the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

quotes: on process and politics

Posted by rigorousm on November 11, 2010

“One can look in any direction where “the revolution” beats its chest and howls, and see the same process. Given minor variations, I would delineate that process in ten steps.//
“1. Women notice a problem, compare notes about it, name it, decide to do something about it.
“2. Women move from the daily resistance that informs their lives (hiding children from slave masters or armies, secreting food for their families in famine, writing protest letters, etc.) into a loose linkage of action with other women (parent groups, church affiliations, “good works” associations, neighborhood action committees, market women’s guilds, etc.). These are all voluntary. The groups are informal, fluidly structured, filled with a sense of hope and good will.
“3. These groups urge, cajole, and guilt-trip (“nag”) men to become involved…. I would characterize this phase as “Please, Herman, come with me to the meeting. It’s helpful. Honest, you’ll like it.”
“4. The men finally become involved. The issue is now Important because it is no longer a “women’s issue.” The men assume leadership. The women permit this because they are relieved that the men are now concerned and active at all, they know that the men will be Taken Seriously, and they know that the men won’t return to future meeting if they’re not the leaders.
“5. Because men’s time is valuable, the leadership positions can no longer be voluntary; the men must be salaried. Funds must therefore be raised. The women raise the money through more voluntarism (making and selling baskets, bake sales, etc.).
“6. The men regard the women as tangential to the issue because the issue is now Political. (Tautologically, if it’s a women’s issue, it’s not important; if it’s an important issue, it doesn’t concern women.) Because of their self-serving myopic definition of women’s issues, the men exclude the women as a political constituency. The men say that prior to this time, the group was “masturbatory– merely talking to those already convinced.” Now, however, the men will build a real ‘movement,’ i.e., the men will confront other men.
“7. A fatal slide in tone occurs– a slide from moral and spiritual// integrity (now regarded as sentimental, idealistic, womanly) into self-righteousness. If the previous activism was church-oriented, for example, the shift is likely to be from a spiritul basis to one of religious fanticism. Fragmentation of the practical from the metaphysical occurs– with the former then being lost in materialist fundamentalism and the latter being lost in religious fundamentalism of various sorts.
“8. The consequence of this fragmentation is the emergence of the “higher good” fallacy, leadeing to an ends-justify-the-means attitude. As abstractions proliferate, the original issues are likely to be forgotten entirely. Unease expressed by the women at this point is dismissed as conservatism, cowardice, liberalism, or divisiveness. Acceptance of this situation separates the girls (the tokens) frrom the women.
“9. The combination of a circumscribed constituency, self-righteousness, and the concept of an abstract higher good introduces manhood as the real issue. Manhood identity now dpends on waging the struggle. Rhetoric, “turf,” tools and weapons, uniforms, become fetshes of that manhood identity, as in Franzer’s concept of contagious magic to the savage mind. The result is a dead end: the shift from living for a cause– e.g., fighting to enhance the quality of living– to dying for a cause now locks into place. Violence. Those who question are traitors.
“10. A politics of hope has become a politics of despair. The goal is now too abstract and absolute to be attainable, nor can manhood be satisfied by less. Cynicism sets in, as does the strategy of provocation and polarization. What once aimed for a humanistic triumph now aims for a purist defeat. Martyrdom. The State obliges.
“The politics beneath the politics was manhood.”

– Robin Morgan – The Demon Lover: On the Sexuality of Terrorism – 1989 – W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.


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