Supposing gender is an artificial construct -- where do we begin?
Androgyny -- from the radical feminist perspective, at least -- refers -- much like the point of communism in Marxist theory -- to the end point, the point of liberation, in which gender constructions are smashed, and the male and female sexes can live in equality. Just as Engels recognized that the oppression of women arose only once the concept of private property had developed, there is no reason not to take this reasoning a step further and say: private property didn’t only create patriarchy, but within that, a set of arbitrary predicates by which people could be cast into two hostile camps based on their sexual organs -- and thus, creating the gender binary.
Gender roles are an all-pervasive constituent of everyone’s daily lives: ever since you were put in pink clothes or blue clothes, ever since you were given Barbies or Action Men, ever since you were expected to become a mother, ever since you were socially castrated for being non-heterosexual -- the gender binary has become socially normative. But it does so much more than just tell little girls to become mothers, or give males an inordinate sense of self-superiority -- it pervades throughout society into all relationships, between all individuals -- sexual or otherwise. It affects the way men and women interact, how two straight males interact, how queers interact with straights, people of different nationalities, classes -- fundamentally, the gender binary has trapped people underneath a mass of social expectation. Sartre’s concept of “mauvaise foi” suddenly makes much more sense once you understand the cause of it. We have two identities: the first, the true individual, identity-less and fluid, trapped in the mind; the second, an altered individual, outwardly normative, but suppressed by the social expectations which stem from the gender binary.
The entire raison d’être of Kate Millett’s feminist theory is the creation of this ‘androgynous society’, in which individuals (not just women) can have one identity again, because the gender binary has been smashed and there are no obvious gender-distinctions. But this isn’t a simple road to follow: as long as the cultural hegemony accepts the family, Capitalism, the State -- how can we expect to build consciousness? Society is structured based on power struggles, whether that’s between men and women, queers and straights, cis-people and trans-people; and as long as these power struggles exist, as long as all individuals are essentially pitted against each other, and as long as this is accepted by politicians, economists, the arts, and -- especially -- popular culture -- what motivation do individuals have to think otherwise? The promise of liberation is useless when the oppressor is subconscious, when the oppressor is all-pervasive but always-silent, when the oppressor is all of us. The conscious few are not the liberated few -- how can you be liberated when so many of your allies are still passive towards this oppression? When homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, and rape culture are socially normative, when the average life expectancy of a transgender person isn’t even thirty -- the achievements of feminism and queer liberation are significant, but few and far between. When the Church of England can’t even bring itself to accept female bishops, when the Catholic Church outrightly refuses to allow female clergy at all. When nearly all religions are endemically prejudiced -- minus a tiny minority -- this is not the free, liberated society that the Enlightenment philosophers theorized would be the results of the Capitalist revolution. And why not? It should be. An economic model that is based on the complete anarchy of the system should surely allow one to reap certain social benefits? So what is holding us back?
Firstly, there is private property, which -- regardless of attempts made by liberal and social-democratic governments to create systems of welfare -- keeps all individuals in the rigid class dichotomy; secondly, the existence of static gender definitions -- which further categorizes people after they have already been forced into a certain economic class. Wittig criticized Marx for only seeing oppression in terms of economic class, and in this she is correct. If we look at each economic class: the working-class, the Capitalist-class, and the last few dregs of the aristocracy, people are further sub-categorized into male and female roles within their respective classes. Liberation is cross-class and cross-gender; make society classless, make society genderless, and then there is no unjustified hierarchy.
Marxist theory, up to this point, has focused purely on economic liberation, but equally fundamental to an egalitarian society is social liberation. And just as economic oppression is defined by being proletarian or bourgeois, social oppression is defined by femininity or masculinity, being queer or straight, your ethnicity, etc. -- all false constructions! This is why androgyny has such a necessary role in liberation; it is an individualistic revolution -- it allows individuals to break free of the bonds of social normativity. Just as class consciousness has to be formed, as does gender-based consciousness -- especially a consciousness which allows people to see the fallacy of the male-female binary and allow themselves to embrace themselves as that individual; not to be culturally pigeon-holed.
Fundamentally, genderfucking is a political statement. Men: flamboyancy and makeup are acceptable. Women: short-hair and trousers are revolutionary tools.
So, what is the utility of the androgynous society? The elimination of relationships based on power-struggles, putting all individuals on an equal footing; the destruction of economic power being held in small cliques, equally dividing it amongst the masses; and -- most fundamentally -- making liberation movements redundant. The queers and women don’t have to assimilate into the hegemony, but make assimilation and the hegemony unnecessary.
“Students are full of assumptions about feminism, most of them wrong. Have they learned anything from Caitlin Moran?”
Nearly a week ago, much of the pseudo-hipster-right-on-anarcho-fabulous twitterati were either bemused or angered by a particular comment piece in the Guardian, trying to assert that -- firstly, many students nowadays don’t care about feminism; and, secondly, that a 21st century feminism should be centred around the kind of “ironic” [never has a word been more misused], liberal feminism espoused by columnists such as Caitlin Moran. Feminism has always been a broad church: transcending party lines, the left-right spectrum, and normative modes of political activism -- and so, one can expect not to agree with all strands of feminist discourse, but there are a number of principles accepted by feminists of many kinds which can be viewed not only as reactionary -- but as the antithesis to fundamental principles held by other groups in search of liberation. In short, a feminism of the 21st century cannot be an insular movement for cis-women -- as Moran, and many other liberal and radical feminists, it should be noted, would like -- but that feminist discourse should be a mere segment amongst the wider liberation movement; along queer, transgender, ethnic minority, disabled, etc. liberation.
A major point of contention for feminists, ever since the earliest days of the second-wave, has been the attitude towards transpeople, a prime example. Major stalwarts in the movement have been widely publicized in performing acts of political activism against transgender individuals: for example, Germaine Greer opposing the fellowship of a trans colleague to an all-women Cambridge University college, Moran’s casual use of the phrase “pre-op tranny” [thats “ironic” right? Right?!], and Julie Bindel’s continuous attacks against the transgender community for reinforcing what she calls “gender essentialism”. In short, what unites this system of logic is the belief that sex and gender and inseparable -- i.e.: the gender binary isn’t conjecture, but fact. Of course, empirically, we understand this to be a complete fallacy, but it nevertheless constitutes a large (or at least vocal) proportion of feminists, who believe that -- rather than gender be a fluid, constantly altering mass of social roles -- gender is sex, humanity at the most fundamental level, based on the reproductive organs one has, alongside a normative view of sexuality. Kate Millett’s wish of an “androgynous society”, a concept which defined second-wave radical feminism, may be popular -- the idea that gender can be destroyed in place of true individual liberty may seem like a nice idea on paper -- but the fact is: gender exists, and gender should be celebrated within a liberated society; individuals do have differences: we are distinct, but equal. And the continuous attacks against the transgender community is just one example which defines what has led to the perceived unpopularity of feminism: the false belief that female emancipation is more important than other forms of emancipation -- whether they are class-based, sexual orientation-based, or whatever other lines. And it is this kind of reasoning -- not the fundamental critiques of patriarchy that feminists such as Moran want to do away with -- that should be forgotten, intersectionality being the liberation movement of the 21st century.
It was the philosopher and political theorist, Friedrich Engels, who formulated what is probably the embryonic argument for intersectionality: tying together the argument for female emancipation alongside the argument for proletarian emancipation. His seminal work, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” (1884) outlines this philosophy, positing that prior to the existence of private property, there was a matriarchal society. Under Capitalism, the subjugation of women has intensified both in the home and in the workplace [influence perhaps for a certain “the personal is political”?], and the emancipation of women can only come about alongside the destruction of Capitalism and private property -- in short, the struggle against patriarchy is equal to class struggle. In the context of Marxist theory, this applies the abstract principle of historical materialism in practical terms: the economic position of women [under models centred around private property] is the root of their oppression. But in the context of liberation movements, Engels’s recognition that the position of minorities is alike that of the working class provides a framework not only for feminism, but queer liberation, ethnic minorities, and a whole multitude of groups. The normative opinion that oppression is psychological holds some coherence, but it misses out one fundamental point: the psychological state of a minority must be directly linked to its status under the economic system -- put simply, the sense of inferiority felt by minorities is because they don’t help maximize Capitalism’s potential, which is easily fulfilled by heterosexual, cis-gender individuals within the context of a nuclear family. Therefore, what Engels recognized as the oppression of women under Capitalism isn’t exclusive only to female oppression, but to all oppressed groups, thereby making intersectionality a necessity.
Engels’s discourse, however, isn’t the only example of this kind of reasoning. Monique Wittig, the French lesbian feminist, for example, saw women as an oppressed “class” and criticized Marx for only seeing class in economic terms, but it's the simplicity of Engels’s philosophy provides a framework with which liberation movements can replicate, and it is fair to say his work has been significantly undervalued during the past century. From it, we can take the belief that feminism should not end -- but that transgender erasure must cease, the ambivalent attitude towards queer, black, disability groups must cease, and that intersectionality is the key to liberation. The kind of liberal feminism espoused by individuals such as Moran is reactionary, and the radical feminism of Bindel and Greer borders on being dangerous -- and equally, the anti-logical philosophies of individuals from other liberation movements [à la Antony Hegarty’s “Future Feminism”, talking about ecologism, religion, and transfeminism] also need to be duly critiqued -- we are only left with intersectionality.
And fundamentally, unity needs to be found firstly between minority groups, and then alongside the working-class, before an egalitarian society can start to form.
Adding to the infinite list of articles by leftist theorists speaking about unity whilst being univocally ideological, we must ask the question: Why isn’t Socialism electorally viable?
Socialists are good at debate. We like debate; we like theory. If you throw multiple socialists into a room inevitably conversation will turn to political theory, as each participant name-drops Marx, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Benn; even when a socialist is alone, it is probably scientifically provable that about 80% of their thoughts are followed by some ideological analysis of what they just thought about.
What this means, though, is that a number of rifts and schisms exist within the socialist movement that aren’t true with other political ideologies. Classical liberals and social liberals disagree here and there, but they are still able to co-operate. But put an revolutionary socialist and a social democrat under the same definition and there’ll be nowhere near as much amitié. The only time the “left” unites is when a relatively greater evil is able to gain power or popularity; e.g.: the argument for military interventionism, the EDL and other fascist groups, the banking system [Occupy]. For a philosophy based around the idea of solidarity, we exist as a rather disparate collective. What this leads to is the gaining of little pockets of power and influence for a short period, but is then lost the second someone starts quoting Lenin. All socialists are agreed on the end point: an egalitarian, classless society in which all people gain the fruits of their labour. Why bitch about the means?
The anti-capitalist argument isn’t a complex one: society inevitably alters as economic and social relations change; each change will generally be for the better: feudalism is better than slave society, capitalism better than feudalism; although Capitalism is an improvement on other systems of the past that doesn’t mean it’s perfect by any stretch of the imagination. There are a number of fundamentals within Capitalism which allows it to be oppressive: most obviously the class system, then the business cycle, then the theft of the wages of the worker for the corporation’s profit. Leaving this argument which proves Capitalism systemically bad, we can from this posit that Capitalism keeps many people [what Marx called the “lumpenproletariat”] out of employment so the Capitalist class can accumulate wealth; that the business cycle only affects workers, not Capitalists; that this economic inequality inevitably affects social inequalities.
The anti-capitalist argument is by no means a revolutionary one anymore. It is within the zeitgeist that many corporations and banks are corrupt, that political power is concentrated within one class of people [leading to disenfranchisement]. But where the Keynesian zeitgeist likes to believe Capitalism is temporally corrupt, Socialists must prove that this is not true.
The socialist argument is equally an obvious one: Capitalism does not give the working people of the world the full fruits of their labour as much of it is stolen from them and called “profit”, therefore we should restructure society so that all people gain what is theirs by the destruction of private property and profit. In other words, society should be structured so that all people get what their labour deserves them. The misconception that parts of Capitalism are only temporally corrupt, not tautologically corrupt is at the centre of why a great Socialist movement hasn’t grown over the past few years. As we add to the vast bibliothèque of Socialist theory that already exists, we do nothing to look at economics from an elemental perspective, to show people that what they have been brought up on is in fact oppressing them — abstract reasoning is fine for metaphysics, but not for politics, and currently it’s extremely self-serving, especially as this is the first time in nearly a Century that Socialists could potentially set off a paradigm shift.
Therefore, we must strip Socialism down to its bare bones, to what it is actually trying to achieve. There are two main aims: i) to see an end to Capitalism; ii) from this, to create a classless society. Whether this is brought about by revolution or reform is irrelevant; whether this is brought about by parliamentarianism or direct democracy is irrelevant — and the movement itself needs to shift from staying internalized and transcendent of the rest of the political landscape to actually challenging the status quo. The only major Capitalist argument against Socialism since Thatcher has been “it’s not profitable”. Why, then, aren’t we asking “what’s so great about profit?”
What I would like to see happen is a united socialist party that brings together reformists and Communists to bring across a socialist message — a 21st Century eurocommunism. Not a party of social democrats and centrists, but also not a party of revolutionary, anti-parliamentary Communists. The surge in popularity for the Green Party, the farthest left major party currently, as well as the growth of the Socialist Left Party in Norway, the Left in Germany, and the Front de Gauche in France reflects how not only are we at the beginning of a potential paradigm shift in the political world as a whole, but that the socialist movement itself needs to shift to meet the needs of the 21st Century.
A socialist society is a society in which all people are equal; in which all people will gain the full fruits of their labour by collectively owning the means of production; in which people are not discriminated on based on their race, sexuality, gender, or any other defining feature; in which democracy is the guiding principle. Why wouldn’t such a concept win an election?
Capitalism isn’t “in crisis” or “corrupt”; what we have now is Capitalism flourishing. Let us not descend into a slogan-based, juvenile socialism, but press forward the argument that Marxism is a coherent socioeconomic theory.
Like most rational people, I’ve looked upon the Barclays scandal with a mixture of acrimony and despair. Despair not so much towards the state of our banking system, but to the way our world does economics as a whole; acrimony not purely towards the Capitalist class, but to two distinct but linked consensuses that have formed over the past 12 months — i) that Capitalism is “in crisis” or “corrupt” [with the inference that it can be improved], and ii) that the means by which to improve Capitalism is to have an inquiry and then implement “reforms”. There are a number of logical inconsistencies with this line of thinking:
1. The concept of an economic cycle that is so fundamental to Capitalist theory is not something which can be improved over the years through banking reforms, metamorphosis of fiscal policy, etc.; it is a natural fluctuation inherent in the system which allows the Capitalist class to continue increasing wealth at a negative correlation to the market itself, whilst the Working class stays disproportionately worse-off. An economic “crisis” is only a crisis for working people, not business people. The “goal” of Capitalism [if an economic system can be said to have a goal] is to accumulate wealth and property. The business cycle — at one end, “boom”; at the other, “bust” — streamlines the accumulation of wealth into one area: the Capitalist class.
2. The business cycle as the foundation of Capitalism means that when society reaches the “bust” stage, Capitalism reinvents itself to keep the Working class blissfully unaware of its fundamental oppressions. Classical economics was replaced with social liberalism, that with Keynesianism, Keynesianism with neoliberalism. Zizek calls Capitalism’s current permutation “Cultural Capitalism”. Capitalism is nowadays much more far-reaching than it ever was, using the “One for One” marketing strategy from Toms as an example of how Capitalism currently connotes more than just an economic theory but also an ethic: where the circulation of money & commodities was merely circulation, we now have traditional Capitalist circulation as well as social contracts inferred from that purchase. This economics+ethics both reflects the new “trend” in Capitalism, and gives the bourgeoisie a vacuous justification for their market speculation, disproportionate accumulation of money and private property, and perpetuation of wage-slavery for the Working class.
3. From these first two points, we are able to understand that the reform of Capitalism does not create a new, egalitarian system. The reform of Capitalism merely changes Capitalism. But Capitalism is systemically flawed. Like an uncured disease, the medication merely offsets the effects, but doesn’t get rid of it. The antidote to Capitalism is Socialism. Having an inquiry into banking and sending a tiny proportion of bankers into prison merely stops the problem for a couple of years, until a new generation of Venture Capitalists and Investors come in.
4. The aphorism “We are the 99%” accepts both Social-Democracy and oversimplifies Socialist theory. It looks at wealth inequality as a failure of Capitalism which can be remedied, not as a fundamental part of the economic system.
5. Social-Democracy can no longer be accepted as “Socialism”. Socialism connotes Anticapitalism; Social-Democracy is little more than Socialist-inspired Capitalism. Social-Democracy — and therefore the welfare state — is merely Capitalism+Charity. And charity may improve situations in the short-term, but in the long term, social divides stay the same. You cannot eradicate poverty — a result of private property — through private property. To quote Oscar Wilde, “The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life--educated men who live in the East End--coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins.”
* * *
Let us therefore bring these points together:
The current economic situation is not temporal misfortune, but the result of two phenomena that define our economic system: the business cycle, and the omnipotence of the Capitalist class. Attempts to reform the system may be well-intentioned, but essentially achieve nothing. As Capitalism is fundamentally oppressive, Socialism is the only rational conclusion to come to.
It was Friedrich Engels who initially split the left-wing into two camps of socialism: Utopian, and Scientific. Engels’ justified that Marx’s then new sociological methods of forming political theory constituted a new ideology transcendent of the socialism of Owen and Fourier — and that detailed analyses of society, along with a radical new worldview “Historical Materialism” constituted a science of society. But this cannot be true; there are a number of fundamental premises in science that mean sociology, economics, and philosophy cannot be seen as “scientific”.
Science is based on a number of fundamentals existing: particles, atoms, molecules, compounds, et cetera. These units are constant; although biology has now determined species evolve, the constituents of all matter — and therefore all understanding of the world around us — is undeniably constant. A carbon atom three millenia ago has the same formulation as a carbon atom a chemist would study in a laboratory today. The building blocks of science never change; but the unit of Marxism: “the individual”, is a constantly changing, revolutionizing, evolving entity. Our capacity to understand, to articulate and communicate, to be conscious of our existence means that there cannot be a concrete “science” of human society. Human society acting as one unit only exists economically, and even then we are split into the “two hostile camps: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat”. The closest academic discipline to a science of human society is history, but to assert there is some formula we can take from the past that will determine the future is alchemy! Let us then reword Marx’s apparent psychic abilities and say: Slave society and Feudalism have existed in the past; Capitalism exists currently; we can theorize that a new kind of society has the potential to exist in the future.
This is not to do away with Historical Materialism; it is still the fundamental principle of Marxism, one merely has to accept that you can’t tell the future with it. In his “Little Red Book”, Chairman Mao states that, “Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history; such is the history of civilization for thousands of years. To interpret history from this viewpoint is historical materialism; standing in opposition to this viewpoint is historical idealism”. This, still, is true. But historical materialism should be used as a means of analysis of past events to inform us of the potential evolution of society, not to create politico-religious prophecy. The evolution of society from Capitalism’s class system to Socialism’s classless system is not inevitable. As with all social phenomena, it is dependent on class consciousness. Marx and Engels tell us, “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains”. What if the workers of the world sit happily in their chains?
To continue looking at historical materialism, we may as well give it a definition. Let us begin by accepting that there are a number of necessities for human life; firstly in the biological sense of food and water, and secondly in the social sense of clothing, a place to live, and later on personal property. Therefore, for human society to continue, the production and reproduction of these objects is necessary. We can then say from this that human society is moulded around relations within production. Social humanity is based on economic humanity. The evolution of society, then, is dependent on the evolution of economics. Because history proves that society is constantly evolving, we can then justify that economics itself must also evolve. What we cannot say, though — is how economics will evolve.
Marx once said that “Religion is the opiate of the masses”. Currently, we may be able to agree that this is true socially. Because of the large class divide between bourgeoisie and proletariat, the oppression of the proletariat through the fallacy of religious emancipation can be seen as justified. But this is only true in class-based society. Therefore, religion can be seen as social opiate. And if everything in human society stems from a economics, there must be a corresponding economic opiate. Economically, wage-slavery is the opiate of the masses. As long as an individual has the necessities of life: food, water, clothing, a home; the individual will justify to him or herself that the system does not oppress them. But at the same time, their wage does not equal their labour-power expended! It is the existence of these “opiates” that halts social evolution. It is the failure of these “opiates” that allows society to evolve — inch by inch, year by year, until a new social order is created.
An individual needs a sufficient reason for radicalization. The social and economic aspects of Marxism, and therefore of socialism, are distinct. For simplicity, let us split socialism into two groups: revolutionary socialism, and reformist socialism. Many forms of reformist socialism are not class-dependent. It is wrong to say that the election of Social-Democratic parties across Europe (Denmark, France, Greece, etc.) necessitate embryonic stages of class consciousness. Does Britain suddenly become class conscious when it elects a Labour government? Social-Democracy is intent on preserving the norm; Social-Democracy does not grow a new society, it alters the current society because there are perceived to only be small areas that are “wrong”. Currently, it’s the state of the world economy. The growth of Keynesianism is the rise of a new Capitalism after the death of neoliberalism, not the growth of Socialism after the death of Capitalism. This is not a reaction against Capitalism, but a reaction against austerity. There may be some event, in the near or far-future, that radicalizes our society; but as long as the great majority of people aren’t class-conscious, then the great majority of people will accept the norm.
This does not mean that the Marxists of the world need be depressed. The function of Marxists — and of any revolutionary in any society — is to facilitate and force through the growth of the new society. The Capitalists were the revolutionaries of Feudalism; the Communist is the revolutionary of Capitalism. If there were no Communists, Socialists, or Trade Unionists, we would still have to face child labour, a 7-day week, a 12+ hour day, a holiday only on Christmas. If all we have to lose is our chains, then let us be the first to throw them off.
Nietzsche states, of mathematics, in “Human, All Too Human”, that it “would certainly not have originated if it had been known from the beginning that there is no exactly straight line in nature, no real circle, no absolute measure”. There is an inherent logic and order to the human study of the world, which perhaps runs perpendicular to the true nature of things. Physical “laws” are flexible; logic should not be treated as a complete and coherent understanding of things, but as a general explanation for experience. Just as the economists can mould and manipulate statistics to agree with their ideology, the philosophers and scientists of the world manipulate logic to supplement their hypotheses.
The reasons that the world cannot be seen purely from a logical, objective perspective are twofold. Firstly, our world is not logical; it is a constantly evolving entity subject to change each second. But mainly, we cannot look at the world objectively because humans do not look at the world objectively; we are a subjective species with individual tastes and opinions which are moulded mainly by an irrational aesthetic and an inherent hedonism, which even the most pious and reserved people cannot stop themselves from indulging from time to time. If there is a “meaning” or a “reason” to things, it is undoubtedly a construct that we humans have created, and the basis of all our objectivity eventually stems from our subjectivity. There is a schism between what we subjectively see, and what we think we should objectively see — and it permeates all areas of human experience.
Humans are fundamentally both individualistic and collectivistic — this is no grand claim, but a mere observation. We care both for the wellbeing of ourselves and the wellbeing of the community. One could perhaps create a spectrum going from the most individualistic of personalities to the most collectivistic, but as a mere generalization it is fair to say that humans as a social animal have both individual and collective tendencies. The failure of Capitalism is that it only cares for the individual — and only then the rich individual; the failure of Stalinism and Leninism is that it only cares for the collective, seeing not only the “people” but both bourgeois and proletarians as an incongruous group, like cattle, ready to be herded and then liberated (assumedly at regular intervals). Individualism does not breed collectivism, nor does collectivism breed individualism. They are separate concepts, with separate needs and necessities.
It is only Orthodox Marxism and its more libertarian strands that care for both the individual and the collective. What is the use of destroying the class system if all that happens is you move from one oppressed class and one free class to one huge oppressed class? Perhaps ironically, Trotsky recognizes in “The Revolution Betrayed” that Socialism cannot truly be called Socialism if it does not offer a better quality of life than the Capitalism which preceded it. Communization encompasses two distinct points — economic communization and social communization, and in both we must look at the worker both as an individual and in the collective. If the worker does not have his or her individual liberties from the collective, his or her freedom from being equal within the collective — what is the use of Socialism at all?
The fusion of the individual and the collective comes to fruition through democracy. There is no Socialist out there who wouldn’t put democracy at the top of their list of imperatives. But just as the dichotomy of individual and collective seems both combined but opposing, the subjective and objective implications of democracy seem to oppose one another. This concept has been popularized, perhaps in a more liberal flavour, as “tyranny of the majority”.
As democracy has numerous definitions, let us assume here that we are taking it to mean “the will of the majority, expressed through the consent of the people”. This definition can be applied to both representative and direct democracy, dependent on your ideology and suffices to explain the crux of the debate.
Democracy works in an objective sense. If the will of most of the people is carried out, then most of the people we can assume will be happy. But practically, this isn’t true, and it is for this reason that parliamentary democracy continues to be an oppressor throughout the developed world. Using the UK as an example, we can assume that most people support either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party. From this, we can assume that most of the UK’s population tend to veer slightly to the right or slightly to the left politically, but not massively so. We also know that most people in the UK are white and heterosexual. What we actually find, then, is that the “majority” is actually a very uninteresting, non-diverse group. The will and needs of the general majority do not always represent the people. There is a conflict of interest between the needs of the people and who “the people” are. Why would the majority care about issues that don’t affect them?
This can be demonstrated with two examples. The first deals with a group of people external of the majority grouping. This is the issue of equal marriage. Equal marriage, if legalized, will actually affect only the small minority of queer people, yet it is presented as an issue that affects all people. Let’s make up some statistics — if 65% of straight people [who are not affected] oppose equal marriage, but 70% of queer people [who are affected] support equal marriage; who here is “the people” and who here is “the majority”? Our second example is the issue of Scottish independence. Most people in the UK, about 80%, live in England, so if unionism was strong in England but independence strong in Scotland, there would still be more unionists in the UK, even though those who want to secede are concurrently a minority [across the UK] but a majority [in their region]. But a dichotomy comes from these two examples. The secession of Scotland from the UK is being decided via a referendum only in Scotland, but the fate of queer people through equal marriage is decided by straights. Is this truly democratic?
Democracy needs to find a centre ground between both the individual and the collective, as well as its objective and practical applications. Tyranny of the majority will inevitably lead to as much oppression as authoritarianism; the only truly “democratic” system is rule by those who are affected by the change. This is only attainable through the communization of society and the self-government of people through anarchist collectives. Before then, we have a fundamentally flawed society, and a fundamentally illogical world.
The wondrous nature of the English language, and indeed of practically all languages, is the communication of ideas. Indeed, it is the question & answer, the statement & corroboration, the opinion & counter-argument — lest the ability to think — that has distinguished the nature of humanity from the nature of other animal life. It is therefore rational to posit that the creation and evolution of ideas is fundamental to the continuation of the human condition. But there have — over the centuries and millennia — formed a number of ideas that stay, sit stoically like stone statues in an organic garden that otherwise alters, changes, and dies. And what are these ideas? It is these ideas that are nowadays collectively referred to as ‘religion’.
Before you look into the potential spiritual implications of ‘religion’ and religious ideas, it seems to be that there has formed a linguistic basis as to why organized faith is not widely questioned and it is for one simple reason only: the connotations of the semantics of religious language. The core, fundamental hypotheses (if we can call it that) and theories and arguments of any major religion are invariably described as ‘holy’ and ‘sacred’ and ‘divine’ and ‘angelic’ and ‘sanctified’. The Bible is not just the Bible but the Holy Bible. The Koran is not just a set of values and ideas but the actual word of God. The connotations of these words and the connotations of these concepts invariably promote fear within the less-educated, and not just that — but irrationality within those who, to perhaps sound childish for a second, should ‘know better’.
We can look at these two points separately. Marx made it plainly clear over a century ago that religion could be used as a tool for class oppression, which of course stems back to its semantics, when he recognized that:
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
Without going into too deep an analysis (for this was not intended to be an analysis of Marx, but it is impossible to escape him), Marx concretely summarizes the neurosis of the religious condition in a way no other philosopher or anti-theist has been able to. — “The oppressed creature” : what does religion do to a powerless class but allow for the strengthening of their oppression by forcing them into a collective servant of a probably non-existent God? — “The soul of soulless conditions” : what is ‘God’ but a scapegoat; an empty promise for truth (ironically), happiness, and an afterlife; that which keeps believers hopeful for salvation throughout an uncertain and useless existence?
The basis of all this is fear. Freud called it a “collective neurosis” just as Marx called it an opiate. This fear of religion which manifests itself inside people right from your early school days when you’re taught about the death of Jesus at Easter time and his ‘resurrection’. This fear of religion which eventually leaves otherwise rational people not to question it, its ‘holy’ nature leaving it from serious debate, stopping people from questioning it in the name of ‘offence’. Fuck offence.
Shortly before he died, Douglas Adams made a speech in which he addressed many of these ideas:
“Why should it be that it’s perfectly legitimate to support the Labour Party or the Conservative Party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows — but to have no opinion about how the Universe began ... no, that’s holy?
“...There is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn’t be.”
Adams’s criticisms lead much farther towards my second argument, addressing the academic blackout of a reasonable critique of religion.
There is something inherently irrational about not questioning something that is irrational in its nature. There is something inherently irrational about not questioning something because it happens to be prefixed by the word ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’. There is something inherently irrational about not questioning something because it may happen to offend a group of people. There is something inherently irrational about not questioning something that has influenced our society, the power-structures of today, the economic-structures of today, our legislature and its legislation, our judicial system; something that has oppressed people of other races, women, queers, the disabled — anyone not male, white, and privileged; something that claims authority for no other reason than its longevity. It is shocking that with the leaps and bounds science has made in the past 150 years, psychoanalysis, sociology, the Enlightenment, Marxism — we may have looked into the nature of God, but not into the nature of religion. God is pointless. God is not religion. Religion’s longevity — it must be obvious — is not to the longevity of the word of God, but to the longevity of religion as a social phenomenon that can be used to exert power onto vulnerable groups of society: just as our Parliament and a Capitalist economy can, but which have been critiqued more openly.
I identify as an agnostic through and through. My argument doesn’t concern God or any sort of supernatural being. In fact, I don’t care about God. At the centre of any religious debate, the true, rational nature of God is secondary to preserving the oppressive control that Classical Theisms of any religion has been able to extol on any number of people. This is most obviously demonstrable through the contradictions of Jesus’s teleological, (for its time) radical ethics and Thomas Aquinas’s deontological, oppressive Natural Moral Law — which is at the centre of Catholic ethics and therefore the centre of organized religion.
Forgetting the divine revelations espoused by St. Paul and other figures in the Bible, we can characterize Jesus as an influential philosopher living in the Middle East in the days of the Roman Empire who, although a Jew, created a distinctly alternative view of the Old Testament based around the aphorism ‘love thy neighbour‘ — in the Sixties he’d probably have been a hippie; nowadays he’d probably vote Liberal Democrat and wear socks and sandals. The significance of events such as the Sermon on the Mount can’t be underestimated as it is those three chapters of Matthew that completely revolutionized Abrahamic theology. It is a shame that Aquinas’s misinterpretations have led to a bastard-form of Christianity emerge.
Again, just as we looked at Jesus as a ‘man’ and not a product of the Trinity, our analysis of the Sermon and Jesus’s ethics will forget the prophetic nature of the Bible (we must remember the Gospels were written by early Christians and not Christ himself). The most obvious question is the interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount literally. To answer this we will compare Matthew 5:27—30 (Adultery) with 5:38—42 (An Eye for an Eye):
“‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.’”
Let us assume here that we are literally believing this, that if we commit adultery we must cut off the limb that causes us to commit. But also let us compare it with this:
“‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’”
Are you seriously going to assume complete and unmoving acceptance of repression towards violence? It is surprising how Jesus’s principles of monogamy and pacifism (which, to be fair, I disagree with, but accept as valid) can be twisted and metamorphosed into an opposition to abortion and contraception, and pacifism otherwise be completely forgotten in place of terrorism, the Crusades, and numerous other conflicts such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Bible, Jesus, and therefore God do not correlate with the controlling nature of religion. Religion as coercion is not God as coercion, but people using fear to be able to coerce.
Aquinas’s interpretation of Jesus’s ethics crudely tries to mix Aristotle’s virtue ethics with Jesus’s ideas. Aristotle posits that everything has a purpose, Jesus has a number of flexible principles (one needs to remember that Jesus did away with traditional Jewish teaching often, he did away with the Sabbath saying “Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath”). Obviously the conflict of these two things could be theorized as the main reason for oppression via religion. For example, it is only the crude pairing from Aquinas that means the Church asserts that the purpose of sex is to reproduce and therefore justify anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, anti-contraception. Is this the ethics of Jesus? The ethics of a man who, although monogamous in his theories and probably either heterosexual or celibate, took in prostitutes and accepted them as equal? The ethics of a man who loved all people? Of course it is not. It is the manipulation of these ideas that have allowed, for centuries, the use of religion as a means to control. And it is this that through the centuries that has made religion untouchable. Of course religion should be questioned. Of course Aquinas and Jesus should be questioned. It is fundamental in the process of altering our society.
Religion, if it wants to control all areas of society and debate, should therefore be questioned by all areas of society. It is only because of religion’s monopoly over marriage that they are considered in the LGBT marriage debate. Like monetary capital, the larger your church the larger your say. That’s why we see so many homophobes in the Church of England and the Catholic Church in debates where they’re not needed and so few Quakers who quite frankly should be given more of a say. It is the monopoly over public opinion that traditional religious institutions hold over ethical debates that needs to be smashed. There is no point in asking an Englishman whether Scottish people should be granted independence from the United Kingdom, just as there is no point in asking a clergyman whether same-gender marriages should be legalized. But still, there is a fear of ‘offending’ (and what a horrible word it is) religious sensibilities more than there is offending other sensibilities. Offend everyone! It makes everyone just that little bit less uptight! Why is it fine to allow a Reverend onto the television to tell me what I should be doing in the bedroom and how what queers do is wrong, but it is recognized as wrong for Nick Griffin to come on the television and say something racist or homophobic or sexist? Why is it fine for a Reverend to oppose the ordination of women as well, why does that meaningless title justify and legitimize extremist, hateful positions? Anyone can believe whatever they want, that’s the beauty of freedom of speech — you have to take the good with the bad — but legitimizing discrimination because someone supposes to have higher knowledge, because they have a relationship with a being we don’t even know exists, is wrong. And it is these positions that should be scrutinized with as much force, if not more, than political ideas, because religion is politics. We must forget the semantics of fear that come with the words ‘holy’ and ‘sacred’, et al. and criticize and question these ideas as much as we can. Religion as the “opium of the people” has only held us back. Maybe it’s high-time we go cold turkey.
At a time when I’ve been preoccupied with writing irrational 600-word long polemics on current events that tend to read like socialist propaganda (as if they’re anything else), here is something slightly more dense on the most fundamental of all metaphysical questions: Does God exist? [ONE]: A Quick, Aphoristic Psychological Rationale on Why God Is Still Relevant.
It is only the Jungian fixation on the elusive archetypes, tucked up in the collective unconscious, that concretely explains why humanity is still obsessed with God. Perhaps a cynical interpretation of his work is not what Jung would have wanted, and equally this is not in accordance with his personal opinions towards God, but it is only a Jungian understanding of the collective unconscious, full of its “primordial images”, that justifies any religious belief. Whether it is through smashing gender stereotypes with the anima/us, looking into our ‘dark side’ with the Shadow, or hiding ourself from the world through the Persona -- it is only these archetypes which allow for the evolution of the human condition, the irrationality of our actions, and the perpetuation of already proven-wrong theories. Imagine the simplicity of academia if the archetypes could die!
It is only because God itself is an archetype that justifies the continuation of theistic arguments. Indeed, Jung’s term ‘the God within’ refers to his view that God is an inner psychological experience. As the archetype travels from the collective unconscious to the conscious mind, these inner psychological experiences metamorphose into religious experience. As we are born with the tendency to generate religious images through this archetype, we can see why history is infested with the growth of religion. If we add Marxist materialism to the equation, not only does economics dictate society, but society dictates religion. The collective unconscious translates a shared heritage, even with individual interpretation through the conscious mind, into a shared social phenomenon. As long as God exists as a psychological reality, God will be posited as a physical reality.
It is for this reason only that we are still talking about God. [TWO]: The Ontological Argument
As long as God exists as a psychological reality, God will be posited as a physical reality. Working with this idea, let us look at one of the denser, but also absurder arguments for the God’s physical existence: Gödel’s ontological proof.
The ontological argument initially stemmed from Anselm of Canterbury’s “Proslogion”, a work in which he recorded how he came to believe in God’s existence. Essentially, his argument can be summarized as:
- God is the greatest being that can possibly exist in the mind.
- Things have more worth if they physically exist,
- If the greatest thing exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality.
- ∴ God exists.
Before we go on to the self-evident flaws in this argument, as well as Kant’s criticisms, let us look at Gödel’s contributions to ontological theory. Using modal logic as the basis of his rationale, it says much more about the failures within abstract logic than any argument for God’s existence. “Definition 1: x is God-like if and only if x has as essential properties those and only those properties which are positive Definition 2: A is an essence of x if and only if for every property B, x has B necessarily if and only if A entails B Definition 3: x necessarily exists if and only if every essence of x is necessarily exemplified Axiom 1: If a property is positive, then its negation is not positive. Axiom 2: Any property entailed by—i.e., strictly implied by—a positive property is positive Axiom 3: The property of being God-like is positive Axiom 4: If a property is positive, then it is necessarily positive Axiom 5: Necessary existence is positive Axiom 6: For any property P, if P is positive, then being necessarily P is positive. Theorem 1: If a property is positive, then it is consistent, i.e., possibly exemplified. Corollary 1: The property of being God-like is consistent.Theorem 2: If something is God-like, then the property of being God-like is an essence of that thing. Theorem 3: Necessarily, the property of being God-like is exemplified.” [THREE]: Kant’s Critique
Let us first look at the argument from Kant’s perspective, as the darling of the rationalists.
In the Critique of Pure Reason
, Kant compared necessary propositions (such as “a triangle has three angles”) with propositions that are logically sound but in fact non-existent. If
a triangle exists, then it will have three angles. That does not mean triangles exist. If
God exists, then it will be a perfect being. That does not mean God exists. The ontological argument is contradictory to Kant. He dislikes that ontologists allow existence to be the “concept of a thing which we profess to be thinking solely in reference to its possibility”. There needs to be a distinction between a deductive fact and an inductive assumption. If a perfect being can
exist, that does not mean that that being actually exists. There is an inherently flaw in saying a being must necessarily
exist, especially if it is a being external from our sense experience. The ontological argument is there to prove that there is
one, and purely one perfect being -- whether that is x or
-- when in fact we are acting purely on assumption. To Kant, this problematic: we are theorizing over a concept that is merely thought, that is just imagination; whose existence isn’t rationally (as Kant would like), empirically (as others would like), or in any way provable.
To Kant, God is an “object of pure thought”. We cannot verify God’s existence, in contrast to material concepts, which we can rationalize by our senses. [FOUR]: A Rant On the Failures of Abstract Logic
The uselessness of the ontological argument (especially Gödel’s superficial “proof”) invariably shows the uselessness of abstract logic.
One has to accept that “God” is only positive because you have assumed it to be positive. Kant recognizes that it is irrational to theorize about what is outside “sense experience”. God is only experienced through psychological phenomena existing in the human mind. Just because God exists as what is essentially nothing more than an abstract noun does not posit his existence. “Happiness”, although it may be positive, does not exist physically. Equally, the negative “sadness” may not physically exist, but it is not because
it is negative -- it is because it is not a physical being. The same with God; our perception of it may be either positive or negative, but it is not its “perfectness” that justifies its existence.
Even if we stay within the confines of mathematical logic, we can see that Gödel’s argument is useless. If God, as a physical, perfect being, is represented by x
, what stops 2x
from existing, a being twice as perfect as God. Or what if 100x
existed, a being a hundredfold better than God. Now that I have imagined a being more perfect than the most perfect being, thanks to the existence of infinity, that being must also exist to segment its worth as more perfect than the perfect being. And if there are beings infinitely more perfect than God existing, then God is surely useless, even if it does exist? Of course, this logic is both absurd and ridiculous, but it is Gödel’s rationale, not mine.
Conversely, one could accept Gödel’s concept of God as being infinitely positive, but it is not positivity alone that proves the existence of something. Just because ∞x could
exist as God does not posit ∞x
’s existence. Although something actually existing may give it more worth, it does not mean that the most perfect thing actually exists. Just as something always has the capacity to become more perfect, it only achieves that in our minds. A more perfect house, for example, may be double the size, but it will not double in size purely because I can imagine it so in my mind. In reality, phenomena are only as perfect as they actually are, regardless of whether they can be improved through imagination. It is only in your mind that the primeval atom of the Big Bang has augmented into God. Its capacity to improve does not equal its actual improvement.
If you accept Gödel’s ontological proof as proving God’s existence, then I will also assume you think fictional characters exist. This is easily demonstrated. If we accept God (x
) as perfect and existent then ½x
, something half as perfect as God, must also exist, purely so that we have something comparable to God. And by accepting ½x
exists, then you must also accept that all other variables relative to ½x
exist (purely as a result of its infinite perfection). Now, I’m sure we can all agree that Superman and Doctor Who have a degree of perfection to their beings, even if it is not to the extremity that God has. That perfectness can only be truly expressed through their existence, as it gives them worth. Therefore, we must get used to accepting that Superman and Doctor Who actually exist.
These criticisms of Gödel’s “proof” are not so much a criticism of his theism but a criticism of his use of an abstract logic. If you look at anything, even God, who is external from experience anyway, abstracted from its place in relation to all other phenomena, then any logic you place around it will equally be conceivable. Gödel is looking at God, not from the position as Creator and Sustainer, but as a theoretical perfect being. The acceptance that physical existence posits a higher worth is perhaps rational on a general scale, but to give this attribute specifically to God (or to any theoretical being) is in effect a reverse of the “fallacy of composition” that Bertrand Russell finds in Aquinas’s Cosmological Argument: just because something with the most worth must exist doesn’t mean you can’t imagine
a being with more worth. God is useless because it doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t imagine God having worth if such a being were to exist.
First published in the UK Huffington Post.
The past two years have seen a revolution within the activist movement. And what has changed? The Arab Awakening, Occupy, and UK Uncut are three new movements of varying international significance which prove the proletariat is finally becoming conscious of its oppressions and making changes for themselves. Contrasted with this is new, internet-based activism, brought into the mainstream by Anonymous and WikiLeaks. But at the beginning of March 2012, a completely new kind of activism, on an even larger scale arose. This is #Kony2012, a viral video which is at the centre of the Stop Kony movement, wanting to make Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony famous, in order to arrest him.
On the face of it, this is a positive, and generally agreeable aim, which is probably why it has attracted the interest of a-political people, and within a number of hours became one of the largest protest issues in modern times. But as well as the questionable actions of both Invisible Children (the organization who made video) and the Ugandan Army as well as Joseph Kony’s LRA, Kony 2012 has made a much more significant contribution to the activist movement itself.
At a time when Konymania (nice word I made up there, eh?) is at its height, here are two thoughts on what has arisen from which a badly thought out movement:
The most interesting point about Kony 2012 is that it supports military interventionism, which has been opposed by practically all activists since the aftermath of 9/11. It is generally agreed upon that Tony Blair and George W. Bush acted undemocratically (and perhaps illegally), and therefore it seems equally as irrational to approve of intervention into Uganda. This then leads to the question of whether popular support, or what could be called direct democratic interventionism, should be distinguished from the interventionism propagated by elected governments. Indeed, if there is a distinction, this could theoretically make Bush and Blair's actions in the Middle East all the more illegal. Although these are perhaps hasty generalizations (much in the vein of Invisible Children’s video) the now age-old argument that the Imperialist West has no right to involve themselves in the affairs of the developing world still rings true. As failed as it is, there is a reason the United Nations was set up. If healthy debate is going to exist between countries, then it should be through international organizations that were set up to evade wars; not through badly thought through right-wing campaigns that regress on the political dialectic that has developed over the past decade or so.
These bourgeois elements are more than hinted at in Invisible Children’s actions; indeed, they want obtain the support of a select group of individuals to “help bring awareness to the horrific abuse and killing of children in Africa at the hands of Kony and his leadership”. This includes “celebrity culture makers” (popular actors and singers, essentially) as well Western war criminals/right-wing politicians that have “the power to keep U.S. government officials in Africa”, such as George Bush and Condoleezza Rice. Because, of course, a U.S. military presence has historically improved the situation in developing countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam: all fabulous!)
Equally, we are posed with the theory that the support for this issue is broadly more with those on the centre and right instead of activism's traditional left-wing base, which, although creates legitimacy for protest as political expression, shows the penetration of Tea Party, barmy neoconservatism into mainstream debate. Why support a movement which exists to perpetuate a system that needs to end?
Another point is that Kony 2012 is centered around a single issue. Essentially this has never existed before, especially not in an international form, and even the civil rights movement, the anti-war/nuclear movements, still sparked debate on areas of policy not directly influenced by the issue (especially economics). Kony 2012 is focused on one individual, which the West is out to “get”, because we happen to dislike him. This kind of oversimplified, black-and-white ethical approach has not been unused before; and indeed a simplification of complex debates has been supported by thinkers on both the left and the right, in the belief that this will enchant the apolitical, as it allows one figure to be given the blame, unlike Occupy, unlike UK Uncut, which fixates its actions on one class of people which have cheated the proletariat (and are based around the fundamentals of economics). If anything, this makes the apolitical more apathetic, with 1 million people marching against the War in Iraq, with the worldwide growth of Occupy, with the perpetuation of anti-war ideology for centuries. To construct an argument against interventionism is in its nature more complex than constructing an argument for it; but without including an historical materialistic outlook on the World, on the actions of the Imperialist West, on the actions of our leaders, on the aftermath of these wars, we fall into a cycle of slowly dismantling the entire developing world purely because of post-colonialist guilt. Whatever Kony has done, his name is just the next in the long line of despots who the West feel it is in their power to liberate: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi, whilst embroiling themselves within a war which they will not win.
But amongst all of this, because the actions of Invisible Children are questionable, then they should be questioned. This is no ordinary campaign, and it has the capacity to create more problems than it solved. From an extremely bourgeois academic opinion, it will be more interesting to see how this turns out purely because a single issue movement has never materialized on such a large scale hitherto.
First published the UK Huffington Post.
Many of you may have watched The Big Questions on television this weekend, the Beeb's Sunday morning ethical discussion programme in which semi-intellectual individuals come on and debate their point of view, at the same time annoying great swathes of tweeters. Two arguments came up most recently: the first being the matter of Scottish independence, the second being equal marriage. We will discuss the latter.
For many people, equal marriage seems to be the overriding issue that will throw homophobia out of our system; by legalizing the marriage of two people of the same gender, we suddenly have equality. Within this debate, there are generally two arguments that arise from the issue: the first being the position of homophobic mainstream churches and clergy of professing it fundamentally breaking the definition of marriage; the second being from the queer community that equal marriage is the only way to liberation. Both of these positions are wrong.
Firstly, those who assert that the marriage of LGBT people fundamentally breaks the definition of marriage have no idea what marriage itself is. Even if you simplify the idea of marriage, it is essentially indefinable (except for the joining of multiple people in certain sexual relations) when you consider the history that marriage has seen, whether it is group marriages, straight marriages, polygamous marriages, or common-law, there is no single, objective marital union. Monogamous, heterosexual marriages are just the normative marital structure in our current epoch. As is pointed out in the program, the Bible itself points out five possible marital structures. Just as marriage has evolved in the past, marriage will evolve in the future. Queer marriages just happen to be the next step.
Secondly, it is wrong to assert that equal marriage is the way to liberation. Indeed, it is this argument which is completely flawed. In this sense, liberation is not the freedom of queers, but the assimilation of heteronormativity within a queer construct. In this sense, liberation is in fact surrender. The surrender of our sexuality, the surrender of our struggle, the surrender of our raison d'être. Is the way to ending sexism for all women to embrace masculinity? If not, then why is the way to ending homophobia for all queers to essentially become straight? To accept "equal" marriage is not to raise the rainbow flag but raise the white flag. To accept "equal" marriage is to become second-best.
This is why queer radicalism is an essential part of liberation. This is why queer radicalism is the only way to equality, to our free determination. For what is liberalism but assimilation? To be "queer" is not only to desire same-gender relationships, but to not be cisgender, to be non-heterosexual, to be sexually liberated, to question the relationship norms of our age. Are all these constituent parts really fulfilled by the fatigable social construct of marriage? Are our entire beings expressed through this lifeless economic contract? What right do religions and the State have with who I fuck? The mere act of sodomy is protest enough against our society. Why should we be forced to accept a compromise for our equality just because the Westminster élite find it agreeable? Equality is not doing what straight people do; equality is doing what I want to do without straight people stopping me.
LGBT marriages will automatically be different from straight marriages. We have different histories. When straight people have walked hand-in-hand for a month with someone of the same gender they'll understand. When straight people have to live with an undercurrent of hatred throughout their lives, they'll understand. When straight people grow up different from other children, when straight people have to lie to themselves that society will accept them eventually, they'll understand. When straight people live in a society that is vehemently against us, they'll sympathize, and only then will they understand. When straight people become queer, they can start telling us what to do. Then maybe they'll start assimilating us. There is no point to LGBT marriages. We are not all monogamous. We are not all religious or capitalist. And unlike heterosexual polyamorous atheist communists, we're not afraid to collectively say it. As long as marriage is assimilation, it is not equality. As long as marriage is monogomous, State-run or church run, and based around economics, it is not queer. And as long as marriage is supported by a bourgeois political élite, it is nothing short of oppression.