Archive for the ‘politics’ Category
Comrade Osbourne elaborates upon the paranoid mode
There is an article I’d like you to familiarize yourself with before we start, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. I believe that Hofstadter correctly identifies a phenomenon, but being a huge blundering liberal who couldn’t recognize the development of historical forces if it jumped out of a roadside ditch and kicked his ass, his analysis remains somewhat lacking. Still, I believe we should take a close look at conspiratorial and “paranoid” modes of speech and action.
The mode of thought that I’m going to call “paranoid” consists of a particular relation to power and meaning. These two things aren’t interchangeable, exactly, but they’re closely related: social and economic power always goes hand in hand with power over meaning, the ability to dictate the significance and “actual” content of words and events. As I’ve written before, those who fully accept the meanings given by Power are said to be “realistic” or “serious”.
Most generally, the paranoid mode is a misapprehension of power. To read a text, event or situation in a paranoid way is to fail to grasp its political dimension, but not by depoliticizing it, but the exact opposite — imbuing it with an excess of meaning. I’m sure you’ve seen and laughed at this or something similar before; it’s a prime example of the paranoid mode.
Fundamental to a paranoid reading is the assumption that the words, actions, signs and portents being read stand for something else, and that it is a direct, one-to-one correspondence — allegory, in literary terms. Gaga’s song has a “surface”, false meaning, and a “deep”, true meaning, which is mind control, and only that. While I would maintain that texts can usually be read in multiple, often contradictory ways, the paranoid reader denies this — there is the true meaning, all else is misdirection. That meaning is hidden from the casual eye, but accessible to those who have been initiated into the shady workings of Power, and taught to interpret the symbols in the correct way.
The True Meaning, according to the paranoid reader, is there because there is likewise a true meaning to the entirety of the world, obscured beneath the spectacle of appearances and illusions that we experience as reality. The hidden, unconscious content of the world is conspiracy — whether a single overarching one, or an intricate network of interlocking and interdependent malicious plots, or a little of both — it matters little.
Where there is a conspiracy, there are conspirators: the Masons, Catholics, Jews, Communists, Jesuits, Russians, “the gays”, “the transsexual empire”, the bankers, the Templars, lizard people from outer space, make your pick. They are mysterious, secretive, inscrutable, disturbingly sensuous or seductive, devoted to an incomprehensible and evil cause. They wield unbelievable power over matters both momentous and mundane. They aid each other covertly in innumerable ways, circumventing the normal workings of society.
By now you might be thinking, okay, so this leads directly to the postmodernist argument against grand narratives, right? There is no single Truth of the World, just an endless free interplay of signifiers? Well, yes and no. The paranoid mode is “correct” insofar as we can say that society at every level is infused with relations of power, which work in ways that aren’t necessarily obvious. These relations, however, are not hidden or secret — they are palpable and obvious to those whom Power works upon. They may not have the language or theoretical apparatus to express it, or be able or permitted to speak about it, or they may be more or less wrong in expressing how all this works exactly, but the naked, shameless, direct, brutal facts of oppression are perfectly clear to them — and visible to everyone else, even if they are usually conceptualized as “just the way things are”.
The paranoid mode is also wrong about the Conspiracy. There isn’t one. Oh, sure, conspiracies of various kinds happen all the time, but the logic of history and society is not conspiratorial. This is purely a matter of Occam’s razor — entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. It’s just not necessary to posit a Shadow Council of International Bankers that meets in secret to keep the Third World poor and subjugated, when imperialism, material interests and ideology — all of which are in plain view — suffice as an explanation. The secret dealings of the powerful, like some of the provisions of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, may be obscured for some time from most people, or from certain populations, but history shows that they do not tend to stay secret for long.
(In more abstract terms, I disagree that there is a “truth of the world”; there is a material, objective reality and there are better or worse theories and conceptual frameworks that we use to make sense of it. Meaning, however, is not a property of matter or its relations, but a product of society.)
The paranoid mode is by no means uniquely or specifically American, but it achieves its fullness in the political discourse of the United States. This may just be because of the world hegemony of the US, and the fact that whatever occurs there is so extensively documented, disseminated and visible to everyone. It may be a characteristic of empires, or capitalist societies under some conditions, or just a consequence of very typical cognitive biases; most likely all of these factors play a part and are mutually reinforcing.
Birtherism, McCarthyism, shitty jokes about how “Bush did 9/11″ and countless other manifestations of conspiratorial thought proliferate in US discourses. The jokes themselves are interesting — on their face they are dismissals, but the obsessive and insistent manner of their repetition is surely meaningful. Without speculating too much, I’d hazard a guess that they often fuction as a way for the joker to reassure themselves, which means that the idea of conspiracy — this, that, or the other one — remains an ever-present possibility.
It’s also worth noting that whether or not a belief is paranoid can be dependent on context. Trutherism is a specifically American conspiracy theory, but certain elements of it are also widely believed all around the world. In places where the US has used covert operations and intelligence agencies to advance its interests, this is hardly surprising. The belief itself may be mistaken, but it arises from different conditions and should be treated differently; it may have aspects of the paranoid mode, sometimes expressed in age-old antisemitic tropes, but not in the same way as it does in the US.
The most famous writer of American paranoia is probably Pynchon, especially in The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow. If you’re interested in a detailed, literary examination of all things paranoid, I really can’t recommend Lot 49 highly enough. Rainbow is, frankly, fucking unreadable, but in its constant multiplication of possible meanings, false meanings, connections, hidden truths, half-baked theories and outright bullshit, it carries the paranoid mode to its extremes; arguably, it’s a text that deliberately sets out to frustrate and infuriate the paranoid reader in all of us.
Time and again I’ve seen Americans, or people operating in a broadly American cultural context, instinctually leap to the paranoid mode as their basic concept of society. Disagreement, especially vocal disagreement about fundamental and unexamined values or questions of privilege, becomes a “concerted campaign” carried out by a “clique”, “coordinating” their “attacks” in secret, using “underhanded tactics” and so on. Some of these criticisms may have merit, others may come from a sense of wounded pride or entitlement, or from prior personal grudges, others still can be complete horseshit, because when a malicious conspiracy is perceived, it must be excised by any means, lest it corrupt the heart of the body politic and drain its vital fluids. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, because people can express their legitimate hurt and grievances in the paranoid mode, and it becomes difficult to disentangle the two.
What I’m arguing is simply this: the paranoid mode of discourse exists, and it insinuates itself into our political thinking. Fascinating as it may be, it is harmful and distorting. Please remain mindful of it.
Yeah, suicide. If this stuff triggers you, please stop reading! Seriously!
I really don’t think I’m an existentialist by any metric. I owe a lot to a high school teacher who either was one or had a really passsionate disagreement with the entire philosophy, I’m not sure. I picked up Kierkegaard and Camus on my own just because she seemed to think it was really important, and I wanted to know what was going on. Nietzsche, too, come to think of it, though it’s debatable if he counts.
For the existentialists, suicide was the ultimate ethical engagement with the world. The human condition, to them, was “absurd”: in the absence of divinely ordained meaning, our freedom is absolute, but every choice we make is rendered laughable by the grim inevitability of death. Thus, choice-of-death becomes the one that actually matters, a means to face the final truth of existence head on.
I think that’s garbage. Death is heavy stuff, but it generates no more or less meaning than love, or hate, or friendship, or the pursuit of knowledge. It is unique to the degree that any class of experience is; that it’s the final one is incidental. To say that Death’s scythe levels all other deeds like so much dry grass seems to me a tremendous offense to the living, a contemptuous rejection of the striving and strife that make up our lives. Note that I’m not out to “disprove” existentialism, or to distinguish very carefully between the existentialism of Sartre and that of Łukasz from second class, who spits upon the pointlessness of middle-school life. In this, as in most other things, I’m hopelessly reliant on gut feelings. My gut feeling: this is garbage.
(As a sidenote, it’s really sad and disappointing when people slightly familiar with existentialism — “I read the wiki article” familiar — act like they’re in on the stupid, tedious, pointless joke of existence. I can’t help but feel that your philosophy is somewhat invalidated if the only good it does you is make you feel smart and cool, rather than force you into intimate interaction with the ethical and epistemic texture of everyday life.)
I bring this up because I want to talk about suicide, and the first misstep would be to fetishize it as beautiful or righteous — something I feel existentialists fail to do — or to demonize it as hideous and repugnant. There are numerous cultural trends that aestheticize taking one’s own life, and they are all abhorrent. I’m also uninterested in how it relates to “courage”, even though every other novelist I can think of has a strong opinion on whether it “takes guts” or “is the coward’s way out”. I don’t give a fuck about a dispute so pointless and ill-founded.
What I want to consider is (some aspects of) the political content of suicide — the relations of suicide and power. This also means I’ll have to touch upon mental illness, and you have no idea of the kind of willpower it took not to put that in scare quotes. The conversation, after all, will revolve around behaviours that are positioned as “healthy” or “ill” — how this happens, and for what reasons.
I think it’s safe to say that “power” and “control” is a good framework to discuss this. Not the best one, or the only one, but one that illuminates several key aspects of suicide: how often people consider it when they’ve been deprived of meaningful choices, how it functions as an assertion of control over one’s life, a final “fuck you” to the disempowering realities of imprisonment, debt, destitution, loneliness, sickness, old age. I really doubt that there are very many people out there who, when faced with a desperate situation, haven’t thought, “hey, why not death?”
It’s a seductive thought, and brings a strange feeling of elation. I do have a choice! I can die! Even more exhilarating is to bring it up in conversation, perhaps awkwardly or half-jokingly at first. It’s a breach of taboo, and almost always sure to elicit strong reactions: the stock “there’s so much to live for”, the reverse-psychological “fine, see if I care”, the baffled silence, the anger, the nervous laughter. Many Catholics would still insist on not burying people who’ve killed themselves on consecrated ground — ostensibly because they died as sinners, but I can’t help but wonder: is it unease at this final assertion of control? Or perhaps a perverse way of honouring the choice to exclude oneself from the community of the living?
The mere suggestion of suicide can be wielded as a weapon, of course — an assertion of control not over yourself, but over those who care about you. It is difficult to separate the two, sometimes. Despair has a way of making you act in solipsistic ways; it draws you inward in a tight, suffocating spiral. You might find yourself thinking that your friends’ kind words and attempts to help are misguided, or mockery: surely everyone would hate you if they could see you as you see yourself, surely they’d want you gone. The hurt and terror they are expressing must be a cruel joke. It is difficult to assign blame, here.
I sometimes feel uncomfortable with traditional narratives of abuse because, being flawed in some essential way that I can’t help but think of as “Christian”, they don’t account for this kind of situation. Is it right to call the person threatening suicide “an abuser”? Is it right to call them “a victim”? Both and neither; there are several interlocking abusive dynamics in play, but seeking to place responsibility, as if in a court of law, is doomed to fail. Certainly “mental illness” is to blame — but how, really? Is mental illness some sort of contagion of amorality, similar to original sin? That is unacceptable drivel. And yet it definitely clouds our judgment and restricts our vision.
Personally, I believe in setting the highest possible standard for myself, but I also believe in mutual care. I don’t really get suicidal anymore, though there was a period in my life when I did; if I decided not to follow through, or not to offload those feelings onto others, it was mostly because I considered that cruel to them. (Also because I didn’t have any sort of rope sturdy enough to hang myself with.) But these feelings only went away when I started learning how to seek out and build something resembling positive, supportive communities — which may sound like big words for “Internet friends I’ve never met”, but these supposedly unreal people quite literally saved my life when nobody else would, so fuck you.
I was gonna put another section here, about martyrdom and its position in politics, but I feel like it needs a separate post. So I’m gonna leave you with this pointless and inconclusive ending for now.
Prawo, w majestatycznej swej równości (stwierdził dawno temu Anatole France) zabrania zarówno biednym, jak i bogatym spać na ulicy, żebrać i kraść chleb. Mylił się o tyle, że spanie spaniu nierówne: niektórych wystarczy zgarnąć do izby wytrzeźwień, przypiąć pasami i spuścić wpierdol; na innych trzeba nasłać chmarę policji po zmroku, z dala od kamer, ale na widoku przechodniów, i odseparować od zdrowej tkanki społecznej.
Trzy szybkie myśli, które mnie naszły.
Raz: fajnie byłoby myśleć, że władze miasta Warszawy czują się egzystencjalnie zagrożone przez kilkanaście osób z antykapitalistycznymi hasłami. Interwencja była tak absurdalna — dziesiątki policjantów, trzynaście spokojnych i nieuzbrojonych osób na chodniku — że przechodzień, którego na miejscu spotkałem, pytał mnie, czy tu kogoś zabili. Niestety, nie widzę tu panicznego miotania się konającego systemu, ani głupiej decyzji, która źle wygląda w mediach (na punkcie mediów, “społecznościowych” i zwykłych, jestem potwornie cyniczny, za co obwiniam Guya Deborda). Dla mnie to całkiem racjonalna strategia reagowania nieproporcjonalnie wielkimi siłami na nawet drobne zaburzenia “porządku społecznego”, szczególnie w samym centrum stolicy i tuż przed tymi zasranymi mistrzostwami.
Media i tak powiedzą akurat tyle, żeby wpasować się w oficjalny dyskurs — że może interwencja przesadzona, ale wina jest po obu stronach, bo przecież jeśli miasto odmawia zgody na zgromadzenie i protest, to musi mieć dobry powód, prawda? Nie wiem, czy możliwe jest jakieś “przebicie się” w tych mediach z przekazem, że przestrzeń publiczna należy do wszystkich po równo. Każdy głos, który chce być dopuszczony do mainstreamowych środków przekazu, musi zakłądać z góry, że jedyną mającą prawo istnieć ideologią jest liberalizm — inaczej zostanie zagłuszony lub obśmiany. Liberalizm uważa przestrzeń publiczną za irytujące zło konieczne i myśli przede wszystkim w kategoriach przestrzeni prywatnych, dlatego też bez trudu przychodzi mu uznanie całej Warszawy za coś w rodzaju prywatnego folwarczku prezydent Gronkiewicz-Waltz, do spółki z różnymi agencjami nieruchomości.
Więc interwencja policji nie była wiadomością dla mediów, tylko dla okupantów i innych elementów wywrotowych. Chodzi o zwyczajne zastraszenie.
Dwa: bardzo boję się przeszczepiania na nasz grunt amerykańskich haseł o 99% społeczeństwa. Bardzo, bardzo się tego boję. “99% społeczeństwa” to chwytliwy slogan, ale fatalna analiza i każdy, kto przygląda się losom Occupy Wall Street, widzi, że niezdolność wielu Amerykanów do przekroczenia tego hasła ma fatalne skutki. Bo — nie wgłębiając się nawet za bardzo w analizę klasową — według liberalnych sympatyków Occupy pod 99% podpada przecież też, dajmy na to, policja. A to już jest wymaganie od bitego solidarności z bijącym.
Trzy: powyższą krytykę oferuję w duchu wsparcia, a nie żeby nabić sobie jakieś ideologiczne punkty. Dobrze, że okupacja jest, i ważne, żeby była jak najdłużej. Najlepiej tak długo, aż nie będzie potrzebna.
Dzisiaj po polsku, bo się wściekłem.
Dwa lata temu policjanci przyszli sobie na Stadion Dziesięciolecia i zastrzelili Maxwella Itoyę. “Czemu, ach, czemu”, pytają spłakane dzienniki tudzież gazety, “czemuż musieli dopuścić się nadużycia władzy, czemu, laboga”, a odpowiedź jest przecież taka prosta. Bo mogli.
Po dwóch latach prokuratura potwierdza, że mogli, umarzając śledztwo, a gazeta.pl dodatkowo uspokaja wątpliwości, bo przecież “padł strzał”, a kula “pechowo” poszła w tętnicę. Policjanci to przecież nieledwie niemowlęta, których obchodzić się z bronią nigdy nie uczono, a strzał padł sam przez się, zły traf i wola Boża tak chciały, rozejść się.
Warto powtórzyć, że Stadionu Dziesięciolecia już nie ma. W jego miejscu stoi ogromniasty nocnik, i to nie byle jaki nocnik, bo narodowy. Żeby ten nocnik postawić, stary stadion trzeba było wyburzyć, a ludzi, którzy tam trudnili się drobnym handlem — w dużej części imigrantów — wykurzyć. Ciekawe, że tak się z woli Bożej złożyło, że policjant jednego z tych imigrantów zastrzelił, bo inaczej nie jest jasne, czy imigranci zrozumieliby, że w imię narodowego nocnika muszą wynieść się gdzieś, gdzie nie będą kłuli w oczy. A że poniosą na tym konkretne materialne straty? Cóż, dla narodu trzeba się poświęcać.
Ktoś mi pewnie zarzuci szukanie spisku. Ale chodzi właśnie o to, że spisku nie było i Itoya nie musiał zginąć. Skoro już jednak jakiś zbir go zabił, to się świetnie dla władzy składa, bo można na tym zbić niezły symboliczny kapitał. Na pokaz załamujemy ręce, biadolimy, szukamy winnych, a w podtekście: nie fikaj, nie stawiaj się i nie utyskuj na narodowe nocniki, kloaki, wychodki i sracze, bo patrz, jak to się kończy. Groźba? Nie, nie, skąd, my nikomu nie grozimy, po prostu czasem się tak nieszczęśliwie zdarza.
Nie szokuje mnie specjalnie, że gazeta kropka pl tego nie widzi, bo dziennikarz jest od tego, żeby pisać rzeczy, które się sprzedają, czyli innymi słowy rzeczy sprzedajne. “Sprawa zasługiwała na wyjaśnienie”, pisze dziennikarz, pióro w nocniku umoczywszy, i czeka, aż ktoś mu to wyjaśnienie pod nos podetknie: oto niezłomny poszukiwacz prawdy. Ale mimo że nic nie wiadomo, to jednak wiadomo (najwyraźniej), że “to oczywista bzdura”, że była to rasistowska zbrodnia.
Tu jednak trzeba pogratulować dedukcji, bo “rasistowska zbrodnia” może istnieć tylko wtedy, gdy rasizm uważa się za zbrodniczy. Kiedy jest na porządku dziennym, wpisany w funkcjonowanie telewizji, policji, literatury, prawa, mowy codziennej, państwa i Unii Europejskiej, jak można w ogóle mówić o zbrodni? Gdyby Europa wierzyła w zbrodniczość rasizmu, nie stawałaby na głowie, żeby Andersa Breivika uznać za niepoczytalnego wariata, zamiast wyznawcę bardzo spójnej, bardzo konsekwentnej i bardzo zbrodniczej ideologii.
Nikogo w Polsce specjalnie dziś nie obchodzi, jak wyglądał kolonializm w Nigerii, przecież my nie kolonizowaliśmy, my jesteśmy naród przez historię uciśniony, mamy czyste ręce, itd, itp, więc w kategoriach rasizmu myśleć nie lubimy i nie umiemy. Ale kiedy przyjeżdża do nas z Nigerii Maxwell Itoya, i kiedy jakiś oprych strzela do niego, to o rasistowskim lub nie charakterze tej zbrodni nie decyduje to, co oprych sobie myślał, kiedy strzelał — bo kto do tego dojdzie — tylko to, w jaki kontekst ten strzał się wpisuje, i to, jak na to reagujemy. Bo jeśli reagujemy poważnym kiwaniem głową, kiedy mówi, że on tylko wykonywał swoją opryszą pracę, bo kazali trochę przycisnąć imigrantów na bazarze, to godzimy się na to, że ktoś taką pracę musi wykonywać, i że może jest nieprzyjemna, ale konieczna.
Ciekawe, kto z nas powie to samo o Robercie Dziekańskim. Jeśli wierzymy, że rasizm jest zbrodniczy, to obie te śmierci traktujemy może nie identycznie, ale z identyczną powagą. Nie chce mi się teraz grzebać w archiwach i szukać, co o Dziekańskim pisał Piotr Machajski, jeśli cokolwiek. Ale wszyscy pamiętamy, co i w jaki sposób pisały wtedy umiarkowane, rozsądne, obiektywne, liberalne, centrowe, mainstreamowe media, pod które gazeta kropka pl z pewnością podpada.
Rożnica między tamtą sprawą a morderstwem Itoyi pokazuje wyraźnie, że centrowy “obiektywizm” jest w Polsce (i gdzie indziej też) rasistowski. Nie dlatego, że po kryjomu przybija piątkę Dmowskiemu z Hitlerem, ale poprzez selekcję informacji i sposób ich przedstawienia. Rasizm naprawdę groźny to ten, którego na pierwszy rzut oka nie widać, i o którym mówić nie wypada.
I have a proposal. It’s not particularly modest, and I don’t think it’s satirical. Let’s get rid of the word “ally” in left politics.
Okay, that might be jumping to conclusions. First, let’s look at the word and its users first, and figure some things out. I’m wondering: who or what is “an ally”? What does the word convey, and what is the position of “allies”? Are these two at odds, and if so, how?
(My primary perspective here, as you know, is one of a man with feminist convictions, and the particulars of this argument may or may not apply to “allies” in other emancipatory struggles, so, grain of salt recommended if I start generalizing. Grain of salt recommended in general, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t know that.)
An ally, my trusty OED tells me, is “a state formally cooperating with another for a military or other purpose; a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity”, originally from the Latin alligare, “bind together”. What I like about the term is the martial connotation: if there are allies, it means there’s probably a fight going on. This is important not because I’m a fan of militarism, but because mainstream liberal-democratic discourse insists on the denial of struggle, and on pretending that structural injustice and subjugation are the result of ignorance and unreason. And this well over a hundred years after this was written:
[T]he world had hitherto allowed itself to be led solely by prejudices; everything in the past deserved only pity and contempt. Now, for the first time, appeared the light of day, the kingdom of reason; henceforth superstition, injustice, privilege, oppression, were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal Right, equality based on Nature and the inalienable rights of man.
We know today that this kingdom of reason was nothing more than the idealized kingdom of the bourgeoisie; that this eternal Right found its realization in bourgeois justice; that this equality reduced itself to bourgeois equality before the law; that bourgeois property was proclaimed as one of the essential rights of man; and that the government of reason, the Contrat Social of Rousseau, came into being, and only could come into being, as a democratic bourgeois republic.
–Frederick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
So, I like that. Bourgeois reason maintains that “we”, the human creatures, are all on the same side against the dark and irrational forces of prejudice and oppression. To bring the war metaphor into the discussion is to demolish that view, exposing how prejudice and oppression arise not from the dark corners of the human spirit (and therefore metaphysics), but out of concrete social relations and material realities. Hopefully we’re all well past thinking of patriarchy as being only about women’s unpaid labour, but that labour remains an absolutely uneradicable aspect of it, and to be “against sexism” as a man in some abstract way, without recognizing how you have and are benefitting from that labour, is utter folly.
But while the implication of class struggle seems to be embedded in the concept of an “ally”, experience shows that this doesn’t mean shit. “Allies” who have “seen the light” are perfectly willing to unsee it and appeal to their privilege, which they’ve supposedly renounced, as soon as someone draws attention to an objectionable thing they did. They’re “on your side” as long as the repercussions are fairly minimal and the praise is forthcoming; when the time comes to own their mistakes and their abusive behaviour, bam, huge meltdown about their poor hurt feelings. Examples abound, I’m sure we’ve all seen it. Hell, I’ve done it myself, though most of you wouldn’t have seen it.
I’m seriously not out to gloat here. That’s the worst thing I could possibly do: point and laugh at how some folks are Bad Allies and I’m better than them. I’m not, of course, and either way it’s not some competition to see how long we can go pretending that we’ve freed ourselves from our upbringing and cultural norms and ideology. But the fact remains that some folks who are “allies” are really bad at it, and that it seems to be a pervasive problem.
I’d like to try and figure out why this is the case, and what structural forces are at work. I’m not interested in moral failings, but when these “failings” start to occur in recognizable and predictable patterns, it becomes obvious that there’s something more going on.
The first thing that strikes me about “ally” and “alliance” is that — if we’re talking about international politics — alliances are, in practice, temporary and opportunistic. They’re rooted in common interests, but as soon as they stop being mutually advantageous, they are dissolved or broken. This is important because in the context of social justice, in the short view, an “alliance” is never advantageous to the “ally”. A man opposing patriarchy is acting against his own material interests in the short term. Long-term, an argument can be made that a future egalitarian society is better for everyone, not just those currently oppressed, for countless reasons — my favourite is that this society would not have assigned me, by accidents of birth and neurology, to a class and an identity predicated on violence and emotional incompetence. (It’s perfectly enough to say that patriarchy is unjust and leave it at that, of course. But the personal is political, and this is my personal stake.)
Being an “ally” is shooting yourself in the foot in the name of either ethical principles, or some benefits in the indeterminate future, most likely not in your lifetime. Let’s not lionize people who make this choice, or sing the praises of their supposed sacrifices: it’s a really fucking stupid choice! It’s counter-intuitive and dubiously rational. In all your interactions with me, please remember that I am a horrible idiot who doesn’t know what’s best for him.
Now, some of us know a lot about self-hate, but it’s absurd to seek a transformative politics based solely on your own self-hate. It cannot be done. In order to reach out to others respectfully and build meaningful relationships — without which we cannot even dream of transforming a society built on alienation — you must also respect yourself. And principles are important, but they won’t carry you all the way, all the time.
My own short-term gain in being an “ally” is the everyday practice of relating to others with kindness, trust and honest criticism, and hoping for them to respond in kind. I really cannot overstate how important this is to me. There came a certain point in my life when I realized that I interacted with everyone around me in a way that was not only egotistic, but frequently coercive, and that these were people I liked or admired or loved, and I didn’t want to do this anymore. I’ve come a long way since then — nowhere near long enough, of course. And you know what? You bet it’s been nothing but beneficial to me. It’s helped me cope with my fucked up brain problems, for one, and encouraged me to try and fix them. It taught me a lot about how to build happy and healthy intimate relationships. I have a continuing incentive to try and act in a feminist manner as much as possible, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s positively impacted my life.
But that’s just me. And really, should anyone besides me even care?
There really isn’t much reason to special-case “allies” and maintain that passionate conviction will overtake structural forces, because that’s just how magical we are. To be consistent in my analysis, I can’t escape the conclusion: that there is absolutely no reason for any woman/member of another oppressed group to trust an “ally”, ever. Every one of us is a walking liability, and there’s no telling when we might wake up one day and decide that ethical principles and a better world for our grandchildren aren’t worth giving up concrete privileges in the here-and-now.
As leftists, of course, we would probably like to think we’re better than this, and not driven by cost-benefit calculations in our relations with friends and comrades. But the thing we have to understand is that this can be a matter of life and death. How many people do you know who self-harm, or have PTSD, or get severe panic attacks? Nobody is fucking born with PTSD. They’ve been hurt before, and they can’t afford to take any risks. Your hurt feelings because someone doesn’t trust you are going to have to take a back seat to their survival.
I’ll get back to this grim stuff in a bit, but first, let’s knock some easy points out of the way. One: creating the special category of “ally” has, I believe, an effect opposite to the intended one. The whole point of asking “can men be feminists” and answering in the negative is to ensure that “feminism”, as a movement and an ideology, remains under the control of women, and works in the best interest of women. Hence the “ally”, to signify that you are helping, but that it’s not about you.
In practice, however, it just seems to make the “allies” more visible as a distinct group, supposedly deserving of special consideration. The term also contains a preemptive disawoval: sure, I’m “allied” with you, but as soon as things start going poorly, I’m gonna be looking out for number one.
Two: “alliance” seems strangely at odds with the radical leftist notion of solidarity. The latter is just a much stronger claim, with much different historical and political connotations; in particular, breaking an alliance might be strategically advisable, but breaking solidarity is always contemptible.
Three: can we talk for a while about the relation of “feminist allies” to other men? Because there’s a word for that relation, and I never see it used: it’s “treason”. You’re breaking ranks with your supposed peer group, and actively working against its interests (male supremacy); surely that’s not too strong a term? But it rarely, if ever, comes up — and is it really a coincidence that when push comes to shove, “allies” are very reluctant to stand against other men?
I’m not interested in moral failings, like I said. The structural pressure here is enormous. But if you didn’t know that when you were signing up for treason, and are finding that out right now and not liking all this structural pressure, what good are you to anyone?
Four: a vaguely related anecdote. In real life, I lean towards calling myself “a feminist” rather than “an ally”, especially since I have to gender that noun anyway in Polish, so it’s a distinct word from a woman calling herself a feminist. But also because I believe that it’s strategically sound: feminism doesn’t really function in Polish culture the way it does in the US or UK, or rather, it’s marginalized much in the same way, but to a far greater extent, so a lot of people will only have heard of it through some crude caricatures or stupid TV shows. And perhaps as importantly, because I shudder at the thought of putting a degree of separation between myself and a set of beliefs that has been, no lie, one of the most important influences in my life.
But! All that said, some two or three years ago, a bunch of Polish “feminist men” signed some sort of open letter declaring that, well, I’m not sure what they were declaring? That it’s very important to congratulate them on being feminist, I guess? Anyway, one of the points, I forget the exact phrasing, went like “We believe that more women in politics will lead to more compassionate and nurturing policies”.
I was like, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Even if you do believe that having more women in the ruling class will somehow improve the living conditions of working class women (spoiler: it won’t, it never does), what a fucking sexist way to phrase it, right? And this from a bunch of journalists and professors and other self-important liberal and “leftist” bigwigs! So that’s why I’m not so sure about calling myself a “feminist man” in public: I’m worried that someone will associate me with that letter and the shitheads who signed it.
So, with all of the above in mind, let’s go back to the worrying part. Is there any use for “allies”?
Well, as people who support a cause contrary to their material interests because they think it’s the right thing to do, probably, yeah. As long as we’re brutally honest with ourselves about what that means, and don’t expect anyone to hold our hands or “support” us. We’re the one doing the supporting, in this instance. As long as we master the art of knowing when to shut up, too, and a bunch of other tricks about not taking up all available physical, emotional and discursive space. You’ve heard it all before; the trick is to put it into practice, and then keep doing it all the time. Especially when you don’t feel like it. And so on, and so forth.
But that’s a lot of ifs and as-longs and oh fuck it let me just say it again: we’re not necessary. The oppressed can free themselves just fine — in fact, only the oppressed can emancipate themselves; history bears this out. So if we’re not necessary, and we still want to help out, we’d best be making double-fucking-sure we’re actually welcome and actually helping.
“Allies” as a concept, and a distinct group, though? Based on experience alone, I’m unconvinced.
Bottom line, though, dudes, whatever you call yourself, just do your thing, don’t turn it into a goddamn personal brand. That way lies Tim Wise. Nobody likes Tim Wise.
This is definitely going to be all over the place, because I’m writing it as much to sort out my thoughts as anything. Buckle up.
I’ve mentioned before that I consider Antigone to be an important part of my mess of an ideological system, and I’d like to try to explain why. In case you’re unfamiliar with the text and can’t be bothered to skim the wiki article: it’s a play by the Greek tragedian Sophocles, written sometime in the fifth century BCE. Antigone is the sister of Polyneices, pretender to the throne of Thebes, slain in a civil war. Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, declares that Polyneices is to be denied the honour of a traditional burial. Antigone declares this decree unjust and contrary to divine law, and buries the body herself; Creon, in turn, sentences her to death. He later reverses the verdict, spooked by the prophecy of Tiresias, the blind soothsayer. Rather than wait for the sentence to be carried out, however, Antigone has already managed to hang herself. Haemon, Creon’s son and Antigone’s betrothed, commits suicide upon discovering her body. Eurydice, his mother, kills herself when news of her son’s death reaches her. Creon repents and despairs, but the damage is done. Curtains.
The full text (trans. R. C. Jebb) is available here. It’s not the most exciting read, but it’s short, and worth your time just for the scene of Antigone’s trial.In Poetics, Aristotle defines tragedy as a story about “the sort of man who is not pre-eminently virtuous and just, and yet it is through no badness or villainy of his own that he falls into the fortune, but rather through some flaw [ἁμαρτία] in him, he being one of those who are in high station and good fortune.” You’ve probably already noticed what I might find interesting about Sophocles’ play in the light of this definition: the title isn’t Creon. The story of the king of Thebes mirrors the one of Oedipus, the one that Aristotle had in mind when delineating the prototypical tragedy, but… it’s not his story, really, is it? It’s not just the title; Antigone is clearly one of the two central characters in the text, or perhaps the central one. (This is actually extremely important, but it’ll take me a while to get to that.)
So that’s the first thing: Antigone is vaguely pleasing to a feminist sensibility. Don’t confuse that for my saying it’s an overtly feminist text or anything, but it welcomes and encourages a reading of Antigone as the main tragic character, rather than Creon, in stark contrast with Aristotle’s Poetics and most of our received and unexamined wisdom about the history of European literature (and in doing so, encourages the reader to question and review that wisdom). That’s gotta count for something.
The second thing, the one that inevitably comes up when discussing this text, is the matter of kinship and citizenship. I think there’s a whole lot more at stake here than just some legalistic quibble, though. The issue, as it’s usually presented, would seem to be a conflict of jurisdiction: who has authority to decide what to do with the corpse of Polyneices? The established law and traditions of the land? His family? The current ruler? The will of the people? Zeus?
My favourite line of the text, which Jebb kind of wrecked, is “Tis not my nature to join in hating, but in loving.” I’m convinced it should rather go “I’m called to share in loving, not to join in hate.” Then again, I don’t know Greek at all. I just think it sounds better.
This line describes and frames the central conflict. It’s not about whether kinship trumps royal decree, not at all. Rather, as a liberation theologian might put it, the conflict over the body stands for the conflict between Love and Power. And the thing about Love is, it’s not just some neurological phenomenon, but an ethical stance, an ideology and a goddamn force of nature. In fact, a Christian reader would have a field day with the text’s invocation of “divine law”, and its alignment with Love. The best I can do is note the poignancy of the metaphor.
There is a peculiarly American expression for a peculiarly American mode of discourse: “speaking truth to power.” As far as I can tell, it’s actually a recent invention; the Quaker origin story seems plausible. This is the mode of expression typically ascribed to people like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Hicks. It’s considered unequivocally positive: it withholds nothing, it exposes the buffoonery and villainy of the mighty, it puts them in their place.It’s also absolutely worthless. What does Power care for truth? It’s got plenty of that already, and can manufacture more as needed. The whole point of Power is that its naked material might is cloaked in pervasive epistemic control. The bloodthirsty feudal warlord rules by divine right; the international philantropist and predatory financial speculator pulled himself up by his bootstraps; the abusive husband is just subject to the tempestuous whims of male biology, which require a gentle and submissive handmaiden. Those who make a career of gently mocking the order of Things Believed to be True realize this; they stop just short of unsettling conclusions, “unreasonable” claims and, yes, disturbing truths. Truth to power? You may as well go fart into a hurricane.
This is the third thing, and the most important. Antigone doesn’t “speak truth to power.” Antigone calls Power to account. Actually, it’s even more than that; everything she says to Creon, the agent of Power, can be distilled down to just one word: no. She is wronged by Creon, and she disobeys. Feel free to posit that Creon transgresses against the primal and ultimate reality of Love; it’s a nice sentiment, but not one I can share in good faith. I think all the reasons she gives: love, tradition, the divine order, begin to coalesce and “make sense” only after the no, which is itself a response to Creon’s exercise of perfectly legal and eminently reasonable state violence.
I’ve mentioned “human nature” before, because I think that this aspect of Antigone is extremely productive for a possible emancipatory narrative of human nature. (It helps that it’s an ancient Greek text, too; that gives it that good old air of Eurocentric philosophical legitimacy.) My suggestion goes something like this:
The experience of being human is tragic, but not in the Aristotelian sense. We are caught between overwhelming forces: social, economic, historical, biological. Even imagining for a second that Utopia has dawned and all injustice has been banished, we are still left with good old sickness, death, grief, unrequited love, unfulfilled desire, disappointment, failure, betrayal. Our inescapable tragic flaw is that to all these merciless, uncaring forces, we are compelled again and again and again to answer: no.
Is this account of the human condition true? No, not in any meaningful sense I can think of. But it makes for a damn good story.
So, going back to that question I suggested way back at the beginning: why is Antigone not called Creon?
Both of the main characters are trapped in a tragic situation, but only one of them is “properly” tragic, according to my formulation. Creon acts the way Power demands of him, because that’s what a “strong” king does. He safeguards the legitimacy of the established social structure and avenges all perceived slights. He cannot show leniency to the defeated usurper; in doing so, he would be admitting the usurpation at the very core of royalty. In doing so, he is not “flawed”. He says yes. Yes, death to Antigone. It must be so.
So that’s one reason: Antigone is the more human character, the more relatable one. Her no makes fundamental sense to us; we feel in the gut that, for whatever reason, she’s doing the right thing.
But there’s also something else.
Why then dost thou delay? In thy discourse there is nought that pleases me,-never may there be!-and so my words must needs be unpleasing to thee. And yet, for glory-whence could I have won a nobler, than by giving burial to mine own brother? All here would own that they thought it well, were not their lips sealed by fear. But royalty, blest in so much besides, hath the power to do and say what it will.
Thou differest from all these Thebans in that view.
These also share it; but they curb their tongues for thee.
I don’t think it’s all that vanguardist to point out that Antigone, in fact, speaks for the people.
It’s good to cultivate a healthy mistrust of anyone who claims to do that, of course. But here? When the same grim Power that looms over the lives of all Thebans has taken a direct and personal blow at her?
Yeah, I’ll take her at her word.
The banner says “The Melchior Wańkowicz Journalism College, Warsaw”; those people up there on the balcony are presumably journalism students, possibly lecturers.
What they’re looking down on, in what appears to be mild bemusement, is a bunch of folks marching, waving flags and chanting in support of tenants’ rights.
The situation, especially in Warsaw, is dire. The general consensus in housing policy appears to be “throw it all to the
wolvesprivate sector.” City-owned buildings are routinely being handed over to people with the flimsiest claims to pre-WWII ownership or inheritance. Virtually the only new apartment blocks being built are monstrous suburban fortresses for the “middle class.” Meanwhile, people entitled to housing assistance, which local and municipal governments are under obligation to provide, get put on a waiting list and told to come back in, oh, about seven years. And the rent is too damn high.
It’s business as usual: the legislative, judicial and executive apparatus of the State protects property owners while tenants get bled dry.
Look at these journalists: look how they’re dressed, check out their body language — comfortable, smirking, dominant. The crowd of at least a few dozen people, somewhere under a hundred, is invisible, and if they don’t bother writing about it, it will damn well stay that way. And if they do bother, it will become whatever they want it to be.
Or so they’d like to think, anyway. That picture? It’s an amazingly immediate, fascinatingly obvious manifestation of hegemony. But this one?
This is resistance.
I was certain this was common knowledge, but two people have asked me to clarify, so I’m providing the full Žižek quote here. Bear in mind that this is my retranslation into English from the Polish translation that I own, so it will definitely differ from the original text. Still, the gist will be there, I’m sure.
One of the specifically pernicious effects of the politically correct Cultural Studies position is a (concealed, but hence even more effective) prohibition against revealing the structural problem of lesbian subjectivity; against an attempt to understand the clinical fact that most lesbian relationships are unusually cold, emotionally distant, radically narcissistic; that love within their context is impossible, and the subject’s own position is problematic. As if drawing logical conclusions from this fact (and not just handwaving it away as an effect of internalized patriarchal repression) was equivalent to accepting classical patriarchal “wisdom”.
(Rewolucja u bram. Pisma Lenina z roku 1917, Posłowie, str. 441. wyd. ha!art, Kraków 2006, tłum. Julian Kutyła; here’s the English version)
Clinical fact! Did you fucking see that? Old boy Slavoj presumes to know clinical facts about lesbian relationships — and what a very specific word that is, too, clinical. Pathological, he might as well have written. Thus spake the privileged interpreter of female sexuality. How he came to possess the objective knowledge of these clinical facts, we can only speculate. (Personally, I’d assume he’s extrapolating from something Judith Butler told him about a friend of hers. Clinical facts indeed.)
When I read it first, I was furious, but seeing how everyone around me was enamored with Žižek, I kind of let it slide. I figured they’ve read it too, and there’s already been a shitstorm about it, and one way or another, the matter’s been settled. But… I don’t think it has, actually.
So that’s why I’ve never liked him, and I never will. I don’t give a shit if this is “on purpose” or to rile up “the liberals” or what. It’s dehumanizing and patronizing shit, turning the lived identities and experiences of women who love women into some abstract post-Lacanian theory that speculates upon their subjectivity — right after it erases their existence. This point he attempts ot make here clearly shows that he hasn’t made the slightest critical engagement with feminist theory, besides ransacking it for whatever he thought sounded cool, and yet he wants to be taken seriously?
Actually, “pretending he gets it” is still giving him too much credit. I think he is quite consciously working to reestablish the acceptability, or even necessity, of male privilege in leftist discourse.
We must reject this completely. Combat Žižek.
I know a lot of sad people. If you’re one of the leftist mutants, shambling and unsightly creatures roaming the capitalist wastelands, born of the constant background radiation of Vast Injustice, chances are you do too. Chances are if you think you don’t, you’ve just been lucky enough to never have to learn to recognize well-concealed sadness.
When I say sadness, what I actually mean is “depression”, sort of. “Depression” only comes into being when a certified professional, in the process of diagnosis, declares it to be present. This curious speech act, “I pronounce you depressed”, reminds me of “I pronounce you man and wife”, in how it legitimizes a previously existing state and announces it to the public sphere. Prior to that, well-meaning people will urge you to finally tie the knot and make it official, while assholes are completely free to deny and disregard your relationship or your mental state.
So when I say “sad”, I’m trying not to exclude those unwilling or unable to get a diagnosis, maybe because they can’t afford it, maybe because of the risk of social stigma, maybe because they’re not in line with the standard performance of a Depressed Person, or maybe because they dislike the way in which mental illness is usually constructed.
This last point probably requires a bit of explanation. Since mediaeval times, mental illness in the West — madness, if you will, or insanity — has been intricately linked with a rather ambiguous sort of social exclusion — partly contempt, partly fetishization of “the beautiful mind”. Consider the Ship of Fools: a physical removal of the odd folks, the misfits, the strange and the queer from “normal” society, coupled with a peculiar half-mocking, half-reverent attitude. Or check out the dude on the right: the particular image is modern, but the Fool is a character probably older than the printing press. He hangs out with a dog; animals are lesser, soulless creatures, aren’t they? And is he stumbling into the chasm, or does he see something beyond it that we do not? What is that expression — fear, or rapturous awe?
(I really should write that Tarot post someday. In the meantime, consider this: what if we read the Fool as the subject of history?)
The Romantic poets did this a lot. The holy madman (always a man), the prophet, the visionary. Spurned by society, he receives in exchange miraculous insights into the Ultimate Reality, but the fire of his genius always threatens to consume him.
While this notion is, I would argue, dehumanizing and disrespectful to actual people with actual mental issues in how it glamorizes and elevates very base, simple, unspectacular, shitty suffering, it still manages to grasp, in a very inept and roundabout way, a certain truth about the relationship between them — us — and society. I should repeat at this point that I’m talking about “our” “community”, whatever the hell that is — the ragtag bunch of fringe leftists that I hang out with. I should not like any of this to be construed as sweeping pronouncements about mental illness in general (although I do suspect that some parts of it are more broadly applicable).
The Fool suggests that there is a link between mental illness, grasping the truth of the world and alienation. Without overspecifying this link, to avoid crude inaccuracies like “the present social conditions are solely responsible for driving everyone crazy”, I believe this is exactly right.
You wake up and smell the injustice, and get angry at yourself for not doing more about it. You get a little twinge of residual guilt for not living up to society’s expectations, closely followed by a raging torrent of shame for not being completely free of that guilt. You’re overcome by paralyzing fear at the thought of being a fake, a fraud, an uneducated idiot, nothing like those smart and amazing people who somehow tolerate your presence. You get into an argument, the fifth one this week, and end up pissed off and exhausted. For a few hours, you’re convinced that every sideways look and derisive laugh and whispered comment must be about you. You go to school, or to work, or try to look for work, or blame yourself for not being better at looking for work, even if there isn’t any to be found. You sleep too much, or too little, or not at all. You keep going, but every day is another needle, and every needle draws a drop of blood.
You care and you care and you care until you’re blue in the face, and at the end of the day, all you’re left with is a mug full of tea and a head full of suicidal ideation.
What is to be done?
Here’s an idea: care more.
What I mean is the things that we’ve already been doing for a while, kind of half-consciously, because if we hadn’t, well, we’d be dead. We sought each other out, and learned to recognize which people were toxic, and which you had to hold on to for dear life. We talked each other through tiny breakdowns and huge tragedies and the ongoing catastrophe of our continued existence. We gave each other shit for doing stupid and hurtful things.
Our survival depends on our ability to care for each other, and for ourselves. The latter I’ve found tremendously difficult at first — what the fuck do you mean I’m supposed to like myself, when I’ve done Horrible Things A through X, and am probably unwittingly working on Y as we speak? — but there’s just no way around it. If you don’t enjoy your own company, even somewhat grudgingly, you’re hurting not only yourself, but everyone who cares about you. We can’t fight your self-hating and self-destructive beliefs for you, but we can help. Just so long as you admit that maybe, possibly, ardently wishing for your own death is something you need help with.
I firmly believe we can do this; not tell each other, smugly, to “get help” from a “professional”, but give help right here and now, and receive it too. Growing up, I was horrified by what I perceived to be the erosion of the institution of “friendship”: I marvelled at how people in these old books could talk to each other about anything, and the people I knew in real life would only venture into certain subjects, especially emotional ones, with a sneer and a four-inch-thick armour of ironic distance. I don’t know if that’s just me or not; I do know, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that a psych degree ain’t shit compared to someone who wants you to get better, just so they can get drunk with you or humiliatingly beat you at videogames again.
So hang on. Hang on, to each other.
Sometimes you do discourse analysis, and sometimes the stark reality of immeasurable pain jumps out at you and demands your attention.
Imagine for a while you live in Poland. Imagine that, in 1993, a law providing for more or less on-demand abortion gets overturned as a result of backroom deals between the glorious heroes of Solidarity and the Catholic Church, in exchange for the latter’s prior cooperation against the toppled regime. Imagine that a new, draconian abortion ban is passed.
Imagine that the social democrats — many of them former apparatchiks of that same regime — win the subsequent parliamentary election in 1993 and form a coalition with the centrist regionalists, riding a wave of growing resentment towards the transition into Proper Capitalism, which was supposed to bring widespread prosperity. Imagine they don’t touch the abortion ban at all. Imagine that the very same social democratic party gets elected in 2001, again taking advantage of growing discontent against the post-Solidarity centre-right. Imagine that, in exchange for the Catholic Church’s blessing for the upcoming EU accession referendum, they promise not to touch the abortion ban at all. They keep their word.
The deals with the Church are my speculation, corroborated by some testimonies but no official documents. Everything else is God’s own truth.
Now imagine you’re here, in 2011, and the 1993 law stands. Terminating a pregnancy is permissible in very restricted cases (rape, incest, serious health risks, an irreversibly damaged foetus). In cases of rape, it’s first-trimester only; if you don’t go to the cops immediately, or the procedure stalls, you might end up shit out of luck anyway. Similar procedural barriers exist in the other cases. As if that wasn’t enough, doctors are free to hide behind a very broad conscience clause. Most do, whether out of actual conviction, peer pressure or a profit motive (why perform the procedure in your state hospital for free, when you can appeal to your delicate conscience, while simultaneously handing a woman the address of your private clinic, where “something can be arranged”?)
Are you quite done imagining all that? Now imagine that, in a country of over 38 million people, there are just over five hundred legal abortions performed a year, in addition to a few dozen convictions of abortion doctors.
Basic demographic data and international comparisons suggest that this is utterly ludicrous. The actual number has to be at least one hundred thousand per year, and almost definitely more. Hundreds of thousands of completely unregulated, invasive medical procedures on women’s bodies.
It’s common knowledge that a black market abortion will run you anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 zł. The average wage is estimated at around 3,000 zł, but considering that about 60% of the population — that’s twenty three million people — subsist below the so-called “social minimum”, estimated somewhere between 750 and 950 zł per capita, the average wage is fucking bullshit. Illegally terminating a pregnancy, if you’re not “middle class”, will cost you around three monthly salaries, possibly more. Just what you’re supposed to eat for these three months is rather unclear. Cake, I suppose.
Access to contraception is limited; it may not be illegal, but you’ll pay a mint for most commonly prescribed pills. State-funded healthcare doesn’t cover most of them. If you can’t or don’t want to go on hormonal pills, good luck finding anything other than condoms outside of large cities. Sex ed in schools is all but nonexistent. At best, the few obligatory hours will get shoved onto the school counsellor or PE teacher; at worst, it’ll be the religious ed teacher. (Did I mention religious education is an “unofficial”, but in practice almost mandatory, part of the curriculum?) Oh, and voluntary sterilization is illegal.
Are you beginning to grasp the scope of this enormity? And I haven’t even gotten to the part about social stigma and gender expectations and pervasive misogynistic myths.
Poland wants women to suffer. There are no words, no fancy concepts, just this simple fact: if you are a woman, the entire patriarchal shithole of a country is out to get you. One way or another, it wants to take your life away.
In the coming months, I’ll be working with some good people to push for comprehensive reproductive rights reform. I’ll try to get the proposed new law translated into English as soon as I can. By global standards, the bill is pretty tame; by local ones, it’s just about revolutionary.
I don’t believe in luck. Please wish us justice.