patriarchs and dead patriarchy (Justin-Tom)
hagena at mhd1.moorhead.msus.edu
Wed Nov 9 21:40:28 MST 1994
On Tue, 8 Nov 1994, Ann Ferguson wrote:
> Justin has already argued that from the fact
> that men exploit women it doesnt follow that men cannot decide to give up
> this privilege: just that, as patriarchs, women cant count on your good
> will to do so without being utopian. Which is why women, like the working
> class, need to organize autonomously and not trust lefty men, or
> capitalists, to have our interests at heart.
I think this is a very insightful point, transcending gender relations and
including racial and class relations as well; a particularly helpful one
to me. I happen to be an upper-middle class/upper class white male with
privileges so multitudinous that they are beyond my awareness. But still I
feel very deeply that the basic and most radical points of feminism and
Marxism are very much necessary and valid. So how do I advocate what I
feel without hypocrisy? By being as honest as the above passage, I think.
When I speak or write on a political level I should state my class and
gender and ethnic privileges along with my arguments, not only to make a
point, but to de-mystify perceptions amongst my audience.
If I talk about socialism to a group of interested workers, for example
they might be more persuaded if I concluded with, "But don't take it from
me, because I'm from the capitalist class," and leave them be. That way
they could work together to take my class privileges from me. Otherwise, I
would be working with them against "the capitalists" while they would
constantly notice how unlike them I would be, for example my affinity for
Rachmaninoff, and always have suspicions about my actual class position.
And should they even be trusting me in the first place?
Perhaps my role as a communist (of the freedom-loving variety!) is not
one of leading the vanguard but raising consciousness. And to raise
consciousness is not to provide all the answers, and not even to provide
all the tools necessary to find all the answers, but just to crack the
brittle armor of bourgeois agitprop allowing a few rays of sunshine to
illuminate the nightfall of life in our time.
LaClau and Mouffe, who I have not read but only heard about, argue
(supposedly) that one's class is not determined by money or authority or
any of that, but instead by the position one takes in the struggle against
capitalism. There are thus pro-capitalist wage workers and socialist
CEO's. At the outset, I find that this perspective is rather blind in that
it seems to disregard the enormous barriers that our friend, capitalism,
;-) has placed between people.
Am I off-base here, completely? Partly? And, BTW, this would all apply to
gender relations and racial relations and sexuality relations, etcetera,
without an obvious limit.
Andrew Hagen hagena at mhd1.moorhead.msus.edu
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