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Blogroll Purging

Although I am more than happy to support and advertise numerous blogs that vary in shades of red and black from my own political position––and have had more than one fruitful exchange with fellow travellers who differ from my specific radical commitments––I draw the line when blogs that are left in form turn out to be reactionary in essence.  Twice this week I have been forced to purge my blogroll due to the fact that two blogs, that I was quite happy to support in the past (and one of which was originally a very creative and incisive blog), published entries that, if they were comments on my blog, would be in violation of my comments policy.  And if these guidelines apply to my commenters, then they sure as hell apply to the blogs I support: I will not, for example, support a blog that claims to be left and then publish some homage to colonialism.

The two blogs in question both published flagrant anti-trans posts (that were also badly argued, ahistorical, and completely asinine, but that's besides the point––I would purge even "sophisticated" reactionaries from by blogroll), which was both saddening but telling.  Let me be clear: these were not posts that were "transphobic" because of one of the many and labyrinthian arguments between "feminists" and "trans-positivists" (as if there is always this binary)––those identitarian positionalities where there are multiple confusions and problematic points made on both sides (where those committed to these arguments pretend as if there aren't people who have managed to synthesized both sides)––but flagrant anti-trans red-baiting.  My comments policy has existed for a year and one of my points states: "anything that is explicitly/implicitly racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, transphobic, islamophobic, anti-semitic [note that I do not consider anti-zionist as anti-semitic], etc. will be deleted."  The same logic, therefore, applies to anything in my blogroll: I will not support you if you violate the terms I accord to my comments policy.

Although I know there are some internet activists who are under the impression that blogging and tweeting and tumblering and facebooking and what-have-you are the extent of political organizing, I have a long history of on-the-ground activist work in my city.  So when people who I work with read my blog––people who come from oppressed positions––it is utterly unprincipled for me to support any site that supports their oppression.  For example, when it comes to this issue specifically: I spent years doing rank-and-file labour work with my local, which is one of my province's radical locals, and was on the bargaining year executive that forced the employer to adopt a trans fund as part of members' medical benefits.  (I would also like to note, to again attack the notion that there should be some idiot bifurcation between trans and feminist politics, that this was also an initiative endorsed by the rank-and-file feminists who also pushed to turn the local's Women's Caucus into a trans-inclusive space.)  I also count numerous trans-radicals in my city as close comrades.  (And again, to attack the insipid identity politics bifurcation that some internet "radicals" seem to push: there are also trans-"radicals" who I do not count as comrades because their politics are anti-feminist and libertarian––but I also extend the same judgment to so-called "feminists" or "anarchists" or other groups, so the point should be moot.)

I know that nobody comes to activism with perfect politics––I know that I sure as hell did not, that I'm always still learning, and that I often need political correction.  I also know that left spaces often tend to be self-righteous and that political "experts" (themselves sometimes committed to dubious politics) do not make allowances for what is always a learning process.  We emerge from this terrible society covered, to paraphrase both Marx and Luxemburg, covered in filth and dirt; we're never perfect exemplars of the politics we seek to emulate.  So knowing this, and knowing that many of my own posts will also be tainted with this problem, I have to make allowances for the messiness of fellow bloggers who may be grappling with issues they have just encountered.  There is a difference in being willing to understand, to accept that there are hard contradictions that require effort to think through, and rejecting political education for the sake of accepting what is clearly a reactionary position.  For example, a blog that is implicitly colonial but that is still honest in its activist engagement and is working through the contradictions is not necessarily a blog I am going to purge; but a blog that goes out of its way to be explicitly colonial, even if it veils itself as "left", is a different case altogether.  (A good example of this is Frances Widdowson's blog [I will not dignify it with a link], which codes itself as "marxist" while supporting the most noxious white supremacist, anti-indigenous elements in Canadian society.)

The two blogs I recently purged were the type of blogs, when it comes to trans issues, that are not simply confused: the offensive entries were straight out reactionary.  Again, I know there are border wars and confusions that have caused serious problems on the left for trans-radicalism and feminism.  I can understand why a feminist blog might be confused about trans issues if it has to deal with trans "radicals" who are committed to the most whacky anti-feminist positions.  At a recent anti-imperialist womens conference, a transwoman offended hir audience by taking a simplistic pro-prostitute position when many people in attendance were survivors of the imperialist sex-trade––and then had the audacity to label the complainants, many of whom had asked hir to speak because they wanted to open the space to trans-politics, as anti-trans.  (But at the same time, and this is a point that needs to be made, I've seen similar arguments made by other people who are not trans, so I'm not stupid enough to think this somehow demonstrates the extent of "trans politics.")  The blogs I purged, however, had nothing to do with the confusions resulting from these border wars: they took positions that were proudly and flagrantly transphobic.


  1. Originally I was under the assumption that at least one of the blogs in question was also responsible for taking a pro-zionist position. I was sent a rather angry message correcting me on this point and so I removed the paragraph containing that conjecture and apologize for getting that point wrong. The purging only has to do with transphobia.

  2. I think I need to do a blogroll purge as well comrade.

  3. Yeah, it's always hard... But then I remind myself that since I do my real political work in my city, with people in the real world, I shouldn't be worried too much if I offend some people who do nothing but write crap in the blogosphere.

  4. I had to purge some of the chauvinist from my page both first world and third

  5. I hope it doesn't cause you too much undue stress: some people can get really offended, and send you all sorts of hate mail, simply because you remove them from a blogroll.

  6. I've had to prune my blogroll many times over the years, though by far the most sweeping purges I've had to do before of reactionary type elements has been on Facebook.

    What I generally experience though is pretty much the opposite problem: my site seems to turn up on blogrolls for sites that give me a serious WTF moment. For example, the Canadian section of Socialist Action currently lists my site on their blogroll (under its old name By Any Means Necessary), and I still get hits from them. I also somehow got myself listed on a number of Tankie sites (two don't count, as I consider the authors good comrades, despite really different politics), including some from Europe. It always gives me pause and makes me think "HTF did I end up on this site's blogroll, it and I have very little in common."

    I've also more than once emailed such sites asking them to take down the link to my site that they have. I've done so because I do not want people (third parties/readers) to be confused about my own politics and positions.

  7. You're linked on Socialist Action? Wow... Although, if they're using your old blog name, it's probably an oversight. I'm sure the ten people that have made up the entire membership of that organization since its inception probably just don't pay attention to that sort of thing.

    As for Facebook purging: I am so glad that I am still not on Facebook and thus have to never deal with that odd pressure I've been informed is caused by old "friends", whose politics are dubious, trying to friend you.

  8. What I like about your approach to this stuff is that you're always willing to do self-criticism and that you are quite generous, more generous than myself, when it comes to criticism of other's politics and positions. As for Widdowson, don't even get me started. She had suggested on that East Asian people ought to have English names so as to assimilate better in Canadian society, specifically because having an english/christian name will increase job prospects. And I've come across her "scholarly work" on the First Nations in Canada. I believe Leo Panitch supervised and passed this dissertation. Hrm...

  9. Thanks! Yeah Panitch did supervise Widdowson's dissertation, and that dissertation that was purportedly "marxist" was so ahistorical and racist that it should also serve as a blot on Panitch's academic record. And Widdowson's understanding of marxism is worse than the crudest class reductionist: aside from calling herself a marxist, there is nothing in her work that is even vaguely historical materialist; her professional affiliations have always been with liberals or outright reactionaries; and she and her fellow "marxist" collaborator, Albert Howard, have never dared present at any marxist conference.


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