Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

Submitted by Kate Sharpley on May 30, 2017

2017 London Anarchist Bookfair will be on Saturday 28th October from 10am to 7pm.
Venue: Park View School, West Green Road, N15 3QR
Rail/Tube: Seven Sisters (National Rail or Victoria Line) / Turnpike Lane (Picadilly Line)
Buses: 41:, 67, 230, 341 (get off at stop near junction of Black Boy Lane and West Green Road).

As always, more details about what's on closer to the time at http://www.anarchistbookfair.org.uk/

admin: thread title changed to reflect how the discussion changed

Steven.

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

London Anarchist Bookfair is always a great event, I would encourage anyone to go! And the organisers do a fantastic job.

I must say though it's a shame the venue is the same as last time, because it is in the middle of nowhere. The one at St Martin's was a much better location.

jef costello

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tottenham is not the middle of nowhere!
I put a list of pubs up last time, probably a bit out of date.

Noah Fence

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jef costello

Tottenham is not the middle of nowhere!
I put a list of pubs up last time, probably a bit out of date.

No, but it is a few miles from Shoreditch which amounts to the same thing for some comrades!

Serge Forward

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I like Tottenham, it's proper.

Kate Sharpley

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

List of meetings for the 2017 bookfair is now up at http://www.anarchistbookfair.org.uk/
I'm sure the bookfair collective would be glad of donations and offers of help.

Anarcho

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just a question, but why is the "Communist Workers’ Organisation" having a meeting? They are not anarchists -- indeed, they seem to have a very low opinion of anarchism (as to be expected, as most Marxists do).

Indeed, are they not followers of Bordiga? You know, advocates of party dictatorship? They explicitly state they are against self-management on their webpage.

As far as I can see, they do not have anything in common with anarchism. Nor do they seem to be libertarian communists.

So why do they have a meeting and a stall?

Zanthorus

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anarcho

Indeed, are they not followers of Bordiga?

No.

You know, advocates of party dictatorship?

No.

They explicitly state they are against self-management on their webpage.

Yes, because they are Communists.

Serge Forward

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Speaking as a lifelong anarchist, I'd be far more likely to give the CWO time of day than most of the shite that passes itself off as "anarchist".

Steven.

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Speaking as a lifelong anarchist, I'd be far more likely to give the CWO time of day than most of the shite that passes itself off as "anarchist".

exactly.

Anarcho sometimes it seems like you care more about political terminology than content.

PeterTCA

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Speaking as a lifelong anarchist, I'd be far more likely to give the CWO time of day than most of the shite that passes itself off as "anarchist".

One wonders what deep ideological bunker this observation comes from.

Occasionally, Marxist abbreviations do gain entry to book fairs. It isn't healthy from the punter's view. Gives the impression that they are friends of ours. People who will stick by us once the bright lights are turned on.

Serge Forward

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I dunno about ideological bunker but anyone who hasn't picked up on the prominance of radical liberalism, lifestylism and loads of assorted bohemians at events like the Boookfair is surely wearing ideological blinkers.

bastarx

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I haven't made this rant for a while so here goes - the communist tendencies within Marxism made a definitive break with the dominant social democratic tendencies in the 1920s. Sadly the communist tendencies within anarchism have never made such a break.

Hence boring ideologues like Anarcho and PeterTCA are happy to coexist with the most pissweak crap as long as it calls itself anarchist yet get the shits if a tiny left commie group goes to their bookfair.

Spikymike

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well the ICT/CWO and Anarcho both like Paul Mattick so they have that in common, and Anarcho so far hasn't listed Leftcom's in his Profile 'Dislikes' so we might bring him round to a more tolerant line eventually. Maybe ask Anarcho why he highlights the CWO for objection when there are numerous other Marxist influenced groups (in addition to booksellers selling much of the same material) that do, or have appeared at the bookfair over the years. The link is in the overlap between some anarchists and some Marxists who share a genuine anti-capitalist and communist objective. Of course we can argue (on libcom) about the particular selection of who is included or excluded by the bookfair organisers as we seem to every year!, but so far they have made a reasonable job of it in my opinion. I'm prepared to put up with some of the selected radical liberals and reformists amongst other 'oddballs' for the prize of some new information about the world and some stimulating conversations with my anarchist and communist comrades that I don't always get elsewhere.

Red Marriott

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For all his purism, Anarcho was happy to defend and praise Schmidt & VDW's Black Flame book, despite its unconvincing revisionism, poor history and attempts to claim marxists and nationalists as anarchists.

Serge Forward

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Eh Mike... I'm not that mithered about the alternatives, lifestylers and bohemians either and think the bookfair people do a fairly decent job of it. It bugs me though when ideologues whine about groups from a more Marxist tradition who have common ground with the libertarian camp (whether or not they happen ro use the word "libertarian") but keep schtum about some really dodgy outfits as long as it's got an "a" in a circle.

Rob Ray

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jesus every year we have this crap.

Yes, It is a very simple premise of "are you non-hierarchically organised" which sometimes leads to liberals getting a stall where revolutionaries don't. Yes the Anarchist Bookfair people also sometimes add in groups which aren't really very anarchist. Yes it's not entirely consistent and that's annoying sometimes.

But not as annoying as listening to left communists whine every bloody August-October because they've been excluded from a popular event (you aren't anarchists, it's not the end of the world that you don't get a stall at an anarchist event — no-one's even said you can't just get someone else to flog your more relevant stuff on their table), or as annoying as listening to people moan about the bookfair sometimes letting in groups they don't like — as though one stall's going to matter in any conceivable way.

Alf

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

But Rob, some left communists are now regularly given stalls and meetings, and others are so consistently denied them that we have stopped whining about it (and stopped asking to be let in, for now at least). Hope the weather's clement for the time of year and doesn't rain on our outsider's stall.

ajjohnstone

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

we have stopped whining about it (and stopped asking to be let in, for now at least)

This, too, has now become the SPGB approach, Alf, even though we are sometimes baffled by who are actually permitted to participate. And, likewise, we choose to set up a stall outside the venue.

And if it does rain, perhaps we can all muster under the same umbrella :)

freemind

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bastards comment sums it up.Anarchists of a class ie genuine Libertarian outlook need to split from the lifestyles and individualism that should have been jettisoned years ago.Id rather another group not calling itself Anarchist but represents a move in a similar direction was at the Bookfair than Green 'Anarchist' or similar groups.Class or nothing!

PeterTCA

5 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bastarx. I concede the point. But i was looking at it from a punter's perspective rather than scoring internecine points.

Once upon a time, and based upon Anarcho-syndicalist principles, I was convener of a Trade Union branch involved in a series of protracted disputes.

Fighting, in the context of the day, I guess we often breached theoretical guidance. In a Trade Union world shaped by the Labour Party, the CP and the Trots, our group of Anarchists were certainly not welcomed. We were not noted for following protocol.

I stand to be corrected, but I learned that Anarchists have never
prospered where Marxist ideologies have been used as a system of governance.

Before I moved from Bradford I was a member of the famous 1in12 Club (2 years back 200 comrades attended the celebration of a late comrade's life). The club involved itself with just about everything: Certainly music and gigs, but also housing, book fairs, transport, banquets, meetings, printing, food production, etc.

It was notable that heavy theoretical tracts had little impact. People were just getting on with it. Perhaps is was an example of of what an Anarchist society, based upon Freedom and Mutual Aid, might look like.

From the ideological bunker, of course, the many of the varied inputs into Club life are to be dismissed as "Shite".

Spikymike

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So there is a much fuller list of all the varied meetings up on the bookfair site now including several sponsored by the AF, SolFed, Critisticuffs as well as the one by the ICT/CWO all worth checking out even if there are too many to fit them all in.

petey

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

at the NY anarchist bookfair they let free-market types in.

jef costello

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As the ICC are outside I always end up going and saying hello, which I might not do if I had to go and find them inside. Mind you I haven't been for four or five years so my opinion doesn't count for much.

Battlescarred

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

But they only let the Trotskyist AWL have a stall at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair where they exhibited the ollowing anti-anarchist tract!!!:
http://www.workersliberty.org/working-class-politics-and-anarchism
Hopefully the organisers will have the sense not to let them have a stall at next year's Bookfair,, in addition with space being at a minimum

Spikymike

4 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There is a full timetable of meetings up on the bookfair site now. Looks like several of my preferences are clashing with each other but then I never have time to fit them all in anyway.

wojtek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Are people on here attending?

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Aye. I'll be leading off the "is the working class movement dead" discussion.

Steven.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I pretty much always seem to be out of the country when the anarchist bookfair comes around, unfortunately this year will be no exception.

Noah Fence

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge, fancy a Babycham at t'fair?

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Aye, I'll have a shandy.

freemind

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm attending for what it's worth as I went last year for the first time in years and had a few with some old DAM/AFA comrades

Noah Fence

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Aye, I'll have a shandy.

Great! Hope to be going, work permitting.

Spikymike

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I see that the AF are holding a meeting 12-1pm about Corbyn and the leftward shift in the Labour Party in which they hoped to include a debate with a supporter of Momentum. Perhaps titling it 'The cult of Corbyn' though wasn't the best way to encourage that. There have been a few anarchist supporters of Momentum in the past, at least before everyone had to be LP members as well, but maybe someone from the confused enthusiasm over Momentum and the LP from Plan C might be up for the debate? Mind one hour isn't very long to get to grips with the whole issue.

Battlescarred

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

No, Plan C say they're not coming. Scaredy cats.

satawal

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AT THE BOOKFAIR: DONATE MATERIAL TO THE PERMANANT ANARCHIST LIBRARY AND ARCHIVE IN THE COWLEY CLUB (BRIGHTON, UK).

The Cowley Club Library is a permanent anarchist archive and library in a purpose built building on a high street in Brighton, UK. If you have pamphlets, books, and magazines - new or old - you personally rate and want archived in a non-digital IRL permanent project (we were set up in 2001 and own our building) you can donate them to The Cowley Club stall at the Bookfair. Donated material is ideally libertarian, ecological, or feminist non-fiction, and we do have a non-English language section.

We have a live on-line database if you want to check if we already have particular items
(see: http://www.cowleyclub.org.uk/%3fLibrary/ ).

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, I'll be there

rat

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

No, Plan C say they're not coming. Scaredy cats.

So ... now it's, Plan Cowards?

wojtek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

wojtek wrote:

There was actually a fight at today's Bookfair, although I don't know what it was all about.

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

dp.

rat

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Are you referring to the group of about 20 plus people, that attacked and cornered a woman shouting "She's a fascist!" "Get her out!"?
I found the actions of those people to be very disturbing and upsetting. The woman they attacked is a veteran of many campaigns including fighting the undercover Special Branch SDS unit for their abuse of women. Yet these complete idiots had the utter arrogance to shout "fascist" at her whilst she was surrounded and trapped.

I very much doubt that any of them had ever come into direct contact with any fascists in their time.

Those people are not anarchists by any measure, they are just low life bullies.

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

rat

Are you referring to the group of about 20 plus people, that attacked and cornered a woman shouting "She's a fascist!" "Get her out!"?
I found the actions of those people to be very disturbing and upsetting. The woman they attacked is a veteran of many campaigns including fighting the undercover Special Branch SDS unit for their abuse of women. Yet these complete idiots had the utter arrogance to shout "fascist" at her whilst she was surrounded and trapped.

I very much doubt that any of them had ever come into direct contact with any fascists in their time.

Those people are not anarchists by any measure, they are just low life bullies.

I don't know the details, but could hear the ruckus from upstairs, at the CWO meeting (which was, unfortunately, cut-short by the fire alarms going off).

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Wasn't there. Not even on the same continent. But if you mean Helen Steel, anyone who thinks that terfs should be welcome in anarchism are a shit anarchist, irrespective of whatever good works on other things they've done before. A bigot is a bigot is a bigot is a bigot. Given that Helen Steel has admin - paraphrase of 'supported transphobes at the Hyde Park incident' that was later clarified edited out here since it implied more than was meant, it is unsurprising that people would object to her being in what is described as a safe space.

I am sick to death of bigots and abusers being given a pass in what passes for the movement because they're apparently good and useful comrades in other ways. It's a big enough problem to make me want nothing to do with any of the movement, such as it is.

rat

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

welcome in anarchism

What do you mean?

rat

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

It's a big enough problem to make me want nothing to do with any of the movement, such as it is.

Go for it!

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You think transphobic bigots should be allowed to spout their bullshit in anarchist spaces? What about someone who's a bit racist? Maybe they're good at other kinds of organizing, so we could overlook that too. We know that people sexually assault people or engage in a spot of gendered violence usually get let off with a nothing more than a half assed bit of shunning. Anybody else wanna be an anarchist? Pretty much anyone can join the anarchy club as long as you hate cops and have a deep rooted belief in personal freedom (to fuck other people over.)

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pretty much anyone willing to defend a terf is good enough for me to drive a mile out of my way to avoid. Oddly enough I don't trust people who cape for bigots.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

Given that Helen Steel has endorsed the physical assault of trans women

Can you show some proof for this?

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, I'd also be interested in seeing evidence for Helen endorsing the "physical assault of trans women", because having known her for 30 years, I find this astonishing.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

No because I'm on my phone & not at home. She's a terf, that alone should be enough to exclude her from anarchist spaces. Jfc, don't the organizers have any standards? Not that they haven't done this sort of thing before....

Last month a trans woman was assaulted by terfs at Speakers Corner. After filming and harassing the trans demo, one of the terfs assaulted a trans woman, grabbing her by the throats and holding her in a headlock. The woman fought back and was assisted by a couple of friends to prise this bloody terf off her. This has all been recorded on film. Helen Steel has supported the terf who initiated the violence, other terfs have been trying to identify (and possibly by extrapolation out her.) Supporting these women who assaulted this trans woman is endorsing the physical assault of trans women.

Pretty sure a short googling session could confirm this. I'm not near free wifi right now.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

edit: crosspost with fleur

This is one of the leaflets that was handed out at the bookfair: https://twitter.com/JacobElliman/status/924394952431464448

Helen Steel also tweeted in support of the TERF side of the speakers corner incident recently, https://twitter.com/helensteel12/status/908823443717554176 - that article refers to the trans women who were there as men.

I absolutely don't think TERFs should be welcome at the anarchist bookfair, regardless of what else they've done in the past - this isn't just someone attending, it's anti-trans activism being passed off as 'anarchism', given a stall (?or at least supported by the organisers handing out literature).

Wasn't there though so this is pieced together from twitter.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm very sorry what happened to Helen Steel during the spycops operation but nothing gives you a pass to be a bigot, no matter what may have happened to you in the past. Where do you draw the line? There are activists out there who have done really great things but are they expected to be able to be abusive and bigoted on the strength of that? What does that say about how little value we give to the people at the receiving end of that bigotry when this happens? Who exactly is marginal and less important enough to throw under the bus?

Not expecting an answer. Very low expectations all together.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When you do get WiFi access, I'd really appreciate some evidence from you that Helen has advocated or endorsed the violence you mention. It's all very strange.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

See Mile Harmans post.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There's a long post (which I'm still reading), which covers the Hyde Park incident in some depth (that's not just the New Statesman or Metro trying to smear trans women as violent men, which is the majority of the coverage) https://thequeerness.com/2017/09/29/trial-by-media-over-speakers-corner-fracas/

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also this tweet from one of the other people confronted: https://twitter.com/Olivia4Hersham/status/924291184553537536

Just got attacked physically by a load of transactavists at the ‘anarchist’ book fair.
Mayday4women

Please share widely

From their twitter bio:

Green Party parliamentary candidate for Esher and Walton 2015 & 2017

As a green party candidate, looks like they only went to bookfair to hand out TERF literature?

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

See Mile Harmans post.

The interpretation of Steel's twitter post was that the trans activists were the attackers. True or not, that is what she apparently believes and how she titled the post. I don't see any proof "that Helen Steel has endorsed the physical assault of trans women" which is a much more general claim than that she took sides in a demo scuffle in which she believes trans activists were the aggressors. Whatever the facts of that incident - to denounce her as "a fascist" at the bookfair is ridiculous.

ajjohnstone

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Shows how out of touch i am

What is a terf?....something something something feminist?

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

True, fascist is a poor choice of words but it's basic Terf 101 and I refuse to believe that someone who has been politically active as long as Helen Steel has would be so ignorant of the issues around trans politics within feminism to innocently be duped by the radfems demonisation of trans people. It's so fucking typical of radfems to paint themselves as victims of oppressive "male" violence from trans women, when they almost pathologically, obsessively abuse trans women and when they as much as answer back, the radfems turn into a bunch of wilting violets, a giant sad puddle of victimhood.

Terfs have no place at an anarchist bookfair. I haven't been to a bookfair for years, the possibilty of maybe a decent workshop is far outweighed by all the fuckery that usually happens at these things but if I was at one and terfs were handing out literature, I'd be one of the awful bullies chucking these nasty fuckers out. Then they can whine about being silenced, like they always do.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There's only Rat's post mentioning the word 'fascist', but there's a whole TERF leaflet photographed that is very fucking bad and should not be anywhere let alone the bookfair.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ajjohnstone

Shows how out of touch i am

What is a terf?....something something something feminist?

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Germaine Greer is perhaps the most famous.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Absolute fucking disgrace that people are quibbling over the word "fascist" or whether the violence Helen Steele advocates is "physical" when transphobes have felt free to leaflet transphobic shit at the bookfair, put up vile stickers in the toilets etc, and then gotten fucking support from the bookfair organisers (via their official Twitter account).

Get a fucking grip and reevaluate yr priorities.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"Get a fucking grip" yourself. I asked for proof "that Helen Steel has endorsed the physical assault of trans women" - I've yet to see it. Carelessly labelling people fascist is also sloppy and dishonest.

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

There's only Rat's post mentioning the word 'fascist', but there's a whole TERF leaflet photographed that is very fucking bad and should not be anywhere let alone the bookfair.

So, ultimately, it's the organisers that are at fault?

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

She's serially transphobic (which as been demonstrated) and has just attacked trans people at a public "anarchist" event, so seriously, fuck off with your quibbling about the fact someone casually misused fascist (which for the record, was repeated screamed by the transphobes today at trans activitists), or that her calls to vioence weren't really "physical".

Sorry, but in this immediate context if this is your priority you are a piece of shit, and can go fuck yourself.

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

IMO, all communists (anarchist or otherwise) should aspire to running a separate, communist bookfair, which welcomes ICC and SPGB. The present one is a bit of a mess.

radicalgraffiti

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

there's a distinct overlap between terfs and certain sections of the fascist movement, a lot of the newer fascists are completely obsessed with gender and regularly use insults and jokes mocking gender identity to attack there opponents. i've also observed terfs using identical terminology. i alo note some terfs have seem to be getting engaged with alt right individuals, while some of the Christian right seem to have decided that suppressing trans rights is there current campaign.

So while calling this individual a fascist may not be technically accurate that is definitely the trajectory of that kind of politics

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

FB's on a big mouth aggressive trip again... yawn. Get back to me when you can be a bit more sober.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Glad you like to d0x ppl along with your support for transphobia!

Cunt.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Distortion and smears for asking for proof of a claim. What does that make you? Still over compensating for your past years of laddish macho behaviour on here? Ah well.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's been proven she's a transphobe, quibbling about details serves fuck all but to defend the cross shit that went down today. D0xxing me just makes you scum.

Sure loads of shit I posted years ago was gross. At least I'm not keeping it up now and trying to divert from the vile transphobia that happened today with whataboutery.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"Quibbling" about the actual truth of that claim? I see it as important, if untrue it's as concerning as doxing. It doesn't mean I defend transphobia, that's ridiculous - unless you're seeking 'support' as a blanket uniformity.
So-called "dox" edited - evidently you doxed yourself years ago. I didn't know yr old forum posting name unwisely had any link to your ID. I used it to refer to yr previous forum behaviour.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"Diverting" lol.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ignoring for now your (tbh, ludicrous) claim that you didn't know the name I haven't used for about 6 years had "any link to (my) ID" (lol) lets review events.

At the largest anarchist event in the country, organised transphobes repeatedly leafleted against trans rights and put up anti trans stickers in the toilets. This happen in a context of a fairly widespread national backlash against trans rights.

The response to this was for the organisers - via their official Twitter account - condemned those who responded to these repeated provocations by telling some of the ppl doing them to fuck off. (giving them the benefit of the doubt it was just a rogue individual with access to the account, but at this point the tweet is still up there and multiple other things have been posted)

The response here was for several cis men (without any reference to how disgusting the actions of the TERFs was) was to refer to take issue with the fact that (apparently) some of the women and trans ppl responding to this called the instigators "fascist". Do I think it's the exact correct term? No (not that it really matters what I think here tbh) - bigot, transphobe or TERF work fine. But to focus your attention on this right now is absolutely shitty - it's like focusing during an anti-deportation action that the person being deported calling the UKBA fascist was technically incorrect. When someone from a marginalised group is yelling at someone directly oppressing them, demanding exact correct terminology is super shitty.

So, yep, I absolutely stand by my claim that if anyone's response to bigots deliberately targeting an event like this is a disgrace.

Organised bigots have just openly intervened at the Anarchist Bookfair, followed by the apparent backing of the organisers. If that's not your focus in this situation then yep, "diverting" is the exact right word.

I'm sorry that Helen S. is a long time comrade of some people, but tbh you need to get over that, and look at the shit she is spouting right now about some of the most fucked over marginalised people in society. Trans people are - at massive personal risk - taking a lead in confronting these people and asserting their right to do pretty basic shit like take a piss safely. Anyone who can't stand behind this, rather than taking issue with the exact correct words being used needs to fuck off.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Get over yourself - it's your aggressive rants that diverted this thread and fixated on my simple request for proof/clarification of a claim of HS "endorsing violence". Of course people will want to know if someone is doing exactly that or not, aside from the various other issues and contexts. I wasn't at the bookfair, don't know much of the background to this conflict etc. What is disturbing is that this request for clarification is seen by the likes of you as unreasonable and "diverting" - as if it's somehow a threat to some demanded unconditional support. It's a simple specific request with presumably a simple answer. It doesn't divert from anything. Don't judge me by your own miserable standards - it's not me trying to distract, discredit or smear by asking that or me trying to suppress enquiries. I could be 100% against what HS says and still validly seek the truth or otherwise of the claim that she endorses physical violence against trans people.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffiti

there's a distinct overlap between terfs and certain sections of the fascist movement, a lot of the newer fascists are completely obsessed with gender and regularly use insults and jokes mocking gender identity to attack there opponents. i've also observed terfs using identical terminology. i alo note some terfs have seem to be getting engaged with alt right individuals, while some of the Christian right seem to have decided that suppressing trans rights is there current campaign.

So while calling this individual a fascist may not be technically accurate that is definitely the trajectory of that kind of politics

Yes Milo outed a trans student at one of his university talks. Prominent 'feminist youtuber' Laci Green recently started dating some alt-right bloke while also going TERF. Also it sounds like that particular insult was thrown in both directions.

Red, do you think TERF leaflets are appropriate bookfair material?

Craftwork while theoretically I like buying books, maybe going to a session, seeing old comrades, I also think the bookfair format is bad. If the organisers are letting this happen, and it's my understanding it's not the first time, then people should consider withdrawing participation from this one though.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's been proven she's a transphobe

It hasn't. If you have proof, please can we see it? Just repeating that Helen is transphobic doesn't make it so. What is proven is that a group of people surrounded, harassed and threatened Helen Steele at the bookfair. That kind of behaviour seriously needs justifying because those involved came across as the abusers rather than the victims. So, it's been alleged that Helen endorses violence against trans people. Evidence please.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Her transphobia isn't really hidden, tbh. She has been fairly publicly vocal in opposition to transfer stuff for a good while. Lots of people are particularly upset due to her otherwise good work.

2 minutes scroll down her Twitter (www.twitter.com/helensteel12) - some of her most recent tweets over the past week. She primarily uses twitter to retweet (share) other ppls stuff, but anything listed here as an RT was shared positively:

Sharing a transphobic leaflet (under a free speech pre-text) - https://twitter.com/helensteel12/status/924542352861159424

RT of the claim that "cis" is a box to put women in and TERF is a slur - https://twitter.com/passie_kracht/status/886509245763641344

RT of this misgendering trans women and calling organising against transphobes "make violence" - https://twitter.com/ruthserwotka/status/923661370859671553

RT of this saying Mermaids shouldnt provide training for public bodies https://twitter.com/transgendertrd/status/921797756234190849

If you look down her Facebook (feel less ok about linking to it than twitter, but it's all public and there - search her name and it comes up) there's several TERF articles posted and robustly defended in the comments.

More provided by MH in post 52, including link to her support for the TERF side in the Speakers Corner incident. I presume, given the woman in question was violent to a trans woman and Helen expressed her support for over the incident that this is what was meant. Flour has already been clear by what she meant when she said it and had backed it up.

But as I said before, arguing over the precise semantics of whether she personally supports direct violence against trans people or just supports people and advocates policies that do so is just quibbling, and isn't particularly important. She's still a transphobe, and her politics are still exclusionary - and deadly - to trans people either way.

darren p

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Having been there I can only say that the people doing the harassing of HS have pretty shitty politics and just seem intoxicated on their own sense of moral self-righteousness TBH. What are they hoping to achieve by harassing and bullying a lone woman? Things like this jeopardise the future of the bookfair.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I note you say arguing over semantics of whether she supports violence against trans people is quibbling. If it's quibbling, then were those who surrounded Helen and threatened violence also quibbling? This "endorsing violence against trans people" actually seems to be central to this row, if you want to justify what happened yesterday. So if Helen isn't endorsing violence then it's hardly quibbling.

Thanks for posting those links. What comes across is that Helen's views would be offensive to many trans people and I have to say I also find them somewhat disagreeable on those issues. I don't see her endorsing violence against trans people, though I accept her views would be offensive.

In the end though, what we have is people disagree with each other at the bookfair and it ends up in a ruckus. I suspect a fair few of us find the politics of many people at the bookfair to be frankly awful, sometimed deranged and often utter dogshit, but if we kicked off everytime then the bookfair would disintegrate into a mass brawl as soon as the doors opened.

So why is this disagreement with Helen different to everyone else's beefs with the usual bookfair rubbish?

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

I note you say arguing over semantics of whether she supports violence against trans people is quibbling. If it's quibbling, then were those who surrounded Helen and threatened violence also quibbling?

No. Disputing whether someone calling a bigot a fascist in a heated row is quibbling. Disputing whether someone endorses physical violence or supports others who enact physical violence is quibbling.

Arguing against someone politically organising to deny you the ability to be able to safely access services - or christ, even go for a piss safely - isn't the same thing. At all.

This "endorsing violence against trans people" actually seems to be central to this row, if you want to justify what happened yesterday. So if Helen isn't endorsing violence then it's hardly quibbling.

No it isn't? Her politics are reactionary and bigoted whether or not she supports direct violence or not. Transphobe politics are fucked and should be challenged whether or not someone directly supports physical violence - especially when someone is actively pushing these politics at an anarchist event.

Thanks for posting those links. What comes across is that Helen's views would be offensive to many trans people and I have to say I also find them somewhat disagreeable on those issues. I don't see her endorsing violence against trans people, though I accept her views would be offensive.

The links were simply to demonstrate her transphobia. Fleur separately demonstrated what she meant when she said HS endorsed violence. I think it stands up, but if it doesn't, it really doesn't matter - it was clearly neither pulled out of the air, not does it alter the substance of her transphobia.

In the end though, what we have is people disagree with each other at the bookfair and it ends up in a ruckus. I suspect a fair few of us find the politics of many people at the bookfair to be frankly awful, sometimed deranged and often utter dogshit, but if we kicked off everytime then the bookfair would disintegrate into a mass brawl as soon as the doors opened.

That's it tho, it's not just people having a little disagreement over Bakunin. It's a handful of bigots literally organising to deny trans rights, which serves to exclude trans people from the event.

I mean say a handful of homophobes decided to leaflet the bookfair, arguing for a roll back of gay rights, arguing they needed to protect children from predators etc. They might even claim not to be homophobic - they don't hate gay people, they just want to keep children safe from the dangerous ones. You would (I hope) know right away that they could fuck off, and you certainly wouldn't think it just a little bit of bookfair drama. And if they were allowed to do it totally unchallenged, then an gay person definitely wouldn't feel welcome at the event.

So why is this disagreement with Helen different to everyone else's beefs with the usual bookfair rubbish?

Because the bookfair organisers have put out something in support of the bigots in this instance (at this point, still up). For me, that's what makes it different - especially when in the recent past the bookfair organisers have refused to take any action to tackle shitty behavior (eg, banning known abusers) and telling people they needed to confront such things themselves, and that they couldn't be "movement police" apparently that doesn't count when its about yr mate.

adri

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

darren p

Having been there I can only say that the people doing the harassing of HS have pretty shitty politics and just seem intoxicated on their own sense of moral self-righteous TBH. What are they hoping to achieve by harassing a bullying a lone woman? Things like this jeopardise the future of the bookfair.

Is it really "bullying/silencing" to stick up for trans people, who were apparently coming under attack in these pamphlets? That is after all a typical response of the right when people decide to stand up to them. Being no expert on the intricacies of trans/feminist issues, the real question is whether there's any truth to the positions HS's and co take. If not then they rightfully shouldn't be around an anarchist bookfair distributing their pamphlets.

darren p

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

zugzwang

Is it really "bullying/silencing" to stick up for trans people

I'm sure those people thought they were doing that. But wether they really were doing that, or if their actions or methods were justified is another matter. Just because you think you have a strong sense of social justice doesn't mean you are right...

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What is revealing is the mode of arguing used here;
MH

Red, do you think TERF leaflets are appropriate bookfair material?

Like many things at the bookfair, no. But why are you asking me in this context? Why should my query provoke that question in your mind? To imply that anyone who doesn’t immediately toe the line of uncritical unconditional support and acceptance of a dictated narrative is transphobic is quite stalinistic. To ask whether claims that give the impression HS thinks it ok to beat up trans people are true or not is not a “diversion” (and wasn’t called so when the claim was made, only when questioned) ; the video – whose interpretation is highly disputed – doesn’t at all prove that to me and that was the only evidence offered.

Similarly, FB’s attempts to smear me with a claim of doxing; cos I don’t remember the name of someone I met once or twice 10 yrs ago – a name he unwisely used to post with on here for years despite warnings from myself and others about basic security that were dismissed by his clique as paranoia. Well who’s paranoid now? If that kind of distortion is how you misuse evidence I wouldn’t trust you with the time of day.

Ironic to contrast this disinterest in the validity of facts with the obsessive fine hair splitting the same admins made over the facts of the Aufhebengate case when trying to excuse the inexcusable Dr J.

Devrim

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The comparison with the Aufhaben thing came immediately to my mind.

I imagine that many people who read libcom have even been to London, let alone been to the bookfair, or know these people. I think that Red, and Serge, who do know her, but I'd imagine aren't in that close contact with her, asking for facts is a totally reasonable thing to do. It also allows people from afar to make at least some sort of informed judgement. I think the reaction to this is a bit extreme.

Devrim

jef costello

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I saw all the posts and was hoping that we would hear about the meetings or stalls.

Is the wider anarchist movement (a few hundred people maybe) capable of agreeing on anything? When there are actual murders of transwomen and when women are murdered and oppressed every day under the patriarchy is this really where we need to fight the battle? I understand that the bookfair is supposed to be a safe space and those leaflets really do not respect that, but I don't think this is how we deal with things at the bookfair, if there's any point to having it then surely we should be able to discuss things.

Is there a point to having a bookfair when it just allows mainstream politicans to come along, provoke a reaction that they can shit all over twitter?

Helen is a decent person and comrade that I respect and I would have intervened if she was being threatened, that said, I would have also challenged those leaflets. It's not about past actions making you unaccountable, it's about recognising that maybe we shouldn't write off people immediately. If we can't persuade people who are on the same side as us on most things then who on earth are we going to persuade?

I do think describing her as "lone woman" seems to imply that those confronting her were not women, which is not helpful.

As she knows some of the organisers and has been active politically with them for years it is hardly surprising that they would back her up.

I hope she wasn't hurt and I hope she changes her mind about trans-women, I don't think yelling 'fascist' at her is going to achieve that.

eyewitness

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The mob chants from the bookfair yesterday were "Fuck TERFs", "Fascist" and "Out". The "Fuck TERFs" chant was accompanied by the trans women making the finger in what I took to be a rape threat. I did not see the same gesture made by female or male supporters. The "fascist" accusation was made repeatedly, especially by one trans woman.

From what I saw the violence came exclusively from the trans women and not their female supporters, and certainly not from Helen.

The attitude of the mob, and their supporters here, is that Helen be excluded from the bookfair because she holds a different opinion from them, an opinion which they accept as Feminist (hence terF).

I have just watched a video of the Hyde Park scuffle again. It is some of the same group that attacked feminists at Hyde Park that made up the core of the mob yesterday.

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I understand that the bookfair is supposed to be a safe space

Just on this, I think people would like it to be a safe space, but both from what the organisers have previously said and in terms of its practice, it isn't (and tbh, can't be).

Fact is any claim to a safe space, especially when you're talking about 2-3,000 people with lots of history and aggro background between them, needs to be something that can be backed up with force, otherwise you're just waving bits of paper around and moaning on social media after the event. And the only two ways to do that would be a) hire security — which would be all but guaranteed to start a fight, b) get together a volunteer group, at which point you get into a whole mess of trouble over exactly who is put in this group and why, what does and doesn't constitute a safer spaces rule that should be enforced by them, how they do so, whether they have prior history, whether the snap judgement they make is the right one, etc etc.

I was trying to get elsewhere when it kicked off so didn't see exactly what happened, but as with frankly everything I've seen so far of all this no-one comes out smelling entirely of roses.

If you've been to the Bookfair before you'll be aware that pushing (pretty nasty imo) Terf stuff will spark a strong reaction. All this "I can't believe people tried to shut us down" stuff is just bollocks — as though deliberately courting a confrontation in a public space over a massively febrile political topic where you know your opposition will have a strong showing would have any likelier outcome than a shouting match and some jostling.

That said if Helen, who is not some sort of intimidating tough, was getting surrounded and bullied I can well see why people who have been her friends for many years and seen her go through hell for the very best of causes would be appalled to see that happen, and there's a human response to be had here in saying their response is understandable and not the worst thing in the world. Sometimes we forget that people aren't just political actors, they're people.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red

What is revealing is the mode of arguing used here;

MH wrote:
Red, do you think TERF leaflets are appropriate bookfair material?
Like many things at the bookfair, no. But why are you asking me in this context?

You asked for evidence/links to the arguments that Helen Steel was making. I found a photograph of a leaflet that was being handed out at the bookfair (something you could have done yourself with a twitter search). Rather than address the content of the leaflet (one of the things that actually provoked the incident at the bookfair directly), you immediately went back to Fleur's statement (a not great paraphrase of 'took the TERF side in the Hyde Park scuffle and subsequent transphobic media controversy' which I also found the context for).

Red

Why should my query provoke that question in your mind? To imply that anyone who doesn’t immediately toe the line of uncritical unconditional support and acceptance of a dictated narrative is transphobic is quite stalinistic.

There's a range of answers to the question I asked from 'No', to 'I don't agree with it but I don't think people should confront Helen Steel in a large group about it' which doesn't require you to be transphobic. To be able to discuss whether the content should be challenged at the bookfair or not, you'd have to have an opinion on the content. No such opinion had been forthcoming so I asked what it was.

I'll note that when you ask a question, it's just asking a question, but when I ask a question, it's 'quite stalinistic'.

eyewitness

trans women and not their female supporters,

Why do you insist on making the distinction between trans and other women in the group, and using 'female' instead of cis, person who registered just 54 minutes ago?

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray

b) get together a volunteer group, at which point you get into a whole mess of trouble over exactly who is put in this group and why, what does and doesn't constitute a safer spaces rule that should be enforced by them, how they do so, whether they have prior history, whether the snap judgement they make is the right one, etc etc.

That's pretty standard now, not just at anarchist bookfairs but also various subcultural and tech conferences - have a code of conduct and a code of conduct response team for the event. By doing that it would be clear what the parameters are for attending (like not handing out transphobic literature).

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Again, I was in the CWO meeting, (main building, first floor) so didn't see any of it, but we all heard the loud chanting - "shame on you! shame on you! ...".

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That's pretty standard now

Never seen any myself but I'll take your word for it - have they ever been functionally set up for an event catering to really large numbers of people (as in thousands) on that broader political scope where it's basically the national gathering for the entire anarchist movement? Cos if so, might be worth seeing whether the people who want to see it are prepared to do it.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray: see Ramona's blog post on the NYC anarchist bookfair for an example from 2012 of someone being excluded, and the shit, credulous response ('stalinist' 'kafkaesque') it got on here until people finally realised they'd excluded someone for a very serious reason. Can find non-anarcho examples a bit later maybe.

https://libcom.org/blog/safer-spaces-false-allegations-nyc-anarchist-bookfair-26042012

Juan Conatz

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don’t see the difference between handing out TERF stuff and distributing anti-immigrant or racist literature at a leftist event. It’s reactionary trash and will spark a confrontation that could spiral out of control if organizers are unprepared.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

as a libcom admin
Fall Back you don't need to call someone a cunt for asking a question. I had no idea Helen Steel was actively organising with terfs (I think I'd seen a couple of dodgy tweets maybe) or similar until this weekend, so other people out of the loop are going to be surprised and have questions.

eyewitness: if you've registered on here for the purpose of supporting transphobes you'll be banned.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I called him a cunt for using my name, tbf.

But obv don't want to derail important thread and know it's a violation of posting guidelines etc etc.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Here's an account of the confrontation(s) so far the only write up I've seen: http://uncommon-scents.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/reports-of-rad-fem-violently-attacking.html?m=1

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Another eyewitness account of some of it: https://twitter.com/yalndei/status/924710623316979712

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Probably didn't need saying, but the post by "eyewitness" is largely fiction.

Getting permission from a comrade who wrote a much better account and will post as soon as I do.

But in short:

The only physical violence on the day was (cis male) TERF supporter punching a woman opposing the TERFs (I didn't witness this but several comrades did)

The first person to shout fascist that I saw was in the initial blow up at approx 3.30 (about half an hour before the main kick off), when a small group of women confronted a TERF (Not HS), who kept screaming they were fascists for denying her freedom of speech.

petey

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i was not present and take no side on the events, but:

Mike Harman

person who registered just 54 minutes ago?

we all register sometime, usually because we have something to say.

radicalgraffiti

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

eyewitness

The rightwing UK Conservative government proposes to change the law on how someone's gender is defined. Here's an article in favour of the law from the rightwing newspaper "The Telegraph"

Changing gender set to become easier as 'demeaning' medical checks are reviewed

and here is the daily mail taking your side https://www.pressreader.com/uk/daily-mail/20170726/281809988963494

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You know the only people who are more unhealthily obsessed with genitalia than MRAs? Terfs. Seriously, I love my identity as a woman (I am cis btw) being reduced to my reproductive organs and tits. Thanks shortshanks.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Honestly, if terfs really mean trans people no harm, why don't they just leave them alone instead of carrying on with their obsessional, spiteful, petty, paranoid vendetta? As for dictating what women - cis or trans- should do with their bodies, that's a pretty crap version of feminism. Any kind of feminism which is exclusive of our trans sisters is a pretty sorry excuse of a sisterhood.

Edited for autocorrect substitution on my stupid phone.

shortshanks re…

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

Honestly, if terfs really mean trans people no harm, why don't they just leave them alone instead of carrying on with their obsessional, spiteful, petty, paranoid vendetta? As for dictating what women - via or trans- should do with their bodies, that's a pretty crap version of feminism. Any kind of feminism which is exclusive of our trans sisters is a pretty sorry excuse of a sisterhood.

Is bullying another woman in such a cowardly way a great example of sisterhood?

Reddebrek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

eyewitness

The attitude of the mob, and their supporters here, is that Helen be excluded from the bookfair because she holds a different opinion from them, an opinion which they accept as Feminist (hence terF).

Just a couple of comments on this, TERF Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist*, was coined by a couple of radical feminists (cis women if it matters) to refer to Radical Feminists who try to exclude trans people. http://transadvocate.com/terf-what-it-means-and-where-it-came-from_n_13066.htm

It was deliberately chosen to be a neutral comment on their anti trans stance. So no it isn't calling Transphobia a Feminist position, at its most charitable its saying a TERF is a feminist who also excludes Trans people.

Also a general comment, your framing is rather rubbish. Its the standard defence for bigotry, "they just have an opinion" well yes, but its an opinion that is inherently dehumanising and motivates hostile activism. I don't know who this Helen Smith person is, but she from this thread she's been supporting anti Trans activism so its a bit more than an opinion. And also you know things don't happen in vacuums, currently we're seeing an upsurge in anti Trans bigotry including violence so it seems a bit disingenuous the way this is all being presented.

I mean I could easily see the same thing happening to someone publicly known for anti refugee views, or homophobia etc and I doubt the response would be the same. Well given how cliquey some users here are, maybe it would.

*I've come across a few saying they're actually Testicle Exclusionary Radical Feminists instead, which even as a joke is rather telling.

eyewitness

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

eyewitness

Personally I am not that interested in that debate.

radicalgraffiti

and here is the daily mail taking your side

Sorry did I use too many syllables for you to understand?

Reddebrek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If your not interested in a debate you can stop replying.

eyewitness

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Reddebrek

I mean I could easily see the same thing happening to someone publicly known for anti refugee views, or homophobia etc and I doubt the response would be the same.

Yes I doubt the response would not be the same too. Because its a different situation.

Reddebrek

I don't know who this Helen Smith person is

Me neither. Try googling "Helen Steel". She's best known as a defendant in the McLibel trial, and a victim/activist in the ongoing Spycops scandal.

shortshanks re…

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

why don't they just leave them alone instead of carrying on with their obsessional, spiteful, petty, paranoid vendetta?

We only have your word for it that so-called TERF's (who may not actually be 'TERFs', because it's so easy to be labelled one) are obsessional, spiteful, petty and paranoid. I'm sure some can, just as some trans-women can also be what you described, just as some women can be misogynstic and supportive of patriarchal things such as porn.

eyewitness

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fall Back

Probably didn't need saying, but the post by "eyewitness" is largely fiction.

You can't just contradict me, you have to demonise me by calling me a TERF or a transphobe or something. Get with the programme.

syndicalist

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, another successful show I see.

past tense

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was present for all of the confrontation of trans activists with Helen though not for earlier interaction with the two women who handed out leaflets.

This is a brief account of what I know or saw.

Two women came & handed out a leaflet questioning transgender politics, mainly re Gender Deregulation legislation being discussed now.

They were apparently involved in tussle with some transgender activists who tore leaflets and shouted and pushed them. I didn't see this.

Helen Steel was on the bookfair info stall nearby & got up to argue against them being attacked. The two women left. Helen spoke to them outside and came back in.

I do want to emphasise that Helen DID NOT distribute the leaflet as some people are stating above and elsewhere. She may share some views expressed in it, but she was attacked for suggesting it wan't ok to attack the women handing it out.

As she came back in she observed someone who was involved in Hyde park incident few weeks ago, a trans activist she involved in physical attack on a feminist attending a meeting. She wandered over to see what this person was doing, and was then surrounded by large group, of 20+ trans activists shouting at her, calling her fascist, ugly terf, terf cunt, demanding she leave bookfair. She was repeatedly accused of handing out the leaflet (she wasn't), that she filmed Hyde park incident & gave footage to cops, also not true. Anyone who knows Helen at all knows how laughable that accusation is.

A lot of folk got very upset and some were scared. Helen was accused of assault on someone who put their hand in her face which she then pushed away. It was right up in her face.

Several of us including most of the bookfair organisers and others went to prevent her being mobbed and stood in front of the group. There was some pushing, shoving, lots of abuse. Reasoned attempts by us and notably by bookfair collective to calm it down were rejected, asks to move outside rejected: the group would not stop hounding Helen unless Helen left the event.

This standoff went on for an hour & a half, she moved 3 times to different places, shielded by us, & the group attacking her followed. Several attempts were made to rush her or individual launches towards her. Several stalls were disturbed or blocked in the fracas. Including Disabled peoples Action against Cuts stall where people got hurt and freaked out. We asked if the group would move away from this stall and they refused.

Many arguments, lots of chants of Out Out, terfs out etc. If we prevented physical attacks on her we were accused of violence & assault. I see someone says above that 'a cis man punched a transwoman'. i did not see this. However I was accused of hitting someone who I blocked, with my back to them, to prevent them from physically getting to Helen. I didn't hit anyone.

Suggestions were made to force the trans group out physically, by some people. This was rejected by bookfair collective and others of us, who attempted to see if a dialogue could be had. Trans group refused to talk unless she left. Someone set off fire alarm, Helen went outside one way and her attackers were unable to follow as a door got locked. She later came back in when the fire alarm scare was over, & wasn't targeted again, though other people who had defended her did get into some rows later. I saw this happening across room but not how they started as I was trying to either monitor any threat to Helen or go back to the stall I had somewhat neglected in the meantime (thanks to friends who looked after it).

The trans group say H's views are violence against them. That she is as good as a fascist.

The Bookfair collective position was to suggest discussion but trans activists (mostly, 1 or 2 exceptions) said it's not up for debate.

I don't think the original leaflets were helpful myself. But I stand against mass violence against 1 woman whose views do not equate to fascism. I was accused of assault for blocking their path to get in her face. Happy and proud to have stood in their way, really.

There's a real debate to be had around trans rights and feminism, although i am told that there isn't any debate to be had and that any feminists or otherwise who don't accept transwomen as women are not feminists, and should be silenced if they speak.

Attacking one person in this way unlikely to advance any progress on this question, in my view. Neither is attacks & silencing of anyone who questions assertions or doesn't immediately fall into line behind them.

Not a pacifist and happy with/have done no platforming of nazis. Helen Steel is not a nazi. I for one am proud to stand in solidarity with Helen and the London Anarchist Bookfair collective, who are now also being attacked for not kicking Helen out of the event. Trans rights yes. Violence against women, feminists, no.

Reddebrek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

eyewitness

Yes I doubt the response would not be the same too. Because its a different situation.

By your own admission it isn't though. You think its different because in that scenario you'd be the one doing the agitating against the gays and the refugees, and you don't like the association.

You don't have an argument here, if you ok with confrontation in one situation but not the other(s) your tacitly admitting you think some people (feel free to pick) aren't deserving of the same protections.

Reddebrek

I don't know who this Helen Smith person is

Me neither. Try googling "Helen Steel". She's best known as a defendant in the McLibel trial, and a victim/activist in the ongoing Spycops scandal.[/quote]

Dyslexia shaming too hey, your quite the charmer, aintcha.

By the by, you need actually demonstrate the connections between her activism in other areas to this in order for that to have a point. Otherwise its trivia.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I am 50 years old. I remember when all this started to gain traction. The arguments I hear from terfs is eerily similar to the sort of homophobic arguments I heard in the 80s, things that justified Clause 28. Right down to the weird obsession with toilets. Also, the arguments terfs spew are mostly predicated on the sort of biological essentialism I've pretty much spent my whole life fighting against. No thank you very much, I do not want to be part of a world where we are defined by our reproductive capabilities, or hormones, our appearances. It's the same sort of bullshit which has been used to oppress cis women for eons, to be a feminist and to lay out your ideology along such lines is pretty dim

Tbh, I know where it's coming from. For my sins, I used to read Spare Rib and such stuff in my teens, and this stuff was obsessed with women's biology, articles about womb power, how PMS is a social construct, how periods are actually empowering (fuck that one.) I get it, it was a response to a long history of talking about women's reproductive health being taboo and used against us but ffs, it's 2017, get over this shit now. My identity is not tied up in my lady bits, they're just a part of my biology, like my cardiac system or my eyes. Nothing magic, mystical or defining there.

Is bullying another woman in such a cowardly way a great example of sisterhood?

If you push people so far they will fight back and good for them. Trans people have been intimidated, doxxed, assaulted, terfs have even taken it upon themselves to put the safety of children at risk. However, if one even as much as raises a voice back they are accused of bullying, of expressing "male violence." Giving someone the finger is apparently a rape threat. I bet all those shit drivers I regularly flip off are terrified of my rape threats. People showed up at a place where it would be reasonable to expect a lot of trans people and their allies to be present, started distributing vile leaflets - if that's not provocation I don't know what is - and even prevented people from using the toilets, something to do with terfs weird obsession with pissing, I suppose. You provoke, people respond. And true to form, victimhood abounds. Kind of pathetic really.

I suppose people have a point when they suggest we try to talk to them but I've spent years trying to discuss and it is always the same junk science, bigotry and spitefulness. I'm a bit conflicted between sticking up for my trans comrades, who are some of the most marginalized and oppressed people in society and just throwing my hands up in the air and saying there's just no fucking talking to these people. The only optimism I have is that most of the terfs I have ever come across are my age and we're not going to be here forever. Younger people seem to have far better gender politics that Gen Xers.

Just fucking do better, it's not that hard. Try not to be an ignorant bigot and stop picking on people with less power than yourselves.

Juan Conatz

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What is the difference between arguing for free speech for TERFs at an anarchist book fair and arguing for free speech for the alt-right or anti-immigrant arguments from people like Paul Mason at an anarchist book fair?

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I should add that when I was walking to CWO meeting (i.e. a few minutes before 5pm), past the brewing controversy, I heard 2 people (sounded like man and woman) shouting at each other, and the masculine voice referred to the woman as a "fucking bitch" and a "snitch". Not sure if any others also witnessed this, but there was definitely some deeply vile personal abuse.

I left that bookfair simultaneously glad (at the few decent communists I met and the literature I picked up) but also fed up, or demoralised.

past tense

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur: Factual question: can you tell me your source for the idea that people were prevented from going to the toilet? i have seen one claim on twitter from someone about this, the person claiming it I can only describe as not having a real clue about any of the real issues at all involved in this confrontation. I have yet to hear anything else about it.

If by this people mean, when Helen S went to the toilet an hour into the confrontation, and was subsequently cornered with those of us preventing her being mobbed, in a corridor where some toilets were... there was no deliberate prevention of anyone going to the toilet. Trans activists attempting to attack Helen were prevented from entering the corridor to attack her. There are many other toilets in the venue. No-one came up and said can I get through to use the toilet in my hearing during that time. Not personally obsessed with toilets or pissing.

I can't swear 'deliberate prevention of people going to the toilet' didn't happen elsewhere but would like to hear someone produce something more than wild claims on twitter.

shortshanks re…

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

I am 50 years old. I remember when all this started to gain traction. The arguments I hear from terfs is eerily similar to the sort of homophobic arguments I heard in the 80s, things that justified Clause 28. Right down to the weird obsession with toilets. Also, the arguments terfs spew are mostly predicated on the sort of biological essentialism I've pretty much spent my whole life fighting against. No thank you very much, I do not want to be part of a world where we are defined by our reproductive capabilities, or hormones, our appearances. It's the same sort of bullshit which has been used to oppress cis women for eons, to be a feminist and to lay out your ideology along such lines is pretty dim

Tbh, I know where it's coming from. For my sins, I used to read Spare Rib and such stuff in my teens, and this stuff was obsessed with women's biology, articles about womb power, how PMS is a social construct, how periods are actually empowering (fuck that one.) I get it, it was a response to a long history of talking about women's reproductive health being taboo and used against us but ffs, it's 2017, get over this shit now. My identity is not tied up in my lady bits, they're just a part of my biology, like my cardiac system or my eyes. Nothing magic, mystical or defining there.

Is bullying another woman in such a cowardly way a great example of sisterhood?

If you push people so far they will fight back and good for them. Trans people have been intimidated, doxxed, assaulted, terfs have even taken it upon themselves to put the safety of children at risk. However, if one even as much as raises a voice back they are accused of bullying, of expressing "male violence." Giving someone the finger is apparently a rape threat. I bet all those shit drivers I regularly flip off are terrified of my rape threats. People showed up at a place where it would be reasonable to expect a lot of trans people and their allies to be present, started distributing vile leaflets - if that's not provocation I don't know what is - and even prevented people from using the toilets, something to do with terfs weird obsession with pissing, I suppose. You provoke, people respond. And true to form, victimhood abounds. Kind of pathetic really.

I suppose people have a point when they suggest we try to talk to them but I've spent years trying to discuss and it is always the same junk science, bigotry and spitefulness. I'm a bit conflicted between sticking up for my trans comrades, who are some of the most marginalized and oppressed people in society and just throwing my hands up in the air and saying there's just no fucking talking to these people. The only optimism I have is that most of the terfs I have ever come across are my age and we're not going to be here forever. Younger people seem to have far better gender politics that Gen Xers.

Just fucking do better, it's not that hard. Try not to be an ignorant bigot and stop picking on people with less power than yourselves.

So Helen Steel is 'dim' and a 'TERF'. You could do with some improvement yourself Fleur- such as not supporting cowardly misogynist violence against a survivor from behind a keyboard, a survivor who has contributed a great deal to the world. You could do better aswell, you could stop being a church goer who supports more than one form of patriarchal oppression from where I'm standing (porn and the violent silencing of female anti-capitalists).

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

What is the difference between arguing for free speech for TERFs at an anarchist book fair and arguing for free speech for the alt-right or anti-immigrant arguments from people like Paul Mason at an anarchist book fair?

Nobody was arguing free speech for terfs (at least not until the idiotic shortshanks and eyewitness set up their accounts here). Though that is the kind of stuff that is being chucked around here. If you criticise how some bullying bunch of divs act at the bookfair, then you get labelled terf supporters or anti-trans. Playground stuff.

Juan, if you cannot see the difference between Helen Steel's mistaken views and some alt-right anti-immigration bollocks, then you're seriously losing your critical faculties.

potrokin

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

shortshanks redemption

Fleur

I am 50 years old. I remember when all this started to gain traction. The arguments I hear from terfs is eerily similar to the sort of homophobic arguments I heard in the 80s, things that justified Clause 28. Right down to the weird obsession with toilets. Also, the arguments terfs spew are mostly predicated on the sort of biological essentialism I've pretty much spent my whole life fighting against. No thank you very much, I do not want to be part of a world where we are defined by our reproductive capabilities, or hormones, our appearances. It's the same sort of bullshit which has been used to oppress cis women for eons, to be a feminist and to lay out your ideology along such lines is pretty dim

Tbh, I know where it's coming from. For my sins, I used to read Spare Rib and such stuff in my teens, and this stuff was obsessed with women's biology, articles about womb power, how PMS is a social construct, how periods are actually empowering (fuck that one.) I get it, it was a response to a long history of talking about women's reproductive health being taboo and used against us but ffs, it's 2017, get over this shit now. My identity is not tied up in my lady bits, they're just a part of my biology, like my cardiac system or my eyes. Nothing magic, mystical or defining there.

Is bullying another woman in such a cowardly way a great example of sisterhood?

If you push people so far they will fight back and good for them. Trans people have been intimidated, doxxed, assaulted, terfs have even taken it upon themselves to put the safety of children at risk. However, if one even as much as raises a voice back they are accused of bullying, of expressing "male violence." Giving someone the finger is apparently a rape threat. I bet all those shit drivers I regularly flip off are terrified of my rape threats. People showed up at a place where it would be reasonable to expect a lot of trans people and their allies to be present, started distributing vile leaflets - if that's not provocation I don't know what is - and even prevented people from using the toilets, something to do with terfs weird obsession with pissing, I suppose. You provoke, people respond. And true to form, victimhood abounds. Kind of pathetic really.

I suppose people have a point when they suggest we try to talk to them but I've spent years trying to discuss and it is always the same junk science, bigotry and spitefulness. I'm a bit conflicted between sticking up for my trans comrades, who are some of the most marginalized and oppressed people in society and just throwing my hands up in the air and saying there's just no fucking talking to these people. The only optimism I have is that most of the terfs I have ever come across are my age and we're not going to be here forever. Younger people seem to have far better gender politics that Gen Xers.

Just fucking do better, it's not that hard. Try not to be an ignorant bigot and stop picking on people with less power than yourselves.

So Helen Steel is 'dim' and a 'TERF'. You could do with some improvement yourself Fleur- such as not supporting cowardly misogynist violence against a survivor from behind a keyboard, a survivor who has contributed a great deal to the world. You could do better aswell, you could stop being a church goer who supports more than one form of patriarchal oppression from where I'm standing (porn and the violent silencing of female anti-capitalists). And incidentally I have no obsession with genitailia, I can merely see elements of patriarchial oppression that you don't wish to go into.

potrokin

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Juan Conatz

What is the difference between arguing for free speech for TERFs at an anarchist book fair and arguing for free speech for the alt-right or anti-immigrant arguments from people like Paul Mason at an anarchist book fair?

Nobody was arguing free speech for terfs (at least not until the idiotic shortshanks and eyewitness set up their accounts here). Though that is the kind of stuff that is being chucked around here. If you criticise how some bullying bunch of divs act at the bookfair, then you get labelled terf supporters or anti-trans. Playground stuff.

Juan, if you cannot see the difference between Helen Steel's mistaken views and some alt-right anti-immigration bollocks, then you're seriously losing your critical faculties.

Being pro-porn is certainly idiotic, it is to support patriarchy.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I never called Helen Steel dim, I called the terf version of feminism which is predicated on a narrow biological essentialism dim, especially given that feminism has fought for a very long time to reject defining women by their reproductive capability. If you think the decades long bullying of trans people in the name of feminism is a good thing, well you're no sister of mine. I am given to believe that Helen Steel was not the only person there with transphobic views, I assume that leaflet didn't just materialize out of the ether. People went there with a deliberate aim to provoke and now they're trying to garner sympathy because they elicited a reaction, a reaction I suspect they were looking for to prove their point that they are at the receiving end of "male violence." Despite being a group with far more power, a much bigger platform and much larger allieship amongst the wider world.

For fucks sakes, Terfs (a name they coined for themselves, which when people you disagreed with them started using it they started bleating on about it being a slur,) represent a small number of actually radical feminists, most of whom have enough actual empathy to not pick on minorities. FWIW, I am a survivor too. I don't feel this gives me any legitimacy to pick on trans people. There are so few trans people in the world and the mentality these people have to try and deny them the few dignities and rights that anyone should expect, in the name of feminism no less, it's just weird, obsessive and vindictive.

you could stop being a church goer who supports more than one form of patriarchal oppression from where I'm standing (porn and the violent silencing of female anti-capitalists

What the fuck are you talking about? No one's silencing terfs. You lot have got platforms in major media all over the world, friends in the church, the Whitehouse ffs, For every trans person on TV a whole fuck ton of terfs turn out to "add balance." You don't ever let up. Silencing, my ass.

If you support the oppression of marginalized people then you are a shit anarchist. If people don't want to listen to you because you're a bigot, I really don't care. Terfs are oppressive to other women and cry me a river for all their boo hooing about being silenced. Climb down off your cross and try showing a bit of empathy for other people.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

You asked for evidence/links to the arguments that Helen Steel was making. I found a photograph of a leaflet that was being handed out at the bookfair (something you could have done yourself with a twitter search). Rather than address the content of the leaflet (one of the things that actually provoked the incident at the bookfair directly), you immediately went back to Fleur's statement

Wrong – I never asked for “evidence/links to the arguments that Helen Steel was making” anywhere on this thread or elsewhere – so all your assumptions following on from that are based on a fiction. My only query on this thread was in post #49;

Fleur wrote:
Given that Helen Steel has endorsed the physical assault of trans women
Red

Can you show some proof for this?

Nearly everything else I’ve said here has been dealing with idiotic misrepresentation, distortion and attempted smears.
MH

There's a range of answers to the question I asked from 'No', to 'I don't agree with it but I don't think people should confront Helen Steel in a large group about it' which doesn't require you to be transphobic. To be able to discuss whether the content should be challenged at the bookfair or not, you'd have to have an opinion on the content. No such opinion had been forthcoming so I asked what it was.

I never expressed any desire to discuss this; all I ever asked was for proof of the claim that HS endorsed violence against trans people – and still none has been shown.

Juan Conatz

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Nobody was arguing free speech for terfs (at least not until the idiotic shortshanks and eyewitness set up their accounts here). Though that is the kind of stuff that is being chucked around here. If you criticise how some bullying bunch of divs act at the bookfair, then you get labelled terf supporters or anti-trans. Playground stuff.

Juan, if you cannot see the difference between Helen Steel's mistaken views and some alt-right anti-immigration bollocks, then you're seriously losing your critical faculties.

I think the problem here is that you seem to think TERF is a question that’s yet to be settled or an ongoing discussion and maybe even if you don’t agree with it, you view it as “mistaken” rather than dangerous or reactionary.

I don’t see it that way. I think the question is settled, there’s no discussion to be had really and it isn’t merely “mistaken”, having or arguing for TERFs to be able to spread their ideas is quite dangerous and reactionary. I don’t really see the difference between this and someone leafleting “British Jobs for British Workers! Kick the immigrants out”. Maybe the main difference is that older lefties haven’t been a part of the TERF stuff or even encountered it and so are less familiar with it.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bit patronising there, Juan. By the way, when I've encountered people at work giving out reactionary views, I do tend to talk to them about it rather than just shouting, threatening to give them a kicking or setting of fire alarms, if I can help it. Bookfair though innit and there's always a few who are given to getting shouty and aggressive about summat or other. If these bookfair shenanigans were set to music, it'd probably be "send in the clowns".

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Juan Conatz

anti-immigrant arguments from people like Paul Mason at an anarchist book fair?

Juan, if you cannot see the difference between Helen Steel's mistaken views and some alt-right anti-immigration bollocks, then you're seriously losing your critical faculties.

While we're misquoting. Paul Mason has done talks at the anarchist bookfair. He also has argued for stricter immigration controls and about cultural anxiety in the Guardian. On Newsnight then twitter he argued to bar entry for anyone earning under median wage. He knows a lot about the Paris Commune, goes to European protests and talks about Post-capitalism though so lots of people give him a pass compared to when alt-right/UKIP push the same arguments on immigration.

Juan Conatz

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Your co-workers who have dodgy ideas is a different thing than people who are actively organizing around a set of reactionary politics or defending the “right” of people who do, to do so at an a left event.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Give over. We're talking about someone who's fought the good fight for years but whose views on this area need challenging. What happened at the bookfair was not the way to do this.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Bit patronising there, Juan. By the way, when I've encountered people at work giving out reactionary views, I do tend to talk to them about it rather than just shouting, threatening to give them a kicking or setting of fire alarms, if I can help it.

An equivalent situation would be you having several trans co-workers, then another group of co-workers including one senior and we'll respected one start sending company-wide emails that they should be barred from the ladies' toilet, are violent men, potential rapists and child molesters. Then at the staff party hand put leaflets and put up stickers all over the place.

admin edit - to clarify, HS didn't hand out leaflets at the bookfair, but defended the people who did

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It would be if that's what Helen did at the bookfair, but as far as I know, that's not what she was doing. Now do you have anything more reality-based to offer?

Juan Conatz

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

I never expressed any desire to discuss this; all I ever asked was for proof of the claim that HS endorsed violence against trans people – and still none has been shown.

Supporting a platform for TERFs to spread their hate I think is endorsing violence against trans people.

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for the report past tense, I know there's discussion going on about public statements and such and there's a lot of partial reporting going on from people who didn't see it all so it's good to have a coherent account.

From having helped run (way smaller) stuff before I know it's really difficult intervening on stuff like this (at what point is it more than just a little tiff requiring you to step in, keep the peace etc). And as much as I *really* disagree with her that the people hanging those out should be supported in doing so it sucks that as someone who wasn't responsible for the leaflets Helen had to put up with the inevitable kickback as easily identified bookfair person/ lightning rod while the people actually handing them out evaporated.

Job done having achieved their unpleasant bit of reaction-prodding I suppose. Chances fair they'll reach out to Helen/ Bookfair people to "apologise" and offer their solidarity with the very people they set up for a shit storm.

potrokin

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I would just like to make it clear that I was drunk lastnight and should not have been logged in. I do not think Serge is an idiotic person. I do ,however, have different views on porn than him and believe that porn, in all it's forms, to be a form of patriarchal oppression. We have a different set of personal morals.

It seems to me that with this thread, people have leapt to a side (and leapt to insults, and getting far too personal, myself included) without necessarily checking all the facts first. I was at the bookfair but did not witness what we are 'discussing'. Past Tense was there and is a witness to this and has a detailed account of what happened and I agree with the sentiments of PT's post. I find it very sad that people who are supposed to be comrades are ripping into each other over this and I find it very sad and rather demoralizing to discover the way Helen Steel has been treated, especially considering what she has been through and the contribution she has made.

Having said that I would like to express this; Shortshanks also has a different set of personal beliefs (though also shares libertarian and anti-capitalist beliefs with those here) and that should be respected, she should be able to freely express her views (which in my opinion are not hateful of trans people), shortshanks has made it clear that she knows that trans-women suffer from patriarchy in a similar/if not the same way as non-trans women. That is all I wish to say about this for now, I am now going to commence trying to get over a hangover and deciding whether or not to go to uni today.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

It would be if that's what Helen did at the bookfair, but as far as I know, that's not what she was doing. Now do you have anything more reality-based to offer?

I see so you can do analogies but no one else then.

Looks like Steel didn't hand leaflets out personally, although she's now promoting them online. She's made a twitter statement saying she supports the right of women to do so and it looks like from a couple of accounts she intervened on their behalf, first when a previous argument was happening then going up to someone she apparently recognised from the Hyde Park incident:
https://twitter.com/helensteel12/status/924567294415720448

Here's her quote tweeting another leaflet that has fuck all to do with 'effects on women of proposed legislation' calling the person tweeting it a 'bigot', the only word in that tweet that could draw that charge is 'terf':
https://twitter.com/helensteel12/status/924553936945799170

Yet another tweet encouraging people to read a leaflet distributed at the bookfair, this is more pamphlet length and first time I've seen it
https://sages.org.uk/publications/sages-factsheet.html

Some 'highlights':

"It is impossible to change sex, even with medical treatment. Rather, a trans-identifying male who lives as a woman identifies with the feminine gender role"

"The proposed changes would allow trans-identifying males to access woman-only spaces such as changing rooms, refuges, hospital wards, prisons, and shared sleeping arrangements, with no exceptions."

The consequences of this are forcing trans women to use male changing rooms and be locked up in all male prisons, with no protections when they try to fight it. Here's an account of what that's like in the UK: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/an-insider-s-guide-to-being-transgender-in-prison-a7740566.html
And one from the US: https://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/7/13/trans-woman-eyricka-king-attacked-denied-medical-treatment-new-york-prison

Note this also would mean trans men going to women's prison, although the leaflet doesn't acknowledge the existence of trans men at all, harder to claim gender identity as 'rape culture' if you have to deal with actual gender fluidity going in both directions rather than 'men living as women'.

There are several complaints that cis women might get a trans woman when seeking medical attention or searched by the police after requesting same-sex staff, something that's statistically likely to happen very infrequently. The converse is trans women being searched by male police officers with no recourse which could happen to them 100% of the time.

Also trying to prevent trans women from competing as women in sporting events.

"If a person of the opposite sex cannot be challenged for being in a single-sex space, it becomes harder to teach children how to stay safe." this is exactly the same as the toilet moral panic the US right (and far right) are obsessed with.

"There is no consensus among experts as to the best approach to treating childhood gender dysphoria.13 But children are already being taught about gender identity and transition as early as primary school, and parents are not being given the option to withdraw them from those lessons" looks like a new section 28 to me. Whereas bullying of trans kids in schools is rife and there have been several suicides.

"there is evidence of social contagion"

"Recording gender-identity in official records instead of sex will make it more difficult to solve crimes." might make things harder for the police...

There's a lot more but those stuck out.

shortshanks re…

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

I never called Helen Steel dim, I called the terf version of feminism which is predicated on a narrow biological essentialism dim, especially given that feminism has fought for a very long time to reject defining women by their reproductive capability. If you think the decades long bullying of trans people in the name of feminism is a good thing, well you're no sister of mine. I am given to believe that Helen Steel was not the only person there with transphobic views, I assume that leaflet didn't just materialize out of the ether. People went there with a deliberate aim to provoke and now they're trying to garner sympathy because they elicited a reaction, a reaction I suspect they were looking for to prove their point that they are at the receiving end of "male violence." Despite being a group with far more power, a much bigger platform and much larger allieship amongst the wider world.

For fucks sakes, Terfs (a name they coined for themselves, which when people you disagreed with them started using it they started bleating on about it being a slur,) represent a small number of actually radical feminists, most of whom have enough actual empathy to not pick on minorities. FWIW, I am a survivor too. I don't feel this gives me any legitimacy to pick on trans people. There are so few trans people in the world and the mentality these people have to try and deny them the few dignities and rights that anyone should expect, in the name of feminism no less, it's just weird, obsessive and vindictive.

you could stop being a church goer who supports more than one form of patriarchal oppression from where I'm standing (porn and the violent silencing of female anti-capitalists

What the fuck are you talking about? No one's silencing terfs. You lot have got platforms in major media all over the world, friends in the church, the Whitehouse ffs, For every trans person on TV a whole fuck ton of terfs turn out to "add balance." You don't ever let up. Silencing, my ass.

If you support the oppression of marginalized people then you are a shit anarchist. If people don't want to listen to you because you're a bigot, I really don't care. Terfs are oppressive to other women and cry me a river for all their boo hooing about being silenced. Climb down off your cross and try showing a bit of empathy for other people.

You seem to be putting words into my mouth now, and for the record, I am not a TERF. I really don't think I can be bothered going through this if you are going to misrepresent what I am saying and what I belive, I simply can't be bothered and have more important things to do. All I will say is that the way those people treated Helen Steel is disgusting and clearly wrong and it was clearly an ordeal that alot of people were forced to suffer when they shouldn't of had to, I do indeed hope that those involved apologise for the disruption and intimidation they have caused,aswell as the vile misogynist language they used to describe someone who has fought for the greater good and is a survivor and I hope they can genuinely see what they did wrong.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Account by an AF comrade (a couple of notations by me in italics)

"First sign was flyers in the women's loos. Then there was leafletting of even worse flyers causing a gathering in the entrance against the TERFs distributing them. By the time I arrived at that the ones distributing them had gone, leaving Helen Steele, EC (name of known TERF redacted) and somebody I don't know who apparently hadn't been flyering but were defending the flyerers and coming out with TERFy shit while claiming not to be TERFS. Lots of shouting and a bit of pushing, but the only punch I saw thrown was later when a cis guy jumped right in the middle to deck one of the trans women who was leading chants to get the TERFs out. He then got hit back with a rolled up magazine. Organisers refused to remove TERFs, various older Cis guys came in to tut about freedom of speech and oh so helpfully point out that we needed dialogue. Fire alarm was set off. Later somebody tried to photo TERFS and it nearly started again, with surprising people more concerned about breaking the bookfair rule on photography than distribution of actual hate speech.

Basically, the TERF grinches have stolen anarchist Christmas."

adri

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

potrokin

I do ,however, have different views on porn than him and believe that porn, in all it's forms, to be a form of patriarchal oppression. We have a different set of personal morals.

It's a bit of sweeping claim to say that all porn (which includes literature, drawings, etc.) is oppressive toward women, including porn that doesn't even represent women.

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was attending the bookfair(for the first time) so I can give some eyewitness account.

TERFS were handing out transphobic leaflets- a woman I was with was handed ones similar to the above.

Other TERFS were someone from Feminist Library and someone near to the Earth First Stall at a stall fronted by the green/black flag.

While Helen Steel may not have been that person, she was defending both the right to do this and the content of the leaflets.

She was protected by a female organiser of the bookfair who let her have(ironically) a safe space at the info point beside them and it quickly became obvious they were friends and the issue would not be addressed.

The bookfair organisers refused to act despite a number of people making( as calmly as humanly possible in this situation) objections to the TERFS presence at least TWICE that I saw.

Quite unsurprisingly TERFS saying trans people don't have a right to exist/ are fake didn't go down well at an ANARCHIST bookfair and it built towards a physical confrontation- though I saw no violence myself

If the organisers had acted soon this could've been avoided.

I do know that for siding with the trans folk the organisers of the bookfair moved to grab me as I headed to the toilets - to do who knows what - Beat me up? have me arrested? kick me out?

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fall Back

Account by an AF comrade (a couple of notations by me in italics)

"First sign was flyers in the women's loos. Then there was leafletting of even worse flyers causing a gathering in the entrance against the TERFs distributing them. By the time I arrived at that the ones distributing them had gone, leaving Helen Steele, EC (name of known TERF redacted) and somebody I don't know who apparently hadn't been flyering but were defending the flyerers and coming out with TERFy shit while claiming not to be TERFS. Lots of shouting and a bit of pushing, but the only punch I saw thrown was later when a cis guy jumped right in the middle to deck one of the trans women who was leading chants to get the TERFs out. He then got hit back with a rolled up magazine. Organisers refused to remove TERFs, various older Cis guys came in to tut about freedom of speech and oh so helpfully point out that we needed dialogue. Fire alarm was set off. Later somebody tried to photo TERFS and it nearly started again, with surprising people more concerned about breaking the bookfair rule on photography than distribution of actual hate speech.

Basically, the TERF grinches have stolen anarchist Christmas."

Sounds pretty accurate. Though being a man I didn't see the stuff in the toilets or the punching but this gives a good sense of the atmosphere.

Class War who I spoke to about it shrugged their shoulders. Their was quite a bit of apathy about it.

Fucking disgrace!

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Disappointed by defence of TERFS/ TERFY views and the person PAST TENSE on this page.

Why did these folk even come in? How can their be a 'debate' on trans people existence?

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You're disappointed that Past Tense has posted an account that differs from that of your friends? So how do you propose that we as a small movement get beyond this weekend's stromash? Aside from a couple of people who have just registered on here to post terfy comments, no regular poster has been posting pro-TERF stuff. Yet anyone who has criticised those surrounding and threatening Helen Steel or who presents an alternative account are portrayed as pro-TERF and anti-trans.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

JuanC

Supporting a platform for TERFs to spread their hate I think is endorsing violence against trans people.

If language is to be misused and debased like this, it’s usually sign of a weak argument and/or an attempt to deliberately mislead. It works for lawyers, but... There is a factual difference between advocating physical violence against people – which was the claim - and having a disagreeable theoretical position about those people. One could on occasion lead to the other but they’re not the same thing.

There is a decades-long ‘anarchist’ attendee of the bookfair who (from a populist ‘pro-indigenous working class’ view) for years expressed his anti-immigration views on urban 75 forums. He’s a long-term otherwise-lefty-‘good comrade’ too. (I think he stopped his anti-immigration stuff since he got into supporting Rojava and linked up with local Kurds). It was a really divisive stupid theoretical position, but not one that advocated violence against immigrants or led to that. Various people have challenged him verbally about this. The libcom admins knew about all this but never called for his attack, nor banning from the bookfair, never shunned him, seemingly never mentioned it on here or publicly criticised him, he has freely posted on here on occasion etc.

Similarly, after years of defending Aufheben’s Dr J, admins have been forced to accept that he is indisputably helping cops develop policing strategy http://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/why-article-has-been-removed-07102011?page=13#comment-597829 – yet they still haven’t called for his banning from the bookfair, for him to be attacked, for people to prevent the distribution of Aufheben etc. And they had to be pressured to ban him from the forums. Ironically, admins had complained that the criticisms put him under threat of physical attack.

rat

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I’d like to apologise to Fleur for the stupid remarks I made earlier in this thread when she wrote that she was fed up with aspects of the anarchist movement.

I was certainly really out of order. Sorry.

On a different note,

I don't want to derail / change the current discussion on this thread but...

The were aspects of the Bookfair I did enjoy. The two AF discussions that I went to, both of which I thought offered a genuine communist perspective on the reactionary cult of Corbyn and the question; “Is the Working Class Movement Dead?” given by Serge. There was a very interesting, and dare I say, slightly optimistic discussion after Serge’s intro talk. There certainly seemed to be a significant range of voices and ideas illustrating the different struggles developing outside of the unions and political parties. I started to wonder if it is at all possible that these small expressions of resistance may well keep developing and escalate into a new wave of antagonism?

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Aside from a couple of people who have just registered on here to post terfy comments, no regular poster has been posting pro-TERF stuff.

For reference, Shortshanks has been registered on the site for nearly six years, not a prolific poster but they have posted before on a few threads. Only 'eyewitness' appears to be an account created specifically to post TERF stuff on this thread unless I've missed another one.

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was also an eyewitness. I was there. I've given an account of what I saw. I can back up what Mike Harman, Fall Back and others have said.

I can't comment on any alleged violence because I wasn't present for that.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"I am not a terf" said someone who thinks trans people are severely mentally ill and reduces women to walking wombs. Post #103
Walks like a duck.....

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think the original leaflets were helpful myself.

They were transphobic and trans and non-binary folks said so. How about listening to the group affected?

Happy and proud to have stood in their way, really.

You stood on the side of a woman I saw arguing for transphobic ideas. And what was she doing there and why were the bookfair allowing it?

There's a real debate to be had around trans rights and feminism,

That's exactly what terfs say. There's no debate to be had on trans folk's right to exist. We either stand against oppression or for it. Choose a side. Intersectionality is a thing.

Attacking one person in this way unlikely to advance any progress on this question, in my view. Neither is attacks & silencing of anyone who questions assertions or doesn't immediately fall into line behind them.

Would we apply this to other oppressors- police, fascists, sexual abusers etc?

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Would we apply this to other oppressors- police, fascists, sexual abusers etc?

Again, based on your last comment, do you really think Helen Steel can be equated with "police, fascists, sexual abusers etc"?

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Okay maybe there is not complete equivalent BUT Helen steel has firmly chosen to stand on the side of oppression/oppressors.

TERFS deny trans people's existence and their identity. They are feeding into the transphobia which means trans and non binary folk get bullied or commit suicide.

Feminism has moved on and intersectionality is a thing. It's accepted by most feminists that the heart of Patriarchy is the Gender Binary which these TERFS wish to reinforce.

I can't for the life of me understand how that could be interpreted as anything other than oppressive, as acting in defense of the patriarchy, as acting on the side of the state which denies trans folk their rights/ their identity.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just caught the church goer thing. I'm an atheist, been to church about a dozen times in my life, all for weddings & funerals. I just don't like sweeping assumptions that all people of faith are evil. I guess you were looking at my previous posts to dig that one up.

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You can't go to an anarchist bookfair knowing trans folk might be present, hand leaflets to folk you assume are Cis women then expect to be greeted with applause or with anything other than absolute fury and disdain. Then for folk to defend this, to protect this and to allow this is extremely telling about where our supposed anarchist movement is at.

Anarchism is not for anything goes. Anything goes opens the door to fascists,cops, reformists, authoritarians of all types.

Are we for trans/non binary people or not? This is the fundamental question and everything else is hot air.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

edit - a paragraph responding to something specific about rb88s post removed - cross posted and thread had moved on, and wasn't hugely relevant to the rest of the post

If you're actively organising as a TERF, then your politics are beyond the pale. It's not about thought crime as some people might like to make it out - it's not about being wrong on an abstract theoretical issue, or even just having the wrong ideas on an immediate one.

TERFs are literally and directly organising to cause immediate and real harm to trans people. They are - right now - fighting for things that will kill and immiserate trans people, and fighting to uphold a status quo that already does these things. It's absolutely not just about having the wrong ideas.

This is why the calls that there needs to be a debate are bullshit. If some prick was leaflet ing the bookfair calling for restrictions on immigration, and a migrant group organised to tell them to fuck off, and the response was for movement luminaries was to physically defense do their rights to be there, and to suggest that the migrants needed to debate why they shouldn't be kicked out the country, then you'd hopefully see how gross it is. No fucking way should anyone from a marginalised group have to debate whether their lives are valid. We need to treat this the same way.

People need to stop acting like HS was picked on here just for being "wrong" - she actively inserted herself in this situation, defending the bigoted TERF leafleting, after a significant role period of publicly pushing TERF politics. It's not about wrong ideas, it's about harmful behavior. Fuck, according to some of her defenders she ever approached someone who was at Speakers Corner to have a go? (Didn't see this, but several ppl defending her have stated this). So we not only have someone actively defending harmful politics, but attacking someone else hold been at a recent events where trans women had been attacked by her allies. Again, imagine any analogous situation, and hopefully you'd see how absolutely fucked her actions are. It's a shame trans peoples lives are so devalued right now that i need to resort to analogty to assert their worth, but there we are. (any trans comrades reading this who think it's not cool, apologies in advance, was unsure about using it each time, so sorry if I've made the wrong call).

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RobberBurns88

You can't go to an anarchist bookfair knowing trans folk might be present, hand leaflets to folk you assume are Cis women then expect to be greeted with applause or with anything other than absolute fury and disdain. Then for folk to defend this, to protect this and to allow this is extremely telling about where our supposed anarchist movement is at.

Anarchism is not for anything goes. Anything goes opens the door to fascists,cops, reformists, authoritarians of all types.

Are we for trans/non binary people or not? This is the fundamental question and everything else is hot air.

As has been stated earlier in this thread, Helen was not handing out those leaflets but defended someone who was. It appears she then became the convenient next best target when the person(s) distributing the flyers disappeared. If Helen holds TERF positions, then she is wrong and should be challenged on those views. However, how she was challenged at Bookfair was also totally wrong and should never have happened like that. Lumping her in with cops and fascists is not only sick, it's cult-like behaviour and very worrying to see.

Oh, and I forget who implied that "older anarchists" probably didn't "get" trans politics, but you need to realise the whole trans thing goes back a long way and some of us have been well acquainted with such "issues" for a long time, you patronising bugger.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That would be me, Serge, a Gen Xer who has had it with my fellow generational "feminists" stuck in an outdated, exclusionary ideology. It was shit back in the 80s and it's shit now.

Anybody who thinks transphobia is a subject "up for debate" or something marginal not worth getting their knickers in a twist over, have shit gender politics. It's real people's Ives they are fucking over, not some boutique bit of theory.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rat

Apology accepted :)

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not sure it makes a huge difference whether she handed out the leaflets herself - I suspect she didn't, as she's probably politially savy enough to know how it'd go, and don't think she particularly would have wanted to provoke a big kick off.

What is not in dispute is that she chose to physically insert herself in a situation where bigots were putting out hate speech, after publicly preaching it herself for months. This was a deliberate political act, just as much as handing out the leaflets was. If you're physically defending someone handing out hate speech, you have joint culpability.

And if she did, as her own supporters have stated go after a woman who was at Speakers Corner, then that takes it to a whole new level.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

some boutique bit of theory.

You say that, Fleur, but I'll take that over the politics of playground bullying any time.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A group of marginalised people taking collective action against someone organising to directly cause them hard sounds more like solidarity than playground bullying.

Putting up stickers in the toilets saying the marginalised group are gross, otoh...

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Exactly. Solidarity.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Course it was playground, right down to setting off the school fire alarm. The only thing missing was fucking stink bombs.

Hmm... "collective action" against Helen Steel. Well done. That'll certainly boost class confidence.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Collective action again transphobic organising which, as stated before, she inserted herself into the situation.

What should they have done, stopped immediately when she got involved? Fucked off home because an Important Activist told them to stop?

She made the decision to involve herself in the defence of transphobe organising. If that puts her in the firing line, then that's on her.

Since you're so keen on avoiding playground politics, you should know that "just ignore them" doesn't fucking work.

potrokin

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

zugzwang

potrokin

I do ,however, have different views on porn than him and believe that porn, in all it's forms, to be a form of patriarchal oppression. We have a different set of personal morals.

It's a bit of sweeping claim to say that all porn (which includes literature, drawings, etc.) is oppressive toward women, including porn that doesn't even represent women.

You obviously have a very different idea of what porn is to me but without patriarchy it wouldn't exist and how ever you define it, in general it is patriarchal aswell as unnecessary, that should be obvious to anyone who considers themselves to be anti-capitalist let alone libetarian or anarchist.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fallback, will you knock the straw man shit on the head please? When did I ever say "just ignore them". I've said on numerous occasions that Helen should be challenged over such views. But acting like a gang of stroppy divs is not the best way to do it. In fact, if anything, it's more likely to more deeply entrench any terf-like views she may hold. Meaningful action comrades... and that wasn't it.

And Potrokin, how about you start another thread about your views on porn because it's really got fuck all to do with the bookfair or anything that happened there.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I offered it as a hypothetical, the question was only semi rhetorical.

So I'll ask you explicitly - a group of women are confronting a TERF who has been distributing hate speech at the bookfair. HS intervenes to defend them, and then (apparently) goes after a woman because she was at an event when a trans woman was assaulted by TERFs.

You've said continuing the confrontation (now involving HS) was wrong. You've also said they shouldn't have just left it. You've also stated they shouldn't have ignored it in the first place. So, ball in your court, what should they have done?

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Empty Cages collective just posted this on Facebook.

(Contains emojis so copy might not work right, see link for original)

https://www.facebook.com/EmptyCagesCollective/posts/869908503160124

This Saturday, the Empty Cages Collective tabled at the London Anarchist Bookfair. We met tons of great people on the stall and our workshop was well-attended. A partner of a 13-year IPP sentenced prisoner spoke and it was incredibly moving.

However, the day was ruined by some TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) spreading their disturbing transphobic hate literature. They did not have a formal stall or workshop but instead tried to leaflet the crowd. The leaflets argue against updates to the Gender Recognition Act, which allow for more autonomy and self-determination of gender. So the TERFs want the state to keep control of assigning gender. This is against both anarchist and feminist principles. They claim to be the voice of lesbians. This does not represent lesbians' voices. They argue for the 'right of female prisoners to be housed separately from male prisoners'. But not updating the Gender Recognition Act means the opposite of this: that trans women prisoners will continue to die in male prisons.

On hearing of their presence, we tried to speak to some members of the bookfair collective flagging it up and asking that we collectively stop them leafleting and remove them from the event. What was most saddening is that the response was a defence of their views or their "freedom to leaflet". Which is contrary to any other anarchist positions, for example if fascists had turned up, no one would tolerate them spreading racist propaganda. Yet somehow literature dehumanising, othering and oppressing trans people was allowed.

We then had our workshop and when it finished we came downstairs to see the situation had escalated. A small number of people were protecting and defending the TERFs and a friend can confirm that a trans person was punched.

One of the people being protected is a well-known activist who has been subject to police and state violence. While we feel solidarity with anyone in this situation, this does not make them immune to criticism when they are supporting the spreading of such vitriolic ideas. People with social capital in our movements have long been protected even if they perpetuate abusive behaviour. This has to end.

It is clear to us that this debate is not about 'free speech' but about how we understand feminist solidarity. What is deeply upsetting is that trans folks are being scapegoated and subject to continued transmisogyny and transphobia meanwhile patriarchy and capitalism rage on.
Women's lives and women's services are in crisis in the UK. Defending these services, for example, would be a better use of feminist energy. Defending state control of gender is oppressive to all women and all people.

As survivors ourselves, we understand living in a world where being scared and feeling unsafe around men is all too often a daily reality. And although spaces for survivors and oppressed genders are important they have to be inclusionary or they mean nothing. There are some impressive examples of inclusionary organising, such as Sisters Uncut. TERFs have zero valid arguments and giving them a platform threatens the actual real safety and visibility of our trans friends and comrades, as well as reducing the power of the anarchist and feminist movements necessary to dismantle domination.

As a queer anarchist collective, we will not tolerate this erasure of trans identities. We demand that the Book Fair Collective are held accountable for Saturday, and that they make all future events safe for trans activists. We send love and solidarity to the trans community affected by these events.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

There is a decades-long ‘anarchist’ attendee of the bookfair who (from a populist ‘pro-indigenous working class’ view) for years expressed his anti-immigration views on urban 75 forums. He’s a long-term otherwise-lefty-‘good comrade’ too. (I think he stopped his anti-immigration stuff since he got into supporting Rojava and linked up with local Kurds).
[..]
The libcom admins knew about all this but never called for his attack, nor banning from the bookfair, never shunned him, seemingly never mentioned it on here or publicly criticised him, he has freely posted on here on occasion etc

I can think of someone who used to post on Urban75 and here who have expressed some anti-immigration views (very similar to the Paul Mason/Len McCluskey position on closed shop unions etc.). The first time I noticed this from them was a few months ago on twitter, and when I saw it from them I challenged them on it. If there's been a change away from this position it must be pretty recent though, since this wasn't that long ago I had that exchange with them.

I've met the person I'm thinking of several times about ten years ago and earlier (although don't think I ever discussed immigration with them in person), but not really since, either way very much prepared to accept they had these views for years, expressed them in discussions on U75 years ago when I was posting there, and I just didn't pick up on it until recently. These days if I see the words 'closed shop union' I automatically assume it's a racist dogwhistle (not necessarily that the person saying those words realises this, but that at minimum they're ignorant of the history and/or the way it's being deployed now, or alternatively know full well and being careful how they express their racism). Ten years ago I'd have argued against closed shops, but not on the specific basis of their historical use to enforce colour bars since I was less familiar with the history then.

In 2011 Steven. wrote this blog post in response to anti-immigrant arguments being made elsewhere on the internet, but by someone he mentions was also a 'libcom poster', not sure if this was the same person I'm/you're thinking of, but it's public criticism even if it doesn't name them individually: https://libcom.org/blog/working-class-immigration-debate-13042011- also if it is the same person, Steven obviously noticed it before I did...

On the point of bookfair attendance, if there were anti-immigration leaflets handed out I'd support confronting the distributors of those leaflets and any vocal defenders of their right to distribute them.

If I saw the person I'm thinking of just attending the bookfair to browse, I might try to talk to them in person about their shitty views on immigration, but wouldn't particularly want or expect to see them ejected or prevented from entering. I do think a public figure like Paul Mason with obvious nationalist and militaristic views should be barred from speaking and/or confronted if they did - in recent years we've seen the opposite trend, with platforms like Novara giving him interviews expressing those views without challenge.

The bookfair could have a code of conduct and enforcement plan which clearly says that racist, sexist and transphobic material and behaviour isn't welcome, which doesn't require advance knowledge of who might do that, but pro-actively dealing with it if it does, vs. arbitrating fights. The fact there isn't such a thing is why we end up with massive public arguments about this stuff in-person and online - because it's the only way people are able to deal with it at all.

Red Marriott

It was a really divisive stupid theoretical position, but not one that advocated violence against immigrants or led to that.

He may not have advocated gang beatings of migrants, but both arguing for stricter immigration controls and also that it doesn't 'advocate or lead to violence against migrants' relies on obfuscating state and other structural forms of violence against migrants:

- UKBA immigration raids on homes and workplaces.
- Rounding up of homeless people off the streets and detaining them/deporting them.
- Denial of healthcare without presenting ID (also affects racialised UK citizens and people with 'foreign' names who are already getting NHS charging letters or challenged for ID when attending hospital).
- Yarls Wood and other detention centres
- Retaliatory reports to immigration enforcement for any struggle against landlords or employers, making unsafe living conditions, wage theft etc. much easier for them to get away with. Denial of jobs and housing in the first place too.
- Targeting of immigrant (and again black and asian UK citizens) children in schools, who've been asked to bring passports in for the schools census, albeit in that case the school itself being overzealous.
- Until this weeks 'health tourism' measures in the NHS, which supposedly 'left wing' people aren't immune from talking about, was going to stop kids in school seeing the school nurse without an immigration check.

Some of these are literal, direct violence by the state, some of them more subtle like denying housing, healthcare etc. some which enable violence by others via making it easier for landlords and employers to victimise migrants specifically. There's no immigration control without all or some of these, otherwise immigration would not be controlled. This is often a problem with people understanding borders as physical checkpoints where passports are checked and you get a stamp or not, vs. a whole system of internal border control which controls migrant behaviour within countries (and enables racist treatment from everyone else). Hopefully people will keep making points like this to the person or people who are putting forward these arguments, but if they crossed over into active anti-migrant organising they should also expect to get shouted at after apparently years of being told how wrong they are.

Similarly when you argue against gender recognition, in practice you're arguing for continued and further state violence against trans people (put into a male prison, denied healthcare, various other consequences) as we can see from the leaflet excerpts I posted above. Would be really great if people who think there should have been a discussion with Helen Steel instead of shouting would make those points to her now.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Course it was playground, right down to setting off the school fire alarm.

I've seen reports (on twitter, and not enough to be conclusive, which is why I haven't brought it up until now) that the TERFs both set off the fire alarm and called the police - someone separately mentioned two police officers arriving at the event about 15 minutes after one of the altercations. Do you have a specific reason to think the group confronting the TERFs set off the fire alarm?

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

I've said on numerous occasions that Helen should be challenged over such views. But acting like a gang of stroppy divs is not the best way to do it. In fact, if anything, it's more likely to more deeply entrench any terf-like views she may hold. Meaningful action comrades... and that wasn't it.

From the Empty Cages Collective, some time (hours?) before Helen Steel was confronted, this happened:

Empty Cages Collective

On hearing of their presence, we tried to speak to some members of the bookfair collective flagging it up and asking that we collectively stop them leafleting and remove them from the event. What was most saddening is that the response was a defence of their views or their "freedom to leaflet".

So people tried to get the bookfair collective to address this issue, then got stonewalled, before things escalated to direct action. 'playground' too?

as a libcom admin
If potrokin wants to discuss porn in the general/abstract, please start a new thread. Sex worker organising might be a relevant discussion here, but hasn't come up yet so without any context like that it's just off-topic.

Red Marriott

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MH

I can think of someone who used to post on Urban75 and here who have expressed some anti-immigration views (very similar to the Paul Mason/Len McCluskey position on closed shop unions etc.).

No, I was referring to Durutti02. I remember discussing it with you a decade or so ago.

Zia

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman wrote:

Would be really great if people who think there should have been a discussion with Helen Steel instead of shouting would make those points to her now.
Friends of HS have done that, are doing that, including probably people who have posted here.
Thank you for not repeating earlier claims that she endorses assaults against trans people or is a fascist. Those were unacceptable claims and should have been withdrawn.

Thank you also to Jeff Costello for post no. 87.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Marriott

MH

I can think of someone who used to post on Urban75 and here who have expressed some anti-immigration views (very similar to the Paul Mason/Len McCluskey position on closed shop unions etc.).

No, I was referring to Durutti02. I remember discussing it with you a decade or so ago.

hmm I didn't remember their username on U75 (and still don't remember what it was on here, or discussing this about them with you), but I do think we're talking about the same person after a bit of googling. One possibility is you told me they talk shit about immigration on U75, then I didn't go and find the threads myself, and then forgot about it, which is pretty negligent if so and after various experiences in very different contexts I'd definitely follow it up now (and did when I noticed it last time). Failure to do that a decade ago isn't an excuse to not address similar shit now.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Helen Steel was at the TERF Hyde Park hate rally, and she went to defend Maria Mac, the TERF who later had the trans woman in a headlock. Also, she publicly outs people behind pseudonyms for criticising TERF's on facebook, and TERF's love to d0x trans women. Just who the fuck does she think she is? Lots of us use pseudonyms on facebook and twitter for very good reasons. This is some seriously questionable behaviour by someone who thinks she's a movement star and can therefore evade accountability.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I won't link to it, but HS confirmed in a public comment on facebook that she attended the Hyde Park event, and also in Oct 16th shared the same SAGES leaflet that was distributed at the bookfair with the following text:

encourage people to read up about the proposals to make legal changes to the Gender Recognition Act. They have serious implications for women's rights which are largely being ignored. These change "will make the word “woman” meaningless. Women are adult female humans: members of the sex class able to bear children. If the law is changed, a “woman” will become “anyone who identies as a woman”. This will not change material reality. The half of the populaton with the potental or perceived ability to bear children will stll be discriminated against because of th

"Women are adult female humans: members of the sex class able to bear children." this is pretty exclusionary of people born intersex or with reproductive issues, let alone trans women.

eyewitness

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Only 'eyewitness' appears to be an account created specifically to post TERF stuff on this thread unless I've missed another one.

I created this account specifically to post an eyewitness report of the events as I saw them. Obviously I have been reading Libcom forums for longer than that (more or less since it started), just as Saturday wasn't my first London anarchist bookfair (more like my 20th, first one I went to was 1983).

I have already said I am not a feminist so, duh, I'm obviously not a terF. The terf label is intended to delegitimise any facts that people don't want to hear. Anyway, I should have posted my account and left it at that instead of responding to the bullshit that came after it.

Goodbye and I hope you are all very happy together

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Freedom Press have stated on twitter that they were was phoned by the police in relation to the bookfair, that's confirmation that someone contacted them: https://twitter.com/Freedom_Paper/status/925022035616641024

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Friends of HS need to be challenging her on this. We went to the post-bookfair pub meet at the Salisbury and HS was there, and by all accounts (we chose not to sit with them, frankly astonished she was even there at all) no-one was talking about what happened, like an awkward Christmas Dinner with relatives who don't get along.

Reddebrek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

eyewitness

Mike Harman

Only 'eyewitness' appears to be an account created specifically to post TERF stuff on this thread unless I've missed another one.

I created this account specifically to post an eyewitness report of the events as I saw them. Obviously I have been reading Libcom forums for longer than that (more or less since it started), just as Saturday wasn't my first London anarchist bookfair (more like my 20th, first one I went to was 1983).

I have already said I am not a feminist so, duh, I'm obviously not a terF. The terf label is intended to delegitimise any facts that people don't want to hear. Anyway, I should have posted my account and left it at that instead of responding to the bullshit that came after it.

Goodbye and I hope you are all very happy together

Wow 1983, and this is the best you can do.

You know your "eyewitness" shtick might have been more believable if you didn't keep wedding it to obvious untruths. Your comments on the TERF label are simply false, it was a neutral term adopted as a self descriptor. By definition its correct as the people its used in reference too are open about being Trans exclusionary.

The TERF is a slur line is just a transparent attempt to deflect criticism and damage control.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

I won't link to it, but HS confirmed in a public comment on facebook that she attended the Hyde Park event, and also in Oct 16th shared the same SAGES leaflet that was distributed at the bookfair with the following text:

Yea, she can be seen in the video of it on youtube.

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Statement from the Edinburgh Section of the Anarchist Federation inviting other groups or individuals to sign.

https://edinburghanarchists.noflag.org.uk/2017/10/labf/

STATEMENT OF DISSOCIATION FROM THE LONDON ANARCHIST BOOKFAIR

In recent years the London Anarchist Bookfair (LABF) has has been plagued with incidents of racism, misogyny, transphobia, abelism and other forms of bigotry. These have often led to physical confrontation. While it is impossible to stop all problems from occurring, many incidents would have been prevented entirely and others swiftly ended if the LABF collective had chosen to act.

Many individuals, groups and organisations have attempted to engage with the LABF collective in order to help put in place structures to prevent these unacceptable failures from repeating. Despite this the LABF collective deny any responsibility for the space they create and have refused to take action to remove bigots from their event. In some cases the event organisers have actively defended bigots. To justify their behavior the LABF collective put forward liberal notions of free speech that are not compatible with anarchist organising.

Rather than being a showcase event for anarchism in the region, the LABF now actively sabotages the spread of anarchist ideas and methods through the working class. The bigotry allowed to flourish at the LABF has no place in modern working class liberatory movements. At this point having no LABF would be better than having the current event carry on as-is.

Given this situation, we the undersigned will no longer be associated with the London Anarchist Bookfair until the problems we note have been addressed. This means we will not have a stall, host any meetings, take out advertising space in the programme, or in any way promote or support the event. The problems are a result of the structures of organisation, political orientation, and informal culture at the bookfair. As such we will only consider associating with the bookfair once the LABF collective have undertaken the following actions:

The LABF collective publicly post a concise outline of their politics in regard to what behaviors they find acceptable/unacceptable at the LABF. This should make clear the types of bigotry they find unacceptable at their event.
The LABF collective outline the structure and processes that they will attempt to follow if someone acts outside of the bounds of what they find acceptable by those attending their event.
The LABF collective demonstrate that they actually mean their stated political position for the event and attempt to act in good faith with regard to the structures they have created to maintain it.

Signed,

Edinburgh Anarchist Federation

shortshanks re…

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

"I am not a terf" said someone who thinks trans people are severely mentally ill

I'm not a TERF because I don't believe in excluding and hating on them. My interpretation that they are ill is just my understanding of the situation they find themselves in and as I have already pointed out, I understand that they have the same enemies as other women and feminists, those being alpha males and patriarchy. Oh and good luck bringing people around to your way of thinking if you are just going to label people like me 'transphobic' or 'trans-exclusionary' because a huge fucking swathe of the world's population (including young people) thinks how I think and people like you will be excluding them and putting them off libertarian communist/anarchist/anti-capitalist politics if you continue to take that approach, particularly if you are going to try and prevent freedom of expression and support people being bullied.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

shortshanks

I'm not a TERF because I don't believe in excluding and hating on them.

No just calling them mentally ill, addicted to surgery, not real women (since only people who get periods and who can reproduce are real women? how's that work exactly?) etc. "I'm not a TERF but..."

shortshanks

I understand that they have the same enemies as other women and feminists, those being alpha males and patriarchy.

You left out the people campaigning for them to be locked up in male prisons and denied healthcare?

shortshanks

Oh and good luck bringing people around to your way of thinking if you are just going to label people like me 'transphobic' or 'trans-exclusionary' because a huge fucking swathe of the world's population thinks how I think and people like you will be excluding them and putting them off libertarian communist/anarchist/anti-capitalist politics if you continue to take that approach.

In the early 1900s people in the US socialist party were trying to exclude black people in the name of unity with racists. In the 1910s many suffragettes campaigned against black women getting the vote, because they were especially concerned with it being granted to black men (and just generally racist. there was a WKKK movement set up in the 1920s after the vote was granted to keep going). While these are different issues to transphobia and there's been too many analogies on this thread already, at the time people definitely made the same arguments that if these were inclusive movements, it would exclude bigots from getting involved.

as an admin
I've unpublished several posts by both eyewitness and shortshanks due to transphobia and banned eyewitness.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Where did you get your medical degree? There's an 8 year post graduate training before you can practice as a psychiatrist, where did you do your residency? I assume you are a professional, otherwise you wouldn't be able to competently diagnose mental illness. Or are you just being a wee bit ableist here, and assigning someone you do not understand or agree with as mentally ill.

I would label some as trans exclusionary if they refuse to recognize someone's gender. And yes, a lot of people think the way you do but I tend to hold anarchists to a higher standard. Fuck knows why, I'm so frequently disappointed. Do better. Be better. Be more open to differences.

Jesus, alpha male. Lol. We're not elephants you know. The only people I hear regularly talking about alphas and betas are MRAs.

Steven.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I wasn't able to attend the book fair but have been following what happened. Absolutely unbelievable.

I'm so disappointed that it turns out Helen Steel, who I always thought was a solid comrade, is a trans-hating bigot. And it is perhaps even more disappointing that so many people, like the book fair collective and John Active, have supported her.

Regardless of what happened at the book fair, you can see on her Twitter and Facebook accounts she posts loads of trans-phobic hate, that has no place in any radical or working class movement. It is absolutely disgusting and contemptible.

She is also a Unison rep, and I think she is in breach of union rules. How could any trans member have faith in her to adequately support her when she doesn't even acknowledge their right to exist?

Past Tense, forgetting about what happened at the book fair, what do you think about the transphobic propaganda Helen spews publicly on her social media accounts?

I would also like to ask that same question to her other supporters like the book fair collective, John Active etc. It's one thing to defend a long-term friend if you think people have been aggressive towards her. But it's quite another to defend bigoted hate speech.

On the matter of the book fair collective, just for information the libcom group are drafting an email to send to them to give them a chance to address and correct their behaviour. If they decline then we may cosign the above Edinburgh AF statement.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

RobberBurns88

You can't go to an anarchist bookfair knowing trans folk might be present, hand leaflets to folk you assume are Cis women then expect to be greeted with applause or with anything other than absolute fury and disdain. Then for folk to defend this, to protect this and to allow this is extremely telling about where our supposed anarchist movement is at.

Anarchism is not for anything goes. Anything goes opens the door to fascists,cops, reformists, authoritarians of all types.

Are we for trans/non binary people or not? This is the fundamental question and everything else is hot air.

As has been stated earlier in this thread, Helen was not handing out those leaflets but defended someone who was. It appears she then became the convenient next best target when the person(s) distributing the flyers disappeared. If Helen holds TERF positions, then she is wrong and should be challenged on those views. However, how she was challenged at Bookfair was also totally wrong and should never have happened like that. Lumping her in with cops and fascists is not only sick, it's cult-like behaviour and very worrying to see.

Oh, and I forget who implied that "older anarchists" probably didn't "get" trans politics, but you need to realise the whole trans thing goes back a long way and some of us have been well acquainted with such "issues" for a long time, you patronising bugger.

If someone behaves like a cop, they will be treated as a cop. Outing people to TERF's is cop behaviour. Reporting trans women to cops is cop behaviour. She is FB friends with 'Dr' Julia Long, the terf equivalent of Nick Griffin, who regularly boasts about her transphobic poetry.

Why must we deploy analogies for you to 'get it'? If a bonehead was handing out C18 flyers, and someone defended their 'right to fash', they'd be out the door with them.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If Helen behaves like a cop, how come she's the one who got kettled? Seriously, listen to yourself. She's neither cop nor fascist but yes her views on trans matters are piss poor and need challenging - in a way that doesn't involve the bookfair version of flaming torches.

wojtek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Isn't there quite a history of pathologising women, gays and those with anti-authoritarian leanings?

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

If Helen behaves like a cop, how come she's the one who got kettled? Seriously, listen to yourself. She's neither cop nor fascist but yes her views on trans matters are piss poor and need challenging - in a way that doesn't involve the bookfair version of flaming torches.

Clearly won't be challenged by the LABC who defended her. At one one the TERF's asked for the trans people to be kicked out, for defending their right to exist I presume.

potrokin

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

shortshanks

I'm not a TERF because I don't believe in excluding and hating on them.

No just calling them mentally ill, addicted to surgery, not real women (since only people who get periods and who can reproduce are real women? how's that work exactly?) etc. "I'm not a TERF but..."

shortshanks

I understand that they have the same enemies as other women and feminists, those being alpha males and patriarchy.

You left out the people campaigning for them to be locked up in male prisons and denied healthcare?

shortshanks

Oh and good luck bringing people around to your way of thinking if you are just going to label people like me 'transphobic' or 'trans-exclusionary' because a huge fucking swathe of the world's population thinks how I think and people like you will be excluding them and putting them off libertarian communist/anarchist/anti-capitalist politics if you continue to take that approach.

In the early 1900s people in the US socialist party were trying to exclude black people in the name of unity with racists. In the 1910s many suffragettes campaigned against black women getting the vote, because they were especially concerned with it being granted to black men (and just generally racist. there was a WKKK movement set up in the 1920s after the vote was granted to keep going). While these are different issues to transphobia and there's been too many analogies on this thread already, at the time people definitely made the same arguments that if these were inclusive movements, it would exclude bigots from getting involved.

as an admin
I've unpublished several posts by both eyewitness and shortshanks due to transphobia and banned eyewitness. shortshanks if you continue to post transpobic crap on here or other threads you'll also be banned.

Please delete my account, I disapprove of threats to ban Shortshanks Redemption and do not wish to be on a site that suppresses people's freedom of expression for what I consider to be no good reason. I also do not wish to be on a site that does not take the patriarchal oppression of hardcore porn and other types of porn seriously.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You consider transphobia no good reason?
If you want to talk about porn why don't you do it on the porn thread you've previously started? It has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

Zia

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Like Fleur, I have also opposed trans exclusionary feminists for years - decades in fact. But I want no part in your witch hunt. HS has been accused of things in some posts which any decent admin would remove - instead you are joining in.

Her politics around gender and trans need to be challenged and are being challenged. One of the places this is happening is actually on her social media.

Yes, some of the anti-trans feminists are indeed bigots who cannot be debated but HS is not one of these. She has not been in those scenes for a long time. And no, we’re not talking about debating whether trans people have the right to exist. There are discussions to be had about the GRA, self id, and some aspects of trans activism. These things are being discussed in many forums outside the ‘anarchist’ scene. If you’ve got good arguments, go out and make them and win people over. I urge you to limit your performative outrage and try to think a bit. Maybe there’s a way forward which recognises the humanity of all involved instead of this witch trial.

DevastateTheAvenues

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Someone using the goodwill and cachet they have gained from their previous acts to cover for, deflect from, and even push for their current bad acts--I'm getting nasty echoes of Michael Schmidt and JD.

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe you could think a bit about how appalling that leaflet is, how outing trans people is a despicable thing to do which endangers people, how trans exclusive feminism is a piss poor way of thinking and how the nasty people who turned up at the bookfair to provoke are the ones with performative outraged.

I spent today thinking about my trans coworker who has to put up with this every day of their life. TBH the laws concerning trans people are way better than in the UK so I wonder what it would be like for them not to be able to self ID, to have to wait forever to see a medical professional, to have to go through a demeaning process in which other people to assign a gender to them. Fortunately there's no one as petty & spiteful to tell them where to take a piss, what with our non problematic gender neutral bathrooms at work.

Honestly there is no discussion to be had on the subject of people policing other people's bodies, the proposed legislation is just given trans people some of the rights cis people take for granted. There is no room in libertarian communism for enforcing your will upon other people with regards to their own bodies.

I do talk about this a lot. Oddly enough most non politicos I talk to are far more receptive to trans rights than radfems. What I hear from radfems is close to hate, loaded with lots of rather pathetic concern trolling. I can't work out for the life of me where all this comes from. It's just fucking weird, irrational and paranoid.

Like I said, I hold anarchists to a higher standard of behaviour than non politicos. That said, none of my non politico friends and coworkers have ever exhibited the sort of behaviour such as that carried out by the leafleting terfs. Otoh, maybe I'm just living a charmed existence, given that I'm in a position where I can choose to hang out with only decent human beings.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Zia

I urge you to limit your performative outrage and try to think a bit. Maybe there’s a way forward which recognises the humanity of all involved instead of this witch trial.

Helen Steel wasn't the only person involved in this at the bookfair. A Green Party parliamentary candidate attended as part of the anti-trans group and tweeted about it afterwards. Also there have now been multiple reports of the bookfair collective defending 'free speech' rights of people handing out the leaflet, before HS got actively involved defending them or at least before HS was confronted.

It's good that people are individually challenging HS's politics on this, but even if she hadn't attended the bookfair at all, the incident would have developed in much the same way assuming the rest of the anti-trans group still went and distributed their leaflet and put up stickers and bookfair organisers refused to confront it (possibly with a less polarizing response from everyone afterwards, since anarchists generally less prepared to defend parliamentary candidates than anarchists).

Zia

Yes, some of the anti-trans feminists are indeed bigots who cannot be debated but HS is not one of these.

We don't know the identities of all of the people in the group at the bookfair (I've only confirmed one based on their own reports, but might have missed others), but considering they went to the bookfair exclusively to distribute TERF literature, we can assume most if not all the group are in this category. So it's entirely reasonable to ask why the bookfair collective didn't respond to requests to exclude them, and to ask what exactly people should have done differently once this became clear.

Sike

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

Honestly there is no discussion to be had on the subject of people policing other people's bodies, the proposed legislation is just given trans people some of the rights cis people take for granted. There is no room in libertarian communism for enforcing your will upon other people with regards to their own bodies.

I'm with Fleur here. Why anyone who considers themselves to be an anarchist, or maybe just a thoughtful and decent person, would give a damn about how someone else identifies when it comes to something so intimate and personal as their own gender identity is beyond me.

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Claims from the TERFS today that they called the police claiming violence from the trans folk.

Police have become involved( Backed up by Freedom press Twitter post)

P.S. I was almost grabbed by the organisers for being part of the anti-TERF group. I did nothing more than criticize and join in some chanting.

Edited to remove claim bookfair were involved in some way. We don't know either way as of yet.

Fozzie

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RobberBurns88

Claims from the TERFS today that they called the police claiming violence from the trans folk.

Are you able to provide a source/link to these claims?

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

@Fozzie:

Freedom Paper have confirmed on twitter that they were contacted by police yesterday in relation to the bookfair: https://twitter.com/Freedom_Paper/status/925022035616641024

So clearly someone has called them between Saturday afternoon and Monday, otherwise they wouldn't be phoning Freedom up about it.

It's been very widely reported in mainstream media (do a web search for "TERF hyde park police") that police are investigating the Hyde Park incident.

Maria MacLachlan (the 'victim-while-having-someone-in-a-headlock' from Hyde Park in September) is fishing around on twitter trying to collect bookfair witnesses for their police report for Hyde Park.

Here they are asking Past Tense if they'd be prepared to talk to police about the Speakers Corner incident, due to them posting their account of what happened on twitter, and claims that same people were involved: https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/925015723193356292

Same person here chastising Freedom Paper for not co-operating with police: https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/925151390925803520

Here saying Helen Steel is on video protecting them at Hyde Park:
https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/924992669042069504

And here calling trans people 'gestapo': https://twitter.com/Skepticat_UK/status/924382870864564225

So at a minimum, Maria MacLachlan (who doesn't appear to have attended the bookfair personally but is apart of the same group that did) is talking to the police about Hyde Park and trying to get the bookfair incident brought into their already existing case, actively soliciting anarchists on twitter as witnesses (and having a go at people who refuse).

There are also several people reporting that TERFS threatened to call the police on Saturday (which is not the same thing as actually calling them obviously) https://twitter.com/finger_gun_gal/status/924669244046012416

So whether there was a 999 call from TERFs to the police at the bookfair itself is still open at least for me, but what's above is pretty bad by itself and they're not being shy about it.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also note that HS has in the past couple of hours retweeted Maria MacLachlan's blog which talks about reporting activists to the police, and posts significant details, pictures of them, repeatedly misgendering them etc.

I've seen no indication that HS has passed anything to the police - but she doesn't appear to have a problem with people doing it.

Fozzie

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OK, thank you. That is depressing.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fall Back

I've seen no indication that HS has passed anything to the police - but she doesn't appear to have a problem with people doing it.

Really? You know this do you? Nicely smeared.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

She literally just shared an article that talks about trying to photograph someone to send to the police, and outs them.

This isn't really ambiguous.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hmm... if that's not ambiguous, then libcom admin's ongoing support of a known copper's nark who must not be named would be unequivocal?

jef costello

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

DevastateTheAvenues

Someone using the goodwill and cachet they have gained from their previous acts to cover for, deflect from, and even push for their current bad acts--I'm getting nasty echoes of Michael Schmidt and JD.

Sorry but this is incorrect and similar things have been said above. If you met HS through her local group then you'd have no idea about any of that, I only knew about it because we were talking about a threat of legal action over leaflets and I mentioned mclibel in passing and someone told me.

I am very disappointed to see any anarchist endorsing supplying information to the cops, Freedom and past tense for example have both stated that they would not do so. There have been a lot of good posts and I

Not all violence is physical but can we stop endlessly using the word "attacked"? This is not a competition about who is the bigger bully. The issue is very simple: what should we do when confronted with transphobia in an anarchist space?

One more thing, when we talk about debate and discussion, I personally, and I hope others, do not mean that the issue of transphobia is up for discussion, rather that we should be able to address these unacceptable beliefs verbally.

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not sure why you're trying to tediously change the subject. We're not discussing Aufheben, we're discussing HS' transphobia.

She just shared an article, which talks about photographing and reporting someone to the police. This was shared without any comment or criticism.

It's hardly a smear to say this doesn't appear to be someone who has a problem with others reporting people to the police.

Maybe she didn't properly read the article by her comrade from a month ago she sought to share. Maybe she'll realise and delete it, who knows? But at this point, it doesn't appear she had a problem with it.

Steven.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anarchist Federation Trans Action Faction statement on the events: https://afed.org.uk/afed-trans-action-faction-statement-in-response-to-events-at-london-anarchist-bookfair-2017/

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Here's a couple of excerpts from the blog Fall Back mentioned, I won't link to it because it's full of transphobia and doxxing, however it's further confirmation that Maria MacLachlan has been in contact with both police and the Daily Mail, providing photos and identifying information to them on the trans people at Speakers Corner.

Maria MacLachlan

At least the Mail had the decency to get my side of the story before publishing, unlike one Anoosh Chakelian of the New Statesman, who jumped the gun and very quickly put out a worthless piece showing her to be a crap journalist and a bit of a wally. I’m not linking to the piece, which has now changed slightly but I believe the original helped give rise to the widely circulated falsehood that the incident did not get reported to the police. It most certainly did. They arrived at the scene just after my assailants had fled. The whole incident is being investigated and the officer in charge has outlined how the investigation is expected to proceed. And that’s all I’m saying.

Maria MacLachlan

Fortunately, most people who view the footage – including the police – take their blinkers off and engage their brains first.
By the way, my camera was later found with the memory card missing, which I believe is why they fought so hard to get the camera from me. It was quite a good camera but it was a write-off. The Mail on Sunday was the only paper to offer to cover the cost of it in exchange for a few pics and I was delighted at the thought of getting some money from a paper I detest.

Misgendering replaced with 'x'
Maria MacLachlan

not only had x failed to do what x set out to do when x took that run at me but that I had retrieved my camera and was continuing to film, now trying to get footage specifically of x so I could pass it to the police. (This has been presented as ‘shoving my camera in their faces’, ‘goading’, etc, by imbeciles commenting online. For a real example of goading and getting in someone’s face, look at the guy goading Julia in the second video above.)

Serge Forward

then libcom admin's ongoing support of a known copper's nark who must not be named would be unequivocal?

One of the reasons we objected to the way that was handled was because it conflated doing academic research that informs police training on crowd behaviour with handing specific information on individual anarchists to the police. People are still throwing around 'police informer' and 'coppers nark' years later without making that distinction or providing any context for the allegations, as you just have. While there are people like Maria MacLachlan that actually do report trans anarchists to the police, get their pictures posted all over the Daily Mail, brag about it on the internet, then are still defended in left/anarchist spaces, it's worth being clear exactly what the difference is, even if you consider both equally bad.

Similarly with Michael Schmidt there was a lot of focus on whether he was an organised fascist who had infiltrated the anarchist movement vs. him developing fascist/racist/white nationalist politics semi-independently/via forums (due to the very, very poor way the initial allegations were made by AK Press and the serialisation later, meaning the initial account took months to be provided). The politics are equally fucked in both the cases, the security concerns to people who knew him or who he had contact details of may have been different though, as is the implications for dealing with racism in anarchist spaces - since he was allowed to put forward some of those views formally or semi-formally within a South African anarchist organisation without much challenge - not exactly 'undercover fascist'.

I completely agree that exaggerating accusations without providing context doesn't help anyone though - the thing you're questioning is whether RTing that blog post and several other tweets from the same person means that HS "doesn't seem to have a problem with it". It's quite possible to RT things you don't agree with but that are interesting, or in the case of blog posts, that you haven't actually read all the way through, but it's also customary to provide some kind of commentary to that effect if so when it's not obvious which that might be.

I'm going to go back through the thread and remove any mention of HS handing out leaflets at the bookfair (or anything else that's obviously unsubstantiated), the basic narrative that a group handed them out, were challenged, then HS defended the group and the contents of the leaflet appears to be pretty much agreed, even if lots of other things aren't.

update - have edited a couple of posts, but not the replies to those posts (in the same way I deleted several transphobic posts but not replies to them) - this is not perfect but it's as far as I can get for now. Going to ask nicely - if people have new information or allegations, please provide a link to it, or a clear reference to the source if there's a good reason not to link to it, if you're a direct eyewitness, please be clear about that too.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Grottie Locket https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011442446521

The other one was Olivia Palmer, of the Green Party. https://www.facebook.com/olivia.j.palmer.3

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Update, I've banned shortshanks for the several transphobic comments made on this thread.

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://londonbookfairopenletter.wordpress.com/

Response to London Anarchist Bookfair 2017
We write today as a broad collective of anarchist and activist groups and networks in London and across the UK. We are writing in response to events at the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair (LABF).

We condemn transphobia of any form in the strongest terms, and we refuse to support any event that condones transphobic behaviour or language, or allows the distribution of transphobic materials and literature. We see this as complicity, and furthermore, we are disappointed in the actions (or lack thereof) on the part of LABF organisers following the events of Saturday. It is disappointing that, once again, LABF has let down and created an unsafe space for many comrades.

During the 2017 event various transphobic leaflets were shared and a number of people attending the LABF made transphobic, transmisogynistic and dehumanising comments in a very public manner.

This is unacceptable behaviour and a form of violence directed at trans people. The contents of the leaflets are not simply a “perspective” or a “viewpoint” but are a form of ignorance, violence and aggression directed specifically at trans women. They are intended to humiliate, harm and dehumanise trans people. The consequences of leaflets like these are not discussion and debate but psychological trauma, terror and death for women of trans experience. To allow these leaflets to spread unchecked creates an environment in which transphobia is not only allowed but encouraged and anyone who is affected by their contents can no longer safely or comfortably access the space.

This is not a question of freedom of speech, or freedom of expression. This is a question of feminist resistance. This is a question of refusing to let trans comrades be terrorised. It is not about playing an identity trump card, but granting the bare minimum conditions for trans and gender-variant comrades to take part in the event – conditions that many can simply take for granted. We are anarchists and activists and we seek to dismantle hierarchies of oppression. As such, we stand in full solidarity with those who resisted the spread of violent hate speech, and those who acted to challenge the violent hate speech of both the people distributing the leaflets and those defending the ideas contained within. The dignity and humanity of our trans comrades is neither debatable nor negotiable.

We understand the impulse to protect comrades who have earned our respect through their actions in the past. We believe in having each other’s backs and offering support and solidarity to those who we feel are being attacked, assaulted or harmed. We believe in offering support and solidarity to those who have been targeted and harassed by the state and by the police. We believe that those who experience state violence for their political work must stand in solidarity with those who experience state violence for their existence.

We do not believe in allowing our trust and respect for those we have struggled alongside to blind us to the harm they are doing with their views and with their actions. We do not believe that ignoring racist, transphobic or misogynistic views or actions is an act of support, we believe it is an act of enabling harm.

Comrades we trust can have harmful views. Comrades we have organised with for decades can have harmful views. Our trust in each other as activists and as anarchists does not mean we can never be critical, never challenge each other’s ideas. It does not mean we believe our comrades can never be wrong, and it does not mean we blindly protect each other from criticism.

Calling out harmful behaviour is about holding each other to the commitment that we can do and be better. It’s important that if we are to call ourselves a movement we cannot shy away from being accountable to each other for the harms we can and do cause – this is the basis of our mutual liberation.

While previously Bookfair organisers have insisted that any disputes be decided amongst ourselves, this year, and for this issue, they chose to step in and offer protection and support to people promoting transphobic hate speech. This is part of a pattern of response from Bookfair organisers where incidents of transphobia, anti-semitism, islamophobia, racism and misogyny are ignored, or declared to be only resolvable by those directly affected. We have repeatedly seen situations escalate – sometimes to physical confrontation – because those being harmed and marginalised are not offered support.

Worse still, as we saw this weekend, organisers have stepped in to defend and support those who use oppressive, violent and dehumanising language to perpetuate racist, colonial and patriarchal systems of oppression. To be clear: this is not the first time this has happened and this is not the first time these and other issues have been raised directly with organisers and those involved with the Bookfair.

We write today as anarchists, kin and comrades; as people who have tabled and run workshops at the bookfair; as people who have attended, supported and felt an investment in the Bookfair over many, many years. It’s valuable to us that there is a space where anarchists and their ilk can meet each year and celebrate our strengths, achievements, and ongoing struggles. To share knowledge, invest in friendships and build new ones.

We also write as people who have also been progressively alienated over the years by the culture of the Bookfair, who believe that a commitment to anti-capitalist struggle involves a responsibility to think about colonialism and imperialism, about patriarchy and gendered oppression, about racism and white supremacy. Resisting capitalism lies in resisting these forms of oppression, not in reproducing them.

When a space allows for transphobia and trans-misogyny to go unchecked, and furthermore, when it allows racist imperialism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny and ableism to ingratiate themselves as part of the culture of the Bookfair, it no longer acts as that dreamed of utopian space, but rather as merely yet another space for enacting the same societal oppressions and aggressions. If the Bookfair cannot evolve beyond this, it is unfortunately no longer a space that we can be a part of.

With this in mind we lay out the following demands on the organisers of the Bookfair:

To change the date of the LABF in future years so it does not clash with the United Friends & Family Campaign Annual Demonstration and to actively promote attendance at the annual UFFC March.
A clear statement outlining the politics the LABF is committed to, what kinds of behaviour and views are unacceptable and unwelcome at the Bookfair, and what action will be taken by organisers if these boundaries of acceptable behaviour are ignored by attendees or speakers.
A clear statement of political values that reflect the above boundaries and that speakers, those hosting meetings, and those with stalls must clearly commit to in order to be able to participate.
A commitment to incorporating anti-racist and decolonial struggle into the program of the Bookfair by providing space for workshops and meetings and actively seeking out local black, brown and people of colour led groups to work with and run these meetings.
A commitment to incorporating queer and trans struggle into the program of the Bookfair by providing space for workshops and meetings and actively seeking out queer and trans lead groups to work with and run these meetings.
A commitment to physical accessibility in all its forms. Firstly, by making sure that workshops and meeting spaces are able to be physically entered by people using wheelchair or mobility devices and that movement through and around the buildings is not reliant of having to wait for an organiser to open a door or operate a lift. Secondly, by incorporating into the program workshops relating to accessibility and disability struggles led by those directly affected by these issues.
A commitment to continue the “no cameras” and “no filming” rule without exception given.
Meeting these demands will be a starting point for re-engagement and the possibility of rebuilding trust with organisers, it is not a guarantee. Until these demands are meaningfully engaged with we will no longer participate in or be associated with the London Anarchist Bookfair. This means we will not host a stall, have any meetings or workshops, take out advertising space in the program, or in any way promote the event. Further, we will encourage our members and associated groups to picket the LABF in the future and provide material to those attending about the problems we have identified and the demands we are making.

Yours Sincerely and in Solidarity,

Signatories:

Artists Against Prisons
Base – Publication
English Collective of Prostitutes
Haringey Anti-Raids
Jewdas
London ABC
North London Food Not Bombs
Members of 56a Infoshop Collective
Objects of Desire
Sorry You Feel Uncomfortable
Sisters Uncut – South East London
SWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement)
Queer Strike
Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike

If you would like to add your signature to this list please contact [email protected] or use the contact form at the top of the page.

Other statements:

AFED TRANS ACTION FACTION
Empty Cages
Edinburgh Anarchist Federation

bewarethe

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Open letter is here: https://londonbookfairopenletter.wordpress.com/

comrade_emma

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

deleted

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://twitter.com/mayday4women/status/925337005894008832

TERFS called the cops.

anonymouscommun1st

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Totally agree - they'll be allowing alt-right stalls at the bookfair next... *slaps forehead at how banal the freedom of expression argument has become*

anonymouscommun1st

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur, you are a total comrade!

anonymouscommun1st

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A Green Party parliamentary candidate attended as part of the anti-trans group and tweeted about it afterwards.

Do you happen to know which one? It appears the Green Party have a bit of a problem with transphobia.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's linked from earlier in the thread, but this was the original tweet: https://twitter.com/Olivia4Hersham/status/924291184553537536

Spikymike

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In regards to post no 210 I trust that the people and organisations ''demanding'' a long (if mostly reasonable) list upon the current London book fair organisers are prepared themselves to put up the necessary additional time, effort and money to ensure those demands can be practically put into effect. I would also hope that the justifiable opposition to the kind of aggressive TERF propaganda and activity referred to on this thread doesn't lesson any of the otherwise useful critical analysis and open discussion (as on this site) of much of the liberal and reformist LGBT politics found elsewhere.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

SpikeyMike

In regards to post no 210 I trust that the people and organisations ''demanding'' a long (if mostly reasonable) list upon the current London book fair organisers are prepared themselves to put up the necessary additional time, effort and money to ensure those demands can be practically put into effect.

I very much doubt anyone is going to commit to that unless they at least do the following two first:

A clear statement outlining the politics the LABF is committed to, what kinds of behaviour and views are unacceptable and unwelcome at the Bookfair, and what action will be taken by organisers if these boundaries of acceptable behaviour are ignored by attendees or speakers.

A clear statement of political values that reflect the above boundaries and that speakers, those hosting meetings, and those with stalls must clearly commit to in order to be able to participate.

Without that, say they booked more trans speakers next year, there's absolutely no guarantee that TERFs wouldn't organise to storm the talks or leaflet outside them, and then the speakers expected to 'debate' with them by bookfair organisers in a re-run of this year. Someone offering to help get more trans speakers without the first commitment being fulfilled would then not only have put in work in on their own time, but then be to some extent responsible for the harassment of the person they helped put in that position (since they'd booked them without a commitment to safety on the part of event organisers). It doesn't mean TERFs might not try, but making it very clear they're unwelcome at the event altogether could both put them off and help shape the general response to their presence a bit more.

We just banned two users for transphobic comments on this site, but reading back over the thread, it would have been better if we'd banned and deleted a lot quicker than we did. Trans comrades would be rightly upset at reading that shit (some of which is still there in quoted comments), but inviting them to moderate the forums without taking action first would be an invitation to deal with more shit, and potentially invite further attacks on them ('mens rights activists on libcom censoring feminists' or whatever else TERFs could come up with).

SpikeyMike

I would also hope that the justifiable opposition to the kind of aggressive TERF propaganda and activity referred to on this thread doesn't lesson any of the otherwise useful critical analysis and open discussion (as on this site) of much of the liberal and reformist LGBT politics found elsewhere.

It's important to note that a lot of times people dismiss stuff as 'liberal identity politics' it's not accurate, see Active Distribution (a stallholder)'s tweet where he dismisses the trans folks at the bookfair as mob of identity politics self righteous bullies & intimidates a genuine revolutionary activist. In fact the leaflets being distributed were the epitome of 'identity politics' and aligned with Tory MP David Davies' own anti-trans campaign against the same legislation, a group (mayday4women afaict) happy to call the police on anarchists, take photos of them at protests, sell them to the Daily Mail, doxx their personal details, and including Green Party parliamentary candidates, about as liberal reformist as you can get, arguably more conservative than liberal.

Should also note that some of the people doing the most to oppose 'liberal and reformist LGBT politics' are LGBT anarchists themselves, for example the anti-police protest at Glasgow pride which led to arrests.

Those of us who aren't targeted by various forms of bigotry and structural discrimination really need to show a bit more active solidarity to those who do - not treating things as a 'debate' between opposing political viewpoints is one of the first steps towards that. On that basis I'd really hope to see people committed to those things working together but don't think people on the end of those attacks can be expected to start the process.

Steven.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike, totally agree with everything you say in your post above, other than what you say about the book fair collective booking trans speakers. The book the collective don't book any speakers to my knowledge, all they do is get a space and promote it. It is up to anyone else to book rooms to arrange talks. So while I agree with the criticisms and demands on the collective with relation to this particular incident, I don't think some of the others are very helpful as they are demanding the Bookfair collective go beyond their remit (and they are already completely overworked). Any of the people criticising them would have been free to organise their own talks about whatever they wanted, with whichever speakers they wanted (or indeed join the collective and help organise the whole event). Although of course as you say following this incident unless the Bookfair collective takes some form of action then it is clearly not a safe space for trans comrades, and I would not expect anyone to make an effort to organise a talk by trans speakers in the current circumstances.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

The book the collective don't book any speakers to my knowledge, all they do is get a space and promote it. It is up to anyone else to book rooms to arrange talks.

Is there some kind of approval process for what talks happen, or if the rooms are oversubscribed? Or is it really first come first served with no filtering at all?

Steven.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Steven.

The book the collective don't book any speakers to my knowledge, all they do is get a space and promote it. It is up to anyone else to book rooms to arrange talks.

Is there some kind of approval process for what talks happen, or if the rooms are oversubscribed? Or is it really first come first served with no filtering at all?

there is filtering, as say a meeting by the Labour Party wouldn't be allowed. But in terms of over subscribing not sure if that has happened previously but as far as I know it would be first come first served, ditto the stalls

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is the bookfair respect policy. Their view on who gets a meeting etc is under "groups."

Bookfair Safety and Housekeeping

Over the last 30 years the London anarchist bookfair has grown to be a huge event, which inevitably raises a variety of safety issues for all bookfair-goers. The bookfair collective has put in place the following ways and suggestions to try and keep the bookfair a safe space. However, anarchism is about collective responsibility and bookfair goers are equally responsible for each-others’ safety at the bookfair.

Crowd safety

The venue room bookings and movement routes in the building and outside are carefully planned by the bookfair collective to make sure that over-crowding is minimised and that people can move around the bookfair comfortably and safely. If you have any concerns over safety issues to do with the building and venue, please contact the collective either on the day or after the event.

Aggressive, abusive and oppressive behaviour

Considering the amount of people who now pass through the bookfair, very few incidents occur, although inevitably with large open access events, you are always going to get some anti-social people. This may include people who are sexist, racist, homophobic or oppressive in many other ways, too many to list. Where such incidents occur, it is up to the movement as a whole to deal with; not just the bookfair collective. As the bookfair collective we will try and deal with any issues brought to our attention in a calm, non aggressive and open minded way. We ask that others take this same approach and try not to “enflame” any situation, which, as we have found in the past, just esculates things. Within meeting spaces, both meeting goers and meeting organisers are responsible for dealing with aggressive, abusive or oppressive individuals.

Banning individuals

The bookfair is a free, open access, public event and we do not want to make it the role of the bookfair collective to ban individuals from the bookfair. It is up to the movement as a whole to develop ways to deal with anti-social people within the movement. We would hope that if a known individual was oppressive then accountability processes would already be in place by the people who knew the said individual. If not, we cannot and will not act as judge, jury and police force.

However, saying that, we will do our best to deal with situations arising at the bookfair and we reserve the right to ask anybody to leave the event. This may be cops, fascists or certain journalists but it could also be any individual acting in what we consider to be an excessively inappropriate manner.

Groups
The bookfair collective makes decisions about which groups can and cannot have stalls and meetings at the bookfair. This is based on a very broad definition of anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist anarchism. Authoritarian ‘communist’ groups are not included and equally, ‘libertarian’ capitalists are not welcome. This is the only criterion for inclusion and the bookfair collective will not ban any groups purely on the basis of the behaviour of one of their members, so please do not ask us to do this.

Banning ideas and books

If groups have been accepted as stall holders at the bookfair, under the above criterion, we will not ban any books or publications from their stalls, so again, please do not ask us to do so. People are capable of reading material and making up their own minds. We trust the stall holders we have at the bookfair and would likewise expect the stall holders themselves to show respect in the materials they bring to the event and be prepared to explain their inclusion of any publications to any member of the public who may question said inclusion.

Alcohol

Alcohol is no longer sold by the bookfair collective within the bookfair, to reduce aggressive behaviour and incidents.

Dogs

Apart from guide dogs, dogs can no longer come into the bookfair. This is to ensure the safety of children and others, as well as the dogs themselves, so please do not bring dogs to the bookfair. If you do, you will be asked to leave them outside the building.
Filming and photography

To ensure the privacy of bookfair goers there is a strict no- filming policy inside the bookfair venue, unless agreed in advance with the bookfair collective.

jef costello

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In terms of the demands I think the first one is problematic.

To change the date of the LABF in future years so it does not clash with the United Friends & Family Campaign Annual Demonstration and to actively promote attendance at the annual UFFC March.

I'd not heard of the UFFC before but their front page hs a big quote from "Arlington Trotman of the Churches Commission for Racial Justice" who talks about "christian principles".

Fall Back

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For info - it's the major yearly UK event about deaths in custody, and organised by families and friends of those effected. It's not even remotely problematic.

Steven.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fall Back

For info - it's the major yearly UK event about deaths in custody, and organised by families and friends of those effected. It's not even remotely problematic.

Yeah this is a great group, absolutely no problems about it. However in terms of the Bookfair clash, the date was arranged following discussions with the UFFC, as that Saturday was the only date the venue was available, and the Bookfair collective advertise the UFFC demo on all of their 20,000 leaflets.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Trans inclusive means exclusive of TERFs.

Next year's workshops should include 'Was my friend a TERF?'

As we saw this year, its not only spycops or fash who can infiltrate.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That's impressive. I like this better:

Solidarity

Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

their differentiation through hierarchy

Describes TERFism pretty well.

I haven't been to the bookfair for at least six years or so, so have missed a lot of the previous things that happened, and ignored the threads on here that discussed them at the time because I wasn't going. However I had a quick look back and found the Assangeist incident from 2013.

Account on libcom starts with Ramona's post here.

https://libcom.org/forums/announcements/london-anarchist-bookfair-19th-oct-07102013#comment-526313

SpikeyMike also linked to Sam Ambreen's first person account here: https://samambreen.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/there-is-no-anarchism-without-feminism/

In terms of the demands being presented now, it's worth noting Ramona's post on that thread:

Ramona

There have been attempts to discuss this, at the meeting during last years bookfair, and ahead of this years bookfair the organisers were asked by AF and other comrades about implementing a policy so there was something written and agreed somewhere for people to use as a starting point.

And Mihaly's response:

mihaly

This bit just isn't true. No one was obstructed from implementing safer spaces policies in their own meetings. Whether having a policy for a meeting worked or not does not seem clear- some reports are positive but some suggest it was counter-productive. Most meetings were fine without one. Over the course of the year we tried to engage on this- again. And, again, some of the most vocal people couldn't be bothered until a month before the bookfair when the practical organisation issues come on top of us.

So for at least 4-5 years, there have been efforts to get the bookfair to adopt an event-wide safer-spaces policy, but the furthest it got (at least in 2013) was that individual meetings could have a policy. This isn't something that's just suddenly come up now. Just having the policy wouldn't have stopped Ciaran O'Reilly turning up with a load of guy fawkes right-libertarians but it might have meant that people in adjacent rooms didn't come and castigate the anarcha-feminist meeting for trying to defend their own space.

@Serge I notice you found time to reply to oranj but not my responses to you a couple of days back.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Don't take it personally. Oranj's post is fucking abysmal, jumped right out at me and really needs the piss taking out of it. Yours didn't - which is probably a good thing. If you like, you could remind me of your question.

Meanwhile, future bookfair meetings I'd quite like to see would be:
1) The great proletarian cultural revolution: what can we learn from the Red Guards?
2) Jim Jones and the People's Temple revisited. How to do it better. (Note: I'd be happy to provide complimentary refreshments.)
3) Matthew Hopkins: an appreciation.
4) Revolutionary reminiscences: remember when Libcom stood for Libertarian Communism and didn't 'like' posts that urged people to kill women they disagreed with?

Spikymike

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's a small point but perhaps the existing and any improved 'safe spaces' policy for the book fair could be printed in the bookfair booklet and posted up more prominently at the event. That might help a bit but there will always be risks with the current 'big tent' approach that usefully draws in a lot of new people, so frankly it's still down to the rest of us and not just the small organiser group (who might welcome some more committed help) to try calmly and as best we can, often in confused circumstances, to deal with any problems that arise. There is of course still potential for other more specific conference/seminar/bookfair type events that concentrate on a different spectrum of pro-revolutionary politics and a narrower interest group.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fair point Mike, but does anyone think there'll be another bookfair? I can't imagine it, to be honest.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Don't take it personally. Oranj's post is fucking abysmal, jumped right out at me and really needs the piss taking out of it. Yours didn't - which is probably a good thing. If you like, you could remind me of your question.

This is the first one, there's several following, not sure why you can't click back a page or so yourself though. https://libcom.org/forums/announcements/london-anarchist-bookfair-saturday-28th-october-2017-30052017?page=5#comment-599450 / http://libcom.org/forums/announcements/london-anarchist-bookfair-saturday-28th-october-2017-30052017?page=6#comment-599499

Serge Forward

Meanwhile, future bookfair meetings I'd quite like to see would be:

Maybe instead of trying to ridicule people under attack, refresh your memory on what happened to the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, the books and address lists contained with in it, and the people on those address lists.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You think that was ridicule? Look fella, I shouldn't need to say this but I'll make it clear for the hard of thinking. I am against anti trans activists and their propaganda, so called "TERFs". I am also against witch-hunts and people who advocate violence (e.g. "stab" and "kill") against women they disagree with (repeatedly "liked" by anarchists), oh, and I'm also against the irresponsible fool who allowed the children in Oranj's video to play with fire. Mike, have you got any comment to make on any of that or do you want to just carry on lighting a few flaming torches?

On your questions above... I agree, the bookfair collective were wrong and should have taken action against anti trans activists. The second point about Maria Maclachlan, not sure what you're getting at. She's not an anarchist, is she? Not sure what the bookfair can do apart from ban her. Or am I missing something?

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Mike, have you got any comment to make on any of that or do you want to just carry on lighting a few flaming torches?

You're very keen on throwing around terms like 'witch hunt' and 'lighting flaming torches' on this thread, while also very concerned that TERFs not be called fascists in the heat of the moment while they distribute leaflets saying women should be locked up in men's prisons and denied medical treatment. Is one an accusation and the other just a figure of speech? How does it work exactly?

I shouldn't need to say this but I'll make it clear for the hard of thinking. I am against anti trans activists and their propaganda, so called "TERFs"

It shouldn't be necessary to say it, but then before this weekend I had only the vaguest notion of Helen Steel being a TERF (I think I saw one tweet about Hyde Park and wondered whether she got the wrong end of the stick, did a double take etc. but it didn't fully sink in, vs. actually being at the event on the TERF side of things, silly me...). Also had zero idea that the bookfair organisers would support the right of TERFs to leaflet at their event. So it turns out it is actually necessary to make these things clear: even people with decades of anarchist activism can turn out to have views like this, not just slightly dodgy positions/ignorance which we all have from time to time, but actively organising with people.

I can understand people, especially without the background of events or even necessarily what the fuck was going on on the day, coming to the defense of Helen Steel, but in the aftermath there's a lot more going on than what is really the end of a 2/3 hour incident and a broader frustration with repeated quite similar events at the Bookfair (see the 2013 thread I linked to).

Serge Forward

The second point about Maria Maclachlan, not sure what you're getting at. She's not an anarchist, is she? Not sure what the bookfair can do apart from ban her. Or am I missing something?

It's not that they haven't banned her (though obviously they should), it's that they actively supported the right of her group to leaflet on Saturday, and according to some reports the contents of the material that was being distributed. There's such a massive distance between those two things it's hard to know where to start.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Don't take it personally. Oranj's post is fucking abysmal, jumped right out at me and really needs the piss taking out of it.
?

So you object to trans people taking direct action against a piece of cloth?
I don't know who they are, and if I did I certainly wouldn't tell the likes of you.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

spikeymike

It's a small point but perhaps the existing and any improved 'safe spaces' policy for the book fair could be printed in the bookfair booklet and posted up more prominently at the event. That might help a bit but there will always be risks with the current 'big tent' approach that usefully draws in a lot of new people, so frankly it's still down to the rest of us and not just the small organiser group (who might welcome some more committed help) to try calmly and as best we can, often in confused circumstances, to deal with any problems that arise.

That's really the common demand of both the Edinburgh AF statement and the bookfair open letter - without that policy (which would need to explicitly include transphobia at this point) there's not really anywhere to go. Making it prominent at the event and committing to supporting people trying to enforce it would need to be the starting point really - obviously needs to exist first. That wouldn't stop people showing up, but it might lead to a much earlier intervention and broader understanding of what can/should happen in those situations.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think this thread is meandering away from the core issue. So let me state it :-

We have a situation in which the organisers expect us all to deal with any issues that arise. Okay. So, on Saturday people did attempt to deal with it, but then the organisers are "oh we didn't mean OUR FRIENDS who happen to be TERFs! - just strangers".

As someone else put it, they attempted to police our response only because they knew the person and considered her a 'comrade' (see their tweet) which is frankly, a tragic response which terminates their credibility as anarchists.

(Serge, if that video makes your blood boil, I suggest you take it up with them on twitter.)

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oranj

I don't know who they are, and if I did I certainly wouldn't tell the likes of you.

The likes of me.... you're talking about someone queer and occasionally on the trans spectrum, seeing as you've got all personal and ad hominem about it. But anyway, why would I want to know who they are? Isn't it bad enough that these clowns exist within what passes for a movement. Or is that a snide aspersion to someone tattling to old lily law? Oh dear.

PS: don't do twitter, don't do any social media. This and the AF members' forum's enough for me.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Oranj

I don't know who they are, and if I did I certainly wouldn't tell the likes of you.

The likes of me.... you're talking about someone queer and occasionally on the trans spectrum, seeing as you've got all personal and ad hominem about it. But anyway, why would I want to know who they are? Isn't it bad enough that these clowns exist within what passes for a movement. Or is that a snide aspersion to someone tattling to old lily law? Oh dear.

PS: don't do twitter, don't do any social media. This and the AF members' forum's enough for me.

You're the one outraged about it, but you're not telling us why. 'Clowns' and 'kids' is ad-hominem.

Antifa Armadillo

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

People who equate community self-defence against TERFs - who are known to incite and engage in direct violence against trans people and their allies, and to get the cops involved - with Jonestown and the Cultural Revolution really shouldn't be throwing around words like 'ad hominem'. If you want to talk about 'witch hunts', perhaps you might have a dekko at the flyer the TERFs were handing out, which presented trans people, particularly trans women, as an inherent threat to (cis) women.

I don't really care what spectrum Serge is 'occasionally' on, because it's quite clear that Serge is more than occasionally on the concern trolling spectrum.

anonymouscommun1st

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thank you so much!

Mcgoofle

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I didnt go this year but I heard all about it from a comrade who did go and became very angry at what he felt was a very disapointing end to a very good event....
However RAG (Revolutionary Anarchist Group Birmingham) stop me and ask me when we meet(once a week) have made a collective desision that we feel that as far as we understand ID politics...which isnt very well quite possibly, it seems to be:- completely lacking in class analysis, very divsionary and very distracting and therefore we tend to discourage it within the group.I would also remind comrades that last year the kerfufle and hoohar was to do with the lively discusion around the various kurdish groups and their disagreement (who let them in ??).

Shameless plug warning:- https://libcom.org/forums/united-kingdom/revolutionary-anarchist-group-birmingam-rag-02112017

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One of the dumbest things I've come across in a long time:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155287986257424&set=a.10151012915332424.421836.517852423&type=3

Admin edit: to remove identifiable photo of an activist.

comrade_emma

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

deleted

past tense

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A statement in solidarity with the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective.

From some friends of the Bookfair

On Saturday 28th October the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair took place in North London. As usual several thousand anarchists and fellow travellers from diverse tendencies attended, ran stalls, held meetings and other activities.

The Bookfair is organised by a small voluntary collective of five, with a wider group of supporters who help out with setting up, facilitating areas or aspects of the events on the day, collecting donations to cover costs of this free event, tidying up at the end, and so on. It is a monumental amount of work, that generally falls on this small group of people (with families and lives, like the rest of us), who come together to spend much of the year running up to October facilitating the staging of an event and a space for several thousand others in the movement. The Bookfair Collective have always shown willing to take on board suggestions, follow up ideas, and include people and organisations with a view to broadening the range of ideas encompassed and the diversity of the program. They have always been open to more involvement in running the Bookfair.

Saturday’s events and the Open Letter

There were a series of incidents at the Bookfair this year which included distribution of leaflets about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act being consulted on and an ensuing stand-off. Several people intervened to stop what looked like a developing potentially physically violent incident against a lone woman activist by a group of people. We would hope that most people reading this would do the same.

Some of the people who intervened to do this were members of the Bookfair Collective but they were not doing so as a group in ‘authority’ on the situation, but as individuals and friends supporting a comrade; just as other bookfair-goers in the past have stepped up to stop others being chucked out. We would suggest it is a misinterpretation of events, and the role of the collective, to see this as a ‘Bookfair Collective intervention’ in order to stop the self-organisation of the group involved.

In the wake of the events on Saturday, an Open Letter has been written and circulated online, calling for changes to, and a potential boycott and/or picket of, next year’s Bookfair. Other public statements are also being discussed around withdrawal/disaffiliation with the Bookfair, here for instance.

The open letter claims

“a pattern of response from Bookfair organisers where incidents of transphobia, anti-semitism, islamophobia, racism and misogyny are ignored” and “organisers have stepped in to defend and support those who use oppressive, violent and dehumanising language to perpetuate racist, colonial and patriarchal systems of oppression.” and the collective “allows racist imperialism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny and ableism to ingratiate themselves as part of the culture of the Bookfair”
We would dispute this and would call for specific examples for any of the above, and evidence that we can reasonably judge from, enough to prove a pattern that the Bookfair Collective have refused to deal with them when raised.

What is the Anarchist Bookfair?

More fundamentally, we would ask to whom are the demands in the open letter really directed?

The Bookfair is not set up to be the representative body for anarchists, nor can it be. It is neither a membership organisation, nor are members of the collective Mediation Practitioners, there to settle the sometimes seismic differences and different perspectives that attendees bring to the event.

Come the day of the Bookfair that space the organisers have facilitated is filled with the politics brought into it by the anarchist movement itself, in all its initiatives, vivid colours and traditions. If a chasm of difference exists over issues that flare up, such as last weekend, the Bookfair Collective are not in a position, nor have the physical resources to arbitrate. So we ask: whose responsibility is this and how do disagreements (sometimes leading to threats of violence or actual violence) get dealt with? The existing statement on these issues can be found on the Bookfair’s website.

We are left to wonder whether anarchist practice has become so inculcated by ‘customer service’ culture that even the Bookfair is attended by consumers forgetting the fundamental essence of DIY, self-organisation and self-regulation of events.

The Bookfair Collective operates on the principle that it is not for the small collective that organises it to take on defining and enforcing a rigid policy on safety and behaviour; it is for the wider movement that takes part in the Bookfair to do so, along anarchist principles of opposing centralized authority with dispersed and grassroots responsibility.

Points raised in the open letter call for a radically different event, with a much more centralized program, organized or tightly overseen by the collective. If we as a movement, decide that this is what we want, many more of us will need to commit time and energy to organising and supporting this annual event.

Where next?

We reject transphobia and have all actively supported struggles against oppression. We support the right of trans identifying people to live their lives free from harassment and abuse, to organise, campaign and engage in debate with whoever they choose; and to be addressed by the gender pronouns of their choice. We support the rights of all women to be heard. We recognise that both trans activists and gender critical feminists are currently feeling attacked, at times to the level of their very existence and identities. We would hope that everyone participating in London Anarchist Bookfair would treat each other respectfully and continue to believe that dialogue is possible so that we can strengthen our struggle against oppression and build a better world. We reject bullying and intimidation – in physical or written form.

The Bookfair can never be the ‘dreamed of Utopia’ the open letter imagines, despite all our desires and dedication. We agree with the open letter on one thing, that we should all always be challenging ourselves and each other to widen liberation and ensure the Bookfair is a safe and respectful event, drawing in communities, and reflecting them. But we also believe it needs to allow for discussion and dissent, while excluding hatred and oppression.

We are not members of the Bookfair Collective but some of us have been in the past, and some of us have been involved in wider support work for Bookfairs. All of us are long-time attendees of the Bookfair. As such we hope that it continues, we offer our solidarity and practical support to the Bookfair Collective. We urge the Collective to look beyond the signatories of the open letter to the many wider groups and individuals who attend and take part in the event every year, and to realise that they do have a groundswell of support out there.

Rather than calling for a boycott of the Bookfair, we would challenge the writers of the open letter to engage meaningfully with the Collective and others to help create the change they want. In the light of the statement’s refusal to engage with the Collective until their minimum demands are met, the Bookfair Collective would be reasonably entitled to ignore the open letter.

So we stand by the Bookfair Collective, and salute how the Bookfair is organised; recognising the immense work done in making it happen every year. But it remains up to all of us who attend and take part in it to ensure that it measures up to the standards of love, solidarity and empowerment that we all desire. It is not possible for the small collective that currently facilitates the space to police them. Nor is it fundamentally anarchism.

radicalgraffiti

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mcgoofle

However RAG (Revolutionary Anarchist Group Birmingham) stop me and ask me when we meet(once a week) have made a collective desision that we feel that as far as we understand ID politics...which isnt very well quite possibly, it seems to be:- completely lacking in class analysis, very divsionary and very distracting and therefore we tend to discourage it within the group.

you know what actual divides the working class? racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, nationalism etc
You know what doesn't? opposing that shit.

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

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mcgoofle

However RAG (Revolutionary Anarchist Group Birmingham) stop me and ask me when we meet(once a week) have made a collective desision that we feel that as far as we understand ID politics...which isnt very well quite possibly, it seems to be:- completely lacking in class analysis, very divsionary and very distracting and therefore we tend to discourage it within the group

https://libcom.org/blog/identity-crisis-leftist-anti-wokeness-bullshit-22082017

Mcgoofle

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I find the whole raffle of who is more oppressed slightly confusing, Micheal Portillo is gay, would we say that he is oppressed? i dont think so somehow.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Craftwork

One of the dumbest things I've come across in a long time:

Do you mean the banner? Looks like sub-Dawkins new atheist pablum to me.

The Haitian Revolution begins with the Bois Caïman ceremony. Ready to carry out their plans, the slaves meet in Morne-Rouge to make final preparations and to give instructions. The slaves decide that “Upon a given signal, the plantations would be systematically set aflame, and a generalized slave insurrection set afoot.” Rumors circulate that white masters and colonial authorities are on their way to France to fight the Crown’s recent decrees granting mulattoes and free blacks rights. Though false, these rumors “served as a rallying point around which to galvanize the aspirations of the slaves, to solidify and channel these into open rebellion.”

The Bois Caïman ceremony and subsequent insurrections are the result of months of planning and strategizing. There are two hundred slave leaders involved from around the North. All hold privileged positions on their plantations, most of them commandeurs with influence and authority over other slaves.Through strategic maneuvering these leaders successfully unite a vast network of Africans, mulattoes, maroons, commandeurs, house slaves, field slaves, and free blacks.

The Bois Caïman ceremony takes place in a thickly wooded area where the slaves solemnize their pact in a voodoo ritual. The ceremony is officiated by Boukman, a maroon leader and voodoo priest from Jamaica, and a voodoo high priestess. Various accounts from that night describe a tempestuous storm, animal sacrifices, and voodoo deities. However, over the centuries the ceremony has become legendary, and it is important to note it can be difficult to distill fact from myth. Some historians, for example, believe the ceremony took place on the 22nd of August, not the 14th.

http://library.brown.edu/haitihistory/5.html

Is it a model for organising? Definitely not. But the slave uprisings and movements like the Diggers and Levellers were the very beginnings of proletarian politics 50-150 years before anarchism and marxism developed as secular revolutionary ideologies. For slaves, religious meetings was often the only form of group association possible and often used to organise.

On top of that, people still get street attacked for their real or perceived religion constantly - whether it's hijabs being grabbed or attacks on brown people because they're 'muslims'. Just fucking tone-deafness when it comes down to it. There's all kinds of problems with religion, organised religion is obviously fucked, but why have a banner just insulting people?

Fleur

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You don't think it may be a little more nuanced than "one rich white dude isn't oppressed over his sexuality" ? You don't think the rich, white and dude descriptors may actually counterbalance the gay thing? Perhaps that life may be just a titchy bit more complicated? I love how oppressed minorities being vocal and uppity are always "divisive" and ultimately distract from the critical class warrior actions of banner dropping.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mcgoofle

I find the whole raffle of who is more oppressed slightly confusing, Micheal Portillo is gay, would we say that he is oppressed? i dont think so somehow.

Not at all, but no-one's doing this, so why bring it up? What you're talking about is oppression olympics or extremely liberal representational ID politics, not what anyone here would argue.

On the other hand lots of people keep getting deported to countries where they could be imprisoned or killed due to sexuality or gender identity.

This comes back to the fucking bookfair leaflets. The leaflets seem to posit trans rights as some kind of Tory conspiracy against women (even though one of the anti-legislation group's biggest parliamentary supporters is the very-Tory David Davies).

A much clearer explanation for that legislation is that the Tories (all parties in fact) have immigrants as their main scapegoat at the moment, and Theresa May in particular is fond of deporting LGBT refugees to imprisonment and death. It's politically very useful to at the same time expand rights for LGBT British citizens to drive a wedge between them and LGBT immigrants. There's even a neologism for this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homonationalism And you can see it working when May gets invited to awards ceremonies: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/10/18/prime-minister-theresa-may-addresses-pinknews-awards/

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Craftwork

One of the dumbest things I've come across in a long time:

Do you mean the banner? Looks like sub-Dawkins new atheist pablum to me.

No, I don't mean the banner. Communism is against all forms of obscurantism and mysticism (including religions), but is not merely anti-religious/theist. This is just one aspect of the social order that will have to be abolished.

Marx wrote:

Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.

It is, therefore, the task of history, once the other-world of truth has vanished, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which is in the service of history, to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked. Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.

It's true that historic revolts did have a religious element, but so what? Communism wasn't on the agenda back then.

In today's world, these ideologies hamper the development of class consciousness, are often used to suppress class movements by reasserting false, interclassist solidarities on the basis of beliefs, communities of believers, ..., and anti-revolutionary/anti-communist ideas are often transmitted through the authority of religious institutions.

Mcgoofle

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

craftwork

In today's world, these ideologies hamper the development of class consciousness, are often used to suppress class movements by reasserting false, interclassist solidarities on the basis of beliefs, communities of believers, ..., and anti-revolutionary/anti-communist ideas are often transmitted through the authority of religious institutions.

This is done equally by militant atheism as any particular religion these days. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and other new-atheists are obsessed with asserting western dominance over the rest of the world and attacking muslims specifically. They're one of the many strands (alongside right libertarians, MRAs etc.) that has led to the popularisation and re-branding of far-right politics. The EDL, Pegida etc. are also on the surface anti-Islam/anti-jihad movements, whereas really they're much closer to '80s street fascists than anything else and primarily concerned with attacking brown immigrants.

So we can say that both religions and attacks on religions divide the working class. Is the answer then to just pile on attacks on religion or to look at the material effects of those politics? Does it need a bit more nuance than 'religion is stupid'?

craftwork

It's true that historic revolts did have a religious element, but so what? Communism wasn't on the agenda back then.

If you actually read the post you linked to, when challenged on that point, Active Distribution denied it, which shows he doesn't have a decent grasp of history so should maybe avoid trying to be so clever.

Also I haven't read the ethnological notebooks, but Marx in those (and some late letters) was engaged in a massive revision of an exclusively western-european road to communism, suggesting the Mir and other peasant communities could go directly to communism without an industrial capitalist stage being a necessity.

craftwork

No, I don't mean the banner. Communism is against all forms of obscurantism and mysticism (including religions), but is not merely anti-religious/theist. This is just one aspect of the social order that will have to be abolished.

Organised religion (capitalist/feudalist religious institutions) will be abolished - otherwise there's no communism. Religion as in sets of beliefs will be massively undermined by communism since the institutions promoting it have no material basis, and you'd hope many of the social roles it takes on are done properly without all the trappings. But I don't think you get to communism by smashing through religion first or telling people how stupid they are.

comrade_emma

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

deleted

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"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.

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

craftwork

In today's world, these ideologies hamper the development of class consciousness, are often used to suppress class movements by reasserting false, interclassist solidarities on the basis of beliefs, communities of believers, ..., and anti-revolutionary/anti-communist ideas are often transmitted through the authority of religious institutions.

This is done equally by militant atheism as any particular religion these days. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and other new-atheists are obsessed with asserting western dominance over the rest of the world and attacking muslims specifically. They're one of the many strands (alongside right libertarians, MRAs etc.) that has led to the popularisation and re-branding of far-right politics. The EDL, Pegida etc. are also on the surface anti-Islam/anti-jihad movements, whereas really they're much closer to '80s street fascists than anything else and primarily concerned with attacking brown immigrants.

So we can say that both religions and attacks on religions divide the working class. Is the answer then to just pile on attacks on religion or to look at the material effects of those politics? Does it need a bit more nuance than 'religion is stupid'?

If you think bourgeois new atheism is as threatening to the working-class as Buddhist, Hindu or Islamic fundamentalism, fostered by/in support of governments around the world, then, quite frankly, you're living in a bubble, and not looking at the international picture.

Regarding reactionary new atheism, as I said earlier:

Communism is against all forms of obscurantism and mysticism (including religions), but is not merely anti-religious/theist. This is just one aspect of the social order that will have to be abolished.

Mike Harman

craftwork

No, I don't mean the banner. Communism is against all forms of obscurantism and mysticism (including religions), but is not merely anti-religious/theist. This is just one aspect of the social order that will have to be abolished.

Organised religion (capitalist/feudalist religious institutions) will be abolished - otherwise there's no communism. Religion as in sets of beliefs will be massively undermined by communism since the institutions promoting it have no material basis, and you'd hope many of the social roles it takes on are done properly without all the trappings. But I don't think you get to communism by smashing through religion first or telling people how stupid they are.

Most self-proclaimed marxists and anarchists are silent on critique of religion, not because they're materialists, but because, in the name of liberal standards of political correctness, being "non-oppressive" or "inclusive", they don't think that religion should be criticised, in case it offends people.

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The full text of that banner says 'murderous, bigoted, sexist crap' just so we're clear. http://www.activedistributionshop.org/shop/stickers/2215-religion-is-stupid-black-sticker.html

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Craftwork

If you think bourgeois new atheism is as threatening to the working-class as Buddhist, Hindu or Islamic fundamentalism, fostered by/in support of governments around the world, then, quite frankly, you're living in a bubble, and not looking at the international picture.

I was looking at a banner on a stall in the london anarchist bookfair. The likely audiences for that banner are people who attend an anarchist bookfair, which of these is likely to be the bigger problem in that context? 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?

craftwork

Most self-proclaimed marxists and anarchists are silent on critique of religion, not because they're materialists, but because, in the name of liberal standards of political correctness, being "non-oppressive" or "inclusive", they don't think that religion should be criticised, in case it offends people.

If instead of a very stupid banner the stall had had a pamphlet on the Modi/BJP meat bans, Rohingya genocide, Irish care home mass graves, I very much doubt there'd be a Facebook post about it being shit. Abstract criticism of 'religion' needs something special about it beyond new atheist shit, which this does not have. Otherwise all you're pushing is a hackneyed radical liberalism, not communism at all.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The banner is ableist, and atheism is just another religion these days. Fundamentalist atheism is a vehicle to push Islamophobia (ie racism) by Western white supremacists like Dawkins and co.

Khawaga

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

It's more depressing that an adult like you lack basic reading comprehension. Nobody has engaged in repression Olympics, only you and your straw man. The fact that you don't even seem to get what is actually dividing the class is even more depressing.

Reddebrek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mcgoofle

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.

Well you should probably read this thread instead of the one you've made up. No one is saying trans people need extra protections, the issue is that they're currently being denied the same opportunities to confront direct threats to themselves that everyone else takes for granted. Do you and your mates also oppose `divisive` attempts by migrant or ethnic workers to tackle racism in the workplace?

An in the 80's would you and your mates ignore the AIDs crisis and continued police raids on gay bars and gay men using public toilets?

gamerunknown

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Craftwork

IMO, all communists (anarchist or otherwise) should aspire to running a separate, communist bookfair, which welcomes ICC and SPGB. The present one is a bit of a mess.

Right, what basis would we have to exclude the CPGBML then? Would you want to have a serious and productive discussion with them?

Shanks

My interpretation that they are ill is just my understanding of the situation

I know they've been banned, but the parallels to homophobic and racist campaigning are stark (once we achieve actual communism or our ethnostate, these individual aberrations will disappear).

Serge Forward

If Helen behaves like a cop, how come she's the one who got kettled?

Come off it, what do you expect?

It appears the Green Party have a bit of a problem with transphobia.

Funnily enough, one of the few transgender politicians is in the Green Party of Poland IIRC.

Oranj

So you object to trans people taking direct action against a piece of cloth?

Err, this seems a bit ineptly phrased.

There's all kinds of problems with religion, organised religion is obviously fucked, but why have a banner just insulting people? ... So we can say that both religions and attacks on religions divide the working class.

No, not really.

Marx

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.

Religion is basically any codified irrational practice of a group. To argue for the primacy of class based politics is to take a materialistic view, one which specifically excludes the possibility of the ideal preceding the material. At the same time, one can acknowledge that religion can be used as a dogwhistle for opposing immigration or advocating for clashes of culture. Sam Harris in particular has been odiously racist, claiming that "The Bell Curve" is the one piece of heresy which contemporary society cannot deal with in the discussion amongst the new atheists. Dawkins I honestly can't detect it from. He writes the following:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Edit:

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?

Fundamentalist atheism is a vehicle to push Islamophobia (ie racism) by Western white supremacists like Dawkins and co.

Proudhon, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Goldman, all pushing Islamaphobia I take it (well, Proudhon abuses dialectics to come to some vaguely spiritual conclusion, which he's quite rightly ripped for). The 15 year old hijabi presumably wants to engage with anarchist politics and is capable of thinking for themselves - they're entirely capable of adopting a materialistic worldview. I was raised in a very Catholic family, attending mass every Sunday, Catholic primary school, secondary school and sixth form, with supplementary visits to bring Communion to housebound people and attending Sunday school run by nuns too. By the time I was 15 I was debating whether omniscience was compatible with free will with my religious studies teacher, by 17 I was the only one in my class to put my hand up to say I didn't have a problem with homosexuality. People are capable of challenging the beliefs they're socialised into.

Reddebrek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This thread reminded me of the Trans 101 for Wobblies series, and Part 4 seems rather appropriate
for this discussion I request everyone have a read of it.

Trans 101 for Wobblies, part 4: Common complaints about radical environments

http://libcom.org/library/trans-101-wobblies-part-4-common-complaints-about-radical-environments

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

dp

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

gamerunknown

There's all kinds of problems with religion, organised religion is obviously fucked, but why have a banner just insulting people? ... So we can say that both religions and attacks on religions divide the working class.

No, not really.

Marx

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.

Religion is basically any codified irrational practice of a group. To argue for the primacy of class based politics is to take a materialistic view, one which specifically excludes the possibility of the ideal preceding the material. At the same time, one can acknowledge that religion can be used as a dogwhistle for opposing immigration or advocating for clashes of culture. Sam Harris in particular has been odiously racist, claiming that "The Bell Curve" is the one piece of heresy which contemporary society cannot deal with in the discussion amongst the new atheists. Dawkins I honestly can't detect it from.

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. Rest of the comment is better put than my sentence.

knowngamer

Fundamentalist atheism is a vehicle to push Islamophobia (ie racism) by Western white supremacists like Dawkins and co.

Proudhon, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Goldman, all pushing Islamaphobia I take it

I'm sure like the new atheists Proudhon would claim he dislikes all religions equally, notebooks kind of tell a different story.

Proudhon

December 26, 1847: Jews. Write an article against this race that poisons everything by sticking its nose into everything without ever mixing with any other people. Demand its expulsion from France with the exception of those individuals married to French women. Abolish synagogues and not admit them to any employment. Demand its expulsion Finally, pursue the abolition of this religion. It’s not without cause that the Christians called them deicides. The Jew is the enemy of humankind.

https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudhon/1847/jews.htm

There's a similar quote attributed to Bakunin although research in here suggests it might have been concocted in the 1920s.

So of four famous anarchist anti-religious texts, one of the authors wanted to carry out pogroms of a persecuted religious minority. Not great odds.

known gamer

The 15 year old hijjabi.. People are capable of challenging the beliefs they're socialised into

Whole paragraph replying to a different point than the one I made. I grew up in a religious household, was atheist buy around 12-13 at the latest, still think it's a fucking stupid banner and amazed the lengths people are going to to defend it on here.

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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. It's a lame banner but nowhere does it say "we especially think Islam is rubbish and hate you personally btw."

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.

Down that route is a cringing reluctance to ever express a strong opinion on anything we don't all agree on, just in case - not to mention verging on being actively disingenuous, given how many anarchists straightforwardly are atheists and regard religion as an oppressive force in the society where they live, including people in/from non western countries, some of whom are refugees persecuted by religious groups. Should they be told to bury their opinions as well, I wonder? "The only good church is a burning church," Durruti said, before being roasted on Twitter for his intolerance towards Catholicism.

adri

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://helensteelbookfairstatement.wordpress.com/

Fozzie

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is the Jacob V Joyce who took the photo of the banner and the stallholder the same Jacob V Joyce who signed the statement demanding that the bookfair collective make:

"A commitment to continue the “no cameras” and “no filming” rule without exception given." ?

Rory Reid

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"RAG (Revolutionary Anarchist Group Birmingham) "
Remind us all to avoid Reactionary Group Birmingham.

The revolution is either Intersectional or its nothing.

Funny you admit you don't understand it.

An anarchist form of intersectionality includes class and ALL forms of oppression.

https://libcom.org/library/insurrections-intersections-feminism-intersectionality-anarchism
https://afed.org.uk/a-class-struggle-anarchist-analysis-of-privilege-theory-from-the-womens-caucus/

Spikymike

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Devrim

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

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:

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.

libcom

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

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.

Reddebrek

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mcgoofle

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.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

Steven.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

zugzwang

https://helensteelbookfairstatement.wordpress.com/

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…

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

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 ;). 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.

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 ;). 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

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.

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

gamerunknown

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.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

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

"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.

Khawaga

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mark

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.

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray

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 ;). 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% ;)

Rob Ray

(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

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

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

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.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffiti

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.

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.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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?

Rob Ray

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

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...

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

jef costello

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

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.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

'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.

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mark.

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).

Craftwork

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

Oranj

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

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. :)

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

Mike Harman

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray

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

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

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.

Serge Forward

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jef costello

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

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

serge forward

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

"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

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.