dual systems and adaptation in general

tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
Tue Nov 8 06:53:25 MST 1994


Ann,

You say that dual systems believes that men "exploit" women, not just
oppress them, and that you agree with this.  You say that something called
Marxist-feminism (which also includes Wilhelm Reich and Thorstein Veblen, by the
way) still adopts a "base/superstructure" model.  I do too, and I agree
with the latter, not the former.

I think that dual systems theory is another species of adaptation to liberal
ideology.  I say this in the name of what I call unorthodox unorthodoxy.
I don't believe that Marx and Engels, et al. held the absolute truth, that
heretics should be punished at the stocks, or sent to Siberia.  What I
do believe is that they evolved a serious methodology and analysis of our
society which more than adequately addresses the complex problems of exploitation
/oppression.  This is not to say they had all the answers, that they were
never wrong.  But if you want to start discarding whole floors of they house
they built, then I, as the unorthodox unorthodoxer, have to ask: 1) why?
What in the theory itself have you proven wrong?  How has it proven
inadequate? 2) Are you throwing the baby out with the bathwater in your
"improvement" upon Marxism?  This is the only way I know how to guard
my theory against the pulverizing tendency of bourgeois ideology and fashion,
which terms anyone dead as obsolete, and any idea that was not on the news
last night, similarly.

The opposite is true for what I call liberal adaptationalism, which includes
dual systems feminism (nothing socialist about it), market socialism (sorry,
Justin, and this is absolutely no substitute for a serious debate, I'm just
freely categorizing), Schachtmanism-state capitalist models of Stalinism.
The logic runs like this.  Male oppression/Stalinism were/are so evil that we
do not do justice to its victims by terming it any less evil than capitalism
itself.  So let's lump things together unscientifically. No poetry after
Auschwitz, right?  So white male privilege/oppression = capitalist exploitation.
The bureaucratic degeneration of the workers state = fascism = capitalism.
All planning = Stalinism, or at least bureacracy.
Anyone who disagrees with us is an old fogey, who is still hanging on
so dogmatically to those old shibboleths about base and superstructure.

When we lump these concepts together, however, we lose our sophistication.We lose
our analysis of capitalism, and especially how to fight it.  When we
jump up to accuse the Soviets of capitalism/fascism, a la the third camp,
we either miss opportunities to defend the masses there  from imperialist
onslaught, or we help the capitalists in their destructive projects.

When we say that men are another "class" who "exploit" women, we transform
men into the class enemy.  How are we going to organize ourselves as an
economic class if we go around vilifying half the class?  Certainly, men oppress
women.  Not all men, not all the time, not even half the time because they
choose to.  The capitalist system, which is indeed the BASE, creates structures
in which men are relatively privileged.  The capitalists do not conspire with
men to exploit women.  Men themselves suffer TREMENDOUSLY from the system
of patriarchy.  Patriarchy warps and distorts their character structures.
As Reich would argues, psychosexual misery knows no gender.  Can the same
be said for economic class?  Does capitalism oppress the capitalist economically?
Only as he ceases to be a capitalist--or all the way to the bank!
It also prevents men from thinking clearly about the alliances they need to make
to overthrow their real oppressers.  It identifies them WITH their oppressors:
men, and women identify with characters like Donald Trump, who move from
buxom babe to buxom  babe, with narry a care as to whom leaves on the trash
heap of his sexual escapades (See VEBLEN).

So please, let's remain clear in our thinking. Let's retain those old hoary
Marxist concepts of base/superstructure until very good reason can be shown
to discard them.  Yes, call me an old fogey, but I'm proud to be a Marxist-
feminist.  And a socialist one, too.


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