abortion, activism & pomophobia (was: Activism and Avoidance)

ripley d-m-c at worldnet.att.net
Wed Feb 10 02:44:35 PST 1999

Yo! Ripley here again....

BIG FIRST POINT: the reason for a Marxist justification is NOT because anyone wants to argue with anti abortion extremists, who constitute only 6% of the population. you can't speak to those wacks anyway. the reason is to speak to Leftist abortion proponents who often draw on rights based arguments (33% or so) and to figure out how to talk to the great majority in the middle. people don't want to talk to these folks, fine. well I do.

you know why? cause somebody talked to me at some point. jeez louise, this is so obvious it's pathetic. are you some of you guys aren't with the RedOrange Marxists?

and another thing: you know why talking about this might help, because the reasons matter, because they contribute to thinking about the means and how they're related to the ends. So, one thing that's been taken for granted here is that we ought to simply press for abortion as we know it now. WELL WHY IN THE HELL SHOULD WE. let a fucked up medical establishment do it when there are, in fact, alternatives that exist outside the medical establishment. Abortion Sucks in more ways than one--that is, the procedures they use now are probably not the best they could come up with. The procedure is convenient for physicians. even if we have unfettered access, the question is, in my mind, access to what? to the conveyer belt approach to abortions? to have the pleasure of getting your uterus scraped out by a doctor who couldn't be bothered to make sure that you're properly anaesthecized? so, maybe, just maybe there is a reason to discuss this, ey?

Ken asked:
>Did you read the exchange, or have you forgotten it? We were debating issues
>until Alex wrote,

i thought people said there wasn't a debate to be had? that having one divided the ranks, rehashed old news, or bought into the Right's framework.

and heck I didn't even think that alex wanted a debate so much as some answers re the marxist arguments. i however was looking for a fight over sexism, but you were just too polite. i really got the impression that this is what was, essentially, being said.

>(Alex wrote), in avoidance to telling points, "Maybe you're one of those
>privileged radicals from the 60s who could afford to go where the struggle
>was. Not all of us are so fortunate." My personal remarks were solely and
>explicitly in reply to that provocation.

well now I thought you, Remick, etc were blasting everyone for their lack of activism. you specifically referenced Alex's concerns re the difficulty of being an activist in lynchburg this past fall. THEN alex blasted back about privilege. you responded w/ a narrative justifying how you weren't privileged at all and how many many others were much less privileged than you and still got involved in mass mvmt struggles. and i believe that i agreed that you were right, no?

i offered what i think was a reasonable explication of historical & contemporary gender differences, also taking a stab at offering an explanation for Doug's comment that people are feeling 'scattered and atomized' these days.

there wasn't really an attack on you. perhaps i should have generalized it more so you'd see that i was speaking more general issues that were raised. i was trying to take personal life histories and place them in some socio-historical context so we can start to think about the wider historical, social, and economic forces that make your personal biography different from alex's & from mine & from others.

i want to do this because it might defuse some of the moralizing and finger wagging that results from the other approach. in the words of c. wright mills, the discussion can be one of public issues rather than personal troubles. in other words, neither you nor alex nor i nor anyone else are necessarily moral cretans. we are all likely good and decent people who try our best. (neither one of you better even answer that one or i'm gonna hafta put you in the time out chair!!) but we do need to understand how we are shaped by socio-historical and very political circumstances and THAT is where the real problem lies--and not in our moral competence or lack thereof, least not all the time. our capacity for moral competent does have a lot to do with the social and cultural resources we have at hand.

suggesting that alex is a weinie be/c he doesn't try as hard as others or alex suggesting that you're *personally* privileged doesn't get us very far. what we can do is try to figure out where your privilege and where alex's sense that he's not in the same privileged position emanate from--socially, not personally. from what you've typed I suggested it was in part b/c you were a man, with a wife, and are of a certain generation of activists. those three things alone give you some advantages that alex, i and others might or might not have. you have been talking about activism during an economic boom afterall. you were talking about activism when there were huge numbers of young people enrolling in college. you were talking about a time when women largely took care of the laundry, the errands, the kids, etc and men took care of 'politics' your activist work--as inspiring as it is--rests on that sort of foundation. i was just asking you to consider that. it doesn't mean that you're now somehow less deserving of recognition for all that you did and do. it does mean, that you have to be cognizant of this and take responsibility for it before you go about waggin fingers at people. prefacing your remarks about the lack of activism today with something like this might help

similarly, i was asking you to consider that the women you held up as paragons of activist virtue also lived in a world that gave them some advantages that many women don't have today--we have different kinds of demands placed on us--and of course we are much better off and more privileged in other sorts of ways. i used to do a whole lot more, but you know that was when i was a stay at home mom, going to college, working part-time, with a husband who worked, and poor enough to get free schooling and a loan. it was fairly easy to do these things then. it's not for me now. so even in the course of one's life, the structural conditions that encourage/ discourage activism change.

none of this let's me or alex or anyone off the hook. rather, it means that we need to be responsible for understanding what's really going on, so we can point to the *real* causes of our problems rather than blaming ourselves and one another.

>I now realize that I was
>mistaken in expecting to meet kindred souls on LBO-talk, and that much,
>perhaps most, of the dialogue here is explicitly or implicitly a cynical
>assault on those who seek to organize actions in solidarity with the
>oppressed, or avoidance of that responsibility through academic diversions.

please don't be silly here. Remick and some others were assaulting all us supposed Butler Bootlickers for being failed activists. i think there are plenty of kindred spirits here re activism. i'm certainly one. i don't feel that we should have to whip out our activist creds all the time. just like i don't feel that we have to quote the old man chap and verse. just like i don't feel that we can't read anything but marx without getting accused of being a failed marxist, furthering along the cause of the enemy.

what's really iinteresting of course is that the very same folks who charge people with pomo love have actually read the damn books themselves. and, quite frankly, i think they speak the lingo much better than i ever will. pomophobia anyone? i.e. irrational fear of pomo despite having exp'd it onself & liking it even; guilt formation leads to irrational desire to police signs of pomo love in Others. something like that anyway


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