Queer theory has produced the evil twin of anarchism and LGB: a eulogy

I’ve been watching a dying movement, stag-nation. Anarchism and the “LGBT”. TransDykes, however, seems like the nail in the coffin. I see a lot of parallels between the state of the LGB and anarchist movements, in the trading of power from the old patriarchy to the new patriarchy which has been underway in recent years. If I was to step out of a female-centered perspective and channel those who will not speak, with their inevitably male-centered universalist perspective characteristic of these movements, it would go something like the following:

The elders of the LGB and anarchist movements have observed that younger folks have become extremely authoritarian and espousing attitudes both familiar yet unfamiliar. A queasy, uncanny valley of similarness yet not quite rightness. The evil twin syndrome has impacted the LGB and anarchism alike, and doing what evil twins do best, seeks to kill and replace the original.

We’re all still alive and remember how it used to be. We know things have changed, but change must be good because we don’t trust ourselves. We’re used to the old folks being the regressive types. We remember our youth and the days when it was young folks who were the progressives. The radicals were young. We were them. Now we’re looking through a funhouse mirror. Being the open minded radicals we are, we fully expected newer generations to carry on our life’s work. We fully expected to be outdone by the promising future radicals. One thing that stings a little, and what we can’t ignore, is that the new blood strut around like they own the place.

We pretended that we were being outdone and being taught amazing lessons by the infinitely wise (invariably white and male) youth. We tried to believe that the changes being made to our LGB and anarchist movements alike, these movements which have centered the firey young, would be good for everyone. Even if we disagreed. Even if we weren’t totally onboard with their lingo. We play along. We don’t understand the young, but we let them tell us what to say and how to say it, because we assume they know better than us. We don’t want to hold up any innovations, right? Who are we to boss anybody around? Who are we to cramp someone’s style?

(Meet the new boss, exactly like the old boss. But worse.)

We’re just the Old Guard with a century of history (or more!) carried with us, that we take for granted and might be buried with. And we kind of hate ourselves because we so valued our bygone youth, that we live vicariously through the New Guard. Meanwhile, we’re getting pushed out of radical spaces that we once built and to which we once belonged. So we increasingly just spend time with each other, and are isolated from newcomers. Guess we’re just too reactionary for these new queer social justice types, huh? We aren’t needed. Maybe they have a point, and we should change for them, try to impress them. Or maybe it’s too big a pill to swallow, so we’ll stay quiet because we feel stupid.

And we’ll try not to think about the cooptation of antifascist action, the tone deafness of carrying big sticks to a Pride march, or the reversal of BASH BACK. We’ll try to ignore the fact that we failed to teach our young not to become the lies the McCarthyite media regurgitated back to us about “anarchist terrorists” and “scandalous gays” which were only funny stereotypes, the truth being much more complex. We’ll assume that we’re on the same page and that they know what we truly stand for.

What does the black flag and the rainbow flag mean anymore, when it instills fear in young women? Our flags made people uncomfortable, but never this way. We carried them with pride and honor. Sure, we were monstered in the media, called terrorists and crap like that, but that was for rioting and property damage and even for things like holding the picket line. Until now, we never set out to destroy human beings; it was never for beating innocent bystanders that we made our names as anarchists, or as proud gays. We intimidated cops, landlords, bosses, fascist men, homophobes, people who picked fights with us, who fucked our shit up, who we knew were clearly the enemy! People who threatened our communities. We were Your Friendly Neighborhood Anarchists and The Awesome Gayborhood. We didn’t scare folks, we were just out there.

Oh, but times have changed, haven’t they? Best not go down the path of wrongthink. Best not think anything has gone wrong at all.

Yet for reasons beyond our comprehension we’ll be quietly and ever so slightly supportive of the very young anarchafeminists and lesbians our new blood have been seeking to murder, because something about these women instills a feeling of respect that reminds us…of something familiar. The calm we feel in realizing there are no identity politics oneupmanship games to be played, the nostalgia of a young dyke who knows what a labrys is. Something like a piece of humanity forgotten in ourselves burns in them…wait, humanity? Why do I feel so at ease with and feel admiration for these evil, fallen women?

What did we stand for again? One thing we’ll never admit is that we’re like the father of the bride, fools handing our daughters away to strange, lustful men. Our one fatal flaw is that we never did take to heart what the feminists — who buttered our bread and sewed our flags and stood by us at the hospital bed and who we used and left behind — warned us about: that, contrary to what our fathers taught us, the silence of women is not the sound of peace. That the future of women is our future, the future itself.

What a terrible waste.

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5 thoughts on “Queer theory has produced the evil twin of anarchism and LGB: a eulogy

  1. I think what’s happened is not so much that it has changed as become more ingrained. I recall a culture that very much glorified youth and even identifying as youth even when older than young. At some point it became very obvious that it was not a good personal fit anymore and I somehow, with a bit of mourning and resentment, moved on to embrace my arrested-development adult self. But I remember so many people who were just really raring to break something, beat someone up, incinerated others’ property, etc. The targets weren’t necessarily evil corporations or the state either. So it’s honest to be able to admit that things have gotten a bit out of control but it’s also important to acknowledge that the seed of idiocy was already germinating in the 90s and even in the 80s. Now we’re just better able to see it for what it is, not necessarily because we’re older but because many of us have done the type of growing that only time can afford. Maybe it comes down to the same thing but I think the crucial factor is experience and perspective and not age. I know older SJW activists who just accept whatever idiotic notion they are spoon fed. This really amounts to intellectual laziness. Truth be told, it happens as much on the Left as it does in the mainstream. I consider myself lucky to have experienced anarchodyke culture in my youth but even more preciously, lesbian culture. Maybe this is a good place to admit that a lot of queer idiocy was spawned from anarcho-values that went awry. Think no borders = no boundaries, for example. The young dykes who would be coming out right around now or in a few years or those who are in their early 20s will never experience the glory (yes, with all its shortcomings) of a women-only culture. It’s sad that this will have to be reinvented or forever lost. In a way we (older ones) are the lucky ones.

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    1. But I remember so many people who were just really raring to …beat someone up,… etc.

      I’m not really familiar with that. Is this a specifically punk thing?

      It’s actually a very common experience when you’re oppressed by capitalism to want to burn it all down. Whereas it is sociopathic to do harm to people who have harmed no one themselves.

      >Maybe this is a good place to admit that a lot of queer idiocy was spawned from anarcho-values that went awry. Think no borders = no boundaries, for example.

      No borders = no boundaries makes sense if one is a man who views wimmin as property, as most men do… But I think that queer theory has its origins in reactionary elements of academia, which made its way into what is now called “gender studies”. Lesbian feminists have been closely analyzing these developments since their inception, being as they were the original replaced by the evil twin.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  2. This captures really well a lot of attitudes I see with older activists, who are deeply uncomfortable with the directions these movements have taken, yet don’t have the confidence or critical analysis skills to properly unpack what is happening, and generally end up blaming themselves for being too out-of-touch or whatever to ‘get’ why it’s good that men are now calling themselves lesbians and raping actual lesbian (cotton ceiling etc.). And even having a discussion is not usually productive, because they instinctively know you’re telling them wrongthink, as you call it, and shut it down.

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  3. Ok if I try to frame the younger generations’ perspective in return? Well, I hope so – I’ll do it with not much leniency similar to you and from a generous perspective to the young, fair play? ; ) Taking it more generally, rather than the Pastel bloc, who are just creepy.

    I’m basing it on my reading and the accounts I’ve heard rather than having been there (I’m 29), but inclined to agree with MaryMacha that there’s always been the ‘idiot factor’, it’s not new. Even with justified outbreaks of frustration against the system, it’s not always likely they’ll get sensibly directed. Unfortunately the brighter, more genuine radicals can also make the classic smart person’s mistake of expecting everyone to be as bright and reasonable as they are. This applies to expecting it of people on each of the side/s, left/right/confused Liberal – which is why I symphathise to an extent with the authoritarians, actually. These Liberals (young or older) don’t listen to reason at all, right? And they ought to sympathise more with your views, yet they still don’t listen. So, good luck with getting the right to listen to reason. Hence authoritarian tactics begin to seem like the only possible effective ones (how do you defeat the right otherwise? Especially as they are far more powerful? And basically everyone on the left does think some things must not be allowed to stand, they’re not ‘anything goes’ anti-authoritarian. Then it becomes more a question of where to draw the line. If you draw the line too leniently with the modern right, give them an inch, they redraw it a mile onto your space. So the young ‘liberals’ are being rather pre-emptively authoritarian instead). It’s not however purely that they won’t listen to reason, but that they can’t – they’re too badly educated and brainwashed (and then self-interest on top of that is a big biasing factor). This is partly why there’s the idiot tendency with these young ‘liberals’ themselves, because they’re acting on weak analysis (even some of the men don’t mean badly, they’re just clueless), even if they have an actual valid point.

    They’re right though, it’s not working, progress has severely stalled (which wasn’t all your generations’ fault whatsoever, but makes it easier for the younger ones to wrongly feel you’re in their way. It is the fault of some older individuals however when even older radicals refuse to budge and are nowhere near as radical as they think/claim they are. Despite my more similar views to older-style feminism/second wave, I don’t think for a second I’d be overwhelmingly warmly recieved by older radicals in the way you suggest, rather that’s contingent on being radical in a way that does not challenge them). People can be really stoopid and conformist (which frequently amounts to the same thing as stoopid), and they don’t always base decisions on disinterested unselfish rationality. Our starting point isn’t a blank sheet but centuries of a deliberately unjust system that is now so entrenched that it’s very hard to budge – even when you try to do good things it reasserts itself and subverts them, as your generation went through (it must have been so disappointing and frustrating). Added to that the right have become very accomplished disingenuous liars, who use political gaslighting as tactic to enormous effect – sometimes the aggressive reaction to them from liberal young people is from experience. Why spend ages trying to reason with someone you know is only faking reasonableness (anyone who thinks the ‘free speech’ rightwing crowd are reasonable is beyond naive)? So the thinking goes. Even if we could fix it it would take forever (fixing the education system, removing the malign influence of patriarchal religion), meanwhile, we are losing ground here as well as failing to progress. I think even the young confused Liberal/authoritarians (ach, need a better name for them!) sense it, even if the status quo doesn’t look that bad to them (they seem to think it’d be Ok if only it would more fully include [insert marginalised group here] in the capitalist status quo), or at least, not consciously anyway. I think they sense something is off even if they lack the analysis to articulate it well.

    I think they wanted to be radical, too, especially the women, they had that energy misdirected and appropriated by their enemies, and the deficits in their education made it hard to correct for. Being well-intentioned and idealistic also doesn’t prepare one well for such underhanded tactics. I think the old left were very naive in this regard too, and that opened the door to this happening. They seem to think people are innately basically good – haven’t they proved they’re not often enough by now? They’re basically just people. The results are not automatically good.

    I’m also angry about what my generation are losing while we wait (…never let it be said the young are patient ; ) ), and that we’re never going to get it back. If you think your life is being sacrificed anyway, drastic measures, even with risk (eg. imprisonment) become more understandable. The gap between what should be, and what is, is huge, and we have the benefit of your generation’s activism, the better ways you imagined, to show us that. So maybe more outbreaks of idiotically-directed frustration make sense in that light. If your generation had been able to achieve what you set out to, gender abolition, would even this Pastel bloc thing be happening – or more importantly, getting any support? They’re trying for totally the wrong things, they’re horrible men acting in bad faith, but it’s maybe partly because the right ones weren’t achieved, and that possibility became obscured and subverted by the system. I dunno. : /

    I do feel kinda like burning it down, but I think some older radicals would stop us younger people from doing that even if we WERE justified (rather than horribly horribly misguided at best). They have more of a stake in the system now and they’ve forgotten that. I think what I’m trying to say, is that when the old guard actually can be somewhat to very reactionary, it’s not surprising if the younger radicals or potential radicals go astray.

    Some of those potential radicals would’ve been the ones who wound up on the right, too – the odd one, the very very rare exception, is more original than the young Liberals, holds leftwing views, and is more open to second wave feminism.

    Sorry for waffling on, hope that’s Ok. I’m interested in any radical tendency in my generation and what can be done with it.

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    1. What do you think about the saying, “More radical with age?” Radical feminists tend to get bolder with age, older with rage, rather than become invested in the system. So you’re saying something that may perhaps apply to old men, but not old wimmin. Sorry for brevity.

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