On recent attacks on the ICC on libcom

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d-man
You're making a general point

You're making a general point, namely that for a revolutionary there's nothing to debate whether the State should do anything (fund healthcare, stop spending money on the arms industry); we should not be "fixated" on the fact that governments are cutting healthcare and increasing their military expenditure, because it is a trap to debate this. But does it follow that revolutionaries must avoid debating (that is offering "social-political analysis" of) the State's policy at all (again, like healthcare cuts and increased military spending)? Since the State's policy affects nearly every aspect of life, there would be little topics left to write about. And why should we abstain from the aspects of life such as art, literature etc? To give an example from the ICT forum, there is a thread on the topic of obesity, which can be considered a particular problem of the working class (eg via poor-quality food in children schools). Perhaps your (like baboon's) simple argument/presupposition would be just that the particular issues such as trans-identity or prostitution are of concern to only a small group, and are therefore relatively unimportant to discuss, unlike State-policy on healthcare and military spending which concerns everyone. This would not be a strong (or principled) argument, in my view.

Your comparison of the issue of prostitution to the right-wing topic of "death of Western civilization" is senseless, because the latter is a historico-philophical idea (but even then, shouldn't we precisely criticise right-wing ideologies?). So let's take instead a real/concrete issue like immigration. In fact the ICC has discussed the topic of immigration (here). Just as the SPGB summer school had a lecture on the issue of prostitution. My point is that hotly debated topics in society have a de facto effect on revolutionaries and animate them (for example the libcom attack on the ICC), regardless of the wishes of revolutionaries, and so I think an intervention with a communist perspective becomes advisable/unavoidable into these topics.

baboon
Anyone having problems

Anyone having problems accessing the libcom site? I can't get it at all with my server saying it's blocked because their security certificate run out yesterday.

petey
fixed?

baboon wrote:

Anyone having problems accessing the libcom site? I can't get it at all with my server saying it's blocked because their security certificate run out yesterday.

 

how about now?

baboon
They're up and running - they

They're up and running - they must have put some coins in the meter. A distinct lack of discussion on the "gilets jaunes" movement.

Comunero
I'm not arguing that we

I'm not arguing that we shouldn't debate about State policies, I'm arguing that we have nothing to propose to the State. It's not the same to debate the origin and meaning of State policies and leftist ideologies than to try to determine how to "improve" them.

I agree that it's not a very good point the number of people it affects or not.

I agree as well that hotly debated topics, as you put it, have an effect on revolutionaries. But we have to keep in mind that, even if the debate stems from the insistence of some leftist movements, most workers don't think about them in the same terms of the identitarian leftists.

My point about the right was probably poorly explained. What I'm trying to say is that leftist identitarian ideologies are as reactionary as the alt-right and similar rightist ideologies. One danger of leftism, however, is that it gives the impression of being somehow "preferable" or "closer". They aren't.

As a purely anecdotal fact, I've had quite more respectful and productive debates with rightists than with leftists, to the date. Just an anecdote though, it proves nothing.

d-man
Comunero wrote:

Comunero wrote:

I'm not arguing that we shouldn't debate about State policies, I'm arguing that we have nothing to propose to the State. It's not the same to debate the origin and meaning of State policies and leftist ideologies than to try to determine how to "improve" them.

It is on this general level about reformism that baboon too tried to locate the problem with the libcom-crowd as concerns idpol. But then the retort of the libcom-crowd was that our critique of idpol is thus not specific about idpol, but is just the general critique of reformism everyone shares (on libcom and in the ICC) with regard to Social-Democrats, the Greens, etc., so does not provide any specific new insight, and by singling out for critique "idpol" as especially bad, is giving cover to the "normal" reformism of Social-Democratcs, etc., and is non-constructive on how to tackle problems faced by identity groups in a revolutionary way (translation: critics of "idpol" are de facto racist, misogynist, etc.).

The distinction of analysing State policy vs. favouring/advocating State policy, would grant us permission for intervention in debate on the usual topics of idpolists. That would be already a big step, for it would show that we do have something intelligent, a communist perspective, to say on these topics (of trans-identity, prostitution, etc.), besides the lip-service of condemning right-wing attacks on minority groups.

But we are told further that we need "to do something about it". Taking the radical position that even activism without direct involvement in the election and legislative process, still involves application of pressure and appeals to the State to change its policy, so though this be dressed up as "challenging" the state, it is still reformist –  is again a critique that applies to all activism. Suppose though that idpols do reject traditional leftist activism as being insufficiently radical/efficient on these issues (they're loathe to recognise the significance of the traditional socialist movement, which did "do something" in fighting against black segregation, for women's maternity pay, decriminalisation of homosexuality, etc. ), and that they genuinely abstain from any hope on changing state policy, then they arrive not at the conventional reformist politics, but something closer to ultra-radical terrorist tactists or the often-invoked Maoist "struggle sessions" (or that of Christian fundamentalist who does not just enforce correct action/behaviour, but also correct belief). So it is not accurate enough to condemn idpol for its alleged State reformism. Perpaps idpols have not merely an "ultra-radical" wing, but their specific problem lies in their "ultra-radicalism".

d-man
Btw, I tried to comment on

Btw, I tried to comment on the Charnel-house blog (the post where the author criticises himself, I commented on it here before), but couldn't (I hope it's just due to spam filter, not censorship). In the comments section the ex-leftcom (renegade) professor Rectenwald denounced the blogger, along with all Marxists, as groveling before the idpol crowd. I wanted to say that there are in my opinion still a few Marxists who don't buy into idpol (and specifically claims on transitioning), while at the same time I wanted to locate our objection to Rectenwald in the general question of appearances in bourgeous media (namely he appeared on Fox). I argued that in the socialist tradition it was not-done for socialists to give interviews in the bourgeois press.

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I must say though there are few Marxists who oppose the claims around trans people. Take for example the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, which in May 2018 published a discussion document which sets out their consensus view, Gender: the right to chose. Like the ICC, it nominally rejects identity politics, it duly denounces the vitriol "of both sides" in the debate, and rejects the non-platforming tactic. But on the scientific question of the possibility of changing sex the  AWL buys into the side of the trans advocates, I quote a section:

"The central right that trans people want is to be accepted in their chosen gender.

Transitioning is difficult. But for the individuals concerned, it is worth it, because at least they are now living as the person they are.

If society or individuals then say that these people are not who they say they are, that they are not women or men or neither, then the one thing that means the most to them is denied. The gender they have struggled so hard to reject and leave behind is pinned back on them. To do this is nasty and unempathetic.

The argument that a person’s sex is a biological reality that cannot change may sound logical, but it comes up against the reality that trans people exist. Trans-hostile attitudes usually insist that changing, for example from a man into a woman, is not possible. They insist that the science of biological sex trumps the significance of people’s feelings about their gender. However, this does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Firstly, science is increasingly recognising biological sex as more complex than previously thought (including male and female chromosomes, hormones, external genitals and internal reproductive organs, which in an individual usually align with each other but in some individuals may not). Secondly, some aspects of biological sex can be changed, for example the balance of male and female hormones in the body. And thirdly, feelings of gender identity are real: they are socio-psychological orientations; although they are analysed differently from physical characteristics, they are not scientifically irrelevant.

Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary."

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Let me also quote this passage, which I had to read twice to understand:

"If we oppose self-declaration and insist that people are sent to the prison according to their legal gender under the current system, then trans men without a GRC [Gender recognition certificate] will be admitted to women’s prisons. So there is as much danger of men being admitted to women’s prisons under the present law as under the proposed changes. It is interesting to note that many criticisms of the GRA changes (and of trans rights more generally) disproportionately discuss trans women, sometimes not mentioning or considering trans men at all."

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I want to know if the ICC agrees with these arguments (ie scientific claim about possibility to change sex), because it's better to know in advance, than to learn afterwards that it has already become gospel.

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This week news headlines mentioned the case of a white woman Martina Big that claimed to be black. She spent thousands of dollars on surgeries in an attempt to become a Black woman.

“I have great news. I had done the next step in my transformation to a black woman. Yesterday I was with an African hairdresser and got a hair extension with curly, African hair. To become more and more a black woman, that is such a wonderful feeling. I’m so happy. Next, I’ll have consultations for the butt enlargement and for the African facial features,” Martina Big wrote on her Facebook page.

--

The "race-transitioning" is an already well-known comparison to transgender people (eg Adolph Reed and the WSWS made it). But they do not mean it as a trans-hostile argument. The point is that anyone who genuinely feels sympathetic to black people is free to identity as a black person. Moreover here there is really no scientific basis for race, unlike with sex.

 

 

Comunero
They still would be reformist

You say that if the idpol movement attempted more violent actions, they couldn't be called reformists. I disagree. They would still be fighting for a more humane/open/whatever bourgeois State, a reformed capitalist State. Not social democratic reformism, but still reformism.

d-man
I dealt with that point

I dealt with that point already, and it's true that there are apolegtics for reformism on libcom (they also make fun of the expression "smashing the state"): if I recall in the idpol-thread it came notably from Fleur, who perhaps significantly, is a bit older leftist generation (1980s). Like I said, though, idpols tend to "reject traditional leftist activism as being insufficiently radical/efficient on these issues – they're loathe to recognise the significance of the traditional socialist movement". We cannot simply lump together the reformism of Bernstein with the millenial social justice warriors. Again, take into account that some of them (given the anarchist tendency among them) "genuinely abstain from any hope on changing state policy, then they arrive not at the conventional reformist politics". They're called radical liberals (radlibs) after all (I don't think you'll find eg Anarchist Federation's program for state policy reforms).

The idpols' ultra-radical tactists, or call it fascist/thuggish intimidation tactics, are not reforming/damaging the state/capitalists. We can understand the reformist charge in the opposite sense, namely that the radlibs are an (unconscious) tool of the state/capitalists to damage workers' struggle. So yes there is reformism, but it's the states/capitalists who are reforming/damaging the workers' struggle.

d-man
again

Looks like this libcom thread on sex and gender is set to be another libcom episode of uninteresting moronic takes about the trans issue (it's a shame really, because there are so many interesting things that could be said about it). For example, what is the point (by Mike Harman) about bringing up intersex people, ie saying that sex is a spectrum? Let us entertain this thought for a moment, given the argumentative laziness of its proponents. Its suggested implication apparently is that there are no "100%" women (or "100%" men): we're all on a spectrum. But the slogan is that "transwomen are women", ie the demand for recognition of being "100%" women – it is not about being recognised as some (non-binary) dot on a spectrum. Or is the suggsted implication of the existence of a spectrum that it allows a person to transfer/transition from one dot on the spectrum to another dot on the spectrum? Fine, but then the person will still never arrive at "100%" definitely women/men. So all that a spectrum would suggest is that a person can move along the female/male spectrum, like in a bad infinity. On the other hand, suppose there are no actual inter-sex people, that is people capable of producing both an egg and sperm (which AFAIK is the truth). What is the feared implication? Apparently the most dire: that trans-people don't exist, have no right to call themselves the other sex. So everything for the trans advocates hinges apparently on the claim of the existence of intersex people/a sex spectrum. Why put all your eggs in one basket like that? And if they say their position doesn't solely depend on the existence of sex-spectrum, then there's no political point to argue about it.

To bring up again the comparison to "race-transitioning": here it can be accepted with less controversy that there are "inter-race" people. Incidentally the remaining controversy is that for racists (principally in America) a person even with just 1% black ancestry is considered black (just as conversely IIRC in Haiti some black politician once said that anyone with a tiny amount of white ancestry in their country is considered white, cf. Noel Ignatiev example). Whereas at least for me it would be normal to consider a Meghan Markle or Obama not as "black", but mixed. Anyway, the existence of a "race-spectrum" then should mean that a white person can identify themselves as "black" (or "Afro-") without any qualifier, and without any uproar. Again, the point here is to say that anyone should be free to identify themselves as black. But that is not accepted as of yet by society or by radical circles, whereas for sex such reasoning is accepted.

jk1921
[quote=d-man]

d-man wrote:

To bring up again the comparison to "race-transitioning": here it can be accepted with less controversy that there are "inter-race" people. Incidentally the remaining controversy is that for racists (principally in America) a person even with just 1% black ancestry is considered black (just as conversely IIRC in Haiti some black politician once said that anyone with a tiny amount of white ancestry in their country is considered white, cf. Noel Ignatiev example). Whereas at least for me it would be normal to consider a Meghan Markle or Obama not as "black", but mixed. Anyway, the existence of a "race-spectrum" then should mean that a white person can identify themselves as "black" (or "Afro-") without any qualifier, and without any uproar. Again, the point here is to say that anyone should be free to identify themselves as black. But that is not accepted as of yet by society or by radical circles, whereas for sex such reasoning is accepted.

Perhaps the contradictions and inconsistencies in the approach to these different identity categories reveal something about what it is going on. It is less about being methodologically coherent and making consistent claims and more about maintaining a police power function so as to be able to punish and control transgressors. It is less about getting to the bottom of these issues and more about keeping them alive as weapons to wield against those outside the expressive communities who are defined by the very controversies around their identities.

In the case of transgender/intersex, the identities in question are defined by their claiming a biological identity that fits the suppsoed inner truth of their essential self, while in the case of race its about defending the ascriptive boundaries of a group defined by its historical oppression. One is a claim of self-expression about an hitherto hidden inner self, the other a kind of reactive response to historical victimization based on visible pheotypical characteristics and policing the boundaries of who gets to claim victim status.

In the US, they have now invented a new catgeory for this that goes beyond biology or appearing to be "black" in public: ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves). It is now not enough to simply be black in some publicly visible way, one must now be able to trace one's ancestry back to someone held in slavery in order to have the full moral authority and qualify for anticipated reparations, etc. And so the solidarity of the previously hegemonic identity category "People of Color," cracks under the weight of even more specific criteria. Part of this seems like it is a response to immigration, which has seen specifically African American claims against society diluted by those of other subaltern groups, including ostensibly black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean (including Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, but also Obama), who did not experience the destabilzing effects of slavery and therefore cannot be situated very neatly in the racial disparity statistics that drive official social justice policy.

d-man
I comment here on jef

I comment here on jef costello's post on that thread (since I still am banned from libcom). He quoted birdtiem as saying:

"What I'm talking about specifically is the conception of sex as an immutable biological characteristic. I don't see how this particular piece of information is not - in and of itself - accurate. It is a distinction between gametes that is applicable to the vast overwhelming majority of sexually reproducing organisms."

Jef's response:

"It is, to an extent, accurate, but it is in that sense meaningless as well. If you strip out everything apart from the simple biology then this is correct, as long as you ignore all the biological variations. I don't see why the biological aspect (especially as it doesn't support a deterministic binary) has much relevance unless it is being used to make a deterministic argument.

It would be like arguing that there are no differences between white and black people's experience of society because both groups can have blue eyes.

I don't know what it is that makes a person trans, I don't think I really need to know. Someone is trans, that's it really. "

 

Jef, in his typical fashion, sits on the fence: in a single sentence he grants that sex "in simple biology" is binary (the "distinction between gametes"), but adds that this ignores "all the biological variations".

Next he says the biological aspect is irrelevant (which btw also would directly run counter to Mike Harman's line of argument about the biological existence of inter-sex people). The only relevance he sees for it is in case it makes a "deterministic argument", apparently meaning that recognition of binary sex inevitably entails that people will/must "behave" according to the rules imposed by society on their sex. This is indeed the line of argument of reactionaries, which jef apparently finds irrefutable (so the only way to refute them for him is by denying the existence of binary sex, their premise).

Btw, jef is right in saying that he doesn't know what makes a person "trans" (notice he doesn't even dare to say "woman/man"), ie there is no biological aspect to it. Here he is more advanced than Mike Harman's inter-sex line.

One remark from jef is worth trying to unpack:

"It would be like arguing that there are no differences between white and black people's experience of society because both groups can have blue eyes."

Jef is assuming here that skin colour is a more fundamental fact (ie "simple biology") to race, than other "biological variations", like eye colour, are. But jef feels uncomfortable saying that, so he shoehorns in the term "experience" of black/white people in society. That experience is something different, which can't be bridged by biological variations (he should have said: even by "simple biology"). His analogy here is of racial experience to "gender" (and not to sex). He hints at "gender"/race oppression, but stops short and merely uses the neutral-sounding "experience of society", because the desire of trans-people is to identify with a "gender", as a positive experience of woman/man, but not subscribe to a form of oppression. At first you would think that jef wants to say that the existence of a racial experience/gender identity (which again, is not something oppressive here) is not determlned by biology, but what jef implies is that it is not negated by biology. Gender identity (or racial experience) is something valid/real/essential, regardless of any biology. It could sound as if "racial experience", like gender identity, can be experienced by people if they so declare to experience/identify as that race/gender. This would be the race-transitioning argument I mentioned above. But i don't think jef is saying that. I think his point is that gender/"racial experience" is something that we must affirm/accept as essential (more essential than earthly biology). 

 

jk1921
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

Jef is assuming here that skin colour is a more fundamental fact (ie "simple biology") to race, than other "biological variations", like eye colour, are. But jef feels uncomfortable saying that, so he shoehorns in the term "experience" of black/white people in society. That experience is something different, which can't be bridged by biological variations (he should have said: even by "simple biology"). His analogy here is of racial experience to "gender" (and not to sex). He hints at "gender"/race oppression, but stops short and merely uses the neutral-sounding "experience of society", because the desire of trans-people is to identify with a "gender", as a positive experience of woman/man, but not subscribe to a form of oppression. At first you would think that jef wants to say that the existence of a racial experience/gender identity (which again, is not something oppressive here) is not determlned by biology, but what jef implies is that it is not negated by biology. Gender identity (or racial experience) is something valid/real/essential, regardless of any biology. It could sound as if "racial experience", like gender identity, can be experienced by people if they so declare to experience/identify as that race/gender. This would be the race-transitioning argument I mentioned above. But i don't think jef is saying that. I think his point is that gender/"racial experience" is something that we must affirm/accept as essential (more essential than earthly biology).

There was a time on the left when sexual orientation might be considered an expressive choice, a kind of libertarian (or is it libertine?) experience of the world based on one's exploration (or lack thereof) of multifarious forms of desire. That seemed to change around the time the debates over gay marriage became mainstream in the mid-2000s. All of a sudden, sexual orientiation became a function of one's biology, a hardwired fact of one's being that could not really be changed. Things like conversion therapy became taboo and popular culture began to explain "coming out " stories in terms of people coming to know their true essential selves. Anyone who questioned this narrative was denoucned as denying the science demonstrating the biological basis of sexual orientation. Whatever the truth of this, there was a clear strategic thinking going on here: in order to win "rights," like the right to marry, it was deemed necessary to situate minorities defined by their sexual orientation on the same terms as racial groups, who were obviously defined by their biology and therefore "could not help but be the way they were," making it more difficult for the state and civilized, right minded people to deny them their rights. Sexual orientation became less a "behavior" and more a function of brain chemistry. It does seem that today's debates over trans rights complicate that narrative however, as it is not always clear whether  the claims for trans rights are made in the name of some kind of bio-medically defined group, or one based more on expressive choice and self-fashioned identity. Of course, its not entirely clear why it would make a huge difference.

That is until the question is comapred to race. Here there are also competing claims: "race is a social construct," yet "there is no such thing as racial choice." While those who "sex-transition" are getting in touch with their essential selves, those who attempt to "race transition," are committing various sins: either passing as a dominant group and therefore betraying their essential racial self or they are appropriating the experience of otherness and victimization in a way that can only harm the offended group. If race is a social construct, racial oppression is based on phenotypical characteristics that are supposedly immutable and therefore cannot be changed. Of course, in the end this also becomes an argument about experience: White people, regardless of their good intentions, simply cannot experience the world any other way than as a member of a dominant group. Attempts to race transition become a kind of "victimhood chic."

We are already seeing the pendulumn on this swing back towards "experience" as the defining variable in surprising ways today that reveal the limits of so-called "intersectionality." In the US, while there is a kind of centripetal political force around the Democratic Party pulling various identity claims together into a kind of hegemomic bloc: "People of Color," there is also a competing centrifugal force pushing the various group claims apart. While African and Caribbean immigrants may experience anti-black racism in the US today, they did not experience the horrors, historical disposession of slavery and its legacy that continue to define the experience of ADOS today. Of course, it also seems clear that the increasing assertiveness of African-American identity claims (around police brutality, claims for reparations, demands to address various aspects of America's historical legacy that specifically affected ADOS, taking down Confederate statutes, etc.) is driven in part by a rising fear of their claims being crowded out by others: either the nosie and furor over sexual identity claims or fears about the increasing demographic weight of Latinos, whose claims against society are for the moment mostly related to immigrant rights, but who may start to bring their own redistributionist claims that would render ADOS claims for reparations only one among several competing group interests.

d-man
jk1921 wrote:

jk1921 wrote:

There was a time on the left when sexual orientation might be considered an expressive choice, a kind of libertarian (or is it libertine?) experience of the world based on one's exploration (or lack thereof) of multifarious forms of desire. That seemed to change around the time the debates over gay marriage became mainstream in the mid-2000s.

This change started earlier, in the 80s, when a new lesbian faction attacked "political lesbians" like Sheila Jeffreys (or anyone who had previously been in a heterosexual relation) for not being real lesbians. But as my designation ("political lesbians") suggests, the latter were not just some hippy libertarians.

jk1921 wrote:
there was a clear strategic thinking going on here: in order to win "rights," like the right to marry, it was deemed necessary to situate minorities defined by their sexual orientation on the same terms as racial groups, who were obviously defined by their biology and therefore "could not help but be the way they were," making it more difficult for the state and civilized, right minded people to deny them their rights.

I doubt if it was part of a real strategy (like winning the right to marry). In any case homosexual orientation was depoliticized, or its radical "maximalist" goals curtailed.

jk1921 wrote:
it is not always clear whether  the claims for trans rights are made in the name of some kind of bio-medically defined group, or one based more on expressive choice and self-fashioned identity. Of course, its not entirely clear why it would make a huge difference.

It's rarely in the name of expressive choice (today perhaps only Andrea Chu), more in the name of bio-medicine (witness the inter-sex argument), and perhaps mostly a third reason: in the name of mental/psychiatric healing. It was after all a psychologist who introduced the term "gender identity" (John Money, as already discussed in Raymond's The Transsexual Empire). True, a certain part of trans-activists have little respect for the psychologist establishment (=charlatans or authoritarian gatekeepers), perhaps just relying on the psychiatric reason as the only available path, but I think it's nevertheless presented as the most sincere/serious reason: mental illness should not be a stigma. So "trigger warnings" or "safe spaces" can also be justified for people with PTSD, etc.

This brings me back to Libcom's outrage over ICC's quotations around "transphobia". This term implies anti-trans bigots suffer from a psychological/mental fear of trans-people, which as the all-too-woke ICC said, stigmatizes/associates people suffering genuine mental illnesses with political right-wing bigotry. On the other hand terms like "Islamophobia" also depolitcize/downplay right-wing bigots by casting them as mere mental patients. This psychologization is raised also by liberals/lawyers whenever some right-winger commits an atrocity (he was just a "single nutjob"), and features in politics, as with the possible invocation of the 25th amendment against Trump (or conversely for his opponents, Trump Derangement Syndrome). Libcom didn't get the ICC's woke quotations in this case, but generally they are quite supportive of psychiatric/mental care (against the usual anti-psychiatry sentiments you'd except for political radicals).

I seem to remember that you, jk1921, said something about that, perhaps referring to the use of psychiatry against dissidents in the USSR. As an aside, I want to touch upon that, because it seems to be still one of the biggest talking points against socialism, or at least it was the biggest critique rasied against the particular post-Stalin USSR era, that is, the human rights campaign of Carter (Solzhenitsyn even claiming that Soviet psychiatry was worse than the Nazi death camps). In a 2002 article, Alan A. Stone ('Psychiatrists on the side of the angels', Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law) wrote (see page 110 and following):

"I  am  well  aware  of  the  many  publications  that claim to have documented the widespread political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union and that I am a voice of dissent. But in the 30 years that have passed, it seems to me increasingly clear that much of the empirical evidence was exaggerated, much of the motivation was based on our (I am myself Jewish) concern about Soviet Jewry, and much of the criticism of Soviet psychiatry was ideological rather than scientific.  Today,  Western  psychiatry  has  accepted many of the psychiatric premises for which the Soviets were condemned."

In Russian there is also the 2006 book by Valery Gindin, Psychiatry: myth and reality (Психиатрия: мифы и реальность) that likewise questions aspects of the dominant Western story about Soviet psychiatry.

jk1921 wrote:
While those who "sex-transition" are getting in touch with their essential selves, those who attempt to "race transition," are committing various sins ... appropriating the experience of otherness and victimization in a way that can only harm the offended group. ... White people, regardless of their good intentions, simply cannot experience the world any other way than as a member of a dominant group. Attempts to race transition become a kind of "victimhood chic."

That's an objection against today's trans-"gender" people raised by gender critical (GC) feminists. But even for the more realistic (older) transsexuals or playful transvestites (who don't claim to be the opposite sex), some feminists took offense, comparing this to black minstrels. Perhaps today it would be like a white dude insisting to be addressed (by black people) by the pronoun 'nigga', see:

Semantic Bleaching and the Emergence of New Pronouns in AAVE (African-American Vernacular English), 2015 by Taylor W. Jones, Christopher S. Hall

Abstract:

AAVE is developing new pronouns, facilitated by the semantic bleaching of the word ‘nigga.’ We show ‘nigga’ is not specified for race, gender, or humanness (although default is [+human] and [+male]). Using 20,000 tweets and field notes from NYC and Philadelphia, we demonstrate that there are new first person pronouns in AAVE based on ‘nigga’ (e.g. 1sg “a nigga”) – moreover, we demonstrate they pattern with true pronouns and not imposters (Collins & Postal, 2010) with respect to binding and verbal agreement. We discuss the origin of these new pronouns, related grammatical forms (including vocatives and honorifics), and rate of adoption and current rates of use.

d-man
platypus

Darren P made the comparison to categorisation of species:

"But then there's no single physiological or biological marker that will categorize an individual organism as belonging to a particular species either."

(Btw, Darren P further made a comparion to cars, asking if he takes out the engine of his car, would it still be considered a car? But he could perhaps better have asked: if he takes out the engine of his Volkswagen Beetle, does it turn his car into an Enzo Ferrari?)

Mike replying:

"But when people say 'sex is a spectrum' they're not saying that male and female are useless categories, they're saying that there are grey areas between categories or whatever and that the way we determine those categories changes over time. Your example of species is a good one, because really what makes two closely related species, or genus or watever, different is socially constructed/a spectrum too"

Mike loves Darren P's comparision to species, after all, witness how "socially constructed" the distinction between a raven and a crow is. But whatever difficulty in classifying animals, the majority have two sexes/a sexual division. Sex is a much more fundamental/universal distinction, than eg between a wolf and a dog. Mike's use of the qualifier "closely related" for the groups, means that they are placed within some broader/higher category: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomic_rank That is, Mike distinguishes between closely and not-closely related groups of animals. He does not want to say out loud that for example a rat and an elephant are on a spectrum, that their difference is "social-constructed", two categories changing with the course of advancing scientific progress, or that between a rat and an elephant there are "grey areas". If he were confident enough in his own reasoning, he would have not have used a qualifier. Let's help Mike: an elephant is a category on a spectrum alongside rats, homo sapiens, horses, crocodiles, birds, butterflies and jellyfish. What conclusion follows from this, what is even Mike's argument? I think it only would establish that the difference between men and women is just as "grey" as between a horse and a bird. Therefore I think Darren P also felt no need to engage any further with Mike. At a time when everybody knows Greer's quip ("I’ve asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I’m going to wear a brown coat but that doesn’t turn me into a f***ing cocker spaniel"), it is a bit surprising that Mike blithely argues for an inter-species spectrum.

 

jk1921
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

(Btw, Darren P further made a comparion to cars, asking if he takes out the engine of his car, would it still be considered a car? But he could perhaps better have asked: if he takes out the engine of his Volkswagen Beetle, does it turn his car into an Enzo Ferrari?)

Funny, I once had to have the oil drain plug on a VW replaced. The mechanic could only find one from a Porsche, but it fit nonetheless. He said, "You now have Porsche parts on your car." I replied, "Will that make it any faster?" No, it is still the same slow as molasses piece of junk.

d-man
baboon's position?

This car comparison, by coincidence, was also just made by Linda Blade in an interview (on feministcurrents) on sex-segregated sport (allowing F-1 cars in a Nascar race).

I wonder if Baboon would dare to give his position on women-only spaces, as regards sport: is the "terf"-response overblown in his opinion here as well? I believe he has downplayed the topic of trans which was the explicit basis of Libcom's attacks. Baboon wrote:

"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"

And the attack on Lenin and the Bolsheviks arose from the attempt by Libcom (which is basically now just Mike Harman's personal site) to paint critics of identity politics as bigots against prostitutes. And "sex-work" is the other wedge-issue (also connected to trans people), which Baboon downplays. In fact, like I said before, I even believe libcom's attacks on the Bolsheviks was a happy distraction: On Libcom people can debate anarchism vs. Marxism on threads for years long to their hearth's contents (as I did) – there is nothing risky about it. But lo if people wade into the wedge issues of "gender" and prostitution. Baboon's own comportment is testament to this truth; he has failed even to maintain neutrality, but sided with the gender-identity/trans advocates and called himself a "sex-worker" in the past. And even when species, biology and evolution, which we know are topics close to Baboon's interests, are brought up in the debate, he has kept his silence. But the diplomacy will not save you or the ICC. The mere existence of this thread on the ICC forum, or by allowing me to post on it without challenging my views, the ICC will be regarded as "complicit", and be further attacked anyway.

 

 

Comunero
Explicit better than implicit

Maybe, instead of wondering, you could just ask, d-man. Perhaps it's because my English is getting worse, but I really don't get where your last post is going.

d-man
I already have experience

I already have experience with Baboon ignoring my posts, and anyway it is not a question directed solely at him, but at the ICC in general and other forum posters. Whereas you Comunero have already stated your preference is to stay out of the topic. This is your disagreement with me, not a lack in understanding of English.

Comunero
Well, I surely know what my

Well, I surely know what my preferences are. I'm just saying that saying what you mean explicitly it's quite more positive and makes it easier for everyone than stating what others have done, said and think, and suggesting ideas without directly making any affirmation (e.g. "diplomacy"). Don't get me wrong, obviously you will write as you prefer, but a direct question is far more likely to elicit an answer than speaking about someone in the hopes he will react. Plus, it's friendlier and easier to understand. Very often, I don't understand half of your posts because of this style of implying things. Of course, the problem of not understanding lies on my side, just don't be surprised if people don't answer when not addressed.

I don't want to derail the thread or starting a discussion on this, only wanted to say that maybe you aren't being ignored and it's just that people won't necessarily reply to posts that just state in third person what they supposedly mean, think and want.

d-man
Comunero wrote:

Comunero wrote:

Well, I surely know what my preferences are.

Yes, so do I, since you let me know them earlier on the thread, i.e. you prefer that we as leftcoms/marxists avoid discussing wedge issues like trans activisim or prostitution. I bring up this preference of yours, because I "imply" (if you wish) that this motivates your latest intervention, and not any alledged concern about wishing to see me succeed in getting a response from Baboon. To you use your terms, I think your "explicit" aim doesn't align with your implicit aim. It often happens that when people can't win an argument, they start taking recourse to complaints about the style or tone of people. You even view talk about Baboon in the "third person" as unfriendly. I don't go so far to declare pronouns themselves to be impolite.

Comunero
That's not my view, but ok. I

That's not my view, but ok. I didn't say it's unfriendly, either. I have zero interest in "winning" any debate here, both because the idea of winning debates is quite ridiculous and because I don't get what you are saying. Although now I'm getting it better, it seems you're just beating strawmen (at least now regarding me). As I said, I don't want to derail the thread (or to get between you and "victory"), and now I have nothing else to say. Good luck.

d-man
Comunero wrote:

Comunero wrote:

That's not my view, but ok.

What is not your view? Earlier in the thread you opposed discussing the issues of trans ideology etc. If you don't oppose it, but are willing to debate them, then I'd be happy to learn of this.

Quote:
I didn't say it's unfriendly, either.

You wrote: "Plus, it's friendlier"

So technically, you didn't say my post was unfriendly, but you did say it could be friendlier. I agree, we can all be more friendly to each other.

Quote:
I have zero interest in "winning" any debate here, both because the idea of winning debates is quite ridiculous

I knew you would jump on the word "win", and thereby avoid the point: which is that your latest posts are vacuous meta-commentary, instead of engaging in our disagreement, ie have a debate in the first place. I consider "winning a debate" to be the convincing of someone else of your position: there's nothing ridiculous about this. Except perhaps for someone who has no convictions.

Quote:
and because I don't get what you are saying.

No, you're disagreeing with what I'm saying (ie the unavoidable need for communists to take a position on issues like transactivism etc). It's a strange thing I notice, that some people are afraid or unwilling to acknowledge even the existence of a disagreement.

Quote:
Although now I'm getting it better, it seems you're just beating strawmen (at least now regarding me). As I said, I don't want to derail the thread (or to get between you and "victory"), and now I have nothing else to say. Good luck.

I don't care to beat strawman, so your "good luck" wishes are misplaced.

d-man
To restate the situation:

To restate the situation: Baboon (and the ICC in general) downplay or misrecognise the ongoing wedge issues on the 'left', namely the trans ideology and prostitution debate. It's not a question of anarchism vs. Marxism – after all, the Anarcho-Communist Group split from Anarchist Federation, and nobody will suspect ACG of fostering Bolshevik sympathies. (Nor even a question of state reformism vs. Marxism).

I have documented on this thread that various Marxists have de facto, willy nilly, already plunged into the debate (and if we regard Libcom as good class-struggle anarchists, so have the international anarchists); Alliance for Workers' Liberty; Ross Wolfe (once one of the most voracious critics of identity politics); Historical Materialism (incident at Conference in Sydney); Louis Proyect et al., Libcom (me getting banned) have taken the side of trans ideology and "sex-work" (and even the sub-reddit Stupidpol is split on it). Marxists on the opposing side can be counted on one hand; Cockshott; a few Kiwis (Redline blog). The fact is that the ICC has already involuntarily been caught up by Libcom into the controversy, or worse, has taken a side without wanting to admit or realise it (Baboon). Therefore, all I'm saying is, you should recognise the reality and openly formulate a position now, because like everyone, ICC members are being exposed to the general influence of society and so probably do have a position; in time one side might suddenly, without debate, rule it is dogma, ie not up for debate. isn't this pretty much what happened with AF?

I wonder if there's not some truth to the notion that for (us here as mostly heterosexual) men, the issues are not of personal concern to us, more precisely that is we have no stake in the debate, which gets generalised and projected into the idea that the working class has no stake into debate. The only possible selfish worry for us would be that more and more trans-identifying women are destroying their breasts (by breast-binding and operations). We hardly worry about being outcompeted in sports by women, etc.

d-man
On Libcom a text was recently

On Libcom a text was recently added to the library ("'Deficient' Womanhood: Girldick and Transmisogyny as Debilitation/Capacity"), which elicited nothing but some jibes from (idpol-critical) commentators at the text's apparent silliness. There was evidently no serious discussion possible on Libcom (once again). But the text is very serious (and well-referenced). Btw, the user who posted it seems to be Marxist.

--

Here's an article on women's day by a leftcom group in Oceania (on the ICT's site: http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2019-03-07/the-origins-and-capture-of-international-working-women-s-day). The comrades are generally critical of identity politics. However, like the others I listed before in this thread, when they incidentally touch on one of the prominent issues of idpol in the last years, they write (quote, my emphasis):

"Radical Feminist and even much of “Marxist” Feminist theory both place women as being a class based on their assigned sex/gender at birth. Not only do we oppose this theory due to its exclusion of our sister workers who are transgender, but also due to the simple fact that neither are genuinely reflective of Marxism even though they both claim to have their roots in such. Interclassist schools of thought such as these mentioned here do little more than cause division and confusion among the proletariat, while putting the emphasis on “patriarchy” being our main opposition, rather than the unity of workers, regardless of their gender, needing to unite in order to abolish global capital and class society itself in order to emancipate women and humanity as whole."

Elsewhere the article speaks of "the gender antagonisms present in class society", mentioning (domestic-)violence against women and children, inter-male violence and male suicide (btw, I don't understand why the last two are relevant).

Although this is just a passing remark (written by educated comrades), I think it does reflect on the ICT's own position or direction. Anyone who is critical of trans/"gender" (as ideology or a concept) is basically denounced as Terf. Yet there is no indication that this question was ever debated on inside the ICT.

So again, I worry that the ICC is heading in the same direction, despite its (professed) attempt to stay neutral. Besides, I think it's safe to say that young smart leftcom sympathisers number a significant amount of trans-identifying people, so just from an outreach standpoint, it's inevitable that the ICC will be asked to formulate a position, and it's in its interest to engage this topic for open discussion.

 

 

d-man
example

Here is an example of a gender-critical intervention by a communist organisation (CPGB-PCC) into the "controversy" on the issue of trans/gender: https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1247/decoupled-from-reality/

The author is a woman, the silence of the men in the CPGB hitherto presumably indicating that they *tried* to remain neutral on the topic...

Quote:
The left’s response has not been to stand for the rights of lesbians and other women and girls, but, along with every mainstream political party, to suppress debate and to brand anyone who raises concerns or even asks questions with accusations of transphobia, bigotry and, bizarrely, fascism. There is ‘no debate’: trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary genders are real and valid. To even question these statements, it is claimed, is to threaten the very existence of transgender people.

It criticises the claim that sex is a spectrum, which, as we know, is a position upheld by our dear Libcommers (specifically by its main admin, Mike Harman).

--

By contrast, and as another example of how the ideology of gender spreads through the apparent innocent use of the term, take this article by the ICT on the woman question: http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2019-04-08/a-class-perspective-on-the-women-question

It consistently speaks only of gender, never of sex (even in the original Italian, it writes genere, and not sesso). This equates sex to gender, and since we presume to agree with feminists that gender is a social construct, then, well, so must be sex. The Italian comrades promise another forthcoming article on radical feminism, so we'll see if they say anything directly on the trans/gender issue.

 

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