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October 11 2013

22:30

Posthuman Gender: A Non-Binary Future

Though still decidedly secondary, the dream of transcending biological sex and established gender norms occupies a key place transhumanist in thought. Transhumanists extoll transgender people as prescient pioneers of morphological freedom and technological enhancement. This article explores the problem of gender – yes, it is a problem – in relation to feminist theory and proposed transhumanist solutions. I simultaneously critique and embrace visions of transcendence.

Read it over at IEET.


July 10 2013

16:19

Film Rec: El sexo de los ángeles

El_sexo_de_los_angeles-837863301-large

I recommend this movie to all the queers, bi/omni/pansexuals, polyamorists, and ethical sluts out there. (That covers most of y’all reading, I imagine.) Important lessons include the following:

Protect each other, don’t call the cops.

If some jerk does call the cops, run.

Trying to seduce guys who have girlfriends is the correct move, at least if you know karate.

Expired food is delicious.

Polyamory rocks even if you do it terribly and have lots of drama.

 


June 29 2013

23:18

April 30 2013

02:55

Please Raise Hell at SF Pride This Year

Corporate Pride events always merit a challenge, but this shit is ridiculous. To quash news that Bradley Manning would be a grand marshal in the celebration, SF Pride president Lisa L. Williams released the following statement:

Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration. His nomination was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen. A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.

Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country. There are many, gay and straight, military and non-military, who believe Bradley Manning to be innocent. There are many who feel differently. Under the US Constitution, they have a first amendment right to show up, participate and voice their opinions at Pride this year.

Specifically, what these events have revealed is a system whereby a less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT community’s highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride. This is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning. These 15 people are part of what is called the SF Pride Electoral College, comprised of former SF Pride Grand Marshals. However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The Board of Directors for SF Pride never voted to support this nomination. Bradley Manning will have his day in court, but will not serve as an official participant in the SF Pride Parade.

This tells you all you need to know about the mainstream LGBT movement in the United States. It’s about disciplining rogue queers and defending the U.S. military from insult. I pray Williams’s brazen support for imperialism inspires comrades in the Bay Area to show up for SF Pride with plans of their own. I might try to make it myself. Destroy what destroys you, folks.

ueNsx


March 13 2013

20:30

Towards the Radical Redefinition of Transhumanism: Wesley Strong’s Critique

Read it over at IEET. I agree with Strong’s position as completely as I agree with anything:

Therefore we must redefine what “transhuman” means and what it means to be a Transhumanist. We must seek a transhumanism that directly speaks to the social lives of billions of people, instead of relying on some future technology to fix everything for us. We must seek to transcend human boundaries by transforming repressive the very social structures we created while also developing futuristic technologies to improve our lives and our ability to connect with each other.

The comments on the piece, of course, are terribly predictable, but Strong is taking the time to write in-depth replies.


March 02 2013

17:48

Oh, Those Pesky Pronouns!

From the lovely Dale Carrico:

But more concretely what is happening in this instance is that you are pretending to be reasonable while identifying as a transhumanist — and all that while blathering on about how radical it is to pretend the sea is made of lemonade and how you are smashing the state when you are sleepwalking on a dlancefloor and how you are smashing patriarchy by castigating actual feminists for not keeping up with the latest fashionable theory-head pronoun choices and all the rest of your incessant bullshit — and there is simply no reason to extend to you the pretense that are reasonable in the least.

hDD7AD787

I consider the bolded section rather telling. As far as I can recall, this is the main spat Dale and I have had over pronouns. I read it as rather civil and see any castigation on my part as targeting Dale’s overall tone and insistent agism rather than the pronoun issue. I’m a bit confused why Dale now cites this as the key example of my purported posturing and frivolity. In my experience with anarchist and queer circles, it’s utterly standard to give preferred pronouns along with your name during introductions. I interpret the practice as a gesture of respect for transgender politics and trans individuals. If that’s fashionable, it’s a form of fashion I can firmly get behind. I get a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever people seem to care that I prefer gender-neutral pronouns.


February 06 2013

19:03

Study Finds No Firm Psychological Sex Difference

I have to mentally replace “man” with “male” or “male-bodied” and “woman” to “female” or “female-bodied” to read this article, but beyond that it’s okay.


January 24 2013

04:08

Integrated Empire: On(Neo?)Liberal Multiculturalism and State Appropriation of the Dead

On Sunday I participated in the anti-police-brutality contingent of the local Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. While the fact that the mounted cops were carrying bokken unnerved me, I enjoyed marching with comrades and family members of police shooting victims. The event’s official speakers illustrate in dizzying clarity the ascendant political-affective order of liberal multiculturalism, an ideology prides itself in its inclusion and diversity. I started my escape from the plaza as soon as a colonel from nearby Kirtland Air Force Base began professing eir support for King’s dream; an ROTC band had played and the national anthem was being sung by the time I got out of earshot. The 2013 U.S. military positively embraces King as a symbol of American exceptionalism, with the Air Force going so far as to claim that ey would be proud of the nuclear Global Strike team. As long as each recognized social group gets proportional representation, nukes are cool, right? King would be down with a little fission-fusion posturing.

The situation seems surreal, but governments habitually co-opt the legacies of even vaguely radical figures. For example, were ey to return to life, anarchist-communist Ricardo Flores Magón would be enraged by how the Mexican state and so many historians have invoked eir name for their own ends. Flores Magón considered the Mexican Revolution unfilled and rejected the nominally revolutionary government that emerged in the 1920s. Ey had enough of following to encourage such posthumous incorporation, demonstrating that statists will enlist even anarchist bones when advantageous. Though U.S. official have so far shied away from making dead anarchists into state mascots here, they might do so to anyof us in the future. Beware. (Does this amount to argument for indefinite life extension?)

In all its absurdity, the assertion that King would bask in the atomic glow of the U.S. war machine strikes me as a emblematic of a great spirit of the age. Leon Panetta’s recent decision to let women into combat positions constitutes more of the same. Hey, look, everybody gets to shoot at bad guys now! Inclusive imperialism! Isn’t that wonderful?

WWHellNoI mount a twofold critique liberal multiculturalism. First, liberal dreams disgust me. Were the sweeping proclamations of equality in opportunity ever realized, I would remain ardently opposed. An empire in which folks of all colors, genders, sexual orientations, and so on sit in the war room together remains an empire and needs smashing. Second, this fanfare about diversity comes alongside extreme inequality in the most old-fashioned essentialist terms. As the status quo comes directly out of European colonialism, it’s unclear whether equality could plausible happen without revolution

Is liberal multiculturalism even any good in theory? Taken to its logical conclusion, inclusion strengthens support for the status quo of militarism, capitalism, colonization, and heteropatriarchy by extending the benefits thereof to – as USAF’s Warren Ward writes – “every race, creed, background and religion.” The problem isn’t the system, it’s that some folks get excluded on an irrational basis. The problem isn’t omnipresent coercion, but the unreasonable application of force. King’s sweeping indictments of capitalism and militarism disappear in liberal renditions because they’re incompatible with grand liberal visions of  a just hierarchical society and/or equality in conformity.

The former entails the purification of capitalism, competition, and inequality via the elimination of prejudice. Refusing to serve or hire somewhere because of the color of their skin is irrational and makes the system look bad; you should only discriminate rationally. Fire drunks and troublemakers, not black folks. This analysis ignores the structural role of nonnormative (queered) populations in the actually existing economy. If complete, the dream would either lead to groups excluded and oppressed strictly for their inability or unwillingness to obey, or consensus in favor of bourgeois values – the equality in conformity scenario. Queerness – in its broad sense – gets policed and controlled if not exterminated entirely. The reductionist Enlightenment aesthetic turns human beings into machines, maximizing value for the bosses and those exceptional enough to win their favor or beat them at their own game. That’s the beak expanse I imagine when I hear the song of assimilation. It amounts to distilling oppression into the exploitation of labor and the iron fist of the law.

(In case you think I’m being to overly acerbic, I should note that I’m referring to sort of liberalism practiced by the contemporary U.S. political establishment. At best they see out to future of comfortable little worker bees feeding a gluttonous elite that some eventually join; even that might be too generous.)

Regardless of the merits or horrors of this heterotopia, it’s critical to remember that the liberals aren’t anywhere close to achieving their professed aspirations for a postracial, postgender, LGBT-friendly country. The racial stratification of wealth in the United States, for instance, has increased lately and its magnitude defies dismissal or rationalization. When you scale up to the whole world, the gap become astronomical. White-privileged folks control a vastly disproportionate share of the planet’s nice things. The election of the first black U.S. president has not stopped the mass incarceration of the black community. Straight terror against remains standard and may even be increasing despite the successes of the mainstream LGBT movement. The same goes for patriarchal violence against women. Etc. In the era of It Gets Better, there’s limited evidence in that direction.

If behavior and place in the hierarchy as much as or more than appearance creates traits like whiteness, straightness, and masculinity – and liberalism historically exudes each of these three – then the notion of defeating white supremacy through full integration into the colonial nation-state becomes incoherent. If capitalism can function without a hyperexploited underclass, the species has yet to experience it. I’m not certain liberals will eternally fail to fulfill their dismal ideals, but they’ve got a long and tricky trail to travel.

I recommend rowdy rejection of assimilation into the status quo. We can do so much better. This inauguration protest gives me hope. Here’s to insurrection, outrage, love, sharing, and decolonization.

Rest in peace, Dr. King.


September 04 2012

14:10

Death to All Authority Includes Parents and Scientists

By “queer”, we mean “social war”. And when we speak of queer as a conflict with all domination, we mean it.

This recent post and comment thread on cryonics over at Dale’s blog starkly illustrates how invested queer and feminist academics can be in disciplinary credentials, respectability, seriousness, and ageism. Molecular biologist Athena Andreadis positions eirself as an expert capable dispensing truth and dispelling the myths of the frozen-head cult. Tellingly, ey denigrates eir transhumanist opponents by invoking the universally idealized yet despised figure of the child. According to both Dale and Athena, being a kid precludes one from a seat at the table of rationality. For example, Athena has “little stomach for watching adults pee themselves in public and proudly point at the stain” and no desire “to arm-wrestle with a tantrumizing five-year old.” Read through Shulamith Firestone’s lucid critique of childhood as a category of systematic oppression, such rhetoric amounts to hate speech. In practice I struggle alongside folks with politics akin to Dale’s – and worse – on a regular basis, but my brand of queer anarchism rejects the pernicious hierarchies they support. Our dreams are ultimately incompatible. Scholars may not be the wisest target at these stage of the game – though they are one of my favorites, given my position in the Imperial Academy – but we’ll have to come for them sooner or later.


06:12

July 30 2012

00:32

The Internet Is a Scary Place

I’m basically out of commission because of Imperial Academy nonsense, but I’ve been reading up on the unrelenting war between trans folks and radical feminists during breaks from studying. How have I never encountered this in person? It all supports my suspicion that wildly disparate experiences, personal animosities, and status competition trump revolutionary solidarity. It’s best to die alone after exposing and renouncing everyone else as traitors to the cause. Let’s make sure the patriarchs keep on winning.


July 02 2012

14:45

New Piece Up on IEET: My Socio-Political Disagreements with Transhumanism

It started out as an interview framed by Hank Pellissier’s question but turned into what you see now. I critique libertarianism, liberalism, homonationalism, progress, and so on.

In other news, George Dvorsky has an article about the ethical problems of autonomous killing machine. Unfortunately, ey doesn’t include an analysis of imperialism or address the ethics of war in the first place.


June 30 2012

23:48

June 26 2012

23:33

What Are Y’all So Proud Of?

In a bold and progressive move, the United States military honors lesbian, gay, and bisexual soldiers today with an unprecedented Pentagon Pride event. (Sorry, trans folks! But let’s face it: we’ve always been the token T at the end of the acronym. I’m sure we’re next in line for glorious inclusion into imperialism.) Leon Panetta and company wisely realize the LGB population has experience ideally suited to current deployment conditions. LGB people can finally pursue careers in death-dealing, torture, and environmental devastation with official sanction. Yay!

What faggot doesn’t want the ability to prove the real faggot is over there, distinct and recognizably other? Now you can be queer without being queer! What a coup! What a brilliant move on the part of empire – they really thought this one through. Pioneering Israeli pinkwashing campaigns established the effectiveness of the strategy. Homonationalism and homonormativity allocate valuable human resources to the nation-state, furthering the project of liberal multiculturalism. We’ve come a long way. I have a dream that one day absolutely anybody will have the chance to kill the enemies of civilization and climb the hierarchy of world domination. Then the only queers will be those who refuse to obey. It almost brings a tear to my eye.

But wait! It gets better: not only does the war machine love us, so do corporations. Nabisco/Kraft Foods has endorsed Pride. Let’s thank them for taking a break from battling unruly workers to reach out to our community. And by thank, I mean shower them with gay dollars. What could be queerer than capitalism and junk food?

The spirit of Stonewall clearly remains with us.


May 10 2012

05:09

President Obama Nods toward Perfecting Liberalism

In case you haven’t noticed, President Obama today came out in support of gay marriage (sort of). Color me unimpressed. The state sanctioning of gay marriage – should it occur – will likely further the demonization of queers like myself who don’t conform to gender norms, believe in monogamy, or yearn for the American dream. Rich and respectable gays and lesbians already despise us. So we have the president tepidly endorsing a dubious proposition with a decided dark side. Yay? At best – if done properly – liberal inclusion makes capitalism a bit more bearable. At worst, it uses the facade of diversity to intensify the oppression of “bad” members of the included group. In any case, it’s not the revolution, nor anything like the revolution. It’s not even a faint premonition.

As a queer anarchist who doesn’t particularly want to brawl with fascists, bash back, or perform other forms of aggressive revolutionary masculinity, I’m in an awkward spot in all this. I’m against bourgeois assimilationist nonsense, gay-gene garbage, and nuclear family ideals while simultaneously feeling alienating from opposition queer culture. Here, as in most other places, I make my own way.


May 09 2012

16:01

Against Privilege Theory and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Once you walk through the wall with me, then as I see it you are one of us. We are responsible to you and you to us; you become an Anarresti, with the same options as all the others. But they are not safe options. Freedom is never very safe. - Shevek

Here’s a notable recent piece on the racial politics of the Occupy movement from a group in Oakland. I don’t know how things went down in there, but puck lo’s analysis makes me skeptical of this account the name conflict. At home in Albuquerque, many of the folks who use so-called privilege theory hold goals akin to these authors. They’re not interested in mere inclusion and diversity; they want to radically transform the system both materially and culturally. Similarly, the disoccupy people these authors criticize as “conservative” aren’t so different in their aims.  I hope we can all collaborate against the system despite our differences, as unlikely as that dream may be.

As I just participated in the Queer (In)Security conference in a panel with Elliot Fukui as well as roundtable on the Occupy movement, the question of safety stands out to me. I concur with the linked pamphlet that it’s always an illusion and often a tool to channel dissent in ineffectual modes of resistance. On the other hand, we’ve got to do whatever we can to protest each other, including increasing our power in order to do so more credibly. (Transhumanism has potential applications in this arena.) Although safety is statistical rather than certain, we shouldn’t dismiss the concept. Cooperation with the bosses does carry rewards, at least in the short term. I don’t see a mass mobilization arising from the strategy of precipitating and then losing conflict after conflict with the cops. If the choice remains doing tricks for scraps or getting arrested, imprisoned, and/or beaten up in futile insurrectionary displays,  rational actors will keep on opting for the former and the latter will continue to attract those who can afford it plus those too desperate to care.


May 01 2012

13:39

Happy May Day, folks!

(Super cute images found via Puck Lo on Facebook.)


April 29 2012

04:48

Unite Against the War on Women!

I’m stuck writing papers, but I figure I should at least post something quick about the wonderful struggles going on around the country today. Resisting outrageous attempts to control female bodies constitutes a necessary shot-term strategy, but we can do so much more. That old heteropatriarchy still needs smashing in full. Much love to all y’all revolutionaries and dreamers out there. ♥


February 18 2012

19:29

Miss Representation

I found this film both poignant and disappointing. Particularly in the beginning, it effectively calls attention to obsessive and oppressive objectification of women’s bodies in popular media and the profoundly pernicious influence this has on women’s lives. Miss Representation then explores the sexism women face in business, academic, and governmental positions of power, and encourages women to support each other in these endeavors. The film employs scholars, activists, news anchors, corporate executives, and politicians as sources of knowledge and models of women in power. Political differences between these figures disappear in order to promote the central theme of liberal inclusion and paternalistic protection of children, especially girls. Jane Fonda here serves essentially the same purpose as Condoleezza Rice; fleeting critiques of capitalism merrily accompany the parade of CEOs. Radical alternatives to liberal inclusion and the dangers of assimilating into the dominant system receive no mention. In this fashion, Miss Representation advocates for a platform obviously superior to the patriarchal status quo yet still deeply troubling.

The testimony from high school students on the soul-crushing effects of media portrayals of women constituted the most compelling part of the movie for me. Students recounted how negative body image inspired by absurd beauty ideals lead to depression and self-mutilation, two things I’ve considerable experience with myself. The emotional intensity brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, the patronizing and infantilizing rhetoric about how the state needs to safeguard oh-so-vulnerable young people from the media raises a dark shadow behind this otherwise liberatory project of blaming the patriarchy. Commonsense Media CEO Jim Steyer leads the charge for government media regulation as the solution to this crisis. Steyer passionately argues for the biological inferiority of younger folks and the necessity of returning to family values that allowed children to be children. I consider this patriarchal and oppressive in the extreme, but the film lets Steyer purvey such nonsense repeatedly.

Miss Representation as a whole has a conflicted relationship with the U.S. past – constructed as a vague era of family values – which it often idealizes in relation to pornified contemporary culture yet also recognizes as overwhelming limiting for women. The parental prerogative functions as the film’s foundation, the story of a mother worried about her daughter’s future in this (increasingly?) patriarchal world. Given the minimal coverage of homophobia – only through a few brief comments from Rachel Maddow – this mother-daughter framing threatens to naturalize heterosexuality and the nuclear family.

The crowning examples of Miss Representation’s problematic quest for liberal inclusion come from the repeated interviews with Rice and from Gavin Newsom, who brags about how he appointed the first female police chief as mayor of San Francisco. Apparently, the filmmakers do not have any concerns about citing an imperialist and likely war criminal like Rice or in trumpeting women’s incorporation into the settler-colonial U.S. nation-state more generally. Or at least they believe the matter of women’s advancement – which invariably only involves the relatively small number of women who can confirm to the ideals of corporate and government hierarchies in our supposed meritocracy – more important than whatever harm the states does to poor people, Native communities, and Orientalized Others. (All of these categories, of course, include women.)

The film would have benefited from immensely from the inclusion of Native feminists (Andrea Smith comes immediately to mind), radical lesbian feminists, anarchist feminists, and others who critique capitalism, straight supremacy, settler colonialism, and imperialism alongside the patriarchy. Miss Representation’s model of liberal inclusion into the existing power structure and paternalistic desire to protect the young (from themselves?) unquestioningly replicates many of the horrors of the status quo. While laudable on its own terms in the sense that inclusion is always preferable to exclusion, there’s little reason to believe merely assimilating more women into the nightmarish machine of modernity will fundamentally transform its inner workings. Figures like Rice, Hilary Clinton, and Jean Quan attest to this thesis. As Smith argues in “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy,” the challenge lies in finding strategies for fighting inequality that avoid bolstering other forms of oppression.


February 07 2012

04:24

More nonsense from respectable members of the left

Chris Hedges has just published an impressively inaccurate attack on “Black Bloc anarchists” as the scourge of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I recommend Don Gato’s response, but feel compelled to engagement myself as well because of the sheer absurdity involved. To begin with, Hedges makes the truly bizarre assertion that black bloc folks hate the Zapatistas. Let’s look at this in detail:

Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.

As Don Gato rightly points out, the black bloc isn’t a movement or tendency but a tactic employed with various different aims. That problem alone makes Hedges’ piece incoherent, but I want to push this further. In my experience, fans of the black bloc tactic and direct action also love the Zapatistas. One of my comrades who participated in Occupy Oakland has also visited and supported the EZLN. I’ve never known anarchists to denounce the Zapatistas, though I could imagine some postleft people doing so. I can only explain Hedges’ charge as a projection. In this piece, ey does exactly what ey claims the black bloc anarchists do: condemns those resist the system rather than the system itself. While some who use black block tactics indeed rail against authoritarian and reformist trends in protest movements, they consistently target the state and capital.

Consider the similarities between black bloc masks and those worn by the EZLN as well as other revolutionaries:

Hedges – with some help from Derrick Jensen – constructs eir black bloc anarchist adversaries as irrational and essentially savage. They care only about destruction and abhor strategy. The revel in unleashing the bestial lusts civilized people are supposed to repress. This rhetoric easily could have come form the nineteenth century; eugenicists racialized radicals in similar terms. I’m wary of any argument that channels such oppressive narratives. As Hedges damn well knows given eir celebration of Greek rioters, revolutions always or almost always include considerable destruction. The dreaded violence of the mob often has its basis in class struggle. I don’t view black bloc tactics as universally appropriate, but I stand in solidarity with diverse forms of resistance and reject these attempts to discipline bodies. I oppose the nightmarish system, not my comrades.


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