“It is curious that while good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of their children is not to bring those children into existence in the first place.”
― David Benatar,
Meditating on the campaign against me, the disinformation being disseminated, the false, nebulous and unfounded accusations, I have been grappling with how to respond and why to respond. Engaging in malicious inter-personal discourse is entirely unproductive, and, in the past, I have been guilty of it myself, although never to the extent that I am seeing now. So I will never personalize my arguments against those who seek to discredit, derail and demean my work as a prison abolitionist, philosopher and social critic. Making a specific decision to refrain from responding or posting on their Facebook walls, etc, is essential but not easy. It’s not easy because, as of tonight, a man in Phoenix, Arizona told my non-sexual life partner and husband, Alexander Verney-Elliott, the many ways he would kill us. I have been reflecting on the necessity of self-protection without State involvement. I haven’t a solution, and I suspect that this disturbed individual (and several others like him, who have also sent death threats) does not have the means to come to Poland.
Worryingly, the how and why are a bridge with a weird nexus of operatives. A cursory review of those promulgating and sharing a fairly uniform message, shows that many of them come from the fringes of US right-libertarian politics (Alex Jones-esque), and that they are working in tandem with several people ostensibly based out of Moscow, Russia. Several friends have received messages from Russians “warning” them about me, and I have been contacted with threats from a man in Russia. I suspect that potentially the conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia, along with the high-rates of unemployment, have put me on the radar of such Russian anti-LGBTQ groups as the oddly named “Occupy Pedophilia” (Оккупай-педофиляй). Clearly my proximity to Russia coupled with the reputation of the founder of “Occupy Pedophilia,” Maxim Sergeyevich Martsinkevich, better known as Tesak, troubles me. He is a Russian neo-Nazi, who,
“describes Occupy Pedophilia as a “social project aimed at promoting National Socialism, looking into the essence of liberal views and attracting society’s attention to this issue”. In order to take part in a “hunt for pedophiles” often described as a “safari” by members of the movement, one is required to pay a certain amount of money to Tesak.
As of December 2014, over 220,000 people have followed the official page of Occupy Pedophilia on VK.com.
Activists of the movement and Tesak in particular have been criticized by the media for vigilantism, violence, and connections to another branch of Martsinkevich’s Restruct movement called Occupy Gerontophilia (Russian: Оккупай-геронтофиляй), which targets young males allegedly interested in dates with older same-sex partners. Actions of members of both of the branches have also been described as campaigns against LGBT people, with one Occupy Pedophilia local group leader saying that “practically all gay men [are] pedophiles.” (§1)
Maxim Martsinkevich is currently serving a prison sentence in Russia, albeit a reduced one. Ironically, as I advocate for the rights of prisoners and abolition of the prison-industrial complexes in all places, I am find myself supporting him as a prisoner. However, his associates on the outside seem to have connected, in some strange fashion, with the aforementioned Trump-supporters in the US. One of them reviewed my writer’s page and said that I am “worse that Jeffrey Epstein.” Absurd statements, death threats, and far worse are, of course, made and acted on everyday, and therefore I am pursuing a type of equanimity. The how to respond intersects with the why a response is necessary in the first place.
Firstly, I do think that as my public profile has increased since my release from prison, the person who originally placed me in prison (“the complainant”), has been orchestrating and working with various groups to discredit my work. Additionally, this person’s family is well-resourced and quite powerful, at least within the United Kingdom. They also have connections to US Americans, exhibited paranoid delusions about “pedophile rings” in North London, and may find my work – which is becoming more public – troubling.
Secondly, examining these (cyber) spaces and places where a “we” meets (Facebook, etc.), I can see how our ‘inter-spaces’ (immanent subjectivity?) are nestled into “Feeds.” These “Feeds” reproduce repetitive looping mechanisms, whereby as a message is relayed it becomes more valid by the sheer fact that it is being relayed. Therefore, completely spurious notions become factualized through feedback loops, as ‘inter-spaces’ interact with cybernetic architecture, the facticity, the realness of that architecture becomes virtually real. Architectural speculations of the ‘digital realm’ are difficult, as the spaces created by localized places (servers, hardware, etc) cannot be localized. The spaces generated by these places of wires, cabling, motherboards, humming fans, etc are both incredibly important to everyday life and evanescent. They are nebulous, yet these cyberspaces also have direct, particular impacts on everyday life. The nebulous circuit-board that is techno-capitalism produces cross-pollination of thought across populations. A sort of provincial territoriality resides within this cosmopolitan space. As ‘inter-spaces’ interact between cat pictures and images of war, mixture is the message, and the medium is collage.
Assemblages building assemblages, words upon words; I love words. I primarily write for words. Of course, readers are important, but before the reader, even, according the Bible before God, comes “the WORD.” I will continue to write, critique and analyze. I will engaged in dialogues about my work. Why? Because it is definitely essential that this ‘inter-space’ synthesizes, analyzes, draws out and pulls up old assumptions, mimetic moralizing and challenges the Symbolic Law of the Father. An entire psychoanalytical dimension is opened up when one mentions prison abolition, especially when I couple this analysis with my anti-natalism, critiques of discourses around pedophilia and criticisms of parental narcissism. Profound questions about homo sapien reproduction must be asked: what is a child? why do people have children when the ‘world’ they will inevitably inhabit is turning into a hell-space? is it more ethical to defend pedophiles, and even adults who engage in sex acts with legal minors, than it is to have a child? Isn’t having a child murder? Of course, my questions may sound unnatural, and they are intentionally so, for I am interested in unsettling the entire biopolitical, psychosocial and capitalist fixation with reproduction. Notions that the child must not enter into any sexual relations (even with other children) until they have reached “maturity,” strike me as linguistic capitalism. Children are the reified ideal of social capital + the parent’s desire for immortality. Fears of death create children-toward-death, who will (hopefully) create more children-toward-death and so on. Drawing on the rich tradition of anti-natalism from Cartharism to David Benatar’s work (see Why It Is Better To Never Come Into Existence), I would argue that homo sapiens need to slowly phase themselves either out of existence or into something else, without creating further suffering through birth. But that is a (controversial) topic for another article.
In summary, my work will always be controversial, and I welcome debate, even fierce debate, discussion and I am always willing to be open to challenging myself; I enjoy debate because it opens the ‘inter-space’ that I am into other spaces, hitherto unknown to me. What I will not engage in are malicious campaigns to demonize individuals. My support for pedophiles does not mean I support child sex abuse, and my questioning of what it means to be a child, considering the disparate ages of consent and cognitive abilities of varied individuals, does not negate the effects of sexual abuse against children. Certainly my work complexifies what is abuse, but it does not negate abuse outright. Nor am I the only one to question that all adult-child sexual relations are inherently abusive, see Constantine’s 1981 review of studies, and Chin-Keung Li’s Adult Sexual Experiences with Children, both of which are meta-analyses. In point of fact, my critiques may (counter-intuitively) be the most pro-child rights, giving voice to that deemed “child” and not bringing anymore senseless suffering into the world by refraining from reproduction.
I hope that opens a door, and closes another.
. . .