Shetterly Banned by 4th Street Fantasy Convention

Will Shetterly reports he has been banned from Minneapolis’ annual 4th Street Fantasy Convention.

In 2017, a 4th Street board member recruited Shetterly to help with a writing workshop, however, after seeing the info appear on the con’s website, 4th Street’s Safety Coordinator raised concerns. The board overruled the selection and Shetterly was dropped. Shetterly exchanged emails with people to find out what those concerns were and why the decision was made. Today he published that correspondence because the board has notified him he is banned from 4th Street Fantasy, due to his having raised the spectre of legal action when dropped from the 2017 workshop, and also for his public criticism of the convention.

Shetterly quotes the board’s notice about the ban in section three of his post “Positively Fourth Street, or On being banned for … vague reasons about nearly indescribable things?”

  1. I was done with 4th Street, but 4th Street was not done with me

After deciding I was done with Fourth Street, I rarely thought about it. When I did, I remembered it like Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood, a place that was fun that has been gentrified. It never occurred to me that Fourth Street was not done with me, but the convention is like a lover I ghosted—she felt obliged to tell me the relationship is over. On March 8, I woke to find this email:

Dear Will:

On April 27, 2017, as part of an email conversation regarding your removal from a programming item at the 2017 4th Street Fantasy Convention, you wrote “Someone has suggested this decision to imply I’m unsafe in public might be actionable.”

We cannot disregard this implied threat of legal action, particularly combined with your lengthy and detailed public criticism of the convention on multiple platforms. Despite your reassurance in correspondence dated April 30, 2017 that “I just want to reassure everyone that Emma and I have less than zero intention of suing anyone”, the Board of Directors has decided that we are unwilling to open ourselves to liability through further association with you.

We are therefore banning you from Fourth Street Fantasy.

We would like to resolve this privately. These are the practical steps we have taken:

• As stated above, you are banned from Fourth Street Fantasy. You will not be allowed to register for the convention or attend convention events. Please do not come to the Doubletree Hotel during the weekend of the convention.

Thank you for your service as a founder, programming participant, and long-time attendee. We wish you well in your further writing career.

Sincerely Yours,

The Fourth Street Fantasy Board of Directors

Brad Roberts
Scott Lynch
Alex Haist
Arkady Martine
Max Gladstone

Shetterly says he was “done with 4th Street” already (partly for the reasons covered last year in “Steven Brust’s Fourth Street Fantasy Remarks Generate Heat”, which Shetterly commented on extensively.) However, he believes a public statement is needed to clear the air, lest people assume he has been banned for the kind of behavior that has gotten other men banned from conventions.

Soon afterward, I realized these things:

1. The only substance in the Board’s letter is the fact that I’m banned because they’re concerned I might sue them for implying I’m unsafe. Their logic is odd. If I was the sort of person who liked using the law, banning me would make me more likely to sue them. By banning me, they are giving me the only reason I might have to sue them—in earlier times, no one would have been banned for polite disagreement, so people will quite reasonably assume there must be more to the charge.

2. Their letter says I criticize the convention without citing examples because there are none. I’ve always supported the convention. I’ve only criticized its current administrators who speak as if they are the convention—L’Etat, c’est moi is the motto of all petty people who fail to see they are only caretakers.

3. The letter says the Board “would like to resolve this privately”, but a ban means nothing if no one knows about it, the idea that five members of this community could keep anything private is hilarious, and there’s nothing offered to resolve: the Board isn’t dangling any hope of rescinding the ban if I promise to keep from criticizing them in the future. Their “privately” may mean they want to keep the story in the realm of gossip instead of making a press release, but the game of telephone began the moment a Board member told a friend I’d been banned or answered an inquiry about whether I’ll be at this year’s 4th Street.

So the Board has given me three choices:

  1. Do nothing, thereby validating the implication that I’m banned for the same reason other men in our community have been banned.
  2. Sue the Board to make them admit that the implications of their ban are false.
  3. Make the historical record public so people may draw their own conclusions.

Shetterly says he has chosen the last option, thus his post.

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story.]

169 thoughts on “Shetterly Banned by 4th Street Fantasy Convention

  1. For what it’s worth, at the time of Racefail I had been a regular reader of coffeeandink’s blog for at least five years. For most of that period I did not know her real name. I don’t recall how I eventually learned it, but I understood it to not be something that was generally linked to the blog and with which it was appropriate to be discreet. I do not believe it to be true that she had ever used her first name as her livejournal username; she was coffeeandink for the entire time I followed her, but commenters occasionally called her affectionately by another pseudonym which I think may have been her username before.

  2. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan No one is saying a law suit would be about whether I argue with people online in public forums. I’ll be the first to testify that’s very true.

    I’d rather not talk about the grounds for suing because, as I’ve said repeatedly from the beginning, I have no plans to sue anyone and wish people would stop encouraging me to dwell on reasons why I should.

    As for your claim that your politics are like mine, I don’t remember you well from the Nielsen Hayden’s site, but my memory is that on issues like Katrina, your position was in line with your neoliberal hosts rather than with socialists like Adolph Reed. But I may misremember, of course.

  3. I have no idea whether Coffeeandink’s name is now generally known or not, and I don’t plan to find out the hard way by posting comments which appear to reveal it.

  4. Mike, please note that I did not reveal her name. I only quoted what she said in a public post about switching to another handle; the handle that I mentioned is the one she uses on her twitter account, so I would assume it cannot be considered “outing”.

  5. It is very easy. You only use the handle the person self uses on the current site. In this discussion we already have a handle we are using. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to bring up another.

  6. Re Will’s comment to Anna Feruglio Dal Dan You seem to be using a definition of neoliberal other than the one I understand. Justin Trudeau is a neoliberal. A good many of the people you are also calling identitarians are much more socialist than that.

  7. Hampus, is it “outing” to mention the handle that anyone will see if they visit her Twitter account today?

    Lenora Rose, there are simple tests of whether someone’s a neoliberal. One is whether they support neoliberals like HIllary Clinton.

    As for who is identitarian, Patrick fiercely defended the idea that Bush’s handling of Katrina was all about racism. Adolph Reed noted, “A critique that focuses just on race misses how the deeper structures of neoliberal practice and ideology underlie the travesty in New Orleans, as well as in the other devastated areas of the Gulf Coast. (Adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard Parish, nearly 90 percent white, working class and reliably Republican, was virtually wiped off the face of the earth. Most of the parish’s housing was destroyed. No hospitals or public libraries have reopened, and only 20 percent of its schools are operating.)”

  8. In Will’s world, one only qualifies as a proper socialist if they prioritize the class struggle to the exclusion of all other struggles. Anyone who isn’t a proper socialist is an enemy of the working class and thus worthy of his contempt (and often his harassment).

  9. TooManyJens, I’m amused that your comment follows a blog post that I just made. I’ll share it here since it’s short:

    Anyone who knows history knows this:

    1. The gender gap is narrowing.

    2. The racial gap is narrowing.

    3. The wealth gap is widening.

    Neoliberals support all three of these.

    And socialists whose beliefs about identity come from liberals like Derrick Bell and Kimberle Crenshaw effectively support all three when they focus on the battles that are being won instead of the one that’s being lost.

    1. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/03/gender-pay-gap-facts/

    2. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/

    3. https://thinkprogress.org/the-wealth-gap-between-rich-and-poor-is-the-widest-ever-recorded-6e9579966adf/

  10. ::stares directly into camera::

    So, anyone read any good SF lately? I just read the fifth installment in Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series. I found it disappointing. Bs gur gjb znva pbasyvpgf, bar jnf whfg n erunfu bs n sbezre pbasyvpg, naq gur bgure frrzrq gb or gurer fbyryl gb trg gur cybg cvrprf va cynpr sbe gur svany obbx. Rira Zvevnz ernyyl qvqa’g unir nalguvat gb qb rkprcg trg zbirq vagb cynpr, naq gur svany “eriryngvba” qvqa’g pneel nalguvat yvxr gur vzcnpg bs gur svany gjvfg va gur sbhegu obbx, ng yrnfg gb zr. Gung jnf trahvaryl fubpxvat (naq abg jryy sbyybjrq hc ba, VZB); guvf jnf “jryy, V xarj jr unq gb trg urer fbzrubj, fb yrg’f trg ba jvgu vg V thrff.”

    V fgvyy unir ubcrf gung gur fvkgu naq svany obbx jvyy ghea vg nebhaq naq qryvire n fngvfslvat raq gb gur frevrf, ng yrnfg va fbzr frafr bs gung jbeq. (V’z abg rkcrpgvat vg gb npghnyyl or unccl.) Ohg gur svsgu jnf ol sne gur jrnxrfg lrg.

    [Edited to add rot13, though to the extent there are spoilers they are very vague.]

  11. @TooManyJens

    As soon as we get the new Hugo recs thread I’m recommending the Clocktaur War duology from T Kingfisher as a matched pair for novel. It’s really just a single story so I decided not to nominate the first half and wait for the full story to be finished.
    Anyway, it’s warm, human, exciting, interesting, fun…basically I loved it.

  12. I bought the first novel as soon as it was released, based solely on Wombat’s tweets about the paladin. Maybe that’s what I should read next!

  13. @TooManyJens

    Well, as book two is out you can now safely start without suffering that terribly frustrating wait you get when the first book in a series is really great and you want the rest right now.

  14. Oh, in that case, it’s definitely moving to the summit of Mount TBR. (Or is it the base? The summit’s what you reach last, after all. But the giant pile of books I’ll read “someday” is much larger and more base-like than the ones that are going to be read next or soon. Hmm.)

  15. TooManyJens: Oh, in that case, it’s definitely moving to the summit of Mount TBR.

    Oh, yes, you must read them both, in sequence, immediately!

    How Oor Wombat manages to consistently write stories which are so dark, but yet so incredibly hopeful, is something which never ceases to amaze me.

  16. @TooManyJens: I just discovered Vina Jie-Min Prasad, who has several great short pieces out. Her “Fandom for Robots” is my favorite, with “A Series of Steaks” a close second. The problem with “Fandom for Robots”, though, is I now really want to watch the fictional anime series it describes…

    I’m trying to make more of an effort to read short fiction this year.

  17. @TooManyJens, weatherglass: from my nominations ballot (which also features Vina Jie-Min Prasad), the stuff I’m most enthusiastic about includes:-

    (Novel) Nick Harkaway’s Gnomon – in a near-future surveillance state that makes Orwell’s Big Brother look positively diffident, a detective is called in to extract the memories of a dissident who’s died in custody. She’s surprised to find herself reading the memories, instead, of four other people – a banker who’s become a billionaire by worshipping a mystic shark that eats corporations, a Carthaginian alchemist and former mistress of St. Augustine, an African artist with the power to walk through walls, and a post-human intelligence that’s travelled from the distant future to save everyone from the heat death of the universe…. I think it’s safe to say that this one is complicated and ambitious, and it’s immensely to Harkaway’s credit that he ties all the plot strands neatly together and resolves them.

    (Series) Peter Newman’s “The Vagrant” trilogy (concluding volume The Seven ) – to my mind, a delicious subversion of the sort of “Warhammer 40,000” endless-war genre, in which the monstrous body-horror-inflicting Infernals are up against the steely and virtuous Seven, and ordinary people are but tokens in their never-ending war game… until they start standing up for themselves and exploring other possibilities. “THERE WILL BE WAR (unless we can all get together around the conference table and work out a negotiated solution.)” Unexpectedly charming, despite all the severed body parts flying around.

    (Graphic Story) Warren Ellis’s Injection, volume 3. Some years ago, five multi-talented geniuses got together and accidentally poisoned the 21st century – creating the Injection, an emergent artificial intelligence with an affinity for folklore and ritual magic. Now, they are struggling to bring it back under control before it rewrites the rules of reality, probably to humanity’s detriment… Volume 3 puts black Irish techno-shaman Brigid Roth up against strange goings-on at a Cornish stone circle (I must admit, I prefer Brigid to some of her colleagues – the “great detective” character at the centre of volume 2, for instance, is quite clearly meant to be insufferable, but that doesn’t alter the fact that he’s, well, insufferable.) Lovely art from Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire and Fonographiks, too.

  18. Will Shetterly:

    “Hampus, is it “outing” to mention the handle that anyone will see if they visit her Twitter account by today?”

    No, it is more of a stalking behaviour. Leave her alone.

  19. Hampus, my original comment was an attempt to show that Andy H misremembers the situation, which is not uncommon. I’ll try again, this time redacting the handle that Coffeeandink is currently using in public. I don’t know when she stopped using her very rare legal name, but we do know when she announced in public that was considering no longer using it. On March 7, 2009, she posted, “I may change my userprofile name to “REDACTED” again.”

    That’s the same day she acknowledged her identity had been public in a post addressed to Kathryn Cramer:

    “Please also explain how I was hiding my identity from you or the Nielsen Haydens in a LiveJournal pnh friended a few years ago, with a user profile that lists my very identifiable first name, in a post that is signed with my very identifiable first name.”

  20. It’s noticeable that Shetterly brings up the wage gap in relationship to race and gender, which even his data shows that the gap still is significant, and compares it with the overall wealth gap, which is increasing, effectively setting up a non-comparison as a comparison. If you look at the racial wealth gap, its immense, and the recent housing crisis only exacerbated that gap because of its disproportionate effects. Another slight of hand presents a straw-man opponent that presents a mono-causal explanation of a phenomenon based on race to oppose it with another mono-causal explanation. A material analysis would involve a more complex engagement with the situation, a reality that anyone who has tried to organize a workplace understands.

    One additional note, Shetterly presents his economism as a commitment to a socialist or marxist politics, but most of the critiques that I’ve seen in response to his arguments, the ones that he labels ‘neo-liberal’ are not all that different to the critiques that marxists make of his assertions on various leftist sites such as Lenin’s Tomb. Neoliberalism is a useful conceptual framework to understand the present, but not Shetterly’s usage of the term. Take a look at the work of Christopher Newfield or Wendy Brown for a more thoughtful use of the term.

  21. Robert Wood, it is noticeable that you think I don’t notice that the race and gender gaps are only narrowing. I do read what I share. I only said those gaps are narrowing, which I hope you don’t deny.

    And yes, the poor are disproportionately female and of color. But so far as the wealth gap is concerned, that’s irrelevant. Bourgeois PoC and white women are both being rewarded by the growing wealth gap, and working class white people are suffering along with with working class PoC.

    Regarding neoliberalism, I recommend David Harvey’s book. Here’s a quote that seems relevant:

    “Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multi-culturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. It has long proved extremely difficult within the US left, for example, to forge the collective discipline required for political action to achieve social justice without offending the desire of political actors for individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities. Neoliberalism did not create these distinctions, but it could easily exploit, if not foment, them.”

  22. Regarding Lenin’s Tomb, there are identitarian socialists. They don’t seem to notice that their ideology comes from bourgeois liberals like Kimberle Crenshaw and Derrick Bell, who were trying to come up with a theory of justice that rejected King’s and Malcolm X’s criticism of capitalism.

  23. Shetterly: As a lifelong NDP voter whose current favourite Party leader is actually Elizabeth May, I did not vote for Hillary Clinton. (Further hint in case you don’t understand that sentence: One of the places we’ve met was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival). But I know a lot of people who are fervently battling the current wage gap and the policies that perpetuate it who held their nose and voted HIllary (after having voted Bernie in the primary when they had a say at all) on the basis that realistically, she was the only person with a chance against Trump, and nobody centrist, neoliberal, liberal, leftist, or socialist, wanted Trump. While many of them disliked a huge number of things she represented, NONE of the things they hated about Clinton were BETTER in Trump. And nobody more leftward stood a chance.

    Knowing that HIllary is marginally better than Trump — and there was no chance at the 11th hour to change the choices available — doesn’t make people class traitors or even neoliberals. If they fought from hours zero through 10 to get another viable choice, or a change to the system, and have been fighting since the toll of midnight to prevent the worst of Trump’s excesses, you don’t get to decide one vote makes them a fake.

  24. @Steve Wright: Those look excellent. I just picked up The Vagrant. And this thread is prompting me to finally get The Wonder Engine uploaded to my tablet for reading. (I’ve been looking forward to it. And yet have been too busy for wrangling Calibre. Thank god for a vacation finally.)

  25. Shetterly still isn’t dealing with the structural flaws in his analysis, which isn’t terribly surprising. The racial wealth gap isn’t narrowing. It’s growing, and can’t be simply reduced to a comment that “the poor are disproportionately female and of color.” It’s a product of a long history of state and non-state racist practices, and produces a situation where middle class black families frequently have less wealth than impoverished whites. A discussion of who has benefited from the system is also more complex that spelled out in his mono-causal framework, but certainly white women have been the largest beneficiaries of civil rights legislation. I’ve read Harvey’s work, which is good. I just don’t think it supports Shetterly’s narrow, economistic interpretation of neoliberalism. In many ways, Newfield’s concept of pseudo-integration becomes useful, marking the ways that the post-civil rights era has selectively integrated small sections of communities of color into it’s ranks, while doing nothing for the vast majority.

    Shetterly’s descriptions of his opponents is also pretty disingenuous as well, and would place a large portion of the marxist tradition in the United States in the category of ‘identitarian.’

  26. Lenora Rose, my comment about supporting neoliberals like Obama and the Clintons was a reference to the Nielsen Haydens.

    You got me to google the NDP. Wikipeida claims they’re part of the New Left, and their article on the New Left says, “Some saw the New Left as an oppositional reaction to earlier Marxist and labor union movements for social justice that focused on dialectical materialism and social class, while others who used the term saw the movement as a continuation and revitalization of traditional leftist goals.” So I assume the NDP is a mix of identitarians and universalists.

    I agreed with people like Adolph Reed and Noam Chomsky that in contested states, holding your nose and voting for Clinton was the right thing to do after the DLC had ignored the polls and rejected Sanders.

  27. Robert Wood, the flaw in your analysis is that the racial gap is growing because the wealth gap is growing. And yes, I know a great deal about why poverty is racially disproportionate–I grew up in the civil rights movement.

    I also know capitalism can’t solve this problem because class mobility in the US is awful.

    Identitarians love to talk about identity injustice without proposing solutions, as Adolph Reed noted in his essay on antiracism. Do you have a solution? If we can’t have socialism, I like King’s, Basic Income.

  28. Mark, I don’t know Jon Del Arroz, so I can’t call him a friend, but you’ve reminded me of a favorite quote by Malcolm X after he left NOI:

    “…my dearest friends have come to include all kinds — some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists — some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!” –Malcolm X

  29. @P J Evans:

    And I just bought both.

    ALL HAIL OOR WOMBAT.

    @weatherglass, @Steve Wright: Vina Jie-Min Prasad seems to be up my alley; I’ll check her out.

  30. @Will Shetterly–

    I agreed with people like Adolph Reed and Noam Chomsky that in contested states, holding your nose and voting for Clinton was the right thing to do after the DLC had ignored the polls and rejected Sanders.

    You’ve misspelled, “…after the DNC looked at the primary results and aren’t eith the candidate who won rather than the old white guy parading his old white guy privilege to demand the superdelegates do what they had never done before and overturn the results of the primaries.

    However much you thing we’re too ignorant to know our own interests, women and people of color still do have the right to do our own voting. And the Democratic party, while deeply imperfect, does at least count our votes instead of flushing them down the toilet as Bernie, for a while there, was trying to demand.

    Fuck that asshole, and fuck any other asshole who tells me I’m ignorant because I don’t share their extremist political views and their complete dismissal of real issues I’ve actually confronted in my life.

  31. Yes, the Nielsen Haydens.

    A quick skim of Making Light after Katrina (And I’ll grant, I stopped on September 4th, which appears to be before the big argument I vaguely remember you having with them) the Nielsen Haydens talked a lot more about ALL the people who were broke and carless and unable to evacuate who got left behind than they did about the explicit racism that happened several times *ALONGSIDE* it. Including posting Scalzi’s “Being poor” essay in the middle of it.

    Which seems consistent with your perspective overall: Unless classism and class war is the ONLY issue, people are clearly ignoring class war as an issue. If any other topic is ever considered as A cause, then clearly it is seen as the ONLY cause, and they are class traitors or bourgeois scum.

    People who agree with you 95% of the time are insufficiently pure. I have no time for that level of demand for ideological purity, especially from someone who then attacks identitarians for being divisive and demanding political litmus tests.

  32. @Mike: Considering JDA seems to think the people here at File 770 were part of the concom who made the decision (Do ANY of the people cited by Shetterly post here? I don’t think so: I’m pretty sure I’d have noticed if Scott Lynch or Max Gladstone were regulars, and I only know the other names from this specific incident), I know how seriously to take his proclamations.

  33. Lenora Rose, I’m a democratic socialist like Eugene Debs, George Orwell, and Martin Luther King. That means I will work with anyone in areas where our concerns overlap, like protesting war. But it also means my focus is on the entire working class. This is often annoying to people who are or want to be in a position to exploit others.

    Go in peace.

  34. Mike Glyer: Jon Del Arroz has shared his beliefs about why Shetterly was banned

    That’s just full of entertaining gems:
    “respected author Will Shetterly”
    “Will Shetterly did nothing wrong, observably so”
    “his crime is that he doesn’t act passive-aggressive”
    a complete failure to understand the meaning of “blacklisted”

    and I’m still laughing hilariously over this one:

    Jon “There Aren’t Any Politics In MY Books!” Del Arroz: If you appreciate the stances I take, you’ll probably appreciate the stands my characters take for their convictions in The Stars Entwined, which is out on Tuesday!

    What a second-rate snake-oil salesman. 😀

  35. I tend to think the problem with Shetterly’s analysis is less an issue of purism, and more an issue of reductionism. His interlocutors need to be understood within his own framework in one must make a choice between ‘class’ and ‘identity’ (I put these in quotations because they don’t have much to do with the way that those categories meaningfully exist.) If you choose one, you must reject the other.

    Two other notes: 1. I’m not a huge fan of Adolph Reed, but Shetterly’s description of neoliberalism and diversity is really Reed’s description of left neoliberalism, which he distinguishes from a right neoliberalism. 2. It’s fair to call writers such as Crenshaw liberals, although I don’t think that negates the value of their work, but the categories that she and other liberal feminists develop have a connection to a more radical strain of black feminism in the 1970’s that can’t be ignored in understanding the argument.

  36. Robert Wood, no, you don’t have to choose between class and identity. Was King less black for his universalism? Was Eleanor Marx less female when she wrote about the difference between socialist and bourgeois feminism?

    1. Yes, there are differences between left and right neoliberalism. So far, the discussion has focused on left neoliberalism. Or so I had thought.

    2. I’m glad you agree that Crenshaw was a liberal. Her framing is designed to prop up liberal capitalism, which seeks a pure class system in which the ruled and the rulers look alike. How capitalism can ever achieve that or how it will improve the lot of the working class, I don’t know. Hmm. But it reminds me of another favorite saying:

    “When the axe came into the Forest, the trees said “The handle is one of us””

  37. Lis, regarding “However much you thing we’re too ignorant to know our own interests, women and people of color still do have the right to do our own voting.”

    Do you think all women and people of color are neoliberals? I assure you, that’s not true:

    “Last spring, a Harvard-Harris poll found Sanders to be the most popular active politician in the country. African Americans gave the senator the highest favorables at 73 percent — vs. 68 percent among Latinos, 62 percent among Asian Americans and 52 percent among white voters. It wasn’t a fluke: This August, black voters again reported a 73 percent favorability rating for Sanders. Critics, such as Starr, continue to point to the senator’s 2016 primary numbers among older African American voters to claim that his message somehow doesn’t resonate with people of color as a whole — and continue to ignore that, according to GenForward, Sanders won the black millennial vote in the primaries.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/09/12/its-time-to-end-the-myth-that-black-voters-dont-like-bernie-sanders/?utm_term=.8411dcadfd61

  38. I’m going to work through the two sets of comments step by step.

    Robert Wood, the flaw in your analysis is that the racial gap is growing because the wealth gap is growing. And yes, I know a great deal about why poverty is racially disproportionate–I grew up in the civil rights movement.

    Me: Nothing in your analysis has indicated this understanding of disproportionate poverty, nor have you really dealt with the flaw in your original argument, the lack of a consistent matrix of comparison. I should note that it is true that the increases in the racial wealth gap is part of an overall growth of the racial wealth gap, but that process is deeply uneven, because of the uneven effects of the housing crisis and to meaningfully address it, those differences would have to be addressed.

    I also know capitalism can’t solve this problem because class mobility in the US is awful.

    Me:Class mobility is pretty bad right now, but it hasn’t always been the case, particularly after the second war, a prosperity that certainly wasn’t evenly enjoyed by the working class, just as the neoliberal assault has not been experienced unevenly.

    Identitarians love to talk about identity injustice without proposing solutions, as Adolph Reed noted in his essay on antiracism. Do you have a solution? If we can’t have socialism, I like King’s, Basic Income.

    Me: I’m a pretty committed marxist and therefore committed to a socialist project, but I don’t think we’re at a point social struggle that that is a meaningful possibility, so I’m largely in support of reform projects that put more power in the hands of working people. We need more worker self-organization, and we need to challenge the structures that restrict this. I also see anti-racist struggles as a significant portion of this. This is why I was supportive of the Sanders campaign, which largely called for what might be called capitalism with a human face.

    Robert Wood, no, you don’t have to choose between class and identity. Was King less black for his universalism? Was Eleanor Marx less female when she wrote about the difference between socialist and bourgeois feminism?

    Me: As to your first claim, I agree with the statement, but I don’t see you doing this in your practice, which slips into a reductionist economism. I’m less aware of Marx’s history, but King’s thought on how to transform the society is more complicated than you’re presenting here, particularly in his writings. Look at his positions on say, affirmative action for instance. The framing of this material is also just weird in a way that I can’t do justice to. It’s collapsing a type of politic with a particular identity that’s really disturbing.

    1. Yes, there are differences between left and right neoliberalism. So far, the discussion has focused on left neoliberalism. Or so I had thought.

    Me: Not really. You made a series of claims about neoliberalism tout court.

    2. I’m glad you agree that Crenshaw was a liberal. Her framing is designed to prop up liberal capitalism, which seeks a pure class system in which the ruled and the rulers look alike.

    Me: This isn’t really my understanding of liberalism, although I’m certainly not a liberal. Instead, I would characterize most liberals as being committed to ameliorating the conditions of capitalism within the rules of the system itself. I would put Bernie Sanders in this camp as well and would label him liberal in orientation. (Compare the proposals of Sanders to what the Labor Party in Britain put in place after the war, and it’s very mild, which is why I’m always entertained when Sanders is labeled an extremist as was done by a Clinton supporter in the material above along with some not so accurate claims about votes cast.)

    How capitalism can ever achieve that or how it will improve the lot of the working class, I don’t know. Hmm. But it reminds me of another favorite saying:

    Me: Capitalism isn’t a subject and can’t do anything. Social movements have created better conditions for working people throughout history at great costs to their participants within that system, but those gains have never been evenly enjoyed and have almost always been fleeting in character.

    “When the axe came into the Forest, the trees said “The handle is one of us””

  39. Robert Wood,

    “Nothing in your analysis has indicated this understanding of disproportionate poverty”

    I am always surprised when people assume the disproportionality of poverty is news. This is something anyone who has paid any attention to feminism or racism knows. Because I’m 62 and my parents were involved in the civil rights movement, I literally cannot remember how young I was when I learned this. So, yes, you are correct, I do not dwell on disproportionality. I take it as a given.

    If you want to get into the fact that the housing crisis disproportionately hurt everyone who had recently moved out of the lower class and did not have wealth to fall back on, a group that includes poor whites, I’ll have to pass. That seems like a side issue.

    I also fail to see how class mobility in the ’50s is relevant to class mobility in the 21st century. The wealth gap didn’t really take off until neoliberals had firmly taken control in the latter part of the 20th century.

    Like you, I am a socialist who accepts compromises in the name of pragmatism. My take on Sanders is that he’s pushing a social democratic agenda because it’s the only way to succeed in our two-party system.

    King’s take on Basic Income is easy to understand because he wrote about it in a short passage in his last book. Here’s a link to someone’s excerpt: https://medium.com/basic-income/mlk-on-guaranteed-income-bfd060fd5314

    I did not qualify which face of neoliberalism I was discussing because left-identitarians tend to be left-neoliberals. I’m sorry the context was not clear.

    I agree with “I would characterize most liberals as being committed to ameliorating the conditions of capitalism within the rules of the system itself”. That’s why Hillary Clinton happily talked about intersectionality while ignoring economic desperation, resulting in her loss of support in working class areas that had gone for Obama in two elections and Sanders in the primaries.

  40. @Will Shetterly–
    You cite an opinion piece by the press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and a spring 2017 poll that, because it’s about the popularity of “active politicians,” quite obviously doesn’t include Clinton, who was by then no longer active.

    It doesn’t reflect or address how people actually voted in the Democratic Presidential primaries, or in the general election, because it was months later and both the choices (politicians available to choose from), and the immediately salient questions (those polled were not, in fact, choosing a President or a Presidential candidate), were different.

    When we had a choice between Clinton and Sanders as Presidential candidates, both women and POC chose Clinton, not Sanders. This was to a great degree because Clinton addressed our issues in ways that made sense to use, while Sanders utterly refused to do so, and insisted on imposing his own frame on those issues without engaging with or even acknowledging ours. He didn’t try either to understand, or to persuade. He just persistently argued as if class is the only frame that’s needed or even possible for what are, in the lived experience of the people whose votes he was trying to win, significantly more complicated issues.

    Sanders lost, and he did it to himself.

  41. Lis, let’s ignore the fact that the aggregated polls at RealClearPolitics were accurate all along–they predicted Sanders beating Trump by 8 to 10% in the popular vote and Clinton beating Trump by 2% because Sanders did much better with independents than Clinton did. Are you saying that women and people of color are wrong now to support him overwhelmingly? Don’t you think they know what’s in their best interest? Like me, they’ve chosen Sanders.

    Oh, and the press release I linked to cites a poll. It’s not an opinion piece. If you actually doubt any of this, google “Sanders most popular politician” and you’ll find all sorts of facts that should trouble neoliberals.

  42. Lis, This is neither really very accurate representation of the vote or of the Sanders campaign. The biggest divide on the vote tended to be age and region. Younger women came out in droves to vote for Sanders, a point that was declared a form of betrayal by Clinton surrogates. Sanders got substantial votes in Latino communities, Arab-American communities, and in indigenous communities. As the election moved out of the South, the African American vote increased as well, although this didn’t come close to Clinton’s vote. (It would take a long time to break this down, but the Jackson campaign experienced a similar experience in the South.) I would agree that the Sanders campaign was very flat footed in talking to these communities, but they improved as time went on and used the town hall format to a great deal of effect to talk to diverse communities. Most of this didn’t get covered by the dominant media structures. In doing this work, the campaign challenged the election in ways that even it didn’t think was possible. Given the campaign’s lack of connections the infrastructure and leadership of the Democratic Party and the long standing connections built by the Clintons, I don’t think the campaign had a chance, but it did a lot better job than anyone genuinely expected.

    Will, You don’t address it at all. I don’t know what lies in your heart of hearts, but it has nothing to do with how you frame the problem. You’re also really substantially ignoring how racism shaped the housing market both through the entire post-new deal era, which has to do with access to credit, how credit is given etc. It’s not just that African Americans are recent homeowners, but the types of de facto racism that shapes how loans were given. There’s a lot of work on this issue.

    I brought up the 50’s simply to point out that there have been moments that there was more class mobility.

    Despite my strong defense of Sanders above, I don’t think that he’s really an ideal candidate, and my hope is that we’ll see someone take up his mantle who is a bit less awkward on a variety of issues. But more substantially, the real work of the class struggle isn’t really there, but in everyday organizing such as the strikes we’re now seeing in West Virginia and potentially Oklahoma.

    Sorry one last note, I still hold by my description of Sanders by the way, who sticks out largely because of the ways that the Democratic Party has moved to the right in the past twenty or so years.

  43. Robert Wood, every group that’s in poverty is there for a different reason, and that includes “white trash” who’ve suffered generational poverty. But the solutions are the same for all of them: socialism if we can win it; Basic Income if we cannot. The reason Sanders became more and more popular as people got to know him is because his issues were issues for everyone who isn’t part of the elite.

    Adolph Reed addressed that in an interview:

    JACOBIN:
    Some say that we have to understand Sanders’s defeat as a result of his lack of interest in racism and sexism. Angela Davis wrote that Sanders was a candidate who was “reluctant to address racism” and who engaged in “a kind of economic reductionism that prevents him … from developing a vocabulary that allows him to speak in ways that enlighten us about the persistence of racism, racist violence, state violence.” Paul Krugman argued that he was unable to address “horizontal inequality” and therefore to win the “minority” vote.

    What do you think of those critics?

    ADOLPH REED:
    In a way it’s difficult to respond to such charges because they have no concrete content. All through the campaign I asked how a federal minimum wage of fifteen dollars an hour (the current minimum wage is $7.25) is not an issue pertinent to black Americans and Latinos, who are disproportionately likely to be low-wage workers? How decommodified national health care is not a “black issue”? Or free public higher education? Or massively increased public investment? Or renegotiating existing “trade” agreements and blocking the Trans Pacific Partnership, which would further strengthen corporate power against all working people? And so on. No one has argued that black, or other nonwhite, Americans indeed would not benefit disproportionately from implementation of those items of Sanders’s platform.

    By contrast, what does it mean to “address racism”? No one in American politics with any aspirations to respectability openly embraces racism — not even Donald Trump. In fact, everyone, even Trump, insists that he or she opposes it.

    How is it “economic reductionism” to campaign on a program that seeks to unite the broad working class around concerns shared throughout the class across race, gender, and other lines? Ironically, in American politics now we have a Left for which any reference to political economy can be castigated as “economic reductionism.”

    There is moreover no evidence that Sanders was reluctant to acknowledge or discuss racial or gender inequality. What would it mean “to enlighten us about the persistence of racism, etc.”? Surely, Angela doesn’t need to be enlightened; she’s written books on the topic. This line of criticism is either misguided or dishonest.

    It is similarly instructive that a strain of identitarian feminists repeatedly sought to characterize support for Sanders as coming mainly from sexist men on the Left. This was an adaptation of an earlier hoax about the existence of a phalanx of misogynist “brocialist” men who threatened feminists with rape or other violence for their reluctance to subordinate feminist concerns to a male-centered class-reductionist socialism.

    It’s immensely revealing, and exposing this is one contribution the campaign made that I never anticipated, that we now have a “left” in the United States for which socialism is considered a marker of backwardness. It’s good that that is now clear; it’s always good to know where people stand in relation to class struggle.

    I found Krugman’s claim especially interesting, as I did Clinton’s complaint that breaking up the big banks wouldn’t end racism or sexism. It wouldn’t end solar storms or help Bahrain win the World Cup either. Krugman follows a familiar line in the constitution of postwar liberalism that disconnects the idea of inequality from political economy and renders it exclusively as group disparity.

    That was really the most meaningful, yet still not often recognized, move Daniel Patrick Moynihan made in his scurrilous 1965 The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, commonly known as the Moynihan Report. Such liberals began trying to make the massive public interventions of the New Deal invisible as early as the late 1940s.

    Oscar Handlin, the foremost historian of American ethnicity of his era — we might say he invented the field, which is also telling — laid out an account of ethnic group mobility in 1949 that didn’t mention the New Deal or CIO industrial unionism, which were still vital and dynamic at that moment.

    It is especially outrageous now as economic inequality has risen to epic levels that Krugman et al would dismiss it and insist that the object of our concern should be instead how the massive and growing inequality is apportioned among various groups, or population categories reified as groups.

    These responses to Sanders’s critique throw into bolder relief just how fundamentally antiracism and other identitarian programs are not only the left wing of neoliberalism but active agencies in its imposition of a notion of the boundaries of the politically thinkable — sort of neoliberalism’s intellectual and cultural border guard.

  44. Lenora Rose says Considering JDA seems to think the people here at File 770 were part of the concom who made the decision (Do ANY of the people cited by Shetterly post here? I don’t think so: I’m pretty sure I’d have noticed if Scott Lynch or Max Gladstone were regulars, and I only know the other names from this specific incident), I know how seriously to take his proclamations.

    As near as I can tell from looking at the Fourth Street site that lists all staff, not one of them involved has posted here.

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