Violence

An Antidote to Violence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 11:55pm in

Three great stories we found on the internet this week.

The other epidemic

“Violence functions like the flu,” trauma psychologist Terri deRoon-Cassini told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last September. Her choice of words now seems prescient. The story is about 414LIFE, a group headquartered in the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention that applies public health principles to violence reduction.

It’s the kind of effort that’s earned attention over the past several days. As protests over the death of George Floyd have spread across the U.S., a growing chorus of voices is calling for law enforcement funding to be redirected into initiatives that uplift communities hit hard by the cycle of crime, police violence and mass incarceration. 

milwaukeeProtesters in Milwaukee on May 30, 2020. Credit: Joe Brusky / Flickr

414LIFE is one of those initiatives. It aims to “cure violence” as soon as it begins to infect a community — advocates compare it to how white blood cells contain a disease before it spreads throughout the body. Its methods rely on interpersonal intervention: Most gun-related violence in Milwaukee begins with a fight between individuals, so it is individuals — friends, neighbors, loved ones — who intervene as soon as an act of violence occurs. 

The group’s methods are a blend of investigative and therapeutic. Interveners ask questions to determine whether the incident was part of an ongoing feud that might flare up again, and provide support to survivors so they don’t get sucked into the dispute themselves. At the time the report was published, 414LIFE had intervened in 65 disputes and worked with 83 shooting victims. Evidence suggests that it’s working. In one high school where 414LIFE has been reducing conflict between students, attendance has risen by 14 percent and graduation rates have been twice as high as projected.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Unarmed response

Another dynamic that’s come under scrutiny since the death of George Floyd is the over-reliance on police to respond to calls that actually require social services. This has led to numerous tragedies — one study found that 25 to 50 percent of fatal officer-involved shootings happened during an encounter with someone with a mental illness.

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To minimize these incidents, a mobile mental health crisis team in Eugene, Oregon, is deployed to 911 calls that, in other cities, might result in a police encounter. Called CAHOOTS — Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets — the mobile teams respond, unarmed, to suicide attempts, overdoses and other non-criminal activities. Encounters with agitated or delusional patients are more easily de-escalated by the mental health professionals than they might be by an officer trained to enforce the law. The program has been successful, with CAHOOTS teams now deployed to over 20 percent of public safety calls — a total of 23,000 deployments since the program launched in 1989.

Read more at CBS News

Substantive changes

The Appalachia region of America has the country’s highest concentration of people dependent on opioids. For those in recovery, the coronavirus lockdown can make things complicated. 100 Days in Appalachia — a great local news source — delves into the changes helping those individuals keep their recoveries on track. These include relaxed restrictions on how many methadone doses clinics can dispense to patients at one time, and what treatments can be offered via telehealth — for instance, providers can now initiate medication-assisted treatment via video chat.

appalachia opioidsThe Appalachian region of West Virginia. Credit: Elias Schewel / Flickr

Narcotics Anonymous meetings now taking place on Zoom have likewise opened up new worlds. “I’m going to more meetings now than I did before because it only takes me 30 seconds to join in,” said one attendee. “I’ve been to meetings in Ireland, California, New York, North Carolina, Virginia. It’s cool to feel a sense of unity worldwide, that the recovery community is still there for one another.”

Read more at 100 Days in Appalachia

The post An Antidote to Violence appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Protesting the Murder of George Floyd

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/06/2020 - 12:24am in

Protests against the institutionalized racist violence against blacks in the United States, most recently exemplified by the recent murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, took place in cities around the country this weekend.

Here are some photos of the events here in Columbia, South Carolina.


Protestors gather on the State House steps in Columbia, SC. Photo by Lacey Musgrave.

 


Protestor in Columbia, SC. Photo by Crush Rush.

 


Police officer points gun at the neck of an unarmed protestor at close range. Photo by Crush Rush.

 


Police cars on fire. Photo by Crush Rush.

 


Protestors in Columbia, SC. Photo by Catherine Hunsinger.

 


Law enforcement sniper atop building near protests in Columbia, SC. Photo by Crush Rush.

 

(See more photos here.)

There were many reports of police responding to the protests across the country with violence (“Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide“, “Facing Protests Over Use of Force, Police Respond With More Force“). There were also reports of some protestors engaging in property damage and theft. Many cities, including Columbia, imposed curfews and enlisted the help of the National Guard.

Here are some observations:

  1. Protestors showed a great deal of courage this weekend, risking not just the ordinary hazards of confronting law enforcement, but also the additional risks posed by COVID-19.
  2. If the goal of law enforcement during protests is to allow the exercise of freedom of expression while minimizing property damage and violence, many strategies they employ are seemingly irrational. I don’t like that this appears to lead to a type of “they’re either evil or stupid” conclusion, but I think the burden of argument is on them.
  3. I think it would be interesting to compare the efforts and expenses cities take to protect property from damage during protests of institutionalized racist violence to the efforts and expenses cities take to prevent institutionalized racist violence in law enforcement. I suspect the former is much greater than the latter.
  4. When protests are known to likely involve property damage and business closures, city officials end up with strong prudential reasons to take steps to make them unnecessary, by, for example, taking steps to reduce unjustified killings by its police officers—in addition to the moral reasons they have to do this.
  5. There are people who have heard of the murder of George Floyd only because they heard about the protests of his murder, and, to a point, more people hear about the murder the more newsworthy the protests are. One thing that makes protests more newsworthy is “bad behavior” on either side.
  6. Points 4 and 5 make it more difficult to believe, as some critics of the protestors do, that the protests would have been more effective if they had not involved property damage.
  7. While the overall picture regarding institutionalized racist violence in the United States is, in its main respects, morally clear, the morality “on the ground” during protests is, in some ways, more complicated. A business owner supportive of the protests may be rightly aggreived by the damage intentionally inflicted on his store. In Columbia, a restaurant owner was beaten by protestors for calling the police to report cars that had been set on fire; he didn’t deserve that.

There’s a lot more one could say here. I’m sure some readers will object to some things I’ve said or how I’ve put things. Discussion welcome.

COMMENTS POLICY

 

The post Protesting the Murder of George Floyd appeared first on Daily Nous.

New Statism: The Banalisation of Violence and the Construction of Fear

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 6:00am in

The global scenario of democracy looks extremely bleak. All democracies have witnessed a radical turn not just towards right-wing policies but towards authoritarian statism. Donald Trump in the United States, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom are some of the prominent leaders who have extended the power of the state to destroy democracy. A common characteristic of these leaders’ strategies is their objective of instilling fear in the citizenry and converting democracy into a non-participatory form.

This fear campaign consists of constantly re-affirming the state’s monopoly on violence and then using this claim to consecrate the state as an almost holy entity—as sacrosanct, unable to be criticised by any person. In this process of sanctification the sovereignty of the state is extended. Sovereign power has been defined by Prathama Banerjee as ‘the power to both institute law and suspend law by the declaration of exception’. For example, the president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has achieved this double action of the institution and the suspension of law through a discourse of nationalist securitisation and populist mobilisation against perceived enemies identified as ‘drug personalities’. In the present context, state sovereignty all over the world is being used to banalise violence against the critics of government and as an instrument of subjectivation—the fabrication of particular subjectivities.

The twin functions of subjectivation and banalisation of violence undergird the fear campaign being widely employed on the politico-cultural territory of governance. To fully carry out these two operations, the state needs to decisively intervene in society to in effect demolish the assumed barrier between state and society. This annuls the established proposition that sees the state as supra-social, a transcendent entity that is an externalisation of society.

Today the intervention of the state in society is configured uniquely so that it can exercise both individualising and totalising domination. To achieve this dual domination, statal force has to be strongly supplemented with cultural force. Statist force tends towards a totalisation of power by subjecting citizens to legal relations of power (juridification). It chaperones the ‘human herd’ as a complete collectivity by punitively policing any emergence of what Jacques Rancière calls ‘democratic life’, or extra-parliamentary activity, by confining the soul of democracy to within the concrete walls of parliament. The primary function of statist force is to produce technocratic governmentality. Poland’s repression of the judiciary through the creation of new repressive laws is a manifestation of this technocratic governmentality. These laws disallow judges from engaging in political activities or following ECJ (Court of Justice of the European Union) rulings. This implicitly allows the ruling of the tellingly named Law and Justice Party to muzzle the voices of critical judges, who can now be summarily dismissed by the disciplinary bodies of government.

Cultural force carries out its domination on an ‘individual level’ by familiarising the individual with the cultural configuration of the community and by interpellating them as differentially positioned agents. For example, in the United States, white supremacism as a tactic of the state individualistically hegemonises community members by re-articulating their identity in a distinct manner that reduces them to enthusiastic ethno-nationalists who are passively devoted to the policies of the state. Instead of a complete cultural consensus or homogeneity, the product of this reductive re-articulation is an uneven mechanism of cultural concurrence that constrains heterogeneity. 

With the combinatorial power of totalising statism and individualising cultural conformism, ‘cultural statism’ anchors its source of domination in a widespread feeling of fear. Cultural statism does not aim to consensually dominate the individual through a hegemony based upon a balance of consensual and coercive power. Rather, it builds a power solution where coercive power is predominant, effectuated through fear.

This form of ‘domination based upon fear’ indicates an atavistic return to a colonial form of power that Ranajit Guha calls ‘dominance without hegemony’. Cultural statism can be called dominance without hegemony because it coerces people rather than consensually subjugates/rules them, and fails to construct a power structure that uses normalising power. This internal weakness is an inherent part of present-day governmental architecture where right-wing populism is prevalent. Right-wing populism is innately contradictory since it, according to Guha, ‘symbolically wages an anti-elitist struggle but materially supports the market mechanisms’. It is in part due to this fundamental contradiction that it has to deploy violent measures to perpetuate its existence and silence critics.

However, the fear mechanism of cultural statism could be exploited by progressive forces to democratically strengthen the governmental fabric. Power machinery based upon fear rather than hegemony is more fragile because it indicates the absence of any collective will governing the people and betokens that they have still not been ideologically intertwined with the ruling dispensation. By breaking the stronghold of fear, a legitimacy crisis may be accelerated wherein the state’s tyrannical if tenuous hold may be fractured. Since present-day states are similar to colonial states that practised coercion, the experiences of anti-colonial struggle might be used to inspire struggle against today’s emerging state form. Among the various ideas of anti-colonialism, the active role of intellectuals and the courage of the people are the democratic features needed in today’s world.

Shaw’s Classic Defence of Socialism for Women Part Two

George Bernard Shaw, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism, foreword by Polly Toynbee (London: Alma Classics 2012).

Trade Unions

He discusses the unions, which he describes as ‘proletarian capitalists’. They are there to protect the workers, who have to sell their labour just as the businessman has to sell the product they create. Unions are there to ensure the workers are able to charge the highest price they can for their labour. He also discusses strikes and lockouts, including the violence of some industrial disputes. Scabs need police protection against being beaten, and angry workers will tamper with the equipment so that anyone using it will be injured. They will also place fulminate of mercury in chimneys to cause an explosion if someone starts up the furnaces.

Party Politics and Socialism

Shaw describes the class conflict between the Tories, representing the aristocracy, and the Liberals, who represented the industrial middle classes. These competed for working class votes by extending the franchise and passing legislation like the Factory Acts to improve working conditions. However, each was as bad the other. The aristocracy kept their workers in poverty in the countryside, while the middle classes exploited them in the factories. The laws they passed for the working poor were partly designed to attack their opponents of the opposite class.

He goes on to give a brief history of British socialism, beginning with Marx, William Morris’ Socialist League, and Hyndeman’s Social Democratic Federation. These were small, middle class groups, disconnected from the British working class through their opposition to trade unions and the cooperatives. It was only when British socialism combined with them under Keir Hardie and the Independent Labour Party that socialism became a real force in working class politics. The Fabian Society has been an important part of this, and has made socialism respectable so that the genteel middle classes may join it as Conservatives join their Constitutional Club.

Shaw believed that socialism would advance, simply because of the numerical supremacy of the working classes, and that soon parliament would be full of Labour MPs. However, he also recognised that many members of the proletariat were anti-Socialist. This is because they depended for their livelihood on the businesses serving the idle rich. He called this section of the working class the ‘parasitic proletariat’. The working class is also distracted away from socialism through lotteries and so on.

Democratic, Parliamentary Socialism and Nationalisation

Shaw argues strongly that socialism could only be established through democratic, parliamentary action. General strikes wouldn’t work, as the employers would simply starve the workers out. The strikes intended to stop the outbreak of the First World War had failed the moment the first bomb dropped killing babies. Violent revolutions were purely destructive. Apart from the human lives lost, they destroyed the country’s vital industrial and economic structure. Socialism needed to build on this, not destroy it. Similarly, confiscating the capitalists’ wealth, either directly through nationalisation without compensation, or by taxing capital, was also counterproductive. The capitalists would simply sell their shares or unwillingly surrender them. The result would be bankruptcy and mass unemployment. This would result in further working class unrest, which would end in a counterrevolution.

The only way socialism could proceed would be by long preparation. You should only nationalise an industry once there was a suitable government department to run it. Compensation should be given to the former proprietors. This did not mean robbing the workers to pay their former exploiters, as the money would come from taxing the upper classes so that the class as a whole would be slightly worse off than before, even though the former owners were slightly better off.  You can see here and in Shaw’s warning of the ineffectiveness of general strikes the bitterness that still lingered amongst the working class after the failure of the General Strike of the 1920s.

Nationalisation could also only be done through parliament. There were, however, problems with parliamentary party politics. If the socialist party grew too big, it would split into competing factions divided on other issues, whose squabbles would defeat the overall purpose. Party politics were also a hindrance, in that it meant that one party would always oppose the policies of the other, even though they secretly supported them, because that was how the system worked. We’ve seen it in our day when the Tories before the 2010 election made a great show of opposing Blair’s hospital closures, but when in power did exactly the same and worse. Shaw recommends instead that the political process should follow that of the municipalities, where party divisions were still high, but where the process of legislation was done through committees and so on parties were better able to cooperate.

Limited Role for Capitalism

Shaw also argued against total nationalisation. He begins the book by stating that socialists don’t want to nationalise personal wealth. They weren’t going to seize women’s jewels, nor prevent a woman making extra cash for herself by singing in public or raising prize chrysanthemums, although it might in time be considered bad form to do so. Only big, routine businesses would be nationalised. Small businesses would be encouraged, as would innovatory private companies, though once they became routine they too would eventually be taken over by the state.

It’s a great argument for a pluralistic mixed economy, of the type that produced solid economic growth and working class prosperity after World War II, right up to 1979 and Thatcher’s victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Armed Right Wingers Were Able To Shut Down Michigan’s Legislature

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/05/2020 - 3:42am in

Tags 

Violence

As you may have heard, Michigan has canceled its legislative session:

Michigan closed down its capitol in Lansing on Thursday and canceled its legislative session rather than face the possibility of an armed protest and death threats against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer…

The gathering, meant to advocate opening the state for business despite the coronavirus pandemic, followed one April 30 that resulted in pictures of protesters clad in military-style gear and carrying long guns crowding the statehouse. They confronted police and taunted lawmakers…

…For the past week, lawmakers have been debating how to safely enable lawmakers to work and vote in session while the state’s laws allow people to bring firearms into the capitol building. The debate grew more tense in recent days as some lawmakers read about threats to the governor’s life on social media, which were published in the Detroit Metro Times.

Let us understand the context: protesters from the left-wing in legislatures are routinely arrested. The charge is generally something like “disturbing the peace.” Police can always find a way and excuse to clear protesters if they want to.

The police have SWAT teams, they can call in the national guard if necessary. They could wait for the next time the armed protesters come and arrest them. There’s a chance of violence, of course, but there are ways to do this that protect legislators.

This is clearly intimidation of elected officials. It would not be tolerated from the left, but it has not only been tolerated from the right, it has been allowed to succeed.

Now there’s an argument, and one I have sympathy for, that politicians should be scared of the people, rather than the other way around. One can cavil, and note that the majority of the public supports isolation orders, so this is a case of intimidation from an armed minority.

But what’s more interesting to me is that it has been allowed. The protesters could be shut down if the government wanted to. There might be some violence, but America is routinely willing to be violent, so that’s not what’s stopping the government.

Violence and threats from the right are seen as legitimate: they are seen as having the right to be violent. God, Guns and ‘Merica. The right has arrogated to themselves the glory and right and violence. They say that violence is ethical and moral in defense of freedom, and that people who are violent and defenders of America and goodness are right wingers.

Violence is a right wing thing in America and it is a good thing. Right wing violence is legitimate to Americans: they have a right to be violent.

The left are godless communist hippies who don’t have a right to be violent. They don’t join the cops or the military, they are not associated with legitimate violence. Most left wingers have spent 60 years, since the 60s,  explicitly saying that violence is always bad and never justified. Much of the left rejected Antifa, the people willing to fight fascists, because violence can never either be moral, or according to most left wingers, even effective. Violence is always bad and doesn’t work as well as non-violence is what a majority on the left believe.

This wasn’t always the belief. Unions fought from their earliest history right through the 70s: they would take on the police and union busters. The left fought. In the early 70s the left was setting off multiple bombs a day; they ran rings around the FBI, who could not stop them; the left-wing insurrection didn’t end because the cops won, it ended because the left itself decided to stop using violence.

A sea change happened in the 60s and 70s: one where the legitimacy of violence was rejected by the left, and violence was gifted to the right. The end of the draft and the left wing hatred of all violence meant that the left gave the military to the right wing. Cops have always been right wing, of course, but the draft had meant that the rank and file military included many left wingers. It also meant that people on the left had violent skills, taught courtesy of the military.

That ended. Meanwhile the right, including the most far right, encouraged their people to join the military and the policy, to learn the skills and to make sure those institutions were run by right wingers from top to bottom.

So there are two likely reasons the Michigan legislature gave into violence. One: they think that right wing violence is legitimate. Two, they don’t trust the police or national guard to stop right wingers they sympathize with and support.

Meanwhile only two parts of the left believe they have a right to be violent: Antifa, and the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers have taken to armed escort of legislators they support.

Those who disarm; those who believe fanatically in non-violence, always exist at the whim of those who believe in violence and are good at it.

This is the position the left has put itself in in America and many other countries: disarmed, bad at violence, with no influence over the violent organs of the state and almost no tradition or skill in violence in the few organs it still has influence over (like some unions.)

Some of this weakness was caused by the right: as with their gutting of unions in the 80s. But much of it is because the left both believes that violence is always wrong and that it is ineffective.

Michigan is the fruit of those beliefs.

And, children, history is a record of violence often working. Sometimes non-violence works, yes, sometimes it even works very well. But effective violence, especially if it is perceived as legitimate, is also a winning strategy.

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Brass on anti-Muslim violence in India

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 3:46am in

Tags 

India, race, Violence


The occurrence of anti-Muslim violence, arson, and murder in New Delhi last month is sometimes looked at a simply an unpredictable episode provoked by protest against the citizenship legislation enacted by the BJP and Prime Minister Modi. (See Jeffrey Gettleman and Maria Abi-Habib's New York Times article for a thoughtful and detailed account of the riots in New Delhi; link.) However, Paul Brass demonstrated several decades ago in The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India, that riots and violent episodes like this have a much deeper explanation in Indian politics. His view is that the political ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) is used by BJP and other extremist parties to advance its own political fortunes. This ideology (and the political program it is designed to support) is a prime cause of continuing violence by Hindu extremists against Muslims and other non-Hindu minorities in India.

Brass asks a handful of crucial and fundamental questions: Do riots serve a function in Indian politics? What are the political interests that are served by intensifying mistrust, fear, and hatred of Muslims by ordinary Hindu workers, farmers, and shopkeepers? How does a framework of divisive discourse contribute to inter-group hatred and conflict? “I intend to show also that a hegemonic discourse exists in Indian society, which I call the communal discourse, which provides a framework for explaining riotous violence.” (24). Throughout Brass keeps the actors in mind -- including leaders, organizers, and participants: “It is one of the principal arguments of this book that we cannot understand what happens in riots until we examine in detail the multiplicity of roles and persons involved in them”. (29) Here are the central themes of the book:

The whole political order in post-Independence north India and many, if not most of its leading as well as local actors—more markedly so since the death of Nehru—have become implicated in the persistence of Hindu-Muslim riots. These riots have had concrete benefits for particular political organizations as well as larger political uses. (6)

The maintenance of communal tensions, accompanied from time to time by lethal rioting at specific sites, is essential for the maintenance of militant Hindu nationalism, but also has uses for other political parties, organizations, and even the state and central governments. (9)

Brass documents his interpretation through meticulous empirical research, including a review of the demographic and political history of regions of India, a careful timeline of anti-Muslim riots and pogroms since Independence, and extensive interviews with participants, officials, and onlookers in one particularly important city, Aligarh, in Uttar Pradesh (northern India). Brass gives substantial attention to the discourse chosen by Hindu nationalist parties and leaders, and he argues that violent attacks are deliberately encouraged and planned.

Most commonly, the rhetoric is laced with words that encourage its members not to put up any longer with the attacks of the other but to retaliate against their aggression. There are also specific forms of action that are designed to provoke the other community into aggressive action, which is then met with a stronger retaliatory response. (24)

Brass asks the fundamental question:

What interests are served and what power relations are maintained as a consequence of the wide acceptance of the reality of popular communal antagonisms and the inevitability of communal violence? (11)

(We can ask the same question about the rise of nationalist and racist discourse in the United States in the past fifteen years: what interests are served by according legitimacy to the language of white supremacy and racism in our politics?)

Brass rejects the common view that riots in India are “spontaneous” or "responsive to provocation"; instead, he argues that communal Hindu-nationalist riots are systemic and strategic. Violence derives from a discourse of Hindu-Muslim hostility and the legitimization of violence. Given this view that riots and anti-Muslim violence are deliberate political acts in India, Brass offers an analysis of what goes into "making of a riot". He argues that there are three analytically separable phases: preparation / rehearsal; activation / enactment; and explanation / interpretation (15). This view amounts to an interpretation of the politics of Hindu nationalism as an "institutionalized riot system" (15).

When one examines the actual dynamics of riots, one discovers that there are active, knowing subjects and organizations at work engaged in a continuous tending of the fires of communal divisions and animosities, who exercise by a combination of subtle means and confrontational tactics a form of control over the incidence and timing of riots.” (31)

This deliberate provocation of violence was evident in the riots in Gujarat in 2002, according to Dexter Filkins in a brilliant piece of journalism on these issues in the New Yorker (link):

The most sinister aspect of the riots was that they appeared to have been largely planned and directed by the R.S.S. Teams of men, armed with clubs, guns, and swords, fanned out across the state’s Muslim enclaves, often carrying voter rolls and other official documents that led them to Muslim homes and shops.

Especially important in the question of civil strife and ethnic conflict in any country is the behavior and effectiveness of the police. Do the police work in an even-handed way to suppress violent acts and protect all parties neutrally? And does the justice system investigate and punish the perpetrators of violence? In India the track record is very poor, including in the riots in the early 1990s in Mumbai and in 2002 in Gujarat. Brass writes:

The government of India and the state governments do virtually nothing after a riot to prosecute and convict persons suspected of promoting or participating in riots. Occasionally, but less frequently in recent years, commissions of inquiry are appointed. If the final reports are not too damaging to the government of the day or to the political supporters of that government in the Hindu or Muslim communities, the report may be published More often than not, there is a significant delay before publication. Some reports are never made public. (65)

This pattern was repeated in Delhi during the most recent period of anti-Muslim pogrom. The police stand by while Hindutva thugs attack Muslims, burn homes and shops, and murder the innocent. Conversely, when the police function as representatives of the whole of civil society rather than supporters of a party, they are able to damp down inter-religious killing quickly (as Brass documents in his examination of the period of relative peace in Aligarh between 1978-80 to 1988-90).

Brass is especially rigorous in his development of the case for the deliberate and strategic nature of anti-Muslim bigotry within the politics of Hindu nationalism and its current government. But other experts agree. For example, Ashutosh Varshney described the dynamics of religious conflict in India in very similar terms to those offered by Brass (link):

Organized civic networks, when intercommunal, not only do a better job of withstanding the exogenous communal shocks—like partitions, civil wars, and desecration of holy places; they also constrain local politicians in their strategic behavior. Politicians who seek to polarize Hindu and Muslims for the sake of electoral advantage can tear at the fabric of everyday engagement through the organized might of criminals and gangs. All violent cities in the project showed evidence of a nexus of politicians and criminals. Organized gangs readily disturbed neighborhood peace, often causing migration from communally heterogeneous to communally homogenous neighborhoods, as people moved away in search of physical safety. Without the involvement of organized gangs, large-scale rioting and tens and hundreds of killings are most unlikely, and without the protection afforded by politicians, such criminals cannot escape the clutches of law. Brass has rightly called this arrangement an institutionalized riot system. (378)

Varshney treats these issues in greater detail in his 2002 book, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India.

The greatest impetus to the political use of the politics of hate and the program of Hindu nationalism was the campaign to destroy the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, UP, in 1992. For an informative and factual account of the Babri Mosque episode and its role within the current phase of Hindu nationalism in India, see Abdul Majid, "The Babri Mosque and Hindu Extremists Movements"; link.

Population and the Outbreak of Peace

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 3:02am in

By Max Kummerow

Adelyne More’s 1917 feminist pamphlet Fecundity and Civilization stated flatly that population stabilization “is the most effective way of ensuring the cessation of war.”[1] All species’ potential rates of reproduction enable exponential population growth. Population numbers are kept within environmental capacity by rising mortality as populations increase. Ecologists call this process “density-dependent mortality.” Many “group-selected” social species fight territorial wars as populations grow, such as chimpanzees, lions, wolves, hyenas, baboons, ants and humans.

Chimpanzee fight

Population density is a huge factor for fights among chimpanzees. The threat of losing territory and resources creates tension and physical confrontation until there is a standing winner. Sound familiar? (Image CC BY-SA 2.0, Credit: Chris Allen)

Writer Michael Balter concluded from a study of 100 incidents (in which chimpanzees inflicted deaths on rival bands) that population growth leads to violent conflict. Studies of hunter-gatherer cultures, as well as historical records of modern societies, show that wars, famine, and disease reduce life expectancy as populations push environmental limits.

Humans and many other species also “regulate” population, not necessarily intentionally, within environmental capacity through behaviors that reduce birth rates (“density-dependent natality”).

Scholars present multifaceted causes of violence and war. In Causes of War, Levy and Thompson describe how “Scholars disagree not only on the specific causes of war, but also on how to approach the study of war…psychologists generally emphasize psychological factors, economists emphasize economic factors, anthropologists emphasize cultural factors, and so on.”[2] Philosopher A.C. Grayling quotes I.A. Novikov on the purpose of war: “men fought…in order to obtain food, women, wealth, the profits derived from possession of the government, or in order to impose a religion or a type of culture…war is a means to an end.”[3]

In Better Angels of Our Nature, Steven Pinker cites The Civilizing Process (1939) in which Norbert Elias argued that progress in norms and institutions encourages settlement of disputes by law and negotiation.[4] The “do unto others” ethic and the development of altruism and empathy was slowly leading to the rejection of war, slavery, and subjugation of races, cultures, and social classes. In the place of dictatorial and genocidal behavior, more inclusive and pacifist patterns were starting to prevail.

Syrian War

Noted for being one of the deadliest wars of the 21st century, the Syrian civil war has killed thousands of people and spawned military conflicts outside of its borders. (Image source, Credit: Voice of America News)

Tragically, shortly after Elias’s civilizing book was published, barbarism re-emerged with the horrors of the Holocaust. Elias fled to the USA, but his parents fell victim to the genocide in Eastern Europe. Regarding this tragedy as well as the increase in threats of nuclear war and the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere, it is clear, as Pinker admits, that reduction in violence may not be enduring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population Regulation and Peace

Nothing in sociobiology, genetics, or cultural studies provides compelling evidence that war is absolutely inevitable or, on the other hand, can be thoroughly eliminated. That said, there is strong evidence that ending population growth facilitates enduring peace. I classified 150 countries into three violence categories.[5] The table compares fertility rates and population change. Total fertility rate (TFR) is a statistic summarizing numbers of births per woman.

Table 1: Violence and Fertility Rates

Violence Category

 
Number of Countries
Average 2013 TFR
2013 Population (billions)
% Population Change 1960-2013

 

Peaceful
39
1.6
2.09
56%

Medium
54
2.6
3.44
206%

Violent
57
4.2
1.55
269%

Total
150
2.9[6]
7.08
191%

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators. Countries missing fertility data and countries with <1,000,000 population in 2013 and four oil sheikdoms with major in-migration were omitted.

TFRs averaged 1.6 in recently peaceful, formerly violent countries and 4.2 in recently violent countries. Using ANOVA or CHI2 statistics to test the null hypothesis of “no difference between group fertility rates” gave a p-value of 10-12, confirming what is obvious from casual inspection of the data: High fertility rates are strongly correlated with mass violence and low fertility rates with peace.

Life expectancy at birth was 23.4 years longer in the peaceful countries. Average 2008 infant mortality rates were 8.5 per 1000 people in peaceful, low-fertility countries versus 83/1000 in violent, high-fertility countries. Per capita incomes in high-fertility violent countries averaged 13.8% of the average per capita income in the low-fertility/peaceful countries—$4,155 versus $30,020.[7]

Low fertility rates are strongly associated with peaceful outcomes, even in formerly violent cultures whose neighbors are so-called “hereditary enemies.”[8] Declines in fertility rates nurture and enable peace.

Solutions to the Many Influences of Violence

United Nations generally assembly

United Nations representatives meet in yearly general assembly meetings hoping to find solutions for lasting peace. (Image CC BY 2.0, Credit: Basil D Soufi.)

Many other factors aside from population growth influence outbreaks of mass violence. Propaganda can increase hatred and foment violence. Incompetent or power-hungry leaders blunder into wars. But there are solutions our society can pursue: Institutions such as the United Nations can help maintain peace; peace treaties can resolve disputes; and cultural and institutional changes can reduce tendencies to violence.

The rejection (or adoption) of violence entails in-depth analysis and, often, the climbing of learning curves. Yet underlying all other factors is the fact that population growth creates rising competition for scarce territory and resources. Conversely, population decline reduces motivation and necessity for violent conflicts and fosters higher education levels, rule of law, and trust.

Peace and justice advocates should devote more attention to supporting family planning and the demographic transitions that have helped women and children enjoy longer lives. These demographic transitions also enable countries to remain above poverty levels and peacefully coexist with former enemies.

Why are so few peace and justice advocates talking about population stabilization?

[1] More, A. 1917. Fecundity and Civilization: a contribution to the study of over-population as the cause of war and the chief obstacle to the emancipation of women; with special reference to Germany. Allen and Unwin, London.

[2] Levy, J. and William R. Thompson. 2010. Causes of War. Blackwell Publishing, Chichester, UK.

[3] Grayline, A.C. 2017. War: An Enquiry. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA. This echoes Thucydides who summed up causes of war as fear, glory, and interest (desires for gold, territory, slaves, etc.).

[4] Pinker, S. 2011. The Better Angels of Our Nature. Penguin, New York.

[5]“Violent” were roughly defined as “thousands killed in the past 40 years in war, civil strife, or genocide.” “Peaceful” were “peaceful since WWII.” Admittedly, this was a “quick and dirty” classification effort based on news accounts, historical reading, and general knowledge. I looked at deaths in war statistics and found them to be surprisingly hard to pin down. Estimates of deaths vary greatly depending on source. The “medium” category is really “not sure” in some cases.  Results are so clear that no change in the overall conclusion could result from a few misclassifications.

[6] Figures in Table 4 are averages of country statistics, not weighted by country population. Global average fertility weighed by population was around 2.5 in 2013.

[7] Statistics all from World Bank, World Development Indicators data.

[8] My relatives fought and died in the World Wars between France and Germany that killed millions. Now those countries share a common currency, lasting peace and low fertility rates.

Max Kummerow, Ph.D., is a retired business school professor and population activist who researches demography, ecology, and economic development. He has presented papers at ESA, PJSA, NCSE, PAA, and EAERE meetings showing the benefits of accelerating the world’s stalled demographic transition toward lower fertility rates.

 

The post Population and the Outbreak of Peace appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


Fascist attacks on democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 23/02/2020 - 4:03am in


The hate-based murders of at least nine young people in Hanau, Germany this week brought the world's attention once again to right-wing extremism in Germany and elsewhere. The prevalence of right-wing extremist violence in Germany today is shocking, and it presents a deadly challenge to democratic institutions in modern Germany. Here is the German justice minister, quoted in the New York Times (link):

“Far-right terror is the biggest threat to our democracy right now,” Christine Lambrecht, the justice minister, told reporters on Friday, a day after joining the country’s president at a vigil for the victims. “This is visible in the number and intensity of attacks.”

Extremist political parties like the Alternative for Germany and the National Democratic Party (link, link) have moved from fringe extremism to powerful political organizations in Germany, and it is not clear that the German government has strategies that will work in reducing their power and influence. Most important, these parties, and many other lesser organizations, spread a message of populist hate, division, and distrust that motivates some Germans to turn to violence against immigrants and other targeted minorities. These political messages can rightly be blamed for cultivating an atmosphere of hate and resentment that provokes violence. Right-wing populist extremism is a fertile ground for political and social violence; hate-based activism leads to violence. (Here is an excellent report from the BBC on the political messages and growing political influence of AfD in Germany (link).)

Especially disturbing for the fate of democracy in Germany is the fact that there is a rising level of violence and threat against local elected officials in Germany over their support for refugee integration. (Here is a story in the New York Times (2/21/20) that documents this aspect of the crisis; link.) The story opens with an account of the near-fatal attack in 2015 on Henriette Reker, candidate for mayor of Cologne. She survived the attack and won the election, but has been subject to horrendous death threats ever since. And she is not alone; local officials in many towns and municipalities have been subjected to similar persistent threats. According to the story, there were 1,240 politically motivated attacks against politicians and elected officials (link). Of these attacks, about 33% are attributed to right-wing extremists, about double the number attributed to left-wing extremists. Here is a summary from the Times story:

The acrimony is felt in town halls and village streets, where mayors now find themselves the targets of threats and intimidation. The effect has been chilling. 

Some have stopped speaking out. Many have quit, tried to arm themselves or taken on police protection. The risks have mounted to such an extent that some German towns are unable to field candidates for leadership at all. 

“Our democracy is under attack at the grass-roots level,” Ms. Reker said in a recent interview in Cologne’s City Hall. “This is the foundation of our democracy, and it is vulnerable.” 

This is particularly toxic for the institutions of democratic governance, because the direct and obvious goal is to intimidate government officials from carrying out their duties. This is fascism.

What strategies exist that will help to reduce the appeal of right-wing extremism and the currents of hatred and resentment that these forms of populism thrive on? In practical terms, how can liberal democracies (e.g. Germany, Britain, or the United States) reduce the appeal of white supremacy, nationalism, racism, and xenophobia while enhancing citizens' commitment to the civic values of equality and rule of law?

One strategy involves strengthening the institutions of democracy and the trust and confidence that citizens have in those institutions. This is the approach developed in an important 2013 issue of Daedalus (link) devoted to civility and the common good. This approach includes efforts at improving civic education for young people. It also includes reforming political and electoral institutions in such a way as to address the obvious sources of inequality of voice that they currently involve. In the United States, for example, the prevalence of extreme and politicized practices of gerrymandering has the obvious effect of reducing citizens' confidence in their electoral institutions. Their elected officials have deliberately taken policy steps to reduce citizens' ability to affect electoral outcomes. Likewise, the erosion of voting rights in the United States through racially aimed changes to voter registration procedures, polling hours and locations, and other aspects of the institutions of voting provokes cynicism and detachment from the institutions of government. (McAdam and Kloos make these arguments in Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America.)

Second, much of the appeal of right-wing extremism turns on lies about minorities (including immigrants). Mainstream and progressive parties should do a much better job of communicating the advantages to the whole of society that flow from diversity, talented immigrants, and an inclusive community. Mainstream parties need to expose and de-legitimize the lies that right-wing politicians use to stir up anger, resentment, and hatred against various other groups in society, and they need to convey a powerful and positive narrative of their own.

Another strategy to enhance civility and commitment to core democratic values is to reduce the economic inequalities that all too often provoke resentment and distrust across groups within society. Justin Gest illustrates this dynamic in The New Minority; the dis-employed workers in East London and Youngstown, Ohio have good reason to think their lives and concerns have been discarded by the economies in which they live. As John Rawls believed, a stable democracy depends upon the shared conviction that the basic institutions of society are working to the advantage of all citizens, not just the few (Justice as Fairness: A Restatement).

Finally, there is the police response. Every government has a responsibility to protect its citizens from violence. When groups actively conspire to commit violence against others -- whether it is Baader-Meinhof, radical spinoffs of AfD, or the KKK -- the state has a responsibility to uncover, punish, and disband those groups. Germany's anti-terrorist police forces are now placing higher priority on right-wing terrorism than they apparently have done in the past, and this is a clear responsibility for a government with duty for ensuring the safety of the public (link). (It is worrisome to find that members of the police and military are themselves sometimes implicated in right-wing extremist groups in Germany.) Here are a few paragraphs from a recent Times article on arrests of right-wing terrorists:

BERLIN — Twelve men — one a police employee — were arrested Friday on charges of forming and supporting a far-right terrorism network planning wide-ranging attacks on politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims, the authorities said. 

The arrests come as Germany confronts both an increase in violence and an infiltration of its security services by far-right extremists. After focusing for years on the risks from Islamic extremists and foreign groups, officials are recalibrating their counterterrorism strategy to address threats from within. 

The arrests are the latest in a series of episodes that Christine Lambrecht, the justice minister, called a “very worrying right-wing extremist and right-wing terrorist threat in our country.” 

“We need to be particularly vigilant and act decisively against this threat,” she said on Twitter. (link)

The German political system is not well prepared for the onslaught of radical right-wing populism and violence. But much the same can be said in the United States, with a president who espouses many of the same hate-based doctrines that fuel the rise of radical populism in other countries, and in a national climate where hate-based crimes have accelerated in the past several years. (Here is a recent review of hate-based groups and crimes in the United States provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center; link.) And, like Germany, the FBI has been slow to place appropriate priority on the threat of right-wing terrorism in the United States.

(This opinion piece in the New York Times by Anna Sauerbrey (link) describes one tool available to the German government that is not available in the United States -- strong legal prohibitions of neo-Nazi propaganda and incitement to hatred:

“There is the legal concept of Volksverhetzung,” the incitement to hatred: Anybody who denigrates an individual or a group based on their ethnicity or religion, or anybody who tries to rouse hatred or promotes violence against such a group or an individual, could face a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Because of virtually unlimited protection of freedom of speech and association guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, these prohibitions do not exist in the United States. Here is an earlier discussion of this topic (link).)

Diane Abbott on the Latest Windrush-Style Deportations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/02/2020 - 4:48am in

The Tories are doing it again, trying to deport Caribbean immigrants back to countries from which they emigrated so long ago they may only have the dimmest memories of them. If they remember them at all. It’s like May’s attempted deportation of the Windrush migrants, people who were, or should have been, legally entitled to remain here. But the documentation allowing them to say had somehow been destroyed. Now Johnson wishes to deport 50 similar migrants back to Jamaica and the Caribbean. The difference is that these people are all supposed to be guilty of serious offences, such as manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing class A drugs. But they’ve all served their prison sentences, and the law firm representing one of them says that they are “potential victims of trafficking, groomed as children by drugs gangs running county lines networks and later pursued in the criminal justice system as serious offenders”. The deportations come suspiciously before the publication of the ‘lessons learned’ review of the Winrush Scandal. More than 170 MPs, led by labour’s Nadia Whittome, have signed a letter demanding the cancellation of the flight.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/02/10/johnson-insists-on-deportation-of-caribbean-nationals-despite-claims-theyre-not-serious-criminals/

The Appeal Court has also ruled that the deportations may not go ahead until it is confirmed that they have all had advice from the lawyers. But it’s a good question whether the Tories will pay any attention to this. Boris Johnson does not seem to have much regard for the rule of law when it suits his interest.

Jamaica deportation: will the Tories go ahead after appeal court decision?

Yesterday, Diane Abbott wrote a piece in the I laying out the issues involved and forcefully showing why these deportations are unjust in a piece ‘Windrush: reigniting the scandal’. She wrote

The planned deportation of 50 Jamaican-born British residents to Jamaica has caused uproar among the black community and many campaign groups. it is widely considered to have strong racial overtones and recalls the injustices of the Windrush scandal.

The 50 people involved are all convicted offenders. Judges have always had the power to direct that criminals be deported at the end of the sentence, but that is when they are dealing with an individual case – with all the facts and personal circumstances in front of them. These deportations are different and relatively arbitrary. They are solely tied to the length of the original sentence – No 10 has said that all 50 have sentences of over 12 months – with no consideration of personal circumstance. The potential deportees have already served an appropriate sentence. There have been assurances that none of these deportees are members of the Windrush cohort, but it is not clear whether any are the children or grandchildren of Windrush victims. If so, their eligibility to apply for British citizenship may have been compromised by the confusion over their relatives’ immigration status.

The Government’s 2016 review into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons suggested that it should not be deporting people who came to this country as children. The Windrush: Lessons Learned review reportedly says the same thing.

The Government wants to deport people back to Jamaica, when they may have no memory of the country because they came here so long ago. Many of them will have no support in Jamaica or they may no longer have family and friends there.

The people the Home Office proposes to deport have been held effectively incommunicado because of problems with the mobile phone signal in the area of the detention centres. So it is not clear that the potential deportees will have had all the appropriate legal advice. Campaigners are asking that, at the very least, these deportations are halted until the Windrush review has been published and studied.

The Windrush scandal was traumatising for Britain’s black community. It is very important that Britain’s diverse communities see that we are all entitled to fairness and due process. 

Abbott is probably the most reviled woman in parliament, no matter what the Blairite ladies were saying about the misogyny they’d supposedly received from Corbyn’s supporters. The Tories and their lackey press hate her as a left-wing firebrand and an anti-racist activist. But here she shows herself cautious – she doesn’t actually call the deportations racist, although I’m sure that is very much how it appears to her as well as others. I’m also aware that most people don’t have much sympathy for the perpetrators of serious crimes. But that’s evidently what Johnson was hoping for when he selected these people for deportation. He hoped that their criminal records would mean that either no-one was bothered, or he could depend on the right-wing press on presenting it as good, British justice. And needless to say, those criticising it would once again be presented as foul liberals siding with crims because they just happen not to be White. But Abbott and the other MPs and campaigners are right. This looks very unjust. It does look like Windrush Mk 2. And if it goes ahead, it will mean that Johnson and the Tories will be bolder the next time about deporting people. And that will mean people, who are innocent any crime or serious wrongdoing, with the exception that they were born outside this country, or are the wrong colour.

And after Johnson finds out how far he can get away with victimising Blacks, he’ll start doing it to everyone, regardless of the colour of their skin. That’s another reason why he has to be stopped, apart from the obvious racism.

The Labour Party, Affirmative Action and the Problem of Liberal Prejudice, Part 2: Sexism, Misogyny and Misandry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/02/2020 - 5:35am in

In the first part of this post, I discussed some of the problems that may arise from all-Black and Asian election shortlists, as suggested by one of the candidates at the recent Labour party deputy leadership hustings in Bristol. In this part I wish to examine some of the problems of the same candidate’s declaration that they were determined to fight misogyny. I am certainly not denying that sexism exists in society, and that women are very far from being equal. I realise that many women have struggled and continue to struggle to make themselves accepted in male-dominated professions and workplaces. I realise that there are many jobs not considered suitable for women. And I also realise that despite some women managing to break the ‘glass ceiling’ and reach the very heights of management, there are still very few female managing directors or chairs of companies. However, the situation is changing in some areas, and this is not reflected in the debate about sexism, sexual harassment or gender and violence, at least not at the level of the popular press.

One of the issues is education. Since the 1990s boys have been falling behind girls at school and I gather that the majority of university students are also women. I know very well that women have had to struggle to get to this point. When I was growing up in the 1980s I remember reading a number of articles about brain sex stating that women would never be equal with men in certain subjects, like maths and science. But this has been shown to be false too. There are a number of factors affecting boys’ performance. One is the importance of sport, sex and violence over ‘book-larnin”, so that one academic commenting on the issue in the 1990s said that boys weren’t interested in the ‘3 Rs’ as the ‘3 Fs’ – football, fighting and, well, you can guess. Another factor may be that teaching is now very much a female-dominated profession, to the point where some schools have been described as ‘man deserts’ because of the lack or total absence of male teachers.

Other factors are class and those jobs traditionally viewed as masculine. Traditional working class male jobs, like mining, emphasised strength rather than academic performance. It may well be the case that, among some working class boys, academic performance is discouraged as effeminate and ‘poofy’. But class has also been a factor. A friend of mine grew up in rural Suffolk and went to the local comprehensive school. As he tells it, it had been a grammar school and still retained a very snobbish class ethos. The school ran classes in its sixth form to prepare pupils for going to university. My friend is highly intelligent, and he told me that despite achieving very good grades, the school never put him in this class. He came from a very working class background, and the school did not consider working class children to be suitable for university. And I’m afraid that there are some teachers that are very sexist in their attitudes to the children in their charge. I’ve heard horror stories decades ago of headmasters, who set up two classes for the bright and less bright. All the boys were in the first, and all the girls in the second. At the same time, I’ve come across two teachers in my time in school, who in my experience did not like boys and treated them worse than the girls. One was female, one was male.

These are issues that need to be examined if boys’ academic performance is to be improved. But there is a problem whether a political and social culture, that has and is making great effort to improve girls’ and women’s academic performance, is also able to to devote the same kind of effort and energy to boys. If boys also need special treatment to help them achieve their potential, then some feminists may resent that as an attack on the schemes that have helped women to make such great strides in achieving theirs.

I’m sure that when the candidate spoke about misogyny, she meant instances of clear hostility and aggression to women. Like discrimination, sexual harassment, abuse or violence specifically towards women. Domestic violence, and the stuff that Harvey Weinstein has been accused of. However, what makes this problematic is the way some feminists have extended it to include even trivial gestures, which many people of both sexes wouldn’t consider aggressive or demeaning. For example, one feminist academic has claimed that women’s self-confidence is knocked through ‘micro-aggressions’ such as calling them ‘love’. This was heavily criticised in the press, with some male writers pondering whether they were being treated with aggression and contempt when women called them ‘love’. Last week an expert from the Chartered Institute of Management appeared on Sky, I believe, and declared that management should stop men talking about sport in the workplace, as this excluded women and led to other laddish behaviours, like boasting of sexual conquests. This was also attacked by anti-feminist bloggers and vloggers like Sargon. Benjamin stated that he’d worked in offices, that were overwhelmingly female and where the topics of office conversation were typically female: makeup and men. Which obviously left him isolated. I’ve also worked in offices where the staff were overwhelmingly female, some of whom were extremely crude. In my first job, one of the girls one day told the rest of the office about how she had been to see a male stripper the night before. I’ve no doubt that if the situation was reversed, feminists, if not ordinary women, would find that unacceptable. But is there now a double-standard in that talk of such excursions is acceptable, if the strippers are men?

Ditto with sexual harassment. This is always discussed as something that men do to women, never the other way round. A few years ago there was a scandal about MPs groping parliamentary staff. This focused very much on women, who were leading the protest. But the Beeb report, as far as I can remember, also mentioned that half the victims were men. Nothing then was said about how they were affected or what steps were being taken to safeguard them. Did that mean that men’s safety in this regard was not as important as women’s? Again, the other year there was a report about the prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment at universities. One report in the I said that 75 per cent of women students had experienced it. It also said that 25 per cent of men had also. The article then described how universities were trying to tackle it by laying on courses educating students about the issue. But the rest of the article only discussed it as a problem that affected women. The men were mentioned and forgotten.

Domestic violence is also an issue that is framed almost exclusively as something that men inflict on women. I’m very much aware that throughout history, this has been very much the case. However, a friend of mine, who is a former nurse, told me that when he was being trained, they were told that both sexes were sent to the hospital in equal numbers by the partners. Men were, however, much more likely to kill their wives. I certainly do not mean here, to suggest anything to prevent vulnerable women from being given the help and protection they need against violent and dangerous men. The Tories have left such women increasingly vulnerable through cuts to women’s refuges and centres. While it is recognised that men also suffer from domestic abuse from women, you don’t hear that women hospitalise as many men as the other way around. Nor have I come across many articles talking primarily about men as victims of female violence. In fact, I can’t think of one. But I’ve also come across some extremely foul-tempered, violent women. I’ve no doubt discussion of the issue is constrained by some men feeling emasculated by talking about it. No man really wants others to think him ‘pussy-whipped’. And there is the attitude that men should just be a man about it all, and take it. At the same time, I think some women and feminists may also have qualms about discussing gendered violence towards men with the same kind of concern that’s given to women in case in detracted from the campaigns to end violence against women. But clearly such violence exists, and so needs to be tackled.

A campaign to tackle genuine misogyny is entirely praiseworthy. But it overlooks the way men can be similarly affected, and a narrow focus solely on women threatens to create new forms of sexism, rather than combat it. 

 

 

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