I don't think I'm one of them either. I'm one of mine.

Category: Far-Right Movements (Page 1 of 3)

Conversion therapy is bullshit

(These are old memories, once thought to be lost, but they’re back again. Trauma tends to do that to people.)

I’m a survivor of conversion therapy.

No, I wasn’t diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, but I did have a childhood diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), otherwise known as atypical autism. And it was the PDD-NOS diagnosis that my family used to suppress anything that was “abnormal,” including my gender dysphoria. They used Applied Behavioural Analysis, which uses operant conditioning (aka, the methods used in dog training) to get people to conform to a particular behaviour pattern. If I did anything that was “for boys,” I’d be punished with an aversive stimulus, like having water sprayed in my face or forcing my hands to touch glue. (I’m transmasculine.) The goal was to get me to act traditionally feminine, even though I’d been androgynous or masculine before then. I’d never really liked dolls or anything like that before ABA. But after that, I was showered with doll after doll after doll on Christmas and birthdays. I did end up liking dolls after a while, but they were mostly characters for me to enact stories with, not a thing to enjoy in themselves. (I kept getting into trouble for giving them weird haircuts and drawing tattoos on them anyway.) If it wasn’t normative, if it wasn’t prissy, if it wasn’t cutesy, it had to be stamped out.

Everything was treated like a symptom, and therefore invalid and in need of cure. Of course, every single bit of the conversion therapy washed out. I was still masculine. I still preferred to play with other boys, since girls were socialised to be dainty and refuse to blow things up or get dirty. I still preferred to run out and play in the mud instead of have tea parties. When Mattel came out with Flying Hero Barbie, I was disappointed that she was rescuing cats from trees instead of beating up supervillains. (Not long before that, I’d drafted a letter to Mattel asking to create a superhero Barbie who defeated gun-toting evildoers. My mom confiscated it for her own amusement.) And whenever I imitated voices on TV, they were virtually always those of deep-voiced men. Of course, tomboys exist, but I wasn’t a tomboy. When I was much younger, I could tell that I wanted to be like the deep-voiced, flat-chested adults who were called “he.” Everything else matched that.

But nobody affirmed my gender identity and expression, and the only thing that changed when the conversion therapy wore off and I came out at 20 was that they were blaming Satan instead of autism, thanks to years of right-wing evangelical radicalisation. Regardless of whether it was Satan or autism, they saw it as a matter of behaviour that could be changed, not something integral to me and who I was. (Anti-gay conversion therapists think the same way. Virtually all sexists see gender nonconformity as correctable behaviour, not anything connected with a true self.)

I wasn’t even a person to them, just a flesh robot to be programmed. That’s what happens when you have a weird kid and want them to look normal and be compliant instead of wanting them to be happy. This is what happens when J.K. Rowling is connecting autism with trans self-discovery among youth. Leelah Alcorn’s suicide is what happens when you refuse to acknowledge who a trans youth is. And it’s what’s happening when Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene make trans youth a political football in the run-up to this year’s elections.

But there is a word for parents who don’t care about their child’s happiness. And that word is “abuser.”

Conversion therapy is abuse.

 

Russia’s not the only source of anti-queer moral panics

… as anyone who’s watching US news closely should know. A Florida state rep recently filed a bill that could target LGBTQ+ content as “grooming,” reminding one of Russia’s various “gay propaganda” bills filed over the past ten years or so. This isn’t to let Russia off the hook, of course, but this is a worldwide problem led by coordinated “anti-gender” actors, mostly extreme-right politicians (e.g., Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán) and conservative Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Christian groups, as well as their useful idiots: TERFs and members of centre-right parties like the British Conservatives. The anti-gender movement’s role is to enshrine rigid gender roles by pushing anti-LGBTQ+ policies, banning abortion, and encouraging women to stay home and have children.

According to Sonia Corrêa of CREA, a Global South–centric feminist NGO, the Vatican had a huge hand in establishing the anti-gender movement in the 1990s. Corrêa also goes on to say that the anti-gender movement is a reactionary backlash against the increased position of women and gender minorities in various societies. And in modern-day Europe, the biggest financial supporters of anti-gender political activism are European Catholic groups, US right-wing Christian organisations like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Putin regime, and a few Russian oligarchs. The rise of Russian funding seems to be recent, but then again, Russia has redoubled its efforts to destabilise Western countries over the past decade.

TERFs are being taken for a ride by these fundamentalist nutjobs, but I don’t feel sympathy for any movement that is focused on restricting others’ rights. Also, the reactionaries behind the anti-gender movement know damn well what they’re doing. They want to disenfranchise women. It’s less about trans people on their own and more about their obsession with the patriarchy. TERFs’ “sex-based rights” bullshit is a one-way ticket to depriving women of the vote by claiming that it is men’s “sex-based right” to make political decisions and women’s “sex-based right” to be protected from predatory men by being excluded from the public sphere.

It is not just Russia and it will never be just Russia. Patriarchal oppression must be defeated, both there and everywhere else.

Playground bullies don’t go away; they just support authoritarian politics instead

The bullies in middle school who pick on the poor kids for having unfashionable hand-me-downs don’t go away. The ten-year-olds who mock the gender-non-conforming kids don’t suddenly become enlightened without intervention. The high schoolers who snub the Syrian refugee for not speaking English well enough or knowing all their cultural references will not magically lose their prejudices just by reaching the age of 18, 21 or even 50. The snooty Mean Girls who got away with bullying the weird kids because they earned straight A’s, sucked up to the teacher, and maintained their popularity with the “normal” kids continue to get away with it in the workplace. The 12-year-old who made fun of the disabled kids on the short bus isn’t going to abandon ableism, though he may “reform” and become a behaviour analyst. The kids flinging around racial slurs on the playground may grow up to join Atomwaffen Division or the Rise Above Movement. Grown-up bullies may have learned to stop beating up queer, poor, disabled, immigrant, Black, brown, or otherwise different kids on the playground, but they continue to attack them with their social media posts, votes, and policies.

Time alone will not heal bullies. If their xenophobia, racism, and other prejudices are allowed to fester, they will become abusive parents, vindictive bosses, radicalised crusaders against minorities’ civil rights, or at the worst, totalitarian dictators. People like this are taught to value social conformity over individual or collective well-being—and they will use any method available, including bullying and ostracism, to ensure that anyone who sticks out is punished. If you follow the rules, nothing will happen to you; if you don’t, you’ll pay for it.

Whenever you see a politician, commentator, writer, or random Twitter gadfly rail over and over and over again about some disliked minority, it is time to wonder whether they were a bully in school.

Right-wing politics tends to attract this kind of bully, since the right tends to favour arbitrary social conformity over diversity1. (Yes, regardless of what right-wing commentators say. “Viewpoint diversity” frequently means “I want to get away with opposing pluralism in a pluralistic society,” which isn’t far off from “War is peace.”)

I want to emphasise, though, that your average conservative is not a bully. The problem with your typical right-leaning voter is that their unfamiliarity with or discomfort around minorities or nonconformists (which usually comes from living in homogeneous and highly conformist communities) makes them easy pickings for reactionary leaders who turn discomfort and unfamiliarity into hate. These Trump or Putin voters’ primary goal is not to inflict harm on anyone else, but they are afraid of what their bullying leaders may do to them if they dare step out of line. These are the archetypal authoritarian followers. They want to be loved by the Mean Girls—they’re too normal to be terrorised by them, but they don’t have the charisma to join the clique. They’re more scared than scary. I used to be this flavour of conservative as a teenager, and the conservatives I currently know are like this as well.

The right-wing authoritarian followers to fear are the petty bullies, the office tyrants, the social media trolls who go out of their way to bully awkward autistic trans women who are just coming into themselves, the people who kick and piss on homeless Latino immigrants in Boston and use Trump as a motivator. They are the police officers who wantonly shoot Black people who are just minding their own business. They are the ones who record their autistic kids having meltdowns and post the entire affair on YouTube to shame them into not having any more embarrassing meltdowns. They are the parents who kill their disabled children, citing how burdensome they are. It is those people, the ones who have made social conformity into a fetish and have lost their ability to see the Other as a person, who are the ones who will enthusiastically follow the next Hitler or Mussolini off a cliff. And these are the people I fear the most, even more than the Hitlers and Mussolinis themselves. Hitler cannot be Hitler if there is no throng of eager Nazis to march behind him.

Are there left-wing bullies and jerks? Of course. Are there Black, Brown, gay, trans, disabled bullies? Absolutely. We’re all human, and unfortunately, some human beings are assholes, no matter what they fill out on a census form. I am the last person to claim that because someone is marginalised, he cannot be a bully or harasser. But authoritarian leftism has comparatively little draw in North America or Europe compared with its right-wing counterpart, and the stories the authoritarian left tells are different.

Hitler and Mussolini tell you that the dominant culture should stay dominant, and anyone who doesn’t fit should be exterminated or severely marginalised. Stalin and Kim Il Sung, on the other hand, tell you that marginalised people will be liberated from colonial or royal oppression, that the outcasts will now gain control. But instead, they set up a new authoritarian dictatorship instead, just with new guys on top. The school analogues for left authoritarians are the autistic-adjacent geeks who got made fun of in school, go into Big Tech, and start becoming bullying assholes themselves. (I have known autistic people like this, mostly young white guys. They are deeply unpleasant and a pain in the ass in disability activism.) They are more sympathetic than the Mean Girls, but they are still repugnant and unworthy of support.

To sum it up: Right-wing authoritarians favour the current hierarchy. Left-wing authoritarians want to get rid of it and bring in a new hierarchy instead. Neither is particularly concerned about social justice, human rights, or basic decency.

  1. (as opposed to the good kind of conformity, like “don’t be a sociopathic asshole”)

Bullet-point thoughts too short for independent posts

… really, these could just be shitposts, but they’re too serious for that, so I’m combining them into a convenient bullet-pointed list.

  • Russia and Ukraine are both using cultural and ethnic minorities as scapegoats to keep the public in line. The Russians are notorious for systematically targeting LGBTQ+ people as a symbol of “Western decadence” and “extremism.” They’re also a convenient sacrificial lamb for the ultraconservative, rural Orthodox Christian voters that Putin depends on. The Ukrainians, meanwhile, are doing the same with ethnic Russians, as well as Russian-speaking Ukrainians and socialists who are critical of the government. Although some of these opponents are pro-Russian, not all are. To keep the support of the hardline nationalists, especially in the West, the central government will happily sacrifice these “superfluous Ukrainians.” I expect this from Russia, since its human-rights record has been spotty for a long time, but Ukraine’s actions disappoint me more because I expected better from a country that aspires to be more democratic than its former ruler. Being of Russian descent, speaking Russian, or preferring socialism over capitalism is not the same thing as supporting the Putin regime. (See also my comments about the Ukraine War being Russia’s proxy war against the West, and the own-goals by Ukraine and Russia.)
  • People who support terrorists are assholes? Who would’ve thought? I hate to say this, but I have seen more empathy and compassion from progressive Zionists than anti-Zionists or hardline Netanyahu supporters. Every day I continue to be dumbfounded at how cruel, vengeful and inhumane some anti-Zionists can be. I can’t side with anyone who’s being that cruel and vindictive. Not in an anodyne “why don’t we all just get along when the Israeli government is doing monstrous things” way, but the idea that it is morally acceptable to kill civilians or take hostages for being “settlers.” I know there are several anti-Zionisms, but I am talking about the people who support or do nothing but make apologies for Hamas. I shouldn’t expect humane behaviour or decency from anyone who actively supports a terrorist organisation. I have said this before and I will say it again: this isn’t Nelson Mandela. Mandela wanted to make a South Africa for everyone. His goal was not to kill everyone in sight and kick out non-Black South Africans. Hamas’s goal is to eliminate and destroy, not merely to liberate.
  • Western countries should drop sanctions against Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Not because anyone should approve of these countries’ practices (I certainly don’t, which is obvious to anyone who’s read this blog), but because the main people who suffer from these sanctions are ordinary Russians, North Koreans, and Iranians, not their leadership or oligarchs. Russia has enough global influence (and oil) to make up for the revenue lost from sanctions. The South African sanctions worked, but that’s probably because South Africa had historical ties to the West. American and British pressure worked. There’s no love lost between Iran/North Korea and the West, and the relationship between Russia and the West has been adversarial since at least 2014, after the Obama administration’s “Russian reset.”
  • Many Marxists can be reductive and dismissive about any relationship of dominance and oppression that isn’t economic, but their universalism is refreshing in a polarised society. I’d like to see a communism that keeps some of Marx’s ideas but makes them more expansive, easier to understand and responsive to today’s modern needs.
  • There’s a difference between being a supporter of human rights and being an identitarian woke-scold. In the first case, you acknowledge systemic oppression and want to rectify it. You do this by implementing policies that allow the historically oppressed group to be a full member of their society. It’s about including everyone, not acting at someone else’s expense. Identitarians, on the other hand, use real grievances to justify an eye-for-an-eye, dog-eat-dog, hyphenated-thing-to-reflect-violent-actions morality. Gandhi never said, “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind,” but it fits all the same. Social equity is not a zero-sum game. (This kind of violent “morality” is an own-goal by social justice activists… and I think that will be my next full post.)
  • FUCK HAMAS, FUCK PUTIN, FUCK ZELENSKY, FUCK NETANYAHU. (I couldn’t resist.)

On throwaway politics

The world has seen an epidemic of throwaway politics over the past decade or so. What do I mean by “throwaway politics”? Throwaway politics is the practice of treating entire demographics as expendable, useless, superfluous. Throwaway people are second-class citizens, Others, subalterns. They are often ethnic, racial, religious, gender, or sexual minorities, but not always—for example, Black South Africans were throwaway majorities under apartheid.

Politicians and constituents who adopt throwaway politics are usually on the right, but the right doesn’t have a monopoly on the practice—consider left-wing Hamas supporters’ callous attitude towards Jews, or certain left-wing politicians, such as Sahra Wagenknecht, who vilify migrants to outflank their right-wing counterparts.

The demographic characteristics of throwaway residents may vary, but the underlying dynamics are the same: there are some people who are less equal than others. In Europe and European-influenced countries, typical throwaway people are often Muslims, immigrants from the “wrong” countries, refugees from the Middle East (who are typically Muslims), LGBTQ+ people, and occasionally Jews.

Once you’re a throwaway, nobody cares about your rights. You’re not worth listening to. You may as well not even exist. You are no longer deserving of empathy or consideration.

We know where this leads: the events of 1933–1945. Hitler’s primary target was Jewish people, but Jews were not the only throwaway Germans. Disabled people, dubbed “ballast existences,” were targeted through the Nazis’ Aktion T-4. So were the Roma. The Nazis didn’t care much for Russians, either. Queer and trans people were also fodder for Hitler’s hate machine.

Why the hell are exclusivist ideologies, or the remnants of exclusivist ideologies, given any credence in supposedly inclusive (most Western democracies) or anti-fascist (Russia) societies? We know where this can go. It’s not as though we’re in 1920 and had no record of an industrial-scale genocide. Hitler’s Germany is still in living memory. Why are TERFs’ arguments taken seriously, especially when their “sex-based rights” model is a few steps away from Kinder, Küche, Kirche? Why is the Russian government endlessly pursuing LGBTQ+ people and claiming to be “anti-fascist” when their attitudes towards the community are little different from those expressed by the Nazis? Why are Christian fundamentalists, whether American Protestant or Russian Orthodox, treated as a legitimate political constituency when the same liberal or progressive politicians see right through their Islamist counterparts? Why do American police officers disproportionately target Black people with violence? Why are US presidents calling neo-Nazis “very fine people” and calling for the “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”? Why is the new, modern, liberal, European government in Kiev treating ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers as fifth-column traitors, in a shadow of what the US government did and has done to Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11 and now the Hamas attacks? Why is the Israeli government bombing Gaza instead of trying to live alongside the Palestinians? And why are supposedly “woke,” enlightened people claiming that every Israeli Jew is a throwaway person blocking Palestinians from their freedom?

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A queer antinationalist on Ukraine and Russia

I am queer. I am also a vehement antinationalist. These facts make it impossible for me to offer ideological support to either Moscow or Kiev.

Let’s start with the obvious one: the Putin regime. Russia has heightened its repression of LGBTQ+ people, including a new Supreme Court ruling that effectively outlaws pro-queer activism as “extremist.” LGBTQ+ activists face the risk of fines and imprisonment up to 12 years. Putin has already used these tactics against dissidents like Boris Kagarlitsky, Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza. Putin’s Russia tries to contrast itself with the “decadent” West with its persecution of LGBTQ+ people, even though our right-wing politicians hold views that are just as bad as Putin’s. Like western conservatives, Putin weaponises religion—in this case, the Eastern Orthodox Church, rather than evangelical Protestant denominations or the Roman Catholic Church—to impose an authoritarian social agenda. And I could go on about Russia’s other reactionary, repressive policies and laws, but there’s already ample coverage in CNN, the New York Times, NBC, The Guardian, etc.

Ukraine, for its part, is aggressively pursuing an ethnonationalist agenda that conflates Russian ethnicity and language with Putin’s vile regime. Even soldiers in the far-right, extreme nationalist Azov Battalion have been attacked for speaking Russian, primarily by the now-fired Lviv Polytechnic professor Iryna Farion, who used to be a member of the Nazi-adjacent Svoboda party (link in Russian). Nationalism has infected even otherwise progressive circles in Ukraine: according to the Kharkov-based anarchist group Assembly (link in Italian and English; English is on the bottom), many feminist and LGBTQ+ activists are closely tied with Ukraine’s nationalist movement. Instead of uniting the entirety of the Ukrainian people against the Russian state, the Ukrainian government and many of its supporters have chosen instead to create even more divisions. As I’ve said before, Kiev’s own-goals push people towards supporting Russia, even though it’s unlikely they’ll get any more freedom there than they do in Ukraine.

The situation is undoubtedly worse for people who find themselves ostracised from both sides—for example, I can’t even imagine what it feels like to be a queer leftist in occupied Eastern Ukraine (especially one who primarily speaks Russian) who runs the risk of being persecuted by Kiev or the Russian occupiers. Or for pro-Ukraine (or merely anti-war) Russians who want to leave the country: many of Russia’s European neighbours have closed the border; Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Poles distrust Russians, regardless of their support of Putin; and Putin’s dictatorial rule has made it impossible for them to stay home in Russia with the people they love the most. They’re being told that there is something inherently evil inside them for being from Russia, and they’re also being told that there’s something inherently wrong with them for opposing the Russian regime.

I can’t support either position. Both Russia’s anti-LGBTQ+ repression and Ukraine’s ethnonationalism are incompatible with a functioning pluralist society. They imply that if you’re not an ethnic Ukrainian who speaks Ukrainian, you’re not a real Ukrainian, or that if you’re gay or bi or trans, you’re not a real Russian. If you’re not a nationalist, you’re not a real feminist. If you’re a leftist, you’re not a good Ukrainian. If you’re a liberal or progressive, you’re not a good Russian.

And once you’re no longer seen as a real member of your society, you’re open to persecution, since civil rights and liberties are reserved only for real people, not superfluous ones.

I don’t know what the right answer is, either to put a stop to Russia’s increasing repression or Ukraine’s nationalist obsessions. I don’t think anybody does, no matter how many thinkpieces are written, no matter how many declarations are made on TV, no matter how much people rant and rave on Telegram and Reddit and Twitter.

What I do know is that people are suffering, dying and praying for a better chance for themselves, their families, their friends and their communities. And neither Russia’s sexist repression nor Ukraine’s reactionary ethnic nationalism will bring their people the peace they so desperately deserve. You don’t want real liberation or justice if your goal is to make a new group of second-class citizens.

You can capitalise “Nazi,” but not “Russian”?

A Ukrainian fact-checking website has failed to notice that writing “Nazi” with a capital N, but using a lowercase R for “Russian,” makes them look as though they have more respect for the Nazis than the Russians. Considering Ukraine’s track record with Nazis and Nazi collaborators (Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych, Symon Petliura…) and their apologists (especially Volodymyr Viatrovych), and the Russians’ false claims that Ukraine is a “Nazi regime,” this is an especially bad look. It’s the kind of thing Russian propagandists would seize on: “Look, those Ukrainians love Nazis so much that they lowercase ‘Russian’ and capitalise ‘Nazi’!”

But this case isn’t unique; it’s part of a pattern of petty and juvenile behaviour from certain Ukraine supporters. I’ve seen one Ukrainian software company get rid of the Russian localisation of its app and replace it with a Ukrainian one. Before that, they had only Russian and not Ukrainian. Why not both? Russian is spoken in multiple countries—why punish other Russian-speakers because Putin is a shithead?

And some Ukrainian news sites will write “Russia,” “Putin,” “Belarus,” “Russian,” and other words connected with Russia (and sometimes Belarus) with lowercase letters, which sounds as though a twelve-year-old dreamed it up. I also saw one quoting someone using “Kiev” (rather than the government-approved “Kyiv”) and writing it with a lowercase K… presumably because it’s “russian.” Even Russian propaganda doesn’t lowercase “Ukraine.” (They just refer to it as the “Kiev regime,” the “Nazi Ukrainian regime,” or “the Zelensky regime” in every other article.)

Most Ukrainians or overseas supporters do not do this, but there are enough of these people to piss me off. I don’t remember the Allies writing “Hitler,” “Himmler,” “Japan,” “Germany,” “Italy,” “Mussolini,” “Tokyo,” and “Nazi Party” with lowercase letters. I saw people writing “Trump” with a lowercase T on forums and social media, but no news site or paper, no matter how left-wing they were, would print “trump” instead of “Trump.” I’m fine with the flags and “Support Ukraine” fundraisers. But this crap?

My horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse…

…I mean, a left movement that manages to avoid the following things:

  • Praising Hamas or other theocratic terrorist organisations (eg, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah)
  • Writing in a way that’s inaccessible to the people they claim to stand for (usually the working class, and sometimes disabled people if it’s disability-studies scholars who sound no different from their non-disabled counterparts in all the worst ways)
  • Politicising identity to the point that people turn into two-dimensional “oppressor” and “oppressed” classes (usually based on ethnicity, race, or gender) without nuance or distinction
  • Thinking that YELLING LOUDLY WITHOUT CLARIFYING YOUR POSITION is a GOOD WAY TO MAKE A POINT IN AN ARGUMENT. Extra points if you use the clapping 👏 hand 👏 emoji 👏 or repeat your sentence three times, first time in regular type, then italicised, then boldfaced
  • Promoting ideas that are impossible to implement on a large scale unless there’s a transitional period between the current and ideal states
  • Claiming that state propaganda organs like RT (Russia), Sputnik (Russia), TASS (Russia), the Korean Central News Agency (North Korea), Xinhua (China), Press TV (Iran), Global Times (China), TeleSUR (Venezuela), Prensa Latina (Cuba), Al Mayadeen (Lebanon), or Orinoco Tribune (Venezuela) are real “anti-imperialist news”
  • In contrast, relying solely or primarily on Western state media like Radio Liberty/Radio Free Asia (USA), BBC (UK), Deutsche Welle (Germany), or France 24, though this is more of a centre-left phenomenon. Although these sources are much more reliable than their Russian, Chinese, or Iranian equivalents, they tend to gloss over the faults of pro-Western regimes like Ukraine, South Korea, Japan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia
  • Using only pro-government sources (there are sites that criticise the government without defending Russia) about the Ukrainian conflict, including Kyiv Independent, Kyiv Post, Ukraine Crisis Media Centre, Euromaidan Press, and Ukrainska Pravda. Ukrainian propaganda is less likely to make shit up than Russian propaganda, but it often treats Kiev’s repression and ethnocentric nationalism as a good thing
  • Using conspiracy-theory-laden websites like The Greyzone, MintPress News, Donbass Insider, and Moon of Alabama as reliable sources about China, Russia, or Syria
  • Spreading conspiracy theories in the name of “anti-imperialism,” including debunked claims about Syria’s gas killings and Ukraine’s purported biolabs
  • Treating activism like the Oppression Olympics, even though that’s a game nobody actually wants to win
  • Creating new political parties instead of trying to push existing ones further to the left (yes, I’m kind of an entryist; deal with it)
  • Related to the last point, running presidential or other candidates that have no chance of winning—why run anyone for office if you know damn well that a candidate from the People’s Socialist Party of Freedom, Equality and Liberation has zero chance of winning against the Democrat or Republican (or mainstream equivalents in other countries, like the Tories and Labour in the UK, or the German Christian Democrats and Social Democrats)
  • Refusing to build coalitions across the left because purity politics makes it impossible, thereby allowing the right to split us up and indirectly help leaders like Donald Trump, Geert Wilders and Jair Bolsonaro come to power
  • Expressing essentialist ideas about genders, races or cultures (“Russian culture exists to oppress Ukrainians,” “Indigenous Americans are noble sages,” “men are all rapists,” “‘real’ women are delicate flowers who need ‘sex-based rights’ to protect them from evil trans women”)
  • Calling anyone who disagrees with them “reactionary” or “pseudo-left” (Trotskyists do this a lot)
  • Focusing more on style than substance (“trans women” versus “transwoman”, #KyivNotKiev)
  • Venerating past and present tyrannical dictators like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, “respected comrade” Kim Jong Un and the rest of his family, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin (who isn’t even a leftist, much less a communist), Xi Jinping, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, Daniel Ortega, ad nauseam
  • Focusing on foreign policy to the exclusion of domestic policy
  • Focusing on domestic policy to the exclusion of foreign policy
  • Treating Volodymyr Zelensky (and by extension the bumbling Ukrainian central government) as though the were the second coming of Winston Churchill
  • Throwing around jargon like “anti-imperialist,” “settler colonial,” “decolonise,” “bourgeois,” “proletarian,” “imperialist,” “neoliberal,” and “geopolitical economy” without being clear about what they mean
  • Reducing all relationships of dominance and oppression to the control of the means of production or the lack thereof (which is silly, since racism, all sexisms and xenophobia can occur under any economic system, including socialism)
  • Supporting right-wing authoritarian states because they’re opposed to US policy (mostly Russia and Iran)
  • Supporting authoritarian communist or socialist states because they’re opposed to US policy (mostly China, North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Syria)
  • Treating politics like a sports game
  • Spouting ableist views—including fat-shaming—because their concept of class or identity organising completely ignores the idea that disability is political
  • Treating the writings of Marx and Engels (or sometimes Lenin, Stalin, and Mao) as holy writ
  • Siding with anti-Western states because they’re “anti-imperialist” (as though China and Russia weren’t expansionist empires, which is the analogue of Japanese, Ukrainian or Taiwanese boosting of Western imperialisms because they’re against China and Russia)
  • Supporting reactionary, xenophobic movements like Brexit (a common view among some British communists, as well as the perennial candidate and professional fruitcake and anti-vaxxer Jill Stein) because they’re against the EU’s neoliberalism
  • Dismissing reports of sexual abuse because they’re a “distraction” from the class struggle
  • Denying genocidal actions of anti-US regimes (China in particular)
  • Claiming that their movement, whether Trotskyism, orthodox Marxism–Leninism, anarchism, or any other tendency, is the only way to solve society’s problems
  • Uncritically defending Ukraine or other pro-Western countries with deeply problematic policies (more common in North American and Western European mainstream media, though views like this sometimes appear among social democrats and other more moderate leftists)
  • Dismissing, defending or promoting racism, misogyny, homophobia or transphobia on the grounds that feminism, pro-LGBTQ activism and antiracism distract from the class struggle
  • Constantly putting political one-upmanship over the real lives, concerns and feelings of actual human beings

Unfortunately, this seems impossible to find, at least for now. I know I can’t agree with everything I find, but the lacuna between my views and theirs is staggering. (But mainstream centre-left politics leaves me unsatisfied, too, and anything on the right is obviously out of the question.)

I am sick to death…

… of having support for Hamas or Israel shoved down my throat. Fuck them both. I care about Israeli and Palestinian civilians, but I don’t particularly care whether Israel or Hamas wins. Both sides want to commit genocide against each other. I value Israelis and Palestinians equally, as everyone should. (Zionists and anti-Zionists don’t seem to agree with me, though.) I’m not going to pick Far-Right Racist Group A over Far-Right Racist Group B just because Far-Right Racist Group A has less power right now. I’m not going to call an indigenous population “settler colonialists,” as though we were dealing with Christopher Columbus. Both Jews and Arabs have the right to live in Israel/Palestine, but Zionists and anti-Zionists cannot get that through their thick fucking skulls. Jews were EXPELLED from Palestine by antisemitic Christian and Muslim governments. Don’t fucking tell me that it’s the same as the British colonising India or something.

But I’m not going to excuse the Jewish-supremacist, far-right Netanyahu government’s genocidal behaviour against the people of Gaza because of Jews’ suffering in the Holocaust. Jews are indigenous to Palestine. They aren’t just a bunch of random white settlers and I want to fucking strangle anyone who tries to push that narrative on me. But being indigenous doesn’t let you off for being shitty to your neighbours. Arabs have a right to live freely and have equal rights. No more apartheid, no more segregation. They have every right to rebel, but Hamas is not the flag to rally around. Jews have every fucking right to be afraid of pogroms led by an Islamist terrorist group, apartheid regime notwithstanding. (I’ve said this before, but Hamas isn’t Nelson Mandela. Stop trying to whitewash this national-chauvinist terrorist group just because they want to free themselves from Israeli occupation. Are you going to call Al-Qaeda freedom fighters for challenging American imperialism by flying a plane into the fucking Twin Towers next? Are ISIS now freedom fighters because they’re a thorn in the side for Western imperialist powers because they want to maintain hegemony over the Middle East—and everywhere else?) Being oppressed doesn’t get you a get-out-of-basic-human-decency card. Claiming otherwise is a recipe for disaster, as we are now witnessing every day in Gaza.

And Zionists and anti-Zionists tend to treat their sides like their favourite sports team. They don’t trivialise deaths on their own side, but they show a remarkable amount of callousness towards the deaths of the other side’s civilians. And if you challenge them, they double down and start shouting about how Palestinians are all a bunch of terrorists or all Israelis are Kosher Nazis. Come the fuck on. People are fucking killing each other, spouting nationalist slogans and swearing they’ll wipe the other side off the map.

As soon as the Middle East is involved, everyone becomes unhinged, I swear.

Fuck Netanyahu. Fuck Hamas. I hope both governments fail and are replaced by something better for everyone living in the area. It feels as the only sane voices about all this are from anarchists and certain communists, who rightly see through the pro-nationalist bullshit that is spewing from both Zionists and anti-Zionists.

(I am infinitely relieved to have this anonymous blog, because I think if I showed certain people, I think they’d shun me because I refuse to be on Team Israel or Palestine. It’s like asking me to choose between arsenic and strychnine.)

Hamas is an oppressive, right-wing, authoritarian government. Leftists need to stop defending it.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again: Hamas is a right-wing, repressive, theocratic, authoritarian, dogmatic, inequitable, terrorist organisation. If it gains control over what is now called Israel, it will be no better than the current Israeli government. Instead of Jewish-supremacist nationalism, it will bring Muslim-supremacist nationalism.

Just two months before Hamas started its attacks, people in Gaza were protesting against Hamas’s mismanagement and repression, as well as Israeli oppression. Hamas responded by beating protesters and clamping down on dissent. Hamas claims to speak for the people of Gaza, but it doesn’t give a shit about their welfare. Gazans are starving, unemployed and struggling to survive, while Hamas leaders are living high off the hog. For example, Hamas’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is a millionaire. The Gazan government has been known to harass and muffle journalists.

What happened in August was a legitimate pro-democracy protest. What Hamas is doing, on the other hand, is terrorism.

Hamas may have a lot of popular support despite its clear failings—but then again, so do Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, despite the wartime political repression occurring in both Russia and Ukraine. Ironically, the defenders of Hamas (as well as leftists who refrain from condemning it) are often those who criticise Kiev for its repression of opposition politicians and journalists, its association with American and NATO imperialism, the promotion of Nazi sympathisers among some ultranationalist politicians and activists, and its disregard for ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Hamas’s repression is worse than Ukraine’s, but because the West is not supporting Hamas, contrarian leftists continue to support it without criticism. Ukraine, at the very least, aspires to be democratic; Hamas does not. This is why, despite my severe misgivings, I have not completely turned against the idea of offering Kiev military aid. Hamas, on the other hand, deserves no support from the left. Nor does the Israeli government.

Instead, leftists must reject both Israeli and Palestinian nationalism, as well as the leaders who promote it. Although Palestinians are clearly the victims of Israeli oppression, it is dangerous to counter eliminiationist nationalism with more of the same thing, this time with a crescent instead of a Star of David. Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian leadership is worthy of our support.

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