MDF Meeting 17th March in Birmingham: Topic Single Issue Campaigns and Reformism

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MDF Meeting 17th March in Birmingham: Topic Single Issue Campaigns and Reformism
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MDF Meeting at 2pm on Saturday 17th March at the Woodman, New Canal St, Birmingham B5 5LG


Single Issue Campaigns and Reformism


As Capitalism turns to populist leaders, we will no doubt continue to see a growth in reformist campaigns based around single issues Whether its ‘save the NHS’, ‘save the environment’  campaigns against so-called ‘terfs’s,  anti fascism, anti-deportations,  pro-EU or anti- EU, such campaigns seek to make only minor changes capitalism and are either bourgeois campaigns or  mislead the working class into supporting this or that faction of the bourgoisie.   They spread the illusion that capitalism can gradually be improved by minor changes instead of revolution.   


However its never that simple.  One of the major phases of the Russian Revolution was sparked off by an International Womens Day march lead by working class women as they demonstrated against the lack of bread and brutality of the Russian Regime. 


The discussion intends then to focus on the reformist, single issue campaigns spread by the left and liberal democracy and the need for independent working class action against the state.


All Welcome

Important topic

This is an important topic (not least given the current furore about 'identity politics) and we regret not being to able to attend - this is purely a question of resources. Perhaps a summary of the presentation and discussion could be posted here so that we can respond?


One quick observation: idpol-ists would argue that their "movement" is the exact opposite of a single issue thing even if they do constantly that kind of single-issue campaigns, because they consider that all those campaigns "intersect" and are actually a convergence of what they see a myriad of different struggless against a myriad of different kinds of opression.

This, of course, is nonsense. But one has to be very careful. This idpol movement isn't just promoting single-issue campaigns, but it's promoting overall their postmodern ideology, which I think is far more sophysticated than classical leftism. In a "standard" leftist single-issue campaign, let's put for example a woman-centered one, "the people" has to "fight" for "women's rights", which surely is a bourgeois formula and can be quite dangerous. However, that seems almost harmless when compared to any similar current campaign in the framework of idpol: there's not any "popular unity" (a slogan which has served well to the bourgeoisie in the past and still continues), there's an appeal to support a very specific, carefully sociologically determined group. And the appeal is not to the people, but a complex set of instructions and policies on how to "support" that "struggle" which depend on your various so-called privileges, to make sure you devote your efforts to "deconstruct your privilege" (i.e. feel bad, guilty, not entitled to voice your positions). 

This is a very intelligent development of leftism. It permeates society much more easily than classical leftism, and it has a very quirky logic which can easily shatter any not very well thought out counter-argument. As any successful lie, it has roots in the facts: who would, at first sight and without further thinking, generally deny that black people have it harder than white people? That homosexuals face a great deal of social stigma and, quite often, violence? That transgender people risk abuse, rape and murder much more often than non transgender people? That disabled (or whatever euphemism they use in its place, I struggle to write proper English) people do face generally much more hardships than not disabled people? The list could go on, and it could go on probably to encompass any human characteristic.

The first reaction, at least for me, would be to point that "generally" doesn't mean that every person with that characteristic has it more difficult than other, pointing as Obama as a black person with more power than me in a hundred lifetimes, transgender people who are quite famous and economically prosperous etc. All of this, of course, would be true, but it's a very weak reasoning. Marxism deals with social generalizations and trends as well and I don't think that makes Marxism false or invalid, and besides, pointing at some outstanding exceptions doesn't mean the generalization is false.

Then, one (or even they) could argue that how difficult is life varies from different aspects of life and from person to person... and one's set for his injection of postmodernism, because any class pov has been lost and instead of considering society one starts to consider a huge but loose group of individuals with certain advantages and disadvantages each one. The next step is to point out that surely everyone wants to defend their advantages and also to level their disadvantages, so people prevents others from reaching their advantages while at the same time being prevented to overcome their own disadvantages, it follows then that people with a greater accumulation of advantages are opressing more than they are opressed and viceversa, and Idpol Privilege Theory is installed and ready to go.

This, of course, is a huge oversimplification. What I wanted to point out with this is how easily one can fall in their logic or at least become unable to counter-argument it properly. It's harder to argue against it because is not the simple, bi-polar logic of antifascism, or one of the many leftist ideologies that defends a front (which actually always turns to be a popular-national front) against a small or foreign group of evil people. What it does is to attempt to divide society in the maximum level of small fronts ("identities" with their respective set of "privileges"). This small fronts are supposed to support each other in each struggle of each of them supposedly trying to abolish the "privileges" that "opress" them (the single-issue campaign). But support means mostly trying to abolish that "privileges" in oneself. That is, "becoming conscious" of your "privileges", which actually means thinking that you're really opressing the given "opressed group" of the campaign if you dare to speak your mind, even if it's in their support. The message: "this is your fault, now shut up".

As it turns out that even the whitest, most cis-hetero-macho man is probably "opressed" in some way according to this ideologies (I'm not saying he's not, maybe he's a WORKER ;) ), absolutely everybody is "oppresive" and GUILTY in some aspect. This fully opens the door for an all-against-all war even inside the idpol movement, where you can be a little bit more relaxed if you have enough opression points but can always be found out guilty of "oppression" if you give a false step, so the best strategy is to keep attacking your alleged opressors.

This does permeate society. Nowadays, lots of (male and female, of course, it's stupid to stress it but better safe than sorry) average workers are afraid to make the most minimal objection against the core points of this ideology out of worry of being called out as racists, homophobes, transphobes etc. And not only object. You can be called out just for misusing their extraordinarily complex and extraordinarily absurd terminology (or for not using it at all), for not signing some shitty campaign, for using the "wrong" collective gramatical gender (I'm talking here about places with languages with that feature, such as romance languages; it's quite different from misgendering -which btw I think it's a very hurtful thing to do on purpose- because you're speaking about both men and women) etc etc. Fortunately, it doesn't exist everywhere but it is slowly spreading and deepening.

This is not the work of a few evil people, or really the personal product of anyone evil at all. This is the current meaning of social decomposition in the western countries (together with its polar opposites and byproducts such as the alt-right), the theorization and realization of the all against all, of the dynamics of social exclusion and mistrust, even proto-pogromist dynamics.

I've painted kind a dark (and I admit over-simplified) picture of this, but it's true that its expansion in its medium to hard varieties is still very limited. It will continue to be, and not because of the appearance of ultra-right B sides of this but mostly because the proletariat can't fully swallow something like this while it's still not in a defeat situation.

But this is not a mechanical process. We need to fight this strand of bourgeois ideology (as well as the others), and the best way of doing it is to realize that this attracts sectors of the proletariat because it gives an apparent answer to issues such as sex, gender, race, mental health etc. which seem to be nowhere else. Communists trough decades have fought for the solution of this issues in the only way they can really be solved: by the utter destruction of capitalism and the development of a worldwide human communist society. BUT, and here's the big "but", there's a lack of development of revolutionary theory regarding many of this issues. We can't just say that the proletariat has to fight as a class for ending social suffering, because while that is true it doesn't explain why or how.

There's some development and the outline for it is in the own contributions of Marx, but we can't conform with that. A solid class outlook of this problems won't end with idpol neither its appeal, but idpol, its appeal, and everything that comes with it can't be ended without that class analysis.

At this point, I have to say to the OP comrade sorry, because I only intended to drop a couple of lines on the "terf" thing not being only part of a single-issue campaign problem, but I am extremely exasperated by the growing influence of idpol here and by idpol itself. Last March 8th there was a fake, "sacred union"-y feminist "strike" here in Spain which has attested the growth and penetration of the idpol movement here (5 years ago it was practically nonexistent), and further poisoned the social and political climate. So sorry for my unstructured rant, I hope it contains some useful idea. If I'm derailing the thread tell me or the admin to move it to its own thread. 

Anyways, best wishes for a succesful and productive meeting there! 


Long perhaps, but still very useful, and contains a lot of insights

I found this "unstructured

I found this "unstructured rant" and many of its points very illuminating and it's a good contribution to the MDF meeting.