Author Interview: Q&A with Olga Castro and Emek Ergun, editors of Feminist Translation Studies: Local and Transnational Perspectives

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:53pm in

In this author interview, we speak to Olga Castro and Emek Ergun about their recent edited collection, Feminist Translation Studies: Local and Transnational Perspectives (Routledge, 2017), which explores feminist approaches to translation across diverse geographical and historical locations as resistant transnational practices that challenge multiple forms of domination. In the piece, they introduce feminist translation studies, discuss the role that translation plays in the transnational and examine the relationship between feminist praxis, translation and activism.

This essay is part of the LSE RB Translation and Multilingualism Week, running between 10 and 14 December 2018. If you are interested in this topic, all posts published as part of the week can be accessed here. If you would like to contribute on this topic in the future, please contact us at Lsereviewofbooks@lse.ac.uk

Q: You describe the collection as emerging ‘at a historical moment of geopolitical and inter/disciplinary growth’ for feminist translation studies. Could you introduce feminist translation? When did it begin and how has it evolved to date?

If we accept that feminism, as a sociopolitical struggle aimed at challenging and disrupting gender power relations (as well as other relations of power that intersect with gender), is an approach to absolutely any and every aspect of our lives, then feminist translation is a political meaning-making praxis that challenges hegemonic power relations in any and every aspect of translation. This feminist perspective to translation involves identifying where different mechanisms of gender discrimination lie in translation and disclosing the ideological values behind them, as a first step to proposing alternatives for gender equality. Feminist translation could be defined as any conscious discursive intervention that seeks to contribute, through translation, to global social justice.

When trying to set the origins of feminist translation, there seems to be academic consensus in referring to the theories and textual practices developed in bilingual Quebec, Canada, by a group of translators and translation scholars in the 1970s and 1980s. They were indeed first in openly self-claiming the label ‘feminist translation’ to describe their efforts to incorporate feminist values into their avant-garde and experimental literary translation projects. However, we argue that other theories and practices of feminist translation had emerged long before and in other geographies, even if they were not self-proclaimed as such – examples include Margaret Tyler, Aphra Behn, Julia E. Smith and Lucy Cady Stanton, to name just a few.

In early feminist translation scholarship, the emphasis was mainly placed on studying linguistic aspects of translation (how gender is represented in different languages and the challenges that poses to translation) and on doing comparative textual analyses of women-authored literature and feminist philosophical texts. But feminist translation has been rapidly evolving, and it now welcomes new interdisciplinary encounters with, for example, audio-visual translation, machine translation, queer translation, interpreting and, more recently, social media translation. It has also expanded its geopolitical scope, which we explain later.

Q: You take care to make a distinction between studies that look at ‘gender and translation’ or ‘women and translation’ and feminist translation. What is crucial about this difference?

Feminism is a political term: it puts the emphasis on activism to dismantle power relations and to change the world. As a political praxis and a field of enquiry, feminism analyses how gender relations are structured in society to reveal the ways in which women, as a social group, have been and still are systematically discriminated against – while acknowledging that women is not a unitary category and adopting an intersectional approach to pay attention to differences and inequalities among women across the globe.

It is true that sometimes studies investigating translation theories and practices developed from multiple feminist perspectives are presented as ‘women and translation’ or ‘gender and translation’. Neither of these labels, in our view, fully expresses the emancipatory nature of the work feminist studies pursue. Studies looking at ‘women and translation’ also prioritise women-centred knowledge, which we find absolutely crucial, but not necessarily from a political, liberatory and critical stance. And ‘gender and translation’ – which may be seen by some scholars as more inclusive than ‘women and translation’ – has two drawbacks for us. First, gender as a binary Anglophone concept is not universally applicable (scholarly discussions on the ‘trouble’ of translating Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble are enlightening in this respect – see, for example, Henry-Tierney 2016). Second, very often the choice to use ‘gender’ is a pragmatic move to present this field as less threatening or confrontational, but comes at the expense of losing its political nature.

It is for these reasons that we prefer ‘feminist translation studies’ – with its open-endedness and political emphasis on plurality and power, feminist translation studies is for us the best way of naming a field that investigates translation theories and practices carried out from multiple feminist perspectives, responding to challenges met by women in different locations in the world.

Q: Your introduction to the volume has a great opening line: ‘The future of feminisms is in the transnational and the transnational is made through translation.’ Could you explain this statement and how it shaped the collection?

The term transnational both criticises the violent operations of national borders that pit us against each other and recognises the possibility of crossing those borders and forging connectivities despite antagonistic and asymmetrical borderings. In this regard, it is a term that simultaneously condemns the heteropatriarchal, neoliberal machineries of contemporary globalisation and celebrates alternative forms of global connectivities that help create conditions of planetary justice and peaceful co-existence – so we firmly believe that the future of feminisms is in the transnational.

Our collection aims to reveal the role of translation in enabling such alternative cross-border connectivities and solidarities, particularly those that pursue feminist politics of justice and equality on a global scale. This is why most of the chapters in the collection provide examples of feminist translation praxes from a wide range of geographies and histories. While the contextual details of these chapters are unique to the specific geohistory they focus on, they all show how resistance against various systems of oppression expands when it is translated and transnationalised – that we have a lot of political lessons to learn from each other and the only way to achieve such transnational learning is translation.

Image Credit: (Jeanne Menjoulet CC BY 2.0)

Revealing the liberatory operations of translation’s connectionist power is important because it has also been systematically used in service of heteropatriarchal, colonial enterprises. Only by comprehending the political (progressive or reactionary; liberatory or oppressive; but never neutral) work of translation, we can claim it for planetary justice. So, by highlighting the centrality of translation in building transnational feminist politics, we hope to stimulate more interdisciplinary studies and conversations on the politics and ethics of translation and inspire more feminist translation praxes.

We wanted the collection to not only include the voices of translation studies scholars, so we decided to include a roundtable chapter where well-known scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds would engage in a conversation on the feminist politics of translation. This is how we brought Judith Butler, Richa Nagar, Kathy Davis, AnaLouise Keating, Claudia de Lima Costa, Sonia Alvarez and Ayşe Gül together – all of them scholars who had either written about translation or raised questions of translation in their works – generating a truly fruitful exchange of ideas on the topic. We believe such cross-border feminist knowledge production in and on translation is essential. As Butler states in the roundtable chapter: ‘there can be no solidarity without translation, and certainly no global solidarity’ (113).

In this regard, the collection is designed to be both an epistemological and political intervention. In a world that is marked, on the one hand, by a rich linguistic and cultural plurality, and on the other hand, by devastating global structures of inequality and violence, transnational/translational knowledge production is a crucial front of resistance and solidarity.

Q: A running theme throughout the book is this relationship between translation and activism – in her preface, Patricia Hill Collins states that ‘translation is central to feminist praxis’. How did this stress upon the relationship between translation, feminist praxis and activism inform the contributions that you included?

When we embarked on this book project, one of our concerns was that the existing ‘feminist translation scholarship’ had lost touch with feminist politics. Critical analyses and theories of translation conceived as a praxis of resistance against intersecting structures of power (patriarchy, heteronormativity, racism, neoliberalism, colonialism, etc) were largely missing from the field. In fact, the term ‘feminist’ was rarely being uttered in recently published works on ‘translation and gender’. Feminist Translation Studies wanted to bring this political language back into the field by framing translation as activism – a political activity that seeks to intervene into discursive structures of domination and disrupt epistemic mechanisms of marginalisation – while at the same time emphasising the plurality of feminisms – hence, our emphasis on the plurality of feminist translation praxes.

All of the chapters in the collection, including Collins’ preface, discuss the activist work of translation, both locally and globally: how translation mobilises feminist discourses to travel around the world; connects feminists and feminist movements across borders and expands social justice movements; changes hetero/sexist languages; facilitates feminist knowledge production; inspires local feminist praxes; helps build geopolitically hybrid feminist discourses and practices; enables transnational exchanges of lessons of resistance; and allows the formation of multilingual feminist coalitions. In short, feminist translation not only brings us together, but also changes the definition of ‘us’ into a polyphonic, cross-border community of social justice activists.

The chapters demonstrate such translational activisms by focusing on a wide range of examples from China, France, Galicia, Germany, India, Italy, Morocco, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US. The chapters also provide cautionary tales on feminist translation activisms, which take place in a world marked by colonial relations of power that position languages, texts and activists in asymmetrical relations (reminding us that the translational flows of political texts and discourses do not take place in a vacuum). Such a critical reflection on feminist translation underlines the importance of expanding the political agenda of feminist translation activism – one that focuses on resisting and disrupting not only patriarchy, but also racism, orientalism, heteronormativity, colonialism, etc.

Q: What kind of strategies might we employ to continue this necessary work of challenging Eurocentric or West-centric approaches to feminist translation studies, avoiding – as you put it – the ‘add and stir’ approach in the process?

A variety of strategies can help us contribute to this, which could be grouped together in four categories. First of all, we need more publications that not only analyse feminist translation praxes developed in different linguistic contexts but also written in different languages. Then, this scholarship itself needs to be translated into other languages (particularly along South-to-South axes, so the hegemony of English is disrupted). Such a multilingual increase in feminist translation studies will both increase political awareness on translation and inspire more feminist translation activisms around the world. In fact, hegemonic languages could be used as bridges to increase the translation traffic from South to South. Also, feminists in the Global North need to make a more concerted effort to learn the languages of marginalised communities around the world and translate feminists’ works from those languages with a clear decolonial feminist ethics of translation. And when talking about the Global North, we must remember that many communities placed in that geography are subjected to intra-colonialism and are politically and linguistically marginalised too. All this means that the field needs to become more attuned to the politics of decoloniality in relation to feminist translation.

Second, we need better translation mechanisms to make the global flows of feminisms more egalitarian. For instance, we can include more translations of articles included in feminist journals – this will not only increase the flow of texts from the Global South to the Global North, but it will also encourage us to think and write more about the critical role of translation in feminist politics.

Third, we need to include questions of translation in our feminist writing and teaching practices, no matter what discipline we are affiliated with. Feminist translation is a promising pedagogical tool for courses that aim to help students develop critical, complex understandings of globalisation and transnational social justice movements. In fact, we co-authored a chapter in our edited volume precisely to inspire such a pedagogical expansion, providing teachers with practical strategies to put the transgressive and connectionist power of feminist translation into action.

Finally, we must globally organise feminist translation scholars/activists using online networking systems. For instance, we currently have a Feminist-Translation-Studies listserv dedicated to this mission with over 130 users. While the vehicular language of the listserv is English, the circulated announcements and calls (about publications, events, conferences, etc) include different languages and geographies. The listserv also enables users to ask critical questions and raise issues regarding the field (e.g. translating black feminisms).

Another example is the Feminist Translation Bibliography, FemTS, which we have been working on for years and will make available online soon. Currently, most of the references in FemTS are in English, French, Turkish, Catalan, Galician and Spanish; but as soon as it is published, we plan to make a call for references so that works published in more languages make it to the list. By creating a bibliography that is as inclusive as possible, we hope to provide a comprehensive point of reference for anyone interested in feminist translation studies. We recognise that we have our own blind spots due to our academic and geopolitical situatedness, and the only way to compensate for these is to make the bibliography a transnational-communal project where we cover each other’s blind spots. In other words, in creating the transnational forums of the listserv and FemTS, we hope to grow together and expand the geographical scope of Feminist Translation Studies as much as possible.

Olga Castro is Director of Postgraduate Programmes in Translation Studies at Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Her research primarily explores the social and political role of translation in the construction of gender and cultural/national identities in a transnational world, with a particular focus on the non-hegemonic cultural/linguistic contexts within Hispanic Studies. She has co-authored the monograph Feminismos (Xerais, 2013) and edited a special issue on feminism and translation for the journal Gender and Language (2013). She has also co-edited the collections Feminist Translation Studies: Local and Transnational Perspectives (Routledge, 2017; to be translated into Korean) and Self-Translation and Power: Negotiating Identities in Multilingual Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). In 2017 she was elected Vice-President of the Association of Programmes in Translation and Interpreting of the Great Britain and Ireland (APTIS) and appointed corresponding member of the Royal Galician Academy (RAG).

Emek Ergun is an Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Global Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her interdisciplinary area of expertise is at the junction of transnational feminisms, cultural globalisation and feminist translation studies. More specifically, her research focuses on the political role of translation in connecting feminist activists, discourses and movements across borders, particularly between the US and Turkey. She is currently working on her first book manuscript exploring the ways in which the debiologising virginity knowledges of Hanne Blank’s Virgin: The Untouched History (2007) travelled from the US to Turkey through her politically engaged translation (2008). Emek co-edited the collection, Feminist Translation Studies: Local and Transnational Perspectives (Routledge, 2017; to be translated into Korean) and has recently become a co-editor of Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives (Routledge). She is also an activist feminist translator and her most recent translation is of Octavia E. Butler’s classic novel, Kindred, which will be published in 2019.

The research discussed in this interview has been supported by the project, ‘Bodies in Transit: Difference and Indifference’ (Ref. FFI2017-84555-C2-2-P; Ministry of Science, Education and Universities, Spain).

This interview was conducted by Dr Rosemary Deller, Managing Editor of the LSE Review of Books blog. 

Note: This interview gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

Sargon of Akkad and Nazis Join UKIP and Break It

Okay, let’s have some fun at the expense of the Kippers and the extreme right-wingers Gerard Batten has brought into the party. Right-wingers like Count Dankula, Tommy Robinson and Sargon of Akkad.

Sargon, Dankula, Tommy Robinson and UKIP

Count Dankula is the idiot, who taught his girlfriend’s dog to do the Nazi salute when he said ‘Sieg Heil!’ and ‘Gas the Jews’. He put it on YouTube, and then, unsurprisingly, got prosecuted for hate speech. I don’t think he’s actually a Nazi, just a prat, who thinks really tasteless, offensive ‘jokes’ are hilarious. Tommy Robinson is the founder of the EDL, and has been briefly involved with that other Islamophobic organization, PEGIDA UK. He used to belong to the BNP and has a string of criminal convictions behind him. These included a number for contempt of court after he was caught giving his very biased very of the proceedings outside the court building during the trial of groups of Pakistani men accused of being rape gangs. Technically, Robinson isn’t a formal member of the party. It’s constitution bars anyone, who has been a member of the racist right from joining it, which rules him out. But he has become a special advisor on Islam and prison reform to Batten.

Sargon of Akkad, whose real name is Carl Benjamin, is another YouTube personality and ‘Sceptic’. I think he used to be one of the atheist ranters on YouTube at the time when the New Atheism was on the rise with the publication of Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion. Then a number of them, Sargon included, appear to have become tired of arguing for atheism and naturalism, and started talking about politics. This was from an extreme right-wing perspective, attacking feminism, Social Justice Warriors, anti-racism, immigration and socialism. Many of them appear to be Libertarians, or see themselves as ‘Classical Liberals’. This means their liberals only in the early 19th century sense of standing for absolute free trade and the total removal of the welfare state. Sargon’s one of these, although bizarrely he also describes himself as ‘centre left’. Which only makes sense to some of the equally bizarre individuals out there, who rant about how Barack Obama was a Communist.

The presence of these three characters at a recent UKIP conference was discussed in an article by the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organization Hope Not Hate as proof that under Batten UKIP had very definitely moved to the Far Right. And Nigel Farage was apparently so concerned with this move a few days ago that he very publicly resigned from the party. And this naturally upset many long-time Kippers. One of them was a YouTube vlogger, whose channel is called People’s Populist Press. He posted this video four days ago on his channel bitterly attacking Sargon and the others he describes as ‘YouTube Nazi punks’ for ruining the party.

Kipper Official Tries to Dissuade Sargon from Joining

It seems, however, that some members of UKIP didn’t want Sargon to join. Not because they objected to his opinions, but because they were afraid that he and his followers wouldn’t take the party seriously. The Ralph Retort YouTube channel played a recording of a conversation between Sargon, his mate Vee, and an anonymous UKIP official arguing about whether or not Sargon should be allowed to join the party. I’m not putting this up, because I’m unsure of the Ralph Retort channel’s political orientation. Sargon’s not only upset left-wing YouTube controversialists like Kevin Logan, but also members of the extreme right, including the Nazi fanboys of Richard Spencer. The argument was also played by Oof Curator on his channel, about whom I have the same caveats.

From the conversation, it appears that the Kippers didn’t really want Benjamin in the party, because they wanted committed activists. Benjamin had said that he wanted to join the party simply to show his support and not to take a more active role. They were also concerned that his followers also weren’t taking politics seriously. The Kipper believed that most of Sargon’s followers on YouTube were people in the teens and early twenties. Sargon told him that the average age of his audience is 34. The Kipper accepted this, but stuck to his point that Benjamin’s followers don’t take it seriously. This included an incident when some of Sargon’s followers got drunk in a pub and started shouting ‘Free Kekistan’ at passing cars. Kekistan and Pepe the Frog are memes taken over by the Alt Right. They were originally the creation of a Latin American cartoonist, with absolutely no racist element. But they’ve been appropriated by the Nazi right, to the dismay of the cartoon’s creator, who now wants nothing to do with it. The Kipper contrasted the flippancy of Sargon’s followers with those of Tommy Robinson, who he believed would take UKIP seriously.

UKIP Factions

The argument also gave an insight into the deep divisions and delicate internal politics in UKIP. The Kipper official stated that UKIP’s made up of three different political groupings. There are Christian Social Conservatives. These are political Conservatives with traditional views on social morality, emphasizing the traditional family and condemning promiscuity and particularly homosexuality and gay rights. Then there are the Libertarians, who also free market Tories, but with liberal attitudes towards drug taking and sexuality, although some of these have moved away and become more traditional in the moral attitudes. And then there are the Social Democrats. This means Old Labour, standing for the nationalization of utilities but rejecting immigration, feminism, and gay rights. There are clearly strong divisions between the three groups, and the Kipper did not want this delicate balance disrupted by the mass influx of new members with very strong factional views. This was one of the Kipper’s concerns when Sargon tried to argue that he’d be an asset to the Kippers as when he, Dankula and another YouTuber joined, the party’s organization rose by 10,000. The Kipper responded to that by stating that raises the question of ‘brigading’, presumably meaning attempts to take over the party through the mass influx of supporters.

Sargon and Philosophical First Principles

The argument was also interesting for what it showed about the real depth of Sargon’s own political knowledge: actually quite shallow. Sargon’s despised by his opponents on both the Left and the Right for his intellectual arrogance. He’s been ridiculed for commonly responding to any of his opponent’s points by saying ‘That’s preposterous!’ and asking them if they’ve read John Locke or Immanuel Kant. The Kipper was impressed by Sargon’s support of property rights and popular sovereignty, which he had in common with the rest of the party, but was concerned about how Sargon derived his views of them. He asked him about first principles. Sargon replied that he got them from John Locke and the 18th century Swiss political theorist, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although the latter was ‘too continental’ for him. The Kipper responded by asking about the specific derivation of his support for natural rights, as argued by Locke. Sargon responded by saying that they’d been put there by the Creator. The Kipper then replied ‘Ah! You’re a theist!’ To which Sargon replied that he wasn’t, because ‘We don’t know who the Creator is.’ This is the line taken by the Intelligent Design crowd, who argue that evolution isn’t the product of Neo-Darwinian random mutation and natural selection, but the result of planned, intelligent intervention by a Creator. Sargon’s response is strange coming from an atheist, as for many Sceptics, Intelligent Design is simply another form of Creationism. ‘Creationism in a cheap tuxedo’, as one critic called it.

Sargon objected to the question about how he derived his support for natural rights on the ground that it didn’t matter. And I think he’s got a point. I’ve no doubt that the majority of people in the mass political parties probably don’t have a very deep understanding of the fundamental basis of the ideologies they hold. I doubt very many ordinary members of the Tory party, for example, have read Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France or the works of the 20th century Tory ideologue, Trevor Oakeshott. It’s probably particularly true of the Tories, as Roger Scruton, the Tory philosopher, said in his book on Conservatism in the 1980s that Tory ideology was largely silent, consisting of the unspoken emphasis on traditional views and attitudes. But clearly, the people at the top levels and some of the real activists in the political parties, including UKIP, do have a very profound understanding of the philosophical basis of their party and its views. And Sargon didn’t.

In fact, Sargon’s ignorance has become increasingly clear in recent months. There’s a notorious clip of him shouting down his opponent, Richard Carrier, in a debate on ‘SJWs’ or something like that at an atheist convention in America, Mythcon. Sargon is shown screaming at Carrier ‘No! No! Shut up! Just f***ing shut up!’ That went viral around the Net.

Racism and Views on Child Abuse

He’s also got some other, deeply offensive views. Sargon considers himself a civic, rather than ethno-nationalist. Which means he stands for his country’s independence but does not believe, contra the BNP, that only members of a specific ethnic group can really be its citizens. He appears to hold a very low view of Blacks, however. There’s a clip of him telling his extreme right-wing opponents to ‘Stop behaving like a bunch of N****rs!’ Quite.

There’s another clip of Sargon going around the Net of him apparently supporting paedophile. He was talking another YouTuber, who believed that underage sex was fine, and that the age of consent should be lowered to 12 or 14. When asked about the morality of adults having sex with underage children, Sargon responded ‘It depends on the child’. Which has naturally upset and outraged very many people.

Conclusions: Robinson and Sargon Will Damage and Radicalise UKIP

There are therefore a number of very good reasons why decent, anti-racist members of UKIP wouldn’t want him in their party. Sargon’s own popularity also appears to be declining, so that it’s now a very good question of how many people he will bring with him into UKIP. Furthermore, a number of people are going to leave with the departure of Farage, though he isn’t the non-racist figure he claims to be. The association of Tommy Robinson with Batten is going to drive people away, so that the party will become even more right-wing and much nastier.

The conversation between the Kipper and Sargon also shows that the party is in a very delicate position at the moment, with a very precarious balance of power between the various factions. As the Kipper official himself said, the only thing they have uniting them is Brexit. If that balance is upset, or the unifying factor of Brexit removed, the whole thing could well collapse in a mass of splits and infighting, like the various overtly Fascist groups have imploded over the years. It also shows that while some people on the extreme right have probably a far too high opinion of themselves and their intelligence, others, like the Kipper official, are genuinely bright and very well read and informed. Even in a party like UKIP, those people shouldn’t be underestimated.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/11/2018 - 9:27am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

November 29, 2018 Adam Kotsko, author of Neoliberalism’s Demons, on the doctrine’s theology • Kristen Ghodsee, author of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, on how socialist–feminism will make us better and happier

Zarjaz! Rebellion to Open Studio for 2000AD Films

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 5:45am in

Here’s a piece of good news for the Squaxx dek Thargo, the Friends of Tharg, editor of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. According to today’s I, 26th November 2018, Rebellion, the comic’s current owners, have bought a film studio and plan to make movies based on 2000AD characters. The article, on page 2, says

A disused printing factory in Oxfordshire is to be converted into a major film studio. The site in Didcot has been purchased by Judge Dredd publisher Rebellion to film adaptations from its 2000 AD comic strips. The media company based in Oxford hopes to create 500 jobs and attract outside contractors.

Judge Dredd, the toughest lawman of the dystopian nightmare of Megacity 1, has been filmed twice, once as Judge Dredd in the 1990s, starring Sylvester Stallone as Dredd, and then six years ago in 2012, as Dredd, with Karl Urban in the starring role. The Stallone version was a flop and widely criticized. The Dredd film was acclaimed by fans and critics, but still didn’t do very well. Two possible reasons are that Dredd is very much a British take on the weird absurdities of American culture, and so doesn’t appeal very much to an American audience. The other problem is that Dredd is very much an ambiguous hero. He’s very much a comment on Fascism, and was initially suggested by co-creator Pat Mills as a satire of American Fascistic policing. The strip has a very strong satirical element, but nevertheless it means that the reader is expected to identify at least partly with a Fascist, though recognizing just how dreadful Megacity 1 and its justice system is. It nevertheless requires some intellectual tight rope walking, though it’s one that Dredd fans have shown themselves more than capable of doing. Except some of the really hardcore fans, who see Dredd as a role model. In interviews Mills has wondered where these people live. Did they have their own weird chapterhouse somewhere?

Other 2000AD strips that looked like they were going to make the transition from the printed page to the screen, albeit the small one of television, were Strontium Dog and Dan Dare. Dare, of course, was the Pilot of Future, created by Marcus Morris for the Eagle, and superbly drawn by Franks Hampson and Bellamy. He was revived for 2000 AD when it was launched in the 1970s, where he was intended to be the lead strip before losing this to Dredd. The strip was then revived again for the Eagle, when this was relaunched in the 1980s. As I remember, Edward Norton was to star as Dare.

Strontium Dog came from 2000 AD’s companion SF comic, StarLord, and was the tale of Johnny Alpha, a mutant bounty hunter, his norm partner, the Viking Wulf, and the Gronk, a cowardly alien that suffered from a lisp and a serious heart condition, but who could eat metal. It was set in a future, where the Earth had been devastated by a nuclear war. Mutants were a barely tolerated minority, forced to live in ghettos after rising in rebellion against an extermination campaign against them by Alpha’s bigoted father, Nelson Bunker Kreelman. Alpha and his fellow muties worked as bounty hunters, the only job they could legally do, hunting down the galaxy’s crims and villains.

Back in the 1990s the comic’s then publishers tried to negotiate a series of deals with Hollywood for the translation on their heroes on to the big screen. These were largely unsuccessful, and intensely controversial. In one deal, the rights for one character was sold for only a pound, over the heads of the creators. They weren’t consulted, and naturally felt very angry and bitter about the deal.

This time, it all looks a lot more optimistic. I’d like to see more 2000 AD characters come to life, on either the big screen or TV. Apart from Dredd, it’d good to see Strontium Dog and Dare be realized for screen at last. Other strips I think should be adapted are Slaine, the ABC Warriors and The Ballad of Halo Jones. Slaine, a Celtic warrior strip set in the period before rising sea levels separated Britain, Ireland and Europe, and based on Celtic myths, legends and folklore, is very much set in Britain and Ireland. It could therefore be filmed using some of the megalithic remains, hillforts and ancient barrows as locations, in both the UK and Eire. The ABC Warriors, robotic soldiers fighting injustice, as well as the Volgan Republic, on Earth and Mars, would possibly be a little more difficult to make. It would require both CGI and robotics engineers to create the Warriors. But nevertheless, it could be done. There was a very good recreation of an ABC Warrior in the 1990s Judge Dredd movie, although this didn’t do much more than run amok killing the judges. It was a genuine machine, however, rather than either a man in a costume or animation, either with a model or by computer graphics. And the 1980s SF movie Hardware, which ripped off the ‘Shock!’ tale from 2000AD, showed that it was possible to create a very convincing robot character on a low budget.

The Ballad of Halo Jones might be more problematic, but for different reasons. The strip told the story of a young woman, who managed to escape the floating slum of an ocean colony to go to New York. She then signed on as a waitress aboard a space liner, before joining the army to fight in a galactic war. It was one of the comic’s favourite strips in the 1980s, and for some of its male readers it was their first exposure to something with a feminist message. According to Neil Gaiman, the strip’s creator, Alan Moore, had Jones’ whole life plotted out, but the story ended with Jones’ killing of the Terran leader, General Cannibal, on the high-gravity planet Moab. There was a dispute over the ownership of the strip and pay between Moore and IPC. Moore felt he was treated badly by the comics company, and left for DC, never to return to 2000 AD’s pages. Halo Jones was turned into a stage play by one of the northern theatres, and I don’t doubt that even after a space of thirty years after she first appeared, Jones would still be very popular. But for it to be properly adapted for film or television, it would have to be done involving the character’s creators, Moore and Ian Gibson. Just as the cinematic treatment of the other characters should involve their creators. And this might be difficult, given that Moore understandably feels cheated of the ownership of his characters after the film treatments of Watchmen and V For Vendetta.

I hope that there will be no problems getting the other 2000 AD creators on board, and that we can soon look forward to some of the comics many great strips finally getting on to the big screen.

Splundig vur thrig, as the Mighty One would say.

The Congresswoman’s New Clothes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/11/2018 - 7:00pm in


Feminism, sexism

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was recently spotted wearing nice clothes. Gotcha! Hypocrite much?

Towards a queer Marxism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/11/2018 - 6:00am in


Blog, Feminism

… Here lies in ruin

The masterpiece of gods, the tower of Asia.

To her defence allies had come from far,

From the nine mouths of frozen Tanäis,

And from the birthplace of the dawn, where Tigris

Pours his hot stream into the ruby sea;

Hither had come the queen of virgin tribes

Whose frontiers face the nomad Scythians

And threaten foemen on the Pontic shore.

Yet she was vanquished; yet she was destroyed;

Great Pergamum lies low; her massive walls,

With all their towering beauty, are brought down,

Her house all in ashes. — Seneca, The Trojan Women

When one is feeling pessimistic, Seneca’s vivid description of the fall and ruin of Troy seems to capture the demise of the working-class movement since the 1980s. Like Ilium, this social force also had allies, including people within the movements for women’s liberation, anti-colonialism and civil rights. Like Ilium, these allies could not prevent the essential destruction of a particular form and method of working-class power.

The results of this process of degradation have revealed two truths, one historic and the other prospective. First, at least part of the cause of the fracturing of Left unity can be attributed to the dissonance of its component parts. Despite the fact that Marxists, feminists, queer theorists and critical race scholars all shared an overall dedication to a fairer society, it became clear that the theoretical and practical terms of their cooperation were often at cross-purposes, with each favouring ‘their’ experience and conception of oppression. Second, it has become clear that the corrosive capacity of neoliberalism to foster division and alienation between citizens can only be combatted by a redoubled effort to build a united and cohesive anti-capitalist movement.

Providing some theoretical prerequisites of such a movement is the main task Holly Lewis tackles in The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Marxism at the Intersection. She begins her analysis by noting that the term ‘everybody’ is ‘politically unsettling’ and can assume different meanings depending upon the political proclivities of those using it. Whereas the everybody of liberal pluralism is the desiring, individualised consumer-subject, the everybody of fascism is ‘everyone in their place’. Reacting against the tyranny of these usages, there is a tendency on the part of some ostensible progressives to treat the term as synonymous with totalitarianism, with the only answer being a retreat into parochialism and ‘a paranoid individualism’. Lewis tries to rescue the term ‘everybody’ from such a binary, instead seeking to construct it on the basis of a ‘universalism from below’.

At the outset, Lewis states that she is attempting to bring into dialogue four distinct groups: Marxists interested in incorporating gender within Marxist practice; feminist theorists wishing to use the insights of Marxism to sharpen analyses of female oppression; Marxist theorists unfamiliar with the currents of third-wave feminism and queer theory; and queer theorists not cognisant of Marxist political economy. The breadth of this task explains the lengthy yet necessary Chapter 1 outlining the terms of the debate. This chapter does exactly what it means to: providing a working understanding of the theoretical concepts and history of the various camps. Given the breadth of the terms she has set herself, this analysis is perforce of a somewhat sweeping character, trying to distil the essential concepts and character of the Marxist analysis and critique of capitalism, poststructuralism (and its attendant techniques like deconstruction) and postmodernism. There is little here that is novel, but the chapter clears the ground for Chapters 2 and 3, dealing with Marxism and gender and Marxism and queer politics, respectively.

The central contention of both of these chapters, and indeed the golden thread running through the whole book, is that the prerequisite to a ‘politics of everybody’ is a unified, coherent and relational theory of exploitation, rather than the schematic, ahistorical and intrinsically individualistic notion of ‘intersectionality’. The latter, informed by poststructuralist theory and grounded on Foucault’s notion of power, ‘separates and reifies oppressions instead of viewing them as the outcome of material social relations’. Seeing power as eternal and rooted in an inherent lust for domination, people influenced by this model of oppression set their political ambitions at the level of the individual, revolving often around the mistaken notion that developing new languages around oppressive practices can somehow destroy the practice itself. A truly revolutionary theory of oppression must focus on material relations, particularly those rooted in the dynamics of exploitation.

Marxism, with its emphasis on the social totality and material life, is admirably suited to this holistic theory of exploitation. A good deal of Chapter 2 is devoted to tackling a typical concern of feminist theory; that Marxism, through its concentration on the economic exploitation on the worker, conceptually sidelines the oppression of women. Lewis demonstrates how this notion is not strictly true. Citing works of Marx, Engels, Bebel and Zetkin, Lewis shows how early socialists recognized the importance of ‘the woman question’ and recognized its intrinsic link to the structures of capitalist production. Even if, as Lewis argues, Engels’ key text The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State mistakenly sought female oppression purely in the realm of property relations as opposed to production, it introduced the key nexus point between the Marxist and feminist camps by maintaining that the determining factor in history is the production and reproduction of material life. It is in this expanded realm of social reproduction that Marxism, feminism and queer theory can meet.

Lewis’ focus on exploitation as a material practice leads her to what is a necessary conceptual concession on the part of feminists and queer theorists – that class is in a sense ‘primary’ precisely because the exploitation on which it is founded is a mathematical fact that does not need to register as oppression felt at the individual level. She goes on to say that ‘[c]lass is primary – not in the sense of more important, but in the sense of being the limit, the foundation, the point where profit is extracted and the point where it can be challenged’. The upshot, an integrated and relational theory of exploitation, adds something to each theoretical tradition that makes it more than the sum of its parts. Marxism is forced rigorously to address the exploitation of women and queers as foundational, compared with epiphenomenal; third-wave feminism (Lewis takes issue with the concept of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFS, which have arisen from the second-wave tradition) and queer theory are forced to redress the inadequacies of their often nebulous opposition to capitalism as a vague system of oppression lurking in the background.

Lewis concludes with 10 axioms of the resultant ‘queer Marxism’, including:

  • ‘Being queer/trans is neither reactionary nor revolutionary’;
  • ‘Queer communitarianism should be replaced with queer political demands’;
  • ‘Queer Marxism is not the analysis of queer consumption habits’;
  • ‘Marxists must stand against trans-exclusionary radical feminism’; and
  • ‘The politics of the fragment should be replaced by an inclusive politics of everybody’.

These maxims, as well as others, are sure to ruffle some feathers among ‘classical’ Marxism and the more liberal, petty-bourgeois currents within feminism and queer theory, but are necessary if the last-mentioned axiom of Lewis is to become meaningful.

There is much to commend The Politics of Everybody. Lewis has constructed a coherent and lucid book that is deeply impressive in terms of the breadth of its vision. She has managed to knit together a veritable smorgasbord of theorists (Marx, Engels, Zetkin, Bebel, de Beauvoir, Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard to name a few) and historical events (the Erfurt Programme, the Russian Revolution, the activities of Queers for Economic Justice and the neoliberal turn, for example) into a compelling narrative that, by and large, possesses a unity of purpose. The main achievement of the book lies in theoretical synthesis and the force with which it is put, as opposed to the generation of new concepts per se. In terms of her stated desire to bring into dialogue Marxists, feminists and queer theorists, Lewis is undoubtedly successful, and The Politics of Everybody represents a very substantial effort to clear the ground and ensure each tradition is not talking at cross-purposes.

The book is not without shortcomings. Given the breadth of the task Lewis sets, there are moments when the analysis is spread a little thin, such as the discussion of the significance of the Russian Revolution for women and the family unit. More troubling is a black hole regarding the oppression of women and queers in terms of whether or not it is compatible with a capitalist society. Lewis explores in considerable detail the fact that capitalism by its nature externalises the costs of reproducing the proletariat on which its existence depends, and that this unpaid labour is inherently sexed. The traditional family structure which has historically undergirded this process goes a long way to explaining the differential position of men and women within capitalism. On this score, the oppression of women is inseparable from, and intrinsic to, capitalism. However, partly as a corrective to the idea that being queer is an inherently revolutionary disturbance of traditional power structures, she notes correctly ‘that capitalist expansion can do quite well without the family – and much of the time it does’. The separation of Black male workers from females during the Apartheid era, the American prison labour system, Mexican women working in single-sex dormitories at maquiladoras – all are examples of where capitalism flourishes despite the disruption of traditional kinship groups. This raises an interesting obverse question which Lewis doesn’t really address herself to – could capitalism, premised as it is on abstract equality, continue to flourish in a society that has eliminated gender-based oppression? This is obviously an open historical question, but it would have been useful for Lewis to pose it. Finally, and perhaps as a personal quibble, the term ‘everybody’ remains problematic. While I understand Lewis’ reasons for utilising the term, it is obvious that it must necessarily serve a rhetorical function, as opposed to a conceptual one. The idea of ‘everybody’ that Lewis presents shares too much with the Maoist notion of ‘the people’, where ‘the people’ includes everyone who is not an enemy. While forgivable as political tools, such terms have limited usefulness as analytical frames.

These criticisms notwithstanding, Lewis has produced an invaluable work that will undoubtedly become a key text in the development of queer Marxism. Around the world, new movements combatting exploitation and oppression in its various forms are developing and starting to feel out their collective strength. Lest these actual and potential allies repeat the failures of the 1970s–1990s and once again see the house laid low and in ashes, it is imperative that they act in concert in a universal and solidaristic struggle. In The Politics of Everybody, Holly Lewis has made an important contribution to the framework necessary for this struggle to take place and triumph.

This review first appeared in Capital & Class

The post Towards a queer Marxism appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Video of Fascist North West Patriots Being Driven Out Of Liverpool

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/11/2018 - 11:32pm in

This is a short video from RT UK showing the reception the North West Frontline Patriots got when they tried to march in Liverpool. They were met by crowds of people waving anti-Fascist placards from a variety of organization, chanting ‘No Pasaran’. The groups shown demonstrating against them include Merseyside Anti-Fascist Action, Stand Up To Racism, and Unite Against Racism.
I don’t think they got out of the station before they were forced back and had to take the next train home.

The video features Liverpool councilor Anna Rothery, the mayoral lead for equality, who says,

Well today we’ve had the North West Patriots trying to come to the city to spread their hate, they have come in through Moorfields Street station or attempted to, but because we’re such a strong city and we are so against these people coming here they didn’t make it out once again.

Paul Sillet of Unite Against Racism says

The likes of Steve Bannon and many others of his ilk are directly influencing and helping to channel large funds into people like Tommy Robinson’s pockets, and now you have internationally, they are building – Greece, Italy and elsewhere as I mentioned Germany and so on, these people are building. It is going to be a challenge for us, but I have every confidence because of things like today we can stop them.

All of this is true. The Fascists are growing across Europe, and they are being encouraged and supported by Steve Bannon and other members of America’s extreme right. But it’s great that the Left is able to mount successful counterdemonstrations and drive them away, humiliated.

As for the ‘Patriots’ themselves, this is a new organization I really don’t know anything about. But I heartily and strongly dispute their right to call themselves patriots. A few weeks ago the anti-Fascist, feminist blogger Kevin Logan put up a video which, amongst other things, attacked the Far Right for appropriating the Remembrance Day poppy.

Britain was aided in both World Wars by troops from around the British Empire, including Black and Asian countries. These men and women gave their lives for Britain, and it was only a few years ago that a monument was put up commemorating the contributions of these brave men and women. Way back at the beginning of this century, when I was still doing voluntary work at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum, it ran an exhibition on the Great War and the contribution of non-White Commonwealth troops. One of the photos was a magnificent picture of a Black trooper, chest festooned with medals, proudly hoisting the Union Jack. The people I was working with at the time commented that it was a great picture, and a very powerful refutation of the Far Right’s attitude that Blacks and Asians aren’t British, and only White racists themselves are patriotic. As well as ordinary infantry troopers, there was even a Black RAF pilot in World War II. Quite apart from the Chinese, who served in the First World War as labourers for the army.

Many of the Black and Asian squaddies were so impressed by the warm greeting they had experienced from us during World War II, that they came back here as immigrants. Only to be faced with hostility and racism. Attitudes like those of Fascists like the North West Patriots.

Surveys have shown that typically immigrants are more optimistic about Britain than the traditional White community. Fascists like the North West Patriots have absolutely no right to call themselves such, and deserve to be driven out. Very definitely ‘No Pasaran!’.

Welcome to the Worst State for Women

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/10/2018 - 6:00pm in

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/10/2018 - 6:59am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

October 25, 2018 Kevin Skerrett, co-editor of The Contradictions of Pension Fund Capitalism, on what they do with all that money and why we don’t need giant pension funds at all • Liza Featherstone and Jane McAlevey on #metoo, one year later, and what can be learned from Hands Off Pants On

Dirty Work

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 26/10/2018 - 6:00pm in


Feminism, Women

You’re lucky I was raised to direct all my rage inward!