Monday, January 24, 2005

I'm not good at this blog thing

I'm really not updating my blog so much now. I think it's because I'm not doing so much activist stuff now - I've cut it down to about one Sussex Autonomous meeting a week, and Southcoast Indymedia. I therefore don't have to worry about sexism so much, and don't have to update this blog. Not that sexism doesn't exist outside the movement last night I stayed up very late drinkng with some guys I know and one of the started making jokes about rape. I just find this overt sexism somehow less threatening than the type you get in the movement. Men who are involved in anti-capitalist stuff rarely make overtly sexist comments - they are always politically correct (and political correctness is a good thing, in my view) it is just really odd to be in meetings with men, who treat women with (relative) respect, and yet also act like white male oppressors: men who don't generally display stupid laddish behaviour, but who take over everything, act as though they are in charge all the time, and completely monopolise most of the skilled work.

Monday, January 17, 2005

community approaches to domestic violence

I got quite interested in the issue of domestic violence for a while last year, but i was always somewhat concerned about the fact that most domestic violence organisations don't challenge the state at all - indeed they want more state protection for women - for the police to protect women from their partners. I just read this article about community approaches to domestic violence:

A view of home as a place that is vulnerable to so-called "private" violence (violence from intimate partners) as well as so-called "public" forms of violence (such as state violence) can help break the artificial public/private divisions in anti-violence work – divisions that are against the interests of immigrant and US-born poor women of color, and ultimately all women. It is inconsistent for us to think that we can demand protection from law enforcement on the one hand and organize around police brutality on the other.

Another answer

I've had this stupid argument about women only groups with people loads of times - a lot of people think that they exclude men, when if there is a problem we *should* work with men. Valerie Solanas reminds us that there is another answer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Really angry.

Just went to a Brighton dissent meeting. We were discussing this anti G8 newsletter that a few of us have been working on. A woman in the meeting said that she wanted to make the point that the G8 leaders were all mostly white, all male and not from working class backgrounds,and therefore were not representative of most of the population of the world. She was then shouted down by a few of the men in the group who said that we shouldn't put that in because what would it matter if the g8 were black or women, they would still be capitalists. The woman in question pointed out that an anarchist society where all the people who sat on councils were white men would not be preferable. But the guys in the group went on about how we were making an anticapitalist critique, and how we did not want people to think we were in favour of having more black capitalists - we did not want the leaflet to be pro bourgeois feminism or antiracism.

I was so pissed off - I don't think this type of anarchism would provide any kind of liberation for anyone.

My dissolusionment with Emma Goldman

I read Living my life by Emma Goldman, during the summer, and for a short period of time she was my political hero. However I have since changed my mind. This is not a particularly in depth critique, it is just some things that I have been thinking about.

On of my problems is that she is in fact racist at some points: when she is in prison she complains that a warder shows preference towards black inmates. I haven't got the quote, unfortunately, however.

She wrote a couple of critiques of the bourgeois women's liberation movement. However, I don't think that the anarchist movement of the time provided a good alternative for women to reformist feminism. Kropotkin, for instance, believed that women should put work into creating the revolution, not into reformist feminism. For the time being women wereto relieve the revolutionary stress of their men at the end of the day, to cook them dinner when they come in from a hard days revolutionary effort.

Although Goldman did do some things that were quite feminist (birth control, women prisoners) they were mainly for women she pitied - she never showed solidarity or friendship with other women in the movement, most of her close friends in the book are male. I am always suspicious of women who say that they don't make friends with other women.

However, I still think she was pretty cool, here is a good quote:

"Men and women", I began amidst sudden silence, "do you not realize that the State is the worst enemy you have? It is a machine that crushes you in order to sustain the ruling class, your masters. Like naïve children you put your trust in your political leaders. You make it possible for them to creep into your confidence, only to have them betray you to the first bidder. But even where there is no direct betrayal, the labour politicians make common cause with your enemies to keep you in leash, to prevent your direct action. The State is the pillar of capitalism, and it is ridiculous to expect any redress from it. Do you not see the stupidity of asking relief from Albany with immense wealth within a stone's throw from here? Fifth Avenue is laid in gold, every mansion is a citadel of money and power. Yet there you stand, a giant, starved and fettered, shorn of his strength. Cardinal Manning long ago proclaimed that 'necessity knows no law' and that 'the starving man has a right to a share of his neighbour's bread.' Cardinal Manning was an ecclesiastic steeped in the traditions of the Church, which has always been on the side of the rich against the poor. But he had some humanity, and he knew that hunger is a compelling force. You, too, will have to learn that you have a right to share your neighbours bread. Your neighbours-- they have not only stolen your bread, but they are sapping your blood. They will go on robbing you, your children, and your children's children, unless you wake up, unless you become daring enough to demand your rights. Well, then, demonstrate before the palaces of the rich; demand work. If they do not give you work, demand bread. If they deny you both, take bread. It is your sacred right!"

"He's not a good speaker but really intelligent, and you're a good speaker but not very intelligent"

I was talking with this guy as sussex about blogs, and he kept going on about how dull they were - how they were usually just about people's boring lives. So I promised myself that I would only write serious political analysis on here. However I am far too hungover to write anything remotely serious. So I think I will talk about what I did last night. I spent ages on IRC (Indymedia's chat room), in a meeting with IMC southcoasters, a new indymedia collective that has been set up in Brighton and the surrounding areas, and despite planning to give up activism some time ago, I ended up taking on far too much stuff. I am also worried that the banner on the southcoast site is sexist - the woman saying to the milkman - "You can't deliver like southcoast indymedia." It used to say "You can't PRESS MY BUTTONS like southcoast indymedia", but it has been changed to something less funny and slightly less sexist because two women activists from another collective objected. I think Indymedia has enough trouble attracting women as it is.

I then ran into some friends, who I hadn't seen for ages, and they dragged me to the Honeyclub in Brighton, and we danced for hours to stuff like Britney and Girls Aloud (which actually wasn't so bad - again I'm too hungover to be a feminist), and 2 guys had the argument about public speaking from the title of this post.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

My new blog

So I've decided to set up a blog of my own. Normally I post stuff on The wrong side of capitalism, but I felt a bit odd about constantly going on about feminist stuff on it. The posts below are the last few things I posted on Tim's site (the wrong side of capitalism), I just put them on to fill up space.


just to balance out my quotes from prayers, here is marx on religion. I hadn't heard the full quote before, but it is pretty cool:

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.

Karl Marx - Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right

and here is emma goldman:

The rulers of the earth have realized long ago what potent poison inheres in the Christian religion. That is the reason they foster it; that is why they leave nothing undone to instill it into the blood of the people. They know only too well that the subtleness of the Christian teachings is a more powerful protection against rebellion and discontent than the club or the gun.

Emma Goldman - The Failure of Christianity

The Nicene Creed

After Tim's comments about the catholic hierarchy I thought it would be good to print a prayer that is normally said at mass on sundays - it almost makes me want to be a catholic again...and it is even better in Latin.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made, of one being with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen


A couple of people have convinced me that the Nicence creed is also said by people in the church of england (which really is religion-lite), so here is a prayer that I very much doubt is said by the C of E. It is to Michael the Archangel:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in our day of battle; protect us against the deceit and wickedness of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.

And you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God banish into hell Satan and all of the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

My problems with structure in the anti-capitalist movement

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it, and I'm really tired at the moment, so what I'm going to write probably won't be that good.

I guess, one problem I have is that i think that there are big problems with sexism, and this is not acknowleged at all in the uk. I was talking to my neighbour (who is not left wing at all) about gender stuff, and she said that in a lot of the theatre stuff she's involved in, within the commitees, the women will do a lot of the unrewarding work - like taking minutes in meetings, or searching for venues, or contacting other groups, and the men will do the more satisfying stuff - like if posters need to be made, or if they need a website to be set up, and the people who really take charge, and get most of the credit for organising stuff are men.

I think this kind of thing happens all the time within the movement as well. i've met quite a few people - mainly women, who have said that they've not felt confident enough to volunteer to do the more difficult work, and that they've felt unskilled. Most men that i've spoken to about this don't seem to know what I'm talking about. The structure we use relies on people deciding what they want to do and doing it - not being told what to do. Not everyone feels confident enough, or feels that they are skilled enough to do whatever they want. And I think often they are not encouraged to feel this way. The people (mainly men) who have the confidence and the skills tend to just take charge of things. Many of the informal leaders seem to really enjoy the feelings of power that doing loads of stuff brings. Note that I am not writing from my experiences in Cambridge here :-).

There was quite a good (although somewhat patronising) article in zmag about how to resolve problems of skill/confidence. I'm so sick of going to meetings where there are like, 3 guys talking to each other. I've spoken to a few people in Brighton (where I'm living now) about this, and all of them seem to see who does what tasks as just being a matter of individuals having to "take the initiative" (It really pisses me off when anarchists use phrases like "take the initiative"). There seems to be no discussion of the fact that if you want groups to be non hierarchical you need to do lots of stuff to make them non hierarchical. Much has been written about sexism within the movement: Let Patriarchy Burn |
Shut the fuck up. There should in fact be a list of links here.

I'm not saying that problems with structure are simply to do with men being the informal leaders and women being oppressed - some men can also feel less confident and less able to do stuff, and in "non hierarchical" womens groups there have often been problems with the oppression of participants. The tyranny of structurelessness was in fact written about the womens movement. It just seems to me that in mixed groups (and there are very few women only groups in the uk) men are much more likely to be at the top of the informal hierarchies than women.
Something else that annoys me is just that general unpleasantness and bullying seems to occur. There is some stuff about this (and other struture issues) on this website, especially this article.

A final (and brief) thing is that a lot of what activists do seems to have no relavance to the outside world at all. We'll go and do an action or work on a project, but all the time it just feels as if we are just doing it for reasons of personal development or something. It doesn't feel as if we are trying to change things at all. We are just stuck in these sort of activist cliques and have no idea of what is going on outside. I read Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism by Bookchin the earlier today, and i think he makes some good points, but i have not really had time to think about it yet. I also thought his critique of primitivism as not recognising the "liberatory aspects of euro-american civilisation" was slightly racist, although i think primitivists are fucking crazy. Hope this makes some sense, I am about to fall asleep on the keyboard.

administering the King's justice

I've just finished reading Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan. Here is a good quote about the troubles of a particular prison governor:

...the PO looked at the governor who looked up slowly and said:
'You - er - heard that - er, Behan? That charge that the officer has just read?'

'I did, sir,' said I, with my hands at the seams of my trousers and looking manly, admitting my fault to to this tired old consul, weary from his labours among the lesser breeds, admininistering the King's justice equal and fairly to wild Irish and turbulant Pathan, teaching fair play to the wily Arab and a sense of sportsmanship to the smooth Confucian. In my ballocks, said I in my own mind, you George-Arliss-headed fughpig, dull scruffy old creeping Jesus, gone past the Bengal Lancer act to where you started, like a got-up gentleman with a Curragh cap. Bejasus, any decent horse would drop dead from the shame if he managed to get up on it's back. 'I did, sir.'