The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”...
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.
The process of destroying prior relations has been a long one, and is not yet complete. But when we look at the tiny, fragmented, always-threatened families that exist in the US, we can see we have moved a long way toward a totally atomized society, ruled only by money.
When Margaret Thatcher said, "There is no such thing as society, there are only individuals and families," I think she was talking about nuclear families, not the huge extended families of traditional cultures.
However, in the US the same groups that defend capitalism also claim to defend traditional social roles. It makes perfect sense that people would confuse capitalism with the patriarchy. Capitalist societies -- especially the US -- may prefer to the use the rhetoric of the patriarchy, even while they break apart kinship bonds and reduce clans and extended families to fragments. But I think we could completely destroy traditional forms of male dominance and still have capitalism, with all its dangers; and because capitalism is so slippery, so able to assume new disguises and make new arguments for itself, it's really important to understand its core nature.
I don't think machismo caused the petroleum volcano in the Gulf. I think it was capitalism's insane drive for profits.
So, a panel topic for next year's Wiscon could be "Capitalism and machismo, compare and contrast."