You could be a radical left some forty years ago, and for a long time the yardstick of that radicalism was the idea that there was only one real political contradiction; between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. But gradually women in the radical ranks, gays and lesbians, black and colored people also joined. Key question for the chiefs of the time: was not all this attention to ‘side issues’ to be regarded as a derivative of that one distinction between Capital and Labour?
It seems that a similar battle of directions has broken out at the contemporary BIJ1 of party leader Sylvana Simons. Activist Quinsy Gario, placed second on the list, has been suspended by the party for ‘toxic behaviour’. This is also called rooster behavior in the corridors. It’s intimidating, domineering, manipulative and, oh yes, quintessentially masculine.
I know Gario, not through the party because it is not my party. It seems that the number two of BIJ1 wants to make a club that wants to fight against ‘institutional racism’ in the first, second and fifth place. He stands for a clear, what is called communist line, in which the worker has been exchanged for the colonized black man. The latter category is the unshakable foundation on which the party must rest. All other issues of class, agriculture, climate, gender, sex and sexuality are just not secondary, but there can only be one major contradiction: the one between black and white. Everything else is discounted in it as grit. BIJ1 should basically become a party for and by black people. Because white is by definition wrong. The human chain is broken here.
There you are with your ‘intersectionalism’, the official adage of BIJ1: the idea that inequality occurs along different ‘axes’ that intersect. Oppression is due not to one, but to a multitude of factors. Gario wants to reduce the wide web of suppression mechanisms to a single, black thread.
I have personally experienced one on one that Gario can behave badly, but the clincher that someone ‘doesn’t fit well in the team’ is weak. Certainly for a radical party that wants to achieve its heavenly goals: there they live on broken eggshells, as it were. Popular quote in revolutionary circles: “One cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.” Those broken eggs are collateral damage: sad for the people it affects, but necessary for The History. And it is written by omelet makers.
The party board of BIJ1 must be strong, and not use Gario’s flawed manners to cover a much more fundamental difference. The name says it all: BIJ1 swears with ‘El Lider Maximo’.
Stephan Sanders writes a column here every Monday.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of July 26, 2021