Political Education 101

Political Education 101

     by Boris Forkel / Deep Green Resistance Germany

The idea for this article came to me when I heard a man say at a demonstration that he was confused because he didn’t know if he was “right” or “left”. It therefore seems important to define such seemingly basic political terms as sharply and clearly as possible.

The terms “left” and “right” as political terms have their origins in the French Revolution. At the first French National Assemblies, the traditionally “more honorable” seat to the right of the President of Parliament was reserved for the nobility, so that the bourgeoisie sat on the left. Therefore, those who want more equality are called “left” until today, while those who want to preserve existing power structures are called “right”.

Some definitions:

By ‘left’ we mean a commitment to social change towards greater equality – political, economic or social. By ‘right’ we mean the support of a more or less hierarchical social order and an opposition to change towards equality”.1

Right”: who tries to stabilize and preserve the respective centers of power (e.g. monarchy, economic elites) and the structures on which this power is based (e.g. church, colonialism, slavery, corporate capitalism).
“Left”: who advocates the recognition of the equality of all human beings and for a democratic containment of power.

The French philosopher Geoffroy de Lagasnerie defines “left” as follows: “To define the left, I increasingly rely on a term from Sartre – authenticity. I believe that the point is to be authentic in one’s relationship to the world, to free oneself from all the preconditions that define one’s own situation. One must not bend oneself, one must not gloss over the reality of the world as it is, and that means one cannot do anything other than stand up against this world. To be left basically means not to close one’s eyes to the truth. (…) Pierre Bourdieu has, in my opinion, provided the best definition. He said: To be right means to believe that the problems of the world are that there is no order. So we need more order. The left, on the other hand, is convinced that there is too much order, so it wants more disorder. The left must defend itself against the excess of order, against the ruling systems, against oppression, against persecution, against criminal oppression. It must create disorder, chaos, resistance.” 

Ultimately, these definitions can be reduced to two fundamentally different conceptions: “right”: Humans are minors and must be controlled and educated by a ruling power. “left”: Humans are of age and must be as free as possible.


Liberalism (Latin liber “free”; liberalis “concerning freedom, liberal”) is a fundamental position of political philosophy and a historical and contemporary movement that strives for a liberal political, economic and social order. Liberalism emerged from the English revolutions of the 17th century.”3

For the first time in many countries, nation states and democratic systems emerged from liberal citizen movements.4

Historical liberalism essentially meant the liberation of the bourgeoisie from the rule of the church and aristocracy. In particular, liberalism plays an extremely important role in the emergence of modern capitalism and the history of the United States. Lierre Keith, co-author of the book Deep Green Resistance, explains the history of liberalism in dept in the chapter Liberals and Radicals:

(…) classical liberalism was the founding ideology of the US, and the values of classical liberalism—for better and for worse—have dispersed around the globe. The ideology of classical liberalism developed against the hegemony of theocracy. The king and church had all the economic, political, and ideological power. In bringing that power down, classic liberalism helped usher in the radical analysis and political movements that followed. But the ideology has limits, both historically and in its contemporary legacy.

The original founding fathers of the United States were not after a human rights utopia. They were merchant capitalists tired of the restrictions of the old order. The old world had a very clear hierarchy. This basic pattern is replicated in all the places that civilizations have arisen. There’s God (sometimes singular, sometimes plural) at the top, who directly chooses both the king and the religious leaders. These can be one and the same or those functions can be split. Underneath them are the nobles, the priests, and the military. (…) Beneath them are the merchants, traders, and skilled craftsmen. The base of the pyramid contains the bulk of the population: people in slavery, serfdom, or various forms of indenture. And all of this is considered God’s will, which makes resistance that much more difficult psychologically. Standing up to an abuser—whether an individual or a vast system of power—is never easy. Standing up to capital “G” God requires an entirely different level of courage, which may explain why this arrangement appears universally across civilizations and why it is so intransigent.

In the West, one of the first blows against the Divine Right of Kings was in 1215, when some of the landed aristocracy forced King John to sign Magna Carta. It required the king to renounce some privileges and to respect legal procedures. (…) Magna Carta plunged England into a civil war, the First Baron’s War. (…)

The American Revolution can be seen as another Baron’s revolt. This time it was the merchant-barons, the rising capitalist class, waging a rebellion against the king and the landed gentry of England. They wanted to take the king and the aristocrats out of the equation, so that the flow of power went God➝property owners. When they said ‘All men are created equal,’ they meant very specifically white men who owned property. That property included black people, white women, and more generally, the huge pool of laborers who were needed to turn this continent from a living landbase into private wealth. (…) Under the rising Protestant ethic, amassing wealth was a sign of God’s favor and God’s grace. God was still operable, he’d just switched allegiance from the old inherited powers to the rising mercantile class.

Classical liberalism values the sovereignty of the individual, and asserts that economic freedom and property rights are essential to that sovereignty. John Locke, called the Father of Liberalism, made the argument that the individual instead of the community was the foundation of society. He believed that government existed by the consent of the governed, not by divine right. But the reason government is necessary is to defend private property, to keep people from stealing from each other. This idea appealed to the wealthy for an obvious reason: they wanted to keep their wealth. From the perspective of the poor, things look decidedly different. The rich are able to accumulate wealth by taking the labor of the poor and by turning the commons into privately owned commodities; therefore, defending the accumulation of wealth in a system that has no other moral constraints is in effect defending theft, not protecting against it. Classical liberalism from Locke forward has a contradiction at its center. It believes in human sovereignty as a natural or inalienable right, but only against the power of a monarchy or other civic tyranny. By loosening the ethical constraints that had existed on the wealthy, classical liberalism turned the powerless over to the economically powerful, simply swapping the monarchs for the merchant-barons. Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, provided the ethical justification for unbridled capitalism.“

In the meantime, capitalism and the mercantile class have conquered the whole world. Money rules the world, as we all know.

The liberal ideology and its underlying individualism has proven itself as one of the most effective instruments of power, because people who believe that they are free will not resist. “I freed hundreds of slaves. And I would have freed hundreds more if they but known they were slaves,“ said Harriet Tubman.

Yet the first step toward real freedom comes with the radical analysis: One of the cardinal differences between liberals—those who insist that Everything Will Be Okay—and the truly radical is in their conception of the basic unit of society. This split is a continental divide. Liberals believe that a society is made up of individuals. Individualism is so sacrosanct that, in this view, being identified as a member of a group or class is an insult. But for radicals, society is made up of classes (economic ones in Marx’s original version) or any groups or castes. In the radical’s understanding, being a member of a group is not an affront. Far from it; identifying with a group is the first step toward political consciousness and ultimately effective political action.”

The basic problems today are still essentially the same as in the famous story of Robin Hood, which takes place at the time of the above mentioned Magna Carta: The rich oppress the poor and steal from them. But by now, a huge pile of ideology has been added to justify this oppression and theft.


During the 20th century, liberalism has emerged into neoliberalism, which has been described by Rainer Mausfeld as “the most powerful and sophisticated indoctrination system a political ideology has ever seen”.5

Neoliberalism, unlike traditional capitalism, is (…) from the beginning consciously twinned with a massive formation of ideology. It was clear to the founding fathers — who came from very different fields — of that what constitutes neoliberal ideology today, that this program is never feasible democratically.

So they knew — and Hayek explicitly says it — that they have to conquer the language, they have to conquer the brains. Neoliberalism depends on that more than any other ideology. More than any, including communism. One can say in all other things that there is something positive behind it, even though it has been betrayed and might be something completely different now.

Neoliberalism, ‘take it from below and give it to the top,’ as a gigantic redistribution programme, was from the beginning geared towards extreme formation of ideology. And it is so ingenious and so refined — it goes back to Lippman, Bernays and so on — that they have consciously developed techniques, so that what today is called the neoliberal self is so highly fragmented and actually consists only of false identities. The identity is, ideally, their Facebook account, the smartphone they use, the car they drive, the type of Rolex they wear, the food they eat and so on. Identities have become market products that can be bought. This fragmentation has the advantage that an integral self, which could be a core of resistance, is actually no longer there in a totalitarian structure, because the grown social solidarity no longer exists.

I am part of a community only through solidarity with others. But if I no longer identify myself with others as a community, but with market products, then solidarity will also be destroyed.

“…neoliberalism has from the beginning actually stressed the importance of [destroying] our psychological resistance to the decomposition of society, which was explicit when Thatcher said “there is no community”. There is only a pile of atomized individuals and their task is to optimize their individual use as best they can. Everyone is a small “Me Inc.” and if someone fails, he/she was just a poor “Me Inc.” -that’s what the market regulates- […] and if someone succeeds, he/she has adapted well to the market. So neoliberalism is a kind of infamous combination and not just an economic program. Neoliberalism is totalitarian in the sense that — Thatcher also said that — […] ‘it’s not just about the economy, it’s about conquering the brains.’

It is, so to speak, as ideology invisible. Many of us in our society have the feeling: the society in which there is no longer any real ideology — unlike in Russia or China — that’s us. This invisibility of ideology itself is one of the most gigantic achievements of ideology production.”6

At the beginning of the 20th century, the famous catastrophe of the Titanic has already shown us in strong pictures and metaphors how this technocracy will end. In neoliberalism, the upper classes are still dancing, while the lower classes are already drowning. Those on top don’t know (and don’t want to know) how those below are doing.

The ideology rains down from top to bottom:

The Titanic is unsinkable! Everything is fine! We are all fine! And if you’re not well, it’s your own fault, you just don’t row hard enough.”

They don’t want to see that the whole ship is already sinking.

With the words of Max Wilbert: “We are well along the path towards global fascism, total war, ubiquitous surveillance, normalized patriarchy and racism, a permanent refugee crisis, water and food shortages, and ecological collapse. We need to build legitimate movements to dismantle global capitalism. All work is useful towards this end.”

It’s time for a global uprising. The lower classes should organize and turn their gaze — and their weapons — to the top.

Our common goal must be to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet.

Stand up.


1 Lipset, S. M., Lazarsfeld, P. F., Barton, A. H., & Linz, J. (1954). The psychology of voting: An analysis of political behavior. Handbook of social psychology, 2, 1124-1175

2 Rainer Mausfeld, from the slides of the presentation at the DAI Heidelberg

3 Ralf Dahrendorf: Liberalism. In John Eatwell/Murray Milgate/Peter Newman (Hrsg.): The Invisible Hand. The New PalgraveMacmillan, London 1989, S. 183.

4 Christoph Nonn: Bismarck: Ein Preuße und sein Jahrhundert. C.H.Beck, München 2015, S. 123 ff. (Kap.: Die englische Alternative)

5 Rainer Mausfeld https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdchIFjToG8 (translated from German)

6 Ibid

Communists call for protection for women’s spaces

Communists call for protection for women’s spaces

     by Morning Star

COMMUNISTS called for protection of women’s spaces and preservation of “separate spaces and distinct services to protect women from violence and abuse” today.

The party’s biennial congress said that women’s rights won over decades of struggle were “under sustained ideological attack,” thanks to the “growth and ascendancy of neoliberal philosophy across a range of intellectual fields.”

It adopted a resolution expressing concern at “the divisive debate around self-identification which conflates ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ which could threaten the rights of women and girls” and committed members to fight for a wider understanding of these problems in the labour movement.

Delegates discussed the attacks on women who raised concerns about self-identification and attempts to no-platform or silence them, including attacks on the Morning Star for agreeing to publish articles on the subject.

Mover Mary Davis of the London district said that socialism would be unattainable without “an understanding of the link between women’s oppression and class exploitation.”

Twitter wants me to shut up and the right wants me to join them; I don’t think I should have to do either

Twitter wants me to shut up and the right wants me to join them; I don’t think I should have to do either

I don’t want to choose between the left and the right, I want to engage in critical thought, challenge myself, and form my own opinions.

     by Feminist Current

In August, I was locked out of my Twitter account for the first time. I was told that I had “violated [Twitter’s] rules against hateful conduct” and that I had to delete four tweets in order to gain access to my account again. In this case, the tweets in question named Lisa Kreut, a trans-identified male, as the individual who targetedFeminist Current’s ad revenue and led efforts to have Vancouver Rape Relief blacklisted at the 2016 BCFED Convention.

I deleted the tweets in question, then publicly complained on Twitter, saying, “Hi @Twitter, I’m a journalist. Am I no longer permitted to report facts on your platform?” I was promptly locked out of my account again, told I had to delete the tweet in question, and suspended for 12 hours. I appealed the suspension, as it seemed clear to me that my tweets were not “hateful,” but simply stated the truth, but received no response from Twitter.

On November 15th, my account was locked again. This time, I was told I must delete a tweet from October, saying, “Women aren’t men,” and another, asking, “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?”

After dutifully deleting the tweets in question in order to gain access to my account again, I tweeted, angrily, “This is fucking bullshit, @twitter. I’m not allowed to say that men aren’t women or ask questions about the notion of transgenderism at all anymore? That a multi-billion dollar company is censoring basic facts and silencing people who ask questions about this dogma is insane.” This tweet went viral, racking up 20,000 likes before Twitter locked my account again on Monday morning, demanding I delete it. This time they offered no explanation at all — not even a vague accusation of “hateful conduct.”

To be fair, it’s not that insane. Multi-billion dollar companies are clearly primarily interested in profit, not free speech or women’s rights. But Twitter is a company that represents itself as a platform for communication, for debate, and for sharing ideas, news, and information. While of course, as a private company, Twitter has the right to limit who participates on the platform and what is said, we, the public, have become accustomed to understanding this social media platform as a relatively free space, wherein everyone from politicians, to celebrities, to pornographers, to activists, to students, to anonymous gamers, to feminists, to men’s rights activists may say what they wish.

Despite my disinterest in seeing graphic pornography on Twitter and in being called a “TERF cunt” who should “drink bleach,” I accept that this is something I am likely to be exposed to on Twitter, and choose to use the platform anyway. Cruel and graphic comments are things, for better or for worse, I am accustomed to and that, frankly, don’t bother me much at this point. If you are a public figure, you do just get used to this kind of thing.

What is insane to me, though, is that while Twitter knowingly permits graphic pornography and death threats on the platform (I have reported countless violent threats, the vast majority of which have gone unaddressed), they won’t allow me to state very basic facts, such as “men aren’t women.” This is hardly an abhorrent thing to say, nor should it be considered “hateful” to ask questions about the notion that people can change sex, or ask for explanations about transgender ideology. These are now, like it or not, public debates — debates that are impacting people’s lives, as legislation and policy are being imposed based on gender identity ideology (that is, the belief that a male person can “identify” as female or vice versa). That trans activists and their allies may find my questions about what “transgender” means or how a person can literally change sex uncomfortable, as they seem not to be able to respond to them, which I can imagine feels uncomfortably embarrassing, feeling uncomfortable is not a good enough reason to censor and silence people.

As a result of these attempts by Twitter to silence me, the right has leapt to support me, or at least engage with me, and criticize Twitter’s nonsensical, unwritten policies (nowhere in their Terms of Service does it say users may not differentiate between men and women or ask questions about transgender ideology). While the left continues to vilify me, and liberal and mainstream media continue to mostly ignore feminist analysis of gender identity, people like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro (and hundreds of right wingers and free speech advocates online), and right wing media outlets like the Daily Wire and The Blaze have either attempted to speak with me and understand my perspective, expressed support, or covered this undeniably ridiculous decision on the part of Twitter.

Anger at Twitter’s now ongoing attempts to silence me (I remain locked out of my account, awaiting an appeal process that is likely to result in nothing, and received a second notice today that I have been locked out doubly, on account of a tweet posted in May, criticizing Lisa Kreut for participating in a smear campaign against a local feminist, anti-poverty activist. Kreut has publicly admitted to “knowing someone” at Twitter Safety, so this is unsurprising, perhaps, albeit disconcerting) is not limited to the right or to free speech advocates, of course. There are numerous feminists around the world and unaffiliated members of the general public who see transgender ideology as dangerous (or simply ridiculous), and are critical of the ongoing silencing and smearing of those who challenge it. But one thing that does seem undeniable to me — something that the left should consider carefully, in terms of their own political strategizing — is that while the left seems to have taken to ignoring or refusing to engage with detractors or those who have opinions they disagree with or don’t like, the right continues to be interested in and open to engaging. And I think this is a good thing.

In light of my years of negative experiences trying to engage progressives on issues like pornography, prostitution, male violence, and now gender identity, I’ve unfortunately come to see many of them as cowardly, hypocritical, lacking in political and intellectual integrity, and disingenuous. While of course there are leftists who are critical of the sex trade and trans activism, far too many of those who represent progressives (in North America, in particular) — politicians and leftist political parties, as well as activists and representatives of the labour movement — will not speak out about these issues nor will they defend the women being ripped to shreds for speaking out. Radical feminists are largely on their own on these issues, and don’t have the numbers or the access to media or platforms that liberals, leftists, or the right do. I have personally been able to create and build a large platform, and am grateful for this. But I am being punished harshly for having succeeded in doing so. Twitter and their trans activist insiders seem to be working force me off the platform entirely, the left has shunned me, and Canadian media has yet to engage with my arguments with regard to gender identity ideology and legislation at all. Members of the left here in Canada who agree with me are afraid to be associated with me, and anyone who fails to disassociate is vilified or bullied.

I have been thinking about all this a lot lately, not only due to the debate around transgenderism and consequent no-platforming of critics, but more broadly, in terms of political strategy and the general advancement of good ideas and policy. As such, I want to acknowledge some things I once believed, but have changed my mind about.

I no longer believe leftist positions are necessarily most right or most ethical. I no longer believe everyone on the right is wrong about everything. I do not believe all those on the right necessarily have ill intentions, and suspect that many, like those on the left, believe they are working towards a better world. I don’t believe that it’s productive to position everyone who disagrees with the left as “right wing,” and therefore an enemy. I regret refusing to engage with or trying to understand those who are called “right wing” or “free speechers,” flat out. I think this is the wrong approach. I think it is, in fact, very important that we engage with those we may disagree with on various issues, and don’t think it serves us to ignore, mock, or dismiss people because they don’t share our exact political ideology. I am genuinely interested in speaking with people I may disagree with on various issues and am open to the possibility that we may agree on some ideas and not others. I think we should, as leftists and feminists, challenge and question our own ideas and mantras, rather than become too comfortable in the echo chamber.

What this means is that I will speak to and engage with whomever I like — left, right, and centre. I do not wish to play the game of guilt by association. I am tired of limiting ourselves to those who already share our views, and think this approach is unproductive if we genuinely want to effect change and understand the world around us. I think we need to open up, rather than shut down. I think we should model the behaviour we are asking of others — that is, to hear us out, and to engage with integrity. Even when that means engaging with ideas we don’t like, that we may find abhorrent or wrong or insulting. I don’t want to write people off any more than I want to be written off. And I regret only coming to this conclusion and speaking out about it recently, though I am grateful for my ability to think critically about discourse and strategy, and change my mind accordingly, regardless of who I may anger in the process.

I think sometimes we are afraid to engage genuinely and fairly with new ideas because we are afraid we might agree or change our minds. I suspect that many of those who support trans activism fear just this. That engaging with radical feminist analysis and other critiques of gender identity might leave them forced to admit we have a point.

The truth is that if we want our ideas to be good and coherent and evidence-based and convincing, we need to challenge ourselves and question those ideas, and even be open to the possibility that we might be wrong or that we might change our minds as a result.

Michael Knowles at the Daily Wire says I now must choose to “ally with conservatives, who support free speech and insist that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings,’ or persist with a Left that would annihilate feminism altogether.”

But I don’t think I need to choose either. I choose to think independently and critically. I choose to make strategic and thoughtful decisions about who to ally with. I choose to support free speech and also to reject right wing positions on things like abortion and the free market. I choose to continue to support universal healthcare, social housing, reproductive justice, and a viable welfare system. I choose to continue to oppose exploitative labour practices, privatization, and war. I choose to continue to advocate against male violence against women, sexual exploitation, porn culture, and legislation I consider to be harmful to women and girls. I choose to consider facts and take what I consider to be ethical positions based on those facts, even if those facts and positions don’t fit whatever is considered to be politically correct.

There are people on the right who are bad and who are good, who are smart and who are stupid, who are wrong and who are right, and then there are a million combinations in between. The same can be said of the left. And to pretend things are any more simple than that is, in my opinion, a mistake. While we may not agree on much else, the right and I both agree that transgenderism is nonsense, which may be awkward, but is better than being wrong or dishonest. Speaking of which, I reserve the right to be wrong about all of this, and change my mind accordingly, though I suspect I am not.

Tasmania: Transgender Law Reform – Women Speak the Truth

Tasmania: Transgender Law Reform – Women Speak the Truth

Featured image: Girl Guide boycott goes to Hobart’s iconic Salamanca Market on 13th of October

    by Women Speak Tasmania

While several groups and individuals are lobbying for extended transgender rights at law, Women Speak Tasmania is working on a comprehensive series of policies to address changes in the law that have promoted the rights of transgender persons ahead of the sex-based rights of women.

“We have drafted two policy position papers, initially, that consider transgender rights and women’s rights in anti-discrimination law, and in the law regarding changes to sex markers on birth certificates,” said spokesperson, Bronwyn Williams.  “These policies have been forwarded to all members of the Tasmanian Parliament for comment.

“Under our proposals, the terms ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ will be removed from the relevant legislation, and ‘gender identity’ will be replaced with ‘social identity’ as a protected characteristic under the Anti-discrimination Act 1998 (Tas).  ‘Biological sex’ will become a protected characteristic under the Act.

“‘Gender’ and ‘gender identity’ are confusing concepts that are not adequately defined in the current law.  ‘Social identity’ more accurately describes the incongruence with biological sex that characterises transgenderism.

“We want to end the confusion,” said Miss Williams.  “We also believe there should be no changes to sex markers on birth certificates.  Birth certificates are historical records that serve a number of demographic functions and inform both government policy and legislation in a wide range of areas.

“We propose, instead, a process of application for a Recognition Certificate, to be issued after consideration by a dedicated, properly constituted Board.

“It’s time we take stock and re-assess laws that have given us the ultimate legal fiction – where biological males can be declared legally female.  This fiction has already eroded the rights of women and girls to female-only spaces and services.  If male-bodied people are permitted to be legally recognised as female on the basis of self-identification alone, as proposed by groups like Transforming Tasmania, women’s sex-based rights will be a thing of the past.”

Prostitution Abolition News from Australia

Prostitution Abolition News from Australia

     by Joanna Pinkiewicz / Deep Green Resistance Australia

Australia has different legislations in regards to prostitution in each state. For example New South Wales has almost full decriminalisation and definitely in favour of brothel owners, less so for individual, who can be charged for “living on the earnings of prostitute” or soliciting for prostitution outside dwelling, school, church or hospital. In Victoria street sex work is illegal and brothels and premises based work needs to be licenced. In reality, NSW police reports show that legal operations have connections to organised crime, drug and people trafficking and in Victoria we are seeing surge in premises, both registered and under the cover of massage parlours and unchecked conditions and practices within registered brothels.

While many countries in Europe and recently in the US (US Greens Party voted for change in policy on prostitution and support the Nordic Model) the push to introduce the abolitionist approach has been coming from the left in the name of justice and equality for women, in Australia the left has been supporting the “sex worker” lobby groups and the sex industry itself, contributing to normalisation of sex purchase by men and expansion of the sex trade industry.

It came as a bit as a surprise to see that in April a branch of Victorian Liberal Party proposed a motion in support of the Nordic Model, which aims at addressing the demand for prostitution via penalising the buyer and not targeting those who are in prostitution.

It also came as a surprise to have a very public supporter of the Nordic Model within the Greens Party, Kathleen Maltzahn, state that she won’t support the Vic Liberal Party’s motion for the Nordic Model  if and when it goes up for a vote. Maltzahn is known for her grass roots work, Project Respect, an exit program for women in prostitution, which she established after working in Philippines and seeing first-hand the insidious nature of sex trade. She has been going against her own party’s policy, which supports full decriminalisation. She has been widely criticised by those in her own party as well as those in the pro sex lobby groups. Upon the release of her statement, a criticism also came from parts of the abolition movement. I does look like a significant pressure has been placed upon her from the party leaders to make that statement. One thing is clear, we need more radical feminist analysis of prostitution in the Green’s party, more radical feminists being active within the mainstream left to bring about change.

Many activists within the abolishion movement hesitate at working with the Liberal Party or Christian organisations, due to disagreements on details or due to their stand regarding other women’s rights issues.

I have asked Simone Watson, director of Nordic Model Australia Coalition, what she thinks about working with the Liberal Party on this and she said this:

“My concerns around the Victorian Liberal Party endorsement of the Nordic/Abolitionist Model were that their first proposal was not in fact the Nordic/Abolitionist model at all.

“The initial draft was a serious red flag to me as it only focused on criminalising buyers in illegal brothels. It is already illegal to buy sexual access in illegal brothels. Yes, it aimed to decriminalise the prostituted women in those same brothels, but offered no exit programs and no changes to legislation across the board. So my reading of it was that it would be doomed to failure. I do not think my concerns around such a premise are unwarranted. It failed to take in to account the inefficacy of prohibition laws on prostitution; it failed to capture the intrinsic and essential point of the abolitionist approach. Their proposal was still rooted in the dangerous ground of prohibition. And prohibition fails. Some saw this as at least a start, however, the Nordic/Abolitionist Model cannot be undertaken half-baked. To do so would be incredibly dangerous and anathema to the law they claimed to be endorsing. To their credit they have since recognised that their initial proposal was incomplete.

“Do I trust them? Well, I have some trust, especially as they took considerable time to listen to survivor’s and our allies’ concerns on this. They certainly have taken more time than the Greens or Labor, which is why the Green Party USA should be commended for their determination to support the abolition of the sex trade and all major parties here should take note of that.

“For me, working with political parties as a sex-trade abolitionist is fraught because I often do not agree with many of their other policies. For example the Liberal’s alliance with anti-woman organisations, those who are against abortion and so on. But if a party is truly dedicated to abolishing the sex-trade, extinguishing the ongoing commodification of women, and women’s rights to be free from sexual exploitation, then I will support them on that particular policy. Again it is hard to trust any particular party on this issue, but if they are willing to amend their initial proposal and actively endorse the Nordic/Abolitionist model as it is intended in full, I support that unequivocally.”

Simone’s response highlights critical issues in approaching the Nordic Model with wrong motivation, poor understanding of the process involved as well as half-baked financial commitment, all critical to its success.

To summarise, the Nordic Model requires a three pronged approach:

  • Establishment of exit and support programs for people in prostitution.
  • Education of the public and retraining of the police
  • Enforcement of the new laws by providing funding to dedicated police people and social workers.

The laws themselves aim at stoping trafficking and curbing growth of the global sex trade via penalising the buyers and pimps.

Other important news from Australia is the upcoming Australian Summit Against Sexual Exploitation (ASASE) on 27-28 of July in Melbourne. Key speakers of the summit on the subject of prostitution are:

  • Julie Bindel (UK)
  • Sabrinna Valisce (SPACE International)
  • Simone Watson (Normac)
  • Sarah M Mah (Asian Women for Equality, Canada)

I’m hoping that the summit will bring more allies to the abolition movement in Australia, who can then plan for the consultation process needed when the Nordic Model gets a motion vote in Victoria.

Joanna Pinkiewicz is a DGR Australia member; environmental activist, women’s right activist artist and mother.