Let’s compare the structures of PL vs. the common structures of anarchist organizing spaces that enable patriarchal violence:
|Bro code||Male-dominated groups fear confronting their own patriarchy; machismo is valued||Male-dominated groups fear confronting their own patriarchy; machismo is valued|
|Unity above accountability||Party unity is primary||Group cohesion is primary|
|Political priorities||Class struggle is primary, feminism is anti-working-class||Attacking the state or capitalism is primary over attacking internal oppression|
|Structure||Rigid structures prioritize party leadership, party cohesion||Hidden structures based on social capital and friendships prioritize “cred” and charismatic white men|
|Accountability processes||Pointless “self-criticisms” with no change in individuals, structures, or politics||Prioritizing rehabilitating and healing perpetrators of violence over protecting survivors’ safety|
|Social relationships||Prioritizing party members as more important people than non-members||Unwillingness to disrupt social relationships with harmful people|
|Individual value||A rapist is more important to the party than their victims||A rapist does more or better work than their victims|
Anarchists must stand for something
Every anarchist group already agrees to basic principles of anti-oppression, whether it be from the state, economic relationships, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, etc. These principles must be put in practice to our best ability in our everyday work, or our political projects are meaningless lies we tell ourselves.
Too often organizing spaces for specific projects become support groups for shitty people at the expense of organizing. Not only to these people blow apart projects everywhere they are involved, but they continue to operate freely, moving from project to project and network to network. At the same time, targets of their behavior (usually women and people of color) join, quickly burn out, and are never seen again. If your group has ever noticed, “Why are there so many men here?” or “How can we get more people of color to join?” or “How do we get women to speak up?”, it’s your fault. The culture within your group is oppressive to these people, and they are sick of explaining to you for the thousandth time to shut up in meetings when others are talking, or prioritize their suggestions, or not to be condescending and patronizing, or to stop hitting on them after meetings, or to do some fucking work outside of meetings instead of just showing up to meetings and blabbering about your awesome ideas and cred.
Our capacity is limited
We do not have the expertise, numbers, or structures to be mental health counselors, rehabilitation coordinators, and justice systems within our organizing groups. Building these structures could be useful projects, but we cannot divert our energy from our other important goals to “rehabilitate” rapists or racists or jerks or let projects fall apart because someone is harming the group and the group is too cowardly to confront them. It’s also important to realize that many worthwhile modes of restorative justice are considered the role of the state, and the state will come after you if you step on their turf.
We must acknowledge that everyone is imperfect and support each other in our personal growth. We also must expel clearly harmful people from organizing spaces. We must not take energy from other important projects to fix harmful people. We need to support survivors of violence and oppression at the expense of including violent or oppressive people. That this is not part of our culture is shameful and shows the deep hypocrisy of our movement. If we allow oppressors to operate within our groups, our organizing is nothing but masturbatory, self-congratulatory, hypocritical bullshit that perpetuates everything we tell ourselves we’re against.
Tyranny of Structurelessness, J. Freeman
What does SWP’s way of dealing with sexual assault allegations tell us about the left?, L. Penny
The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities; C. Chen, J. Dulani, L. Piepzna-Samarasinha
Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements, C. Morris
Misogynists and the Left, M. McAlpine