Conservatives’ War on Women

Refuting conservatives’ War on Moms (war on social reproduction):

“According to a 1995 U.N. Human Development Report, ‘If more human activities were treated as market transactions at the prevailing wages, they would yield huge monetary valuations–a staggering $16 trillion… Of this $16 trillion, $11 trillion is the non-monetized, ‘invisible’ contribution of women.’ The work of moms–both of moms who are in the labor force and those who are not–is significant

…with equal resumes and job experiences, mothers (today are) offered $11,000 lower starting salaries than non-mothers (Fathers, on the other hand, (are) offered $6,000 more in starting salaries than non-fathers). Since over 80 percent of women in our nation have children by the time they’re 44 years old, this means the majority of women in our nation are disadvantaged by discrimination at some point in their lives…(W)ith the cost of raising children so high, three-quarters of moms are now in the labor force. And many moms go in and out of the labor force at different times in their lives, sequencing their careers, thus making the distinction between moms who are in the labor force, and moms who are outside of the labor force nearly irrelevant. Many moms have been both”
(K. Rowe Finkbeiner, April 2012).

Finkbeiner points out that 50% of the workforce is now female (Coincidentally, 50% of the population is female.), in major part because the economy has been structured, via the asset-price / cost of living increases and consumer debt that capital depends on, to induce all adults to work to live within the constraints of capitalism. No, it’s not the abject slavery of having no access to money within capitalism (the classic middleclass dependent housewife fate); but (with all due respect to Gertrude,) coercion is coercion is unfreedom is vulnerable to exploitative manipulation by despots.

“But the brouhaha over Hilary Rosen’s injudicious remarks is not really about whether what stay-home mothers do is work. Because we know the answer to that: it depends. When performed by married women in their own homes, domestic labor is work—difficult, sacred, noble work. Ann says Mitt called it more important work than his own, which does make you wonder why he didn’t stay home with the boys himself.

When performed for pay, however, this supremely important, difficult job becomes low-wage labor that almost anyone can do—teenagers, elderly women, even despised illegal immigrants.

But here’s the real magic: when performed by low-income single mothers in their own homes, those same exact tasks—changing diapers, going to the playground and the store, making dinner, washing the dishes, giving a bath—are not only not work; they are idleness itself. … So there it is: the difference between a stay-home mother and a welfare mother is money and a wedding ring. Unlike any other kind of labor I can think of, domestic (reproductive) labor is productive or not, depending on who performs it” —Katha Pollitt, quoted by Corey Robin (April 2012).

Temma Kaplan argues that capitalists are in some historical periods, such as the present, confident about the supply of labor. When confident about the supply of labor, capitalists dismantle welfare, that is, they destroy reproductive social supports as well as democratic supports, and privately pocket “the savings” (the surplus).

As the wealth surplus is hoarded and destroyed, most people are impoverished, and these extreme conditions force particular adaptive relational strategies. Conservatives not only withhold the massive build-up of wealth; they buy popular support for their rule by paying off men with Little King privileges–abuse of women. Hey, it’s free. The poor consequently cannot build cohesive, productive, developmental cross-gender relationships; they cannot build supportive families and communities. It’s a wonderfully self-replicating hierarchical system for the elite. And it means poor women raise kids alone.

“Single women raising children alone or with other women who were not necessarily blood relatives became one of the possible working class family forms back to the 16th century…(P)oor women raising children alone or with kin and friends has been the model for one kind of proletarian family in certain places around the globe for centuries. It has been the family structure of poverty under capitalism.” –Kaplan, Temma. 2002. “The Disappearing Fathers Under Global Capitalism,” pp. 152-157 in Holmstrom, Nancy, ed. The Socialist-feminist Project. NY: MR.)

Decreeing– legislating!–that by submitting to patriarchy, by any means necessary, women will solve poverty = shooting the fish you stuck in your own poverty barrel. It preserves and champions inequality, surplus hoarding and capitals destruction, the sociopathic freedoms of the elite, and poverty, while playing with poor, disrupted, radically-constrained  women’s miseries. It solves no problems. It’s nothing more than bullying. It is conservatism.

Kaplan’s social-feminist theory, BTW, is obviously perfect for explaining Trump and Rightwing populism, and explaining slavery-state antichoice policy in 2019. It also suggests that population reproduction policy is not immaterial to the development of conservatism, as the pro-immigration Open Borders coalition has been trying to insist.

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Law’n’Order Corrupts Absolutely

Authoritarian Law’n’Order is by its very nature corrupt and corrupting. Here, law enforcement officers relate how they fabricated drug charges against innocent people, in order to meet Law’n’Order quotas.

…Once again proving that you are a bona fide idiot, if you think militarized policing and prison slavery build-up is a concession to the working class and an imposition of firm, fatherly (or feminist. whatever.) order. The working class will pay for each and every police and prison job through the nose and then through every other orifice they’ve got.

war trauma and authoritarianism

Last night PBS, which I normally detest as it is for the most part publically-funded elite propaganda, aired a well-done, provacative show which featured interviews with people in various positions vis-a-vis the Vietnam War. It was an “American Experience” special called “Vietnam: A television history” (see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/).

I was shocked that that kind of quality work could come out of mainstream media. I thought the Republicans had wholly ruined PBS along with NPR. But apparently recent events have forced some upper working class people (professionals, like communication professionals) to differentiate working class interests from the hegemonic neoconservative articulation of elite interests. The lesson is that upper working class people will not be such good sell-outs and yes-men when the elites pull neoconservatism on them.

Here are the seven groups that featured in interviews:

(1) The capitalist (financial, political, and military) elites who designed and implemented the US invasion of Vietnam in order to promote their control of the Asian economic-political system via opium, heroin, and oil traffic (see the excellent history by Scott, Peter Dale. 2005. “Drugs and oil: The deep politics of U.S. Asian wars.” Pp. 171-198 in War and State Terrorism, edited by M. Selden and A.Y. So. Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield).
(2) Working class American men who worked and died as soldiers in Vietnam; and one American sister of a soldier.
(3) Vietnamese men who worked as soldiers in Vietnam.
(4) Upper working class students and academic workers who struggled collectively in the U.S. to end the war in Vietnam.
(5) Liberal elite university administrators who disagreed with pro-war elites, but invited the police to repress the students.
(6) Working class police who fought to silence the students.
(7) The communication professionals (media), who presented to the public pro-war elite propaganda, including lies about the outcome of military clashes and lies about protest in the U.S.

There are some startling dynamics among these groups that I think must be discussed. I address here the dynamics between soldiers and other working class people.

While the working class American men who worked as soldiers in Vietnam were surprised to find that the elites running the war were willing to send soldiers off to be killed for unclear reasons, the soldiers had limited exposure to those elites, and reserved their most virulent hatred for the working class people around them who did not get sent to war and instead struggled to end the war from within the U.S. In fact, decades later, both police and soldiers expressed the desire to be able to kill the non-militarized Americans who did not support war.

This is surprising because elites’ wars, prosecuted without concern for working class lives, often need to be preempted or stopped by the struggle of working class people. If they don’t struggle with authorities and elites to protect the worth and quality of their lives, working class people will be used as a huge supply of not just labor power, but cannon fodder. When I say this, I mean this is true for all working class people, including “middle” class workers. When all is said and done, under capitalism, elites can’t see working class people as anything other than commodities, tools, resources; and working class lives and quality of life are not going to be taken into decision-making consideration without working class people struggling to put their own interests on the table.

The reason for the direction of the soldiers’ hatred, one of the ex-soldiers explained, is that he cannot agree that Vietnam was was not a war for American “freedom” (in other words, an ill-defined, sublime good); he would not be able, psychologically, to accept the idea that his soldier friends died horribly for no sublime cause. He clung to the idea that war is fought for “freedom” and he hated anyone who would say that the war was prosecuted for the machiavellian advantages of elites.

I suspect a bolstering reason why soldiers direct their hatred at their non-soldier fellow workingclass men and women:

Soldiers and police are heavily trained to regard non-militarized non-elites as subhuman. This is pure authoritarian training. Not only designated “enemies” are dehumanized, but working class people who are not militarized are dehumanized through military training, and daily military discourse and socialization. The authoritarian military training is: The proof of humanity is to act as an efficient tool for authority, and, later, to experience trauma doing so.

There is a consensus that non-military working class people did not psychologically support returning militarized working class people after the Vietnam War, but I can see there being difficulty there, because militarized people are so thoroughly trained to regard and treat their non-militarized peers as subhuman. They can’t engage with them substantively. It would be very hard indeed for these groups of people to connect, as war trauma would further cement the ex-soldiers’ authoritarian training and alienate working class men and women from each other.

In a way, it is maybe useful to think of many of the men who return from war as angry ghosts, carrying on their backs the angry ghosts of their friends who died before the war could be ended. They can only demand the silent attention of those who did not endure their trauma, the “living” who must, in the soldiers’ view, only listen passively to the soldiers’ experiential trauma, the story of cruel death. Ghosts are blind and deaf to the experience and struggles of “the living,” and cannot see that the living do care and try to stop more working class people from being sent to cruel deaths. Soldiers see that anti-war struggle as self-interested, since it stems the tide of war and does not benefit their already-fallen comrades. By contrast, true altruism, in their haunted minds, is single-minded loyalty to dead soldiers. Justice, for the ex-soldier/ghost, inheres in the continual, horrific sacrifice of working class lives. I think that this is akin to the psychology of the genocide survivor who feels it unjust that she lives while her family and friends were killed. Justice becomes obliteration.

As a working class person who tries to end the elites’ war, it is maybe wisest to resign yourself to the fact that if you succeed, after war, you will have a population of angry ghosts living amongst you. It is the working class that is haunted by war. Elites live blithely.

J Edgar Hoover Syndrome II

Paul Schafer, former Nazi Luftwaffe medic turned “Guru of Sadism,” was finally arrested in March (2005) in the cult town he founded with German emigres, Villa Baviera in Chile. Called Colonia Dignidad until Pinochet’s dictatorship fell in 1990, Villa Baviera was the home for Schafer’s secret, paramilitary religious group.

Pinochet’s regime turned over some of its leftist victims to Schafer and his cultists. The prisoners were tortured and murdered in the catacombs built under Villa Baviera, as the colony’s choir sang for the entertainment of Pinochet’s wife Lucia in an auditorium in the town above. The town maintained a “hospital” where anyone who displeased Schafer was drugged and tortured. In totalitarian nazi fashion, Schafer, called “The Permanent Uncle” by followers, controlled every aspect of the cultists’ personal lives, including whom should marry and when. And for much of the twentieth century, Schafer chose boys between the ages of 8 and 12 to sexually abuse.

After decades of protection by Chilean military elites, in 1998 Schafer was finally charged with sodomy and pedophilia against 26 neighboring peasant boys, whose families complained. Schafer dropped out of sight, and Villa Baviera was controlled by his proteges, who threatened cultists with his return to keep order.

Now that Schafer is 85 and in prison, residents of Villa Baviera take refuge in silence and denial, refusing to discuss the human rights atrocities carried out by their community, and only blaming Schafer for the molestation of their own boys. They are comforted by the wealth the colony has accumulated.

Explaining the effects of the right-wing, Christian, authoritarian terror that reigned over and through the community, psychiatrist Luis Peebles (a former political prisoner and victim of Villa Baviera) said, “These people are accomplices to horrendous crimes, yes, but they have been programmed like robots and were treated as slaves, robbed of their own human rights.” The new leaders of the colony, men in their 40s and 30s, were almost without exception sexually molested by the Permanent Uncle.

From the New York Times, May 16, 2005, page A4.

The J Edgar Hoover syndrome continues

The Spokane Washington mayor James West is a Republican, former Washington State Senate leader, and staunch opponent of gay rights. And he is a closeted homosexual and pedophile.

It has been found that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, while he was a Sherriff’s Deputy and a Boy Scout Leader, West was accused of molesting boys. The Spokane newspaper recently conducted a sting operation, which resulted in West trying to seduce what he thought was an 18-year-old man in a chat room with autographed sports memorabilia and a City Hall internship. West has since allowed that he regularly visits gay chat rooms. Apparently hurt by the public revelations and eager to strategize a way to rescue his reputation, West has taken a leave of absence from his mayoral position (New York Times 5/10/05: A16).

What we can learn from West’s example appears to be that authoritarian, right-wing politics are fundamentally about preserving a world of deceit in which privileged, belligerent men can enjoy clandestine sexual arousal. Perversity is about getting off on exercising domination over other people so that so-designated social inferiors are compelled to accept whatever stories you make up about the world–your exalted, pure-hearted self, their inferiority, etc.–including your fairytales about sexual propriety. Perversity is about setting up arbitrary social rules (gay people bad) and then violating the rules clandestinely. The rush of power of violating a rule you domineeringly enforce on others turns authoritarian people on. You knew it in elementary school; it’s time to remember–the bullies are the perverts.

Madison on aristocratic-military rule

While Madison, Hamilton, and Jackson collectively laid a deplorably anti-democratic foundation for the US, you can’t argue with this quote:

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

James Madison,
Constitutional Convention [June 29, 1787]