market feminism or petty moralism: some corrections

tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
Mon Nov 7 22:18:26 MST 1994


Hi gang,

Since the last post on this subject, there may have been something wrong
with my VAX machine.  I'm sorry if I missed any responses.

I've been thinking about my original post.  While I think what I said was
right, it had more the character of a manifesto about my rights as a male
comrade not to be turned into a second class citizen (even if by comrades who
have traditionally treated as second class citizens--two wrong don't make a
right) than a genuine analysis as to why such linguistic strategies are
"petty moralistic" as in my title, harmful, and where they come from.

So let's try to tackle that now, as well as suggest an alternative strategy.

Let's be clear: I am for integration: racial, gender, whatever else.  Of all
groups that claim to be Marxist, revolutionary.  That includes this list
serve, or whatever the hell it is.  Only by having an integrated leadership
and organs of class struggle can the divisions of capitalist society be
overcome, the class become a class for itself and take power. This is, by
the way, another legacy of Trotskyism and leninism, developed especially in
this country by Dick Fraser in the SWP (before he was summarily booted during
the Vietnam War and the SWP fell completely into the swamp of centrism--but
that is another tale) in the 1950's, and by James Robertson and Shirley Shoute,
who developed the concept of TRANSITIONAL ORGANIZATIONS through which the
vanguard party can bring Marxism to superoppressed strata and bring into
the integrated vanguard party on an egalitarian basis.

What I have a problem with is the liberal, petty-moralistic short circuiting
of the noble quest for revolutionary integration, when people stand up at
meetings and act as if we can solve the problem of integration if only the
white males in the group would shut up, take their rightful turns at speaking
LESS, feel guilty about their gender/white-skin privileges, etc.

This is
liberalism, not revolutionism.  It transforms rulling class strategies for
dividing the working class via special oppressions, into "bad attitudes" among
those privileged by accident. My feeling guilty about being male, white, and
heterosexual is not going to bring the revolution even a second closer.
Nor is it going to encourage me even to try to bring more women into the group
(for fear that I'll be accused of sexism, that I REALLY want to jump on their
bones).  It's just going to paralyze me, and further divide the group and
poison its internal relations by basing these upon guilt and hostility.
This is a capitulation, not a transcendence, to the sexism and racism planted
by the ruling class to divide us.  The ruling class does indeed thrive on
"progressive" notions that racism and sexism and homophobia are all due to
"bad attitudes."  Watch the cable channel Lifetime, for example.
The ruling class loves notions like this.  Such notions leave them completely
off the hook, divert us from examing the real basis of racism, sexism, homophobisa
in capitalism, nurture in us the secret feeling that there is nothing we can
do, because "most men are really sexist, etc."--by nature.  If half the population
is naturally hostile to the other more oppressed gender, then revolution
becomes completely impossible.  All we can hope for, all we can strive for,
is to give more power to the courts, the liberal lawyers and educators, etc.
who will somehow solve the problem someday if we just give them more money
(rather than overthrow them)

It's just a big liberal racket: it's called PC.  If you fall for it, forget
about being a revolutionary. You've placed yourself on the dustbin, already.

There's nothing wrong, and everything right, with a group consciously working
together, without guilt or finger pointing, to figure out (a) how can we bring
more of the Other into our group (b) how we can continually improve our
own internal structure and rules to make discussion more egalitarian, encourage
the women comrades to participate more, etc.

But such a collective integrationist revolutionary attitude has got
absolutely nothing to do with guilt, with saying stupid, offensive,sexist
things like "There's too many men here in this group/at this meeting."
I can't even begin to express my loathing for such sentiments, how divisive
and insulting and hurtful they are.  As  i tried to say in my last post,
men are people too, we have feminine sides, we have inner children whom
we're trying to take care of, and above all, like anybody else, we long
to feel at home and acknowledged for who we are.
Comments like that are really abusive and have no place among Marxists.


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