“Race-play” and BDSM revisited: Looking back at the ISN split

.
Several months have passed since the fiasco around the infamous image of the oligarchess Dasha Zhukova sitting on Bjarne Melgaard’s chair in the shape of a black woman led to mass resignations in Britain’s newly-formed International Socialist Network (ISN). Richard Seymour and Magpie Corvid, both of whom helped to found the fledgling group just months after it broke away from the publicly disgraced Socialist Workers Party (SWP), ventured into an online discussion about sexual and racial taboos related to the chair. Seymour, a famous blogger and writer for Verso, and Corvid, herself a well-known dominatrix, were almost immediately branded mansplaining, racist perverts for even entertaining the idea that such stuff was permissible if all parties consented. Needless to say, the whole thing was a farce. Together with the sci-fi author China Miéville and a host of other prominent ISN cadre, they  split from the party amidst outrage and recrimination.

Anyway, I covered that entire saga back when it was still unfolding in late January. But it’s back in the news, so I thought it’d be fitting to take a look back. The Times ran a full-page story on the incident, authored by David Brown and Jonathon Manning. It’s a serviceable enough mainstream account. From what I hear, the New Statesman also put out a retrospective this week on the still-earlier SWP “rapegate” scandal, which is what led to the formation of the ISN in the first place. New Statesman is probably less keen to write up anything about Seymour’s subsequent follies, as they published the so-called “Discourse on Brocialism” between him and fellow Guardian  columnist Laurie Penny last November.

Here’s a rundown of the articles I wrote on the controversy, as well as a couple I reposted from James Heartfield, Corey Ansel, and Jason Walsh:

  1. Live by intersectionality, die by intersectionality (January 23, 2014) — The fall of the House of Seymour. Includes a large image showing the original exchange that led to Seymour’s marginalization.
  2. International Socialist Network releases statement distancing itself from Richard Seymour (January 24, 2014) — On the supposed  the ideological implications of “race play.” The beginning of the end for Seymour & co.
  3. First as tragedy, then as farce…then as low-budget bondage porn (January 27, 2014) — It’s sad enough that the Left has degenerated to such a pitiful state, where it squabbles over such piddly crap. Did Seymour and co. really need to have their reputations ruined on account of it, though? Tarred as perverts and racists? I don’t think so.
  4. Further adventures in intersectionality (January 31, 2014) — By James Heartfield. Ties together the ISN split with a simultaneous but unconnected occurrence, where Laurie Penny faced extremely unfair backlash on account of an article she wrote about women who wear their hair short. As Heartfield put it: “Neither Seymour nor Penny understand that these dead-end arguments come about because of their own commitment to ‘intersectionality.’ They think that ‘intersectionality’ just means anti-racism. But it does not. In fact, it means the opposite. Intersectionality is not about opposing racism. It is about institutionalizing racism.”
  5. The oppression ouroboros: Intersectionality eats itself (February 2, 2014) —By Jason Walsh. “[I]ntersectionality may well burn itself out, but I have a feeling it will do great damage in the process. Well meant, intersectionality is in fact little more than an invisible knapsack full of unverifiable grievances.”

If anyone is interested, I later wrote a couple polemics aimed at Flavia Dzodan, who in many ways led the charge against Penny’s article. So don’t think that I’m laughing at Seymour & co.’s expense; at least in this, it’s their accusers who appear far worse.

8 thoughts on ““Race-play” and BDSM revisited: Looking back at the ISN split

  1. This whole “controversy” shows what a bunch of wankers the ultraleft is. No wonder people vote UKIP instead of commie when they’re unhappy about the current state of affairs.

  2. Thomas:

    1) The numbskulls who vote UKIP are, I venture to guess, too dim and ill-informed to follow such debates.

    2) The above characters aren’t ‘commies’.

    3) Have you seen the even more idiotic things UKIP-ers have been saying recently?

    Makes the above spat look like a tea party.

  3. Pingback: Against Richard Seymour | The Charnel-House

  4. Pingback: Venus in Fur, Film. Review. The Limits of Masochism. | Tendance Coatesy

  5. I don’t think the SWP really did anything wrong. Really it was the accuser who was wrong by making accusations to the party rather than the police.

    You just can’t do that – it’s unfair to the accused to make accusations outside of the legal system.

    Presumably she expected some sort of internal part process and that’s what she got.

    Personally, I’d take the SWP over any of it’s identity-addled dissidents.

  6. Pingback: Wages for masturbation? Burning questions of our movement | The Charnel-House

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s