Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Ideological Purity

Flavia rightfully called FLG out on his Feminism qua Marxism post.

First, she wrote:
This is only a side point to the content of your post, but I think this kind of policing of ideologies or affiliations (regardless of whether they're one's own or someone else's) serves no good purpose, unless it's to shut down debate and declare victory: I know what a real feminist/Republican/Christian/Nietzschean is, and you're not it!

FLG then responded in part:
my point was really limited to the members of the "official" feminist complex. The one's who buy into that buy with it certain Marxist assumptions. If a individual isn't aware of it, then they haven't thought it all the way through.

She then explains:
I'm also troubled by the tendency of people outside a group to produce something they believe to be a trump card--a proof of intellectual incoherency or hypocrisy or whatever--to deny others the affiliation they claim, often with perfectly good reason (I'm not saying that's what you were doing, just that you reminded me of that move): he's pro-life, so he can't be a Democrat! She's an Evangelical Christian, so she can't be a feminist!

Few of us are ideologically pure enough to stand that kind of purge--and insisting on such purity is both intellectually and politically impoverishing.

So I agree that there are feminists who "haven't thought through" some of the positions they espouse. But I don't agree that every feminist who seems in some way establishmentarian--who participates in the feminist blogger/academic complex--IS a Marxist, or takes an essentially Marxist view of female labor.

FLG is troubled by this last response. Flavia's correct. And it's pretty shitty to describe all members of the feminist establishment as fundamentally Marxist. FLG doesn't want to put so many people in tiny intellectual boxes.

So, perhaps FLG can phrase this better -- the institutions of the feminist establishment ultimately accept Marxist assumptions. However, FLG fears that too many people involved with those organizations are unaware of these underlying assumptions.

This is true much in the same way that the IMF and, to a lesser extent, the World Bank are founded upon capitalist assumptions. Perhaps there are Marxists who work in either organization, but the institutions themselves are capitalist. Yet, FLG thinks that those who work for those organizations are more explicitly aware of the assumptions. Whereas, he fears many feminists are focusing on specific policies and not the underlying assumptions.

In complete fairness, this could be some sort of subtle gender bias on FLG's part being that the IMF people are mostly men, he thinks, and the feminists mostly women, but he doesn't think so. His interactions with feminist activists and speakers almost always leaves him with the impression that the vast, vast majority are focused on a laundry list of policies, which is to say the trees rather than the forest.

Nevertheless, Flavia was right to call FLG out.

1 comment:

Flavia said...

Rather decent of you, FLG.

One of the reasons I read your blog--well, in addition to my burning curiosity about what you're listening to--is your willingness to revisit & rethink your positions, and to engage with a wide range of perspectives.

I'd like to believe that's true of me, too. But it's certainly true of this 'ere blog.

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