A conversation concerning the history and legacy of the struggles for sexual liberation. What successes and setbacks have shaped the prospect for LGBTQ and feminist organizing today? Held on Thursday, September 13, 2013, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
Karin Cope, Professor of Historical and Critical Studies, NSCAD
Kevin Kindred, Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project
Evan Coole, Queer Activist, Organizer and Educator
Ashley Weger, Platypus Affiliated Society
Moderated by Cam Hardy (Platypus Affiliated Society)
Questions for panelists:
1. How did the LGBTQ rights movement become such? What has its relation to the Left been, and how has the contemporary political focus on same-sex marriage affect that relation? What are the potentials and limits of present politics and organization around equality and legality? What successes and limitations has it met?
2. How does economic life shape our imaginations about what sexual freedom will look like? For example, arguments for marriage equality have often been made in terms of all the economic disadvantages one faces if one can't marry--extra taxes, loss of healthcare, etc. Does marriage equality solve these issues? Or, counter to marriage, consider the importance of the legal protection of sex work to many on the Left. How are and should economics and sex be bound in sex work? Should sex work be abolished or protected? What role would the State play in a Left that seeks to decrease both human economic precariousness and human dependence on the economy more generally?
3. Marriage has always been about the linking of the intimate and the public. The demand that "love" dominate marriage--its development in the 19th century away from a mere economic arrangement between parents--was a way to demand that the public sphere as represented in the state recognize the power and value of individual life. If once progressive, though, this also comes to represent the naturalization of the state as the voice of authority over private life, as well as the retention of the family form which has represented ages of abuse (of women, children, etc.), and enshrines the principle of property over people. What forms of personal/public relation are possible now? What relationship ought the Left fight for between love, the private and the public?
4. What do we mean by a liberated sexuality? That which has positioned itself counter to what we might deem âheteronormativeâ has in the past been given the qualification as âabnormal.â In fighting for greater civil equality, these formerly marginalized sexualities have often fought on the basis of their ânaturalâ or ânormalâ characters. Does recognition for equality often homogenize the formerly marginal into normative bonds (e.g. marriage, family, monogamy, etc.), or is sexual emancipation necessarily antagonistic to the sexual mainstream? Are neither of these positions adequate?
A moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A on problems of strategies and tactics on the Left today.
Baolinh Dang (Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee- Revolutionary Students Movement),
Cam Hardy (Platypus),
Megan Kinch (#Occupy, Toronto Media Co-Op), and
Jim Stanford (Canadian Auto Workers).
"After the failure of the 1960s New Left, the underlying despair with regard to the real efficacy of political will, of political agency, in a historical situation of heightened helplessness, became a self-constitution as outsider, as other, rather than an instrument of transformation. Focused on the bureaucratic stasis of the Fordist, late 20th Century world, the Left echoed the destruction of that world by the dynamics of capital: neoliberalism and globalization.
The idea of a fundamental transformation became bracketed and, instead, was replaced by the more ambiguous notion of 'resistance.' The notion of resistance, however, says little about the nature of that which is being resisted, or of the politics of the resistance involved.
'Resistance' is rarely based on a reflexive analysis of possibilities for fundamental change that are both generated and suppressed by the dynamic heteronomous order of capital. 'Resistance' is an undialectical category that does not grasp its own conditions of possibility; it fails to grasp the dynamic historical context of capital and its reconstitution of possibilities for both domination and emancipation, of which the 'resisters' do not recognize that that they are a part."
- Moishe Postone, "History and Helplessness: Mass mobilization and contemporary forms of anticapitalism" (2006)