Fw: Re: facts in the minds/Stalin, commodity production

ermadog at freenet.edmonton.ab.ca ermadog at freenet.edmonton.ab.ca
Wed Dec 19 02:44:50 MST 2001



On Mon, 17 Dec 2001 JOEFREEMEN at aol.com wrote:

> Antagonism means that in
> the process of development of a contradiction, a "movement" takes place
> wherein the polarity that constitutes a unity forces the poles to emerge as
> relatively external entities to one another and the previously dominate pole
> has to be destroyed - abolished, in order for the previously dependent pole
> to develop according to its internal logic.

You mean, like the polarities that develped under systems such as that of
purdah?

The antagonisms that have traditionally existed between the sexes - the
old contradictions between the private and the public spheres - have
intensified under capitalism. The whole logic of the rationalization of
production requires that the capitalist take out of the production unit
more than he puts in. Yet, for people to be human, they require human
input - a necessary component of which has traditionally been supplied by
the unpaid and underpaid labour of women.

In previous societies, women's work could be materially measured. In times
of crop failure, it was women and children who went foraging in forests
and ditches and forgotten meadows for foods that are considered luxuries
today - nuts and mushrooms and berries. Her kitchen garden, with its
variety of crops, could be counted on to produce something even when the
main crop failed. Her care of the barnyard animals, and the sick amongst
the field animals, assured some produce if the fields failed. During good
times, her small income from eggs or lace or brewing might help her buy
some of the things that make the drudgery of subsistence worth living.

This all meant that a woman was a constant reminder that the male was not
what he was expected to be - the sole support of the family. This tension
alone counts for much of the reality behind the statistics on domestic
violence - a violence which, notoriously, even police officers fear.

> How could generations of "doctors" under medieval
> conditions "know" that bloodletting, as a cure to a disease is insanity?
> Millions of ordinary citizens were slaughtered by the backwardness of the
> medical establishment, which believed that bleeding patients could cure them
> of disease. Expelling blood from the patient was understood to mean releasing
> the disease from the organism.

I can't find my referrence for this - it seems to me the book is called
_The Politics of Parenthood_ - but I can't locate it on my bookshelf at
the moment. It's actually a discussion of the politics of the abortion
question in the 19C. The thesis is raised that the medical profession
staked out the abortion question as a deliberate tactic in its long,
drawn-out battle against folk medicine, in which the bloodletting question
had been a precursor. In the 19C, doctors felt that they had the
definitive, scientific answer to the question, "When does life begin?";
and, as authorities on this subject, asserted that they alone were
qualified to determine when abortion could be permitted. By this time,
folk medicine was largely in the hands of women, and could be stigmatized
as nothing but "old wives tales".

By this thesis, it would be a combination of class and professional
prejudice that prevented these particular upper-class twits from examining
the theoretical basis - that disease results from an excess of one of the
four humours - of the bloodletting practice. There would also be some
cultural prejudice, since much of the folk wisdom was pre-Christian.

Joan Cameron



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