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Neo-Liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism

Understanding Netwar: Communication, Consciousness, and Social Engineering

Medium

November 14, 2016

By Jay Taber

View story at Medium.com

To effectively fight fascism, one must understand netwar (networked psychological warfare). In 2013, I compiled Communications in Conflict — a free download booklet, with everything you need to know on the topic.

I recommend browsing the index titled Resources for Activist Scholars. It has lots of links to books, manuals, papers and reports about real life examples that illustrate the points made in the booklet.

For a list of relevant articles, I suggest the Netwar Reader compiled at Public Good Archives. It’s the best there is.

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

United Against Hate or Hate being United?

The Wall Will Fall

November 13, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

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If Americans are seriously “united against hate” – why haven’t they united across the country against the murder/occupation/destabilizations of Haitians, Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis, etc. etc. – all carried out/expanded under the democrats? Trump hates and it’s ugly. Obama and Clinton kill but it’s beautiful and heroic – glazed over and black-washed by the imperial liberal left and black bourgeoisie.

One can say without hesitation that MoveOn.org (co-founder of Avaaz) has absolutely seized the opportunity to drum up democratic support while gathering further aid and loyalty to their own brand. One can say the same for Change.org (a for-profit NGO that collects and sells data via online petitions). Where coloured revolutions financed by the U.S. have always occurred on foreign soil, the current uprising against Trump (sparked by NGOs) is not only unprecedented, but quite different. A coloured revolution is usually carried out to overthrow a leader that is not complying to the dictates of imperialist states to some or full extent. But in this case, both Trump and Clinton (if she had been elected) will fully serve the elites to the extent of their power. Both will serve imperialism as imperialism is the foundation of the “American dream” (in reality a nightmare). Neither will serve the people. Both will accelerate the ongoing destruction of the planet at breakneck speed.

Trump is no Chavez. Trump is appalling. Clinton is no Kirchner. Clinton is a monster. What is fascinating is that there was no public outrage directed at Obama, the likes of which we are now seeing directed at Trump. Nor, if Clinton were elected, would we see any such display of outrage directed toward her. Hatred toward Trump is easily understood. But where was/is the hatred and disdain toward Obama and Clinton? Why is the imperial liberal left blind to the blatant racism and murder carried out by the Democrats under the Obama administration? Is the imperial liberal left simply happy to turn a blind eye if charisma and political correctness can hide the ugly truth, realities and facts? Why do Americans still believe in elections when living under a fascist corporatocracy?

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Image: The Slow Burning Fuse

In summary: MoveOn et al created the spark for protests (MoveOn organizing 200 protests across the nation within a 2-hour time frame) – but it was easy to ignite because of the hatred (self-inflicted by the way) of Trump. The liberal masses were the powder keg. Trump was the fuse. The spark was lit during the election season. The lit fuse hit the powder keg on election night. Now, in unison, the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex reverberate the following messages in the echo-chamber (insert the name of any NGO where the name Avaaz appears.): “To win this fight, we need to be bigger and stronger, to deepen our connection and commitment. So today, we launch our first formal membership drive. Click below to become an Avaaz member, and let’s get serious about $aving the world.”

[“MoveOn.org Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on important national issues. MoveOn.org Political Action is a federal political committee which primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect our values through a variety of activities aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election. MoveOn.org Political Action and MoveOn.org Civic Action are separate organizations.”]

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[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

May the Earth Tremble at Its Core

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

November 9, 2016

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Photo credit: (AP Photo/Moyses Zuniga, File)

To the people of the world:

To the free media:

To the National and International Sixth:

Convened for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress and the living resistance of the originary peoples, nations, and tribes of this country called Mexico, of the languages of Amuzgo, Binni-zaá, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal de Oaxaca, Coca, Náyeri, Cuicateco, Kumiai, Lacandón, Matlazinca, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Nahua, Ñahñu, Ñathô, Popoluca, Purépecha, Rarámuri, Tlapaneco, Tojolabal, Totonaco, Triqui, Tzeltal, Tsotsil, Wixárika, Yaqui, Zoque, Chontal de Tabasco, as well as our Aymara, Catalán, Mam, Nasa, Quiché and Tacaná brothers and sisters, we firmly pronounce that our struggle is below and to the left, that we are anticapitalist and that the time of the people has come—the time to make this country pulse with the ancestral heartbeat of our mother earth.

It is in this spirit that we met to celebrate life in the Fifth National Indigenous Congress, which took place on October 9-14, 2016, in CIDECI-UNITIERRA, Chiapas. There we once again recognized the intensification of the dispossession and repression that have not stopped in the 524 years since the powerful began a war aimed at exterminating those who are of the earth; as their children we have not allowed for their destruction and death, meant to serve capitalist ambition which knows no end other than destruction itself. That resistance, the struggle to continue constructing life, today takes the form of words, learning, and agreements. On a daily basis we build ourselves and our communities in resistance in order to stave off the storm and the capitalist attack which never lets up. It becomes more aggressive everyday such that today it has become a civilizational threat, not only for indigenous peoples and campesinos but also for the people of the cities who themselves must create dignified and rebellious forms of resistance in order to avoid murder, dispossession, contamination, sickness, slavery, kidnapping or disappearance. Within our community assemblies we have decided, exercised, and constructed our destiny since time immemorial. Our forms of organization and the defense of our collective life is only possible through rebellion against the bad government, their businesses, and their organized crime.

We denounce the following:

In Pueblo Coca, Jalisco, the businessman Guillermo Moreno Ibarra invaded 12 hectares of forest in the area known as El Pandillo, working in cahoots with the agrarian institutions there to criminalize those who struggle, resulting in 10 community members being subjected to trials that went on for four years. The bad government is invading the island of Mexcala, which is sacred communal land, and at the same time refusing to recognize the Coca people in state indigenous legislation, in an effort to erase them from history.

 

The Otomí Ñhañu, Ñathö, Hui hú, and Matlatzinca peoples from México State and Michoacán are being attacked via the imposition of a megaproject to build the private Toluca-Naucalpan Highway and an inter-city train. The project is destroying homes and sacred sites, buying people off and manipulating communal assemblies through police presence. This is in addition to fraudulent community censuses that supplant the voice of an entire people, as well as the privatization and the dispossession of water and territory around the Xinantécatl volcano, known as the Nevado de Toluca. There the bad governments are doing away with the protections that they themselves granted, all in order to hand the area over to the tourism industry. We know that all of these projects are driven by interest in appropriating the water and life of the entire region. In the Michoacán zone they deny the identity of the Otomí people, and a group of police patrols have come to the region to monitor the hills, prohibiting indigenous people there from going to the hills to cut wood.

 

The originary peoples who live in Mexico City are being dispossessed of the territories that they have won in order to be able to work for a living; in the process they are robbed of their goods and subjected to police violence. They are scorned and repressed for using their traditional clothing and language, and criminalized through accusations of selling drugs.

 

The territory of the Chontal Peoples of Oaxaca is being invaded by mining concessions that are dismantling communal land organization, affecting the people and natural resources of five communities.

 

The Mayan Peninsular People of Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo are suffering land disposession as a result of the planting of genetically modified soy and African palm, the contamination of their aquifers by agrochemicals, the construction of wind farms and solar farms, the development of ecotourism, and the activities of real estate developers. Their resistance against high electricity costs has been met with harassment and arrest warrants. In Calakmul, Campeche, five communities are being displaced by the imposition of ‘environmental protection areas,’ environmental service costs, and carbon capture plans. In Candelaria, Campeche, the struggle continues for secure land tenure. In all three states there is aggressive criminalization against those who defend territory and natural resources.

 

The Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Chol and Lacandón Maya People of Chiapas continue to be displaced from their territories due to the privatization of natural resources. This has resulted in the imprisonment and murder of those who defend their right to remain in their territory, as they are constantly discriminated against and repressed whenever they defend themselves and organize to continue building their autonomy, leading to increasing rates of human rights violations by police forces. There are campaigns to fragment and divide their organizations, as well as the murders of compañeros who have defended their territory and natural resources in San Sebastián Bachajon. The bad governments continue trying to destroy the organization of the communities that are EZLN bases of support in order to cast a shadow on the hope and light that they provide to the entire world.

 

The Mazateco people of Oaxaca have been invaded by private property claims which exploit the territory and culture for tourism purposes. This includes naming Huautla de Jimenéz as a “Pueblo Mágico” in order to legalize displacement and commercialize ancestral knowledge. This is in addition to mining concessions and foreign spelunking explorations in existing caves, all enforced by increased harassment by narcotraffickers and militarization of the territory. The bad governments are complicit in the increasing rates of femicide and rape in the region.

 

The Nahua and Totonaca peoples of Veracruz and Puebla are confronting aerial fumigation, which creates illnesses in the communities. Mining and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation are carried out through fracking, and 8 watersheds are endangered by new projects that are contaminating the rivers.

 

The Nahua and Popoluca peoples from the south of Veracruz are under siege by organized crime and also risk territorial destruction and their disappearance as a people because of the threats brought by mining, wind farms, and above all, hydrocarbon exploitation through fracking.

 

The Nahua people, who live in the states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Morelos, Mexico State, Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, and Mexico City, are in a constant struggle to stop the advance of the so-called Proyecto Integral Morelos, consisting of pipelines, aqueducts, and thermoelectric projects. The bad governments, seeking to stop the resistance and communication among the communities are trying to destroy the community radio of Amiltzingo, Morelos. Similarly, the construction of the new airport in Mexico City and the surrounding building projects threaten the territories around Texcoco lake and the Valle de México basin, namely Atenco, Texcoco, and Chimalhuacán. In Michocan, the Nahua people face the plunder of their natural resources and minerals by sicarios[hitmen] who are accompanied by police or the army, and also the militarization and paramilitarizaiton of their territories. The cost of trying to halt this war has been murder, persecution, imprisonment, and harassment of community leaders.

 

The Zoque People of Oaxaca and Chiapas face invasion by mining concessions and alleged private property claims on communal lands in the Chimalapas region, as well as three hydroelectric dams and hydrocarbon extraction through fracking. The implementation of cattle corridors is leading to excessive logging in the forests in order to create pastureland, and genetically modified seeds are also being cultivated there. At the same time, Zoque migrants to different states across the country are re-constituting their collective organization.

 

The Amuzgo people of Guerrero are facing the theft of water from the San Pedro River to supply residential areas in the city of Ometepec. Their community radio has also been subject to constant persecution and harassment.

 

The Rarámuri people of Chihuahua are losing their farmland to highway construction, to the Creel airport, and to the gas pipeline that runs from the United States to Chihuahua. They are also threatened by Japanese mining companies, dam projects, and tourism.

 

The Wixárika people of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango are facing the destruction and privatization of the sacred places they depend on to maintain their familial, social, and political fabric, and also the dispossession of their communal land in favor of large landowners who take advantage of the blurry boundaries between states of the Republic and campaigns orchestrated by the bad government to divide people.

 

The Kumiai People of Baja California continue struggling for the reconstitution of their ancestral territories, against invasion by private interests, the privatization of their sacred sites, and the invasion of their territories by gas pipelines and highways.

 

The Purépecha people of Michoacán are experiencing deforestation, which occurs through complicity between the bad government and the narcoparamilitary groups who plunder the forests and woods. Community organization from below poses an obstacle to that theft.

 

For the Triqui people of Oaxaca, the presence of the political parties, the mining industry, paramilitaries, and the bad government foment the disintegration of the community fabric in the interest of plundering natural resources.

 

The Chinanteco people of Oaxaca are suffering the destruction of their forms of community organization through land reforms, the imposition of environmental services costs, carbon capture plans, and ecotourism. There are plans for a four-lane highway to cross and divide their territory. In the Cajono and Usila Rivers the bad governments are planning to build three dams that will affect the Chinanteco and Zapoteca people, and there are also mining concessions and oil well explorations.

 

The Náyeri People of Nayarit face the invasion and destruction of their sacred territories by the Las Cruces hydroelectric project in the site called Muxa Tena on the San Pedro River.

 

The Yaqui people of Sonora continue their sacred struggle against the gas pipeline that would cross their territory, and in defense of the water of the Yaqui River, which the bad governments want to use to supply the city of Hermosillo, Sonora. This goes against judicial orders and international appeals which have made clear the Yaqui peoples’ legal and legitimate rights. The bad government has criminalized and harassed the authorities and spokespeople of the Yaqui tribe.

 

The Binizzá and Ikoot people organize to stop the advance of the mining, wind, hydroelectric, dam, and gas pipeline projects. This includes in particular the Special Economic Zone on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the infrastructure that threatens the territory and the autonomy of the people on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec who are classified as the “environmental Taliban” and the “indigenous rights Taliban,” the precise words used by the Mexican Association of Energy to refer to the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People.

 

The Mixteco people of Oaxaca suffer the plunder of their agrarian territory, which also affects their traditional practices given the threats, deaths, and imprisonment that seek to quiet the dissident voices, with the bad government supporting armed paramilitary groups as in the case of San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca.

 

The Mixteco, Tlapaneco, and Nahua peoples from the mountains and coast of Guerrero face the imposition of mining megaprojects supported by narcotraffickers, their paramilitaries, and the bad governments, who fight over the territories of the originary peoples.

 

The Mexican bad government continues to lie, trying hide its decomposition and total responsibility for the forced disappearance of the 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

 

The state continues to hold hostage: compañerosPedro Sánchez Berriozábal, Rómulo Arias Míreles, Teófilo Pérez González, Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, and Marco Antonio Pérez González from the Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco in Mexico State; Zapotec compañero Álvaro Sebastián from the Loxicha region; compañeros Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas; compañeros Pablo López Álvarez and the exiled Raul Gatica García and Juan Nicolás López from the Indigenous and Popular Council of Oaxaca Ricardo Flores Magón. Recently a judge handed down a 33-year prison sentence to compañero Luis Fernando Sotelo for demanding that the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa be returned alive, and to the compañeros Samuel Ramírez Gálvez, Gonzalo Molina González and Arturo Campos Herrera from the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities – PC. They also hold hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous people across the country prisoner for defending their territories and demanding justice.

 

The Mayo people’s ancestral territory is threatened by highway projects meant to connect Topolobampo with the state of Texas in the United States. Ambitious tourism projects are also being created in Barranca del Cobre.

 

The Dakota Nation’s sacred territory is being invaded and destroyed by gas and oil pipelines, which is why they are maintaining a permanent occupation to protect what is theirs.

For all of these reasons, we reiterate that it our obligation to protect life and dignity, that is, resistance and rebellion, from below and to the left, a task that can only be carried out collectively. We build rebellion from our small local assemblies that combine to form large communal assemblies, ejidal assemblies, Juntas de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Councils], and coalesce as agreements as peoples that unite us under one identity. In the process of sharing, learning, and constructing ourselves as the National Indigenous Congress, we see and feel our collective pain, discontent, and ancestral roots. In order to defend what we are, our path and learning process have been consolidated by strengthening our collective decision-making spaces, employing national and international juridical law as well as peaceful and civil resistance, and casting aside the political parties that have only brought death, corruption, and the buying off of dignity. We have made alliances with various sectors of civil society, creating our own resources in communication, community police and self-defense forces, assemblies and popular councils, and cooperatives; in the exercise and defense of traditional medicine; in the exercise and defense of traditional and ecological agriculture; in our own rituals and ceremonies to pay respect to mother earth and continue walking with and upon her, in the cultivation and defense of native seeds, and in political-cultural activities, forums, and information campaigns.

This is the power from below that has kept us alive. This is why commemorating resistance and rebellion also means ratifying our decision to continue to live, constructing hope for a future that is only possible upon the ruins of capitalism.

Given that the offensive against the people will not cease, but rather grow until it finishes off every last one of us who make up the peoples of the countryside and the city, who carry profound discontent that emerges in new, diverse, and creative forms of resistance and rebellion, this Fifth National Indigenous Congress has decided to launch a consultation in each of our communities to dismantle from below the power that is imposed on us from above and offers us nothing but death, violence, dispossession, and destruction. Given all of the above, we declare ourselves in permanent assembly as we carry out this consultation, in each of our geographies, territories, and paths, on the accord of the Fifth CNI to name an Indigenous Governing Council whose will would be manifest by an indigenous woman, a CNI delegate, as an independent candidate to the presidency of the country under the name of the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in the electoral process of 2018. We confirm that our struggle is not for power, which we do not seek. Rather, we call on all of the originary peoples and civil society to organize to put a stop to this destruction and strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is, the defense of the life of every person, family, collective, community, or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice by reweaving ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.

This is the time of dignified rebellion, the time to construct a new nation by and for everyone, to strengthen power below and to the anticapitalist left, to make those who are responsible for all of the pain of the peoples of this multi-colored Mexico pay.

Finally, we announce the creation of the official webpage of the CNI: www.congresonacionalindigena.org

From CIDECI-UNITIERRA,

Chiapas, October 2016

For the Full Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never Again a Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Translation source: Enlace Zapatista

 

Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

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This is an Uprising, a widely celebrated new book about how social movements change history, distorts their histories to celebrate non-violence

The black revolt of 2014 was a turning point in how Americans discussed the use of force in social movements. In the pages of the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates acknowledged that “violence works.” Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post echoed much the same sentiment. Laci Green–a YouTube star and one of the “30 most influential people on the Internet,” according to Time–posted a popular video drawing favorable comparisons between the Ferguson riots and the revolution depicted in The Hunger Games. This sea change was led by the movement itself as African American youth in Ferguson rejected Al Sharpton and other older leaders, partly due to disagreement on strict nonviolence.

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Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is an Uprising. Nation Books. 2016. 368 pages.
The notable exceptions to this trend were those who spoke for the state. These parties advocated for nonviolent action in a most conspicuous way. On the eve on the announcement of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of Mike Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder solemnly intoned that “history has shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.” In an ABC interview on the same day, President Obama urged that the “first and foremost” responsibility for Americans reacting to the verdict was to “keep protests peaceful.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people of major public discussions from two years ago, but America is a notoriously forgetful nation. And when it comes to matters of protest, politics, reform, and revolt, many people are invested in this kind of forgetting. The stated purpose of Mark and Paul Engler’s new book This Is an Uprising (2015) is to work against this historical amnesia. The Engler brothers profess to build “a healthy movement ecology [which] preserves the memory of how past transformations in society have been achieved.” This is a worthy goal, and the brothers appear well-placed to realize it: one is a professional community organizer while the other is a fixture of progressive publications including Dissent and Yes! Magazine. The book has been praised effusively by lefty celebrities, including Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, as the new authoritative text for mass civil disobedience. Yet rather than building on the nuanced understanding of street tactics that developed in the wake of Ferguson, the Englers selectively distort social movement history in a blind commitment to a particular kind of direct action.

The opening chapters are an introduction to the modern history of tactical pacifism as embodied in the practice of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign and, later in the 1960s, by the theories of political scientist Gene Sharp. The authors contend that both these figures abandoned religious nonviolence to develop a rational, realist praxis known as “civil resistance,” not “pacifism.” The principle reason for this name change is that Gene Sharp rejected the P-word, arguing that the term only applied to private individuals operating from spiritual inspiration. The Englers affirm that Sharp’s “politics of nonviolent action” are distinct from pacifism because the latter is essentially apolitical.

What the Englers fail to acknowledge, however, is that virtually all the 20th century activists whom Sharp and his school hold up as role models did call themselves pacifists. A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, and even Daniel Berrigan (who for a time defied strict Gandhism by fleeing imprisonment after an act of property destruction) all called themselves pacifists. When scrutinized, the switch from “pacifism” to “nonviolent action” appears to be a case of re-branding in response to the poor reputation pacifism had among young people by the end of the 1960s. This was hardly the first time pacifism was renamed rather than critically challenged: Leo Tolstoy referred to the use of civil disobedience without violence as “non-resistance.” Gandhi rejected that name, but employed essentially the same strategy; Tolstoy and Gandhi exchanged correspondence and agreed on practically all points.

In the 21st century, the term du jour is “civil resistance” and sometimes “people power,” yet the method’s founding father is still considered to be Gandhi. It also seems significant that in spite of “breaking from the earlier traditions of moral pacifism,” as the Englers put it, many of the major proponents of civil resistance, from Gene Sharp to George Lakey to Bill Moyer to Chris Hedges, come from highly religious backgrounds.

In addition to a re-branding, “civil resistance” is also a misbranding. The term is adopted from Thoreau’s 1849 essay “On Resistance to Civil Government,” but his use of “civil” referred to the type of domestic government being resisted, not to the method of civility deployed. Thoreau himself later said that John Brown’s violent lack of civility was the best thing that ever happened to the abolitionist movement.

These contradictions aside, the Englers trace how “civil resistance” has become increasingly accepted in mainstream political science. To demonstrate this, they introduce us to Erica Chenoweth, now one of the most celebrated social movement theorists working in the field. Chenoweth got her start producing the widely cited study Why Civil Resistance Works (2011) in collaboration with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department. According to the Englers, the study proved that “nonviolent movements worldwide were twice as likely to succeed as violent ones.” But the sample size of the study is far too narrow to prove such a sweeping claim. There are no civil rights or labor struggles included in the Chenoweth data set, which is focused exclusively on regime change. And, as Peter Gelderloos pointed out in his book The Failure of Nonviolence (2013), the outcomes of the nonviolent revolutions cited by Chenoweth have little to do with social justice or liberation. At best they replace one oligarchy with another, with no radical change in social relations or even net gains in quality of life.

At one point, the Englers note that the same political science prize that Chenoweth won–the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award–was previously bestowed on Henry Kissinger. This, for them, is the height of irony: Chenoweth is, after all, the opposite of the Kissingers of the world. But while they may represent different sides of the aisle in terms of American political divisions, Chenoweth’s work is, in many ways, just as useful to the U.S. empire.

At the height of the Cold War, the government used Kissinger’s work to justify the “hard power” of the arms race and violent intervention against communist regimes. Today Chenoweth’s work helps to justify–and in this case, mystify–Obama’s “soft power” agenda of “democracy promotion” exercised through seemingly benign agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)–the former organization was recently caught covertly organizing against the Castro government in Cuba. And while direct U.S. government involvement with pacifist academics is a relatively new development–emerging in the mid-2000s, around the same time that Gelderloos first observed that “nonviolence protects the state”–their financial relationship goes back at least to Gene Sharp’s first doctoral work in the late 1960s, which was funded by the Department of Defense.

But if the American empire promotes strictly nonviolent movement-building to overthrow its enemies, wouldn’t that demonstrate that it’s as powerful a method as its proponents say it is? The short answer is no. When civil resistance works–and when the U.S. government deploys it abroad–it’s almost always in combination with more violent forms of pressure. To illustrate this, one need look no further than the Yugoslav movement to unseat President Slobodan Miloševi?, which figures prominently in Chenoweth’s famous study and takes up more than thirty pages in This Is an Uprising. In the Englers’ version, this regime change is primarily attributable to Otpor, a “leaderless” student group from Serbia. Otpor promoted nonviolence in the Sharpian model, with an official policy to submit to arrest and abjure any kind of self-defense, even when the police physically abused them. In this way, they won the sympathy of the public and even the Serbian establishment.

But Otpor didn’t operate in a vacuum. Not only did they overthrow Miloševi? in the period when he had just lost a war with NATO, but also, in the midst of Otpor’s campaign, Miloševi? was being challenged by the armed insurgency of the UÇPMB (successor group to the Kosovo Liberation Army). On top of this, militant groups in Montenegro threatened to secede if he was re-elected. The Englers quote Otpor veterans’ claims that the NATO raids undermined the opposition and strengthened the regime, but the record shows that Otpor prospered in the aftermath of the bombing. One prominent civil resistance study acknowledges that “a number of middle and higher-ranking police and army officers made secret pacts with the democratic opposition and helped the movement forward.” Furthermore, Otpor’s victory was not strictly nonviolent: Anti-Miloševi? protesters rioted in October 2000 when the president refused to concede the election. The Englers admit, in passing, that things “got a little out of hand,” but they fail to describe the full extent of the insurrection: not only was there arson and other property destruction in Belgrade, but also the fact that an Otpor supporter killed a civilian by driving over him with a bulldozer.

This cherry-picked example of civil resistance winning its demands occurred in a context where both NATO and an armed guerilla group simultaneously made the same demand. And yet, under today’s political science taxonomy, this is what’s considered a nonviolent victory. Such dubious classification is common in the civil resistance world: Peter Ackerman, the venture capitalist who has funded much of Gene Sharp’s work, once claimed that Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement should be considered nonviolent because only a minority of the protesters threw firebombs and brandished guns.

A good faith argument for pacifist success in such cases would credit the intervening factors as a diversity of tactics supporting a nonviolent core, or attribute it to what is known in social movement theory as the “radical flank effect,” which argues that the presence of radical militants in a social movement helps make the less militant actors seem reasonable and worthy of having their demands met. Yet not only do the Englers undervalue such phenomena, they actively denounce them.

In spite of primarily advocating for nonviolent direct action, the Englers express support for electioneering, stating that while it is a separate tactic, it can complement civil resistance. If they are genuinely non-ideological strategists, they should take the same position towards guerilla activity. But, while the Englers repeatedly speak of the need for movements to “escalate,” they jerk back from any overlap with property destruction. This flinching is excused with a fable of the radical environmental advocacy movement Earth First! in the 1990s. The Englers paint the picture of a movement with a macho fetish for violence that was set right by the influence of the more moderate feminist Judi Bari, who enforced nonviolence and built the populist Redwood Summer campaign of 1990, winning political victories against logging in the Pacific Northwest. This success, the Englers claim, was in marked contrast with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the monkeywrenching eco-saboteurs who left defected from Earth First! after the rise of Bari.

The ELF is portrayed as a gang of clowns who accomplished nothing besides getting themselves imprisoned. Yet the Englers also tell us that “in the end, Redwood Summer did not produce immediate legislative gains.” The best they can claim for the nonviolent campaign is “a 78 percent drop in logging in national forests.” The ELF began carrying out its arson and sabotage attacks on the logging and tourism industries in the Pacific Northwest in 1996; these years of victory were among ELF’s peak years of activity, when it was clearly functioning as the radical flank of Earth First! But the Englers’ attitude towards militants is eliminationist, not just separatist: the ELF shouldn’t have just left Earth First!, they should have ceased to exist at all. Such absolutism is completely contrary to Bari’s actual policy: “Earth First!, the public group, has a nonviolence code,” she wrote in 1994, “monkeywrenching is done by [the] Earth Liberation Front […] Civil disobedience and sabotage are both powerful tactics in our movement.”

The double standards that the authors apply between violent and nonviolent actors undermine their claims of unbiased pragmatism. When pacifist organizers provoke violent repression, the Englers regard it as a necessary cost of the campaign–“leading proponents of civil resistance emphasize that strategic nonviolent action […] may result in serious injuries and even casualties”–but when black blocs draw repression, it’s completely unacceptable. ACT UP are praised as “desperate, aggressive, and often exceptional young men,” who had the courage to risk “potentially alienating the very people that advocates want to win over.” The ELF, on the other hand, are pictured as fanatics with no strategy. When the civil rights movement employed “often unpopular” tactics, generating “overwhelmingly negative” reaction in public opinion polls, this was admirable; when the Weather Underground and other Vietnam-era militants defied public opinion, they were simply out-of-touch adventurists (even though the latter’s action led to massive troop withdrawals and a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age).

The Englers, it must be noted, have attempted to apply their precepts, not merely theorize them. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, they helped organize the 99% Spring campaign, a coalition dominated by Moveon.org that aimed to put “hundreds of thousands” of people in the streets to change foreclosure policy. Coalition spokesman and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) executive Stephen Lerner promised to “engage the millions of people we need to do [sic] to build the kind of movement we need at this time in history.” According to him, this was a job that Occupy was not capable of doing without their guidance. In the end, the 99% Spring mobilized a few thousand people–far less than Occupy did nationwide–and had no impact on banking foreclosure policies, which remained abysmal. More recently, the brothers were involved with a nearly identical coalition–Democracy Spring/Democracy Awakening–based around campaign-finance reform. Initially, Democracy Spring seemed more tactically ambitious with a program of organizing mass civil disobedience at the Capitol Building. However, press coverage of the arrests turned out to be so meager that most of the campaign’s supporters were left distraught.

As historians and theorists of social movement, the Englers might have been able to see this failure coming, since they actually describe a precedent for their ineffectual campaigns in This Is an Uprising. In his 1962 project in Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) left a yearlong campaign with no tangible civil rights advances achieved. King had been thwarted by Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett, who capitalized on SCLC’s nonviolent strategy by avoiding any appearance of brutality and de-escalating conflict between police and protesters, thereby pre-empting any dramatic scenes that could draw national attention. King’s reputation within the movement declined until the spectacular victory of the following year’s Birmingham campaign. The Englers spend over twenty pages on Birmingham, promising to demonstrate just why it succeeded while Albany failed, but they never do.

In truth, the Birmingham campaign benefitted from having both a police force and a protest movement that was markedly less peaceful than in Albany. King wasn’t able to get consistent media coverage until after protests became, as Taylor Branch put it, “a duel of rocks and fire hoses.” One of King’s aides, Vincent Harding, later acknowledged that the black youth who came to dominate the campaign’s street action were “the children of Malcom X” and that their escalation to “a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response” marked Birmingham as “the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Historian Glenn Eskew wrote that “the aftermath of national protest, international pressure, and inner-city riot convinced a reluctant Kennedy administration to propose sweeping legislation that, once passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, marked a watershed in race relations.”

Yet these events of the Birmingham campaign are never mentioned in the Englers’ book in any form. It is here that the brothers step into outright dishonesty: they know very well that the scholarly consensus on Birmingham is that the violent protesters made an invaluable contribution (Eskew’s book is one of their sources). Yet in spite of spending a tenth of their book’s text on Birmingham, they refuse to even acknowledge the violent protesters’ existence.

Such historical censorship rationalizes the choreographed civil disobedience that the Englers help organize today, which quarantines “good protesters” from “bad protesters.” This, in turn, enables the same counter-strategy that Laurie Pritchett employed so effectively against King in Albany. What the Englers call “discipline” is actually de-escalation that facilitates police crowd control. Indeed, there is now a fully developed police doctrine known as “negotiated management” based on the avoidance of direct conflict with protesters. The National Lawyers’ Guild official, Traci Yoder, has written that negotiated management “is in many ways more effective […] in neutralizing social justice movements” than overt state repression.

But while the brothers focus on the SCLC at length, they fail to discuss the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who, the brothers passingly admit, pushed SCLC into its most productively confrontational actions. This is not only because the history of SNCC began with Gandhian practice, but also because it rapidly progressed beyond it. Although its militancy is sometimes attributed to Black Power-era missteps, SNCC’s commitment to a genuinely grassroots politics led it to work with openly armed African Americans as early as 1961 in Monroe, North Carolina, as well as with more discreetly armed black peoples all over the South. By spring 1964, SNCC associates in Cambridge, Maryland were having gunfights with the National Guard and one of the group’s advisers, Howard Zinn, noted that the movement had reached “the limits of nonviolence.” But it was crucial that those limits were reached, or there wouldn’t have been a Civil Rights Act.

In spite of its name, SNCC’s principles always had less to do with nonviolence than with organizing from the bottom-up. The group’s guiding light was Ella Baker, arguably the most important African American leader of the 20th century. As many have noted, Baker preached neither strategic nonviolence nor strategic violence. Drawing from her decades of experience, Baker counseled SNCC organizers to distance themselves from institutional power; they might maintain dialogue with the establishment left–trade unions and NGOs tied into what she called “the foundation complex”–but they should be wary of entering into partnerships with them. Instead they should follow the lead of working-class communities on the ground. This repeatedly led SNCC organizers away from nonviolence. Then as now, serious movements make serious enemies (think of the shootings last year in Charleston and Minneapolis) and self-defense quickly becomes paramount for frontline activists. Baker’s longtime friend and biographer Joanne Grant recounted that as pacifism faded away in SNCC, Baker “turned a blind eye to the prevalence of weapons. While she herself would rely on her fists […] she had no qualms about target practice.” At the same time, the failure of peaceful reform logically led oppressed communities towards insurrection.

It is often said that without the guidance of an anti-authoritarian and non-ideological figure like Ella Baker, the Black Power militants of SNCC began to lose perspective. Yet it can equally be said that the pacifists lost their way as well. The cause of social justice in America has been suffering from believing the former but not reckoning with the latter for the past forty years.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. Lorenzo blogs at Diversityoftactics.org]

 

PODCAST: Deconstructing the Non-profit Industrial Complex [Introduction Episode]

 

Wrong Kind of Green

category: News & Politics

NGOs as a Force for Good? Get the Fuck Outta Here [Introduction Episode]

11/2/2016

This introductory podcast introduces listeners to NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. Hand in hand with the Rockefellers, George Soros, Bill Gates and other powerful elites, NGOs are meticulously shaping global society by utilizing and building upon strategic psychological marketing, soft power, technology and social media – shaping public consensus, thus acceptance, for the illusory “green economy”, “humanitarian” wars, and a novel sonata of 21st century colonialism. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of carefully orchestrated depoliticization, domestication of populace, propaganda and misinformation that is being perpetrated and perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda. The non-profit industrial complex must be understood as a mainspring and the instrument of power, the very support and foundation of imperial domination.

Guests: Vanessa Beeley, independent researcher/ journalist and anti-war activist residing in France, Cory Morningstar independent researcher/ journalist focusing on ecology and the NPIC, residing in Canada and Forrest Palmer, electrical engineer, writer/editor for Wrong Kind of Green, residing in Texas, USA.

This is the first episode in a new weekly podcast that focuses exclusively on the non-profit industrial complex as a key instrument of empire in the 21st century.

 

LISTEN: The Lies They Tell. The Pitiful State of Environmentalism and its Neoliberalization

Wrong Kind of Green

October 29, 2016

The “New Economy” is Not Inclusive

“The route for real change is not via those who are already totally vested in the growth economy and have gained power through it. Rather look for power amongst those who are disenfranchised by the capital accumulating system. Give them voice. Look to organisations that care for them and if they do not exist, create them. Remember that the vast majority are disenfranchised by the current economic system.”

Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.

[Filmed by Nemnövekedés – Degrowth – Published September 9, 2016]

 

 

Very Inconvenient Truths: Sex Buyers, Sexual Coercion, &Prostitution-harm-denial

Logos Journal

February 22, 2016

Globalisation has further tilted the imbalance of power between the male punter with his wallet and the woman who rents her vagina for a fee. In France, 85 per cent of prostitutes are immigrants, many without papers, vulnerable to exploitation. In Germany, with its legal super-brothels, it is about two thirds. If demand is not tackled, more will come. Is that something any Western nation should be proud of: an underclass of poor women from Thai villages and Ukrainian towns, imported to service First World penises? – Janice Turner, 2014. [1]

 

Some pimps, some sex buyers and some governments have made the decision that it is reasonable to expect certain women to tolerate sexual exploitation and sexual assault in order to survive. Those women most often are poor and most often are ethnically or racially marginalised. The men who buy them or rape them have greater social power and more resources than the women. For example, a Canadian prostitution tourist commented about women in Thai prostitution, “These girls gotta eat, don’t they? I’m putting bread on their plate. I’m making a contribution. They’d starve to death unless they whored.” [2]

Watson_IsNotWork_400Wx565H

This self-congratulatory Darwinism avoids the question: do women have the right to live without the sexual harassment or sexual exploitation of prostitution – or is that right reserved only for those who have sex, race or class privilege? “You get what you pay for without the ‘no,’” a sex buyer explained.[3] Non-prostituting women have the right to say “no.” We have legal protection from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. But tolerating sexual abuse is the job description for prostitution.

One of the big lies is that most prostitution is voluntary. If there’s no evidence of force, then her experience is dismissed as “voluntary” or “consenting.” A sex buyer said, “If I don’t see a chain on her leg, I assume she’s made the choice to be there.” But most prostitution today is what German abolitionists have named poverty prostitution. That means she’s hungry, she can’t find a job, and she doesn’t have alternatives. The john’s payment does not erase what we know about sexual violence, domestic violence and rape. Whether or not it is legal, prostitution is extremely harmful for women. Women in prostitution have the highest rates of rape, physical assault, and homicide of any women ever studied. In a Dutch study, 60% of women in legal prostitution were physically assaulted, 70% were threatened with physical assault, 40% experienced sexual violence and 40% had been coerced into legal prostitution. [4]

In the past decade, after interviewing hundreds of sex buyers in 5 countries (USA, UK, India, Cambodia, and Scotland), we’re looking more closely at behaviors and attitudes that fuel the misogyny of prostitution and we have started to understand some of their motivations. Normative sex buyer behavior includes a refusal to see one’s own participation in harmful activities such as dehumanizing a woman, humiliating her, verbally and physically sexually harassing her, and paying her money to coerce her to perform sex acts that she otherwise would not.

Objectification and commodification are at the root of the violence in prostitution.

Sex buyers don’t acknowledge the humanity of the women they use for sex. Once a person is turned into an object, exploitation and abuse seem almost reasonable.

Sex buyers don’t acknowledge the humanity of the women they use for sex. Once a person is turned into an object, exploitation and abuse seem almost reasonable.

In interviews with sex buyers in different cultures, some chilling examples of commodification were provided. Prostitution was understood as “renting an organ for ten minutes.”[5] Another US sex buyer stated that, “Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee, when you’re done, you throw it out.”[6] Sex buyers commodify and select women on the basis of race/ethnic stereotypes via ethno-sexualization. [7] “I had a mental check list in terms of race,” said a London sex buyer, “I have tried them all over the last five years but they turned out to be the same.”[8] In Cambodia, prostitution was understood this way: “We men are the buyer, sex workers are goods, and the brothel owner is a vendor.” [9] A woman who had prostituted in Vancouver for 19 years explained prostitution the same way that sex buyers did, “They own you for that half hour or that twenty minutes or that hour. They are buying you. They have no attachments, you’re not a person, you’re a thing to be used.” [10]Sex buyers’ lack of empathy

Using his own special logic, the sex buyer calculates that in addition to buying sexual access, money also buys him the right to avoid thinking about the impact of prostitution on the woman he uses for sex. [11] His fantasy is the hassle-free girlfriend who makes no demands on him but is willing to satisfy his sexual needs. “It’s like renting a girlfriend or wife. You get to choose like a catalogue,” explained a UK sex buyer. [12] Sex buyers seek the appearance of a relationship. A number of men explained their desire to create an illusion for other men that they had acquired an attractive woman without payment. “I want my prostitute not to behave like one, said a London sex buyer, “I want them to role play to be a pretend girlfriend. To a third person it looks like we’re in love.” [13] Some men who buy sex want to playact the kind of relationship that they are unable or unwilling to have with non-prostituting women. He may pretend emotional intimacy but the relationship with a woman in prostitution always stops short of emotional mutuality. If they construct an imaginary pleasant emotional relationship with the woman they buy for sex, then they can then retain their opinion of themselves as nice guys. However these men demand extensive and exhausting lies from prostituted women. A survivor wrote to the ‘nice’ sex buyer,

The truth, that you’re so desperate to flee from, is that you are just like a gentle rapist. Your attitude and demeanour does not mitigate what you do. The damage you’re causing is incalculable, but you tell yourself you’re doing no harm here, and you use the smiles of the women you buy as some kind of currency; they allow you to buy your own bullshit…I didn’t want you close to me, never mind inside me. Your arms around me made me want to puke more than your penis ever did…Every moment with you was a lie, and I hated every second of it. Rachel Moran, 2014. [14]

Like other sexually aggressive men, sex buyers lack empathy for women in prostitution. In Scotland, researchers found that the more often men bought sex, the less empathy they had for prostituted women. “I don’t want to know about her,” said a john, “I don’t want her to cry or this and that because that spoils the idea for me.” [15] Men create a sexually arousing version of what a prostitute thinks and feels that has little basis in reality. [16] Against all common sense, most of the johns we interviewed believed that prostituting women were sexually satisfied by the johns’ sexual performances. Research with the women, on the other hand, shows that women are not sexually aroused by prostitution, and over time, prostitution damages the women’s sexuality. [17]

One of the few differences between domestic violence and prostitution is that in prostitution, perpetrators profit from sexual exploitation. Because of the money, prostitution is much more organized than one man’s individual battering of one woman. Beckie Masaki who was director of the Asian Women’s Shelter in San Francisco, spoke about the shock waves that went through the agency when they began to accept women who had been trafficked into prostitution. Previously, they had worked individually with battered women. Now, they were taking in a dozen women at a time. The Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean organized crime groups were not happy with the loss of income. This necessitated increased security precautions for the Shelter.

Sex buyers and sexual coercion

Men’s favorable opinion of prostitution is one of a cluster of attitudes and opinions that encourage and justify violence against women. [18] Attitudes of entitlement to sexual access and sexual aggression, and attitudes of superiority over women are connected to men’s violence against women. Research shows that sex buyers – like other sexually aggressive men – tend to prefer impersonal sex, fear rejection by women, have a hostile masculine self-identification, and are more likely than non-sex buyers to rape if they could get away with it. [19] In Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda, sex buyers were more likely than other men to rape.[20] Men who used women in prostitution were significantly more likely to have raped a woman than men who did not buy sex. [21] In Scotland we found that the more often a john used women in prostitution, the more likely he was to have committed sexually coercive acts against non-prostituting women. [22]

Denial of harms of prostitution

Strip clubs never have mirrors positioned where sex buyers can see themselves, a pimp who managed strip clubs for many years explained. [23] What do they not want to see? Do they want to look away from their predatory maneuvering with the women? Do they not want to see their own foolish suckerhood? Do they want to close their eyes to the lie that the women are attracted to sex buyers? Do they not want to know that while they see themselves as players, men who choose not to buy sex see them as losers? The truth about prostitution is inconvenient for men who buy sex.

A London sex buyer who observed Eastern European women and their “bodyguard,” was an active participant in what was very likely sex trafficking. He commented,

The relationship looked very professional, like a business. Still he instructed them to do things they weren’t entirely happy with. A stern look on his face and a slight raised voice, made me slightly uncomfortable. But after the girl had been talked to by him, she put on a professional face and got on with it. My uncomfortable feeling went away because she did it – she could have walked away from the job.  Melissa Farley, Julie Bindel, Jacqueline M. Golding, 2009. [24]

Sex buyers see, and yet at the same time refuse to see, the fear, disgust, and despair in the women they buy. If she didn’t run out of the room, screaming “help, police! trafficking!” then the sex buyer concludes that she chose the prostitution. Knowing that women in prostitution have been exploited, coerced, pimped, or trafficked does not deter sex buyers. Half of a group of 103 London sex buyers said that they had used a woman in prostitution who they knew was under the control of a pimp. As one man explained, “It’s like he’s her owner.” Another man said: “The girl is instructed to do what she needs to do. You can just relax, it’s her job.” [25] In Romania, researchers interviewed sex buyers, women in prostitution, pimps, and police officers, all of whom agreed that sex buyers “are not interested if the girls are actually trafficked or not but are rather more interested in satisfying their sexual needs.” [26]

Rationalizations for legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution

Laws against sex buyers and pimps are barriers to the business of sexual exploitation. Legalization and decriminalization zone prostitution into areas where it is legal to buy, sell, and be sold for sex. Under these laws, the interests of men who buy sex are represented and pimps are protected.[27]

The argument that legalizing prostitution would make it “safer” is the primary rationalization for legal or decriminalized prostitution. However, there is no evidence for this. Instead, we hear self-serving claims and strongly worded assertions without empirical data. The aftermaths of legal prostitution in the Netherlands and Germany have shown just how bad it can get. As of 2016, 80% of German and Dutch prostitution was under the control of criminal mafias.

The aftermaths of legal prostitution in the Netherlands and Germany have shown just how bad it can get. As of 2016, 80% of German and Dutch prostitution was under the control of criminal mafias.

After legalization in the Netherlands, organized crime spiraled out of control and women in prostitution were no safer than when prostitution was illegal. Mayor Job Cohen closed much of Amsterdam’s legal prostitution in response to organized crime. [28] After legalization in Victoria, Australia, pimps established 95 legal brothels but at the same time, they also established another 400 illegal brothels in Victoria. [29] Instead of decreasing violent criminal involvement, legalization of prostitution has resulted in increased trafficking according to research from 150 countries. [30]Anyone who knows about the daily life of those in prostitution understands that safety in prostitution is a pipe dream. Advocates of legal and decriminalized prostitution understand this but rarely admit it. Still, evidence exists, for example the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce in South Africa addressed distributed a list of safety tips including the recommendation that while undressing, the prostituting individual should “accidentally” kick a shoe under the bed, and while retrieving it, should check for knives, handcuffs or rope. The SWEAT flyer noted that fluffing up the pillow on the bed would permit an additional weapons search. [31] Understanding the lethal violence directed at women in prostitution, a Dutch legal pimp told a journalist, “You don’t want a pillow in the [brothel’s] room. It’s a murder weapon.”[32] A San Francisco organization advised, “be aware of exits and avoid letting your customer block access to those exits,” and “shoes should come off easily or be appropriate for running in,” and “avoid necklaces, scarves, across-the-body shoulder bags or anything else that can be accidentally or intentionally be tightened around your throat.” [33] Specifications in the Australian Occupational and Safety Codes (OSC) for prostitution illustrate their concern about its dangers. The Australian OSC recommend hostage negotiation training for women in prostitution, utterly contradicting the notion of prostitution as just your average job. [34] The panic buttons in massage parlors, saunas, and brothels can never be answered quickly enough to prevent violence. Panic buttons in legal brothels make as little sense as panic buttons in the homes of battered women.

The public’s health is a significant component of the safety alleged to be present in decriminalized prostitution. In the 1980s, groups such as the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) capitalized on the AIDS epidemic by focusing on HIV education and harm reduction among those in prostitution. [35] This focus brought in massive funding to the prostitute unions who used it to lobby for decriminalized prostitution.[36]The harm reduction approach of these groups to HIV prevention seems to be based on the assumption that if enough male condoms are distributed then life will be better for everyone. In reality, women want harm elimination (exit from prostitution) as well as harm reduction. And a majority of johns across the globe refuse to use condoms. Epidemiologists have found that high risk for HIV is caused by rape and a large number of sex partners. Neither factor was addressed by prostitute unions.

Although it was promoted as a law protecting sex workers, the NZ government’s own evaluation of its law concluded that after prostitution was decriminalized, violence and sexual abuse continued as before. [37] “The majority of sex workers felt that the law could do little about violence that occurred” and that it was an inevitable aspect of the sex industry. [38] During one year, 35% of women in NZ decriminalized prostitution had been coerced. [39] The highest rate of sexual coercion by sex buyers was reported by women in massage parlor prostitution who were pimp-controlled (described as “managed” by the government). The social stigma of prostitution and mistrust of police persisted after decriminalization. Most women in prostitution did not report violence or crimes against them to the police after decriminalization. [40] Gangs of pimps have waged turf wars over control of prostitution in Auckland, [41] and NZ street prostitution spiraled out of control with some reports of a 200% increase post-decriminalization. [42]

Public misconceptions, rationalization, and denial about prostitution

Public misconceptions about prostitution stem from sex buyers’ and pimps’ cover narratives for the violence perpetrated against women in prostitution. Men’s justifications for other forms of violence against women are remarkably similar to their justifications for prostitution. They blame the victim, viewing women in prostitution as intrinsically different from other women and as morally deficient. Batterers justify beating women by declaring that she asked for it or provoked it. Sex buyers justify prostitution by telling us that she’s getting rich or that she’s simply doing an unpleasant but necessary job like factory work. Sex buyers and sex trade advocates may acknowledge a fraction of the abuse and exploitation in prostitution, but they justify the abuse because the women are alleged to make a lot of money. Once paid for, exploitation, abuse, and rape are disappeared. “All of them are exploited. However, they also have good incomes,” said an Italian sex buyer. [43] A sex buyer described the rapes of a woman by her pimp. But, he said, it was only “Every once and a while, not every week.” [44] If men’s sexual expectations are unmet, rape and prostitution are assumed to be inevitable. Women who fail to provide the sex acts demanded by their partners are then blamed for their partners’ use of women in prostitution. “If my fiancee won’t give me anal, I know someone who will.” [45]

Words that conceal its harm lead to confusion about prostitution: voluntary prostitution which implies that she consented when she had no survival alternatives; forced trafficking which implies that somewhere there are women who volunteer to be trafficked into prostitution; sex work, which defines prostitution as a job rather than an act of violence. The term migrant sex worker implies that both prostitution and trafficking are acceptable. Strip club prostitution has been reframed as sexual expression or freedom to express one’s sensuality. Brothels are referred to as massage parlors, saunas, and health clubs. Older men who buy teenagers for sex in Seoul call it compensated dating. In Tokyo prostitution is described as assisted intercourse. Men who buy women in prostitution are called interested parties, pimps are described as managers.

Pimps and traffickers facilitate denial by misrepresenting it as an easy, fun, lucrative job for the women in it. Women as well as men are pimps. A number of prominent advocates identify themselves publicly only as “sex workers,” although they are managers of women in the sex trade, some are pimps, and some have been arrested for pandering, brothel managing, or trafficking. There is a blatant conflict of interest when individuals who are management/owners/pimps are in the same organization as those who are under their control. The misrepresentation is even more unethical when the brothel owners, managers, and strip club board members hide their affiliations, claiming to represent the interests of sex workers. Hiding beneath the banner of labor unions, pimps appeal to the Left’s sympathies. Yet groups such as the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, the International Union of Sex Workers (UK), Red Thread (the Netherlands), Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (India), Stella (Canada), and Sex Worker Organizing Project (USA) – while aggressively promoting prostitution as work – do not resemble what most of us think of as labor unions. They do not offer pensions, safety, shorter hours, unemployment benefits, or exit services (which is what 90% of women in prostitution say that they want). Instead, these groups promote a free market in human beings who are used for sex. [46] We have located 12 people from 8 countries who publicly identify as sex workers or sex worker advocates but who have also sold others for sex or who have been implicated in the management of sex trade businesses in various specific ways. All of them promote decriminalized pimping. Many have been arrested for running brothels and escort agencies, trafficking, pandering, interstate prostitution, or living off earnings of prostitution. [47]

How can we respond ethically and appropriately to the existence of prostitution?

The existence of prostitution anywhere is society’s betrayal of women, especially those who are marginalized and vulnerable because of their sex, their ethnicity, their poverty, and their history of abuse and neglect. Prostitution is sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, often torture. Women in prostitution face a statistical probability of weekly rape, like domestic violence taken to the extreme.

The complicity of governments sustains prostitution. When the sex trade expands, women are less likely to compete with men for jobs. When prostitution is incorporated into states’ economies, governments are relieved of the necessity of finding employment for women. Blood taxes are collected by the state-as-pimp in legal and decriminalized prostitution. Banks, airlines, Internet providers, hotels, travel agencies, and all media are integral to the exploitation and abuse of women in prostitution tourism, make huge profits, and are solidified as part of the economy.

If we listen to the voices and analyses of exited survivors – those who are no longer under pimp or sex trade control – they direct us to the obvious legal solutions. Men who buy sex must be held accountable for their predatory aggression. Those in prostitution must be offered real alternatives for survival, and never arrested. Those who profit from prostitution – pimps and traffickers – must also be held accountable. A human-rights based approach to prostitution, recognizing it as sexual exploitation, like that of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Northern Ireland, would provide safety and hope. In this abolitionist approach to prostitution, sex buyers are criminalized (as are pimps and traffickers) and people in prostitution are decriminalized and are also provided with exit services and job training. But first we have to move past the pimps’ and profiteers’ lies about prostitution. I know we can do that.

To summarize:

  1. The truth about prostitution is often concealed behind the lies, manipulations and distortions of sex trade pimps, managers and others who profit from the business. The deeper truths about prostitution are revealed in survivors’ testimonies, as well as in research on the psychosocial and psychobiological realities of prostitution.
  2. At the root of prostitution, just like other coercive systems, are dehumanization, objectification, sexism, racism, misogyny, lack of empathy/pathological entitlement (pimps and johns), domination, exploitation, and a level of chronic exposure to violence and degradation that destroys the personality and the spirit.
  3. Prostitution cannot be made safe by legalizing or decriminalizing it. Prostitution needs to be completely abolished.
  4. Prostitution is more like being chronically sexually harassed, endangered, and raped, than working in a fast food restaurant. Most women in prostitution suffer from severe PTSD and want to get out.
  5. Sex buyers are predators; they often engage in coercive behavior, lack empathy and have sexist attitudes that justify abuse of women.
  6. A solution exists. It is called the Swedish model and it has been adopted by a number of countries including Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Northern Ireland.The essence of the solution is: criminalization for johns and pimps; decriminalization for women, and the provision of resources, alternatives, safe houses, rehabilitation.
  7. Prostitution affects all of us, not just those in it.

 

Notes

[1] Janice Turner (2014) “The mood’s changed. Buying sex is just wrong. The Times, London, February 8, 2014. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article3999436.ece

[2] Moore, C.G. (1991) A Killing Smile. Bangkok: White Lotus Press. Cited in Ryan Bishop & Lillian Robinson (1997) Night Market: Sexual Cultures and the Thai Economic Miracle. New York: Routledge, p 168-9.

[3] Farley, M., Macleod, J., Anderson, L., and Golding, J. (2011) Attitudes and Social Characteristics of Men Who Buy Sex in Scotland. Psychological Trauma:  Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 3/4: 369-383.

[4] Vanwesenbeeck I. (1994) Prostitutes’ Well-Being and Risk. Amsterdam: VU University Press.

[5] Farley, M. (2007) ‘Renting an Organ for Ten Minutes:’ What Tricks Tell us about Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking. In D.E. Guinn and J. DiCaro (eds) Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking. Pp 144-152. Los Angeles: Captive Daughters Media.

[6] Farley, M., Schuckman, E., Golding, J.M., Houser, K., Jarrett, L., Qualliotine, P., Decker, M. (2011) Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex: “You can have a good time with the servitude” vs. “You’re supporting a system of degradation” Paper presented at Psychologists for Social Responsibility Annual Meeting July 15, 2011, Boston.

[7] Marttila, A-M. (2000) Desiring the ‘Other:’ Prostitution Clients on a Transnational Red-Light District in the Border Area of Finland, Estonia and Russia. Gender, Technology, and Development 12(1): 31-51.

[8] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. (2009) Men who buy sex: who they buy and what they know. Eaves: London and Prostitution Research & Education: San Francisco. http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/c-prostitution-research.html

[9] Farley, M., Freed, W., Kien, S. P., Golding, J.M. (2012) A Thorn in the Heart: Cambodian Men who Buy Sex. Presented July 17, 2012 at conference co-hosted by Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center and Prostitution Research & Education: Focus on Men who Buy Sex:  Discourage Men’s Demand for Prostitution, Stop Sex Trafficking. Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

[10] Pornography and Prostitution in Canada: Report of the Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution (1985) 2. Minister of Supply and Services, Canada. p. 376–77.

[11] Spurrell, C. (2006) Who Pays for Sex? You’d Be Surprised. Times Online November 7, 2006. www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/men/article627388.ece

[12] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[13] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[14] Moran, R. (2014) “An Open Letter to the ‘Good’ Punter” May 19, 2014. Survivor’s View Blog. Prostitution Research & Education. http://prostitutionresearch.com/pre_blog/2014/05/19/an-open-letter-to-the-good-punter/

[15] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[16] Jeffreys, S. (1997). The idea of prostitution. North Melbourne: Spinifex Press.; Plumridge, E.W., Chetwynd, S.J., Reed, A. (1997) Control and condoms in commercial sex: client perspectives. Sociology of Health & Illness 19 (2): 228-243.

[17] Barry, K. (1995). The Prostitution of Sexuality. New York: New York University Press; Funari, V. (1997) Naked, naughty, nasty: peepshow reflections in Nagle, J. (ed.) Whores and Other Feminists. New York: Routledge; Giobbe, E. (1991). Prostitution, Buying the Right to Rape, in Burgess, A.W. (ed.) Rape and Sexual Assault III: a Research Handbook. New York: Garland Press; Hoigard, C. & Finstad, L. (1986). Backstreets: Prostitution, Money and Love. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press; Raymond, J., D’Cunha, J., Dzuhayatin, S.R., Hynes, H.P., Ramirez Rodriguez, Z., and Santos, A. (2002). A Comparative Study of Women Trafficked in the Migration Process: Patterns, Profiles and Health Consequences of Sexual Exploitation in Five Countries (Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Venezuela and the United States). N. Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). Available at www.catwinternational.org

[18] Flood, M., & Pease, B. (2009). Factors influencing attitudes to violence against women. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 10, 125-142; Koss, M. P., & Cleveland, H. H. (1997). Stepping on toes: Social roots of date rape lead to intractability and politicization. In M. D. Schwartz (Ed.), Researching sexual violence against women: Methodological and personal perspectives (pp. 4-21). London: Sage.
Available at http://prostitutionresearch.com/2015/09/01/men-who-buy-sex-have-much-in-common-with-sexually-coercive-men-new-study-shows-4/

[19] Farley, M., Golding, J., Matthews, E.S., Malamuth, N., Jarrett, L. (2015) Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Do Not Buy Sex: New Data on Prostitution and Trafficking. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (August, 2015) 1-25.

[20] Heilman, B., Herbert, L., & Paul-Gera, N. (2014). The making of sexual violence: How does a boy grow up to commit rape? Evidence from five IMAGES countries. Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Washington, DC: Promundo. Retrieved from: http://www.icrw.org/files/publications/The%20Making%20Of%20Sexual%20Violence%20-%20June%202014%20-%20WEB%20PREVIEW.pdf

[21] Monto, M. A., & McRee, N. (2005). A comparison of the male customers of female street prostitutes with national samples of men. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49, 505-529.

[22] Farley, M., Macleod, J., Anderson, L., and Golding, J. (2011) Attitudes and Social Characteristics of Men Who Buy Sex in Scotland. Psychological Trauma:  Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 3/4: 369-383.

[23] Prostitution occurs in 99% of strip clubs. Holsopple, K. (1998) Stripclubs According to Strippers: Exposing Workplace Violence. Unpublished Paper; Farley, M. (2004) “Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart:” Prostitution Harms Women Even If Legalized or Decriminalized. Violence Against Women 10: 1087-1125.

[24] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[25] Farley, M., Bindel, J., and Golding, J.M.2009.

[26] Dragomirescu, D.A., Necula, C., & Simion, R. 2009 “Romania: Emerging Market for Trafficking? Clients and Trafficked Women in Romania.” in A. Di Nicola (ed.) Prostitution and Human Trafficking: Focus on Clients. New York: Springer. p. 160

[27] “The sex work approach to prostitution favors across-the-board decriminalization with various forms of legalization, usually with some state regulation, sometimes beginning with unionization. Its goal is to remove criminal sanctions from all actors in the sex industry so that prostitution becomes as legitimate as any other mode of livelihood.” Catharine A. MacKinnon (2011) Trafficking, Prostitution, and Inequality. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 46: 701-739.

[28] Charter, D. (2008) Half of Amsterdam’s red-light windows close. The Times UK. December 27, 2008 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5400641.ece).

[29] Jeffreys, S. (2003) The legalisation of prostitution: A failed social experiment. Women’s Health Watch Newsletter, 64: 8-11. www.women’shealth.org.nz.

[30] Cho, S-Y., Dreher, A., Neymayer, E. (2013) Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking? World Development 41:67-82. http://www.lse.ac.uk/geographyAndEnvironment/whosWho/profiles/neumayer/pdf/Article-for-World-Development-_prostitution_-anonymous-REVISED.pdf

[31] Farley, M., 2004,  Prostitution Harms Women Even If Legalized or Decriminalized.

[32] Daley, S. (2001) New Rights for Dutch Prostitutes, but No Gain. New York Times. August 12, 2001. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/12/international/12DUTC.html

[33] St James Infirmary, 2004, p 172). St James Infirmary (2004 2nd edition) Occupational Health and Safety Handbook. San Francisco: Exotic Dancers Alliance and STD Prevention and Control Services of the City and County of San Francisco.

[34] Sullivan, M. (2007) Making Sex Work: a failed experiment with legal prostitution. Melbourne: Spinifex.

[35] Priscilla Alexander noted that the AIDS epidemic brought with it certain fiscal advantages to those promoting prostitution. Alexander, P. (1996) Foreword. Priscilla Alexander in N. McKeganey and M. Barnard (Eds.) Sex Work on the Streets: Prostitutes and Their Clients Philadelphia: Open University Press.

[36] Jenness, V. (1993) Making It Work: the Prostitutes’ Rights Movement in Perspective. New York: De Gruyter

[37] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008) Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003. Wellington, New Zealand. http://www.justice.govt.nz/prostitution-law-review-committee/publications/plrc-report/index.html:157

[38] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008), pp.14 and 57

[39] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008), page 46.

[40] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008), 122.

[41] Tapaleao, Vaimoana (2009, May 4). City takes prostitute dilemma to the top. New Zealand Herald. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10570143.

[42] The New Zealand Prostitution Law Review Committee, 2008, p 118 noted that street prostitution in Auckland more than doubled in just one year, 2006–2007. Other reports in the press place the numbers much higher. “Estimates indicate that the number of street workers in Manukau City may have quadrupled since June 2003….” Manukau City Council, Report of Manukau City Council on Street Prostitution Control http:// www.manukau.govt.nz/uploadedFiles/manukau.govt.nz/Publications/ Plans_&_Poli cies/mcc-report-on-streetprostitution-aug-2005.pdf.

[43] Di Nicola, A., Cuaduro, A., Lombardi, M., Ruspini, P. (editors) (2009) Prostitution and Human Trafficking: Focus on Clients. New York: Springer.

[44] Farley, M., Schuckman, E., Golding, J.M., Houser, K., Jarrett, L., Qualliotine, P., Decker, M. (2011) Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex: “You can have a good time with the servitude” vs. “You’re supporting a system of degradation” Paper presented at Psychologists for Social Responsibility Annual Meeting July 15, 2011, Boston.

[45] Farley, M., Schuckman, E., Golding, J.M., Houser, K., Jarrett, L., Qualliotine, P., Decker, M., 2011.

[46] Cecilie Hoigard (2015) The Presence of Pain in the Debate on Prostitution,Women’s Front of Norway. Available at http://kvinnefronten.no/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Two-Articles-on-Prostitution.pdf

[47] Norma Jean Almodovar, USA, International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture, and Education, Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE), convicted of pandering. The executive director of COYOTE/Los Angeles, Norma Jean Almodovar, was convicted of pandering. See AP report in Spokane Chronicle September 27, 1984, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1345&dat=19840927&id=PldOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=jfkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=7010,2487624&hl=en; See also AP report in the Register-Guard Eugene Oregon, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1310&dat=19840927&id=Aa1jAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iuEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6617,6534751&hl=en;

Terri Jean Bedford, Canada, sex worker advocate, convicted of running a brothel. Bedford was one of three applicants, describing themselves as sex workers, who challenged the Canadian laws on prostitution with the goal of decriminalizing prostitution in Canada. See http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/dominatrix-found-guilty-1.165890 for a description of her 1994 arrest; Also see Toronto Star Archives, Paul Moloney (1994) Sexual bondage parlor raided in Thornhill. Toronto Star Sept 17, 1994 http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/06/13/the_making_of_abad_girl.html for a description of her arrest for running a bawdy house. “York Region police have seized an astonishing array of sexual bondage paraphernalia in a raid on a modest Thornhill bungalow advertised as Madame de Sade’s House of Erotica. Along with assorted whips, chains, spanking paddles, handcuffs, masks, wigs and boots, police seized a tall throne, stocks, spanking benches, and a black wooden cross with tie-downs for head, arms and feet. Two “dominant” and one “submissive” attendant – ‘Mistress Marie,’ ‘Mistress Morgan’ and ‘Princess’ – provided sessions which allowed for sexual gratification, mostly masturbation, investigators said;”

Claudia Brizuela, Argentina, Association of Women Prostitutes of Argentina, Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network, charged with sex trafficking. Claudia Brizuela, a former leader of Asociacion de Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina (AMMAR) and a founder of the Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network, was arrested and charged for sex trafficking in 2014. Both sexworker groups were funded by UNAIDS and referenced by Amnesty International in support of its decriminalization advocacy. See Ex dirigente de Ammar procesada por liderar red de trata.(source Anna Djinn) https://thefeministahood.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/what-amnesty-did-wrong/;

Maxine Doogan, USA, Erotic Service Providers Union, charged with running an escort agency. Mary Ellen (Maxine) Doogan pimped women out of an escort prostitution agency in Seattle, WA, Personal Touch Escort Service, where she was charged with felony promotion of prostitution and money laundering. She pled guilty to a lesser charge of pimping and was convicted in 1994 of second degree promotion of prostitution. Nature of Action: Prosecution for second degree promotion of prostitution by the statutory alternative means of profiting from prostitution.  Superior Court: The Superior Court for King County, No. 93-1-04076-4, Anthony P. Wartnik, J., on August 8, 1994, entered a judgment on a verdict of guilty;

Robyn Few, USA, Sex Workers Outreach Project, convicted of conspiracy to promote interstate prostitution. Robyn Few was convicted of violating a federal law, conspiracy to promote prostitution. She founded Sex Workers Outreach Project. http://www.swopusa.org/about-us/founder-robyn-few/; Jesse Jardim (2004) Ex-Prostitute Hits the Streets to Decriminalize Prostitution. Daily Californian Jan 29 2004. http://archive.dailycal.org/article.php?id=13940;

Douglas Fox, UK, International Union of Sex Workers, arrested for living off the earnings of prostitution, advisor to Amnesty International, co-manages escort agency. Douglas Fox was a founder of the International Union of Sex Workers. He has been arrested for living off the earnings of prostitution in a police sting at the escort agency Christony Companions. Julie Bindel (2015) “What you call pimps, we call managers” Byline July 21 2015. https://www.byline.com/column/7/article/188. Investigative journalist Julie Bindel concludes that the purpose of the International Union of Sex Workers appears to be “to normalise pimping, lobby for an end to laws that criminalise the exploiters in the sex industry, and ultimately to sugar-coat prostitution and present it as a job like any other.” See Bindel, J. (2013) An Unlikely Union: Julie Bindel investigates a world of workers, pimps, and punters. The Gaze. April 2013. http://www.gaze-amodernreview.co.uk/contributors.html (also available from the author);

Eliana Gil, Mexico, Global Network of Sex Work Projects, Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network, convicted of sex trafficking. Eliana Gil was arrested in 2014 and convicted in 2015 of sex trafficking. http://www.sinembargo.mx/22-02-2014/912026. According to victim testimony, with her son she pimped about 200 women in Mexico City. The Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network was affiliated with and funded by United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, affiliated with World Health Organization, and cited by Amnesty International http://www.faber.co.uk/blog/a-human-rights-scandal-by-kat-banyard/

Pye Jakobsson, Sweden, Rose Alliance, Global Network of Sex Work Projects, decade-long board member of a Stockholm strip club where she was also paid to organize the club’s schedule and place new women into the club’s schedule. She engaged in similar scheduling of women and quasi-management activities at a second club (Erostop). Pye Jakobsson acknowledges being on the board of the strip club Flirt Fashion from 2001-2012. “Founder also on board of strip club” January 14, 2013 Kajsa Skarsgård  Commentary http://www.dagensarena.se/innehall/frontfigur-ocksa-i-styrelse-for-strippklubb/; Gerda Christensen (Translation to English: Annina Claesson) “Swedish Rose Alliance – a fraudulent organization,” 2013 Newsletter of Kvinnofronten, the Women’s front in Sweden http://kvinnofronten.nu/eng/Newsletter/debate-rose-alliance.htm. A survivor who approached Jakobsson at Rose Alliance stated that Jakobsson recruited women to work at the strip club. http://bibbidibobbidibutthole.tumblr.com/post/125394583276/womensliberationfront-gerda-christenson-of
Jakobsson was interviewed by a reporter while she was at Erostop, where again her work was described by a reporter as “handling schedules:” “Pye Jakobsson, 32, handles schedules and other things around the strippers at Erostop.”http://wwwc.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/0006/24/sexklubb.html A sex buyer’s review of Erostop from 2007 described acts of prostitution at the club where Jakobsson handled schedules and other things: “Private Show where the girls show pussy and you get jerk off your cost $ 500.” https://www.flashback.org/t2831p3;

Jackie McMillan, Australia, Sex Workers Outreach Project, pornography producer, dungeon club manager and promoter. Jackie McMillan stated that she produced pornography for 10 years https://www.facebook.com/WomanSaySomething/posts/782787211765971. McMillan also manages a fetish club in Sydney with her husband Craig Donarski where the Hellfire Club’s employees provide a dungeon/kink experience with bondage, domination, sadism, submission. http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/adult/features/11813/bdsm-in-sydney; https:// www.linkedin.com/in/jackiemcmillan; Donarski and McMillan received a business award for the Hellfire Club in 2014. http://australianpridenetwork.com.au/sydney-lgbti-community-honours-its-heroes/;

Maggie McNeil, USA, Sex Workers Outreach Project, owner of New Orleans escort prostitution agency. Maggie McNeil stated, “I owned an escort service. I was a madam.” https://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/across-the-pond/#comment-15832 and “I was the best agency owner in New Orleans” http://titsandsass.com/haters-gonna-hate-even-when-youre-both-sex-workers/#comment-3022;

Tanja Sommer, Germany, sex worker advocate with Berufsverband erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen (BesD), Business Association of Erotic and Sexual services. Manages a dominatrix sex studio and rents out rooms to others in prostitution. Tanja Sommer, in a leading position at the BesD http://berufsverband-sexarbeit.de/en/contact/ also runs her own dominatrix studio in which other women prostitute. Der Spiegel, “Uncovered” March 28, 2015: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-132909484.html
Her colleague Holger Rettig is leader of the UEGD (Unternehmerverband Erotikgewerbe Deutschland- Business Association of Erotic Business in Germany). This organization, consisting only of brothel-owning pimps, helped to found and works closely with the BesD. http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-132909484.html;

Margo St James, USA, COYOTE, arrest for running a brothel. For a biography of Margo St. James life and arrest, see Alison Bass (2015) Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law, documenting St James’ arrest via interview with her, describing police officer’s statement that she solicited him, her conviction for running a “disorderly house” i.e. brothel, her statement that her roommates were prostituting but St James herself was not prostituting at the time of the arrest.

South African School Girls Provide Leadership for the On-Going Revolution

Black Agenda Report

September 13, 2016

Refusing to straighten their hair or submit to white supremacist standards of beauty and comportment, 13 year-old South African Black schoolgirls braved police dogs and arrest to join a growing youth movement. Students have also protested the imposition of college fees and rules against speaking their own languages. The Pretoria girls’ courage “should provide inspiration to Black girls colonized in the US, Europe and around the world.”

“The valliant protest of these girls reveals the continuity of the struggle for liberation and confirms that the Soweto uprising was not in vain.”Pretoria Girls High School was shaken to its core two weeks ago when Black girls attending this apartheid-era elite school challenged fundamental tenets of white supremacy. This challenge to white supremacy occurred in Pretoria, the official seat of the apartheid regime, a city known for its brutality and savage treatment of Africans. The city has since been renamed, in the post-apartheid era, Tshwane. Refusing to bow down to long held notions of European beauty standards and African inferiority, the girls, approximately 13 years old, asserted that their humanity was not negotiable. With afros and dignity intact, Black girls from the Pretoria High School raised their brave little fists under the South African sky and shook the world.

These Black school girls are protesting racist practices, according to school guidelines, which force Black girls to straighten their African hair as well as impose penalties for Black girls socializing together in groups.

Exactly 40 years ago, about an hour from the Pretoria Girls School, a young 13 year old boy named Hector Zolile Peterson was shot dead by the Apartheid regime. Soweto 1976 has become part of protest language among young Black South Africans. Hector was shot in Soweto while they were protesting against using Afrikaans, the language of their oppressors as the official language of instruction. The young man, Mbuyisa Makhubu, carrying Hector Peterson in his arms went missing in the days following Hector’s murder.  The apartheid government hunted him down after the photograph became the symbol of the vicious and deadly apartheid regime. His family is still searching for him. Mbuyisa, together with hundreds of Black  children vanished into thin air in 1976. The valliant protest of these girls, over 40 years after Hector’s death, reveals the continuity of the struggle for liberation and confirms that the Soweto uprising was not in vain.

“Soweto 1976 has become part of protest language among young Black South Africans.”

The death of Nelson Mandela exposed the underbelly of neo-liberal economic policies that tolerated Black leadership but exploded racial and class inequalities. This negotiated “peace” blessed by European powers in London, Amsterdam and Washington maintained white economic global power in South Africa at the expense of the Black majority. A new generation of activists now draws on the likes of Steven Bantu Biko, Chris Hani, the 1976 Soweto uprising young activists and Robert Sobukwe in order to ignite the unfinished business of South Africa’s total liberation.

The #RhodesMustFall movement, which began 9 March 2015 at the University of Cape Town, arguably sparked this contagious flame that has in the last few weeks found new expression among young school girls. At the heart of RMF movement is the decolonisation conversation. It addresses decolonisation of spaces, minds, languages, education and land. It speaks of total freedom from all kinds of manifestations of white domination faced by Black South Africans daily as a result of the legacy of the global system of white supremacy and apartheid.  This movement gave rise to the #FeesMustFall movement which demanded free tuition in South African universities for both students and black maintenance workers who are usually condemned to intergenerational poverty.

The 13 year-old  Pretoria High School student leader Zulaikha Patel is often referred to as “little Angela Davis” by South Africans. She was iconically photographed with a defiant gaze before a white policeman, considered the oppressor of black identity and freedom. In the photograph, her young arms are crossed just above her head which is crowned by an unmistakable afro.  What inspired the world was seeing Zulaikha wearing her school uniform, standing before a large white male whose build is what is instinctively identified in South Africa as the figure of an Afrikaaner man.

“Zulaikha Patel is often referred to as “little Angela Davis” by South Africans.”

Dogs and security were brought to the school to stop the girls from protesting. Officials and security tried to intimidate the girls by saying they woud arrest them.  The girls responded with the fierce chant: “Arrest us!”

Among other protesting schools since PGHS is #SansSouci.  This school made headlines protesting against racist practices that included being punished and fined if the girls spoke their African mother-tongue, Xhosa. Sans Souci, a former white school located in the leafy Cape Town suburb of Newlands, forced the girls to speak English even when they were outside of the school premises. Girls showed evidence on their merit books where they were de-merited for speaking Xhosa. Black school children symbolically tore the books as a form of protest, symbolising the burning of apartheid-era pass books which were issued in order to control the movement of black South Africans

One of the protesting parents of the Sans Souci girls, interviewed for this article, said: “The principal of the school has a really old colonial mindset.” The girls are demanding the resignation of the white school principal, Charmaine Murray, tweeting and shouting #MurrayMustFall. They call for a black school principal to replace her. This would be the first time that Black students asserted such power at such a school. Black students at Sans Souci have a detailed list of demands that include such issues as addressing white supremacy and the inclusion of their native tongues as part of the school curriculum. The Sans Souci principal went into hiding during the protest after years of terrorising black children.

“Language contains a people’s memory, their stories and their heritage.”

The current student movements have their antecedents in the youth movements of 40 years ago. These students are fighting for their lives, their dignity and their humanity. The ability to learn and speak ones language is a fundamental principle that must be affirmed in the fight against white supremacy. Language contains a people’s memory, their stories and their heritage. It is how South Africans remember purpose, nation, family, love and community.

After thousands signed an online petition supporting the Pretoria students, the head of Gauteng province’s education department ordered the code of conduct clause dealing with hairstyles to be suspended.

The Pretoria Girls School protest is built upon the wings of the anti-colonial struggle in South Africa and should provide inspiration to Black girls colonized in the US, Europe and around the world.

Please see links below to view pictures, a youtube and articles on the South African school girls protest:

https://madamemadiba.wordpress.com/

https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/thetruthwewillproclaim

https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/stop-racism-at-pretoria-girls-high

 

[Dr. Marsha Adebayo is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha’s successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet, serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com and coordinates the Hands Up Coalition, DC.]

[Siki Dlanga is a South African is an author of a poetry anthology Word of Worth. She is also a columnist and a creative activist based in Cape Town. She leads Freedom Mantle, a Christian initiative that supports emerging leaders to shape a new South African narrative. Freedom Mantle participates in and initiates spaces of activism in pursuit of a more just nation and world. Earlier this year, Siki invited Joshua Smith, an activist from Baltimore to share the #BlackLivesMatter struggle with South African #FeesMustFall leaders from various universities at a Freedom Mantle initiative. She believes that the land of Africa will cease to ache when the bridge between the continent and African-Americans is complete. She believes that the parallels between the South African and African-America struggle exist in order to accelerate this bridge to enable an end to 400years of pain. https://madamemadiba.wordpress.com]

Peru: Mass Feminist Victory Confronts Embedded Patriarchy..Ni Una Menos

The Free

September 16, 2016

 

not-one-less

Arlette was dragged by the hair and strangled by her boyfriend on camera as he screamed.”You’re mine or you’re nobody’s”.

But yet again the Judge refused to convict for ”lack of evidence”.

That was one of a string of horrific attacks on women that swept social media and provoked the massive 500,000 strong feminist demo last August 13th in Peru, supported by cities worldwide.

ni_una_menos_5-1

Peru has finally joined the tidal wave of ‘Not One Woman Less’ protests that have inundated Latin and South America. Finally women are confronting the ingrained social license to treat them as sex slaves, private property, servants and veritable punch-bags in the service of runaway macho hubris.

In recent years in Peru, women’s groups like the Red Carpet, The Insurgents, Feminist Command, the Association of Women Affected by Forced Sterilizations, Stop Street Harassment Street, Chola Contravisual and various university groups, have fought on several fronts against gender violence, domestic and institutional.

But they have been answered by open police repression, beatings and tear gas, condescension and contempt for their demands and protests by the press and much of civil society.

'I decide whose hands touch me'..'Not one woman more..nor one less, I want to ne a woman and enjoy my se'.. No lock nor key can shut me up'..
‘I decide whose hands touch me’..’Not one woman more..nor one less, I want to be a woman and enjoy my sex’.. No lock nor key can shut me up’..

Soon after the mega protest it became clear that far from improving the wave of attacks on women and children was actually on the increase. Officials were quick to explain this might be due to women becoming emboldened to accuse their tormentors.

Milagros was inspired by the demo to report her tormentor, but he and the police turned against her.
Milagros was inspired by the demo to report her tormentor, but he and the police turned against her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Famously the police and courts were seen to continue their open anti-women policy when Milagros Rumiche, inspired by the movement, decided to denounce the systematic abuse she received from the father of her child.

Instead of redress she was taken in for questioning and then beaten by her husband. Today Milagros lies disfigured and tubed-up in a hospital bed, yet the coroner has determined that she has only suffered minor injuries and the criminal ‘cannot be found’.

This and many many more atrocities, along with the court rejection yet again of the case brought by more than 200,000 peasant sterilized against their will, has finally broken through the submission of hundreds of thousands of women.

The acquittal of Adriano Well of crimes of sexual violence, the femicide against Arlette Contreras and the suspension of the prison sentence of Ronny Garcia, the individual who left Lady Guillen disfigured with blows and bites were the drops that overflowed a glass that seemed bottomless.

100_5440

The call for a ‘Not one Woman Less’ National Mobilization began on July 19 as a closed Facebook group. The response was such that in three weeks it had nearly sixty thousand people.

Allegations and testimonies flooded the wall, confessions gave courage to others to also break their silence and publicly identify their assailants by name, even if they were public figures, including well-known artists and activists.

Soon self pity gave way to companionship, fellowship led to catharsis, and catharsis to rage. The objective of ”holding a demonstration” faded among both harangues, calls for self-defense, and to picket the oppressors. The exchange of information and resources was so empowering that they had to create a new virtual group – specifically for the operational issues of the march.feminismo-peruano

The massive August demo was an amazing wake up call, but being Peru this was qualified by all kinds of wild, hypocritical, and scandalous actions.

An almost kitsch bandwagon of positions opened up with the appearance of a whole range of  previously unknown institutional feminists hostile to the most combative, based on the streets: the pacifists, who are terrified of the word feminist; the fujimoristas, which claim for women only her role as mother, wife, sister or daughter;

The pro-life, who cry “Not one less from the womb”; those supporting till a male friend was denounced; Catholics outraged at the male violence, but indifferent to the conditions of horror in which hundreds of thousands of clandestine abortions are practiced.

(The streets of downtown Lima are riddled with flyers and posters advertising ‘Delayed Menstruation Clinics’ that offer an illegal and dangerous solution to an unwanted pregnancy that seriously undermine the health of patients. The vast majority of Peruvian women can not afford to pay between 600 and 800 dollars for a private clinic. )

march against forced sterilisations
march against forced sterilisations: ‘Your hatred doesn’t reduce my rights’…’Are Forced Sterilizations part of your ‘Natural Order”

Then there were those well-meaning men, ‘mansplaining’ the way we should organise the feminist struggle; the enthusiasts of the death penalty for rapists; and many more multiple groups, more diverse every day.

Amid this barrage of information, the phenomenon of ‘victim shaming’ or blaming the victim was not long in appearing. Along with polemics networks, blockades and taking sides.

Having started as a funny and novel initiative, easy to join and without risking much, when it was just a platform “against gender violence”, once the harassment, self-defense and the debate on the consensus began to be common themes in discussions ‘Not One Less’ began to be referred to as a “cage of raging madwomen” and “feminazis out of control”.

'No More Patriarchal Violence' .. 'Abusing one of us they abuse us all' .. 'We cry out against our forced destiny'..
‘No More Patriarchal Violence’ .. ‘Abusing one of us they abuse us all’ .. ‘Libertarian Socialism’ .. We cry out against our forced destiny’..

But there was no stopping it, next thing, brands and companies of all kinds, including those who do not allow their workers to form unions or which do not recognize rights to maternity leave, were jumping on board and joining the cause.

Even the judiciary and the most recalcitrant mass media were voicing support. The march on August 13, also had 24 cities in the world in support with simultaneous actions.

 Half a million people marching is many, many people. So that, among them, to the astonishment of abused women, they could find even their own assailants, some of them still operating in situ , shielded by the police uniforms.
marcha-ni-una-menos-movilizo-a-jpg_265x148

 

After the march, in fact, social networks burned with complaints about the slow reactions of the police who gawked at the protesters, almost always accompanied by a “how sexy you are.”

Peruvian hypocrisy, our inheritance of a courtier and colonial past, begins to show signs of having turned into schizophrenia. Stalkers marching against patriarchy, prosecutors cynically mouthing support for their victims,  businesses printing T-shirts, to be distributed by workers in scandalous slave labour conditions.

The macho Internet trolls called a counter demo..”Not One Man Less” for September 3rd, demanding their girlfriends learn to cook “like their mothers” and the right to give ‘a good beating’ for suspected infidelity.. but only 20 men and a lot of media showed up.

feminicidioargentina

Despite everything the arrival of Not One Woman Less is a huge breakthrough, reinforcing struggles on every side and re-creating women’s solidarity against a deep and implacable repression.

Feminists, far from being content with not being beaten, have sharpened their detection of everyday patriarchal practices and started talking about rebellion against capitalism, trans rights, and proclaiming what we have always known.. that the Pachamama is a feminist .

above is a shortened translation based on Diagonal article below.  https://www.diagonalperiodico.n..


 

El desborde feminista se enfrenta a la impunidad de las agresiones a mujeres en Perú

Alrededor de 500.000 personas de todas las regiones del país participaron el pasado 13 de agosto en la marcha Ni Una Menos, la más multitudinaria de la historia de Perú.

, de Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque Armado / Comando Feminista
El caso de las más de 200.000 campesinas esterilizadas contra su voluntad mediante el Programa de Salud Reproductiva y Planificación Familiar entre 1990 y 2000 ha sido archivado una vez más.

La fiscalía no considera que existan suficientes pruebas de que se trata de un crimen de lesa humanidad –a pesar de que fue perpetrado contra un sector específico de la población: mujeres campesinas y de escasos recursos– y niega la autoría directa de Alberto Fujimori y sus ministros de Salud.

El pasado 27 de julio, el Ministerio Público, por decisión de la fiscal Marcelita Gutierrez, dio por cerrada la investigación. La misma semana, la justicia peruana se inclinó en favor del agresor de Arlette Contreras, joven que fue estrangulada y arrastrada de los pelos por su novio al grito de “si no eres mía no serás de nadie”.

A pesar de que el episodio de este culebrón de terror fue registrado en vídeo por una cámara de seguridad, el juzgado ha resuelto que, otra vez, no hay pruebas suficientes.

Al archivo de conocidos casos de agresiones a mujeres en Perú se suman otros en los que son las propias instituciones las que dan el ‘tiro de gracia’ a las mujeres. Fue el caso de L.C., una adolescente que, al sospechar que estaba embarazada producto de las violaciones sistemáticas que sufría desde los 13 años, intentó suicidarse lanzándose desde el techo de su casa.

Sobrevivió, pero con graves lesiones en la columna vertebral que requerían de una intervención quirúrgica urgente para no causar daños irreversibles en la movilidad de su cuerpo. Los médicos encargados decidieron que la vida del feto, según ellos en peligro, era más valiosa que su salud y le negaron la operación.

Tres meses después L.C. tuvo un aborto espontáneo y finalmente fue operada, pero ya era tarde. Hoy en día es parapléjica y tras nueve años de batalla legal contra el Estado no ha conseguido una compensación.

Durante los últimos años en Perú, colectivos como Alfombra Roja, Las Insurgentes, Comando Feminista, la Asociación de Mujeres Afectadas por las Esterilizaciones Forzadas, Paremos el Acoso Callejero, Chola Contravisual y diversos colectivos universitarios, han luchado desde distintos frentes contra la violencia machista, doméstica e institucional, recibiendo como respuesta, por parte de la policía, golpes y bombas lacrimógenas, y por parte de la prensa y gran parte de la sociedad civil, condescendencia y desprecio ante sus demandas y protestas.

“¿Dónde? –parecen preguntar los estupefactos rostros de las manifestantes, al llegar a la sede–, ¿dónde está esa justicia?

Alrededor de 500.000 personas de todas las regiones del país participaron el pasado 13 de agosto en la marcha Ni Una Menos, la más multitudinaria de la historia de Perú.Las miles de manifestantes vieron como en la fachada de la sede del Poder Judicial peruano en Lima colgaba una inmensa pancarta en la que se podía leer “El Poder Judicial rechaza la violencia contra la mujer”, rematado con la frase “Una justicia con igualdad de género”.

Entre ellas y la pancarta, un cordón de policías con guantes blancos –en señal de rechazo a la violencia–. Por todo esto es por lo que es imposible no tomarse las palabras que adornan la inmensa pancarta que el Poder Judicial ha colocado en su fachada como una macabra broma, casi una provocación.

“¿Dónde? –parecen preguntar los estupefactos rostros de las manifestantes, al llegar a la sede–, ¿dónde está esa justicia?

La absolución de Adriano Pozo de los delitos de violencia sexual y feminicidio contra Arlette Contreras y la suspensión de la sentencia de cárcel de Ronny García, el individuo que dejó desfigurada a base de golpes y mordiscos a Lady Guillén –otro de los casos de violencia machista que saltó a los medios en 2012–, fueron las gotas que colmaron un vaso que parecía no tener fondo.

La convocatoria a ‘Ni Una Menos. Nos tocan a una. Movilización Nacional Ya’ se abrió el 19 de julio como un grupo cerrado en Facebook. La respuesta fue tal que en tres semanas ya había alcanzado casi sesenta mil personas.

Las denuncias y los testimonios inundaban el muro, las confesiones de cada una daban valentía a otras más para romper también su silencio e identificar públicamente a su agresor con nombre y apellido, aun cuando se tratase de personajes públicos, como conocidos artistas y activistas.

Pronto la autocompasión dio paso al compañerismo, el compañerismo a la catarsis y la catarsis a la rabia. El objetivo “manifestación” se desdibujó tanto entre las arengas, los llamamientos a la autodefensa, al escrache, al intercambio de recursos e información empoderadora, que se tuvo que crear un nuevo grupo virtual, específico para las cuestiones operativas de la marcha.

Los reclamos identitarios no se hicieron esperar. Un espectro casi kitsch de posturas se abrió como un abanico antes desconocido para las feministas institucionales, incluso para las más combativas, con base en la calle: las pacifistas, las que le tienen terror a la palabra feminista, las fujimoristas, las que reivindican a la mujer en tanto su rol de madre, esposa, hermana o hija; las pro-vida, que claman “Ni una menos desde el vientre”; las que dan me gusta a los testimonios hasta que uno de sus amigos es denunciado;

Las católicas indignadas ante las cachetadas masculinas, pero indiferentes a las condiciones de horror en las que se practican los cientos de miles de abortos clandestinos en las siniestras ‘clínicas de Atrazo Menstrual´ –las calles del centro de Lima están plagadas de flyers y afiches que ofrecen la solución a un embarazo no deseado y en los que la palabra ‘atraso’ se escribe con z.

Se trata de consultorios médicos clandestinos `low cost´ en los que se practican abortos en condiciones de insalubridad e inseguridad que atentan gravemente contra la salud de las pacientes. La inmensa mayoría de mujeres peruanas no puede darse el lujo de pagar entre 600 y 800 dólares en una clínica privada–.

A estas se suman los hombres bienintencionados, explicando el camino que debería seguir la lucha feminista, las entusiastas de la pena de muerte para los violadores y un largo etcétera cada día más múltiple y diverso.
De ser una iniciativa considerada graciosa y simpática cuando era sólo una plataforma “contra la violencia de género”, cuando el acoso y la autodefensa entraron en las discusiones ‘Ni Una Menos’ pasó a ser referida como una “jaula de locas furiosas” y “feminazis fuera de control”

En medio de esta lluvia de información, el fenómeno del ‘victim shaming’ o culpabilización de la víctima no se hizo esperar. Polémicas en redes, bloqueos, eliminaciones, bandos.

De haber empezado como una iniciativa considerada graciosa, simpática y a la que sumarse sin arriesgar mucho cuando era tan sólo una plataforma “contra la violencia de género”, una vez que el acoso, la autodefensa y el debate sobre el consenso empezaron a ser temas comunes en las discusiones ‘Ni Una Menos’ pasó a ser referida como una“jaula de locas furiosas” y “feminazis fuera de control”, especialmente por personajes de las redes sociales como la modelo Adri Vainilla, que utilizaron argumentos como estos para defender a amigos sobre los que pesaban denuncias de acoso.

Así y todo, marcas y empresas de toda ralea,incluyendo a las que no permiten sindicarse a sus trabajadoras o las que no reconocen sus permisos de maternidad, se sumaron a la causa, junto al Poder Judicial y los medios de comunicación más recalcitrantes.

La marcha del 13 de agosto sumó, además, 24 ciudades del mundo en acciones simultáneas de apoyo. Medio millón de personas marchando es mucha, muchísima gente. Tanta que, entre ella, para estupefacción de las agredidas, podíaencontrarse a sus mismísimos agresores, algunos de ellos operando in situ con tal desparpajo, escudados en su uniforme de policía.

Tras la marcha, en efecto, las redes sociales ardieron de denuncias a cerca de los lentos repasos que los efectivos policiales dedicaron con la mirada a las manifestantes, casi siempre acompañados de un “qué rica estás”.

Ni Una Menos consiguió una presencia avasalladora en las calles y en los medios. Y sin embargo las cifras de violencia contra la mujer y feminicidio se han incrementado tras la marcha. Milagros Rumiche, inspirada en el movimiento, decidió denunciar el sistemático abuso que recibía del padre de su hijo.

La policía recogió el parte y ni siquiera citó al denunciado para interrogarlo. Hoy Milagros yace desfigurada y entubada en la cama de un hospital, pero la médico forense determina que sólo ha sufrido lesiones leves, siguiendo a pies juntillas la ley que dictamina que sólo si la agresión postra a la víctima durante más de 15 días pasaría a tratarse de lesiones graves. El criminal se encuentra ‘no habido’ (no localizado).

La hipocresía peruana, herencia de un pasado cortesano y virreinal, empieza a dar señales de haberse tornado en esquizofrenia. Acosadores marchando contra el patriarcado, fiscalías acariciando una causa con la mano y dándole patadas con los pies, empresas imprimiendo camisetas de Ni Una Menos que reparten trabajadoras en regímenes laborales escandalosos.

Los primeros ya cuentan con una segunda cita a la que asistir para manifestarse, Ni Uno Menos, el 3 de septiembre. ¿Sus demandas? Las de siempre: que sus novias aprendan a cocinar “como sus viejitas” –un tipo acaba de destrozarle la cara a ladrillazos a su esposa por servirle la comida “muy picante”–, el derecho a propinar una buena golpiza en caso de infidelidad o sospecha de infidelidad y un extravagante “No + mujeres violadoras”, para darle color al asunto.

Las feministas, en cambio, lejos de conformarse con no ser golpeadas, parecen haber agudizado su órgano detector de prácticas patriarcales y empiezan a hablar de reinvindicaciones trans, de rebelarse contra el capitalismo y aseguran siempre haber sabido, eso sí, que la Pachamama es feminista.

The Call of the Wild

Paul Kingsnorth: ‘We imagine how it feels to be a character, why can’t we imagine how the land feels?’

 

Paul Kingsnorth

July 26, 2016

 

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia.

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia

We had climbed, slowly, to a high mountain ridge. We were two young Englishmen who were not supposed to be here – journalism was forbidden – and four local guides, members of the Lani tribe. Our guides were moving us around the highlands of West Papua, taking us to meet people who could tell us about their suffering at the hands of the occupying Indonesian army.

The mountain ridge was covered in deep, old rainforest, as was the rest of the area we had walked through. This forest, to the Lani, was home. In the forest they hunted, gathered food, built their homes, lived. The forest was not a recreation or a resource: there was nothing romantic about it, nothing to debate. It was just life.

Now, as we reached the top of the ridge, a break in the trees opened up and we saw miles of unbroken green mountains rolling away before us to the horizon. It was a breathtaking sight. As I watched, our four guides lined up along the ridge and, facing the mountains, they sang. They sang a song to the forest whose words I didn’t understand, but whose meaning was clear enough. It was a song of thanks; a song of belonging.

To the Lani, I learned later, the forest lived. This was no metaphor. The place itself, in which their people had lived for millennia, was not an inanimate ‘environment’, a mere backdrop for human activity. It was part of that activity. It was a great being, and to live as part of it was to be in a constant exchange with it. And so they sang to it; sometimes, it sang back.

When European minds experience this kind of thing, they are never quite sure to do with it. It’s been so long since we in the West had a sense that we dwelled in a living landscape, that we don’t have the words to frame what we see. Too often, we go in one of two directions, either sentimentalising the experience or dismissing it as superstition.

To us, the wild places around us (if there are any left) are ‘resources’ to be utilised. We argue constantly about how best to utilise them – should we log this forest, or turn it into a national park? – but only the bravest or the most foolish would suggest that it might not be our decision to make. To modern people, the world we walk through is not an animal, a being, a living presence; it is a machine, and our task is to learn how it works, the better to use it for our own, human, ends.

The notion that the non-human world is largely inanimate is often represented as ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’, but it is really more like a modern superstition. ‘It is just like Man’s vanity and impertinence,’ wrote Mark Twain, ‘to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.’ We might say the same about a forest; and science, interestingly, might turn out to be on our side.

In recent years, several studies have demonstrated that plants, for example, communicate with each other in ways which seem to point towards some degree of self-awareness. They release pheromones to warn of insect attacks, and other plants respond. They signal to each other using a series of electrical impulses not dissimilar to that of an animal’s nervous system. They send out airborne distress signals to insect predators that feed on the plant-eaters threatening them.

Underground, meanwhile, are the mycelia: huge fungal networks connecting the roots of thousands of plants and trees. The more mycelia are studied, the more intriguing they appear. Once thought to be a simple means of nutrient exchange, they are now beginning to look like complex systems of inter-plant communication. Mycologist Paul Stamets, who has spent his life studying them, calls mycelia a ‘collective fungal consciousness.’ Ecologist Stephan Harding believes they ‘possess an eerie intelligence, and probably a peculiar sense of self to boot.’

The supposedly secular West still clings to the Abrahamic notion that only humans possess consciousness – or souls – and that this gives us the right or the duty to run the world. The scientists investigating animal and plant consciousness, though, may be taking us back to older ways of seeing by very modern means. Primitive savages who sing songs to the forest may not be primitive or savage after all. They may simply have retained an understanding which human-centred, urban people have forgotten: that the forest is, indeed, alive. And not only the forest. The living world around us may turn out to be much more sentient, aware, conscious and connected than we have allowed ourselves to believe.

As a writer, I wonder what our writing would look like if we took this notion seriously. I wonder, in particular, what our fiction – our stories – would look like. That the world is a machine is one story; that the world is alive and aware is another. The latter story has probably been taken for granted by the majority of human societies throughout history. The former has only really taken root in ours: post-Enlightenment, industrial Western culture, now becoming global culture. The results of it – climate change, mass extinction, factory farming, the usual litany of horrors – should be enough to make us wonder if this story is badly constructed, badly told – or just plain wrong.

How do writers tell stories in the West in the early 21st century? Mostly through novels. The Internet, and the global capitalism it serves so well, may be putting the boot into traditional literary life, but nothing has yet supplanted the novel as the primary form through which long, written stories are brought to us. Rightly or wrongly, we still take novels seriously; we still read them. Some of us still write them, though we’re not always sure why.

But what story do they tell? The novel is an artifact of Western individualism. Novels really came into their own in Europe with the rise of the commercial bourgeoisie; with Empire and global trade, with cities and science and reason, with the notion of humans as primary actors in the world’s drama. The same society that gave us the concept of the world as an inanimate backdrop to human activity gave us the novels which catalogued that story.

Most classic novels in the Western canon are examinations of the human psyche, or the relationships between small groups of people and their societies. They are studies of the individual human mind. But what about the mind of the world itself and how that manifests? If awareness, consciousness, feelings – life – all extend far beyond the human domain, why do novels continue to behave as if humans were the only actors? Why do we turn over the same exhausted soil again and again? What would a novel look like if it were written by someone who sang to the forest, and believed it sang back?

Robert Graves, in his poetic manifesto The White Goddess, wrote that modern poetry’s function was to lay bare the results of humanity’s break from the rest of nature:

 ‘Once a warning to man that he must keep in harmony with the family of living creatures among which he was born … it is now a reminder that he has disregarded the warning, turned the house upside down by capricious experiments in science, philosophy and industry, and brought ruin upon himself and his family.’

The forests fall, the ice melts and the extinctions roll on; but we keep writing love letters to ourselves, obliviousIf this is true of poetry, it is true of fiction too. Perhaps, in a century’s time, any literary critics still clinging to their positions as the seas rise around them will see the work we writers produce today as a useful historical record of our society’s insanity. Because we have cut ourselves off from everything else that lives, and because we don’t believe that it does live, we have ended up talking only to ourselves. We have ended what Thomas Berry called ‘the great conversation’ between humans and other forms of life. We are becoming human narcissists, entombed in our cities, staring into our screens, seeing our faces and our minds reflected back and believing this is all there is. And outside the forests fall, the ice melts, the corals die back and the extinctions roll on; but we keep writing our love letters to ourselves, oblivious.

What might the alternative look like? Perhaps the poets can see this better than the novelists. Robinson Jeffers, poet of the California cliffs, spent his life trying to transcribe the song of the living world and make it fit for human ears. He ends his poem Carmel Point with a prescription:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

The ecological crisis we have spawned will ‘unhumanize’ our views for us, whether we like it or not. The notions that only humans matter, or that humans are in control, even of themselves, are unlikely to outlast this century. It seems a good time for writers to become confident as the rock and ocean, and to begin writing about the rock and ocean as if they had a part to play. The novel looks pretty exhausted these days. Could this be its new frontier?

There have always been novels in which the landscape, and the non-human creatures in it, have played a powerful part. Just looking along my limited bookshelf I can see Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and The Return of the Native, in which the rural landscapes of his still pre-modern Wessex are as memorable as his human characters; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, whose wild Pennine uplands experience moods as dark as that of Heathcliff; Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, set in a fictional archipelago whose islands are as distinctive as any on our planet; and D. H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent, set in a dark pagan Mexico whose taste lingers in the mind longer than its storyline. More recently, and more locally, fiction by young writers like Ben Myers and Daisy Johnson weave stories around wild English landscapes which act as ominous backdrops to the human stories they tell; stories which seem smaller as a result, and thus more urgent.

A powerful landscape is one thing, though; a sentient landscape is another. A question that has been jabbing at me for some time is: how could a novel be written in which a living landscape was not just a backdrop, but a character: an actor in the drama, rather than its scenery? Are there novels in which non-human places are sensate? In which the mind of the world is made manifest in the places its human characters walk through? Having just tried to write one myself, I have been looking for precedents. So far, I have only discovered two writers who seem to even approach the question.

The first is William Golding, in his 1956 novel Pincher Martin. The eponymous sailor, blown into the sea when his boat is torpedoed during the Second World War, washes up on the only land for miles around: a great, jagged, black rock, which juts above the waves. For the next two hundred pages there is only Martin, the gulls, the anemones, and the rock, which seems, at first, to be simply an inanimate object. But the rock is something more.

It’s hard to explain why without ruining the novel’s startling conclusion, but it’s safe to say that the rock it is also a conduit for a voice, a confessional, a testing ground, a judge. The rock is waiting and watching, and the man on the rock is refusing to be part of it, refusing to believe that there is anything outside his own self. Whether he likes it or not, the rock has a lesson for him, which he is going to have to learn.

Perhaps the writer who has done most to explore the notion of a sensate landscape, though, is Alan Garner. The living, jolting, magical power of places is at the heart of almost everything he has written for the last five decades. A moor, a hill, a ridge, a wood: in Garner’s books these are not ‘landscapes’ but conduits to an older, wilder magic. History tugs at them, and they tug in turn at the feet of the innocent people who happen to walk across them.

In Garner’s 2003 novel Thursbitch, the Pennine valley which gives the book its title links two people separated by time, one in the 18th century, one living today. Garner’s deep knowledge and understanding of the place and its history is typical of his work, but so too is the sense that this landscape is hungry: it wants something; it is almost toying with people. It is as if the place has brought the book’s human actors together for a reason: as if some riddle must be solved, some destiny fulfilled. Ancient, pagan energies seem to emanate from the old valley, drawing people in across time, weaving the threads, constructing a pattern which humans may always be too small to comprehend.

Maybe it is impossible for any of us to ‘unhumanise our views’. Maybe we can only ever speak to, and of, ourselves.Are there other novels, and other novelists, which make the world beyond the human, the land itself, a living part of their story? Maybe there are dozens, which I haven’t come across in my limited reading. If not, maybe the lack reflects a peculiarity of the English-language novel, or of the European novel, or of the rational, liberal, urban middle class minds that tend to write them. Or maybe it is just impossible for any of us, ultimately, to ‘unhumanize our views’, any more than a rabbit could unrabbitize or a worm unworm theirs. Maybe we can only ever speak to, and of, ourselves.

But I’m not so sure. Writing a story is an act of projection. We imagine what it would be like to be this character, to live in this time, to be in this situation, and if we can’t do that well, our books won’t work. If we can do that well, why can’t we make the same imaginative leap and take ourselves out of our humanity? Is it harder to imagine a sensate landscape, or the worldview of another living being, than it is to imagine life on a Martian colony or in a fifteenth century village?

Probably. Still, that’s not a reason not to try. Glorious failures are always more interesting than unambitious successes. And surely the times demand it. ‘The universe is not a machine after all,’ proclaimed D. H. Lawrence, a man who never stopped paying attention to it; ‘it’s alive and kicking.’ Kicking and singing and watching, too. Who will write its story?

 

Paul Kingsnorth’s new novel, Beast, is published by Faber.

 

 

[Paul Kingsnorth was born in 1972. In the early 1990s, he studied history at Oxford University, where he also became a road protester. This changed his life. After graduating, Paul worked for a year on the staff of the Independent newspaper, which he hated. Following a three year stint as a campaign writer for an environmental NGO, he was appointed deputy editor of The Ecologist… full bio]