The Queers Aren’t Alright: Consequences of Political Lesbianism

I – Radfems

Radical feminist theory is a school of thought or analysis of the structures of power which oppress the “female sex”.  This second wave of feminism which began in the early 60s generally maintains that women (used interchangeably with “females”) as a strictly biological class are globally oppressed by men (used interchangeably with “males”) as another strictly biological class. It also posits that said oppression is “sex-based”. Whether or not this oppression roots from capitalism—which would be a more materialist view—or from innate “male” evil has been a point of contention. Now we have the terms TERF and SWERF, meaning Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist and Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist; respectively, though these views tend to go hand in hand.

In the 1970’s, during the Women’s Liberation Movement, there was this new idea among the radical feminists that lesbianism—whatever that means in context—is the solution, and heterosexuality as an institution, is the problem. What this resulted in was political lesbianism, meaning women separating themselves from those they deemed men in every way possible, often engaging in same-sex relationships (or attempting to) or choosing to remaining celibate, in an attempt to combat the heterosexual institution. However, lesbians did not begin existing in the 70’s, and this movement affected general lesbian identity heavily in ways we are still recovering from. Prior to the political lesbianism, “lesbian” was solely a slur applied to non-men who were interested in or involved with non-men. But with cis, ostensibly heterosexual women moving in and claiming lesbianism as their political tool for this movement, the idea of what a lesbian was forcibly narrowed. 

With the language we have now, radical feminists often say they want to abolish gender. They believe we—trans activists—want to erase biological sex in favor of social gender, and create a world of choice-based identity. They self-identify as “gender-critical”, meaning they—perhaps in roundabout ways—understand the violence inherent in forced gender roles but prop up trans people as patriarchal rather than seeing transness for what it is:a natural reaction to a violently gendered society. There might be radical feminists who would agree there as well, but would any go farther and say that that is evidence of a community that knows gender trauma better than most? Trans people are not a monolith, and we have made countless observations about gender that contradict, sometimes peacefully, and sometimes with violence. Radical feminists criticize the poetry we make of the language we are taught, while claiming to be criticizing an ideology, a nebulous trans agenda. For a more nuanced analysis of gender versus sex, read the Gender Accelerationist Manifesto.

II – Discourse

It’s been quite a few years since [mainstream gay celebrity] invented queerness, and I, for one, am thankful. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of our movement, back when [politician] advocated for us in the court of law and passed [this or that reform which improved quality of life], which, as you know, was repealed only a short time after, because of course we can’t trust reformists to make the changes we need and maintain them. Various umbrellas for aspects of queerness have been created, such as the a-spectrum; encompassing aromantic, asexual, demisexual, and other similarly grouped identities, or the transgender spectrum; encompassing all sorts of men, women, and the vast array of identities beyond that.

It’s true that being a radical is isolating. It‘s also true that being a queer or a trans person is isolating. It can often feel like one is a victim to their own geography—to their small town, to their alienating schoolhouses and workplaces; and, well, they often are. So it goes without saying that with the internet came more opportunities for queers to talk. And so they did, and never before has something like this been seen: the amount of solidarity, support, love, power between people who otherwise wouldn’t be connected is pretty incredible. 

Predictably, I want to talk about the other end of the double-edged sword, the Discourse(tm). Discourse in the context of social justice, feminism, and LGBTQ+ identities tends to refer to polarizing issues that are given much attention online and often involve those who wish to exclude, and those who don’t. For a bit, I kind of assumed it would make sense to operate on a case by case basis, looking at each discourse topic individually and coming to my own conclusions. I can now see the ways they intersect, and I no longer think it’s ideal to pick and choose. There’s so many kinds of queer or social justice discourse and only so many are bound to apply to you, so picking and choosing based on hearsay from people who might not even be part of the communities isn’t a good approach. A lot of intracommunity discourse is just that—intracommunity discourse.

An example of queer discourse is truscum, referring to trans people who believe dysphoria is a requirement for True Transness. Cis people who agree with truscum, are not truscum, they are just transphobic. Truscum rhetoric revolves around respectability politics, medicalizing transness, and appeasing the feelings of cis people. Truscum (or transmedicalists, as many call themselves) tend to espouse gender binarism ranging from casual binarism and binarist assumptions to outright denial of nonbinary identity.

I personally do not want my existence as a trans person medicalized, under the knife, trapped in the lens of the cis gaze and expected to be grateful. I don’t need or want neurosexist pseudoscience to tell me I have a “ladybrain”. Cis people elevating studies about transness that attempt to explain our existence with science don’t recognize that many of these are debunked, such as the idea that there are male and female brains, and that institutions of science don’t need to justify our existence. The real science supports us, yes, but institutions of science built on stolen land have neo-colonialism coursing through their veins and it may not be possible to separate these institutions as we know them today from their roots in white-supremacist imperialism. Man and woman, or this European idea of man and woman, have evolved throughout time to suit the imperialist status quo. Please read the Gender Accelerationist Manifesto.

With regards to people on the a-spectrum, people are similarly exclusionary and will state that people on the aromantic and asexual spectrum cannot claim to be LGBTQ+, or even queer. Besides the fact that people on the a-spectrum are very much oppressed and marginalized by the allocishet status quo, the A in the commonly used LGBTQIA and similar acronyms has always stood for a-spectrum in some way or another. The status quo punishes a-spec individuals for deviating from the norms it has set, just as it does the rest of us queers.

Most discourse is similarly a matter of inclusion and exclusion, and lesbian discourse is no different. There is the argument of nonbinary lesbians and our validity as lesbians, who can reclaim “dyke”, and so on. There is the argument of bisexual and pansexual lesbians, if they can exist, if they can be butch or femme. Political lesbianism dug its roots into the word before it could even develop as a distinct identity in a healthy way, and nearly every type of lesbian discourse can be traced to the political lesbian movement.

Baeddellism is an ideology named after the Olde English slur for an effeminate man, baeddel. It expresses—in a trans context—prioritizing those who were assigned male at birth (AMAB), especially those who are intersex (coercively assigned male at birth, or CAFAB), over those who were assigned female at birth (AFAB). It’s essentially a vague separatist movement that mirrored lesbian separatism. Regardless of what baeddels claimed baeddelism stood for, it is continuing to have effects on the trans community as a whole just as lesbian separatism did to lesbianism. Namely, there is continual dehumanization of those who were AFAB among some trans circles. When trans people who were AFAB speak of their experiences with misdirected misogyny, they are often called transmisogynist by the lingering baeddel tendencies or transphobic by people who seem to think bigots ask how you identify before deciding how to violently address you. 

Like lesbian separatism before it, baeddelism has again demonstrated that it is in the interests of the status quo to keep us separate. Separating and segregating people by their assigned gender at birth (AGAB) is harmful to everyone, with or without the trans inclusive language we have now. Neither AMAB nor AFAB could exist as lone terms without the other; the full picture is needed to contextualize either. It is integral to queer liberation that we are not divided. All of these forms of queer discourse are similarly helpful to the status quo as they seek to minimize solidarity among the oppressed.

III – From Exclusion to Where?

Queer discourse is a place we can identify prescriptivism in action—the attitude or belief that theres a single correct way to use language, in our context, labels and slurs. So many people unconsciously promote the idea that labels choose you, rather than the other way around, even when this isn’t always consistent with their beliefs. We see this possibly in the way questioning individuals might share their feelings, thoughts, or experiences, and ask if they make them a certain identity. This shows how the default assumption is often that there is an innate sexuality and gender which is more important than an individual’s autonomy or right to self-identify.

This cannot be the case. Man and woman as we know them today are formed by the European colonialist history that has shaped them, and there can be no gene or chromosome corresponding to a social construct. So instead, we must opt out of, reclaim, and transform what is forced on us all. 

To group all instances of gender with the oppressive traditions descended from that which spread through genocide and conquest is erasure of already marginalized cultures and only serves the dominant culture. Instead we target the European gender binary, in conjunction with white supremacy, the state, capitalism, patriarchy and any other forms of systemic oppression. We respect the word of someone who declares themselves an identity because their word is what makes it so. We accept infinite definitions for the same label, because as soon as you try to introduce a universal definition for a sexuality or gender, you are, by default, going to be excluding some part of that label’s history. We can have different relationships to the same words, that’s part of what makes us human.

Edited by Charles Maria Tor

Recommended reading:

Alyson Escalante – Gender Nihilism: An Anti-Manifesto

https://libcom.org/library/gender-nihilism-anti-manifesto

Alyson Escalante – Beyond Negativity: What Comes After Gender Nihilism?

https://medium.com/@alysonescalante/beyond-negativity-what-comes-after-gender-nihilism-bbd80a5fc05d

Kaspar the Friendly Geist – Gender Egoism – On Ownness and Identity

https://www.google.com/amp/s/spacegeist.wordpress.com/2018/03/14/gender-egoism-on-ownness-and-identity/amp/

Eme Flores and Vikky Storm – The Gender Accelerationist Manifesto

https://libcom.org/library/gender-accelerationist-manifesto

The Cotton Ceiling, Reframed

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CONTENT WARNING: SEXUAL VIOLENCE, TRANSPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA

Many seasoned feminists will have interacted with a wide variety of feminists – liberal feminists, radical feminists, anarcha-feminists, queer feminists, and TERFs. I want to specifically focus on the last category, for now.

Many on my side have said that TERFs are not feminists. Their beliefs align with the patriarchal right, why would they be feminists? TERFs are, actually, feminists, I would argue. It does us, the feminist left, no good to say TERFs are not feminists, because to the public eye – and especially to the right, they are feminists. It would behoove us to take out the trash, as opposed to arguing that it isn’t our trash in the first place. Feminism is an imperfect ideology and can be a host to reactionary ideology. Dangerous and reactionary feminists, yes, but still feminists.

That being said, many of their talking points permeate common discourse, and we find them either parroting the words of mainstream reactionaries, or even the other way around. One of their most effective strategies has been to convert cisgender lesbians to their cause, by co-opting victimizing language, painting other women as the enemy, instead of the patriarchy or any other real systems of oppression. By telling cis lesbians that their enemy is the trans activists, they intend to harm trans communities, and end up unintentionally harming trans and cis people alike.

If you haven’t heard of the “cotton ceiling”, I envy you. In 2012, Planned Parenthood facilitated a conference called “Pleasure and Possibilities” which included a workshop called “Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women”. It was essentially a workshop about the true phenomenon of some cis lesbians using their sexuality to attack the gender identity of trans women, and how statements like “I am a lesbian, therefore I don’t like men, therefore I don’t date trans women” make implications about trans people that cannot be challenged, or else you will be accused of attacking their sexuality. Yet, somehow, plenty of cis lesbians exist without defining their sexuality around a strict interpretation of gender. They have existed for as long as the concept of lesbianism has, but now TERFs want to forcefully label them bisexuals, for just believing that trans women are women.

This is all part of a wildly successful attempt to reframe the cotton ceiling. A relevant example of this deliberate misunderstanding is Sarah Diddums, someone who has written for the Guardian and NewStatesmen. In her article about the cotton ceiling, she says,

“The title referenced the feminist concept of the glass ceiling – that is, the invisible barriers to promotions at work. Cotton meant underwear. Getting inside women’s knickers was treated as a discrimination issue equivalent to failing to become a CEO”.

This “misunderstanding” is not a misunderstanding at all – it is a deliberate reframing of what happened and what was talked about.

The truth is, this isn’t how trans activists actually think. There is no deep want to get into the pants of nonconsenting women. There surely isn’t an ideological imperative, either. Most, if not all trans rights activists wouldn’t want to sleep with a TERF. I find them as repulsive as any other reactionaries. Myself and many others find the insinuation offensive and vile.

Every individual has the right to refuse sex, and sex can never be talked about as a human right. It is intellectually dishonest to say that transgender women want to rape cisgender women while also silencing the cis women who willingly have sex with them. If anyone is erasing lesbians, its those who don’t respect a lesbians identity as a lesbian, cis or trans, for agreeing that gender is a social construct and that trans women are women. If anyone is practicing misogyny, its those who belittle the cis women who sleep with trans women, condescend to them, and tell them how to identify. Cis lesbians who speak out against TERFs are routinely infantilized and talked down to, by those who think they know better than them. Let it be known that, just as transgender individuals are not a monolith and have a variety of experiences and ideas, lesbians are no different. Not all lesbians are TERFs, and, undoubtedly, not all TERFs are lesbians.

Cis lesbians expressing solidarity with trans folks is integral to combatting TERF ideology. Being vocal about an opposition to transphobia, disrupting recruitment efforts, sabotaging the platforms of TERFs, and any other form of direct action has proven to be effective against reactionary hate groups, and we cannot stand idly by hoping for justice to be presented to us.

Anarchism: Organization Without Coercion

This essay was taken from my pamphlet of the same title. Attached here is the PDF, which I strongly urge any to print out and share.

What is anarchism? Anarchism is fundamentally a critique of State power. Anarchists posit that the State represents a monopoly on power and control – this is why it is frowned upon when civilians are violent, but there is no legal issue with acts of political violence or coercion such as taxation, war, criminal justice, and the restriction of unalienable rights.

An anarchist critique of the State can be summed up with four points:

1. People have rights independent of the State.
2. The State frequently violates some of these rights, or holds the potential to violate more.
3. Violating these rights is never permissible.
4. Thus, all States are illegitimate.

Having established this basic, but essential anarchist critique of government, it is equally important to understand what alternative anarchism offers. Anarchist schools of thought vary widely. The core principles shared by most, if not all Anarchists are:

1. That all shall be free and equal, with an emphasis on well-being for all.
2. All shall extend mutual aid and solidarity wherever possible.
3. Any form of coercion is unjust.
4. All forms of unjustified hierarchy must be abolished.

Anarchists do not propose one single idea, but a collection of ideals and lifestyles.

We do not necessarily believe that all people are naturally good, or perfect. We simply believe that a society, small scale or large scale, without coercion is feasible and completely within our grasp, even as imperfect beings. Many opponents of anarchism mistake organization for government, and believe that anarchism is society without organization; this is perhaps the most common misconception.

Anarchism is not without rules, because there are rules that individuals can reach consensus on. Of course when rules are applied to an entire nation, it can become unjust, so anarchism attempts to combat that by putting an emphasis on local self-determination. Just as only the individual knows what is best for themself, only the most localized community knows its needs and goals.

Anarchist organization is based on the idea that the individual is free to organize and do anything they believe is worthwhile. Whereas, under capitalism and the State, tasks are motivated by profit far more than by need. These systems are inefficient. Global agricultural production can feed more than 1.18 times the global population, yet 868 million people go hungry. There are more than 5 vacant homes for every homeless person in the U.S. We have the means of well-being for all, do not be mistaken. The problem is not lack of resources, but the hoarding thereof.

There are a few objections to anarchism, which rarely hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. The swift response that arises to combat those who declare themselves Anarchists! These fervent, yet misguided oppositions are all too common. Let’s look at them.

A question often flippantly asked of Anarchists is,”Who will build the roads?”. What motivates one to do their work? The Self-Determination Theory posits that one needs competency, relatedness, and autonomy to do their best work as well as enjoy it. One must feel that their work makes a difference, that is, competency. They must have a sense of community, therefore, relatedness. Thirdly, they must be given reasonable authority over their work. When capitalism substitutes these factors for currency, our only motivation is survival. When one feels connected to their community, a part of something bigger than them, they are far less likely to despise their work. Also, in the instance of roads – they may be built by a community that is in want of roads! Does a lack of government stop them? Does government hold a magical monopoly on the creation of paved surfaces? Is it unheard of for a community to take initiative to fulfill its own needs? 

It is said that Anarchism of any kind would never be successful because of human nature. It would descend into a chaotic bloodbath! This is far from the truth.

In 1918, a series of anarchistic communes in Ukraine, with a collective population of around seven million, was formed. This “Free Territory of Ukraine” organized itself in accordance to anarchist-communist principles. In 1936, many sectors of the economy in Catalonia, Spain, were delegated amongst anarchist and socialist trade unions, and industrial productivity doubled almost everywhere across the country.

One is compelled to ask, “Why aren’t these communes thriving today?”. In both situations, these attempts at anarchist communism were thwarted by vastly superior military forces, such as the Bolsheviks or the fascists. The downfall of these societies is not proof anarchism is unachievable; the successes of these societies is proof it is achievable! What could a society accomplish, were it not under attack on all fronts by governments which declare its existence a threat?

Upon the writing of this, a region in northern Syria known commonly as Rojava, is fighting an ongoing conflict for its survival since its de facto autonomy was gained in 2012. While it is not perfect, it remains an ongoing attempt at libertarian socialism, held back only by its need to ward off external reactionary forces.

Society has suffered far too long under capital and the State. As capitalism and the State become increasingly absurd, we must waste no time. Local organization and direct action is the only way to truly change society. We’ve done it before, and we will do it again.

Further Reading:

The Conquest of Bread – Petr Kropotkin

Recipes for Disaster – An Anarchist Cookbook

Emma Goldman – Anarchism and Other Essays

Alexander Berkman – What is Communist Anarchism?

Sources:

http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_home_vacancy_rate

https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-report/

Capitalism is Inefficient

   Capitalism, often falsely credited with innovation and progress, is extremely inefficient and counterproductive, and is to blame for its own shortcomings. Both on a large-scale and on a small-scale, capitalism wastes resources and cannot be reformed or salvaged. The people of the world have more than enough in the way of food, so much so that the distributors of food will discard and waste it, while people starve in “civilized” countries. The people of the world have more than enough in the way of dwellings, it is the scam of private property (as opposed to personal property) that creates homelessness, even while the wealthy live in luxury and rent out their homes, exploiting those who are in need of them. Capitalism places arbitrary values of wealth above actual, measurable efficiency, and both the people and the land they are a part of are suffering as a result. Capitalism cannot be made more equitable – any attempt to tackle wealth inequality will be thwarted by the nature of capitalism, because wealth inequality is integral to its success. Capitalism relies on wealth disparity, and will do anything to stimulate it, seeing as the rich cannot exist without the poor and their labor.

   Functionally, capitalism is inefficient. Something is nonfunctional if it undermines its own capacity to function on the basis of the grounds it lays for itself. The great claim made by capitalists is that capitalism is a system which promotes economic growth and innovation – the boon of which is said to trickle down to the vast majority of citizens. This claim is the impenetrable wall – the one obstacle standing between capital and any would-be challenger to its legitimacy. But can it be true when nearly four trillion dollars are spent each year on the U.S. military, for instance? Where is the innovation when even the most alienating, practically useless jobs are still so hard to get? There is no true innovation under capitalism; capitalism stimulates lateral movement, not forward movement. Products that represent innovative research and labour and efforts are sabotaged by the need to make a profit – a product is only as good as its manufacturer deems is necessary for it to sell. Capital values the product which is profitable and doesn’t hurt vested interests. Tactics like planned obsolescence show that the motivation is not to innovate, but to expand. A product which may very well be helpful, practical, or even life-saving will not gain traction in the market unless it is profitable. Inversely, any innovation that would threaten current monopolies and profits is prevented entirely. Revolutionary new innovations are either opposed or co-opted, perfectly mirroring what happens to socialist or radical movements. Research shows that when a worker is given more autonomy, among other things, they engage more with their work, and it’s counterproductive to give a worker more autonomy when you intend the profit to trickle up a hierarchy to a private owner. In addition, many instances of innovation, such as the internet, actually originate from the state sector, as opposed to the free market.

   Capitalism is not a rational, efficient way of organizing economic life. Nearly a third of the food produced for human consumption each year finds itself being lost or wasted. The annual income of just the 100 richest individuals is enough to end global poverty four times over. Companies are known to deliberately manufacture products so that they break down faster, creating more consumption, thus, more profit. This tactic of planned obsolescence is an example of the absurdity of capital. In 1930, Keynes predicted that by the end of the 1900’s, a 15-hour workweek would be commonplace due to technological innovation. This is technologically possible – why aren’t we working 3-hour shifts? Because that is not optimal for the creation of the capitalist’s wealth. Because Keynes did not factor in the massive increase of consumerism that would be realized. Instead, the masses find themselves working jobs which are not even necessary a good portion of the time. The personified need of wealth scrambles to create jobs to pacify the masses, because idle hands are the Communist’s playthings.

   A counter argument that needs to be addressed – “But surely we can prevent unethical business practices through ethical consumerism! Vote with the dollar!”. The proponents of this argument either naively overestimate the power of the consumer, or are aware it is a bad analysis and wish to protect their capital by making up rhetoric for the lower classes to regurgitate. Firstly, unethical business practices are likely to be hidden. Mass media are structured to the benefit of capitalists – they are economically designed to cater to the needs of big businesses, therefore they are unlikely to willingly give out information that exposes their biggest clients. In addition, even the manufacturing of a single product cannot be traced to one tangible entity – production is tangled in a web of corporations, and it is made impossible to be an ethical consumer. Even if ethical consumption under capitalism were a possibility, which it is not, it would only be an option for those who can afford it. Subsequently, one might ask, “doesn’t the state and its regulations solve the problems of unethical business practices?” to which the most relevant response is that politicians cannot be expected to regulate corporations when it is those corporations that fund their political activities and positions.

   Beyond the dysfunctionality of capitalism, there are many other angles to critique it from. However, Marxian critiques seem to fall upon deaf ears today, in an era of “facts over feelings”, where critiques of capitalism can’t be based on emotion, but also can’t be too intellectual, lest they be invalidated by the jury of reactionary groupthink. For those who cannot be persuaded by our propaganda, but cannot be bothered to read Das Kapital, I present the facts, and nothing but the facts. Capitalism is inefficient and cannot be salvaged.

 

“What Is the Total US Defense Spending?” Government Spending in United States: Federal State Local for 1961 – Charts Tables History, www.usgovernmentspending.com/defense_spending.

“Self-Determination Theory” An Approach to Human Motivation & Personality, selfdeterminationtheory.org/

“Key Facts on Food Loss and Waste You Should Know!” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48, FAO of the UN, www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/.

“Annual Income of Richest 100 People Enough to End Global Poverty Four Times Over.” Just 8 Men Own Same Wealth as Half the World | Oxfam International, www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2013-01-19/annual-income-richest-100-people-enough-end-global-poverty-four.

Keynes, John M. Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren. 1930.

“STRIKE! Magazine – On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant.” STRIKE! Magazine, www.strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/.

Crime & its Origin

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“Every society has the criminals it deserves”

-Emma Goldman

American society breeds the perfect conditions for antisocial behavior or crime, that is my assertion.

What is crime? Crime is on a spectrum ranging from truly antisocial behavior, which harms a community, to behavior that threatens the status quo. Crime is arbitrary, with no source other than the minds of whichever self-appointed leader we may find ourselves at the mercy of. Definitions of crime are shaped by culture, and the culture of the USA is that of competition, coercion, and capital.

Crime is often born out of necessity, in such a culture. Citizens are encouraged implicitly to commit crime out of survival – we must make ends meet somehow, and that might mean breaking the law to feed our families when the workplace fails to deliver. This is only natural when we live in a society in which our needs are not adequately met.

Western society punishes crime with one hand and provokes it with the other, and this is no mistake. The systems in place will always attempt to deter conditions in which their authority is challenged – and in the case of crime, it behooves those in power to blame it all on things other than themselves. Should society actually tackle the conditions that create poverty and therefore, crime, it will be forced to realize that the issue is capitalism and the state itself.

Capitalism and its competitive nature creates resentment and tension between people within and across barriers of class. Ask any lower-class American in the suburbs what their neighborhood community is like – chances are in many instances they do not have an active relationship with their neighbors. We are isolated. There’s a lack of communication, and capitalism thrives because of this. The people have been conditioned to an extent to see helping each other as hurting themselves, when this is far from the truth. Combine this with our eagerness to climb any ladder we can grasp in order to obtain the material wealth required to live comfortably, and it is no surprise that crime is in abundance. A society which is run on the basis of self-interest will be plagued by crime.

When one is led to believe their worth is determined by products that they cannot afford, they may be led to steal. When the concept of success is taught to us with the language of money, but we hold little chance of accumulating wealth “fairly”, class tensions arise, and therefore so does crime. When the wealth of some absolutely relies on the cheap labour of others, there must always be poor folk, because wealth is derived only from the exploitation of the lower classes. When self-interest is to be pursued before anything else, the human race is doomed.

The individuals responsible with dealing with crime have the interests of capitalism to serve, and will not now, nor ever, bite the hand that feeds. Government and agents of capital have no reason to combat crime in any meaningful way, so they attempt to pacify us with cries for reform – “If the police are more responsible, crime will go down!”. This is a distraction. Antisocial behavior stems from a society that alienates the individual from their labour and their peers, and that cultivates tension and resentment. True justice doesn’t flow from police guns – the criminal justice system does not serve to do away with crime, but to maintain peace. Not the positive peace we find ourselves in want of, but negative peace. Quiet, tense peace, maintained by fear only. In such a conditions, the ruling classes can prosper.

The average middle-class citizen is trained to be opposed to crime, and thus becomes a silent accomplice of the upper classes. The bourgeoisie delights in the tension between criminals and the middle-class society, as the middle-class citizen repeats what they are told, that it is the criminals’ fault they suffer, all the while ignoring that this draws attention away from those truly poisoning society. The middle-class has been intentionally conditioned to condemn, for instance, the shoplifter. “It hurts the business owners!” they cry out. This is not true, however! Affluent companies like Walmart, Sephora, Ulta, and otherwise, waste their own products regardless of shoplifting. Materials will quite literally be thrown away, and the company itself can clearly survive the effects of shoplifting if it can be so wasteful with its products regardless. Even those who know this, may still argue that shoplifting is harmful because the workers are punished for it. Not only is this not at all very common, it is also the fault of the employer and the hierarchical nature of capitalism far before it is the fault of the shoplifter.

Criminals are not the enemy, the conditions that create them, however, are. Do not fall for the call to arms against crime, which utilizes racist, classist, and otherwise oppressive tactics. Those in power will do whatever is necessary to draw the blame away from themselves, and we must not forget that crime is the result of a toxic society which deprives the individual of freedom, dignity, and the means of which to survive. A society of competition and selfish individualism is a society of crime.

What is Ableism? A Brief Introduction

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Content Warning: Info about ableism, ableist slurs

Pictured: Image from my FB page

You may have heard of the concept of ableism. Ableism is a concept talked [not enough] about in social justice circles, and is one of the many systems of oppression in contemporary society. What is ableism?

The Oxford English Dictionary simply defines ableism as ¨discrimination in favor of able-bodied people¨. This is an incomplete definition, as ableism is not merely discrimination, it’s an element omnipresent in our culture, and it is not only about disabilities or deviations of the body, but the mind as well. Ableism is a system of oppression which favours neurotypicals and able-bodied individuals. It is a system of oppression which is not talked about nearly enough, but is pervasive and prevalent in the lives of all autistic, neuroatypical, neurodivergent, disabled, and mentally ill people. Ableism is not only about discrimination, but large-scale attitudes and our very understanding of the concept of a disability.

What does ableism look like? Like any system of oppression, ableism can emerge as a microaggression, or as a larger societal injustice, all which are equally worthy of being addressed. Ableism can be lack of accommodations. Ableism can be slurs such as retard or stupid or idiot or crazy or insane. Ableism can be a result of being indoctrinated into such a system – we can unintentionally perpetuate systemic ableism. Ableism can also be completely intentional, for instance murder and harassment (Recorded hate-crime related deaths of disabled folks in September and October of 2010).

This is not a recent phenomenon. People with disabilities have historically been assumed to be abnormal and inferior.  Eugenics and forced conversion has been attempted many times. In post-war America of the 40’s and 50’s, WWII veterans who returned with disabilities began to pressure the government to provide rehabilitation. Because the government has no incentive to do anything egalitarian or equitable, they were ignored, and they continued pressure. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came into law, it didn’t include people with disabilities. Communities continued to put pressure against the powers that be. By 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed. This act, in theory, prohibit discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. To this day, there is insufficient accommodation for disabled people, there is a lack of understanding around mental health and mental illness, and a stigma towards disabled people or neuroatypical people of any sort. One who is disabled or neuroatypical will be relentlessly silenced, attacked, ignored, and slandered as they attempt to navigate this society.

People with disabilities are not a mental or physical defect but a minority and cultural identity. Ableism is one of the least talked about -isms in society, and there is not nearly enough widespread attention to the struggles which people with disabilities face. Anyone who grew up in a society which enforces institutional ableism has implicit bias in them, whether or not they are aware, and whether or not it is intentional. This includes even those of us who are disabled, or neuroatypical, in which case, one might find internalized ableism. Having these biases does not make one a bigot – we are all to an extent products of our surroundings – but it is our duty to question these biases and combat them in whatever way we can.

 

Sources:

Juliezeilinger. “6 Forms of Discrimination Against Disabled People We Need to Retire Immediately.” Mic, Mic Network Inc., 17 Aug. 2018, mic.com/articles/121653/6-forms-of-ableism-we-need-to-retire-immediately#.GkEN43gj0

“What Is Ableism? Five Things About Ableism You Should Know.” FWD/Forward, 19 Nov. 2010, disabledfeminists.com/2010/11/19/what-is-ableism-five-things-about-ableism-you-should-know/

Marini, Ariana. “You Are An Ableist, And So Am I.” A Plus, 2 Nov. 2017, aplus.com/a/you-are-an-ableist-and-so-am-i?no_monetization=true

“Record of the Dead for October 2010.” FWD/Forward, disabledfeminists.com/2010/11/10/record-of-the-dead-for-october-2010/

“Record of the Dead for September 2010.” FWD/Forward, disabledfeminists.com/2010/10/06/record-of-the-dead/

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Revised ADA Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2018, from http://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm

 

Oct. 22, 2018