‘You had me at underdog’: How the Left fell for Big Pharma

A week ago today, the UK’s largest public sector union, UNISON, roared with one voice: “trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are valid”. A motion, entitled ‘Trans Equality – Louder and Prouder!’ was conclusively passed at the UNISON local government conference. Sincere gender critical campaigners, some of whom are firmly ensconced on the left, were smeared as “spreading false information to provoke hatred” and erroneously linked to the “far right.” Following the vote, socialist songster Billy Bragg announced with pride that “this is what solidarity looks like.”

Some were shocked that UNISON had not only misrepresented their position but that it had effectively pulled support from members whose jobs will be at risk if they ‘come out’ as gender critical at work. Others saw the vote as more evidence of the long-running bromance between the mainstream left and fundamentalist, beardy men’s rights activists. Indeed, from Hamas to the warriors of woke, organisations on the left clearly have a ‘type.’ Often, as in the recent faceplant by Irish politician Mick Barry, boys who don’t do their homework get a free pass – or try to.

Anu Prashar, one of the UNISON delegates who spoke in favour of the motion | Credit: Twitter

But given Marxists have historically ‘had a thing’ for material reality, the pairing with transgenderism seems unlikely. They make an odd couple – transgenderism is the cherry on capitalism’s rainbow cupcake, the marketing of an impossible dream and the reduction of people to saleable parts. Marxism, and the left more broadly, has traditionally recognised that material conditions can’t be identified into and out of at will. Whether the relationship lasts has yet to be seen, but just as with all love affairs that play out in public, the attraction between the left and transgenderism has provoked fevered speculation.

The spectre of ‘cultural Marxism’ is frequently invoked by right wing commentators, particularly in the US, as the reason why institutions have prostrated themselves at the feet of a reality-denying ideology. Walt Heyer is a detransitioned man who now campaigns to raise awareness of the harms of transgenderism both in practice and theory. In a piece published earlier this year, Heyer argued “cultural Marxist tactics disguised as transgender policies are a cancer infecting our entire culture”. 

Heyer is one of those who holds that a cadre of intellectuals known as the Frankfurt School embarked on a quest to subvert Western society with a culture war. The foundational idea is that a revolution could be fermented if sexual and social norms were broken down, and that this required the ideological capture by a “long march through the institutions”. It would be unfair to characterise everyone who promotes the idea of cultural Marxism as antisemitic, but there is a strong and unpleasant whiff of antisemitism through the theory which firmly points the finger of blame at the Jewish thinkers who comprised the majority of those within the Frankfurt School.

The theory that sometime in the last century a committed band of ideologues orchestrated an ideological take-over seems somewhat unlikely. Anyone who’s attended meetings of left-wing parties will know that even the purchase of teabags will involve setting-up a committee to discern which brand is the least tainted by imperialism. That a notoriously divided and chaotic left could lay a long plan to ferment a generation of revolutionary foot soldiers is a bonkers idea. But the appeal is obvious – cultural Marxism offers a seductive explanation for those trying to make sense of seemingly nonsensical ideology.

The championing of transgenderism by the likes of UNISON is particularly puzzling given the money “trans-tech” generates and the fact every large corporation now competes to cover themselves in rainbows. Global Market Insights predicted that the transgender drugs and surgery market alone would be worth $1.5B by 2026.Founder of the app Solace, known as RKA, has made the claim: “Our estimates place the average cost of transition at $150,000 per person. Multiply that by an estimated population of 1.4 million transgender people, we’re taking about a market in excess of $200B. That is significant. That’s larger than the entire film industry.”

Walt Heyer, then and now | Credit: The Niall Boylan Podcast

Putting aside the clear financial driver, the idea that the authentic self can be freed by drugs and surgery is the embodiment of the capitalist ideal of the ‘self-made’ man (or indeed woman). And when one asks ‘who benefits?’ the answer is clearly not ordinary people, whether they identify as consumers or live as proletarians.

A compelling explanation of the left-trans bromance has been put forward by Jo Brew, coordinator of the Women’s Declaration International. In an essay entitled ‘Transgenderism is the new Socialism’, Brew argues that “Just as Marxism was popular because it worked for underdog men, transgenderism is popular because it works for a group of underdog men.”

She concludes that transgenderism offers an opportunity for disenfranchised young men to be both victims and heroes in a movement that conveniently “reinvents, rejuvenates the argument that puts feminists on the right” and “justifies the exclusion of older women from the public sphere and creates spaces for males to get access to younger women and children.”

Brew adds, “It gives an opportunity for young women and men to be self-righteous – to channel socially sanctioned anger.”

To Brew, the left is not just infatuated with transgenderism; it has been largely replaced by it. And unlike the failed class war, the battle against ‘TERFS’ or ‘gender criticals’ offers a real chance of victory. This is in part because those on the mainstream left are standing on the same side as every multinational corporation. And whether or not one agrees that we are now seeing the endpoint of plans seeded in the last century, it is inescapable that there has been both a fracturing of shared social values and a spike in poor mental health amongst youth.

Ultimately, the promise of success and the opportunity to feel morally justified in hating their opponents makes transgenderism irresistible to those looking for a purpose. It allows people who style themselves as ‘on the right side of history’ to feel powerful. But in reality, the left’s courting of transgenderism is a struggle for relevance in a world that has left Marxism behind. 

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap