Faculty Writing: British “Free Speech”, Shulamith Firestone, and Climate Sabotage

For Novara Media, Barnaby Raine discusses the right-wing mobilization of free-speech rhetoric in Britain, which, he argues, risks “accepting absurd, offensive or provocative opinions as the right of any individual speaker.” Distinguishing a right-wing conception of free speech from that of the left, Barnaby writes: “Theirs is the freedom of the schoolyard bully to harass as he chooses; ours must be the freedom of emancipated people everywhere who seek to determine the course of their own lives without the oppressive intrusions of arbitrary power. Not by coincidence, that is the core of anti-colonial politics: the quest for self-determination. We are socialists because we want people to be free.”

For Brand New Life, Sophie Lewis revisits Shulamith Firestone’s transfeminist legacy, situating her as a progenitor of xenofeminism as well as contemporary, grassroots-led movements for ectogenesis (that is, the development of embryos in artificial wombs). She writes: “When I published my anti-work book on gestational labor in 2019, I chose a subtitle more or less identical to the title of perhaps the harshest repudiation of Firestonism on record, namely, Jean Elshtain’s 1989 article ‘Feminists Against the Family.’ Indeed, in retrospect, there is no disputing that Full Surrogacy Now was an attempt to revive and reclaim Firestone’s anti-family feminism and to reanimate, with pride, her revolutionary horizon of family abolition—even if there were equally-if-not-more-important trans and gay liberationist, queer-decolonial and Black feminist sources for my (reworked) ‘family abolitionism.’”

For the Verso Books blog, R.H. Lossin writes on sabotage as a tactical tool of labor movements—and possibly, climate activism. Writes Lossin: “When climate activists shut valves and destroy pipelines, when they set fire to heavy machinery owned by oil companies, they assert their rights to this infrastructure and their rights to the land and air and water that it is destroying. It is what I have referred to elsewhere as “prefigurative expropriation”; a momentary, but informative and empowering challenge to the economic system of private property and the morality that it produces. Sabotage, as its earliest proponents understood, is a powerful threat to the owning class and this is precisely what the climate movement needs.”

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