Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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autogestión
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Nov 12 2017 18:17
Oranj wrote:
autogestión wrote:
As a matter of interest, these events getting some wider interest: https://www.patreon.com/posts/15312821

Sectarian gripes from a fucking Leninist - lol. Really hot take there. He hasn't been to a bookfair since 2001, part of his avoiding any contact with working class resistance no doubt.

Insults aside, Richard Seymour is an intelligent, independently-minded and insightful commentator on many issues. You don't have to agree wholesale with his politics to acknowledge that.

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comrade_emma
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Nov 12 2017 18:29
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He hasn't been to a bookfair since 2001, part of his avoiding any contact with working class resistance no doubt.

I don't know if a bookfair that can barely keep itself together during a weekend without sparking world-wide debates counts as "working class resistance".

gamerunknown
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Nov 13 2017 23:17
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Good luck with the anarchist movement and re-invented bookfair - run by Afed and the muppets who wrote that open letter?

Just a heads up, but AFed haven't officially taken this responsibility on. Individuals within it are definitely interested in ensuring a London anarchist bookfair in 2018, particularly one without transphobia. It's a massively demanding task for those who haven't done it before, but on a smaller scale, Bristol managed it when the standard organisers took a year off apparently.

The only issue is that paying for accommodation just isn't feasible. The AF has the funds to do it for members on occasion and I personally would like to hear from anarchists from former colonies, often organising in far more repressive circumstances. But we have to balance that with how best to get to communist anarchism where we are - I've personally gotten involved in the AWW West London organising campaign since I live in West London. Putting more money into leaflets and placards there may get us that little bit closer to working-class self-organisation than what's effectively a national anarchist convention. I can't really tell though.

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Red Marriott
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Nov 14 2017 00:47
Mike Harman wrote:
I don't know anyone in .. Aufheben

But, significantly, other admins do.

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From your response it looks like you haven't contacted Aufheben. If you've written off any chance of a decent response from them it'd be fine to say so, I have too at this point.

The Aufheben collective is imo sufficiently discredited by their earlier responses to be seen as a pointless irrelevant contact. If Dr J hasn’t directed the collective to more recent discussions (in which he commented) on here about this you’d wonder why.

You make a comparison of “the two cases” and appear to reduce the problematic of the Dr J case to merely one instance; “In one, someone does dodgy academic research on riots and shops it around to police and councils”. After 6 years you still miss the real point and try to minimise the problem in the way you summarise for comparison. Trying to reduce the problem – without taking into account the longer history - to this one recent instance of Dr J publicly admitting his collaboration with police is entirely misleading. For those who always saw a problem the documentary evidence was plentiful that for 30+ yrs he and his closest colleagues have been helping develop policing strategy & tactics. Eg, they advocated tactics to identify and isolate ‘troublemakers’ at protests and how to prevent riots spreading. There is no dislocation between his recent sloppy admittance of what he previously denied, it’s all part of a continuum of what much of their 30+ yr research has been about, what it has been explicitly orientated towards and designed for. Dr J’s recent slip is not the proof the critics were always looking for – it’s merely the evidence that even the deniers can’t deny. Those who’ve had their opinions changed by it are just those who ran out of excuses.

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What is the reason you think there is 'less kudos on the scene' between the two cases?

Eg, the responses on this thread and libcom and elsewhere generally over 6 yrs.

Quote:
In one, someone does dodgy academic research on riots and shops it around to police and councils (something they denied six years ago, which we wrongly took their word for until that press release/research was surfaced by you) while writing for Aufheben pseudonymously.

Here you appear to accept that 6 yrs ago you were lied to, thus apparently accepting the long continuum running thru their research project while still implying for comparison it was just recent “dodgy academic research”. I wouldn’t bother to definitively claim which case is worse, but yeh, 30+ yrs of aiding repressive policing by a ‘communist’ is definitely in the running. If you’re so worried about how some campaign leaflets might influence the treatment of trans people in jail maybe you should worry a bit more about how Dr J’s research might help put them there.

Quote:
I haven't read Aufheben recently but also never noticed any reformist policing line in their publication nor has one been pointed out.

In the Open Letters, which you’ve apparently read, it was rightly noted that the ‘extra credibility’ beyond that normally given by protesters to academics was explicitly cited by Dr J & co as evidence of the ‘unique value’ of their research. A cred increased by his Aufheben activity and a presence in activism. Dr J’s involvement in some protest events produced both academic research useful to cops and also Aufheben articles.

There seems a contradiction between claiming, for comparison, the recent Dr J exposure as a stand-alone instance and admitting that it relates to earlier denials. To try to reduce and isolate the problem with Dr J’s role to just the recent revealing slip of the tongue is to try to perpetuate the same old excuses and miss the point.

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Mcgoofle
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Nov 14 2017 07:05

Jesus wept it really makes me wonder if you guys actualy ever get anything done if you spend 470 messages and 3 weeks arguing over..whatever, I fully expect to see this still going on well after the next book fair. While youve been arguing about this shite weve been out supporting workers on strike and planning new campaigns.If you spent this much time and effort doing something practical might be a better plan.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 14 2017 07:28

Fair point. Scandal at the bookfair... this thread will run and run. Compare with how many pages on, for example, the "paradise papers"... Oh wait, there's no fucking thread! Still, it's nice to know what us "scenies" really like to spend our time on. Also, see the post immediately before yours. The Dr J scandal about a cop collaborator and buddy of some at Libcom Towers has been running for fucking years... though strangely, most Libcom admins can't bear to talk about that and still can't bear to see the cunt's name mentioned on here without slapping on their very own D-notice surprised

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Nov 14 2017 08:06

Watch this: Helen Steel, Michael Schmidt, Dr John Drury. Now see how long before the last name magically disappears. Of course the admins will say, Helen Steel and Michael Schmidt were already publicly associated with anarchism/communism whereas Dr John Drury isn't, which makes it doxxing. Right... but generally, people in the "movement" who have turned out to be coppers or their narks have been publicly pointed out in order to protect others in said "movement" and let them know they associate with such fucking maggots at their peril. Not so Dr John Drury, who has his own libcom guardian angels. Compare also, Toby Kendall had no such guardian angels but his name still stands 9 years on. Funny that's not doxxing.

Fleur
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Nov 14 2017 11:38

1. It actually takes fuck all time out of anybody's life to make a few comments on an Internet forum. Right now I'm typing this while waiting for my coffee to brew. Doing more than one thing at a time is possible. It doesn't stop anybody from doing anything else, including supporting strikes.

2. Trans people are workers too. Supporting them is supporting workers struggles. If you don't think they're worth a few minutes of (somebody else's) time spread over a few weeks, well your mask is slipping a bit.

3. Paradise Papers. I'm shocked. Shocked and amazed I am* clutching my pearls.* I would never guess that the filthy rich avoid taxes. I'm gobsmacked that this information has come to light (again and for the umpteenth time) and astonished at the lack of coverage and discussion, except in every media outlet because there's so much we can do about tax avoidance by millionaires, unlike eg transphobia in anarchist spaces.

4. Last I looked this thread was about transphobia at the LABF. Feel free to start other discussions or put them in the other existing threads already started.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 14 2017 11:47

Who has said anything about not supporting trans workers (excluding a couple of TERFs earlier, now banned)? You're missing the point somewhat.

Fleur
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Nov 14 2017 11:58

McGoofle seems to be under the impression that you can't walk and chew gum at the same time

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comrade_emma
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Nov 14 2017 13:54

McGoofles likes to throw rocks in glass houses considering they themselves were here posting, even worse, deraling it.

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Nov 14 2017 14:29
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McGoofle seems to be under the impression that you can't walk and chew gum at the same time

To judge him by his own logic - maybe he can't, it might've taken him all day to get that post together. Or maybe he looks for any excuse to brag about what a selfless super-activist he is. (I had to take my gum out to type this.)

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 14 2017 14:40
Mcgoofle wrote:
Jesus wept it really makes me wonder if you guys actualy ever get anything done if you spend 470 messages and 3 weeks arguing over..whatever, I fully expect to see this still going on well after the next book fair. While youve been arguing about this shite weve been out supporting workers on strike and planning new campaigns.If you spent this much time and effort doing something practical might be a better plan.

((470/3))/7) =22.3 less than one an hour and this thread doesn't have 470 posts yet

MH
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Nov 14 2017 23:32

Rather intriguing statement from 325 mag/website:
‘The loneliness of the crowd’ – Another reflection on the events at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair (UK)
https://325.nostate.net/2017/11/13/the-loneliness-of-the-crowd-another-reflection-on-the-events-at-this-years-london-anarchist-bookfair-uk/

Anarchists are no strangers to conflict or violence. Yet we feel that the way the conflict unfolded at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair was deeply disturbing and should have nothing to do with anarchism. The organising collective have, as a result of events on the day and subsequent reactions, issued a statement announcing that they will not be doing a Bookfair again next year. What we would like to talk about here though is the worrying climate in which the events took place, and the dangers of dogmas in the anarchist milieu.

The events at the Bookfair

Some individuals attending the Bookfair, one of whom was a Green Party politician, distributed provocative leaflets on the perceived ramifications of changes to the Gender Recognition Act. They were confronted by a group and expelled.

But it didn’t just end there. Having defended those who had distributed the leaflets, Helen Steel (‘HS’), a long-standing agitator and comrade to many, became the group’s next target. HS is known for having fought the infamous ‘McLibel’ trial for over a decade, and was subjected to intrusive state surveillance by an undercover police officer who deceived her into a two-year relationship. HS had not given out the leaflets (contrary to rumour), but had expressed support for those who had, and maintains some positions held by ‘TERFs’ (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists). The crowd demanded she leave.

For an hour and a half, HS and a few of her defenders were completely encircled by an aggressive, chanting crowd who attempted to publicly shame and physically expel her from the Bookfair. So fraught was the atmosphere that it was impossible to actually reach HS during this time to hear what she had to say. In the end, someone set off the fire alarm in what we assume was part of the effort to eject her, resulting in the evacuation of half the Bookfair, including the crowd and its target. The fire alarm emptied the workshops, causing major disruption to sessions that some speakers had travelled long distances to attend. It also likely jeopardised the use of the venue in the future, should other people seek to take on the running of the event, and finding a cheap venue willing to host a motley rabble of anarchists has never been an easy task.

The chatter in the days that followed was characterised by a venomous hatred for “the Terfs”, and a disgust levelled at the volunteer organisers of the Bookfair worthy of the Daily Mail comments section. Quick to set the narrative, these commentators re-wrote the afternoon’s events by creating a simple story of trans attendee victims and Terf/Bookfair perpetrators. They deliberately omitted to mention the harassment and public shaming an individual simply because they’d dared deviate from the party line; the line being that there is to be no doubt and certainly no criticism of any of the dominant narratives around identity politics. From the cesspool that is Twitter, identity politicians – 95% of whom clearly had not been at the Bookfair – also emerged Sunday morning to join in the chorus of condemnation against their perennial villains, the Anarchists and the Terfs.

Why we’re angry

We are not in any way surprised that liberal activists would seize on the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon, slag off anarchists, signal virtue with their impeccable ‘Ally’ credentials, and try to sabotage a major anarchist event for good. Neither are we surprised that people we disagree with or whose views are offensive would turn up at the Bookfair; some such groups in fact, sometimes have tables and workshop slots and their own supporters. We also recognise why trans people and other anarchists present would be pissed off with the leaflets, which the authors and distributors must have known were offensive and would provoke a reaction.

What we’re angry at is our fellow anarchists, who we hold to higher standards, and it’s on this that we want to concentrate. We’re disappointed at the abandonment yet again of anarchist principles of independent and critical thought in favour of groupthink. We’re angry at the willingness to sacrifice plurality of ideas for policing and self-censorship. And we’re saddened at the failure to balance our antagonism with a corresponding care and comradeship, so that bullying and public humiliation reigns unchecked. Finally, we’re pissed off that anarchists feel it’s so much more important to target another anarchist with unpopular views, than to attack institutional structures of our oppression.

After the 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair, attendees directed their antagonism towards a state target, with a protest at Eurostar for its role in the border politics in Calais and the imprisonment of migrants who had walked through the Channel Tunnel.

The dogma of the herd

Now, we have nothing against mobs in themselves – on the contrary, the mob has the potential to storm Bastilles and ignite revolutions – a reminder that makes the events at the Bookfair all the more depressing. Yet when we have moments of collective power, in the mob, in the riot, it is perhaps more important than ever to remain free-thinking and true to our personal principles and our ethics. As anarchists, we generally advocate the idea that the absence of the police and state does not bring us down to a Hobbesian ‘state of nature’, because we’re capable of thinking for ourselves and acting according to our convictions. That did not come through at all at the Bookfair. A moment of power was abused, by many so-called anarchists, safely in the knowledge that critics would be hounded and fellow anarchists would not call the cops.

One of the most disturbing aspects of all this was the way in which people allowed rumour to spread. The T-Word, once uttered, seemed to diffuse any flicker of concern from onlookers, all independent thought going out the window. “Apparently she was giving out Terf leaflets”, said a few. As mentioned, this transpired to be false information, and when those spreading the rumours were asked whether they had seen the texts for themselves, none of them had actually done so. When challenged, one person brushed it off by saying there was no smoke without fire, as if people were incapable of making mistakes. This sentiment also reveals ignorance of the long history of state agents using divide and rule tactics against dissidents – from COINTELPRO, to Stasi ops – and the fact that HS has herself been a target for state deception and manipulation.

This herd-like behaviour inevitably spilled over to that vacuous fishbowl that is Twitter, where people bully and harass others into accepting their ideas. This is obviously completely at odds with anarchist thought and is more reminiscent of the Trots or a cult. However a single tweet from the Anarchist Bookfair account condemning the bullying, and comments by anyone who expressed support for it or questioned the official narrative, elicited barrages of messages in response from bullies demanding they accept their dictum.

Implicit in some of the rhetoric on the day and after is the dogma that one must get 100% behind an individual or group if they are from an oppressed class. The implication is that we must unquestioningly support a dominant narrative from these groups, despite the fact that liberals comprise the majority of ‘activists’ and shout the loudest on the rights of marginalised groups — and we are anarchists. So no matter whether they spout liberal, Stalinist or otherwise dodgy views, they demand that you shut off all questioning and independent thought and give unequivocal support – that, in short, you stop being an anarchist.

The exercise of power is everywhere. Without a doubt, some groups in society are overwhelmingly targetted, disbelieved, imprisoned and otherwise oppressed and we should therefore work on creating especially welcoming spaces for these people, and make an effort to hear and believe them. But power also resides in those oppressed classes if you put them on a pedestal. Refugees and migrants, trans people, queers, working class people, and people of colour have the capacity for crap politics just like anyone else, and it does no-one any favours to place people beyond reproach purely because they are associated with a particular category or group. To uncritically support the group who mobbed HS is to align with those who openly used misogynist language and aggression against an individual they vastly outnumbered. We are not happy with the leaflets that were handed out, but that does not mean we cannot be equally uncomfortable with the response. To talk about the violence inherent in the language of leaflets then to ignore how that same process is being replicated in the way the word ‘Terf’ is being used is hypocritical.

An open letter was subsequently published with a list of demands directed at and to be met by the Bookfair organisers. This includes what is essentially a common political position that they expect to be enforced, begging the question of who will be the police of the Bookfair. This is patently ridiculous, not least given the many divisions within anarchist thought. The demands for a common position, policing, and self-censorship are clearly not anarchist, and neither is the expectation that ‘the organisers’ be held responsible for failing to resolve the dispute. Tellingly, the majority of the signatories at the time of writing are not anarchist groups, and some are random individuals who judging by their (anti)social media accounts have complete disdain for anarchists, which makes one wonder what they were doing at the Bookfair at all and why they feel entitled to make demands of anarchists who put considerable time and labour for free into making it happen.

Ethics in the mob

For us, identifying as anarchists means always striving to be open-minded and think for ourselves, and to be as critical of norms in movements, subcultures, or scenes as in mainstream society. An anarchist approach to conflict, as we see it, is to treat people wherever possible as individuals, not just a component of a class. Neither a member of the ‘Terfs’ to simply be attacked, nor a member of the trans rights group to be unquestioningly supported. There are very few cases where we use a label as shorthand to identify immediate threats, such as in a crowd situation. Only ‘fascist’ and ‘cop’ come to mind, despite our list of enemies being significantly longer. The reason for using these labels sparingly is because these terms are rightly taken very seriously, allowing us to make split second decisions to protect one another. The consequences of such terms being used against individuals are also very serious, usually resulting in a mobbing or beating and ostracism. The label ‘Terf’ is increasingly being used in a similar way, to discourage doubt and critical thought, and rouse a hostile response.

For these reasons, it is vital we differentiate between anarchists we may feel hold unpopular, dodgy or even heinous views, and actual fascists. Despite being called one, HS is clearly not a fascist. Fascists would have us all killed on the spot. There is no discussion with a fascist trying to spread their authoritarian ideas, for they themselves would tolerate no debate. This is the premise of a ‘no-platform’ approach. Yet HS didn’t claim a platform either, having neither attempted to run a stall nor deliver a workshop on the matter.

If two individuals have a disagreement which results in a fight, then so be it. At an anarchist bookfair, you only need to take your pick of contentious issues and disagreements, though surely this would be the ideal place to actually discuss these issues thoughtfully. It is not that we are opposed to antagonism, it’s that we feel it’s important to pick our tactics and our targets well, and to treat other anarchists – few in number and with many shared experiences, ideas and enemies – with some degree of care and respect. This does not mean we all have to love each other and get along, but that we need to be very careful of the consequences of our actions on individuals who may have to contend with the many hazards of being a thorn in the side of state and capital – from burnout, trauma and state surveillance; to internal conflicts and who knows what personal life struggles. We also have to be cautious of the implications of neglecting this culture of care and respect on the anarchist milieu as a whole. Do we really want the vitrolioc, polemic feuds on social media to set the tone for real-life conflicts in anarchist spaces? If two groups cannot share spaces, then they must go their own separate ways, and maybe those who can need to get better at discussing these difficult issues in person.

Failing to stop the spread of rumour, not questioning or speaking out against herd behaviour, and bullying individuals in the ‘scene’ who express marginal views is the path towards authoritarianism. In this case, our destination seems to be an environment in which those who hold unpopular views must hide them and feign adherence to the dominant position, or be forced out of our tiny and diminishing networks.

We would hope that enough of us have the passion and commitment to anarchist ideas of freedom and plurality of thought to prevent that from happening. If we don’t want to travel down the road of authoritarianism, we must always remember to think for ourselves and question our place in the crowd.

– Some anarchists

gamerunknown
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Nov 15 2017 07:46

That's poor. They recognise that collective action can be taken without it being authoritarian for combating racism, but transphobia we have to calmly sit around and debate in a liberal manner? Nationalist anarchists wouldn't want us all killed, they may just want to deport black workers. Should we calmly debate race realism with them?

As for whether we should approach things in an individual manner rather than as a class other than for cops and fascists... What about for bosses and landlords? That's the crux of the anarchist tradition I'm a part of anyway. Individually someone experiencing a withheld deposit or wage theft is not strong enough to combat it, acting with others who could experience the same they are.

Mike Harman
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Nov 15 2017 13:39

The thing that stuck out for me in the 325.no-state statement is the repeated use of 'unpopular views' because I keep seeing that all over the place used as a dogwhistle for 'allowing bigotry everywhere and anywhere'. It immediately reminded me of Brendan O'Neill, quick google search brought up at least three articles on Spiked using the exact formulation.

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/we-must-have-the-freedom-to-hate/17996#.Wgw_7BN-pPM
http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/2031#.Wgw_7BN-pPM
http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-new-bigots/17590#.Wgw_8hN-pPM

You can see it in this anti-LGBT petition here ('unpopular political or religious views'): http://metro.co.uk/2017/08/22/parents-compare-flying-lgbt-flag-to-confederate-flag-in-petition-to-tear-it-down-6871498/ And this editorial: https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/free-speech-must-apply-to-all-even-those-we-find-offensive-a3609641.html

You wouldn't describe electoralism at the anarchist bookfair as 'unpopular views' because it's popular enough outside anarchist bookfairs. You wouldn't describe anarchism or communism as unpopular at the bookfair, because that's what it's about. So it's not simply describing views that are unpopular, it's a dogwhistle for reintroducing mainstream bigotry (with support from publications ranging from the Mail to the New Statesman) into places it's (somewhat) been excluded from. This is the same inversion of power/victimhood narrative that's been successful over and over again.

The 'cops and fascists' paragraph is also interesting considering their website calls libcom 'snitches, police collaborators' and claims we work directly with Clifford Stott - and does so in the subheading to articles that don't claim that (like the Wildcat Germany one on Aufheben).

Fleur
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Nov 15 2017 15:58

I didn’t think that having nice, cozy discussions with bigots was part of the anarchist tradition. I think that’s part of the liberal tradition and some people are a bit confused.

Fwiw, I have admired Helen Steele, going back to the McLibel days and she has suffering egregiously at the hands of the state. So I’m very disappointed that someone whose own bodily integrity has been violated by the state supports the state interference in other people’s bodies, which is what the opponents of the GRA are doing. It’s a goddamned weird state of affairs to have anarchists supporting the state regulation of gender and genitalia.

Don’t elevate people to hero status, they are only human. Sometimes they are just plain wrong.

Spikymike
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Nov 15 2017 16:59

The ''325' text maybe open to a liberal interpretation but we should still be able to distinguish a broad defence of the bookfair organisers (who are no more perfect than the rest of us) and the value of the LABF's over recent years from an actual defence of organised TERF propaganda. There is a risk of this discussion becoming so polarised around the specifics of the events at the last bookfair as to prevent any more nuanced critical discussion of identity politics from a libertarian communist point of view.

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darren p
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Nov 15 2017 17:15
Fleur wrote:
I didn’t think that having nice, cozy discussions with bigots was part of the anarchist tradition.

Perhaps not. But then is group mobbing of lone people at bookfairs either?

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comrade_emma
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Nov 15 2017 17:35

If it gets rid of the transphobes, then yes, it should be.

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 15 2017 17:53
darren p wrote:
Fleur wrote:
I didn’t think that having nice, cozy discussions with bigots was part of the anarchist tradition.

Perhaps not. But then is group mobbing of lone people at bookfairs either?

people have for years tried to get the book fair collective to organise a proper way to deal with bigots abusive individuals etc but they always refused saying that people attending the book fair can deal with it on an adhoc basis, then denounced anyone who actually attempted to do that. the book fair collective actively rejected any solution to the problem.

Fleur
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Nov 15 2017 18:47

It’s almost as if decades of people trying to have nice, civilized discussion with transphobes hasn’t actually worked and that eventually if someone does something which was designed to provoke, people will eventually bite back.

When cis people say that “some aspects of trans activism needs to be discussed” what they usually mean is exerting a certain militancy and not passively allow people to peddle the sort of lies and bullshit that was on that leaflet. The sad thing is that the terfs provoked a response (maybe on purpose) and now they’ve now slipped into their usual victimhood position.

I remember during the 80s there were large segments of LGBT activists who strongly opposed the tactics of groups such as ActUp, in response to the AIDS crisis. Nice polite discourse is effective at times but when people are dying don’t expect everyone to settle for a chat over a cup of tea.

Mike Harman
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Nov 15 2017 20:48
Fleur wrote:
I didn’t think that having nice, cozy discussions with bigots was part of the anarchist tradition. I think that’s part of the liberal tradition and some people are a bit confused.

I mean the people who know Helen Steel and have been trying to talk to her about this, I think that's good and they should keep doing it. On a one-to-one basis people can be talked around sometimes (or at least pulled back from certain activity/positions).

This is quite different to expecting everyone else to have public, civil, discussions with transphobes - whether on the internet, or panel discussions or whatever. The two get conflated a lot and it's not the same thing at all.

SpikeyMike wrote:
There is a risk of this discussion becoming so polarised around the specifics of the events at the last bookfair as to prevent any more nuanced critical discussion of identity politics from a libertarian communist point of view.

So for non-specifics, I think it comes down to if an event wants to be as accessible as possible, then it should aim for 1. actual physical accessibility 2. not allowing bigotry to be promoted 3. anti-harassment stuff on top of #2.

These are conditions that if not met, a sizeable number of people won't attend events - based on their previous experiences of attending events and having a shitty time due to lack of commitment to those things. Doesn't mean things go great if that stuff is in place but implies at least an attempt.

If people are asking for those things as a condition of attendance, and this is getting refused, it's going to end up polarised - since then people are seen to be prioritising the rights of people to be bigoted (or harassers) to attend over their targets. Obviously some people who are targets of bigotry or harassment may attend despite all this, but they're likely to be people more up for confrontation when they encounter stuff.

If you're not an active bigot and also not a target, then it's a lot easier to be neutral, but that can lead to a default position of the status quo which unfortunately is not neutral in reality and alienates a lot of people.

Back to the bookfair itself:

The Empty Cages statement had only two demands - 1. accountability for the bookfair collective (not stated what this means, but probably an apology) 2. Committment to making all future events safe for trans attendees.

The closest I can find in the Bookfair statement to answering the second demand, is this paragraph:

Bookfair statement wrote:
We are all unhappy about the contents of the leaflets we have seen. One is clearly meant only to provoke, the other fails to even acknowledge the real fears and discrimination that many trans people face in everyday life and, by failing to do so, itself becomes provocative and therefore offensive. We had not seen the leaflets before the problems started and most of us did not get to see the contents until the end of the day. As anarchists we feel “banning” and “no platforming” are actions that should only be used as extreme solutions and, while the leaflet did cause offense and hurt, we will only remove literature or people from the Bookfair in extreme circumstances and not just because we disagree with it or them, even if they do cause offence.

So this is pretty explicitly saying they wouldn't pre-emptively ban the same leaflet from next year's bookfair (if it was happening). This leaves people with three options 1. Don't attend 2. Attend and just ignore the open, provocative bigotry by people organising to do so 3. Attend and try to force people out themselves again. The option of attending and not having transphobic literature distributed by Green Party members not being available.

Would also add, this isn't about 'identity politics' in the sense of lobbying MPs to vote yes to the Gender Recognition Act, it's about how people can expect to be treated within anarchist organisations/at events, what the minimum basis of political association should be, stuff like that.

MH
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Nov 17 2017 19:04

Statement on the London Bookfair, and an appeal, from Brighton ABC, the UK's longest running & most consistently active prisoner solidarity group.

Quote:
Statement by Brighton Anarchist Black Cross in Support of the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective Response to the 'Open Letter' (from Brighton ABC fb page on 16 November) :

Despite the threat of the loss of an event that has provided the single greatest opportunity for our fundraising activities for our prisoner support work over the past two decades, Brighton Anarchist Black Cross fully supports the stance of the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective in the face of a torrent of unfair and largely misplaced criticism. If people have chosen to continue to passively 'consume' the Bookfair each year whilst failing to actively engage in the creation of this event, then they have only themselves to blame when their snipping from the sidelines about their poor 'consumer experience' results in the Bookfair Collective calling it a day.

This is going to directly impact on our prisoner support work. We are a very small group, which nevertheless often provides quite significant material aid for comrades behind the bars. The fact that there is not going to be an Anarchist Bookfair next year in London is going to very severely impact our abilities to offer further support to anarchist and other political prisoners (including trans prisoners) and hinder our work on other anti-prison projects, such as printing literature, etc. We hope that the signatories of the open letter are fully aware of the real consequences their actions are already having on groups like ours.

NB: If you can support Brighton ABC's work there's donation options including paypal on their website – or even better give them a hand! http://brightonabc.org.uk/

Alternatively why not buy yourself some of their merchandise (& support them at the same time), including the excellent 2018 Bottled Wasp Diary, with a focus on Workplace Struggles – see here https://brightonabc.bandcamp.com/merch/bottled-wasp-pocket-diary-2018-workplaces-struggles
Thanks!

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
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Joined: 7-08-06
Nov 17 2017 19:40

Wow, what a shitty statement. I mean, it sucks that this will impact their work, but come on: reducing what happened to a "consumer experience" is pretty low.