Jeffery L Nicholas
Philosophy and social theory
to building a society of flourishing people
united in common goods.
to building a society of flourishing people
united in common goods.
I've said for a while that democracy is dead in the US; today's hearings are just part of Nero's circus that we've become with Trump.
Few, if any, on the Judiciary Committee and in the US Senate came ready to change their minds, to listen for the truth, to understand what happened. And yes, I was and am more open to Dr. Ford than I am to Judge Kavanaugh's statements. Yet, I am and was willing to keep an open mind and to listen to what each said in order to find some truth.
So, here is what I would have liked to have seen especially from Kavanaugh to sway my opinion:
1. Sympathy. Kavanaugh made this process about him rather than about the millions of women who are sexually assaulted each year. Rather than discussing that problem, he defended himself the way white people did in the '60s. "I have a black friend." Kavanaugh said, "I have female clerks and female friends."
2. Solidarity and Unity: someone who is, not only innocent, but committed to justice for women would not make claims about smear campaigns. Instead, he would ask for a search for the truth. I did not see that in his opening statement or his testimony.
3. Altruism: someone who says the following in this situation has missed the point. "You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit. Never," This process is not about Kavanaugh. First, it is about American democracy, and Kavanaugh's claim should be, "I will not be part of a process to destroy American democracy and the Supreme Court. I want a solution that respects it." Second, it is about the privilege of men who have been in power too long, both individually on the senate and judiciary committee and in general. Kavanaugh could easily have said the following: "I feel badly for what has happened to Dr. Ford in this process. It was unfair of the democrats and the media to expose her this way. I call for a full investigation so she can receive the closure and help she needs."
Kavanaugh did everything he could to convince me that he was guilty. His stone-walling and failure to answer questions are the actions of guilty men, not innocent people.
Ford, on the other hand, gave a sincere testimony that answered all of the questions possible given our scientific knowledge in a situation she didn't want to be placed in.
Republicans as a group have rigged this situation by failing to give Merrick Garland a hearing. They, under the leadership first of Newt Gingrich and then Mitch McConnell have turned what was the last gasps of a democracy into a circus.
I pray for those of us who live here. I pray for the young that they will have the constitution and love to change it. And I pray for the world as we move forward in this divisive times.
The unresolved questions concern the relationship between patriarchy and capitalism: in other words, the relationship between women's oppression and exploitation and the paradigm of never-ending accumulation and 'growth,' between capitalist patriarchy and the exploitation and subordination of colonies.
Maria Mies' Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale is a foundational text for understanding the relationship between patriarchy and capitalism. Her task, as noted above, is to uncover the relationship between the exploitation of women, capitalist accumulation, and subordination of colonies. In my thoughts, these are perhaps three forms of exploitation, for accumulation is accumulation of something--the earth--and the subordination of colonies is itself exploitative.
At the heart of this discussion is the idea that capitalism rests on a division of labor--that between paid labor and unpaid labor, and that unpaid labor is often performed by women. Thus, the labor of caring for men and children and the labor of caring for the house--usually unpaid or always underpaid--is work done by women. A feminist, then, is one "who dare[s] to break the conspiracy about the oppressive, unequal man-woman relationship and who wants to change it" (6). Yet, as Mies notes, calling out exploitation of women for what it is--sexism or patriarchy--has only intensified the oppression. The rape culture in the US, especially on campuses, is one sign of such intensification. Another is the rise of Donald Trump, the pussy-grabber and, for many, a sign of the accumulator, the symbol of wealth.
Capitalism rests on violence, and violence takes many forms. The international division of labor is the division between the global north and the global south--something Pope Francis has called attention to in his tenure as pope. This division exploits the labor of the south, just as it has and continues to exploit the resources of the south. And violence characterizes it. We do not need to look simply at the wars in the middle east--we can also see wars in African countries where colonial states set up faux democracies only to watch them crumble and allow further exploitation, the violence of blood diamonds to feed the greed of the north. And we can still witness the violence of the south in the north, for example, at Pine Ridge reservation, where residents suffer throat cancer at 3000-times the national rate because the US government refused to close the plutonium mines so necessary for its aggressive posturing.
All such violence comes back on to women. Though women in the south are raped as much as women in the north, the structures that support this rape are different. Yet, one thing Mies carefully does is to acknowledge differences among women and their experiences while calling for a unity to end patriarchy-capitalism.
"Come to a materialist understanding of the interplay of the sexual, the social, and the international divisions of labor. For these are the objective divisions, created by capitalist patriarchy in its conquest of the world, which are the base of our divisions although they do not determine everything" (p. 11).
Patriarchy is not inherent in social life, and not new. It is a historical manifestation of the relationship between men and women in which men dominate women in various forms. Mies contends that capitalism is a particular historical form of patriarchy--that capitalism cannot exist without patriarchy--endless growth cannot be maintained without a sexual division of labor, a division of paid and unpaid--mostly women's--labor.
One of the interesting points that Mies makes in her argument is that about gender and sex. One analysis contends that sex is a biological category and gender a social one. Women are oppressed as a social category, not a biological category. This analysis nicely undercuts the cause of oppression as a woman's anatomy. Yet, as Mies notes, the analysis does not hold because it rests on a manicheanism--a dichotomy between the material and mental. Manicheanism sees the body as evil and the mind/spirit as good. Thus, it denies the goodness of the body which can only justify an oppression of the body.
What I find surprising is that Mies does not, as far as I read her, carry this analysis through to its terminus. To me, the analysis points to the underlying dualism of all oppression. In short, that often if not always oppression rests on a domination of nature. Thus I would change this claim:
Feminism has to struggle against all capitalist-patriarchal relations, beginning with the man-woman relation, to the relation of human beings to nature, to the relation between metropoles and colonies.
One feminist argument against Marxism is that, if we rid ourselves of capitalism, we will still have patriarchy--women will still be oppressed. Mies transcends that complaint by showing how capitalism rests on patriarchy, is a particular historical form of patriarchy.
But I wonder if patriarchy is itself a particular form of the domination of nature. In short, I wonder if we can begin to heal the relation between man and woman if we have not already begun healing the relation between human and nature.
Jeffery L. Nicholas (Ph.D philosophy, University of Kentucky) is an associate professor at Providence College and an international scholar on ethics and politics. He serves as research associate for the Center for Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics at London Metropolitan University and a foreign research associate at Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá Colombia. Dr. Nicholas is co-founder of and executive secretary for the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry. He is the author of Reason, Tradition, and the Good: MacIntyre's Tradition Constituted Reason and Frankfurt School Critical Theory (UNDP 2012), as well as numerous articles. Dr. Nicholas writes on midwifery and birth, the common good, friendship and community, practical reason, and Native American philosophy. He aims to develop a philosophy of integral humanism that synthesizes the philosophical traditions of Alasdair MacIntyre, Frankfurt School Critical Theory, and Feminist Care Ethics.