I like to try, these days, and make a differentiation between classical liberal feminists, who believe using social processes to obtain some murky concept of equality and liberty, and those pomo queer, libertarian infused, anarchopolists and self obsessed identitarians,
The former group I believe can be allied with, as someone who vaguely tendencies toward radical feminism (although most likely poorly) even though I think their analysis is simplistic and they often focus on the tertiary symptoms of patriarchy and not the root causes or the worst sins. Largely because I think ‘as women go’ they tend to be at the more privileged end of things to start with. They get a little angsty about radicalism and hop over themselves to convince others that they aren’t man haters, don’t own dungarees and are not cat fanciers, largely I think for supposed political expediency…seemingly without noticing that as far as getting feminism to sit comfortably on the tongues of others, it isn’t much working.
I guess I am talking WEP territory, early days Naomi Wolf, maybe Gloria Steinem,(although I am told she is more radical than she comes across in the medja? She has never been a feminist I’ve read much of). Shinny hair and tailored suit feminists (nothing against shinny hair, but tailoring can go busk).
Having said that, they do tend to more easily curb to the madbad demands of the lip stud and purple hair brigade, though I imagine, or it seems to me, unwillingly and again due to this ‘political expediency’ reflex. Funnily, I’ve been reading about Fascism recently and it seems to be a notable trend that ‘liberals’ are the first to cave to authoritarian attitudes and demands, out of this need to ‘compromise’. But of course you can’t compromise with those who seek absolute power and the total subordination of others. Its liberalism’s existential problem.Its belief in its own ballast. Can I then compromise with the compromisors? Its all getting very muddy in my three coffee and four hour slept brain.
Also interesting is that European fascism started out partly as a groovy movement for young intellectuals and utilised a vaguely socialist (but not really & abandoned later, and was always antagonist to Marxists and reformist and internationlist socialists) analysis. Also contrary to popular imagination, many began life as artists, ‘revolutionaries’ and bohemians, not dyed in the wool conservatives, although philistinism became a ‘quality’ of fascism later; one imagines because it was a very commodifiable entity. Also contrary to the middle class student imagination, in particular, was relatively deficient in its ability to gain working class attention, again, in the early stages. Seeing as the working classes had unions and pubs and churches to give them the sense of identity that a lot of post industrialized, religion rejecting, educated, entitled and rudderless middle class males had. Worth thinking about.
But I continue to differentiate, not because I am not critical of classical liberal feminism, for some of the aforementioned reasons, because even if they are a dying and ageing (or the other way around) breed in practice, the category distinction is necessary. In much the same way as I try not to use ‘the left’ to refer to the whole umbrella of purported social progressives — ranging from neoliberals, libertarians, socialists, queer ‘thinkers’, the eco-police (I like them: especially George Monbiot) and so on – who are not only often reading from a different hymn sheet but aren’t even remotely in the same philosophical vicinity (I got tired of the metaphor half way through.) Tied into the same contradictory municipality by their shared hatred of Peter Hitchins… or rather by their shared fear of being seen to be like him. But to mean those who favour a more equitable state of socio-economy. Essentially, you have a problem when your political identity is more about superficial signifiers, fame hungry self branding and identifying new forms of political contraband in order to assert authority and maintain control.
(I was going to be offensive here and post a mock up of Mussolini in what we call ‘lady clothes’, but I thought better of it. Or I couldn’t find one. Or both. You decide.)
But classical liberals really ought to believe in things like the rule of law and freedom of speech and belief, and tolerance of difference (key not just tolerance for the difference of what is punky and new, but what is fusty and old – to the purple hair brigade, Difference, often just means change). And many don’t in any conceivable or reasonable fashion, even if they do share the free market individualism. Whether they admit to it or not, Paris Lees. Their antagonism towards the state is largely performative, because ultimately they believe its their best weapon in silencing their dissenters and galvanizing their own interests. Like another group of rag taggers I could mention. Actual old school liberals probably want to be re-asserting these ideas abouts now. They are in muted small number.
By arguing against the stretching out of incitement to violence laws to not allow incitement to come to mean ‘have an opinion’ and violence to not mean ‘that offends my self constructed, and hence fragile, identity’. Because some compromises are flood gate opening.
In other news: I woke up this morning and realized it is basically Autumn. My favourite season. I dislike summer. Summer makes me apocalyptic and slovenly all at the same time. Autumn, I return to my reflective punctiliousness. I also like the way it smells. Is it just me or does Autumn have a smell? A nice one.