Analysis of ‘Taxi Driver’

Taxi Driver is a psychological thriller filmed in 1976, written by Paul Schrader, directed by Martin Scorsese (who also has a cameo or two in the film), and starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks, Leonard HarrisCybill Shepherd, and Peter Boyle. It is ranked #52 on the AFI’s top 100 movies of all time.

Here are some famous quotes:

  1. “May 10th. Thank God for the rain which has helped wash away the garbage and trash off the sidewalks. I’m workin’ long hours now, six in the afternoon to six in the morning. Sometimes even eight in the morning, six days a week. Sometimes seven days a week. It’s a long hustle but it keeps me real busy. I can take in three, three fifty a week. Sometimes even more when I do it off the meter. All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take ’em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me.” –Travis Bickle

2. “Each night when I return the cab to the garage, I have to clean the cum off the back seat. Some nights, I clean off the blood.” –Bickle

3. “Twelve hours of work and I still can’t sleep. Damn. Days go on and on. They don’t end.” –Bickle

4. “All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don’t believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention. I believe that someone should become a person like other people.” –Bickle

5. “I first saw her at Palantine Campaign headquarters at 63rd and Broadway. She was wearing a white dress. She appeared like an angel. Out of this filthy mess, she is alone. They… cannot… touch… her.” –Bickle

6. “Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man.” –Bickle

7. “I called Betsy again at her office and she said maybe we’d go to a movie together after she gets off work tomorrow. That’s my day off. At first she hesitated but I called her again and then she agreed. Betsy, Betsy. Oh no, Betsy what? I forgot to ask her last name again. Damn. I got to remember stuff like that.” –Bickle

8. “I realize now how much she’s just like the others – cold and distant, and many people are like that. Women for sure. They’re like a union.” –Bickle

9. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” –Bickle, looking at himself in a mirror (ranked #10 in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.)

10. [in an anniversary card to his parents] “Dear Father and Mother: July is the month I remember which brings not only your wedding anniversary but also Father’s Day and Mother’s birthday. I’m sorry I can’t remember the exact dates, but I hope this card will take care of them all. I’m sorry again I cannot send you my address like I promised to last year.” –Bickle

11. “When we came up with our slogan, ‘We are the People,’ when I said let the people rule, I felt that I was being somewhat overly optimistic. I must tell you that I am more optimistic now than ever before. The people are rising to the demands that I have made on them. The people are beginning to rule. I feel it is a groundswell. I know it will continue through the primary. I know it will continue in Miami. And I know it will rise to an unprecedented swell in November.” –Senator Charles Palantine

12. “Walt Whitman, that great American poet, spoke for all of us when he said: ‘I am the man. I suffered. I was there.’ Today, I say to you, We Are The People, we suffered, we were there. We the People suffered in Vietnam. We the People suffered, we still suffer from unemployment, inflation, crime and corruption.” –Palantine

13. [to Travis] “You see the woman in the window? Do you see the woman in the window?…I want you to see that woman, because that’s my wife. But that’s not my apartment. That’s not my apartment. You know who lives there? Huh? I mean, you wouldn’t know who lives there – I’m just saying, “But you know who lives there?” Huh? A nigger lives there. How do ya like that? And I’m gonna, I’m gonna kill her. There’s nothing else. I’m gonna kill her. What do you think of that? Hmm? I said ‘What do you think of that?’ Don’t answer. You don’t have to answer everything. I’m gonna kill her. I’m gonna kill her with a .44 Magnum pistol. I have a .44 Magnum pistol. I’m gonna kill her with that gun. Did you ever see what a .44 Magnum pistol can do to a woman’s face? I mean it’ll fuckin’ destroy it. Just blow her right apart. That’s what it can do to her face. Now, did you ever see what it can do to a woman’s pussy? That you should see. You should see what a .44 Magnum’s gonna do to a woman’s pussy you should see. I know, I know you must think that I’m, you know… You must think I’m pretty sick or somethin’, you know, you must think I’m pretty sick. Right? You must think I’m pretty sick? Hmm? Right? I’ll betcha, I’ll betcha you really think I’m sick right? You think I’m sick? You think I’m sick? You don’t have to answer. I’m payin’ for the ride. You don’t have to answer.” –cuckold passenger

14. “Look, look at it this way, you know uh, a man, a man takes a job, you know, and that job, I mean like that, and that it becomes what he is. You know like uh, you do a thing and that’s what you are. Like I’ve been a, I’ve been a cabbie for seventeen years, ten years at night and I still don’t own my own cab. You know why? ‘Cause I don’t want to. I must be what I, what I want. You know, to be on the night shift drivin’ somebody else’s cab. Understand? You, you, you become, you get a job, you you become the job. One guy lives in Brooklyn, one guy lives in Sutton Place, you get a lawyer, another guy’s a doctor, another guy dies, another guy gets well, and you know, people are born. I envy you your youth. Go out and get laid. Get drunk, you know, do anything. ‘Cause you got no choice anyway. I mean we’re all fucked, more or less you know.” –Wizard

15. “So what makes you so high and mighty. Will you tell me that? Didn’t you ever try lookin’ in your own eyeballs in the mirror?” –Iris

The main themes of Taxi Driver include false ideals, and alienation leading into fragmentation, these being social and psychological problems stemming from capitalism and imperialism. Travis Bickle (De Niro) is a Vietnam vet suffering from insomnia and loneliness, problems common to sufferers of PTSD and C-PTSD. With his feeling of being broken off from the rest of society comes the breaking up, the falling apart, of his personality.

You can see how troubled Travis is just from the first look in his eyes at the beginning of the movie. When he’s interviewed for the job, he’s asked by the interviewer (Joe Spinell) why he wants to be a cabbie; when he says he can’t sleep, the interviewer suggests going to theatres that show porno films.

Already we see an example of the social alienation between different members of the proletariat. How is it ‘treatment’ for proletarians’ insomnia to watch naked, sexualized, and exploited lumpenproletariat? Bickle was a veteran suffering from the trauma of fighting an imperialist war where soldiers like him saw (and often participated in) the raping and bombing of Southeast Asians. Recall Phan Thị Kim Phúc, the nine-year-old girl who was photographed running naked because a napalm strike was burning her clothes and her back. How could watching porn cure this, instead of aggravating it?

When the interviewer asks about Bickle’s driving record, he responds, “Clean, like my conscience.” With his record in Vietnam, this joke sounds suspiciously like reaction formation. The interviewer is offended by this remark, forcing an apology from Bickle–more alienation.

When Bickle goes into the parking lot where all the cabs are, the camera moves away from him to get a sweep of the area; not his point of view, but as if we were seeing the scene from other eyes. One would expect to see more of Bickle, who is more or less narrating the story (i.e., the story is essentially from his point of view). The camera drifting away from him suggests his distracted, dissociated mind; it also suggests his growing alienation from himself…his fragmentation.

Bickle does go to those porno theatres; what’s worse, on two occasions he tries to connect with women in that very setting! Naturally, the women in question are so offended and disgusted that they want nothing to do with him.

It’s easy to look at Bickle’s behaviour and say, “What an idiot! Taking a woman he wants to impress on a date…to a porno theatre? Asking the name of a woman selling snacks in a porno theatre? What is he thinking? Is he thinking?”

Such snap judgements, however, fail to get at the root of the problem, which is in the conflicts in his fragmented unconscious mind, in his alienation from his species-essence. Part of him wants to connect with these women (or with any woman in general), but another part of him wants to sabotage that connection by scaring them off. Bickle knows as well as any idiot (though he speaks as if he doesn’t) that no woman wants to date or get to know a pervy porn lover…but he puts women in that awkward situation anyway. In his alienation and fragmentation, he can’t make up his mind whether to be or not to be connected with a girl, so his conflict is resolved in a brutal social faux pas.

Heinz Kohut knew of a patient whose fragmentation perfectly exemplified this inability to think straight–a man who confused left and right! The patient had a dream he was “in an airplane flying from Chicago to New York. He was occupying a window seat on the left side of the plane, as he mentioned, looking out toward the south. When the analyst pointed out the inconsistency in his report of the dream: that, going from Chicago to New York, he would be looking north, not south, from the left side of the plane, the patient became utterly confused and spatially disoriented–to the point that he literally could not tell right from left for a short time.” (Kohut, pages 153-154)

The patient’s fragmentation came from his parents’ disappearance from his life for a span of more than a year, when he was three-and-a-half years old. In this connection, one wonders about the closeness of Bickle’s relationship with his parents, when he writes to them in an anniversary card (see Quote #10 above), and he doesn’t remember the exact dates of their anniversary, his mother’s birthday, or Father’s Day! He remembers only that the dates are all in July. Recall (Quote #6) that he says he’s been lonely all his life, suggesting a lack of closeness with his parents in his childhood. His trauma from his Vietnam War experiences would have multiplied his fragmentation by the thousands, hence his own inability to think straight, or to remember to do even the simplest of things, like remember to ask Betsy’s last name (Quote #7).

When Bickle becomes a taxi driver, he accepts working absurdly long hours throughout the night because he can’t sleep. He is like so many right-leaning members of the working class, who take on such long hours without ever questioning if such a working life is good for them.

He drives his cab around an especially rough area of New York City. As a conservative worker, he feels revulsion at the lumpenproletariat all around him. His prejudice against blacks is first noted when he calls them “spooks” (see Quote #1 above), then says it makes no difference to him if they ride in his cab, a denial of the racism he also manifests in the dirty looks he gives blacks later on, as well as the black man he shoots in the head for trying to rob a convenience store (instead of just making a citizen’s arrest, or, since Bickle’s at close range, maybe shooting the gun out of the black man’s hand in self-defence when he spins around to try to shoot Bickle). If only he could feel more solidarity with all the global proletariat (including not only blacks but also prostitutes, beyond the mere ‘gallantry’ of saving Iris [Foster] from her pimp, Sport [Keitel], more on that later), he just might cure his alienation.

When Bickle sees Betsy for the first time, a curvaceous blonde beauty working for the campaign of a left-leaning liberal politician named Palantine (Harris), he idealizes her in his mind, imagining that the sewer society all around them “cannot…touch…her.” When she rejects him after his foolish choice to take her to a porno movie, his ideal of her has been shattered.

This leads to a discussion of an important theme in Taxi Driver: false ideals. Apart from his temporary idealizing of Betsy, Bickle also idealizes outdated notions of manhood, a problem many right-leaning male members of the proletariat, semi-proletariat, and petite bourgeoisie have, including many in the ‘manosphere‘, for example. Bickle imagines men are supposed to protect and provide for all women, as well as ‘perform’ for them (i.e., initiate dates with them and play the role of ‘perfect gentleman’).

In his social awkwardness, though, Bickle is over-aggressive in his wish to join up through Betsy instead of Tom (Brooks), to help the Palantine campaign. His reason to prefer her over Tom, bluntly given, is that she is “the most beautiful woman [he’s] ever seen”. During their time together in the café, he’s polite and well-groomed, and in his jealousy over Tom’s attentions to her, he bad-mouths him, whom he doesn’t know at all, saying he’s “silly” and that he doesn’t respect her. That night, Bickle takes her to a porno!

The same man who has no problem with pornography does, however, have a problem with prostitution; for he sees Iris try to escape from Sport by getting into his cab. (This version of the scene doesn’t have the dialogue, but the visuals are sufficient to demonstrate my point, anyway.) We see Bickle’s piercing eyes through his rear-view mirror–an important motif representing his projections of his own, inner viciousness out into a world he perceives as vicious (more on that later)–as he sees the pimp grab the girl and toss him a crumpled twenty-dollar bill to make him forget the whole incident.

He can forget about the exploited women in porn, as well as all those other prostitutes he sees on the streets or even in his cab, but not Iris. For Bickle, she has a face: she is a real human being to him. His alienation is so bad that he can recognize humanity in such women only when up close.

Because of his having been rejected by his once-idealized Betsy, he regards her as “in a Hell,” and unkindly generalizes about all women thus, saying they’re “like a union.” He, like those in the ‘manosphere’, would do well to give up their right-leaning convictions, join unions, and end their alienation instead of aggravating it with flippant misogyny.

Note the dialectical tension, though, between this misogyny and its opposite extreme, misguided gallantry. (Remember, also, how dialectical materialism sees a unity in contradictions.) A fellow cabbie inspires Bickle to buy weapons, and after an encounter with an angry cuckold who wants to murder his unfaithful wife (possibly by firing a phallic .44 Magnum at her face and between her legs!), he buys a number of guns to kill Iris’s pimp and mafia associates, and thus free her of them.

Bickle watches that angry cuckold fearfully through his rear-view mirror, seeing a disturbing reflection…of himself, actually, when you think about it. One of the guns he buys is a .44 Magnum. He later watches porn in a theatre and mimics aiming and firing a gun, with phallic fingers, at the screen.

Part of him has wanted to stop himself. He talks to a fellow cabbie they call “the Wizard” (Boyle), who apparently gives good advice. Bickle, in his increasing alienation and fragmentation, can’t tell the Wizard what’s troubling him beyond saying, “I got some bad ideas in my head.” (Then again, how do you tell someone that you want to murder a politician, and then a pimp to free a prostitute, and maybe even kill more people in the future?)

The Wizard’s counsel is hardly helpful. He seems to be experiencing fragmentation on a certain level, too, for he speaks in a largely incoherent way. He does, however, touch on a few important points: a man identifies with his job, and by saying he doesn’t want to own his own cab, the Wizard is implying an acknowledgement of worker alienation, of his own alienation from having to drive a cab every day.

Bickle’s faux-gallant wish to be the hero who rescues the damsel in distress (Iris), yet also to assassinate a popular politician (Palantine), presumably to spite Betsy (inspiring John Hinckley Jr. to try to assassinate Reagan, to impress Jodie Foster), represents a growing problem in the self-centred, alienating modern world–masculinity in crisis.

Just as sex roles have required women to be docile, timid homemakers and beauty queens, they have also required men to be stoic providers and protectors, willing to face any terror without shedding a tear. Such would have been Travis Bickle’s experience in Vietnam, killing fellow members of the global proletariat, including innocent women and children, all to stop the spread of an ideology dedicated to ending imperialism.

The trauma of war, combined with the worker alienation felt in the modern, capitalist world, have all combined to create great social isolation in Bickle. Instead of getting organized, however, with fellow workers to end the capitalist, imperialist system that sent him to kill people in Vietnam, one that created the material conditions that alienate him from the rest of society, he’d rather “get organizized” (more fragmentation) all alone, and fight and kill the ‘scum’ he sees all around him–including his fellow proletarians.

People are way too often distracted from legitimate socialist struggle by identity politics…on both the left and the right: white nationalism and the alt-right; the extremes of men’s rights activism, incels, and others in the manosphere; the kind of CIA-influenced ‘feminism’ that wanted Hillary Clinton to be president just because she’s a woman, while ignoring her total support of imperialism and neoliberalism, etc. Instead, poor whites should be joining the proletarian struggle, and the ending of sex roles should integrate women’s and men’s issues within a socialist context. Solidarity for all the people. Our true enemy is none other than the ruling class. Alienated Bickle in many ways is like those idpol fetishists, who are too self-absorbed to channel their discontent into solving more fundamental problems.

Mirrors are a major motif in this film. I’ve mentioned the rear-view mirror of Bickle’s cab. There’s also his mirror in his apartment during his “You talkin’ to me?” monologue. Though he’s imagining himself confronting one of those “scum” he wants to ‘stand up to’, remember that he sees himself in that mirror. He’s talking to himself. The scum he’s confronting is himself, whom he’s been projecting onto the world around him. As he himself says, he’s the only one there.

Jacques Lacan wrote of the mirror stage, when an uncoordinated infant first sees him- or herself in the reflection. The emotional effects of this psychological identification with the image in the mirror are problems Lacan saw as staying with one throughout life, though. There’s a feeling of alienation from oneself: that’s me in the mirror, but the image’s totality and unity (an idealized version of myself) seem at odds with the awkward, fragmented person I feel myself to be. Bickle, on two tries, has to make three jerks of his arm to make the device under his sleeve produce the concealed pistol in his hand; this reflects that awkwardness, all in contrast with his tough talk, “You’re dead.” The gun should just slide into his hand in one quick, effortless movement.

Note that in this scene, as well as the scenes with his mohawk, he’s wearing a green jacket, part of combat fatigues. The mohawk was also adopted by some soldiers, considered to have done especially heroic missions, during such wars as in Vietnam. Bickle seems, on at least an unconscious level, to be still fighting the war in his mind. Knowing how PTSD sufferers relive their trauma through flashbacks, we shouldn’t find it difficult to imagine Bickle thinking this way.

So all of his exercising, weight-lifting, target practice, etc., is like him going through basic training again. He speaks of eating no more bad food, no more pills, “no more destroyers of [his] body” (not that he actually makes these healthy reforms): in other words, he’s trying to fight against his own fragmentation, just as his mind is falling to pieces.

Recall those breaks in camera continuity, as when he repeats the words, “Listen you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. Who would not let- Listen you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is someone who stood up. Here is…” And again, right after he’s shot Sport the first time, and he goes to sit on the steps before the building where Iris is with the other mafiosi, his sudden walking into the building, turning to the right from walking on the sidewalk, after his sit on the steps, seems too abrupt…it’s as if he never sat. Those continuity breaks, like the camera’s sweeping away from Bickle in the taxi parking lot at the beginning of the film, or its moving away from him when he phones Betsy to try to make up with her after their disastrous date, all symbolize his fragmentation, his alienation from himself.

The scene of his attempt to assassinate Palantine, during which he reacts to the glib, charming words of the senator’s speech with ironic clapping and a sneering smile, could be his attempt to spite Betsy as I mentioned above; or it could be a reflection of his wish to take on the capitalist political establishment that sent him out to kill Vietnamese peasants, people who’d never done him any harm; and yet, in the words of liberal Palantine, that establishment hypocritically condemns the Vietnam War.

Remember that Bickle’s trauma, as is the case with the veteran of any war, is not just about the pain he endured, but also the pain he caused the ‘enemy’: in this case, Vietnamese soldiers who were just trying to liberate their people from imperialism; also, Vietnamese women and children, including prostitutes exploited by American GIs…sometimes underage prostitutes, like Iris.

One might think that, just because nothing is said about Bickle’s experiences in Vietnam, there’s little justification for going on and on about his trauma from the war. His laconicism about Vietnam can, however, easily be attributed to repression. (Recall, also, that the trauma of the Vietnam War was fresh on people’s minds back in the mid-1970s.)

When, during his job interview at the beginning of the movie, you see and hear him talking about his honourable discharge from the marines, his pained, grimacing facial expression gives us a clue as to how “honourable” the whole thing had really been for him; contrast this with the friendly smile of the interviewer, who has also served in the marines.

Let’s come to the film’s climax. Pimps are mafia, and as I’ve discussed elsewhere, mafia are capitalists. The brutal exploitation of prostitutes, also something I’ve discussed elsewhere, is another example of capitalist cruelty, imperialist cruelty, in the case of Third World prostitutes exploited by Western tourists. So Bickle’s rescuing of Iris by going into the urban jungle and killing Sport and the other two mafia men, while he’s in his green jacket and with his mohawk, is like him going back into the jungles of Vietnam to kill the imperialists, though he–a conservative proletarian–would sense this intention only unconsciously. Since he unconsciously sees himself in these pimps (and them in him), he is killing himself in unconscious phantasy.

He uses his .44 Magnum to blow off the fingers of a mafia man, then uses a knife to stab the man in the other hand. He puts another gun to the man’s face and fires a bullet in his head, just after he’s filled the face of another mafioso with bullets–all of these acts of violence being symbols of fragmentation…Bickle’s own fragmentation, since he projects his self-hatred onto these scum. In killing them, he’s trying to kill himself.

Indeed, after killing them, he points a gun at his head and tries to kill himself, only he’s out of bullets. So, when the cops come, he just points his bloody finger at his head and mimes shooting himself. Iris, a witness to all the killing, just sits nearby and sobs.

The media portray his rescue of Iris from pimps as an act of heroism. This is more false idealizing, for what Bickle has really done, by subjecting a teenage girl to the close-up witnessing of a bloody shootout, is to traumatize her far worse than all the sexual exploitation she’s been enduring. In fact, with all those phallic guns ejaculating bullets and spraying, if you will, multiple orgasms of blood, Bickle has raped Iris far more brutally than the paid rape of prostitution ever could.

Her father writes Bickle a thank-you letter for having rescued her and having her return home to go back to school; but we never really get her side of the story. She certainly regrets having been a prostitute, but is she happy back at home again? What drove her to run away in the first place? She told Bickle, during breakfast in a diner, that her parents “hate” her. It’s easy to assume this talk is just teenage hyperbole, but the notion of ‘loving parents’ is another easy assumption, a false ideal. If her parents abused her, what kind of abuse was it? Physical? Emotional? Did her father sexually abuse her? If it’s the last of these three, an understanding of object relations theory would explain her running into Sport’s arms.

The movie ends with Bickle giving Betsy a ride home at night. On the surface, he seems to be stable again, even amiable, for he gives her a free ride. Then, just before the ending credits, as he’s driving, he sees something in his rear-view mirror that agitates him. Is it another manifestation of the filth and corruption of the city, a filth he must wash clean with more blood? Or is it his own face in the reflection that troubles him? After all, we see his eyes in the mirror just before the first of the credits; and during his moment of agitation, the soundtrack recording is briefly played in reverse, suggesting a move backwards in time, towards his moment of extreme instability and fragmentation.

He is no hero, of course. He is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode with more violence at any moment. He felt no therapeutic catharsis when he killed those mafia men. He’ll kill again, and the victims could very well be far more innocent the next time. He has by no means exorcised his Vietnamese demons, for the evil is still alive inside himself. No matter how hard he tries to project it out onto the streets of New York City, it remains inside him.

Killing is in his blood; he got it from Vietnam. The internal dialogue of violence was programmed into him from his years of seeing combat every day. The ghosts of all those Viet Cong (and, in all likelihood, innocent civilians) he killed are still haunting him, his bad object relations. Only love would replace those bad internal objects with good ones, and his perpetual objectifying of women makes getting that love an impossibility.

Recall how, before the shootout, he broods while watching TV in his apartment, holding his .44 Magnum (aiming it at the TV, too) and seeing the smiling dancing couples on American Bandstand, a staged love, to be sure (as the media is almost universally phoney); but also one that he, in his isolation, can’t have, much less a real love. Oh, the pain you see in his eyes as that bittersweet song is playing! He can’t even have a love that leads to marriage, then divorce, as he sees in the soap opera just before he knocks over and destroys his TV set.

A man-woman relationship is only a sexual one for him; hence his viewing of pornography. But could it be that, as he says, such a relationship “is not so bad”? After all, he saw far worse treatment of women, sexual and violent, in Vietnam. The escape from reality into a world of pornographic fantasy would seem less harsh. Bickle’s pathological failure to achieve loving relationships leads to his empty pleasure-seeking, as WRD Fairbairn noted (see my third quoting of Fairbairn in this blog post). However Bickle may try to rationalize his pathologies, though, his reality is that he’s in a Hell, the Hell of his war trauma, a Hell of loneliness…and he’s gonna die in a Hell like the rest of ’em.

The Ouroboros of Capital

In The Ouroboros of Dialectical Materialism, I discussed how the ouroboros, a serpent coiled into a circle and biting its tail, can be an effective symbol of the relationship between opposites. The biting head represents one extreme, the bitten tail is the opposite extreme, and every point along the length of the snake’s body symbolizes a different point on the circular continuum, somewhere between the extremes.

In that other post, I discussed how the ouroboros can represent the class struggle in history and at the present. I mentioned how there is a tendency to shift counter-clockwise from the tail of communism to the liberal centre at the bottom of the serpentine coil, then to the right-libertarian front half of the serpent’s body, and ultimately to the fascist snake’s head. Since that counter-clockwise movement is in the interests of the capitalist class, we’ll now be exploring why the bourgeoisie is compelled to move in that direction, as well as what causes the clockwise movements that the ruling class must counteract.

The most basic dialectical opposition in capitalism, as Marx noted in Capital, Volume One, is the commodity, which is a use-value and an exchange-value. Seen as only a use-value, a commodity will gradually depreciate in value as it is used repeatedly over time, thus causing a clockwise movement from the head of the serpent to its tail; once its worth is reduced to nothing, it has to be replaced with a new use-value commodity, a movement from the bitten tail to the biting head. If, however, a commodity is to become an exchange-value, efforts must be made to improve and preserve its quality, thus making it saleable.

Here’s where the capitalist steps in. He ensures that the commodity’s quality moves counter-clockwise on the serpent’s body, moving towards the biting head. He does this through the application of abstract labour, as opposed to the concrete labour that produces mere use-values. This counter-clockwise movement, achieved through socially necessary labour time and effort, creates value by combining use-and exchange-value, pushing up to the biting head and past it to do another revolution past the bitten tail and counter-clockwise along the serpent’s body; for new units of the said commodity, or other new commodities in general, start the counter-clockwise cycle all over again.

This is why the labour theory of value (LTV) is so crucial to Marxian economics. Granted, many economists reject the LTV, but since they aren’t Marxists, it’s safe to assume that many, if not most (or, possibly, even all!) of them are working, on some level at least, in the interests of the minority bourgeoisie; so if they want to accuse us Marxists of bias, we can respond by saying theirs is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

With successfully-achieved value, the capitalist has a business to run. His products are on the shelves of his store, and customers gaze on them with awe, then perhaps buy them. They see the finished product, as if its value were a magically produced presence, a spirit inhabiting an idol. This adoration of the finished commodity, ignoring the process of how it was made, is rather like contemplating Athena sprung fully-grown from the forehead of Zeus, complete with her armour, helmet, shield, and sword; and just as one may not have seen pregnant Metis swallowed whole by her Olympian lover, the consumer doesn’t see all the work put into the manufacturing of the commodity. The employees of the sated capitalist are hidden in his bloated belly, as it were.

Now we must examine the fortunes of the new businessman. There are several obstacles and dangers that he must overcome in his quest to make money, those forces that cause a clockwise movement from the biting head of success to the bitten tail of a bitter going-out-of-business. These include being outdone by the competition, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (TRPF), workers’ demands for better pay and enforcement of safety standards, shorter hours, etc., and other potential problems.

Now the capitalist must find ways to minimize costs. There’s little he can do about the cost of constant capital (the means of production), but there’s much he can do to lower the cost of variable capital (i.e., minimizing his workers’ wages), as well as demand maximum hours of work from his employees, to maximize production and profit, a counter-clockwise movement towards the serpent’s head. As for the workers’ struggle to move things clockwise, read my condensed history of that here.

When the capitalist’s business succeeds to the point of going past the serpent’s head and into a new revolution counter-clockwise towards the head again, we see the circulation, reproduction, and expansion of capital discussed in volume two of Marx’s Capital: in other words, we encounter the reinvestment of some of the accumulated capital into even more commodity production, or, in the best of circumstances, the opening of new stores of the business.

If the expansion doesn’t happen in this way, then perhaps an entrepreneur will see the potential of a business, buy it off the original owner(s), and grow it into a business empire, all in accordance with the entrepreneur’s ambitious vision. This is how one store selling coffee beans in Seattle in the early 1970s grew into a worldwide gourmet coffee empire. It’s also how one burger joint in San Bernardino, California in the 1940s grew into an international fast food empire. So many counter-clockwise revolutions along the body of the ouroboros (granted, I’m oversimplifying here, for the sake of brevity; the ups and downs of these businesses’ fortunes will be expressed in the back-and-forth movement along the length of the ouroboros, too–like the swaying of a pendulum; but the general trend towards successful business empires is still clearly visible over time, and, succeed or fail, this trend is the aspiration of capitalists, the very reason to get into business in the first place).

Next, we must examine the ouroboros of the economic cycle. When business is booming, as it was in the Roaring Twenties and (to an extent) in the early-to-mid 2000s, speculators get overconfident and act as though the good times will last forever. Deregulation will continue in order to maximize profit, as a countermeasure against the TRPF. This will result in such things as overproduction and the housing-bubble recklessness that is believed to have come from Bill Clinton’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall legislation, and all of this will lead to economic crises: the counter-clockwise movement of the snake’s head of prosperity ends up passing over to the bitten tail of recession.

The movement out of the hind part of the serpent (recession) back to the front half (economic health) will be faster or slower in accordance with the severity of the given crisis. Hence the interminable length of recovery from both the Great Depression and the 2008 financial crisis. Marx predicted, in volume three of Capital, that one day, the crisis will be too great to recover from, and we’ll either have, as Rosa Luxemburg called it, socialism, or barbarism; one has a gut feeling that day may be soon upon us.

In the meantime, the capitalist class finds new ways to stave off that apocalypse. The days of free competition, the laissez-faire of the nineteenth century, pushed things to the limit by the first decade or two of the twentieth century, a counter-clockwise move past the biting head of the ouroboros and the beginning of capitalist imperialism, as Lenin noted: hence the competition for control of the largest portions of the colonized world in World War I.

Markets were drying up in the local countries, and so capitalists had to seek out markets in other countries, including underdeveloped countries. The merging of banks with industrial cartels resulted in finance capitalism (to provide capital, via investment, in the underdeveloped countries), which in turn led to the division of the world among monopolist business companies and the great powers. An example of this, the scramble for Africa, had already been going on in the latter half of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth; hence, the counter-clockwise movement past the biting head (in the local success of capitalism) through another revolution from tail to head again (in the quest for profit abroad, through imperialism).

Today, this imperialism is in an exacerbated state, what with outsourcing, NAFTA, and sweatshops in the Third World. The proletariat in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia are suffering what the English working class had endured in the nineteenth century. Third World attempts at resistance against imperialism, as with Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese communists, are more clockwise shifts towards the tail of the ouroboros.

The exploitation of the working class in the poorer countries is only the tip of the iceberg, though. Imperialist war is the far greater evil of our day, along with coup after coup, which the US has been guilty of ever since the end of World War II. There was the Iranian coup in 1953, in which the CIA helped MI6 overthrow the democratically-elected Mohammad Mosaddegh, who’d wanted to nationalize Iranian oil to provide for his people, thus limiting the profits of the AIOC and making a clockwise movement away from the serpent’s head. Other coups were those in Guatemala in 1954 (after Arbenz’s policies ran afoul of the United Fruit Company) and in Chile in 1973, when Allende had wanted to nationalize industry.

The sweetest words to touch the tongues of US imperialists are these: regime change. By the late 1990s, a variation on this idea appeared: “humanitarian war”…what an abuse of paradoxes! Once the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc had catastrophically fallen, the West, lying that NATO wouldn’t advance “one inch eastward”, in this regard set its sights on its first prey: Yugoslavia. Consider the destruction and suffering the NATO bombings caused the people in Serbia–not just those who died, but also those exposed to the carcinogenic depleted uranium from the NATO bombs–all to pin a bogus charge of genocide on Slobodan Milosevic. Now, a huge US military base sits in Kosovo, the NATO headquarters for KFOR’s Multinational Battle Group East (MNBG-E).

Combine this Balkanization atrocity with the ruining of Russia in the 1990s, and we see the movement that US/NATO imperialism made, counter-clockwise (as in counterrevolution) past the biting head to the bitten tail, and around again, in preparation for the next set of conquests, all in the name of neoconservatism and neoliberalism, and all for the sake of the multinational corporations.

Note how the counter-clockwise movement around the ouroboros is a like a spiral, an upward spiral from the point of view of the capitalist class; but for everyone else, regardless of whether the lower classes can see it or not, it’s a downward spiral.

The US had armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s to bleed the USSR dry, and in the process, armed men like Osama bin Laden. Then, just before the USSR collapsed (and, with the-then collaboration of the weakening USSR with US interests in the Persian Gulf War, anticipating US unipolarity?), George HW Bush declared a “new world order”, not the NWO of the conspiracy theorists, but a neoliberal one, for no formidable leftist resistance would again exist; US/NATO imperialism could do anything it wanted to!

Military bases in Saudi Arabia, as well as such things as the US support of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and the crushing economic sanctions on Saddam’s Iraq in the 1990s, meant that imperialism’s having armed bin Laden would bite the US in the ass one day–September 11th, 2001, to be exact. The biting head of imperial conquest would result in the bitten tail of American humiliation, the double emasculation of New York’s skyline.

At first, the US received some global sympathy, so there was some support of the US invasion of Afghanistan a month after the terrorist attacks; but it wouldn’t take long for the US to squander the sympathy she’d garnered. Dubya’s invasion of Iraq, done under protest of most of the international community (except for America’s obliging lapdog, the UK), pushed the movement past the biting head of victory (long-desired regime change) to the bitten tail of international opprobrium.

The years have gone by, though, and the world has grown desensitized to the expansion of Bush-style imperialism; it helped having a charming black Democrat to do it for eight years, of course. For this reason, the ouroboros has felt another counter-clockwise revolution…or two, or three…from its tail to its head, with little, if any, protest from bourgeois liberals. Because of how much Trump is justifiably despised, George W Bush has been unjustifiably forgiven.

Now, with Trump’s appointment of Pompeo and Bolton, we can only assume that more war-mongering is in the near future. The rise in strength of Russia and China (add to that their beneficial acts and investments [though, in China’s case, this investment can be a double-edged sword, admittedly], to contrast with the meanness of the US ruling class), as well as Iran’s getting in the way of the US’s wish to control the oil market, means the US is worried about more clockwise movements to limit her profits (as well as an end to her empire). The ruling class is hoping that more imperialist conquests will ensure more profits for Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, et al, while they all turn a blind eye to the destruction and loss of innocent life they’re causing.

Bickering between the Dems and GOP continues to blind Americans, and western liberals in general, to the real problem: the juggernaut of capitalist accumulation, the cycles of the ouroboros of capital that never stop going round and round, a counter-clockwise reaction, making us all go backwards, as against real human progress.

So, how can we break these cycles? How can we end the alienation that causes this bickering? How can we get people to recognize the value of human labour, the process of making commodities that goes along the length of the ouroboros to create value, rather than contemplate only the value of the finished product (commodity fetishism)? How can we keep people mindful of the need to change from a profit-motive mindset to one geared towards production for the sake of providing for everyone?

Can we do this before the escalations of this current Cold War result in nuclear war? The counter-clockwise clock of the ouroboros of capital is ticking. The current time appears to be two minutes past midnight.

The Ouroboros of Dialectical Materialism

Marxism is based on the idea of historical materialism, that everything in our world is properly understood in terms of its material basis. Any people in their history have had the kind of culture and belief systems they have because of the prevailing material conditions in their world (Eagleton, pages 128-159).

Are they a wealthy nation, prospering, and with most of their people doing well, as in the Scandinavian countries? Then it’s likely they’ll be mostly a gentle, tolerant people. Are they a poor people, oppressed by Western imperialism, like those in the Islamic world (peoples often much more liberal and modern before war and imperialism tear their worlds apart)? Their religion, for example, will probably have more militant members (though even with that, still a small minority of all believers) than there are in developed countries. Are they a First World country, but with terrible wealth inequality, as in the US or the UK? Well, there will be lots of discontent, plus lots of division over what is considered the hated establishment, as well as a lazy, complacent attitude towards revolution.

Another important factor in Marxism is dialectics, not the idealist version of Hegel and Zižek, but the materialist version of Marx and Lenin. As Mao said, everything is made up of conflicting contradictions; furthermore, there is a yin and yang-like unity with all contradictions. One cannot have one thing without contemplating or observing its opposite.

How can we interpret the relationship between one opposite and the other? In ‘On Contradiction,’ Mao gave some good examples of that relationship. For example: “…at every stage in the development of a process, there is only one principal contradiction which plays the leading role.” (Mao, page 157) Also, ‘Why is it that “the human mind should take these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, transforming themselves into one another”? Because that is just how things are in objective reality. The fact is that the unity or identity of opposites in objective things is not dead or rigid, but is living, conditional, mobile, temporary and relative; in given conditions, every contradictory aspect transforms itself into its opposite. Reflected in man’s thinking, this becomes the Marxist world outlook of materialist dialectics.’ (Mao, page 166)

I would like to offer my own ideas of how all contradictions relate to each other, as well as give examples from history as to how my ideas have manifested themselves. I mean the below ideas as only a guideline as to how the events of history can be seen, though, not as a prescription of how these things must be seen every time. The following is only a contribution to dialectical materialism; it’s not meant as any kind of dogma. Anyway, here’s my idea: I see opposites as on the ends of a continuum that is coiled into a circle, like the ouroboros, normally a symbol of eternity. For me, it symbolizes the dialectic.

Imagine, at the top of this coiled continuum, the snake’s head biting its tail. There we have the two extreme opposites meeting. At the bottom, the middle of the snake’s body, is the moderate, middle point between the extremes; and of course, everywhere on the snakes’s body approaching the head is a movement toward the one extreme, and movement toward the tail is an approaching of the other extreme.

To give a simple example, imagine the ouroboros as the political spectrum, the head as Fascism and the tail as Communism. Do not confuse this with the horseshoe theory: the biting head and bitten tail are not to be understood as similar, but as one opposite phasing into the other as a result of the aggravation of class struggle.

When the Russian Revolution shook up the world, and (failed) attempts at Communist revolution happened in Germany, Hungary, and Italy from about 1918 to the early 1920s, the capitalist class got nervous, and Fascism arose to divert the working class’s attention from class issues to scapegoating such targets as foreigners, Jews, Communists, etc. Hence, broadly speaking, Communism led to a Fascist reaction–the serpent’s bitten tail to its biting head.

In the particular case of Germany during the 1920s, though, the move from an attempt at Communism to the rise of Naziism went in the other direction, since the progressive policies of the Weimar Republic, though irritatingly insufficient for the far left, were enough to bring Germany from the tail to the bottom middle of the ouroboros’s body. Then, the Nazis manipulated their way into power through the very democratic process they would soon destroy from within. From the bottom middle, Germany slid up to the serpent’s head.

Then, the rise of Fascism in Italy, Naziism in Germany, and imperialism in Japan led to the USSR’s crushing of Naziism and the defeat of imperial Japan by such efforts as the protracted war in China, the victors there being a coalition of Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalists and Mao Zedong’s Communists, the latter ultimately ousting the former from China in 1949 and establishing Communist China. Similarly in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany led to the creation of the Eastern Bloc. Fascism led to a Communist reaction–head to tail.

Now, consider the middle of the tail, to which most ‘liberal democracies’ gravitate. Here, we’ve usually seen a moderate level of social liberalism mixed with a ‘free market’: in other words, the class structure of the bourgeoisie is firmly intact, while lip service–and usually not much more than that–is paid to acknowledging the rights and needs of people of colour, LGBT people, and to attaining equality of the sexes (hence, the ‘ideal’ of being ‘socially liberal’ and ‘fiscally conservative’). The swaying between Democrats and Republicans in US elections reflect this swinging of the pendulum from ‘moderate left’ to ‘moderate right’. This is a sliding back and forth along the middle of the serpent’s body at the coil’s bottom…indeed, it is the lowest of the low, for it is a terrible state of affairs where little substantive change ever happens. As awful as the threat of Fascism is, at least–theoretically–it could prompt real change, one hopes, in the form of a socialist reaction to it, as it did in the bloody aftermath of WWII.

Most people prefer the moderatism of that middle of the serpent’s body, where things are ‘stable’. People are scared of instability, and thus are willing to endure a number of injustices as long as their whole familiar world doesn’t get torn apart before their horrified eyes. The capitalist class thrives on our complacency.

The Cold War era brought about an interesting development, though, where we found ourselves in the area of the back half of the serpent’s body: not quite at the bitten tail, but in that hind area, approaching the bitten end. The Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, North Korea, and North Vietnam together posed a formidable threat to the capitalist West, so much so that even they made a number of left-leaning concessions to their citizens–higher taxes for the rich (high enough, at least, to curb greed), a welfare state, strong unions, and the like, coupled with Keynesian economics–in spite of their long-standing imperialism.

The ruling class soon grew weary of all this growing social justice, and they recruited the aid of right-wing economists like Milton Friedman, who advocated a return to classical liberalism and the ‘virtues’ of the so-called ‘free market’. The seductive appeal of that hack writer, Ayn Rand, was also used. (The Canadian rock band, Rush, whose otherwise brilliant music was progressive only in the musical sense, fell under her Siren song back in the 1970s; to be fair to drummer/lyricist Neil Peart, though, he later saw the error of his youth, and has since renounced Rand’s ‘virtue of selfishness’.)

When even Keynesian economics couldn’t fix the economic crises of the mid-1970s, the stage was set to ‘relax’ government influence over the market economies of the West, starting with Carter. Then, Reagan and Thatcher came along with their talk of ‘smaller’ government (translation: a strengthening of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, through a weakening of unions, plotting–if not yet succeeding–to cut social welfare, and cutting the taxes of the 1%). We began moving from the hind half of the serpent to the front half…and we’ve been inching closer to the head ever since.

Right-libertarians, imagining they understand economics far better than they actually do, are living in a fool’s paradise if they think that unfettered capitalism will lead to a horn of plenty for everyone. Unregulated capitalism produces less growth, it rarely makes poor countries rich (Chang, pages 62-73), and it doesn’t reduce government interference in the world (consider the bloated US military budget, all in the service of capitalist imperialism); it merely gives the rich more power over everyone, by allowing them to keep the money (profits) that they steal from their overworked, underpaid workers, who increasingly have been in outsourced operations in Third World countries.

The notion of the ‘free market’ as creating a level playing field, where all businesses, big or small, can compete fairly, is a chimera. Capitalists eat each other up all the time, without apology. As Karl Marx said, “…as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, the further socialization of labour and the further transformation of the soil and other means of production into socially exploited and therefore communal means of production takes on a new form. What is now to be expropriated is not the self-employed worker, but the capitalist who exploits a large number of workers.

“This expropriation is accomplished through the action of the immanent laws of capitalist production itself, through the centralization of capitals. One capitalist always strikes down many others.” (Marx, Capital, Volume One, pages 928-929).

Capitalism is competition, but it isn’t a sport: there are no rules, and regulation-hating right-libertarians should know this better than everyone else. The purpose of rules is to create fairness, and to keep monopolistic capitalism from destroying itself via its own contradictions; capitalists hate regulations, because they hate fairness, and they refuse to contemplate the consequences of their own rapaciousness. Capitalists cheat all the time.

The only law in capitalism is the need for endless accumulation. Regulations limit profits and accumulation, hence right-libertarians feel ‘fettered’ by rules. They speak of the ‘freedom’ that capitalism supposedly brings, but their ‘freedom’ is really just licence, and it’s used for selfish ends. Talk to the labourers in sweatshops in Third World countries, people who slave away for minuscule amounts of money, about the ‘freedom’ of capitalism.

The whole point of capitalist competition is that somebody wins, and everyone else loses.  In capitalism, the winners keep a maximum of wealth and profits (thanks to all those tax cuts), and this extra money is used to buy political power. It is naïve to assume that most of this wealth will be reinvested to grow their businesses and strengthen the economy. We know from such scandals as the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers that huge amounts of this wealth is put into offshore bank accounts, not that many of us didn’t already know about that.

Much of the money is also used to buy political influence: just watch how those two ‘libertarians’, the Koch brothers, have been wooing (and bankrolling) right-wing causes for decades. It’s not about ‘less’ government; it’s about more bourgeois government. The ‘less’ government myth is a lie to suck in the petite bourgeoisie.

Right-libertarians’ fantasy about a return to the simpler capitalism of 19th century laissez-faire, without all these foreign wars, the cronyism, and government favouritism to the multinational corporations, is also anachronistic. The deregulation of the 1990s and 2000s, ironically (and dialectically), led to the cronyism of today–the bitten tail of the ‘free market’ leading to the biting head of the Big Government that we now have. There will be no movement back in the other direction.

Imperialism, with its monopolies, finance capital, and corrupt banks, is a natural outgrowth of its opposite, the free competition of the 19th century, a move from the serpent’s tail to its head. Imperialism is not only the ineluctable reality of today’s late-stage capitalism, but has been that reality for the past one hundred years or so. Lenin wrote about it, and he would be horrified to see how much imperialism (i.e., US imperialism) has metastasized by now.

Other examples of the ouroboros of dialectical, historical materialism can be seen in the shifting from feudalism to capitalism, then from the latter into socialism. Consider the terrible state of poverty in late feudal France and China, which was one of the factors that led to their bourgeois revolutions in 1789 and 1911 respectively. Extreme want and powerlessness (the bitten tail), as well as the contradiction between the aristocracy and the rising bourgeoisie, led to a seizing of power (the biting head).

Similarly, the want of the Parisian workers at the end of the Franco-Prussian War led to the proletariat protecting themselves with cannons and declaring the Paris Commune (Marx/Lenin, pages 47-48). The threat that this thrilling proletarian experiment posed to the European bourgeoisie led, in turn, to a brutal suppression two months later. From tail to head, then back to tail again.

Decades later, the repressive tsarist autocracy was pushing the Russian proletariat ever closer to the biting head of the serpent; then a kind of reprieve happened with the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the creation of the Provisional Government in early 1917. But the new state’s refusal to pull out of the most-unpopular First World War pushed things along the length of the tail all the way back to the head again, with angry demonstrations that summer, and the seizing of power by Lenin and the Soviets in November (New Style). From biting head to bitten tail.

The capitalist class never tolerates a communist revolution, regardless of whether the ruling class is in the form of the relatively progressive Weimar Republic, Mussolini’s Fascists, or the White Army, the last of these having invaded Russia in 1918 and starting the Russian Civil War. The pressure this put on the Bolsheviks forced them to go to the authoritarian measures they went to (i.e., top-down decision-making, instead of Soviet egalitarianism).

Let’s superimpose the ouroboros–with the biting head to the right of the bitten tail, and both extremes at the top, as we conceived of it earlier in this essay–on top of the four-way political compass, not only with the self-explanatory left and right, but with the top representing authoritarianism and bottom indicating libertarianism. Thus, the top left box would be for the Marxist-Leninists, the bottom left the anarchists, the bottom right the ‘free market’ fetishists (including the ‘anarcho’-capitalists), and the top right everything from the Trump-lovers to the idolizers of the likes of Pinochet, Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler. The neo-con, neoliberal Clintons, Obamas, and Bushes would be near the bottom-middle-right.

Another reality must be considered before we go on: there is a natural tendency to slide counter-clockwise, from the tail, along the middle of the body, and up towards the head of the serpent. We saw how free competition led to imperialism a century ago (then to the rise of Fascism); then how the post-war combination of Keynesian economics with a strong welfare state gave way to the ‘free market’ and deregulation, which in turn has led to the aggravated imperialism of the ‘war on terror’, as well as to Trump and the rise of the alt-right. It all goes round and round, a cycle of increasing suffering.

Capitalist accumulation leads to exacerbated class conflict and internal crises, which in turn lead to more right-wing authoritarianism and imperialism, as noted above. This problem, exacerbated by the capitalist class’s machinations (i.e., their attempted or successful coups of socialist states, or of those otherwise opposed to US interests; their sabotage, spying, and propagandizing against leftist governments, too), means that countries like the USSR, the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China, and the DPRK were and are forced to take a hard line against reactionaries and revisionists.

In the language of the ouroboros, this means one must aggressively counteract that tendency to slide counter-clockwise from the tail around to the head, a kind of vomiting up of the snake’s past. Revisionism is regurgitation of capitalist hegemony. To keep socialist society on the left side, one must push back clockwise and keep it in the top left, to be safe, for as long as capitalism continues to exist.

Such is the true meaning of the aggravation of class struggle under socialism; such was the real intention of Stalin, Mao, and the Kim dynasty. Doing things the left-libertarian way would have resulted in a swaying to the right, and thus a wasted communist revolution. Stalin’s and Mao’s ‘excesses’, on the other hand, meant a swaying from the tail to the bottom left corner–in other words, a success.

Only once all capitalism has been wiped off the face of the earth can the Marxist-Leninist states relax their control over everything. Then the state can wither away, and we’ll naturally incline toward the middle-to-hind area of the serpent, the libertarian bottom left.

To create a world where all production is for the sake of providing for everyone, we have to do more than just remove the political and economic obstacles (the ruling class and their bourgeois state): we also have to wean ourselves from old, bad habits, i.e., production for profit, exploiting labourers, hoarding food, etc. If these bad habits aren’t broken, the libertarian left of the hind half of the serpent will slide towards the ‘libertarian’ right of unfettered capitalism, the front half of the serpent.

Stalin’s push for rapid industrialization, collectivization,  ruthless punishing of grain-hoarding kulaks, execution of traitors, spies, and other enemies within the USSR, as well as defeating the Nazis and building up of a nuclear arsenal, were all needed measures to keep the USSR from slipping from the hind area of the ouroboros to the front half. The same can be said of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and the DPRK’s development of nukes, a perfectly reasonable reaction to the US bombing of the Korean Peninsula, Iraq, and Libya.

The fact that, ultimately, both Russia and China backslid into capitalism doesn’t invalidate Stalin’s and Mao’s efforts: it proves, all the more, the urgent necessity of those efforts. More of that effort was needed, not less.

The error of liberalism is assuming that an easy-going acceptance of the moderate bottom middle of the ouroboros will result in the world staying there. Nothing stands still forever; all things flow. Our material conditions won’t stay in the bottom middle: they will slide from there to the front half of the serpent, and continue to slide up to the head, as they have for the past forty years. It’s easy to see how Reagan, the Bushes, and Trump have contributed to this trend, but many remain willfully ignorant as to how Carter, the Clintons, and Obama have contributed to it.

The ‘free market’ policies began under Carter, who–under Brzezinski‘s influence–also provoked the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which was a major factor leading to the USSR’s weakening and collapse (to say nothing of the provocation of contemporary Islamic terrorism). I have, in previous posts, gone over many of the egregious things the Clintons did: NAFTA, the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, repealing the Glass-Steagall legislation, the Telecommunications Act (and its consequences), etc., and right-wingers claim the Clintons are ‘left-leaning’! That ‘socialist’ Obama not only continued Dubya’s evils, but expanded them; small wonder liberals are nostalgic about Bush Jr. these days.

And look at our world today, with Fascist tendencies taking root again, and Trump’s excesses are just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the UKIP’s influence on Brexit, the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine, Fascism in Austria, the Front national almost winning in the French elections, Golden Dawn in Greece, nostalgia for Franco in Spain, and the far-right marching in Poland.

We can go in either of two directions to fix these evils, and neither will be pleasant. We could go insane with accelerationism to the right, leading to a violent reaction against extreme Fascism, which–assuming a left-wing victory–we would hope in turn will lead to Marxism-Leninism (from the serpent’s head to its tail); but will we be able to live with the horrors we’ll have allowed to happen? Or we could engage in a kind of protracted war against the bourgeoisie, an adapting of Mao’s tactics (those against imperial Japan in the 1930s) to our present struggle against neoliberalism (go along the length of the ouroboros from its head to its tail); but will we have the stomach and the patience to see it through?

We have a tough choice ahead of us, don’t we?

Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011

Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, 2014

Karl Marx [Ben Fowkes (Translator)], Capital, Volume I, Penguin Classics, London, 1990

Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, Penguin Books, London, 2010

Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, The Civil War in France: The Paris Commune, International Publishers, New York, 2008

Analysis of ‘A Christmas Carol’

A Christmas Carol is a novella written by Charles Dickens and published in 1843. Considered one of the greatest Christmas stories ever written, it is about the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter old miser who scoffs at Christmas and alienates all those around him in London. Many theatre, TV, and film adaptations have been made of the story over the years, including the much-loved version of 1951 (Scrooge) with Alastair Sim in the title role, An American Christmas Carol with Henry Winkler as the miser, a musical version (Scrooge) with Albert Finney in the title role, and a motion-capture version with Jim Carrey as Scrooge and the three Christmas ghosts.

As with many Dickens stories, A Christmas Carol is a searing indictment of the deleterious effects of 19th-century industrial capitalism in England; however, Dickens presents a sentimental, bourgeois liberal solution to the problem of Scrooge’s miserliness by changing him into a ‘kinder, gentler’ capitalist, giving generously to the poor, instead of proposing a more radical and lasting solution to class conflict, of the type Marx and Engels would propose by the end of the 1840s.

Here are some famous quotes:

Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. –narrator

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

“Merry Christmas! [<<<a wish popularized in this novella] What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.” –Scrooge
“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

“God bless us, everyone!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!”

“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again: “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”

The novella is called A Christmas Carol because Dickens conceived of the story as song-like, its five chapters called “Staves”. The staves of a song tend to have a rather cyclical quality, in how the end of one stave leads into the beginning of a new one. This phasing of the old into the new will be a motif in the story.

The story begins with the emphatic declaration of the death of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s old business partner. This is significant in how Christmas, traced back to its origins as a pagan holiday based on the December solstice, is all about ‘out with the old, and in with the new’.

The winter solstice happens around December 20-22, and the European pagans believed that, because the Northern hemisphere faces furthest away from the sun at that time of year, the sun-god was dead, soon to be reborn, with the shortest days of the year to be followed by longer and longer ones. Replacing the sun-god with the Son of God, the Church replaced such festivals as Yule, and possibly Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, with Christmas on December 25.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Marley, Scrooge’s double, is gone. Scrooge is about to be reborn, as it were. As miserly as Marley was, Scrooge is too cheap even to paint over his partner’s name on the sign of their office (page 2). When visitors address Scrooge by either his or Marley’s name, Scrooge answers as if no mistake were made in calling him ‘Marley’; hence, the two money-loving businessmen are virtually indistinguishable.

Dickens compares the importance of Marley’s death at the beginning of the story to that of Hamlet’s father at the beginning of Shakespeare’s play: without that death, “nothing wonderful can come of the story” (page 2); the Danish king and prince have the same name, Marley and Scrooge have the same nature; and the death of the one begins the chain [!] of events leading to the delayed, but ultimately achieved, final heroic acts at the end of both stories.

The sun-god must die before he can be reborn, then gradually grow and warm the Northern Hemisphere in the next spring and summer. Life is a cycle of contradictions, the primary and secondary aspects of which change places in the development of all things. “We often speak of ‘the new superseding the old’. The supersession of the old by the new is a general, eternal and inviolable law of the universe…In each thing there is contradiction between its new and its old aspects, and this gives rise to a series of struggles with many twists and turns. As a result of these struggles, the new aspect changes from being minor to being major and rises to predominance, while the old aspect changes from being major to being minor and gradually dies out. And the moment the new aspect gains dominance over the old, the old thing changes qualitatively into a new thing.” (Mao, page 158). The contradiction between greed and generosity will also result in a swapping of aspects, as will happen with Scrooge by the end of the story.

Scrooge is “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!” (page 2). He keeps the coals to himself in his office (page 4), so poor Bob Cratchit, his over-worked, underpaid clerk, has barely a glowing coal or two at the fireplace by his desk. This is on Christmas Eve, seven years to the day of Marley’s death, and when the Northern Hemisphere is facing the farthest away from the sun, the sun-god dead and yet to be reborn.

Part of Scrooge’s meanness is his general misanthropy, reflected in his contempt for his cheerful nephew Fred, who insists on inviting Scrooge to his Christmas party, in spite of knowing his uncle will refuse to attend (pages 5-8). Next, Scrooge refuses to give to two portly charity collectors (pages 9-11), preferring to support the workhouses and other austere government-provided institutions, like the debtor’s prisons, the Poor Law, and the Treadmill.

Such government provisions are the worst kinds that the bourgeois state has to offer, and Scrooge won’t even give to charity, another bourgeois form of pity. The most charity he can muster is to allow Cratchit to have a paid day off on Christmas, and Scrooge does this only with a grudging scowl (page 13).

When Scrooge gets home, a suite of rooms once owned by Marley, he encounters the ghost of his old partner (pages 15, 19-27). This ghost could be said to be a parody of the risen Christ, for Scrooge is like a doubting Thomas believing he is hallucinating at the sight of Marley’s ghost from having eaten bad food. Only the ghastly sight of screaming Marley’s broken jaw, falling to his chest after his having removed a bandage wrapped around his head, frightens Scrooge into believing in Marley; this is like Thomas seeing  the stigmata and spear-wound in the side of the risen Christ before finally believing. Marley, like Christ, has harrowed Hell, and suffers from it.

Marley’s ghost is also like the ghost of Hamlet’s father, who has suffered in Purgatory, a temporary Hell: both ghosts tell the respective protagonists of the difficult but necessary things they must do to redeem themselves and their world. Scrooge, like Hamlet, is rich, and therefore, powerful; he’s also a reluctant hero, like the Dane, with a long list of personality flaws, yet with much potential for good.

Marley tells Scrooge of the three ghosts that will visit him, three ghosts that will effect the redeeming transformation in him–beginning, middle, and end, a kind of Trinity, or Trimurti, in themselves (more on that later). Then the ghost goes to a window, Scrooge following (pages 27-28). They both watch the pitiful spectacle of a homeless mother holding her baby, trying her best to keep it warm. Ghosts of men like Marley are out there, too, trying in vain to redeem themselves for their lifetimes of avarice.  One of them, one Scrooge is familiar with, cries at being unable to assist the woman and her child. “The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.” (page 28)

That is the end of Stave One. Stave Two begins with the arrival of the Ghost of Christmas Past, a paradoxical-looking character, both young and old-looking at the same time (page 32). A bright light glows about his head, yet he has a large candle extinguisher for a cap. As a ghost of the past, he represents the old brought back new again; his is a light that has been snuffed out before, and will be snuffed out again. The old must die for the new to be born. This ghost, showing the creation and growth of the miser in Scrooge, is Brahma just after the leaving of Śiva.

As the ghost shows Scrooge the shadows of his Christmases as a boy and a young man, we see how Scrooge came to be the miser that he is. His father seems to have been cold and unloving to him, so he’s been a lonely schoolboy; and only on the Christmas of the first shown memory has his father finally warmed up to him, to have him come home (page 41). It is plain to see that a negative father imago has already been built up in young Ebenezer’s psyche, with his little sister, Fan, as his only good object relation for the time, to compensate for the psychological damage his father has done to him. Still, she will die after bearing Fred, and Scrooge will repeat the same cold relationship with his nephew as his father had with him. This harsh relationship is more fully developed in the 1951 movie.

Scrooge prefers wealth and gain over “dowerless” Belle, his girlfriend from a poor family; though he’s never said it to her, his preference is too obvious to her to ignore, so she chooses to “release” him, knowing a “golden…idol has displaced” her (pages 50-51). This preference, of the pleasure of owning money, over people is an example of failed object relations (i.e., ‘object‘ = a person other than oneself), as Fairbairn once observed: “…from the point of view of object-relationship psychology, explicit pleasure-seeking represents a deterioration of behaviour…Explicit pleasure-seeking has as its essential aim the relieving of the tension of libidinal need for the mere sake of relieving this tension. Such a process does, of course, occur commonly enough; but, since libidinal need is object-need, simple tension-relieving implies some failure of object-relationships.” (Fairbairn, p. 139-140)

When we fail to get the love we truly need and crave, we replace it with the shoddy substitutes of money, drugs, sex, pornography, alcohol, etc. Scrooge’s rage and regret over discovering Belle’s marriage to another man, as well as their large litter of children, a rage expressed in his snuffing out of the light of the Ghost of Christmas Past, underscores the reality that, deep down, it’s love and relationships, not money, that Scrooge has longed for so badly.

The Ghost of Christmas Present, “a jolly giant” in a green robe with a holly wreath around his head, is seen by Scrooge in a room full of “turkeys, geese, game, poultry,…sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings”, chestnuts, apples, oranges, pears, etc. (page 59). All of this plenty, food that preserves and maintains life, represents the living reality of now; as the previous Christmas ghost was Brahma, this one is Vishnu. He shows Scrooge the lives of ordinary, working class people, including a miners’ cottage (pages 78-79), sailors during a storm at sea (pages 79-80), and, of course, the Cratchit family (pages 67-77). Scrooge is touched to see the love in this family.

He is especially moved by Tiny Tim, a sweet boy one couldn’t dislike if one tried, one who is a sick cripple. When his parents show their fear of him dying, Scrooge feels an emotion he surely hasn’t felt in years: compassion. All those US politicians who refuse to allow single-payer healthcare could do well to see the millions of faces of the sick proletariat who can’t afford the healthcare they need, all those Tiny Tims who are being ignored.

At the end of Scrooge’s time with the Ghost of Christmas Present, two filthy, emaciated children are discovered to be hiding under his robe, sitting at the ghost’s feet. The boy is Ignorance, the girl is Want: Scrooge is warned to beware of both, but especially to beware the boy.

How many of us fetishists of commodities fail to beware the boy? We eagerly buy the latest smartphones, electric cars, etc., ignorant of how the cobalt needed to make them is found; this cobalt has been mined by children “in the bowels of the earth” in the DRC. The corporations that exploit this labour either claim ignorance of how they get their cobalt, or claim they’re taking measures to solve the problem: should we be buying their claims of innocence?

Dickens was decrying the evils of 19th century industrial capitalism in England, and how these evils were causing suffering among the British working class, especially children. The contemporary equivalent of this problem is capitalist imperialism, which is exploiting the global proletariat, the millions of people who live in Third World countries like the DRC.

Dickens’s proposed solution in this novella was to have ‘kinder, gentler’ capitalists. This might be acceptable, to some extent at least, in First World countries; but it solves nothing for the Third World, where suffering was plenty acute even when Keynesian capitalism, coupled with better social welfare programs, was ‘kinder and gentler’ for the white Western world from 1945-1973.

The Ghost of Christmas Present actually ages and ‘dies’ at the end of the day (pages 89-91). This is appropriate, given he represents the living now of the current Christmas, a preserving Vishnu. The end of the current Christmas means the end of his existence.

Immediately after his demise appears his successor, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a mute spirit shrouded in deathly black who communicates only with hand gestures. As the previous ghost was of the living present (Vishnu), the final ghost is of a future of death and destruction…Śiva. Indeed, death looms throughout the shadows presented to an increasingly terrified Scrooge.

In the first of these shadows, some businessmen are seen discussing a recently deceased, rich old man (pages 94-96). None of them shows any sadness over his death. Typical capitalists: they have no more pity over the falling of a rival member of the ruling class than they would over the deaths among the proletariat. The more and more repentant miser clings, with an ever-loosening grip, to the hope that this spoken-of dead old man, one whose death is–if anything–celebrated rather than mourned, isn’t himself.

Another microcosm of capitalism is shown in Old Joe, a fence who profits off of stolen items, in this case stolen from the despised old man (pages 98-103). The capitalist meets his karma among the cackling leeches who get money from Joe for such items as stolen bed curtains and blankets.

In contrast to the apathy felt toward the dead old man, Tiny Tim’s death is profoundly mourned by the Cratchits (pages 107-112). Scrooge has no family to grieve over him: Fred and his wife are missing among the shadows shown to Scrooge; has the miser done something to end the patience of his long-suffering nephew?

Finally, Scrooge sees his austere-looking gravestone in an uncaring graveyard at night: his corpse lies there as lonely as the boy in that classroom in the first of the shadows the Ghost of Christmas Past showed Scrooge. Fan’s spirit won’t come to comfort him now. Terrified into repentance, he promises to change his ways, and as we know, he grows into a generous man, buying a huge turkey for the Cratchit family, promising a large donation (including “back-payments”–page 121) to one of the charity-seeking portly gentlemen from the beginning of the story, and finally appreciating family and relationships by attending Fred’s party (pages 122-123).

After raising Bob Cratchit’s salary (page 124), Tiny Tim is given the medical help he needs, and Scrooge is now known to be “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.” (page 125) Kinder, gentler capitalists: this, apparently, is Dickens’s proposed solution to the socio-economic ills of “the good old world”.

In the parlance of our time–peak liberalism.

One wonders if the ‘generosity’ of the Bill Gates Foundation, or the Clinton Foundation, or anything Trump or Jeff Bezos are doing, is in any way helping the millions of people who die of vaccine-preventable disease or malnutrition each year, in a world where we’ve been producing more than enough food to feed the whole planet. Lots of money is spent on the military, to kill people, but not so much to help people.

Then again, Christmas is just a celebration of the birth of Christ, as opposed to his salvific  death. The day of the birth of Sol Invictus is only the beginning of the light, the birth of the coming warmer days. That Christmas Day of the redeemed, ‘reborn’ Scrooge is just the beginning of his new goodness, the ‘kinder, gentler’ capitalist who, it is to be hoped, will inspire others in power to help the poor.

‘Kinder, gentler’ capitalists of this sort are far from enough, though, if social justice is something we are truly committed to. Eisenhower’s administration demanded higher taxes from the rich, but the US imperialism of the time also helped with the ouster of Mohammad Mosaddegh; then there was the coup d’état in Guatemala. LBJ wanted to build the Great Society, but early in his administration, the Gulf of Tonkin incident fraudulently involved the US in the Vietnam War, which would lead to bad feeling against him. “We [were] all Keynesians” under Nixon, whose administration used the CIA to replace Salvador Allende with Pinochet, and bombed the Hell out of Cambodia.

More will be needed to help the global poor than Keynesian capitalism with a strong welfare state (of the post-WWII sort inspired by the USSR and other socialist states of the 20th century), of the sort that existed from 1945-1973, and which helped only the First World proletariat. The Tiny Tims, and Ignorance and Want wretches, of today won’t be saved by the generous Scrooge of social democracy: perhaps a spectre (like the one that once haunted Europe) or two, or three or four–ghosts from the past to inspire new ones in the present and future–will replace all the Scrooges and Marleys, be they stingy or redeemed, with workers’ co-ops of Cratchits; maybe those spectres will bring that newborn baby of a sun of winter to a bright, warm sun of spring and summer, from the baby Christ of December to the Saviour in April.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Puffin Books, New York, 1843

Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, Lexington, KY, 2014

WRD Fairbairn, Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality, Routledge, London, 1952

The Nail

Foreword: What follows is a long, complex, and nuanced argument. It is long because there is no simple way to express the opinions given here. Since I will be touching on some controversial ideas here, I will ask the reader to continue right to the end, and not let his or her preconceptions cause a premature giving up on the argument, to jump to oversimplified conclusions about what my beliefs really are about the subject. Please read without prejudice. This post is meant to be read as a totality, with all of the arguments’ tints and shades weighed in the balance, not plucked out of context to create straw-man arguments.

I: Introduction

“‘…’virtue’ has been impaired more for me by its boring advocates than by anything else…” –Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, ‘Our Virtues’, section 228 (Walter Kaufmann translation)

I once watched this amusing video on Facebook.

Now, as amusing as this video is, it also–whether deliberately or not–can be seen to represent certain political issues that similarly require us all to “listen, and believe,” instead of engaging in rational debate. The ones who require this ‘listening and believing’ are not all women, of course–indeed, many women in the world would prefer rational debate, and many of those who’d have us all ‘listen and believe’ are men–but those that the listen-and-believe faction claim to speak for are women. I refer here to third wave feminists.

I would like to start off by saying that I am in full support of equality for the sexes, and therefore of first and second wave feminism: no discrimination against either sex is even remotely justified in my opinion. I’m not one of those MRAs who rant and rave on Reddit about how women and feminists are, apparently, the root of all evil.

At the same time, though, I don’t believe it’s my duty as a man to lick the boots of third wave feminists, either, who are in many ways the heirs of the preachers of academic Marxism, who in turn are isolated in their ivory towers (in corporate-controlled universities, no less) from the working class they claim to represent. All ideas, whether popular or not, whether politically correct or not, should be properly debated instead of being given sacrosanct ‘safe spaces.’ If women are as strong as men are, then feminists can take criticism as well as dish it out.

Issues regarding the sexes are complex: it is by no means a straightforward task to sort out who the heroes and villains are (if people should even be so simplistically called ‘heroes’ or ‘villains’) in the struggle to liberate us all from the chains of sex roles. There are the well-intentioned and the malicious in all factions, as well as those who are a combination of good and bad. All should be listened to, but none should be credulously believed without first checking the facts. Similarly, if I have asserted anything here that you, Dear Reader, find unbelievable, please check the links to see how my assertions have been backed up.

II: The Wage Gap

Let the shit-storm begin.

A popular statistic gets trumpeted around in the media: women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. It is assumed that this is all unequal pay for equal work. Actually, these kinds of figures are derived merely by looking at overall averages in pay. It doesn’t take into account choices that men and women make–for example, married mothers taking fewer hours at work to have more time for their children, as opposed to fathers taking on more hours, out of a societally-induced obligation, to provide more money for the family.

Nor do these wage gap myths take into account such factors as years of work experience, or the nature of the jobs themselves (the danger pay made by miners, construction workers, etc., stereotypically male jobs, as opposed to the lower pay of office workers, secretaries, teachers, etc., in well-lit, air-conditioned rooms, more stereotypically female jobs, partly because they are jobs women usually prefer over dangerous jobs). If such factors as these are taken into account, the ‘wage gap’ is reduced almost to zero. Now, none of this means that discrimination against women doesn’t exist at all in the West, but rather that it isn’t the gargantuan problem it is said to be.

There is another objection that must be cleared up here: it is often said that women aren’t so much choosing to do these more traditional female jobs, but rather they are societally coerced into doing them because ‘gender’ is a social construct created by ‘the patriarchy’ to keep women down. Put another way, society somehow brainwashes women into being passive, maternal, and gentle (while similarly giving men the supposedly joyous opportunity of being strong and dominant–even though a small minority of men are in dominant positions in the social hierarchy: most men are workers, in the lower echelons of the pyramid; many of us forget that. The vast majority of leadership positions being held by men is not the same as the vast majority of men holding leadership positions.).

This notion of brainwashing women can only be seen as condescending to anyone capable of rational thought. Surely after fifty years of modern feminism, most Western women are aware not only of their sense of agency, but also their expanded opportunities: more women than men graduate from universities, and though women in STEM fields are still minorities, those minorities are hardly the result of societal discouragement (nor is it due to discrimination against women, as is commonly assumed); indeed, if a man suggests–even in jest–that women are less capable than men in such fields, or are more delicate than men, it is instant career suicide for him.

The mainstream Western media, far from limiting women to the traditional roles of housewife, mother, and caregiver (as it had 50-60 years ago), constantly shows women in professional roles in TV and movies, roles once considered only the domain of men: lawyers, doctors, police, politicians, ambitious career women, and fighters. Though women in such roles are obviously dwarfed by their male counterparts, and they tend to be too beautiful too often, these portrayals are clearly meant to inspire and encourage girls to pursue such careers in real life. A whole generation of girls has grown up being told they can do anything a man can. Contrast this with the portrayal of men in commercials, songs, music videos, movies, etc., as either stupid, hopeless losers or incorrigibly wicked.

The encouragement of girls is a wonderfully positive development, and while I personally can do without its lapsing into a female form of chauvinism, it’s also proof that no patriarchal brainwashing of girls exists in the modern Western world. To explain the ‘pay gap’, we must look elsewhere than the sexism theory.

III: Sex Roles–a Reinterpretation

Conventional wisdom has perpetuated the idea that the traditional role of breadwinner privileges men, while the traditional role of housewife enslaves women. Now there is no doubt that doing housework has more than its share of frustrations: the drudgery, the dull routine, the feeling of being like a prisoner in one’s own home. But a man in an office can feel the same way, and the stress of men’s intensified breadwinning, traditional sex role (including holding in feelings, out of the societally-induced obligation to ‘take it like a man’) has been one of many factors leading to them dying considerably younger than women on average (this was especially true in the 20th century). Women report more stress and manage it better than men do, but reporting and managing stress is part of the solution: holding it in and pretending it isn’t there is part of the problem. Hence, stress in men leads to greater mental and physical illness in them than in women, hence, earlier death.

Also, consider how men do almost all of the hazardous jobs: construction workers, soldiers, miners…even garbagemen don’t have a safe job. Over 90% of workplace deaths happen to men.

But ultimately, there shouldn’t be a competition between MRAs and feminists, for all of this comparing of which sex has it worse is beside the point: sex roles were never meant as a conspiracy to privilege one sex at the expense of the other; they were created because, historically, they were the most sensible way to ensure survival. In the past, when the great majority of people did physical labour to make a living, men’s greater physical strength gave women protection, an especially needed thing during the incapacitating final months of pregnancy, before the rise of modern medicine.

The fact that women are the sex that gets pregnant has huge social implications. When a woman gives birth, we can see that she is the mother of that newborn baby; but who was the man who got her pregnant nine months ago? If we cannot identify the father, whichever lovers the mother may have had can all deny paternity: mothers cannot. This is the cruel double standard imposed on women; nature is the unfair one. Patrilineal succession, which motivates fathers to commit to family life rather than abandon pregnant women, is merely society’s rigid attempt to remedy the problem of fatherless families.

I am not recommending a return to such a backward form of social organization. Many of the methods used to ensure the legal fiction of paternity–veiling women, female genital mutilation, killing women merely suspected of lewdness (stoning, honour beatings)–are clearly dysfunctional and abhorrent even to contemplate. What I am trying to do is show that ensuring paternity, for all of its obviously execrable methods, was historically preferable to having a society with litters of fatherless children, a terrible burden for single mothers. Also, the negative psychological effects on children who are fatherless are well-documented.

Fortunately, in today’s society we have DNA testing to ascertain paternity; also–in the developed countries, at least–modern technology, modern medicine, the birth control pill, and economic growth have to a considerable extent liberated women by, among other things, shrinking the burdens of housekeeping from a 24/7 job to a flexible part-time one, allowing women to choose between full-time housekeeping, full-time work outside the home, or some combination of both jobs. Men, on the other hand, have a slight variation on these options: work full-time, and…oh, wait, that’s it, with far too few exceptions. (If more women were willing to support a husband, on the other hand…) Another rarely acknowledged issue is how the modernizing mentioned above was largely the responsibility of the ‘oppressor sex.’ [For more details on this idea, check out “Chapter Two: Stage I to Stage II: How Successful Men Freed Women (But Forgot to Free Themselves)” from Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power.]

To return to the subject of traditional sex roles, another issue, one apart from the need to assure paternity, comes from women being the sex that gets pregnant: the greater need to protect women than to protect men. A tribe with, say, one man each to impregnate every ten women has a far better chance of surviving than a tribe of ten men for every one woman, since population growth is crucial to the survival of the community. When we consider how, through most of history, death and disease were around the corner, women frequently died when giving birth, and children frequently didn’t survive to adulthood–due to a lack of modern medicine–it should be easy to see how seriously people took the idea of protecting women for the sake of survival. Small wonder most soldiers in history have been men. Small wonder most dangerous jobs are done by men. Small wonder society values men rescuing damsels in distress instead of women saving men. The feminists who complain about all this ‘benevolent sexism‘ tend to be those in comfortable offices in the First World, for the most part out of reach of the danger, disease, or the destruction of war that plagues developing countries. Women in the Third World, in contrast, usually accept traditional roles eagerly: when you and your family are starving, you tend not to care about GamerGate.

What most third-wave feminists tend to ignore is how women have been honoured–even held in awe–as the Giver of Life. During the Palaeolithic Age, the male role in reproduction wasn’t known: it was assumed that women created life in the womb all by themselves, until such things as cattle-breeding, during the transition to the Neolithic Age, helped man to discover the link between copulation and procreation. The notion of woman as Giver of Life, whose menstruation was once considered a sacred, divine power, was already lodged into our unconscious, though, as was the dually sacred and taboo nature of her genitals. This is the real meaning behind holding women up on pedestals: worshipping feminine beauty, far more than male beauty, as divine; this traditional respect for women (something blacks, gays, and transgender people never experienced as compensation for the bigotry they’ve suffered) can be traced back to such matrilineal practices as ancient goddess worship.

This awe of the Eternal Feminine continued in the worship of goddesses in otherwise patriarchal pagan societies (there’s always a nucleus of matriarchy in every cell of patriarchy): though the Confucianists clearly favoured the male, the Taoists, in their preference of feminine yin over masculine yang, counterbalanced the Confucianists by preferring women. According to Gulik’s Sexual Life in Ancient China, “The Taoists…venerated woman because they considered her as by nature closer to those forces [the primordial forces of nature] than man, and because in her womb new life is created and fostered.” (page 43)

Consider also the implications of the ancient Chinese characters for man and for woman, especially as they were originally written: “…the Yin graph for “woman” consists of a picture of a kneeling human figure the most distinctive feature of which is a pair of disproportionally large breasts…breasts and not, for instance, hands akimbo in wide sleeves, is proved…by the graph for “mother” mu, which has the nipples added…The graph for “man” nan, on the other hand, consists of a square picture of a piece of cultivated land, and another sign indicating to “to work”…This suggests that whereas the Yin principle considered woman chiefly as the nourishing mother, man was viewed primarily in his function of tiller of the land and provider of the family–a distinction which points in matriarchal direction.” (page 5)

Eve (Hebrew hawah, ‘life’) was “the mother of all living.” The almost Isis-like Virgin Mary continues this tradition of honouring mothers in otherwise patriarchal monotheism; and part of the purpose of veiling Muslim women is, apart from restricting their freedoms, to protect them from objectification and the ‘mental rape’ of the male gaze, among other dangers (Koran Surah 33:59). Here we see how traditional notions of femininity and radical feminism aren’t as dissimilar as they seem.

The awe of femininity continues in Europe through the Courtly Love Tradition in medieval literature, in which the female objects of male poets’ love are practically worshipped as goddesses. If a woman was her husband’s property, so was a man his wife’s, in many ways. Consider what Provost and Pompey say at the beginning of scene two of Act 4 in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure:

Provost: Come hither, sirrah. Can you cut off a man’s head?

Pompey: If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can; but if he be a married man, he’s his wife’s head, and I can never cut off a woman’s head.

A man’s whole raison d’être is to work, marry, and provide for a family: if he fails to fulfill these duties, he’s shamed, considered less of a man, every bit as much as a spinster is considered less of a woman.

None of this is meant to discredit the many legitimate issues that the women’s movement has raised. I’m not suggesting, through the above examples, that some kind of ‘traditional sexual equality’ has existed throughout history: quite the opposite is true. I merely wish to show that traditional roles have been a mix of honour and oppression for both sexes. Traditional awe of the virtuous virgin certainly makes women feel confined in many ways, but it also privileges them through a presumption of innocence men rarely get (Farrell, 267-299).

Remember that, while the Virgin Mary represents an unattainable ideal for women, so does Hercules for men. Dashing male heroes don’t privilege men–they pressure men to risk death in real life–all just ‘to prove one’s manhood.’ All those male daredevils on motorcycles, etc., do what they do because masculinity is embattled and fragile. Women, as bearers of our sons and daughters, menstruating every month, usually feel little doubt about their femininity–even if they’re unattractive or getting old. Their very bodies ensure their respect–the flip-side of how their bodies are too often sexually objectified.

Now, many of the generalizations that I’ve made about women will doubtless come across as ‘ignorant’ to my readers here. But what must be taken into consideration is the plethora of ignorant generalizations, almost all negative, that are made about men, too, and how the mainstream media and ‘polite’ discourse allows such ignorance to be perpetuated. The egregious website, ‘Everyday Feminism’, is particularly painful when it comes to its ignorant attitudes towards men, attitudes the writers there can get away with making (often with few links to back up their generalizations), since one tends not to find any ‘comments’ sections at the bottom of an article where, had there been one, the pages would surely be bombarded with trolling. Obviously, the writers there need the site to be a ‘safe space’, safe from criticism.

In contrast, I’m not criticizing women as a sex, nor am I even criticizing feminism in general: I’m limiting my criticisms to third wave and radical feminism, and I’m doing my best to back up my claims with sources, since I know my controversial observations won’t just blow by without a reaction of some kind against them.

In a larger sense, though, we’re all limited by our own forms of ignorance and foolish assumptions. This doesn’t necessarily make us ‘bad people’: it makes us human. Anyone who takes issue with what I’ve said may, of course, comment. Personal attacks, verbal abuse, and trolling for its own sake, however, will be ignored. Points of disagreement will be dealt with in a future blog post, either of my acknowledging my errors, or backing my points up with, I hope, more persuasive proof and counterarguments.

IV: Men’s Issues and MRAs

As I’ve said above, I am not an MRA. I don’t believe in wallowing in male victimhood any more than most reasonable women wallow in female victimhood, these being pet hobbies of MRAs and third-wave feminists. Yet just as there are non-feminists who acknowledge real women’s issues in the world (to be dealt with below), there are also non-MRAs who acknowledge men’s issues. For it is the issues themselves (those of both sexes) that need to be focused on, not the validity of the movements that obsess over the issues.

I have already mentioned a few of these: men’s near monopoly on workplace deaths, obligation to fight in wars, obligation to be breadwinners for their wives instead of wives’ obligation to provide financially for househusbands. There are also the earlier deaths of men on average. Third-wave feminists, ever insisting that they only want equality, rarely pay attention to any of these and a number of other men’s issues; but an honest fight for equality of the sexes must include a discussion of these problems.

Other issues include male suicide (four men for each woman), health issues like prostate cancer getting disproportionately less funding than breast cancer, the great majority of child custody cases going in favour of women, most of the homeless being male, and men being given heavier punishments than women for committing the same crimes. When we consider the deplorable state of prison labour for corporations to profit from (and ‘liberals’ like Hillary Clinton, who could become America’s next president, is getting funding from these capitalists), and how it’s essentially a form of slave labour, we easily see the classism and racism (the convicts are disproportionately poor, black, Hispanic, or aboriginal), but we rarely see the sexism (they’re mostly men). If there was ever a form of disenfranchisement par excellence, it’s prison labour. But men do most of it, so we look the other way. Instead, third-wave feminists wring their hands over ‘man-spreading‘, ‘shirt-gate‘, ‘GamerGate’, and ‘elevator-gate‘. Stop the world, I want to get off: which gate will get me out of here?

Now we must deal with the rationalizations typically used for not caring about men’s issues. Male deaths in war are blamed on men, since the vast majority of those who have started history’s wars were male leaders. Indeed, third wave feminists often indulge in the female chauvinist self-congratulation that ‘peace-loving’ women would never cause wars if they were the leaders. The reinforcing of the stereotype of the loving woman versus the warlike male (blithely ignoring hawkish women leaders like Elizabeth I, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, and Margaret Thatcher, as well as male pacifists like Mohandas Gandhi, etc.) ultimately betrays the third wave feminists’ ignorance of the whole reason for the existence of war. They, spouting postmodernism and political correctness in their comfortable offices, have rarely been in the trenches, I can safely assume; not surprisingly, they reduce war to men with their army ‘toys’ playing boys’ games.

This is egregious ignorance on the level of ‘anarcho’-capitalists spuriously equating fascism and Naziism with socialism. War isn’t a game: it’s a competition for access to land and resources. Capitalist imperialism has aggravated that murderous competition; and while most of the leaders who have brought about these wars are male, the females in the families of the ruling class have enjoyed the benefits and privileges of empire every bit as much as their male counterparts have, and without sharing the responsibility equally (even though they eagerly endorse the military aggressions of their fathers, brothers, and husbands). The world should be every bit as mad at conservative women like Laura Bush, who in a speech obscenely exploited the plight of Muslim women under the Taliban, which was used as part of the justification for the neocon agenda in Afghanistan (and later, Iraq) in the early 2000s.

When it comes to war-mongering, equality is largely at the top. The deaths on the front lines are almost all boys and young men: legs blown off by land mines, chests riddled with bullets; and the survivors’ memento when they go home is a dash of PTSD. The idea that university students get ‘triggered’ by subject matter they deem offensive or objectionable (usually, such material merely challenges their politically correct assumptions of the world) is a slap in the face to the surviving victims of war, be they military or civilian casualties, who really experience recurring flashbacks of their trauma.

When people speak of the intersectionality of race, ‘gender’, and class, they imply that all white males correspond with the bourgeoisie, and that all women, including white ones, are part of the proletariat. Put another way, men are the ‘whites’ and women are the ‘blacks‘. While it is obvious that blacks, Hispanics, and aboriginals of both sexes are far too often among the poor, both sexes are more or less equally distributed among the upper, middle, and lower classes. Women are the only ‘minority’ that is actually a slight majority.

Now, the lack of access to education for girls is a serious problem in much of the world, one that prevents women from attaining needed financial independence from men; but it’s not like every man is a prince with a pauper for a wife. Show us the male millionaires and billionaires of the world, and we’ll see their wives or girlfriends at their sides, enjoying plentiful access to their wealth, or we’ll learn of their ex-wives, who gouged out a huge amount of their wealth in divorce settlements. The male homeless generally don’t have wives, an obvious point, except that we tend to ignore them as part of the male sex.

We tend to think of a world with men at the top, and women at the bottom, just like whites at the top and blacks at the bottom. Actually, men tend to occupy both extremes more often than women: more geniuses, but also more idiots; more millionaires, but also more derelicts (who have been treated more and more like vermin in recent years); more winners, but also more losers (criminals, alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally ill, suicides, and murder victims). When third wave feminists seethe with rage at all those men at the top, they blind themselves to all the men at the bottom, dismissing them as ‘inadequate’ or ‘pathetic’, instead of showing the compassion stereotypically ascribed to women. Like many of those bitter MRAs who are enraged over being consigned to the ‘friend-zone’, these feminists are focusing on only a portion of the opposite sex, the portion that is the most sexually attractive. Like the invisible obese or older women who lack the sexual power of their younger, shapelier counterparts, there are also bald, fat, older, short, or poor men who lack the financial or political power of their more desirable counterparts; and rather than feeling ‘entitled’ to sex with women, as many third wave feminists complain about the ‘friend-zoned’, actually these men are just lonely and starving for love. Contrary to popular belief, straight men don’t want only sex from a woman; they want a loving relationship, of which sex is just a part, and they want this from a woman every bit as much as a straight woman wants these things from a man.

Creating true equality for the sexes, therefore, should not be so simplistically reduced to a matter of raising women up to a lofty level that all men are assumed to have always enjoyed. True justice means also raising those men who are homeless, victims of violence, incarcerated, suicidal, or in hazardous jobs, out of the ‘glass cellar’.

However sympathetic I may be to a number of men’s issues, though, I’m not always sympathetic to the way they are articulated by MRAs. While the feminist accusations of misogyny among MRAs are exaggerated (as, to be fair, the charge of misandry among feminists is over-generalized, too: indeed, I’ve even known a few third-wavers who aren’t outright man-haters; I would say, instead, that these otherwise nice people are unaware of how their opinions are informed by propaganda rather than facts), way too many MRAs express their frustrations in a totally inappropriate way. Paul Elam can be particularly prickly: I was disgusted with him when he made this very ungentlemanly remark (to put it mildly) about women’s softening influence in the workplace. That wasn’t an isolated incident, either, and it sends the wrong message to the world. Small wonder MRAs are stereotyped as woman-haters.

When it comes to the leaders of the men’s movement, I always preferred the more soft-spoken approach of Warren Farrell, though his grooming of Paul Elam is, I believe, ill-advised. Still, if we shouldn’t stereotype all feminists as ‘femi-Nazis’, just because of the mentally unstable types like Valerie Solanas, Andrea Dworkin, Kate Millet, and ‘Big Red’, why do we stereotype all MRAs as being, at best, crass big mouths like Elam, and at worst, violent, woman-hating psychotics?

Indeed, an example of the kind of blatantly, deliberately misleading propaganda (scroll down and read Jack Strawb’s comment in the Comments section of this link for a rebuttal of the propaganda) that we have come to expect from the mainstream media can be seen in the labelling of sexually frustrated psychopaths like Elliot Rodger as MRAs. (The media also can’t resist labelling that immature kid as a white male, even though he was actually half-Asian; not that his racial identity should matter one iota, but in our ‘liberal’ and ‘tolerant’ age, colour keeps getting brought up.) What is the proof, beyond the spurious evidence of stereotypical ‘MRA’ misogyny in the rantings of his ‘manifesto’ (in which he also expressed hatred of men), that he was an MRA? Answer: he is known to have visited a few PUA websites. Apparently, guilty as charged…

…Not. The mainstream media, in all of its shameless lying, enjoys conflating MRAs, PUAs, and other Y-chromosome types into an apparently indistinguishable online mass called the ‘manosphere’. While it is true that most of the men in this group are, in varying degrees, traditionally male and critical of feminism, such an admission does not lead inescapably to the idea that they’re all MRAs. MRAs are actually quite a diverse group, some even being socialists.

Many in the ‘manosphere’ aren’t MRAs, but rather are opposed to the men’s movement. Indeed, I remember conservative men calling the men’s movement the ‘war of the wusses’ back in the 1990s. The MRA agenda is to improve the lives of men, sometimes challenging the traditional male role (when it’s harmful to men, as we’ve seen above), sometimes critiquing feminism (because it has clearly harmed men in more ways than it has helped us). PUAs, on the other hand, merely teach men how to get laid.

Since MRAs recognize that the traditional male role hurts men, and initiating dates with women, or pursuing them, is part of that harmful role (i.e., men risk rejection; and the hurt Elliot Rodger felt from being rejected by the beauty queens that society addicted him to is what drove him to kill or injure his victims, who, by the way, were mostly men), then it is clear that PUAs are the antithesis of the MRA worldview. The whole MGTOW movement is all about men freeing themselves from the societally-induced addiction to female sexuality. Being an MRA is not about pursuing women. Ergo, Rodger was no MRA.

V: Rape and ‘Rape Culture’

As every decent person knows, rape is an abhorrent outrage that cannot be tolerated, anywhere or any time. It is a serious crime whose frequency must be brought as close to zero as humanly possible. It doesn’t matter how provocatively a woman may be dressed: men never have the right to force women to have sex, regardless of whether they’re our wives, dates, friends, or complete strangers.

For these reasons, the study of the frequency of rape, as well as how to prevent it, must be as well-equipped as possible with reliable facts. With these two issues in mind, we now have to examine, first, the media’s representation of rape’s frequency (going everywhere from the most publicized to the least publicized of statistics); and second, effective methods for the prevention of rape (as well as ineffective, but greatly popularized, ones).

It is impossible to get consistently reliable statistics of the frequency of rape, since, depending on the research methods, statistics ranging from one in two women being raped, to one in one hundred, can be found. Which figures can be trusted? We really shouldn’t be surprised that the mainstream media has, over the past thirty years, favoured statistics of one in two, one in three, one in four, or one in five, over one in twenty, twenty-five, or fifty. There are two main reasons for this, as I see it: first, there is conservative zeal to protect women from danger (this is the chivalrous ‘women and children first’ mentality, i.e., when a ship is sinking; it’s safer to believe too high a percentage than one that’s too low); second, there is the influence of third wave feminists, who are eager to give maximum media exposure to high percentages for the male rape of women (we must remember that a not insignificant minority of third wave feminists see little difference between all forms of penile-vaginal intercourse and rape, and are on a vigorous campaign to convince Western women that they’re living in a ‘rape culture’).

But seriously, how do researchers come to the one in two, three, four, five, or six frequencies? Typically, these high percentages are the result of exaggerated definitions of rape. Furthermore, the university samples looked at aren’t nationally representative of US college campuses.

In case the reader is unsure of what rape actually is, I recommend viewing such unsettling movies as A Clockwork Orange, Death Wish, I Spit On Your Grave (a particularly anti-male film, actually), and Deliverance (men are sometimes victims of rape, too–an issue all too often forgotten). The victim is physically forced to engage in sexual activity. But these statistics include as examples of rape such things as a man begging and pleading for sex until a woman gives in, ‘mercy sex’–no physical force used at all; a woman getting drunk in a bar, a man–also drunk in the bar–taking her home and sleeping with her, and her regretting it the next day (perhaps because he didn’t call her afterwards); a man making out with a girl, then sneaking his finger inside her vagina or anus, and she slaps him, him blushing and sheepishly apologizing after. It can be reasonably argued that the men in these situations have, to varying extents, behaved badly; but are they rapists? Can their faults be in any way compared with those of Alexander the Large or any of the other low-lifes depicted in the movies mentioned above? (See Chapter 10, ‘Rape Research’, in Sommers [1994].)

Another interesting thing to consider is what happens when we ask both sexes the same broad-based questions used to get those percentages of 50, 33, 25, or 20: the men’s answers also give high percentages of ‘rape’ frequency! (See Farrell, 1993, pages 339-340.) Now it seems as if almost everyone is getting raped. This is how rape gets trivialized. I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but as a man, I was raised with the understanding that rape is one of the most horrifying, despicable things ever done to its victims, be they men, women, or children. These high percentages give off, by the nature of how ‘common’ they make rape appear to be, the impression that rape is just ‘one of those things,’ a sad fact of everyday life. I beg to differ: I consider rape to be something much worse than that.

Along with the seriousness of the rape of women and children is also that of the rape of men. It is often noted how rapes of women are underreported by their victims, for fear that they’ll be called ‘whores’ who were ‘asking for it’. This, of course, is a serious issue that compounds the women’s pain and therefore must be addressed. Another consideration should be all the underreported homosexual rapes of men, where the victims are afraid of receiving ‘gay’ slurs. The fact that society stereotypes men as always wanting sex is no help in this regard, either.

It is assumed that the rapists of men and boys are always men, thus deflecting sympathy away from the victims and reinforcing the feminist myth of ‘toxic masculinity’. Actually, apart from prison rape (in which it must be emphasized that the victims are no less victims just because ‘their own Y-chromosome kind’ raped them), many rapists of men, amazingly, are women, and it could be that many, if not most, molesters of boys (aside from the pedophile priest stereotype) are women (really, really underreported: see Farrell [1993], pages 222-223 ). Consider women teachers seducing their boy students. Just because a man or boy has an erection doesn’t automatically mean he wants sex. Again, while it would be wrong to suggest that third wave feminists never sympathize with this issue, they certainly pay far too little attention to it.

As we can see, third wave feminism and conservatism have taken rape and made a two-sex issue into a ‘gendered’ one, prioritizing women at the expense of men. These two supposedly opposed groups have done the same thing with domestic violence, assuming that battered wives are the rule and that battered husbands are the exception, when actually dozens of studies have been done over the decades that show sexual symmetry in domestic violence at every level of severity (sometimes, a greater number of female initiators of violence are found). Police records will never show this symmetry, since socialization to ‘take it like a man’ makes the battering of husbands far more underreported than the battering of wives. Again, conservative ‘misogynists’ typically favour protecting women over protecting men, just as third wave feminists do. The confluence of traditional and radical feminist thinking in this regard is truly quite eerie.

But pardon my digressions, Dear Reader. What statistics for the frequency of the male rape of women are reasonably trustworthy? I have discovered figures, ranging from one in twenty to one in twenty-five (Farrell, page 340), which acknowledge the many times that women don’t report having been raped, but also define rape as it really is–a forcible assault (the one-in-25 figure resulted from asking women anonymously in a national survey). These figures, unsurprisingly, get little media attention. Why? Isn’t the hierarchy of power and privilege in America and the rest of the West all right-wing, conservative patriarchy, which would prefer to focus on low percentages, to minimize blame of men and perpetuate that male privilege? Our society is certainly all capitalist, or state-capitalist. What statistic, however, have we heard quoted by Obama, that mouth-piece of the ruling class? (Similarly, Obama has quoted the 77-cents-to-the-dollar wage gap.)

Now let us consider effective methods to prevent the rape of women. Merely teaching women to dress ‘modestly’ is woefully inadequate, and leads to victim-blaming, which is of course no solution at all. But what about the popularized notion of ‘teaching men not to rape’? Obviously men have to learn how to curb their id impulses and control themselves. But how does one ‘teach’ men not to rape? Is there a course curriculum, by chance? Training films? Weekly pop quizzes, to keep us lecherous men on our toes? How gruelling the final exam must be! If we fail, how many retests do we get to take? What is a passing grade? 100%, I suspect.

One of the fundamental flaws of third wave feminism is its constant assumption that men are essentially morally degenerate animals that get off on hurting people, assumed to be male property. This assumption is also the basis of their anti-male bigotry, an odd position to have in a political group that professes a belief in sexual equality. To be sure, most perpetrators of violence are men; but when men are violent, they usually attack other men. Prior to third wave feminism’s hegemony over the mainstream media, people had a common-sense view of masculine aggression: some men are good, other men are bad. Good men use their strength to protect women, children, and society in general: contrary to the feminist conspiracy theory about ‘rape culture’, this protection of women is the societal ideal taught to all men; but some men fail to learn, either because of frustrations, due to such problems as financial instability making them unable to find a mate, or because of family abuse, or the failure to adapt to the pressures of the traditional male role, or just these men’s own personal inadequacies. The rage these men feel drives them to be the bad men they become, and they use their aggression in destructive ways. Sometimes, that destructiveness results in rape. Society doesn’t teach men to rape; society sometimes fails in its attempts to teach people good behaviour…but society does try its best.

That drunken, horny men normally control themselves among naked women in strip joints is proof that men in society do learn to refrain from raping women. Yes, there are some men in those establishments who, from time to time, shout rude remarks, grope the women, and behave in other loutish ways; but far more often, the bouncers aren’t needed to throw the lecherous, drunken pigs out of the bars. Usually, the men know that, besides the fear of being beaten up by the bouncers or the strippers’ boyfriends, the women who are turning them on are people, too.

Many leftists reading this will hiss and groan at my ‘insensitivity’ to the plight of objectified women. The very fact that women are far too often regarded only sexually is seen as proof that a ‘rape culture’ exists in the West. Actually, studies show that rape has declined in recent years; but for the typical rad-fem, men’s mere looking at women with lust in their eyes–the ‘male gaze’–is ‘mental rape‘.

While it is true that we need to regard women as much more than just sex objects, often enough, men already do see women as more than that. That men are being guilt-tripped for desires that are perfectly natural is symptomatic of how third wave feminism is working hard to divide the sexes. It’s one thing to minimize male rape of women, which of course must be a minimized crime; it is another to imply, if not outright explicitly say, that penile-vaginal sex and rape are almost indistinguishable (because heterosexual sex, apparently, is about a man dominating a woman instead of both sexes enjoying each other), that women enjoying such sex are manifesting an example of ‘internalizing patriarchy’, that men desiring the beautiful women society addicts us to are ‘raping’ women with their eyes, and women should embrace lesbianism for political reasons–as is often promoted in women’s studies classes–rather than for personal reasons.

If women are regarded as sex objects, I maintain that men are sexual subjects, i.e., assumed to have only sex on their minds. We’re assumed to be guilty of lechery until proven innocent. Yes, we men do tend to be rather sexually eager, to put it mildly (aren’t women, too?); but a casual glance at all the male writing throughout history shows that we think about lots of other things, too: philosophy, art, music, science, politics, literature, etc. The stereotype that each of us men is a 24/7 Priapus is simply insulting.

In societies all over the world throughout history, men have been bombarded with images of idealized feminine beauty, from nude paintings and sculptures, to models on billboards, TV, movies, to strip joints and pornography. Men don’t merely ‘enjoy’ these sexualized images: they’re tantalized by them, made to be addicted to the fleeting pleasures promised, then finally denied access to them until they prove themselves worthy, through making enough money to support a family, being strong enough to protect a family, and having enough style and charm to initiate courtship with a potential female mate. Obviously, many men fail to prove this kind of ‘worthiness.’ The frustration of being rejected by women has reached new lows recently, and men are doing it, too. Since men are much more obligated to pursue women than vice versa, I suspect that the ‘Waste Her Time’ hashtag is retaliation. Regardless of whether I’m right or wrong about that, this ‘joking around’ is actually a really sad state of affairs; it’s as if the divisiveness between the sexes wasn’t already bad enough.

Some men, in their frustration over female rejections, will resort to seeking out prostitutes, porn, or strip joints to satisfy their addiction. Others will behave like oafs and sexually harass women. Occasionally, they’ll sink to Elliot Rodger’s level. We’ll stop men from raping women not by ‘teaching’ them to be good little pro-feminist allies (whose mocking of male chauvinists often suspiciously seems like a repressed, unconscious wish to emulate them; on the other hand, male feminists often suspiciously look like they are being emotionally abused by manipulative feminist wives or girlfriends). Male rape of women will stop by liberating society of sex roles to the extent that women pursue men as often as men pursue women, and are equally willing to be providers and protectors, too.

Along with the demonization of male sexuality is that of female sexuality. For some third wave or radical feminists, women who enjoy sex with men are eroticizing their own submission to ‘patriarchy’, just to ‘get off’. Once again, how condescending the rad-fem attitude is to these truly sexually liberated women. This attitude reminds us of the conservative prude who denigrates such women as ‘sluts’. Apparently, we must still protect our ‘dainty, innocent’ girls from the darker realms of sexuality, as sorority sisters once were when given curfews back in the 50s, 60s, and earlier. Similarly, many rad-fems don’t like the decriminalizing of prostitution recently proposed by Amnesty International: conservatives would agree. While human trafficking for prostitution is a terrible crime that should never be permitted, many sex-workers, independent of pimps and tired of having their work and sexual agency invalidated, want the police protection (to the extent that the police actually protect the public, of course–more on that in the next section below) that will come from decriminalizing their work. Prostitution will continue to exist regardless of whether it’s decriminalized or not; keeping it a crime keeps the stigma against it alive, and when prostitutes are abused, raped, or murdered, neither the law nor much of anybody else will help them.

For my part, I have no desire to go anywhere near prostitutes, for fear of diseases; more importantly, I’m happily married. But criminalizing prostitution hasn’t helped the exploited women (or men) one iota (my novel, Vamps, expresses in allegorical form how I see the difference between exploited sex-workers and independent ones). And ‘abolishing’ prostitution is little more than an idle dream. If there are buyers, there will be sellers.

As for helping girls out of the poverty that often forces them into prostitution or pornography, I believe that the best solution is to have an anarcho-communist society, in which the workers directly control the means of production, including collectivized brothels; the value of mutual aid embodied in such a society would provide the kind of social safety net that would minimize, if not obliterate entirely, the impoverishing conditions that force too many girls into such an unwanted means of making a living. The remaining prostitutes, strippers, or people in porn (which, instead of banning it–a pointlessly futile idea–needs to be made in a non-harmful way), unionized to protect themselves against exploitation, would be doing such work out of choice.

One notable rape case is of a worker in the sex industry, a former pornographic actress named Cytherea; she was raped not during the making of a sex film, but in her own apartment. Even after her friend, porn star Mercedes Carrera, appealed to feminists like Anita Sarkeesian for help in raising funds for Cytherea’s sake, neither the rad-fems nor the mainstream media showed much interest in the story. The rad-fems seem to prefer the rape accusation of the ‘mattress girl,’ someone who was probably lying in order to spite the man she accused.

One could never find a more textbook example of a rape victim unfairly stigmatized by society as a ‘slut’ than Cytherea, and the rad-fems didn’t want to help; while the ‘mattress girl’, doing her performance art and regarded as a more ‘respectable’ kind of woman among the rad-fem university crowd, seems to conform more to the ‘slut’ label (consider her Facebook conversations with the man she accused, as well as her sex tape), especially after she turned on him and slandered him. Just watch the videos of both women here, noting their body language, and tell me which is telling the truth about being raped, and which is probably lying.

Before I move on the next section, there are one or two things that cannot be overlooked: the tastelessness of ‘rape jokes’. Some of this kind of sophomoric ‘humour’ occurs in universities, which are normally bastions of political correctness (as are a lot of public schools, in which children are indoctrinated with third wave feminist ideology), and so these jokes seem in part to be a defiance of PC, for shock value. While I’m all for defiance against PC and the whole SJW mentality (as are some leftists, even), I also recognize that such defiance can be carried too far, as it was with the Yale chanting of ‘No means yes, yes means anal,’ leading to the particularly egregious sale of the slogan on T-shirts, as well as its appearance on a banner in Texas Tech.

Does this prove the existence of a ‘rape culture’, then? Not in my opinion: outrage against the chanting, the banner, and the T-shirts quickly led to their suppression, whereas a rape culture would have condoned and even celebrated them.

We mustn’t generalize about the attitudes of all of society, which has obviously and rightly condemned these scurrilous antics, based on the bestial words of a group of Neanderthals. While it is true that there are still some awful T-shirts of this kind still on sale (please, protest their existence), I can’t imagine them selling well, let alone being worn in public often: the lecherous (and socially inept) minority of men who buy them will surely scare all women away.

On the other side of the coin, there are also innocent men who are falsely accused of being sexual predators, including those of children. As I said before, men are sexual subjects, always assumed to have lewd thoughts in their filthy minds. When a man has been falsely accused, his life has been ruined. And false accusations, though not as widespread as the MRAs claim they are, are also not the rare exception third wave feminists dismiss them as.

VI: Women’s Issues

So far, I’ve been mostly critical of feminism, while being vindicating of men’s issues; just so my readers don’t get the impression that I’m being unreasonably biased in these matters, I’d like to go into those women’s issues I consider worthy of attention.

Before I can do that, though, I’ll have to confront an issue that the disciples of ‘identity politics’ will inevitably thrust before me: I, a ‘cis-gendered straight white male’, have no business whatsoever giving an opinion on what constitutes genuine oppression among the groups that political correctness has officially established as the victims of the world. Once again, we have a weaselly tactic for silencing genuine debate. Instead of appealing to everyone’s common humanity, which lends itself to real equality and reconciliation (an indispensable feature of a united 99%), the social justice warriors (SJWs) would rather divide us and reinforce a discriminatory attitude.

The SJWs may want to reassess their closed-minded attitude when considering that, though I as a man cannot fully understand the female experience (nor do I pretend to), let’s be fair: women cannot fully understand that of the male; yet third wave feminists can be relied on to show contempt for men’s issues, including such impertinence as ‘drinking male tears’, or singing ‘Cry Me a River’, or saying that feminists, of all people, can arrange support groups for suicidal men, these same rad-fems who call MRAs ‘scum’ for seeking such support from men’s groups and ‘rape apologists’ (and if disagreeing about the prevalence of rape is such a reprehensible thing, consider that ‘rape apologists’ are among the SJWs, too). These rad-fems need to reconsider whose presumption is the problem.

We all have ideas to contribute to solving the world’s problems, regardless of our race, sex, or sexuality. And the sexes have a symbiotic relationship with each other: we can’t understand human experience separately from the opposite sex. The only area to show suspicion in is where human bias is too unrestrained. Let’s hear as many ideas as possible; then we can disregard those ideas as unfit when they’re clearly indefensible.

It should be easy for any sensible person to see that women who are truly oppressed in the world are those living in Third World countries, or those where such repressive practices as sharia law go on unchecked. Women being sold into sexual slavery is, of course, one of the biggest problems. I believe it can be partly solved through decriminalized, but regulated prostitution–while keeping human trafficking illegal–for pimp-less, independent sex workers who, free of the social stigmas associated with prostitution, would then have legal recourse to police protection, and could thus also inform the police of those mafia organizations that force women and children into the sex trade. Since I’m not too trusting of the police, as most people aren’t these days, because cops clearly serve the interests of the capitalist class instead of those of the people, I would replace cops with a vigilant militia in the anarchist society I envision; this militia would regularly and thoroughly inspect all red-light districts and collectivized brothels, making sure that no exploitation of any kind is going on.

Other issues include ‘honour’ beatings, lack of girls’ education (Malala Yousafzai, rather than Anita Sarkeesian, is my feminist heroine), female genital mutilation (and let’s not forget its male equivalent, circumcision), the women with HIV in Africa, often raped by men who think a virgin will cure their own AIDS, Saudi women not being allowed to do such things as driving, and all the bizarre stories of rape that we hear of in India, where a true rape culture seems to exist (or is this just a racist exaggeration?), as in Afghanistan and the rape of boys.

My wish to emphasize these problems is not out of a wish to excuse Western men of their scurrilous treatment of women when it happens, such as in the Yale and Texas Tech examples mentioned above, the horrific Planned Parenthood shooting, or to general right-wing opposition to abortion; rather, my wish is to remind us all of how much more urgent women’s problems are elsewhere. The feeling that I get from most third wave feminists is that they use these other, more serious issues to facilitate imposing collective guilt on all men, as if we in the West are no better than the patriarchs who impose sharia law. If the rad-fems really care about those women as much as they say they do, they need to focus less on guilt-tripping Western men, by genital association, with these Third World horror stories, and focus more on simply going out to those countries and helping those women.

Let us consider the Kurdish women in the YPJ, who carry rifles and fight ISIS in the Kobane region. If feminists want me to show more respect for their movement, I’ll give that respect to those women fighters, for it is they who are the real feminists of today, not these bourgeois upper middle class white women we keep hearing complain, without end, in the Western media.

Now, when we speak critically of the treatment of women in the Islamic world, we must bear in mind that, while much of that criticism legitimately concerns authoritarian Muslim fundamentalism, other parts of it are based not so much on fact, but on our Western biases. The Western media is fond of stressing the oppression of women there and in the Third World, as a means of justifying Western imperialism (if we invade and ‘liberate’ countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ll ‘liberate’ their women, too; when anyone with a brain knows the West is plundering those countries for resources). Actually, when the West leaves these countries alone, they are often already with reasonably liberated women. The oppression of women tends to come once the Western (and, in the case of Afghanistan, Soviet) imperialists have done their damage, then authoritarian Muslim extremists come along to fill up the power vacuum left behind when the imperialists leave.

Ignorance of the Islamic world and its history abounds when there’s discussion of such things as a Muslim man being permitted to have up to four wives: this was based on a need to marry off widows after wars in 7th century Arabia killed off scores of the men; in the appalling poverty of the desert, getting their widows protected and provided for was urgent (Rodinson, p. 232). The problem is that this custom became enshrined in the Koran as an ‘eternal law of Allah’ rather than understood as an answer to a specific problem at a particular time in history.

It is smugly assumed in the Western world that a harem is a male paradise, as if the only thing a rich man does with his wives and concubines is lie in bed with them all day and night. What nonsense. Many men will tell us of the trials of living with one nagging wife: imagine having up to four!

Mohammed had many wives, not merely for his pleasure, but because these wives were all alliances of great political importance, linking Mohammed with a number of clans for the sake of spreading Islam. He also had a pretty young concubine, Mariya, whom he especially liked (I’m not condoning his proclivities in the least; it’s just part of the story), and on the night he was supposed to spend with one wife, Hafsa, he was naughty and spent it with the concubine…in Hafsa’s hut! (She was thought to be away for the night, but she unexpectedly returned.) Hafsa was furious, and kicked up such a loud fuss that her complaints couldn’t be ignored just because she was a woman. [See pages 280-281 of Muhammad, by Maxime Rodinson.]

There is similar respect given to multiple wives in Chinese history that is recorded in Sexual Life in Ancient China: a Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society from ca. 1500 BC till 1644 AD, by R.H. Van Gulik, on page 109:

“Our traditional habit of referring in common parlance to the polygamy system in a spirit of levity has given the general public the mistaken impression that a harem is a man’s paradise…In China wives and concubines had a definite status and vested individual rights, fixed by both statutory and common law. The householder had to respect those rights, and fulfil his many duties to his womenfolk, not only in giving them sexual satisfaction and supporting them economically, but also in the more subtle field of personal affection, consideration for individual preferences and foibles…If the householder was deficient in one of those duties, bedlam would result. And this failure to maintain a harmonious household could ruin a man’s reputation and break his career.” As we can see, a harem isn’t a mere brothel.

Actually, polygyny, properly understood, is like a kind of socialism for poorer women (Farrell, 75-76), as is hypergamy. Generally, the wealthier men of history have had multiple wives. No one feels pity for all those poor men who cannot have a wife, and are thus deprived not merely of sex, but more importantly, of love, because the rich men married the poor women. At the same time, those no longer poor women may have had to endure such annoyances as sharing one man, always jealously fighting over which one he loves the most; but on average, they’d got to live in finer houses, eat better food, and wear prettier clothes.

I in no way wish to condone the marital arrangements Muslims and Mormons have had, not only for the reasons feminists don’t like, but for the reasons I’ve just outlined.

I want women to have financial independence from men not just for the sake of improving women’s opportunities in life, which I value as much as feminists do, but for the sake of improving men’s opportunities, namely, to give men the greater opportunity of being financially supported by their wives, if needed. This just might reduce the number of male homeless. If third wave feminists publicly paid more attention to such men’s issues as this, they might not have to hear the ‘femi-Nazi’ slur so often.

It’s terrific to be living in a world today when women can be more than just a wife, a mother, or an object of male desire. But young women in college today would show their feminist credentials far better by studying business, engineering, and the like, than by wasting their years in ‘Women’s Studies’ courses, which hardly lead to high-paying jobs. Instead of complaining about ‘the patriarchy’, more Western women should be taking full advantage of their newly-gained opportunities, more than those women who actually do. If men in the sciences are saying such things as, “Three things happen when [women] are in the lab … you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry,” instead of ruining the career and reputation of a foolish man for saying a stupid thing, prove the male chauvinists wrong by demonstrating that you, women, are nothing like the old stereotypes. Don’t censor sexism: manifest proof of its wrong-headedness, and it will fade away.

Don’t complain about the nail in the woman’s head: pull it out. If women today allow third wave feminist propaganda to continue spreading, the second wave gains may one day be lost. It is to this problem that we must now turn.

VII: Third Wave Feminism Is a Danger to Second Wave Feminism

Third wave feminists tend to think that the more radical they get, the better, and thus the closer to ‘true liberation’. When they think this way, however, they ignore the dialectical nature of ideas, which acknowledges the unity of opposites. Every idea has a negation, or opposing point of view, every yin has its yang; and the more we ignore these oppositions, the more they insist on being known. The antithesis of feminism is, of course, the backward notion that women are inferior to, or weaker, more emotional, and less rational, than men.

Currently, conservatives, MRAs, and the like generally limit their criticisms of all things feminine to third wave feminism, while rad-fems exaggerate these criticisms, calling them all ‘misogyny’. Along with such an absurd generalization, third wavers assume that they speak for all women, and that any woman opposing rad-fem ideas has ‘internalized misogyny’, or is currying male favour, or is a ‘rape apologist’, rather than displaying a logic clearly superior to that of the rad-fems (who include men, don’t forget), who can’t answer to these criticisms with better counter-arguments.

Now, when the powers-that-be, and the mainstream media, including Hollywood movie stars, back up the rad-fem claim to speak for all women, and with such bizarre claims as ‘everything is sexist’, including video games, how men sit on the subway, ‘benevolent sexism’, censoring the internet to protect women from ‘cyberviolence’ (while ignoring how often feminists and SJWs harass people online, too), creating ‘safe spaces’ in universities to protect women from criticisms of radical feminism, and the hypocritical insistence on ‘gender neutral’ language while equally insisting on male-negative language (man-spreading, mansplaining, etc.), this could cause criticisms of feminism to degenerate into those of women in general (in the case of Roosh V, this degeneration has already happened). Misandry leads to genuine misogyny. From thesis to antithesis. Dialectics.

The third wave feminist penchant for censorship of any ideas critical of its ideology, while also using the mainstream media to ensure its ideological dominance, presents dangers and threats not limited to the ‘fragile male ego’ (which, incidentally, is much tougher and more resilient than many imagine, considering how men endure hazing and trolling more than women, the third wave feminist section of which needs ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’), but to freedom of speech and democracy in general. If we lose those last two, civilization could be spiralling back down into a new Dark Ages; and with so much of the world’s wealth being concentrated in the hands of so few, protected by the power structures of the state, the fear of neo-feudalism on the rise isn’t as alarmist as it may sound.

When some third wave feminists insist on assuming that a man accused of rape is guilty, without needing to doubt or question the accuser, but instead, ‘listening to and believing’ whatever she says, they are setting a dangerous legal precedent that threatens our modern notion that the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This kind of thing is what I mean when I say they are putting freedom of speech and democracy in danger.

With such fears in mind, we might want to remember some old quotes about women, once considered ‘wisdom’:

A clever man builds a strong rampart, a clever woman overthrows it. —Book of Odes, no. 264 (Chinese classics)

Mulier taceat in politicis. (‘Woman should be silent when it comes to politics.’) –Napoleon, quoted by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil, ‘Our Virtues’, 232

If a woman has no talents, that is virtue for her. –a dictum during the Ming Dynasty

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. –St. Paul, I Corinthians 14:35

Are you visiting women? Do not forget your whip! –Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ‘Of Old and Young Women’

…women remain children all their lives, never see anything but what is closest to them, cleave to the present moment, take appearance for reality and prefer trifles to the most important affairs. –Arthur Schopenhauer, ‘On Women’

This is what misogyny really looks like.

I assure you, Dear Reader, that I don’t agree with one word of any of the above quotes; but I wish to use them to warn women of the dangers of allowing the third wave feminists to continue spitting their bile. The harshest remarks of the MRAs against ‘femi-Nazis’ will be sweet poetry compared to the misogyny of the future if we allow to continue such nonsense as complaining about ‘man-spreading’, ‘air conditioner sexism’, and ‘video game sexism’, to say nothing about advocating internet censorship of trolling against the likes of Anita Sarkeesian, or reducing the male to 10% of the population.

If women don’t mobilize against third wave feminist excesses, which are sure to grow into ever greater absurdities in the next few decades, conservatives (of the Attila the Hun variety) will be listened to much more than currently, and dialectics will rebound against women; then, adieu to the vote, ladies, and farewell to anti-sex-discrimination legislation. Welcome back to college women having a curfew in their dorms at night, to protect them from ‘rape culture’. Welcome back to the kitchen. Welcome back to ‘the problem that has no name’. And watch coat-hangers replace abortion clinics.

VIII: Fact and Fiction

One area where third wave feminists eagerly look for excuses to complain about being victimized isn’t in the real world, but in fiction, of all places. In any novel, short story, TV show, video game, or movie in which women are victimized or abused, it is assumed that these fictions are promoting or encouraging such mistreatment in real life. Accordingly, outrage is shown against these ‘misogynist’ fictions. Violence against men in such made-up stories, on average much more frequent, is rarely discussed, let alone condemned.

Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho is a case in point. While it is true that the novel features horrific, graphically-described violence against women, such shocking scenes are hardly proof that the novel is a celebration of the violence. The killer, who narrates the story, is no sympathetic character, even though Patrick Bateman was based on Ellis, who felt Bateman’s alienation in yuppie 80s New York City. Bateman’s bland conformity, ridiculous taste in music and movies, and contemptible personality clearly show that the novel isn’t anti-woman, but rather an anti-yuppie, anti-capitalist satire.

Recently, we have the strange case of Fifty Shades of Grey, a novel whose real sin is the awful prose style, if it can even be called a prose style, rather than its portrayal of a woman in an abusive relationship. The controlling nature of Christian Grey, who apart from that seems every conservative woman’s dream (handsome, rich, great in bed, ‘take charge’ attitude), is the centre of conflict in the novel. Just because he’s controlling doesn’t mean the author is trying to encourage abuse; Christian’s abusive manner is meant to create tension in the story. Anastasia Steele is torn between having a ‘nearly perfect’ man and giving up one who is flawed in one especially troubling way. Even a writer as clumsy as E.L. James knows that her story has to have a conflict: without conflict, a novel is dull. Christian’s ‘fifty shades of fucked-up’ (barf) is the conflict that needs to be dealt with. When he carries his spanking too far, Ana does the sensible, if painful, thing and leaves him. Ergo, abuse isn’t condoned.

Normally, when we encounter violence against women, it’s in the horror genre, because violence against women is horrifying to us. When we find violence against men on the screen, it’s typically in action movies, because seeing men shot, stabbed, decapitated, or blown up is exciting. A movie about wife-beating is shocking; a movie with a battered husband amuses us.

When we saw women killed in Mad Max: Fury Road, an obvious third wave feminist allegory, we were deeply saddened; whereas when the men–almost all of them dehumanized, skeletal clones of the patriarchal system set up by Immortan Joe–got killed, we felt nothing for them. After all, evil men set up the system. Similarly, for all of the movie’s pretensions about showing women fighting by men’s side as their equals, the protection of the five wives–the damsels in distress (!)–is paramount. The men, even the few good ones, are expendable.

Opposition to the feminist Mad Max movie has been portrayed in the media as mostly about insecure men who are threatened by the idea of women fighters in a ‘guy movie’. For my part, I couldn’t care less whether or not an action movie is for men; being a bit of a comic book geek myself, I tend to go for superhero movies, in which there are at least a fair number of women fighters, rather than your average ‘shoot-’em-up’ movie.

As far as being a feminist movie is concerned, the new Mad Max should be under scrutiny for its anti-male content, not for its not-so-male content. The women, and all that is feminine, represent life; the men, being their opposite, represent their opposite, too–death. The ‘Green Place’ (“of many mothers”) is the old matriarchy of feminist myth, an ecological utopia laid barren by life-destroying men, who are explicitly blamed by the Splendid Angharad for the catastrophe (“Then who killed the world?”). Immortan Joe wears a skull-like breathing mask; the ‘War Boys’, with their white-powdered skin, blackened eyes, and parched lips, look like skinny skeletons. The woman/life idea is nothing new: the Eternal Feminine as Giver of Life has been with us throughout history. It isn’t a revolutionary idea: it’s a conservative one.

The only two good men in the movie, Max and Nux, must first be redeemed and guided into the paths of righteousness by Furiosa and the other females; she calls Max ‘Fool’ even when he’s demonstrated that he’s on their side. (As is pointed out in Spreading Misandry, the mainstream media typically portrays men as either evil or inadequate in some way: consider Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Silence of the Lambs, Kids, or the Scorcese remake of Cape Fear, to name just a few movies of this sort.)

When the former female inhabitants of the matriarchal paradise called the ‘Green Place’, called the ‘Vuvalini’ (an obvious pun on vulva), they show suspicion of Max and Nux until Furiosa acknowledges these men as ‘reliable’. Elsewhere, Immortan Joe’s son–a hulking, muscular jock who mourns the loss of an unborn younger brother (Joe’s ‘property’), but couldn’t care less about the death of the pregnant mother–is named ‘Rictus Erectus’, of all absurd names. Need I explain the meaning of that name in its feminist context?

Now, despite the criticisms I’ve made of ‘one of the best action movies ever’, I will acknowledge that Mad Max: Fury Road was a reasonably entertaining movie, and not as ‘offensive’ as the MRAs and the manosphere see it as (see Thelma and Louise to get an idea of how bad a misandrist movie can be). I consider the excessive praise Mad Max has been given, however, to be politically motivated, as well as the result of our superficiality, always fetishizing car chases and explosions. My wife found the thinly-plotted story to be so ludicrous that she stopped watching the rented DVD with me thirty minutes into it. Politics aside, though, my personal verdict? Meh.

To link these stories up and give them relevance for my essay, third wave feminists cherry-pick incidents of violence against women in novels and films to suggest a misogynist acceptance, or even glorification, of such violence; while the far more frequent examples of violence against men and other forms of misandry in the media are ignored, rationalized, or even laughed at.

To show the absurdity and hypocrisy of this position by way of contrast, consider the writings of the Marquis de Sade, a man formerly categorized under Wikipedia as an anarchist and a feminist. The feminist label seemed particularly bizarre given his penchant for writing pornographic tales involving tying up and whipping women (not to mention this vice having been a guilty pleasure of his in real life). But when we consider his involvement in revolutionary politics during the French Revolution, sitting at the far left wing in the National Convention of the French First Republic in the 1790s, advocating absolute individual freedom, even from morality and religion, the anarchist label had at least some justification. Also, he extended his philosophy of sexual libertinage to women, honouring their free right even to cuckold their husbands, as he does in Philosophy in the Bedroom; given how ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ is based on a male fear of being cuckolded, such advocacy of women’s sexual freedom is about as pro-feminist as it gets, especially by late 18th century standards.

Now we can consider Sade’s pornography-cum-philosophy (pardon the pun) in perspective. Justine, Or the Misfortunes of Virtue is no celebration of violence against women, even though the libertines–who torment, rape, and humiliate poor Justine throughout the story–are all spokesmen for Sade’s anti-Church, pro-individualist beliefs. Her suffering, all while doing good and holding fast to her faith that God will eventually deliver her from her persecutors, is meant to illustrate Sade’s belief that no good deed goes unpunished. Sade had a virulent hatred of Christianity and Catholic authoritarianism, and gave vent to this hate in some of the most creative literary blasphemies I’ve ever read. Indeed, when Justine is caught and sexually abused by a group of monks, this is meant to show the Church’s moral hypocrisy, not to condone misogyny.

Still, radical feminist Andrea Dworkin dismissed Sade as a writer of “vile pornography“, while moderate feminist Simone de Beauvoir defended Sade in an essay called, “Must We Burn Sade?”. This comparison of the moderate and radical forms of feminism should show how intellectually bankrupt the latter is. If feminism can defend Sade, why can’t it defend Bret Easton Ellis or E.L. James? And why does feminism celebrate an action movie cluttered with violence against men from beginning to end, calling such violence ‘women’s liberation’?

IX: Gloria Steinem, the CIA, and a Divided Left

Gloria Steinem was crucial in bridging the gap between second and third wave feminism during the 1970s and 80s. With her calm, stoic, and even lady-like manner, she helped weaken the stereotype of the ‘loud mouth feminist bitch’. What not so many people know about her, however, is her involvement with the CIA during the early years of her career.

In the late 1950s, Steinem was hired by the CIA to send non-communist American students to the World Youth Festival, a Soviet-sponsored event, in Europe. As anyone who knows anything about the CIA can easily see, that organization is ruthless in its promotion of the interests of the American capitalist class, as is its British counterpart, the MI6; both intelligence organizations, we’ll recall, helped in the ouster of Mohammad Mosaddegh, who wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry. The CIA also helped remove the democratically-elected socialist Salvador Allende on September 11th, 1973, when he was trying to nationalize Chilean industries.

Another thing the CIA wanted to start manipulating was the world media: this was the purpose of Operation Mockingbird in the late 1950s and early 60s. Now, in 1963, Steinem did some reporting on the exploitation of women as Playboy bunnies; this story gave her little advancement as a journalist. She said it was because she had “become a Bunny,” but I suspect that this was because of Hugh Hefner’s powerful influence, punishing her for embarrassing him. She would rise to prominence in the media, nonetheless, with a 1969 article.

Some believe that her CIA contacts helped her with that rise, culminating in the creation of Ms. Magazine. Quickly, she moved from the moderate kind of feminism we associate with the second wave to what we now call the radically ‘Marxist’ third wave. Warren Farrell, then sitting on the board of directors of NOW, noticed that quick change in her. Oddly, though, he has continued to speak kindly of her, even in recent years.

Here’s a question for you, Dear Reader: if Steinem (who considers herself a radical feminist) and radical feminism are legitimately leftist, why has the CIA helped them to grow and have so much influence in the media? Is that connected with the divisiveness of their ideology? I believe the connection is there.

In an early interview, Steinem spoke glowingly of the CIA, saying it could promote liberal values. Of course: bourgeois liberalism, which Steinem has always epitomized.

The capitalist class knows that in its manipulation of the media, it cannot present only right-wing views; the rich know that enough of the masses can recognize conservative propaganda, so there must be a considerable measure of left-leaning propaganda peppered in there, too, to create the illusion of a free press. But as Noam Chomsky has observed, the debate between such things as the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ is given only within strictly limited bounds, to ensure a minimal, controlled exchange of ideas. Divide and conquer.

I believe that such a circumscribed presentation of the issues has been given on the controversies regarding the sexes, and deliberately so, to ensure a divided working class. Elsewhere, the right portrays its ideology as representing ‘Christian, family values’, rather than the authoritarianism and bigotry that their ideology really is. The right portrays the West as ‘civilized’ and the Islamic world as ‘barbaric’, while bombing Muslim villages in drone strikes and driving Muslims to revenge, out of desperation to defend themselves against imperialism. The right portrays capitalism as ‘freedom’ (i.e., the ‘free market’ as the only ‘true’ capitalism, totally unfettered by the state), and socialism as ‘Big Brother government’ (instead of a worker-controlled society, without the need of a state); yet with every ‘free market’ deregulation and tax cut to the rich, the state actually expands instead of shrinking, since the rich–who need the state to protect their wealth–use their extra wealth to buy more politicians and extend state power into foreign lands via imperialism (to steal more resources, like oil), thus creating the very crony capitalism that the right-libertarians think the ‘free market’ will eradicate.

Similarly, third wave feminism is portrayed in the mainstream media as reasonable, moderate (mentally unstable extremists like Valerie Solanas, whose radical feminism during the second wave inspired much of the misandry seen today in the mainstream media, even seem to be ‘hip’), and only wanting equality (in contrast to Anita Sarkeesian’s bizarre idea that the media routinely portrays feminists, who raise ‘legitimate concerns’, as extremists); when actually third wave feminism is in many ways a traditionalist movement, frequently anti-porn and anti-sex, constantly demanding extra protections for women, while largely ignoring the need to give men equal protection.

Furthermore, it’s the men’s movement that is portrayed as extremists and haters of the opposite sex (if Anita is concerned about how feminists are portrayed in the media, she might want to consider how MRAs are straw-manned as fedora-wearing, virginal ‘neck-beards’ who live in their moms’ basements eating Cheetos–a much more pervasive media misrepresentation: look anywhere on Facebook to see what I mean). Leaders like Warren Farrell actually never gave up their original sympathy for feminism (the moderate, second wave kind); instead, MRAs often break the taboo against extending protection equally to both sexes, and it is for this kind of reason that they’re misrepresented as misogynists. (After all, giving men equal protection means taking some protection away from women; this is seen as tantamount to violence against women.) But here’s the crucial thing: to ensure true equality for the sexes, this taboo must be broken. Breaking this taboo will ensure the existence of strong, independent women. But don’t expect third wave feminists to lead the way there any time soon.

The media’s focus on the misogynist rants of some MRAs (like Paul Elam), and the associating of murderers like Roger Elliot with MRAs, adds to the same divisiveness that third wave feminist misandry causes. More and more, the global proletariat is divided, which is exactly what the ruling class wants.

Instead of promoting real solidarity among the working class, Steinem has been more interested in promoting the divisive writing of Andrea Dworkin, Marilyn French, and others. Steinem was also instrumental in promoting (perhaps even ghost-writing) Michele Wallace’s Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, about black men’s mistreatment of black women; this was a book that was criticized particularly for dividing the black community. I can’t help thinking that this was the intention Steinem had for the book.

I’m not denying that there have been many Marxists who have genuine sympathies for radical feminism; but before the 1980s, they were largely among the fringes. A Marxist feminist named Juliet Mitchell even defended Freud against feminist criticisms back in the 1970s with her book, Psychoanalysis and Feminism.

On the other hand, one group of radical feminists/communists, the Redstockings, did something I applaud: in the late Seventies, they questioned Steinem about her former CIA activities. Crucial evidence against Steinem was presented by the Redstockings in a publication called Feminist Revolution. Then it was censored, the CIA chapters removed, the threat of litigation being a deterrent to their publication. Hmm…

What ultimately matters, for the purpose of my argument, is not whether most Marxists have always sympathized with the ideas of third wave feminism; but rather that, since Steinem’s rise to prominence, the mainstream media has pushed radical feminist ideas (contempt for men, exaggerated rape statistics, female chauvinism in general) away from the fringes and into the consciousness of the general public.

Now, since I believe in freedom of speech (unlike Sarkeesian and her ilk), I would allow all radical feminist literature to be published; but I’d prefer that it not be given such prominent attention in the mainstream media. There will always be extreme thinkers out there spouting excesses (among MRAs, too, of course), and silencing them would only validate their sense of being oppressed. Bringing their hysterical ideas into everyday discourse, however, will not help women (or men) by one millimetre; it will divide the sexes, as it already has.

Consider the allegorical meaning of kids fighting each other to the death in The Hunger Games. Instead of us little people fighting the big people (the Capitol, the 1%), we little people fight with each other in pointless online disputes. This divisiveness between the sexes is so bad now that, among the MRAs, there’s the MGTOW movement. Given how divorce is so stacked against men these days, men’s despair at the prospect of marriage is understandable; but if there’s any one way to stop the 99% from finally rising up against the 1%dividing the people, 50/50 because of the sex war, is a perfect way to do it. For this reason, the sexes must be reconciled.

Never forget just how adaptable capitalism is, including the promoters of its ideology. Consider David Harvey’s words:

“Capital is not a fixed magnitude! Always remember this, and appreciate that there is a great deal of flexibility and fluidity in the system. The left opposition to capitalism has too often underestimated this. If capitalists cannot accumulate this way, then they will do it another way. If they cannot use science and technology to their own advantage, they will raid nature or give recipes to the working class. There are innumerable strategies open to them, and they have a record of sophistication in their use. Capitalism may be monstrous, but it is not a rigid monster. Oppositional movements ignore its capacity for adaptation, flexibility and fluidity at their peril. Capital is not a thing, but a process. It is continually in motion, even as it itself internalizes the regulative principle of ‘accumulation for the sake of accumulation, production for the sake of production.” –David Harvey, A Companion to Marx’s Capital, page 262

I believe the capitalist class is responsible for promoting an extreme, mutant form of feminism into mainstream thinking (the same applies to the men’s movement). The super-rich control the media, and contrary to the notion that we are routinely bombarded with ‘misogynist’ messages in the media, we have actually been so saturated with third wave feminist propaganda for the past thirty to forty years that we haven’t even noticed it, this increasing saturation eerily coinciding with the rise of neoliberalism and the corporate takeover of universities (which, though in some ways have grown more right-wing, have in other ways grown ever more politically correct) during those very same years.

Contrast today’s world with the spirit of hope in the late Sixties, when Keynesian economics prevailed, unions were strong, the welfare state provided a strong, if imperfect, social safety net for the poor, the fight for racial and sexual equality was largely in a spirit of harmony and solidarity, and socialist states like the USSR and Cuba provided a genuine, if flawed, alternative to capitalism (the problems of Mao Zedong’s rule notwithstanding). On top of all that was the hippie counterculture, which–though in many ways too idealistic–added to the optimism of creating a better world.

The ruling classes must have been terrified that they were going to lose all their money. They were clearly looking for ways to turn things back around in their favour. People like Milton Friedman were proposing a return to laissez-faire as a response to the stagflation in the economic crises of the early-mid 70s. The CIA, with Operation Mockingbird, had their darling Gloria Steinem. Perhaps I’m being a bit too conspiracy-minded here, but I find her rise, and later that of third wave feminism, the corporate takeover of universities (which includes the CIA’s promotion of French intellectuals like Foucault and Lacan, as a kind of pseudo-left that intellectualizes instead of committing to anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism), and the Reagan way of doing things a little too coincidental. (Consider how ‘Marxist’ Steinem prefers imperialist Hillary Clinton over social democrat Bernie Sanders, merely because she is a she.)

We have no problem acknowledging how the ruling class used fascism to pervert socialism by turning it into nationalism. We easily see how true libertarianism was redefined as a right-wing movement, opposing government-granted social welfare. When will we acknowledge that the ruling class surreptitiously stole feminism by creating a sex war to divide the working class? When male leftists who criticize third wave feminism are called ‘manarchists’ or ‘brocialists’, this is an insult; but to be called an ‘anarcha’-feminist is a badge of honour, even though it gives third wave feminism illegitimate authority, as I will explore soon.

My comrades on the Left will naturally want to vilify me as not being a ‘true’ leftist for refusing to validate third wave feminism (even though I thoroughly honour the achievements of first and second wave feminism). Actually, I can invalidate third wave feminism precisely on anarchist and even Marxist principles.

The fundamental principle of anarchism is the requirement of all systems of authority to justify themselves; if they can’t be justified, they should be dismantled, and the anarchist assumes no authority is justified from the beginning. The burden of proof is on the system of authority to justify itself, not on the anarchist to prove the authoritarian system invalid. Accordingly, the vast majority of authoritarian structures–capitalism, the state, monarchy, feudalism, religion, the police, etc.–cannot be accepted by the anarchist.

To be sure, the traditional patriarchal family–with the father as its unquestioned head–is rejected by all anarchists, including me. And in those traditionalist families in, for example, the Bible Belt or the Islamic world, the patriarchal family still shows its ugly face.

But by what reasonable measure can we say that the average modern Western family is ruled by the father? Around half of Western marriages, on average, end in divorce, and the mother usually wins custody of the children, the ex-husband being saddled with alimony. The proper, historical definition of patriarchy, contrary to the third wave feminist notion of an invisible bogeyman that permeates all of politics and society, is of a family structure in which the father is the head of the house. That was the norm in Western society…until its breakdown in the 60s and 70s, with increasing divorce rates and the Sexual Revolution.

When we see a world where all the political, economic, and religious structures are dominated by men, we’re seeing a reflection of sex roles, not of ‘patriarchy’. The traditional male role has been to protect society and provide for a family, so most of the leaders and those in the upper echelons in the world have always been men; but only a small percentage of men have leadership positions in these hierarchies (as opposed to the great majority of men, who are poor workers), this being especially true today, with an ever-increasing minority of women alongside men in most of the echelons of these hierarchies.

The traditional female role has been to raise a family, so those who have dominant influence in the financial and power structures of today’s Western family are typically women, with so many single mothers raising fatherless children, and even in many married families, where wives are free to berate their bumbling, apologizing husbands. With few women willing to support a husband financially while he does domestic duties (Farrell, p. 33), we’re still seeing not too many examples of fathers with dominant influence in the family in today’s Western world. Feminists like to claim that ‘the patriarchy’ invented sex roles (rather than biological necessity) to benefit men at women’s expense; in reality, sex roles paradoxically advantage and disadvantage both sexes simultaneously, though in different ways.

How sex roles have created male advantage and female disadvantage is a dead horse flogged by feminists for decades, if not centuries; that’s why I’m not going into very much detail there. The men’s movement’s challenge to third wave feminism has been to show male disadvantage and female advantage in sex roles…and this is the real threat to the third wave feminist establishment–not misogyny, but proof that the radical feminist establishment is an invalid system of authority.

If we anarchists can oppose vanguardism as unnecessarily authoritarian, even though Leninists are leftists, then we can oppose third wave feminism on the same grounds, even though rad-fems are considered to be leftists, too. Just as the Leninist tries to justify the vanguard as a protection against such things as revisionism and reactionaries, so the third wave feminist justifies gynocentrism as a protection against ‘the patriarchy’. The Third Worldist should oppose third wavers, too, because they, as well as SJWs and promoters of ‘identity politics’, distract us all from Third World suffering by focusing on such First World problems as video game ‘sexism‘, ‘man-spreading’, etc.

Marxist principles can also be called upon to invalidate third wave feminism, which too often relies on the obscurantist writings of academic ‘Marxists’ in the Frankfurt School, or those of postmodernists, writers trapped in the ivory towers of university life, and completely isolated from the experience of workers. It’s all style over substance. Words, words, words. That’s all those loquacious twits care about.

The notion that men represent a ‘class’ and women a class beneath men is laughable: women are the only ‘oppressed’ group to have numbers equal to men in each of the classes of society. Imagine an upper middle class white woman saying, ‘Check your privilege,’ to a homeless white man! The infamous cat-calling video should draw more attention to the lower-class status of the male cat-callers, generally men of colour, and the middle-class status of the white woman putting up with them, than to the ‘sexism’.

Men cat-call women more than vice-versa because men are obligated, by traditional sex roles, to initiate the pursuit of sexual or romantic partners. Naturally, lots of men initiate badly. Western women today have the opportunity, but not the obligation, to initiate. If women equally shared this obligation, in a society that valued male beauty and sexuality as much as it did that of the female, there’d be less male cat-calling…or ‘friend-zoning’.

The top earners may be male, but the spenders, or influencers of spending at least, tend to be more female than male: just look in any department store or shopping mall to see how much shopping is focused on women’s products over men’s. Is this why women stereotypically are the shoppers? Diamonds are…which sex’s…best friend? It is the spending of money, not the earning, that is where the real financial power lies.

The material conditions of society refute third wave feminism as do dialectics, since feminists today generally, bitterly refuse to hear the opposing point of view, preferring ‘safe spaces’ and censoring the internet to protect women from ‘cyberviolence’ whenever their sacred cows (video gamesexism‘, ‘rape culture’, ‘gender’ as a social construct, ‘the patriarchy’, etc.) are challenged. The basic principle of dialectics involves acknowledging contradictions and resolving opposing ideas in order to refine one’s world view. Third wave feminism, in contrast, is more like a religion that mustn’t be disagreed with.

While I generally describe third wave feminism as a religion in a metaphorical sense, some rad-fems have quite literally made a religion out of their ideology: these would be among the Wiccans (of whom I was one back in the early 90s) and other Goddess-worshippers.

Taken literally or figuratively, this religion posits a primordial, peaceful ‘matriarchy‘ as a kind of Garden of Eden from which the emerging, warlike ‘patriarchy’ was a Fall of Man. Never mind that some societies (e.g., most pre-Islamic pagan Arab ones–Rodinson, pp. 229-230) have been patrilineal since time immemorial, that there are extant matrilineal societies today, and that sex roles are largely the same (i.e., men hunt, women gather; mostly men fight tribal wars, women usually take care of babies) regardless of whether men on the father’s side or the mother’s side of the family protect the family property, or the clan in general, or whether a newly-married woman moves into her husband’s family’s hut, or a newly-married man moves into his wife’s family’s hut.

In this religion, original sin is sexism, with women “more sinn’d against than sinning.” Redemption and salvation comes from faith, or ‘listening and believing’. Apostasy or heresy (i.e., being an MRA, etc.) cannot be pardoned or tolerated. The dialectical antithesis of third wave feminism is thus a seduction of the Devil…who, unlike God, is never a woman.

All of this should help convince those doubtful of my contention that there is a discomfiting confluence between third wave feminism and conservative thinking, in spite of rad-fems’ insistence that they are revolutionaries. I don’t believe that the seeping of radical feminist ideas into mainstream thinking has been part of a rebellion against the rise of the right: I believe both ideologies rose together, arm in arm, in spite of Rush Limbaugh’s blathering against ‘femi-Nazis’.

The ruling class’s tactics for keeping the masses in line, never agitating for revolution as one, are much more subtle than involving a simple appeal to people’s prejudices in favour of capitalism, male authority, and white power, as against communism, equality for the sexes, and racial harmony. To be sure, the division between conventionally leftist and rightist ideas is maintained in the corporately controlled media and universities; using radical feminism, however, not only to divide the left in half, but to make many dissident leftists give up in despair and run to the right, is a tried-and-true strategy, too.

This is why sneaking a little conservatism into feminism was such a clever idea for the capitalist class: our instinct to protect women from danger is deeply ingrained. Male feminists, typically berated as weak and unmanly, are actually a kind of machismo in themselves, for they are ‘man enough’ to handle feminism (yet are never pro-feminist enough for rad-fems, because nothing they do will ever be good enough); MRAs, on the other hand, are fighting a ‘war of the wusses’, as conservatives have called their struggle. If we are so solicitous to protect women from such trivialities as video game ‘sexism’, ‘cyber-violence’, and ‘man-spreading’, how will women gain the courage to fight alongside men in a proletarian revolution, as the YPJ have?

X: A Psychoanalytic Perspective

I believe the damning of Freud by feminism has been bad for understanding relationships, including those between the sexes. To be sure, Freud was far from right about everything, including his bizarre observation that women are less morally developed than men (an attitude based on the outdated idea that fear of punishment from one’s father, rather than empathy, is the basis of developing a solid superego and sense of morality).

His mapping of the non-rational world of the unconscious is, however, crucial in understanding human nature. One must remember, also, that writers like Lacan, so influential on feminism, are thoroughly grounded in Freud; Lacan considered his ideas to be a return to Freud. Unfortunately, Lacan has the same problem with obscurantism and loquaciousness as the other postmodernists and the Frankfurt School writers; their preoccupation with words and pedantic showing off of reading, which they seem to prefer to the treating of patients, is why I consider their ideas to be a perversion of psychoanalysis.

I believe, as does Marxist feminist Juliet Mitchell, that Freud’s castration complex, interpreted metaphorically, could be one of the keys to understanding the psychology of both male chauvinism and third wave or radical feminism. It shows that these two ideas aren’t opposites, but rather variations of the same conservative theme, opposite sides of the same coin.

Simply put, the castration complex states that both sexes erroneously believe that men have something women don’t have. Male genitalia can symbolize the perception of male power, talent, achievement, privileges, etc. The male response to this perception is a combination of pride (male chauvinism) and fear of losing what he has (castration anxiety), hence feeling that women’s modern advances are a threat to his manhood.

The female response is envy of that male power, privileges, and achievement (symbolic penis envy), blinding women to female forms of power and privileges. Castration and what it symbolizes, of course, are an illusion. This envy is part of the basis of third wave feminism, since women have made great advances over the past thirty to forty years alone, a remarkable achievement given the backdrop of women’s history prior to these advances; yet rad-fems today still act as though women are essentially as lacking in power now as they were in the 1950s, even with affirmative action for women, divorce courts biased in women’s favour, an education system favouring girls over boys, and ‘Take Back the Night’ marches when men are actually more likely to be victims of violent crime than women in every category except rape, which happens far less often than the media would have us believe (see above). Along with this is how third wave feminists obsessively look for ‘sexism’ in everything, often in places where there is none at all, including video games. ‘Men have something women lack’ still seems to loom large in third wave feminists’ minds.

The male chauvinist agrees. Herein we can see a psychological basis for the confluence between conservative and ‘radical’ feminist thinking. The wrongheadedness of this is seen when we remember that men don’t really have something women lack; rather, men and women possess different forms of power. We all know about the male forms of power and authority (political, religious, etc.). The female forms of power are manifested in their influence over children. Our mothers, aunts, and primary school teachers (mostly women) do most of that ‘social construction’ of boys and girls into their respective roles, a process that third wave feminists call ‘patriarchal’, when if anything, it’s matriarchal. These women’s influence over children creates the psychological and sociological foundations upon which male legal and political institutions are built. The basis of our psychological makeup is firmly established already in childhood.

This overwhelming psychological influence that our primary caregivers have on us when we’re infants leads me to my next point about the psychoanalytic factor in contemporary male/female relations: the Kleinian element.

According to Melanie Klein, we all develop, from infancy, internalized representations of our primary caregivers, mainly our mothers, but our fathers, also, to a great extent. These internalizations are the basis of our object relations, which profoundly influence our relationships later in life. These internalized representations of Mom and Dad hover forever in our unconscious minds, haunting us like ghosts. So if we have good relationships with our parents, we’ll tend to have good relationships later in life, since we’ll find or bring out the ‘good mother’ and ‘good father’ in people, and avoid bad people as best we can.

But if we’ve experienced too much of the ‘bad mother’ or ‘bad father’, we’ll tend to see versions of these bad imagos in people later in life, connecting with bad people, who will reinforce our negative view of the world, and we’ll ignore the good people who’d change our world view into a positive one.

With this psychological reality in mind, let’s now consider a deeper level of meaning in the word, ‘patriarchy’, which literally means ‘father-rule’. With increasing divorce over the past forty to fifty years in the West, resulting in most child custody going to mothers, this means we’ve had two generations with large numbers of people whose childhoods were in fatherless homes. On top of this, there have been many children born out of wedlock, often with the fathers having abandoned their pregnant girlfriends, resulting in even more fatherless children.

While a great many of these fathers were surely being immature and irresponsible in leaving their children, many other men wanted to be involved, but the bias against fathers in divorce court denied the men access to their kids. Either way, the kids were probably led to believe their fathers didn’t love them, often because their mothers demonized the men as ‘deadbeat dads’ (either justifiably or not). This would cause the growth of the ‘bad father’ imago in the children’s object relations, and the near–if not absolute–annihilation of the ‘good father’.

Combining this psychological reality with that of conservative fathers who stay married, and in keeping in contact with their kids, are authoritarian and bullying in nature, and it’s a small step from there to listening uncritically in women’s studies classes. Every bad man or boy encountered in life only reinforces, by way of displacement, this negative mental image of the father and of the male sex in general. Third wave feminist propaganda gives it all a faux political dimension.

According to Kleinian theory, when our parents frustrate us in any way (the prototypical part object being the ‘bad breast’ that doesn’t feed the baby, as opposed to the ‘good breast’ that gives the baby plentiful supplies of milk), we feel an urge to get revenge by attacking our parents in phantasy, imagining the most vicious acts of violence on Mom and Dad. These sadistic imaginings result in fears of retaliation by our parents, causing terrible unconscious anxieties that lead to more sadistic phantasies. A vicious circle then occurs, causing psychological splitting, or the paranoid-schizoid position. Here, people are either all-good or all-bad.

The frustrations caused by authoritarian, abusive, or–in a way, perhaps worst of all–distant, absent, or abandoning fathers, cause many of our sons and daughters unconsciously, if not consciously, to wish all manner of evil on those ‘patriarchs’, or ‘bad fathers’ (whose prototypical part object is the violent and sadistic ‘bad penis’ [!], as opposed to the sexually gratifying ‘good penis’). These sadistic phantasies, which include projecting one’s own bad internal aspects into men (the prototype being one’s father), including male feminists, and thus trying to control them, will in turn unleash the fear of a ‘patriarchal’ retaliation, resulting in the imagined backlash against feminism of the past twenty years, including ‘rape culture’, MRAs, ‘man-spreading’, etc. This leads to more verbally abusive feminists. And the needless sex war rages on and on…

What is needed is a cure to this psychological problem of always thinking in black and white, the paranoid-schizoid position, where people are either exclusively good (i.e., the politically correct pro-feminist male ally who ‘listens and believes’), or are exclusively evil (the ‘misogynist’ critic of feminism). Instead, we need to help these psychologically damaged people to develop and achieve reparation with their objects by replacing, or balancing out, their bad object relations with good ones. They’ll thus acquire a healthy ambivalence towards people, seeing both good and bad in everyone, a healthy grey area that Klein called the depressive position. In this situation, we may find ourselves not agreeing with much of what the critics of feminism say, but we can happily agree with at least some of what they say, without damning them all as ‘woman-hating scum’.

For more information on these aspects of Kleinian theory, I recommend reading Chapter XI: ‘The Effects of Early Anxiety-situations on the Sexual Development of the Girl’, from Melanie Klein’s Psychoanalysis of Children, particularly the section, ‘Early Stages of the Oedipus Conflict’, pages 277-278, pages 280-281, and pages 305-306. Applied to our contemporary problems, these passages, I believe, can provide an illuminating interpretation of the radical feminist idea that ‘PIV sex’ is hard to distinguish from rape.

XI: Conclusion: Back to the Second Wave, With a Two-Sex Movement Instead of Only a Men’s or a Women’s Movement

Many will assume that I’m in denial when I insist I’m not an MRA after having largely discussed men’s issues and criticized third wave or radical feminism. I hope to clarify my position once and for all here: I don’t want a separate men’s movement in the West any more than I want a Western women’s movement; I want both movements to end their bickering and combine into a two-sex movement to make a transition for all of us from the limitations of traditional roles to a lifestyle suitable for all our individual preferences.

Shifting away from traditional sex roles, however, won’t be a simple matter of socially reconstructing ‘gender’. This shift will be an evolutionary one (Farrell, 399-400). While I acknowledge a biological basis for sex differences, I also recognize that we are ‘soft-wired’, so to speak: mutation is the basis of evolution, and the sexes can shift from traditional roles gradually through natural selection. This means that men can start selecting women with a more protective, aggressive disposition, and women can select men with a gentler, more nurturing one.

The dogmatic idea that masculinity and femininity are just social lies taught to us by a conspiratorial patriarchy makes nonsense out the experience of transgender people. If, for example, a feminine personality is just a patriarchal lie designed to keep women submissive, then why don’t we just refer to trans women as men who, defying social convention, prefer wearing dresses, makeup, and high heels to wearing suits? And if ‘femininity’ makes women as a rule submissive, why do more transgender people identify as women rather than men? Are they masochists?

Acknowledging the existence of masculine and feminine personality traits as real, on the other hand, makes the transgender experience intelligible: a trans woman is a woman because her personality is feminine even though she doesn’t have feminine anatomy (without the sex-reassignment surgery). The same applies to trans men, who need to do more than just have short hair, wear no makeup, and eschew dresses in favour of T-shirts and jeans, something any cis-woman can do with ease.

This flexibility of dress (much more so for women than for men…!) brings me to my next point: that acknowledging masculinity and femininity needn’t require us to adopt stereotypical attitudes about them. Femininity isn’t limited to acting like a wide-eyed ingenue, a nurturer, or an overly-emotional type; many otherwise traditional women have shown strength, even ruthlessly, as in the unpleasant examples of Margaret Thatcher or Golda Meir. There are as many ways to be feminine as there have been women and girls throughout history. I’m sure the Kurdish women fighting in the YPJ are as much feminine as they are brave–and I’ll wager that they’re damned good at both.

Similarly, masculinity isn’t all about being like Rambo, who, you’ll recall, was weeping like a baby at the end of First Blood, comforted by another ‘macho’ army man, played by Richard Crenna. These may just be fictitious examples, but I’m sure it isn’t too hard to find real life examples of genuinely masculine men who regularly show feelings of tenderness. All those divorced fathers who are fighting for equal child custody are fighting for love, not ‘the patriarchy’. There are as many ways to be masculine as there have been men and boys.

Interestingly, for all of third wave feminists’ pretensions about wanting to do away with sexual stereotypes, many of them sure are fond of reinforcing them, even to the point of fabricating exaggerations of them. All men are rapists, apparently. Men hate, women love. Men are warmongers, women are peacelovers, in spite of the women leaders or politicians in history who have fought wars, sent men to die in them, or were hawkish in general (Thatcher, Meir, Indira Gandhi, Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc, Queen Boadicea, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, etc.) and the male pacifists (Mohandas Gandhi, Buddhist monks, male hippies and Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.).

At the same time, though, and to be fair, there is a disquieting strand among MRAs, and in the ‘manosphere’ in general, that is reinforcing these traditional roles, too. While some in the men’s movement, like Farrell, want to end sex roles, others want a return to them, and some even celebrate male aggression. I distance myself from the latter, as I part company with the genuinely misogynist elements in the manosphere (consider the excesses of Roosh V) and the way it over-generalizes about women’s manipulation of men, (though, on the other side of the coin, Esther Vilar has also received death threats for her book just as feminists claim to have received threats from men in the manosphere). I want maximum flexibility for both sexes, and a two-sex movement can achieve that end while curbing the excesses of both men’s and women’s activists.

Below are some suggestions of mine for a workable agenda for a two-sex movement. It is far from complete, it shouldn’t be forced, and it’s only meant to be a contribution that can be expanded on in the future by like-minded writers.

1) Both sexes will be taught, from childhood, that career is as much an obligation, as much a burden, as childcare and housekeeping are. Similarly, homemaking will be represented as every bit as rewarding an experience (i.e., the art of cooking, access to one’s beloved children) as career can be. Allowing fathers equal child custody is part of this, as is ending the stereotype of pedophile men who enjoy being in childcare.

2) Stricter safety standards will be enforced to the point that such jobs as construction worker or miner will be no less attractive to women than to men. Not only might this kind of thing narrow the wage gap, but it might actually cause fewer injuries and deaths on the job.

3) Stop shaming boys for exhibiting ‘feminine’ behaviour, which will include allowing (not forcing) men to complain more and ask for help more; while also teaching girls to ‘woman up’ a little more. When third wave feminists learn that strength is about enduring physical and psychological pain, and not just barking orders at men, we’ll see more women willing to enter male-dominated jobs, and real equality will ensue. On the other side of the coin, ending the shaming of weakness in men (which includes third wave feminists no longer ‘drinking male tears’) will bring out that male sensitivity rad-fems claim to crave. Now, this encouraging of ‘feminine’ behaviour in boys won’t be forced, as the rad-fems would have it: it will be allowed, just as boys with a natural disposition to traditional (and ethical) masculinity will be allowed to be who they are. The idea isn’t to force boys and girls to be the same; it is to allow a maximum of variety along the whole continuum, from masculinity at one end to femininity at the other.

4) Teach people to value male beauty and sexuality on an even level with female beauty, while also de-emphasizing sexualized femininity to the level of sexualized masculinity. This will teach us to value male life, and the male body, as much as female life, and reduce the objectification of and pressure on women to be ‘beach body ready’. Women will be appreciated more for who they are than just for their looks, and male sexuality won’t be so devalued that they’ll feel the only way they can be appealing to women is through their wallets. Men won’t be so addicted to female beauty, and women won’t be so dependent on it.

5) Teach people that the responsibility, not just the opportunity, to initiate dating is both sexes…equally. When men aren’t the only sex socially obligated to pursue the opposite sex, but more women ask men out, buy men dinner, and risk rejection by making the first move to be sexual, there will be fewer men obsessing about sex, fewer male rapists, fewer men hooked on porn, strippers, and prostitution, fewer men complaining about the ‘friend-zone’, and fewer Elliot Rodgers. Women will experience less sexual harassment and cat-calling, too.

6) When there are wars, have two-sex drafts when drafting is necessary (as has recently happened in the US military). Make the hazing of women soldiers equal to that of men (to ensure they’ve been tested and proven able to handle the stress of war). While it is imperative that we end all imperialist wars for the gain of the capitalist class, battle-readiness will be necessary in a proletarian revolution, and in my opinion, a woman’s place is beside men’s fighting that revolution. When women equally protect men as vice versa, we’ll have equality.

7) Teach people that providing for spouse and family is both sexes’ equal responsibility. When women don’t ‘marry up’ any more than men might, and an equal number of men have the opportunity to depend on women financially if necessary, we’ll have economic equality. Of course, if anarchists just focused on the class war instead of being distracted by all the SJW ‘issues’ that I suspect the ruling class addles us with, we might have the worker-ruled society we want; and with the ideal of ‘from each according to his or her ability, to each according to his or her need’, there would be no more wage gap to complain about.

8) Men shouldn’t be punished any more harshly than women for the same crimes. Prisons have always been known to harden, rather than rehabilitate, criminals; and if third wavers are so worried about ‘toxic masculinity’, then reforming the prison system should be part of their focus. Of course, if we stopped incarcerating people for drugs and the like, making them virtual slave labourers, that would help. Kropotkin believed in improving rehabilitation; so do I.

Now, these changes are proposed with these two understandings, these assumptions, in mind: one, that they will involve a slow, evolutionary shift in the sexes; and two, that the people really want to make these changes. Do they? I leave that to you, Dear Reader, but especially to future generations, to answer.

Most importantly of all, however one chooses to judge my eight suggestions, what absolutely must be achieved is this: the sexes must be brought back together again. Sexual separatism must stop if we’re to unite against the 1%, who are the real enemy; neither the misogynist ideas of the extreme wings of the men’s movement (including the MGTOWs) nor the misandrist ideas of third wave or radical feminism are acceptable. (I’m sure I’ll be criticized for using ‘third wave’ and ‘radical’ interchangeably in my description of how feminism went wrong over the past three decades; but in my opinion, what was radical during 70s second wave feminism [the near equation of heterosexual sex with rape, man-hating, etc.] has become, to a great extent at least, mainstream thinking in third wave feminism since the 90s.) In giving maximum media exposure to these opposite-sex-hating ideas, and minimal exposure to the moderate ideas of second wave feminism and to men’s movement activists like Warren Farrell, the super-rich, who control the mainstream media, are fuelling the divide between the sexes to ensure that the 99% will never rise up against the 1%.

XII: Epilogue–Note on Method

I will probably be criticized by leftists for sometimes using links and source material from right-libertarian or otherwise non-socialist sources. Such sources are routinely condemned on the left as having a ‘hidden agenda’, and are therefore dismissed as completely unreliable. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the right-libertarian agenda of the American Enterprise Institute (for whom Christina Hoff Sommers, a political moderate recently praised by none less than the NWPC, does her Factual Feminist videos), or for that of, or that of, or even of Spiked! I’m interested in facts…facts that can be substantiated, regardless of whatever otherwise execrable source they may come from. As for my agenda, just read these links to know what that is. Also, though I may use a source in which one hears slurs from time to time, my use of that source is not meant to condone the use of that language; I’m only using those sources’ ideas that are pertinent to my argument. I’m not agreeing with every idea expressed in the links; only those aspects that relate to this essay.

As for these ‘questionable’ sources, we must remember that no one political ideology, be it left, right, or centre, be it authoritarian or libertarian, has a monopoly on the truth. The truth is elusive; it’s inconvenient. The truth is not fixed in some permanent place: it moves up and down, and sways like the dialectical waves of the ocean. This is why we anarchists oppose authoritarianism in all of its forms, be they left or right-wing, be they masculine or feminine.

Some would say I’m just cherry-picking those snippets I find convenient, while disregarding ‘crucial’ aspects of left-anarchism because they threaten my sense of ‘cis-hetero-white-male privilege’. I would say that I feel no need to be ‘informed’ by leftists who only read each other, reinforcing their confirmation bias, and demanding absolute ideological conformity from all their members, which is the essence of Stalinism. True intellectuals are willing to learn from an eclectic range of sources, knowing that even their ideological enemies aren’t wrong 100% of the time.

We need more dissident voices on the Left, like Noam Chomsky. Cultural libertarians tend to find forums that are right-leaning not necessarily because they themselves are right libertarians, but because the Left so rarely provides proper dissident forumsDissident anarchists are afraid to speak out because of political correctness and identity politics, though more and more are starting to. I feel that fear, too, but some things simply must be said.

You see, I refuse to ‘listen, and believe’. I won’t indulge the self-pity of the woman with the nail in her head. Pulling that nail out will be painful for her, but it will be the only way we can truly liberate her.

‘The philosophy of anarchism is included in the word “Liberty”; yet it is comprehensive enough to include all things else that are conducive to progress. No barriers whatever to human progression, to thought, or investigation are placed by anarchism; nothing is considered so true or so certain, that future discoveries may not prove it false; therefore, it has but one infallible, unchangeable motto, “Freedom.” Freedom to discover any truth, freedom to develop, to live naturally and fully. Other schools of thought are composed of crystallized ideas — principles that are caught and impaled between the planks of long platforms, and considered too sacred to be disturbed by a close investigation. In all other “issues” there is always a limit; some imaginary boundary line beyond which the searching mind dare not penetrate, lest some pet idea melt into a myth. But anarchism is the usher of science — the master of ceremonies to all forms of truth. It would remove all barriers between the human being and natural development.’ —Lucy Parsons

Further Reading:

Melanie Klein, The Psychoanalysis of Children, translation by Alix Strachey, Grove Press, Inc., New York, first Evergreen Edition 1960 [originally published by Hogarth Press, London, 1932]

R.H. Van Gulik, Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society from Ca. 1500 BC to 1644 AD, 1974, E.J.Brill, Leiden, Netherlands

Maxime Rodinson, Muhammad, translation from the French by Anne Carter, 1971, Penguin Books, London, England

Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power, 1993, Simon and Schuster, 1st ed., New York

Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, 1990, Yale University Press, London

Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, 1994, Simon and Schuster, New York

Donna LaFramboise, The Princess At the Window: a New Gender Morality, 1996, Penguin Books, Toronto

Rene Denfeld, The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, 1995, Warner Bros. Books, New York