A Lefteous Rant
15 December 2021
In the New Zealand parliament last week there was a unanimous vote on a law change arising from a gender identity ideology which runs counter to, and cuts deeply into established knowledge that is foundational to all human societies across time – the knowledge that there are two sexes.
We can all agree that how we dress that biological fact – what power relations, rituals, myths, and misconceptions we attribute to it and wrap around it – are social and variable, but we all know what’s involved in the evolutionary imperative of species reproduction.
We should also all know that female humans have experienced and understood, and continue to experience and to understand, sexual reproduction in an essentially different way from male humans because of the differences in the biological roles each plays in the creation of new life.
Regardless of sexual orientation, age, culture, skin colour or social class, the human who has or had the presumed potential or ability to gestate new life inside her body experiences life in a different way from the human who does not.
Furthermore, hers is a physical and psychological reality which, as a direct result of the attitudes and actions of the male sex, is more often than not profoundly defining.
When a man says gender identity ideology and attendant changes to the formal law and the informal social contract will not have adverse outcomes for women because “men already harm women without needing to change anything” – that sort of statement comes from the lived reality of being male in what is still an androcentric world.
Such views are framed within a lack of political understanding, intellectual capacity and empathy which serve to inhibit or skew comprehension of how all this is likely to impact upon many women and girls.
That sort of argument is sadly par for the modern left’s course. There are men who drape themselves in the red flag but who harbour a deep resentment of women who dare to question them. And there are women who actively or passively collude with that.
To such men, increasing numbers of women are saying, we see you – we’ve always seen you. To paraphrase the most famous words of the reckless frontman for neoliberalism in New Zealand – we can smell the misogyny on your breath.
Late-stage capitalism is both poisoning the planet and sucking it dry. Having bought off, disheartened, and disenfranchised its domestic working class, the economic elite have increased its already obscene profits by intensifying the exploitation of workers in those countries to which untethered capital has scuttled.
The wonders of the digital revolution are wasted on the creation of obscene virtual wealth for a narrowing band of new-age robber barons, and a variety of distractions and diversions for the rest of us – from the glitter bombs of aspirational culture, to the various forms of pandering to the vilest and cruellest of human depravities.
And what do the erstwhile members of the left-wing intelligentsia (I use both words advisedly) of the still affluent countries of the old imperial bubble do in the face of this unprecedented threat to the planet and all that live on her?
They divert into obsessing about the pressing need for, and the liberatory potential of, identity politics – most especially gender identity.
In so doing, they invariably neglect to ask – liberation from, and to what?
Gender identity orthodoxy has had an astonishing success when measured against the numbers of people who are directly affected by it, and the extent to which it challenges deeply held beliefs and presumptions.
It has achieved its success by grafting itself onto earlier movements, using the same tactics and developing some new ones – with not just the tacit blessing of the imperial masters, but their active connivance.
That in itself should give the left pause, but just as they neglect to ask, ‘liberation from and to what’, they neglect to ask why it is that gender identity politics has the corporate world’s active support.
Why do right-wing politicians support it? Is it because they are cowards and so stupid that they lack the arguments to counter it politically or philosophically? Or is it because they are rank opportunists and they know the responsibility for it, in the popular imagination, rests with Labour and the Greens, and when the shit hits the fan – as it will – they will be able to shrug off their cowardly capitulation and use the shit as an electoral weapon?
Why do so many of the neo-liberal left support it? For some it’s purely pragmatic but others have elevated support of it to the level of zealotry. That fanaticism and narrow focus allows them to continue to neglect to ask – liberation from, and to what? The fact is, for most of the identity disciples, those questions always were relegated to the “too hard box”.
This is not the politics of the “hard left” as some right-wing ideologues and commentators would have people believe, this is the floppy, soppy politics of the neo-liberal left that is still content with sprinkling pink-hued fairy dust on the ugly face of corporate capitalism.
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