Monday, 24 June 2013

William Rowe: Response to the exchange between Francesca Lisette and David Grundy

I identified at the time with what I thought was the object of Francesca’s objections – violence against women – as something to be accused of. But I don’t find that the sense of shame it produced is useful. And, having referred to shame, I want to be more precise as to the cause of this shame. Rather than involvement in sexual violence, what was I imputing to myself? A complicity, as far as I can tell, in an ambience of such violence (which gives permission for that violence).

However, as I say, I don’t find the sense of guilt useful. If revolutionary tenderness is to be practiced, this will not be the result of seeing the pointing finger of guilt, but it will come from the type of radical solidarity that the Paris Communards practiced (the Welfare State, which is under destruction, being a reduced and bureaucratized reflection of that).

So for me, revolutionary tenderness, in the complete commitment it implies, is to come out of liberty, equality and solidarity. And the not-so-useful fierceness of guilt is I think fed by the failure of the desire for equality and solidarity.

It’s important to me that Francesca pointed out the implication of rape in the statement quoted by David [which Jennifer Cooke refers to in the third point of her recent post]. Here is the shadow of rape as instrument of war. And a major part of the shock of recognizing that rape is implied is the sense that the perpetrator is enjoying it. As, for us, Ian Duncan Smith and co are enjoying causing suffering to weak and/or exploited people. When the cuts were first announced in Parliament, Tory MPs shouted More! More! More! So there is an accuracy to the slogan ‘fuck capitalism’.

‘Fuck the State and capitalism's holes’, the statement quoted by David, can mean, as Francesca said, simply doing the same to them. My bother with it (rather than the slogan form) is it can be taken as a simple mirror reversal. Revolutionary violence, for me, is not like that. As in Fanon, it is transformative of oppressed and weakened people. And secondly, as with Marx, revolutionists have to be involved in the practice of violence.

The point is that ‘Fuck capitalism’, as reversal, is I guess ok as a slogan (a slogan does not constitute a strategy) because it turns the enemy’s violence back at him. But it’s not ok as mere reversal, it does not designate the enjoyment revolutionists need. As Sean has said, struggle, in a revolutionary sense, is the only valid form of ecstasy.

Hope others will respond to this exchange.

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