that mean that public shaming campaigns are always wrong? See this article here, which offers up a strong defense of the role of public shaming campaigns in advancing humanistic goals through modern history. According to the author, all kinds of social reforms have been won in part through shaming campaigns: the fight against slavery, child labour, spousal abuse, animal abuse, corporal punishment of children, etc. have all involved moralizing campaigns to shame individual transgressors in public. Many of these campaigns continue today. Of course, there are also the negative examples of Prohibition and the war on drugs--shaming alcoholics and drug addcits for bad morals for behaviors that are today regarded mostly as medical problems (Progress!)--and continuing campaigns against a woman's freedom to chose to have an abortion to ponder.

Nevertheless, it seems right to ask to what extent the development of online and social media culture in the context of the general ideological crisis of capitalist society has pushed this process to a point where moral campaigns for progressive Enlightenment values start "eating their own children"?

 

d-man
re:point no.1

There was, for example, the "identity politics" of the Bund (Jewish workers' organisation), which was criticised by Lenin. On the other hand there was the reformist deviation in France, which arose from its insufficiently distinct proletarian response to the antisemitism around the Dreyfus Affair.

As for not-specifically Marxist literature/approach, yes we can rely on that. I came up with several non-Marxist sources against the very concept of "identity" (btw, I think Baboon made a mistake to use this word in regards to the working class), one even dating back to 1827 (and yes it involves religious questions). And in 1968 Robert Stoller cited a critic of the psychoanalytic use of the term "identity", saying that it was a worthless buzzword.

So I see no need/use for reliance on modern pundits.

On personal musings (informed by literature), I think they can be more interesting than the often academic questions about the historicism of sex roles (it's become a sort of common place now outside of Marxism, so not really that much critical punch in it I think).

By the way, I appreciate the solidarity, but, perhaps oddly enough, I felt pretty impervious to the insinusations of the libcom crowd. My ban felt more like an excercise in PR for libcom, like they fear to be targeted themselves merely for allowing my presence.

 

d-man
shadowbanning

So you're effectively also banned like me, and in your case without even a shred of public announcement.

-

As for referring to someone as "he/she", let's recall that this is surely a moot point, since in the presence of someone we don't speak about anyone as "he/she" in any case.

And when speaking of someone who is not present, we refer to them by their name. And if the discussion (/gossip) about the person who is not present is of a longer nature, and so there occur references to "he/she", then when there is the "wrong" use of "she/he", it in any case cannot be rude or offensive, since the person isn't present to hear it.

As for a newly adopted name, this is even less of a problem. I myself would even prefer to be called only by last name, since honestly most of your co-workers are not your friends, and friends are the only ones allowed to refer to each other on a first name basis IMO.

Alf
banned?

Craftwork, can you clarify what happened? Were you indeed banned and then unbanned, or was it a technical problem?

d-man
Craftwork was restricted from

Craftwork was restricted from posting for a whole time (unable to respond when his statements were attacked on the IP thread), without that being announced (so it can be called shadowbanning).

I can no longer get past the spam fitler on libcom with my new name, so I post my reply here:

https://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/noa-derailing-29052018

jef costello wrote:
I don't need to be informed, I am a mod not an admin, I only ban spammers or maybe very extreme hate speech. As far as I know admins discuss bans, but they have a set of guidelines so that individual admins can act quickly. It might take two days for all the admins to exchange messages.

You haven't been disappeared in the middle of the night, you were publicly warned and then publicly banned. And you haven't been rebanned in spite of breaking forum rules by reregistering after a ban.


And without sarcasm or flattery, your moderating work is appreciated.

My reregistering for the question about my ban (how long if temporary, or is it permanent? please answer), is due to the fact that I don't have a friendly liaison to ask it in my stead (and I'm not so full of myself that I'm going to ask someone else to bother with this). The question is legitimate since you (and apparently others) call for my permanent ban. Of course I now thereby have risked to be permanently banned, which I indicated above by saying how my executioners expect me to finish myself off. The warning by Mike served only as future justification for a predetermined intent to ban me for any old excuse. And derailing is surely a very weak excuse.

The announcement of my ban was only given on the thread itself (and on one other where I was active), but most people weren't aware of it. Just compare with how the Redmarx, the SPGB or the ICC forums handle a ban; they either have a special thread listing their bans, or even create a special thread about it for a single user (e.g. LBird).

Quote:

Firstly, if your posting style is to derail then you should try to change it, if not out of respect for others, but simply out of a desire to make these discussions a means to illuminate and examine issues rather than a way to show us you have read books or that you will continue to defend your point until other people give up (the prostitutes thread springs to mind)

Referencing books is a way to illuminate and examine issues. What sounds arrogant is giving the impression that one comes up with an original idea all by oneself, or that it is interesting just because one expresses it. On my alleged sin of defending my point until others give up, on the incel-thread you baited me with the opposite charge: "If you could actually stand your ground then it might seem like you believed in things rather than being a contrarian." I don't make the ad nauseam fallacy: if other people "give up" it doesn't mean the argument I presented was correct.

Quote:
Secondly, if you don't want to change it then you shouldn't be here. You have added to some discussions, but in general you kill them by trying to bludgeon people with long, verbose posts. Even if the rest of the thread is good I often give up once I start skipping posts, I imagine others do the same, and yours are regularly skipped so that kills discussions.

I love forums for their ability to make "verbose" posts. It's an advantage over social media. I know you defend forums as well. But the eternal complaint that the forum is dead is a bit nonsensical if at the same time the posters who are active on them are banned for being active (like I was; for making 3 short posts in exchange with Sadie). You may think you are saving the discussion from banning me (the discussion-killer), but you're the one killing the forum.

A more general point; Revleft and Revforum have recently been closed (in unannounced fashion), and I suspect that despite reassurances to the contrary, the significant number of people who are calling for the libcom forum to be closed (one of the offered reasons, precisely over the trans subject) could very well be successful.

Nobody is expecting you to like anyone else's posting style, feel free to say so to that person, but a reason for banning it is not.

But even if you still don't want me here in discussions (odd after 8.5 years me being here, that it's just now around the IP issue that you express the feeling),then, like I said on the Redmarx forum (https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/redmarx/me-getting-banned-from-libcom-t1...) I would find it less of a problem to be barred from the forum, then to be completely banned, which I certainly don't wish, since I also have contributed materials to the library.

Quote:

And you should definitely change your attitude to disagreement, this isn't debate club, you don't need to win everything.

Like I said to you on the since deleted "talking about sex/love" thread, I don't wish to bludgeon anyone's mind into submitting to my position (as if that would even be possible or ever work).
 

d-man
further response to my ban

I will again post here my reply

Red Marriott wrote:

Iirc for some years you only posted links to stuff and almost never engaged in debates. Only in recent years have you become obsessive about prolonging arguments beyond all reason and down the most ridiculous byways.

If you could look at my profile (now impossible since my ban), you would see that I have engaged in prolonged debates right from my registration. A couple of examples of very long threads from my early time on libcom: "Transcendental Materialism? No thanks!",  "racketeerism and parasitism", and several threads on the decline of capitalism. If the topic was related about what somebody said, of course you need to provide links to the texts, but I don't recall "only posting links to stuff". My main contribution has been to the libcom library (original translations). 

What has changed is the libcom group's abetting of 4chan style humour on its own board in the past, to an over-compensation now in its "self-criticism"/correction, which besides a few mea culpas "oh I was so unenlightened then, now I'm really conscious about minorities", actually manifests in projection of their own past prejudices on to other people (this is a point you have made yourself).

Quote:
That it's apparently so important to come back and flout the ban to state your case at length suggests your obsessive attitude hasn't changed.

I only came back (three weeks after my ban) to ask confirmation if I was permanently banned (since the usual time for a temporary bans seems to be 3 days). I didn't think of the possibility of emailing the admin.

I really had to make an efffort to force myself to care (though why is "caring" regarded as something negative?). There is nothing addictitve for me about posting on libcom.

Quote:
Though I find your posting style often irritating and self-obsessed with grinding people into submission on technical points or dubious claims, often pointless and sometimes dishonest in the selective way you use references and interpretations in the cause of defending the holy god of leninism/social democracy; I don't care if you're banned or not.

I don't care either if I'm banned or not (we're all though guys), but if an admin doesn't care to inform a long-time site member as to the extent of a ban, or hardly could conceal his intent to ban a particular user on the flimsiest of technical excuses ("derailing", and now probably in addition, that of my reregistration), then I care about that carelessness.

But I agree with you that the annoying things that you mention are indeed no reason to ban someone.

Quote:
(Though the hair-splitting on, eg, the Lenin & prostitutes thread was laughable in its desperation.) But you apparently don't really see what people find annoying about you - or don't consider the annoyance justified cos, as always, you're sure you're right.

The annoyance would be justified, in the sense that people have substantial disagreements with me, for example about Leninism, etc. But focusing on someone's posting style in general, or their "attitude", is not a political matter, but petty-beef which I expect libcom posters to be able to rise above.

 

LBird
LibCom ban communist politics in favour of individualist politic

d-man wrote:
The announcement of my ban was only given on the thread itself (and on one other where I was active), but most people weren't aware of it. Just compare with how the Redmarx, the SPGB or the ICC forums handle a ban; they either have a special thread listing their bans, or even create a special thread about it for a single user (e.g. LBird).

I'd just like to confirm d-man's statement. Both the SPGB and the ICC have banned me for political reasons, but both have subsequently (both after some months) restored my posting ability.

On the contrary, LibCom banned me some years ago (c. 2013?), again, for political reasons, but never restored my posting rights.

I think everyone knows my political disagreements with SPGB/ICC (I'm opposed to Engels' 'materialism', which both espouse, and they find it very difficult to argue for politically), but at least their claim to be socialists/communists of some sort seems to have some validity.

But... LibCom is simply a vehicle for 'individualism' (I'm completely opposed to 'individualism', and its endpoint, elitism, in both politics and science), and their bans seem to be permanent, which tells us something abut their basic politics.

In fact, my poor experience on LibCom led me to stop calling myself any sort of 'Libertarian Communist' (it's simply the same as the US Right's use of 'libertarian'), and instead replace this with my self-definition as a 'Democratic Communist', which I think much better reflects my communist politics.

Anyway, congratulations to the ICC and SPGB!

jk1921
Bans

LBird wrote:

d-man wrote:
The announcement of my ban was only given on the thread itself (and on one other where I was active), but most people weren't aware of it. Just compare with how the Redmarx, the SPGB or the ICC forums handle a ban; they either have a special thread listing their bans, or even create a special thread about it for a single user (e.g. LBird).

I'd just like to confirm d-man's statement. Both the SPGB and the ICC have banned me for political reasons, but both have subsequently (both after some months) restored my posting ability.

On the contrary, LibCom banned me some years ago (c. 2013?), again, for political reasons, but never restored my posting rights.

I don't know the situation with your ban on LibCom, but I don't think you were banned from here for "political reasons." At least not in the sense of political disagreements. It had to do with your behavior in derailing threads and engaging in personal attacks on other participants and it was temporary from the start, so hard to see it as an outright ban, more like a suspension.

Comportement in discussion is itself a political issue, although it is something that no individual is above transgressing at times and it is a question which needs much development in the milieu today. I think there are time when moderators must act to protect the integrity of the forum, but given where we are on these questions as a milieu, it is hard to see how a "permanent ban" is appropriate. Still, it has to be conceded that moderators themselves are fallible and can make mistakes. But given the importance of online forums to discussion today, the development of theory and even class consciousness itself, these issues would seem to demand some more attention, as there is a threat of a kind of social death or shunning when one is denied the capacity to speak. But in the end, who decides? Of course, this is a question that the broader culture is wrestling with itself and given the penetration of online culture across the social space, we are obviously not immune from the difficult issues it raises.

LBird
Bans are for political reasons, alleged 'behaviour' is an excuse

jk1921 wrote:

LBird wrote:

On the contrary, LibCom banned me some years ago (c. 2013?), again, for political reasons, but never restored my posting rights.

I don't know the situation with your ban on LibCom, but I don't think you were banned from here for "political reasons." At least not in the sense of political disagreements. It had to do with your behavior in derailing threads and engaging in personal attacks on other participants... 

Anyone can read the threads in which I've particpated (on here and on the SPGB site), and see that it's always me that provides direct quotes from Marx, and numerous references to other books, articles and links, and critically examines the beliefs of my opponents, whereas my opponents always start the process of 'name-calling' and personal abuse, especially calling me a 'troll'. I merely respond in kind (perhaps childishly, but it's a response, not of my initiation).

I've asked you personally a number of times to respond to questions about "workers' democracy" and power, especially within 'science', and you've seriously questioned even the need for democratic political methods, and when I've pointed out the elitism of your political arguments, you've descended to abuse.

So, I politically disagree with your characterisation above, of the reasons for my bannings, on all three sites. As I've said before, the real reason is my continued political opposition to Engels' 'materialism', which, as Marx argued, will lead to a separation of society into two parts, one superior to the other. This is the root of Lenin's belief in a 'party of special consciousness', which 'knows reality' in a way that is not available to the mass of workers, and so leads to the political ideology, espoused by you too, that the producers cannot be allowed a vote upon what they consider to be 'truth' or 'reality'.

This elitism within the workers' movement must be challenged, by workers who look to Marx (and not Engels) for political inspiration.

Because the Engelsists, like you, are apparently unable to read history and philosophy, of 'science' and the development of supposed 'Marxism', you can't politically argue with the view that workers' self-determination is the aim of Marx's politics.

As an example, I ask you, yet again, if not through workers' democracy, who (or what) determines 'truth'?

The 'materialist' answer is 'matter itself', which thus can't be changed by us. It just 'is'. In-itself.

This is politically opposed to Marx's claim, that humanity socially produces its own 'reality', its own 'objectivity', its own 'nature-for-us', its own 'laws of nature', its own 'matter', its own 'physical', and thus can change them.

Thus, your materialist ideology denies the power of humans to change their universe.

As all can see, I'm not 'derailing' this thread, and I'm not 'personally attacking' you, and my 'behaviour' is perfectly comradely.

I'm making a political attack on Engels' 'materialism', as a response to your claim about the reasons for my bans. At any time, you can respond in the same terms, and give an account of your political and philosophical beliefs, and can try to justify your denial of workers' democracy, as can any other supporter here of Engels' 'materialism'.

Let's see what happens.

Demogorgon
Behaviour is a political question in its own right

I cannot comment on d-man's situation on libcom as I'm not familiar with any of the threads or circumstances.

However, along with JK, it is worth reiterating that the ICC has always maintained that personal behaviour is a political question in its own right. A militant or organisation may espouse political positions that are beyond reproach and yet behave in a way that is antithetical to the workers' movement.

An extreme expression of this can be found in parasitism: "Here it should be noted that while the majority of parasitic currents advertise a proletarian programme, the latter is not indispensable for an organisation in carrying out the functions of political parasitism, which is not distinguished by the positions it defends but by its destructive attitude towards the real organisations of the working class."

Most failings in this regard are not as egregrious as parasitism, but the general principle of not conflating political positions with conduct still holds.

And good conduct in discussion is vitally important, as discussion is absolutely essential to the development of class consciousness. A healthy culture of debate is the only weapon the proletariat has which can tear down ingrained deference to bourgeois ideology and work towards its own intellectual autonomy.

One of the phenomena of decomposition seems to be a general breakdown in society's capacity to discuss. In the bourgeoisie, this is expressed by the increasing difficulty of the bourgeoisie to develop and orientate around coherent policies not to mention the growing angst in debates in civil society around questions of gender, etc. This general tendency is certainly felt in the working class as it also attempts to develop discussions around these vitally important questions.

As the embryonic expression of class-wide consciousness, communists have a responsibility to lead the way here, to uphold and demonstrate the highest standards of discussion. I would go so far as to say that upholding such principles and developing a proletarian culture of discussion is far more important than any single position of the Communist Left. Without this, there is the danger that even the clearest political position will be transformed into dogma.

Needless to say, there are very few organisations or individuals that get this right and none that get it right all the time. The history of the ICC has hardly been a shining beacon in the night on this issue either, although one could say that we have at least tried to theorise some of the issues in an attempt to confront our more drastic failings.

Lastly, I want to categorically state that LBird was not banned for any political position he holds. We detailed the reasons for his ban quite clearly and explicitly on this thread. Any further discussion of that decision should be discussed there, not here.

d-man
insensitivity

This stress on conduct in debate might seem a bit close to the stress by IP on insensitivity (trigger-warnings etc.). Btw, I can't imagine myself being offened by anything LBird writes. Likewise, anything Libcom says about me, or Alf, or the ICC, is not a matter of our feelings getting hurt I hope. It's about getting banned,debate shut down. And if you would say that peope cannot change their sex (which nobody has dared to say), you would get banned, because you're being insensitive to trans-people. So it is done in the name of "decency", and creating a "safe-space" for vulnerable people to participate in discussion.

So I think you would need to distinguish your approach to debate a bit more from that of IP.

 

jk1921
Is there not a difference

Is there not a difference between asking controversial questions that may be interpreted as insensitive to broad categories of people and making direct personal attacks against concrete participants in a discussion, using epithets like Stalinist, etc? The first is often confronted by "outrage by proxy," whereby someone assumes the injury of a particular identity--often not of the particular identity--to label a position, or even a discussion itself, out of bounds and scold the offender about their bad morals. In the latter case, it is the unruly behavior itself that blocks discussion by intimidating other participants or intimidating others from even entering the discussion and monopolizing the space with often repetitive and harrasing personalizations that do not serve the advancement of the discussion or understanding of the issue at hand. Whether or not some personal offense is taken nobody likes to be browbeat, and if this behavior is not brought under control sooner or later the discussion will just die, not because it has reached some point of understanding, but because the disruptive behavior became too unbearable. This has happened multiple times here. 

The difference is that in the first case the "authority" of the moderator was used to shut down discussion, in the latter it was used in an attempt to protect it. Of course, mistakes can obviously be made and those subjected to some kind of disciplinary exercise will often cry foul about their mistreatment. In the world of Internet forums there is no higher appeal unfortunately.

LBird
Offending or critiquing? Political debate or name-calling?

d-man wrote:

 Btw, I can't imagine myself being offened by anything LBird writes. Likewise, anything Libcom says about me, or Alf, or the ICC, is not a matter of our feelings getting hurt I hope. It's about getting banned,debate shut down. 

Well, I haven't set out to offend anybody, d-man, but simply ask political questions, and point out just where some political answers will lead.

Of course, if someone calls me a 'troll', or all the other insults that are hurled just to avoid the difficult political issues that I raise, then I can be as childish as the next comrade. But they started it! (see!).

As you say, the real issue here is 'banning', and its causes.

For example, if you were to argue for Engelsist Materialism, which claims, as Marx argued it would, that a minority will claim to have a power that the mass of workers don't have, then I'll point out to you just where, historically, that politico-philosophical ideology lead.

Marx was correct, and it lead to Stalinism. Of course, the Engelsist Materialists deny this, but they have a hard time arguing their beliefs, because the historical evidence is against them.

So, if you argued that ideology, I'd call you a Stalinist.

That's not a personal attack, or an attempt to intimidate you, or to close down the debate, but simply an honest political opinion, based upon Marx's claims that only the class conscious, revolutionary, democratically-organised proletariat can determine their world, natural and social.

If you don't share Marx's beliefs, as the Engelsist Materialists don't, then you can't simply ban comrades from accusing you of Stalinism.

The answer is to argue with my claims - but I know from a number of sites/parties, that this can't be done, in the light of quotes from Marx. The simple answer is that these sites are not Marxist, but can't say so, because they claim Marx as their inspiration.

That's the political root of my bans, both here and with the SPGB.

d-man
in the name of decent debate

Those are several different things: monopolozing space, repetitiveness, non-advancement of the discussion, non-advancement of understanding, disruptiviness, etc.

The majority view on a forum already has the monopoly of space. For it to be challenged by a minority, some "disruption" etc. I think would be unavoidable.

(I'll leave it at that for now, since can't type here or very slow, seems for a technical problem, I'm using InternetExplorer)

d-man
"Materialist-cultural" analysis

Janice Raymond's The Transsexual Empire (1979) I guess is the classical work, though she does not reduce it to the simple money-making of the clinical industry. In chapter 2 she disusses John Money (who I mentioned before as key originator of "gender") who I'm surprised to learn evidently believed that pre-natal (or before 18 months) hormonal factors could cause the child's brain to alter its "gender" (thus having a "female brain" in a male body or vice versa). Btw, this stress on endrogin-disruptors, etc. also lies at the basis of the fringe right like Alex Jones and the insult "soy boy", though similar ideas can be dated back to Kaayla Daniel's The Whole Soy Story (2005), which would explain the phenomena (along with rising male infertlity, etc.) as a environmental health crisis. This is not to be ridiculed off the bat, though cultural factors play a greater role I think, such as very basic fact of spread of pornographic material online (and the internet technology itself with its social media, as anticipated/theorised by Baudrillard and others).

jk1921
So, the UK government is

So, the UK government is banning "conversion therapy." Is anyone going to try taking a contrary position on that?

d-man
"transphobia"

Well the ICC's original article had the word transphobia in inverted commas, which was precisely what provoked outrage by libcom' Steven. But the ICC's footnote explained why some consider that word problematic, exactly for the reason jk1921 says. Some symptomatic irony at play here I guess in the fact that the ICC was trying to be so correct with words, but it ended up with it getting attacked for bigotry..

d-man
further comment

Some further comments on the issue of my ban from libcom. To be clear, I regard my ban from libcom as wholly unjustified, and I still would like my ban to be lifted. I post this here, first because I have no 'minions' to come to my defence on libcom (and I'm not asking for that), second the libcom-admin would in any case simply (again) ignore my private email to them, third, the libcom-admin could even construe a second email on my part as evidence of some kind of bullying, and fourth, I prefer anyway to keep a public record of all my actions/writings, as I have done here: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/redmarx/me-getting-banned-from-libcom-t1542.html

 

To repeat the story in a single paragraph, the official reason for my ban was derailing. I was given a warning in advance by the admin Mike Harman that if I continued, I would be temporarily banned (you can see my posts in question here and judge for yourself: https://libcom.org/forums/theory/poverty-identity-politics-21052018?page=10). Three weeks after my ban (which I understood was more than enough time for a temp ban), I registered with a new name on libcom, in order to place a post asking merely for clarification about my ban, given that it seemed likely that I had been permanently banned (contrary to the given warning of a temp ban). I got no reply from Mike or any other admin. Now it's almost six months later, so I'm certainly permanently banned. By registering with a new name (which is against libcom's rules), I provided an actual reason for my permanent ban, but even that has not been declared by an admin. Instead other posters (long-time member Red Marriott and a moderator, jef costello) vented their frustration with me, giving a host of other reasons why I should be banned, including my posting style in general. I replied to the last post of Red Marriott here in the present thread above (since my post no longer could appear on libcom). In addition, my whole thread on 'talking about sex/love' was retroactively deleted by Mike, which is another tell that this is about political differences. I view my ban as being of a political nature, and not due to some arbitrarily concocted reason like derailing.

 

As a general remark, it seems to me that any ban has always, in some way, a political motivation as its accompanying factor. It's pretty difficult to imagine that when you agree 100% with someone's politics and views, that you still want them to be banned merely on the technical account of their alleged posting style, manner of debating (e.g. being long-winded), or derailing (nota bene: unintentially). It's even difficult to imagine for me when I disagree 100% with somone's politics, to want that person to be banned merely on a technical account. For example I dislike Dave B's posting style, I dislike Mike Harman's posting style (Serge Forward called Mike's posts unreadable), I dislike jef costello's (always stating platitudes and wavering on the fence). Even if I consider their posts to contribute nothing to a discussion, or be actively damaging to genuine debate, it would not be justified, I think, to call for their ban on this technical ground. What one person considers long-winded garbage, is a well-articulated thoughtful post to another.

Yet rarely is a ban openly stated to be politically motivated. Perhaps this appears a natural course of action, since otherwise the viewpoint of the banned person would at least have to be acknowledged (and objections provided against it), and this is a time-consuming process for the admin, open to judgement (if not challenge) from the wider audience. But on the other hand, it is not an evident course of action: if someone is banned for a political reason (eg bigotry, or making other participants in the discussion feel attacked for their sex, ethnicity or sexuality), then why would not the admin proudly proclaim to have taken a political stance? It would surely be a welcome and reassuring signal to everyone else to know that the admin took such a principled decision. A political antagonist has been identified and successfully banned. Others are alerted (or I'd say, intimidated) about where the lines are drawn. It would be moreover an actual “lesson” to the banned person. But perhaps such course of action is not taken, because it would look “sectarian”.

 

As to my specific political differences with libcom, I notably rejected the concept of 'gender'. Now it has come to light that none other than Gilles Dauve, arguably the most respected living writer by many in the libcom-crowd, with perhaps the most texts in the libcom library, is against the concept of gender (in a 2015 interview). This is a full justification of my claim throughout that nothing that I said was unique, odd, path-breaking or provocative. Indeed nothing about the criticism leveled at identity politics on the thread started by comrade link, would have been considered unique or provocative until a few years ago on libcom. Mike Harman himself is keen to self-flagellate for his past sins in this regard. On the contrary, as noted by Red Marriott (a member of the split Anarcho-Communist Group), some of today's repented sinners were once guilty of far worse stupid 4chan-style humor and edgy border-line politically incorrect racism/sexism, than anything the present critics have said. By the way, it is unfortunate that even Red Marriot has failed to come to the defence of Adolph Reed Jr. (whose text he posted in the libcom library in the past). I think the Anarcho-Communist Group members have not defended me because they do not want to be associated with my alleged Leninism. Clearly the diversionary tactic of Mike Harman (with his creation of the 'Lenin orders massacre of sex workers'-thread) has fooled them.

And in the wake of the 2017 Anarchist Bookfair incident we wouldn't even have learned that a split ocurred in AF (all leading founding members stepping out), if it weren't for Craftwork, an outsider, raising the issue. It would be a mistake to regard the conversion of the libcom admins into de facto identity-politics defenders as mere hypocritical posturing for the sake of point-scoring online. The anarchist organisation(s), especially the youth, are subject to larger social forces, which translate into certain ideas. The rise of mental health problems (several libcom moderators admitted to having them) is one such factor. There is also the question of sexuality, which still is a very sensitive issue, for example I rarely recall seeing on libcom any serious discussion by anarchist posters of their male homosexuality. Or when recently some female poster called herself a lesbian, this was regarded as suspicious by others (suspecting it was a "terf" dogwhistle). My even hinting at the point that one reason for "gender"-transition is the issue of sexuality, was desperately silenced, whereas elsewhere when the poster Jolasmo (a trans person, who is from the Leeds anarchist group) in passing said that there are many trans people in their local group and everyone is screwing each others brains out, this was not even commented on, much less disputed. I assume these are not only transwomen (or born males) among themselves, but also "heterosexual" anarchist men having sex with transwomen. If these "heterosexual" men (pure speculation, but like eg the poster Fallback, who is a vocal trans activist) are sexually active with them, then there is an admittedly base ground for their political stance (it might be sexist to say, but some men do think with their dick).

d-man
belated response to Baboon

baboon wrote:
Feminism, as an ideological campaign, has always been a feed for division within the working class and an attack on the latter's identity. Radical feminism and the whole overblown "space" argument take this to new levels. I think that trans people, just like everyone else, are entitled to be respected, especially for their "difference" (or, if you prefer, difference). I don't see why they shouldn't have access to what they consider to be their "space" in conditions they feel comfortable in (I'm thinking of toilets, some use the "prison" argument). Given the very small numbers of such encounters it's not exactly a pressing issue for the working class. And I would suggest, from my limited experience in this area, that from women in general, particularly working class women, there's a genuine feminine solidarity with trans people, a generous tolerance that the radical feminists should take note of.

This passage does seem to be taking a side, namely in favour of the trans activist position. By the way, baboon speaks about working women, but eg the toilet-question also involves children in school (the case for segregated toilets is made by Sheila Jeffreys: The politics of the toilet).

Baboon writes that it's not a pressing question in the working class, for example because of the small numbers involved. But as I wrote on the libcom-thread, we can look at the Dreyfus-affair as a well-known example of "identity politics" in the past – it involved a single person, from the bourgeois class, and yet it was extremely polarizing society, and a key driver in the reformism (vs revolutionary) debate in the Second International. I also linked to Rosa Luxemburg's take on the Dreyfus affair, but I'm not sure she is helpful really. And the question whether saving captain Dreyfus concretely benefitted the working class is also not helpful.

Meanwhile the ICC's article (that this thread is named after) tries to maintain strict neutrality, and casts a plague on both houses:

"At the same time, both groups are founded on deep illusions in capitalist legislation. Some feminists seem to think that women are defended by current legislation, but will be undermined by the change. Meanwhile, some trans activists seem to think that the change to the Gender Recognition Act will be a great step forward for trans people. Both milieus have profound reformist illusions."

I don't think however that the "exclusionary" feminists have illusions in current legislation, since surely they are constantly decrying the already existing reality of daily practice (eg in UK trans-identiying males in female prisons) and the assault by men of women even in segregated toilets. On the other side, surely practice can and does change, and, to whatever extent, there is an effect of legislation on practice, so the trans-activists can alter or improve the daily life of trans people by it. We would not deny either the simple fact that Dreyfus was eventually found innocent, which I would think improved his life at least.

I initially didn't have any great interest (or knowledge) in all this, but since I was banned over it, and it is still further polarizing, and specifically the identity politics/trans activist position is drawing to it particular supporters from the soft- or ex-Trot circles (like Verso, Richard Seymuor, Loui Project, etc. and I would say libcom is also close to those circles), it becomes no longer just about toilets, and not speaking out would be cowardice.

 

baboon
For the record Dman this is

For the record Dman this is my position on the topic which, as you can see, shows no partisanship towards a "transactivist" position. It's a quote from the article above.

"For our part, we want to emphasise that not only do we not take sides in this clash between different brands of identity politics: we are opposed to all of them. As our sympathiser Baboon put it in a post on our forum: 'I don't think that the fight between radical feminists and trans activists has any possible advantage for the proletariat or in any way assists the pressing needs of the class … I'd seen these two groups confronting each other on the TV weeks before the bookfair on Channel 4 news where (at a Gay Pride march I think) their confrontation was turning very ugly and very nasty[4]. At the bookfair apparently the police were called by one faction and both factions were involved in mobbing and scapegoating, a situation that showed nothing positive from a working class perspective and was entirely in line with certain populist developments arising from capitalism's decomposition'[5 ]"

Also,defending tolerance for people's sexuality, gay, trans, of which there are a number of varieties, does not mean defending transactivists. I don't see that this defence poses any sort of contradiction to revolutionary positions - on the contrary. I wouldn't want to get into the sewers of the "discussion" between the radical feminists and the "transactivists" -see above.

As I remember the discussion on libcom the reformist aspect of the Gender Recognition Act carried some weight amongst the "libertarians", Particularly Steven if I remember correctly.

d-man
sewer

I'm aware of that passage and was precisely responding to your self-declared neutrality, baboon. So let me repeat, you wrote that "some" (meaning "exclusionary") feminists "should take note" of ordinary women's tolerance with regard to trans people accessing women's spaces (like toilets). I do not dispute that ordinary women have "tolerance" towards trans people or people's sexuality, and that indeed anyone should defend "tolerance" (to use your word) towards them. But the dispute is not about "tolerance" in general, but about things such as allowing access to women's spaces. You find this beneath discussion and don't want to get into it, that I could understand, yet my point is that you did enter into the "sewer" by dissing the concerns of the side of "exclusionary" radical feminists.

You singled out feminism, namely that it attacks the "identity" (!) of the working class – btw, your use of the term "identity" in regard to workers made it an easy target for Mike (surely workers are not an identity group). Would you also have dared to write that trans-activism attacks the "identity" of the working class? But for all your apprehesion toward "normal" feminism, you reserved even more criticism of "radical feminists", which apperently is somehow worse than normal feminism (quote: "Radical feminism and the whole overblown "space" argument take this to new levels). It doesn't seem like you kept your neutrality, depsite your honest desire to do so.

And in any case, even if you were a true "non-playing character", that would not be convincing to either groups to somehow get along, but, like I wrote on my own past silence, be regarded as cowardice or complicity.

baboon
Class identity, proletarian

Class identity, proletarian identity is a common term among the Communist Left that denotes, among other things, the historical and revolutionay nature of the working class.There are obviously many nuances and weights to this depending upon the circumstances and the framework. The word "identity" used by idpolists doesn't have the same content as the former, indeed their positions are completely opposed to a class concept.Their emphasis on the secondary and then the ninth degree of the secondary inevitably opposes and precludes any class analysis or genuine revolutionary perspective.

On any scale, the ideology of feminism in all its forms is more dangerous to the development of class consciousness than transgender activists. But I denounce both, not from a position of cowardice or complicity, but from a position of the necessity for the unity of the working class.

d-man
weird flex but ok

There is no significance in the word "identity" with regard to class that is not already encompassed in the old-fashioned terms like class "independence" or "consciousness". The use of the term class "identity" in common opinion relates to things like blue-collar men drinking in the pub, watching football or whatever. So I'd cancel the use of it. But evidently you feel it has some advantage, maybe it sounds more "modern"? It really entered popular lexicon only with psychoanalysis in the 1970s (pardon my pedantic side-point). By the way, like I (pedantically) said before, the term "class" itself can apply to anything (eg different classes of motor engines, different classes in school, etc.). So one could even speak of the class of women or the class of men.

I already understood that you consider feminism to be more dangerous (than trans-activism) to the development of class consciousness. So far you have only hinted at one argument to defend this (namely smaller number of trans-persons), but I assume you can elaborate (please do). I don't understand for example why would keeping trans-identifying men out of women's space (one demand of some of the radical feminists), be a greater threat to the unity of the working class, than letting them in? Indeed it is difficult to see why the opposition (from radical feminist women) to letting trans-people into women's space is a treath to working-class unity? And to be clear, since you denounce both sides, then should you also not believe that the activism in favour of letting trans-identifying men into women's spaces (etc.) is likewise a threat (though a smaller one in your view) to the unity of the working class?

jk1921
The bigger question is why

The bigger question is why threats to the "unity of the working-class" is a valid measure of the legitimacy of any particular claim of oppression or injustice?

Comunero
I don't think that what makes

I don't think that what makes feminism, trans-activism and other identity politics anti-proletarian is their concrete demands, which consist mostly on changing how the State regulates certain spaces and/or setting new regulations in place. The big problem with those is the ideological framework in which they formulate their demands, specially how that translates into practice. Particularly the methods of calling out people who dissent as "[whatever]phones", attempting to suppress every possibility of debate. There's nothing that can't or shouldn't be debated, specially because no one is born with "clarity" (if such a thing exists). A criticism of trans-activism isn't a criticism of transness, and even a criticism of transness isn't necessarily an attack against trans people.

This tactics aren't used just in bathroom issues etc, but are constantly used to attack and isolate any dissenter to the leftist "intersectional" gangs in almost any context. This thought police methods are not only not working class methods, but directly against the development of class consciousness, struggle and even basic understanding among workers.

d-man
It seems to me jk1921, that

It seems to me jk1921, that you're saying, or perhaps rather attributing a belief to idpol-defenders, that there should not be a measure to judge the "legitimacy" of particular claims of oppression. So you (or the idpol defenders) aren't merely saying that the "needs/unity of the working class" is a bad measure, but that there should be no measure at all. Perhaps you even posit a stronger claim, that not only should all claims of particular oppression be unconditionally supported, but that they should be supported even if they harm or run counter to the unity/interests of the proletariat. That is something which the left idpol-defenders (on libcom at least) themselves would refrain from explicitly stating, since they always claim that everything they do is part of and for the class struggle, moreover at the forefront of the class struggle. Again, if I understand your point, I do agree that we cannot criticise idpolitists by simply using the measure of the class struggle, the problem with which is not so much that is vague or general, but rather a low bar for socialist politics. Like I said on libcom, Marx didn't discover the class struggle, French liberal historians already did, and, as the libcom-people also stress, rightwingers (like Bannon) even can talk about the working class. Their point with this, is to imply that the measure used by baboon (of working class unity) is a dog-whistle for fascism. I doubt that you, jk1921, agree with this, but just would like to see suggestions for dealing with this.

Well yes, it is true that rightwingers speak about working class, but they also speak about identity, whether national or racial identity. Thus, it is the idpol-defenders who are paving the road for fascism, not by their excessively uppity/radical demands producing a rightwing backlash, but by "racialising" everything, that is promoting the identity of particular groups. The idpol-defenders actually disagree with this claim (that rightwingers think in terms of identity), for they see the rightwinger's complaint against "idpol" as an appeal to universalism, against idpol. The idpol-defenders thus consider any critique of idpol to be neessarily directed against the oppressed/under-class, since in their view the rightwing isn't identitarian (but is universalist). They have effectively surrendered the possibility of any leftwing critique of idpol. Some of them they deny this and hypocritically and arbitrarily, based on who is in their in-group, allow themselves to criticise idpol – apparently they know it when they see it, but suspicious outsiders cannot. Meanwhile it is untrue that the rightwing's discourse specifically against idpol is nominally directed against the oppressed/working-class. It is formulated against an elitist establishment/upper-class, and not against "ordinary" poor blacks, gays, women, who fight for better conditions at work. The rightwing attacks these real struggles of the oppressed/underclass not through verbal attacks on idpol, but through other discourse, such as law-and-order, competitiveness, – which does not mean that this is a universalist discourse (it is rather the bourgeois discourse) and it also does not mean that minorities etc. are not under a real attack (in their living standards).

 

jk1921
If we use "unity of the

If we use "unity of the working class" as the measure to judge the validity of paritcular claims of oppression, we run the risk of stifling the critique of particular oppressions in the name of a higher purpose (the transcendence of all oppression at some future undetermined date). When you do that, you leave the door open to any kind of abuse in the name of the higher goal unless you also have a concepton of individualized, universalized rights grounded in some kind of individual citizenship (thus, my "hand wringing" on this point). This is where the parallell to a certain Stalinist-ethic comes in, where even the death or murder of individual proletarians can be justifed in the interests of the advancement of the proletariat "as a class." To the ICC's credit it has a kind of conception of proletarian citizenship, when it denoucnes the use of violence to solve disputes within the class no matter how wrong headed some individual or faction might be. But this of course leaves open the question of just who counts as proletarian.

But you don't have to go even that far to see the problem: There is a critique of the resurgent social democratic tendencies today that in stressing the necessity of appealing to broad general economic interests of the working class (or 99 percent or whatever) it is necessary to restrain appeals to particular oppressions (race, gender, sexuality, etc.), social democracy ends up perpetuating these injustices right now These charges where made against Bernie Sanders' campaign, both by the establishment of the Democratic Party, but also by self-styled radicals affiliated with racial and other identity group movements (BLM, etc.).

Adolph Reed has confronted these tendencies, his most recent piece calling anti-racist activism a "neo-liberal replacement for a 'Left,'" but even Reed is now attacked online as a "revisionist" social democrat that enables racism and xenophobia. But Reed's model of an ideal class politics that also mitigates identity oppression in the pursuit of broad general improvements, reeks of nostalgia for the New Deal order. His model is not MLK's principled resistance to segregation, but A Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin's strategic socialist politics. Both were affiliated with the labor movement and recognized the strategic need to appeal to political subjects beyond the mythical "black community," in order to advance policy aims that, although not specifically directed towards blacks, would neverthless improve their condition. Reed attacks today's anti-racism as a form of professional class politics that seeks to advance individual careers within the neo-liberal order, rather than improve the overall population's well-being. It is not necessary to denounce Reed's reformism though to see a potential problem: the strategic politics he champions might require telling unruly sub-altern subjects to shut up about their specific demands lest they anger the "deplorables" into voting for fascists. Is that far away from the ICC's conception of identity claims as "partial struggles" that could threaten the unity of the working class? (Is this really the ICC's conception, though?)

I agree with Dman about the potentially unsavory direction of all this in society and culture today. It seems that polticial discourse has never been as "racialized" in my lifetime. And it is not just the "right-wing" that is doing it. More and more explicit appeals to racialized language flow from what passes as a left today, in particular the ever more agressive denunciation of "whiteness" (whatever that means), that more and more is just expressed as a denunciation of white people. But also in the construction of virtue narratives of sub-alterness, in which racial, ethnic, etc. minorities are assumed to have some kind of progressive qualities, deriving from their innate features. Of course, all of this underscores the increasingly problematic nature of the traditional definitions of right and left today. If you want a purported defense of univeralism, of not judging a person by the color of their skin, you might be better off watching Tucker Carlson than Rachel Maddow these days, which is not any endorsement of Carlson's politics (although it is a denunciation of Maddow's!). Reed has also remarked that it is possible to see a poltiics emerge in the US, where working-class whites become a racialized other. In fact, this is probably already happening. Reed points out that the English upper classes of previous centuries actually thought the English working-class were a different race.

I probably didn't really answer Dman's query, but I am not sure that the "left-wing" today thinks the right-wing's attacks against idpol are from some universalist position. Isn't it that they think universalism is really impossible? And that claims to a false universalism are an ideological gambit to mask a hegemonic white-male-hetero-whatever identity politics? What is the signficance of purported right-wingers (like Carlson) using a kind of universal language today (at the same time he derides the loss of the US's national character)? And what is the so-called alt-right's critique of "normies" about?

d-man
in the name of decent debate, again

Earlier in the thread I already expressed scepiticism about the stress on "decent debate" (btw, it seems that some posters like Craftwork have deleted their posts since). Now it is again also Comunero who brought up the particular nasty methods/tactics of idpol, which stiffle debate. Your sentiment jk1921, a sort of Kantian moral saying; never to treat/utilise a person as a mere means to a higher end, did not preclude that you argued that disruptive posters should be banned from a forum. So I would say that your "higher goal" is decent debate, and you're willing to use force against individuals to achieve it (in this case banning posters). That is quite close to the idpol methods, which are also justified for the higher goal (of protecting vulnerable minorities).

It even seems that your point is that a higher goal (such as working class unity) must be discarded, for the sake of protecting the individual (or particular minorities). And then your moral guideline can actively support individual (selfish, egotistic, evil) violence against the greater good (of working class unity). That is the interpretation I immediately had of your comment.

So for example the Kronstadt rebels killed thousands of Bolshevik-led troops (inflicting a higher death-toll on them than suffering themselves) for their own "individual" demands and lives, against the false "greater good" of the course followed by the Communist Party. Was the uprising justified according to you because the rebels represented the majority of the people, and the Communist Party a minority? But then the "greater good" of the ideal of the Kronstadt rebels would justify their use of violence, which would be necessary to wrest power from the minority, namely against the ruling Communist Party. And it can be said that the Communist Party was indeed a minority in the country (against the peasant majority). So it is not so practical in reality, this moral guideline of elavating the individual against a false greater good, since it tacitly casts the existing "greater good" as false, in order to assert its own greater good, and it is itself just as prepared to use violence against a perceived or real minority.

Just sighing; "can't we all just get along?", "let's play nice", does not convince warring parties in politics. "History" does its own thing, regardless of such well-meaning advice from the side-line.

jk1921
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

Earlier in the thread I already expressed scepiticism about the stress on "decent debate" (btw, it seems that some posters like Craftwork have deleted their posts since). Now it is again also Comunero who brought up the particular nasty methods/tactics of idpol, which stiffle debate. Your sentiment jk1921, a sort of Kantian moral saying; never to treat/utilise a person as a mere means to a higher end, did not preclude that you argued that disruptive posters should be banned from a forum. So I would say that your "higher goal" is decent debate, and you're willing to use force against individuals to achieve it (in this case banning posters). That is quite close to the idpol methods, which are also justified for the higher goal (of protecting vulnerable minorities).

There is a way to conceive of the Kantian imperative that is not moral, but practical. In other words, we do not stifle debate, because none of us know a priori who is right and the correct path forward can only come from, as the ICC says, "the confrontation of ideas." If we rule certain ideas out of bounds, we are cutting the grounds out of from under ourselves in the quest for the "truth" of the moment, which none of us can know before hand that we have. So yes, I suppose I am raising the spectre of a kind of Kantian derived citizenship, you can think of it morally or practically, if you want. But what is the alternative, some kind of anti-humanist humanism in which individual human beings are mere vessels of historical forces, abstract social interests, progressive and regressive tendencies? What does that open the door to?

As far as banning people from forums, do you consider that a form of "violence"? What if the banning is preceded by some form of "due process," i.e. multiple warnings, appeals to stop disruption, some kind of democratically derived consenus of the other forum participants to take the action and it is not permanent and not designed to destroy the particular individual as a speaking subject ? What is it then? Can you conceive of such a thing?

d-man wrote:

It even seems that your point is that a higher goal (such as working class unity) must be discarded, for the sake of protecting the individual (or particular minorities). And then your moral guideline can actively support individual (selfish, egotistic, evil) violence against the greater good (of working class unity). That is the interpretation I immediately had of your comment.

Yeah, I don't think I am saying that all. I am pointing to the potential problem of suppressing particular claims to justice for an abstract greater historical goal, always in the ever more fleeting from grasp future. That doesn't say anything about the validity of any of the underlying claims and it doesn't pose anything about violence. Even the most democratic society (or online community) possible can still punish individual transgressions against the broader social good after some measure of due process, but even that doesn't mitigate the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

d-man wrote:

So for example the Kronstadt rebels killed thousands of Bolshevik-led troops (inflicting a higher death-toll on them than suffering themselves) for their own "individual" demands and lives, against the false "greater good" of the course followed by the Communist Party. Was the uprising justified according to you because the rebels represented the majority of the people, and the Communist Party a minority? But then the "greater good" of the ideal of the Kronstadt rebels would justify their use of violence, which would be necessary to wrest power from the minority, namely against the ruling Communist Party. And it can be said that the Communist Party was indeed a minority in the country (against the peasant majority). So it is not so practical in reality, this moral guideline of elavating the individual against a false greater good, since it tacitly casts the existing "greater good" as false, in order to assert its own greater good, and it is itself just as prepared to use violence against a perceived or real minority.

Just sighing; "can't we all just get along?", "let's play nice", does not convince warring parties in politics. "History" does its own thing, regardless of such well-meaning advice from the side-line.

Its quite possible both the Kronstadt rebels and the Bolsheviks were wrong. If we are shooting one another, something has gone horribly wrong, don't ya think? You seem to conceive of as politics as a Hobbesian war of all against all. You would then reject the ICC's formulation of "no violence within the working class," because all politics is violence? But you also make your own claim to a kind of "right," and make a moral protest, when you argue against the practice of banning people from forums. It is not clear to me how you conceptualize "violence," "morality," "rights," etc. Complaining about being banned from a forum seems like an impotent moral protest in its own right, when there is no higher authority to appeal to. What's the point? Wouldn't you just accept it as an act of war and plot your counter-attack? Is that what you are doing here?

d-man
Again, you praise the

Again, you praise the "confrontation of ideas" as the greater good in your first paragraph, to in the next defend banning people from forums. Yes, banning, or non-platforming, is one of those alleged nasty, "violent", methods of idpol.

"What if the banning is preceded by some form of "due process," i.e. multiple warnings, appeals to stop disruption, some kind of democratically derived consenus of the other forum participants to take the action "

I can argue with this (why is "due process" in brackets?, or like the Kronstadt rebels were given warnings too), but my point was merely that you (with your moral guideline) justify repressive measures, and that this is done in the name of some neutral, greater good, makes it just more hypocritical or dishonest (not that I want to moralise you). And you explicitly write that even the most democratic society will, for the broader social good, take repressive measures against particular individuals. I thought you were precisely opposing this, hence why I interpreted (or interpolated), if your position were consequential, and given your defense of the individual citizen, that you should support individuals (or particular minorities) in overthrowing (that is using violence against) the more abtract, illusive goal of democratic consensus (or working class unity). I'm not morally condemning this, I can even understand this, for the majority can be wrong (or racist, etc.), and then a minority is justified in resorting to violence. Concretely, for trans-people, if they believe the majority of society oppresses them, then why shouldn't they use any method at their disposal, including like doxxing people, non-platforming, getting people from their jobs, etc?

And so, like I said, the stress on the "higher goal" (of "decent debate") in practice doesn't prevent the adoption of the very idpol-methods which were decried.

"Its quite possible both the Kronstadt rebels and the Bolsheviks were wrong. If we are shooting one another, something has gone horribly wrong, don't ya think?"

Seems like you're victim-blaming the Kronstadt rebels. Does the appeal to non-violence in the proletariat mean that the Kronstadt rebels should have laid down their arms in peace (or flee to Finland)?

"You seem to conceive of as politics as a Hobbesian war of all against all."

See the reality of Kronstadt 1921. Or the London anarchist bookfair in 2017.

"You would then reject the ICC's formulation of "no violence within the working class," because all politics is violence?"

Not necessarily physical violence, but yes most, if not all, political struggle or debate is quite heated or passionate. The formulation about a cerebral, calm, dispassioned confrontation of ideas fits hand-in-glove with repression in the name of "law-and-order" (like a Hobbesian neutral sovereign, or a Stalinist appartchik in defense of Party unity against Trotskyist wreckers).

"But you also make your own claim to a kind of "right," and make a moral protest, when you argue against the practice of banning people from forums. "

I didn't argue against banning people. I said if a person is racist or trans-"phobic" (here are the misunderstood quotes again!), or if there is a deep political divide over an issue, then I can understand a ban or expulsion for political/theoretical reasons, or if you're in the minority, a split or faction away from the majority, to be necessary, on condition that that is the reason explicitly given.

"Complaining about being banned from a forum seems like an impotent moral protest in its own right, when there is no higher authority to appeal to. "

Seems like a tautology to say that moral protest is impotent when there is no sovereign to appeal to. As for me complaining, well I can say I truly don't care (i'm a though guy), but just wanted to let others know that I was in fact banned, and for a political reason (imo).

"What's the point? Wouldn't you just accept it as an act of war and plot your counter-attack? Is that what you are doing here?"

It is the ICC's article which speaks about "attacks" against the ICC, although they haven't been banned, whereas I was. That word iwas considered hyperbole by the libcom-crowd, but here even you (and I'm sure also the libcom-crowd) consider that my posts here constitutes a counter-attack, when I'm calmly, dispassionately putting my viewpoint forth on identity politics and so on.

 

 

Alf
back to identity

I would like to wind things back a bit, to the question of class identity, and also Baboon's alleged siding with transactivists against feminists.

I don't agree with D-man that the term class identity should be jettisoned, because it does refer to a reality. When the proletariat was in the process of formation, and subjected to the horrors of early industrialism, it took a while for the working class to become conscious that it had a specific position in bourgeois society. As Engels put it in The Condition of the Working Class in England, this was the recognition by the workers that they "form a  separate class, with separate interests and principles, with a seaprate way of looking at things in contrast with that of all property owners"

Of course this can't be rigidly divorced from class consciousness - it's perhaps best grasped as the reality that the workers first become conscious of. And in answering this question of "who we are" the proletariat is necessarily led to define itself not only in the present, but also in its striving for the future, for a higher form of social organisation. 

It's perfectly true that the stereotype of a working class made up of clones of the blue collar worker who is content with his beer and football and faithfully follows the directions of the trade unions or the mass party is a legacy of the long period of reformism in the late 19th century when the workers' movement tended to forget its innately revolutionary nature, the fact that it is a class  which is, in Marx's words,  "not of civil society", and settle for being no more than a "class of civil society" after all. This distorted sense of class identity was taken up by social democracy and Stalinism and used against the proletariat in a new epoch when the class is obliged to rediscover its communist nature.  But this is not a sufficient reason for abandoning the notion of class identity. 

Regarding D-man's insistance that Baboon prefers transactivists to feminists, this really makes no sense to me, since Baboon has entirely endorsed the ICC article which strongly denounced the mobbing of feminists by transactivists, and hence got us attacked repeatedly on libcom for being transphobes who side with the TERFs. 

There's something that makes me uneasy about D-man's arguments about what we call the culture of debate. This is, in the end, a question of morality, but D-man's view of this doesn't emerge clearly: would you say that there is such a thing as proletarian or communist morality? 

 

d-man
Your insistence on the term

Your insistence on the term class "identity" is apparently not a triffle, since you take precious time out for it. A search for the term "class independence" on this site gives only 28 google results, as compared to 270 for "class identity". I find an early mention of class identity in a 1989 polemic with the IBRP (here), from which it appears that the IBRP used it in their article “Class Consciousness in the Marxist Perspective” in Revolutionary Perspectives 21 (unfortunately this issue does not seem to be online in full form). So perhaps the IBRP (now ICT) is to blame for introducing this term. Recently however they distanced themselves from it: "One does not need to search long to find examples of how, not just national, but all kinds of identity have been used to mystify capitalist relations. This includes class identity, and for this reason it might be better to speak of class consciousness instead".

As to baboon, I'm responding to a comment he made on this thread, so after your exchange on libcom and after this article was written. Of course I don't take it as representative of the ICC, it's just baboon's individual opinion. But given that he is cited in the article as having a position of neutrality, it seems undeniable to me that on such a contentious issue as women-only spaces, he actually does take the side of the trans-activists in substance. although he may denounce their particular methods. But that's just one (old) comment he made. Perhaps he could elaborate though why he considers (radical) feminism now a greater threat to working class unity than trans-ideology (pardon this word).

As to the notion of a proletarian culture of debate, you have noted that this value of open-and-comradely debate has become suspicious in the eyes of idpolists (and the libcom-crowd). And in my discussion with jk1921 I took his proposed moral guideline (of not sacrificing individuals on the alter of a higher social justice), and tried to show its hollowness. Who is the judge of what constitutes an abuse of the culture of debate, and thus can punish its violators? My ban from libcom is an example of how easy such a "greater good" (as for example productive debate) gives cover to punishment of political/theoretical dissenters. I further argued that since political differences often are passionate, to the point that they warrant a split or expulsion, that such a ban or split be preferrably justified on the grounds of differences in substantial/theoretical issues, and not on the rather apolitical and technical grounds of culture of debate.

 

jk1921
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

As to the notion of a proletarian culture of debate, you have noted that this value of open-and-comradely debate has become suspicious in the eyes of idpolists (and the libcom-crowd). And in my discussion with jk1921 I took his proposed moral guideline (of not sacrificing individuals on the alter of a higher social justice), and tried to show its hollowness. Who is the judge of what constitutes an abuse of the culture of debate, and thus can punish its violators? My ban from libcom is an example of how easy such a "greater good" (as for example productive debate) gives cover to punishment of political/theoretical dissenters. I further argued that since political differences often are passionate, to the point that they warrant a split or expulsion, that such a ban or split be preferrably justified on the grounds of differences in substantial/theoretical issues, and not on the rather apolitical and technical grounds of culture of debate.

Why is your insistence that there is something wrong with banning people from forums not itself an appeal to hollow moralism? You seem to feel that appeals to higher moral principles are nothing more than a "will to power," yet you yourself seem to make such an appeal. Moreover, you reject what you see as my attempt to situate the problem on a technical-practical level as, again, just another hollow appeal that masks the repressive act of banning people. (And a technical correction--I never defended "banning" anyone, if the reference is to LBird's temporary suspension.) Or are you acknowledging that your appeal against the repressive power of forum adminstrators is simply your own strategic power ploy to advance your particular political positions--whatever they are?

It seems you cut the ground out from under yourself. Why were you on LibCom in the first place? Obviously, you saw yourself doing some service for whatever you thought was a greater good otherwise you wouldn't have been there. But if its all about power, why should anyone care (including yourself) that you got banned? It was going to happen eventually. And what are you doing here now? What is your goal, exactly? Do you think this is a friendlier, better forum to advance your goals (your will to power)? Then why were you only a marginal presence here until you got banned on Libcom? Is your goal to to get readmitted to the LibCom fraternity because its better in some sense, more useful, has more readers, reaches a wider audience? I don't get it.

In any event, I actually agree with you that there are possible problems and contradictions here: One decries someone's banning over making comments that run afoul of certain identity politics taboos. Yet, the idpol defenders see the transgressions of those taboos as a form of "personal attack" that destroys the intended subjects humanity and therefore cannot be allowed to be expressed. But, I think there are real concrete differences between that and the kind of personal attacks, someone like LBird engaged in non-stop here that posed a threat to the functioning of the forum in its intended role as a place for the "confrontation of ideas," not in a exchange of personal slanders. Of course, there are those who will not see it that way and protest that there is no difference between the two, their personal attacks will only escalate and this will necessistate the exercise of some kind of power. But nobody is making the argument against the use of power or force in any instance. You ask, who is the judge? Well, that seems obvious: In the case of the ICC forum, its the ICC. In the case of LibCom, its the LibCom administrators. But the fact that there are judges, doesn't mean they are infalliable or  even that their authrority is legitimate. That is another question. But at some point, some action in self-defense of the integrity of the forum may have to be taken, and in the case of LBird it was made in probably the least draconian way possible: it was temporary, made only after years of tolerance and warnings and done with an intent not to punish but to rehabilitate. If you think this is all just flowery language and hypocrisy, you are entitled to that opinion.

In terms of the concrete id pol issues under discussion here, my warning was to think twice about taking the "unity of the working class," as the measure by which to judge particular claims of oppression and injustice, becasue that could lead to all kinds of unsavory outcomes if it is not mitigated with other principles. Of course, all of this leads to even deeper questions about the very nature of claims to "justice," which I would expect a neo-Nietzchean--everything is just a will to power--person to find nothing more than an ideological diversion.

But if that is the case, what can be justified in the proletariat's will to power? Maybe even racism, if the majority of workers are racist and rasing complaints about racism hurts the proletariat's unity and derails its will to power, so much the worse for the anti-racists?  Of course, finding a problem with this would require raising anti-racism up as some kind of moral principle that cannot be transcended in any greater, more historical, or more immediate intertest. Or maybe the measure is more practical or empirical? How united can the working class really be, if it is still fighting among itself over racism?

I am going to go ahead and assume that we all here reject racism. Of course, today that probably isn't good enough, as the debate seems less about whether or not racism is acceptabe, but about just what consitutes racism (or sexism, homophobia, etc.) and there is little room to be charitable to those whose views don't exactly line up with yours.

d-man
more sewage

Here is another intervention into the "sewer" (to use baboon's word) in favour of trans-activism against the radfem side, by a noted critic of identity politics: https://thecharnelhouse.org/2018/12/03/looking-back-a-self-critique/

It's somewhat of a clickbait piece, but I'll bite, also because I think it is relevant to our discussion here.

Like Mike Harman and the libcom-crowd, the author regrets being too crudely dismissive of identity politics in the past. In particular he regrets being insensitive to trans-people, for example he once mocked the introduction of 56 gender-options on facebook. He also says he was ignorant about the relevant terms:

"to get a sense of how ignorant I was at the time, I only learned what the prefix “cis-” meant around 2013. Before then, I had no idea what any of it meant. Or really what a whole host of related terms signified. By late 2014 or early 2015 I’d rethought my views."

This is just the author's linguistic ignorance (of Latin) though, not evidence of bias against trans people. As wikipedia says: Cisgender has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis-, meaning "on this side of", which means the opposite of trans-, meaning "across from" or "on the other side of". This usage can be seen [e.g.] in Cisjordan, as distinguished from Transjordan. As to the origin of the terms cissexual or cisgender wikipedia says that it was coined by the German sexuologist Volkmar Sigusch in 1991, so quite a recent invention. How many trans-people themselves even know this origin?

(Btw, wikipedia says on Sigusch that he was from 1973 to 2006 director of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft [Institute for Sexual Science] at the clinic of the Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main (closed in 2006). He studied medicine, psychology and philosophy (apparently been a student of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno) in Frankfurt am Main, Berlin and Hamburg. In English there's a short interview with Sigusch in Der Spiegel. He is/was also editor of several scientific journals about sex.)

More importantly though, the author claims that in the past he was weighing in on the debate (around trans identity etc) against trans-ideology, but he gives no concrete positions that he took. Mocking the 56-gender option does not amount to an articulate position in the debate.

"Back when I started to read about the debate within feminism between trans-exclusionary radfems and transfeminists, it seemed a really trivial thing to get hung up about. I even sympathized at first with the radfems, who insisted that people were just “language policing” them and looking to shut down open debate."

I assume this was a silent sympathy, because I have never seen the author take an articulate stance in the debate against trans-activists, in favour of radfem. And there might not even have been sympathy at all to begin with:

"Years of seeing the bad faith engagements, if not outright bigotry, by transphobic radfems has erased any sympathy I might have had with them."

And I even doubt that the author has read the radfem literature (say the classic work of Janice Raymond, or Sheila Jeffreys), despite what he pretends.

When the author declares that from now on (since he became older, and presumably wiser than in his fiery youth) he will withdraw from controversial online polemics (something which he already has done for a couple of years, judging by his twitter/blog), and begs not be seen as going "soft", I think that, on the contrary, he has in the past maintained a silence (neutral position, no articulate stance on either side), but now he does take a side (and thus wades into the "sewer"), namely agains the radfems:

"At this point, the radical feminists who oppose measures like the bathroom bill — allowing trans individuals to use bathrooms in accordance with the gender they identify — are indistinguishable from evangelical Christians."

This is clearly taking a side, attacking the side of the radfems. It's a bit like baboon, declaring it is all bullshit that one neutrally oversees from high above, but in reality stepping right into it.

baboon
My position on the feminists

My position on the feminists and transactivists is unaltered: I denounced both. It's not taken from a "neutral" position between the two, as d-man suggests further above, but from the point of view of the needs of the class struggle, which in the first instance is solidarity, unity and extension on its own grounds.

d-man
I didn't say that your

I didn't say that your denunciation of both sides (transactivists and radfems) was taken from a neutral position, baboon (it is obvious that you take the "side" of class struggle!). I just noted that in fact your position isn't neutral in the contested substance (but that's not even my main point). The point is that both sides (at least those who are socialists) claim that their struggle (for women or for trans-people) is (an essential) part of the class struggle (almost by definition, given that discrimination, sexual assault etc happens in the work place, and most women/trans-people are proletarian). That's why it's not enough to simply oppose class struggle to them, as you do. Further, trying to maintain silence on such "trivial" things or single-issues as access to women-only spaces etc., will be simply seen (by both sides) as complicity, cowardice and so on. That's why I said that warring parties in politics cannot be sussed by appeals to calm. The polarization happens, whether we like it or not, and it is drawing the various communists in (see the split in AF).

baboon
Once again d-man puts himself

Once again d-man puts himself (?) up as the spokesman (?) for transactivists and radical feminists by saying that "silence on single issues ... will simply be seen by both sides as complicity, cowardice and so on". Are you saying that a position supporting one or the other in these two factions has to be taken? Of course it doesn't,that's the whole point in denouncing both factions and whatever the individuals involved think about that is hardly the issue. I'm not making any "appeal for calm" as you put it but denouncing the two factions screaming and fighting each other, while invoking the forces of the state, as opposed to any genuine development of class struggle.

d-man
baboon wrote: Are you saying

baboon wrote:
Are you saying that a position supporting one or the other in these two factions has to be taken? Of course it doesn't, that's the whole point in denouncing both factions and whatever the individuals involved think about that is hardly the issue.

If the reaction of the individuals involved (transactivist or radfem) were "hardly the issue", then why did you cast doubt on my claim as to the nature of their reaction (implying that I am putting words in their mouth). It is reasonable to say that their reaction will be to think of you as being guilty of taking sides or complicity/cowardice, and so enabling bigotry (isn't that precisely what happened to the ICC on libcom?). At best your appeal will fall on deaf ears.

Do we have to support the position of one or the other side? Not quite, but I think that speaking out on the topic has become advisable, if not unavoidable. Even if you did your best to "stay in your lane", avoided wading into the debate, avoided expressing an articulate opinion on the topic and its various implications (eg of women-only spaces, etc – which you haven't managed to do, baboon), the fact nevertheless remains that you can indeed quietly hold assumptions, or use apparently neutral expressions that are highly contested. It's better to air those assumptions/views up front, and perhaps even put forth a "position" (in the sense of an official stance of a whole political group) that will, though not unity, at least give greater political/theoretical clarity on what the differences are between (or in) groups.

If you disagree with this, then it seems that what you're saying is that the topic of trans identity (etc) is off-limits. At most it can be discussed by those individuals who are interested in it, in the idiosyncristic manner of differences in music taste, on the forum, but it should not be discussed as a socially important topic (to the working class) and there cannot be a right (or fruitful) answer on it.

d-man
To give an example by what I

To give an example by what I mean by the use of apparently neutral expressions that are in fact highly contested, the ICC's article on the split in AF contains this passage:

"The tendency, within anarchism, to abandon class politics and look for solutions in various forms of identity politics – whether based on gender, race, or nation – while not new, are certainly being exacerbated by the characteristics of the current historic period, in which capitalism is sinking towards barbarism while the working class,[..]"

The use of the term "gender", instead of "sex", might seem innocent, but words do matter (I won't repeat my point on the modern origin of the unscientific concept of "gender"). Other examples are how "gender studies" tends to replace "women studies", or "queer" to replace "homosexual".

A recent Marxist intervention stated:

"For about the last four hundred years, science has rested on a materialist outlook, albeit a kind of pragmatic, semi-conscious materialism. Who would have guessed a decade ago that there would be 2600 scientists in the United States willing to sign a petition declaring that the category of ‘women’ includes men?"

And another intervention stated:

"Sexual reproduction was a path evolution took two billion years ago and it has remained dimorphic in that it has two distinct gametes. Sexual reproduction – in plant and animal species – entails two sexes, not a spectrum of sexes. Small gametes are male (sperm in humans) and large gametes are female (ova in humans). Sexual reproduction is simply the fusion of the nuclei of male and female gametes. If sex was a spectrum there would be a number of intermediate gametes. There are no intermediates."

There is no doubt that this is being contested by the libcom-crowd (specifically by its main admin, Mike Harman). Yet the ICC has not entered into the substance of the debate, has not challenged upfront the positions of trans activists, but chose to focus on the "methods" or morals in debate.

Again, I could understand why comrades do not wish to enter this topic. But like I said, it has become unavoidable. There are many rationalisations for avoiding the debate, like, perhaps trans activists make extravagent, maximalist claims just as a tactic, in order to just get some minor concessions, which with they will be satisfied. There is a reluctance perhaps because the trans arguments seem so obviously wrong, so one feels stupid to engage with it. And perhaps because one suspects that the trans activists themselves don't really believe in their own claims; that they're trolling, and one shouldn't feed trolls (the "smart thing to do" is to not take the bait). Yet libcommers (who, let's pay them some tribute, are not entirely stupid) have accepted it, and any challenge would result in banning. The claim is no longer just a poliical statement against discrimination (respect for trans people), but pretends to be a claim of a scientific nature.

 

d-man
Jk1921 earlier on this thread

Jk1921 earlier on this thread raised the issue of "sex work":

"How do we make a social-political analysis of this without falling into some kind of moralism in either direction?"

One could indeed assume this to be off-topic (like I thought it was), but in the identity politics debate around trans people, the trans-activist side is generally in favour of legalisation of prostitution, whereas the gender-critical radfem side is generally for criminalisation (of the clients). So the issue of "sex work" becomes entangled with identity politics. Perhaps it is inevitable since women, trans-people and homosexuals comprise the vast majority of prostituted (as opposed to the minority of male gigolos and strippers). But is this a sufficient reason for Marxists to avoid debate on the topic of prostitution?

The SPGB summer school  had a lecture on this contentious topic of prostitution (I don't like the term "sex work", because it is so broad that it can apparently include eg a projectionist working in cinema showing pornos). At this moment in the idpol-critical reddit-group "Stupidpol" there is also a giant thread developing on this topic (more precisely on the porn industry, but this is related to the prostitution issue). I don't see a consensus forming immediately, so it seems another wedge issue for communists/marxists. For example just two days ago there was an attempt to boycott a panelist (who is against legalising prostitution) at the Historical Materialism Conference in Sidney.

Like for the question of women-only spaces (etc), my general sense is that it too becomes impossible to avoid the debate of prostitution/porn industry (that is, despite the probable lack of individual comrades' interest in the topic).

Comunero
It's very likely impossible

It's very likely impossible to avoid when debating the identitarian left, yes. But what's the actual debate there? There isn't much to debate, from a revolutionary standpoint, about if the State should sanction prostitution or not. What can arm us to debate that rotten ideologies is to understand why are they fixated on identity and sexuality. But starting to share their fixation is falling into a trap.

There's no more reason to take part in a debate on the legalization of prostitution than in one about the "death of Western Civilization", for example. The left wing of capital doesn't fall closer to us than the right.

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