On recent attacks on the ICC on libcom

80 posts / 0 new
Last post
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.

--

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."

--

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."

--

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.

--

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.

Pages