Monday, June 14, 2010

Wiscon # 2

Having written what I wrote below, I think we need to put some work into separating machismo and the patriarchy from capitalism. Capitalism arose within patriarchal societies and has incorporated patriarchal ideas and behaviors. However, the two are not identical; and capitalism does great damage to prior social relations. As Marx and Engels say in The Communist Manifesto:
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."


Kristin said...

This post is reminding me of other conversations I've been having with other anarchists about intersectionality (how gender, race, class, etc. intersect with each other and with capitalism and the state). Wonder what you think of this article?

Andrea Hairston said...

Great idea for a panel. I definitely agree that capitalism and patriarchy can take many different forms.

Our current form of "Global Machismo" is in the capitalist patriarchal mode.

I think Thatcher meant nuclear families, not extended ones--extended ones would have been too close to "society" and somehow she could slip around her logical fallacies by admitting that there is such a thing as a family which is different than the sum of the individuals.

Timmi Duchamp said...

I ran across this today in a piece by Anthony DiMaggio that makes the connection I think Gwyneth was invoking when she worried about her "plan for reducing global machismo":

'The “War on Terror” and attempts to combat economic troubles at home run directly contrary to each other. U.S. education and health care are in such dire straits precisely because U.S. leaders prefer to spend nearly a trillion dollars a year on militarism, while states cry poor and demand massive budget cuts that throw thousands out of work at a time when they’re at their most vulnerable. U.S. officials know that, if given the choice, the public favors cuts in military spending and a renewed focus on job creation, economic rehabilitation, and other social spending. This is why Democrats and Republicans spend so much time on fear mongering, drumming up support for indefinite war among a reluctant public.'

Militarism is a nexus. Capitalism is entwined with militarism-- certainly each serves the other. But I wouldn't argue that capitalism is THE cause of (global) militarism.