Monday, 31 March 2014


Very interesting article. I'm not sure how accurate the criticisms are.

In Theory | Autonomism: The future of activism?

One of the major influences on contemporary activism has been European Autonomism, whose mark was present in the 2008 uprising in Greece, the Ungdomshuset revolt in Denmark, as well as the wave of summit protests around the world. Political theorist Andrew Robinson traces its origins and development, and explains why it could be the future of activism.



 By Andrew Robinson
Activism today often seems to exist as a separate layer, resisting incorporation in the wider society, and creating a counterculture with its own spaces, social relations and rituals distinct from other social groups. This is largely because activists seek autonomy as a prerequisite for other kinds of social relations. Autonomy has replaced orientation to the masses as the central orientation of activism, and in doing so, has enabled horizontal forms of relations to replace (at least tendentially) the vertical party-model.
Activists are oriented to living differently and to changing the world, not to acting as the leaders of a particular class, and have moved away from interest-based concerns to questions of ethical commitment, non-conformism, anti-authoritarianism and the rejection of a wide array of repressive and stultifying aspects of the present system, from the work-system and the police to the abuse of animals and the devastation of the biosphere.
How did this transformation come about? Contemporary activism comes from a range of sources: anarchism, deep ecology, Situationism, Feminism, Pacifism – but one of the major influences has been European Autonomism, and I suspect this is one of the major reasons for the changing orientation towards horizontalism and autonomy.
Autonomism emerged in Europe in the 1970s, primarily in Italy and Germany (and, theoretically, mainly in Italy), and has since loosely defined the kinds of movements involved in the 2008 uprising in Greece, the ungdomshuset revolt in Denmark, as well as the wave of summit protests, etc.
To be sure, many of the people involved in these movements do not identify themselves as autonomist, but the strategic perspectives involved in the theory have quietly spread through resonance and indirect influence. In any case, the matter may not be so much about influence as the effect of a particular zeitgeist, which autonomism, Situationism and other 1960s/70s-era movements expressed, a zeitgeist which marked the special characteristics of the rebellion of this period and the kind of things it rejected. The zeitgeist is an effect, I think, of a particular phenomenon: the seduction of consumer society ceases to operate as a utopian horizon once it is realised past a certain point, and ceases to seem as utopian as it did in its absence.
Autonomism provides, however, a useful theoretical looking-glass through which to examine the perspectives arising from this historical moment. While different national movements had different influences – the ecological aspect was very strong in Britain, the Greek movement was heavily inflected by resistance to the military dictatorship of the 1970s and subsequent betrayals of the resistance – the clearest theoretical articulation arose in the Italian context, with Italy serving, in autonomist terms, as the ‘laboratory’ for new forms of struggle which later spread across Europe.
Well-known figures in autonomism include Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti, Paolo Virno, Sergio Bologna, Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Romano Alquati, Mariarosa dalla Costa, and a number of others. These authors articulated a new variety of Marxist theory which expresses the vitality and power of a historical moment which is not yet over.
Today, autonomism and anarchism have become almost interchangeable, but their historical origins are rather different. Autonomists in Italy emerged as a left splinter from the Communist Party, initially coming together as micro-parties before adopting more horizontal approaches. This happened via the mediation of operaismo or ‘workerism’, an approach focused on workplace struggles. The language of autonomism and post-autonomism to this day has remained inflected with a rhetoric of communism and class struggle which strongly indicates its origins in Marxism. It was rooted in close analyses and empirically-based accounts of the changing situation of workplace and social struggles, and was formulated by a group of activist-intellectuals who were direct participants in the events they described.
For autonomists, the driving-force of historical change is not capital or the state, but rather, the self-activity (or ‘autovalorisation’ – creation of one’s own values) of the working-class, defined broadly to include all of the people who are exploited directly or indirectly by capitalism (such as housewives, who perform ‘reproductive labour’, refugees and migrants, whose subordination is part of the creation of low-wage economies, and unemployed people, who despite not being in a ‘job’ as such, are still active in ‘social production’ or the creation of social relations).
This struggle is the starting-point for understanding capitalism, and it creates a different perspective, similar to the ‘reversal of perspective’ in Situationism, which sees issues from an autonomous standpoint rather than the system’s standpoint. For autonomists, the transitions between phases of capitalism – for instance, between welfare-state Fordism and neoliberalism – are not primarily capitalist strategies, but rather, responses to (or even after-effects of) working-class revolts which make earlier forms of capitalism unsustainable.
Capitalism seeks to capture and exploit the creative force of labour, but cannot exist without it; on the other hand, labour can be ‘autonomous’, existing without capital (and without the state, which in autonomism, is viewed as a part of capitalism). Historical changes occur as new forms of resistance force capitalism to adapt in response. There is thus a constant tension between ‘class composition’ or ‘recomposition’, the process of recreating spaces of autonomy and non-capitalist social relations, and ‘decomposition’, the process through which capital closes down such spaces and breaks down such relations.
Autonomist analysis suggests that resistance is everywhere. Ordinary people – and especially, people seeking to reclaim bits of their time from capitalism, or refusing to be disciplined into the role of obedient subjects – are already engaged in forms of agency which escape the system’s logic. Practices such as slacking-off, calling in sickies, sabotaging equipment to get time off work, using wildcat strikes to maintain power against bosses, and so on, were deemed to involve a challenge to the subordination of creative activity to capital.
Autonomism also pioneered wider social strategies, such as ‘autoreduction’, the political appropriation of goods and services through mass refusal to pay, for instance, political shoplifting and faredodging. These everyday acts of revolt are viewed in autonomism as the ‘real movement of communism’ as utopia – communism is not a goal to be achieved in the future, but is already present in everyday refusals. This produces an almost Manichean dichotomy between the forces producing autonomy and the forces seeking to suppress it.
A second force, an ‘outside’, is always present, immanent in everyday resistance, and periodically becoming visible as autonomous spaces and zones, and as alternative kinds of social relations. (It is sometimes linked to the Marxist point that use-value, the motive for consumption, is tendentially outside of exchange-value; in neoliberalism, this division is undermined, exchange-value comes to define use-value by defining high-status commodities, and the result is a crisis of representation, as the system refers tautologically to itself, without a recognised outside).
The force of the outside begins to create a new society when it acts autonomously from the commands it receives from capital and the state. It emerges as a new society in forms such as new social networks, occupied factories, social centres (see below), and everyday forces of resistance. At any point, it is at a certain level of composition, but it contains the potential to form an entire other society outside the terms of the present global system, and repressive forces are constantly working to prevent it from further composing beyond its current composition, and to decompose it.
Informing the autonomist analysis of such struggles is the idea of the ‘refusal of work’. To ‘refuse’ work is not necessarily to be unemployed; it is to refuse to be disciplined into the set of traits and characteristic ‘behaviours’ deemed to make a person ‘employable’. A person may ‘refuse work’ to one degree or another by for instance, being unable to keep to a rigid timetable, being resistant to obeying orders, or refusing to conform to dominant speech or dress-codes. It’s not so much a moral rejection of work as an insistence on the primacy of one’s own desires and particularities over whatever arbitrary standards the powers-that-be happen to impose.
Autonomism is thus similar to the dissident scenes which emerged in the old authoritarian-socialist eastern bloc. It insists on the right to be different, the right to insist autonomously on one’s own perspective and way of life, against the homogenising pressures of neoliberal conformity. To ‘refuse work’ is also not to refuse to engage in any kind of activity, but rather, involves reclaiming one’s creative power from its entrapment in the dominant system. By refusing work, one becomes capable of value-creating, autonomous creative activity.
What, then, is the role of activists, who are seeking to overcome capitalism? The creation and defence of spaces of autonomy is taken as crucial, with activists acting as a defensive line between spaces of autonomy and state strategies which seek to destroy them. This involves the formation of forms of counter-power which can be mobilised against state repression. This idea of counter-power is perhaps best developed in the squatters’ movement: if police attack a squat, activists will blockade the squat to make it expensive to evict, hold disruptive protests elsewhere in the city, and break open new squats, making the attempt at repression both costly and self-defeating.
The creation and defence of autonomous spaces is also taken as crucial. The radical squatters’ movement has drawn heavily on autonomism, partly because squatting is a clear case of autoreduction (in this case, of rents), and partly because squatting is a means to carve out autonomous spaces. One innovation which can be traced to autonomism is the ‘social centre’, a site, usually squatted, which acts as a node for radical social networks, providing a meeting space and a range of services.
In Nottingham, Sumac and JB Spray are arguably social centres; Sumac in particular acts as a focal point for a wide range of ecological and other activist meetings and events, providing services such as a library, bar, catering service, computer access, meeting space and specific events such as a childrens’ evening and music and film events.
In Britain, spaces of autonomy have been negatively affected by decades of neoliberal decomposition, but quite recently, Britain had a thousands-strong eco-activist scene and an even larger free party scene with an annual circuit of temporary autonomous spaces. At further degrees of development, one can expect autonomy to be expanded to entire areas. In some cases, such as the Christiania commune, the Exarcheia district of Athens, and formerly Kreuzberg in Berlin, entire districts become largely autonomous, with police able to enter only through a military-style invasion under a hail of bricks, and a vibrant counter-society flourishing in the margins of the old.
The next stage from this might be to link up all the autonomous areas, creating a secondary map which surrounds and besieges the gridded map of capitalist flows, pushing the latter back into increasingly small areas of the globe. To do this, of course, the question must be addressed of building links between autonomous spaces in different areas, including with indigenous groups and autonomous movements in the global South.
For a number of reasons, ‘classical’ autonomism is difficult to find today. One reason is that it was a special product of ‘laboratory Italy’, a site of intense social struggles which were eventually repressed as a neoliberal, and highly authoritarian, regime took shape.
The autonomist movement in Italy was weakened by a wave of repression, in which activists were accused of guilt-by-association with the Red Brigades, and leading figures such as were jailed (though descendants of autonomia, such as Ya Basta!/Disobedientes, remain active in Italy to this day).
Another reason is that autonomism is a process-oriented, change-oriented theory which reacts quickly to what are perceived to be changes in class composition, reformulating itself in new terms. From the mid-1980s, autonomist authors such as Negri and Virno have moved away from the militantly antagonistic politics of classical autonomism into various strands of ‘post-autonomist’ theory.
In these more recent approaches, neoliberalism is viewed as paradoxically creating the conditions for liberation, with the working-class recomposing as a ‘multitude’ directly involved in production across the whole of society.
This rather reformist move left the field of militant autonomy to authors from anarchist backgrounds, such as Alfredo Bonanno and the Invisible Committee. These authors have made extensive borrowings from autonomist theory. Hakim Bey’s theory of temporary autonomous zones also extends the idea of autonomy, focusing on the reclamation of spaces neglected by the dominant gaze. Hence, the focal point of autonomy has moved sideways from autonomism into anarchism. This has led to the emergence of current groupings which are sometimes referred to as ‘neo-anarchist’ or ‘anarcho-autonome’, drawing strongly on both traditions.
Autonomism is vital in thinking through questions of autonomous agency, and especially in terms of the importance of creating an ‘outside’ counterposed to the dominant way of life. Some limits should, however, be noted. There is something of a contradiction over the issue of creative or productive power and the relationship to work in autonomism, which can be summarised as a contradiction between ‘power to the workers’ and the ‘refusal of work’. On the one hand, people are taken to have creative potential because their labour is the underpinning of capital; on the other, their creative activity today is exhibited primarily as refusal to take part in such labour.
The tension between the refusal and the valorisation of work remains unresolved in autonomist theory. The latter aspect can lead to a worrying progressivism or developmentalism, which is disempowering in relation to forms of resistance which defend unincorporated spaces rather than ‘passing through’ capitalism, and which creates the danger that problematic aspects of the present organisation of work will be reproduced in a future ‘liberated’ society, albeit without the parasitic layer of bosses on the top.
On a related point, I often find this style of theorising worryingly collectivist. There is a certain tendency in autonomism to suggest that the class, rather than particular people or groups, are becoming autonomous. This raises the question of what it is that integrates people as a class, or a single community.
Many autonomists would probably maintain that people have a kind of essence, or ‘species-being’, which links us all together and provides a basis for a non-dominatory society to nonetheless show high levels of commonality. I suspect this is wrong, and that current integration is an artificial effect of the very mechanisms of command which autonomism would do away with. In other words, without capitalism, there would not be a ‘class’ as a unitary entity either.
This raises the question of how people who are autonomous, or small groups of similar-minded people which are autonomous from other such small groups, can interrelate constructively. This is a problem which arises concretely in activist settings, and which is partially addressed by horizontal processes which seek to avoid the subordination of any participant to the group or to others.
As David Graeber puts it, the emphasis of anarchist organising is not on convincing everyone to agree, or imposing one group’s views on others, but rather, on finding ways that people who are fundamentally different, who will likely never agree, can nevertheless coexist and work together on particular projects. I think this is more helpful than thinking in terms of a unitary class, community or multitude as the focus or goal of agency.
Autonomism tends not to take seriously enough the extent to which people are drawn into identities and attachments through which they come to support the status quo. By emphasising how people are always in struggle, autonomism downplays the extent to which ordinary people often have reactionary beliefs which can be turned against struggle. Indeed, it doesn’t really deal with psychology at all (it does, however, borrow an Althusserian theory of ideology which engages to some extent with these kinds of issues).
The kind of issues which would be crucial to, say, Reich, Marcuse, Castoriadis, Guattari, or Foucault are noticeable by their absence; their place is often filled by economics or ontology, which do a bad job of engaging with motives and complex defence-formations. This is not the only theoretical gap. In my view, the class structure of contemporary society is more complex than autonomism tends to allow. In particular, strategies of inclusion which create intermediary layers, of reactive network formation (such as patronage networks) which incorporate people through relative advantage or hostility to worse-off others, and conflicts between capital and the state tend to become invisible in this account.
Even the agency of capital can be elided, as capitalist changes are reduced to the effects of workers’ struggle. This approach is useful in defining an adversary, but strategically limiting in failing to see the complexity of forces at work.
On a similar note, I would question whether an emphasis on the totality of people engaged in productive activity is useful in the contemporary context. Segmentations between included and excluded/marginalised groups of workers/producers are sharpening drastically, and it seems to me that the included have on the whole been drawn disastrously into the Third Way recomposition. There is thus a need to theorise the agency of the excluded and marginalised, separately from the category of ‘all of those who produce’. Indeed, I would argue that, in contrast to Fordism, neoliberalism actually reduces the extent to which excluded/marginalised groups are nevertheless ‘productive’.
For instance, the formal economy is shrinking in large parts of the world. Radical theory may have to reorient from the included-but-exploited, or ‘adversely incorporated’ – who are disempowered by the very conditions of their inclusion – to the practice of those who either refuse and de-link from (at least some aspects of) the dominant system, or who are forcibly delinked by the system. This reformulation would also take us beyond the autonomist contradiction regarding work, perhaps by reformulating creative activity against the work-system, in favour of subsistence, gift economies and other forms of non-commodified creative activity.
Autonomy has a future, despite the current wave of decomposition, as it provides the necessary antidote to alienation and commodification in social life, re-empowering subjects beyond the restrictive frame of the dominant system. Autonomy necessarily tends to produce itself as an outside in the present, else it would be reduced to the status of a fantasy supplemental to the dominant system. To seek to empower and maximise autonomy, it is necessary to always look for outsides, however partial, and seek to bring them together into a complete outside, another way of being, another world.
The current weakness of autonomy is strategic. Capitalism innovates in the field of repression, and autonomy must innovate in the field of defeating repression. The next great protest wave will come about when new means are found which render non-viable the current, neoliberal/Third Way composition of global capitalism.
This is a movement from which the last has not yet been heard.

Andrew Robinson is a political theorist and activist based in the UK. His book Power, Resistance and Conflict in the Contemporary World: Social Movements, Networks and Hierarchies (co-authored with Athina Karatzogianni) was published in Sep 2009 by Routledge. His ‘In Theory’ column appears every other Friday.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

To read

Marx's Capital 

Scaling the wall: what to do if you get stuck while reading Marx’s Capital.

David Harvey -Companion to Marx' Capital.

Reading capital politically - Harry Cleaver
Study guide for Capital - Harry Cleaver

and other Harry Cleaver:-

Majorly important:
Libertarian Marxism's Relation to Anarchism - Wayne Price.
Karl Marx: Economist or Revolutionary?
Marx's crisis theory as a theory of class struggle - Harry Cleaver
Karl Marx and the state.
The problem with work: feminism, marxism, antiwork politics and postwork imaginaries - Kathi Weeks
Sex, Race and Class
(Selma James

Of lesser importance:

From operaismo to autonomist Marxism
Work is still the central issue - Harry Cleaver
The refusal of work - Workers Committee of Porto Marghera

The Contradictions of the Green Revolution - Harry Cleaver
Theses on Secular Crisis in Capitalism
Nature, Neoliberalism and Sustainable Development: Between Charybdis and Scylla
Introduction to Antonio Negri's Marx beyond Marx
The Inversion of Class Perspective in Marxian Theory: From Valorization to Self-valorization
Response to Sergio Fiedler's Attack on Autonomous Marxism
On Schoolwork and the Struggle Against It - Harry Cleaver
Kropotkin, Self-valorization And The Crisis Of Marxism
Organizing for workers' power - Adriano Sofri
Our operaismo - Mario Tronti
Clock time and life-time saving
What is communisation?


Deleuze, Marx and Politics
A cavalier history of surrealism - Raoul Vaneigem

Witch-hunts and the transition to capitalism?

        Reproduction and immigration - Mariarosa Dalla Costa


Communist measures - Leon Mattis

Spontaneity, mediation, rupture

Terrain for an encounter: social anarchism and communisation

Communization and the abolition of gender
The conjuncture: a concept necessary to the theory of communisation

On the dialectical method - Amadeo Bordiga

In the Social Factory?: Immaterial Labour, Precariousness and Cultural Work

Observations on The Communist Manifesto - Raoul Vaneigem

Toward the human community - La Guerre Sociale

A world without money: communism - Les Amis de 4 Millions de Jeunes Travailleurs

Wages against housework - Silvia Federici

Is capitalism a market society?
Caliban and the witch - Silvia Federici

"The elimination of capitalist work or abstract labor can only mean the elimination of concrete useful labor, insofar as this is an activity imposed as a form of social control."

" Because useful labor is in this way the producer of value / control as well as use-value, it cannot be "liberated." It must be smashed in its present forms in order to smash value itself. "

" the state cannot be seized and used as is but must be destroyed. So, too, with useful labor as it exists in its concrete forms under capital."

"To speak of postcapitalist "useful labor" is as problematic as to speak of the postcapitalist state -- its transformation must be both qualitative and quantitative."

 We have seen that it is the tendency under capital to constantly extend work. The quantitative as well as qualitative (division of labor) extension of useful labor as a means of social control underlies abstract labor and thus value. But we have also seen this extension to have been achieved only in the face of working-class opposition. We can postulate that, in postcapitalist society, the victory of these struggles will certainly mean the quantitative reduction of useful labor as an essential element of its qualitative transformation -- "the general reduction of the necessary labor of society to a minimum."

" Conversely, the perpetuation and expansion of useful labor in contemporary socialist society, like the perpetuation of the state, is one sure sign that capital has not been destroyed. "

"Those who attack "alienated" work or who speak of the "degradation" of work under capitalism do grasp the way capital transforms useful labor into a mode of domination"

" Unfortunately, they miss the dialectical relation between the quantitative expansion of work as social control and its qualitative transformation. As we have seen, capital is, above all, quantitative in its expansion. It shapes quality as part of that expansion. To speak of the overthrow of capitalist work we must take both aspects into account. The only way to achieve "unalienated" work -- or work as an activity which is not a function of domination -- is through the elimination of the element of compulsion which has been inseparable from its quantitative expansion."

In effect "zerowork" means the conversion of "useful labor" into one element of what Marx calls "the full development of activity itself." Capitalist development, he wrote, has created the material elements to permit, after the revolution, "the development of the rich individuality which is all sided in its production as in its consumption, and whose labour also therefore appears no longer as labour, but as the full development of activity itself."

"What does "activity itself" mean? In what kind of a situation is work not work? Marx had little to say on this subject, largely out of principle. He rejected the utopian socialist project of outlining in advance the nature of postcapitalist society. He clearly felt that it would be invented in the process of revolution by the mass of workers on the basis of their possibilities and desires and not on the basis of some intellectual's fancy. "

"Thus, although he rejected utopian speculation, we can surmise that within the revolutionary process Marx would have warmly embraced the slogan "All Power to the Imagination."

Thoughts on the SWP.

  • SWP are the most vanguardist group of the Leninist groups, there currently is. I despise them with a  passion even though it contains well intentioned people.
  • The SWP could be the NSa- they're everywhere.
  • The SWP  are the hipsters of the left. They'll jump on whatever is currently popular and be interested in it so long as it's popular. I debate having an anti-SWP demo but my worry would be the SWP membership would turn up to support us.
  • SWP hijack everything. This is similar to  Entryism which is defined as "a political strategy in which an organisation or state encourages its members or supporters to join another, usually larger organisation in an attempt to expand influence and expand their ideas and program. In situations where the organization being "entered" is hostile to entrism, the entrists may engage in a degree of subterfuge to hide the fact that they are an organisation in their own right."
  • Trotskyists use Entryism.
  • Some leftists act like celebrities and develop cults of personality pretty much turning up to things for photo ops  e.g. The SWP .    
  • It's sad that on some demos I've ended up chanting with the SWP because they've been the most militant folk there. Least the SWP believe in revolution( even if their concept is more like a coup) , are critical of the Labour party and skeptical of Scottish Independence which is more than I can say for some 'socialists'.       
  • I get perverse pleasure out of the bullshit of the Leninist parties and groups and how  fundamentalist  they are. Each claims it is the only true vanguard
  • I nurse the theory that the SWP are a  newspaper cult. 
  • There's a fair amount of unspoken tension on the left. Often I find myself protesting or hanging out with people I have major disagreements with-liberals, greens, Leninists, parliamentary socialists etc.  
  • •The next person to try to sell me the Socialist Worker gets it shoved up their arse
  • Trotskyists like to appropriate anarchist things.Liberals do too.    
    •Everyone who is not a Leninist has that awkward Leninist friend. You always nurse a suspicion they'd shoot you if it came to it. Some remove any doubt.   
  • I get annoyed being invited to something then figuring out it's an SWP front
  • SWP fronts:- United  against Fascism(UAF), Coalition of Resistance, The People's Assembly Against Austerity,People Before Profit Alliance,RESPECT, NUS?,
  • Words which come to mind when I think SWP:  Omnipresent, Hijackers, Fronts, Celebrity, Messianic,  Cult, Newspaper, Channelled Rage,  failure, 

Some of the worst.

*work in progress*

Fortnum & Mason
Koch Industries
News Corporation
The Coca-Cola Company
salvation army.
General Electric.
BAE Systems Inc.
EDO Corporation
Lockheed Martin
Balfour Beatty
Sir Robert McAlpine
Apple Inc.
Time Warner

Check out


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

For a more nuanced Sex-Positive Feminism.

"My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit!” – Flavia Dzodan.

"There are some basic facets of sex-positivity that I find indisputable: that only “yes” means yes, and only when that yes is given freely, enthusiastically and completely uncoerced. That sex can be and is great when its between people who are into it, who want the same things or are willing to try new things together. That wanting and seeking any kind of sex, particularly as a women, is normal, awesome, and a source of pride for many (myself included). "-We Need Positive Feminists — Sex Positive Feminists, That Is

Essentially  my reason is that sex negative vs sex positive debates can be too simplistic and that I favour a more nuanced sex positive feminism.
  1.  Womens Liberation and liberation in general includes but is  not reducible to sexual liberation/body positivity etc. I can see how telling people to stop worrying about their bodies isn't helpful to a rape victim for example.
  2. I oppose censorship of porn and do not think it's inherently exploitative yet exploitation around it should be acknowledged and opposed.
  3.  I support sex workers/sex worker unions and oppose slut-shaming/whorephobia while recogning exploitation surrounds it and needs to be opposed.
  4.  finding the balance between openness about sex vs avoiding objectification/commodification.
  5.  It could ignore or marginalize asexual people or people who do not match with claims they make about sex.
  6. I'm not anti-BDSM but I believe it must be done as part of a feminist context. If you're a feminist in everyday life then carrying out BDSM activities can be feminist while if you're not in the everyday it's likely to be abusive.
  7. I do not think polyamory is inherently liberating or feminist and can be patriarchal.It depends how its done.

 Other discussions of these topics:

The Soapbox: Feminism Deserves Better Than “Sex-Negative Vs. Sex-Positive”

unpopular opinion time: asexuality & sex positivity

Thoughts on Sex Work.

  • I’m against slut shaming  or saying sex workers are bad women while those who aren’t sex workers are good women or that sex workers can't be feminists(whorephobia). To me all of those behaviours are patriarchial  pushing certain kinds of sexual relationships above others and trying to hinder sexual freedom/autonomy.
  • My feminism is third wave and opposed to telling women they can't wear veils,makeup,shave their legs etc while aware that there are nuances to it and it's very contextual whether it can be liberating or conforming to patriarchy and objectification.
  • Autonomy vs whether it’s exploitation/benefits patriarchy. Surely it's highly contextual in the same way that women might wear a veil for example,  for postcolonial reasons vs for patriarchical reasons vs some imperfect attempt at avoiding objectification. A wholescale condemnation of sex work is as bad as a wholescale acceptance of it or Milton Friedmanesque laissez faire approach in the same way that I think being Anti-porn or unconditionally pro-porn are over simplifications.
  • Sex workers experiences differ between different types of work. Sex workers experience is not monolithic and it's wrong to treat it in that way.
  • We should consider sex work in an intersectional manner looking particularly at intersection of class,race,gender binary, trans* issues, non-monogamy,capitalism, government  etc.
  • Of course sex workers can be raped and abused.
  • I’m against sex trafficking or sex slavery which is intersectional in that it has links to poverty,racism ,imperialism and colonialism
  • Some sex workers are exploited or coerced but not all?
  • Sex work need not be inherently sexist or exploitative(other than being a commodity relation) but since it exists in sexist oppressive society then of course those aspects will flow into it just as it does with pornography.
  • I’m against patriarchial justifications  for sex work.
  • Non sex worker feminists shouldn’t try to speak for them without listening to sex workers.
  • I support sex worker unions and sex worker rights.
  • Making sex work from stripping to prostitution illegal harms sex workers so I’m against it.
  • Closing of saunas and raids on them as seen recently in Edinburgh( do not help women but harm them forcing them out onto the streets into worse conditions.
  • I’m against prostitution being a criminal offence (decriminalization) since it is just body policing by patriarchy.
  • The sex workers themselves should have control- no bosses- as always workers control is the ideal and the aim otherwise it's a hierarchical and oppressive relation in that sense.
  • Helping sex workers is part of the revolution and liberation of all humanity.
  • Commodification of sex? Is that any worse than commodification of education or food? Ultimately I oppose money and a market economy so ultimately I favour the abolition of selling of sex or sex work  as a trade or as involving wages  but that’s far off and would be part of the wider anarchist revolution which needs to destroy capitalism and Patriarchy. 
  • What about those who end up in sex work due to debt , poverty or addiction- that’s not much of a free informed consenting choice. True!  but it's only of a slightly different degree than any other kind of work/wage labour. And even then it's not there fault for ending up in an industry which abuses them.
  • So ultimately I favour the abolition of sex work since my anarcho-communist position demands the abolition of  the market economy and by extension money, wages and work (except that which people voluntarily choose or is necessary for society to run)
Notes based on a talk by a sex worker.

  • SWOU- No bosses, No managers.
  • Selling sex is legal but clients and workers criminalized using different laws.
  • criminalization harms sex workers.
  • Indoor workers criminalized if they work together in Co-operatives and have been convicted of brothel keeping each other.
  • landlords have to evict sex workers if they learn of their work since they can be convicted of "living off immoral earnings" or aiding sex work.
  • Sex workers need legal rights to aid the fight.
  • Safer Lives: Changed Lives: A Shared Approach to Tackling Violence Against Women in Scotland- harms sex workers.
  • In Scotland no organisations recognise sex workers as  workers therefore they get treated as abused based on that paradigm and it hard for them to get good help.
  • If your workplace is criminalized you can't much organize.
  • Bosses, mafia and the state do not want organized sex workers.
  • The licensing of saunas gives power to the bosses and managers and restricts what workers can do.  This is the problem with regulated or legalized sex work. So with or without licenses, it's not good enough.
  • GMB union does sex worker workplace organizing. Some IWW do too but not much.
  • Crosstalk: migrant sex worker organisation. Set up in 2004. Got co-opted by right-wing who wanted to let in managers.
  • legalized sex work is paternalistic. Police become de facto controllers of sex workers- of when and where and how they work. Even sometimes take their money.
  • Sex workers oppose criminalization because it seems progressive but takes power away from them and  seems progressive.
  •  Edinburgh IWW should seek to work with sex workers.
  • trafficking laws harm migrant women since migrant women are assumed to be potential sex workers so you get  trafficking panic.
  • Sex workers support decriminalization.  not legalization.
  • The state and the police have free reign to use violence against sex workers and arrest them to "support them".
  • Most services sex workers go to ask "how do I get you out of sex work" rather than "what do you need " to be safer etc.
  • Swedish model- criminalization.
  • anti- sex worker industry 'rescue industry' helps police put women into sweatshops.
  • The difference between legalization and decriminalization: legalized e.g. Netherlands. stigma written into law, state gets lots of power, mandatory testing. decriminalized e.g. New Zealand. Written by sex workers. Power given to the workers. Sex workers can work together in co-ops which is safer. manager has to be licensed. Sex workers can  refuse client for any reason or for no reason. NZ sex workers very organized. Stronger consent laws in NZ for sex workers than for ordinary folk in Scotland.

Useful Links:- -Probably the most concise article that reflects my position. - "The title of the leaflet "Prostitution is not compatible with Anarchism" hints at a confusion between an anarchist response to the present conditions and a vision of what an anarchist society will look like, which becomes more explicit upon a further reading of the leaflet. Our appeal for an anarchist analysis of sex work, an anarchist mode of organising around sex worker issues, and the support of other anarchists when organising around these issues, in no way implies that sex work is in any way compatible with an anarchist-communist society. While most anarchists would consider the abolition of all work to be an eventual aim, we need to struggle within the system we have now to move forward and to improve our conditions in such a way that lays the foundation for this change. An anarchist analysis of the the problems in the sex industry and what problems in our society it feeds into, in no way precludes this."

The New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective (NZPC)
The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP)-Since 1975, the International Prostitutes Collective has been campaigning for the abolition of the prostitution laws which criminalize sex workers and our families, and for economic alternatives and higher benefits and wages. Sex Worker Open University is a project created by and for sex workers. You might be working as an escort, rent boy, porn actress/actor, professional dominatrix or submissive, cam model, erotic masseuse, sexual healer or street worker; this is a place to socialise, learn new skills, and create events together. Our aim is to empower our community through workshops, debates, actions and art project as well as fighting against our criminalisation.​

Thoughts on Crime and prisons.

*Work in progress*

" however optimistic may be our hopes, and rosy the future, the fact remains that delinquency and the fear of crime today prevents peaceful social relations, and it will certainly not disappear from one moment to the next following a revolution, however radical and thoroughgoing it may turn out to be"
-Errico Malatesta.

"We do not believe in the infallibility, nor even in the general goodness of the masses; on the contrary. But we believe even less in the infallibility and goodness of those who seize power and legislate, who consolidate and perpetuate the ideas and interests which prevail at any given moment. "-Errico Malatesta.

  •  There are so called crimes which currently are really challenges to the existing order  for example theft.
  • I think only things which harm individuals or the community including animals and nature should be considered crimes. Acts like assault, rape, murder  basically acts of violence. But also pollution etc.
  • Only acts which violate freedom, equality and solidarity should be considered crimes.
  • Crime cannot be considered in a vacuum. They often represent to some extent the failure of society.
  • We should tackle the causes of crime which are often the oppressions of society. That can only be ultimately achieved by revolution.
  • There will still be crime in a post- revolutionary society and we need means to deal with it. But we should avoid the oppressive ways of dealing with it currently.
  • I believe an anarcho - communist society will have the lest amount of crime.
  • I consider smacking of children to be violence. It teaches them to internalize violence is acceptable and that they should accept violence inflicted on them by 'social betters' like the police. Therefore it ends up encouraging oppression, hierarchy and authoritarianism. Surely it also is internalized in such that domestic abuse victims feel it was 'right' for them to be assaulted. 
  • I favour transformative and restorative justice instead of prisons ,capital punishment or  corporal punishment. I am  a prison abolitionist.We must seek alternatives to prisons, laws and current practices.
  •  I think safer spaces policies are the beginnings of these practices.
  • anarchists cannot give blueprints of what these alternatives will look like- that would assume prophecy and would also be very undemocratic . We do not have all the answers and no one should pretend we do. We shouldn't say nothing about them either though. We cannot give specifics for every case. We can merely compare solutions which express our principles and which solutions do this better.  We can offer guidelines and rules of thumb.
  • examples of good groups dealing with crime and prison abolition : INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence ,
  • The PIC is unnecessary for solving crime, ineffective in solving crime and requires the existence of a undemocratic  authoritarian society/ encourages the existence of such  a society.
  • The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) profits from crime and from punishment. It has no interest in ending crime and has vested economic interest in not  truly solving it.
  • The PIC embodies and institutionalizes oppressions already existing in society. It embodies all of them, absolutely all of them. Furthermore all the oppressions existing in society support and encourage  the PIC.
  • The media play up fears of crime to support the PIC. Even if they do not aim to do this that's the result.
  • With increasing privatization of prisons esp in the UK,  corporations benefit from prisons.
  • The PIC is used to criminalize the poor especially the homeless.
  • The mentally ill should not be in prisons.
  • More money is spent on prisons than housing or education. "Schools not jails". "Education not incarceration".
  • Hiding people away does not end the causes of crime.
  • people who define as queer are disproportionately targeted by the PIC, law, police etc. 
  • The PIC removes people from society, removes control of solutions to crime from grassroots democratic control,  profits corporations, puts people in environments where they can be made more hostile/ exposed to more anti- social behaviours and ideologies i.e. is ineffective, does not end crime since crime still continues in prison, is used to suppress dissent/ punish the most oppressed and marginalised and worst of all  overwhelmingly targets the worst off e.g. people of colour, homeless etc. 
  • The PIC props up the failed war on drugs.
  • The PIC throws the most marginalized the most oppressed under the bus- the poor, the homeless, people of colour, indigenous people, LGBTq + people, those with mental illness etc
  •  The PIC is environmentally harmful wasting time and resources on massive scale.
  • Prison abolition is a long struggle requiring revolution.
  • Constructive mutually beneficial dialogue is important for working for a better world , for effective  direct democracy, for solidarity etc.
  • solutions to specific crimes should be dealt with locally,  in the community. They should be dealt with giving ultimate weight and consideration to the victim(s) of the crime/s while following anarchist principles. We should(with some possible exceptions in the case of oppressors)  oppose vigilantism or mob rule.  
  • We can work for reform of the PIC but we must not call for more prisons.
  • Prison abolitionism is opposed to the ide of accountable prisons/prison guards etc.

 Good quotes :-

  •  "Naturally the crimes we are talking about are anti-social acts. That is those which offend human feelings and which infringe the right of others to equality in freedom, and not the many actions which the penal code punishes simply because they offend against the privileges of the dominant classes. Crime, in our opinion, is any action which tends to consciously increase human suffering, it is the violation of the right of all to equal freedom and to the greatest possible enjoyment of material and moral well-being. "-Errico Malatesta.
  • "I imagine that no one would be prepared, theoretically, to deny that freedom understood in the sense of reciprocity, is the basic prerequisite of any civilisation, of "humanity"; but only anarchy represents its logical and complete realisation. On this assumption, he is a criminal-not against nature or the result of a metaphysical law, but against his fellow men and because the interests and feelings of others have been offended - whoever violates the equal freedom of others. And so long as such people exist, we must defend ourselves"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "One must eliminate all the social causes of crime, one must develop in man brotherly feelings, and mutual respect; one must, as Fourier put it, seek useful alternatives to crime."-Errico Malatesta.
  • "One can, with justification. fear that this necessary defence against crime could be the beginning of and the pretext for, a new system of oppression and privilege. It is the anarchists' mission to see that this does not happen. By seeking the causes of each crime and making every effort to eliminate them; by making it impossible for anybody to derive personal advantage out of the detection of crime, and leaving it to the interested groups themselves to take whatever steps they deem necessary for their defence; by accustoming oneself to consider criminals as brothers who have strayed. as sick people needing loving treatment, as one would for any hydro-phobe or dangerous lunatic - it will be possible to reconcile the complete freedom of all with defence against those who obviously and dangerously threaten it. Obviously this is possible. when crime will be reduced to sporadic, individual and truly pathological cases"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "These people if they lack the coercive powers to impose their ideas, only succeed in making a mockery of the best things; and if they have the power to command, make what is good hateful and encourage reaction. For us the carrying out of social duties must be a voluntary act, and one has the right to intervene with material force only against those who offend against others violently and prevent them from living in peace. Force, physical restraint, must only be used against attacks of violence and for no other reason than that of self-defence"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "But who will judge? Who will provide the necessary defence ? Who will establish what measures of restraint are to be used? We do not see any other way than that of leaving it to the interested parties, to the people, that is the mass of citizens, who will act in different ways according to the circumstances and according to their different degress of social development. One must, above all, avoid the creation of bodies specialising in police work, perhaps something will be lost in repressive efficiency but one will also avoid the creation of the instrument or every tyranny"-Errico Malatesta.
  • "For authoritarians and statesmen. the question is a simple one: a legislative body to list the crimes and prescribe the punishments; a police force to hunt out the delinquents; a magistrature to judge them and a prison service to make them suffer. And, as is understandable, the legislative body seeks through its penal laws to defend, above all established interest, which it represents, and to protect the State from those who seek to "subvert" it. The police force exists to suppress crime, and having therefore an interest in the continued existence of crime becomes provocative, and develops in its officers aggressive and perverse instincts; the magistrate also lives and prospers thanks to crime and delinquents, and serves the interests of the government and the ruling classes, and acquires, in the course of exercising its function, a special way of reasoning, which makes it into a machine for awarding a maximum number of people the longest sentences it can. The warders are, or become, insensitive to the suffering of prisoners and at best, passively observe the rules without a spark of human feeling. One sees the results in statistics on delinquency. The penal laws are changed, the police force and the magistrature are reorganised, the prison system is reformed, and delinquency persists and resists all attempts to destroy or reduce it. It is true of the past and the present, and we think it will apply in the future too. If the whole concept of crime is not changed, and all the organisms which live on the prevention and repression of delinquency are not abolished! "-Errico Malatesta.

Good resources:-

Crime and Punishment by Errico Malatesta

Emma Goldman- Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure .


Prison abolitionist Toolkit

brilliant short discussion of working for prison abolition

INCITE! Critical Resistance Statement

The Anarchist Black Cross

Resources/ Notes on Prison abolition.

*In the process of being sorted out*
  • "The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems."
  • "the PIC helps and maintains the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other privileges. There are many ways this power is collected and maintained through the PIC, including creating mass media images that keep alive stereotypes of people of color, poor people, queer people, immigrants, youth, and other oppressed communities as criminal, delinquent, or deviant. This power is also maintained by earning huge profits for private companies that deal with prisons and police forces; helping earn political gains for “tough on crime” politicians; increasing the influence of prison guard and police unions; and eliminating social and political dissent by oppressed communities"
  • "Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. It’s also about undoing the society we live in because the PIC both feeds on and maintains oppression and inequalities through punishment, violence, and controls millions of people"
  • "Restorative justice (also sometimes called reparative justice) is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, instead of satisfying abstract legal principles or punishing the offender. Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, "to repair the harm they've done—by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service". Restorative justice involves both victim and offender and focuses on their personal needs. In addition, it provides help for the offender in order to avoid future offences. It is based on a theory of justice that considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offence against an individual or community, rather than the state. Restorative justice that fosters dialogue between victim and offender shows the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability."

    • "PIC abolitionists we understand that the prison industrial complex is not a broken system to be fixed.  The system, rather, works precisely as it is designed to—to contain, control, and kill those people representing the greatest threats to state power. Our goal is not to improve the system even further, but to shrink the system into non-existence. We work to build healthy, self-determined communities and promote alternatives to the current system."
    • "We know that more policing and imprisonment will not make us safer. Instead, we know that things like food, housing, and freedom are what create healthy, stable neighborhoods and communities. We work to prevent people from being arrested or locked up in prison. In all our work, we organize to build power and to stop the devastation that the reliance on imprisonment and policing has brought to ourselves, our families, and our communities."

    Groups Involved:-
    Critical Resistance is a national, member-based grassroots organization that works to build a mass movement to dismantle the prison-industrial complex.

    "Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the prison industrial complex (PIC) by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC. Because we seek to abolish the PIC, we cannot support any work that extends its life or scope"

    "Founded in 2009, Against Equality (A.E.) is an online archive of writings and arts that critique mainstream gay and lesbian politics. A.E. currently focuses on issues regarding the institution of marriage, the U.S. military, and the prison-industrial complex via hate crime law".
      Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, former member of Black Panthers Party and anarchist political prisoner, wrote "A Draft Proposal for an Anarchist Black Cross Network" in 1979. Here is an excerpt from that proposal:
      "The stated purpose of the Anarchist Black Cross Network is to actively assist prisoners in their fight to obtain their civil and human rights, and to aid them in their struggle against the state/Class penal and judicial system. The prison system is the armed fist of the State, and is a system for State slavery. It is not really for "criminals" or other "social deviants," and it does not exist for the "protection of society."
      It is for State social control and political repression. Thus it must be opposed at every turn and ultimately destroyed altogether. The abolition of prisons, the system of Laws, and the Capitalist State is the ultimate objective of every true Anarchist, yet there seems to be no clear agreement by the Anarchist movement to put active effort to that anti-authoritarian desire. We must organize our resources to support all political/class war prisoners if we truly wish to be their allies, and we must give something more than lip service.
      Organizing against the enemy legal and penal system is both offensive and defensive. It is carried on with individuals, groups and among the masses in the community. We must inform the people on a large scale of the atrocities and inhumanity of the prisons, the righteousness of our struggle, and the necessity of their full participation and support. We must organize our communities to attack the prison system as a moral and social abomination, and we must fight to free all political/class war prisoners."[
    • If so, one would be forced to suppose that the prison, and no doubt punishment in general, is not intended to eliminate offences, but rather to distinguish them, to distribute them, to use them; that is not so much that they render docile those that are likely to transgress the law, but that they tend to assimilate the transgression of the laws in a general tactics of subjection.�(Foucault, 1975: 272)
    • "Foucault theorized the reason the prison system has lasted so long is it benefits the ruling social class"
    • "Prison is the ultimate embodiment of that age of discipline."Foucault.
    • "Yet John Brown was a political criminal; so were the Chicago Anarchists; so is every striker.. am not very sanguine that it will, or that any real change in that direction can take place until the conditions that breed both the prisoner and the jailer will be forever abolished- " Emma  Goldman.


    Sunday, 23 March 2014

    Thoughts on Porn.

    Jumping into ‘The Feminist Sex wars’ (Began in the 80s)

    • There's a difference between porn as a concept and porn as a business/industry.
    • Those who work in porn example of are workers( proletariat/ working class)   therefore by definition, are exploited/oppressed.
    • Why are people more offended by sex workers than sweat shop workers or any other workers.
    • We should not be prudish either. We should not demonize nudity. There's nothing inherently degrading about being naked or images of nudity. It's the context in which it is presented which is the important issue.
    • There's been a problem with puritanical authoritarian kinds of feminism e.g. Dworkin. 
    • There's different types of porn so people experience it differently therefore we should void sweeping absolutist statements about porn. We should neither be uncritical of porn nor totally dismissive of it. This seems another issue in which women are caught between the dangers of two extremes- between avoiding puritanism/repression and  avoiding commodification/objectification and it's not easy to navigate.
    • Lots of the writing on porn is terrible.
    • anti-porn feminists seem to only pick out examples from hardcore porn.
    • I'm opposed to both of the absolutist extremes in this debate. It's requires nuance.
    • I think you can be feminist and watch porn or feminist and take part in the porn industry.
    • Porn is not inherently objectifying or oppressive. There is porn which gives space to show women etc as having personalities, having conversations  and might include people who have real life relationships having sex.
    • I think the kinds of porn which are less oppressive or less objectifying are closer to what sex is like in real life. So that's things like home made or amateur porn.
    • The less directed by someone outside the sex acts  the less oppressive and objectifying.  
    • The less professional/staged/ commercial   by someone outside the less oppressive and objectifying.
    •  Showing conversations either before/during/after sex acts reduces objectification.
    • Humour, mistkes, silliness, imperfection, clumsiness, awkwardness etc reduces objectification.
    • Those who work in the porn industry are sex workers. I'd say the same about those in porn as any other workers - they should totally control their workplaces without bosses/managers/ union bureaucrats/ vanguards or politicians.
    • Sex workers should be unionized globally.
    • The uncritically pro-porn side is inclined to dismiss oppression/exploitation/objectification/commodification. My best example of this is Right-wing Libertarian Wendy McElroy who calls herself a 'Individualist Feminist' .
    • I am equally opposed to censorship (Dworkin and MacKinnon’s position) .Censorship is repressive. It tends to be led or inspire conservative cultural attitudes. Control of sexuality is extremely dangerous and disempowering. Isn’t denying the possibility that  women can choose to watch porn or be in it, a denial of their agency and humanity- the very reason porn is criticized?
    • Censorship has been used to deny rights to LGBT + people.
    • "One aspect of the whole phenomenon of porn that is often left out of the discussion is that of homosexual porn. Much of the pornography produced today shows men having sex with men, with a growing proportion depicting woman-woman sex. The anti-porners tend to ignore homoporn because it gives the lie to many of their arguments."
    • Porn can be sex ed for people who live in repressive environments.
    • Done in a certain way ,representations of cock sucking can express domination and subjection which in the context of patriarchy can seem oppressive. That's not to say it's inherently oppressive.
    • For some reason hardcore porn seems to be the most problematic.
    • Women can and do enjoy porn. 
    • Objectification is a real concept and denial of it weakens anti- capitalism. Representations of women, Trans* people, fat people etc in our current society re terrible pretty much across the board so kinds of  porn aren't  much different.
    • Porn does have negative aspects :Porn can be objectifying( encouraging passivity and disempowerment),can  encourage  bad body images, porn can give unrealistic ideas of sex,relationships,women etc.
    • The problems start when people think certain kinds of porn represent reality - "Some of these men prefer porn to sex with an actual human being. They are bewildered, even angry, when real women don't want or enjoy porn sex"
    • Is what the anti-porn feminists want women to be, a new kind of gender role?
    • Since we exist in a patriarchal capitalist white supremacist society it's inevitable that porn will express that . Porn can and often does express the oppressions of our society. For this reason the porn industry cannot be completely empowering and must by necessity be exploitive and oppressive.
    • BDSM: Is BDSM sexist or oppressive? Not inherently.  Only if it is carried out by people who  re oppressive in our contexts. Carried out by feminists it can be fine. Obviously it should always be voluntary and consensual and under mutually greed conditions.
    • There are people trying to make feminist porn. I think it's good to try though while in our current society I think it's very difficult and wouldn't be mainstream. It's more akin to  a commune within capitalism than real change of the system.
    • I don't believe porn inherently leads to rape but I don't think it's innocent of being part of rape culture sometimes too.
    • Is what we’re seeing a less sexually repressive society? Is that reduced repression being exploited by capitalism? 

     Resources:- - example of anti-porn feminism.

    Stoya on Ethics, Porn, and Workers' Rights- . Example of pro-porn feminism. But very un-nuanced and not my position.

    Boston Anarchist Drinking Brigade An Anarchist Defense of Pornography

    -Isn't careful or nuanced  enough for my tastes.

     "The rescue industry commits violence against sex workers, if you support people like Somaly Mam and Nickolas Kristof then you need to do some research into what they actually do because unless you think locking sex workers up and taking away their rights and freedoms is a good thing then you need to question who they are really helping"
    "While our society is highly controlled and deeply sexist, pornography may mirror sexism, but it never created it. Most porn is incredibly stupid and quite evidently exploits women as objects with wide-open orifices, beckoning: “I’m lovely, I’m your plaything, do what you want to me”. However, it is misleading to claim that all porn is violent and dangerous.
    Anti-porn campaigners often state that all women hate pornography; adding that all women working in the sex industry are victims. Rather than calling for safer working environments for sex workers, middle class moralists, bigots and intellectuals have called for more repressive laws and social stigma. The result is that it unofficially gives the go-ahead to the way both police and punters brutalise women working in the sex industry — and that is violence and sexism."

    "Feminists who want the law to clamp down on porn and the sex industry claim that they are not anti-sex. When pornography has been stamped out they say they’ll be more than happy to see it replaced by ‘erotica’.
    Apparently, ‘erotica’ is aesthetically pleasing, whereas porn is simply manipulative. But class prejudice and aesthetics go hand in hand — if the middle and ruling classes like a sexy image, they sanitise it by calling it erotic art. At the same time, the things that turn the working classes on get labelled as ‘smut’. We’re not referring to, or advocating things like the ‘Carry On’ films or ‘Hustler’ magazine either.
    Who then has the right to decide what’s art and what’s smut? Usually it’s middle class academics who assume the right. They have never been known to support either class struggle, or in this case, the sexual liberation and freedoms of both working class women and men, regardless of whether they’re gay, straight or bisexual.
    They do, however, fulfil a very similar role to the scientists of Victorian England, with their ‘biological arguments’, and the moralists of old who wanted women to be chaste and pure women before they had the right to vote."

    "Sex can be and should be enjoyable for all those taking part in it, and we should certainly not be sanctioned and frowned upon if sex is our way of earning a living, feeding our kids, and having a life rather than just surviving.
    That doesn’t automatically make prostitution or porn OK — no more OK than having to get up before dawn to build homes for the rich, or clean sewers or get our brains numbed in some production line or other. Neither does this make any excuses for the social fuck-ups and inadequates who rape, molest and abuse. "

    Closest to my views is this
    From Organise!

    Some quotes:-

    "However, the view that pornography (and in this case lap-dancing) in some way incites men to commit violence or rape against women is very dubious. Also, the simplistic overview of pornography and the sex industry in general — which is seen as a place where the women involved are super-exploited victims — seems to me to be one built on a form of conservatism or liberalism, crypto-religious moralism, with a large helping of sensationalistic media mythology thrown in for good measure. But only a smattering of this view is based on the actual reality of sex work or the sex industry, which, in truth, is extremely broad and multifaceted. Yes, sections of it are horrendously exploitative, sometimes tantamount to real (non-wage) slavery, and being little more than a means for commercial interests big and small, legitimate and illegal, to coin it in.
    But I’d say that (certainly in this country) many sections of the sex industry are no more, no less exploitative than any other capitalist concern and other sections still are about as unexploitative as you can get under capitalism.
    So to generalise about the sex industry too much leads to a very limited and naive understanding of it and says nothing about actual conditions there. "

    Now I tend to think of lap-dancing clubs as, well... crap. But in the socio-economic scheme of things, within capitalism, I’d put them in the above ‘no more, no less’ category of the system’s exploitative industries. In lap-dancing clubs, there are usually strict safety rules of ‘no physical contact’ between dancers and spectators and if you don’t mind being gawped at by some bloke or blokes, then the money isn’t that bad and pays a lot better than most other working class jobs. It’s also the kind of job where you can come and go as you please and the hours can often be quite flexible. True, employers usually discriminate by only employing women deemed stereotypically ‘attractive’ or ‘sexy’ and by having an upper age limit — on the basis of that being what brings in the paying punters.
    So as anarchist communists, our attitude to a lap-dancing club should be pretty much on a similar basis to our attitude to a cinema or a foundry or a supermarket — in other words, it’s about business as usual. But, of course, it isn’t that simple, is it? Why do people get so up in arms about these clubs that they want to campaign to shut them down more than they do the local rag trade sweat shop that pays ‘illegal’ workers a quid fifty an hour for a 12 hour day? Is it because in the former a woman has the audacity to dance naked or semi-naked for a few hours for a half-decent wage? Or is it because the campaigners don’t want to have (admittedly not very) naughty goings on behind closed doors in their neighbourhood?
    And why are people much less inclined to bother about campaigning against the local rag trade sweat shop? Is it because it’s ‘just a bunch of foreigners’ working there and they actually don’t give a shit about refugees working long hours, in awful conditions with little or no health and safety regulation, and getting paid piss poor money? Is it because working in the rag trade is at least ‘honest toil’ where no one has to get their kit off? Or are people just OK about having those kinds of seedy things going on behind closed doors in their neighbourhood?

    Now when talking about what I call this middle bracket of ‘no more no less’ exploitative sections of the sex industry (e.g. lap-dancing clubs), I get the sneaking suspicion that what it all comes down to is morality. What’s really at issue here is that people use their bodies in a sexual manner for money. “And only a really, really exploited person would do that, wouldn’t they? Or someone psychologically damaged... sexually abused as a child... a helpless dupe... someone on the side of the enemy... Well, how can any self-respecting woman allow herself to be objectified in such a way?”
    Well I’m sorry to say this, but it’s as if some of us haven’t really moved on from Queen Victoria’s day and sex is still the big taboo it always was. Sex for sale, sex as a commodity, sex in public, sex in print and on film, offbeat, bizarre, kinky, fetishistic, wayward sex, missionary style sex, in fact any kind of sex at all in a public arena is the issue.
    People who choose to attack the local lap-dancing club but not their local petrol station do so because of personal morality/moralism about sex. Sex makes it a moral issue because if we were just talking about a simple economic relationship, then it really is as humdrum as the next industry. But we’re not, are we? So, when certain anarchists single out the lap-dancing club or the adult bookshop, they’re not basing their actions on a class analysis, but on what they think is morally good or bad for the rest of us (which actually brings into question their interpretation of anarchism). This elevation of their opposition to the sex industry is a personal moral choice, but it’s got absolutely nothing to do with either a revolutionary class analysis or with anarchism itself"