This is Not the End of #MeToo

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale write: The verdict in the Depp/Heard defamation case does not mean the end of #Metoo. This post explains why.

Many people on social media – all sorts, women activists, others, including many of the supporters of Depp – have been saying that it does mean the end.

This is also true on print media. Moira Donegan in The Guardian has just written a very down beat article saying that this looks like a turning point in the backlash against #MeToo.

The New York Times has also just published an article by Michelle Goldberg, with the headline ‘Amber Heard and the Death of #MeToo.’ That is not quite what the article says, and journalists are not allowed to pick their headlines. But the fact that the Times, which first exposed Weinstein, chose those words, matters.

So it’s important to understand why this is not the end. This article makes three main points.

First, #MeToo began as a movement in workplaces against sexual harassment by managers. It was a movement that depended on support from other workers in the same workplace or industry. The goal was not to take out or win court cases. It was to force the employer to discipline or fire the manager.

Second, the courts have always been a very hard place to win justice for the abused. A loss in the courts is not the end of the movement.

Third, there is a global movement against sexual violence, and the United States is not the world.

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New booklet on Defending Abortion Rights: Lessons from American History for Resistance Now

By NANCY LINDISFARNE and JONATHAN NEALE

March to defend abortion rights, Washington DC, 1989

May 3, 2022. The news has just leaked that the Supreme Court is planning to overturn Roe v Wade. This is appalling, and enraging, and Americans have a massive fight on their hands. This booklet looks back at abortion politics in the United States since 1964, to show how Roe v. Wade was won in the first place, and how it was defended.

You can download the booklet as a pdf here.

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One Day Strikes – A lesson from the past on why they don’t work, and what we can do instead

Jonathan Neale writes:

One chapter on the 1982 hospital workers strikes from a book I wrote many years ago seems very relevant now. I hope it will be useful, in different ways, to university workers and hospital workers. You can download the chapter here.

For the university workers’ strikes right now, this chapter holds bitter lessons about why one day and five-day strikes will lose. But 2022 is not 1982. There is a way now to move to an indefinite strike and win. In this post I explain how and why that is possible. At the end of the post I also talk briefly about the relevance of the chapter to health workers now.

I was an occupational therapy technician in a geriatric hospital during the 1982 strikes, and a shop steward in the National Union of Public Employees.

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Putin, Modi and Trump: Ukraine and Racist Right-Wing Populism

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale

The invasion of Ukraine is appalling. The resistance is heroic. The situation is moving fast, and each step is politically revealing. There remains a great deal of confusion about Putin and Ukraine in the United States and Britain. This long read aims to unpack some of that confusion and to explain Putin’s rise, how he fits into the global racist right, and his reasons for invading Ukraine.

Americans are often puzzled by Donald Trump’s admiration for Putin. The reason is that Putin is one of the two leading figures in new global movement of right-wing populists. Modi, the Prime Minister of India is the other. Trump too is part of that movement.

We start with an explanation of the politics of that movement, by looking at the masculinity of these three populist leaders: Putin, Modi and Trump. We explore the ways that each leader has mixed racism, sexual aggression, violent bullying and Islamophobia with working class pain and anger to support a right-wing project and a murderous fossil fuel future.

And though we do not take our discussion further here, these three are not alone. Their populism characterizes the governments of Bolsonaro in Brazil, Duterte of the Philippines and Netanyahu in Israel, among others – all men with ugly biographies of their own.

Along the way we aim to answer questions that may be of interest to you. For example, why do some American commentators say they supported Putin’s invasion because he has done so much to stop the onward march of LGBT agenda? Why does a CBS reporter make a deal about the whiteness of people in Ukraine? Why did so much of the Republican party support the invasion, as have others on the notional ‘left’? What is it with Modi’s 52-inch chest?

An exploration of masculine styles may seem an unusual way to unpack the new racist right. But this is what we do on Anne Bonny Pirate. In Part One, we look particularly at gender and sexuality, and we ask how this lens can illuminate politics, class and empire.

In Part Two of this long read, we outline our understanding of Putin’s reasons for invading Ukraine. We look at the threats he sees in the global wave of uprisings for democracy. We look at how the threat of climate activism and the changing energy market have made his hold on power increasingly shaky. And we describe the changes in superpower politics after the American defeat in Afghanistan which led Putin to believe he could invade Ukraine with impunity.

We should make clear at the start that we are against Putin’s invasion. We support the Russian protesters for peace. We believe the armed resistance of the Ukrainian army and civilians is the right and proper response to the invasion.

But we do not side with the governments of the United States or the NATO countries of Europe. They have invaded too many other countries and installed too many other dictatorships. They too are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Because there is a lot to unpack, we’ve also packaged this post as a pdf which you can download here.

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From Afghanistan to Ukraine

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale

Six months ago, in a post about the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, we wrote:

“This is a turning point in world history. The greatest military power in the world has been defeated by the people of a small, desperately poor, country. This will weaken the power of the American empire all over the world.”

The consequences of the American defeat are now playing out in Ukraine. Putin, understanding the weakness of American power, is pushing to change the balance of power further.

We also wrote, “The War on Terror has been politically defeated in the United States. The majority of Americans are now in favor of withdrawal from Afghanistan and against any more foreign wars.”

Joe Biden and the American military have no intention of going to war in Ukraine. The political consequences in the US would backfire catastrophically.

Biden has been very clear about not going to war. For weeks he has been saying that Russia would probably invade Ukraine, and that when they did so, the US would retaliate with financial sanctions. His meaning was absolutely clear – if Russia invaded Ukraine, the US would not fight.

The leaders of the other major powers in NATO and the European Union have said much the same thing: financial sanctions, and we won’t fight.

Now that Russia has invaded, the UK immediately announced that they would bring forward financial sanctions against five Russian banks and three Russian individuals. Five banks and three individuals is nothing. In the US, the Biden administration told reporters that they would begin with mild sanctions in the hope of stopping Russian escalation.

Contrast this to the Biden administration’s policy towards Afghanistan which reeks of shame and revenge. The US has confiscated the entire meagre financial reserves of that impoverished country, some 9 billion dollars. They have banned almost all trade and aid, and are purposely pursuing sanctions which are ensuring large scale famine in that country.

Or, contrast the sanctions against Putin to the long American blockade of Cuba, or their unforgiving economic and trade sanctions against Iran.

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Harvard, Sexual Politics, Class and Resistance

A long read by Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale

As we write, the case of alleged sexual harassment by John Comaroff, a professor of anthropology at Harvard, is exploding. The Harvard case is particularly egregious, not least because of the elite status of the university.

In this piece we treat the Harvard case as part of a much wider set of problems concerning class, sexual politics, inequality and resistance. Our focus initially is on universities in the United States. But we need to remember that academic enterprise today is utterly international. Everywhere the industry relies on similar economic models, has similar intellectual concerns and fosters the considerable mobility of professionals and students from workplace to workplace around the globe.

We are particularly addressing anthropology and other graduate students in the United States and across the world. Our aim is to try to answer some of the difficult questions that come up again and again in online discussion of the case.

[You can download a pdf of this long read here.]

First: Why did Caroline Elkins, who wrote such an important book about the brutal suppression of Mau Mau in Kenya, sign the dreadful Harvard letter? And why did so many other people whose work you admire sign letters like the Harvard one?

The second question is one people seem to avoid asking directly, but it is behind so much of what is being said.  At Harvard, and with other abuse cases, a strange fact stands out. Most men are not abusers. But almost all male managers cover up and enable abuse. And so do almost all female managers. Why? What is going on here?

Third: The people who write the open letters, and others who want to defend abusers, go on about due process. But due process works as a Catch-22. Why should well-educated men accused of sexual harassment be the only ones to enjoy due process, when the apologists know full well that is exactly what we want for the victims of sexual abuse? Instead of banging on about due process for abusers only, shouldn’t we all be asking how can to build a genuinely fair process for everyone?

Fourth: Harvard, Columbia, and other universities in the United States and across the world go to extraordinary lengths to cover up abuse, protect abusers and thus enable further abuse. They do so even when most of the people who run those institutions don’t abuse. Why? Why does this matter so much to them?

Fifth, and finally, how can we do good work in the toxic environment of these institutions? Or to put it positively: what can we take from the struggles against sexual violence at Columbia and Harvard to help us do good, creative intellectual work as scholars and teachers?

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Can you help with the CHINESE, SPANISH or ITALIAN TRANSLATIONS of Fight The Fire?

The Ecologist published the English edition of Jonathan Neale’s Fight the Fire: Green New Deals and Global Climate Jobs nine months ago. Because they feel it is important to share the arguments of the book, The Ecologist has been offering free downloads of the PDF here. So far more than 19,000 people have downloaded it.

Volunteer translators have been working together in teams to translate the book into other languages. Once the translations are finished, we will provide free downloads of the whole book in each language. Can you help us, or do you know someone who can?

The translations into Portuguese and Turkish are finished, and will be published soon. But the translators for the other languages need help. We have finished about two-thirds of the SPANISH translation, about half of the CHINESE translation, about almost half of the ITALIAN translation.

All the translators have worked for free, as a labour of love. We need a few more people to help with each of the three languages. Each person will do one, or two, or three chapters and we should finish the job quickly. If you can help, please write to Jonathan Neale at lindisfarne.neale@gmail.com.

EURIPIDES, WOMEN AND SLAVERY: GENDER TRANSGRESSION IN ANCIENT GREECE

The Trojan Women at the Flea Theatre, New York, in 2016

Jonathan Neale writes: We start with a theatre, and two moments of astonishing gender transgression. One happened in a theatre on a hillside in the center of Athens on a spring day in late March of 431 BCE. The second happened there sixteen years later, in March of 415 BCE. Both took place as the audience watched tragedies by the poet Euripides. These plays were about gendered oppression, sexual pain, rape, slavery and the horrors of war.[1]

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All Things Being Equal

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale review The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, by David Graeber and David Wengrow. This article was first published in The Ecologist.

Graeber and Wengrow’s new book is energetic, committed and kaleidoscopic, but also flawed. This presents us with a problem.

David Graeber died young, only a year ago. His masterwork, Debt, may be specious in parts, but its ambition was inspiring in its time.

David Graeber’s work as an activist and a leader in the Occupy and social justice movement was unusual, and exemplary. The respect and affection for him from his colleagues in the anthropology department at LSE speaks volumes. And his heart was always with the oppressed.

But precisely because Graeber was a good guy and left us only recently, there is a danger that for many people The Dawn of Everything will frame their understanding of the origins of inequality for a long time to come.

The back cover of the book carries praise from Rebecca Solnit, Pankaj Mishra, Noam Chomsky and Robin D. G. Kelley – eminent and admirable thinkers all.

Kelley is representative: ‘Graeber and Wengrow have effectively overturned everything I ever thought about the history of the world. The most profound and exciting book I’ve read in thirty years.’

The book has received considerable recent attention in the press, and it would be unfortunate if such praise became the general view.

The question of the origins of inequality in human evolution and history matters a great deal for how we try to change the world. But Graeber and Wengrow want change without attending to equality and class, and they are hostile to environmental and ecological explanations. These flaws have conservative implications.

So here goes. This is a rambunctious, and partial, review of an enormous book. We console ourselves with the knowledge that Graeber loved, and excelled at, the cut and thrust of intellectual debate.

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Women in Afghanistan / Frauen in Afghanistan / An Interview with Nancy Lindisfarne

Katharina Anetzberger

This interview was first published in the Austrian socialist magazine Linkswende as Frauen in Afghanistan. You can read it in German here.

LINKSWENDE: Since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, the situation of Afghan women has come back into focus. How does this situation look like at the moment concretely?

NANCY LINDISFARNE: I think a place to start is that we need to understand what does actually happen with the Taliban and the actual defeat of the US, militarily and politically. So we’ve got a group pf people who have fought a guerrilla war and they have actually taken over a government with the idea of continuing to be not democratic but ruling a state. And they couldn’t have done this without – nobody wins a guerrilla war, certainly not one where the two sides are so disproportionately powerful and weak – without popular support. And that means that people all over the country have decided that the Taliban are a better deal than either the occupation government or the warlords.

In Afghanistan over 80 percent of the population is living in rural areas or very small towns or villages. This popular support is from men, from women, from everybody. This has been a long time coming and has been kind of growing over a period of time. This isn’t because the Taliban are deeply loved by the Afghan people but simply that they have been a lot better than the cruelty and the corruption of the American government. So that’s the framework I think which is very important and is somehow kind of forgotten in so much of the media.

The situation is enormously precarious for many different reasons. We can’t talk about women without talk about the whole population in a sense that the American occupation, the government of Ashraf Ghani, lost because as I said of the cruelty and the corruption, all that affects everybody. You can’t have a war and bomb people and send drones out and kill only the fighters. So people are in a dreadful situation frankly, partly because the Americans have been humiliated, they’ve been defeated and one of the terrible things that they do in defeat is they exert revenge by making sanctions as a financial penalty. They did this in Vietnam, in Iran, in Iraq, in Cuba.

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