Everything that rises must converge.
I’m sure by now you’ve read the criticism that my comrades have produced about the Progressive Labor Party’s gender politics and their response to the reminder that Seth Miller is a rapist. Through all of our organizing on this issue, our position has been that PLP must administer a systemic solution to the problem of a rapist in their midst, and we’ve advocated this on behalf of our comrade at every level of leadership to which PLP will grant a non-member access.
To this point I’ve been able to compartmentalize my feelings by seeing the accountability process as another realm of organizing, but I felt personally betrayed when I learned that PLP implemented a process independently of the process we had been discussing for months. It was a harsh reminder that within the constellation of sexual violence, the political can be very personal.
In the few days since our collective released the original statement calling out Miller and PLP, I’ve been told by one PLP member that the information I have needs to “be corrected,” but they were not willing to tell me what we have wrong. Moreover, I’ve been very disappointed in my comrades’ efforts to help. People seem afraid to cut out friendships at the expense of dealing with something as difficult as rape, but the pain of cutting those ties is nothing compared to the profound and dehumanizing pain of being raped.
This essay will read to many of you like personal narrative, but you must not dismiss it because it isn’t explicitly political analysis. What I describe here reflects real friendships and real communities— relationships that are completely destroyed now because the party decided it was better to let Miller remain than to expel him and support his victim. Maybe there’s a political lesson in here somewhere. I just hope I can show how we are all deeply destroyed by rape.
Finally, a disclaimer. A few people from the party have told me to stop gossiping about this to my friends. This is not gossip. Calling this gossip renders a very serious political problem into meaningless social fodder, and it turns fighting patriarchy into labor that is gendered and dismissed as idle and childish. To those members of the party: you will not silence me like that.
This is not a love letter.
I sat on a rickety chair at a recreation center somewhere in Los Angles, and every few minutes a toddler stepped on my foot while amused adults tried to corral the kids back to a play area in the next room. On either side of me people were packed elbow-to-elbow at long folding tables eating homemade food from paper plates. The crowd of 150 or so overflowed into the alley behind the recreation center, and folks took turns at the tables while comrades performed revolutionary songs, poems, and speeches.