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International Marxist Tendency Dispute over alleged “harassment, abuse, and violence” in Canadian Fightback and Ted Grant’s views on Homosexuality.

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The International Marxist Tendency (IMT) is one of a number of Trotskyist Internationals. From the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) which claims to be refoundation of Committee for a Workers’ International (1974) to the Liaison Committee for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International (CERCI) Apart from the Fourth International, they are nearly all focused on one parent body.

In the IMT the leading group, excluded from the Labour Party, is Socialist Appeal (SA). SA was founded by Ted Grant, the leader of the Militant Tendency, an historic figure in Trotskyism, known for his briefcases of paper clippings and Trotsky tomes. It broke from the group which created the Socialist Party, whose project, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, is even better known to readers of this Blog. Grant did not believe in the new party, and kept on working within Labour. After Grant’s passing the mantle passed to Alan Woods who has successfully advised the Venezuelan Chavista Revolution and demolished the anti-dialectical Big Bang Theory. The IMT’s French section, Révolution, (who call their journal Socialisme ou Barbarie) is teaching La France insoumise a thing or too. They participated in the “Enorme succès de l’Université marxiste internationale” in July,

There are around 30 sections of the IMT. In Canada they have the name Fightback. In February this year the Spartacists described them as follows, “Among the pseudo-Trotskyist swamp in Quebec and Canada, members of the Fightback group have distinguished themselves as the most ardent supporters of Trudeau’s lockdowns and vociferous opponents of the truckers and protesters.” (Socialist” Fightback: Social-Trudeauites)

Normally this would make the Tendance immediately sympathetic to the group, buy their paper, and perhaps even read it.

Alas, Fightback have become embroiled in an unpleasant dispute which has got progressively worse over the last few weeks and looks set to mark the coming autumn political rentrée.

Why I Left Fightback

Content warning: abuse, sexual assault, transphobia, violence

Jamie Graham

“In early 2018, I joined Fightback/La Riposte Socialiste, the Canadian section of the International Marxist Tendency. I was in my first year of university. I had seen the grief, misery, and exploitation of capitalism firsthand, and I was excited to join an organization of other like-minded people working to overthrow this system and build something better. Unfortunately, my ability to participate in the organization was disrupted by numerous experiences of harassment, abuse, and violence. These experiences on their own would not have necessarily made me resign – I understand that socialist organizations exist within the broader context of capitalism, and that this makes interpersonal harm inevitable to a degree. However, after witnessing the completely inadequate, misogynistic, and careless ways that Fightback’s leadership responds to allegations, I felt that I was unable to continue my involvement in good conscience.

Fightback has replied to the serious charges in the open letter:

Fightback responds to allegations: Lessons for the movement

FIGHTBACK | JUL 22, 2022

Recently, an “open letter” was published online by an ex-member that contains serious allegations against Fightback and the International Marxist Tendency. In it, we are accused of sweeping gendered violence “under the rug”. We are supposedly also complicit in “very real sexual exploitation, victim-blaming, and abuse apologia”. This is absolutely false as we will demonstrate in this statement. We have a zero tolerance policy for abuse or harassment. We insist on investigating every case and when guilt is established we take swift action—and that is what we have done in these instances. 

Towards the end of the response they state,

This is clearly an attempt by postmodern identity politics partisans to destroy the largest Marxist organization in the country. With references to the ISO (who liquidated after covering up a sexual assault case) and the British SWP (who are a shadow of their former selves after protecting one of their leading members who was accused of rape) the open letter attempts to play on people’s emotions to attack our organization. But the facts stand out and people can see that these accusations don’t withstand the slightest scrutiny. Unlike these other organizations we dealt with abuse, and unlike them we have not capitulated to postmodern identity politics.

Many would say this kind of attack on alleged partisans of “postmodern [remember that one, back in the 1990s?] identity politics” does not help. Not being in any position to comment on the details of the cases we refer people to the articles above and to this.

Of wider interest is the following:

A political attack

“The political nature of these criticisms is obvious in the letter written by an ex-member, where the only individuals who are named are political leaders of the IMT: Alex Grant, Ted Grant and Alan Woods. Curiously, the names of the abusers are absent. People must ask themselves: why is this? If the purpose of the letter is to deal with abuse and protect people, wouldn’t the abusers themselves be named, and not the IMT’s political figures (one of whom is now deceased)?

At the beginning of the letter, it is claimed that in our recruitment meetings we ask people “if they agree with the organization’s stance against ‘call-out culture’.” This is not something that we raise in recruitment meetings so we can only assume that what the author really means is our staunch opposition to identity politics, which we do discuss with every new recruit in depth. Starting with this, the letter weaves a story, connecting facts, half-truths and outright falsehoods to portray a completely false picture of our organization and our politics. “

The final crescendo is a whole slew of baseless political critiques of the IMT. It is claimed that Ted Grant, the main theoretical founder of the IMT, was of the opinion that homosexuality would disappear under socialism. But the links provided do not provide one ounce (Translation, roughly 28 grams) of evidence to back up this claim. The letter quotes Alan Woods, who was criticizing the abandonment of a class position by the SWP in the 1960s, and tries to claim that therefore the IMT does not fight against oppression in all of its forms. The dishonesty of this is clear for all to see and anyone who follows our website and participates in our activities on the ground will know that this is completely false

This is what she said,

Militant under Ted Grant, the IMT’s organizational and ideological predecessor, believed homosexuality was a capitalist aberration that would “disappear” under socialism and fought against programs aimed to combat racial discrimination while it held power in Liverpool (more sources herehere and here). The organization has rebranded as simply holding “principled criticisms” of “liberal identity politics”, and now opportunistically attempts to recruit young activists mobilized by struggles against racism, colonialism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, but the chauvinism at its core remains the same. 

This is one of Graham’s principal sources:

 The best that the Militant/CWI/Socialist Party can say is that no-one can prove anything because they never wrote it down. Prominent members like Ted Grant did openly say that homosexuality was a capitalist deviation which would “disappear” under socialism, but the Militant never actually stated this in their party literature. That doesn’t mean many didn’t think it. When Grant & Co split from the Militant, their members got to retrospectively claim that all the homophobia was his fault and they had always loved the gays. Countless testimonies from former Militant members and those who encountered them tell a different story. The lack of evidence of the existence of a “party line” on homosexuality is frankly bizarre in an organisation like the Militant, which had a position on everything.  If a position didn’t exist, it would be reasonable to ask why not.  It certainly leads people to the conclusion that none of those groups really took LGBT rights at all seriously.

EQUALITY IS GAY: A HOMOPHOBIC HISTORY OF THE LEFT.

Juan Mac.

Fightback continues:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 1, 2022 at 4:35 pm

Latest Gender Wars Reach the Labour Party.

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Over the last few days the disputes about Gender have come back to the fore. These include the fallout from the closure of the Tavistock gender identity clinic and the transfer to early adopter hubs in London and Manchester (with others planned) , the continuing controversy about the impact of Stonewall’s line on gender identity, and some unpleasant right-wing protests against Drag Queen Story Hour for school children.

First reactions, the fact that the rows are dominated by the likes of the Spectator, the Mail, their sister web site, Spiked, Julie Bindel (who writes for the far right Mail these days), not to mention the LBG campaign (described as “a conservative hate group”), make one wish to brush the whole lot aside. And the Patriotic Alternative are extreme right, full stop.

That is to ignore them. We can be good ignoring, like – the unreadable – contrary attempts to synthesise ‘Marxism’ with Georges Bataille, in Transgender Marxism, Jules Joanne GleesonElle O’Rourke.

We are very happy to be publishing this extract from the introduction of Transgender Marxism, published by Pluto Press.

Transgender Marxism focuses wilfully on that which others might dismiss as vulgar, inappropriate, besides-the-political. It aims to provide a materialist account of the distinctive conditions of lack in which we find ourselves, and to help us wriggle free through unlikely means.

“Meanwhile, brought back to the subterranean action of economic facts, the ‘old-mole’ revolution hollows out chambers in a decomposed soil repugnant to the delicate nose of the utopians.‘Old mole’, Marx’s resounding expression for the complete satisfaction of the revolutionary outburst of the masses, must be understood in relation to the notion of a geological uprising as expressed in the Communist Manifesto. Marx’s point of departure has nothing to do with the heavens, preferred station of the imperialist eagle as of Christian or revolutionary utopias. He begins with the bowels of the earth, as in the materialist bowels of proletarians.”

Following the mole’s tracks, Transgender Marxism unearths the base needs of trans proles and brings them above ground, into clearer view.

Much work remains to be done expanding the earthy, intestinal visions of Marx and his successors outwards, moving from the bowels towards the glands and receptors that make up our endocrine system. Transition, too, must come to be understood by revolutionaries as a response to its own form of hunger. The longings that drive so many to reforge lives for ourselves that leave us thoroughly proletarianised, or cast out, rendered surplus. Those cravings and cavings-in that clinicians have long attempted to desiccate under the catch-all term ‘dysphoria’.

I note simply – having read Bataille and have some of his books on the shelves – that “the notion of “excess” energy is central to Bataille’s thinking. Bataille’s inquiry takes the superabundance of energy, beginning from the infinite outpouring of solar energy or the surpluses produced by life’s basic chemical reactions, as the norm for organisms. In other words, an organism in Bataille’s general economy, unlike the rational actors of classical economy who are motivated by scarcity, normally has an “excess” of energy available to it.”

This is about as materialist and Marxist as Henri Bergson’s élan vital (vital force). As a concept wedded to “base materialism” and transgression it is so far from historically or socially explaining gender, or gender fluidity, not to mention patriarchy, and why there is such a thing as feminism, that it is hard to take seriously. This is a view this Bog has expressed before, and we refer to the ever helpful Google to find critiques to bear this out.

But: first there is this, in the liberal left of centre Observer today:

Don’t buy the Stonewall line on gender identity? Fine. You can’t be sacked for that now

Sonia Sodha

“You might think the last place to harbour unlawful discrimination would be a barristers’ chambers that prides itself on “defending human rights and upholding the rule of law”. But the employment tribunal last week found that Garden Court Chambers discriminated against and victimised its tenant Allison Bailey on account of her “gender critical” beliefs.”

Apart from discussing the Allison Bailey case Sodha raises serious issues about Stonewall.

But by far the worst example has been in children’s healthcare. Gender ideology posits the view that when children express discomfort about their sexed bodies, this must be understood as an indicator of a fixed trans identity that should be immediately affirmed as the basis of any clinical treatment for gender dysphoria. Stonewall claims that children as young as two can have trans identities, which, given they can barely speak, is revealing of the extent to which adult identity politics is being imposed on children who do not conform to regressive gender stereotypes.

Non followers of Twitter may not know that the reference to children is from this:

In this context it is hard not to agree with this protest against the Labour Party decision not to allow a gender critical stall at the annual conference:

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2022 at 3:39 pm

The Culture Wars, the Left, and the Tory Leadership Contest.

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It’s a blessing in recent weeks that the Tories have emerged as the party of diversity. Harris Bokhar in the Evening Standard said as the battle began, “The Tories have left Labour in the dust on diversity.” “Johnson’s replacement will be elected from a shortlist of Conservative MPs, half of which are from ethnic minority backgrounds. The list includes a former refugee in Nadhim Zahawi, as well as other children of immigrants. There is a rich diversity of faith, with Rishi Sunak a practising Hindu, Suella Braverman a devout Buddhist, Tom Tugendhat who describes himself as “Jew-ish”. There are also four women running, including the first black female candidate in Kemi Badenoch. We could very well see our third Conservative female leader.”

The Atlantic’s Yasmeen Serhan gives its more recent across-the-shore blessing, “Of those originally in contention, half were of ethnic-minority backgrounds and half were women. Until today’s initial selection, Britain could have had in Rishi Sunak or Suella Braverman its first Asian prime minister, in Kemi Badenoch its first Black prime minister, or in Nadhim Zahawi its first Kurdish and Muslim prime minister. (Zahawi has been eliminated, but Sunak, Braverman, and Badenoch remain in a field of six hoping to advance to the final stage of voting, slated for September 5.)” (Britain’s Surprisingly Diverse Tories)

Is this just a refit of custom and practice: the incorporation of new ambition and money into the British ruling class? It’s not exactly Schumpeter’s picture of the rise of innovative risk-taking new elements into an expanding class voice for the bourgeoisie and its electoral allies. Yet, for some, it is fairly good evidence that however much Boris Johnson may have both parodied and embodied the figure of the aristocratic ancien régime, the most ancient Conservative Party in the world is also a body that can complete its latest bourgeois revolution with a dose of equal opportunity for capitalist politicians. For others, no doubt, it is proof that “techno-capitalist-feudalism” has now extended its work to control even the life of diversity politics. Many will simply point to the lot of them as a crew of thieving chancers (Just How Rich Are the Tory Leadership Candidates? Time for a wallet inspection. Novara Reporters).

One thing it is clearly not is, post-Johnson, further ” post-imperial entropy” as the Tory election looks pretty vigorously ordered, and on the up, to most of us. But be warned, the South Islington Seer Tariq Ali says, “An election looms, probably within the next year. The Tories will be punished for this electorally, which is well deserved; but otherwise Johnson’s departure offers nothing much for the left to celebrate, since Starmer stands for virtually the same policies, not least being as gung-ho for war on Russia, China or anywhere else.” (Adieu Boris, Adieu). Ali’s second childhood leftist disorder besides, his clairvoyant record includes the confident prediction that Russia would not invade Ukraine. He’s got us worried about the ballot result already.

The enchantment of seeing Conservatives as the movement of sexual (and who can forget that aspect), ethnic and gender (with a fight, or rather a skit, over trans-rights in the party) intersectional struggles has its limits, but at least this will shut up people banging on about the virtues of people’s identities. There are those who will undoubtably still find something to say something: that (from one side) these politicians’ backgrounds are no longer “real” since they entered Westminster, or from another streak of identity politics, were never real, at least compared with rooted real people, the authentic working class, the Authentocrats of the Red Wall.

The Spikey ones are over the Moon about the Conservative contest, “earlier this week, many on the British left were attempting to make capital over the supposed implausibility of the Conservatives electing a ‘leader of colour’, and the sad delusion of the brown and black MPs who still think they have a chance. But I think the Tory leadership race has offered subtle but persuasive evidence that the British alternative to bloody revolutions continues to work its quiet magic.” writes Simon Evans. He turns boosterish, giving hope to very right-wing people of all backgrounds and hues, “an extraordinary equalisation of opportunity and realisation of ability had been achieved, peacefully and by a process of incremental changes in attitude, that men and women of any colour could now simply rise to become senior members of a Tory government, by hard work and talent alone?”

Sniffs and snuffles at this crassness aside, the prospect of having to hear and see this lot is enough to make you watch Space: 1999 Seeds of Destruction. “Koenig is trapped in a crystalline asteroid cave, where his double emerges and returns to Moonbase Alpha.” on Legend (the renamed Horror Channel) tonight rather than than this, running on Channel Four at the same time (and long enough to go on right up to a repeat of the Original Startrek series): Krishnan Guru-Murthy hosts the first live televised debate, with all of the candidates still in the running for the top job facing questions from a studio audience.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 15, 2022 at 5:02 pm