Weinstein, Trump...Feminism or Class Struggle?

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
jk1921
Weinstein, Trump...Feminism or Class Struggle?
Printer-friendly version

Another very good piece that shows the problems and limitations of the approach to these questions be taken today. But, I wonder if some of the old conceptions have since been surpassed? Women as the slaves and sex objects of their men? Marriage as a prison where men dominate women? Of course, some of this still exists, but capitalist development during and since the post-war reconstruction period (along with the attendant social movements) would seem to have made that situation not nearly as universal today. In the developed world today divorce rates have skyrocketed, soemthing which can have multiple meanings, but at the very least women are no longer quite the prisoners of men that they once used to be. Moreover, in more recent years, we are seeing the emergence of new kinds of social phenomena in the period of neo-liberalism, like the socially useless male--unemployed and virtually unemployable, households where the woman is the primary bread winner and thus yields some power over the men in the family (in part becasue under neo-liberalism traditionally feminized jobs are among the few that show tendencies towards growth: so-called "pink collar" work, health care, nursing, care work of various kinds, etc.). In any event, the situation is not as clear cut as in the days of Engels' Origins or Bebel's The Woman Question.

In addition, whatever the misdeeds of a Trump or Weinstein, it is clear that bourgeois society has developed an interest for whatever reason in the social problems of domestic violence, sexual violence, etc. In fact, as part of the "cutlure wars" these issues have been elevated to the top of public consciousness with the "Me Too Movement," etc. so much so that there is now a developing backlash against the pendulumn having been swung too far, i.e. the idea that all women should be believed when they accuse a man of misconduct and to question a woman's claims amounts to victimizing her all over again.

Both sides of this near relgious quarrell were on display in the US with the rancor over the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination. In the early going, the anti-Kavanaugh forces in the Democratic Party appeared to be on the offensive, thinking that the Me Too momentum would carry Kavanaugh and thus Trump to defeat, but once more and more outlandish sounding accusations were made against him, the tide appeared to turn and Trump capitalized on this with a political master stroke: reminding women that that could be their husbands, brothers, sons in the dock facing potentially life ruining false accusations with Democrats appearing to want to scrap hundreds of years of Western jurisprudence demanding that men now must prove themselves innocent--a virtual impossiblity in a "he said, she said" situation. 

This opens up other questions for us that the article does not touch upon. As communists whose goal is human emancipation we abhor interpersonal violence and abuse of any kind, but where do we stand on standards of guilt and innocence, etc? It would seem to me that things like "innocent until proven guilty," "proof beyond a reasonable doubt," etc. --all of the legal protections for individuals flowing through English Common Law into the founding constitutional documents of the United States--while creations of the bourgeoisie and often only ever honored by it in the breach--are nevertheless important advancements in human freedom. Today, those principles do seem to be under threat, as much by a kind of "ends justify the means" mentality of the left as by an authoritarian right. The emerging mentality seems to be on the order of: 'If some innocent men suffer, that's acceptable, because we have to right the greater wrong of women's oppression as a gender."

Women's abstract oppression as a group takes precedence over the individual rights and protections of concrete men facing the repressive power of the state (which the left now appears to want to yield to punish its adversaries.) All of this is of course ironic as one of the founding issues of modern liberalism (at least in the US) was the fight against harsh punishments for black men often falsely accused of sexual assault on white women (the death penalty for rape was still given even into the 1960s). In this sense, the suspiscions of the political right that the New Left today (or is it the New, New Left?) itself represents a dark authoritarian instinct inherited from Stalinism are not entirely unfounded.

So maybe then, our guide should be more the early Marx (On the Jewish Question) who probed these issues of political rights vs. human emancipation, as we sort through the right Marxist orientation to the thorny issues being raised today around gender, sexuality, race, etc. (so-called "identity politics") and how they relate not only to the working class' struggle against captialism, but the broader human patrimony of which it seems to me the rights and protections of the age of democratic revolutions are a part, but which today are often maligned not as protections of human freedom, but as shields for the privielged to escape responsibility for their personal misdeeds. Of course, what makes a concrete person "privliged" seems to be open for debate and constantly whillted down in the modern day oppression olympics.

 

d-man
to jk

I'm not sure this is about marshalling the oppressive powers of the state (or, protection of the state and more rights for women), so much as the infliction of damage to reputation, which to a company, as radical feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon says, means everything (far more than any actual.costs from a real trial). She also noted that when a company fires some embarring employee (due to rumors against him), this is just the exercise of the normal already exisitng right of the employer to fire workers for any random reason. So insistence on 'bourgeois democratic rights' won't help us much anyway I fear. I haven't read MacKinnon, but it seems (obviously) she is not satisified with existing law (statue of limitation, the treatment of women who do chose to take matters to court) and its actual implementation. And for a radical feminist, the whole "metoo" thing is not radical at all, so long as prositution and pornography continue to be defended (often by the same 'identity politics' people).

Having listened a bit more to them, I don't think we cannot include radical feminists into the recent bad identity politics.

Btw, a 2017 translation of Krupskaya's The Woman Worker (1899): http://www.scottish-communists.org.uk/files/the-woman-worker.pdf

"Bourgeois professors shamelessly go into print to assert that prostitutes are not slaves but are people who have chosen to take that road! It is the same hypocrisy that insists that no one prevents a worker from leaving a given factory where it is impossible to breath, what with the dust, poisonous vapours, heat, and so on. They “voluntarily” remain working there for 16 to 18 hours a day."

 

 

d-man
edit

Seems there is no edit-button.

I meant to write: "I don't think we can include radical feminists into the recent bad identity politics".

 

jk1921
I agree that "bourgeois

I agree that "bourgeois democratic rights" are of little protection today for most people. But I am not sure things like "innocent until proven guilty," "due process," reasonable time limitations on prosecutions and individualized judgement fall into that category exactly. They are first principles that may derive in some cases from the historical needs of the bourgeois class to defend itself against arbitary feudal authority (although some of these principles are even older than the bourgeoisie), but one can also see them as acheivements of human history, the forward march of human freedom (if you want to be Hegelian about it) or just principles of fundamental fairness in human interactions. Obviously, these things wouldn't operate exactly as they do in bourgeous society under communism (although what about the period of transition?), but they seem to nevetheless constitute foundational principles of a fair and just society nonetheless. One could even invoke a Biblical principle here, or the Golden Rule: "Do onto others as you would have done unto you." Its another way of saying that to be a truly human society, one must strive to to see things from others' perspectives, or colloquially stated, "put oneself in another's shoes." Perhaps, Rawls' "veil of ignorance" is relevant here? But that requires a certain level of abstraction from one's pasrticular indentity to find a common point of interest with others. Lilla indentifies that as ones interest in common "citizenship," while for Marxists its the collective interest of the working class (which serves as a surrogate for the general human interest under capitalist conditions). But can we really reduce all of our interests to material ones defined by class? Do we still need a notion of citizenship?

In any event, it seems it is just these principles that are under threat from the bourgeois left today, whether it is in the form of identity politics, i.e. it is impossible for you to relate to me, becasue you do not have my concrete experience as an X." Or in the kind of utitlitairan ethic developing on the movmement left, where one's innocence of particular wrongs is not necessarily going to save you from being denoucned in the pursuit of broader, abstract goals of social justice. For all the right-wing hysteria about "socialism" today, there is a certain grain of truth in the detection of a neo-Stalinist ethic making a resurgence in the Me Too movement, but also in anti-racist, anti-fascist movement politics, where entire groups of people are condemned for the actions of some of "their kind," or are assumed guilty because of some intrinsic characterisitc about them, in the interest of changing broader social mores around these issues.

 

d-man
Homer Badman

Actually (if you're interested jk1921) the WSWS, as one of the few revolutionary marxist groups, has consistently upheld your alluded principles in its coverage of MeToo, stressing the bourgeois and rightwing character of this "movement" (which the next day, if e.g. Sanders were elected president, could easily be turned against the left of capital). Your linkage to Stalinist traditions seem off-base to me though. The WSWS also points to the hypocritcal silence of the bourgeois press about the sexual assaults in migrant detention centers against poor women. However, and I think you actually admit my point, in practice there is no defense against trial by public/social media, except sue for defamation. But then you become entangeled in your principles, because that option would contradict another democratic right, namely freedom of the press/speech (which again, the next day, could be used be to censor powerless victims or leftwing publications). Unfortunately you seem to be only left with impotent moralist appeals to "fundamental fairness" against "utilitarian ethics".

To return to the legal scholar radical feminist I referred to above, she is against the common notion (even among self-proclaimed feminists) of "consent" (because it basically stacks the burden of proof on the victim); or for instance, if one had pleasant sex last night, nobody ever said: I had "consensual" sex last night. My point is that it is even giving too much credit to MeToo if one believes that it is really (radically) feminist, or effectively attempting to change the law. And the point is also that the goals for actual changes in the law are often still left undefined, or face great legal difficulties.

[To the forum-admin: the title-thread doesn't link to the article, as was the case in the past: - https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201809/16573/weinstein-trump-feminism-or-class-struggle]

The ICC goes a step futher by saying that even if new laws or harsher penalties were introduced, this would hardly solve the problem (because it is rooted in material conditions, ever reproduced by capitalism). That could be true, but then as jk1921 mentions, what about the working class "policy" during the period of transition in regard to these questions?

jk1921
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

But then you become entangeled in your principles, because that option would contradict another democratic right, namely freedom of the press/speech (which again, the next day, could be used be to censor powerless victims or leftwing publications). Unfortunately you seem to be only left with impotent moralist appeals to "fundamental fairness" against "utilitarian ethics"

There are "rights" and there are "norms," the boundaries between which bourgeois culture is wrestling with today in the era of populism. But the question I am trying to pose is whether or not we need an appeal to something beyond mere "interests," as anything can be justified if the standard is whether or not it serves an interest. If eradicating sexual misconduct is in the interest of social justice than if shaming more men, even some who are innocent, reduces sexual misconduct, it is justified. But obviously the fact that social justice has been advanced is some cold comfort for the men falsely accused. Social justice runs up against fundamental fairness in human dealings. Utility in achieving an abstract ultiamte goal, trumps social reciprocity between concrete human beings.

If you want a Stalinist link, think of the Bukharin show trial. A true believer in the revolution to the end, Bukharin is said to have penned a final letter protesting his innocence of the actual crimes charged against him, but accepting that the Revolution may require his death (I'll have to check the precise source on this). A colder utlitarian logic based on abstract interest couldn't be imagined (and it didn't even advance the revolution, which was already dead). 

If you want a more recent dliemna, think of the discussion over the conflict between "TERFS" and LGBTQ activists. One poster here suggested that if a particular identity dispute eroded proletarian unity, it should be downplayed, because proletarian unity is paramount for the revolution. But of what value is proletarian unity, if it requires repressing someone's fundamental humanity? Is this a moral question or an empirical one relaed to interest? Could the proletariat even be said to be united, if it has to repress part of itself to get there?

You are right that appeals to morality or the law are impotent under capitalist conditions, but does that mean we can do without a concept of morality? But what would it based on if not interest? Fundamental fairness in common citizenship may be ideological and illusory under class soceity, but does that mean the principle is itself wrong?

d-man
wrongfully accused

Apperently in his student days e-celeb rightwing figure Cernovich was accused of rape (can't remember if he stood trial). He told this story himself on a podcast, of course he claimed innocence, (again iirc) as he told it, he fell a sleep (probably at a party) with a woman, who started to hump against him (whilst asleep?), then next, out of embarresement she accused him of rape, all the press believed her and he was almost ruined but somehow managed to come out of it fine. And from that day forth his goal was revenge on the media and establishment. As he told it, this is the underlying drive of all his action ever since.

The most-used analogy is to mob-lynchings of blacks (accused of assaulting white women), as you well know, and not to the highly-orchestrated Stalinist showtrials. We're speaking now just about the unfair ruination of someone's reputation (and source of income), still terrible in some cases enough to be driven to suicide. If that is the problem you wish to see addressed, then advance some concrete propositions beyond vague handwringing about democratic citizenship. Though I wish you'd change the topic.

 

jk1921
On the continuing

On the continuing complications regarding the left/right division of ideological labor today: Recently, Trump's Secretary of Education--the much maligned Amway family fortune figure Betsy DeVos--recently issued new guidelines for how universities and colleges should deal with allegations of sexual misconduct. If you want to see how the "MeToo" mentality has penetrated civil society with Stasi like effects, you look at what has happened on college campuses in recent years, where in the quest to take sexual misconduct allegations "seriously" the Department of Education has encouraged a so-called "single investigator" model, where an admistrator investigates and assigns guilt and punishment with limited opprotunities for cross-examination of witnesses, appeals, etc. Some comentators have described a "first to report" social phenomenon on college campuses where participants in an ambiguous sexual encounter rush the next morning to be the first one to come forward with a complaint, less their partner beat them to it and establish the credibility of their version of events as the first to report it.

This regime was increasingly being derided as an affront to "due process" and "fundamental fairness," by the "right-wing." DeVos's new guidelines would encourage cross-examination, supposedly neutral fact finders and raise the standard of proof from "more likely than not" to "clear and convincing evidence."

DeVos's guidelines were predictably denounced by the "left" as placing the burden on victims, revictimizing "surviors," etc. etc. all the fashionable buzzwords of "Me Too." They were joined in such denunciations by none other than the ACLU, which, perhaps for the first time in its history, actually took a position in favor of fewer procedural protections for the accused. This went largely unnoticed, except by the few civil libertarians who see an ominous turn in this organization away from advocating for personal liberty and in favor of promoting a substantive view of social justice that trampels all over the rights and liberties inherited from the Western legal tradition.

Some might ask why any of this matters? But it seems more evidence for the weakness of the claim that it is the bourgeois left that is some kind of rational defender of bourgeois norms in the age of populism.

d-man
With a respected Harvard Law

With a respected Harvard Law School professor accepting to be a lawyer for Weinstein, I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually is found non-guilty.

--

Jk1921, do you care to enter the prostitution abolitionism vs. sex-work debate? As another proof of what a wedge-issue this is on the 'Left' today, the facebook group Communism 101 (Anti-Tank), which is run by an admin close to left communism, recently banned prostitution abolitionists. I suppose it was for posting this article from an apparently Trotskyist/Marxist-Humanist group: http://razonyrevolucion.org/el-futuro-por-delante-la-prostitucion-y-el-a...

IIRC you called for a non-moralist standpoint. I heared advocates of "sex-work" make some pretty cynical pseudo-Marxist arguments, like that women who are against prostitution take this position out of fear that legalizing prostitution would drive down their own "price" on the market (as girlfriends, as married women).

There seems to me to be an incredible distortion of the Abolitionist's argument by the sex-workers advocates, so to be clear; the Abolitionists do not argue for the criminilization of prostitutes – they argue for the criminilization of pimps, traffickers and "clients" (Johns). I don't see why this is dismissed as "carceral feminism".

Another, connected wedge-issue, is that of porn and BDSM, but that's perhaps for another discussion.

jk1921
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

Jk1921, do you care to enter the prostitution abolitionism vs. sex-work debate? As another proof of what a wedge-issue this is on the 'Left' today, the facebook group Communism 101 (Anti-Tank), which is run by an admin close to left communism, recently banned prostitution abolitionists. I suppose it was for posting this article from an apparently Trotskyist/Marxist-Humanist group: http://razonyrevolucion.org/el-futuro-por-delante-la-prostitucion-y-el-a...

IIRC you called for a non-moralist standpoint. I heared advocates of "sex-work" make some pretty cynical pseudo-Marxist arguments, like that women who are against prostitution take this position out of fear that legalizing prostitution would drive down their own "price" on the market (as girlfriends, as married women).

How are you using the concept of a "wedge-issue"? As something that is an unecessary distraction from the "real issues," and prone to divide forces that should otherwise be united (as in the way gay marriage used to be a wedge issue in bourgeois politics) or do you mean something else? Do you mean these things are wedges dividing up communists unecessarily? It seems elsewhere you have suggested these are real substantive issues that demand the taking of a position.

d-man wrote:

There seems to me to be an incredible distortion of the Abolitionist's argument by the sex-workers advocates, so to be clear; the Abolitionists do not argue for the criminilization of prostitutes – they argue for the criminilization of pimps, traffickers and "clients" (Johns). I don't see why this is dismissed as "carceral feminism".

Isn't that the defintiion of "carceral feminism"? A will to power to assume the police function of the repressive state and use it against individual male transgressors who exploit, abuse, denigrate etc. women? That's a tendency in some considerable tension with the emerging anti-carceralism of much of the millenial socialist left, like elements in the DSA, who want to abolish the police and prisons altogether, no?

In any event, I am not sure what the communist position would be, other than to restate Lenin's problematic from State and Revolution that the goal of a communism is to erode the social conditions that produce individual transgressors in the first place. Of course, that leaves the policy of the period of transition to be worked out, which seems far from a minor detail. It probabaly is the real question.

d-man
jk1921 wrote:

jk1921 wrote:

How are you using the concept of a "wedge-issue"? As something that is an unecessary distraction from the "real issues," and prone to divide forces that should otherwise be united (as in the way gay marriage used to be a wedge issue in bourgeois politics) or do you mean something else? Do you mean these things are wedges dividing up communists unecessarily? It seems elsewhere you have suggested these are real substantive issues that demand the taking of a position.

Supposing it to be, if you wish, an unnecessary distraction dividing communists, would this not already by itself make it into a real substantive issue, warranting attention? Let me go further: it has proven nearly impossible to not be drawn into it (even the unconscious use of loaded terms), so it would be more honest to pay it conscious attention, but, of course, hopefully without the bans/excommunication which we see everywhere else.

jk1921 wrote:
Isn't that the defintiion of "carceral feminism"? A will to power to assume the police function of the repressive state and use it against individual male transgressors who exploit, abuse, denigrate etc. women? That's a tendency in some considerable tension with the emerging anti-carceralism of much of the millenial socialist left, like elements in the DSA, who want to abolish the police and prisons altogether, no?

AFAIK the harshest punishment of "clients" consist just of paying a fine, but mere registration functions as public shaming of the men. By the way, in the pre-war Marxist journal Die Neue Zeit there was an article about how shameful it is for men(/workers) to be visiting prostitutes. You will probably denounce this as moralism, but it's not directed against the prostitutes. The millenial left's position here to me seems indistinguishable from libertarianism, though legalization of prostitution still involves the "repressive state" (approving permits for brothels in neighbourhoods, health check-ups, taxes, etc.).

jk1921 wrote:
In any event, I am not sure what the communist position would be, other than to restate Lenin's problematic from State and Revolution that the goal of a communism is to erode the social conditions that produce individual transgressors in the first place. Of course, that leaves the policy of the period of transition to be worked out, which seems far from a minor detail. It probabaly is the real question.

I hope that a communist position, on anything really, before the revolution, can be more than just a reference to S&R.

jk1921
d-man wrote:

d-man wrote:

Supposing it to be, if you wish, an unnecessary distraction dividing communists, would this not already by itself make it into a real substantive issue, warranting attention? Let me go further: it has proven nearly impossible to not be drawn into it (even the unconscious use of loaded terms), so it would be more honest to pay it conscious attention, but, of course, hopefully without the bans/excommunication which we see everywhere else.

A communist position could very well be that we have no substantive position on the terms set by identitarians for the discussion. We do not take sides in the identity wars as they are a function of bourgeois ideology in decomposition or some other formulation like that. That may appear evasive to the substance of the debate and would likely be woefully unsatisfactory to the identitarians, but should we care? You are right that these questions are everywhere in the culture, which demonstrates something about the power of identitarian ideology to crowd out other questions today, but does that mean communists have to bend to the times on that? Surely, not doing so may leave us isolated, or even despised, but when was that ever a problem for the communist left?

Supposing there was a substantive communist position on these kinds of debates, what would be the measure for determining the proper communist orientation? That which most enhances human freedom? That which most promotes the unity of the working class? We have been down this path before. I suppose much of how one answers this depends on whether one thinks that real social progress on some level is still possible in decomposing, neo-liberal capitalism or not? Does the arc of history still bend towards justice (at least on social questions) or does it point somewhere darker--to an identitarian tribalism or an authoritarian conformism?

d-man wrote:

AFAIK the harshest punishment of "clients" consist just of paying a fine, but mere registration functions as public shaming of the men. By the way, in the pre-war Marxist journal Die Neue Zeit there was an article about how shameful it is for men(/workers) to be visiting prostitutes. You will probably denounce this as moralism, but it's not directed against the prostitutes. The millenial left's position here to me seems indistinguishable from libertarianism, though legalization of prostitution still involves the "repressive state" (approving permits for brothels in neighbourhoods, health check-ups, taxes, etc.).

Yes, the repressive state always lies behind such regulations. Even if the maximum punishment for being a john is a fine, what happens to those who can't/won't pay? Bourgeois society is itself already wrestling with this conumdrum. The phenomenon of those "to poor to punish," is now well known. Of course, a state that does not enforce its laws more often than not, rapidly loses legitimacy. But its not clear again, what the communist position is here? The bourgeois state will do what it does. If the question is what is the policy of the transitional state, that is a different matter, as it is clear that such social problems will not go away the moment the bourgeois state is overthrown. It seems to me the transitional state will have to formulate policy on all kinds of social issues like this, but what is the relationship between this state and the communist elements? If the state is always conservative, in what sense can there be a communist state policy? This seems under theorized.

As far as "moralism," its not clear why the commodification of sex should be regarded with anymore disdain than the commodification of any other bodily function, which is what captialism does to the entire working class. As far as prostitution goes, there are obviously issues of consent, trafficking, etc. to consider, but it seems like those concerns can apply to vulnerable labour more generally as well.

d-man wrote:

I hope that a communist position, on anything really, before the revolution, can be more than just a reference to S&R.

Lenin's point seems to be that there is no communist position on matters of crime and punishment, as a communist society would make such notions obsolete. Obviously, that leaves a lot of ground to be covered before we get there, but I am not sure whatever position one takes on these questions can be called "communist." Again, we would have to come up with a measure for what makes a position communist.

 

d-man
jk1921 wrote: A communist

jk1921 wrote:
A communist position could very well be that we have no substantive position on the terms set by identitarians for the discussion.

A communist position ideally (or by definition) is not set on the terms of "identitarians".

Quote:
We do not take sides in the identity wars as they are a function of bourgeois ideology in decomposition or some other formulation like that. That may appear evasive to the substance of the debate and would likely be woefully unsatisfactory to the identitarians, but should we care?

It does not appear evasive of the question/issue if you were to truly succeed in refusing to take sides and formulate a communist analysis. The problem for me, as a communist, not as an identitarian, is that you do participate in the debate, but without realising it or wanting to admit it. That is, your communist analysis is not in fact a communist "neutral" position. For instance, you wrote:

Quote:
its not clear why the commodification of sex should be regarded with anymore disdain than the commodification of any other bodily function, which is what captialism does to the entire working class.

This is the "sex-work is work" argument.

Quote:
You are right that these questions are everywhere in the culture, which demonstrates something about the power of identitarian ideology to crowd out other questions today, but does that mean communists have to bend to the times on that? Surely, not doing so may leave us isolated, or even despised, but when was that ever a problem for the communist left?

Not just in culture, but among the left and self-described communists (or anarchists). No, we "shoud not care" about being despised. But we should care about the danger of falling, willy-nilly, into an identitarian position, like already so many (otherwise intelligent) radicals have. Radicals who you can denounce as millenial social(ist) justice warriors or identitarians, not real communists, but the fact is they view themselves as communists.

Quote:
Does the arc of history still bend towards justice (at least on social questions) or does it point somewhere darker--to an identitarian tribalism or an authoritarian conformism?

...

The bourgeois state will do what it does. If the question is what is the policy of the transitional state, that is a different matter, as it is clear that such social problems will not go away the moment the bourgeois state is overthrown.

Like I pointed out to you on this thread apropos the MeToo-movement, tactics such as doxxing or getting someone fired are not carried out (solely) through the state. We can't simply classify/criticise this as old conventional state-reformism. The drive can be very much towards having the "correct" position, towards policing leftist spaces themselves, not toward actual practical results/reforms. These radicals would even simply reject your "transitional state" idea as Leninist reformism.

Quote:
Lenin's point seems to be that there is no communist position on matters of crime and punishment, as a communist society would make such notions obsolete. Obviously, that leaves a lot of ground to be covered before we get there, but I am not sure whatever position one takes on these questions can be called "communist." Again, we would have to come up with a measure for what makes a position communist.

I'm not talking about future measures, but a communist position/analysis of the question in reality. There are after all people in prostitution; Just like there are immigrants. We do not deny or stay still silent on basic social reality of capitalism. It is the task of communists to provide analysis of these issues (including of the state's responses), especially if there reigns great confusion and heightened attention on them.

 

 

jk1921
[quote=d-man]

[quote=d-man]

It does not appear evasive of the question/issue if you were to truly succeed in refusing to take sides and formulate a communist analysis. The problem for me, as a communist, not as an identitarian, is that you do participate in the debate, but without realising it or wanting to admit it. That is, your communist analysis is not in fact a communist "neutral" position. For instance, you wrote:

Quote:

its not clear why the commodification of sex should be regarded with anymore disdain than the commodification of any other bodily function, which is what captialism does to the entire working class.

This is the "sex-work is work" argument.

[quote]

It could be the case that not all issues that present themselves as "identitarian" today are equally so. The "sex-work is work" position may be the communist position on the question as there are matters of labor and exploitation rather directly implicated in the problem. Or it may not be, but the question seems one of method; are we approaching the issue from the perspective of identity positioning or by trying to unmask layers of bourgeois ideology around a sector of the proletariat in whatever form? Are we trying to reify sex workers into a particular identity or are we trying to unify them with the broader proletariat? The terms of this question seem somewhat removed from others-- like TERFs vs. trans activists, etc. Perhaps one can employ a (pseudo) Marxist method there as well, but it is less obvious how.

[quote=d-man]

Like I pointed out to you on this thread apropos the MeToo-movement, tactics such as doxxing or getting someone fired are not carried out (solely) through the state. We can't simply classify/criticise this as old conventional state-reformism. The drive can be very much towards having the "correct" position, towards policing leftist spaces themselves, not toward actual practical results/reforms. These radicals would even simply reject your "transitional state" idea as Leninist reformism.

[quote]

This is no doubt true and yes it is evident that in the conditions of capitalist society today, it is not clear where the state ends and civil society starts, something that the communist left has long argued is the case. Today, even the bourgeoisie is becomming aware of this problem--Big tech presents a certain practical and ideological conundrum, not under direct state control, but increasingly acting like a state itself (Facebook, Twitter. etc.), but I am not sure how this changes the point. If social media engenders a kind of panoptic lynch-mob effect revealing a certain totalitarian impulse lurking within the modern "left," what can we do about it? We don't excercise any control over the process. If the point is to defend the need for a certain civility in discussions among revolutionary elements that is another matter, but I thought you rejected that idea as neo-Kantian or something?

d-man
Quote: It could be the case

Quote:
It could be the case that not all issues that present themselves as "identitarian" today are equally so.

Again, most persons in prostitution are female (and trans people and gay men), so it's an issue that is high on the list for "identitarians" to occupy. Given that the issue is mostly promoted by them, it is difficult to intervene for a communist without getting stuck in the same swamp, but that just makes it all the more necessary to show a way out.

Quote:
The "sex-work is work" position may be the communist position on the question as there are matters of labor and exploitation rather directly implicated in the problem. Or it may not be,

Again, much of the self-declared communists/leftists/anarchists take this position. For them there is no contradiction at all between being a communist and being a defender of identity politics. In fact they will say that anyone who is not a defender of their brand of identity politics cannot be a good communist, or more directly, is a bigot etc.

Quote:
but the question seems one of method; are we approaching the issue from the perspective of identity positioning or by trying to unmask layers of bourgeois ideology around a sector of the proletariat in whatever form? Are we trying to reify sex workers into a particular identity or are we trying to unify them with the broader proletariat? The terms of this question seem somewhat removed from others-- like TERFs vs. trans activists, etc. Perhaps one can employ a (pseudo) Marxist method there as well, but it is less obvious how.

Again, "sex worker" is already a loaded term, and it's fine if you want to use it, but don't pretend you're not going into the identity politics swamp. It's a conscious choice to use it, and it accords with the dominant position on the Left that "sex-work is work". Your "method" is framing the issue by way of supposed open question: "Are we trying to reify sex workers into a particular identity or are we trying to unify them with the broader proletariat?" Well, how the devil is the Abolisionist position, that prostitution as an industry should be abolished, evidence of reifying an identity? They want to abolish the "sex-work" identity. The "sex-work is work" position, on the other hand, wants to enshrine it into state law, and unionise it. And we're critical of labour unions in general, precisely for their particularism, their reification of workers into industries, dividing sections of workers against each other. By the way, Lafargue mocked the very idea of "workers' rights"; it's the same as the notion of "slaves' rights"; after all there existed certain rules even for the masters (not to excessively beat their slaves or whatever).

 

 

Quote:
it is not clear where the state ends and civil society starts, ... but I am not sure how this changes the point. If social media engenders a kind of panoptic lynch-mob effect revealing a certain totalitarian impulse lurking within the modern "left," what can we do about it? We don't excercise any control over the process. If the point is to defend the need for a certain civility in discussions among revolutionary elements that is another matter, but I thought you rejected that idea as neo-Kantian or something?

Your point was that we, as left communists, shouldn't try to exercise any control over the state (since that is reformism), to which I replied that many idpolists (as self-defined radicals) don't even try to do that, but (instead) focus on control over their own "spaces" and language. Now, as an answer, you bring up the need for "a certain civility" in discussions. I indeed reject this, because it's not dealing with the issue (in this case prostitution), but retreats to impotent shushing of the very heated discussion around the wedge-issue, and in fact doesn't even manage to stay neutral. Also, the idea of an unquestionable "certain civility" in discussions is a tool idpolists use to suppress their opponents.