Posts Tagged ‘Gay Rights’

Maria MacLachlan Refutes the Allegation that ‘TERFs’ Are Right-Wing

May 27, 2022

Maria MacLachlan is a gender critical feminist, who posts critiques of the trans movement and their arguments on her Peak Trans YouTube channel. In the video below, she attacks and refutes the accusation that TERFs – ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists’ – are right-wing. This accusation includes the claim from angry and abusive trans activists that gender critical feminists are Nazis and White supremacists. This is, as MacLachlan shows,, utter nonsense. She gives a list of the Nazis crimes against humanity, such as their persecution of Jews and Gypsies and the sterilisation of the handicapped, to show that ‘TERFs’ don’t stand for any of that. It’s an example of the Genetic Fallacy, the logical fallacy that says that something must be wrong simply because of who says it. She gives as an example of this Piers Morgan. Morgan says some appalling things, but people may also agree with other statements he make if they look at them. The fact that something is said by Morgan neither makes it right or wrong, and it has to be judged on its merits. She obviously isn’t a fan of Morgan, who is shown telling the world on his TV programme that he’s only three feet from the thickest people in the world. But she does praise him for attacking and refuting one of the monstrous allegations made against J.K. Rowling by the trans activists.

The Genetic Fallacy would also include denunciations of vegetarianism and animal rights because the Nazis also believed in them. It seems that Hitler tried, not always successfully, to follow a veggie lifestyle for the last six or seven years of his life, and before then was serious about it. The Nazis also passed legislation promoting animal welfare, including banning vivisection. As the notorious case of the vile Dr Mengele shows, however, they had absolutely no qualms about experimenting on humans. But clearly saying that vegetarianism and animal welfare is wrong simply because these views were shared by racist, genocidal maniacs like Hitler and the Nazis is nonsense.

She then goes on to discuss one of the other smears against gender critical feminists – guilt by association. A few years ago a number of them spoke at a conference organised by the American right-wing organisation, the Heritage Foundation. MacLachlan states very clearly that she’s looked at the Foundation’s website, which contains a large number of their videos, which she finds absolutely appalling. But she doesn’t blame the feminists for appearing with them, as they were probably denied a platform by left-wing organisation. And the Heritage Foundation is one of the most influential organisations not just in America, but in the world.

She also goes on to refute the accusation that over here, the Conservative party are opposed to trans activism, showing various Tory politicos, who backed the Gender Recognition Act. These included Maria Miller, Nicky Morgan, Penny Mordaunt and Tweezer. She does, though, recognise that today’s Conservative cabinet – she posted this a year ago, but it was still Johnson – are very different. She also points out the difference between feminist and Conservative views on sex and gender. Both recognise that sex is real and biological, and that these form the basis for sex roles in society. But the Tories believe that these gender roles are innate and must be respected – men must be masculine, women feminine – while feminists also they believe they are socially constructed and must be challenged. There is nothing wrong with being a feminine man or a masculine woman.

Then there was another accusation of TERF fascism by trans activists, based on a sticker by the National Front. These real Fascists urged people not to be ‘gender offenders’ and to support the traditional family. She criticises the trans activists, who claimed that this showed that gender critical feminists were fascists such as the transgender actor Annie Wallace. The sticker’s demand for a return to the traditional family, with the man as head, clearly conflicts with feminist views on gender roles. Incidentally, Conservatives have also used the Nazis to smear gay rights supporters and activists because of the strong element of homoeroticism in the Nazi party despite their persecution of homosexuals.

At the end of the video, she describes the tactics that trans activists use to silence and intimidate their critics to show where some of the real intolerance comes from. These include no-platforming, mass demonstrations intended to shout down but not engage with any of the opposing arguments, and violence and abuse.

I’m putting this video up, not because I wish to see trans people persecuted and discriminated against, but simply to dispel one of the most frequent accusations: that gender critical feminists are somehow all prejudiced Tories or worse. As MacLachlan’s video states, they are feminists worried about the threat to women’s rights, privacy and dignity posed by the trans movement. I am also very much aware that not all trans people share the same views as some of the strident and intolerant individuals who appear in the video. I very much accept that many, probably the majority, simply want to get on with their lives in peace. But there are parts of the contemporary trans movement as it has developed over the past ten years which are a threat, particularly to women, children and the mentally and emotionally vulnerable, which have to be challenged and fought.

Open Britain Demonstration Against the Tories on Sunday

May 13, 2022

I got this email from the pro-democracy organisation Open Britain earlier this week, announcing a demonstration against Boris and his corrupt coterie in Downing Street on Sunday, 15th May 2020. The email runs:

‘Dear David,

At 2pm this Sunday, 15th May, we will be outside Downing Street to show Boris Johnson and his cronies that we’ve had enough of their lies, excuses, and attacks on democracy. Our message is clear: Boris Johnson is not fit to lead, and we need to act now to stop the rot that is killing our political system. 

We’re proud to announce that Rosie Holt, political comedian and satirist known for playing a role as a Conservative MP, will be our host for the afternoon. 

The following speakers will highlight different aspects of the rotten politics we have in Boris Johnson’s Britain, and point out how we can respond positively: 

David Lammy: Labour MP for Tottenham and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs.

Peter Tatchell: Human rights activist, campaigner and founder of LGBT rights direct action group Outrage!

Supertanskiii:Political commentator and satirical comedian of online fame.

Marina Purkiss: Political commentator, writer, activist, and campaigner.

Mandu Reid: Leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) and prominent spokesperson for women’s rights in the UK. 

Thomas Brake: Former Lib-Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington and founder/director of cross-party campaigning organisation Unlock Democracy. 

Additionally, we’re lucky to have DJ Cosette, American DJ, singer-songwriter, and outspoken advocate for progressive politics, providing some tunes to keep things light.

JOIN THE PROTEST | STOP THE ROT | CHOOSE YOUR FUTURE

If you are as concerned as we are about the state of our politics, you won’t want to miss this event. Thanks to the activists above, #StopTheRot will be an afternoon of politics, entertainment and action. We’re going to send Boris a message loud and clear, showing that we’re united against the rot that he and his government have brought to our politics.

We want to know: 

WILL YOU BE THERE ON MAY 15th?

CAN YOU DONATE TO HELP MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

Mark Kieran
CEO, Open Britain’

I can’t do either, but I’m putting this up in case anyone of my readers are interested in attending, or would like to donate.

The Anthems of the Bund and their Youth Section

May 9, 2022

Sorry I haven’t posted anything over the last day or so. I had the fourth covid booster jab on Saturday and it’s left me very weak and more than a bit fluey. But I am reading the very relevant discussion in the comments section about getting rid of the Tories and whether that would achieve anything, when Starmer’s Labour is doing its level best to be exactly the same or worse.

Now more music from the Bund, the Russian/Polish Jewish socialist party that strenuously rejected Zionism in favour of the emancipation of Jewish working people in their present homelands. I found this version of Di Shvue – the Oath – on the Towarzsyszsekretarz channel on YouTube. The blurb for the song says that it was written by S. An-sky in 1902, and performed by Zahava Seewald. It also has the song’s lyrics in Yiddish and English. The English translation goes

The Oath

Brothers and sisters in toil and struggle

All who are dispersed far and wide

Come together, the flag is ready

It waves in anger, it is red with blood!

Swear an oath of life and death!

Heaven and earth will hear us,

The light stars will bear witness.

An oath of blood, an oath of tears,

We swear, we swear, we swear!

We swear an endless loyalty to the Bund.

Only it can free the slaves now.

The red flag is high and wide.

It waves in anger,

it is red with blood!

Swear an oath of life and death!

The Bund and its anthem, although long gone, evidently have real meaning for many Jews, as shown by the comments. Adam13weishaupt posted ‘As a young girl in tsarist Russia, in Smorgon (near the Lithuanian-Belarus border), my late grandmother sang this song at Bund gatherings held secretly at night in the forest.’ And Cisza01 said ‘We should never forget about Jewish socialists from BUND’

The Youth Anthem was posted by Jack Ross on his channel on YouTube. The blurb for it simply reads ‘Performed by the Workmen’s Circle chorus, a tribute to past and future radical Jewish youth.’ Ross himself is an historian of the Bund, having written a book on its history between the First and Second World Wars. The final image shows Jewish gay rights marchers waving a flag containing the rainbow and the Star of David. I think Miriam Margolyes would approve, as she’s gay and supports a Jewish organisation, Gay Y*ds, set up to tackle homophobia in the Jewish community.

Leaked Applebee’s Memo about Using the Cost of Living Crisis to Exploit Employees

March 25, 2022

A few days ago the Chris Hedge’s Fan Club posted a leaked memo from Applebee’s which definitely shows that in the current economic crisis, we are definitely not ‘all in it together’. Chris Hedges is a powerful left-wing American journalist and broadcaster. I think he might be an ordained Presbyterian minister. Certainly his father was, before he was thrown out by his congregation for backing gay rights. This was obviously at a time when the gay rights movement was just beginning and still massively controversial. Hedge’s himself was one of the few journalists to cover the wars in Central America in the 1980s from the front line, and he has talked about the atrocities committed by Fascist groups like the Contras in Nicaragua. This were the same Fascist death squads and torturers to whom Reagan sold arms and provided other aid, while allowing them to finance their campaigns of terror by exporting cocaine to America. Where it helped further devastate desperately poor Black Americans. The same butchers Reagan declared were the ‘moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers’. Some patriotic Americans could feel their country was being insulted. Other left-wingers might be more worried that it’s true.

A few days ago the YouTube channel devoted to him and his analysis of capitalism and contemporary politics got hold of a leaked memo from Applebee’s. We don’t have it in this country, but I gather that it’s a chain of restaurants across the Pond. The memo talked about using the current crisis, with petrol prices rising and inflation expected to explode generally, as an opportunity for treating people badly. ‘Because their desperate’.

This is grubby, and I realise that not all businesses are like it. But this is the predatory face of capitalism, and unfortunately it’s companies like this that are bankrolling the political parties on both sides of the Atlantic. The right regard capitalism as patriotic, but there is nothing patriotic about this. It’s anti-social profiteering, pure and simple.

We need to end corporate donations in politics, and drive through legislation to protect workers and consumers from such cynical exploitation.

The Experiences of Enslaved Africans in the Past and Today

January 24, 2022

One of the extremely positive features of Sean Stillwell’s Slavery and Slaving in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014) is that includes short descriptions and quotations from slaves, slavers and slave masters in Africa describing their careers and situation. There was a striking variety of slave systems in Africa. In some societies, slaves were acquired for use and soldiers and could rise to high social rank through their connections to powerful chiefs., One of these was the Sokoto royal slave Dan Rimi Nuhu. The book states

‘At the end of the nineteenth century, during a civil was in Kano (located in what is now northern Nigeria) Emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate, Dan Rimi Nuhu, a powerful royal slave official, soldier, and titleholder, crowned the rebel pretender, Yusufu, as emir. Nuhu had long supported Yusufu’s cause and claim. Nuhu was a well-known and powerful slave i8n the palace, but he had joined the war camp of Yusufu early on in the struggle. When Nuhu arrived on horseback, Yusufu said, “Our trip is successful, our trip is successful since Nuhu has joined us, he has joined our camp!” Thereafter, Nuhu transformed Yusufu’s military camp into the proper seat of a rival emir. He gave Yusufu the royal regalia and insisted that he follow Kano court protocol. With Nuhu’s support the rebels later took the Kano throne. Afterward, the royal slaves and their families who supported the new emir gained a substantial amount of power.’ ( pp.89-90).

Others were not so well treated.

‘Msatulwa Mwachitete grew up in Chitete, located in central East Africa, to the west of Lake Malawai, in the house of his father, who had twelve wives. Their home was attacked numerous times by Mkomas of the Inamwanga, who regularly carried off women and children into slavery after setting fire to surrounding villages. During one such attack, Msatulwa was captured, along with his mother and brother. He was taken some distance from his home and given as a slave to Mitano. Msatulwa was forced to grind corn, cut firewood, cook, hoe fields, and fetch water, but was eventually given to another person, who treated him better. In the end Msatulwa found his way home after running away.’

Horrifically, slavery isn’t a thing of the past. The Islamists that have seized power in one part of Libya after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy have reopened the slave markets, selling the Black migrants who have travelled north in the hope of reaching Europe. Slave markets have also reopened in Uganda. The book also gives the testimony of Ahok Ahok, an enslaved Dinka woman, given to Anti-Slavery International. She was captured and forced into slavery during the Sudanese civil war in the ’90s.

‘Our family was captured about six years ago [i.e., about 1994] when we were already fleeing north and had crossed into the North into Kordofan. I was captured with my son, Akai, and my two daughters, this one called Abuk … who was about eight at the time, and a younger one, about two. We were taken by a tribe called Humr [i.e. Misseriya Humr], who split the three of us up. The man who took me subsequently sold me on to some other nomads to look after cattle, for about 130 Sudanese Pounds. I had to look after their cows and spent about six years with them before I managed to escape to Makaringa village…. Meanwhile my three children had been taken by others. For six years, until I reached Makaringa village, I had no news of them. When I reached the village, my son Akai heard where I was and joined me there. He is with us at this CEAWC centre. We then contacted the Dinka Committee and they were able to find my daughter Abuk, who had been renamed Khadija. She had initially been put to work looking after livestock, but had got into trouble when some animals had escaped – she was too little to look after them. After that she was employed as a domestic servant. She hardly speaks any Dinka language now, only Arabic… I still have no news of my youngest daughter and am still hoping to find her.’ (211-2).

The book also gives the names of some of the African organisations set up to help slaves. These include Timidria in Niger, the Dinka Committee in Sudan; El Hor (Free Man), set up in the 1970s by former slaves in Mauretania; and SOS-Esclaves, set up in 1995. These organisations face continuing difficulties to fight slavery and improve conditions for former slaves, as shown by an additional piece of testimony:

‘It is uphill work…. Some of their members have been imprisoned. Seeking help through the courts is usually useless. Sharia courts maintain that slavery is legal. Since no laws have been passed, laying down penalties for enslavement or detailing the rights of slaves, other courts and local officials maintain that they have jurisdiction if slaves bring cases for custody of their children or try to establish their right to remain on the land they farm. Former owners may claim the property even of freed slaves when they die.’ (213).

These slaves are not going to get any help from the western advocates of Postcolonial and Critical Race Theory, because these disciplines are exclusively focused on White racism and the horrors of White colonialism. I’ve mentioned that feminists in India and the Middle East have been bitterly critical about the refusal of the activists and scholars supporting these forms of Critical Theory to criticise the treatment of women and LGBTQ folk in these countries. Indeed, Indian progressives have attacked these postmodern ideologies for giving support to the most reactionary elements of these societies on the grounds that, as they are part of these societies’ traditional structures and not the product of western colonialism, they are exempt from criticism. And you could see the attitude in a speech given by Barbara Barnaby, the head of the British branch of Black Lives Matter to a fringe meeting of the Labour party last summer. She criticised the resurgence of slavery in Libya, because this was a product of Blair’s colonialism. But she didn’t condemn it elsewhere in Africa, where it is the product of indigenous forces. Her demand that Britain and the other European countries was based on the abuse of the peoples of the global south during colonialism, but made no mention or criticism of the tyranny, corruption and poverty of African rulers and regimes that is behind much of the migration to Europe.

This isn’t, as Kate Maltby tried to claim in the I a few years ago, an attempt to avoid being diverted from the campaign for equality and social justice in the west into criticism and activism against non-European slavery. It is the product of a profoundly racist ideology that sees slavery and other human rights abuses as only worth fighting if they are committed by Whites.

Barnaby, Black Lives Matter and similar organisations may have the best intentions, but their exclusive focus of White racism is actively hindering real anti-racism and campaigns to eradicate modern slavery.

Rose of Dawn Attacks the Mythology of the Trans Genocide

December 11, 2021

Rose of Dawn is a transwoman, who uses her YouTube channels, one of which has the provocative title ‘Trans Stupid’ to attack and debunk some of the malign and violent parts of the trans rights movement. She is, unfortunately, something of a controversial figure among some gender critical feminists, such as Karen Davies. Davies does not want transwomen speaking for women because she considers them to be still men, and so are encroaching on women’s proper territory, even when transwomen like Debbie Hayton and Blair White share much the same views and are welcomed by other gender critical types, such as Graham Linehan, as true allies.

In this video RoD attacks the mythology of the trans genocide. Some trans activists unfortunately believe that there is a mass holocaust of transpeople going on in Britain and America comparable to the Nazi murder of the Jews, gay men and the disabled, and that Britain’s NHS is actively involved. This is monstrously grotesque. RoD has obviously faced prejudiced herself as a transwoman. But she states that society is far more accepting of transwomen now than it was ten years ago. She also believes that the rights of transpeople to compete in sport isn’t a human right. To be fair, the gender critical feminists don’t believe in stopping transwomen from competing in sport. They just don’t want them competing with born women, because of the advantage they have in possessing bodies that were previously male. They feel that they should either compete with men, or in a special category for themselves.

I am very much aware that trans people haven’t had it easy, and that there are large parts of British society that are definitely not as welcoming as white metropolitan liberals. Grayson Perry, the Turner Award-winning potter and presenter of the excellent Channel 4 series, Grayson Perry’s Art Club, had a play broadcast on the Beeb. Entitled ‘Mr. Msunderstood’, it was about his own struggle to come to terms with his transvestism. Going back to the ’90s, I remember how Jenny Randles, one of Britain’s leading investigators of the UFO phenomenon, was deeply upset when one of the tabloids – I think it may have been the Scum or News of the Screws outed her as a transwoman. I am also aware that transvestism, at least in public, was considered gross indecency under the law, punishable by arrest and prison sentences.

However the murder stats for transpeople in the UK are very low. I think only one transperson has been murdered, thankfully, in the past few years. The murder rates in America are still higher, but still comparatively small. And I think that the country has a higher murder than Europe anyway. This has made the calls for a ‘trans day of remembrance’ in Britain rather ridiculous. The stats frequently used to show that transpeople are facing a wave of murder largely come from South America. These countries, beset by grinding poverty, have a massive murder rate anyway. But very man of the victims are sex workers, so it’s unclear whether they were murdered because they were trans, or because they were sex workers.

It seems to me that the myth of a trans genocide has arisen because some militantly, and in my view mentally unbalanced trans rights activists, have read extensively about the Nazi Holocaust and the murder of the disabled under Aktion T4, and mistakenly applied it to themselves. One trans mixed martial arts fighter or boxer appeared wearing a shirt bearing the slogan, ‘Stop the Trans Genocide’. This is not only profoundly mistaken but offensively so. As offensive and wrong as the various ‘D’ list celebs a few years ago promoting the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn, blithely joking with each other over whether 1938 had returned.

If there was a trans genocide comparative to the Holocaust, it would be very obvious. Transpeople would not be allowed on social murder to make the claim, there would be organised pogroms against them. And the BBC would very definitely not be allowed to show programmes or items presenting positive views of trans people and those fighting for their rights. Instead they would be rounded up by the police and security forces and sent to real concentration. There may be propaganda films, such as those made by the Nazis, suggesting that they were doing well in their new homes or successfully responding to treatment. There would also be propaganda campaigns against them as well as very public humiliation and ridicule promoted by the state. The statement ‘transwomen are not women’ or ‘Scots women won’t wheesht’ are in no way comparable to Nazi anti-Semitic slogans like ‘Die Jude is Euer Ungluck’ – ‘The Jews is your misfortune’, if understand it properly and the viciously anti-Semitic content of Nazi rags like Der Sturmer. There are no special ambulances operating under the NHS, like those operated by the SS, which gassed the congenitally disabled, or took them to the clinics and hospitals where they were. This part of the mythology seems to me related to the obnoxious nonsense former Republican American presidential candidate Sarah ‘Failin” Palin was spouting about single-payer healthcare. She didn’t want Americans to have an NHS like Britain’s because the elderly and severely disabled would have to face ‘death panels’ to decide whether or not they should live and have state funding spent on them. It’s a monstrously grotesque lie which unfortunately some ‘low information voters’ in the Land of the Free were deceived by. It also seems extremely similar to what these trans rights fanatics are saying when they make the claim that the NHS is similarly involved in the organised murder of transpeople.

And RoD is clearly right to state that it is dangerous nonsense. It’s clearly very harmful to tell genuinely vunerable people struggling with their gender identity and who may well suffer from a number of other mental conditions, to tell them that there is an organised campaign by the state and society to murder them.

Some of the comments to RoD’s video are also well worth reading, such as this comment from Kaien Shiriyaku, a gay Polish man, who grew up in the shadow of the real Holocaust as well as the prejudice and persecution Polish gays faced.

‘I was late for the premiere. Comparisons to holocaust are RI-DI-CU-LO-US! Since I’m from Poland, I wanna share something – when I was growing up I’ve met some people who survived the camps. It was a part of my school (the school was in the name of the victims from the area) and we had meetings once a year, when we were told how horrific those times were. People from the premiere chat already know – I grew up openly gay in the 90s. In Poland of all places. UK and US in the 90s were much more progressive than Poland at the same time. I’ve got my jaw dislocated once for being gay. Bullied constantly. My father kicked me out of the house once I was legal of age. I bet my acrylic nails those snowflakes wouldn’t survive 5 min in Poland, even today. Yes, we have it better now, times had change, however if you meet someone who is homophobic – be prepared to fight. You’re met with either acceptance, or vicious attacks here. All you need for the second one is to exit from a gay club during a football night at the wrong time.’

To be fair, this has occurred in Britain and America. Gays have been beaten up, and gay young people thrown out of their parental homes to live on the streets after coming out to their parents. But it isn’t like Poland, where increasingly strict anti-LGBT legislation is being passed and several areas have declared themselves to be ‘No LGBTQ’ zones.

Society isn’t perfect, but there is no trans holocaust in Britain and America, and such claims are actively harmful not liberating. They have to be stopped.

Cartoonist Kayfabe Look at the Art and Career of ‘American Hero’ Steve Ditko

December 10, 2021

More comics stuff, and a rather longer video than usual at 1hr 9minutes, but the subject deserves it. Steve Ditko is one of the great, legendary figures of American comics. He’s probably best known for creating Spiderman and the occult hero Dr. Strange with Stan ‘the Man’ Lee for Marvel. But as this video shows, Ditko worked for many other American comics companies – DC, Charlton, Dale and EC among them as well as self-publishing his personal works. In the video, the Kayfabers Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg go through the volume Ditko Unleashed: An American Hero, which accompanied an exhibition of the great man’s work. The book’s bilingual in English and Spanish, which suggests that the exhibition may have been in Spain. The volume not only describes Ditko’s career, but gives plentiful illustrations of his art.

Ditko, like Kirby, came from a blue-collar, working class background. He went into art school to study cartooning, as he wanted to be a comics artist. His career was uneven, working for a number of different publishers and in a variety of different genres – monster, science fiction, horror as well as the superheroes for which is he is best known. He also worked with some of the great names in American comics. At times he inked the awesome Jack Kirby, at other times he was inked by Frank Miller, the artist and writer chiefly responsible for turning Daredevil into one of Marvel’s leading heroes. I think he may also have been inked by John Byrne, one of the major artists behind the New X-Men. He was admired by many of these new artists. The epic Jim Starlin, in one edition of his Warlock comic, ‘One Thousand Clowns’, dedicated it to Ditko for showing us a new reality. Starlin’s art was rather more naturalistic, but he also used the same floating paths and mystic portals in his work. He also went through several hard times in his career. At one point he moved away to New York to recover from tuberculosis, then, as in Britain, a major killer. There were also years when he struggled, as many others did, to get work. He also worked on a number of merchandising tie-ins, like Micronauts and Rom: the SpaceKnight, which were intended to promote toy figures. I read the comics, which were excellent without having any interest in buying the toys, which might indicate they were too successful. Like the adverts for Cinzano Bianco wine with Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins. Everyone enjoyed them and they’re still fondly remembered by peeps of a certain vintage, but the people watching the ads couldn’t remember the brand of booze and so didn’t buy it. Ditko, like Kirby, broke off from Marvel for a time, before he returned, working on the above tie-ins along with the robotic superhero Machine Man.

Ditko, Politics and Morality

Unlike Stan Lee, who was a liberal, Ditko was very Conservative, a follower of Objectivism, the philosophy of supercapitalist ideologue Ayn Rand. He also had very black and white views on morality, which were expressed in his personal creations, Mr. A and The Question. He believed that heroes should be heroes, their morals pure and uncompromised. True to his ideals, he turned down work when the characters he was being asked to depict didn’t live up to them. A few years ago Jonathan Ross made a documentary for BBC 4 or one of the other channels searching for Ditko. One of those interviewed was Brit comics titan Alan Moore, who described meeting Ditko at Ditko’s home. He says that Ditko had a very narrow, inflexible view of morality, telling Moore, like one of his characters, that there were only two ways, a right way and a wrong way. Ditko’s politics are very definitely not mine, and I’m very much aware that in the real world, things are very often never a case of black and white but more shades or grey and motives can be less pure than we’d like. But after the comics industry went through a phase in which they tried to make their heroes darker – Batman: The Killing Joke is one of the foremost – and it was difficult telling the heroes from the villains, it’s refreshing to have someone who believes in old fashioned heroics.

The Kayfabers believe that if he were working today, Ditko would be cancelled or at least severely annoy and alienate 50 per cent of his audience. I think the first is certainly true. There has always been a left-wing message in American comics and an awareness of social issues. In the late 1960s into the 1970s both Marvel and DC tackled issues like racism and the rise of the feminist movement. As a response to the latter, Marvel created the Valkyrie, original a woman scientist who revolted against the patriarchy after having the credit for her discoveries stolen by her male colleagues. The Hulk comic also questioned American militarism, while Captain America, in disgust at Watergate and the contemporary corruption of American politics, renounced his patriotic monicker to become Nomad. Of course it wasn’t long before he rediscovered his faith in the rightness of the American way and put his uniform back on. However, Lee has also said in an interview that he was careful not to make the message too shrill so that it alienated readers that didn’t share his politics. Now many Conservative and moderate left comics creators and fans believe that in many strips, the political message has become too overt at the expense of traditional qualities like plotting, characterisation, dialogue and sheer fantasy. This was the motive behind Comicsgate a few years ago, when a number of comics creators, like Ethan van Sciver, broke away from the main comics companies of DC and Marvel to set up on their own.

Heroism and Its Absence in Modern Genre Film and Literature

One of the problems Az of Heels vs. Babyface and The Critical Drinker is that many of today’s pop culture heroes actually don’t act like heroes. For example, in one episode of Batwoman reviewed by Az, he comments critically on the way Batwoman treats the villain, a woman who has murdered several innocents. When Batwoman confronts her, she tells Batwoman that she’s killed so many people out of rage at her persecution as a lesbian. As a result, Batwoman, a lesbian herself, lets her go. This is simply immoral. The persecution of otherwise perfectly decent people because they’re attracted to the opposite sex is wrong, but it doesn’t justify the murder of innocents. Whatever political views real policemen and women have, they still have to act impartially and arrest those, who break the law and especially those who commit terrible crimes like mass murder.

The Critical Drinker put up a whole video about the failure of contemporary SF heroes to live up to the standards of true heroism with the latest Star Trek iterations as a case in point. He contrasted these were the high standards of professionalism demanded of the captain and crew in the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation. In that series, the characters knew the importance of duty and respecting the command hierarchy even if they disagreed with it. At the same time, Picard and the other senior officers demanded and got the best from their crew. Several of the episodes involved leading characters learning the difficulties of command. There is one episode where one of the characters is training for promotion. Part this training involves trying to find ways to prevent a warp core breach that will destroy the Enterprise. The problem is insolvable until nearly every option has been tried except the one the prospective leader has been consciously trying to avoid: they have to send Jordi into the warp core to fix it, a command which will result in his death. But it’s unavoidable, and both characters know their duty is to their ship. The would-be commander has to give the order, which Jordi calmly accepts. And a hard lesson is learned. Instead, the crew of the new Trek franchises are grossly unprofessional. They bicker over there personal relationships in front of a superior officer, react badly to the stressful conditions they should, as crew aboard a quasi-military spacecraft, be trained to deal with and try to undermine their superior officers. Case in point: one sequence where Kirk and Spock attempt to beat the living daylights out of each other. Yeah, I’m aware that it happened in an episode or two of the original Trek, like the classic ‘Amok Time’, but there were extenuating circumstances. I like Star Trek and have got a couple of the recent Trek films on DVD. But I think the Drinker has a point, even if it comes from a jaundiced, booze-soaked mind. I think we need a few more heroes who are genuinely heroic in the old fashioned sense, even if the social views they hold may be those of the left.

Stylistic Strong Points

But Ditko’s own career also had its contradictions. At one point he was working on BDSM/ fetish comics, and there were certainly questions raised about the spectacular and surreal effects in several of his strips. Many of his characters, like Dr Strange, enter strange realms in which roads float apparently in mid-air, and doors and portals appear leading to elsewhere, like the mobile holes in many a cartoon strip. Strange shoots beams of light and conjures up strange geometrical figures in his incantations. These effects resemble the entoptic imagery seen when people start to hallucinate after using mind-altering drugs. Which led to the obvious question: was Ditko also on ’em. Ditko was too straitlaced to use recreational chemicals, and answered ‘No’. It all came from within, from his own unaided imagination. Which says to me that Ditko had an awesome imagination on his own, and that the really great, creative people don’t need drugs.

I can’t say that I was ever a fan of Ditko, as his artistic style with Marvel seemed rather too simple. I really admired those artists who were rather less stylised and more detailed and naturalistic. Nevertheless, this video shows that Ditko was a master of his art. The Kayfabers point out that he’s great at cityscapes and portraying fluid action sequences in which the characters are constantly in motion. In some of the strips, Ditko also used colour washes to enhance his line art, and the result is stunning. There are also a couple of strips where Ditko’s inkers were beginning to use computers to add inks and colour to his pencils, which are also very striking.

The Kayfabers also think that some of the pictures come from the private collections of people who acquired them less than legally. There is a black market in comics art, and Ditko was a victim along with many others. They won’t name names, of course, because they don’t want to get writs from m’learned friends. But they also state they’re just glad that someone, somewhere has preserved these pictures that would otherwise have been lost. Ditko also suffered into inadvertently giving people his autograph, thus cheating himself of money. He didn’t give autographs. However, if someone wrote to him asking for his autograph, they’d get a polite reply for Ditko saying ‘No’. Which he’d sign. People cottoned on to this, and exploited it.

Comics and Other Genre Artists True Artistic Innovators Deserving Academic Respect

The Kayfabers also lament that Ditko and that other American comics legend, Jack Kirby, weren’t more articulate. If they had been able to use the kind of language critics and intellectuals use about art, they could easily have been up there with Warhol and the Factory. But they were working artists, who had to grind out their strips to make a buck, and so didn’t have time to mix with people in art galleries. I completely agree. It’s been my opinion for a very long time that the truly great, innovative art exploring new visions, directions and tools is that of the space, science fiction and fantasy artists, including book illustrators and comics artists. And there are others who feel the same. I can remember watching one video about comics, in which one of the speakers said he felt angry seeing the work of artists hung in art galleries, who had based their work on comic artists. He felt that the original comics artists should have got the money and their work hung instead. Way back in the ’90s I tried to get one of the art magazines to accept an article in which I argued this point, and showed the stylistic similarities between respect fine artists like H.R. Giger and those of the Soviet austere school and such comics greats as Kirby and the British master of aliens, robots and the grotesque, Kevin O’Neil. Unfortunately, it was turned down because it would have been too expensive to run. But the point remains. And it'[s shown in Ditko’s art. There’s a panel in which the exhibition shows a clear influence on one of Ditko’s weird geometrical designs in a portal in Dr. Strange with a painting from the Russian avant-garde artist Vassily Kandinsky. The two debate whether there is a genuine influence there, before concluding that their probably is. I can easily believe it. Many comics artists have their own heroes and influences in fine art as well as other great illustrators of the past. Way back at the comics festival UKCAC ’90 I remember going to a talk by Charles Vess, who talked about the great artists and illustrators he admired. I can well believe that Ditko absorbed and incorporated ideas from fine art as well as cartooning and illustration, and that his own work pushed these ideas forward into new directions.

The book goes up to 2016, nearly the end of Ditko’s life. He died only a few years ago. Wossy in his quest to find the great man managed to track him down to an advertising agency in the Big Apple. Ditko agreed to meet Woss and the other host, but it all had to be off-camera. The programme concluded with Wossy stating that when they met Ditko he was very sweet, gave them lots of copies of his work, but they couldn’t repeat what he said to them. And so walked off into the New York crowd.

Well, RIP Steve Ditko, one of the greats of American founders. The book and the video by the Kayfabers are a great overview of one of the creators of some of the most iconic modern American superheroes.

Graham Linehan and DJ Lippy Discuss the Gay Protests Against Stonewall on Friday

October 20, 2021

On Monday broadcaster and comedy writer Graham Linehan posted this video in which he spoke to DJ Lippy, who is one of the organisers of a mass protest against Stonewall the Friday.

The gay charity is coming under considerable fire. Because it gave misleading legal information to the organisations seeking its advice on delicate issues like transgender rights, a number of them, including the Beeb, have cut ties with it. I’ve also heard that they’re being sued. An increasing number of gays and lesbians are also upset with Stonewall. They feel that its concentration on trans rights and other alternative sexualities has dangerously diluted the charity’s original purpose so that it no longer adequately defends and fights for the rights of gay men and women. Lesbians are particularly affected. For example I’ve seen numerous videos in which gay women and their supporters, like Linehan, describe how lesbian spaces have been invaded by biological, straight men demanding they have sex with them on the grounds that, as they identify as women, they are therefore lesbians. As this video also makes it clear, they are also concerned about the way the trans ideology is erasing natural, biological femininity. A recent issue of the Lancet on women’s health didn’t refer to women, but ‘people with a cervix’ and thanks to Stonewall’s advice, NHS Scotland has removed the word ‘mother’ from one of its leaflets. I will state again that I do not want trans people persecuted, abused, assaulted or denied jobs or opportunities because of their condition. I believe very strongly that people with problems with their gender identity deserve compassion and support. But this goes too far. It denies biological reality and, in my view, is dangerous because of this. The blurb for the video below explains the reasons behind the protest and where it is all happening.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/come-o…

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and their allies will take part in a national protest on Friday to ask all public and private organisations who have signed up to the Stonewall Diversity scheme to leave it and #ComeOutOfStonewall. They claim the charity no longer represents the interests of lesbians, gays and bisexuals and are critical of its authoritarian #NoDebate stance. What’s more they say the charity is misleading members of the scheme about the equality act, reflecting the law they would like it to be, rather the law as it is written. They are calling on these organisations #ComeOutOfStonewall and leave its Diversity Champion scheme. Stonewall has come under fire in recent months, and last week the Nolan Investigates podcast added to the pressure, asking serious questions about its relationship with Ofcom and the BBC. This follows on from the Reindorf Review which said its behaviour was having a ‘chilling effect’ on academic freedom at UK Universities Protests will take part in Belfast, Edinburgh and London. Protests will be held throughout the day, targeting many of the most prominent members of Stonewalls Diversity Champions scheme – including the BBC and Westminster. Their protest follows on from another event organised two weeks previously in which women’s rights activists dressed as dinosaurs targeted the offices of the Lancet and the Labour Party using the #HearMeRoar National co-ordinator Katy Worley said of Stonewall. “It’s thanks to the hard work of my lesbian and gay elders that I got to grow up in a world largely free of homophobia. But in the past few years I have been the victim of an alarming amount of homophobic and misogynistic abuse. This happens in spaces which are supposed to be safe for the LGBTQ+ community – often by those who identify as allies. I hold organisations like Stonewall directly responsible for this. They redefined homosexuality as attraction to the same gender, rather than sex– effectively erasing my sexual orientation. What’s more their failure to condemn this abuse has emboldened the bullies. We are here today to say Stonewall does not speak for us and we will not stop fighting until their anti-gay and anti-woman agenda is defeated.” London: Meet up: 12pm at the Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament Square. Edinburgh: Meet up: 1.30 at Waverley Gate, 2-4 Waterloo Place. Belfast: Meet up: 3.45 at BBC Broadcasting House, Can the Plan. Stonewall Cymru have been hired by the Welsh government to both commission and implement the LGBTQ+ Action plan in Wales, bringing in self ID by the backdoor. They are yet again writing and marking their own homework. Aside from the ethical concerns this action plan would abolish sex in law, impacting women, lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Merched Cymru and LGB Alliance Cymru want to #CanThePlan and have released guidance and resources for responding to the consultation. It takes five minutes to complete using this resource, and you do not need to be in the UK to fill it out. https://merchedcymru.wales/can-the-ac… Add a personal note about why you oppose the abolition of sex in law. Personal testimony can be so powerful when lobbying the government for change. The consultation closes on Friday the 22nd of October the same day as the protest, so please fill it in and share on your networks before this date. Retweeting the information under the #CanThePlan also helps these groups share their message. You can support the work of previous, current and future protests via this crowdfunder https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/terfasa…

Here’s the video.

Explanation for the Survival of Marxism after the Fall of Communism

October 8, 2021

I think there’s a lot of confusion among people over the reappearance of Marxism in recent social activism. People are wondering how it has managed to survive and revive now after Communism fell so spectacularly around the world in the ’80s and ’90s. I found this interesting explanation in Simon Tormey’s Anti-Capitalism (London: Oneworld Revised Edition 2014). The answer is that there are any number of competing strands of Marxism and Marxist organisations, and the groups that survived had nothing to do with the official communism of the Soviet bloc. In fact they were opposed to it. Tormey writes

‘It may come as a surprise after all we have said about the death of Marxism or communism in chapter 2 to begin a consideration of the radical wing of anti-capitalism with Marxist groups. If Marxism is ‘dead’, then why are we looking at it? Attentive readers of the relevant chapter will have noted that one of the key distinctions drawn in the exposition was between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ politics, that is between national politics , the politics of electioneering, political parties and voting, and the subterranean politics that began to proliferate after 1968. What we noted there was that official Marxism – the Marxism of the Communist Bloc – went into decline after that point and eventually succumbed in all but a handful of countries after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. China, the most powerful of the remaining communist regimes, appears increasingly embarrassed about its Marxist-Leninist heritage , and rightly so given its enthusiasm for capitalism. On the other hand, unofficial Marxism -the Marxism that vehemently criticised the Soviet Union, the Communist Bloc as well as the West – has never gone away. Indeed as is evident, Marxist groups have been amongst the most important and most visible at anti-capitalist protests, particularly in Europe. Marxist writers such as Alex Callinicos, Slavoj Zizek, David Harvey and John Holloway have offered compelling analysis of contemporary society as well as prescribing programmes and strategies for an anti-capitalist resistance. Many Marxist groups are well organised and well-furnished with the means of making their presence felt, whether it be in the preparation of banners and placards, in the printing of posters, leaflets and newspapers, or in organising carnivals, festivals, summer schools and teach-ins. Marxists have been prominent in organising anti-capitalist protests and initiatives’. (p. 103).

The following passages also explain that Marxism’s survival isn’t just due to these groups’ organisational abilities, but to Marxism’s considerable intellectual power as a system of thought explaining and opposing capitalism.

There seems to be a suspicion on the right that the appearance of radical ideologies, such as that supporting Black Lives Matter and the trans movement, are somehow a foreign plot to weaken the West in preparation for an invasion. The right-wing YouTuber Ex-Army Paz 49 says in one of his videos that the trans ideology is being promoted precisely as such a strategy, but we don’t know by whom. China, as one of the last remaining Communist nations and rising global superpower, is a frequent target of some of these suspicions.

But I doubt this is true for the above reason. The Marxism that has survived would be as opposed to China’s weird mixture of Maoism and capitalism and the other former communist regimes as it is to western capitalism. And while Putin certainly has no qualms about funding and encouraging other political movements, even including domestic Fascists, if it will advance his aims, I doubt he would want to encourage the trans ideology. Post-Communist society in eastern Europe is very traditional regarding gender roles, despite the official insistence on sexual equality under Communism. The problem for anyone like Putin or the Chinese using the trans and gay movement to weaken their enemies’ masculinity and military strength, is that these ideologies cross political borders. And as Putin’s government has for decades been very intolerant towards gays, Hungary has passed increasingly stringent legislation against the teaching of homosexuality and the other week the Chinese government ruled that they didn’t want ‘sissy’ men on television, it would be dangerous for these regimes to encourage it in the West. Quite apart from the fact that gay rights and the transgender ideology can be shown to be homegrown western intellectual products, with no input, as far as I’m aware, from the former Soviet bloc and the regimes which have succeeded it.

The fear about foreign powers conspiring to bring about a Communist revolution or foreign takeover of the West is just Cold War paranoia, persisting long after the Cold War should have gone.

Alexander Bogdanov, Soviet SF Writer and Originator of Fully Automated Luxury Communism

September 18, 2021

One of my friends gave me a copy of A.M. Gittlitz’s I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism, for which I’m really grateful. It’s fascinating! Posadism is a weird Trotskyite sect, founded by Posadas, the nom-de-guerre of Homero Cristalli, an Argentinian Marxist. They were hardline Marxists, joining other Communist and Trotskyite guerrillas fighting a war against capitalism and Fascist oppression across Latin America and Cuba. From what I remember from an article about them in the Fortean Times, they also looked forward to an apocalyptic nuclear war that would destroy the capitalist nations and allow the workers of the world to seize power. This is frightening, as any such war would have destroyed the planet or at least killed countless billions and sent the survivors hurtling back into the Stone Age. Unfortunately, it was also shared by Chairman Mao, who really couldn’t believe why Khrushchev hadn’t launched a nuclear attack on America during the Cuban missile crisis. Khrushchev was certainly no angel. During Stalin’s reign he was responsible for organising purges of dissidents in Ukraine and when in power led a brutal crackdown on religion that sent thousands of people of faith, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, shamanists to the gulags. He was also responsible for creating the system of curtained shops which served only members of the Communist party. But in refusing to start a nuclear war, Khrushchev helped save the world and showed himself a far better man than Mao.

But Posadas also had some other, rather more eccentric views. He believed in establishing contact with intelligent aliens and also believed dolphins were another intelligent species with whom we should establish real, meaningful contact and understanding. A college friend of mine told me that they wanted to make contact with aliens because of their belief in the inevitable victory of Marxism. If there were alien civilisations, they reasoned, they would have achieved true, Marxist socialism and could therefore help us do the same. It sound completely bonkers, but they took their views on dolphin intelligence from the scientist and psychologist John Lilley. Many others shared their views. I have a feeling that dolphins feature in several of Larry Niven’s novels as intelligent creatures with whom humans have a relationship as equal species. To help them interact with us, they have been given artificial arms and mobile pods containing the water they need to support them.

There was a brief resurgence of Posadism on the Net in 2016, and the book contains amongst its illustrations a number of memes posted by them. One contrasts the despair and defeatism of capitalism and the mainstream socialist parties with Posadism. It features a grey alien looking on accompanied with slogans like ‘Solidarity with the space comrades’ – not ‘space brothers’, note, like the old-fashioned UFO contactees talked about, but Marxist aliens determined to overthrow capitalism. Other slogans included ‘It’s Communism, Jim, but not a we know it’, clearly a parody of the famous line from Star Trek, ‘It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it’. And there’s also a parody of one of the famous sayings of the Space Prophet himself, Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The Posadist meme reworked this as ‘Dialectical Materialism so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic.’ They are also in favour of fully automated luxury communism. This is the doctrine, embraced by Yannis Varoufakis amongst others, that mechanisation will make most workers redundant. To prevent the immense harm this will do, the only choice will be for the state to take over industry and run it so that everyone has free access to goods and services. This got reworked in one of the Posadist memes as ‘Fully automated luxury gay communism.’ I have to say this sounds distinctly unappealing. Not because I’m opposed to gay rights, but because it sounds like only gays will be allowed into the new utopia. I hope if it comes, it will benefit everyone, whatever their sexuality.

In fact the idea of fully automated luxury communism and alien contact goes back a long way in Marxist history. Alexander Bogdanov, an early rival to Marx, wrote an SF novel, Red Star. Inspired by Tsiolkovsky, the Russian rocket pioneer, and H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, this was about a revolutionary from the 1905 anti-Tsarist uprising, who is abducted to Mars. Martian society is advanced both technologically and socially. All the factories are automated, so that goods are plentiful and money is obsolete, as everyone has access to all the goods and services they need or want. As a result, Martians share their possessions. What work remains is entirely voluntary, but done idealistically for the good of society. This includes young Martians donating blood to increase the lives of the elderly. (see page 5 of the above book).

As the Bard says in The Tempest ‘Oh brave new world that hath such people in it!’

Posadas was an eccentric with some extremely dangerous views, but some of his ideas aren’t so daft. If mechanisation proceeds, then I feel that fully automated luxury communism, or something very like it, will have to come into existence. It’s the only humane alternative to the grind mass poverty and despair depicted in dystopian SF stories like 2000 AD’s ‘Judge Dredd’, where 95 per cent of the population of Megacity 1 is unemployed and films like Elysium, where the world’s masses live in shanty towns, workers are exploited and disposable, and the rich live in luxury orbital colonies.

And serious scientists are still looking for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, following American astronomer Frank Drake and scientist and broadcaster Carl Sagan. Interestingly, the book states that Sagan, a Humanist and left-wing activist, denied being a Marxist. But he and his wife Anne Druyan smuggled copies of Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, so that Soviet citizens could read its real, suppressed history. I think most SETI scientists believe that real aliens would probably be so different from us that their political and institutions may well be inapplicable to us. Nevertheless advocates of SETI believe that aliens may nevertheless be able to give us vital scientific information, including the cure of disease and how to extend our lifespan. It probably won’t be Marxism, but if the aliens do have something like it or Fascism, then these ideologies will become popular on Earth after contact.

Communist aliens sounds like a ridiculous idea, but until we make contact, we won’t know if there are or aren’t any.

As for the Martian society of Red Star, the absence of a money economy, the abolition of scarcity and work as a purely voluntary activity sound very much like the Federation in Star Trek. Thanks to contact with the Vulcans and other aliens, humans had overcome racism, poverty and starvation. People didn’t need to work, but they did so in order to better themselves. It should be said, though, that the series never openly advocated socialism. It simply said that ‘the economics of the future are different’ and implied that both capitalism and socialism had been transcended. Nevertheless, the parallels are so close that the far right, like Sargon of Gasbag and his fellow Lotus Eaters, have been moaning that Star Trek’s communist. I doubt it, not least because the actress who plays Seven Of Nine is married to a Republican politico. I think Star Trek is broadly liberal and presents an inspiring utopian society. One of the complaints about Star Trek: Picard is that it has now abandoned this utopian optimism in favour of portraying the Federation as a standard SF dystopia and that it’s liberal slant has become too shrill and intolerant at the expense of good stories, plots and characterisation. Utopias are unattainable, but we need them to inspire us, to show us that ‘another world is possible’ and that, in the words of The Style Council, ‘you don’t have to take this crap/ You don’t have to sit back and relax’. Or work yourselves to death to increase the profits of already bloated big business elites.

Apart from this, the book is also a fascinating look at the history of Marxism in Argentina and Latin America, and I intend to review on this blog when I finish it.

As for aliens, well, I’d rather we made contact with benign Space Comrades than the little Grey buggers that haunt our nightmares of UFOs, abductions and malign conspiracies at the moment.

And yes, the title very definitely is taken from the poster of a UFO hanging in Fox Mulder’s office in the X-Files.