Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Idea of Communism: From A to Z

In late June, Zizek took the show on the road to Berlin. At the conference, ‘The Idea of Communism’ he rocked the stage with his collaborator Alain Badiou. Over three days 55€ bought you the gamut of communism from A(lain) to Z(izek). Theorie als Praxis, an audience member, has subsequently posted a statement she made in the closing discussion. The statement makes points about the philosophical posture of this ‘communism’ that will interest readers at Qlipoth.

Bombard the Headquarters of the Philosopher Kings, or: Do we leave them their old age home in the Ivory tower of universalism?

What’s the deal with “The Idea of Communism”? – that’s the question you might want to ask after the conclusion of the communism conference that met under that very name at the Volksbűhne in Berlin. One thing is for sure: at the congress the universal in contradistinction to the particular was ever present. And something structural was evident too: among 17 presenters there was only one woman.

In the following I document my – slightly revised and expanded – statement in the closing discussion of the congress.

The universal was the dominant theme of the congress. In that connection, most of the presenters plead for the universal, commonality, equality and displayed a disdain of the particular. There was criticism from the public and from others referring to Marx’ Critique of the Gotha Program, where Marx saw communism as being characterized not by equality, but by the satisfaction of diverse needs (To each according to his needs.). Lenin agreed vehemently in State and Revolution, and declared the equation of communism and equality to be a distortion of communism by “bourgeois professors”. Is that exactly what the presenters at the conference were?

In his preference for a universal commonality Alain Badiou appealed to Lenin’s distinction between political and purely trade union struggles. For Lenin, trade union struggles were particular, political struggles were universal. But what Badiou overlooks is that Lenin defined political struggles as not just being conducted for improvements within the wage system, but as being based on the “recognition of the irreconcilable opposition of the interests [of the workers] to the interests of the entire current political and social system.” And this struggle is defined negatively too, it is directed against the “current political and social system.” Likewise, the struggles against “the persecution of the sectarians, the mistreatment of the peasants, the rampaging of the censor, - the abuse of soldiers, the persecution of even the most harmless culture endeavors etc,” are ‘struggles against’; struggles against persecution. Lenin does not postulate the necessity of something like a positive communist religion. For Lenin communism is not an earthly paradise of universal commonality. Instead, it is the concrete and negative struggle against any form of domination and exploitation, not a new ideal order; not an end of history.

In the same sense, I would like to turn against universalism a sentence of Althusser’s about humanism: Althusser said, the word humanism kills the class struggle. The universalism that was propagated here for three days likewise kills the class struggle, kills feminist struggles, kills anti-racist struggles. Social struggles are struggles between particular interests; revolutionary struggles are struggles that do not resolve themselves with a compromise between rulers and those they rule, between exploiters and those they exploit. And above the particular antagonistic interests in struggle there is no universal that can ultimately resolve the antagonisms in a philosophical synthesis.

In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels had already formulated a critique of the utopian socialists, that, when you get down to it, holds for today’s universalists: “They believed themselves to be elevated above the contradiction between classes …, they want to improve the conditions of the lives of all the members of society. Consequently, they appeal unremittingly to society as a whole without distinction, by preference, in fact, to the ruling class. You only need to understand their plan to recognize it as the best possible plan for the best possible society.”

For three days they have been telling us that you only have to take the point of view of humanity (instead of the point of view of animals [of pigs]and see that communism is the universal.

This disdain for the particular vis-à-vis the universal appears to me to be the reason why feminists want to have nothing to do with the communism, the holistic communism propagated here. Since universalism as the ideology of those who rule, which muffles social contradictions and places them under the mastery of philosophy, has a considerable attraction for men, who – even if they are communists – are among those who rule in the patriarchy.

I would like to put it in the words of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: We have to bombard the headquarters, bombard the headquarters of these philosopher-kings if communism is supposed to become interesting for feminists, if communism is not supposed to become, once again, an ideology of those who rule, if it is not supposed to become, once again, one of the “all too complete world views” criticized by Brecht.

Both Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek responded to the preceding statement. Alain referred me to National-Socialism, which was a philosophy of difference par excellence, the differentiation between humans and sub-humans. And Slavoj saw in liberal feminists’ support of the Iraq War (it seems to me the Afghanistan War would be the more apt example) evidence of the damaging consequences of particularist feminism.

National-Socialism was not just a philosophy of difference. It was also an ideology of the Volksgemeinschaft [trans. note: Volksgemeinschaft= “the racialized national community of the people’; Gemeinschaft concretely means community here, but the same term in its abstract sense is translated as ‘commonality’ above] that – like every attempt to define a community positively – entails exclusions. The correct response when National-Socialists declare you an enemy is not to request membership in the Volksgemeinschaft or to propose a ‘real’ Volksgemeinschaft to the Nazis as an alternative. The correct response is to pick up your weapon.

As far as the liberal feminists are concerned – advocating the war in the name of particular interests is exactly what they don’t do. What they do, they do in the name of the universal ‘value’ of equal rights. Doing so shows exactly what the error of universalism is from the perspective of the critique of ruling orders. It is paternalistic and imperialist self-authorization to act for others – to bestow ‘liberation’ from ‘outside’ or from ‘above’ on them. But the communists of the First International already knew: the liberation of the working class can, first and foremost, only be the creation of the working class itself. And the liberation of Afghan women and queers can first and foremost only be their own creation. The best support that the feminists in the USA, Germany, etc. can provide is not the propagation of universal ‘values,’ but the overthrow of their own patriarchy and their own imperialism.

–In retrospect, the only thing still left to consider is whether we really need to bombard the headquarters of the philosopher-kings – or can we leave them their old-age home in the ivory tower of universalism?


  1. “why feminists want to have nothing to do with the communism” When questioned about the paucity of woman among the presenters, Zizek explained that they had tried to invite a bunch, but kept getting show down. He mentioned by name Judith butler, who was just in town anyway, and her explicit explanation that she wanted to have nothing to do with the communism.

  2. Oops. That's shoT down, of course.

  3. Thanks for translating this- I especially like the Althusser reference. That the very members of the proletariat who should instantly feel comaraderie with communists (those fishermen in Capri Althusser vividly alludes to- or, to take an example from our own backyard-single black mothers who work multiple retail jobs and barely scrape by) have no truck with "the communism" that's bandied about by a significant portion of the academic left is worthy of further investigation. As Althusser implies, this is not an encouraging sign as to the political/revolutionary mettle of our philosopher kings.

    It's quite unsettling to me, as someone who takes Marxism seriously enough to be hesitant about making it into a sort of in-group, personal identification or individualist resistance pose, to watch as "communism" becomes an increasingly empty placeholder for that enchanted distant future where everything will be made right, and all things finally 'equal'... We are told not to bother about *how*, or *by what means*, or ask "what's the plan, then?" We are told that our class identifications of all things should become secondary to our indentification with "universalism", as it's defined by an unrepresentative sample of (whether they like this or not) privileged elites. Better to retreat to Geneva or Vienna or wherever to read Hegel. Or maybe go hiking in the Black Forest with your well-thumbed copy of Being and Time.

    And the people saying these things speak out to condemn identity politics in others with no sense of irony whatsoever.

    The most frustrating part of finding oneself on the receiving end of the patronizing, paternalistic tone favored by our philosopher-kings, though, is that when you dare raise your voice in disagreement, they assume it's because you aren't familiar enough with the texts. You're a ditz, basically, who likes consumerism, shoes, and masturbation too much to be a serious intellectual. Patiently explaining that you've read many of these masterworks in the original, and in fact have a degree in philosophy, apparently isn't enough to guarantee your own credibility and instant membership in the HeMan Philosophy Luvers revolutionary club.

    And they wonder why so many of us with bills to pay, no travel allowance, and no summers off shrug and go back to organizing at the community level.

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  6. For some reason, my comment just triple posted. Sorry about that...

  7. thanks otherQlip for the translation and anodyne for the great comment.

    Insufficient familiarity with the texts yes...and one is tempted also to advise the platonic communist elite to perhaps familiarse themselves with some texts explaining what's wrong with their "universalist" claims so one does not have to go over it every time. But they really don't read books by the lower orders. Yet another reading of Kant and Nietzsche. And every time around it loses resolution, gets more and more cartoony. Like the descent from Anne Rice - once seen as so pulpy and junky, and of course reactionary, but there's some kind of emotional truth there, about grief and sex, despite all that - to the Twilight Saga. This is perhaps paralleled by hip hegelian Jameson to hip hegelian Zizek.

    Mass culture fantasies are becoming more and more extreme and unrealistic, all sense of moderation gone. All the romance heros are Dukes, Avatar offers paradise, you can always deal pot -I became hooked for two days on Weeds, the showtime dramedy, have you seen this? Really tells you what a certain class is feeling and what consoles them. Fascinating - gets more and more racist as it goes along, determined to console the financially anxious and downwardly mobile white petty bourgeoisie. Racist but sweet and loving, forgiving, a big supportive hug.


    I am reading a novel by Iain Pears who wrote An Instance of the Fingerpost and these mysteries about art theft cops in Italy. This is called The Dream of Scipio,

    and it's three stories and three different points in history, sort of connected, in Provence. One of the stories is about a rich Roman aristocrat who becomes a Bishop even though he's not a Christian believer, as the Empire crumbles. Then there's the poet in the time of the Black Death. Then the scholar under Nazi occupation.

    Imagine that communism conference as an element in a text of that sort, defining an epoch, an audience cheering itself at the reminder that it is the heir of these revered ancestors who accomplished such marvels as filling notebooks full of kvetching about women and servants and just basically celebrating themselves and their superiority to people being tortured and cutting sugar cane. But so good and generous as to offer to them advice, about liberty, which these notebook fillers invented!

    And the people saying these things speak out to condemn identity politics in others with no sense of irony whatsoever.

    Yes - and feel "radical" doing so. This is what's amazing.

  8. Barbarism:

    I am reading a novel by Iain Pears who wrote An Instance of the Fingerpost and these mysteries about art theft cops in Italy. This is called The Dream of Scipio,

    and it's three stories and three different points in history, sort of connected, in Provence. One of the stories is about a rich Roman aristocrat who becomes a Bishop even though he's not a Christian believer, as the Empire crumbles. Then there's the poet in the time of the Black Death. Then the scholar under Nazi occupation.

    Imagine that communism conference as an element in a text of that sort, defining an epoch, an audience cheering itself at the reminder that it is the heir of these revered ancestors who accomplished such marvels as filling notebooks full of kvetching about women and servants and just basically celebrating themselves and their superiority to people being tortured and cutting sugar cane. But so good and generous as to offer to them advice, about liberty, which these notebook fillers invented!

    And the people saying these things speak out to condemn identity politics in others with no sense of irony whatsoever.

    Yes - and feel "radical" doing so. This is what's amazing.

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  10. oh mine also posted when it said it hadn't. it's always so eeerie when google malfunctions.

  11. I just ran into the Lenin's Tomb post on women and labor... eh. What struck me was not really Lenin's "take away" from the conference- that was all pretty run of the mill, stock concession to the ladyfolk speechifying of the kind anyone who's done time in a philosophy dept is well used to hearing. What struck me was how he didn't really seem to understand at all what the implicit function of Power's brand of feminist discourse is. (Not many men do, I've noticed.) I mean, really- the idea that women are *more* oppressed today, or *more* willing to 'oppress themselves', due to their introduction into the workforce, simply because there are employers out there who expect women to sell themselves, look presentable, and have a good attitude at work, seems ridiculous on the face of it. But women having to sell themselves in the labor market the way men always have is supposed to be tantamount to sexism being "reinvented".


    No, I'd say women were a tad more oppressed when they had no option to work, and instead had to smile, look daisy fresh, and sell themselves to the husband daddy picked for them day in and day out. All while working 40 hours + at home without a wage. Some women seem to forget that many women, back when they didn't have the option to work, literally had to 'put out' for their dinner. Ask your grandmothers.

    Of course, workplace harassment is a problem, and there are still jobs that are based solely on a woman's sexiness (Hooter's waitress, waitresses in general, etc.) The difference between Power and me, however, is that I don't think women are choosing these jobs because society has been "hypersexualized" (compared to what, one wonders?), and so droves of naive, sexually put-upon women have decided to betray the sisterhood. I think they're choosing them because in their economic strata, these are the best possible employment opportunities available to them.

    If anyone is reinventing what "oppression" means, it would seem to me to be feminists like Power. Focusing on only the aspects of oppression that the middle class experiences as most common, like the horrors of being expected to be sociable and cooperative at work, can act like a mechanism of erasure, making things like rape, sexual harassment, the wage gap, and the double bind of being a woman of ethnic minority status more invisible. Plus, it seems inadvisable to make this kind of thing the central focus of feminism when I'm not even so sure it's a huge intractable problem at all. In the places where I've worked, there was harassment, but when it came to "sexiness", more women were sent home to change for looking too sexy than they were asked or expected to look/act sexier. If there were some sort of sociological data that suggested that womens' gains in the workplace are directly correlated with them being expected to perform femininity and "sexiness" at work, I'd be happy to concede. But in my experience, exactly the opposite is true: women are expected to be more and more aggressive and just "one of the boys" as they make more money and join management. (The soft bigotry of NY Times articles about women "softening" the workplace notwithstanding).

    What it looks like from where I sit is that a small minority of highly visible middle class women are trying to hijack feminism and force it to conform to the issues they find most pressing- eating disorders, body image, being expected to smile at a job interview- which, let's face it, are kind of small peanuts compared to what the vast majority of the world's women have to face everyday. They are the ones trying to reinvent a more marketable and digestible feminism:

  12. Link got cut off:

  13. small potatoes, even.

  14. I'm not going to be misrepresented like this. No one - not Nina Power, not I, not Hester Eisenstein or Judith Orr, not anyone at Marxism - says that woman are more oppressed today than when they were far less represented in the labour force before WWII. That's not what One Dimensional Woman argues, it's not what was said at the meeting yesterday (the controversy over this matter was superficial, more to do with emphasis than substance) and it's certainly not the thrust of the post on LT. What ODW argues, citing Lindsey German's fairly conventional marxist account, is that women's lives have worsened in the backlash, in the period of neoliberal reaction. If you so grossly misrepresent a text, it's easy to come up with satisfyingly contemptuous retorts, but it's obviously not a practise that is conducive to farthering the cause of liberation. And, btw, it won't do to say that men don't notice this supposed feature of Power's argument - evidently, plenty of women don't see it either.

  15. I didn't say that was the "thrust of the post at LT." In fact, I was careful to say that I was responding to feminists themselves, and not you. When I say that there is a strain of feminist argument that would have it that women are oppressing themselves by working, specifically w/r/t the women who spoke at the conference, I was referring to a (brief) discussion I had with Ms. Power once on this exact point, at the blog Tiger Beatdown.

  16. "That's not what One Dimensional Woman argues"

    Page 2:

    What looks like emacipation is nothing but a tightening of the shackles

    Why don't you take your faux-radicality and get back to gazing at your navel and masturbating with your usual curious joy to the sight of your own prose while humanity's hopes of socialism crumble around you.

    And, btw, it won't do to say that men don't notice this supposed feature of Power's argument - evidently, plenty of women don't see it either.

    Lynn Segal noticed:

    I have dwelt upon this report and its reception because it is so characteristic of the twisted sympathies of a mediascape that is as eager to dwell upon the vulnerabilities of young women as to arraign those same women for their lifestyle choices, while simultaneously smugly highlighting the supposed failures of feminism in its inability to ensure women’s well-being, overall. Throughout March 2010, this has been the monotonous tone of assessments of women’s situation after ‘forty years of feminism’. Thus the journalist Charlotte Raven celebrated this International Women’s Day by reflecting that feminism had ‘lost its way’, informing readers that ‘feminism had reneged on its responsibility to present uncomfortable truths’, before concluding that ‘Paradoxically this generation of women is more vulnerable than any of its forbears. Women’s refusal to acknowledge any weaknesses has made them easy prey.’8 Raven’s warnings are echoed in the feminist campaigner Kat Barnyard’s barnstorming text, The Equality Illusion: The Truth About Women and Men Today (2010),9 which presents us with the similarly pessimistic conclusion that women are more oppressed than ever today, yet fail to realize it.Even more explicit upbraiding of women and contemporary feminism for their betrayal of the hopes for female emancipation appear in the tone and text of Nina Power’s One Dimensional Woman (2009).10 Citing barely any well-known feminist writers, though abundant in its citation of reflections from male philosophers with little interest in or sympathy for feminist politics, Power accuses ‘today’s positive, upbeat feminists’ of abdicating ‘any systematic political thought’ for the celebration of ‘individual identity above all else’.

    as have many others.

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  18. And finally, perhaps, as a conflict between production and reproduction, in which women are expected to manage child birth and rearing in ways that don't burden the employers. This is just one more way in which women are expected to augment the exploitation process by pre-emptively exploiting themselves, by assuming extra hours of labour, by accepting deductions from their income to pay for childcare. The 'labourisation of women', as Power puts it, is a process that has intensified exploitation and reinvented gender oppression.

    "Expected to... exploiting themselves ... assuming hours ... accepting deductions" All these verbs striking peculiar bum notes, but I think I could probably only illustrate this to Lenin by asking him if he would write the same sentence with "women" replaced by "two-income households".
    I don't think most workers feel they are "expected to" use privatized child care: they know they have to. They go through pay slips, tot up creche bills and tax credits, estimate longterm career prospects and the childrens' education costs
    etc., and come to the conclusion that pooling wages is their only viable means of raising their children. It's a matter of coming to terms in the first place with brute necessity.
    To use a Tombism, this really is the jargon of "ultraleftism" of the most infantile kind:
    It is certainly true that at some level I "augment the exploitation process by pre-emptively exploiting myself" when I pay health insurance. I do so too when I reproduce myself by eating cheap carcinogenic foodstuffs or using self-service checkouts. At some level, everything I do as a consumer is complicit with capitalist exploitation. But it's only a very partial way of looking at how most people behave and think about their behaviour, and not a very helpful or encouraging one. It's simply not true to talk about exploitation in terms of expectations rather than obligations.

  19. "a small minority of highly visible middle class women are trying to hijack feminism and force it to conform to the issues they find most pressing- eating disorders, body image, being expected to smile at a job interview-"

    I think this is true but Power and now Lenin are kind of developing a much more troubling strain of moralising discourse, also with the recuperated fanaticism - for Zizek it's now "zeal" - which is explained best by Theweleit in Male Fantasies. They are positioning women as empirical, bodily, egoist consumers, the embodiments of liberalism in the Schmittian view, and they themselves, the righteous petty bourgeois men, are the permanently erect, armoured fanatics of Abstraction and Universality and the agents of the worldspirit who have to reform this loathesome fleshy humanity.

  20. Thanks Kenoma. Power also talks about women expected to have sex more often and more strenuously than they wish and expose their breasts to a reality show she watches (and presumably she watches because she is expected to watch) and if it were couples then one would actually be tempted to ask who is doing the expecting and how is it experienced (why can't this expectation be disapointed) and then we're really far from being able to blame "feminism" as the Satan corrupting the feeblminded and vicious daughters of Eve and would have to instead accept the Marxist explanation.

    Which Power and now unfortunately Lenin explicitly rejects.

  21. But mostly what they are doing is historical revisionism, silencing women and erasing feminism from their pseudo-histories and restoring the old patriarchal order, with the usual justification (women's weakness, feeblemindedness, viciousness, need for male guidance). Why show respect for and acknowledge women and listen to women when bourgeois men can speak for them so much better? Isn't "feminism" just (reverse) sexism if women object to men speaking for them and controlling their income?

    Dwelling on how little women have gained through the women's movement is a bit like dwelling on how some things were better on the plantation in slavery days. It wasn't precarious! Then this is with some despicable little cunning passed off as only the invention - from scratch - of a socialist feminism, of which deluded women, too busy masturbating to notice the collapse of civilisation let alone that they have employers, of course have been incapable, but now with the guidance of Paolo Virno and Alain Badiou it may be possible for women to learn about how oppressed they are but also how vicious and corrupt, castrated, whores, submissives, complicit with The Enemy, Satan's bitches whose insatiable apetitites have dragged all humanity to perdition.

  22. Lenin has a good line in his new book where he says the belief that the current social order is a meritocracy is a slander of humanity; his and Power's belief that they can lecture socialist feminists is a slander on women.

    Power's ignorance is genuinely extraordinary:

    If men's wages too have been depressed, if there literally aren't enough jobs, or enough money to pay for them, (what with the dire need to pay CEOs so much more than anyone else, not to mention the precious shareholders), then the category 'woman' remains a useful one for the 'first fired, last hired' policy that has characterized the employment market for so much of the last hundred years or so.

    It is simply gibberish. And that's okay. But it's author complains that she is the first feminist to understand capitalism. And that is effrontery.

    and now Lenin says this is "trying to resume" the critique of capitalism associated with Selma James, M. Della Costa, Federici etc..

    It's hard for me to believe that can be sincere. But I guess it is after all.

  23. Dwelling on how little women have gained through the women's movement is a bit like dwelling on how some things were better on the plantation in slavery days. It wasn't precarious!

    I mean of course they deny the existence of thousands of articles, phDs and books about women's ongoing oppression, persisting despite the gains, and worsening now, not to mention the immense amount of discussion and activism, and focus on how feminism is responsible for this, and women themselves are responsible, instead of on the actual mechanisms, motives and protagonists of exploitation and oppression. And this is similar to an existing trend in slavery apology (and apology for colonialism) that does the same thing, and instead of a history of how racial oppression is reproduced in response to struggle focus on the "disappointment of manumission". So much journalism about African countries takes this approach too of look what a mess now, "oh of course not saying that it would have been better had the European overlord stayed but just it isn't the utopia that the anticolonialists promised is it?In many ways it WAS better under the Belgians!"

    Similarly there is a genre of Haiti history which insinuates, with comparisons to the French Antilles, that Haitian independence was if not a mistake after all, a terrible disappointment, again paradise promised and renegged on; this instead of writing a history of unrelieved imperialism in Haiti. In the story Power and Lenin are telling about women exploited as wage labourers in the cosmopolis, capital the protagonist of exploitation and oppression and men the protagonists of oppression and sexism are maximally vague; but the focxus is not then appropriately on women's agency and experience but how the women's liberation movement and "feminism" made false promises, failed and deceived women, sold wage work as "pure emancipation".

  24. Lenin has put up the most remarkable hypocritical and disingenuous screed.

    But the interesting part is the reply to the issue of ignoring women and imposing male authorities which is basically well fuck these women, Selma James and her comrades, why should he or Power have to listen to or acknowledge them? What obligation is there to do that? Power's job os to attack her "target", (Valenti, so evil and powerful she has to be stopped), not to read "the complete works of Sheila Rowbotham" [the snark in that "complete works", like it's so outrageous that someone should actually read at least a couple books or parts of a couple books of feminist scholarship before pontificating about it as not only the expert but the saviour and resurrection of the corpse of lifeless feminism]. And of course there is no need to pay any attention to that riff raff around Selma James before lecturing about how women are "expected to be flirtatious" and all that.

    So, it's like the backlash is complete in a blink. The one thing all feminisms, even liberal feminism, had in common was the commitment not to ignore and silence and marginalise women anymore - women must be seen and heard. But no, Lenin and Power have abolished that - their mo better feminism is all about attacking the target witch and burning her. Just misogyny, relabelled feminism, but with the clever cover of denoucing vague rival pseudo-feminisms.

    It's like this decoy feminism designed to be absorbed by this neo-pauline "left" which abhors actual feminism; the women are silent and submit themselves voluntarily to the authority of this old old-world bourgeois male chauvinists.

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  26. I really thought we stopped talking about "girl power" media, chocolate ads, and the public appearances of Posh Spice as if they were the sum-total of what contemporary feminism had to offer... oh, ten years ago?

    It really does seem like a bitter, lad maggy blacklash against feminism more than anything else, to constantly be gloating about the failures of the movement, and how the men are still Winning because "tits or GTFO!" works on reality TV sometimes.

    Oh, all of those poor victims of hookup culture. How will they ever land husbands now that their breasts are Nielsen rated?

  27. Ok, and this right here:

    The guy writes a nice review of the book (another guy loved this book! really loved it! it's an oasis in a sea of feminist fail!), and I'm sure it's sincere and all of that. He even throws some nice exposition on Badiou in there for good measure.

    He seems to really appreciate the part about how the porn that exists now is not the best possible porn, or even the only possible porn. (As if any feminist alive ever said it was-apparently Valenti must have implied as much or something, when she parodied a men's clothing logo for her website. Yeah, that's it.)

    This right here is what really irks me- what really, really irks me and other living breathing feminists about this book and others like it (Levy's also leaps immediately to mind). There's an entire half century at least of women activists who've fought the mainstream porn industry and, as we speak, they're forming coalitions and pushing for unionization. There is also a growing minority of female porn producers who identify as feminists and are making exactly the kind of alternative porn the reviewer above alludes to- a kind that isn't nearly as hateful and phallocentric as much of what passes for mainstream material. These women are, howevre, simply invisible in Power's book. Not only do they have no voice, they don't even exist. It's really something; to read it, you'd think there wasn't a single bisexual or trans or queer or even straight up heterosexual feminist porn producer.

    One really gets the sense that the only "legit" porn that will ever get any recognition is the sepia toned kind ODW mentions fondly. The hardwork of thousands of other feminists (who made the same points with more nuance and backed them up with action) just disappear behind a wall of rhetoric several bricks thick.

  28. thanks


    Even though I worked in that industry I don't know much about the content.

    But a real history of the Meese commission and the persecutions, and the real evil that McKinnon and Dworkin did with Keating and Hatch and Lambert, and why, needs to be written.

    That review is really perky and upbeat it sort of makes you picture a friendly dog when you come to the door, wagging his delight! Oh hi hi hi! You you you! Hihi! Oh welcome welcome kiss kiss!

  29. I really thought we stopped talking about "girl power" media, chocolate ads, and the public appearances of Posh Spice as if they were the sum-total of what contemporary feminism had to offer... oh, ten years ago?

    Or even a hundred? Almost? didn't that Edwardian Age end and Virginia Woolf declare the world changed overnight? And Musil explained the "New Woman"? No more head full of bonbons, baubles and babies?

  30. The reality tv seems that ten years ago everyone saw this as the most artificial thing precisely because it was faux documentary. But many viewers now seem to treat this as unmediated raw "reality". I wonder if this is not a kind of realisation of television that needed to wait for this good quality picture. Because that was the original concept - this device to see at a distance, not a home theatre or home cinema, but a telescope. A window on the world. live.

    Now that is simulated. And when first introduced it was perceived as a corny ruse or a worryisome futuristic thing, the cameras transforming the ordinary family into a soap opera family just by their presence, as if they were somehow magical, form itself, bridging the worlds of romance and realism, fiction and reality. And now the most contrived things - take off your shirt! - is percieved by viewers as some kind of evidence. Ethnographic data.

    something to ponder.

  31. I admit I paid no attention for a while to US tv and suddenly watched it and was kind of shocked by how noisy and crude it had become. But it seems so much more has changed than merely all the haff nekked girls prancing, though videos are a little startling if you haven't watched in six months. But its like that too is functioning to absorb the troubling qualities of the whole.

  32. Sorry for all of these repeated comments, I'm really not sure why that's happening.

    Anyway, definitely need to read Male Fantasies, looks great. I am not a consumer or a producer of porn, but I've been close enough to the industry to know that a) it's not monolithic, and b) the sort of mainstream stuff Power writes about is bankrupting producers. The internet diversified (niched) the market completely and killed DVD. Gone are the days when "porn" was metonymy for pizza delivery guy helps clean 18-year-old's pipes or whatever shtick.

    In the end, I give people a lot more credit than this new subgenre of 'sex diet' feminism does.

    Yes, chocolate and probiotic yogurt commercials are dumb and sexist, but does that mean feminists are?

    Yes, mainstream media are nowhere near where feminists would like them to be vis-a-vis sexual imagery and stereotypes- but is that feminists' fault?

    If I eat a piece of chocolate, and maybe think it tastes good, am I exploiting myself? If I have digestive problems and buy Activia, have I become the very thing I hate? She and others like her say "it's either hairy man-hating or my life as Barbie!"... but really, says who? I mean, if Axe Body spray commercials are the real pulse of humanity, I suppose so. Otherwise, you really are building outrageous bimbo Strawfeminist because she's so easy to burn down with all of that righteous indignation.

  33. blogger is strange today

    i keep losing things, but then some come back

    did you by the way ever read bfp's parting words? i was thinking of them and her fury when reading Missy Power

  34. 'But many viewers now seem to treat this as unmediated raw "reality".'

    Yes, exactly... Most of what falls under the umbrella of reality TV repulses me. It is terribly crude, but it's not the explicit (and completely staged) sexual content that worries me so much. It's the classism and racism of so much of it. For instance, Vh-1's series of shows from Flava of Love to I Love New York portrays black people and working class whites as, basically, unruly sexually indiscriminate animals. It's not even a minstrel show; it's all flagrantly premised on how hilarious the ignorant, aggressive, sexually insatiable blacks (and the whites who love/emulate them, i.e., poor ones) are.

    Even shows like Rock of Love, which are mostly white in cast and demographic, trade on the incorrigibility of brazen "white trash" strippers and sluts and groupies. Of course, the punch line to much of these scenes is when one stripper tells another to "go back to the trailer park, you filthy whore!" Etc. Hardy har har.

    The point of these shows is to debase and degrade poor whites and blacks. Period. Nobody really talks about that, though, because the real problem is that somebody saw someone's naked breasts.

    Of course, on the other end of the target demo spectrum you have Bravo's shows: how gauche are these nouveau riche gold digging sluts with plastic surgery?

  35. "The point of these shows is to debase and degrade poor whites and blacks. Period."

    Yes. yes. and in context, contrasted to coverage of congress on c-span, to MSNBC...

  36. and the shows in context confirm that their subjects character and nature is the cause of their oppression. but then like the Moynihan model, which Power adopts explicitly, her investigation into women's "self sexism and autoexploitation" is of course "not about blame!" but "explanation".

    and so we get denoucement of Sex and the City; deserved in a way of course but NOT in a context of cheering The Wire, which is just absolutely viciously misogynist, to the point where even the creator admits it. The contradiction and incohgerence is Orwellian - the concern is supposed to be about women's oppression and capitalism, but outright macho misogyny like that, outright exploitation and abuse, is okay because women can't be blamed for it. It's even virtuous. So really the supposed critique of feminism's complicity woith capitalism is not motivated by anticapitalism but by anti-feminism, because capitalism and misogyny that doesn't involve a "feminist accomplice" is just cheered on and swallowed greedily like friendly bacteria yoghurt; the target is not capitalism and its exploitation of women but women's depravity.

  37. Sex in the City represents in this discourse - despite belonging to capitalists - the sinful woman, the vicious women and feminism that are really responsible for women's oppression, while the Wire is male and white and therefore entitled to have little pecadillos and only rightfully in charge and rightfully speaking. Sex and the City becomes the figure of the shameful bareheaded woman preaching, whom the Paulines must chastise and shame, and The Wire the righteous male onlooker of the punishment. Sex and the City, honorary "woman", absorbs the misogyny of the Wire and cleanses it, and the vices of all the culture product. The ritual denouncement of this "consumer feminism" and their "naked greed" and "pure egotism" is the Bonfire of the Vanities that serves to cleanse the whole mass culture to which the Inquisitors are so emotionally attached. If you burn Sex and the City at the stake, you can transfer the misogyny of David Lynch and Lars von Trier to it first and watch it go up in flames leaving you cleansed and purified to enjoy your videos and vibrator and feel very righteous, and also now confimr that your leisure activity is not just innocent but selfless virtue for the public good.

  38. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this image of Woman as disgusting, vapid, consumerist gold digger and/or careerist slutbag is all over TV and film.

    It really seemed to peak when they introduced that show about Hugh Hefner's girlfriends, who were supposed to be hilarious because they pretended to be ditzy for the camera... this became a movie called House Bunny and had several spinoffs. I mean, thinking about it, I can hardly think of a represention of a woman on television that doesn't fit that image.

    Shows like Tool Academy and The Pick Up Artist poke fun at men, and are indignifying in their own ways- but nobody's portraying them as mindless buyers-up and consumers of all the world's precious resources. In fact, these shows are mostly about restoring men their dignity and essentially their "proper place". (There's even one trying to teach wannabe thugs to be dads.)

    Like you said before, none of this is new, but it seems to be back with a vengeance.

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  40. The venom directed at women who do not perform their subordination is really disturbing.

    the malice and misogyny cannot be disguised when someone like Jessica Valenti - about whose work there is no shortage of things a serious person could take issue with, but which is all of no interest to Power who is after her as depraved Female, as with Palin - is transfomred into this naked insatiable egoist oozing friendly bacteria yoghurt. Because Valenti comports herself like Julio César Miranda compared to Power who giggles and is relentlessly cutesey. Her persona which refuses subordination is the target of this intense hatred. Power also echoes Jacaues Alain Miller of Palin precisely identifying - even falsely, with paranoia - a refusal of subordiantion as loathesome and horrifying. there is so much to object to about Sarah palin and the forces behind her and those she mobilizes. None of these interest Miller or Power: they are instead obsessed with using her convenient figure and image (again with this naievete about its "reality") to demonstrate the horrifying threat that women's rebellion poses (horrifying like "Splice", horror horror of the insubordinate female, the hyena), to stir up a sense of urgency about putting women back in their place. All the ferocious misogyny of Freud's vision of the "castrated" female is restored as if there never were any feminism ever and then amplified to frenzied levels.

  41. Poor Valenti- she's no Kate Millet, but she's not pretending to be, either. She's what I guess you'd call a new media feminist, a pretty successful one, who pioneered cyber community building and reaching out to the yooth. Not my style, or really my scene, but I think there's a place for it.

    Yet she's the target of a type of venom from men and women I've really rarely seen directed at feminists (other than some of the radfems who dared to be unattractive- those two cardinal feminist sins, being either too unattractive or too attractive). Did you hear about the dustup after she posed with Clinton at the White House? A feminist accused her of *sticking out her breasts* to be the center of attention in the photo.

    Colbert does a good impression of the stock "objections" and "reactions" to Valenti:

    The cover! A navel! (Valenti herself lamented the publisher's decision to use this image.) You're pretty cute for a feminist! Girls gone wild! Beauty standards! Body image!

  42. "she's no Kate Millet, but she's not pretending to be, either."

    funny I feel like this put me in the position wehave all been in with Obama lately. You have to defend him personally against these racist attacks, which are scary, but this distracts you from the urgent need to oppose and expose and intimidates you, really deprives you of language and liberty to challenge the ruling class because one has to be careful not concede nothing to these crazy racists and the truth is the ruling class really did play something like "a race card" or a game with surface not substance - you can have a black president instead of a progressive, a woman supreme coutr judge instead of a progressive....

  43. "A feminist accused her of *sticking out her breasts* to be the center of attention in the photo. "

    yes and then it got worse and worse, Pandagon photo shopped her in a burqa saying this is what anne Althouse wants; so the white feminists responded with racism and Clinton apology. Bfp and others tried in vain to explain to Amanda Marcotte how she was making this horrible belittling contemptuous racist gesture to preseve the honour of the sacred White Woman, and I got into an endless and finally failed effor toe xplain to Marcotte and her white feminist posse that on top of that, it was Clinton, the man at the centre of their cute joke , that forced Afghan women into Burqas. But the white feminist response was to disguise that Clinton policy, reaffirm the centrality and sanctity of the white woman on the degraded body of the brown woman, fail to see the wedding of their limited conception of female dignity and other the US ruling class policy, onto Afghan men (terrorised by the US paramiliaries) and their domestic rivals (the christian right).

    That whole thing really was revealing, like an HBO or Showtime series.

  44. Something occurs to me, that - ODW and the Badiouian "universalists" aside - a lot of the attraction on a certain left now for wanting to show that feminism is itself kind of inherently flawed, a seperatism, tending toward reaction and "complicity" is that there really are dilemmas arising from the socially reactionary nature (at least in official ideology, the rank and file are all over the map) of a lot of the more successful organised anti-colonialist groups (say, Hamas) and leftists long established commitments to feminism in the broad sense. So it's not just another round of arguments between Leninist or Trot orgs and more anarchistic/libertarian marxist women over whether "feminism is a seperatism" or whatever; now it is a genuine clash between elements within an antiwar antiimperialist coalition that has to be kept together and indeed expand. So there's delicacy and reasonableness required, and this just at the moment when some leftists want to discredit reasonableness itself as limp and sissy. But this excuse - a good one, I don't deny, and inarguable one - for just waving away a lot of traditional feminist concerns comes at a convenient time for elements of a bourgeois dissident group that has not been consistently antiimperialist at all and is in fact promoting a renewed eurosupreamcism. So they are sacrificing feminism not to antiimperialism but to a "brand left" version of this same Western Values thing that is dominant across the mainstream. So what we end up with is not actually an anti-racist defence against veil-demonising but an indirect defence deploring slutty whores and suggesting that veiling is really genuinely simply a proper modesty or refusal of "autoexploitation" and "selfsexism".

    Did you ever see a documentary called A Veiled Revolution? About Egypt, 1980s, about the embrace of modest dress and a critique that women were involved in of the coloialist/imperialist and bourgeois associations and complicities of Egyptian feminism. It's just implied really that this involves a critical stance toward the undressing-as-liberaton of white western women - this is taking place just as the turning point in aesthetics for women, the little black dresses and bustiers are back but not the high heels - the focus is all on Egypt. What ferocious battles this film caused as I recall when I saw it in the 90s at the New School. I think for many on the left it is tempting to find reasons to implicate "feminism" in "complicity" than to just live with the awareness that there's no perfect position, there's a real antagonism, a real incompatibility, and in fact the necessity to oppose imperial aggression may involve deeds, alliances, positions you cannot always justify as virtuous and right. but a lot of this universalist left is sure there is purity, that they are pure, that they are always virtuous and all they do is virtuous, and that there is an infallible connection between the virtuousness of all they do, their musical and tv tastes, their manners, their political causes...all are infused with The Good. And right now they are chosing then to expell feminism from the Good to resolve their conflict and to maintain their Platonic idealist worldview. But this is why the intellectuals in this niche - Badiou glaringly - are completely incoherent, completely irrational, on these question.

  45. Yes, it's a tough line to walk, defending someone you don't really agree with on much. Valenti and her Feministing pals have been rightfully criticized by minority feminists for being privileged and not really taking that on. I thought V and co. were receptive to the criticism, but in that typical "make quick, pious retribution to the WOC and then continue talking about how ballet lessons make rich white girls binge and purge" way you get from their quarters.

    I had not read Pandagon until probably a month ago, I don't know where I've been. But since then I've noticed Pandagon/Marcotte has a problem typical to people who really like being democrats (not just voting that way because they have to), and atheists (she's popular with atheists)- they're really bad at understanding the racism involved in constantly focusing on women's rights violations in other cultures. (This is another shocking "insight" that people like Power feel the need to bless Americans with, because how would we understand our own culture otherwise?) I've been around for some protracted battles between feminists and male atheists about this, and usually it's the men who insist "I disagree with all religion equally, so I'm not being any more offensive to muslims than christians." But that's not the point, and you don't think of them equally, otherwise you'd acknowledge that the last thing muslims need is more Islambashing.

    What is it with some men and this idea that you can just make things "equal" by saying the word "equal" a lot?

  46. "Valenti and her Feministing pals have been rightfully criticized by minority feminists for being privileged and not really taking that on."

    yes Power managed to attack Valenti and Palin in the only way that avoided discussion of their reactionary quyalities, and in a way that simply trasnformed them into figures of Eve and witches. If what is objectionable about them - so much, mountains of reaction - was introduced they could not serve as representatives of The Female and Feminism.

    Valenti's eagerness to be part of Clinton's pr was as loathesome as the attacks on her pose; but Power can't really go there, nbecause it would come to close to her own function in the fan club of imperialism, though in a far smaller niche.

  47. " they're really bad at understanding the racism involved in constantly focusing on women's rights violations in other cultures."

    yes they really don't acknowledge imeprailism at all, one of them lindsay, had a post that was like addressing "Afghan men" saying "if you don't cease this oppression we will take your women away."

    truly that was the pose. lindsay did not stop to consider eeven just the unseemliness since "we"/she was/ were already killing all these women, taking plenty of women away from their sons, husbands, brothers, fathers and daughters mothers sisters. Even that obviously basic boasting of the barbarity actually in progress was beyond her awareness, let alone anything else, any questioning of the generalisation about afghan men case on members of US trained paras, any hesitation about the imperial right, any consciousness of women's situation in the world ruled by the US empire, let alone conditions in the US, on the metroterritory itself, for (im)migrant women, and of course no sense of shame in this revelling in power which is at once also just absurdity, as if just because she aligns herself with and supports imperial power she weilds it and could even open US borders to millions of Afghan women should they have wished to escape. The endless vileness of this rhetoric, traditional white man's burden stuff...

  48. I don't read those blogs much, just for a while there was a concerted attempt by some rwoc bloggers - bfp, blackamazon - to kind of forge some connection with them, in the blogsphere and also in "real life" (and left events and congresses) and so i went to those blogs and followed the debates when i was on the web more than now. you have it exactly i think in the way the white feminist liberal bloggers responded to the attempts by rwoc bloggers to ally with and broaden and educate them. It was not a dramatically slammed door but the limits of communication where soon reached. Which is one of the reasons its such a shame academics with media access to repeatedly re-centre this kind of liberal feminism and just insist its all there is worth discussing. Because there are in the world many more feminists of color and working class feminists than there are white bourgeois feminists.

  49. Your comment about separatism, anti-colonialism and the left is just perfect. It articulates something I've been thinking about for awhile. You should write more about this if you get a chance... Wallerstein is a good reference point, because he deals with the failure of anti-colonialism to transform into coherent and unilaterally left-wing vectors for political change, when he talks about transition out of capitalism and social-economic disequilibrium. If you and the other Qlipoths think of any good books on this, I'd appreciate your recs.

  50. Here's a glaring example -

    - this is really just appalling. Not only nonsensical and equivocating but defensive white male supremacist. He is obliged to note that Hegel's vision of history is rubbish, but then he "sets aside" everything he is obliged to recognise, simply declaring it of no interest or importance. ("Leaving aside the stereotypical images of a savage and frenetic Africa, and of an India that drowns in the tepid waters of the Absolute, the discourse on "fanatical" Islam, which seems to retrace the worst of eighteenth-century Orientalism, contains interesting and at times surprising ideas.") He acknowlegdes 'yes yes but' that the vision of Islam in Hegel (a complete and utter ignoramus on this topic, it has to be underscored) is a fantasy only to immediately insist on it's validity not only as a metaphor or figure for some eternal abstract aspect of spirit/reason but as a description of actually existing Islam, trasnhistorically - this he affirms by the absurd deployment of Malcolm X parting from NOI and black seperatism as a, instance of this transhistorical "Islam" enacted, which he names, ludicrously, proof of "the political power of abstraction". Abstraction? Abstraction is what Malcom X repudiated, abstraction are those purple polka dotted people whom white folks claim not to mind renting their apartments to, not caring about "color". Malcolm X Haji, post-break with NOI, was far from advancing a politics of "abstraction" or exhibit it's "political power"; the internationalism he was approaching is concrete politics, based on solidarity not Pauline mysticism, not spurred by some ecstatic revelation/ discovery that human conflict and particularity are mere illusory surfaces. Toscano affirms Hegelian orientalism there - saying look, the transhistorical nature of Islam, accurately described by Hegel who was as completely ignorant of Islam as Toscano himself, produces this universal brotherhood that overcomes Malcolm X' black nationalism. Thus "Islam" really is just as Hegel dreamt it and unchanged since the 7th century. The "utter neglect utter neglect of Islamic political, legal, and scientific thought, which conditions such verdicts" is of no consequence since all that are just meaningless barnacles on the eternal essence.

    I don't really mind that thisc rap exists or that it's niche of readers likes it; what bothers me is how this idealist ignorant white male supremacist Zizzianism, which is not even progressive let alone radically emancipatory, is becoming the public face of Marxism and the image of leftist radicalism. I resisted the idea that left/right, this bourgeois scheme inherited from Jacobinism, is more confusing than it's worth, but now I think that in many instances it is.

  51. "the public face of Marxism and the image of leftist radicalism. "

    just in the mass media and for some university students at the moment, but i think people have to resist and refuse this before capital and the retained clerks succeed in "resignfying" Marxism and communism as some kind of neofasho neoliberalism where treasuries insure against all risk thing the way Fraser notes somebody-she-refuses-to-name resignified a lot of second wave feminist critiques for the "neo-liberalism" of recent decades.

  52. you'd think also at least after what's happened in Iraq and then Mumbai, these knuckleheads would move beyond their zizzian contrarianism, which puts them in the camp of liberal imperialists as far as seeing US clients as US enemies purely by cultural/cinematic interpretation of what their figures suggest to a Lacanian film criticism, to understand there is a sponsor-client relation between the US and Islamists just about everywhere there are Islamists, and far from being the "new communism", implacable enemy of the global ruling class, US client Islamists remain the same old anti-communists they always were. But no, they just see the Liberal Establishment declare in mass media that "these fundie Islamists are OUR ENEMY" and assume it must be true. Because surely the newsreaders can't lie? (if they could that would be way too scaweee.)

  53. We are reminded of this political power of abstraction, for example, in the experience of the African-American leader Malcolm X, for whom conversion to Islam functioned as a break in the particularism of black nationalism. As he wrote in a letter from Jeddah in 1964 (during the hajj dramatized in the famous film by Spike Lee), for him Islam represented "the one religion that erases the race problem from its society".

    This is an increasingly popular white supremacist revision of black history - Toscano is trying to dragoon the figure of Malcolm X to serve as approving mascot for his own reactionary "the Maoist" that Spivak found appointed subaltern in Foucault and Deleuze mutual flattery session, or like the "Big Black Guy" that loved Zizek's abuse and became his terrible close friend.

  54. This was what Malcolm X said:

    As many of you know, last March, when it was announced that I was no longer in the Black Muslim movement, it was pointed out that it was my intention to work among the 22 million non-Muslim Afro-Americans and to try and form some type of organization or create a situation where the young people, our young people, the students and others, could study the problems of our people for a period of time and then come up with a new analysis and give us some new ideas and some new suggestions as to how to approach a problem that too many other people have been playing around with for too long, and that we would have some kind of meeting and determine at a later date whether to form a black nationalist party or a black nationalist army.

    There have been many of our people across the country from all walks of life who have taken it upon themselves to try and pool their ideas and to come up with some kind of solution to the problem that confronts all of our people. And tonight, we are here to try and get an understanding of what it is they’ve come up with.

    Also, recently, when I was blessed to make a trip or a pilgrimage, a religious pilgrimage, to the holy city of Mecca, where I met many people from all over the world, plus spent many weeks in Africa trying to broaden my own scope and get more of an open mind to look at the problem as it actually is, one of the things that I realized, and I realized this even before going over there, was that our African brothers have gained their independence faster than you and I here in America have. They’ve also gained recognition and respect as human beings much faster than you and I.

  55. Just ten years ago on the African continent, our people were colonized. They were suffering all forms of colonization, oppression, exploitation, degradation, humiliation, discrimination, and every other kind of–ation. And in a short time, they have gained more independence, more recognition, more respect as human beings than you and I have. And you and I live in a country which is supposed to be the citadel of education, freedom, justice, democracy, and all of those other pretty-sounding words.

    So it was our intention to try and find out what was our African brothers doing to get results, so that you and I could study what they had done and perhaps gain from that study or benefit from their experiences. And my traveling over there was designed to help to find out how.

    One of the first things that the independent African nations did was to form an organization called the Organization of African Unity. […] The purpose of our […] Organization of Afro-American Unity, which has the same aim and objective to fight whoever gets in our way, to bring about the complete independence of people of African descent here in the Western hemisphere, and first here in the United States, and bring about the freedom of these people by any means necessary. That’s our motto. […]

    The purpose of our organization is to start right here in Harlem, which has the largest concentration of people of African descent that exists anywhere on this earth. There are more Africans here in Harlem than exist in any city on the African continent, because that’s what you and I are: Africans. […]

    […] the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are the principles in which we believe, and that these documents, if put into practice, represent the essence of mankind’s hopes and good intentions; desirous that all Afro-American people and organizations should henceforth unite so that the welfare and well-being of our people will be assured; we are resolved to reinforce the common bond of purpose between our people by submerging all of our differences and establishing a nonsectarian, constructive program for human rights; we hereby present this charter:

    I. The Establishment.

    The Organization of Afro-American Unity shall include all people of African descent in the Western hemisphere […] In essence what it is saying, instead of you and me running around here seeking allies in our struggle for freedom in the Irish neighborhood or the Jewish neighborhood or the Italian neighborhood, we need to seek some allies among people who look something like we do. And once we get their allies. It’s time now for you and me to stop running away from the wolf right into the arms of the fox, looking for some kind of help. That’s a drag.

    II. Self-Defense.

    Since self-preservation is the first law of nature, we assert the Afro-American’s right to self-defense.

    The Constitution of the United States of America clearly affirms the right of every American citizen to bear arms. And as Americans, we will not give up a single right guaranteed under the Constitution. The history of unpunished violence against our people clearly indicates that we must be prepared to defend ourselves or we will continue to be a defenseless people at the mercy of a ruthless and violent racist mob.

  56. most telling is how Toscano cuts the quote to manipulate Malcolm X's text into his white supremacist "interpretation" (simple misrepresentation) - he wants to ventriloquise Malcolm X as a puppet saying African Americans are the seperatists and the splitters, that anti-racist struggle, black struggle against white supremacy is a tribalism and a particularism, to submit in agreement to Toscano's own white supremacist ideolgy. What Malcolm X said about Islam was that he thought some white men had been helped out of THEIR seperatism and supremacism and racism by it so he recommended white Americans try to study it and possibly be helped out of THEIR racism by it. Toscano cuts and distorts to make it seem as if Malcolm X agreed with Toscano and his white colleagues that whites are universal and it is black people struggle against whites like himself claiming their own interests are the universal human commonweal who are the racists and seperatists and need to be schooled in "universalism" and "abstraction".

  57. America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have considered 'white' -- but the 'white' attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

    You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to re-arrange much of my thought patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experiences and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

    During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed, (or on the same rug) -- while praying to the same God -- with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the same words and in the actions and in the deeds of the 'white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.

    We were truly all the same (brothers) -- because their belief in one God had removed the 'white' from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude.

    I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man -- and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their differences in color.

    With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called 'Christian' white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster -- the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.