Archive | March 3rd, 2018

The United Nations is turning a blind eye to child rape within its own ranks

NOVANEWS

Google ‘UN sexual abuse’ and see just how much comes up and for how long it comes up. See for how long Kofi Anan, Ban Ki Moon and now Antonio Guterres have been saying ‘something must be done’

The United Nations is raping children. The facilitation of these child rapes is in part funded by the UK taxpayer.

You think this is “fake news”? Well let’s go right to the top and check the facts.

Earlier this month, UN Secretary General ​António Guterres in releasing the 2016 UN annual review said that there were 145 cases of sexual exploitation and abuse involving troops and civilians across all UN peace missions in 2016 alone. The United Nations Secretary General is talking about his own organisation.

These 145 cases involved 311 victims and even the UN recognises that this is the tip of the iceberg. Many of the victims, by the UN’s own admission, are children.

UN Peacekeepers and staff raping children is not a right-wing conspiracy or fake news, it is admitted by the UN itself. But is the UN repeating the mistakes of the Catholic Church by obfuscation and minimisation of the problem, not talking it head on and stamping it out?

The UN’s language is interesting here. It is wishy-washy as if child rape were a problem that needed to be minimised, not wiped out.

“I fully recognise that no magic wand exists to end the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse,” Guterres said. “Nevertheless, I believe that we can dramatically improve how the United Nations addresses this scourge.”

“Dramatically improve” the situation? He is kidding right? What about wiping it out?

The Secretary General proposed a four-part strategy: putting “the rights and dignity for victims at the forefront of UN efforts”; working “relentlessly” to end impunity for those guilty of sexual abuse and exploitation; building a network to support UN efforts including civil society, external experts and organisations; and raising worldwide awareness of the problem to address the stigma victims face.

I have a much better idea. Let’s start with the language that is used here. Let us not hide behind large concepts. Let me be blunter.

What is a better term than “sexual abuse” of the 14-year-old child, together with her 18-year-old friend, set upon by UN peacekeepers near Bambari airport in Central African Republic late in 2015?

This is not “sexual abuse”. This is the gang rape of a child. It is neither “sexual abuse” nor an “indiscretion”. It is not something to be “minimised”. It is something to be wiped out with brutal efficiency.

If this is not shocking enough, the 14-year-old child became pregnant (as many others who are abused do) and her rape was paid for and facilitated by you, the reader. You paid for this gang rape through your taxpayer funds to the UN.

Trump Compares United Nations to ‘Country Club’

Have you ever wondered why countries like Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan send so many peacekeeping soldiers? It is because the UN pays for these countries to send soldiers. It is a huge export earner for their militaries and it is paid for by the net contributing countries like the UK, the US and Australia.

And this is not a surprise or unknown. Google “food for sex” and “UN sexual abuse” and see just how much comes up and for how long it comes up. See for how long Kofi Anan, Ban Ki Moon and now António Guterres have been saying “something must be done”.

I am not a right wing UN basher – I used to work for the UN. As my close friends will tell you, one of the reasons I left the UN is because I call them the second largest harbourer of paedophiles behind only the Catholic Church. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe the UN is worse.

How bad could this problem be?

Well, the UN has well in excess of 100,000 staff and Peacekeepers at any given time. Often the number is higher. Approximately two-thirds are male – at least 66,000. The National Crime Agency in Britain estimates one in 35 (almost three per cent) of the male population have paedophilia tendencies.

If the UN’s staffing profile was similar to the broader population that would mean that there are about 2,000 men with paedophilia tendencies working for the UN.

And many of them are in positions of authority, with diplomatic immunity and impunity to act.

And the UN wants us to believe that the number of victims is in the hundreds?

Here is what I think should be done.

The UN and large international NGOs need to put specific paedophile checks and filters in place in the recruitment process. I know few NGOs that do.

Second, the International Criminal Court should be empowered to criminally charge UN staff, Peacekeepers and international NGO staff for crimes involving children.

Thirdly, the UN knows which soldiers were deployed in areas where the children were raped. Those soldiers should all be DNA tested and matched against the children born of rape. The rapists should then be charged, if not in their home courts then elsewhere.

Fourthly, all UN agencies and NGOs should have independent and robust confidential whistle blowing procedures to identify the paedophiles.

The UN should be given six months to implement this mechanism – failing which all funds should be withheld from the agency.

What can you do to help? Do not donate a single cent or pound to any organisation unless it satisfies you that it has a process to eliminate paedophilia. And how can you tell? Here is a good test: ask the agency how many of its staff they have referred to the police. Because if the answer is “none” then they are not taking this problem seriously.

Is this too extreme?

People have been using soft words about paedophilia in the UN and large NGOs for decades. None of this is secret. None of this is surprising. But never have we actually put pressure for something to be done.

This is child rape, perpetrated in our name, using our money and it must stop. Now.

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San Francisco’s largest redevelopment project a toxic mix of environmental racism, gentrification

NOVANEWS

Liberation News  spoke with Bradley Angel, the Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, about the news that a U.S. Navy-sponsored review of the radioactive clean-up at the former shipyard in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunter’s Point revealed massive fraud by federal contractor Tetra Tech.

A historic injustice

U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the Hunter’s Point Shipyard as a Federal Superfund Site in 1989, belatedly recognizing the “risks to human health and environment”posed by the former site of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory.

A number of ships that were intentionally exposed to U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands in the mid-1940s as part of “Operation Crossroads” returned to the shipyard at Hunter’s Point for testing and decontamination. Radioactive waste was recklessly disposed of throughout the area in sewers and drains after the “sandblasting” of irradiated ships and animal testing of radiation side-effects, as well as in dumps still present on the site which are also known to contain several other cancer-causing contaminants.

Many people were attracted to the living wage jobs provided by the shipyard. These included thousands of Black workers, many of whom had migrated from the South, reshaped the district and suffered greatly once jobs left with the shipyard’s closure. Many of their families still reside in Bayview-Hunter’s Point, under threat of police terror, gentrification, poverty and adverse health issues related to decades of Navy and industrial activity in the area.

Cover up and scandal

Tetra Tech has been commissioned by the Navy to collect data at the shipyard since 2005. According to the review, nearly half of the data produced by Tetra Tech has been manipulated, falsified, or is otherwise suspect.

The reports confirm allegations over the past several years by whistle-blowers from Tetra Tech describing how, under threat of being fired, they had been required to dispose of radioactive samples in exchange for soil from areas nearby that would meet the required standards to allow for the land to be redeveloped.

Whistle-blower testimonies have helped to bolster the grassroots campaigning and coalition-building of groups like Greenaction, that have served as long-time community-partners in the struggle. Bradley Angel, Greenaction’s Executive Director, provided the following analysis in an interview with Liberation News:

“This has literally been not just a botched clean-up, but a scandal. The Hunter’s Point shipyard was targeted by the City and the mega-developer Lennar Corporation, which is now also known as Five Point, for a massive upscale housing development, under the guise of providing much needed housing for San Francisco, which of course is needed for the low-income and working-class residents who are being priced-out of the City. But it’s really a plan to build ten to twelve-thousand homes for mostly rich and upper class people.

“So the City has really been in cahoots with the developer, and there have been financial ties, even with politicians like former Mayor Willie Brown and others. So if you talk to the City officials, they really push that line, and that goes from former Mayor Lee, to Congresswoman Pelosi, who always talked about the need for housing, except it wasn’t for the people of the City who really need it…

“Former Tetra Tech workers who worked at the shipyard spilled the beans on fake radioactive soil samples in 2014. The government ignored it, refused to investigate, said everything was fine, and allowed Tetra Tech to keep working, until the pressure on them got to be so intense that in September of 2016 the U.S. EPA and the State Department of Toxic Substances Control reached a deal with the Navy to halt all transfers of land from the Superfund site to City Hall to Lennar due to concerns about what Tetra Tech may have done. But the City, and the State, and the Federal government knew there were problems with Tetra Tech and let them keep working…

“Then they said they were going to do further investigation. They locked the public out of the investigation and set up what they called the ‘Tiger Team’ of experts, supposedly from the regulatory agencies, to find out the extent of what Tetra Tech may have done, except it turned out the meetings were held in secret, behind closed doors, at City Hall, with the developer Lennar Corporation helping to set the agenda, and no minutes ever being taken, and no technical documents being produced, and the public being barred from participating or even observing…

“It’s really been a situation where the government, on a local, regional, state, and federal level has worked to help a giant corporation make countless millions and millions of dollars despite knowing that there is a serious environment and health problem at the site…

“We see it as ethnic cleansing of the community…Third Street is already changing and if ten to twenty thousand new residents who are not the long-time people of color residents of Bayview move into this place, not only are they going to get potentially contaminated, but it will force out and completely gentrify the historic people of color community in Bayview Hunter’s-Point, but that’s what City Hall apparently wants…

“I am not a conspiracy theorist, but there has clearly been a cover-up that has now been exposed. There is silence from the politicians who push this in the last few days, and the real question to be answered is, is why did the government allow this to go on for so long, and why does this company still have a license as a federal contractor? And why haven’t they been fined one penny?”

Crimes of capitalism

The Navy has since declared that they will begin re-testing all sites where Tetra Tech was responsible for collecting data, officially saying they’ve “lost confidence” with Tetra Tech’s work. Being unable to continue working at the Hunter’s Point shipyard appears as of now to be the only consequence for Tetra Tech.

During our interview, Angel noted that, “As we speak, Tetra Tech has been allowed to keep working at Treasure Island, where low-income people of color in subsidized housing live on top of radioactive waste. And then in October of 2017, just a few months ago, the U.S. EPA issued an $85 million dollar contract to Tetra Tech to do an assessment of uranium mine contamination on the Navajo Nation, despite knowing that the faking of the data at Bayview-Hunter’s point was much bigger than previously acknowledged.”

Tetra Tech executives should be faced with criminal charges for their cover-up, but that might just hit too close to home for some of San Francisco and California’s better-known politicians who have in one way or another endorsed this giant redevelopment project and the developers behind it.

Capitalist politicians are not in the business of impeding the private property rights of developers and landlords to profit off of housing. In fact, they’re the salespeople for gentrifiers, arguing that small portions of affordable housing within giant complexes of condos and luxury apartments for the rich are real solutions towards solving the housing crisis.

While these politicians debate how many more cops they’re going to put on the street to assuage the fears of rich people having to interact with San Francisco’s homeless and poor, the last two years have seen Bayview residents Mario Woods, Jessica Williams, and Keita O’Neil faced with on-the-spot executions during interactions with SFPD, with no officers charged.

While these politicians debate how to keep California safe from the non-existent threat of nuclear attack from the DPRK, radioactive waste from U.S. nuclear tests has posed serious risk to the health and well-being of Bayview-Hunter’s Point workers and residents for more than 70 years!

Rising sea levels posed by climate change threaten to eventually engulf the hazardous waste dumps at the Hunter’s Point shipyard, while the Trump administration pulls out of international climate agreements and denies the facts altogether.

These are the crimes of capitalism.

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Amazon and Boss Bezos Developing New Ways to Control Workers

NOVANEWS

On Feb. 1, Amazon reported its highest ever quarterly profit, bringing in $1.9 billion in profit in the fourth quarter of 2017. The news came a day after it was reported that Amazon had patented wristbands that would track warehouse workers’ movements while they were on the job. The stunning contrast between these two stories reinforces the fact that Amazon’s massive profits are created by the work of mostly low-paid warehouse workers and delivery drivers who work under slave-like conditions.

Amazon’s quarterly report revealed that the company made $1 billion more than over the same period in 2016. Of that $1.9 billion profit, $789 million was because of the tax “reforms” passed last year. The report also showed that Amazon hired almost 130,000 more employees around the world in 2017, which brought the company’s total workforce to 566,000 people. That number excludes contractors that make up a large share of Amazon’s workforce. These workers are the reason for Amazon’s wealth, not the supposed genius of CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon’s patent for a wristband that will track workers’ movements garnered attention because of the company’s history of abusive labor practices and the creepiness of the concept. The wristbands have a variety of potential uses, for example, vibrating if a worker is about to put an item in a wrong bin or tracking workers’ job performance. Much of the commentary about the wristband focused on how it can be used to control workers.

As a company, Amazon is simply too powerful and must be dismantled. Under capitalism, the scientific and technological advancements made are being used to squeeze every last ounce of profit out of workers. We must liberate the productive forces of society from the capitalists in order to benefit the many, instead of continuing on the current trend of the vast majority being driven into the abyss of slave-like low-wage labor.

Amazon was disturbed enough by the coverage to release statements to multiple media outlets, stating: “The speculation about this patent is misguided. Every day at companies around the world, employees use handheld scanners to check inventory and fulfill orders. This idea, if implemented in the future, would improve the process for our fulfillment associates. By moving equipment to associates’ wrists, we could free up their hands from scanners and their eyes from computer screens. Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazon employee and we measure actual performance against those expectations, and they are not designed to track employees or limit their abilities to take breaks.”

Amazon promotes the device as a way to cut down on time consuming acts like scanning or checking computer screens, and dismisses concerns about the wristbands being used for control. Even if Amazon’s statement is taken at its word, under capitalism, labor saving technology is rarely developed for the benefit of the workers using it. The time warehouse workers previously spent looking at screens will be spent doing other more profitable tasks. If the technology is successful enough for Amazon, then warehouse workers may be laid off as there is not enough work for them. It is well documented how Amazon already closely tracks employees and limits breaks.

However, Amazon is correct in stating that most companies do these things. What makes Amazon unique is how ruthlessly it pursues increased efficiency at the expense of its workers. This ruthlessness is rewarded by capitalism and has enriched people like Jeff Bezos. This attitude has allowed Amazon to become one of the most important corporations in the global economy.

As Amazon moves forward with its HQ2 competition, which is now down to 20 cities, it is important to remember how Amazon has been built on the back of workers. Amazon promises to bring jobs to whatever city it chooses, but it is a workplace few of its current workers would choose if they had other options. It is also important to note that Amazon is not uniquely evil, but is following the profit or else rules set down by capitalism.

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Trump’s tax cuts near peak of the industrial cycle may precipitate, not head off, a new overproduction crisis

NOVANEWS

Trump’s tax cuts near peak of the industrial cycle may precipitate, not head off, a new overproduction crisis

Biggest-ever point drop for Dow Industrials, nearly 1,200 points, occurred Monday, Feb. 5.

The timing of Trump’s tax cuts favoring U.S.-based corporations and the very rich is not aimed at heading off a new overproduction crisis, though it may precipitate such a crisis.

Rather, the timing aims to head off a comeback by the Democratic Party in this year’s mid-term elections. Such an outcome is especially likely this year as a result of Trump’s xenophobic, anti-woman, racist, anti-immigrant, climate change-denying, homophobic, trans-phobic, and all-around reactionary policy initiatives—not to speak of his escalating threats of war, including nuclear war.

While there are growing signs of disquiet and disillusionment within the Democratic Party base, the most powerful progressive class and national forces within that base—labor and the African-American community—have yet to break off their ill-founded marriage with the “Democratic” faction of the corporate duopoly.

Ruling rich love the cuts

The capitalist ruling class, of course, welcomed the tax cuts, even though some expressed disquiet about the roughly $1.5 trillion in federal deficits the cuts are projected to produce. Most workers and middle-class people will—for 10 years, after which the cuts will disappear—enjoy a small measure of tax relief. But the centerpiece of the Trump plan is a huge cut—by almost half—in corporate taxes. This, it is hoped, will make U.S.-based companies more competitive on the world market and slow down if not stop the hemorrhaging of what remains of U.S. industrial might to China and other emerging economies.

The more starry-eyed Trump supporters—the anti-globalist, economic nationalist, “America Firsters,” including Trump himself—expect miracles of U.S. industrial resurgence to bring back the “good old days” of U.S. dominance of the world market—“Make America Great Again.”

But this is a pipe dream.

From ‘average prosperity’ to ‘boom’

Early last year, the U.S. economy transitioned from the phase of the industrial cycle that Karl Marx called “average prosperity” to the “boom” phase, when expanding production collides with a more slowly growing market, leading inevitably in an overproduction crisis. (For a detailed explanation of the industrial cycle, and why capitalist markets grow more slowly than production during booms, see my article Production, overproduction and overproduction crises” and also this blog post.)

Chart of two-, five- and 10-year interest rates from 2002 to present

A key feature of the boom phase of the industrial cycle is sharply rising interest rates, with lower-risk, short-term rates (such as on three-month treasury bills) rising more rapidly than higher-risk, long rates (such as on treasury bonds of 10- or 30-year maturities). In the face of overproduction and rising risk but also rising demand for credit, money capitalists—institutional investors, giant banks, corporations such as General Electric, General Motors and Ford that have transformed much of their operations from industrial production to money lending, and other lenders—demand higher and higher interest rates as the cycle moves towards it next peak.

Tyranny of the bond market’

In a previous article, I made reference to the “tyranny of the bond market” and analyzed key trends that could bring about another super-crisis such as the previous one in 1929-33, which ushered in the Great Depression of the 1930s. In that article, published in September 2015, I pointed out that the economy was on track for, at minimum, a new recession, due I guessed in 2017. That would have been a decade following the start of the Great Recession of 2007-08.

As things turned out, Trump’s surprise election and promise of a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy helped prolong the boom phase of the industrial cycle into this year. Meanwhile, interest rates continued to rise until, judging from the wild gyrations in stock markets here in the U.S. and across the globe, the rising rates now threaten profits to such an extent that a new overproduction crisis/recession looms.

Further weakening bond prices—and raising interest rates, since bond prices and interest rates vary inversely—is the planned reduction by the Federal Reserve of its “balance sheet,” greatly swollen as a result of bailing out the big banks and other lenders by purchasing their holdings of government and mortgage debt during the Great Recession.

The Federal Reserve further expanded its balance sheet by buying up huge quantities of government securities on the open market—termed “quantitative easing”—in order to push down long-term interest rates to boost recovery from the Great Recession. Reducing the Fed’s balance sheet means selling off this huge pile of financial assets over a period of time.

The combination of the greatly increased federal deficit due to Trump’s tax cuts, on one hand, and promised reduction of the Fed’s balance sheet, on the other, virtually guaranteed a deluge of bonds coming onto the market at a most inopportune time. The result, not surprisingly, was a plunge of bond prices and spike in interest rates that then spread to the stock market.

Without going through again the complex of reasons presented in the article cited that could be the basis for a new super-crisis (readers are urged to study it), we can now add the new and unprecedented factor of Trump’s tax cuts going into effect, ballooning the federal deficit, just as the industrial cycle is approaching its peak and the Fed is beginning to sell off its bond holdings.

Cuts to ‘entitlements’

The Republicans in Congress, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, promise to cut spending on “entitlements”—in other words go after Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social spending—to shrink the federal deficit and reassure the bond market. But this will not be politically possible prior to the coming election and may well not be possible afterwards. The resistance to any such move is sure to be massive, swift and fierce.

The much trumpeted Trump tax cuts have initially boosted Republican chances in the upcoming elections as working people see small increases in their take-home pay. But the boost will be short-lived as the next overproduction crisis hits home, with its mass unemployment; widespread bankruptcies, foreclosures and evictions; and a rising death toll from opioid use and lack of health care.

Exactly when the crisis will hit is impossible to say, and whether before or after the mid-term election, but it is getting close if it hasn’t already started. And it could be the start of super-crisis 2.0 if the rising Asian industrial powerhouses cannot avoid being swept in.

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Insurance thieves reap billions in profits denying lifesaving treatments

NOVANEWS
Public domain photo.

Public domain photo.

Preston Wood  is an RN Case Manager at a large acute care hospital in Los Angeles.

The real truth about predatory practices in the billion dollar insurance business broke out this week when the former Medical Director of insurance giant AETNA admitted under oath that he “never looked at patients’ records when deciding whether to approve or deny care.”

This comes just when AETNA and Pharm giant CVS are looking to merge, creating one of the largest healthcare monopolies in capitalist history. When corporate giants such as these two entities are allowed to merge, it only increases the stranglehold of the billionaire class on the health and welfare of workers and their families.

These are not mom and pop operations.  Aetna’s strong second-quarter performance resulted in net income of $822 million and adjusted earnings of $2.1 billion for the six months ended June 30, 2017.

This exposé of rampant greed resulting in unimaginable suffering among people coping with life threatening illnesses came about as the result of a lawsuit filed by an AETNA patient, Gillen Washington, who asserts that the company failed to cover treatments for a rare immune disorder.

Two California state agencies, investigating Aetna’s conduct, have found that Aetna’s process involved denying treatments without medical review, as required by law. In a deposition by Dr. Jay Ken Iiuma, a former Medical Director of Aetna for Southern California he admitted he signed the denial for patient Washington’s treatment without reading the patient’s medical records, and admitted knowing nothing the about immune disorder of the patient. This amounts to criminal disregard, putting the life of the patient at risk!

In his testimony, the former Medical Director stated that he had minimal if any knowledge of the medical condition Common Variable Immune Deficiency that the patient Washington suffered from. He also admitted that he had no idea about what the most effective drug would be to treat the patient’s condition, the symptoms of the disease, or the consequences of abruptly discontinuing therapy for the condition. “Do I know what happens?” Iiuma said. “Again, I’m not sure… I don’t treat that.” When asked if it was his general practice to look at medical records as part of the decision process, he declared it was not.

According to Shana Alex Charles, a professor who studies insurance at California State University Fullerton, California state law said of the law: “If the medical director is not qualified to review a case because of lack of specific knowledge in that medical discipline, then the law requires a consultation with an expert in the field. ” Charles added, “Clearly an investigation is needed to determine the full extent of  how many provisions were broken and what the consequences should be.”

Why is there insurance? Why isn’t all healthcare free on demand for everyone? 

The concept of insurance is a capitalist-created way of making sure that profits are protected. The giant insurance companies reap billions of dollars in profits by scrutinizing all procedures, all medications and all medical equipment requests in order to find ways to deny, deny and deny services.

Denying and refusing to authorize needed care is a billion dollar heist off the backs of working people, leaving millions in pain, facing bankruptcy and homelessness. The main cause of bankruptcy in the United States is draconian medical bills for what should be free to all. Every day, thousands of requests from case managers and health care providers are denied all across the United States. These are not just computer files, they represent people who need and deserve medical care.

Corporate thieves such as Aetna must be brought down, arrested and jailed for their brutal acts of denying healthcare to those in need.

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50 Years after the Tet Offensive: Commemorating Vietnam’s victory

NOVANEWS

Image result for Tet Offensive CARTOON

This year’s Lunar New Year marks the 50th anniversary of the victory by the Vietnamese people in the arduous battles of the Tet Offensive, so named because it took place on the Lunar New Year’s Eve of 1968. Though the history of the Tet Offensive and the entire Vietnam War is muddled by bourgeois history and popular mythology, the Tet Offensive was a critical turning point for the Vietnamese people’s fight for independence and for socialism. Moreover, it was a major defeat for world imperialism.

By January, 1968 the United States was heavily involved in an escalating war on the people of Vietnam  as the Vietnamese people continued a nearly 30-year long national liberation struggle. That national liberation struggle against French colonialism began in the 1930s, and by the 1950s had morphed into an open class struggle led by the Workers’ Party of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh’s leadership, causing the U.S. empire to frantically aid the occupying colonial French military forces.

Following its indirect attempt to undo the national liberation struggle and deliver the country back to feudal-colonial control, the United States became directly involved, eventually sending U.S. troops and  initiating its own campaign of genocidal measures such as indiscriminate napalm bombings and using the notorious chemical weapon, Agent Orange. The U.S. intervention was conducted in the name of “protecting the sovereignty” of the colonial puppet regime, the Republic of Vietnam, against “communist invasion.”

The Republic of Vietnam (sometimes referred to as “South Vietnam”) was headed by a former French collaborator and was hamstrung by an economy which struggled despite copious and consistent aid from Washington. More contradictory were the means by which the U.S. carried out its noble initiative against the “warmongering” communists. By the mid-1960s heavily-armed U.S.  troops replaced the French colonial garrison to once again occupy the country with its wish to return a fictional “peace and freedom” that never existed under French colonialism.

The liberation of the Vietnamese people was one out of the many struggles in the world at that time which saw the ties between the fight against colonialism and the struggle to abolish class oppression. These struggles directly threatened the power of the corporations and the imperial ruling class and its state. This state was and is a repressive warmongering apparatus, entirely divorced from the welfare of the masses of people while preaching its narrowed sermon of peace and democracy to peoples around the world it seeks to dominate.

When people around the world rise up to take back their power, imperialism is threatened.  People’s power is threatening because capitalism and its expansionist nature depend not only on the exploitation of the working class within its borders, but also the willingness of collaborators of oppressed nations to collude with
imperialism.

The Vietnamese national liberation struggle took place in this context.

Context of Vietnamese struggle for national liberation

Just before the Tet Offensive, the United States claimed to control territory accounting for 67 percent of the South Vietnamese population, though internal documents from the Pentagon revealed these statistics had no relationship to reality. What were described as secure zones to the U.S. were often identified by the Vietnamese National Liberation Front  explicitly as liberated zones as Vietnamese support for the NLF reached deep into southern Vietnam. U.S.  forces, in reality, formed enclaves in a sea of anti-imperialist hostility and instability, able only to to exert temporary physical control over large regions . They  failed to substitute Republic of Vietnam political infrastructure for NLF’s and ultimately never succeeded in establishing a real political foothold.

The presence of the empire ironically built up the power of the people under the force of the National Liberation Front despite extreme repression. U.S. efforts to build a stable puppet regime in Vietnam were therefore illusory at best and delusional at worst.

Ignorance and imperial hubris led the leadership of the U.S. occupation to dub the Tet Offensive a “surprise” attack by the Viet Cong; it was in reality a strategic offensive in both urban regions and rural areas. More than simply a surprise attack or spontaneous uprising of the communists and guerrillas, the Tet Offensive involved coordinated attacks carried out in more than 100 different cities and towns in Central and South Vietnam.

Within a short period, the National Liberation Front initiated devastating attacks across Central and Southern Vietnam and even on the U.S. embassy and the old imperial city of Hue. Targeting the U.S. puppet’s force’s nerve-center war institutions, the Tet Offensive shook America out of the optimism falsely presented by the Pentagon’s propaganda machine and decisively shifted public opinion to oppose to the U.S. intervention in Vietnam.

While the Tet Offensive did not end the war, nor was it waged with that specific intention, the organizational power of the National Liberation Front and the People’s Army and their ability to wage an attack on such scale against the most powerful military forces in the world was, without a doubt, a decisive turning point in the war. Along with exposing the morally bankrupt character of the imperialist state and the Lyndon Johnson Administration, the Tet Offensive set into motion forces that eventually coerced the empire into de-escalating and agreeing to hold peace talks with the Workers’ Party.

Significance of Tet Offensive

These victories were won at a time when the Vietnamese People’s Army was only about 20 years of age while the National Liberation Front had had only approximately 8 years to develop. Despite these organizations’ youth, the liberation forces maintained an organizational power that crippled imperialism’s will for aggression and which won the initiative for Vietnamese national liberation. With minimal aid and a near-complete lack of advanced weaponry, the NLF relied on the spirit of self-reliance and the determination of a truly popular united army under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Vietnam—a party which directly served the interests of its people and ceaselessly built upon the principled application of Marxism and Leninism to the concrete conditions of the war of liberation in the small colonized country of Vietnam.

The role of the Workers’ Party’s leadership cannot be understated when evaluating Vietnam’s victory over U.S. imperialism. Without an emphasis on mobilizing the whole of the Vietnamese people in the struggle for independence, without a correct appraisal of the struggle as one for national liberation against imperialism and without a dedicated cadre of organizers united by a Leninist party, it is doubtful that the Vietnamese national liberation struggle could have been waged so successfully.

Ho Chi Minh said this regarding the path that had led him to Leninism: “I came upon the fact that only socialism and communism can liberate the oppressed nations and the working people throughout the world from slavery. There is a legend, in our country as well as in China, on the miraculous ‘Book of the Wise.’ When facing great difficulties, one opens it and finds a way out. Leninism is not only a miraculous ‘book of the wise,’ a compass for us Vietnamese revolutionaries and people: it is also the radiant sun illuminating our path to final victory, to socialism and communism.”

Setting the record straight for such a victory is critical for revolutionaries: as Ghassan Kanafani—a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—said regarding the importance of studying history for Marxist-Leninists, “The goal of education is to correct the march of history. For this reason we need to study history and to apprehend its dialectics in order to build a new historical era, in which the oppressed will live, after their liberation by revolutionary violence, from the contradiction that captivated them.”

People who benefitted from the exploitation of their people under the U.S. puppet regime—rich landowners and capitalists who colluded with the wealthy colonizers—have endlessly fabricated anew the history of the revolutionary struggle of the workers and peasants against imperialist pillaging and plundering. Despite the reactionary obscuring of history to fit the narrative of the oppressor, a correct assessment the war is possible under the framework “what the war is being waged for and what classes staged and directed it.”

In the light of Marxism-Leninism applied to the democratic revolution in a colonial country, the party used theory to make critical analyses of the contradictions of that society, and stated clearly the fundamental tasks of the revolution. In light of the struggle for the liberation of the peasants and workers from imperial plundering, the vanguard party of devoted revolutionaries in Vietnam successfully carried out the unification of democracy and centralism to provide a strong and correct leadership in its political strategy and tactics.

Such lessons are relevant today, as the struggle for national liberation is just as critical as it was in January, 1968. A fighting commitment, and firm belief in victory was a critical component to Vietnam’s victory. This is exemplified by another quote from Ghassan Kanafani: “Everything in this world can be robbed and stolen, except one thing; this one thing is the love that emanates from a human being towards a solid commitment to a conviction or cause.”

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Will Naziyahu’s protégés prosecute him?

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Will Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s protégés prosecute him?
Mandelblit and Alsheikh

By Uri Avnery

Pity the almond tree, especially when it is in full bloom.

The bloom of the almond is, in German, Mandelblüt. That is also the name the Israel’s chief legal officer, called “the legal advisor of the Government”.

The legal advisor is appointed by the government, but is supposed to be completely independent. He is in practice the Attorney-General, the person who has the final say about indicting people, especially the prime minister. That is now his unhappy lot.

Now Mandelblit (as we pronounce his name in Hebrew) is in an impossible position. The prime minister has been officially accused by the police on two counts of bribery. Now Mandelblit must decide whether to put him on trial.

Bite the hand that feeds you?

But Binyamin Netanyahu has been his benefactor for a long time, pushing his career to the top. Do you bite the hand that has fed you? Or do you shirk your duty?

An awful choice.

Avichai Mandelblit was born in Tel Aviv into a right-wing family. His father was a member of the Irgun and a rightist party stalwart. Avichai (“My Father Lives”, meaning God) adopted religion at the age of 25 and put a kippah on his head.

After studying law, he served in the army as a military judge in the occupied Gaza Strip and other military jobs, until he became the chief legal officer of the army. From there it was but a short jump to the job of “government secretary”, the right-hand man of the prime minister, who happened to be Binyamin Netanyahu.

When the office of “Legal Adviser of the Government”, an official with immense power, became free, Netanyahu looked around for a candidate. And who did he see? Yes, quite right – the good, loyal Mandelblit.

On the horizon there were looming already all kinds of criminal suspicions. The crucial position of legal advisor was becoming very important. So, choosing the religious, right-wing lawyer was a clever move.

How clever? Well, we will soon know.

Netanyahu has not always made the cleverest choices.

“You help me keep my job, and I give you the job you desire”

Almost at the same time as he chose the chief legal advisor, he also chose a new chief of police.

His choice was a total surprise. He did not pick one of the senior policemen, each of whom had years of experience behind him, but a completely anonymous person. And not anonymous by accident: he was the No. 2 of the internal security service, Shin Bet.

Roni Alsheikh did not want the job. He wanted to be the chief of the Shin Bet. But Netanyahu almost compelled him. He promised to appoint him Shin Bet chief if he – Netanyahu – were still prime minister in four years time. That was a not-so-subtle hint: you help me keep my job, and I give you the job you desire.

The new police chief was an enigma. He is of Yemenite descent, rather unusual for Israel’s elite. He does not look like a police officer. A joker once called him “a barrel with a mustache”. He does not talk in public – as befits a person who has spent most of his life in the secret service.

With these two loyalists in place, Netanyahu had nothing to fear. A number of criminal suspicions popped up, but nobody believed that anything would come of them. Netanyahu was just too clever.

What were the suspicions about?

1. A billionaire with large business interests in Israel for 10 years provided him with Cuban cigars of the most expensive kind, as well as “pink” champagne and some jewelry for the lady, all in all about a quarter of a million dollars. An Australian billionaire chipped in.

2. There was a deal with the boss of the second largest newspaper in Israel to enact a law clipping the circulation of the No. 1, in return for favourable coverage. The adoring coverage of newspaper No. 1 was assured anyhow. It belongs to Sheldon Adelson, an American casino billionaire, and its sole purpose is – quite openly – to glorify Netanyahu.

A third matter concerns suspicions of bribes from a German shipbuilder, which produces submarines for Israel’s atomic weapons. It’s a multibillion deal. Suspicions run high but have not yet been aired publicly.

What? The chief of police a man of integrity?… This is a moral problem: if Netanyahu appointed him in the belief that he is a man of no conscience, and then it turns out that he is a man of conscience – does this mean that he only pretended to have no integrity, which might be an act of no integrity?

No serious person in Israel expected anything to come of any of these affairs. With the hand-picked chief legal officer and the chief of police safely in place, how could it?

And then, two weeks ago, a bomb exploded. The taciturn policeman suddenly appeared on TV, and hinted that the police were about to publish recommendations to indict Netanyahu for bribery in the first two affairs.

What? The chief of police a man of integrity? What is the world coming to? This is a moral problem: if Netanyahu appointed him in the belief that he is a man of no conscience, and then it turns out that he is a man of conscience – does this mean that he only pretended to have no integrity, which might be an act of no integrity? Work it out.

Can a similar terrible thing happen now with the legal adviser? Can he suddenly turn out to be a man of integrity too? Sooner or later he must decide whether to indict Netanyahu or not.

Poor man.

When the police chief hinted on TV about the coming police decision to recommend indictment, my first impulse was to rush and clean the air-raid shelter at my home.

“Nothing like a military emergency to divert attention from your misdeeds…”

When you are prime minister and in deep domestic trouble, the first thing you think about is a military crisis. Nothing like a military emergency to divert attention from your misdeeds towards the national interest.

And lo and behold – two days after the TV announcement about the police recommendations, the Iranians were so kind as to provoke a crisis.

An Iranian spy drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria and was promptly shot down. In response, the Israeli air force sent its planes to bomb Iranian positions in Syria. An Israeli plane was shot down – a very rare occurrence indeed, and fell near a kibbutz. Both crewmen bailed out and one was severely injured.

The criminal business was swept off the table. Everybody spoke about the coming war. But then Vladimir Putin intervened and put an end to that nonsense.

No war this time. The police published their findings and recommended that Netanyahu be put on trial on two counts of bribery. The entire country was glued to their TV sets. Everything else was forgotten.

Netanyahu did what he does best. He made a live statement on TV. He accused his accusers of all kinds of misconduct. These scoundrels, he more than intimated, were ready to risk the very existence of Israel, just out of spite against him. But not to worry, he has no intention of resigning, even temporarily.

Looking us straight in the eye, shining with honesty, he promised us that he will not forsake us. Since he is the only person on Earth able to ensure our safety, he will remain at his post and protect us, come what may.

This made me very afraid indeed. Far be it from me to insinuate that he might start a war just to divert attention from his indictments. In a war, people get killed. Jewish boys (and girls) of Jewish mothers. Would a patriot like Netanyahu do such a dastardly thing as starting an unnecessary war just to divert attention?

Surely not. But when he has to make a fateful decision in a crisis, between two meetings with his lawyers, will his head be completely clear?

Time to evade?

How long can this go on? Experts assess that Mandelblit, in his desperation, can draw his decision out for a year. He must think. Thinking takes time,

There was this Polish nobleman who called his Jew and told him: “I love my dog dearly. Jews are clever people. You can teach my dog to speak. Do it. Otherwise I shall kill you!

“No problem,” the Jew answered. “But teaching a dog to speak is a very difficult task, It takes time. I need two years.”

“Good,” the nobleman said. But if you don’t do it, I shall kill you!”

When the Jew’s wife heard this, she started to wail. “You know you can’t teach the dog to speak!” she cried.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “Two years is a long time. In two years the dog will be dead, or the nobleman will be dead, or I shall be dead.”

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Who Are the Rich, White Men Institutionalizing Transgender Ideology?

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Exceedingly rich, white men (and women) who invest in biomedical companies are funding myriad transgender organizations whose agenda will make them gobs of money.
Image result for transgender cartoon characters

As an environmental activist who was deplatformed from a speaking venue by transactivists, in 2013 I developed curiosity about the power of this group to force this development. A year later, when Time magazine announced a transgender tipping point on its cover, I had already begun to examine the money behind the transgender project.

I have watched as all-women’s safe spaces, universities, and sports opened their doors to any man who chose to identify as a woman. Whereas men who identify as transwomen are at the forefront of this project, women who identify as transmen seem silent and invisible. I was astonished that such a huge cultural change as the opening of sex-protected spaces was happening at such a meteoric pace and without consideration for women and girls’ safety, deliberation, or public debate.

Concurrent with these rapid changes, I witnessed an overhaul in the English language with new pronouns and a near-tyrannical assault on those who did not use them. Laws mandating new speech were passed. Laws overriding biological sex with the amorphous concept of gender identity are being instituted now. People who speak openly about these changes can find themselves, their families, and their livelihoods threatened.

These elements, along with media saturation of the issue, had me wondering: Is this really a civil rights issue for a tiny part of the population with body dysphoria, or is there a bigger agenda with moneyed interests that we are not seeing? This article can only begin to graze the surface of this question, but considering transgenderism has basically exploded in the middle of capitalism, which is notorious for subsuming social justice movements, there is value in beginning this examination.

Who Is Funding the Transgender Movement?

I found exceedingly rich, white men with enormous cultural influence are funding the transgender lobby and various transgender organizations. These include but are not limited to Jennifer Pritzker (a male who identifies as transgender); George SorosMartine Rothblatt (a male who identifies as transgender and transhumanist); Tim Gill (a gay man); Drummond PikeWarren and Peter Buffett; Jon Stryker (a gay man); Mark Bonham (a gay man); and Ric Weiland (a deceased gay man whose philanthropy is still LGBT-oriented). Most of these billionaires fund the transgender lobby and organizations through their own organizations, including corporations.

Separating transgender issues from LGBT infrastructure is not an easy task. All the wealthiest donors have been funding LGB institutions before they became LGBT-oriented, and only in some instances are monies earmarked specifically for transgender issues. Some of these billionaires fund the LGBT through their myriad companies, multiplying their contributions many times over in ways that are also difficult to track.

These funders often go through anonymous funding organizations such as Tides Foundation, founded and operated by Pike. Large corporations, philanthropists, and organizations can send enormous sums of money to the Tides Foundation, specify the direction the funds are to go, and have the funds get to their destination anonymously. Tides Foundation creates a legal firewall and tax shelter for foundations and funds political campaigns, often using legally dubious tactics.

These men and others, including pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. government, are sending millions of dollars to LGBT causes. Overall reported global spending on LGBT is now estimated at $424 million. From 2003-2013, reported funding for transgender issues increased more than eightfold, growing at threefold the increase of LGBTQ funding overall, which quadrupled from 2003 to 2012. This huge spike in funding happened at the same time transgenderism began gaining traction in American culture.

$424 million is a lot of money. Is it enough to change laws, uproot language and force new speech on the public, to censor, to create an atmosphere of threat for those who do not comply with gender identity ideology?

Transgenderism: A New Medical and Lifestyle Market

It seems obvious now to look at the money behind transgenderism. Many new markets have opened because of it. The first gender clinic for children opened in Boston in 2007. In the past ten years, more than 30 clinics for children with purported gender dysphoria have arisen in the United States alone, the largest serving 725 patients.

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in transgender medical infrastructure across the United States and world to “treat” transgender people. In addition to gender clinics proliferating across the United States, hospital wings are being built for specialized surgeries, and many medical institutions are clamoring to get on board with the new developments.

Doctors are being trained in cadaver symposiums across the world in all manner of surgeries related to transgender individuals, including phalloplastyvaginoplastyfacial feminization surgeryurethral procedures, and more. More and more American corporations are covering transgender surgeries, drugs, and other expenses. Endocrinologists seeking the fountain of youth in hormones for more than a generation, and the subsequent earnings for marketing those hormones, are still on a quest for gold.

Puberty blockers are another growing market. The plastic surgery arm of medicine is staged for an infusion of cash as well as organ transplants, especially womb transplants for men identifying as women who may want future pregnancies. These surgeries are already being practiced on animals and the first successful womb implant from a deceased female donor to another female has already been a success. Biogenetics is poised to be the investment of the future, says Rothblatt, who has headed a massive pharmaceutical corporation and is now heavily invested in biogenetics and transplants.

Transgenderism has certainly made its way into the American marketplace, so it seems important to consider the implications of this as we pass laws regarding transgender individuals’ and our civil liberties. Transgenderism sits square in the middle of the medical industrial complex, which is by some estimates even bigger than the military industrial complex.

With the medical infrastructure being built, doctors being trained for various surgeries, clinics opening at warp speed, and the media celebrating it, transgenderism is poised for growth. The LGB, a once-tiny group of people trying to love those of the same sex openly and be treated equally within society, has likely already been subsumed by capitalism and is now infiltrated by the medical industrial complex via transgenderism.

Who Works to Institutionalize Transgender Ideology?

Much more important than funds going directly to the LGBT lobby and organizations, only a fraction of which trickles down to assist people who identify as transgender, is the money invested by the men mentioned above, governments, and technology and pharmaceutical corporations to institutionalize and normalize transgenderism as a lifestyle choice. They are shaping the narrative about transgenderism and normalizing it within the culture using their funding methods.

This can hardly be a coincidence when the very thing absolutely essential to those transitioning are pharmaceuticals and technology.

This article will use the Pritzker family as a case study, both to reduce length and because they are emblematic of how this works. Those funding trans organizations and normalizing transgenderism are channeling funds in the same ways and invested in the same medical infrastructure. This can hardly be a coincidence when the very thing absolutely essential to those transitioning are pharmaceuticals and technology. It is also important to note that though the trans lobby has sewn itself to the LGB umbrella, LGB people as such are not lifelong medical patients.

The Pritzkers are an American family of philanthropic billionaires worth approximately $29 billion, whose fortune was gestated by Hyatt Hotels and nursing homes. They now have massive investments in the medical industrial complex.

Examining just a few of the Pritzkers in this article will give you some indication of their reach and influence as a family, especially as regards the transgender project and their relationship to the medical industrial complex. As you read, remember, transitioning individuals are medical patients for life and the Pritzker family are not an anomaly in their funding trajectory or investments in the medical-industrial complex.

Jennifer Pritzker

Once a family man and a decorated member of the armed forces, Jennifer Pritzker now identifies as transgender. He has made transgenderism a high note in philanthropic funding through his Tawani Foundation. He is one of the largest contributors to transgender causes and, with his family, an enormous influence in the rapid institutionalization of transgenderism.

Some of the organizations Jennifer owns and funds are especially noteworthy to examining the rapid induction of transgender ideology into medical, legal and educational institutions. Pritzker owns Squadron Capital, an acquisitions corporation, with a focus on medical technology, medical devices, and orthopedic implants, and the Tawani Foundationa philanthropic organization with a grants focus on Gender & Human Sexuality.

Pritzker sits on the leadership council of the Program of Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota, to which he also committed $6.5 million over the past decade. Among many other organizations and institutions Pritzker funds are Lurie Children’s Hospital, a medical center for gender non-conforming children, serving 400 children in Chicago; the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicagoa chair of transgender studies at the University of Victoria (the first of its kind); and the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. He also funds the American Civil Liberties Union and his family funds Planned Parenthood, two significant organizations for institutionalizing female-erasing language and support for transgender causes. Planned Parenthood also recently decided to get into the transgender medical market.

Jennifer Pritzker funds strategically, as does his family, by giving to universities that become beholden to his ideology, whose students go on to spread gender ideology by writing pro-trans articles in medical journals and elsewhere. Jennifer’s uncle and aunt, John and Lisa Pritzker, gave $25 million to the University of California at San Franciscofor a center of children’s psychiatry. Jennifer likewise funds hospitals and medical schools where the alumni go on to create transgender specialties and LGBT medical centers, even though lesbians, gays, and bisexuals don’t need specialized medical services.

Here are just several current activities of Pritzker-funded medical school alumni and recipients of Pritzker money.

Jennifer Pritzker has also helped normalize transgender individuals in the military with a $1.35 million grant to the Palm Center, a University of California, Santa Barbara-based LGBT think tank, to create research validating military transgenderism. He has also donated $25 million to Norwich University in Vermont, a military academy and the first school to launch a Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

Pritzker’s funding is not confined to the United States, but reaches other countries via WPATH, in conferences for physicians studying transgender surgery and funding of international universities.

Penny Pritzker

Cousin to Jennifer Pritzker, Penny Pritzker served on President Obama’s Council for Jobs and Competitiveness and Economic Recovery Advisory Board. She was national co-chair of Obama for America 2012 and national finance chair of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. To say she was influential in getting president Obama electedwould be an understatement.

To say she was influential in getting president Obama elected would be an understatement.

As Obama’s secretary of commerce, Penny Pritzker helped create the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), by facilitating an award of $70 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the first funding of its kind. Obama made transgenderism a pet issue of his administration, holding a meeting at the White House (the first ever) for transgenderism.

The administration quietly applied the power of the executive branch to make it easier for transgender people to alter their passports, get cross-sex treatment at Veteran’s Administration facilities, and access public school restrooms and sports programsbased on gender identity. These are just a few of the transgender-specific policy shifts of Obama’s presidency.

Soros and Gill are two other major transgender movement funders who generated millions of dollars to get Obama elected, and Stryker was one of the top fivecontributors to Obama’s campaign. Under Obama and President George W. Bush, the federal government also funded the Tides Foundation $82.7 million, which in turn donated $47.2 million to LGBTQ issues over the last two decades.

Penny has funded the Harvard School of Public Health and, with her husband through their mutual foundation, The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, are funding early childhood initiatives as well as providing scholarships to Harvard University medical students. The Boston Children’s Hospital Gender Management Services wing physicians are all affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Penny Pritzker also sat on the board at Harvard, where student life offices teach students, many of whom go on to lead U.S. institutions, that “there are more than two sexes.”

J.B. Pritzker

Penny Pritzker’s brother, J.B. Pritzker, is an American venture capitalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and business owner. He is co-founder of the Pritzker Group, a private investment firm that invests in digital technology and medical companies, including Clinical Innovations, which has a global presence. Clinical Innovations is one of the largest medical device companies and in 2017 acquired Brenner Medical, another significant medical group offering innovative products in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology.

We have to look at why this is framed as a civil rights issue when the main issues seem to be capital and social engineering.

J.B. provided seed funding for Matter, a startup incubator for medical technology based in Chicago. He also sits on the board of directors at his alma mater, Duke University, where they are making advances in cryopreserving women’s ovaries.

J.B. is running for governor of Illinois in 2018 and put $25 million into an Obama administration public-private initiative totaling $1 billion for early childhood education. J.B. and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, donated $100 million to Northwestern University School of Law, partly for scholarships and partly for the school’s “social justice” and childhood law work.

We have to look at why this is framed as a civil rights issue when the main issues seem to be capital and social engineering. There doesn’t seem to be a sphere of influence that is untouched by Pritzker money, from early childhood education and universities to law, medical institutions, the LGBT lobby and organizations, politics, and the military. If they were the only ones funding the institutionalization of transgender ideology they would still be fantastically influential, but they are joined by other exceedingly wealthy, influential white men, who also have ties to the pharmaceutical and medical industries.

Pharma and Tech Giants All-In for Transgender

Along with support by pharmaceutical giants such as Janssen Therapeutics, the health foundation of a Johnson and Johnson founder, ViivPfizerAbbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, major technology corporations including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, Dell, and IBM are also funding the transgender project. In February 2017, Apple, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Yelp, PayPal, and 53 other mostly tech corporations signed onto an amicus brief pushing the U.S. Supreme Court to prohibit schools from keeping private facilities for students designated according to sex.

As these corporations were pushing for transgender bathrooms, they were fighting President Trump’s travel ban and immigration policies. In reporting the incidents simultaneously, CNN News made the obvious connection between the corporations’ interest in the immigration ban and commerce, quoting a legal brief signed by the companies that said, “It is inflicting significant harm on American business, innovation and growth.” It made no such equivalent connection for the corporations’ interest in transgender rights. The obvious question would be: Why do they care? The obvious answer is: money.

It behooves us all to look at what the real investment is in prioritizing a lifetime of anti-body medical treatments for a miniscule part of the population.

Melding this manufactured medical issue with civil rights frame entails the continuance and growth of the problem. Transgenderism is framed as both a medical problem, for the gender dysphoria of children who need puberty blockers and are being groomed for a lifetime of medicalization, and as a brave and original lifestyle choice for adults. Martine Rothblatt suggests we are all transhuman, that changing our bodies by removing healthy tissue and organs and ingesting cross-sex hormones over the course of a lifetime can be likened to wearing make-up, dying our hair, or getting a tattoo. If we are all transhuman, expressing that could be a never-ending saga of body-related consumerism.

The massive medical and technological infrastructure expansion for a tiny (but growing) fraction of the population with gender dysphoria, along with the money being funneled to this project by those heavily invested in the medical and technology industries, seems to make sense only in the context of expanding markets for changing the human body. Trans activists are already clamoring for a change from “gender dysphoria” to “gender incongruence” in the next revision to the international register of mental diagnosis codes, the ICD-11. The push is on for insurance-paid hormones and surgeries for anyone who believes his or her body is in any way “incongruent” with his or her “gender identity.”

Bodily diversity appears to be the core issue, not gender dysphoria; that and unmooring people from their biology via language distortions, to normalize altering human biology. Institutionalizing transgender ideology does just this. This ideology is being promoted as a civil rights issue by wealthy, white, men with enormous influence who stand to personally benefit from their political activities.

It behooves us all to look at what the real investment is in prioritizing a lifetime of anti-body medical treatments for a miniscule part of the population, building an infrastructure for them, and institutionalizing the way we perceive ourselves as human beings, before being human becomes a quaint concept of the past.

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Marxism, feminism and transgender politics

NOVANEWS

SWP supports trans big time

Issue: 157

Sue Caldwell

In August 2017 Donald Trump tweeted that transgender people1 were no longer welcome in the military because they are a “burden” due to “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.2 This was the latest in a series of attacks on transgender people which include attempts to overturn legislation that allows people to use the toilet for their preferred gender.

Transgender people face the threat of violent attack; 2017 is on course to see the highest recorded number of killings of transgender people in the United States.3 In the UK transphobic hate crime has tripled in the last five years, while prosecution rates have dropped and transgender people report lack of trust in the police. More than a third of transgender employees say they had to leave their job due to discrimination in 2016.4 A survey released by Stonewall reports that eight out of ten trans school and college pupils had self-harmed and 45 percent had tried to take their own lives.5

At the same time there has been a significant rise in the visibility of trans people in popular culture such as the singer Miley Cyrus who identifies as gender neutral. The recent British Social Attitudes survey reveals a high level of acceptance of transgender people, although that level dropped when respondents were asked if it would be acceptable for them to be teachers or police officers.6 In this context increasing numbers of people are asserting their right to live as their chosen gender, sometimes by starting the process of transitioning from male to female or vice-versa or by adopting non-binary or gender neutral pronouns.

The fight for trans rights has been called “America’s next civil rights frontier” by Time magazine. In the UK the fight has focused around the bureaucratic and medicalised process that people have to go through in order to have their gender officially recognised. The government is conducting a consultation on changing the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to allow trans people to self-define and thus make it easier for them to change their birth certificate. Jeremy Corbyn announced his support for the change, but some people have derided it. Echoing some early arguments against lesbian and gay rights, they mock “trangenderism” and dismiss it as a lifestyle choice. Brendan O’Neill, writing in Spiked magazine, says: “So any bloke could self-identify as a woman, apply for the legal right to be recognised as a woman, and—boom—he’s a woman. Sorry, she’s a woman.” He goes on to helpfully inform us that “womanhood is not a pose one strikes in front of the mirror”.7

Trans women in particular are regularly presented as posers, predators and threats to women and children in the right wing press or transphobic websites such as Transgender Trend. And in 2013 trans teacher Lucy Meadows committed suicide after being hounded by Daily Mailcolumnist Richard Littlejohn. Many of these attacks, with their claims that young children are being brainwashed and need protecting, are reminiscent of the hated Section 28, a piece of anti-LGBT legislation from the Margaret Thatcher era. It is perhaps to be expected that right wing tabloids will oppose trans rights. What is making this particular discussion difficult is the fact that some feminists, including active socialists who would despise the actions of Littlejohn, are also opposing the GRA proposals.

Trans rights may be the new civil rights frontier but the movement for black civil rights has not been won, neither has women’s equality or the right to love freely regardless of sexuality. This reality has contributed to the complexity of the discussions around trans rights, with some feminists in particular seeing trans rights as a threat to their hard-won gains.

For some feminists the very existence of trans people (male to female in particular) is problematic. These feminists are often labelled TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists). As these criticisms cover a wide range of views, I prefer to use the term “trans-critical feminist”. There are also many feminists who fully support trans rights including self-identification.

Just a few years ago to talk about gender politics would have meant talking about women’s oppression. To a lot of young people nowadays it means fighting for the acceptance of a range of gender identities. It would be reasonable to think that feminists who fight against gender-based oppression would support these emerging expressions of diversity, but this is not always the case and this has led to some vitriolic exchanges on social media. The National Education Union (NUT Section) has been the unfortunate site for some of these exchanges which became particularly bitter throughout the summer and autumn of 2017. Juno Roche, a trans woman who won the Blair Peach Award for her work on equalities, threatened to return her award in protest at trans-critical comments from the union’s vice president, herself a long-standing feminist activist.

This article is an attempt to open up a discussion about gender that seeks common ground between the struggles for women’s and trans liberation and the fight for socialism.

The family, women’s oppression and gender stereotyping

In his classic work The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Karl Marx’s collaborator Friedrich Engels outlines the way in which, over a very long period of time, what were essentially egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies became societies divided not just into a hierarchy of classes but also based around a family structure within which women were subordinate. Crucially Engels saw this process not as inevitable or predetermined but as a result of the changes in the forces of production and their impact on the different roles played by (most) men and women in productive and reproductive processes. Whereas women had played a key role as producers and decision-makers in the small wandering bands and early horticultural societies that had previously existed (representing around 90 percent of human history to date), their role as reproducers now excluded them from the heavier productive roles of settled agricultural production. This form of production also meant that a subsistence level of existence was replaced by one in which there was a surplus, and gradually this surplus became concentrated in the hands of a minority of men.

Chris Harman describes the relation between biological and social factors thus:

An interaction between biological imperatives and social needs underlies such changes in the division of labour. The human species has to reproduce itself if any society is going to survive. But the scale of its reproduction—how many children are needed from each adult woman—varies enormously… For agricultural societies, each child is, potentially, an extra cultivator, and there is the need to compensate for a higher death rate, the result of a greater vulnerability to infectious diseases, and the ravages of interminable wars… It is in the interests of the whole society (including its women) for women not to take part in activities (such as warfare, long distance travel and heavy agricultural tasks) which expose them to the greatest risks.

He goes on to describe the link with the development of classes:

Most of the men who carried through the burden of these new productive activities did not become part of the dominant class. Most ploughmen did not become princes and most soldiers did not become warlords, and neither of them made up the priesthood which often came to constitute the first ruling class and which never got involved in heavy work of any sort. But the new forms of production encouraged the breakdown of the old lineage based communal forms of organisation… The rise of classes and the state at the expense of the lineages encouraged male dominance among the lower classes once men were the main producers of the surplus.8

Crucially, the development of the forces and relations of production shaped, and continued to do so in different ways, the impact that biology had on the position of women and the development of women’s oppression. This connection between productive forces and family structure is not mechanical—each new formation builds on what came before and is impacted also by battles between contending classes.

Laura Miles locates the origins of trans oppression in the enforcement of a greater rigidity of gender roles within the emergent nuclear family that arose around the time of another great transformation in productive forces—the industrial revolution.9 Women and children were pulled into the new factories alongside men, working in horrific conditions that resulted in a huge rise in infant mortality. The ruling class needed a reliable supply of future labour power, and some parts of the ruling class saw that this was under threat. As Lindsey German describes it: “It was out of these conditions that the demand for protective legislation and the family wage came. They fitted in with the changing needs of capitalism but were also in part due to the real concerns of working class men and women for better standards of living, safer pregnancies, healthier children and cleaner homes”.10 The working class nuclear family was modelled on the bourgeois family, although the reality for workers was very different. In practice the family wage never materialised and many women continued to work, often from home, on top of their childcare responsibilities and for pitiful wages.

To shore up the new family forms, religious leaders and legislators ensured that men and women knew their place in the family. Sexuality became more strictly regulated; homosexuality and other so-called deviant behaviours were more heavily proscribed. In this context Oscar Wilde was famously prosecuted under the “gross indecency” clause of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act.

Women were presented as weak and emotional carers and men the strong and clever providers. Modern technology, the growth of the mass market and a sophisticated media have transformed those basic roles into the showers of pink and blue foisted on young babies, and the aisles of boys’ and girls’ toys in any department store. These gender stereotypes have remained a powerful force despite the many changes in women’s lives, opportunities and expectations, especially over the last 50 years. They help shape and justify the oppression faced by women and by anyone who might present in a way that challenges the expectations that come with their birth sex. Mothers as well as fathers reinforce these behaviours. In the absence of alternatives, the institution of the nuclear family and the expectations that flow from it appear natural and difficult to challenge.

The roots of women’s and trans oppression are thus inextricably linked, and this should form the basis of united efforts to build a freer society that does not depend on the nuclear family.

Sex, gender and gender identity

The interplay between biology, environment and society runs through many of the debates currently circulating around the question of gender identity.

The formula often used to describe the difference between sex and gender is “Sex is biological and gender is socially constructed”. This differentiation highlights the profound social influences on the accepted norms for masculine and feminine behaviours. However, this formulation rests on a false separation between the biological and the social. Marxist biologists Steven Rose, Richard Lewontin and Leon Kamin argued against this dichotomy over 30 years ago: “The relation between organism and environment is not simply one of interaction of internal and external factors, but a dialectical development of organism and milieu in response to each other… All human phenomena are simultaneously social and biological”.11

While the social construct formulation is often used by feminists, an alternative, “Sex is biological, gender is in the mind”, is sometimes employed by advocates for trans rights but is often misconstrued to imply that trans theorists accept the idea of a male/female brain (some do; some don’t). This allows some feminists, having rightly dismissed the brain sex argument, to dismiss the existence of gender identity altogether.

Arguments against the existence of a male/female brain are well established. Cordelia Fine’s most recent book Testosterone Rex does a superb job of demolishing the biological reductionist myth that male hormones shape male brains and behaviours.12 Daphne Joel and others conclude:

Although there are sex/gender differences in brain structure, brains do not fall into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females, nor are they aligned along a “male brain—female brain” continuum…we should shift from thinking of brains as falling into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females, to appreciating the variability of the human brain mosaic.13

It is important to note that the word “gender” is being used in different ways. Feminist Deborah Cameron describes one meaning as “a social status imposed on people by virtue of their sex” and the other as “an innate sense of identity linked to a person’s brain”. She goes on to locate this difference as a source of conflict rooted in different conceptual frameworks “[one] ‘gender’ has a biological basis, whereas the defining feature of [the other] is that it doesn’t”.14 Her solution is to try to stop using the word gender. While I share Cameron’s desire to see a world in which gender is not a category of any importance, socialists must intervene in struggles as they concretely present themselves. In the context of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act it is important to recognise that gender identity can exist without equating it to socialised gender norms or to a sexed brain.

Feminist writer Sarah Ditum dismisses as “extraordinary” the claim that there is such a thing as “gender identity, which every individual has, entirely separately from socialised gender roles, which only some people will be conscious of, and of which the individual is the ultimate arbiter”.15 Ditum attempts to paint transgenderism as a sexual fetish, a response to trauma or faulty thinking due to autism. She also includes “a response to homosexuality” as a possible cause, despite the fact that coming out in the UK as a lesbian or gay man carries less stigma than being trans.

Responding to Ditum, transfeminist Sam Hope writes: “Here is a possibility Ditum never discussed. Women and men are not that fundamentally different, although there are all sorts of complex nuances to our neurological, chromosomal, hormonal and social experiences that create variety in how we are embodied and how we experience and interact with the culture around us”.16 In other words, gender identity is not “entirely separate” from socialised gender roles, but neither is it reducible to them.

Brown University Professor Emerita Anne Fausto-Sterling takes what she calls a dynamic systems approach to the question of gender. Echoing Rose, Lewontin and Kamin, she argues: “I believe that sex and gender are in part social constructs. But they take place in the body, and so are simultaneously biological”.17 Much of her work has focused on intersex people, which is not the same as transgender. Intersex conditions can arise from mismatches between chromosomal, gonadal and endocrinal sex-markers and include indeterminate genitalia. For people born with intersex conditions there are clearly both physical and social factors that affect the discussion about what should be on their birth certificate.18 So important is this act of assigning a sex at birth that, particularly in the US, surgeons often brutally intervene to ensure that “Boy” or “Girl” can be written on that certificate.19

For the vast majority of people it is difficult to see the social influence on biological sex. But there is greater variety associated with sex characteristics than can be accommodated by simply looking at genitalia, and the decision to use that method to record sex on a birth certificate and then to insist that such a record defines someone for the rest of their life is certainly contestable.

One complicating factor is that external genitalia are not the only sex characteristics. There are chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics. Do these attributes always tie up neatly into a gender binary? Fine warns against a simplistic approach to the effect of the genetic and hormonal components of sex on the reproductive system, “even that developmental process [has been] described by one expert as a ‘balance’ rather than a binary system”.20 The article Fine refers to includes an account of a 70 year old man, the father of four children, having a routine hernia operation and discovering that he had a womb. Arthur Arnold, who studies sex differences at the University of California, Los Angeles says: “The main problem with a strong dichotomy [between male and female] is that there are intermediate cases that push the limits and ask us to figure out exactly where the dividing line is between males and females. And that is often a very difficult problem, because sex can be defined in a number of ways”.21

Commenting on how sex should be defined when different characteristics clash, Eric Vilain, director of the Center for Gender-Based Biology at UCLA, says: “My feeling is that since there is not one biological parameter that takes over every other parameter…gender identity seems to be the most reasonable parameter.” In other words, concludes the author, if you want to know what gender someone is, just ask.22

Most trans-critical feminists would agree that people with intersex conditions should determine their own gender, usually dismissing the figures as being very small. Vilain’s work uses a wider definition of Developmental Sex Disorder, and he gives the figure of 1 in 100 people affected. If autonomy can be granted to these people, why not extend it to the 99 percent whose genitals are more clearly defined?

Marxism does not accept that our biology is our destiny. Historical materialism emphasises the particular historical circumstances in which the oppression of women, and later of trans people, emerged and developed. It allows us to look at the interplay between the biological and the social. The point is not to ask why trans people exist but to defend unconditionally their right to their gender identity.

Whatever the influence of biology on gender identity may be, the social influences are profound. There is an awful lot that kicks into place once boy or girl is written on the birth certificate. As soon as the baby’s sex is known, sometimes even before it is born, the nursery is painted and the clothes bought. Even those parents who try to resist the pink and blue onslaught find their efforts amount to little once their toddler starts to interact meaningfully with society. As Judith Orr asserts: “Research shows that even children as young as three are already responding to pressure to act in gender appropriate ways, and not just from adults, but from other children of their age”.23 This is backed up by recent research in Scientific American which interestingly shows that the gender identities of trans children are as persistent as those of cis children.24

Fausto-Sterling quotes several studies that suggest “quite a number of environmental and cultural variations contribute to small individual differences in gender development. But the hard truth is that there are probably so many contributing streams, and they interact in so many different ways, that we will never have a single story to tell about gender development”.25 She urges more work to be done to “understand what happens when chromosomal, gonadal, hormonal and genital sex disagree with body image and gender identity”. For now it is important to note that such disagreement is a real and established fact, often referred to as gender dysphoria.

Trans activist and biologist Julia Serano uses the phrases “cognitive dissonance” and “intrinsic inclinations” to attempt to describe her gender dysphoria, adding: “I hesitate to define them as purely biological phenomena, as social factors clearly play a role in how each individual interprets these inclinations”.26 Miles makes similar points about the reality of gender identity: “Trans people are highly motivated to resist the gender straitjacket, while gender identity may not be fixed and unchanging, it is deeply rooted in us; otherwise trans people could presumably be socialised out of our gender variant behaviour and identity”.27

Feminists who object to the existence of gender identity, admitting only the social construct meaning of gender, see gender variant behaviour, especially in young children, as simply that—forms of play, etc, that go against stereotypes. Behaviour in young children that challenges gender roles is quite common and all socialists would encourage it. Boys do play with dolls and some girls want to drive trucks. Despite the many societal pressures against them, some will have non-traditional careers and dress and act in non-stereotypical ways. We are familiar with people like Grayson Perry who often appears in public in a dress and make-up, while boxer Nicola Adams has provided young women with an alternative model of femaleness. Socialists support attempts to counter gender stereotypes and actively promote the reality that girls can be assertive and boys can be empathetic and so on. It is completely wrong, however, to imply from this that children who are experiencing distress because of their gender identity are not genuine.

For example, showing great ignorance of the obstacles that young people face in trying to get any kind of help with gender dysphoria, Julie Bindel has written:

If I were a teenager today, well-meaning liberal teachers and social workers would probably tell me that I was trapped in the wrong body. They might refer me to a psychiatrist who would prescribe fistfuls of hormones and other drugs. And terrifyingly, I might easily be recommended for gender reassignment surgery…just because I didn’t like the pink straitjacket imposed on girls.28

In education socialists and feminists have fought together for a progressive curriculum that counters the stereotypical narrative, a tradition that Bindel seems unaware of. Instead she is suggesting that teachers who take children’s gender identities seriously are brainwashing and damaging them. This is the same argument used against “liberal teachers” for allegedly promoting gay lifestyles, which led to the nightmare of Section 28 under Thatcher when lesbian and gay teachers and students lived in constant fear of exposure.

Gender variant behaviour is not the same as transgenderism. There are people for whom adopting non-stereotypical forms of dress or behaviour do not relieve the acute disjuncture they feel. They will try to live as a tomboy, for example, but continue to feel physically and/or psychologically alienated from their bodies and their birth sex. Fausto-Sterling describes the difference between young children who are referred to Gender Identity Clinics (GICs) but go on to live and socialise in harmony with their birth sex as adults, and those who don’t as “desisters” and “persisters” respectively. “Persisters continued through adolescence to have gender dysphoria. The physiological maturation of their bodies caused them great distress.” She notes that while by age six or seven both groups started to identify with their non-natal sex “persisters actually believed themselves to be the other sex” while the desisters only wished they were.29

For those who do persist into adolescence and adulthood, the availability of supportive services to help them to be accepted as who they are remain vital for them to lead happy and healthy lives. Socialists should support the proper funding and full accessibility of these services. We should also support, as a basic democratic right, the demand for people to have autonomy over their bodies and how they are described on official documents.

The Gender Recognition Act and self-identification

In the UK the 2004 GRA granted legal recognition of their preferred gender to trans people. It does not require them to have undergone surgery, but those who have not must have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and must live as their desired gender for two years before being able to change their birth certificate. It has been a source of some distress to trans people that they have to be effectively diagnosed with a medical illness before legally transitioning. As the World Professional Association for Transgender Health state in their guidelines for healthcare professionals, “being transsexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming is a matter of diversity, not pathology”.30

The process of accessing care can be long and stressful: “The agonising wait for a first consultation at a Gender Identity Clinic (after the mandatory psychiatric assessment and referral) can take up to one year, and further delays often occur for hormone treatment and surgery (1-5 years)”.31

Following recommendations from the Women and Equalities Committee, the government is considering proposals to bring the act into line with more recent legislation elsewhere such as the one that has been in existence in Ireland since 2015. Recommendations include allowing for the possibility of a third non-binary gender category, but it is the possibility of trans people being able to change their birth certificate through an act of self-declaration that has caused most debate.32 For example, some feminists claim rather apocalyptically that this will mean the erasure of women from society, or it will become impossible to gather statistics on women. A prominent feminist in the National Union of Teachers wrote in the Morning Star:

The ability to define one’s own “gender” will undermine the legal characteristic of “sex” and could lead to serious implications for women and their ability to fight sex discrimination and oppression. It is also likely to impact on society’s ability to plan for and accommodate the needs of its population and the way it attempts to even out inequality.33

This is rather hard to credit when you look at the figures involved. In the Republic of Ireland self-declaration of gender identity has been part of the gender recognition legislation since 2015. Data released by the government in early 2017 showed that 240 people in a country with a population of around 5 million had been issued with a Gender Recognition Certificate under the procedures.34 We would be living in very interesting times indeed should these figures change to the extent that they have any statistically significant effect on gender inequality data. Many organisations have adapted their equality monitoring forms to accommodate trans people without difficulty.

Statistics can be crucial for planning adequately to allocate resources and monitor inequality. Central records of births, including birth sex, in the UK are already kept. But there is no reason why the birth certificate one carries around should not be a record in keeping with one’s gender identity rather than birth sex. Trans people should not have to effectively “out” themselves when using their birth certificate as a form of identity. To reiterate, trans people in the UK have been changing their birth certificates since 2004. The sky has not fallen in. The proposed change will simply make that process a little easier.

However, hiding behind the objections to self-identification is a more fundamental opposition to the idea that someone previously living as a man can now live as a woman, regardless of the process gone through to get there. For example radical feminist Sheila Jeffreys supports the view of Lord Tebbitt who, when discussing the bill that preceded the 2004 act, said: “There is no law nor any known medical procedure that can change the sex of a human being. The bill…is therefore an objectionable farce”.35

Of course it is true that you can’t change the fact that you were born with a penis or vagina. But as Paddy McQueen writes: “we need to justify why the sex one is assigned at birth should be the final determinant of one’s adult identity, especially when we acknowledge that many other aspects of our identity change over time”.36

The objections of some feminists to trans women centre on who can be accepted into the category “woman”. If you are only prepared to accept people born with vaginas you immediately set up a group that trans women can never get into; the argument becomes tautological. Perhaps we should be thinking a bit wider about what entry into this category might mean, from a political position of offering practical solidarity to trans people. After all, there is plenty of evidence that pre-capitalist societies accepted people born male or female to be brought up and live as the opposite gender, such as Two-Spirit people in some Native American tribes (and some tribes accepted more than two genders).37

The women’s movement has long campaigned against the idea that women are simply walking wombs. The attempt to reduce us to our reproductive organs usually comes from the right, from those who see women’s primary role as child bearers and carers and men’s as providers. For example in 2013 Pope Francis said that what he called gender theory—“that everyone can choose their own sex”—is the “exact opposite” of God’s creation.38 But this version of biological reductionism is being reinforced by some feminists.

Not all feminists agree that the category “woman” should be so biologically exclusive; some even recognise that trans women may be able to add something to the women’s movement. So Catherine MacKinnon, often described as a radical feminist icon, said in 2015: “To be a woman one does have to live women’s status. Transwomen are living it, and in my experience bring a valuable ­perspective on it as well”.39

By contrast Sarah Ditum refers to trans woman Alex Drummond as male, particularly objecting to her having a beard.40 Drummond says she did not want to have the hormones and surgery that would prevent beard growth, and claims she is “widening the bandwidth” of what it means to be a woman.41 Haarnam Kaur is a cis woman with a beard who was bullied as a young girl.42 For different reasons each decided not to go through the daily ritual of removing their facial hair. Insisting that trans women are clean shaven with feminine features is not liberating for any woman.

Some would counter that to be a woman it is necessary to have experienced growing up as a girl. They assert that transwomen “aren’t women. They don’t know what it’s like to be treated like a woman. They can’t fully appreciate what kind of oppression and fear women live with”.43Leaving aside the obvious point that some trans women have lived as girls from a young age, it is undeniably the case that the experience of a trans woman growing up is not the same as a cis woman. But, as Sally Campbell recently argued:

Of course someone who is raised as a boy will not have the same experience as someone raised as a girl, but how far does this matter? A girl in India will not have the same experiences as a girl in Sweden. A boy raised in poverty will not have the same experience as young Prince George. And a trans person will face the misery of being constantly misgendered until they transition, at which point they will either pass as their desired gender and, if they’re a woman, face the oppression that entails, or they will be identified as trans and face…even more virulent oppression.44

As soon as you get bogged down in an attempt to find a stable experience of womanhood, you will run up against the fact that women have a diverse and changing history. Recently, Jenni Murray from BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour wrote a piece in the Times newspaper in which she attempted to describe what might separate “real” women from trans women. She gave the example of meeting a trans woman:

She described hairy legs on a woman as “dirty”. But hairy legs are not considered dirty in a man. Did she not know that the question of whether a woman should shave her legs or her armpits had been a topic of debate among women for an awfully long time? And that to describe a woman who chose not to shave as dirty was insulting and again suggested an ignorance of sexual politics?45

Sharing Murray’s views on hair removal should not be a condition for getting into the sisterhood. This would exclude an awful lot of cis women, and it is unfair to expect all trans women to have more progressive views on body hair than anyone else.

Canadian Hilla Kerner had the following justification for blocking a post-operative trans woman from volunteering as a rape counsellor because they did not have the appropriate life experience: “We know the embarrassment of having our clothes stained with blood from our period, the anxiety of facing an unwanted pregnancy and the fear of being raped, and we know the comfort of grouping with other women”.46 There are, of course, many women who have experienced all of these things, but there are also many who have not. And many transwomen have experienced the last two. In any case, it is not true that successful counsellors need to have had the same life experiences as those they are counselling.

It is difficult to know how, presented with a trans woman who “passed”—who was read by society as being female—a trans-critical feminist would be able to distinguish them from a cis woman. What test would they devise, other than to ask about their genitalia at birth? The only practical implication would be to repeatedly remind someone of their, quite possibly painful, past experiences. The irony here is that passing women are accepted and the rest excluded, thus conferring an advantage on those with the money to access the best treatments and those with more traditionally feminine features.

Interestingly, as the debate unfolds some feminists are shifting their positions. Judith Butler supports trans rights, acknowledging that her earlier work should have paid more attention to the topic and was open to misinterpretation:

Gender Trouble was written about 24 years ago, and at that time I did not think well enough about trans issues. Some trans people thought that in claiming that gender is performative that I was saying that it is all a fiction, and that a person’s felt sense of gender was therefore “unreal”. That was never my intention.47

Following Vanity Fair’s cover story on Caitlyn Jenner in July 2015, the feminist Elinor Burkett issued a series of critical tweets, which Fausto-Sterling retweeted approvingly. Later, having engaged in discussion with some trans advocates, Fausto-Sterling wrote this:

The third Burkett line I tweeted reads “people who haven’t lived their whole lives as women shouldn’t get to define us”. With the passage of a little time, I have no problem pedaling back from this one. None of us, cis, trans, highly feminine, highly masculine or anywhere in between have the right to define some single standard or version of what it is to be a woman… In conclusion: there are many ways of being male or female, masculine or feminine. And many trans people are pioneers in widening the spectrum of gender expression along which we live our lives.48

In 2013 Gloria Steinem repudiated her earlier trans-critical views, saying:

I believe that transgender people, including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned. Their healthcare decisions should be theirs and theirs alone to make. And what I wrote decades ago does not reflect what we know today as we move away from only the binary boxes of “masculine” or “feminine” and begin to live along the full human continuum of identity and expression.49

The novelist and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie hit the headlines for a remark in a talk at the 2017 Women of the World Festival, saying that transgender women “are born with the privileges the world accords men”. She later clarified that “there’s no way I could possibly say that trans women are not women”.50 Unfortunately the unwarranted backlash she received online has enabled the trans-critical camp to overlook this important point.

Trans-critical feminists have no right to claim that they speak on behalf of all feminists, let alone all women. In 2013 some 700 feminists, including Lyn Segal, Nina Power, Laurie Penny, Jessica Valenti and Reni Eddo-Lodge, issued an international statement for trans-inclusive feminism. It states: “We are committed to recognising and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognising trans women as women and including them in all women’s spaces”.51

I will leave the last word in this section to the black power activist and socialist feminist Angela Davis:

Who are we talking about when we say women? It seems to me that we will finally have made some progress if women who have always been marginalised from the general category “women”—which has always been about white middle class women—those who have had to struggle can become the sign of that category. And what would it be like to have say, a black trans woman who has been involved in struggles against violence, struggles against the prison industrial complex, to stand as the sign of that category, women? Why can’t we assume that those who have had to struggle to be recognised, to struggle for survival, to struggle for freedom, why cannot they become the sign of what we should strive for?52

Trans-critical feminism

Feminist objections to trans women are not new; they stretch back at least to 1979 when Janice Raymond wrote The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male, and transwomen have been excluded from the American women-only festival MichFest since 1991. Transgender people have also had to fight to be accepted as part of the LGBT+ movement, despite playing a key role in the 1969 Stonewall riots that launched the Gay Liberation Front.53 Within feminism the argument is still ongoing, and the trans-critical side includes some socialist as well as radical feminists. I will respond to some of the most common objections before looking at the theoretical problems that underpin them.

Trans women are a danger to cis women

A website set up by some socialist feminists and claiming to be “pro-women not anti-transgender” carries the following statement on its home page:

We’re an informal collective (mostly British) with urgent concerns about women’s rights & freedoms. Our independence is more threatened than it has been for a century. If you’re a woman, this affects you and your children now… As long as patriarchy keeps women at a disadvantage and promotes male violence, we will support sex-based protections and help for females. This means males should sometimes be separated from females, regardless of gender identity or expression.54

Such arguments have been used to oppose trans women using women-only toilets, women’s refuges and being placed in women-only prisons. In the US especially, where “bathroom bills” have caused much controversy, trans-critical feminists find themselves on the same side as some of the most bigoted state law enforcers. Those law enforcers are not above charging into women’s toilets violently to eject non-trans women who look too masculine. Do radicals really want to set themselves up as the gender police, deciding who can and cannot “get in”?

This is not the place for a full discussion of the important issue of violence against women. Suffice it to say that for a man to have access to a woman for the purpose of doing them harm it is not necessary to present as a woman and get into a women’s toilet or other women-only space. The continuing statistic of around two women per week in the UK dying at the hands of a current or former male partner makes this clear.

In April 2016 an American organisation, the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, issued a strong statement on proposals to keep transgender women out of women-only spaces. They opposed the claim that:

These proposals are necessary for public safety and to prevent sexual violence against women and children. As rape crisis centers, shelters, and other service providers who work each and every day to meet the needs of all survivors and reduce sexual assault and domestic violence throughout society, we speak from experience and expertise when we state that these claims are false.55

On the contrary, it is trans women who find themselves subjected to abuse and violence if they are forced into the toilet (or prison) corresponding to their birth gender. There are some simple solutions here. As socialists we should always fight for public spaces to be safe and free from the threat of violence. When I was young public toilets were supervised by someone who kept the area clean but could also be a friendly and reassuring presence. Fighting for better and safer public services would be in all our interests, and cis and trans women (and men) should campaign together—to defend women’s refuges, to fight for better healthcare and safer streets. It is austerity and cuts that are making our public spaces more dangerous, not trans people.

The same is true of prisons, although it is rather hard to think of women’s prisons as “safe spaces”. All prisoners are subject to risk assessments whatever their gender, and decisions are made about whether they should be isolated from other prisoners. There is no need to target a particularly vulnerable group—and trans women in men’s prisons are vulnerable, as shown by the cases of Vikki Thompson and Joanne Latham, who both killed themselves after being put in men’s prisons in November 2015, and Tara Hudson who was sexually harassed in a men’s prison, all having lived as women for many years. There are many arguments to be made about the appalling treatment of women in prisons. Trans women are not the problem, and stigmatising them takes us further from, not closer to, a solution.

Trans women perpetuate gender stereotypes

According to Julie Burchill transgender women are “woefully conventional souls… They are frilly docile smilers who always wear make-up and never the trousers”.56 Putting aside the particularly offensive nature of this remark, it is not true that all male to female trans people present as stereotypically feminine. In order to access treatment they have to live as their preferred gender for two years. To prove that you are doing this in modern capitalist society means keeping your hair long and wearing make-up if you are a trans woman, whether you want to or not. You are therefore unlikely to turn up at the GIC without make-up and a dress and risk delaying treatment. It is the system that is reinforcing stereotypes, not trans people. As an aside it should be noted that the right of women to dress ­non-stereotypically also implies their right to dress in a standard feminine way should they choose to do so. There are similarities here with the arguments around women wearing the hijab, and it is no surprise that at least one prominent trans-critic feels that she can tell Muslim women what to wear as well as trans women.57

In fact, as transgender people have become more visible and confident, and GICs have gained experience, trans people have increasingly presented a diversity of identities that challenge the norms of what men and women should look and behave like. This has included identifying as non-binary and as masculine women and feminine men.

As McQueen points out, as well as lacking empirical support, the accusation that trans people present stereotypically “strips trans individuals of critical self-reflection and agency… It substitutes the real-life experiences and beliefs of trans individuals, especially their complexity and diversity, for homogeneous, stereotyped and ungrounded representations”.58

Of course trans people are just as susceptible to gender conditioning as anyone else. But they are no more responsible for people like Caitlyn Jenner appearing on magazine covers than cis women are for Kim Kardashian.

Trans rights are a threat to women’s rights

Ditum asserts: “It must be noted that where the aim is for every person to be treated in accordance with their gender identity (rather than their birth sex, or their perceived gender following transition), this leads to pressure on women rather than on men”.59 In fact the experience of Ireland has not been one of diminishing women’s rights. The period since the passing of more liberal legislation for trans people has been one of a growing movement for the repeal of anti-abortion legislation. It has also seen the passing of legislation for same-sex marriage in the teeth of opposition from the Catholic Church. The Equal Marriage campaign in Ireland was seen as much wider than just an LGBT+ issue and brought in many progressive movements that challenged gender stereotypes rooted in the family. Perhaps because of this unity forged in struggle, when the GRA was approved it was not seen as a threat to women. This mood of solidarity is evident in the North of Ireland too, where a trans man addressed a recent pro-choice demonstration. He was enthusiastically received, and the slogans of the demonstration—for a woman’s right to choose, anti-Tory, anti-DUP (Democratic Unionist Party)—acted as a unifying rallying call. It should not be a surprise to Marxists that a victory for one group of oppressed people can bolster another’s. But such unity does not happen automatically; it has to be fought for.

It is true that abortion campaigns, especially in the US, have become the unfortunate site of polarised arguments on either side of this debate. Some trans activists have argued that such campaigns should drop the slogan “A woman’s right to choose” because it is exclusionary of trans or non-binary people who may get pregnant. This would be a mistake as fundamentally the attack on abortion rights is an attack on women and an attempt to reinforce their role in society as child bearers. In most major pro-choice organisations common sense has prevailed, and the slogan “A woman’s right to choose” remains in place while efforts have been made to ensure inclusivity. So the Irish Abortion Rights Campaign website includes the statement: “While the term ‘woman’ is used in this document, we are fighting for abortion access for any person who needs or wants one, including women, trans men and non-binary people”.60

This reasonable and inclusive position prevails in most similar organisations. It is not true that women are being erased. In fact most tabloid headlines about the erasure of women turn out to be based on misinformation. This was true in the case of a headline in The Sun that screamed “Don’t Call Mums Women” and when the Daily Mail ran a story about “women” disappearing from the census.61 Both of these stories were repudiated, but unfortunately some feminists had shared them on social media to back up their case. There are similarities here with Islamophobic headlines around the disappearance of Christmas, or the racist scaremongering about not being able to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep. It is unfortunate that some people on the left are taken in by them.

Patriarchy theory and identity politics

The distinction between socially constructed gender expectations and a gender identity that reflects an individual’s sense of self is important, and both are real. Some feminists make the mistake of basing the former purely on biological differences abstracted from the material conditions in which women’s oppression arose and continues to exist. Some trans and queer activists see the latter as the key battleground on which to fight oppression. In both cases the roots of the problem in class society are missed.

What feminist objections to transgender people have in common is the underlying acceptance of patriarchy theory. Dismissing Marxism as being class reductionist and unable to account sufficiently for oppression, their explanation ultimately rests on biology. Thus men benefit from the oppression of women and being born with a penis means makes men part of the oppressive class and a potential threat to women. For patriarchy theorists, women are oppressed not because of the way that modern capitalism relies on the family for its own needs, but because of our role in the reproductive process per se. Biology trumps any socio-historical explanation of oppression, and men benefit from, or are privileged by, this oppression and thus have an interest in maintaining it. Feminists Joan Scanlon and Deborah Cameron exemplified this position at the London Feminist Network’s “Feminar” in 2010: “gender…is a system within which one gender (male) has economic and political power, and the other (female) does not—and the dominant group has an investment in keeping it that way”.62

It is difficult to see within this view how women’s oppression can ever be overcome. An understandable desire to protect hard fought for women’s spaces can become an overriding motivation, especially when those spaces are under threat from cuts and austerity. Perceived threats can be blown out of proportion in the fight to maintain any small gains that have been won, and trans women have wrongly been portrayed by some as such a threat.

As with other debates within feminism, there are different variations on this theme, including those, such as Marxist feminist Lise Vogel, who accepts the role played by class society in the roots of women’s oppression. There are also people who call themselves feminists but may know little of patriarchy theory and may simply be expressing an opposition to sexism. But as a political position, all feminists accept the need either for a completely separate women’s struggle, or for a fight for women’s rights that takes place alongside but independent from the class struggle.63 Some feminists, but not all as we have seen, will conclude that if you are going to have a separate women’s struggle you need to clearly define who “real” women are and allow no fluidity or flexibility. And the definition is “born with vagina”; anybody else in a woman’s space is a threat.

Where feminism suffers from an overemphasis on biology, some trans activists see their identity as a radicalising factor in itself and a basis for struggle. Trans theory leans on many strands, but perhaps the one most commonly associated with it is queer theory. Queer theory has been critically discussed previously in this journal.64 We have recognised the contribution made by supporters of queer theory in rejecting the commercialisation of LGBT+ spaces and demanding a more radical approach than that offered by proponents of a “safe” gay politics. However, queer theory arose on the back of a series of defeats for collective class struggle. Basing itself on the theories of Michel Foucault, it locates power not in the class nature of society but in a whole range of smaller battles. As developed by Judith Butler among others, the sites of these battles include “discourse” and “performance”. In some interpretations, simply declaring oneself “queer” can itself be a revolutionary act that challenges the power that non-queer people allegedly have over them.

As with feminism, there are many differences within trans activism. A tendency to focus inwards on identity can lead to the setting up of hierarchies where, for example, some non-binary people believe they are challenging the gender binary in a way that transsexuals (who transition to living as one gender from living as “the other”) are not. Such hierarchies can be the source of much moralism, which has in the past negatively affected the LGBT+ movement.

A distinction needs to be made between recognising gender identity and supporting identity politics. The two are not the same. Supporting the right of an oppressed group to declare their gender does not imply that only trans people have an interest in opposing trans oppression, or that identity should form the basis of one’s politics. It is perfectly possible to support the rights of an oppressed group while fighting that oppression as part of the wider class struggle for socialism. This is what Marxism does, whereas identity politics represents a move away from working class struggle.65

It is a refreshing sign that young trans, queer and feminist people are discovering an activism that is more outward looking, joining demonstrations against Trump and in support of refugees and being part of the movement behind Corbyn, for example. But sometimes the tactics adopted in support of trans rights undermine such collectivity.

For example, when Bindel was invited to speak at an event in Manchester in February 2017 the website of the venue, a well-known local resource for working class history and events, was bombarded with abuse and instructed not only to withdraw the invitation but to close down the venue itself. This is not a tactic likely to win wide support, as many activists use the centre. It is also mistaken in its aims of closing down the meeting, which had been scheduled as part of LGBT+ History Month.

No platform is a tactic developed by the working class movement as part of the fight against fascism. It is designed to stop those who would trample over every element of working class organisation and democracy. Fascism needs the oxygen of big rallies and demonstrations to grow, and anti-fascists are right to stop them. If unchallenged, fascism can rise to power, destroying the working class and leaving millions dead in its wake. No platform is not a tactic to be applied willy-nilly to people whose views we do not like, however offensive they may be. Marxists believe that ideas can change. We believe this on a grand scale, as in the throwing off of the “muck of ages” in the course of revolution. We also believe this is true in the course of smaller battles. For example, on picket lines we link arms with our colleagues, even if they hold sexist views. The experience of common struggle then makes the arguments against sexism easier to win.

Just as it is wrong for feminists to see men as their oppressors wielding power over them, it is equally wrong to see trans-critical feminists as the source of trans oppression. The comments made by Adiche are not in the same category as those made by Bindel or Germaine Greer, and they are certainly not the same as those made by Trump. Trump is the leader of the world’s foremost imperialist power wielding real influence over the lives of millions of people, able to have his decrees turned into legislation and acted on by the forces of the state. This is not true of Adiche.

One common theme that runs through both feminism and some trans ­activism is the acceptance of privilege theory. The problems with privilege theory have been discussed elsewhere in this journal.66 It is used by trans-critical feminists to denounce trans women for growing up with “male privilege”; it is also used by some trans activists to denounce people for abusing their cis privilege. Lack of oppression does not constitute a privilege, which implies an interest in maintaining that oppression. Having male privilege would imply that, should women’s oppression end, men would be worse off. This is not true, as we have argued consistently in this journal. Cis women have an interest in ending trans oppression, in freeing all of us from the gender straitjacket, in fighting together for autonomy over our bodies and so on. Patriarchy theory, identity politics and privilege theory do not help us in the struggle for a better world; they tend to separate rather than unite.

Marxists believe that power in society rests not with men or cis people, but with a ruling class that really does benefit from the exploitation of the working class. It is in their interest to maintain divisions within the working class, which in turn has an interest in not only resisting capitalist exploitation, but in ridding society of all forms of oppression as part of that resistance. As John Molyneux has written: “the decisive advantage of Marxism is that, in theory and in practice, it provides the framework for articulating the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia within the overall struggle of the working class for socialism—a society in which the very roots of these oppressions will be torn up”.67

Conclusion: theory and practice

In his Theses on Feuerbach Marx wrote that “the dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question”.68 It is important that we try to understand the question of gender identity from the point of view of intervening in the world in order to change it. We should develop our theory while testing it in practice, not as an academic exercise.

In a much-quoted passage in What Is To Be Done, Lenin writes:

[Our] ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation.69

It is important that trans rights are taken up and supported by socialists. In this we will find ourselves up against bosses, generals, judges and millionaires who will include trans people in their ranks, just as they will include women, black people, lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Class shapes the way that oppression develops, the way it is experienced and the way that we fight back.

The debates currently taking place inside the trade unions are important. The NUT voted overwhelmingly at its 2017 conference to support self-identification, and socialists must defend that position from current attempts to undermine it. It is not good enough to say, on the one hand, that you are opposed to transphobic bullying and on the other hand that trans people are not who they say they are. You can’t push the bully out of the way only to turn to the trans person and say, “Come on, you’re not really a woman, are you?” Our hard-fought positions on equality apply as much to our trans colleagues as they do to any other oppressed group.

That is not to say that Marxists are only interested in fighting oppression when it arises within the workplace. Oppression pervades every aspect of our lives. Take the issue of Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military. This is not simply a class issue, even though those signing up are overwhelmingly from working class backgrounds with few opportunities for a well-paid civilian career. The US military is an instrument of imperialist rule, and not an institution that socialists support. Nevertheless Trump’s description of trans soldiers as a “burden” has the effect of justifying transphobia whilst creating a scapegoat for budget cuts. This must be challenged, as the logic carries over into all areas of public life and divides us in the fight against capitalism.

Current debates are pitting groups of people against each other who in fact have much in common to fight for. Access to safe, well-funded healthcare is an obvious example. “Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide” can apply equally to the fight for abortion rights and the fight for gender affirmation treatment. Socialists fought for abortion rights to be seen as a class issue, and this stands for trans rights too. LGBT+ people have involved themselves in the fight against Islamophobia and racism, and these will impact on women too. Trans people and non-trans women are finding themselves in the firing line of far-right and fascist groups across Europe. In the course of such struggles socialists should fight for the greatest possible unity. It is therefore also incumbent upon us to challenge transphobia and trans-critical feminism should it arise.

The “tyranny and oppression” experienced by trans people is real. Their strong sense of gender identity is real. It is neither biologically determined, nor is it a social construct in the way that socialised gender norms are. Gender identity is influenced by socialised gender norms but not reducible to them. It arises from the many varied and complex ways in which we as physical, sexual and conscious individuals interact with the social and material world and develop a sense of self. Socialists support people who challenge gender stereotypes in all sorts of ways, and we support the rights of those whose gender identity clashes with their birth sex. This includes not only the right to transition from female to male or vice versa and be fully accepted as one’s preferred gender, but also the right to identify as non-binary and to use gender-neutral pronouns.

Socialists should welcome the increasing visibility of gender diversity. Many young people demonstrating against Trump or for Corbyn carry placards asserting their gender non-conformity and sometimes their trans identity. Our revolution will consist of young, old, gay, straight, black, white, men, women and some people with gender identities we haven’t thought of names for yet. It will be all the more glorious because of that. It is perhaps foolish to speculate on what will happen to gender identity after that, other than to say that it will become as irrelevant as eye colour. But most importantly the revolution will not happen at all without winning a new generation of trans and feminist activists to a class-based understanding of society, and we won’t do that if we end up siding with those bigots who wish to push us all back into little pink and blue boxes.

Sue Caldwell is a teacher, LGBT+ activist and long-standing member of the Socialist Workers Party


Notes

1 I am using trans or transgender as an umbrella term to denote people whose gender identity does not match their birth sex, and this includes non-binary and gender fluid identities. When I use trans man or trans woman I am referring to people who have transitioned from female to male (ftm) or male to female (mtf) respectively, regardless of whether they have had any medical intervention. I am aware that these terms are contested and that meanings may change over time.

2 Thanks to Alex Callinicos, Joseph Choonara, Gareth Jenkins, Laura Miles, Sheila McGregor, Judith Orr and Camilla Royle for their comments on this article in draft.

3 Human Rights Campaign, 2017.

4 Yeung, 2016.

5 Weale, 2017.

6 NatCen Social Research, 2017.

7 O’Neill, 2017.

8 Harman, 1994.

9 Miles, 2014.

10 German, 1981.

11 Rose, Lewontin and Kamin, 1990, pp275 and 282.

12 Fine, 2017.

13 Joel and others, 2015.

14 Cameron, 2016.

15 Ditum, 2016.

16 Hope, 2016.

17 Fausto-Sterling, 2016a.

18 Doctors sometimes actually measure the phallus to see if it is less than an inch in length (indeterminate sex) or more (deemed male).

19 Human Rights Watch, 2017.

20 Fine, 2017, p88.

21 Ainsworth, 2015.

22 Ainsworth, 2015.

23 Orr, 2015.

24 Olson, 2017. Cis is a prefix that is interchangeable with non-trans.

25 Fausto-Sterling, 2012, p57.

26 Serano, 2007, p98.

27 Miles, 2014, p46. My emphasis.

28 Bindel, 2016.

29 Fausto-Sterling, 2012, p66.

30 Morgan, 2015.

31 Morgan, 2015.

32 For a more detailed explanation of the proposals and their implications see Laura Miles’s blog at wordpress.com/posts/laurascorner.blog

33 Tunks, 2017.

34 Duffy, 2017.

35 Quoted in McQueen, 2016, p675.

36 McQueen, 2016, p675.

37 See Feinberg, 1996, chapter 5, and Miles, 2014, or for a more recent example of research into 3rd century BC Europe, see Turek, 2016.

38 Catholic Herald, 2016.

39 Williams, 2015.

40 Ditum, 2016.

41 McCormick, 2015.

42 Khaleeli, 2016.

43 Lee Lakeman, quoted in Elliott, 2016.

44 Campbell, 2017.

45 Murray, 2017.

46 Tasker, 2017.

47 Williams, 2014.

48 Fausto-Sterling, 2016b.

49 Steinem, 2013.

50 Quoted in Smith, 2017.

51 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, 2013.

53 See Miles, 2014.

55 National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, 2016.

56 Quoted in McQueen, 2016.

57 Bindel, 2013.

58 McQueen, 2016.

59 Ditum, 2016.

61 Both front pages from 23 October 2017.

63 For Vogel, writing in the 1980s, the continued existence of women’s oppression in so-called communist countries such as China, Russia and Cuba proved that women’s oppression would continue beyond the fall of capitalism.

64 Wilson, 2011.

65 For a detailed critique of identity politics see Smith, 1994.

66 Choonara and Prasad, 2014.

67 Molyneux, 2012, p119.

68 Marx, 1947.

69 Lenin, 1902.


References

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Bindel, Julie, 2013, “Why are my Fellow Feminists Shamefully Silent over the Tyranny of the Veil”, Daily Mail (17 September), https://tinyurl.com/ya9fb3sr

Bindel, Julie, 2016, “‘I’m Grateful I Grew up Before Children who Don’t Fit Stereotypes were Assumed to be Transgender’: Feminist Activist Julie Bindel on the Danger of Playing Gender Politics with Young Lives”, Daily Mail (24 October), https://tinyurl.com/jg86p6b

Cameron, Deborah, 2016, “A Brief History of ‘Gender’”, Language: A Feminist Guide (15 December), https://debuk.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/a-brief-history-of-gender/

Campbell, Sally, 2017, “Gender Recognition Act: Trans Rights versus Feminism?”, Socialist Review (September), http://socialistreview.org.uk/427/gender-recognition-act-trans-rights-versus-feminism

Catholic Herald, 2016, “Pope Francis: It’s ‘Terrible’ Children Taught they can Choose Gender” (3 August), www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/08/03/pope-francis-its-terrible-children-taught-they-can-choose-gender/

Choonara, Esme, and Yuri Prasad, 2014, “What’s Wrong with Privilege Theory?”, International Socialism 142 (spring), http://isj.org.uk/whats-wrong-with-privilege-theory/

Ditum, Sarah, 2016, “What is Gender Anyway?”, New Statesman (16 May), www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2016/05/what-gender-anyway

Duffy, Nick, 2017, “What Will Actually Happen if the UK Adopts a ‘Self-Declaration’ Gender Recognition Law?” Pink News (26 July), https://tinyurl.com/ycccgdqc

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Fausto-Sterling, Anne, 2016a, “Gender and Sexuality”, www.annefaustosterling.com/fields-of-inquiry/gender/

Fausto-Sterling, Anne, 2016b, “Responding to Responses to Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Event”, Huffington Post (14 July), www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-anne-fausto-sterling/responding-to-responses-t_b_7788220.html

Feinberg, Leslie, 1996, Transgender Warriors (Beacon Press).

Fine, Cordelia, 2017, Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds (Icon Books).

German, Lindsey, 1981, “Theories of Patriarchy”, International Socialism 12 (spring), www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/german/1981/xx/patriarchy.htm

Harman, Chris, 1994, “Engels and the Origins of Human Society”, International Socialism 65(winter), www.marxists.org/archive/harman/1994/xx/engels.htm

Hope, Sam, 2016, “Sarah Ditum—not ‘Gender Critical’ Enough”, A Feminist Challenging Transphobia (18 May), https://feministchallengingtransphobia.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/sarah-ditum-not-gender-critical-enough/

Human Rights Campaign, 2017, “Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2017”, www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2017

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McQueen, Paddy, 2016, “Feminist and Trans Perspectives on Identity and the UK Gender Recognition Act”, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, volume 18, issue 3.

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Smith, Sharon, 1994, “Mistaken Identity —Or Can Identity Politics Liberate the Oppressed?” International Socialism 62 (spring), www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/isj2/1994/isj2-062/smith.htm

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Posted in EducationComments Off on Marxism, feminism and transgender politics

TRUMP’S SPIRITUAL ADVISER SUGGESTS PEOPLE SEND HER THEIR JANUARY SALARY

NOVANEWS
TRUMP’S SPIRITUAL ADVISER SUGGESTS PEOPLE SEND HER THEIR JANUARY SALARY OR FACE CONSEQUENCES FROM GOD

Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser has suggested that people send her money in order to transform their lives, or face divine consequences.

Paula White, who heads up the president’s evangelical advisory committee, suggested making a donation to her ministries to honor the religious principle of “first fruit,” which she said is the idea that all firsts belong to God, including the first harvest and, apparently, the first month of your salary.

“Right now I want you to click on that button, and I want you to honor God with his first fruits offering,” she said in a video shared to her website, in which she encourages her followers to donate to her ministries to get blessings from God.

“If God doesn’t divinely step in and intervene, I don’t know what you’re going to face—he does,” she said.

Paula White

Televangelist Paula White speaks during a signing ceremony for an executive order in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 4.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY

Explaining the principle of the donations, the Pentecostal televangelist, who has recently spoken out in defense of Trump’s mental health following claims in a tell-all book that the president is unwell, suggested that people would reap rewards after donating to her.

“January is the beginning of a new year for us in the Western world. Let us give to God what belongs to him: the first hours of our day, the first month of the year, the first of our increase, the first in every area of our life. It’s devoted…. The principle of first fruits is that when you give God the first, he governs the rest and redeems in,” she said.

“When you honor this principle, it provides the foundation and structure for God’s blessings and promises in your life. It unlocks deep dimensions of spiritual truths that literally transform your life. When you apply this, everything comes in divine alignment for his plan and promises for you. When you don’t honor it, whether through ignorance or direct disobedience, there are consequences.”

White was among a number of televangelists who were examined after Republican Senator Charles Grassley launched a 2007 investigation into the finances of ministries that solicit millions of dollars in donations. However, the report, published in 2011, did not draw any firm conclusions of wrongdoing.

In her newest video, the pastor encourages people to send her money, stating, “Each January, I put God first and honor him with the first of our substance by sowing a first fruits offering of one month’s pay. That is a big sacrifice, but it is a seed for the harvest I am believing for in the coming year. And God always provides!”

Those who send White money, which she suggests belongs to God, will see positive consequences, she claims.

“When you sow a First Fruits Offering of $75 or more, I will rush to you the book, the devotional and also a Paula White 2018 wall calendar! Track throughout the entire year prioritizing God with me!” her website says.

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