Ray Filar, journalist, editor and performance artist, gives us the rundown of the best and the worst of Valerie Solanas' controversial SCUM Manifesto. Listen to Ray discuss the manifesto and its legacy with Juliet Jacques and Sophie Mayer on the Verso podcast.
1. It advocates the death of all humans
SCUM Manifesto is a deeply offensive, violent book. It's author, Valerie Solanas, hates men. Really hates them. In fact, the first sentence argues that “thrill-seeking females” should “destroy the male sex”.
But Solanas hates men in a way that at the same time minimizes their importance and de-centres them from her political vision.
Originally self-published in 1968, the SCUM Manifesto's central argument is that men have created a false reality in which everyone believes that women are men and men are women. So while people often believe that women are inferior, passive, and less intelligent, the reality is that these characteristics belong to men. Men are superior to women only in their PR skills: they've persuaded us to believe that gender is quite the opposite to what it actually is.
Her answer to this problem is that all men should die.
“Solanas suggests that civil disobedience is more or less the most useless thing you can do. It's the classic radical or ‘extremist’ argument that suggests that a reformist approach to a system is the worst to take because it upholds it. I think that's something that's disappeared from a lot of radical writing — that refusal to collaborate with a system that you find abhorrent.” — Juliet Jacques
“Women are not supposed to say violent things about men — it's supposed to be the other way round.” — Ray Filar
Originally self-published in 1968, Valerie Solanas' incendiary SCUM Manifesto called for a Society for Cutting Up Men and declared war on capitalism and patriarchy.
Today, the controversial tract has a complex relationship with contemporary landscapes of feminism and gender politics. Juliet Jacques and Ray Filar join Sophie Mayer to discuss the treatise from critical and contemporary perspectives. Taking a historical view on its problematic elements, they discuss the text's violence and gender and biological essentialism in light of feminist and queer discourses since it's first publication — as well as Solanas' visions of work and automation, and why the text still thrills today.
“Riots are coming, they are already here, more are on the way, no one doubts it… In moments of shattered glass and fire, [the] riot is… the irruption of a desperate situation, immiseration at its limit, the crisis of a given community or city, of a few hours or days.” Joshua Clover, Riot. Strike. Riot.
After almost two months of continuous protests against the El Khomri bill's proposed labour reforms that would allow bosses to fire workers more easily, strike actions have been stepped up in France. The BBC reports that actions are led by CGT and supported by six other unions, including Force Ouvriere and Unef and have seen oil refineries, nuclear power stations and transport hubs disrupted in the rolling nationwide strike. Yesterday CGT striking members shut off printing presses and distribution, preventing the publication of all French national newspapers, with the exception of leftwing daily L’Humanité. An opinion piece by Nuit Debout leader Philippe Martinez urging the government to withdraw its labour laws, was published in L’Humanité on the same day.
Meanwhile riot police cracked down on protesters in Paris and other cities, with tear gas filling the air.
"Historically, only a small number of police officers have been armed in Britain but we’re moving towards a police force that is increasingly armed... The uprising and grassroots response to Mark Duggan’s death sprang from people’s repeated experience of racist violence from the police" — Arun Kundnani
With contributions from #BlackLivesMatter & Ferguson activists, as well as leading writers and experts, Policing the Planet: Why The Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy — first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton, who was later brought to London as an advisor following the police killing of Mark Duggan.
In this interview, Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton (editors of Policing the Planet) speak to Arun Kundnani about the killing of Mark Duggan (and the subsequent export of US policing practices to the UK), US policing as a global issue, the aggressive racialized surveillance of Muslims in the UK and US, and the need to fight against policing and surveillance as part of a larger struggle against racial capitalism.