From Nowhere and Boredom
I've noticed that intersectionality appears to be an important theme in many discussions about the nature of the tension between injustice and freedom within the anarchist milieu, and in looking into it I've found it useful in terms of understanding my own experiences of the world in relation to those around me. It has helped me significantly to make sense of my place in the world, and to makes sense of a world where everything is objectified and then measured for value in terms of its potential for exploitability.
In this context, where we live in a class society run by autocratic sociopaths drunk with power who wish to force the complexities and dynamism of society into the archetypal procrustean bed of free market ideology, it makes sense within the terms of this ideology that the unemployed, the elderly, single mothers, the physically and intellectually disabled and those who suffer from mental illnesses should be kept out of sight and/or neglected at best and vilified and demonised given their general uselessness to the process of profitmaking.
Here we begin to see the usefulness of intersectionality in particular in being able to begin to understand why someone who is unemployed and schizophrenic, for example (and who is for that matter most like unemployed because they are schizophrenic), might be regarded with a great deal of hostility and suspicion - and might for that matter suffer from a great deal of social prejudice and discrimination.
Added to the demonising effect of classism and ableism, both of which would place blame on the unemployed schizophrenic a. for not being exploitable by virtue of the capitalist system being unable to provide them with employment, and b. for not being exploitable by virtue of being incapable of working, you have the stigma associated with schizophrenia that prevails even after the illness has gone into remission and the schizophrenic has begun to recover (and despite popular misconception to the contrary it is possible to recover more or less fully from it).
These three facets make together for quite an oppressive situation, not least because the schizophrenic is obliged to fight the illness, the stigma and the constant personal difficulties attendant to extreme long term social isolation often with little or no help, and on the odd occasion that one gets lucky, begrudging help. In my experience the stigma is worse than the illness given the social dynamics involved. For my part I'm glad I was born in this day and age where people only lynch you in public opinion and not for real. Don't say the world has never made any progress.
I haven't always found it easy to talk openly about my experiences of schizophrenia, which for the record is like being in a waking nightmare. I never talked about anything with anyone which probably has a lot to do why I got sick in the first place, and when I joined the dots and went through the long process of figuring out what it meant to have schizophrenia, even then I didn't tell anyone. I had to tell someone eventually, and it ended up being my personal trainer at the gym since I had to account for my weight, which was due to the heinous side effects of the antipsychotics I had been prescribed (they were the basis for a class action lawsuit in the US from what I understand).
I don't particularly like talking about them now; now that I do have some agency back in my life what interests me more is trying to live it, make something out of and get something out of it rather than bounce along the bottom which I have done most of my adult life and a good deal beforehand as well. In pursuing that I seem to encounter obstacles at every turn; I have a chequered working history having been mentally ill most of my adult life, and I'm trying to establish a career in my mid-thirties which raises questions as to what the fuck I've been doing with myself for the last 15-20 years previous.
Additionally, and above and beyond the fact that schizophrenia is a one-way ticket to social leprosy and once you have it you’ve always had it irrespective of whether you get better or not, no one knows you when you're down anyway, which means that I'm disconnected from friends and family, and my physical health is pretty shot to boot. When people look at me I think they see a lazy fat fuck and not someone who used to do 24k bike rides every day until doctors in the pay of big pharmaceutical companies started pumping him full of chemicals that made his body blow up like a balloon.
Enter the anarchist milieu, which clearly doesn't have a vestige of clue about the meaning of ableism, the impact of ableism on the person it's directed against or even apparently how insanely ugly ableism actually is. The other day on a thread somewhere someone made the statement that schizophrenics were probably socially retarded because they spent so much time being crazy, or something. If someone made a comment about people with Down Syndrome being retards because they spent so much time not having an IQ above 78 you would put a boot up their arse, but in reference to schizophrenia that logic appears to be okay.
Incidentally that comment happened on a Facebook page run by someone who later deleted a post I made asking about safer spaces for people such as myself who fear the effects of ableism, and then blocked me from the page altogether. This is in the anarchist milieu, which prides itself on being more progressive than capitalist society. For my part it looked a lot to me like anarchists become a perfect example of what they claimed to oppose, and maybe also just a bit of quietly relying on my lack of self-esteem to not say anything about this kind of summary ill-treatment and sort of just slowly drift away from the anarchist scene.
But then again it's far from being the first time. The reason why ableism was a concern for me of course was the issue of my response to a letter being circulated amongst anarchists painting me as a malicious, mentally-ill stalker, in which I asked one of the co-signers (who had previously been a friend and comrade of some years and whose last words to me had been that I was respected as a person and valued as a friend) if they had lost their fucking minds.
This became part of the foundation for a harassment complaint within the organisation I was a member of at the time on the basis that for me to attempt to hold someone accountable for writing something clearly inflammatory and defamatory was unreasonable on the grounds apparently a. that there was no difference between criticising someone and attacking them, and b. it was my fault for being upset and humiliated at the language used as well as the hateful, haughty, patronising and condescending tone of the letter generally. This letter in its ableism was clearly grounds for a harassment complaint, but since a previous harassment complaint I had made had been ignored I had no opportunity or inclination to make another.
In the end the authors of the letter as well as another person who had accused me of wanting to engage amongst other things in a purge of socialists (itself seeming ableist to the extent that it implied that I was crazy enough to consider such a thing) conspired with the branch secretary of the union involved (who was himself compromised by virtue of having failed to follow up on a harassment complaint because he had been in the mountains snowboarding) to bring vexatious harassment complaints against me. It took the parties involved some weeks to figure out what the complaints actually were; they day before they were delivered to me I had threatened to go on strike in my capacity as editor of the union newspaper due to the shitty treatment I was getting and the failure of the branch secretary to follow up on my complaint or for anyone to sit down and engage in mediation like I had repeatedly asked them to, and in their haste to break the strike they didn't have time to actually formulate their complaints.
Long story short, I and one or two close friends worked for about a month cataloguing evidence against the complaints they came up to try to rationalise their own conduct. My evidence and arguments were resoundingly ignored by the complaints committee set up, which obviously had no idea about how to identify or deal with ableism or of anything to do with the nature of schizophrenia, and then by the appeals committee that I very foolishly agreed to participate in, which manifested exactly the same level of almost complete ignorance. In fact the latter upheld the complaints as it did the right of those who had never had schizophrenia to define ableism for those of us who had, and with them my expulsion. It also agreed that someone who used to have schizophrenia looking at a public Facebook profile to see what someone else was saying in constantly slagging them off was stalking, though what this had to do with the original complaints remains to be clarified.
Other issues aside, the main problem I see with this situation is that no one has learnt a damn thing. Those who knew bugger all about me before continue to know bugger all about me now. I continue to experience ableism without of the anarchist milieu as well as from within; no one involved appears to have a skerrick of a clue how that ableism affects my life, much less to say a skerrick of an inclination to find out, just as they have even less of an interest in knowing how I am effected by the ableism within it. If anyone involved has learned a damn thing about ableism, the consequences of ableism and the harm that it does, then I for one can't say I've seen one iota of evidence to that effect. How can anarchists claim to oppose discrimination much less to say embrace concepts such as intersectionality when this is the case? To me it seems a little ridiculous, and from where I'm standing, rather than solidarity and mutual aid as there is supposed to be, all I see is the same silence, indifference, callousness, cruelty and militant ignorance that I see in the rest of the world.
The following is the result of the above article being posted online. One of the individuals who inspired it attempted to attack yours truly with a long serious of fallacy-ridden arguments, not least of which being that criticising someone's conduct and attacking their person were the same thing and that claims carried the same weight as facts. Given that the attack arguably constituted trolling, the response is addressed to the admin of the site.
[Admin] are you noting this? I've addressed the allegations of harassment made against me above in the context of the discussion surrounding ableism. Here the allegations are made again, characteristically without supporting evidence.
Similarly, the discussion of ableism is a 'lie,' the author of this post characteristically manifesting the sense of entitlement that informs her belief that she has the right to define ableism for those who have or who have had a mental illness - though I know for a fact that she has a passionate hatred for the way sexists and manarchists attempt to mansplain the meaning of sexism to her. If it's appropriate for women to be able to define the nature of their own oppression, then why not also for past and present sufferers of schizophrenia to define ableism for ourselves. Why then the double standard? Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't double standards indicative of discrimination?
You can see also that the author is ascribing to me the desire to paint myself as the 'real victim,' though as she seems to have a passionate commitment to the idea that there is a real victim (which I don't) I'd put it to you that that's simply projection. This would seem to suggest to me that she has adopted the role of victim and is subject to all that that entails of blaming any target that she finds useful (say, a recovering schizophrenic who is not that popular to begin with) for all the misery in her own life that she is unwilling or unable to take responsibility for herself. At the end of the day is there any softer target than someone that everyone isn't 100% sure about? So her comments would appear to suggest bullying as well I think.
What she says about my appeal being heard by a branch of the IWW in another country is entirely true, though I fail to see how the fact that none of the people in the appeals committee knowing anyone involved in the dispute in Melbourne means that ableism wasn't present. Do two racists on opposite sides of the world need to know each other personally to share the same ignorant assumptions? Obviously not. So again we would appear to be witnessing here the kind of bigotry and discrimination discussed in the original post, which in the context of the IWW would appear to suggest an organisational defecit concerning ableism specific to it.
Furthermore the writer suggests that 'a lot' of evidence for my alleged harassment came from my own defense statement. Great - which evidence was that exactly? And what was the content and nature of my defense statement as such? Are we even willing to acknowledge the arguments I put forward in my own defense, even to strengthen our own case? Apparently not. We aren't even willing to acknowledge another point of view besides our own; this seems to me to be very black and white and very autocratic.
It's not the first time I've been accused of harassment. Perhaps this says more about the way that Melbourne activists operate then it does my conduct. An accusation is by no means the same thing as conclusive proof, and if different people make the same unfounded allegations wouldn't that suggest something of a witchhunt? If I have a record of harassment going back 10 years, where is the evidence? If I have a long record of harassment and the anarchist milieu is unable to deal with it effectively, why has no one ever gone to the cops? If she really believes what she says, why doesn't she go to the cops? Would it be because when they heard her complaints and then realised she moved to a house two blocks from where I live from another place 50 minutes drive away while accusing me of being a harasser and stalker they would put her out on her arse? One has to wonder.
I put it to you that for all the mountains of evidence she claims to have, she actually has shit and all the evidence I supplied in my own defense is actually of her persistent harassment and bullying, which she engages in lieu of mediation because her ableism is too deeply ingrained for her to be able to come to terms with.
I believe this also explains comments like 'I don't believe that this behavior has anything to do with his mental health issues.' The way I conduct myself is a-priori designated 'behaviours' because to criticise the ableism of people like the author of this post is by definition to attack them, which is in turn the result of supposed behavioural issues which are implicitly the result of what the author herself deems to be my 'mental health issues.' If the author of the post is saying that I'm sane and that I conduct myself sanely then I could hardly not agree, though this fails to explain why she aligns herself with ableists who paint me as a malicious, mentally-ill stalker in inflammatory and defamatory letters who accuse me of harassment when I email them to say exactly the same thing.
If all the above follows then it would appear to be a touch ironic for the author of the post to accuse anyone else of having a lack of respect for boundaries, much less to say for women. My current partner seems to think I'm respectful enough, and she is a pretty staunch feminist. If that's the case then accusing me of thriving on conflict and the attention it brings him is laughable, especially considering her own refusal to engage in any kind of mediation in lieu of attacking me from the safety of Facebook as she has done for months. Since she says that she will only post once on that basis, if she posts again does that mean she is guilty herself of what she puts on others?
As far as the report she links to is concerned, let me take one brief snippet to give you some idea of the calibre of the appeals process in the IWW:
"This indicates that D knew he had been specifically blocked by FW C and rationalizes his inappropriate behavior. At no point in D's Defense Brief does he explicitly deny the long list of allegations brought forth by FW C and in fact defends and continues to rationalize such behavior. Beyond these two examples, FW C has substantiated her allegations with dozens of pieces of evidence, including screen shots, emails, text messages, etc. that clearly outline a pattern of harassment.'
For starters I wasn't blocked by C because I could see her posts which were public. If the posts were public and I could see them then how could I have been acting inappropriately?
In the second place the onus wasn't on me to deny the allegations because they hadn't been proven. How can I defend and rationalise behaviours that aren't established?
In the third, which evidence do they refer to? Do we get to see the evidence, descriptions of the content of the evidence, or arguments to justify the interpretations of the evidence? C supplied some evidence to support her claims; I supplied a great deal more to demonstrate their fallaciousness. Why were these ignored just as they were ignored by the complaints committee whose atrocious handling of the dispute necessitated the formation of an appeals committee in the first place? Why does the author care what the appeals committee said anyway considering she abandoned the IWW on the basis that the complaints process was a load of crap?
This would all appear to be to be indicative of a deep-seated ableism in the anarchist scene and an equally militant ignorance in terms of williness to acknowledge and come to terms with it which is what I've been saying all along. Are you willing to tolerate displays of this kind of vindictive and callous discrimination? I don't even know what C is doing here; she doesn't even like anarchism. Try discussing the suppression of the Kronstadt commune with her sometime, but not too much maybe given the way she appears to deals with those she doesn't see eye to eye with politically, males with a history of schizophrenia especially.
**** has been harassing me and another woman for the last few months. His harassment has also been directed at a number of our friends. He keeps making up more and more lies about people being "ableist" and trying to paint himself as the real victim. The fact is that his appeal was heard by a branch in another country, none of whom knew any of the people involved in the complaint. A lot of the evidence for his harassment of me came from his own 9000 word defense statement. This also isn't the first time Itses has been accused of harassment. He has a record of this kind of behavior going back over 10 years. Personally I don't believe that this behavior has anything to do with his mental health issues. I believe it has more to do with a lack of respect for boundaries and for women. I also think he thrives on conflict and the attention it brings him. For that reason this will be the only thing I post here. I ask people to please not encourage him. [links removed]