I don't know about you, but I am quite sick of hearing the same thing over and over again (under different headings/titles). No, I am not talking about Lebanese newspapers. I am talking about leftists' redundancy and the attempt to paint the movement as an intellectual one (as if that means that one knows one's facts). Moreover, I feel that such strict adherence to intellectualism is the result of the inability (or unwillingness) to address issues that should be or should've been addressed. That is not to say that intellectualism should be abandoned altogether. All I'm saying is that there is a place and time for everything. But it seems that some people and groups in Lebanon are in love with the concept of idolizing "intellectuals" and think that activism is all about bringing "renowned" speakers for talks at this or that university. What pushed me to write this entry? Well, for starters, there is a talk at AUB tomorrow, and the guest speaker will be talking about "U.S Oil Corporations in Iraq". Like we've never heard of that 10 billion times. You know, even the local shepherd Mkha'il (believe it or not, his sheep still graze here in Qornet Shahwan) knows about U.S oil corporations in Iraq. Come to think of it, I suppose I suffer from bias against shepherds or something.
And then of course there are the Chomskyites (did I say some people have Chomsky patches on their jackets?) who seem more keen on turning leftist groups into Chomsky fan clubs (in addition to March 14 fan clubs). Well, I never liked the guy to be honest. I think he's a boring speaker and in fact a boring writer (except for his excellently-documented book The Fateful Triangle) and a very classical thinker. I have been reading Class Warfare, a collection of his interviews with David Barsamian, and ironically he struggles most with the question of feminism. I quote:
DB When you were in Chicago in October, a woman in the audience asked you, in a pretty straight-ahead question, how come you don't factor gender into your analysis? You pretty much agreed with her, but you really didn't answer her question.
In fact, I've been writing about it quite a bit in recent books in connection with structural adjustment, globalization of production, and imposition of industrialized export-oriented agriculture. In all cases, women are the worst victims. Also in some of these latest articles. What we discussed the other day about the effect on families is essentially gender war. The very fact that women's work is not considered work is an ideological attack. As I pointed out, it's somewhere between lunacy and idiocy. The whole welfare "debate," as it's called, is based on the assumption that raising children isn't work. It's not like speculating on stock markets. That's real work. So if a woman is taking care o a kid, she's not doing anything. Domestic work altogether is not considered work because women do it. That gives an extraordinary distortion to the nature of the economy. It amounts to transfer payments rom working women, from women altogether and working women in particular, to others. They don't get social security for raising a child. You do get social security for other things. The same with every other benefit. I maybe haven't written as much about such material as I should have, probably not. But it's a major phenomenon, very dramatic now.
All of this is a major phenomenon in contemporary American affairs and in fact in the history of capitalism. Part of the reason why capitalism looks successful is it's always had a lot of slave labor, half the population. What women are doing isn't counted.
DB I've never heard you, for example, use the term "patriarchy." While not wanting to hold you to the fire with particular terms, is it a concept that you're comfortable with?
I don't know if I use the term, but I certainly use the concept. If I'm asked about what I mean by anarchism, I always point out that what it means is an effort to undermine any form of illegitimate authority, whether it's in the home or between men and women or parents and children or corporations and workers or the state and its people. It's all forms of authority that have to justify themselves and almost never can. But it's true, I haven't emphasized it (Class Warfare, p. 53-54)
Now, I had a mini-debate with a Marxist (or a communist or a Trotskyist or a Leninist, who knows, depends on the day, I guess) on feminism, and he insisted that patriarchy not only was not responsible for the prevalent class structure, but also that it did not factor into class relations. I challenged him to respond to my points but so far he has not. He seems to be one of those "here, read this, so and so [a woman] says that patriarchy has nothing to do with this". So I ask, "how does that prove that patriarchy has nothing to do with it?" I get the following reply: "I'm telling you, she's a woman, and if a woman said that about patriarchy [and feminism] then it must be true". Umm, I guess that would have many implications. Just imagine a Palestinian on Israeli government payroll claiming to be a "moderate Arab" and saying that Israeli policies do not play a negative role in the conflict. Just imagine and compare. Will my beloved progressive
Marxist communist Trotskyist Leninist [or some other-ist]ever come out and say, "he's a Palestinian, and if a Palestinian said that about Israel then it must be true". Now I am counting on the Chomskyites to come out and say that "Chomsky is a man, and if a man said that about patriarchy then it must be true."
I shan't bore you more with boring themes. I believe that patriarchy has been talked about too much and done nothing about – at all. This is actually the problem with feminism and feminists. Besides, can't you men-hating feminists hear, some men (
Marxists communists Trotskyists Leninists [or some other-ists]) are actually complaining that feminism is "reverse sexism". They insist they are not indoctrinated with patriarchal values but are, ironically, concerned with "reverse sexism" and "reverse sexism" only. I am not sure how a Marxist communist Trotskyist Leninist [or some other-ist] who does not acknowledge the sexist nature of class relations would know what "reverse sexism" is about. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is not that difficult a trick, I suppose.
It's a shame that I will be unable to attend this ever-creative talk tomorrow. Instead I will be enjoying a day-long trip to Jbeil (Byblos) with some company. Seriously though, I am in a very cynical mood, so it's actually good that I will be unable to make it. After all, I wouldn't want to spoil it for some of our "progressive comrades" who would be listening attentively and taking down notes so that they would go around and say "I was there when so and so said this!"
Now if you'll excuse me, I will go and mark some papers. Did I say undergrads here at LAU don't know how to put two words of English together properly? But what am I saying? This is heresy! I am insulting those prestigious Lebanese schools (I must be pro-Syrian?), International College, Saint Joseph, Jesus & Mary, among others. Shame on me. I will get lost now.