Trans rights and the Communist party

We are the purveyors of truth.

I am glad that the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) exists, so that these people can have a space to talk amongst themselves, rather than try to change the Labour Party by speechifying at local meetings, and boring us to death. From the speeches of the Central Committee to the Eighth Congress of the Seepy-Geeby, which overwhelmingly passed Motion 8, the party is officially against Identity Politics. It abbreviates that to Idpol, a word reminiscent of Ingsoc. They resolved that The propagation of identity politics [is a]… diversion from the class struggle of the proletariat for its social emancipation.

The Party of the Workers was formed when some members of the Socialist Labour Party (Not to be confused with the Socialist Party, Respect, the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers Party of Britain, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition or even the Communist Party of Britain) wanted to support the government of North Korea, and were expelled. What do the purveyors of truth say? The speeches on their website are anonymous. The woman member of the Central Committee spouted ordinary “gender-critical” stuff.

“To my mind, it is plain child abuse to tell little children who don’t like the gender stereotypes being forced on them that they are in the wrong body, rather than teaching them the resilience to ignore those stereotypes and find a way to be comfortable in their own skins.”

Ignore the stereotypes. Yes, of course, but some children are trans, no matter how much schools and parents fight against gender stereotypes. The idea comes from the trans children themselves, that they have the opposite gender. But this woman thinks she, her mother and her daughter could have been seduced by trans ideology.

The lesson she draws, though, is that her tiny sect (Wikipedia had no membership figures) is poised to launch its Workers’ Revolution: It’s a sign of a society in total collapse – utterly bankrupt and unable to offer workers anything useful or fulfilling to do with their lives, or any hope of a better future.

She has a different understanding of gender, though. For her, gender is a material thing, what other trans excluders call “sex”. She says the social construct is “gender roles”, rather than gender. One of the ways these people preserve their purity is to insist on their own terminology, which distances them from potential allies.

She insists We are not against trans people, we are against a society that has produced this delusion and the leeches who nurture and feed off it. Seeing everything as the Oppression of the Workers by bourgeois “leeches” makes you see enemies everywhere, and I don’t know if she would call me a “leech”. We are against lying, which would probably mean she insisted I use the men’s loos.

The male member of the Central Committee is also against nonbinary folks, calling gender fluidity a “reactionary nightmare”. He asks Do we think that a material reality exists? This is a fundamental question of philosophy, he says. Well, yes. I am a critical realist: there is a real world even though we can’t know it accurately, though quantum superposition strongly challenges that theory. But through study and struggle he has won the true understanding of dialectical materialism, the revolutionary teachings of Karl Marx.

From Wikipedia, idealism is the diverse group of metaphysical philosophies which asserts that “reality” is in some way indistinguishable or inseparable from human understanding and/or perception. However he dismisses it as the argument that there is no material reality at all. That is not a Marxist concept.

Sex and gender are synonyms, he says, and sexual dimorphism is real. Truth is what is in the interests of the working class as a whole… we have to come to a correct position which serves our class. Only one view can ever be acceptable. He claims that will make them the vanguard of the working classes, and the masses will trust and accept anything we’re saying. Not yet, unfortunately, but, soon, Comrades! The truth will enslave you, if you have such a narrow conception of acceptable truth. This is the attitude to truth behind Stalin’s purges. You have to be openly partisan… in art, in culture and in science.

After reading this, I realised I had not understood Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler, before. There is one Truth, decided in the interests of the Workers by the Party. Because truth is too complex to be reduced in this way, that is both utterly corrupt, and incapable of adjusting to reality. It is the basis of totalitarian control.

But for the male member, trans people are no longer fighting against oppression, but against reality. It’s the ultimate idealism, in the philosophical sense that the material world doesn’t exist. This prevents workers uniting on a class basis. Transgender is a capitalist tool to prevent revolution, and also it is Khruschevite revisionism, the rejection of Stalin’s pure and perfect truth. People are oppressed by class, not identity. He wonders why there are no Black people in the Congress, when they are, he says, oppressed by class not race. Similarly trans people. We are not transphobic!… But, we do not advocate and we cannot allow the bourgeoisie to impose this divisive ideology upon us!

Why research the treatment of aneurisms, when in fact you could get rid of much of the problem by stopping the community from smoking? Capitalist society attempts to reduce smoking, but he would stop it outright by the diktat of the Workers’ State. He reminisces, I argued with my schoolteachers; they would send me out of the class for disagreeing in a way they felt was antisocial. Well, yeah. This level of closed-mindedness is a deep-seated trait. That’s why they’re such a tiny sect.

This has occasioned another split. Red Fightback, which is also a Marxist-Leninist Communist party, is pro-trans. They write, The likes of the Socialist Workers’ Party, the CPGB-ML, the Labour Party and so many others have tarnished what it means to be a revolutionary socialist—it is about time that we restore honour to that name and remind people that to be a socialist is to be a tireless fighter for liberation. No, a tireless squabbler with other revolutionaries. Me, I’ll carry on sharing my photo with Jeremy until I get one with Keir.

Jennifer Saul

Professor Jennifer Saul is a philosopher and trans ally who writes about how language works, for example when used to explain, obfuscate or oppress. She expresses concepts clearly and accessibly.

She argues that we should not call people TERFs, because many of them are not radical feminists. Radical feminists oppose sexist ideas about what men or women are like and how they relate to each other, and not all anti-trans campaigners do. Nor is the term “gender critical” useful- all feminists are gender critical. “No feminist thinks gender is just fine as it is,” even if feminists disagree about what to do about it. There is a battle over the rights of trans people, and whether our opponents allege falsely that “predators” could use our rights, or that our rights should be curtailed, they are “anti-trans campaigners” and that is the word that should be used.

I generally use the term “anti-trans campaigner”. I loved the lucidity of her argument, and went in search of other articles. In The Independent she analysed what Donald Trump was doing when he said Mexicans are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Why that last bit about “good people”? She says it’s a figleaf, so that Trump’s supporters can doubt that he is racist. A racist would not say that, they say. I don’t doubt Trump is racist, and neither does she. The figleaf “serves to just barely cover what one isn’t supposed to show in public”. It’s different from a dog-whistle, such as talk of “inner-city crime”, which does not explicitly state that the criminals are Black, though racist hearers will assume that. The fig leaf makes it easier to be explicitly racist: when Trump talked of “shithole countries” he used no figleaf.

On Medium, she discusses how people say things whose meaning is clear even if not explicit. “It would be a terrible shame if something were to happen to your family” is clearly a threat, as in context sending someone a photograph of their children can be. So when Trump said to poor dupe Michael Cohen “there’s no business in Russia,” which both knew to be false, Trump was telling Cohen the party line he should insist on. Most of Prof. Saul’s Medium posts are about the shocking scheme to cut down half of Sheffield’s trees, showing the heavy-handed way the city council responds to protests and activism. They might interest anyone whose activism ventures beyond our computer screens. She also established a blog where women in philosophy could anonymously state their experience of sexism.

My interest took me to an academic paper, “(How) should we tell implicit bias stories?” A google search led directly to a pdf download. She writes, Implicit racial biases are largely unconscious and largely automatic racial attitudes, which have been shown to influence behaviour toward members of racial groups… these may be at odds with genuine deeply-felt egalitarian commitments. This makes implicit biases especially puzzling and uniquely disturbing to the self-conception of anti-racist whites like me. I might pick something up about internalised transphobia. The paper is written for a different audience.

Racist, sexist and transphobic results can arise from explicit bias, where a person is happy to be racist etc; from implicit bias, where they want to be anti-racist but act on unconscious beliefs imbibed from the wider society, and from structural injustice.

Prof. Saul quotes Sally Haslanger: Critical Social Theory begins with a commitment to a political movement and its questions; its concepts and theories are adequate only if they contribute to that movement. Fascinating. We have a purpose- to subvert the Kyriarchy. We judge understanding on whether it furthers that purpose.

One might reject stories blaming implicit bias for racist outcomes if the stories make people less likely to take action to avoid those outcomes, either action on themselves or against structural injustice. The stories might, unless the hearers are already committed to seeking social justice: it might reassure them that everyone was like that, so there was no need to change, or reduce their belief that improvement was possible. So our stories should motivate action towards social justice, and offer a road map for such action. They should show that implicit bias arises from and perpetuates structural injustice- such as the “institutional racism” the Macpherson report describes- and that both need combatted.

Reading, writing, understanding

“It was Heidegger who rendered phenomenology hermeneutical.” Are you still here, Jim? Jim wrote here, once, “I adore Heidegger”. I just about understand that sentence, have some understanding of what phenomenology is, or hermeneutics, though I am unclear about how one could be the other. And then a shaft of light: Heidegger describes understanding as the human’s fundamental way of being-in-the-world… the basis of human knowing in general.

Afraid to go out, afraid to go in- I have not been meditating, because I fear it, and then yesterday felt moved to, so did. And this morning I felt moved to so did and found my pain and sadness, at the heart of me, it just hurts. Being with it, being conscious of it, was what I had feared and why I had avoided meditation, and why I may avoid meditation in the future. And yet just sitting with this pain the emotional accretions to it cease to matter. There is the pain and sadness, and there is the terror and sense of incomprehension and powerlessness which they evoke in me, but if I sit with the pain the terror disappears. Perhaps I am still powerless, I don’t know. Perhaps, I am not. Perhaps, I will meditate.

Become blind during contemplative prayer and cut yourself off from needing to know things. Knowledge hinders, not helps you in contemplation. Be content feeling moved in a delightful, loving way by something mysterious and unknown, leaving you focused entirely on God, with no other thought than of [God] alone. Let your naked desire rest there. . . .

I have been reading. I love the idea of the Oxford “Very Short Introductions”, books about 120 pages long on all sorts of topics. The one on Existentialism has required my concentration, reading slowly, re-reading paragraphs and chapters, and that concentration seems a worthwhile practice to me as I sit at home. Maybe I should take notes. It seems a less frittery way of spending time than others open to me. I wish they were slightly easier, but there are concepts new to me which may be as lucid as possible. It fits this section, on how an inkling may grow to an understanding, how it might be aided by others, shaped by words. I have experienced such learning before.

She may be there this weekend. I hope so, hope not. I have spoken at her twice, both times imbecilically. (If you’re reading this, I don’t mean you.) She is utterly alien to me, beyond my comprehension, of fabulous intellect which I intuit may create loneliness in crowds like there will be. If she is there it will be her gift to us. If I dare approach her, not for absolution for my past idiocies but to say

Hello

as a gift not a request or a pawing attempt at robbery- an attempt at I-thou-

could it possibly result in communication I could bear? Though my communications so far, impertinent though they were, have elicited reactions so that I have seen her slightly better. What is the best that I want?

That intellect should win respect from all, but merely being female exposed her to insult and contempt, over and over again, probably still does.

Another person will be there, also alien to me but with whom I have communed, in Tate Modern, making the art we contemplated together dance and sing and give up mysteries. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are.) I so desperately want to commune.

Faced with the possibilities of Bad Faith or Authenticity, explained by Sartre as mediated by Thomas R. Flynn, I will occasionally make progress, slower than I would like, wanting instant communication and finding attempts failing over and over again. But then in meditation this morning, fleetingly, I managed to communicate with myself.

Trans philosophy

What does it mean to say “Trans women are women”? Should philosophers debate this? Angelos Sofocleous was sacked for tweeting “women don’t have penises” from his post at Critique, a philosophy journal, and The Times got hot and bothered: The censorious junior philosophers of Durham… appear to have an absolute moral conviction that this is something not to be thought about. There was more huffing and puffing from Conatus News: Thought Crime in the UK: in Solidarity with Angelos Sofocleous. But Angelos’ twitter says he is a writer/editor at Conatus.

Well. Sofocleous is only an undergraduate, and Critique is an undergraduate journal. And he was not philosophising, but making a bald statement, sharing a Spectator article.

My French friend has lived in Birmingham for thirty years. He has two daughters, both now graduated from university. He bought a house. He divorced his British wife, and never took British citizenship. Is he one of us, or a foreigner? Before the EU referendum, only a few hard-right haters would have said he was foreign; after, the British Government says he is. I am angry and ashamed that my friend should be excluded like this.

Emily Thornberry MP, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said, My starting point is that I’m a feminist, and I’m a feminist of a certain age. I was involved in the women’s rights movement in the late 70s and early 80s, when we had our discussions about women-only meetings, and we were talking about the importance of us as women, and our own experiences in contrast to men. That’s kind of what my background is. So I’ve found the trans debate quite challenging.

But actually talking to people and listening to people- when they’re not shouting- what really struck me actually is that what I have learnt from feminism is that there are people who are marginalised and people who are treated badly, and actually the feminist movement is big enough and big-hearted enough, and if someone believes that they have been born as a man but they are a woman, we have space.

Of course philosophers should consider what it means to say “Trans women are women”. But as with my French friend, who has been told to “get back where he came from,” there are dangers in this. We can be excluded, and we can be hurt. A tweet of a Spectator article encourages those who would hurt and exclude us.

So the philosopher might be allowed to say things in an academic journal which they could not tweet. What does this mean for other women? is a legitimate question. What is a woman?

Suggesting that there are dangers from trans women in general, extrapolating from one trans woman who has committed rape, is inciting hatred and fear so transphobic by the core definition. Any suggestion that we should be excluded should be carefully argued. Any suggestion that there are dangers from trans women should stick to facts rather than speculation, and take great care not to express those facts to exaggerate any risks, or make someone think them disproportionate. Saying there are risks from a group of people- foreigners, coming over here, taking our jobs, taking our benefits– is a simple way to incite others against them.

Any philosopher writing about risks from trans women should expect push-back. Of course we will pick up any exaggeration of those risks, any false argument. The Shadow Foreign Secretary has the right idea. But Sofocleous was not philosophising, and was not sacked for philosophising.

Here is useful philosophising about trans.

Academic debates, trans lives

Erudite academics applying philosophical techniques to the nature of trans affect my life, but only if I let them.

Prof. Kelli Oliver protests that she is openly bisexual and has mentored women and students of colour in her male-dominated discipline, in order to eliminate injustice and inequality. I find myself in an educational environment in which outrage, censoring and public shaming has begun to replace critique, disagreement and debate. She is still getting hate mail after defending Rebecca Tuvel, who wrote an article comparing transracialism to transgender. One way we delegitimise Nkechi Amare Diallo is by using her former name, though she has changed it, an act equivalent to deadnaming a trans person.

Mmm. Deadnaming. Prof. Oliver pointed out that Caitlyn Jenner herself refers to “Bruce”: I will refer to the name Bruce when I think it appropriate. Bruce existed for sixty-five years, and Caitlyn is just going on her second birthday. That’s the reality. I feel it behoves me to bear references to Stephen. I have enough ways for people to provoke me, without that. Yet deadnaming distresses many transitioned people: it is a way of denying the reality of transition and gender identity, the person’s gender and right to assert it.

Deadnaming is unfriendly. I can imagine psychologists or philosophers debating these matters in an academic setting, and if Rebecca Tuvel’s journal article had just been in print in University libraries perhaps no-one would have objected to it. However, it was available on-line, and so the least active transactivist and lots of incipient trans folk, as well as people of colour who objected to “Rachel Dolezal”, read it and got angry. As Kelli Oliver says, some who were in a position to ruin Rebecca Tuvel’s career read it and objected.

What you don’t know rarely hurts you. Had it been only available in print in a scholarly journal, trans activists would not have heard of it, and few might have bothered to communicate objection if they had to type a letter and use a stamp- perhaps even dictating rather than writing, in my first job I used a dictaphone to dictate letters for secretaries to type. Now, it is online, and gains notoriety. People read it. We are hurt by it. Transracialism is not accepted by black people, and I don’t like it compared to transgender. Others can make moral or practical distinctions, but finding those is effort.

I stop being able to ignore Rebecca Tuvel. People talk about her. So she affects me, threatening to delegitimise me. I have no safe space. Just as once there was a Gender Recognition Certificate I had to have one, so now Rebecca Tuvel impinges on my consciousness and that of other trans folk I have to read her.

The Guardian had an article saying that teenagers were not having gender surgery. Comments were opened, and people saying prejudiced things about trans people had a field day. Their comments got lots of upvotes. Some suggested that the Transgender Day of Remembrance was a fraud, that there was no evidence murder rates of trans folk were any higher than the general population. A few trans folk answered, and were abused.

Any TERF can join a TERF bubble, and learn horrible words like autogynephilia, or about assaults on cis women by trans women, including sexual assaults. Then they can come out and attack us with them. Articles about transracialism, or by Anne Lawrence, are used to attack us. And yet it need only affect me if I let it, if I read the hostile articles and the difficult arguments. People will transition, whatever the climate of hostility. Perhaps no-one I know IRL would read them, but me. I could just cut myself off from all this ferment, simply by switching off my computer, and no-one I know IRL would care. But I am drawn to it, however much it stresses me. Academic freedom has to take account of the casualties.

Possibly it would be better if philosophers and psychologists could debate trans in ivory towers, find a solution and just apply it. Actually, no, we have fought for what we have, it gives us a sense of agency. We are part of this argument. We know what we want. If academics debated, then lawmakers followed their recommendations, the world would be like the prayer of Teilhard de Chardin, archaeologist and mystic:

Ah, you know it yourself, Lord, through having borne the anguish of it as a man: on certain days the world seems a terrifying thing: huge, blind, and brutal. . . . At any moment the vast and horrible thing may break in through the cracks—the thing which we try hard to forget is always there, separated from us by a flimsy partition: fire, pestilence, storms, earthquakes, or the unleashing of dark moral forces—these callously sweep away in one moment what we had laboriously built up and beautified with all our intelligence and all our love.

Since my human dignity, O God, forbids me to close my eyes to this . . . teach me to adore it by seeing you concealed within it.

But then the world is.

Kelly Oliver in NYT.

Computer simulation

We are probably in a complex computer simulation. The neutrinos and galaxies our instruments detect, and even each of us, are made of code. “How can I emerge into Reality?” asked H- but why would you want to? Why would reality be preferable?

Imagine that in reality you have moments to live, having been in an accident. As the human population is kept at a precise optimal sustainable level, there is a strong taboo against prolonging life. Your death will mean that someone can have a baby. However, as you are dying early you get the opportunity to enter The Simulation. You will not remember your real life, but can live a life here.

Or, in reality the Big Crunch will happen within 100,000 years. Nothing of the whole Universe will remain. It is believed that there will be a further Big Bang, but for hundreds of thousands of years after there will be no structure or information in the hot plasma, if ever. However, in the Simulation time is speeded up, so that we have another ten billion years before the computer substrate is destroyed. And we detect evidence that there will never be a Big Crunch, just the evaporation of black holes and a perpetually expanding Universe of solitary particles at absolute zero, too far apart to have any effect on each other: it is set this way, so that we will not suffer the despair our creators feel.

Or, in reality you are a criminal. Your body will be placed in a coma so that you will never sense anything ever again, and this is a mercy because your crime is so dreadful that all of society would ostracize you. However, you can have a life in the Simulation.

I imagine life would be preferable in reality because you could influence real events, but in the simulation life is perhaps as complex as in Reality- so how is Reality more real? Perhaps life is less complex there. There is only one galaxy, and only one planet with intelligent life, and reality is simple enough for people to have fully understood and explained it. They would die of boredom, but instead they live vicariously through us. Right now they are laughing at the practical joke they have played on us, for here quantum theory and gravity are irreconcilable.

If the simulation is indistinguishable from Reality, why would Reality be better? I can influence other lives here, which matters even if they are made of code rather than cells.

If this is reality, the Sun will heat up so that Earth’s water will evaporate in a billion years’ time, so that organic life will be impossible. In seven billion years the Sun will become a red giant and if it does not engulf the Earth, Earth’s atmosphere will be stripped away and its surface temperature rise to over 2400K. Homo Sapiens Sapiens emerged 200,000 years ago, and perhaps our species will end within a million years. I might extend my empathy and fellow feeling to a machine intelligence emerging from Earth, and be pleased that something emerging from life on Earth would survive, but just as I will die so will my country, my civilisation, my species, my planet, and perhaps everything relating to or influenced by life here will end.

It will end; but it will have been beautiful and valuable, while it lasted.

Consequentialism

I assert my morality is mainly consequentialist, with a tincture of rules-based and virtue-ethics. Perhaps I should read up on what that means. So I turned to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Moral philosophy consists of people putting up theories, and people picking holes in them. When the theorists try to defend, that can be like a Ptolemaic astronomer finding ever more tiny epicycles to fit the data.

Stanford is better than “allaboutphilosophy.com”. There I read of Situational ethics: the idea that a moral response depends on all the circumstances of a situation, and not on any fixed law. I agree: but the site’s killer argument is that Situational ethics “contradicts the Bible”. Yet still Stanford felt like a series of straw men.

Most people could live on less, and give more to charity. That charity might save lives. Consequentialism might seem to put an obligation on us to save lives, and socialise at home rather than in the pub. However much you do for others, most people could find ways to make more sacrifices, and do more. I could see the greater sacrifice as morally preferable, but not obligatory. Or I could attempt to use Aristotle’s golden mean, a virtue ethics argument, to say that too great sacrifice is a fault. Or a Quaker line: “A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength.” JS Mill would argue that an act is only morally wrong if liable to punishment: it does not maximise utility to punish people for not being absolutely as moral as they might.

Philosophers refer to agent-neutral and agent-relative views. The theorist of agent-neutrality says that an act which is right for anyone is equally right for everyone. The agent-relative theorist might say here that a parent has a particular obligation to their family. This starts to look like argument after the fact: one can rationalise any decision. How to balance competing claims?

The article expresses it differently, but considers the Trolley problem. Imagine a train is coming down the tracks towards five workers. Points could divert it to another line where there is only one worker. Do you pull the lever, to save five lives at the cost of one?

Such problems have to be unreal. No, you cannot warn the driver or slow the trolley. No, you cannot warn the workers, and they cannot jump out of the way. Perhaps they are tied there- one damsel in distress on one line, five on the other. The argument for not pulling the lever is that my action will have directly caused the death of the One, even though saving the five, so I will not. What if the death would be my fault, asks Stanford: the workers were in danger because I had told them to work there, and had not known the trolley was coming because I had not bothered to check. In that case, I might collapse into a fugue of terror and do nothing.

I come away from the article with more questions than answers, and perhaps better able only to rationalise after a decision, rather than decide morally before.

Article on Consequentialism.

woman tied to railroad tracks

An Existentialist

-When I was working at the prison, I was teaching a man who had murdered his father. He had nearly served his sentence. So one day there was a group of us chatting, and I told them about following this man in a wheelchair along Railway Street the previous evening. He had gone over the kerb, his wheelchair had toppled over and he had gone sprawling out. I helped him get back into his wheelchair, and then he’d carried on one side of the road, I walked on the other. I did not do it to gain anything, simply to help. Maybe he could have crawled to his wheelchair eventually, even pulled himself in. He was in the road, cars would have had to drive round him.

And this man said I should not have done it. When I helped him, I was patronising him, and lessening him with my pity. He was an existentialist, he told me. That was not how people should behave to each other.

And I could not persuade him otherwise.

-No. Because he would not be arguing fairly. He would be seeking to win the argument, not caring about the truth or respect for you. He’s not an existentialist, he is a murderer. Lots of teenagers love caMoo and don’t murder their fathers. He is rationalising. He has done this thing, and he needs to live with himself. He has a Philosophy of Life!

-Or- he really does not understand. Any contact between human beings, even one as necessary to the person helped, from someone not seeking any reward, is an attack. All people are, at all times, in a state of nature with one another, without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal, in continual fear and danger of violent death. But he is a Philosopher, forsooth, and other people are fools and dupes. He can survive because the others are less ruthless and clear-sighted than he.

Paul Signac, In the time of harmony. the Golden Age is not passed, it is still to come

Right-wing fear

To the library to read the Spectator. It is good to know how weak the arguments of the enemy are, frightening to see it fomenting hatred of immigrants. Roger Scruton, whose column “bad philosophy” is better named than he knows, claims the majority of sexual assaults in Sweden are carried out by Muslims, and claims there is a left-wing cover-up of this.

If you step out of line, and suggest that the culture of an immigrant community might in fact contribute to criminal behaviour, you will be branded a racist — a fault for which accusation is proof of guilt. And if you express outrage at crimes committed by Muslims against women, and hint that Islam might have something to do with it, you will be accused of ‘Islamophobia’.

What is the truth?

If someone commits a crime, it may be reported if it is particularly shocking, but personal characteristics are rarely relevant. That Harold Shipman, a GP, murdered hundreds of his patients should not increase our fear of doctors; if a man is cross-dressed when he sexually assaults a woman I dare to hope that will not increase your fear of me, and one Muslim rapist does not make all Muslim men rapists. In 2014, 6,700 rapes were reported to Swedish police, and there were around 190 convictions. This is shocking, but should not result in a pogrom. There are about 250-350,000 Muslims in Sweden; even if all the rapes were by Muslims, for every rapist there would be about twenty innocent men.

Reporting that Muslims are responsible for the rapes foments hatred for immigrants, including those innocent of any crime. Should anyone need to spell this out?

I googled, and got the predictable far-right fear-mongering. While the rest of Europe struggles to absorb the flood of young male immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, countries may be well advised to look at Sweden for a terrifying glimpse of the future.

Scrotum argues, ordinary people oppose the immigration of other communities when those communities arrive with strange customs and strange gods… This fear is felt by people on the left just as much as by those on the right. ..The left turns against us, whereas the right believes that… we are not to blame for wanting to hold on to our way of life.

We saw this in the days when everyone was afraid of nuclear war. The left insisted that we were to blame by arming ourselves against the threat and that the Soviet Union was simply responding to our aggressive gestures… The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was an expression of fear — fear of the unknown, translated into aggression against the known. 

Perhaps he does not understand, or perhaps he wants his readers not to. Fear leads to violence. Misdirected fear leads to random violence at scapegoats. On the left, when we feel fear we practise calm, rational responses to reduce tension and mitigate violence. The US’s 7000 nuclear weapons are terrifying. We could not directly reduce the USSR’s stockpile; the only way to influence it was to reduce our own.

Hammershoi, moonlight

Master/ Slave

I know myself only if you recognise me. Or, as Hegel put it, Self-consciousness exists in itself and for itself, in that, and by the fact that it exists for another self-consciousness; that is to say, it is only by being acknowledged or “recognized”. Humanity is an infinite spiritual unity, and individuals are part of that unity.

Do you know, really know, anyone else? Do you “sublate” them, negating them as other individuals and assimilating them into your understanding of yourself? I have struggled through pure Hegel, and Eric Steinhart’s commentary on it, not understanding. I need to know my own truth before I can judge theirs.

You mentioned this, and I do not know why. Is it because in your radical feminism, man is always destined by Patriarchy to be Master, woman to be slave? Then it would be for me to do the work of knowing myself without your service; and I could never be a woman, because I had never been so enslaved.

My experience is that I did not know myself because I was always looking to others to learn what I ought to be. I knew that was Manliness, which in part I learned from parents, yet I remember cack-handed attempts to fit in with my peers.

(I was delighted to borrow the denim jacket, because I wanted to be “cool”. Dancing in it made me hot and sweaty. “Well, take it off then!” he said, as if that was obvious, not seeing my perplexity.)

There is not enough research on us trans, but some say we have autistic-like characteristics. Which may or may not be like Asperger’s, I read or heard somewhere that the theoretical links between those might be false. Onywye, if autists have “an inability to read the emotional signs of others” (or not) they might like me have a desperation to see from others’ behaviour what is normal behaviour- without being able to relate it to their own emotional states.

If I’m cold I need some heat
If I’m hungry then I eat
I’m not responsible

sang Deep Purple, on their first reunion album in the 1980s. I know because I had that album- see what I mean about trying to be cool, or to understand? And, not? (Does anyone?)

If it rains I stay inside
If I’m scared I run and hide

moving from power to weakness. Is this more profound than I thought?

It seems to me that my mother formed me to be the low status one, deferring to others, at the bottom of the pecking order. Is love, slavery? Christ was crucified, after all, power in powerlessness-

If I want you as a replacement mother, to value me into existence, you will refuse. If I am hurled from “women’s space” into the darkness, rather than weep and gnash my teeth I must value myself. If I depend on another’s perception or valuing I will always be a slave.

Does this help me see you, as paradoxical as I am? I glimpse, but when I try to make sense of it I am grasping at air. Did Hegel do any better? Do you?

Degas Young Spartans exercising