[Marxism] Class and race and gender

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Wed Jun 23 09:44:38 MDT 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition"
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 3:55 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Class and race and gender

> Ian Pace wrote:
> > To give a good example of how easily certain ideologies of gender and
> > are appropriated for the purposes of serving imperialism, the appalling
> > article below should suffice.  The qualities of machismo, racism,
> > discrimination against gays, etc., in Latin America (but also in North
> > America and Europe) are absolutely vital for us to address, but when
> > from questions of imperialist hegemony, this is the result.
> Ian is raising an interesting point here, although I have considered it
> in another context. Let's not forget that mainstream feminist
> organizations lent their support to the war in the Balkans which was
> supposedly some kind of crusade against rape camps. Then a few years
> later Afghanistan was invaded in order to allow girls to go to school.
> http://www.srpska-mreza.com/library/facts/Dorfman.html
> Feminists in the U.S. were treated to a propaganda blitz about rapes
> allegedly carried out by Serbs. It had an electrifying effect. In the
> end, the radical group "Madre," which previously supported Central
> American women, launched an emotional campaign to save thousands of
> Bosnian Muslim women allegedly raped by Bosnian Serb soldiers. Gloria
> Steinem lent the story respectability in Ms. Magazine. The N.Y. Times
> wrote that 20,000 to 50,000 Bosnian women had been raped, despite the
> fact that there was no substantiation for such numbers - except, of
> course, from the Bosnian Muslim "Ministry of Information." Despite
> doubts expressed by Helsinki Watch, Human Rights Watch and respected
> individuals such as Simone Weil, the president of the European
> Parliament, the American media relied on the Bosnian War Crimes
> Commission and Caritas, the Catholic charity connected to the Croatian
> government, for verification of these outrageous claims. The German
> media promoted the rape hysteria for their own reasons, which British
> historian Nora Beloff ascribed to the German need "to Satanize the Serbs
> in order to cover their own responsibility for pitching Yugoslavia into
> war."
This is all extremely interesting.  So Ruder/Finn targeted Jewish-Americans
to oppose the Sandinistas on the grounds that they were anti-semitic.  Maybe
there was some truth in this (the claim of anti-semitism), but were
Jewish-Americans presented with the quote of Robert D'Aubuisson about ''You
Germans were very intelligent. You realized Jews were responsible for the
spread of Communism and you began to kill them?" so as to bolster opposition
to the fascistic regime in El Salvador?

What was the book that came out a couple of years ago, by a Nicaraguan woman
attacking the machismo of the Sandinistas (can't remember the title or the
author)?  An important issue to address, certainly, but why does this only
become of importance with regard to the left-wing Nicaraguan government, and
not the right-wing ones in El Salvador, Guatamela, and elsewhere.  Were they
any less macho?  Would a book about the machismo of those in charge of
governments allied to the US get so much attention?  The release of this
book seemed conveniently timed to coincide with the 'War on Terror', when
the US government didn't want too many questions asked about their own
support for Nicaraguan terrorists (maybe we can hear more about the Contras'
machismo as well?).

Identity politics are a powerful weapon for propagandists.  The various wars
in the former Yugoslavia seemed to usher in the beginning of the growth of
liberal imperialism in the post-cold war period.  Claire Short, avowed
feminist and anti-racist, didn't hesitate to draw upon Munich rhetoric to
justify the war in Kosovo when she was in the British cabinet, portraying
this as a simple sectarian war between bad Serbs and good Muslims (this is
the same Claire Short, of course, who was happy to stay in the Blair cabinet
for the duration of the Iraq war, and saved her condemnation for afterwards,
when it was too late).  Much of the British left bought this argument; in
both the Kosovan and Bosnian conflicts we had a bizarre situation in which
the left became the hawks and the right the doves.


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