Male supremacy and opportunist marxism, was Re: [Marxism] White chauvinism

Ian Pace ian at
Tue Jun 22 05:57:53 MDT 2004

Ian Pace writes >>How is this opportunist?  Are you denying that female
soldiers fighting for the most powerful military nation on the world
have more power than the powerless people (male and female) they are
fighting?  Or arguing that the Queen is somehow oppressed?<<

Jose G Perez>Your arguments are very hard to take seriously. These "power"
in society exist between social groups; the point that has been made
here is that they also manifest themselves in the relations between the
individual members of the groups.

JGP: You cite as a counterexample to the idea that women are oppressed by
men, Blacks and Latinos oppressed by Anglos and so on an instance where
a woman, who for whatever reasons has become a weapon in the imperialist
war against the Iraqi people, acting in her official capacity as an
imperialist aggressor against the Iraqi people, takes part in the
humiliation and torture of Iraqis. What does this tell us about the
oppressor-oppressed relationship between men and women?

JGP: Absolutely nothing. That was not the power dynamic at play there.

Read the previous post to which the above was a reply to a reply.  I point
out that 'sexism' is hardly the appropriate term; however would remain
adamant that an ideology by which gender (or sexuality or ethnicity
individually) overrules all other paradigms is useless, and such an ideology
is indeed being exploited to justify imperial ventures.  To say 'women have
no power' is only meaningful in a total global sense relative to men,
women's power differs according to their class position.  In a collective
sense women are relatively powerless, but to extrapolate from that the
notion that any single woman is powerless relative to any single man is

I wouldn't make an issue of this (and certainly don't want to downplay the
extent of sexism on the left) were it not a classic example of liberal
ideologies being appropriated for imperialist or other reactionary ends.
This is a very real problem that I feel the left can be too complacent
about, and it enables ex-leftists to make an effortless but contemptuous
leap into the liberal imperialist camp (Hitchens and Aaronovitch are two
good examples).  Jane Corbyn's risible book on Al-Qaida manages in a similar
way to explain the motivation of the 9/11 hijackers in terms of sexual
jealousy, and resentment towards Western society because of the supposedly
more emancipated position women have here, almost totally neglecting any
consideration of how US imperial strategy might have an impact upon
consciousness in the Arab and Muslim world.  I'm sure both Bush and Blair
find her arguments highly convenient, and they mirror the propaganda used to
sell the war to liberals.

Sexism without power is indeed a misuse of the term, as with racism (one
reason why anti-semitism on the part of dispossessed, powerless
Palestinians, while deplorable, can never be compared with anti-semitism
amongst the ruling class in Nazi Germany).  'Sexism' on the part of white
women towards white men of the same class is incomparable with the reverse;
when class and race differ, though, the power relationships are nothing like
so straightforward.

JGP: Similarly, while she and her co-torturers are undoubtedly all working

How do we know that?  Are you suggesting that only working class people
would carry out such acts (if you mean a pure definition of working-class
which incorporates all soldiers, then fair enough)?

JGP: the torture sessions they carried out are all bourgeois, ruling
class torture sessions.

Indeed, but aren't people of either gender, or any race, capable of being
willing accomplices in such things (e.g. Condoleeza Rice)?


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