Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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Spikymike
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Nov 3 2017 10:40

Thanks to zugzwang for posting Helen's statement above. That of course does confirm Helen's broad agreement with much of the content of the leaflet (though not with any aggressive promotion of its content) and should remind us that including a phrase in any bookfair 'safe spaces' policy in opposition to 'transphobia' would still leave open some different interpretations of what in practice that might amount to if we are to encourage critical debate on these issues.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 11:43
Rob Ray wrote:
If a young hijabi read "religion is stupid" at an obviously punk inspired stall at an anarchist Bookfair carrying copious amounts of antifascist literature and came to the conclusion it's specifically about persecuting them I'd question both their reading comprehension skills and common sense.

Yes why would you ever imagine there'd be reactionary views at the Anarchist Bookfair given the events of this weekend?

If you weren't sure either way, you could look at Active Distribution's website to see what else they say:

Active Distribution wrote:
wonder if this issue was released on April 1st afer scanning through and finding an article titled "Anarchist, Feminist Muslim" but no this issue was just late getting to me! So maybe this is Strike pushing barriers for the sake of it, not something I'm against but having found the patience to listen to liberal islamic apologists stuffed full of self delusion and false conciousness on Radio 4, I was severly tested reading the rubbish in this article.

http://www.activedistributionshop.org/shop/strike-magazines/3890-strike-magazine-15-march-april-2016.html

(The issue isn't online, so I don't know whether the article is any good or not, but nice review for your online shop!).

Or they could check out some of the other stickers they sell:

Active Distribution wrote:
As if killing animals isn't bad enough, let's torture them whilst we do it in the name of religion

http://www.activedistributionshop.org/shop/stickers/2293-halal-kosher-meat-sticker.html

It's like battery farming doesn't even exist - I assume people smashing the skulls of pigs with iron bars or leaving piles of diseased carcasss lying around to be eaten is due to Halal and Kosher too?

Mentioned it earlier but here's the BJP shutting down hundreds of Muslim butchers in Uttar Pradesh under the pretext of banning beef slaughter/meat: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-39364448. Presumably there's also halal slaughter so that ban would be good then? Of course you could blame it on the Hindu bit in Hindu nationalism, but that would ignore Modi's close links with the European new right due to their shared project of nationalism built on islamophobia and attempts to gain Sikh support in some cases (by whipping up anti-Pakistan sentiment).

Compare those to the positive review of Ernst Bloch's book on Christianity here:
http://www.activedistributionshop.org/shop/books/3020-atheism-in-christianity.html

Active Distribution wrote:
Ernst Bloch explores the social core at the heart of christianity and attempts to wrestle it from the power structures of church and state.

No 'religion is stupid', no "I'm going to ignore Christian anarchists like Muslim ones" in this review, just straightforward description of the book. Now it's possible if you sat down with the Active Distro bloke for hours you could wrestle this nuance out of him, but there's no sign of it on the website and sympathetic/thorough readings of subaltern/early communist religious movements only appear to be available and endorsed for christianity.

Rob Ray wrote:
Dawkins is a cunt who uses atheism as a cover for his bullshit, it doesn't mean the sentiment that religion's silly (full disclosure, a view I share inasmuch as I'm an atheist and reckon that the roots, certainly of organised religion, lie largely in a manipulation of peoples to bolster state power and have fuck all basis in reality) should be off limits.

Even in that paragraph you insert the caveat 'certainly of organised religion, largely' - which is the context and nuance that's missing otherwise. I'd agree with that as well, but being anti-religion (as opposed to anti-church etc.) just doesn't get me very interested any more.

Rob Ray wrote:
Should they be told to bury their opinions as well, I wonder?

Would you put that banner up over the Freedom stall? If you were in Charleston when white-supremacists marched on a church with flaming torches, would you start shouting 'the only good church is a burning church'? If not, why not?

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Devrim
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Nov 3 2017 12:03

I think whatever you think about the atheist banner, it's not ok to put up someone's photo on the internet like that. An admin should take it down.

Devrim

gamerunknown
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Nov 3 2017 13:35
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I'm sure like the new atheists Proudhon would claim he dislikes all religions equally, notebooks kind of tell a different story.

I'd like to qualify that the new atheists don't pretend to be neutral. I think at least Harris, Dawkins and certainly Hitchens have all said they'd prefer for someone to be Christian rather than Muslim, at least post-reformation/secularisation. Dennett I'm uncertain of. From Proudhon to the present day one can detect progress in anarchism. Proudhon had shit views on Jews, women, the possibility of an absolute ruler enforcing his ideal society, but he was the first to embrace the epithet anarchist and correct that the seizure of state power would lead to tyranny. Bakunin had advanced on the topic of women's contribution but had fucked conceptions of race. Kropotkin was better than either, no real hints of antisemitism, didn't quite stand up to modern approach to race, endorsed a "progressive" support of war. Berkman transcended all prior anarchists on that topic. He wrote the following about religion. The only actual anarchists I can think of who endorsed the ideal are Gustav Landaurer and Dorothy Day, with Tolstoy being a potential addition. However, for Tolstoy at least, material conditions leading to a revolution was an anathema, the root of the revolution was in spiritual transformation (described also by Jerry Cohen). Dorothy Day had to seek permission from the Pope to be an anarchist, on the condition of pacifism - which is farcical. Anyway, this sort of anarchism is in direct contravention to current strategies of class solidarity and organising and would entail abandoning our material interests.

Quote:
Have you seen his twitter in the past three years? It's full of 'islam is not a race' strawmen/dogwhistles and ranting about the Nobel Prize.

On urban I used the analogy of Islam not being a race for the leaflets, asking how welcome someone would be turning up with a leaflet saying "Islam is not a race" or "race is a biological fact" and wanting to debate the Immigration Act of 2014. I strongly predict the response wouldn't have been to decry violence against the person spreading such leaflets nor to call for a reasoned debate. Acknowledging our material interests does not mean we cannot recognise when oppression of a minority is being used to consolidate state power (the BNP specifically targeted Gurdwaras towards the end of their campaigning years and antireligious sentiment played into whether Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany were accepted).

Edit:

From Pittsburgh Manifesto:

Quote:
The Church finally seeks to make complete idiots out of the mass and to make them forego the paradise on earth by promising a fictitious heaven.
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libcom
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Nov 3 2017 12:53
Devrim wrote:
I think whatever you think about the atheist banner, it's not ok to put up someone's photo on the internet like that. An admin should take it down.

Devrim

Done.

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Reddebrek
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Nov 3 2017 13:00
Mcgoofle wrote:
I just find this whole thread about who is more repressed and needs more safe spaces than anyone else very depressing, i come froma group with at least 5 LGBT comrades who find the whole concept of 'if you are trans then you are more repressed than say any other working class person who is a person of colour or some other person the state may seek to divide us against' is just odd. if the state thought 'ohh I know lets see how we can turn anarchists against one another' they couldnt find a better way.

I'd just like to go back to this,

When I first read it I was going to mock you for the "some of my best friends are X" line you're using. But sadly, experience has taught me that there are quite a few queer folk who do have just as dumb views. So I'm going to be generous and give you the benefit of the doubt that these five people exist, and that you represented their views on the matter accurately.

You still shouldn't have done it.

1: If the argument is really on your side then their views shouldn't really matter. Popularity of an idea and the constituent makeup of that popularity don't change somethings validity.
2: What you've done is a pretty poor why to treat your supposed Comrades. They aren't pieces in a game for you to checkmate, what your doing is called using them as a shield to protect yourself from criticism.
3: Funnily enough it is the most liberal form of identity politics imaginable. Like most "Anti Idpol" types your more than happy to indulge in it when you think it benefits you. Being Queer does not automatically make you and expert on every single issue and facet of Queer existence. So for you to use them as authority just cos they're queer is insulting and shows how opportunistic and hollow your pretensions to Class pure politics really are.

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Nov 3 2017 13:42

Intel on Trixie aka Grottie Locket - one of the terf's who infiltrated the bookfair.
Seems she was a member of Class War once. I know CW doesn't tolerate terfs.
https://ibb.co/cNuGkw

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Steven.
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Nov 3 2017 13:53

Is helpful for Helen to clarify her position, however her transphobic views are very clear from the statement, and while she says that "TERF" is a sign of abuse (despite the fact one of the women distributing the leaflets proudly applies it to herself), it is also clear that Helen is a radical feminist, who repeatedly throughout that statement excludes trans women from her definition of the word "female". So she is clearly a TERF, and I don't really get why she has an issue with the label.

It is also clear that she doesn't have any issue with one of her TERF colleagues calling the police on the trans-activists, as she considers violence against women and issue which is immune from such reporting being "snitching" (for clarification, I'm not saying I do consider it has such. For example if survivors of domestic or sexual violence want to contact police I completely support their right to do so. But I don't think that calling the police on someone who confronted a bigot at an anarchist book fair is acceptable).

So overall not great from Helen…

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Nov 3 2017 14:03
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Yes why would you ever imagine there'd be reactionary views at the Anarchist Bookfair given the events of this weekend?

What, because there's a long history of religion-based "send-em-back" campaigning at the Bookfair? C'mon man you know there's not a direct comparison there, the whole thing about the terf spat is that it was shocking the pair of them felt it was ok to leaflet at all.

Active Distribution wrote:
Various

I don't have much interest in doing the searchbar shuffle about Jon's overall views on religion based on his posts, let alone defending his personal views as a whole wink. But fwiw from my experience of the man I'm 90% sure the banner is basically just what he thinks about all religion in more or less well-researched ways depending on how well-read about it he is (he's also a vegan btw, so he's fairly consistent on the not liking animal slaughter thing, machines or no).

What I do think is a bit of a stretch is this idea that the presence of such a banner should in and of itself be regarded as oppressive behaviour and indicative of bigotry.

Quote:
Even in that paragraph you insert the caveat 'certainly of organised religion, largely' - which is the context and nuance that's missing otherwise. I'd agree with that as well, but being anti-religion (as opposed to anti-church etc.) just doesn't get me very interested any more.

Yeah but I'm a nuanced kind of guy wink. Not everyone knows or thinks to put 101 caveats though, I don't see that as being the end of the world, just a subject worth talking to people about sometimes.

Rob Ray wrote:
Would you put that banner up over the Freedom stall?

Not my style, so no. But stickers along those lines have been put up around Whitechapel for years, no-one's ever given much of a shit about them or thought about them as much different from any other punk paraphernalia tbh.

Quote:
If you were in Charleston when white-supremacists marched on a church with flaming torches, would you start shouting 'the only good church is a burning church'? If not, why not?

Context. As in I'd be fairly confident that a room full of anarchists isn't gunning for people cos they're black if they start slagging off religion sort of context, unlike in Charlestone, because the movement's got decades of anti-racist history and explicit anti-racist policies behind it.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 14:52
gamerunknown wrote:
The only actual anarchists I can think of who endorsed the ideal are Gustav Landaurer and Dorothy Day, with Tolstoy being a potential addition.... Anyway, this sort of anarchism is in direct contravention to current strategies of class solidarity and organising and would entail abandoning our material interests.

For the record, I've got no time for Tolstoy/Dorothy Day etc. and think [religion] anarchism is a dead-end. However in a similar way that people are secular jewish communists and anarchists (the scene around Rudolf Rocker in London for example), plenty of people retain the label 'muslim' even if they don't practice religion - so I think you can be a 'muslim, anarchist' without believing in 'Islamic anarchism'. I haven't even seen anyone try to argue for an Islamic anarchism - there are people looking at historical precursors to anarchism and communism in muslim countries (and slaves in the US, many of whom practiced Islam), and people trying to navigate anarchism and religious communities now, these are not the same as a religious anarchist project. Would someone who goes to church for weddings, funerals and maybe midnight mass be a 'Christian anarchist'?

Without the Strike! magazine article available online, it's hard to know what was in it, but it sounded more like talking about those sorts of issues than 'towards an Islamic anarchism'.

Mark.
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Nov 3 2017 16:12
Mike Harman wrote:
Is there anything about the banner that to say a 15 year old hijabi who walks in off the street and gets called a terrorist at school that it's not reactionary new atheism or outright islamophobia? Is their reaction likely to be 'offense' or quite thinking they're not welcome and someone might start aggressively to reciting the banner to them?

I think you could find quite a few 15 year old hijabis who would identify with that banner. One of the problems with the left giving up on atheism is that people leaving Islam can end up seeing the left as hostile to them and the anti-Islam right as supportive.

Rob Ray wrote:
"Religion is stupid" is a bit kiddie punk militant for my taste but racist? There's no shortage of black atheists and secular African socialist movements, I can't imagine they'd be exactly thrilled about having their views spoken for.

And also ex-muslims, including those still wearing the hijab for one reason or another.

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Nov 3 2017 16:20
Mark wrote:
One of the problems with the left giving up on atheism is that people leaving Islam can end up seeing the left as hostile to them and the anti-Islam right as supportive.

And people who are still religous, but may very well share the same political ideals as us, may see the left as hostile to them. You know, it was very easy to recruit Muslims against communists in all parts of the world due to the rather lack of nuance in the left's position on religion.

Point is, it's not that black and white. We have to organize the working class as it is, and the far majority of people, in particular in non-Western countries, are religious. At the same time, we also have to make sure that we don't end up like the SWP did: supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other dodgy groups.

Mark.
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Nov 4 2017 20:34

I wouldn’t disagree with any of that, but at least in the little online ex-muslim world there is a major problem with people being alienated by the lack of support from the left, and drawn to anti-Islam arguments from the right.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 17:15
Rob Ray wrote:

I don't have much interest in doing the searchbar shuffle about Jon's overall views on religion based on his posts, let alone defending his personal views as a whole wink. But fwiw from my experience of the man I'm 90% sure the banner is basically just what he thinks about all religion in more or less well-researched ways depending on how well-read about it he is

lol at 90% wink

Rob Ray wrote:
(he's also a vegan btw, so he's fairly consistent on the not liking animal slaughter thing, machines or no).

Look forward to Active Distro's 'Christmas Ham - torturing animals in the name of religion' stickers then (not really).

Rob Ray wrote:
What I do think is a bit of a stretch is this idea that the presence of such a banner should in and of itself be regarded as oppressive behaviour and indicative of bigotry.

From what I got from the fb post, they talked to him about it and got a shit answer with no nuance, twitter suggests that's not the first time - it wasn't just the banner itself.

The response in the comments on https://libcom.org/library/introduction-anarchist-communism-anarchist-federation to criticism of the line on religion (with similar-ish points to that fb post) is more what I'd hope to see, adding nuance when it's asked for, rather than doubling down and denying nuance exists.

Rob Ray wrote:
Context. As in I'd be fairly confident that a room full of anarchists isn't gunning for people cos they're black if they start slagging off religion sort of context, unlike in Charlestone, because the movement's got decades of anti-racist history and explicit anti-racist policies behind it.

Have you forgotten that time when Class War burned a hook-nosed effigy of Mohammed in Hackney? Now one of the people involved with CW at that time (who used to post on here, although flounced before the effigy incident iirc) is a Brexit supporter who actively supports the Prevent strategy, has written blogs tacitly supporting Tommy Robinson etc.

Some quotes from that former poster:

former libcom forum poster and class war member wrote:
Far more important is the recognition by @Nigel_Farage, rare in a politician, that the jihadists mean what they say.

We would never have had, nor won, a referendum without @Nigel_Farage. If he now leaves politics, he leaves Britain better than he found it.

how are you going to 'protect jobs' unless you control immigration? And that is unacceptable to swathes of those you are trying to rally?

My life was in London. We had to leave as we could not afford it. Open immigration from the EU had to end.

Sovereignty. The UK's problems - the economy, the health service, security, immigration are best addressed by its people.

The whole point of open immigration is makes impossible organising everyone. That's why global elite depend on it.

Remember the Anarchist slogan 'No one is illegal' about immigration? It is now the view of the Council of Europe!

Norway learns immigration means, not just a challenge in terms of terrorism, but human security Especially for women

Donald Trump is a bore. But the reason he is doing so well is America's elites have too long ignored the masses views on immigration.

If @OwenJones84 wants to allay fears Islam is intolerant, perhaps he could go and live with his partner in a Muslim country for 6 months?

Soros also funded Hope Not Hate's research into counter-Islam groups. Something HnH fails to declare when critiquing anti-Soros activists. (replying to Raheem Kasseem of Breitbart)

The George Soros funded @openDemocracyUK continues the rear guard action to overturn our decision to leave the EU

Need any more?

I'd hope the anarchist movement in South Africa had a 'long history of explicit anti-racist policies' but it still managed to end up with Michael Schmidt as a major figure. Just laughing off stuff like this as overblown is how you end up with nasty surprises later on. If people are just being sloppy (happens to us all), they should be capable of clarifying instead of doubling down.

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Nov 3 2017 18:05
radicalgraffiti wrote:
you know what actual divides the working class? racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, nationalism etc
You know what doesn't? opposing that shit.

100% correct, except on the occasions when those opposing that shit are themselves divisive in their own way.

Quote:
but somehow the people pointing out the existing divisions get treated like they caused them and told it divisive, lacks class analysis

Yes unfortunately that does happen but again, on occasions it is correct to suggest such activists have a poor class analysis.

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Nov 3 2017 18:23

Wow... now we've got a furore over the "religion is stupid" banner. Mike Harmon, you sound more like the SWP every day. Also, setting up that bigoted nob from Class War as being in someway representative is very poor argumentation. Tell you what, I'll show your posts to the person I was speaking to only a couple of days ago whose family have pledged to kill her because there's a photo of her on Facebook with her hair uncovered and she's in the company of men. Or how about the Iraqi anarcho communist who says religion is shit, or someone like Maryam Namazie who's had more death threats than you can shake a stick at?

What the hell has happened to your ideas?

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Nov 3 2017 18:21
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Have you forgotten that time when Class War burned a hook-nosed effigy of Mohammed in Hackney?

I haven't, but I'm not sure why you've brought it up in this context given how different targeting a single religion in a way which obviously draws on racial stereotypes is from saying *all* religion is stupid as a statement applying to, well, all religions equally. And that poster got absolutely crushed specifically because the anarchist movement isn't fond of racism.

If you're trying to suggest I'm arguing the anarchist movement has never and never will have any racists in it though that's a massive misreading of what I've been saying tbh.

AnotherPerson
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Nov 3 2017 18:47

I am writing to say that I was at the Bookfair fairly close to where it all kicked off. I was not involved. Despite this fact I have upset all week. I always considered myself on the side of trans people and trans activists (but this is not an issue I have focused on in my political activism). After what I witnessed last weekend and the subsequent misrepresentations of what happened online, I am no longer trust trans activist movements that are part of in this scene to either: 1) accurately report on what happened; 2) act in a way that is will actually support trans people and radical movements in the UK (because I don't consider this mob violence as in any way beneficial). It seems from the public statement that many of the groups that I considered crucial to organising the left have accepted the trans activists narrative wholesale without critique of the violence that was used on Saturday. I think much of the language on this thread is inflammatory and this way of talking leads to violent outbursts that we witnessed Saturday. Perhaps trans activist see this as a victory. I am just here to say that I (along with several people I know) will no longer feel able to participate in movements that condones the types of violent assaults that happened on Saturday - regardless of the language you use to dehumanise and dismiss those people's rights to not be assaulted. Helen and the other women may have some ideas I don't agree with – with but the aggression, insults and violence that is happening at this stage is entirely coming from the trans activists. I am far more concerned with actions that words on a flier. I feel the physical reverberation of the aggressive assault of 30+ extremely angry trans activists on a just a few older women as something that will destroy my capacity to organise with any group who is okay with this.

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Nov 3 2017 19:08
Serge Forward wrote:
Wow... now we've got a furore over the "religion is stupid" banner. Mike Harmon, you sound more like the SWP every day. Also, setting up that bigoted nob from Class War as being in someway representative is very poor argumentation. Tell you what, I'll show your posts to the person I was speaking to only a couple of days ago whose family have pledged to kill her because there's a photo of her on Facebook with her hair uncovered and she's in the company of men. Or how about the Iraqi anarcho communist who says religion is shit, or someone like Maryam Namazie who's had more death threats than you can shake a stick at?

What the hell has happened to your ideas?

Maryam Namazie is an Islamophobe, and er, her she is with Maria Mac, the TERF at Hyde Park.
https://ibb.co/h8dJyG
See how these bigots all like each other? I wonder how that could be...

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Nov 3 2017 19:19

Guilt by association with Maria Mac* eh? As for your "Namazie is an islamophobe" I think you'll find she's entitled to fire off at islam, Islamists and those who promote it and who have serially fatwa'd her.

* Someone I know nothing about.

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Nov 3 2017 19:21

No gods, no masters.

I don't think we need to evaluate every religion in the world to be able to draw the conclusion that it is wrong. If I understand correctly the person who photographed the stall cites the fact that the stall owner didn't know the names of any indigenous African religions and is propagating colonialism. Colonial repression of religions was obviously motivated by racism and maybe a little normativity, but it doesn't mean that religions are good. There is obviously an overlap between religion and culture which is not clear, but again defending culture is not necessarily defending religion. I read an interesting article ages ago, saying that high numbers of people professing to be 'non-religious' was because Japanese people associated religion with christianity and other foreign religions, and considered their own religious (according to outsiders) practises to be part of their culture. I'm not sure how true this is, or if it is any difference to catholics I know who go to mass once a year to keep their parents/grandparents happy, or muslims I know who ignore religion but keep halal.

As atheism has been used as a dog whistle for racists and as persecution is often motivated/justified by eligion I am not going to be militant about atheism, but it is a pretty fundamental anarchist belief. The banner is unhelpful and I wouldn't display it, post it, sticker it etc and wouldn't have it up at an event, but we also need to avoid going too far in the opposite direction and simply letting things go due to religion. So while homosexuality, feminism, racial equality etc are often viewed as culturally unacceptable, I can't let any of them slide simply because of someone's background. Clearly as an anarchist I need to oppose patriarchy, for example, but it doesn't mean simply supporting anything done by a woman, terfs for example.

As far as I can see as anarchists we should defend people from oppression, discrimination etc based on their religion, but without endorsing the religion. So while I dislike the hijab, I deeply oppose French ban on religious symbols as it very clearly targets muslims, it doesn't mean I want women to wear the hijab. When catholics were being interned in Ireland anarchists should have supported them as they were being targeted due to their religion, it doesn't mean that they would start arguing in favour of using the tax system for tithing or something similar. When my Dad was at school kids got hit for using their left hands to write. I wouldn't advocate for or against anyone using their left hand, but obviously I would oppose any discrimination on those grounds, which I would support would defend me against accusations of leftism.

Oranj wrote:
atheism is just another religion these days.

Rubbish. I usually see this line from religious people who either can't comprehend atheism or think that they can discredit it by accusing it of hypocrisy in this way. The same people who use the term "people of faith" to try to attract sympathy.

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Nov 3 2017 21:21

'transactivists' and 'trans narrative' is crypto-TERF bullshit.

There is no trans narrative or trans ideology. Trans people are not a monolith. They are as diverse as cis people.

AnotherPerson is a lying terf. ('lying' is quite redundant when describing terfs)
The only violence on the day was from their side. The victims of that violence were exclusively cis and trans women.

Quote:
I feel the physical reverberation of the aggressive assault of 30+ extremely angry trans activists on a just a few older women as something that will destroy my capacity to organise with any group who is okay with this.

See, this is how I know you weren't there.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 19:23
Mark. wrote:
I wouldn’t disagree with any of that, but at least in the little on-line ex-muslim world there is a major problem with people being alienated by the lack of support from the left, and drawn to anti-Islam arguments from the right.

In the UK the Labour Party, RESPECT etc. has worked with all kinds of 'community leaders' and etc. Labour doing that was documented here: https://libcom.org/library/croissant-roses-new-labour-muslim-britain or Galloway here: https://libcom.org/blog/enemy-my-enemy-notes-not-having-really-shit-politics-22082012 - this isn't a reluctance to criticise religion but actively exploiting it in the nastiest most opportunist way possible.

Should note that Ciaron O'Reilly the assangeist whose bookfair exploits were documented in the 2015 bookfair thread on here (linked earlier in this thread by me), also favourably promotes George Galloway. For example here: https://twitter.com/CiaronOReilly/status/781410745368051712

Aaron Bastani from Novara Media also did two radio interviews with Galloway recently (then got widely condemned after the second one when people noticed). Bastani doesn't share Galloway's views on religion at all afaik, but fondness for radio interviews meant not confronting either his views on religion or his rank misogyny and rape apologism.

So really, neither the reactionary new-atheist nor the opportunistic cosying-up-to-organised-religion are very far removed from the bookfair. Pretending either is, is really doing everyone a disservice. Quite possible to end up alienating people both still-religious-and-moving-towards-anarchism and apostate-at-risk-from-far-right-recruitment at the same event! And the answer to that isn't a debate between Dawkins-esque and Galloway-eque positions but excluding both. Also being clear in arguments, since it's not as clear cut as ACAB.

I'm not sure I'm managing to get my actual point across here at all though:

When I saw Helen Steel's tweet go past a few weeks ago about Hyde Park, I rolled my eyes and double-taked. It didn't click at all that she was a TERF from that one tweet, assume she'd just seen the coverage and not read more into it, as opposed to attending the event on the TERF side. Here we are a few weeks later and unpleasant surprise about an activist I've been aware of for more than half my lifetime, one of the first non-classical anarchists I'd ever heard of when a teenager.

When Red Marriott informed me about someone's anti-immigration posts on U75 over a decade ago (someone I knew a bit IRL), I probably nodded that it was fucking stupid, but didn't follow up and eventually forgot about it (and still can't remember the actualconversation). I've since that person making anti-immigration arguments within the past couple of months, so they're still at it over a decade later.

11 years ago or whenever the Class War bonfire night incident happened, people on here had a go at them for it, but probably didn't think one of the members would be tweeting about how great Nigel Farage and 'British sovereignty' is a decade later.

There's a whole thread on Michael Rectenwald's switch from left communist to Trump supporter on here too.

After so, so many examples, I'm trying to be a bit less surprised and shocked all the time, and less dismissive when things come up (which I've definitely been in the past).

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Craftwork
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Nov 3 2017 19:26

Well, all I'll say is that communists ought to be concerned with religious domination because it is precisely the non-exploiting classes that suffer the most as a result of mystical, spiritual or religious illusions, and it's elites (local, national, ...) that benefit from this swindle.

It disempowers the masses, it teaches them that misery, poverty and suffering are invariant characteristics of this existence, that prayer and worship (based on the instruction of higher authorities - priests, popes, deities, ...) are the key to salvation, and that this salvation lies in another world.

Of course, as Marx+others showed, merely criticising religion is insufficient, and some non-communist critics clearly use their critiques as a veiled form of racism, but that doesn't mean real communists (who do not possess any racist intentions) ought to abandon or mute a critique out of a fear of ending up on the "same side" as Dawkins and others. This amounts to a shameful retreat for the movement.

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Nov 3 2017 19:25
Serge Forward wrote:
Guilt by association with Maria Mac* eh? As for your "Namazie is an islamophobe" I think you'll find she's entitled to fire off at islam, Islamists and those who promote it and who have serially fatwa'd her.

* Someone I know nothing about.

I already know that you know nothing. No need to remind me. smile

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Serge Forward
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Nov 3 2017 19:28

That's your first post that made me smile. Glad to see there's a human beneath the right-on dalek persona wink

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 19:33
Rob Ray wrote:
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Have you forgotten that time when Class War burned a hook-nosed effigy of Mohammed in Hackney?

I haven't, but I'm not sure why you've brought it up in this context given how different targeting a single religion in a way which obviously draws on racial stereotypes is from saying *all* religion is stupid as a statement applying to, well, all religions equally. And that poster got absolutely crushed specifically because the anarchist movement isn't fond of racism.

If you're trying to suggest I'm arguing the anarchist movement has never and never will have any racists in it though that's a massive misreading of what I've been saying tbh.

CW always used to have stalls at the bookfair, don't know if they still do (I imagine this person long since stopped attending either way). You suggested decades of anti-racist organising meant someone attending the bookfair shouldn't think they'd get racist treatment from anarchists.

Serge Forward wrote:
Wow... now we've got a furore over the "religion is stupid" banner. Mike Harmon, you sound more like the SWP every day.

Flaming torches, witch hunts, rape-apologist Trotskyist sect all in comments you had time to write, but better not call a TERF a fascist in the middle of an argument eh? edit to be clear, if I saw that poster, I'd very likely just roll my eyes at it and then immediately forget about it, what I wouldn't do though is rush to defend it by calling any criticism 'ridiculous' or 'just like the SWP'.

Serge Forward wrote:
Also, setting up that bigoted nob from Class War as being in someway representative is very poor argumentation.

Didn't say he's representative, said he was around on this site for years (albeit there was massive hostility for all that time) and a member of a group that had bookfair stalls. People with completely fucked ideas aren't 'representative', but there's enough of them, and they're often given a pass.

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Nov 3 2017 20:30
Mike Harman wrote:
Flaming torches, witch hunts, rape-apologist Trotskyist sect all in comments you had time to write, but better not call a TERF a fascist in the middle of an argument eh?

If the cap fits. Look, parts of this thread have been a tad witchy and torchy. Hmmm... I didn't mention SWP for their rape-apologism (sorry for any possible implication, that was not intended) but because of their opportunistically endlessly shifting political line, based on whichever section of the community they were targeting for recruitment, at some point becoming quasi-islamist the better recruit teh muslim yoof. Meanwhile, "anti-colonial" libcoms want to back peddle on their opposition to religion, possibly so as not to alienate BME christians and muslim yoof*. See the link? "TERFs" meanwhile are really not fascists in any sense but do have very bigotted and repressive views.

Seriously, what has happened to you? Mebbe I'm mixing you up with someone else but I used to find you pretty sound, but now, it's like you've just got religion in the Church of the Perpetually Righteous but Miserable Bleeders.

* In itself, incredibly suspect and patronising!

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 22:08
jef costello wrote:
I read an interesting article ages ago, saying that high numbers of people professing to be 'non-religious' was because Japanese people associated religion with christianity and other foreign religions, and considered their own religious (according to outsiders) practises to be part of their culture.

Yeah that's pretty accurate I think, it's close to getting off-topic, but the different development of religious practice is maybe relevant:

- there are two primary religions in Japan - Shinto and Buddhism.
- New Years Eve midnight people will go to local (Buddhist) temples to watch massive bells being struck (and the bigger temples are televised on NHK)
- New Years Day people got to (Shinto) shrines to burn Daruma and other charms on a massive bonfire and cook dried squid.
- Visiting a temple or shrine is usually walking around the grounds (sometime only public space in a neighbourhood, but not like a graveyard more like a small park), then maybe chucking a few yen in a box and bowing head/clapping hands a couple of times. There are religious ceremonies but that's a tiny, tiny fraction of visitors, and if it's popular it'll be a cultural event like a matsuri (street festival) or something to do with Sumo which doesn't really involve much religion at all either.

So those numbers likely include a lot of people non-practising, and also lot who are agnostic because they mix and match between the two main religions.

Shinto didn't really exist as a formal/distinct religion until about 600-700 AD when it coalesced from I guess proper indigeneous folk religions, Buddhism arrived in 800 AD (there are still temples dating from around then, same as there are churches from 700-900 AD in the UK still).

Buddhism was a formal religion when it arrived, and it subsumed a lot of Shinto stuff into it, to the point that Shinto didn't really exist as an independent religion for hundreds of years at a time although the mythology bits probably did culturally.

Then 1868 Meiji period you suddenly had 'State shinto' which was a major ideological drive to Japanese imperial expansion. The Japanese state self-consciously conducted a massive westernisation/modernisation process away from feudalism to capitalism, and 'State shinto' would have been a part of that process - probably imported from European state religions in the same way as two-house parliaments were.

The commercialism and casual observance would be a post-1945 thing again. I don't really know to what extent pre-1868 religion was integrated into the feudal/martial system, my feeling is not as much as in Europe but not really interested.

Either way even though religion was used as a driver for Japanese imperialism, the history of how that happened is very, very different to European colonialism and formal religion is probably weaker there than anywhere else - even though there's temples and shrines literally everywhere you go.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2017 23:13
serge forward wrote:
opportunistically endlessly shifting political line, based on whichever section of the community they were targeting for recruitment, at some point becoming quasi-islamist the better recruit teh muslim yoof. Meanwhile, "anti-colonial" libcoms want to back peddle on their opposition to religion

I've always, consistently, thought that opposition to organised religion, anti-clericalism, was more important than opposition to religion as such. There's nothing inherently communist about atheism, communism might lead to atheism but not necessarily at all vice versa.

Serge Forward wrote:
"TERFs" meanwhile are really not fascists in any sense but do have very bigotted and repressive views.

It's not just views though is it? It's active organising, production of ideology, and distribution of propaganda to push the state to persecute a minority (and using a victimhood narrative to do so - "this woman must be placed in a mens' prison to avoid one 'man' in a womens' prison").

If it was just views it'd be regular transphobia - still not good and slowly getting less broadly accepted, but I'm sure I was pretty casually transphobic as a teenager in the '90s (not to anyone individually, but not really thinking about it either), whereas fuck that now. TERF-ism isn't a result of a lack of thought, it the result of a lot of thought and effort.

This will be the third mention, but the burning of the institute for sexology research archives in 1933 was one of the key moments of Nazism as it developed. The night of the long knives was an internal party purge of gay Nazis like Ernst Rohm, work and death camps followed using the address lists from the institute as a basis. Part of the reason trans issues seems like a recent phenomenon is because the community and research developing in post-WWI Germany was completely wiped out. Doesn't make every transphobe or TERF a fascist in the same way not every racist bigot is a fascist, but it's not as if there's no links either then or now. You'll often see (well known) TERF and alt-right accounts on twitter promoting each other so there is cross-pollination now in a real sense.

Serge Forward wrote:
Seriously, what has happened to you?

Let's see, in the past few years:

- found out some of my friends and work colleagues have been sexually assaulted, in some cases by people I knew for years and that had been written off (including by me) as a bit blokey/sexist but 'not really that bad'.

- primary school age daughter and partner have both had some (fairly mild on the scale of things fortunately) racial abuse.

- Multiple, well documented cases of institutional protection of sexual abusers within political groups - whether SWP or Bloomsbury 10/B10, many more cases where there wasn't institutional protection as such but also general failure across the political spectrum to deal with it properly.

- these coming out around the same time as Savile stuff and many other high profile cases.

- I'd previously mostly associated sexual assault in the left with cults like the WRP/Healy, but while those kinds of structures don't help, informal hierarchies aren't better for enabling that shit.

- have indeed been reading up on a lot of anti-colonial movements. Again, nothing actually contradicted my views on national liberation which have been consistent for years, but also found a lot of proletarian aspects to these that have been overlooked in importance relative to say the 1926 general strike or something historically, in some cases not written about at all by libertarian communists despite involving massive strike waves etc.

- didn't think that either Brexit would happen or Trump would get elected (thought it'd be very close, but not over the edge), so tried to catch up on what exactly led to that which doesn't fall into the liberal 'white working class' narrative. This meant looking into the influene of complete shite like evolutionary psychology, neoreactionaries and similar (which links back to Sam Harris, Charles Murrays' bell curve etc.).

- been following a lot of people on twitter, internationally and from different political traditions a bit, partly to try to understand what the attraction to what we'd mostly agree is 'shit politics' is for people who consider themselves anarchists and communists in the broad sense. Seen several cases where people withdraw from organised revolutionary politics due to meeting open hostility to discussing this stuff (like being likened to the KKK, salem witch trials, SWP when they bring up issues of transphobia and racism, just for example, like).

It's not about opportunist recruitment, it's about not letting indifference, ignorance, and cynicism completely fucking alienate people.

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