Thursday 28 September 2023

More On The Chains That Bind Us

Where and when they can, those who rule us prefer the use of ideological fetters over the sword. If they can persuade us that our economic and social chains are desirable fashion accessories which we should purchase from them and don willingly, so much the better. 


Capitalism is nothing if not adept at turning any threats to its existence or its profits, into money-making opportunities.


The sword is still there of course, often hiding inside a ceremonial scabbard, but it is wielded frequently enough against external and internal “enemies” to remind the masses of the existence of the powerful coercive apparatuses of the state, and who really controls them.


One of Neoliberal capitalism’s greatest victories was its destruction or weakening of any and all collectives that argue for a different social order, especially those which threaten its profit and its entrenched power. 

Up there with it, in terms of strategic importance, is having successfully lured a critical mass of left wingers into the intellectual and political shallows where they don’t have to learn how to survive in rough, cold seas, or be strong enough to swim against the current.


These warm shallows provide a false sense of security, and never more so than now when a tsunami of interconnected social and ecological issues is likely to drown many of us, or dash us onto the rocks. 


From global warming and resultant climate disequilibrium, to accelerating species extinctions, and mass plastics and chemical pollution … the interacting states of global disequilibrium have the potential to tip into whole system chaos


The possibility of a fusion of disastrous androgenic outcomes is a terrifying reality that has to be kept well-hidden, or social disequilibrium may rapidly worsen and tip into social chaos


The obfuscation and camouflaging of these realities is ordered by those whose manicured hands are on the system's controls but it is carried by the various strata of the coordinator class – the system managers who work to hide the deep fissures in the economic foundation, and disguise the various forms of rot that have spread throughout the superstructure. 


They continue to refine the well-tested tactics of distract, divert, divide and defame

1. Create and amplify social issues which distract and divert people away from the gross inequalities and the rapidly accelerating unsustainable nature of the current socio-economic system.

2. Foment divisions in, or forcibly break up any and all collectives that aim to change the system. 

3. By various forms of defamation, destroy the credibility of those who draw aside the ideological veils, especially those who call for mass collective action for immediate, structural change.


Apropos of this, I read a tweet from a person whose analysis of many issues, I rate highly. She was targeting those who focus on “shitting on trans people” or “shrieking about pronouns.” 

Her choice of words suggests she is focusing her anger more, possibly exclusively, on those who are narrowly focussed on opposing the current transgender orthodoxy than on those who are narrowly focussed on supporting it.

The interface between sex based, and gender identity based rights, has become a battlefield.


I despair when I see the principled, materialist stand that has been taken by left wing feminists being defamed by association with the religious and secular right's co-option of some of the issues. I also despair when I see people being sucked by the right into a literal hatred and fear of gender non-conforming others. 

However, I am not going to easily forgive all those leftish-liberals who flipped into witch-hunting mode so rapidly and so reflexively, there can be no doubt they harboured a pre-existing, deep-seated resentment of dissenting women.


Some of them called those dissenting women, “Nazis”, and refused to engage in good faith discussion. Cowardly or lazy others obediently followed suit, and with an unprecedented speed and fervour, the infantile equation of “TERF=Nazi” was accepted as left-wing political gospel.


It was a highly infectious ideological contagion that spread rapidly among those with a compromised socio-political immune system.


When various elements of the religious and secular right predictably leapt onto the gender critical bandwagon, grabbed the controls and steered it sharply rightward, the whited sepulchres of the liberal left pompously declared that to be proof they had been correct.


Even though the transgender orthodoxy has now lurched into the realms of self-parody, there is still a mass of largely reflexive support among leftish liberals for it. 


That support invariably takes the form of attacking selected women, and in my view, most of  those who indulge in it deserve as much of a smack as the other extreme. 


In a natural and social world at imminent risk of tipping very rapidly from disequilibrium into chaos, the gender identity issue was a master class in the use of division, distraction, diversion, and defamation.

The political left should at least be asking why and how this ideology, and the forms of praxis which flowed from it, morphed so rapidly into a powerful orthodoxy that was embraced enthusiastically by the corporate world, and by much of corporate capitalism’s compliant politicians, bureaucrats, and technocrats.

We need to ask, who benefits from: 

- reducing people to isolated individuals, focussed on what they believe are their personal, and these days, bespoke “gender identity”, which effectively privileges the subjective, gendered “self” over the material, sexed body?

- worsening the conditions in which large numbers of people, especially the young, are profoundly alienated, in the sense of being socially isolated and estranged?

- replacing natural, human connection and community with the chimera of virtual or cyber-communities centred around a shared sense of individual self?

- pushing the ideal of self-improvement, of aspiring to be the best possible version of one’s self while forcing many into a struggle simply for survival? 

- dangling the false promise of appearance enhancement via various surgical procedures and chemical potions, and by so doing, creating arguably the most medically monitored and chemically corralled population in human history?

It’s obvious the capitalist system doesn’t care about the wellbeing of any of the people who have been captured by gender identity ideology, so the motive has to lie elsewhere – in the fact that it’s profitable, and currently, it is politically propitious.

We cannot get a grip on the rapid drive to provide gender affirming surgery and synthetic hormone treatments unless we locate it in the burgeoning medical-industrial complex, at the heart of which are the world’s giant chemical-pharmaceutical conglomerates. 

Gender affirming protocols could not exist without the precondition of the global trend towards medicine for profit, at its most starkly venal in the field of appearance medicine.


There couldn’t be all this appearance-related surgery without the Five As of modern, chemical-based medicine: anaesthetics, analgesics, antiseptics, antibiotics, & anti-inflammatories.


Almost every pill and potion that props up the entire medical system is produced, not for philanthropic or humanitarian reasons, but for profit, and crouching behind that vast mountain of profit, is the spectre of power.


For the medical-industrial complex, the gender identity market is, and will always be fairly niche – although capitalism does like the predictability of long term, captive markets, and surgically or chemically neutering people at a young age makes them dependent on synthetic hormone replacements and other treatments for many decades.  


The profit motive is real but I have always been, and remain of the opinion that gender identity ideology’s main utility to corporate capitalism, is its diversionary and divisive potential.


Everything points to the fact that if the threat–opportunity scale tilts, eg., if an ultra-conservative and far-right backlash gains sufficient momentum and starts to outweigh current market and social control advantages, gender identity ideology and all its various forms of praxis will be abandoned in a heartbeat. 


Surely most of us know, the same commercial, political, media, and academic forces that gave the gender identity orthodoxy so much credibility, so quickly, will be used to call it into disrepute and make it disappear just as rapidly.


The concern, for all people of good will, should be whether those who have been physically and/or ideologically captured by the current transgender orthodoxy will be sacrificed, and how wide the net of reaction will be flung.


The question then will be, where will you stand?



Sunday 17 September 2023

Ten Annoying Things

Someone asked me what ten things annoy me most about the current centring of gender identity, and the demand for the codification of gender self-identification, (GSI) which has proved to be the catalyst for a multi-faceted and growing opposition. 

Initially, it was socialist and radical feminists who asked that consideration be given to the implications – for women’s sex-based rights and expectations – of codified gender self-identification, i.e., the legal right to change the sex marker on all official records simply by statutory declaration. 

They were immediately attacked by liberals and some on the left, labelled as TERFs, and deemed to be “Nazi-adjacent”, among a plethora of other insults and threats. 


The later coat-tailing of the issues by ultra-conservatives and the political far right was an outcome that could and should have been predicted had the pro-GSI factions not been so busy congratulating themselves on how progressive and on the right side of history they were. 


So, here’s my list, written in no particular order of importance, given it’s all inter-connected.


1.    The DISTRACTION away from objectively far more important domestic and global issues arising from current states of natural and social disequilibrium, which have the capacity to tip into multi-system chaos far more rapidly than anyone can predict, let alone prevent.


2.    The DIVERSION of political energy, and the investment of the left’s dwindling supply of political capital in support for an essentially individualistic, and individualising ideology.


3.    The FAILURE to contextualise that essential individualism in corporate capitalism’s on-going aim of neutralising any and all forms of collectivism that might hinder its pursuit of profit at any cost.


4.    The SCHISMS that were opened in an already fragmented and weakened “left” within the old empires that created the shit in which the entire planet is suffocating, and whose populations are best placed to stop more from being produced, and to clean up what’s already here.


5.    The STUPIDITY of the left in not anticipating the backlash to the attempt to privilege a subjective, often shifting, and individual sense of gendered identity over the material reality of dimorphic biological sexwhich is cemented into the very foundations of the belief systems and sense of self of most people, across cultures, and all of human social history.


6.    The CUPIDITY of the various commercial promoters of gender identity ideology and praxis, most especially those in the medical-industrial complex’s burgeoning realm of medicine for profit, with its absolute subservience to symptomatic and pharmacological/surgical paradigms. 


7.    The CYNICISM of the various strata of system managers and coordinators, from politicians to pundits, in promoting an ideology which, if the ultra-conservative and far-right backlash really takes off, will leave swathes of vulnerable people directly in the firing line.


8.    The IRRESPONSIBILITY of promoting a movement that claims to be in support of the most at-risk, marginalised, vulnerable of people, but which has the effect of making that population among the most surveilled and medically dependent sector of all.


9.    The COWARDICE of all those who had concerns but who sat and watched as principled people, mainly feminists, were subjected to witch-hunts in an attempt to silence them and close down any debate.


10. The OPPORTUNISM, retributiveness, and win at any cost mindset of the various right wing coat-tailers of the original gender critical movement.

Thursday 31 August 2023

An Uncertain And Volatile Time

To be able to evolve, capitalism needed the legally free person who had the formal right to exercise economic choice. The creation of a class of persons cut free from the physical and ideological ties of feudalism or chattel slavery, to be able to sell their labour in a free market, always was an illusion, an ideological sleight of hand.

Such was the disparity in actual power, the only way an individual worker doing the selling could stand in any sort of equal relationship with the capitalist doing the buying, was to be in some sort of collective, i.e., to be in combination with others.


Those collectives enabled the sellers of labour to negotiate more equally with the buyers. This is why they always were and still are, hated and feared by the capitalist class, which will try to drive down labour costs by any means possible. (1)


Thus, the extension of the formal right to sell one’s labour, helped to create the modern individual and the notion of that individual's formal and social rights.


The strongest (2) of the working class collectives were eventually able to use the growing power of the modern state, which initially was the creation and servant of the capitalist class, to codify workers’ rights and to extend, and protect both individual and collective rights.


Trade unions, and other liberatory collectives, then sought to use the power of the modern state, to turn it into a force for wider social progress, or at least, to stop it from being an opponent to it.


This harnessing of the power of the state for social progress, reached its apogee in the decades after World War Two. 

Internationally, there was the rise in the power of the Soviet bloc, China’s emergence as a communist controlled state, and a global surge in national liberation movements as peoples sought to gain freedom from their European colonial overlords. 


Domestically, in the developed world, liberation movements ranged from women's, black and indigenous, gay and lesbian, and prisoners' rights, to the anti-psychiatry movement which sought to protect the rights of people with mental illness.


For a brief moment in time, in the affluent countries of the world, the people best placed to push past the essential iniquities and unsustainability of capitalism were diverted by the illusion of social democracy –  the idea that the modern state could and would act to control capital.


Concessions made by the state ensured that too many of the people who were best placed to push for structural change, bought into the illusion that those concessions meant capitalism could be controlled, even be forced into being a benign force for social progress and justice.


The power of the myth of capitalist social democracy resides in the people who are wedded to it because they continue to benefit from it, materially and in term of status.


These people were and are not the most oppressed and hyper-exploited of the world – the mass for whom the era of post war Keynsianism brought far fewer real benefits, if any; they are the members of the ruling class’s buffer zone: the managers, the professionals, the academics, the career politicians, the technocrats and commentators – all those who keep the system running.


And to keep the system running, the most important thing they have to do, is to destroy the belief in any viable alternative.


Thus, a key clause in their compact with capital is to make the argument that communism is a greater enemy than fascism; that both are extremes which end in totalitarianism, and the only safe place is in the middle, huddled around what the ruling class declares to be the social and economic fulcrum point. 


That the entire set of scales is owned and controlled by the same tiny, venal, power-obsessed, pathological elite it always was, is either not understood or is ignored.


The warning signs were posted when national liberation movements were derailed by overt and covert destabilisation and regime changes, and military action by the US and its allies even before WW2 had finally ended, and ramped up immediately after.


Any objective reading of history from the end of WW2 to the victory of global corporate finance capitalism with the dissolution of the Soviet Bloc and the Warsaw Pact, shows there never was “peace”; and the blood-soaked foundations for the emergence of “neo-liberalism” had been laid much earlier than 1990.


The granting of social and legal concessions, important though they are in giving breathing space to oppressed peoples, was always, at base, in the service of the economic status quo.


The so-called neo-liberal era saw shifts in the way the capitalist class operates, from extremes of social and economic stratification, grossly ostentatious expressions of power and privilege, and European global domination exercised via settler and extractive colonialism, to the American empire’s apparently more democratic meritocracy, and its global domination via finance-based, neo-colonialism. 


There has been a seventy year long heyday for the global buffer class in the form of a steady flow of extensions of formal rights, loosening of conservative traditions, and a widening of social acceptance of previously proscribed lifestyles. 

Accompanying this was what rapidly built into a flood of various sorts of consumables, often useless, or quickly obsolete accoutrements signalling status, and serving as markers of progress for those in the coordinator class whose primary role is to convince people that an essentially predatory and unsustainable system works for the benefit of all.


The mass of easily repealed formal rights, the veneer of increased social acceptance, and the bribes of consumer baubles continue to help obscure the fact that the political, economic, and consumer choices available to the buffer class inside the imperial heartlands are denied to the bulk of the world’s population, and inside the belly of the beast itself, the distribution of wealth and power is grossly skewed. 

In a real sense, US corporate capitalism is a leap back, slamming shut the small windows of opportunity that had been opened for a relatively select few after WW2.

To obscure the reality that for most people, the era's social freedoms, formal rights, and consumer choices are either a trompe l’oeil, or are highly conditional and proscribed, capitalism continues to create a mass of obfuscating ideologies.


These encourage people to be content with living vicariously via brief, curated glimpses of the lives of the rich and powerful. By dispensing latter day fairy stories, myths, and legends, they allow the mind at least to escape the often terrifying and ugly realities confronting us every day on the screens which now surround us.


It is in this wider context that via the alchemists of the medical-industrial complex, capitalism dangles the illusions of body-identity alignment, and attainment of, if not eternal, at least an extended youth.

In the context of all this and a growing right-wing backlash, such things as a declaration of a state of emergency about the rights of the LGBT+ community, by the US Human Rights Campaign, may well be warranted.

It’s both tragic and ironic that in pursuit of their political aims, so much hyperbolic rhetoric and catastrophising was deployed by gender identity lobbyists and activists, many people are either no longer listening, do not believe it, or do not care.

Most worrying, is the fact that some people are now in the grip of payback fever, a virulent contagion which can lead to otherwise sensible and decent people committing atrocities, or allowing them to be committed by others.


Some of us have long predicted a strong right-wing and socially conservative backlash against "radical transgenderism", which, if it gains enough momentum, could sweep away everything from such advances as women's reproductive and employment rights, no fault divorce, and criminalisation of marital rape, to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and equalisation of marriage rights - i.e., an entire gamut of formal rights and the accompanying shifts in social acceptance.


The target of the right-wing backlash is not just trans people but everything that the growing ultra-conservative coalition includes in its definition of "gender ideology", i.e., any social shifts and formal rights it sees as destructive of the core tenets of familial patriarchy, and of wider androcentric and highly stratified forms of social organisation.


This is not just a resurgence of facets of male supremacy in wider society but a livening of its roots in patriarchal familial organisation – the man as head of a household based on religiously sanctioned, monogamous, heterosexual marriage, with women back in their divinely ordained and biologically proscribed place.


What the naifs, cowards, and payback merchants on the left/centre of Neo-liberalism (i.e., those who never had, or have given up on any hope of systemic change) failed to realise or to take account of is that we are living in an uncertain and volatile time –i.e., in a degree of wider social disequilibrium that could rapidly tip into chaos.


Inside the velvet glove of state granted formal rights to women and to marginalised minorities, and the heavily conditional support of a range of institutions, is the steel fist of neo-liberal corporate capitalism which has a death grip on the throat of the planet.



1.   From the anti-combination acts, military action against strikers, depictions of unions as "the enemy within", entryism and use of agents provocateurs, buying off leaders, and the use of the "contract culture", capitalism demonstrates its implacable opposition to working class collectivism.

2.  Numerically or by virtue of importance, to the enterprise, of the work being done.


More On Matters Maternal

I read what used to be called a tweet on the platform that used to be called Twitter, in which someone argued that scheduled elective caesarian section deliveries are a part of a woman’s right to choose.

I wrote a number of linked tweets about it because it got me thinking about the importance of labour and vaginal delivery in preparing the newborn for entry into the world. Typically for my threads on the spot marked X, it sank without a trace. Hence this post.


I had been doing some research into foals born with neonatal maladjustment syndrome.


As a prey and flight species, foals need to be up and about quickly, and the mare wouldn’t do well if the long legged, hoofed foetus was trying to gallop whilst in the womb or birth canal.


In utero, the production of a neurosteroid acts as a sedative on the foal, making it largely quiescent. 


Production of that neurosteroid is switched off during the twenty to forty minutes of the second stage of labour, which prepares the foal for almost immediate standing, suckling and maternal bonding, and movement.


If delivery is too quick, or via caesarian section, the foal can remain in a sedated, dissociated state. 


Vets found that mimicking the constriction of the birth canal for twenty minutes had the effect of reviving the foal, presumably by stopping the production of the neurosteroid.


Human infants are very different obviously but there’s a mass of evidence that delivery via caesarian section is associated with a range of neonatal health issues including respiratory morbidities, asthma, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and neuro-developmental impairments. 


Add in the increased maternal risks, and some researchers and health professionals are now arguing that the trend to elective, scheduled caesarian section must be reversed.


A caesarian section may be as the result of an emergency, or scheduled when natural delivery is contraindicated for reasons of maternal or foetal health.


It is elective when there’s no physical danger but a woman, for whatever reason, elects to undergo surgery to deliver her baby.


Caesarian sections are now performed in more than 1 in 5 births globally and the rate has risen steadily in all regions since 1990 –correlating with the global rise of the neo-liberal Medical-Industrial Complex. (MIC)


I don’t have data on how many of those caesarian sections are performed because of a proven health risk to mother and/or foetus, but the fact that the increase is at a time of claimed improvements in wider maternal / foetal health parameters suggests it is a combination of: women being talked into it by private medical providers; overstretched and underfunded public health services trying to improve efficiency, eg predicting demand and reducing the hours/days pregnant women spend in the care of medical staff; and/or because of the fear of labour and the effects of vaginal delivery.


Regionally, the lowest rate of caesarean section is in sub Saharan Africa at 5%.


The highest is in Latin America and the Caribbean, at 43%.


At current rates of increase, by 2030, 28.5% of women world-wide will have a CS and the projected rise in east Asia is from a current rate of 45% to 63.4%.


The rate in the United States for all hospitals is 32.9%; and in 2005-2015 the rate rose by 50%.


Elective caesarian section rates are higher among people of colour: 36% of Black, 33% Native American, and 31%of Asian and Pacific Islander babies. (2018-20)


Brazil has a rate of 55.5% overall but 84% in private hospitals which cater to the rich. 


In NZ, in 2020, it was 31%; in Australia - 38%.


The lowest rates in countries in the affluent global north are in Iceland, Israel and Norway.


All surgery carries risks which have to be balanced against the benefits. Surgery, in effect, inflicts degrees and types of harm in order to save lives, cure or slow diseases etc.


Caesarian section is known to involve an increased risk for mothers of haemorrhage, infections and blood clots.


90% of women who have a caesarian section for the first delivery will have one for all subsequent deliveries and each one increases risk of uterine rupture – scar tissue is never as strong.


Caesarian section has long been statistically associated with a range of neonatal health issues including respiratory morbidities, asthma, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and neurodevelopmental impairments.


The latter is thought variously to be caused by exposure to toxins from general anaesthesia, the acquisition and composition of microbiota in neonates which occurs in passage through the birth canal, and oxytocin levels.


Given the increase in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) globally since 1990, and the rise in deliveries via caesarian sections, there has been research into possible links, some of which have concluded that the correlation is compelling enough to avoid unnecessary caesarian sections.


With the rise of the medical-industrial complex which now dominates medicine, studies that might bring the MIC’s profit-centred and ethically dodgy practices under scrutiny, struggle to get funding and/or the findings are suppressed in various ways.


Thus possible links between ASD and birth via caesarian section are dismissed as being statistically insignificant, and researchers and health professionals calling for a reversal of the trend to more and more elective caesarian sections are not listened to.