Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Socialist Democracy: Defending Kathleen Stock.

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Law profs defend academic freedom after students target teacher |  RollOnFriday

“A Woman’s Right to Tell the Truth” ?

There is no need to justify reproducing in full this important statement from the Irish organisation Socialist Democracy.

Defend a woman’s right to tell the truth

Here’s a situation that could soon happen in a school near you.

An eight-year old asks her teaching assistant in class if daddies can have babies the way mummies do. The teaching assistant, who is very likely to have been a woman who’s given birth herself and knows how these things work says “no, men can’t have babies, only women can have babies.”

Word of this conversation gets around. A group of masked protestors turn up at the school saying that the teaching assistant is a bigot who has no right to work in education. They put posters and stickers up outside the building. The woman’s union puts out a statement saying that while they don’t necessarily agree that she should be sacked, they agree that it’s OK to have a masked protest outside the school and that there has to be an investigation into institutional transphobia.

That is pretty much what happened at Sussex University to philosophy lecturer Kathleen Stock. A small group of students in Anti Terf Sussex said that her belief that humans can change gender identity but not biological sex was proof that she is “one of this wretched island’s most prominent transphobes, espousing a bastardised variation of radical feminism”.  They say that this opinion is “mainstreaming hate”.

Guilt by association

It’s not just her union branch that hung Stock out to dry. The people in her department refuse to have lunch with her because they are so terrified of guilt by association. Presumably these same academics have lots to say about integrity and moral courage in the abstract. It’s a trickier thing in real life.

But surely the radical left will come out in defence of a worker who’s being intimidated and hounded out of her job? Not if the Socialist Workers Party is anything to go by. With the caveat that you should only demand the sacking of fascists and organised racists, they agree with the students and the union branch that refused to defend Stock.

One of the students’ lines of attack is that they resent paying more than £9000 to an institution which employs someone who doesn’t share their opinions. They see themselves more as dissatisfied customers who are buying a product rather than learning how to engage with different points of view.

Selina Todd, a feminist historian at Oxford University, routinely faces harassment from trans activists for her belief in the reality of biological sex.

Something similar is playing out in Lurgan. Ceri Black has been summoned to her local police station because someone has objected to her gender critical tweets. Similar things have happened to women in England and Scotland. Activists use the police to try to shut women up.

The Irish and British left, with modest exceptions, refuse to stand up for women facing this severe harassment. As a result, the right and extreme right from the Tories to Jim Allister are able to present themselves as advocates for women’s right to speak freely.

The good news is that in Britain a new grassroots feminist movement is developing. To the extent that the left acknowledges its existence, it does so only to denounce it as bigoted and transphobic. But as anyone who saw reports of last weekend’s FiLiA conference in Portsmouth will know this movement is pulling together women environmentalists, educators and migrant rights activists. The contrast between what was happening in the hall and the pickets outside with placards reading “suck my d*ick you transphobic c*nts” was illuminating.

Woman’s Place UK, a group of socialist, feminist and trade union activist women also regularly organises large events just at the moment when the left can’t even answer the question of what a women is.

Socialist Democracy will give its full political support to any group of women in Ireland who want to do the same as FiLiA and WPUK.

Socialist Democracy,

“Socialist Democracy is a Marxist organisation standing in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Connolly. We believe that the poverty and misery, the oppression and exploitation that marks our society is the result of control of the world’s wealth and productive resources by a tiny class that exploits the vast majority of society. This leads to humanity crippled by the reality and ideology of capitalist society. This reality leads the majority of humanity to premature death and the majority of working people to lives of drudgery and stress in a world over which they have no control. Human rights are routinely violated and inequality has grown dramatically. The ideas that support this social system are those of competition and the rat race. Humanity is left both physically and mentally scarred and disfigured while the planet it lives on is ravaged and devastated.”

Socialist Democracy is the successor to People’s Democracy, a left-wing current which emerged in Belfast in 1968 during the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

There is much to agree with in the Socialist Democracy statement, from the defence of people to speak gender critical views free from harassment, and sanction, to the debate (if that’s the word) on the reality of biology. A statement in defence of the rights of transsexuals and gender fluidity (the latter no doubt a vast area in itself) would also be appropriate.

People will not however feel warm towards the LGB Alliance, which promoted its views at its conference yesterday. This was an event Woman’s Place feels fit to publicise.

Why?

To start with there is this – it goes without saying that Peter Tatchell is held in high respect by many people, including those of us on the left – which is a weighty set of objections to the LGB Alliance, that is its alliances.

The LGB Alliance seems transfixed by this intervention.

Such “admiration of power” in Number Ten and the “virtuous indignation” (William Hazlitt) of the Editor, and Reporters of the Times are alliances, straying into the territory of “veriest sycophants”. To be clear, they are well beyond the territory of any left or progressive body or the statements they would make.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 22, 2021 at 11:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

37 Responses

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  1. As far as I understand it, LGB Alliance is just a body set up for same-sex-attracted people who reject the gender identity ideology that the older organisations have recently embraced. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s much of a political ‘line’ there – the LGBA seems to have pretty much the whole political spectrum within it, from left to right. Why not? There’s nothing inherently left or right about having one or another sexuality. The line spouted by Tatchell and most of the self-identifying ‘progressives’ that same-sex-attracted people have to adopt the gender identity ideology in their activism, otherwise they are ‘anti-trans’ is nonsense, but it seems to have become an article of faith in those circles. LGBA applied to have stands at all the party conferences. Only the Tories let them have one. Is that the fault of LGBA?

    As the SD statement you cite with approval notes: “As a result, the right and extreme right from the Tories to Jim Allister are able to present themselves as advocates for women’s right to speak freely.” The ‘left’, by making reality-denialism a matter of principle, hands this issue to the right, and then digs itself deeper into the hole by bleating on about all the ‘right-wing’ connections of those who reject reality-denialism. It’s beyond stupid.

    Francis

    October 22, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    • All very true Francis, but that does not mean leftists have to agree with or like the LGB Alliance any more than we have to back Stonewall.

      I cite Peter for his democratic human rights principles not for the detail of his position.

      American Dream, there are not doubt transphobic people around in all this, but the small Socialist Democracy (whose background in People’s Democracy and present political stand is known to many of us), seem to have offered an absence of real analysis of a transsexuality as such, and the defence of the rights of transsexuals, and absence off evidence is not evidence of what their views might be.

      Andrew Coates

      October 22, 2021 at 2:22 pm

      • They seem to equate Socialist Feminism with a Transphobic (“Gender Critical”) position: http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/TransgenderReadingList.html

        See generally all their writings on transgender issues:

        https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=transgender+site:socialistdemocracy.org/

        American Dream

        October 22, 2021 at 2:34 pm

      • Quite right – if I were G or B and therefore eligible for membership of LGBA, I might well decide it doesn’t speak for me. There are however 2 essential differences between LGBA and Stonewall: 1) you can join LGBA, take part in its conferences and all that. It has members which it represents. There are no mechanisms whereby any of the people Stonewall purports to represent can have any input into its policies. 2) LGBA is not seeking to embed itself in public institutions and oblige them to adopt its positions. If it takes a rubbish line on this or that, it’s a problem for its members, but not really for the rest of us.

        Francis

        October 22, 2021 at 3:52 pm

        • Institutional power may endorse liberal positions for its own reasons. This can mean a broad endorsement of trans rights, gay rights, women’s rights etc. Meanwhile, the more reactionary elements within the power structure seek to undermine such advances as they manipulate their social base. The task of the militant, the revolutionary is to go beyond the rights narrative of the liberal but not against it. In no way is Transphobia actually a credible liberatory force.

          American Dream

          October 22, 2021 at 4:01 pm

  2. Oh great. A sectarian group seeks to carve out its space by aligning itself with Transphobia. I can’t consider this a statement of great principle. Students have been calling for people to be sacked or otherwise removed from the University for decades now, we might fairly debate tactics and strategy around this generally, as many have. Shall we defend all their targets- the good, the bad and the ugly? I would be much more surprised to see such socialist support for all the targets of student outrage. One rather thinks that the rejection of “feminist” Transphobia by other Irish socialist groups is a fundamental part of the picture here.

    The world is evolving- as it must- towards a liberatory praxis where queer struggle is integrated completely with feminist and anti-capitalist struggle. Meanwhile, the Left will continue to consider and debate Free speech issues as well we should: https://newpol.org/socialists-and-free-speech-revisited/

    https://newpol.org/issue_post/deplatforming-the-risk-of-success/

    American Dream

    October 22, 2021 at 2:06 pm

  3. The world’s gone mad.

    trev

    October 22, 2021 at 2:25 pm

  4. ” Not if the Socialist Workers Party is anything to go by. With the caveat that you should only demand the sacking of fascists and organised racists, they agree with the students and the union branch that refused to defend Stock”

    The SWP want it both ways as always. In recent years they have been pushing the Trans issue mightily. Why? They want to recruit English students who get their political direction from US social media. The “Americanization” of UK left politics is particularly toxic. However, it still wants to orientate to 2nd wave feminism (again for recruitment purposes) so while condemning what it sees as “TERF-ism” it will still not completely throw feminists under bus. This opportunistic position was made clear a few years ago in a clip I saw from Moyra Samuels (a long time SWP member from West London). She stated that the Party still wanted a relationship with groups like Womens Place UK and their committment to Trans Rights shouldn’t cause them to burn their bridges with radical Feminists.

    IainF

    October 22, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    • You can use woke “privilege politics” as a foil for many things- it is often used for taking a step back rather than a step forward. I think we need to deepen our analysis and our praxis so that we are more fully affirming trans rights not fanning the flames of division between Feminism and Queer Liberation. Also, I don’t think that nationalisms should, even implicitly, undergird our arguments. Internationalism is fundamental. Yes, the U.S. is the global hegemon, but that can never justify bigotry and false dichotomies.

      American Dream

      October 22, 2021 at 4:25 pm

      • It’s important to remember what drives American “Woke” ID politics.
        In the liberal American mass media an intern culture has grown up in recent decades (this was primarily a cost cutting exercise). Who are these interns ? They are exclusively upper middle class young people fresh out of expensive elite liberal arts colleges who can afford to work for free (or almost nothing) at publications like the New York Times and Washington Post and who are subsided by their wealthy parents. They carry their university learnt woke politics into these publications and basically take over and enforce ideological rigidity. This has spread outwards into the rest of the mass media and the Democratic Party has harnessed it as part of its electoral coalition building (it was very effective last year in ousting Trump). It’s an Elite ideology however which is being used by Establishment in a top down manner. This is not a political movement driven from below and before you mention BLM it is important to remember that the BLM organization is now very close to the Democratic Party via the DNC, receives tens of millions of corporate money and whose original leaders are now on multi million dollar property buying sprees. It’s noticeable how BLM activity has been ramped down in 2021 with Biden/Harris in the White House.

        American Nightmare

        October 22, 2021 at 5:27 pm

        • Correlation is not necessarily causation. Still you’ll get no defense from me of woke identitarian nonsense nor neoliberal culture wars fluff. The point though is to not strawman that stuff in defense of Transphobia or other reactionary doctrines. That bigotry is not feminist nor socialist, nor should it be.

          American Dream

          October 22, 2021 at 5:55 pm

        • Also the BLM organization is not the BLM movement. This is fundamental and to suggest otherwise is to profoundly misrepresent the situation. The BLM grassroots is significantly black and brown, proletarian and will rise up if and when it needs to. It is not controlled by the nonprofit industrial complex, nor by Washington D.C.

          American Dream

          October 22, 2021 at 6:08 pm

          • “Also the BLM organization is not the BLM movement. This is fundamental and to suggest otherwise is to profoundly misrepresent the situation. The BLM grassroots is significantly black and brown, proletarian and will rise up if and when it needs to. It is not controlled by the nonprofit industrial complex, nor by Washington D.C.”

            No coincidence of course that the BLM organization “rises up” in Election years. 2016 and 2020 were peak BLM activity so expect another uptick in 2024 I guess, probably in the summer in the lead up to November.

            It should also be noted that the liberal MSM started pushing ID politics in a major way starting in 2012 as a way of neutering the “Occupy Wall Street” movement (which frightened the life out of the Establishment). Occupy Wall Street is a distant memory and now Ice Cream companies put images of Clenched Fists on their packaging (helps the bottom line I guess).

            American Nightmare

            October 22, 2021 at 9:53 pm

            • The insurrections in North America were first and foremost proletarian self-activity. Nothing that the neoliberal power people do to co-opt this uncontrollable tendency can change that.

              American Dream

              October 22, 2021 at 10:42 pm

        • Veering totally off the main thread here, I was transfixed by the recent BBC2 90 minute documentary on the Capitol sige in January. Its length gave me a social perspective (helped by having a long US sojourn many many moons ago) which the press of the day didn’t. What hit me was (a) the median age of most of the rioters was 40 years and above plus a very few younger types. (b) the fact that it seemed overwhelmingly rural, small town and flyover America – no NY, Philly or Boston accents (the ones I know) (c) it was a declassed working class at large, and it was so overwhelmingly white I could have been in a snowstorm. (d) no voices of what yoiu would call the ‘middle class young people fresh out of college. Sure, there were black faces in the programme as a whole – but they were guys wearing the uniform of the Washington Police and the internal Capitol Police guard, plus some congressmen and women and – in a lot of cases – their staffers. Just my impressions. See (if you haven’t) https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0010tff/four-hours-at-the-capitol

          David Walsh

          October 22, 2021 at 6:49 pm

          • I know there to be a number of people from the Atlantic Seaboard Exurbs also. There is a relatively large and enthusiastic MAGA base there, for sure. I’m not taking away from what you said because I know it also to be true. I think the rural and so-called “fly-over ” reactionary constituency in the rust belt and other places is significant too.

            American Dream

            October 22, 2021 at 7:05 pm

          • I watched it and it was a really good documentary.

            It marked for me a very profound difference with European politics, a bunch of grown up kids, very unpleasant spoilt children, cavorting around the Capitol hardly fully grasping what they were doing. That they were so emotionally fired up, and that they, essentially a small demo, were basically allowed in to wreak havoc, was astonishing.

            Having been in the Palace of Westminster a number of times and never having felt particularly that it was somewhere apart from the rest of the world, some kind of hate symbol, or indeed alien (I except the time when we were taken there from Westminster Further Education College A Level Politics class to watch a debate – in the House of Lords) I never felt any urge to ‘storm’ Parliament, If we ever ever *did* it would be a far greater break with anything the left had ever done before. And can you even imagine the hard right, even Farage and his Brexit ultras, doing that?

            What would it *do*? The real levers of power would still be outside the stormers’ grasp.

            US Woke Politics is said to have some roots in European ideas, like ‘French Theory’ and the Frankfurt School, described in this book, ” Levin explains how the core elements of Marxist ideology have been uniquely tailored to and applied to American society and are now pervasive throughout the culture, forming a variety of sub-movements surrounding such issues as “climate change,” “genderism,” “critical race theory,” etc. These American Marxist movements have become powerful forces in our schools, the media, and corporations, as well as Hollywood, the Democratic Party, and the Biden presidency. Levin describes how they often cloak themselves in deceptive labels like “progressivism,” “democratic socialism,” “social activism,” and more, to disguise their true intentions. Levin also exposes many of the leading institutions, intellectuals, scholars, and activists behind this counterrevolution, and provides us with some answers and ideas on ways to push back.”

            https://about.simonandschuster.biz/news/american-marxism-1-mill/

            Back to topic, American Nightmare mentions, “the liberal American mass media and intern culture.”

            Perhaps here is also something to look at in Martin Thomas’s observation of the growth in the UK of the number of people who see their career on the left as being part of NGOs, and full-time positions in parties and unions. The latter has always been there but there is without doubt a larger number of NGO positions out there, and other ‘para-political’ posts’. This is a vantage point that shapes the importance taken by culture wars rather than traditional local councillor and lay trade union officials’ concerns.

            That would include “internships” in many of these organisations, a pompous sounding word that covers work experience, but strangely enough never gets used for young people on the Dole who have the “Work Experience Programme for young people aged 18-24 or, now, the Kickstart programme, “youngsters on Universal Credit aged between 16-24 will be offered six-month work placements – with wages paid by the government.”

            Martin’s point could be extended to how people in this position view issues like the dispute between Stonewall and its critics has developed.

            Andrew Coates

            October 22, 2021 at 7:23 pm

            • Sure, but I think this is a small subset of the cognitive elite in the United States that regurgitates continental theory (from decades ago) with their woke politics. Far more common is a fluffy and superficial identitarianism that is truly performative and social media based.

              American Dream

              October 22, 2021 at 7:42 pm

              • I would have thought so, the hey-day of that collection of theories was the 1970s – 50 years ago!

                Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière are still around.

                I do not see younger figures like Frédéric Lordon, or Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, (to mention two I read) getting cited…

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Lordon

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffroy_de_Lagasnerie

                Andrew Coates

                October 22, 2021 at 8:13 pm

                • Sadly, that is true. Also in the North American woke crowd Marxism is only appropriated in terms of abstruse theory, nothing materialist, much less from the perspective of the grassroots militant.

                  American Dream

                  October 22, 2021 at 8:40 pm

          • I sort of agree, but think Exurbia was well represented too. Many of the insurrectionaries were from the greater Atlantic Seaboard area and had only to take commuter transport or drive relatively short distances.

            American Dream

            October 22, 2021 at 7:31 pm

            • Oh, and I forgot to say that I heard through the whole 90 minutes very few heavy ‘southern’ accents, which is both odd and also interesting.

              David Walsh

              October 22, 2021 at 8:06 pm

  5. Leaving all this aside (and BTW, I’ll take my direction from Peter Tatchell here) if anyone was to tell me that Terf wars and Tunnocks Tea Cakes were to clash I would have asked them what they’d been drinking. Nonetheless, here; https://en.mogaznews.com/World-News/1849368/Now-teacakes-are-cancelled-Tunnocks-stumbles-into-a-culture-war-over-LGB-.html

    David Walsh

    October 22, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    • The post originally began as one about the LGB Alliance illustrated by the tweet below. I discarded it after seeing how unpleasant the row had got.

      Andrew Coates

      October 22, 2021 at 6:17 pm

      • Now teacakes are cancelled: Tunnock’s stumbles into a culture war after sending box of treats to controversial ‘transphobic’ LGB Alliance group

        Tunnock’s donated some of its treats to LGB Alliance’s inaugural conference

        News of the gifts were slated by critics of the group, who say they are anti-trans
        LGB Alliance support women who believe it impossible to change biological sex
        Tunnock’s declined to comment on being dragged into the unlikely culture war

        There were calls to boycott the cakes after it was revealed they had been gifted to the event.

        ut the cake firm’s products at the conference, which is being held at the QEII centre in Westminster prompted outrage from some quarters.

        Teacher Vic Symonds said: ‘This Gay Glaswegian can’t buy from in good conscience now. The LGB Alliance actively harms my whole community. They attack and undermine trans people and wrecked my favourite biscuit. Scunnered.’

        Cathuk added on Twitter: ‘Could you please explain why your company dontated product to an anti-trans hate group conference? Do Tunnocks support removing the rights of the trans community & agree that gay teachers are a danger to kids?’

        Sarah Faye wrote: Breaking: Tunnocks supports an anti-transgender hate campaign as disclosed by the LGBiphobic Alliance. Enjoy your free advertising Tunnocks, by a group that only exists to campaign against trans people for merely existing.’

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10120565/Now-teacakes-cancelled-Tunnocks-stumbles-culture-war-LGB-Alliance-gifs.html

        Meanwhile today:

        Andrew Coates

        October 22, 2021 at 6:22 pm

  6. The absurd furore over Tunnocks giving some boxes of tea cakes to an LGB conference illustrates once again that the gender identity movement is a religious cult, ever ready to call down fire and brimstone upon the unrighteous heretics and unbelievers. I wouldn’t care very much if the cult just limited itself to the general area of sexual politics, but it has metastasised into the wider labour movement, where it is wreaking havoc – as we can see.

    Francis

    October 22, 2021 at 9:42 pm

    • I’m not sure what this gender identity movement actually is. I know all kinds of gender nonconforming people and I also know that there are plenty of woke types, including I guess some transgender identitarians. There is no great monolith, as far as I know- that seems mostly a construct to argue against.

      American Dream

      October 22, 2021 at 10:37 pm

      • On the evidence there is no “movement” in the UK, but a number of small pressure and support groups, and one large established group Stonewall which puts the issue forward.

        As Francis indicates when he mentions the way this has come up in the labour movement, that is the main reason why this Blog, like others on the left, write and talk about the issue.

        Andrew Coates

        October 22, 2021 at 10:51 pm

  7. (Paraphrasing) “The absurd furore over (insert something innoccous that well meaning, but politically naive do gooders moaned about) ilustrates once again that the anti-racist movement is a religious cult.”

    As another poster has pointed out, that’s a strawman argument. You correctly identify a general issue with ‘woke’ identarian thinking in left wing politics. I share your concerns. I think it’s a significant stumbling block e.g. in anti racist movements. But I still recognise that racism is a problem.

    Your starting point seems to be that this identarian thinking is fueled by people on the internet who declare themselves to be in favour of trans rights? Come on, we both know that priviledge theory existed before Twitter! Trying to turn people in favour of trans rights into some sort of bogey man doesn’t help the discussion.

    Just be politically honest and say that you’re not in favour of certain rights to be extended to trans people, at least that’s clearer.

    mrtusks

    October 22, 2021 at 10:45 pm

  8. You must be delighted at having a transgender 4star General, American Dream, that’s really socking it to the (choose your gender preference).

    Sue r

    October 22, 2021 at 10:53 pm

  9. Privilege theory? Is that the one where a black billionaire is more oppressed/discriminated against than a poor, white, unemployed, homeless, disabled person?

    Sue r

    October 22, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    • Pretty much, yes.

      American Dream

      October 22, 2021 at 11:29 pm

  10. The extreme dissonance I feel in these threads is seeing so much negativity in these threads cast against transgender people, in such broad brush strokes really- and then I walk out my door and I see my neighbors, the dog walker, my friends, transgender all and they are at such variance from the images fostered here.

    They are ordinary people of the neighborhood but also artists, comrades, bohemians, good people- a valuable part of the community. One wouldn’t necessarily get that from the portrayals here- and that’s a real shame. I think people here can do better.

    American Dream

    October 23, 2021 at 12:54 am

  11. You’re pretty much de!ivhted at having a 4star transgender General in the American military machine? My, oh my.

    Sue r

    October 23, 2021 at 7:53 am

    • Not at all. First I heard of it was from you. I don’t particularly follow transgender issues but I am definitely repelled by prejudice and bigotry. I have nothing good to say about the U.S. Military as institution. The fact though that I simply just walk out my door and am greeted by all kinds of trans people quite unlike the stereotypes fostered here is quite enough to make me want to protest.

      American Dream

      October 23, 2021 at 8:09 am

  12. Dr Rachel Levine was sworn in as an Army 4stR General three days ago. Do you follow the news or just rely on stereotypes to structure your relationship with the world?

    Sue r

    October 23, 2021 at 9:02 am

    • I certainly know who Dr. Rachel Levine is but for entirely different reasons. I follow the daily news but get most of it through left wing sources like Pacifica Radio which apparently didn’t carry this story. You may be more plugged into transgender news than I- it seems very likely.

      I do know my transgender neighbors though and they are quite unlike the caricatures that I regularly see in the transphobic narratives perpetuated here. This is incredibly important to me not only because they are my friends and community members but because I deeply value Justice and fairness.

      American Dream

      October 23, 2021 at 9:14 am


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