feminist dialectics and the politics of accountabilityPosted: January 18, 2013
If I’ve gathered any wisdom in my young 27, nearly 28, years of life it is that happiness is cultivated through taking responsibility for my needs, desires and movements and being brave enough to communicate and share that with others, as well as hold my people’s feelings and dreams in return. That is accountability; something that is hard to obtain in a world that lacks it. How can we be accountable to our needs? How can we be compassionate when we are robbed by and through the system everyday with no outlet, or time even, to express our outrage. How do we have time for anything when we are busy surviving. We are colonized and taught to process that trauma through dominating one another. Gender and race play out strongly within this oppressive and exploitative reality. People of color must live within a system that devalues us as workers. We are forced to take the worst jobs and receive the lowest pay within society, due to centuries of european colonization and white supremacy that places the white working-class on top of the division of labor. We must also become educated and socialized in a culture that teaches us that we are inferior through its racism and neglect of historical truths. This spiritually breaks us and supports the material fact that the vast majority of us are born broke and will die broke. Gender further divides us. Just as race and ethnicity became social categories informed and regulated through the system, so has gender. With european conquest of the world and the development of capitalism globally the significance of gender took on new exploitative forms of power within society. Man and womyn have become social categories that divide us as brothers and sisters and have crippled us as a human race. Before colonization indigenous societies around the earth have understood the masculine and feminine as different energies working together to develop wholeness as a species. That type of harmonious fluidity is threatening to the inner workings of a system that needs a class of broken, alienated and divided people, who have no choice but to submit to it. The results of such harmful gender divisions have created a world of gender violence, where womyn are taught they are inferior and weak, and men are robbed of their own emotional strength and truth, because they must be the stronger half. And most importantly patriarchy continues to harm our revolutionary movements, which has historical significance.
The system does not teach us these historical truths; the ways we have been bamboozled and pitted against one another. we are taught that we are solely responsible for our successes and failures in our life. If you are struggling spiritually and materially society points its greedy fat finger at you, and ask what did you do to get there? You must deserve it. But what we deserve we don’t got, because we have been deprived of love and living through these war games of the rich. We have been deprived, blamed and shamed, and then expected to coexist with others in a healthy way, but the world we live in is unhealthy. These are the contradictions that lay the material and cultural foundation for the world we live within. The feminist dialectics that move within me guide me to understand these contradictions. The ways this system of stratification has transcended the workplace and provided the very substance of our relationships and intimacy. When you have no choice over your material placement in society then you have no choice over the social and cultural power that comes with that position and how it engages with others. Our lives are simultaneously shaped by patriarchy and capitalism before we leave the womb even. It is the environment our mothers are living in while we are living within them; the sounds they hear; the air they breathe; the food they eat and have access too; the interactions they have with others; the care they receive and have access too.
The quality of our life is so dependent upon the system and that is such a demoralizing truth. That said, how do we achieve accountability. How do we get happy. I believe that accountability to ourselves is revolution. This is the dialectic. We must understand the objective reality of the world we live in; the patriarchy and the capitalism, which controls all power and resources within our society and therefore effects our relationships. We then must see the solution subjectively: the people must change these relationships through fundamental change within society. Revolutionary and philosopher Georg Lukacs referred to this as being both the object and subject of history. Dialectics are revolutionary. When the people see themselves as both the object and subject of history then consciousness is being unleashed in practice. This is the path to material and spiritual liberation. I say feminist dialectics deliberately, because feminism strengthens the ways we understand social relations through its analysis of patriarchy and gender conditioning. I see feminism as a politic, but also as a method to employ ideas in practice in your own life and within the struggle. The power of feminism lies within the relationship between the two. I also see the ways feminism is lacking theoretically and therefore in practice. Too much academia, which is abstract, eurocentric and usually not revolutionary. That said, we need new ideas, not just within feminism, we need new revolutionary analysis and strategy, which feminism helps inform. In order to collectively destroy and rebuild we need to overcome these racial/gender divisions to achieve real unity. Ive seen this best captured within struggle, within the streets, where people feel their power against the common enemy of capital, not each other. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t serious healing work to be done to maintain that unity with each other, ourselves and the struggle. This is the necessity of self-determination and its significance is two-fold:
(1) self-determination on a global scale means the liberation of all people from the chains of capitalism and patriarchy through the revolutionary overthrow of the old society and a rebuilding of something new and free. This liberation will only happen through the conscious collective actions of the people, not the government, which must be overthrown on a global scale.
(2) In order for the people to get anywhere close to such unified self-determination we must learn accountability for ourselves and community, which means unlearning a lot of harmful socialization and healing from trauma (current and ancestral).
These two definitions of self-determination must constantly be relating and engaging with one another. Revolution is neither deterministic nor mechanical. It must be dynamic, because people and life are dynamic, and these are the necessary ingredients. We must constantly be striving to get better for ourselves so that we can be better for each other. Does that mean that once we understand this it will be easy and we will stop harming each other? No. But it does help guide us and make us self-aware. We are not the pigs and as revolutionaries and people we have to be better than this worthless, abusive system If we are going to get free. The future is waiting to be written and I’m ready for some sunshine and happiness.