How the Middle Classes Appropriated Oppression

I’m reposting this article I first published 4 years ago today, about identity politics and the hijack of the political left by privileged-people-who-think-they’re-oppressed. Sadly, the problem is worse today than when I wrote the piece.

When I were a lad (yes, even Londoners had northern accents back then), and a left-wing activist, we were greatly concerned about oppression; and in the 1980s, there was no shortage of examples. The South African police had shot dead schoolchildren in Soweto in 1976, and continued to gun down innocents on a regular basis. In Latin America, US-backed dictatorships kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands of activists. In Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, US-backed terrorists attacked civilians on a wide scale, with a special love of atrocity. In Africa, civilians were slaughtered in proxy wars between the US and USSR. Asia saw brutality on an unimaginable scale.

The left stood for the rights of oppressed peoples, but understood clearly that oppression is primarily a function of economic means, not of race, sex or sexuality. While we also opposed prejudice on these grounds, and supported women’s rights, gay rights and anti-racism causes, we knew that ultimately, oppression and poverty were inextricably linked.

But the left slowly died as the Cold War came to an end, and capitalism (coupled with social democracy) proved itself more resilient than Marx had predicted. The death of the progressive British left can probably be best located to a particular date: 3rd March 1985, when the miners walked sadly back to work after being defeated in their long strike. For me, and many of my friends, this marked the point when our intense activism ended and we drifted away to live our lives.

But the organs of the left remained, and were rapidly taken over by a new breed: overwhelmingly middle-class and rooted in academia rather than trade unionism. This new left failed to understand the economics of poverty and oppression (never having witnessed these things themselves), so set about writing themselves a new ideology. So we found ourselves thrust into the era of identity politics.

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The new left lacked the intellect of the old, and found itself making the most fundamental of all mistakes: confusing correlation with causation. So the left now sought out new groups that appeared to oppressed. Because white people held the most economic power, the identity-left reasoned that skin colour was a cause of oppression, and labelled all non-whites as victims. And since laws had in the past been rigged against women, the left decided that mere possession of a vagina was equivalent to oppression.

While paying lip service to the oppression of the poor, the overwhelmingly white, academia-based, middle-class left no longer had any links with the working class, and so they focused on rescuing the oppressed groups they knew best: themselves. Largely, this meant that the individuals with the most “oppressions” (yes, I’ve really seen it used in the plural) were fast-tracked to the top. Those who screamed their self-pity the loudest became the most powerful, fast-tracked into political power.

But the rise of gay and black (often both) individuals was orchestrated by the white people who kept a firm hand on the reins. Black people would only be allowed into the hierarchy if they accepted that they were oppressed. Gay and non-white people who didn’t see themselves as oppressed by their colour or sexuality were labelled self-haters, and side-tracked. Non-white activists like Linda Bellos, Lee Jasper and Diane Abbott were only acceptable because they echoed the view of the white, middle-class establishment that they were oppressed.

In the intervening years, the self-pitying rhetoric of “oppression” and “privilege” has only gained further ground, to the extent that the meaning of these two words has been twisted almost beyond recognition. Almost comically, white, middle-class women appear to have decided that they are the most oppressed of all. Now, oppression isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something that you are. Now, oppression isn’t having your children shot dead, or a daily struggle to feed one’s family. No, oppression is a white middle-class woman, with a good job, having to endure the fact that men like looking at pictures of breasts. The following is a genuine tweet from just such an oppressed woman:

On tube sat next to a man reading The Sun and thus I start my day feeling a continuing sense of oppression

One wonders if Prozac might be the solution to this sort of oppression… or perhaps just a nice spliff. But I digress.

The old left tried to overturn oppression, but to the new left, this is pointless. Rather than fix inequalities, the left has decided to cement inequality into place permanently. Now, anybody labelled Oppressed must be given special privileges as compensation. In a deeply Orwellian twist, the more oppressed one is deemed to be, the more privilege they must be given in return.

Thus, the woman who finds Page 3 imagery objectionable need not merely boycott the Sun (as I’ve done my whole life). Now she has the right to demand that Page 3 is removed from the Sun. As an oppressed woman, she has won the privilege of censorship. Don’t Page 3 models also have a right to work? Apparently not – the rights of the oppressed middle-class woman are far greater than those of the working class one.

The “black community” (an almost meaningless phrase) is also deemed to be oppressed. Those black individuals who accept their oppression (and scream loudly about it) are welcomed by the left. Black individuals who doubt their own oppression, or who see the dangers in teaching black children that they’re automatically oppressed, are screamed down as self-haters.

This was most clearly shown by the recent London art exhibition, Exhibit Bwhich was forced to close after the “black community” (or rather, a mob of 200 people) blockaded it. Thus, black people are SO oppressed that they too are granted the right of censorship of anything that offends them. Never mind that the exhibition had been critically acclaimed in multiple cities before reaching London, or that black people were far from united in hating it, or that those who protested against it had never seen it.

The irony of Exhibit B is that the mob was enabled by the white elite. Their oppression (and thus, their privilege) was granted to them by white people. Their language of “oppression” and “privilege” was forged by the white middle-classes in universities around the country. Far from being “conscious” or liberated, this black minority is determined to follow a white agenda to the bitter end. The left is determined to tell black people that they are doomed to fail; and give them a handy excuse for failure – their skin colour.

So now, the left doesn’t expect black people to conform to the rules affecting whites. And so, politics has turned full circle. In accepting that black people, women, and other groups, are oppressed, the left has attempted to destroy the very thing it used to fight for: equality. Now, groups deemed oppressed by the white elite are granted special allowances. And the fight for equality takes a huge step backwards.

So is it any surprise that groups have sprung up on the right to declare men and white people oppressed? Sure, these people are laughable – but no more laughable than the claims of oppression by the left. Self-pity is the new black.

If you’re born into a middle-class existence in the UK, you aren’t oppressed. This is true regardless of your skin colour, who you choose to fuck, or the shape of your genitals. It’s genuinely sickening to watch the pity-fest that has replaced left-wing politics in the 21st century. Get over yourselves.

Porn Panic! is 28th-Best Censorship Book of All Time?

I’m proud of Porn Panic!, my book on pro-censorship feminism and the rise of identity politics. Is it the 28th best book ever written on censorship? Possibly not – but bookauthority.org have decided it is. And who am I to argue with them?

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Porn Panic! made it to the Best Censorship Books of All Time

“Porn Panic!: Sex and Censorship in the UK”, made it to BookAuthority’s Best Censorship Books of All Time:
https://bookauthority.org/books/best-censorship-books?t=rx5wyi&s=award&book=1785353748
BookAuthority collects and ranks the best books in the world, and it is a great honor to get this kind of recognition. Thank you for all your support!
The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Why Nike Knew it was on to an Easy Winner With Colin Kaepernick

Much of social media has been transfixed this week by Nike’s “brave” decision to sign Colin Kaepernick for its latest ad campaign. Kaepernick had reached fame – and simultaneously destroyed his career in American football – by kneeling during the national anthem at games in protest at anti-black discrimination and violence in America.

The american sprinters Tommie Smith,John Carlos and Peter Norman during the award ceremony of the 200 m race at the Mexican Olympic games. During the awards ceremony, Smith and Carlos protested against racial discrimination: they went barefoot on the podium and listened to their anthem bowing their heads and raising a fist with a black glove. Mexico City, Mexico, 1968 Mexico city, Mexico, 1968

Kaepernick’s action aroused a level of annoyance for “disrespecting the anthem”, being anti-patriotic, or simply bringing politics into sport. Of course some of this backlash was driven by racism, but not all of it. Unlike other similar protests – like the iconic black power salute given by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics – Kaepernick’s protest was repeated at game after game.

The first thing that became apparent was that Nike had played their move to perfection. They had, no doubt, researched the idea impeccably before putting it into action. The game-plan rolled out roughly like this:

  1. Nike announce they signed Kaepernick.
  2. An unknown number of angry people (though probably not many) burned their Nike shoes, filmed it, and published their videos to social media.
  3. Donald Trump tweeted about it.
  4. Liberals mocked the protests online, made memes, and generally enjoyed themselves while massively amplifying the protests out of all proportion to reality.
  5. The mass media, always worried it’s missing out on something, piled in to amplify the issue further.
  6. Pundits argued over whether this was a good move for Nike, or not: would it lose or gain sales?
  7. Sales of Nike products rocketed by a reported 31% almost immediately.
  8. (Probably) The marketing dude at Nike got promoted.

Nike had smoothly played a game based on what might be referred to as “information arbitrage”. Arbitrage is the act of profiting by exploiting price imbalances across markets – buying something cheap and then immediately selling it at a higher price elsewhere.

Imbalances in information can be valuable. In rural Africa, before the introduction of mobile phones, a farmer might have sold his corn cheaply to a merchant, unaware that the merchant could sell it for double the price only a few kilometres away. So, the introduction of mobile telephony in Africa was greatly beneficial to subsistence farmer, and cut the profits of middle-men.

In the case of Nike and Kaepernick, the information imbalance relates to American racism. Social media, combined with the dominance of “liberal” thought, has spread the idea that black people in America are subject to terrible, ongoing racism in their daily lives. This idea originates in the very real racism that was endured by black Americans for most of American history, from the earliest days of the slave trade until the post-Civil Rights era. Information was key to ending the segregation and oppression of black people in the US South: specifically, the arrival of cameras to cover civil rights protests exposed a horror that many Americans had been previously unaware of.

The civil rights movement didn’t end racism in America. It only began the cultural processes that began to diminish racism. Such changes must occur across generations. But certainly, racism did begin declining from the 1960s, and that decline was significant and ongoing. Like all vaguely-defined concepts, racism itself is hard to measure, but it can indirectly measured by asking people whether they would be happy living next door to, marrying or voting for someone of another race. And sure enough, such attitude surveys exist. Such surveys show that racist attitudes have been in steep decline since the social upheavals of the 1960s.

For example, the proportion of white southerners who would vote for a black President has risen from about 70% in the 1970s to over 90% now. It’s worth considering these numbers for a moment, because many or most people today would guess at far lower numbers, given the widespread belief that most Americans – especially American southerners – are deeply racist. Why do we tend to overestimate the levels of racism in America?

Movements don’t just decide to pack up and vanish when their goals are reached. This was especially true of the civil rights movement. Having succeeded, in the 1960s, in shining a light on racism, and winning the passage of civil right legislation, the movement continued to roll forward into the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Ironically, as racist attitudes slowly declined, the perception of racism went in the opposite direction. The less racism there was, the more people believed there was. This was fueled by a new generation of civil rights leaders, such as Al Sharpton, who would jump on any incident, publicise it, racialise it, and monetise it.

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By the present decade, this movement (more correctly described as a “grievance industry”) was finding racism everywhere, and the mass media was willingly reporting all this “racism” without question. To make things worse, social media appeared. The public tends not to understand the difference between anecdotes and evidence, and so social media became swamped with anecdotes that further exaggerated the perception of American racism. Every video of a police shooting became “proof” that all black people were at constant risk of being shot by police (although in reality, two white people were being shot by cops for every black person). When social media got bored of police shootings, it moved on to get outraged about increasingly trivial examples, like some student wearing blackface or a klan outfit to a Halloween party.

When even trivial examples of racism became hard to find, completely non-racist things were deemed to be racist. White people wearing dreadlocks, white people wearing hoop earrings, in fact by 2017 pretty-much-fucking-everything had become “racist”. This mania wasn’t just spread by bored students, but became the mantra of once-sane liberal publications like the Guardian and Salon, which hired black columnists (on the condition they wrote about how damn racist everything is all the time).

Quietly, black people who didn’t feel like the victims of continuous, 24/7 racism were being pushed away from the left bit by bit. They are spoiling a perfectly lucrative oppression narrative. Wealthy and successful black people, and especially those that don’t back the oppression narrative of the new left, are a threat to the profits of the grievance industry.

Here was the information imbalance used by Nike: the American (and global) public believed racism to be far higher than it really was. Nike signed Kaepernick knowing that, inevitably, some idiots would burn their shoes and post the videos to social media. The public and the media, who generally don’t realise that anecdotes aren’t  evidence of a trend, believed that the videos constituted a widespread racist backlash against Nike. And so in turn, a tiny backlash created a huge counter-backlash: first on social media, and then in shoe stores.

Nike’s strategy couldn’t have worked without the information imbalance. If American society was really as racist as many now believe, the campaign would have risked losing them significant sales, and they wouldn’t have been able to risk the brand damage. If on the other hand, the public was aware of how small the racist backlash was, there wouldn’t have been a counter-backlash.

All this is fine: Nike’s campaign has demonstrated, again, how weak true racism now is in America. Kaepernick gets a good paycheck, and Nike’s shares rise. Everybody happy. Furthermore, this strategy will only work temporarily, while the information balance persists. The more it’s exploited by advertisers, the less effective it will become. Black people will get tired of being presented as victims, and white people will tire of being saviours. One day, a campaign such as this will generate a broad response from black people: “Stop using your anti-racist virtue signalling as a way to sell shoes!”. And then perhaps, we can finally move on into the postracial era that was prematurely announced with Obama’s election in 2008.

Jerk Seasoning: Who’s Culturally Appropriating Who?

I’ve followed and documented claims of “cultural appropriation” for some time. While some dismiss this idea as no more than a fad, I see it as a segregationist and nationalist ideology, and fundamentally racist, as well as historically illiterate. Accusations of cultural appropriation are also a potent form of censorship: attacking people for their hairstyle or clothing choices may seem trivial, but provide a cover for racist bullies to attack other people on spurious grounds.

If this was simply about a few silly students revelling in their self-appointed “oppression”, we could laugh and ignore it. But this attempt to segregate cultures along racial lines, and to rewrite history, has nasty historical precedents – South African Apartheid being one of the more unpleasant and recent ones.

The latest cultural appropriation nonsense comes from complaints that the chef Jamie Oliver has “appropriated” Jamaican culture via his “jerk rice” product. Of course, we can argue about whether jerk rice is a good idea, and we can argue again about whether Oliver’s jerk rice is any good or not. But the fact that a Labour MP (and shadow Minister) Dawn Butler, decided to use the product as an excuse for race-baiting, is serious.

Identity politics, once the preserve of the fascist-right, has been well and truly appropriated by the left, and by the Labour Party in particular. As the Labour Party has lost touch with its working class roots, it has increasingly lost interest in the problems faced by the poor, and instead focused ever more on the supposed “oppression” of women, LGBTQIA+ (yeah I know), and “BAME” people (BAME being the modern way of saying “coloured” – basically a rebirth of the old racial supremacist belief that humans should be divided into two groups: whites and everybody else).

Butler is race-baiting because it plays well to the mostly white Labour hierarchy. As Labour’s core base becomes whiter, so the Labour leadership pushes non-white people into more senior positions to mask the party’s ongoing lightening process. So Butler’s apparently pointless intervention is actually a good career move on her part.

But let’s analyse the accusation itself, because like all accusations of cultural appropriation, it falls apart when examined up close. All culture in this global age is appropriated. All of it. First, the word “jerk” itself appears to have native American and Spanish lineage, according to Wikipedia:

“The word jerk is said to come from charqui, a Spanish term of Quechua origin for jerked or dried meat, which eventually became the word jerky in English”

But what of the food itself? I love Jamaican food, and happen to live in an area with an abundant choice of this wonderful stuff. So let’s say I’m feeling hungry, and order some jerk chicken, rice and peas, curry goat, ackee and saltfish, sweetcorn and a chicken patty. Jamaican food, like Jamaican music, is a wonderful example of globalised culture. Take out the “foreign” influences, and there’s not much left.

Key ingredients in jerk seasoning include garlic (origin: Asia), chilli (origin: Mexico) and thyme (origin: Mediterranean), all of which were brought to the Caribbean by globalisation.

Chickens originate in South-East Asia.

Long grain rice originates in Asia.

Kidney beans (the “peas” in rice and peas) originate in South America.

Goats originate in Europe/Asia.

Curry powder? Its key ingredients include cardamom (origin: India) and cumin (origin: Mediterranean).

Ackee originates in West Africa.

Saltfish was probably invented by European seafarers.

Sweetcorn originates in America.

And patty? This is of course the Jamaican version of a European (possibly Portuguese) dish known as a pastel (Portuguese) or pasty (English).

All culture is appropriated from elsewhere. History is full of attempts to prevent racial groups from mixing, most notably in South Africa pre-1994, and in pre-civil rights Deep South. Ten years ago, I would never have believed that racial segregation of culture would be, yet again, on the political menu. But here it is, being pushed by a Labour shadow minister. On one hand, it’s comforting that this pathetic example is the worst example of racism that Butler can find to complain about. On the other, it’s tragic to watch the left become ever more racist.

A Dating Site with Gifts and Bids?

Those familiar with this blog will be aware that I have for a long time been a campaigner for sexual freedom, and against censorship. As well as political campaigning, I sometimes write about the science of sex – for example, on how the trade of sex is innate in humans as well as many other species. I have recently launched a dating service that allows users to either offer or request a gift when they post. Readers of the Sex & Censorship blog can get 60 free Jems (worth £45) to try it out (see details at the end of this post).

Many people maintain aJaunt: the UK's dating market belief that “sex trade” refers to prostitution only. But prostitution is merely one, particularly straightforward, example of sex being traded. From marriage to sugar daddies, from gifts of flowers to diamond rings, the sex trade is vast; quite possibly, it’s collectively the world’s biggest industry.

The price of dating and mating underlies pretty much everything else in the economic and social sphere. When supply rises (as it did for example after the invention of the pill), the price falls. When supply is constrained (by, for example, laws against adultery or prostitution), the price rises.

Similarly, the price of romance is constrained by how much men can pay. Once, when travelling in a West African city, I asked a young men if he had a girlfriend. “No,” he replied mournfully, “I don’t have a moped”. Moped ownership was, in Bamako at least, the entry level for any woman to take you seriously.

The fact that romance is a tradeable commodity is widely understood, but also can be difficult to talk about. And yet, it’s a fact that poorer men are far more likely to be single than wealthier ones. You cannot change human nature, but you can make dating more honest.

This is why we developed Jaunt. Jaunt is a site for singles to find fulfilling dates, not an escorting site. But yes, it does allow a gift to be suggested on each jaunt (our word for a date). So a club night might come with an offer of free tickets, or an evening in a restaurant with a request for dinner and drinks. In fact, you can offer or request pretty much anything you like, except for cash.

The idea isn’t to “encourage” people to pay for dates, but simply to make visible what has always been there. Men spend far more on dating, courtship, romance and mating than women do. This isn’t “wrong”, it’s a fact of human nature. But honesty is important, especially when starting out on a relationship.

Sex & Censorship readers are offered 60 free Jems (that’s plenty!) to try out the site. First, sign up (you’ll get 10 free Jems to start with) and create your first jaunt. Then mail support@jaunt.singles to get another 50 free Jems.

Jerry Barnett Quoted in Time Magazine Article on Censorship

It’s taken years, but the mainstream media is finally waking up to a horrifying fact: within a few months, the UK will have a state-approved Internet censor with sweeping powers and little democratic oversight.

I’m quoted in a Time magazine article titled “The U.K. Is About To Regulate Online Porn, and Free Speech Advocates Are Terrified”:

“This is the first example in a western country of an official state Internet censor being introduced,” Jerry Barnett, a campaigner for free speech and sexual freedom, tells TIME. “The fact that their first power relates to porn sites is less relevant.”

Barnett worked in the adult film industry until 2012, and is the author of Porn Panic! Sex and Censorship in the U.K. “From the very start,” he says, “I didn’t see this as about porn. I saw this as a strategy that had been formulated to censor the Internet, and porn had been picked as the excuse to do it.”

The Rise of the Nationalist Labour Party (or UKLIP as I call it)

The recent UK protests against the visit of Donald Trump, certainly the most nationalist US President in modern history would have been heartening, if it wasn’t for the fact that so many of the protesters have happily voted for Jeremy Corbyn, possibly the most nationalistic leader in the history of the British Labour Party (or UKLIP, as I now like to call it). While Jeremy Corbyn’s political pedigree, as well as his presentation, is a billion miles from Trump’s, the two men are remarkably similar in terms of their nationalism. Trump makes a big deal of his wish to exclude foreign labour, while Corbyn tends to play this down (though he is becoming more blatant as time goes on). A recent Labour Party video on “bringing back jobs from abroad” appears to be lifted directly from Trump’s Make America Great Again messaging.

None of this should be a surprise. I documented the sudden surge of left-wing fascist values in my book Porn Panic!, written in 2014/15. This included the appearance of strong antisemitism on the left where there had been little previously. The decline of the BNP and UKIP in the polls appears to be strongly driven by the drift of nationalists into the Labour Party.

Taken from Porn Panic, Chapter 9:

Take migration for example. On the surface, anti-foreigner sentiment is focused on the right, while the left is nominally less prone to xenophobia. But in fact, the two strands have become intertwined. Left-wingers, for example, often now rail against the evil of foreign corporations and foreign bankers. The Marxist internationalism of my youth would not distinguish between foreign or local corporations; now the left-wing anti-corporate message has morphed subtly into a xenophobic one. The dubious movement against ‘gentrification’ in London has made it acceptable to rail against property purchase by foreign investors. As Colin Wiles pointed out in the Guardian, this narrative was inaccurate, and often masked anti-immigration sentiment:

“Is a French banker who has rented in London for 10 years and now decided to buy a foreigner or a Londoner?”

And as Dave Hill wrote, also in the Guardian, foreign buyers were less significant in property price rises than many were claiming:

“… about 10,000 more people moved in to London from elsewhere (370,000) than moved out (360,000) – not much of a difference. So how come the capital’s population is rising so incredibly fast, and has recently topped 8.3 million? Yes, it’s the birth rate, stupid: 134,037 babies were born here in the year to mid-June 2012, according to the ONS estimate. This is a city that breeds.”

Left-wing commentators have also recently embraced the anti-sex trafficking narrative, which in fact is a thinly veiled alliance between the old anti-prostitution and anti-immigration movements. This movement claims – falsely – that millions of women and girls (yes, always women and girls) are being dragged around the globe by the Patriarchy to be raped for profit. The myth provides police forces a cover to raid brothels, identify women working illegally (or ‘trafficked women’, as they are now called) and rescue them (i.e. hand them to immigration officers for detention and deportation). All of this is applauded by some feminists, and others on the left, including veteran campaigners, journalists and trade unionists. As with the porn panic, a thin veneer of feminist rhetoric covers attitudes and actions more usually associated with the extreme right. (Readers with an interest in this area are advised to read Laura Agustín’s 2007 book, Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry).

The anti-banker feeling that surfaced after the 2008 crash has happily merged with anti-Semitic sentiment, and when a blogger rails against Zionist bankers, it can be hard to place them on the political spectrum. Nouveau-leftist Russell Brand fell into this trap in October 2014 when he invited anti-bank activist Lawrence Easeman to help launch his book, Revolution, only to learn that Easeman’s online activism appeared to be tinged with anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi outbursts. Brand’s book launch had to be postponed.

And as the left was appropriating right-wing ideas, so the far-right was doing the reverse. The EDL, and similar far-right groups in Europe, abandoned overt racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, and appropriated progressive language to attack Muslims. Women’s rights, gay rights, sexual freedom, secularism, female genital mutilation, ‘honour killings’ and belief in democracy were used to falsely paint Muslim immigrants as a threat to European values,including the Enlightenment. And many on the left, deliberately or inadvertently, joined the Muslim-bashing. Cruel, bullying attacks on Muslims, such as the 2010 French ban on veils, were often held up as successes for secularism or women’s rights, while in fact they continued an old French tradition of intolerance for minorities.

The Great Sex Work Decriminalisation Swindle (2018 Edition)

The issue of sex work decriminalisation seems straightforward on the surface. But nothing can be understood without understanding the underlying political context, and especially that in these strange times fascism flows under the surface of all political debate. In Britain, sex workers enjoy a relatively liberated status compared to those in many other countries. Both the sale and the purchase of sex are legal activities. The primary obstacle to liberty is the fact that “brothels” are banned; and a brothel constitutes any two or more people working in the same premises. And so, sex workers often work alone (and unprotected), often against their wishes.

These days, faux-liberal language is routinely used to hide conservative attitudes. So two years ago, when a parliamentary committee expressed support for “decriminalising sex workers”, activists celebrated. But as I warned then, the announcement was an empty one. Note the choice of words: not “sex work” but “sex workers”. The announcement left open the option of the “Nordic model”, which criminalises buyers, not sellers. Rather than express solidarity with sex workers, this model applies a feminist lens to the issue, treating prostitutes as victims rather than as free agents. Some of my acquaintances in the sex worker activist community were angry with me pouring cold water on this “victory”. But it was no victory.

Sex worker as victim

The treatment of sex workers as unwilling actors is not just a game played by anti-sex work feminists and the “rescue industry”, but by some sex worker advocates too. Left-wing activist groups see prostitution not as a choice, but as something forced on women by the ethereal “Patriarchy” and “capitalism”. These activists are adamant that nobody could ever really enjoy sex work, and that sex work is a necessary stop-gap until the eventual overthrow of patriarchal-neoliberal-capitalism (insert your own neo-leftist word spaghetti here). Inevitably, sex worker activist groups have become infected with identitarian attitudes, and so announcements tend to be riddled with lip-service being paid to trans people, “women of colour” and other groups deemed to have been forced into sex work by their “systemic oppressions”.

These sex worker activist groups tend to be dominated by privileged, middle-class women, and their attitudes infuriate many sex workers. Privately, sex worker friends confide their dislike of being portrayed as victims, and I sometimes receive messages from sex workers who are outraged that they are not allowed to claim they ever enjoy their work, for fear of being branded traitors or patriarchal shills.

Corbynite conservatives

Given the worldview of the far-left – that all “workers” are victims of capitalism – it is unsurprising that Jeremy Corbyn (a typical conservative of the middle-class left) has announced support for the Nordic model:

“I don’t think people that are, mainly women, working in sex industry should be criminalised from working in it… Those benefitting should be the ones we go after.”

This was all so inevitable. As the working class has turned its back on the left, so the left has become an increasingly privileged clique seeking to impose its twisted vision of “social justice” on those they deem to be victims.

From the Nordic model to the censorship model

The Nordic model represented a subtle shift as feminists took over the morality movement from Christians. Instead of treating prostitutes as criminals, they chose to treat them as victims, and turned their attacks on clients instead. But now, the Nordic model may also be outdated and unnecessary, because censorship is a far more effective way to attack sexual liberty.

The Digital Economy Act (2017) introduced a state Internet censor to the UK, and that changed everything. The authorities no longer need to outlaw anything. They simply need to find an excuse to block content. The Act was ostensibly about pornography, but I’ve warned repeatedly that this was a smokescreen. Porn is simply the first category of content that will be blocked. Having implemented the blocking system, the state can add as many new categories as it chooses. The recent US laws FOSTA and SESTA point the way forward. Moralists no longer need to attack either sex workers or their clients. Instead the state can criminalise (using the excuse of “sex trafficking”) the platforms that they use to communicate. The Labour MP Sarah Champion recently introduced a debate into the House of Commons last week on this subject.

The UK’s two leading sex worker platforms, Adultwork and Viva Street, were singled out to be named and shamed, just as those of us who tried to run UK-legal porn platforms were attacked in 2012. It’s perhaps ironic that individuals at both companies have been broadly supportive of the blocking system, mistakenly believing that they could stay on the right side of the law. They were wrong: the British state, having watched from the sidelines for decades as the Internet took away its censorship powers, is now getting its claws stuck back in.

This isn’t about sex work, any more than it was about pornography or “hate speech”. We are watching the erosion of Internet free speech. Free speech is not just another issue: it is the issue of our age. Unless we resist now, future generations will marvel at the golden era of free expression that we enjoy from about 1990 until… well, around now.

How do you help? Sex work decriminalisation is a worthy goal, but the free speech issue cuts far deeper.  You can help the English Collective of Prostitutes respond to the government survey (deadline 16th July), and you might consider supporting my Patreon campaign. The issue of free speech has been recently hijacked by the far-right and my goal is to bring it back into mainstream politics.

Defending Liberal Values in Authoritarian Times

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