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Exiting the Vampire Castle

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DekuScrub3's picture
DekuScrub3
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May 21 2015 13:10
Exiting the Vampire Castle

No doubt this will come across as #whitemaletears to scolds like Fall Back....but I relate to it so hard.

http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11299

The culture of the existing left is absolutely toxic. It's like a never-ending Maoist struggle session. Wake me up when we get our shit together.

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May 21 2015 13:15

Meh

"You don't have to read his piece all that carefully to realise that what Fisher is really aiming to do is shut up people with legitimate criticisms of the left as it is, as it has been and as he wants to reconstruct it. When he was on Doug Henwood's radio show he abandoned any pretence and said "the reason I wrote that was really as permission to us, people who identify as communists, socialists and social democrats, permission to disengage from kinda liberals, and what I call neo-anarchists. I think we take anarchism far too seriously. There is a sleight of hand in anarchist reason that is often employed that they'll judge social democracy, communism or whatever by what it actually historical achieved but anarchism by what it would achieve in its ideal society. I think we look at the meager historical achievements of anarchism and also the meager achievement of the anti-capitalists movement .. ultimately of course we don't want to be debating with the vampires.."
http://anarchism.pageabode.com/andrewnflood/intersectionality-vampire-ca...

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May 21 2015 14:00

I support electoralism, but the critique of anarchism or whatever didn't really interest me. I was more drawn to the critique of the left's toxic internal culture. I'm not even sure why the anarchism bit is in there to be honest. It seems kind of detached from the rest of the article.

boomerang
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May 21 2015 14:07
Quote:
I support electoralism,

I think you forgot to write a "don't" in that sentence?

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May 21 2015 14:09

Nah, I support electoralism. I'm a socialist, not an anarchist, but I find the conversation better here than most other places.

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May 21 2015 14:20

The "anarchism bit" is central for the reason quoted above - in Mark's own words. Fisher sees his electoral, populist, left-labourism threatened by the popularity of anarchism and intersectional feminism amongst (especially) a younger generation, and his thwarted desire finds its scapegoat in the 'vampires'.

Fwiw there's a very good autonomist marxist critique here.

The 'toxic culture' he's attacking is twitter. People can be fucking nasty on there. I've had spells of threats and insults. I imagine if you're a high profile person that's amplified. But there is no feminist gamergate. While I've had bad days of being bombarded with insults and threats, that's pretty much a standard day for the much-malinged 'twitter feminists'. Many of the criticisms aimed at Russell Brand and Owen Jones are political criticisms, and their supporters have found it easier to cry persecution than engage with those politics - something Fisher explicitly and emphatically doesn't want to do (again, see quote above).

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May 21 2015 14:27

I don't think it's just Twitter. And I don't think the particularities of British politics and his views on them mean much, at least not to me. I think the reason the article was so widely shared was it spoke to a pretty universal experience to anyone who's existed in the Left-wing bubble over the past couple years.

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May 21 2015 14:46

deleted joseph said same thing.

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May 21 2015 14:49

Meh, if you think the problem with the left is there's a powerful cabal of feminists ruining everything, I've no idea what left you've been in. I've only been in one meeting ever with a (numerical) female majority, and that wasn't really 'the left' per se (trying to organise a strike with some cleaners).

On the other hand, there are a huge number of lefty men who are generals looking for an army. All full of important opinions and great theory, if only everyone would shut up and listen for a minute. When sometimes it's not all about you, and the best thing you can do is take the minutes or make the sandwiches.

boomerang
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May 21 2015 14:50
DekuScrub3 wrote:
Nah, I support electoralism. I'm a socialist, not an anarchist, but I find the conversation better here than most other places.

Ah, I see. Genuinely thought you made a typo.

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May 21 2015 14:53
Joseph Kay wrote:
Meh, if you think the problem with the left is there's a powerful cabal of feminists ruining everything, I've no idea what left you've been in.

Please don't put words in my mouth. I feel like that's exactly the sort of disingenuous, bad-faith shit this article is about.

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May 21 2015 14:53

I'm sorry, it's not a powerful cabal, it's a vampire castle. Important difference.

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May 21 2015 14:56

Glad we're having a productive conversation.

radicalgraffiti
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May 21 2015 14:57

electoralism, now that is a thing that fucks the left up

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May 21 2015 15:12

Look at the ISN, which just disbanded. What was the first split about? Richard Seymour said the wrong thing about race play or something. I see shit like that all the time on the left. (In Seymour's case, I didn't really care that he was on the receiving end of such a witch hunt because I feel like he often instigates similar stuff against people) And that's the kind of thing that the article is about, IMO. Was using the term "vampire castle" contributing to the same sort of toxic culture the author was critiquing? Sure.

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May 21 2015 15:14

http://thecharnelhouse.org/2014/01/23/live-by-intersectionality-die-by-i...

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May 21 2015 15:35

What connects all these spats? Social media ... Something that may have been an argument in a group of a few people becomes a twitter hunt. In doing so producing copy for blogs and mainstream media furthering the feeding frenzy. Its its own self producing machine of junk, manarchists, vampires and trolls.

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May 21 2015 15:34

As much as I disagree with DekuScrub, he has a point about the toxic atmosphere of the left.

If only there was some kind of policy on acceptable behaviour we could adopt for our meetings and events.

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May 21 2015 15:35

A problem with the left is the number of leftie men who can't cope with marginalising behaviours being pointed out and then a minority of actually nasty types who are used to getting away with full on misogynistic stuff because they are seen as too important to challenge. Unfortunately that second group have been able to hide behind the fears of the first.

And then we have a layer of what I've termed nostalgic lefties who want a return to a fictional simplified 1930s left of strong leaders (themselves) and muscular workers. That crowd, Fisher & Henwood being examples, also mobilise that fear to try and exclude many feminists, anarchists and anyone else unwilling to toe the back to the future line.

Yes the fact that what is mostly a new generation of people coming into the left have been unwilling to tolerate this and the fact that nowadays newcomers have a voice through twitter/tumbler has been quite disruptive of traditional left methods and organisational practises. This however is a good thing and is forcing a culture change on the left. Like all new movements it has its excesses and in turn its own manipulators but the problem that is being fought is very much greater than the problem that is being created.

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May 21 2015 15:36

Yeah, social media...but also the left's impotency I think too. You know, "Well we can't defeat the liberals, we can't even defeat the conservatives, so instead let's eat our own."

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May 22 2015 16:13
Mr. Jolly wrote:
What connects all these spats? Social media ... Something that may have been an argument in a group of a few people becomes a twitter hunt. In doing so producing copy for blogs and mainstream media furthering the feeding frenzy. Its its own self producing machine of junk, manarchists, vampires and trolls.

Sure. But the term "flamewar" was coined on bulletin boards (which for the non-Zimmer frame using readers was a kind of internet forum before the invention of the world wide web). Of course the arguments back then were more with an-caps, possibly because the gender balance of the pre-web internet was ridiculously male.

The point is the problem is online behaviour as opposed to face to face meetings (where people can be interrupted before they go too far). Beyond face to face meetings is that they are generally part of a process of actually doing something together with people in realspace. And its actually the experience of working together towards a common goal that builds the relations of trust that are necessary for people to have serious discussions around real differences of opinion without resorting to incitement to hatred.

The problem really is with people who think that online blabber has anything to do with "the left". Like JK says, the fantasy of the Vampire Castle does not meet the reality of actual activist meetings.

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May 22 2015 22:03
ocelot wrote:

Sure. But the term "flamewar" was coined on bulletin boards (which for the non-Zimmer frame using readers was a kind of internet forum before the invention of the world wide web). Of course the arguments back then were more with an-caps, possibly because the gender balance of the pre-web internet was ridiculously male.

The point is the problem is online behaviour as opposed to face to face meetings (where people can be interrupted before they go too far). Beyond face to face meetings is that they are generally part of a process of actually doing something together with people in realspace. And its actually the experience of working together towards a common goal that builds the relations of trust that are necessary for people to have serious discussions around real differences of opinion without resorting to incitement to hatred.

The problem really is with people who think that online blabber has anything to do with "the left". Like JK says, the fantasy of the Vampire Castle does not meet the reality of actual activist meetings.

Yeah, this matches my experiences, and I think that those who are most concerned about the vampire castle are those whose activity is mainly online.

xxzxcuzxme
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May 23 2015 10:07

What the hell is a vampire castle?? (Well intended question).

Fleur
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May 23 2015 13:37

xxzxcuzxme wrote

Quote:
What the hell is a vampire castle?? (Well intended question).

The Vampire Castle is an entirely fictitious concept invented by some white, lefty men, who are standing in the shadow of the castle, garlic wreathes in hand, shouting "No! it's all about class! It's all about class!"
When the terrifying monsters in the castle say "Actually, race, gender, sexuality etc are class issues too and maybe you should engage with women, POC, LBGTQ etc people in a more constructive way" they are met with the ever popular mantra, "You're just being divisive!" When the Vampires point out that there are areas of the left which have a very poor understanding of BME, gender etc issues, the people who have invented the Vampire Castle just accuse it's inhabitants of moralizing.
They then wander about lamenting about the abysmal state of the left, blaming the Vampires for this, utterly, cluelessly oblivious that the left has been in an awful state for fuck knows how long, this period in which the left has been in a shit state coincidentally having been under the careful stewardship of the same lefty white men who have now invented the Vampire Castle as the boogeyman which is destroying the left.

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May 23 2015 14:14

Oh, c'mon Fleur. Even Fall Back admitted the left had a toxic culture. Whatever you want to call it, it exists. And more and more it just makes me want to disengage from politics altogether.

xxzxcuzxme
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May 23 2015 14:23

Thanks Fleur. Now that I know what it is, it doesn't sound anywhere near as appealing as what I had suspicions it may of been- something in relation to an obscure 1980s video game!! In fact, I think I'd rather have it as a game.

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May 23 2015 14:38

Yeah, the left does have a toxic culture. Have you ever tried considering why this is the case? What it might be at least in part a reaction to? The whiney lefties complaining about safer spaces, trigger warnings, autonomous organizing, time and time again shouting about identity politics when someone brings up race, gender etc, refusing to offer solidarity to someone who is under attack from the right because she used a hashtag you didn't like, men getting whiney and hurt and taking it personally when women want to talk about sexism, white people getting upset and sulky when POC want to discuss racism for maybe a couple of hours without white people present, getting angry and defensive when people try to address the longstanding culture of sexism & covering up of sexual assault in the left. Honestly the list is endless. And then people complain about the toxic culture in the left. Show me time when it hasn't been toxic? Or is it only toxic when people at the receiving end of this shit at the hands of our comrades start complaining about it?

Fleur
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May 23 2015 14:40

xxzxcuzxme

It would make a good game, wouldn't it? I know some developers, I'll float it at them, see if we can get it up on Steam smile

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May 23 2015 14:45

Fleur, I'm not really sure I get your point. The left has always been toxic, so it's ok the left is toxic now?

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May 23 2015 15:02
DekuScrub3 wrote:
Oh, c'mon Fleur. Even Fall Back admitted the left had a toxic culture.

I think you need to read Fall Back's post again with your sarcasm filter engaged.

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May 23 2015 15:16

I think Fleur's point (don't want to speak for her) is that the toxicity doesn't come from the 'Vampire Castle' but from the rampant sexism, racism etc in it.. people like Fisher are only complaining about the toxic environment in it because people are speaking up about sexism etc now, which Fisher etc feel is 'divisive'..

Just to throw my two pennies in, while I pretty much agree with Fleur's points (particularly about the basically absurd idea that the 'Vampire Castle' is a thing, let alone one that's destroyed/ing the left), I do kind of feel like the characterisation of the intersectional left as unproblematically positive is kind of problematic (I literally can't think of a better word here, sorry, I'm knackered).. I think part of the left's toxic nature is down to how disagreements are often conducted in aggro, accusatory ways (not just online but in on-the-ground organisations as well), how personal conflicts (i.e. not liking someone) get dressed up as political issues and friendship networks getting confused with well-functioning organisations.. I think that intersectionalists are as prone to these pitfalls as anyone else on the left..

As for a solution, I literally have no idea but I do share some of Deku's general despair at the situation (someone catch my male tears)..