Category Archives: link roundup

Materialism and Patriarchy: an Interview with comrade Jasmine Curcio

I’m linking to an excellent interview with scholar Jasmine Curcio on feminism and the left, printed yesterday in the North Star (ht: Sarah). Amazing points contained within!

Indeed it was a regression within liberal feminism, as entrenched and lucid feminist analysis of women’s exploitation in the sex trade — made by women prior to the first-wave, and by feminists in the second-wave — was abandoned. A large impetus of second-wave feminism was the male sexual revolution, spurring its critique of patriarchal sexuality in its various manifestations, especially as the models of sex promoted to both right-wing women in marriage via Freudian ideology to serve their husbands’ desire and fetishes, and the sexual model of “free love” promoted by left-wing men. Never mind that the concept of free love was first articulated by women of the first-wave, such as Emma Goldman, who sought to escape the institution of marriage at the same time as ending the culture requiring women to perform sexual favours and engage in a subordinate sexuality to men, in order to gain recognition, affirmation, and most often, money and shelter. Nowadays, liberal feminism bends itself over backwards to defend the patriarchal choices of individuals who self-identify as feminists, and trying to fight this culture with actual, materialist, feminism is a difficult and often frustrating task.

C.D.V.: Why do you think Marxism itself has become a mostly male discourse since the 1970s?

J.C.: The reaction to the second-wave of feminism by many men on the left was not a small matter. It is not really mentioned today, since hindsight focuses more on the successes of a feminist movement than its failures, its theory, or even just the general historical circumstances. But it was well-documented, by feminists such as Christine Delphy in France in her article “Our Friends and Ourselves.” Aside from the interruption of the early feminist meetings and the misogynist remarks made by various men —which were commonplace in the late ’60s and ’70s with the rise of a new wave of feminism and women’s consciousness of their oppression as women — reaction did occur, subtly, in the realm of theory, which is not to say it was done exclusively by men, but overall it happened that it was for the benefit of men in not addressing their privilege or their consciousness. Attempts at independent feminist theorizing, particularly around patriarchy, were dishonestly construed as apolitical. The hostility towards women’s attempts at autonomous organizing materialized in the form of constructed orthodoxies of Marxism on questions of sexual politics. And while the autonomous consciousness-raising groups faded away at the tail end of the 1980s, Marxist organizations remained and so did their theory from this period. I am not speaking of socialist feminism, which did acknowledge the importance of women’s organization and engaged with and embraced the theoretical understanding of the system of patriarchy that they and radical feminists largely uncovered.

And so many years on, feminist discussions around the left continue to be subtly dominated by men and their perspective, with the aid of theoretical frameworks that marked disdain towards feminism in decades past. Men have become gatekeepers of feminist discussion, and many debates take place with ignorance, disdain, and sometimes subtle tactics of bullying. Phenomena that lie outside of the bourgeois-proletarian contradiction are not really taken on board as material facts, but either made to fit with constructed orthodoxy or they are discarded. So not much of a productive and open discussion is had. Though I’m sure many men do participate in good faith, theoretical blinders from the past are not a good way to contemplate feminist questions. Neither is uncritical acceptance of what appears to pass as a real feminist movement.

link roundup

Good Old Laissez’s Faire post on beating the polygraph.

NPR takes money from fracking interest groups and decides to pit farmers against Hollywood liberals in their report on why fracking isn’t allowed in New York.

USA connected to death squads in South America? Ya don’t say! Here’s the latest on more Honduran fuckery from the Obama administration. 

Guardian Goggles: Because life’s too short to think for yourself.

link roundup

Joan Smith writes a wonderful article on the Nordic Model in Sweden and how it has developed over the last 13 years to dramatically cut down on trafficking and prostitution in general by arresting and charging johns, not prostituted women.

Michael Behar writes on terrifying “earthquake swarms” caused in Oklahoma, Arkansas by fracking:

I’m not the only one getting rebuffed. There is “a lack of companies cooperating with scientists,” complains seismologist Armbruster. “I was naive and thought companies would work with us. But they are stonewalling us, saying they don’t believe they are causing the quakes.” Admitting guilt could draw lawsuits and lead to new regulation. So it’s no surprise, says Rubinstein, “that industry is going to keep data close to their chest.”

A Wisconsin man faces 5 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for participating in an Anonymous-led DDOS protest against Koch interests. Pulling a face out of the crowd and punishing to deflate protest tactics – if they are pursuing them so vigorously  they must be dangerous.

Woman fired for being homeless.  What else do you say to that?


link roundup

Nicholas Shaxson explores the mostly-empty, most expensive residential address in London, One Hyde Park, and how things came to be this way in London:

Hollingsworth notes in Londongrad that the oligarchs he studies became rich “not by creating new wealth but rather by insider political intrigue and exploiting the weakness of the rule of law.” Arkady Gaydamak, a Russian-Israeli oilman and financier, explained his elite view of accumulating wealth to me in 2005. “With all the regulations, the taxation, the legislation about working conditions, there is no way to make money,” he said. “It is only in countries like Russia, during the period of redistribution of wealth—and it is not yet finished—when you can get a result. . . . How can you make $50 million in France today? How?”

Russia’s former privatization czar Anatoly Chubais put it less delicately: “They steal and steal. They are stealing absolutely everything.”

London real-estate agents confirm that these commodity plutocrats dethroned the financiers some time before the financial crisis hit. “I can’t remember the last time I sold a property to a banker,” says Stephen Lindsay, of the real-estate agency Savills. “It’s been hard for anyone to compete with the Russians, the Kazakhs. They are all in oil, gas—that is what they do. Construction—all that kind of stuff.”

Even the Arab money has taken a backseat to the new buyers, says Hersham. “The wealth of the ex-Soviets is incredible,” he says. “Unless you are talking about [Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd] Blankfein or [Stephen Schwarzman], the head of Blackstone, or the head of one of the very big banks, there is no driver from the City of London at these levels anymore.”

Greg Palast was on the Chavez beat, and now circles back around for Vice in order to explain why the Comandante was considered so evil.

John Pilger writes quite a good old-man-rant entitled “The New Propaganda is Liberal. The New Slavery is Digital.”  Old man salute, John! From a young woman…

Today’s “message” of grotesque inequality, social injustice and war is the propaganda of liberal democracies. By any measure of human behaviour, this is extremism. When Hugo Chavez challenged it, he was abused in bad faith; and his successor will be subverted by the same zealots of the American Enterprise Institute, Harvard’s Kennedy School and the “human rights” organisations that have appropriated American liberalism and underpin its propaganda. The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism.” He wrote, “All is normality on display. For [Nazi] goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work [in the White House], planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Whereas a generation ago, dissent and biting satire were allowed in the “mainstream,” today their counterfeits are acceptable and a fake moral zeitgeist rules. “Identity” is all, mutating feminism and declaring class obsolete. Just as collateral damage covers for mass murder, “austerity” has become an acceptable lie. Beneath the veneer of consumerism, a quarter of Greater Manchester is reported to be living in “extreme poverty.”

link roundup

Corbin Hiar gets offered his very own safari from a shadowy member of the ICCF while tracking down corruption in Washington, with some insight into the agenda in the developing world:

You realize that it’s their very culture, it’s the history of their peoples that’s at risk in the modern era where there are not a lot of solutions, and where a lot of organizations think the answer is to remove the people. Where the answer really is to include the people. Where the answer is to release the marketplace. Where, if these people rather than competing with these animals can live complimentarily—and I mean to benefit from them. That the value of these natural resources can be unleashed so that it benefits them.

Can you believe the culture once saw police as friendly neighborhood cops? Michael Arria interviews Radley Balko (whadda power name!) on the militarization of police in the United States. 

Good news comrades! All that personal data you’re offering up online can be used to predict if you are a drug addict or a child of a broken home. Welcome to the greatest job interview of your future life:

As ProPublica‘s Lois Beckett explains, data brokers sell information about everything from “whether you’re pregnant or divorced or trying to lose weight.” If you just read 18 wedding announcements on the New York Timessite, for example, Facebook knows that—but you might not know that until the engagement ring advertisements start popping up on your Facebook profile page.

San Francisco rolls out their new tribute to free speech: Pam Geller’s venomous ad campaign against Muslims reaches a new fever pitch as the ads claim that Muslims consider killing Jews as a pious act. Of course, the city, not wanting to make their coffers dirty with blood money, considerately donate the proceeds to a completely unrelated campaign.

link roundup

How did Denam Drew feel about people watching his brain while he looked at shoes?

“It’s a little weird but it’s not too invasive. I don’t have too crazy reactions to shoes,” he said, walking through the mall with his head wired up in an EEG cap and still wearing the eye tracking goggles.

Capitalism. Am I right? CBC dives into neuromarketing.

Meanwhile, scientists are quickly finding new ways to make you smooth and supple between the ears by burning your pleasure center for a 10% better chance at kicking heroin.

Politico covers the new embarassing AIG ad campaign thanking American citizens for filling the 1%’s pockets with even more undeserved and unearned money.

I’d hear this sort of thing all the time when I was living in Palestine, but it seems as though Israel is getting more serious about keeping foreigners sympathetic to Palestinians out of the 48.

Despite it all, Egypt’s labor movement is stronger than ever and this is threatening to the powers that currently be. The unsung heroes of the Arab Spring get a work-up in the Egyptian Independent.

Meanwhile, and thank god, Amith Gupta takes on the orientalism surrounding the recent protests against rape in India for Jadaliyya.


links roundup

Dennis Kosuth reviews the general body count of life under capitalism for the Socialist Worker.

Tel Aviv University objecting to supporting settler-run dig, mainly due to fear of a cultural and educational boycott.

New York Times reports on class’s role in education success. Well gosh, who’d have thought?

Anyone care to guess how many children Israel arrested this year? It’s 900. 

Interesting story in Counterpunch on how Rupert Murdoch quite boldly tried to buy the US Presidency in 2012. 


links roundup

James Mollison takes a look at childhood bedrooms from nine different countries for Mother Jones.

Sarah Leonard explores the ramifications and meaning of Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo! and a pregnant mother who works 160 hour weeks for The Jacobin.

Amanda Marcotte of Salon explores the scandal of the Good Men Project publishing rape stories – from the rapist’s perspective.

An oldie but new for me (I don’t have a subscription to the NYT ha): Steven Greenhouse reports on the rising tide and tribulations of our growing American army of part time employees. 

Īáñ Œ Gøødrüm has another take on the holiday film season and it’s throbbing obsession with slavery – both Lincoln and Django.

Rhizzone user “stegosaurus” has transcribed and bound English language versions of the Maoist classic “Selected Essays on the Study of Philosophy by Workers, Peasants and Soldiers” for free. From the editor’s note:

The broad masses of workers, peasants and soldiers have written excellent essays telling how they study and apply Chairman Mao’s philosophic thinking in their revolutionary struggle. The nine selected here are only a small part. They are factual and reason things out, are pungent in style and set forth a clear-cut point of view. Vividly reflecting on the rich gains of China’s workers, peasants and soldiers from living study and application of Chairman Mao’s philosophic thinking, they are eloquent proof that workers, peasants and soldiers should and can master philosophy, and thus declare total bankruptcy for the fallacy that “philosophy is mysterious.”

Download here: PDF || EPUB || MOBI