THINGS FOR EYES 20/01/2013: Love, the left, hurt and hope

It’s been a humdinger of a fortnight for soul-searching on the left. I’ve spent a lot of time consoling friends on the phone and making tea and writing, and I feel that one good thing that’s come out of all this hurt and wrangling is that in certain communities, bonds have been reaffirmed, we’ve remembered what we’re fighting for.

Between the SWP’s rape-court scandal and Julie Burchill’s transmisogyny, I’ve been working hard in my essaying and reading this week in particular to negotiate some useful ways forward – and I’m very far from the only one. Not going to repost the original pieces because they don’t deserve back traffic, but here you go:
Firstly, I wrote some words on rape, sexual violence and how the left is being forced to deal with feminism, at New Statesman. The post that inspired this – former SWP member Tom Walker’s eloquent and principled resignation statement – is worth reading in full if you’re one of those people who doesn’t particularly want to choose between class struggle and women’s rights. Yeah, yeah, I know, lots of linkbacks to small British far-left parties. Deal with it.
Then….oh dear, then there was the Burchill/Suzanne Moore debacle, where the Guardian and the rest of the British press, and everyone else on Twitter, finally realised that transphobia is no longer an acceptable way to carve out payable rhetoric. My piece here lays down the background. Another old essay of mine, Moving Towards Solidarity (written for the F Word when I was but a wee thing of 22) explains a lot more about the history of feminist transphobia and why it’s mistaken.
All of this ties in to the hierarchy of old media, and what it does, and what it’s for, and how it’s changing. That was the subject of my column this week at New Statesman, but a more in-depth and explicitly communist discussion can be found at Novara, where I also talk a lot about how my politics have changed over the past two years.
Last week I talked about Novara, the Resonance FM discussion show on anarchism, anti-capitalism and the future of the left; this week I was on the show, being grilled about journalism by Aaron Peters and James Butler, two thinkers by whom I would be substantially more intimidated had I not shepherded both of their drunk asses home on a number of occasions over the last several years. A fun, spiky discussion on columnism and the nature and changing role of the media. Have a listen.
The original text that inspired this discussion, ‘Columnism’ by Ulrike Meinhof – an important analysis of the role of the columnist as decoy and potential political stooge – is one that’s been very important for me in my work over the past year. 

Bloody awesome Science Fiction books are like bloody buses. I finished ‘Among Others,’ by Jo Walton, which has zoomed up there into my top ten books of the past 12 months. If you were ever a child who loved SF and Fantasy, or a young girl who escaped into books, this one’s for you.
I also read ‘Intrusion’, by Ken Macleod, who would be the king of near-future dystopia if he weren’t the type of communard who would disdain such a title. I loved, loved, loved this book – it has reproductive rights, state surveillance, middle-class comedy and robot monkeys and class war. I was lucky enough to get to interview MacLeod in 2010 for the Morning Star – all his works come highly recommended.


Massively into this moving essay at Gawker by Mychal Denzel Smith ’On The Ghosts of Gun Violence’- Will be looking out for more of his work – one to watch.
Zoe Williams’ takedown of the language of ‘strivers vs. skivers‘ at The Guardian has been reposted everywhere, and deservedly so. Has anyone else noticed that Zoe Williams has been absolutely killing it recently?
And here’s Malcolm Harris in an eloquent attack of coupledom and its discontents at The New Inquiry. “Saying true love isn’t real is like saying money isn’t real, or race isn’t real, or the desire for deodorant isn’t real. You might be right in a base, materialist sort of way, but nations build policy not only on the existence but the desirability of love.”  

I saw Les Miserables twice. I cried both times and I’m not even sorry. Oh the tragic handsome student revolutionaries. In the real world, my own kharass hasn’t yet had the chance to go out in a blaze of glory on a barricade in period dress: we face the far more fearful challenge of staying united and building a future that doesn’t suck without losing our minds and letting our spirits get squashed in the process.
In related news, I’m going to be doing a helluva lot of travelling in the next month – starting with Ireland, next week, where I’m working on a story about abortion rights. Anyone who can recommend some good places to drink and dance in Dublin will have my gratitude. 

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