Zero Squared #80: Porn Panic

Jerry Barnett is an author, technologist, campaigner, photographer and entrepreneur. With a long background in anti-fascism campaigning, he has become increasingly disillusioned with the new left, which has taken on many of the attitudes and methods of the old right. His book Porn Panic is out from Zero Books this month.

In this episode you’ll also hear a collage partially lifted from Stephen Naish’s recent youtube book trailer for his upcoming book Bringing Up Baby. You’ll also hear some pornographic music from the 70s, an excerpt of Kate Brooks debating against the proposition that free speech includes the right to offend, and Tony Babino’s lounge club cover of The Internationale, and a clip from Sexopolis by Jean Pierre Mirouze.

maybe there is a more detailed argument in the book but holy over-reactions/generalizations, as Bruno Latour has noted we were never modern and as for “free” speech and the rest these have always been matters of negotiation (as all human affairs are that aren’t outright conflict) and not some hard and fast cannon of Imperatives.
reminds me DL you might enjoy:
http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/Searle20160815

19 Aug 2016, 6:52pm
by douglaslain

reply

DMF I think I agree with your tone more than your arguments. The principle of free speech and open inquiry seems to me to be worth defending as a moral imperative. Whether we’ve ever been modern…I’m not sure how the term is being defined by Latour.

it may be worth defending along such lines (if that works, tho the record of that in history is not so good) but it isn’t actually (and couldn’t be) such a thing, just a figure of speech, an idea(l) if you will, that always has to be worked out by the people at hand (this is why we have legislators and judges and the like), the details don’t just matter they are in fact all that exists as the process develops, you don’t have to buy my argument just give it a try, start a principled argument/decision-making process and see how far you get before you need to raise an example or the like and than the conversation turns on that and the responses to it and on and on.
The point about the myth of the Enlightenment was more or less just pointing out that we are as superstitious and otherwise buggy/cognitive-biased as we have ever been, there was no mass movements to some kind of general Reason-ing or the like, hell even some economists are giving up on the modeling of human behavior as “rational” agents, thanks will check out the link!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m45s_ZV-Rmw

ah yeah, so Latour was right that the modern university tradition of critique is toothless in the face of issues you care about like the capitalist/govt borg (which is absorbing the bits of the university it wants while cutting away the depts who are feverishly writing yet another paper/lecture on neoliberalism) but wrong to wax Romantic (even theological), sadly he moved away from studying what people actually do (say in lab sciences and the like) and into trading in empty abstractions and art events, none of which gets to fixing his own concerns about climate change, all of this is merely academic in the halls of power but that’s academia for ya, they can’t even unionize in ways which will protect tenure and all…

The “regressive left” isn’t really a unified thing, excessive identity politics/safe spaces are also completely opposed to anti-sex feminism (hell Amnesty International is for legalized sex work). And even then, the authoritarian elements get overshadowed by good commitments like being against police brutality.

Maybe there’s some growing anti-Enlightenment aspect on the left but more likely, it’s just something that’s been magnified by the right.

20 Aug 2016, 1:31am
by douglaslain

reply

DMF I don’t see why the need to raise an example is any kind of difficulty for the proposition that there is a general intellect. It doesn’t seem any more of a difficulty than the necessity of raising a universal concept in order to speak of any particular thing is a difficulty for the notion that there are always particularities or that the universe consists of particular objects.

don’t know what a general intellect (is that some kind of mass-consciousness or a universal logic or grammar and if so how would we all come to have and enact it?) is or could be so can’t afraid I address that, there is no necessity to raising a universal concept in order to speak of any particular thing, that sort of speech-act only serves a very limited role and as I noted above can’t really do more than be a sort of honorific and or shift us to discussions of actual things/happenings in particular, do you have an example I’ve missed?

DMF

The notion of a “particular thing” is a universal concept. To describe the color of a particular thing is a universal concept.

no it’s an aspect of a language ‘game’, a gesture if you will the details/content of which is in some sense always to be worked out by the contextualized to and fro that follows.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language-game_(philosophy)

I know this episode is way old hat, but I was going through some of the back catalogue episodes since I enjoyed the more recent ones, and my god, what a dreadful mess this was.

I really wanted to ask Douglas if he actually mostly agreed with the guest as much as it seemed or if he is merely politely accommodating and generally agreeable with all his guests (within reason, I suppose – the Shouting at Marxists episode was delightfully unforgiving).

Broadly speaking, I found the following items rather disagreeable about the episode:

– As a pornsite producer, the guest is clearly not an unbiased source.
– There were so many weak and unsourced arguments being out forth, most infuriating of all the “evolutionary biology” one towards the end.
– Although I’m sure the type of anti-sex feminism described by him probably did and maybe still does exist at some point somewhere (meaning specifically the kind that views sex workers as traitors deluded by the patriarchy or what have you), getting to the point of attacking sex workers is extremely uncommon withing feminist movements . This is not, mind you, the same thing as opposing the sex industry and having what could be interpreted as various “sex-negative” positions. But this is a school of thought that is still firmly grounded in protecting sex workers from harm, almost never does it reach the point of slut-shaming (and I am frankly skeptical that it happens today in any meaningful amount, but I suppose it’s possible). This may be seen as infantalizing victims and certainly there is a genuine discussion to be had about that problem, but a great deal of arguments don’t treat sex workers as agency-less victims, they simply question the efficacity of “sex-positive” policies to a certain extent. Fully legalized prositiution for example, makes available to the industry phenomenal amount of capital which in turn can cause it to quickly grow far beyond the ability of enforcement agencies to adequately regulate and deal with sex trafficking and rape and so forth. One might also support legalization as harm reduction anyway while still viewing prostitution as a sort of necessarily evil just because the economic coersion we all experienced under capitalism becomes sexual violence when it comes to sex work.

Anyway, I didn’t have any problems with the guest himself or the fact that he held opinions I disagree with, but I was very disappointed so many (if not all) of his points went completely unchallenged throughout the interview!

I really expected much better from the show. Has this been the first episode I listened to, I would very likely written off both it and the publishing brand altogether.

 

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