Saturday, January 24, 2015

Freedom of Disassociation, Sort of Annotated

The Center for a Stateless Society just published its organizational statement on "the Brad Spangler affair" under the title Freedom of Disassociation: Regarding Brad Spangler. In the vein of that title, I'm republishing it here with the parts that I decline to support or to associate myself with noted. The parts I decline to support or associate myself with are printed with strike-thrus and annotated with italicized notes. The parts that are not so struck-thru and annotated, I endorse.

Freedom of Disassociation: Regarding Brad Spangler

At roughly 5 pm CST (January 22, 2015), Brad Spangler confessed in a Facebook post to the 2004 molestation of a child and expressed his intention to turn himself in to the police. He has not posted anything, nor, so far as we know, otherwise communicated — to the contrary, or for that matter at all — in the intervening time. No other evidence or circumstances have come to light to suggest that his confession was false, fake or coerced.

The Center For A Stateless Society (C4SS) finds his monstrous actions and the way in which he admitted them utterly abhorrent and completely counter to the values C4SS stands for.

There is absolutely no avoiding the elephant in the room: Spangler co-founded C4SS. He was a key builder of its infrastructure. But he has not been a part of C4SS for a long time, either publicly or behind the scenes. His biography on the website erroneously listed him as a Senior Fellow until yesterday; that description should have been changed long ago simply for accuracy’s sake. Due to this oversight, C4SS is working on approving a proposal for identifying and removing associates who have “abandoned” C4SS due to lack of communication or participation.

C4SS has changed substantially over the years as we’ve grown and Spangler does not represent us. Rather than continue to host the writing of a child molester and to make clear our strenuous disassociation we’ve removed his historical posts from our site. At the same time we do not mean to disingenuously “memoryhole” Spangler’s unfortunate legacy and will be archiving his historical content on another site, the Spangler Pensieve.

Explanation of disassociation from the preceding: Brad Spangler was, indeed, a founder of the Center for a Stateless Society. The content he wrote in that role either had value or it didn't. If it did have value, it still does and should be kept published in situ where it has resided -- and been linked to externally from -- for years. If it doesn't have value, it never did and the Center itself, being in non-trivial measure built on that content, is a sham. This Solomon and the Baby attempt to memory-hole Brad Spangler while pretending not to do so should be embarrassing to those who advocated for it and succeeded in making it the Center's policy. I fought against that, but it is certainly embarrassing to me.

Spangler’s admission was a heavy blow to us, but whatever discomfort our organization experiences over the coming months is nothing in comparison to the pain the survivor of Spangler’s actions has suffered for a decade, nor the pain that survivor is surely being forced to relive as a result of his selfishness. The survivor deserves the chance to heal. We will respect the survivor’s space, and offer our assistance should it ever be needed or wanted. To further this end, C4SS will be donating $200 from our Entrepreneurial Anti-capitalism fund to generationFive. [G]enerationFive “works to interrupt and mend the intergenerational impact of child sexual abuse on individuals, families, and communities. It is our belief that meaningful community response is the key to effective prevention.”

Explanation of personal disassociation from the preceding: I don't have a problem with the donation as such. But at this time and in this context it strike me as a theatrical gesture along the same lines as those situations where a politician forwards money from embarrassing donors "to charity." Conspicuous alms-giving as a response to this situation is not something I'm down with.

Explanation of personal disassociation from the following: The Center for a Stateless Society is "left-libertarian" in orientation, but that covers a lot of ground. I am not among those who throw in with the postmodern / Critical Theory identity politics cancer that has infected right-deviationists from original leftism, also known as "libertarianism." Nor do I find it seemly to treat this sad occasion as an opportunity for the melodramatic burnishing of red rhetoric credentials.

Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence [1] as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved. There are serious consequences for choosing ignorance. Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do). …
As angry as gender violence on the Left makes me, I am hopeful. I believe we have the capacity to change and create more justice in our movements. We don’t have to start witch hunts to reveal misogynists and informants. They out themselves every time they refuse to apologize, take ownership of their actions, start conflicts and refuse to work them out through consensus, mistreat their compaƱer@s. We don’t have to look for them, but when we are presented with their destructive behaviors we have to hold them accountable. Our strategies don’t have to be punitive; people are entitled to their mistakes. But we should expect that people will own those actions and not allow them to become a pattern.
We have a right to be angry when the communities we build that are supposed to be the model for a better, more just world harbor the same kinds of antiqueer, antiwoman, racist violence that pervades society. As radical organizers we must hold each other accountable and not enable misogynists to assert so much power in these spaces. Not allow them to be the faces, voices, and leaders of these movements. Not allow them to rape a compaƱera and then be on the fucking five o’ clock news. […] By not allowing misogyny to take root in our communities and movements, we not only protect ourselves from the efforts of the state to destroy our work but also create stronger movements that cannot be destroyed from within.
[1] I use the term gender violence to refer to the ways in which homophobia and misogyny are rooted in heteronormative understandings of gender identity and gender roles. Heterosexism not only polices non-normative sexualities but also reproduces normative gender roles and identities that reinforce the logic of patriarchy and male privilege.

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