Controversial

Why is it controversial to say that governments should not be allowed to act in violation of their own constitutions, but spying on every single citizen is just something that happens?

Why is it controversial to say that nations should not break international law, but definitely breaking international law to punish a nation for allegedly breaking international law makes sense?

Why is it controversial to say that torturing people is wrong, but incarcerating people without trial for years is simply the way things are?

Why is it controversial to say that people going hungry while there is food to feed them with is wrong, but burning people alive from the inside-out is fine?

Why is it controversial to say that the citizenry in a democracy should have a say in major decisions, but allowing those who profit from economic devastation to run the economy is sensible?

Why is it controversial to say that the economy should be organized to benefit everyone, but perfectly normal for millions of people to live in poverty?

Why is it controversial to say that people should not be divided against each other by notions like nationality or race, but claiming that members of a single species can never understand one another is lauded as progressive?

Why is it controversial to say that whistleblowers should not be prosecuted for revealing crimes, but morally acceptable to shoot children from helicopters?

Why is it controversial to say that human rights matter more than profit, but destroying lives with depleted uranium and cluster bombs is a regular use of one’s tax money?

Why is it controversial to speak, but acceptable to be silent?

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19 Comments

  1. On a related note (it may seem it’s not, but it is), why is it controversial to acknowledge that rape and spousal abuse against men exist at all, but advocating chemical castration and disrupting men’s rights lectures is met with loud cheering and chants of “you go girl?”

  2. Because this is the world Orwell imagined, just with slightly different colours. A world where might makes right, and we are the most free, most happy, most prosperous people ever, and everyone may say everything and think everything, as long as things stay as they are, and power remains with those and those alone who yield it already.

    Divide and conquer. Say A, do B. Who cares? Who should hold those in power accountable? This is their world, after all. They own it. We just happen to be along for the (shitty) ride.

  3. Actually, seems more like a crossover between the Orwellian future and the one imagined by Huxley.

  4. Shit. The future is fan fiction.

  5. anon

     /  September 2, 2013

    These thoughts have been bubbling up for a while now, and I think this post gives me a way to organize them, hopefully respectfully:

    I get that this might be a bit unfair on my part, but I think I find it frustrating that you seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying/complaining about the third-from-the-bottom identity-politics item.

    The second term of every other item on this list represents actions taken by those in heavily-entrenched power. The people you argue against on this point do not wield such power, even among the Left. (With the exception — in the U.S. — of the Israel lobby, but that doesn’t feel like the target you’re aiming at here; if it were, you wouldn’t have noted it for being ‘lauded as progressive.’)

    Likewise, the consequences of failing to address every other item on this list is so much more dire, ruining the lives of thousands or millions of people, and ruining those lives right now. But when you speak about identity politics, I can’t help but feel like it’s about your feelings being hurt for not being recognized as sufficiently exploited/oppressed, thanks, unfairly, to your primary identity markers alone?

    [It’s that last bit that I’m most hesitant to write, and I know I haven’t struck quite the right tone with it. Please take it not as a presumptuous diagnosis of your actual mental state, but as a description of the picture of your mental state some of your writing on occasion evokes. Though I admit I waver between those two positions: it’s difficult to think through, because it’s unlikely someone would own up to having those sorts of feelings, but those sorts of feelings are not non-existent in the world. I have trouble otherwise understanding why you’ve built up these slivers of the subaltern left into something monolithic and powerful. My guess tends to be that you — or, if not you, then others saying similar things — resent the righteousness they seem to effortlessly wield and be acknowledged for? But who’s doing that acknowledging, anyway?]

    In any case, when you tweet a reminder about this post followed soon thereafter by something about identity politics being a scourge, it’s hard not to feel like that one item is in fact your primary concern.

    And look: the result is me recapitulating the offense by also spending all this time on that one point.

    To fix that a touch: I agree that nationalism and tribalism are awful inventions, that they’re used as tools of the powerful to rally populations against their self-interest. But your targets seem often misplaced, your responses disproportionate to the offense.

    Okay. I’ve rambled a bunch here. Apologies again for edging up to the disrespectfulness line. Hopefully I haven’t crossed it too direly.

    Signing this as ‘anon’ because I don’t have time to ensure I haven’t misspoken anywhere here, and obviously I feel…hesitant about all this.

  6. I understand where you’re coming from, but I do disagree. Let me explain.

    But when you speak about identity politics, I can’t help but feel like it’s about your feelings being hurt for not being recognized as sufficiently exploited/oppressed, thanks, unfairly, to your primary identity markers alone?

    It’s absolutely the opposite of that. What I find equally enraging and depressing is the sheer breadth of issues that *cannot* be addressed precisely because of these markers of identity; because the truth is that it is utterly impossible to talk about, say, poverty in America, or racism in Italy, or fascism in Greece, while keeping these markers intact. When people are being persecuted and nobody cares because they just don’t fit into these simplistic dichotomies, I think we have a pretty serious problem.

    If I am *personally* offended, it is because the game I’m expected to play is that that of “look, I’m so oppressed!” I could employ the terminology of identity politics to my intense financial advantage, selling myself as the victim, making a point of my authenticity and calling attention to myself by raging about those who appropriate “my” culture. And I don’t want to do that, and neither do I want any other artist to be reduced to a few identity markers by social and economic pressure.

    The second term of every other item on this list represents actions taken by those in heavily-entrenched power. The people you argue against on this point do not wield such power, even among the Left.

    That’s not quite right. The second terms describe the public reaction to the actions of those in power, and what I was writing about in this post is the notion of controversy. The crimes committed by our governments provoke very little outrage (anymore), whereas taking any of the positions described in the first parts of those sentences will immediately get people to start shouting at you or unfriending/unfollowing/etc. you. Saying any of those things makes me “controversial”, but just accepting the second half of those sentences is normality.

    As for power, I do think the identity politics segment of the Left wields considerable power, if not as a monolithic entity; it always portrays itself as powerless (“I’m so silenced,” says person on panel at multi-million dollar conference), but in fact it seems to have become the new mainstream – a development that traces its roots back to the 70s. It’s not *all* that exists on the Left, but the fact that we’ve come to the point where making any comment that does not fit with the dogmas of critical race theory and affiliated ideologies will result in immediate and loud accusations of bigotry is pretty significant.

    How did we get to this point? How did the Left become so weak, how did such lunatics take over our governments? Sure, plenty of blame belongs with capitalism, but I can’t discount the failures of the Left itself. And I think identity politics is one of the biggest of those failures, because it is a form of thought that replicates all the control mechanisms of capitalism while giving us a fake sense of righteousness and accomplishment whenever someone is “called out”. I firmly believe that nothing is more necessary at this point in history than an internationalist perspective; absolutely nothing can be accomplished without one. So I believe the increasing dominance of an ideology that I can only describe as racist and sexist is, to me, a major catastrophe.

    In any case, when you tweet a reminder about this post followed soon thereafter by something about identity politics being a scourge, it’s hard not to feel like that one item is in fact your primary concern.

    And yet I tweeted far more times about Syria! Maybe the fact that so few people speak up at all any more, because they’re afraid of the cyber-bullying that happens as soon as another target has been picked for “calling out”, simply makes it more noticeable when someone does? Whereas if I’d tweeted “Kill All Men” or “Man, white people suck!” or anything along those lines, everything would be business as usual.

  7. Andrew S.

     /  September 2, 2013

    So I don’t have Twitter (should I get it?) so if you’ve addressed this already there I’m sorry for re-asking.

    What do you think should be the appropriate approach of countries when it comes to a nation using chemical weapons on it’s own citizenry (or biological, or just crazy shit like the dropping of fuel air explosives, or just lining people up and shooting them)?

    I’ve really been struggling with this thought for a long time now. I just feel like you’ve put a lot of thought into it as well.

  8. Jonas, yep, God writes bad fanfic.

    As for identity politics, we have so few resources in the fight against capitalism. Every effort based on identity politics helps the liberal side of capitalism, but it is diverted from opposing capitalism itself–which means capitalism benefits twice while the gap between rich and poor of all hues and genders continues to grow.

  9. What do you think should be the appropriate approach of countries when it comes to a nation using chemical weapons on it’s own citizenry (or biological, or just crazy shit like the dropping of fuel air explosives, or just lining people up and shooting them)?

    Stop selling them chemical weapons.

    I’m not being sarcastic or glib; the majority of horrific weapons used in the Middle East were sold to dictatorships there by European and American corporations, and many such attacks happened and continue to happen with the full support of our governments. And those dictatorships really only exist because we’ve propped them up with money and weapons for decades now, and because we’ve done everything possible to contain any attempts to change things – toppling progressive governments, assassinating leaders, trying to subvert revolutions, etc. So just stopping all that would make a massive difference, because it would completely disempower the sort of people who do these things. Without our weapons and without our money, they wouldn’t last very long.

    But let’s also remember that the most horrific crimes against humanity using chemical weapons – napalm, white phosphorus – were committed by the United States with the support of Europe. Would we feel OK with, say, China trying to intervene here?

  10. Andrew S.

     /  September 3, 2013

    Mmm. I absolutely agree, which means trying to change your political structure etc. etc. so such decisions, such as selling weapons to people who will abuse them (or just selling weapons in general?) would be more in the hands of the general population via decentralization or some such means.

    That aside for a moment.

    In a more abstract concept. You have a nation/entity who is stable, sovereign, and is run by the people and those people have the lawmaking abilities etc. within that nation/entity. Then you have neighboring nation where a civil war breaks out and a portion (does a minor portion or a major portion make a difference?) of their population asks for your aide. What do you do as a group of people in response to that request?

    To your last question, if within your own society extreme violence is occurring. Should you ask for your neighbors support? What should that support look like? But of course if there is violence and another nation/entity decides to come in and ‘fix the problem themselves’ without invitation (again how much of an invitation is needed to justify such a move?) then that is tantamount to an invasion by that source.

    I guess overall I’m asking what you think the United States should do, or for that matter Greece, Germany, (though they are in different positions right now domestically, as is every nation) or even a small community living on an island who values freedom currently do with the situation in Syria? (I’m by no means saying the situation is Syria is ‘the worst’ situation going on right now in the world, other places are experiencing just as crazy events I’m sure)

    Hopefully that clarifies my question.

  11. I think it very much depends on the context. On a philosophical level, I won’t rule out intervention completely – I suppose scenarios could be conjured in which intervention is legitimate, but they are very few and would require and entirely different kind of society to exist.

    But in the current context, the West is as much to blame for the conflict in Syria as anyone in Syria itself. Probably more, in fact. So if we wanted to help, that’s where we would start. (After all, it’s considered quite possible that the chemical attack was in fact organized by the rebels that we support.) We’ve created the conditions for this war, and now we’re going to exploit them. The only meaningful solution is to stop doing that, and stop similar activities across the Middle East and Africa (such as propping up a military dictatorship in Egypt which is also butchering people en masse). Will people still die? Yes, and many of them as a result of decades of imperialism and colonialism. But while our policies continue to divide and conquer, there can’t be peace in the region.

    In a sense, there’s a problem with your question itself (I don’t mean that in a personally offensive way), because it’s framed in terms of nation states, but nation states don’t have one common set of interests. The interests of our leaders are very much in conflict with the interests of the population. So asking for help or giving help really depends on who within that nation is doing the asking. Solidarity across borders is something I very much believe in, as I said above, but to have any effect it must be a solidarity of people against (ultimately common) ruling elites. The people of one country are very unlikely to get any help from the ruling elite of another, since that ruling elite essentially has the opposite interests. The West wants exactly what the Syrian government wants, in terms of how the Syrian people will live.

    If we can do something, it’s to stop our governments from adding to the slaughter. That is actual solidarity with the interests of the Syrian people, I believe.

  12. If there is one thing that I feel on a very personal level, it is sick and tired of the political culture of the internet. Perhaps the world. The haters have won and I just don’t feel like arguing anymore.

  13. anon

     /  September 3, 2013

    I’m sorry you feel that way. I found your response to my previous comment really helpful (well, apart from the last sentence, which was just silly).

    It’s silly to think that anyone actually advocating killing all men would be taken as business as usual. But it’s also…offputting to see you (most recently, again, on Twitter) suggesting you’d make more friends by expressing such views yourself.

    The world isn’t ready to put these categories of oppression aside because in people’s day-to-day lives these categories of oppression are overt and concrete. (Apologies for the U.S. focus, but I found this dot map revealing. Zoom in on any major city for a sense of the concreteness with which race is still operating, regardless of whether you agree that oppression’s a valuable term here.)

    And I think identity politics is one of the biggest of those failures, because it is a form of thought that replicates all the control mechanisms of capitalism while giving us a fake sense of righteousness and accomplishment whenever someone is “called out”.

    I’m not sure I fully follow the ‘replicates all the control mechanisms’ part, but I do understand the idea of fake senses of accomplishment. Those traps are everywhere! And so I’m not sure attacking individuals for maintaining these sorts of understandings (I’m not willing to call them ‘dogmas’) is any less damaging.

    But to step back from that rabbit hole:

    I think there are some struggles that we all share and there are some struggles that others have that you don’t and some struggles you have that others don’t. Obviously. The mid-point to reaching a more perfect world is to align all those struggles toward a common action.

    I take that to mean that the best thing to be is an ally to everyone whose heart is in the right place. And it’s not a big deal to get called out for stepping on someone’s toes, for inadvertently reproducing a structure that someone, because of their struggle, feels as a tiresome burden, part of the shit they might get just for walking on the street every day (not to mention more systemic effects).

    Martin Luther King’s not saying we have to stop talking about race now because economics and war policy are at the root of the problem. But rather that nothing really gets fixed unless it all gets fixed, so we better do everything.

    But what to do if you cross someone’s line and they write you off as not having your heart in the right place. The answer is: even if their reaction recapitulates a bigotry structure, marking you as a dominant category and then tarring the whole group, just step back, try to see where they’re coming from, and put your heart back in the right place, no matter if — a moment ago — they weren’t willing to do the same to you. Who cares? Get back on track. These identity arguments do not actually stand between you and utopia, and if you can let that go you can work with a whole lot more people.

    Instead, it feels like this stuff builds up until you spit out something petulant like the ‘kill all men’ comments. After which, regardless of the precise irony you intended, it comes off like you’re simply hostile toward anyone who cares about, in this case, feminism. Feminism is obviously not asking you to say all men are scum. And of course people will unfollow you on Twitter if you appear to suggest that’s what feminism is about. (Partially because such rhetorical moves are consistently used by the right wing — at least in the U.S. — to dismiss all social and economic progress; and in mobilizing the same rhetoric you appear to join them.)

    I firmly believe that nothing is more necessary at this point in history than an internationalist perspective; absolutely nothing can be accomplished without one. So I believe the increasing dominance of an ideology that I can only describe as racist and sexist is, to me, a major catastrophe.

    Here’s the heart of the matter, of course, the difficult-to-reconcile seedpit and the potential justification for your…hostility (or appearance of hostility). I can only suggest that you take this a mid-point goal, that at the moment there is little value in alienating allies (like myself) with these sorts of purity tests, regardless of whether you feel like analogous tests are being applied by others to you.

    I’d also suggest that if you actually think that feminism’s goals are sexist, then you’ve been seeing feminism through a perverted lens. (Likely via the same sort of confirmation bias that makes me think these issues are more at the forefront of your mind than all the others I agree with you on.)

    But it also boils down to simply not being a jerk to people, even if you feel like they’re attacking you. Even if you know they’re wrong.

  14. It’s silly to think that anyone actually advocating killing all men would be taken as business as usual.

    I don’t think a lot of people are actually advocating it, but “Kill All Men” is an existing and popular motto, as are similar expressions (“Die Cis Scum”). They’re probably seen as “punk” and “fun” and whatever, but I think that even as purely rhetorical devices, they do nothing but reinforce sexism.

    But it’s also…offputting to see you (most recently, again, on Twitter) suggesting you’d make more friends by expressing such views yourself.

    I think that suggestion has a pretty strong basis in reality. It comes from observation. I may be wrong, but I think there’s fairly strong evidence for the fact that people respond quite differently to such rhetoric. They tend to admire it.

    The world isn’t ready to put these categories of oppression aside because in people’s day-to-day lives these categories of oppression are overt and concrete.

    I’ve tried to explain this before and I always seem to hit a brick wall, but one that seems to be built around North America. To agree that racism exists is not the same as to agree that race exists; in fact, one of the main definitions of racism is “the pseudo-scientific assertion that humanity can be divided into races”. I’ve tried to explain that to many people from the rest of the world, “race” is itself a racist term, and one only employed by racists, so the discourse around race in the United States is really quite shocking. That doesn’t mean other countries aren’t racist, only that they don’t believe in engaging with the topic using racist terminology and concepts. In other words, I believe the response to racism is to attack and destroy its foundations.

    I think there are some struggles that we all share and there are some struggles that others have that you don’t and some struggles you have that others don’t. Obviously. The mid-point to reaching a more perfect world is to align all those struggles toward a common action.

    I take that to mean that the best thing to be is an ally to everyone whose heart is in the right place. And it’s not a big deal to get called out for stepping on someone’s toes, for inadvertently reproducing a structure that someone, because of their struggle, feels as a tiresome burden, part of the shit they might get just for walking on the street every day (not to mention more systemic effects).

    That sounds reasonable in the abstract, but I don’t agree with the intersectionalist notion that there’s a variety of equally-important struggles that intersect at certain points. Obviously there are many problems, and to the people experiencing them they matter quite a lot. No argument there, and I don’t want to take that away from people. But if the root of inequality is capitalism, as I think it is, then making progress along these other lines, even though something I utterly support, is not necessarily progress against the source of the problem, and can easily be hijacked by the forces of liberal capitalism (see “pinkwashing” etc.).

    As for “getting called out” no, if indeed it’s simply a matter of courtesy, there’s no problem with being told that a different way of expressing oneself would be better. But when it comes to more difficult notions, such as internationalism, transculturality, rigid notions of identity, and so on, the fact that someone is “calling you out” doesn’t mean a whole lot, since their opinion is just that: their individual opinion, which even people of a similar background may not share (thinking of how many vicious fights I’ve witnessed between people who nominally belong to exactly the same ideological group). And particularly when it comes to ideologies that are essentially based on Othering (which is what the whole notion that we can never understand another’s oppression is), we can’t forget that there’s always two sides. They may feel that they’re defending “their” people, but in the same breath they are creating an Other that they don’t know a whole lot about.

    I’d like to be an ally to everyone who heart is in the right place. But when they use racist generalisations like “all white people” and force American dichotomies onto parts of the world they haven’t even bothered to think about (that they probably aren’t even aware of), I’m really not OK with that. Because I don’t think the struggles of, say, Romanian people in Italy, or Polish people in England, are somehow less important because of their skin colour. In fact, I don’t think that saying such things is “having one’s heart in the right place”, even if to US ears it sounds wonderfully radical compared to the insanity of the Republicans.

    To put it another way – every time someone says something like “you Greek people with your white privilege,” the Golden Dawn gets a little more powerful. Because they’re the only other people who would ever come up with the mad idea that Greek people belong to some sort of White Race. Because in Europe, ideas like “the white/Aryan race” have been reviled since World War 2.

    Martin Luther King’s not saying we have to stop talking about race now because economics and war policy are at the root of the problem.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what he was saying – that the root of racism is ultimately economics (not that we should stop talking about racism). That doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exist, but that it can only be fixed by people of all colours working for a more fundamental equality. King had been reading Marx, and though he was not a communist, he did move heavily towards at least a type of democratic socialism. As did Malcolm X, who also identified capitalism with racism.

    Who cares? Get back on track. These identity arguments do not actually stand between you and utopia, and if you can let that go you can work with a whole lot more people.

    That would only be true if I believed that the road to utopia consisted of continuously improving the existing system, which I don’t. I think every step towards more rigid notions of identity (whether it’s nationality, gender, culture, or various forms of tribalism) is a step *away* from people being able to unite in the global struggle against the economic system.

    Instead, it feels like this stuff builds up until you spit out something petulant like the ‘kill all men’ comments. After which, regardless of the precise irony you intended, it comes off like you’re simply hostile toward anyone who cares about, in this case, feminism.

    I don’t think there’s anything petulant about finding it depressing that slogans like that are not only acceptable, but mean that one is seen as “radical” in some sort of “cool” way.

    Feminism is obviously not asking you to say all men are scum.

    Well, there is no one form of feminism. But many forms of feminism now dominant, at least on the internet, are based on assumptions that aren’t very far from that, and generally promote principles that I think do nothing but reinforce sexism. That’s not to say I have a problem with all feminisms, though! There are socialist feminists and post-colonial feminists whose views are pretty much the same as mine.

    I can only suggest that you take this a mid-point goal, that at the moment there is little value in alienating allies (like myself) with these sorts of purity tests, regardless of whether you feel like analogous tests are being applied by others to you.

    I understand what you’re saying, and for the longest time that’s what I tried to do – until I started realizing that what I was supporting was more bigotry than progress, more American propaganda than hope for the world. That when people said they wanted inclusiveness they meant more Americans who shared their particular ideology, not a genuine pluralism based in our common humanity. And I’m sorry, but no matter how well-meaning people are, I can’t morally support that. Not while bombs are dropping on innocents but we’re happy that some of the pilots may be more diverse than before.

    I’d also suggest that if you actually think that feminism’s goals are sexist, then you’ve been seeing feminism through a perverted lens.

    As I said above, that depends entirely on your definition of feminism. I think many contemporary forms of feminism are focused on strengthening gender identity rather than deconstructing gender and showing it for the purely social invention that it is. They are also divorced from their origin in the labour movement and have often become entirely imperialist (see their role in advocating the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the persecution of Julian Assange, and many similar cases). Since equality is something I strongly believe in, I think these particular forms of feminism are very destructive. But this is simply part of a larger movement in the Left away from internationalism and socialism towards liberal capitalism and a “cultural” Left.

  15. anon

     /  September 3, 2013

    This is a great reply. I know you’ve addressed a bunch of these angles in other places, but it’s helpful to see it all in one place like this.

    Something I think is worth keeping in mind is that with a lot of these sentiments — especially, I think, the “die cis scum” stuff — what you’re actually observing is Youth much more than anything that could be called movement doctrine. In fact, the more vocal and established trans* voices have been specifically speaking out against those things.

    Another small observation: while one can imagine racism being ‘solved’ by virtue of undoing capitalism’s horrorshow — its economic roots are apparent; it’s often a stand-in for class anxiety — I think it’s reasonable to have a genuine concern that sexism, homophobia, and transphobia (or whatever terms you’d prefer) might very well still exist in many possible otherwise successfully socialist futures. (One can imagine rapists, for example, still being produced by such a society — and still in numbers overwhelmingly targeted against women — unless specific work is undertaken to address the possibility.)

    (And as for using ‘race’ as a term, I think for now you need to chalk that up as analogous to ‘cunt’ being okay in the U.K. in a way that it’s not in the States. When an American on the Left uses ‘race’ they are very unlikely actually invoking a belief in an inherent biological difference between subgroups.)

    In any case, thanks for taking the time to respond. One last note for now would be that it’s simply worth taking care not to appear to be tarring, say, all of feminism with one brush (even in Twitter’s micro-contexts). And that it’s not worth mocking a group for having a supposedly singular cause, especially since that’s likely to be taken as a dismissal of that cause entirely.

    Oh, wait: one recent example of that, since it really stuck in my craw at the time: a month or two back you made a handful of tweets along the lines of “I wish people cared nearly as much about their country bombing children as they do about pronouns.” And while this is true — killing children is much more dire than getting pronouns right — it seemed…weird that you would bother making precisely this comparison, and to do so at least two or three times. It definitely gives the impression that the point you’re making is less about the bombs and the children and more about the pronouns, because why else harp on those who care about pronouns, of all things! And so it’s natural for those who do also care about pronouns (I’m including myself here) to take those tweets as specifically anti-trans* or anti-feminist — or at least belittling trans* or feminist concerns — even if that wasn’t your main intent.

    (And if it was your main intent, I’d say it’s really not worth your breath, especially since it paints you in an unsympathetic light, especially to those you’re ostensibly addressing. Because the moral authority comes from the direness of the bombs and children, and even, say, struggling for a living wage pales in comparison.)

    Again, I hope it doesn’t sound too much like I’m moralizing at you. I know you likely see the position from which I’m potentially moralizing as an inherently flawed one, but it seems worth at minimum being aware of how one’s words are likely to be taken, even by those you might see as being largely distracted by issues of lesser or even counter-productive concern.

  16. Oh, wait: one recent example of that, since it really stuck in my craw at the time: a month or two back you made a handful of tweets along the lines of “I wish people cared nearly as much about their country bombing children as they do about pronouns.” And while this is true — killing children is much more dire than getting pronouns right — it seemed…weird that you would bother making precisely this comparison, and to do so at least two or three times. It definitely gives the impression that the point you’re making is less about the bombs and the children and more about the pronouns, because why else harp on those who care about pronouns, of all things!

    I think that came pretty directly out of a sense of disappointment that a lot of people who present themselves as radicals (inside and outside of gaming) had so little to say about these issues. Because if they’re not going to be the first ones to speak out, who will be? I have similar feelings about the fact that so many activists/artists were silent about Bradley Manning, but are speaking up for Chelsea Manning – and yet speaking out only in support of her rights as a transgender woman (which I fully support), saying nothing about her prosecution for whistleblowing. Where were they when the trial was happening? And where will they be when the next person is sentenced, who may not fit their ideology?

  17. Another small observation: while one can imagine racism being ‘solved’ by virtue of undoing capitalism’s horrorshow — its economic roots are apparent; it’s often a stand-in for class anxiety — I think it’s reasonable to have a genuine concern that sexism, homophobia, and transphobia (or whatever terms you’d prefer) might very well still exist in many possible otherwise successfully socialist futures.

    Partially, perhaps. I do think that many of these social antagonisms exist primarily to prop up unjust systems (some of them predate capitalism; all of them played an essential part in upholding oppressive societies), but of course cultural elements can and do continue to exist after the demise of the systems that produced them, at least for a while.

    However, I think it’s important to note that when I say we should fight for socialism, I’m not saying we should only fight for an economic system. It’s not possible to achieve the kind of unity needed to make such massive systemic change happen without attacking those ideological elements that seek to divide people against themselves, such as racism and sexism. Destroying racism and sexism must therefore be one of the main goals of any socialist – it’s just that this can’t be done independently of destroying the conditions that those ideologies were connected to in the first place. It’s one and the same struggle.

  18. Andrew S.

     /  September 7, 2013

    Mmm *nods* I’ve been really enjoying and gaining from these conversations, it’s helped clarify my thoughts on the situation.

    In a sense, there’s a problem with your question itself (I don’t mean that in a personally offensive way), because it’s framed in terms of nation states, but nation states don’t have one common set of interests.

    (I hope I just did that HTML tag right >.>)

    Totally agreed and understood.

    Try not to get too discouraged. We all try to do what we can to actively participate in dissolving Capitalism(Inequality) and it’s varying structures and/or move to and create viable alternatives. A more egalitarian social structure is what we’re going for, and sometimes -you- are other people’s way to snap back from discouragement 🙂

  19. Fixed the HTML. It’s < blockquote > < /blockquote >, the “cite” is only a parameter. Maybe I should change the text it displays down there.