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    I am playing catch up with the recent dust-up around the choice of tactics used by Antifa in the United States in it’s struggle against the proto-fascist elements energized by the current Republican Administration led by Trump.  There are several sources in this brief overview, first from a academic journal to help with the context of state violence, then a rough sketch of the position taken by Hedges and Chomsky, and finally the reply found in Counterpunch.  The last article from Counterpunch, is a retort to Chris Hedges, a voice on the credentialed left who has taken a stance against the violent tactics used by Antifa.

We’ll be visiting Hedges’ article (and criticism)on Truthdig in a later post, but for now, examining the question of violence and how it is used, and by who it is used by in society provides a stepping stone toward providing a more nuanced entry into this debate.  To better understand how (in just one way) the state uses violence to arrange society we turn to an article written by Carol Nagengast, in the Annual Review of Anthropology titled Violence, Terror, and The Crisis of the State (p. 24): 

“The state must be a state of mind that divides people into the purified and honest who do legitimate work and a politically suspect or criminal,
deviant underworld of aliens, communists, loafers, delinquents, even thieves, killers, and drug lords who do not. The violent dissident must be positioned
and repositioned as necessary, “in a negative relationship with middle-class rational masculinity, a model that ensures a relationship of dominance and
subordination … by locking the two into a mutually defaming relationship”

     (16:15,21). In the United States, the presumed idleness of the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, the drug user or gang member, the single parent, gay man or
lesbian woman (all the latter with overtones of promiscuity and contagious disease) is also seen as violence against the social body. It cannot be just any
old work; it must be work that contributes to what dominant groups have defined as the common good (153).

     The hegemony of respectable culture and good taste and the denigration of what is represented as the disgusting, degenerate, worthless, criminal lower
parts of the social body is so strong that, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News in September 1989, 66% of those surveyed
favored random searches of peoples’ houses, cars, and personal belongings, even if the police had no suspicion of any wrongdoing. Seventy-two percent
said they approved of censorship of any film depicting illegal drug use. People have been so inoculated with the fear of evil and with the myth of an essential
relationship of repression to the cure of society, that they are willing to give up some of their own rights for what has been defined as the good of the social
body

The questions the fascist/antifa situation embodies goes back to the genesis of why we have states in the first place and the techniques used (see the myth of the relationship between the use of repression to cure soceity) to maintain order in said States.  The use of fear to discipline society is nothing new, case in point, consider the the fear cultivated in the buildups to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The use/misuse of fear as a cultural motivator in Western society is being replayed yet again on the national (within the US) instead of international stage.   Looking toward answering the question of who gets to legitimately use violence in society with regards to the fascist/antifa question Noam Chomsky opines:

     “As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.”  Many activists affiliated with the loosely organized Antifa movement consider themselves anarchists or socialists. They often wear black and take measures to conceal their identity.  Chomsky said, “what they do is often wrong in principle – like blocking talks – and [the movement] is generally self-destructive.”  “When confrontation shifts to the arena of violence, it’s the toughest and most brutal who win – and we know who that is,”

So, it would seem that Chomsky and Hedges, who cites this interview, believe that the antifa use of violence is not the correct course of action.  The counterpoint to their assertion comes in with

     “One crucial question in this regard is why the conversation about violence that is continually re-staged in the media overwhelmingly focuses on tactics of resistance by the underclasses. Among those who are vociferously proclaiming a pure form of “non-violence” as an unquestionable moral principle, who of them is arguing that this principle should be applied to the corporate state and all of its imperial endeavors? Alongside the countless statements reprimanding anti-capitalist activists for street scuffles, where are the articles calling for the dismantling of the military-industrial complex, the dissolution of the police force, or the abolition of the prison system? Why isn’t the debate around non-violence centered precisely on those who have all of the power and all of the weapons? Is it because violence has actually worked successfully in these cases to impose a very specific top-down agenda, which includes shutting out anyone who calls it into question, and diligently managing the perception of their actions? Is violence somehow acceptable here because it is the violence of the victors, who are the ones who presume to have the right—and in any case have the power—to define the very nature of violence (as anything that threatens them)?

     Clearly, the fetishization of non-violence is reserved for the actions of the underlings. They are the ones who, again and again, are told that they must be civil (and are never sufficiently so), and that the best way to attain their objectives is by obeying the moral dictates of those above. Let us recall, in this light, James Baldwin’s powerful statement in the context of the black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s: “The only time non-violence is admired is when the Negroes practice it.”

So, what is the answer here?  How effective will violent leftist action be, and will the backlash further empower state repression?   Will the backlash continue to inoculate the citizenry with fear of violent ‘leftist violence’ thus justifying an increase in state use of coercive and repressive force against the left even though the initiators of said violence (aka the proto-fascist/nationalist Right in the US) are ultimately responsible for the situation in question?

 

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Another interesting snippet from the conversation over at VW’s:

 

Arbourist:  “Humans, like most mammals are sexually dimorphic.”

VW:  This is a discriptive label we use in an attempt to best explain what represents the majority or general experience. That’s not my opinion – it’s a fact. Sexual dimorphism in humans is not a law, and it’s not even true for every individual, is it?”

Arbourist:  A man expressing typically feminine traits is still a man. ”

VW:Yes, of course. And a man who feels they were assigned the wrong sex and therefore gender at birth, based on nothing more than casual observation of their external genitalia, now has the freedom within many of our societies to become a woman.


 

I just happen to be reading a short essay called On Language and Erasure by Hypotaxis and this passage jumped out at me”

“But since this is a post about the notion of “erasure” and “thought policing,” I wanted to point out a couple of excerpts from the article – which was, in fact, written by a female:

Sex is based on the body, but biology is a branch of science and science is also a social construct and really what I’m saying is that your sex is essentially a label a very educated person slapped on you at birth using as many contextual clues as they could garner at the time about your DNA. Sex is not immutable or unchangeable or somehow “intrinsically” defined by our bodies; it’s more that science and medicine have put words in place to define sex and thrust it upon us – and that they’re often inadequate at capturing the full spectrum of diversity swimming around in the big ol’ sea . . .

 This is the kind of bullshit, circuitous, narcissist-logic, swamp of nothingness fuckery being sold to women on behalf of males who would prefer we not acknowledge reality. The attempt to convince women – or anyone for that matter – that science is a “construct,” in the same way gender is a “construct,” in a world where most are bat-shit insane idiots because we are no longer allowed to express a rational thought,  is dangerous. And how is this any different than the crazy people who run around denying evolution? Or climate change deniers? The incentive for Creationists to deny evolution, and for those who deny climate change is the same as the incentive for the trans/queer/gender worship lot who claim science is merely a construct: the scientific principles inconvenience them, hurt their feels.

“But if Jesus didn’t live with dinosaurs then . . . then . . . then FUCK YOU EVOLUTION ISN’T REAL!”

“But if my gas chugging SUV that I really, really like is bad for the environment then . . . then . . . then FUCK YOU CLIMATE CHANGE ISN’T REAL!”

“But if my penis isn’t part of female anatomy and I really, really would like to be a girl then . . . then . . . then FUCK YOU BIOLOGY IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT!”

Gender Studies is anti-intellectualism dressed up in academese for the benefit of males. Period.

And yes, science and medicine have put “words in place” to define things. Scientists and doctors use words particular to their disciplines, they have language that means specific things like “molecule” and “cancer” and “female” and thank fucking god for that. A doctor’s job is not to acknowledge every special nuance of your unicorn self. A scientist’s job is not to placate your fragile feelings.

Reflected in the Autostraddle is also the way in which trans/queer/gender-speak has reframed true feminism – now considered “radical” – to be “trans-exclusionary” (i.e. does not prioritize males/make religion of gender). Radical Feminists – referred to in the modern gestalt by the pejorative “TERF” – are those who are concerned with the welfare of women and girls, who are interested in the liberation of women, the end of gender, and the dismantling of patriarchy. Trans/queer/gender studies speak has appropriated the word so that it means, “don’t be mean to males”; trans/queer/gender studies has taken the tools of the oppressor – gender roles, pornography, prostitution and called them “empowering.” Trans/queer/gender studies folk work tirelessly to ensure women cannot speak truthfully about their lived realities, for fear it might alienate males.”


 

What twinged the comparison for me during my conversation with Violet is what seems to be the willingness to slip into a very liberal relativist reading of facts that do not agree with her position on human sexual dimorphism.  The strategy seems to be to get away from facts and go to the idea that everyone has their own equally important set of facts and the disagreement between these two ‘world views’ is where the argument should be – as opposed to actually arguing the original fact based argument.

It makes so hard to find any sort of common ground when everything seems to be relative and words mean different things to different people.   :/

 

 

Post Modernism keeps coming up at the root of many debates on contentious issues.  Gender identity politics one of the area where the influence of post-modernism can be seen.   This quote from Tildeb on Violetwisp’s blog is part of his critique of a segment of the left side of the political spectrum what Tildeb calls the Regressive left.  The claim is as follows:

“My claim is that there is a strong and growing element in the Left that is regressive, that operates by actions and sentiments that a anti-liberal in principle and demonstrate actions that are anti-Enlightenment in value… not least of which is saying that they do so on behalf of liberal principles and Enlightenment values but then actually committing the opposite. Furthermore, I claim the tactics used are fascist, that bullying and intimidation and violence and disruption and demonization are gaining wider and broader social acceptance… especially by people who should know better. In addition, from these sideline observers who should know better than appease and apologize for these hypocritical illiberals comes a kind of Fifth Column, people who go along, who do not soundly condemn, who rationalize excuses on behalf of others, who partake in the illusion of supporting ‘correctness’ by incorrect means and use a form of apologetics for Really Bad Ideas championed by the more militant advocates who presume they are defending victimized groups by these fascist methods.”

Many women are experiencing this phenomena vis-a-vis liberal feminism allied with trans-activism.  Females are routinely branded by the regressive left as TERFs for expressing a need for female only spaces, expressing their sexual preferences and defending the necessary boundaries they set in society in order for them to be safe.  The function of the term “terf” (trans exclusionary radical feminist) is to silence, shame, and coerce women into accepting men into their spaces and their feminism.  It has been a fairly successful campaign, but women are slowly seeing the downsides of a version of feminism that centres around the needs of males, having their peak trans moments and rejecting liberal feminism because essentially, it isn’t about women and their struggle for emancipation from the patriarchal structures of society.

Tildeb isn’t directly addressing feminist concerns, but this next portion of his comment illustrates exactly the issue with the regressive left’s take on reality and how it affects their argumentation.

“The point I keep raising is about the use of anti-liberal methods done in the name of liberal principles and then excused by those claiming to support liberal principles. Also, I keep raising the point but face significant reticence. from those I accuse of hypocrisy, of using a double standard, of going along with a very Post Modern framework and language not just about groups and power but this idea that everyone owns their own facts, their own truths, that any action illiberal intolerant action undertaken in defense of the victimized groups is somehow justified as well as exempt from legitimate criticism.”

Everyone can’t have their own set of facts and truths and have the naive expectation that others will go along with them.  Your deeply subjective personal thoughts and feelings are precisely that – *your* thoughts and feelings; expecting others to fall in line with your subjective whims is not only unreasonable, it is not how the world works.  Interfacing with society involves a give and take and mutual understanding of how the world works.  We teach children that their own desires and perspectives must be tempered with input from reality – they cannot have all the things, nor do things work precisely the way children think they should.   As children mature their outlook on the world becomes more nuanced and the interaction between their personal selves and the world begins to even out and the interplay between individual and society establishes itself into a generally beneficial mutual relationship.

The right to swing ones arms around is limited by the presence of others who may not want to be hit with said arms.  In other words feel free to exercise your freedom as long as you’re not infringing on the rights of others.  The same can be said of your subjective thoughts and feelings on gender and how your present yourself to the world.  By all means, identify however you wish.  That is your right, and I fully endorse an individuals right to do so.

But, your self-identification ends with you.  There should be no expectation that others have to take your subjective self-declared identity at face value.  So, if you happen to be male and identify as a woman fine.  But the expectation that others *must* treat you as a woman goes against the conception of rights we have in a liberal society.  Others may have different views on gender and identity and they have the exact same rights as the person who happens to be a male identifying as woman.

The problem is that people who do not go along with the self-identification of others are unjustly maligned, harassed, and their views marginalized by the current liberal feminists/transactivist movement.  People who believe that the social construction of gender is harmful and should be abolished have their views routinely mislabelled -phobic or bigoted when really they are just stating their opinion (of course, being backed by fact and observable reality is nice too).

So, let’s try and further the bounds of the debate and see where it takes us.

 

A big thank you Tildeb for clearly putting into words some of key points of the post modern gender identity debate and the surrounding controversy.

 

Well, quite the list if you happen to be interested in what Feminism is about.  Here is what the GAG group thinks should be forbidden in a library for Women. 

Books to remove:
Admission Accomplished – Jill Johnston

-Against Sadomasochism – Robin R. Linden, Darlene R. Pagano, Diana E. Russell, Susan Leigh Star

-Amazon Odyssey: Collection of Writings – Ti-Grace Atkinson

-Buddhism after Patriarchy – Rita M. Gross

-The Female Man – Joana Russ

-Female Sexual Sl*v*ry – Kathleen Barry

-Feminism Unmodified – Catharine A. Mackinnon

-First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening Susan Murcott

-Gyn/Ecology – Mary Daly

-The Idea of Prostitution – Sheila Jeffreys

-The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade – Sheila Jeffreys

-Intercourse – Andrea Dworkin

-The Lesbian Heresy – Sheila Jeffreys

-Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women – Geraldine Brook

-Not a Choice, Not a Job: Exposing the Myths about Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade – Janice Raymond

-Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography- Of Women Born – Adrienne Rich

-Pornography: Men Possessing Women – Andrea Dworkin

-Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach

-The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism – Janice Raymond

-Women As Wombs: Reproductive Technologies and the Battle over Women’s Freedom – Janice Raymond

 

Well, looks like my reading list just got a great deal longer.

bookburning

feminismThe idea that feminism is the movement to liberate women from patriarchy (a notion lost to much of the befuddled third-wave) is finally beginning to (re)gain some traction as more women see what the unctuous morass of neo-liberal identity politics inflicts upon their mass movement.

“It saddens me to see the inclusive liberal feminism I grew up with reduced to a grab-bag of competing victimhood narratives and rival community-based but essentially individualist identities jostling for most-oppressed status. We need a better reaction to the election of a man who cynically responded to the center-left’s fragmentation by celebrating his own angry populist’s definition of white identity. Can’t we rise above the sniping about “privilege,” “white feminism,” “intersectionality,” and hierarchies of grievance in the face of Trump and the dangers he poses to the American and international liberal world order and women everywhere?

Such an approach doesn’t mean ignoring the differing experiences of women, or the history of racism between women, but confronting them empirically and resisting blaming each other for systemic disadvantage. Despite rampant inequality in the U.S., the word “class” doesn’t get a mention in the ‘Guiding vision and definition of principles’ of the march. Yet trans women/youth/migrants receive six references. 

Cursory attention is given to the structural inequalities that limit all American women, regardless of their race, religion, sexual or other identities. American women across the board face huge barriers to labor force participation and achieving work-family balance compared to their sisters in Europe and other comparable developed countries. The vision document doesn’t even call expressly for nationally mandated paid maternity leave of at least three months — it describes “family leave” vaguely as a “benefit” rather than a right, in contrast to LGBTQIA human rights.”

Emma-Kate Symons

   It is almost like Ms.Symons is getting annoyed by the fact that the issues that are directly affecting women aren’t being centred in the march by and for women.

   Fancy that.

    Let’s see some transactivism in action shall we?  Elizabeth Harrington, reporting in the Washington Free Beacon writes:

“Transgender activists are upset that the women’s march over the weekend was not inclusive to biological men who identify as women, as the protest presented an “oppressive message” that having a “vagina is essential to womanhood.”

Saturday’s event to oppose the inauguration of Donald Trump was largely a “white cis women march,” with too many pictures of female reproductive organs and pink hats, according to trans women and “nonbinary” individuals interviewed by Mic.com.”

Wow!  Are you seeing the benefits of inclusivity?  (I most certainly am!) I mean, the feelings of men at a woman’s march should definitely be prioritized as their gender-feels are profoundly more important than the onslaught women and their rights are being subjected to as a class.

“The women’s march had an over-reliance on slogans and posters depicting gender norms, like using pink to represent women and girls, said some transgender activists who boycotted the march.

“The main reason I decided not to go was because of the pussy hats,” said one transwoman from California. “I get that they’re a response to the ‘grab them by the pussy’ thing, but I think some people fixated on it the wrong way.”

“I believe there’s a lot of inequality that has to do with genitals—that’s not something you can separate from the feminist movement,” the transwoman added. “But I feel like I’ve tried to get involved in feminism and there’s always been a blockade there for trans women.”

The ‘blockade’ being that effective feminism is about he liberation of females from patriarchy.  If you aren’t female, then this particular movement just isn’t about you.  If you would like to show support for, and be an ally and reinforce the Feminist movement – that would be great – but have the common decency to not co-opt the feminist movement for your own agenda.

Signs that said “Pussy grabs back,” “Resistance is Fertile,” and “Pussy Power” sent a “clear and oppressive message to trans women, especially: having a vagina is essential to womanhood.”

The article explained that transwomen are weary of “trans-exclusionary radical feminists.” “TERFs” are people who “equate womanhood with having a vagina” or feminists who “argue trans women are actually men in disguise trying to infiltrate their spaces.”

I’m guessing that women (and by that term I mean adult human female) are quite weary of having men (for centuries) try to define their reality for them.

Clearly, acknowledging sex-based oppression -in a feminist movement – is quite beyond the pale.  Reflecting on the quote above, if one cannot distinguish between the notion of women being nothing but vaginas versus the notion that women have vaginas, then one probably shouldn’t be speaking about woman’s issues in the first place.

Finally, hopefully we can see what the transactivist movement brings to the table –

bra

So ya, it is time for transactivists to acknowledge the fact that feminism is for females (this should not be controversial) and work in solidarity with Feminists toward feminist goals – or start your own movement that centres your own particular goals.

 

**UPDATE** – Trans solidarity with women?  F*ck that noise.  Further evidence of the need for a strong cleavage between feminists and transactivists.

liberals

Whoa…

 

   The points of view put forward here represent the thinking of an individual that does not believe in the political process, and one that believes that change can come from inside the process.  Fascinating stuff.

 

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that’s precisely what we’re trying to do. There is a point where you have to—do I want to keep quoting Ralph?—but where you have to draw a line in the sand. And that’s part of the problem with the left, is we haven’t.

I covered the war in Yugoslavia, and I find many parallels between what’s happening in the United States and what happened with the breakdown of Yugoslavia. What is it that caused this country to disintegrate? It wasn’t ancient ethnic hatreds. It was the economic meltdown of Yugoslavia and a bankrupt liberal establishment that, after the death of Tito, until 1989 or 1990, spoke in the language of democracy, but proved ineffectual in terms of dealing with the plight of working men and women who were cast out of state factories, huge unemployment and, finally, hyperinflation.

And the fact is that these neoliberal policies, which the Democratic Party is one of the engines for, have created this right-wing fascialism. You can go back—this proto-fascism. You can go back and look at the Weimar, and it—Republic—was very much the same. So it’s completely counterintuitive. Of course I find Trump a vile and disturbing and disgusting figure, but I don’t believe that voting for the Democratic establishment—and remember that this—the two insurgencies, both within the Republican Party and the—were against figures like Hillary Clinton, who spoke in that traditional feel-your-pain language of liberalism, while assiduously serving corporate power and selling out working men and women. And they see through the con, they see through the game.

I don’t actually think Bernie Sanders educated the public. In fact, Bernie Sanders spoke for the first time as a political candidate about the reality the public was experiencing, because even Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, was talking about economic recovery, and everything was wonderful, and people know that it’s not. And when you dispossess—

ROBERT REICH: Well, let me—let me—

CHRIS HEDGES: Let me just finish. Let me finish. When you dispossess that segment, as large as we have—half the country now lives in virtual poverty—and you continue to essentially run a government that’s been seized by a cabal, in this case, corporate, which uses all of the machinery of government for their own enrichment and their own further empowerment at the expense of the rest of the citizenry, people finally react. And that is how you get fascism. That is what history has told us. And to sit by—every time, Robert, you speak, you do exactly what Trump does, which is fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. And the fact that we are going to build some kind of—

ROBERT REICH: Well, let me—let me try to—

CHRIS HEDGES: —amorphous movement after Hillary Clinton—it’s just not they way it works.

ROBERT REICH: Let me try to inject—let me—let me try to inject—

AMY GOODMAN: Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich?

ROBERT REICH: Let me try to inject some hope in here, in this discussion, rather than fear. I’ve been traveling around the country for the last two years, trying to talk to tea partiers and conservatives and many people who are probably going to vote for Donald Trump, to try to understand what it is that they are doing and how they view America and why they’re acting in ways that are so obviously against their self-interest, both economic self-interest and other self-interest. And here’s the interesting thing I found.

This great antiestablishment wave that is occurring both on the left and the right has a great overlap, if you will, and that overlap is a deep contempt for what many people on the right are calling crony capitalism—in fact, many people on the left have called crony capitalism. And those people on the right, many, many working people, they’re not all white. Many of them are. Many of them are working-class. Many of them have suffered from trade and technological displacement and a government that is really turning its back on them, they feel—and to some extent, they’re right. Many of them feel as angry about the current system and about corporate welfare and about big money in politics as many of us on the progressive side do.

Now, if it is possible to have a multiracial, multiethnic coalition of the bottom 90 percent that is ready to fight to get big money out of politics, for more equality, for a system that is not rigged against average working people, where there are not going to be all of these redistributions upward from those of us who have paychecks—and we don’t even realize that larger and larger portions of those paychecks are going to big industries, conglomerates, concentrated industries that have great market power, because it’s all hidden from view—well, the more coalition building we can do, from right to left, multiethnic, multiracial, left and right, to build a movement to take back our economy and to take back our democracy, that is—

[…]

CHRIS HEDGES: I don’t think it makes any difference. The TPP is going to go through, whether it’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Endless war is going to be continued, whether it’s Trump or Clinton. We’re not going to get our privacy back, whether it’s under Clinton or Trump. The idea that, at this point, the figure in the executive branch exercises that much power, given the power of the war industry and Wall Street, is a myth. The fact is—

 

Can a compromised system produce results that benefit the non-elite portions of society.  I’m thinking no.

[Democracy Now: Full Transcript]

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