Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Most of this post is going to be similar what I wrote in my post on Radical Political Theory (7/6/08).  It’s based on the theories of Michael Albert and others (as written in the book, Liberating Theory and as an internet tutorial on ZNet).  They basically combine Marxism, anarchism, feminism, and what they refer to as nationalism (as in Black Nationalism, Puerto Rican Nationalism, etc) into something they sometimes call complementary holism.  (Not a great label as they admit.)  

They start by talking about ‘four spheres of life’ which they believe are politics, economy, kinship (family stuff), and culture or community. They map these onto the major radical theories by saying that anarchism has the best analysis of politics, Marxism has the best analysis of economics, feminism has the best analysis of kinship, relationship, and family life, and ‘nationalism’ has the best cultural analysis.  These folks don’t believe that any one analysis or oppression is primary, but these are all interwoven.

These are basically four aspects of society but they admit that there are also two other extra-social aspects: the environment (about which the ecology movement has the best analysis) and our relations with other societies (and here I think the peace and anti-imperialist movements have the best analysis).

My political analysis is simple.  This society is pretty messed up and is ruining the environment and causing lots of problems for other societies.  For detail, check out what the anarchists, Marxists, feminists, nationalists, radical ecologists, and anti-imperialists have to say.

Quote of the Day:  “What the oppressor often succeeds in doing is simply externalizing his fears, projecting them onto the bodies of women, Asians, gays, disabled folks, whoever seems most ‘other’.
“But it is not really difference the oppressor fears so much as similarity.  He fears he will discover in himself the same aches, the same longings…  He fears the immobilization threatened by his own incipient guilt.  He fears he will have to change his life once he has seen himself in the bodies of the people he has called different.” - Cherrie Moraga


vera said...

Re your quote: I object to the tendentious portrayal of the oppressor as one who is afraid, one who is by implication suffering from inner conflicts.

No, the oppressor is addicted to power, fears little, and the suffering people are those the oppressor targets.

MoonRaven said...

I'm afraid we'll have to disagree on this one.

I agree that oppressors get addicted to power, but I also think that the motivation is fear, that the oppressors are not so different from us, that they're scared and all that power masked the fear--even from themselves. (They can pretend that they are powerful and immune.)

I have trouble believing there are just good guys and bad guys. I think we need to stop what some folks are doing and also help them see our common humanity.

vera said...

The reason I am against this POV is that it paints the oppressor as the poor soul that needs help, when it is the *oppressed* who do, first.

There is a vast amount of research that shows that people who are on the aggressive (as opposed to more neurotic) side of the scale have too little fear. Poor brakes. And that is why they behave antisocially. Now that does not mean they are to be labeled "bad guys." (They are often talented, high energy people. Think Wall Street.) But if we hope to get a handle on antisocial behavior, we must recognize that some people are helped by focusing on their fears, while others are helped by focusing on their lack of fear, lack of inhibition, lack of restraint. Very different approaches needed.

MoonRaven said...

Good point. I want to study more of the research on approaches to working with aggressive folks.

I think both oppressor and oppressed need help--but the biggest thing I think that oppressors need help with is to change their behavior.

vera said...

I agree... but this is very difficult to accomplish. Many oppressors get lots of goodies out of oppressing, and their motivation to change is often lacking. The stats are dismal, so far.

The oppressed, on the other hand, are highly motivated to change to improve their situation.

Meanwhile, it would help if helping professionals stopped blabbing about fears, and stopped throwing oppressors into one bag with the oppressed, nah?

MoonRaven said...

All true, but I want to point out that the quote is not from a 'professional', but from a Latina woman writing in a book for and about women of color (This Bridge Called My Back) . I think that listening to the perspectives of people who are dealing with oppression is very important.

vera said...

Absolutely. The fear-based psychologizing that tosses all people into the same sack has spread well beyond just the helping professions. Thank you Dr Freud. :-)