Why most anarchists and not so many Leftists get what rape means.

[please note new edits in square brackets]

George Galloway’s ignorant and offensive comments on rape have sparked, rightly, a storm of anger and protest but also defensiveness of incredible ignorance by a significant % on the Left, struggling to defend his stupidity.
Galloway alleged that some non- consensual sex was not rape, stating
“It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.”
What is firstly depressing, as a long term Leftwing politician, is that he does not know what rape means literally .. as Laurie Penny who has blogged bravely and correctly (imho) on this (http://www.penny-red.com/post/29989130545)/its-trigger-warning-week) notes, it simply comes from the Latin rapio

“to seize , snatch, tear away; to plunder a place”

It is astonishing that Galloway then thinks that rape must be violent. Does he and his supporters also think that child abuse and mental abuse and racial abuse must be violent so as not to be “bankrupting the term”?
Maybe Galloway believes non-violent child abuse should be re-termed “bad paedophile etiquette”?
While he admits that what Assange is alleged to have done is “sordid” clearly he was trying to attack those who feel that Assange while to be repected for his work with Wikileaks is not above morality and who value all freedoms, not just those limited by e.g. anti-imperialism.
And while I hope the debate allows people to understand that to rape, i.e. to take, simply means to do something sexual without consent, it has exposed the very real differences between those of different political backgrounds.
Sadly it has got confused by some red herrings.
e.g. lots of people have asked what is wrong with couples waking each other up sexually. This is something I have had done to me and done to my lover, and with smiles all round! But this was with long term partners where all the consent and boundaries have previously been worked out. So it is consensual.
The confusion that these people and Galloway’s defenders have, the issue they don’t get is that what is paramount is not the act, but consent.
Consent. Consent. Consent.
People should be able to do what the fuck (literally) they like in their own bedrooms if it is consensual, and that does not mean coerced consent either. The depressing consensual female submissiveness of the apparently awful Fifty Shades of Grey is a grey area here but actually highlights what is the fundamental issue, and one that no other commentator has mentioned, and that is power.
All our lives and relationships are affected by power relations. And no more so than in bed.
What Assange did [allegedly ] in bed with these two women [[would be ]  an abuse of power and it’s parallel disregard for consent.
And it is this relation to understanding power that has been exposed in this case in the outpourings in the new media and have exposed elements of the Left.
Most of the far-Left have never got what power is. Following Lenin they are happy to be submissive to party and hierarchy and allow lack for consent in their parties and even bullying and coercion in their political lives. This has been exposed time and again. And this is the tradition Galloway comes from. Of male dominated hierarchical organisations. To them the finer points of power relationships have no interest. the means justifies the ends.
The anarchists though do have an analysis of power and to a person (online in this debate) have recognised that rape does not need to be violent, and that more fundamentally any person who takes anything, from someone else, sexual or otherwise, is a rapist, or a thief, or a scab or a parasite. and that means anyone who uses power over anyone else is also a rapist, thief, scab or parasite. So in the bedroom, the workplace, on the street wherever. Yes means yes, no means no!
While the Leninists demand societies create by and dominated by their hierarchical and authoritarian parties, modelled on Lenin’s underground pre-revolution party, with the use of coercion against not just the capitalist class but all who do not agree 100% with their programme, the anarchists have long said only a society based on consent over all matters can give a free, stable and equal society
I do not always feel myself to be an anarchist, but on this debate I surely am.
p.s. now people have seen what a toe-rag Galloway is on this issue maybe they will look into his dalliance with the right wing Islamist war criminals of Jammat e Islami in Tower Hamlets during and after his election campaign there.

[ – it has quite righly been noted on FB that many anarchists also ‘do not get’ rape and some have been rapists and that sexism is a problem in anarchist groups as well as on the Left and I accept that. However i do not see it so institutionalised as it has been in many Trot groups
– the article is fairly negative and can be seen as coming from the same problematical antagonistic male mind set as justifies sexism for a greater cause and it is not positive and does not mention love! I also accept that.
-Sacha below makes several correct points but I think still fails to acknowledge how the fundamentals of the authoritarian nature imho of Leninism ( and I acknowledge there is an argument over this) lead to the awful levels of bullying, sexism and abuse we have seen over the years in most of the far-Left parties. ]

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2 Responses to Why most anarchists and not so many Leftists get what rape means.

  1. shakkka says:

    Reblogged this on militantmoments and commented:
    A similar view to mine.. from a slightly different slant

  2. AWL says:

    The idea that Galloway’s crimes flow from the sins of “Leninism” is nonsensical.

    In the first place, whatever the occasional flourish, Galloway does not claim to be a Leninist or Marxist. He explicitly and specifically repudiates Marxism and Trotskyism as ultra-left. In terms of economic policies, he is openly a social democrat, and not a very left-wing one at that. He is a Stalinist not in terms of worked-through ideology, but in the sense that he supports various Stalinist regimes.

    The claim that “Leninists” aim for an authoritarian society dominated by an authoritarian party is slander, and it’s sad to read it from a relatively thoughtful commentator who has worked with many “Leninists”. Let’s leave that more general debate for now. More immediately: perhaps that means “Leninist” men are also more likely to rape people, since we do not understand consent? That seems to be the logic of what is argued here.

    It’s true that most self-styled Marxist groups, in Britain anyway, are male-dominated. So are most anarchist groups; in fact, I’ve seen quite a bit of evidence that, in general, anarchist milieus in Britain are more male-dominated, macho and sexist than Trotskyist ones. Anyway, there is no room for mud-slinging. And the same goes for authoritarianism and sectarianism. Sure, some Marxist groups are like that. But so are some anarchist ones. Certainly historically, but also today in Britain.

    The reason that so many self-styled Marxists are apologising for Assange, and apologised for Galloway, is not that as Marxists they do not understand consent, but that they have adopted a hollowed-out and mindless version of anti-imperialism which overwhelms all other considerations. This is part of a more general negativism in which progressiveness is defined not by positive criteria (working-class struggle, democracy, liberation) but negatively, by being against capitalism or even just the US and its allies. It is a legacy of Stalinism, infecting the formally anti-Stalinist left. In general anarchists have been more immune from it.

    Lastly, how would the author explain that the main left-wing group in Britain belabouring Galloway, his ilk and his apologists for many years – and taking a lot of shit because of it – is a Marxist, “Leninist” group, my organisation, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty?

    Sacha Ismail, AWL

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