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

My comment, as a long-time site member (8,5 years):

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/redmarx/me-getting-banned-from-libcom-t1542.html

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.

 

Craftwork
Craftwork's picture
Unable to reply

Unfortunately, I've lost the ability to post comments or message people on libcom, so I can't reply to the discussion there.

I don't have any problem with trans people, or respecting their request to be referred to by certain pronouns. I simply don't think pronouns being enforced through the coercive power of the state, or policies drafted by workplace HR departments, are a step forward in the struggle against all forms of oppression.

I'm also baffled by the accusations of my comments being transphobic.

Update: I can now post again.

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-t1542.html) 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).
 

Craftwork
Craftwork's picture
Restrictions

I cannot be certain, but I am inclined to the view that I was my ability to post was intentionally restricted, since I've also lost some posting privileges.

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!laugh

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)

Rictus1
For a Materialist Analysis of Transgenderism

I haven't read all the posts in this list, so I apologize if I repeat anything previously discussed but a couple observations:

1) We should not be using words such as "transphobia," "Islamophobia" etc. To use such words implies, with all the implicit moral arrogance of the middle-class liberal-left, that those who disagree are suffering from some sort of mental disorder and therefore don't have to be reasoned with. It strips out politics and substitutes therapeutic language.

2) THere is a long overdue analysis needed of the materialist and cultural roots of the transgender phenomenon, including the profiteering by several medical specialists. The National Review, a conservative U.S. publication, pointed out the tremendous amounts of money to be made; one specialist even set up a private winery with his designer imprint. Questions that should be asked are the scientific evidence for gender identity dysfunction (very few studies have even tackled these questions), whether transgenderism needs to be situated in the larger market-driven needs to alter the body; Botox, tats and piercing, total body makeovers such as the infamous Russian model who turned herself into a Barbie Doll. I personally believe transgenderism is part of this latter phenomenon.

3) There is a distinction between "transgenderism" as ideology and the rights of transgendered people as individuals. The first, in my opinion, should be opposed; the second, not.

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
Distinctions

Rictus1 wrote:
I 1) We should not be using words such as "transphobia," "Islamophobia" etc. To use such words implies, with all the implicit moral arrogance of the middle-class liberal-left, that those who disagree are suffering from some sort of mental disorder and therefore don't have to be reasoned with.

But clearly there are individuals who suffer from "transphobia" in a clinical sense in the same way that people suffer from other phobias like agoraphobia or arachnophobia or whatever else, no? But, I agree being against phobias is not a political strategy and it isn't even a very moral one either, as people with real phobias are suffering from a clinical condition they probably aren't responsible for.

Rictus1 wrote:

3) There is a distinction between "transgenderism" as ideology and the rights of transgendered people as individuals. The first, in my opinion, should be opposed; the second, not.

Is there a distinction between "transphobia" and something like "trans-fatigue" then that correlates with the distinction you make here?

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..