Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Fetish of Individualism Strikes Again

“A debate has arisen within the Occupy movement about gender equality and how it relates to the interests of the 99 percent. Leela Yellesetty explains why the Occupy movement must embrace women's rights.” -- Socialist Worker, 13 December 2011
Sigh. Once again, the “Left” dissipates into a pot pourri of “me, myself and mine” proving, once again, its incapacity to focus on structural economic issues.

The fetish of individualism is so pronounced in the United States that even putative socialists are indisposed to thinking in social terms. “Socialism” becomes the label stuck atop an aggregated heap of personal piss-offs and entitlements.

It is thus that the average leftist protest becomes an “all inclusive” carnival parade of issues: Out of Iraq! Free Biafra! Seattle Clinic Defense! Support Teachers Local 876! Gay Marriage Now! Legalize Marijuana! But All and Everything is not a focus. Is it any wonder the “Left” never gets anywhere?

The “Left” -- if it wants to be truly left -- needs to focus on structural issues; that is, on issues that concern how the economy is controlled and managed as a whole. Once the Left focuses on our economic modus operandi, the qui bonos will fall into place. Squawking chicks do not gather the worm.

The reasoning process of squawking chicks is illustrated by Yellesetty who declaims that “women are disproportionately impacted by the budget cuts that are shredding the social safety net.” Yellesetty acknowledges that the greatest disproportion lies with the “1 percent” who reap the benefits of “the most unfair tax structure in the country.” Nevertheless, her point is that, as a woman, she is more of a victim than gays, blacks, Native Americans, one-legged veterans and, of course, white working males. And so, a general, structural phenomenon gets particularized behind the veneer of an objective, sociological measurement -- in this case of the degree of impact.

From this artifice of Superior Victimhood, Yellesetty then turns her wrath upon the Occupy Movement which she says “is not immune to the sexism that is pervasive in society as a whole.” In other words, where women are concerned, the 99 Percent are as bad as the One Percent. Her proof? “A case in point was the sexist "Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street" video I wrote about a few months back ('No place for sexism in Occupy').”

Ah yes! In America, even progressives are puritanical. One supposes that Yellesetty would insist that we all march with mortifiers strapped to our thighs. No impure thoughts on the road to Perfect (Feminist) Socialism! (So much for Soviet Life pictures of muscled males and full breasted women building dams or bringing in the sheaves).

From this premise, once removed, Yellesetty then declaims against the “gender inequality” which she says pervades the Occupy Movement. By “gender equality” Yellesetty means: “the question of reproductive rights.” And in her lexicon “reproductive rights” includes “defend[ing] clinics against the anti-choice bigots who regularly picket them.”

Since men don’t reproduce, the word “equality” is a soft way of saying that men get to have sex without consequences and, therefore, so should women. And of course, Yellesety’s right to abort includes suppressing the First Amendment rights of those who disagree with Roe v. Wade because they are bigots who should not be permitted to “interfere” with “gender equality.”

From this rather dubious landing point, Yellesetty leaps to her conclusion which is that the Occupy Movement should make “reproductive rights” (and bigot-suppression) a central demand.

The leap is accomplished by unvarnished insult. According to Yellesetty, such “bigots” (like those who interfere with gender equality) include those in the Occupy Movement who think that the movement, should be focus “exclusively on corporate greed and the issues that unite the 99 percent.” Period. Q.E.D.

Actually, the economic inequities of capitalism produce “impacts” far more extensive and injurious than even an outright denial of abortion rights. Yellesetty might not want to hear that, but it’s a fact.

Under the spurious banner of “gender equality,” Yellesetty’s demand is fundamentally a-social. Its focus is on a paradigmatic individual right. The merits and contours of this right are not the point. Whatever they may be, they do not concern how society is structured and functions as a whole.

Neither do gay rights, black rights, disabled rights, gun rights, peer-to-peer rights, copyrights, prayer-rights, enlistment rights, victim rights and the whole panoply of squawking-chicks-assembled rights.

Such divisive hot button issues are honey and nectar to the One Percent, whose focus is exclusively on profit and screwing the 99 percent. Why do banks and corporations fund both parties? Why do they collaborate and coddle with Pinochet, Putin and Deng Xiaoping? Because ultimately they don’t give a rat’s rump about the very “hot button issues” they stir up. They have a modus operandi and it is called capitalism.

At bottom, capitalism is non-ideological. It is an economic technique. It can only be met by a counter modus operandi -- an equal but opposite material economy that relegates ideological squabbles to the back of the bus.

©Woodchipgazette, 2011.