This week, The Leftorium asks: What radical or revolutionary movement or person has shaped or challenged your thinking, and how can we incorporate those ideas in our daily struggle against rapacious capitalism?
For me, the thought of Abdullah Ocalan offers a provocative challenge to existing materialist critique. You may be familiar with the sign, “Trump is the symptom. Capitalism is the disease.” Jineology – or the science of women – takes the argument further, “Capitalism is the symptom, and Patriarchy is the disease.” All enslavement, institutionalized injustice, and social stratification meant to ensure one person controls another is derivative of the original enslavement: the dominant male’s enslavement of women. So fundamental is this enslavement to our social order Ocalan writes, “Without an analysis of woman’s status in the hierarchical system and the conditions under which she was enslaved, neither the state nor the classed system that it rests upon can be understood. Woman is not targeted as the female gender, but as the founder of the matriarchal society.” Capitalism, according to Ocalan, is merely the latest and most sinister form of the dominant male’s control over the human condition: one in which every aspect of our mind, body, and spirit, is priced and sold.
Jineology presents the neolithic era as the original, and ideal, political order. Maternal values were supreme. People were esteemed not by how much they accumulated, but by how much they distributed – indeed individual surplus at all was forbidden. For thousands of years peaceful, communal society, led by women, which produced astonishing scientific achievements such as agricultural, domestication of animals, the cart and wheel, and irrigation was the order of the day.
The dominant male sought counter-revolution. The ancient shaman introduced social hierarchy, and myth and religion that codified man’s dominance over woman. Communal economy was forgotten as the dominant male hoarded wealth. To manage this astonishing wealth and power over fellow humans, the dominant male introduced the nation-state, designed deliberately to separate the individual from political decision making, and ultimately, her own humanity. The nation-state proved inadequate to maintain the dominant male’s stranglehold, so capitalism, the most insidious tool of the dominant male, was created.
To save ourselves from ruin Ocalan argues, we need a radical departure from our current patriarchal mindset to a maternal mindset. Humankind must return to the communal economy, the nation-state must be abolished for autonomous communes, women need to be freed from their shackles, and the healing of the world can begin. Returning to a maternal world is of such critical importance Ocalan writes, “Indeed, to kill the dominant man is the fundamental principle of socialism. This is what killing power means: to kill the one-sided domination, the inequality and intolerance. Moreover, it is to kill fascism, dictatorship and despotism.”
Ocalan’s ideas are not without dilemma. There is an inherit contradiction in a man developing the theory that will liberate women (Ocalan ludicrously claims that “weeping” is a consequence of women’s enslavement, and not a natural expression of emotion). Dismantling the nation-state to return to global communal economy seems almost impossible to conceive. Ocalan’s Kurdish acolytes have happily partnered with Imperialist America in their endeavor to create a new political order in Syria, a strategy almost certain to end in ruin (“Promise them [the Kurds] anything, give them what they get, and fuck them if they can’t take a joke” – Henry Kissinger). Still, radical and revolutionary ideas that profoundly challenge our worldview merit our attention, consideration, and scrutiny.
In news closer to home, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made the rookie mistake of assuming good faith from notorious right wing propaganda Firing Line. Margaret Hoover – granddaughter of the man who brought the worst economic calamity America has ever seen, yet has the temerity to lecture us on national television – greeted Ocasio-Cortez with a smile on her face and a knife behind her back. Ocasio-Cortez was caught flat-footed, especially on the question of Palestine.
There are two lessons to be learned: first, never under any circumstances go on right wing media. Firing Line was reactionary propaganda dressed up in a suit back in the 60’s when William F. Buckley was advocating for Jim Crow, it’s right wing propaganda today. There’s no utility whatsoever in playing conservatives’ gotcha games. Second, Democratic-Socialists, and political insurgents of all stripes on the left, have to be twice as prepared as their adversaries. You have to have twice the knowledge, twice the arrows in your quiver, because if the question about Palestine doesn’t trip you up, Margaret Hoover’s got a question about Burkina Faso next to make you look ill-informed.
If you were disappointed by Ocasio-Cortez’s response to Palestine, don’t be: she’s brand new, and mistakes are to be expected. There’s also a congressional candidate with the depth of knowledge necessary to challenge the existing, stultified foreign policy thought: Leslie Cockburn. Get Mrs. Cockburn to Congress, let her team-up with Ocasio-Cortez, and a new voice against the current imperial order can emerge.
This week in music: Florence Reece, “Which Side Are You On?”
“My husband and me was in the strike in the 30’s – bloody Harlan County. And I do mean it was bloody, too. And the men know there was nothing to lose but their chains, and their union to gain. So hang in there.” – Florence Reece