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  1. Feminism and Anti-capitalism: A Love Story

    [...] Cross-posted at Feministe [...]

  2. Bushfire
    Bushfire August 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm |

    Since there are many feminisms out there and many different ways of experiencing the world while female, we aren’t all going to agree on who we can vote for while calling ourselves feminists. There have been many feminists in the past, and still now, who advocate for the rights of women just like themselves. Others attempt to understand the struggles of women who are different from them, in order to help them too. Because the republican party is dominated by a pro-business and anti-socialist viewpoint, they can only possibly be good for privileged women. One could call herself a feminist if she was advancing women’s oppurtunities to enter powerful positions in the capitalist system, but she would be only helping women of privilege at the expense of the many oppressed. I would not want to be this kind of feminist. I would rather be the kind who is against all oppression, who tries her best to learn about the struggles of all sorts of women and other oppressed groups, who stays aware of her privilege and works for a better world for everybody. In my experience, these people will often join left-wing groups, anarchists, etc. I’ve met a woman before who claimed to be a conservative feminist, and I think she can call herself that all she wants but I’m glad there are others who vote for politicians who advocate for everyone, not just the already privileged, when making decision that affect the public. I think it’s far less important what people call themselves than what their actions are. After reading feminist blogs for several years I no longer see any use in arguing over who is a feminist and who is not.

  3. Sweeney Agonistes
    Sweeney Agonistes August 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm |

    You say that voting for a socially moderate Republican does no good — ever. I wonder what you’d suggest for people who live in places where there literally are no Democrats running for public office on the municipal or county level? I came of voting age in Cherokee County, Georgia, and voted several times in the Republican primary (Georgia has an open primary system) in order to have some kind of say in local politics. Often these candidates ran unopposed in the general election, so the election was decided in the primary.

    Is it better not to vote than to vote for a “socially moderate” Republican, or what passed for it in Cherokee County politics?

  4. Marlene
    Marlene August 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm |

    Actually, being less than enthusiastic about full-blown un-regulated capitalism does not make you a socialist. The fact that even folks on the left in the US accept that notion as true speaks volumes about the damage done since we lost the cold war.

    It makes my heart hurt.

  5. Kitty Pims
    Kitty Pims August 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm |

    I share many of the same views as Lauren and Katherine in the story, I am personally very conservative, but not putting your beliefs on other people means voting liberally because it is the liberals who allow people to make personal choices, whether those choices are conservative or liberal.

  6. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm |

    I wonder how many feminists – by the definition you apply to yourself – have a significant business background.

    I’m not a feminist, by your definition. My belief in responsible spending precludes me from that, and your belief that responsible spending is conflated with whatever it is you’re choosing not to explicitly say precludes you from approaching this in an evenhanded manner. It’s incredibly biased, and I would venture that you haven’t sought out a lot of women who describe themselves as feminist and also believe in free markets for their opinion.

    I’m willing to bet that people shut you out when they hear you’re a socialist because they immediately picture Lenin and Hu Jintao and Castro and their successes with their economies (though it’s worth noting that the sarcasm is lessened on the subject of Jintao because we really don’t know what’s going on there since the data is so manipulated) or, better, the giant strides they’ve taken towards equality (sarcasm all around). Keep that in mind when you paint people who buy into free markets with the same brush.

    There’s more than one way to shut us out of the conversation and while I get that you’re choosing not to shut us out by refraining from calling us feminist, you effectively do it with your rhetoric here: “Regardless of whether some Feministe readers are nodding their heads in agreement, this claim is far from obvious in the national conversation about feminism. For years, women’s rights activists have argued for more inclusion in the corporate world. There’s the iconic image of the 1980s business woman in shoulder pads and a power suit. Women entrepreneurs like Oprah are held up as feminist victories.”

    And what I hear is, STFU, Pretty Amiable. You’re in finance. You can’t pursue what you love to do at the highest level possible and still be a feminist, and god forbid you be silly enough to think that breaking through an industry that is entirely male that you might be a feminist victory.

    In the future, consider talking to your targets before preaching – literally – on a soapbox about them.

  7. haley
    haley August 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm |

    Interesting article. And an excellent topic.

    Unfortunately, corporatism is not limited to the Republican Party. The Democrats actually received more donations this past election cycle than Republican candidates. Many liberals and working class people still hold the old notion that Dems. stand for the working class, but this is really not the case anymore. Clinton diminished Union power, enacted NAFTA and continued ushering in Neoliberal policies among other things. Obama has continued and escalated many Bush era policies. So the discussion of feminism and capitalism is not limited to partisan politics.

    In discussion of our personal stances balancing with our political views, it really comes down to whether or not you value OTHER women’s rights of autonomy and self-determination.

    I agree with the op that you can personally be against abortion, you may know that you will never have an abortion. But the second you vote for anti-abortion/comprehensive health legislation, you are no longer behaving as a feminist. You cannot be a feminist, demanding autonomy for yourself, and than seek to limit it for other women or people in general.

    I agree that feminism is not to be viewed as a club; its not a matter of listing rules, but it is a matter of having clearly stated ethics and stances on principles. Liberals have for the past 30 years been trying to make feminism accommodate their personal and political views. Now Republicans are claiming feminism and molding it to accommodate their own needs. But its time we get back to our roots and say “we are against all oppression, all hierarchy and in support of autonomy, make your politics follow us!”.

    Concerning the melding of women, capitalism and feminism. Here is my take.

    Feminism is not about the ability of women to be equal to men in positions of exploitation. If your breaking the glass ceiling by becoming a powerful CEO of a multinational company that underpays its employees and places them in hazardous working conditions…..your not a feminist. Your exploiting women in the third world, or in other nations or at home.

    The issue I see at play in this article and in discussion on this topic is really about class. The feminism of becoming a corporate lawyer or CEO, is the feminism of professional class, majority white, women. Many of these women are invested in the same capitalist system that exploits the working-class, poc, Global South, and foreign individuals. Many men and women, even well-intentioned politically liberal ones, are still complicit in a system of oppression.

    Honestly, we have to ask what feminism is about. Are feminists against all systems of oppression, or just the ones that personally afflict them? Are they only against patriarchy or against other/all forms of hierarchy?

  8. sarah j
    sarah j August 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm |

    I <3 this post.

  9. Andrea
    Andrea August 3, 2010 at 7:06 pm |

    Umm, what the hell is wrong with Socialism? Actually, don’t answer that. What the hell is wrong with Democratic Socialism? My husband is from Norway, and let me tell you, what with their universal healthcare, free education, living minimum wage, free childcare, and emphasis on making everyone productive and happy members of society rather than allowing a few percent to hoard all the wealth, I’d have to say not a whole lot. Oh, but wait, they privilege the good of the community over the good of the individual. They spend money on preventative education and job training rather than on prisons and cops. They offer 9 months of maternity/paternity leave, 3 or so months of which must be used by the other parent so that both are involved with the raising of the children right from the start. I mean, I realize it’s a small country with a ton of money (thanks, oil!) but their priorities are pretty much the opposite of those in the US, and you know? I like theirs better.

  10. Lindsay
    Lindsay August 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm |

    Nona, all I have to say after reading this gem of a post is a resounding “hell yes.” My views are pretty similar to yours (in the comments above): Fairly socialist in general but a little capitalist in certain situations. I completely agree that most schools of modern feminism seem to have abandoned critiques of capitalism, particularly the aggressive dog-eat-dog American variety. It’s good to know that there’s at least one other feminist out there who still calls for this kind of criticism!

    It’s disheartening, for me, because unrestrained capitalism seems to be at the heart of the “what’s mine is mine and yours is yours” mentality that continually confines women, mothers, POC, PWD, non-adults, and every other marginalized group to their secondary status. What, you mean you can’t work 40+ hours a week plus overtime like Joe Blow because you have kids or your pace of life isn’t up to par with his? Well, screw you sister! Really though, I’ve had enough of this vibe, and one of the best ways to deconstruct its terrible assumptions is to question the infallible beast of capitalism.

    Enough of my ranting, though. Thanks again for this great piece!

  11. Julie
    Julie August 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm |

    Hey, I was at the Bughouse Debates! I saw you speak! I didn’t realize you were posting here. Excellent analysis.

  12. Jesse G.
    Jesse G. August 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm |

    I’m pretty skeptical of this argument “it’s nearly impossible to be for unadulterated capitalism and also be a feminist.” The thing is what we have now is nothing like unadulterated capitalism since self-proclaimed capitalists and big business would hate it if we had unadulterated capitalism. In a pure market system with no regulation other than laws that disallow monopolistic behavior, competition puts incredible downward pressure on profits and businesses make only nominal profits. Thus, we could easily imagine a world where unadulterated capitalism leads to massive empowerment of the average consumer through higher relative wages and consumer purchasing power. In that world everyone or most everyone can afford healthy food, basic health care, basic child care, etc. and I don’t see why that isn’t a feminist outcome.

    I guess the point I am trying to make is that it really depends on how you define conservatism and capitalism. I think there isn’t a very good case to be made that someone supporting the modern “Conservative” movement is a feminist but the same is not true of someone who is a libertarian. I know a bunch of people will jump in with examples like libertarian opposition to civil rights laws but I have read very good libertarian justifications for supporting those laws on the grounds that what made them necessary was that discrimination was the result of what can be thought of as a cartel between powerful private entities and local governments.

    Now, quickly, I will say that democratic socialism of the northern European variety is my favorite type of governmental system in the world today and certainly the most feminist, but that is precisely because it combines some of the best elements of socialism and capitalism in favor of equality of outcomes and equality of opportunity. The socialistic elements – universal health care of varying stripes, paid family leave for both genders, affordable child care, progressive taxation, and what I would term “market setting” regulations – serve the function of creating a vibrant capitalistic economy that eschews the safe-harbors that riddle the US and allow corporations to capture so much of the surplus value of their services/sales. It’s not wonder that these countries have significantly higher social mobility, more gender equality in terms of family responsibilities and child care, etc. than the US.

    Finally, hey Nona, you are awesome!

  13. blanca
    blanca August 3, 2010 at 7:43 pm |

    i completely agree with haley!

  14. smmo
    smmo August 3, 2010 at 8:42 pm |

    I too have little interest at this point in debating who gets to call themselves feminists. Palin calls herself one and we agree on next to nothing, while some I hold close to my heart reject the term vehemently. I still hold fast to reproductive choice, though, as a requirement of what I call feminism.

    On topic: I agree that the anti-capitalist fight does feel pretty futile, most of the time, but there is a little trickle of fear and panic running beside the mainstream that whispers “maybe capitalism is dying, maybe it isn’t the answer, maybe the empire is over” etc. etc. The evidence for this is obvious. I only hope things don’t have to get a whole lot worse for the trickle to get stronger. The ruling class is smart, and things are set up so overwhelmingly for them to win. Those in the middle (I count myself in that number) need to be a hell of a lot more uncomfortable than we are for things to really change.

    @Pretty Amiable: Who, pray tell, is the voice of responsible spending? You’re in finance. Your industry just cost the taxpayers billions! I’m sure you make a boatload of money, screwing the rest of us over, and you want feminist cred too? Wow.

  15. Keri
    Keri August 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm |

    I’m wondering how feminists can get anything done at all with all this fighting about who can be feminists and who can’t. For the record, anyone can be a feminist. Men, women, boys, girls, white people, black people, pink people, gothic people, preppy people, rich people, poor people, liberals, conservatives, working moms, or stay at home moms.

    Yes, I consider Sarah Palin a feminist. She opposes abortion and is anti-gay marriage. Do I agree with those points? No, of course not. But she has managed to make a name for herself as a politician. (Some don’t consider her a politician, but she is.) You do realize that within the past 100 years, women weren’t allowed to be voters, let alone the votee, correct? She IS a feminist, like it or not. She sends a message to young girls, and that message is, “I know a lot of people think only boys can grow up to be politicians, but I did, and you can too!”

    Lately I’ve been reading a lot of articles on feminist blogs and websites about why teenage girls aren’t identifying as feminists. Maybe because of this sort of thing. You’re basically telling young Republican girls, “Listen, we don’t really want you in the group. Maybe we’ll let you join, but you can’t vote. I mean, yeah, it’s a basic right, but who cares?” I’ve heard feminists slam sororities because they say, “We’ll only let you join if you lose 10 pounds and dress nicer.” Isn’t this just as bad?

  16. Bushfire
    Bushfire August 3, 2010 at 9:23 pm |

    @Keri. Yes, there are many definitions out there of what feminism is and no one can be the One Voice to Define Feminism for Everyone. I don’t agree with calling Palin a feminist, but then again, who am I do decide what labels people get? To describe my own beliefs I use several words to get specific, because “feminist” can mean too many things these days.

  17. Smellen
    Smellen August 3, 2010 at 9:41 pm |

    She sends a message to young girls, and that message is, “I know a lot of people think only boys can grow up to be politicians, but I did, and you can too!”

    OK, so let me see if I’ve got this right: “feminism” means “getting to do whatever dudes do, even if what dudes do – for example, being a right-wing politician who makes life considerably harder for gay folks and women who want bodily autonomy – is fucked up and oppressive.”

    Silly me, thinking a broad-based anti-oppression framework was an essential part of any feminism that hopes to mean anything.

  18. exholt
    exholt August 3, 2010 at 9:42 pm |

    I’m willing to bet that people shut you out when they hear you’re a socialist because they immediately picture Lenin and Hu Jintao and Castro and their successes with their economies (though it’s worth noting that the sarcasm is lessened on the subject of Jintao because we really don’t know what’s going on there since the data is so manipulated) or, better, the giant strides they’ve taken towards equality (sarcasm all around). Keep that in mind when you paint people who buy into free markets with the same brush.

    It is funny how you equate Hu Jintao with Lenin and Castro.

    Hu Jintao and the Chinese Communist Party are essentially Communists/Socialists in name only, especially if one has studied modern Chinese history & politics in some depth along with Marxist-Leninism and their derivatives such as Stalinism and Maoism. The last time the Chinese Communist Party did anything remotely related to Communism or even Socialism was in the 1980s right before they dismantled the “State Owned Enterprises” and thus, destroyed the “Iron Rice Bowl” of guaranteed lifetime employment at those institutions. From what I’ve observed in Mainland China, they are in some ways much more laissez-faire capitalist and cutthroat than the US and its people.

    By equating Hu Jintao with Lenin and Castro, you are falling into the same trap many in the US end up falling into by taking the “Communist/Socialist” label of all political leaders/parties at face value rather than assessing them on a case by case basis.

    This is especially considering how many Mainland Chinese business and academic commentators and a few political leaders have admitted in the Chinese press that one model they are actually trying to emulate is Singapore which few would consider to be “Communist/socialist” in the Marxist-Leninist mode.

    Disclaimer: History Major and poli-sci minor with a specialization in Modern Chinese history and politics, grew up in a Mandarin speaking household, and spent some time in Mainland China.

  19. Salix
    Salix August 3, 2010 at 9:46 pm |

    But this is just sparring over whether feminism is, as bell hooks succinctly puts the difference, a movement for equality of women and men–or the fight to end sexist oppression.

    White men and men of color are not equal. If feminism seeks to make women “equal to men”, it is a white supremacist movement. Middle/upper class men and working class men are not equal. If feminism seeks to make women “equal to men,” it is a classist movement. And so forth.

    When feminists reify goals like “get as many women involved in industry and politics as possible” as the height of feminist achievement, it represents a push for “equality”, not a push to end oppression.

    So if that’s what you’re about, call yourself a feminist, but understand that your feminism is racist, classist, and colonialist.

  20. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie August 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm |

    “@Pretty Amiable: Who, pray tell, is the voice of responsible spending? You’re in finance. Your industry just cost the taxpayers billions! I’m sure you make a boatload of money, screwing the rest of us over, and you want feminist cred too? Wow. smmo”

    Nice. You have no idea what Pretty Amiable does, or whether she personally is responsible for “costing the taxpayers billions,” or how much money she even makes. Tell me, what is “finance”? And what do you know about your fellow commenters?

  21. April
    April August 3, 2010 at 10:17 pm |

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And it’s pretty funny, I was just headed down to watch Capitalism: A Love Story, which I was thrilled to find on my Netflix Instant Queue last night!

    @Keri-

    But she has managed to make a name for herself as a politician. (Some don’t consider her a politician, but she is.)

    While many variations of the words “feminism” or “feminist” are valid, “is a successful politician” isn’t one of them. That’s like saying my grandmother is a feminist because she is good at operating farm equipment… when in reality, she thinks single mothers screw up their children, believes women shouldn’t get married if they don’t want to do their husband’s laundry, and she believes gay people are going to hell. She also likes to warn me about “the coloreds.” Are those feminist values? Or are those simply a myriad of other values you just don’t agree with, but “that doesn’t mean she’s not a feminist!”?

    Just because a woman finds success in a position that is typically or traditionally reserved for men, and just because she takes advantage of one of the rights that other women before her fought for her to have, doesn’t mean she’s a feminist. It takes a whole lot more to be a feminist than winning at the game of capitalism. Calling Sarah Palin a feminist renders the word meaningless.

  22. Jigae
    Jigae August 3, 2010 at 11:38 pm |

    tinfoil hattie: Nice.You have no idea what Pretty Amiable does, or whether she personally is responsible for “costing the taxpayers billions,” or how much money she even makes.Tell me, what is “finance”?And what do you know about your fellow commenters?  

    Pretty Amiable says she’s in finance @7. In the US, at least, this term usually means someone is somehow involved with the stock market, hedge funds, or other financial services.

  23. Jill
    Jill August 4, 2010 at 12:24 am | *

    Pretty Amiable says she’s in finance @7. In the US, at least, this term usually means someone is somehow involved with the stock market, hedge funds, or other financial services. Jigae

    …ok, but that doesn’t mean that she is responsible for costing taxpayers billions, or that she made a “boatload of money” on the backs of everyone else. “Finance” is an enormous and diverse field.

  24. Melinda
    Melinda August 4, 2010 at 12:46 am |

    Sure, Republican politicans make a lot decisions that are destructive to social justice, oppressed groups, the environment, and much more. But the unaddressed assumption here is that the *other* party (since of course the US has no more than two viable parties) does not. That voting for Republicans is unacceptable, but voting for anyone else (read: the left) is fine. Unquestioned. Which is kind of bullshit. Especially if we’re talking about anti-capitalism in the US, an attitude that is certainly not espoused, much less acted upon, by the Democratic party. I am all for critiquing capitalism, politics, government, and society, but there’s a LOT left to critique about the left. The liberal-conservative construct (and political system) of the US is a rather inadequate binary as it is, and it’s hardly as oppositional as it’s assumed to be.

    by the way, this is a pretty US-centric post, have to say. not that there’s no room for discussion of US politics or issues, especially on a US blog, but it’d be nice to have at least some acknowledgement that political conservativism and the right wing are used here as shorthand for US political conservativism and the US right wing — which differ in many, many ways from the right/conservatives in other countries. instead, it’s kind of taken for granted that “conservative” be viewed in the context of us politics, and that everyone reading be well-versed in us politics. “is there such a thing as a conservative feminist?” is not interchangeable with “is there such a thing as a republican feminist?”.

  25. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 1:39 am |

    I stand by my observation that the finance industry, which PrettyAmiable says she loves and chooses to “pursue at the highest level possible” has cost the taxpayers billions. I did not say she is personally responsible for that. My larger point was that her “belief in responsible spending ” would seem to be at odds with her job.

  26. Miss S
    Miss S August 4, 2010 at 2:31 am |

    Glad to see a post on economics/politics and feminism. Is feminism about gaining individual rights, ending all forms of oppression? Can it be both? It’s difficult to discuss solutions to collective problems within a society that favors the rights of individuals.

    I’ve read here, on a progressive blog, from some women who identify as feminists, that they take issue with some abortions. Specifically, women who abort after finding out that the fetus has a defect or disorder. So not everyone who identifies as a feminist and/or progressive is necessarily about protecting the rights of individual women.

    Many of these women are invested in the same capitalist system that exploits the working-class, poc, Global South, and foreign individuals.
    Almost everyone in a capitalist system is complicit. As I pointed out in another thread, most of us rely on a system of oppression for our basic needs. I’m not rich or white, but I have to buy food, clothes, etc. The only way to not be complicit would be to opt out entirely. I say this not to dispute your point, but to acknowledge that we don’t really have any alternatives at the moment. This may be why the discussions of how to end capitalism aren’t discussed too often. There isn’t any clear alternative, and in the meantime people still have to get by.

    Smmo: Your remark to PrettyAmiable was pretty ridiculous. Everyone in finance is sleazy and made millions of dollars while scamming people? Seriously?

  27. Chally
    Chally August 4, 2010 at 4:33 am |

    Miss S:
    I’ve read here, on a progressive blog, from some women who identify as feminists, that they take issue with some abortions. Specifically, women who abort after finding out that the fetus has a defect or disorder.So not everyone who identifies as a feminist and/or progressive is necessarily about protecting the rights of individual women.

    Ah, Miss S. I really don’t want to derail the thread with this, so if commenters who want to comment on this afterwards can leave it alone, please. It doesn’t really work like that. It is simultaneously possible to be pro-choice and to recognise that ableism is a factor in reproductive rights narratives. This is also true where disabled people are told they oughtn’t reproduce because of their disabilities, yeah? You can support the right to choose and also point out that aborting because of genetic factors or whatever has an ableist element. It is about acknowledging the rights of individual women… including disabled women.

  28. Tracey
    Tracey August 4, 2010 at 8:15 am |

    @Melinda: co-signed. In the U.S. being scrutinizing of Republican feminists but not Democratic feminists is really problematic b/c from where I’m standing the Dems are not really any better. It seems to be the same people who decry Bush but never speak a bad word against Clinton and his sanctions against Iraq which resulted in so many deaths. Add to that the Dems are always willing to get ahead by throwing progressive issues under the bus and “compromising” in ways that give power to conservatives and business interests at the expense of their constituients.
    I think a big problem with the “feminist-card” is that then you do start a lot of alienating and in-fighting. B/c while many people may give the side-eye to Republican feminists, in my opinion Democrat feminist are often no-better and doing just as much to keep the current system in place, but many Dem feminists would say thitd-party/non-voters are doing nothing. And then there are those who do not identify as feminists b/c they see feminists as being to exclusionary and still focused on middle/upper class white women in the west. To paraphrase bell hooks I think it is better to focus on who is “advocating feminism.”
    I don’t think most will ever agree on what it means to be a feminist, but that we often agree on what are feminist causes and that we need to focus on working together in those areas. For example, someone who is anti-choice may be working to keep drug-addicted pregnant women from being arrested and jailed b/c they fear the women would instead get abortions. We may not agree on ending abortion access, but we would agree that throwing women in jail for being pregnant and addicted is bad. Or a conservative community organizer featured on the Colbert Report. She was very much a conservative and going to vote for McCain until Palin belittled community organizers. While many may not identify with all her politics, I think many would agree that increasing access to healthy food in impoverished regions and food deserts is a feminist issue.

  29. Rebecca
    Rebecca August 4, 2010 at 8:20 am |

    Keri: Yes, I consider Sarah Palin a feminist. She opposes abortion and is anti-gay marriage. Do I agree with those points? No, of course not. But she has managed to make a name for herself as a politician. (Some don’t consider her a politician, but she is.) You do realize that within the past 100 years, women weren’t allowed to be voters, let alone the votee, correct? She IS a feminist, like it or not. She sends a message to young girls, and that message is, “I know a lot of people think only boys can grow up to be politicians, but I did, and you can too!”

    Phyllis Schlafly is also a feminist, then, I suppose?

  30. Salix
    Salix August 4, 2010 at 8:35 am |

    Almost everyone in a capitalist system is complicit. As I pointed out in another thread, most of us rely on a system of oppression for our basic needs. I’m not rich or white, but I have to buy food, clothes, etc. The only way to not be complicit would be to opt out entirely.

    But there is a difference between being *complicit in* something, and *disproportionately benefiting from* it at the expense of others.

    It’s one of the reasons that ‘reform from the top’ is so hard–by definition, the people who are in power are benefiting from the system that got them there. It is in their self-interest to perpetuate that system.

    If we want to break the oppressive system, we either need leaders who are willing to put others’/Others’ needs ahead of their own, or a revolution (of sorts; y’all know I don’t mean guns and such) from below.

  31. Jigae
    Jigae August 4, 2010 at 9:00 am |

    Jill:
    …ok, but that doesn’t mean that she is responsible for costing taxpayers billions, or that she made a “boatload of money” on the backs of everyone else.“Finance” is an enormous and diverse field.  

    I’m not saying that she personally cost taxpayer’s millions. I was just trying to explain what was said. Maybe I was misinterpreting Tinfoil Hattie’s post as a question when it was actually shock or outrage.

  32. Jenna
    Jenna August 4, 2010 at 9:56 am |

    Salix: But this is just sparring over whether feminism is, as bell hooks succinctly puts the difference, a movement for equality of women and men–or the fight to end sexist oppression.White men and men of color are not equal. If feminism seeks to make women “equal to men”, it is a white supremacist movement. Middle/upper class men and working class men are not equal. If feminism seeks to make women “equal to men,” it is a classist movement. And so forth.When feminists reify goals like “get as many women involved in industry and politics as possible” as the height of feminist achievement, it represents a push for “equality”, not a push to end oppression.So if that’s what you’re about, call yourself a feminist, but understand that your feminism is racist, classist, and colonialist.  (Quote this comment?)

    Salix, thank you for stating this. I was recently filling something out and asked how I define feminism. Well, I find equality among men and women or genders limiting because what of people who are denied these categories because they literally or figuratively do not readily fit them? Your comment has only added a whole new layer to my thoughts by identifying the inherent racism, classism, and colonialism in that statement of feminism as equality among men and women or genders.

  33. matttbastard
    matttbastard August 4, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    Keri @ 17:

    Yes, I consider Sarah Palin a feminist. She opposes abortion and is anti-gay marriage. Do I agree with those points? No, of course not. But she has managed to make a name for herself as a politician.

    Sarah Palin is a (self-proclaimed) feminist much like Glenn Beck is a (self-proclaimed) civil rights advocate — which is to say, only in a Humpty Dumpty lexicon.

    (Fantastic post, Nona. Shall be big-upped over the 140 momentarily.)

  34. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 10:43 am |

    Smmo: Your remark to PrettyAmiable was pretty ridiculous. Everyone in finance is sleazy and made millions of dollars while scamming people? Seriously?

    I didn’t say sleazy. I don’t think it is so terribly unfair or out of bounds to posit that Pretty Amiable makes a lot of money – she is a capitalist in finance at the “the highest level.” Isn’t that the entire point of her job? And isn’t that the problem with capitalism – the the entire point is profit before all?

    The financial sector cost us as taxpayers billions. Billions that we shall pay for years and years and years. Because some greedy people had to make more money, despite the fact that they already had plenty. That is capitalism right? I’m a wee bit angry about that, and do not apologize for it and never will. If a BP exec showed up here I’d be angry at her as well. Again, greedy people with more money than they ever will need wanted more so they took insane risks to get more. Not going to be polite, sorry.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 11:10 am | *

      Smmo, that’s fine, but to hold everyone in finance accountable for that is… well, it’s ridiculous, and it also demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how our financial system works, and what people in finance actually do.

  35. scary joann
    scary joann August 4, 2010 at 11:15 am |

    Thank you so much for posting this. Despite how many feminist I meet who rant about capitalism being tied to oppression and how the entire system needs to be changed, I still get strange looks when I bring up anarcha-feminism or anything relating feminism to marxist, socialist, or anarchist ideas. It’s strange to me how many people quote Emma Goldman or have a bumper sticker with her on it yet don’t know, or don’t acknowledge her assosiation with anarchism.
    Possibly because Hot Topic capitalized on anarchy and made people think it stands for angst instead of an actual educated political movement… they also own the rights to Che Guavaras likeness. Sometimes irony makes me sad.

  36. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 11:20 am |

    Jill, who shall I hold accountable? No, I do not fully understand our financial system, because it is deliberately obfuscated to maximize profits and minimize personal responsibility.

  37. Ens
    Ens August 4, 2010 at 11:38 am |

    I hate to participate in the big derail, but no, it’s quite unfair. It’s like latching onto somebody in transportation for the BP oil spill. Or somebody in manufacturing for those toys filled with Cadmium. Hell, it’s like getting mad at anti-capitalists for Stalin. There’s a connection, but it’s a ridiculous one.

    Also? While you didn’t say that PrettyAmiable was personally responsible for the billions of dollars, you did say “I’m sure you make a boatload of money, screwing the rest of us over, and you want feminist cred too”, which is a very bold and uncalled for claim of personal responsibility.

    My mom’s in finance (well, she recently retired). She did have an above-average salary, though I’d hesitate to say “boatloads of money”. I guess that depends on your perspective, but I bet the lawyers on feministe make more money than she ever did. Nobody got screwed over by her. And in the country she lives in, nobody got bailed out.

  38. April
    April August 4, 2010 at 11:38 am |

    smmo, I work at a bank. Specifically, I resolve our customer’s claims of fraudulent ATM and check card activity. I guess, because my employer also lends, I am also complicit in costing taxpayers billions?

    That’s ridiculous.

  39. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 4, 2010 at 11:47 am |

    PrettyAmiable could be a forensic accountant, ferreting out the book-cooking shenanigans of some of these execs, for all anyone knows. Or she could have her own business as a fee-for-service financial planner who gives clients sensible advice on goal setting and managing their money.

    “At the highest level” is pretty vague.

    And FWIW, I think we morphed from capitalism to corporate feudalism a good thirty years ago. Capitalism is one of those romantic notions that can survive small-scale, but when companies get too large (as they invariably do in capitalist economies), they take over everything and then individual initiative and drive is squelched, along with human rights and economic justice.

  40. Samantha b.
    Samantha b. August 4, 2010 at 12:05 pm |

    @JesseG, unadulterated capitalism eats itself. See: subprime mortage crisis.

  41. Miss S
    Miss S August 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm |

    My larger point was that her “belief in responsible spending ” would seem to be at odds with her job
    I think she was referring to responsible government spending. It’s highly unlikely that she makes decisions for government spending just by being in the finance industry. It wasn’t the finance industry- it was a few key players that made billions. I agree with you about the greed aspect, I’m just trying to explain that it wasn’t everyone in finance. Finance can mean brokers, mortgage underwriters, analyst, planners, agents, developers, accountants, bankers, etc.

    Chally: I wasn’t trying to derail, I promise :) But I think it’s fair to point out critiques in the ‘progressive movement’ or ‘feminist movement.’ If we are discussing politics and economics as it relates to feminism, it’s worth noting the ways in which certain groups may not prioritize the needs of women.

    Salix: I agree. The power is at the top and the ones at the top have an invested interest in maintaining our current system. (I was trying to avoid this turning into the fast fashion thread where people felt they were being vilified for buying cheap clothes at the expense of women in poorer nations). The problem with promoting leaders who care about the well being of society is that they don’t have the financial backing to get into positions of power. The ones with the power and money are going to support the candidate who will in turn support them once getting in office.

  42. Melinda
    Melinda August 4, 2010 at 12:42 pm |

    Salix: Almost everyone in a capitalist system is complicit. As I pointed out in another thread, most of us rely on a system of oppression for our basic needs. I’m not rich or white, but I have to buy food, clothes, etc. The only way to not be complicit would be to opt out entirely.

    But there is a difference between being *complicit in* something, and *disproportionately benefiting from* it at the expense of others.

    If you live in a “developed” country in today’s globalized world, you disproportionately benefit from cheap food and products at the expense of workers in poorer countries. If you drive a car, are “complicit” in riding in a car, use transportation that runs on energy that is the product of, or is produced using the products of, mining for gas or extraction of oil, you disproportionately benefit from cheap, accessible energy that comes at the cost of destroying the landbase, health, and home of other people, often poor, often not white, often indigenous. Just to list two examples of an ongoing and constantly repeating situation, Texaco’s actions in Ecuador and BP’s actions in the Gulf of Mexico cannot be undone. The lifestyles, livelihoods, and lives of many people and non-humans have been irreparably destroyed, something you can’t even begin to approximate by paying the hypothetical $20 a gallon (because, of course, oil is much cheaper than that). If you buy or use any products whose ingredients and/or production process involved any of the means listed above. If you buy a mobile phone (1, 2), if you use a computer or other electronics, if you buy, use, or throw away plastic, and the list goes on and on. If you live in a country that exists because of colonialism and genocide, you are benefiting from that, whether you participated in the genocide or not (see Thea Lim on this); if you live in a country that participated in and benefited from colonialism and/or genocide, you enjoy the benefits of it as well.

    There’s a big problem with setting up a binary (US Republicans-US Democrats) and claiming one side is corrupt by its involvement in capitalism, and immediately calling everyone who indirectly supports them suspect and guilty. The other side gets off completely free, and that’s not how capitalism works (nor the interlocking globalization, colonialism, civilization).

    The whole system is based on exploitation, not just the things Republicans do, and all of us living and participating in the industrialized world benefit — disproportionately, if that’s the only way it sounds bad enough to be a problem — from the exploitation and oppressed of others.

    It’s not only the people who vote for “socially moderate Republicans,” and indeed, as Tracey pointed out, Democrats certainly do their share of policies the OP would probably describe as “no good ever”: doing “nothing to break down more structural inequities” and in fact strengthening them; turning a blind eye to exploitative and unjust economic policies; participating in the slaughter and dehumanization of hundreds of thousands of people around the world; encouraging an attitude of US supremacism and exceptionalism; paying millions of dollars to corrupt banks and businesses in the name of “saving” the economy; taking lobbyist money and acting in the interests of the corporations who provided it; enacting policies that abuse human rights and failing to get rid of such already existing policies; passing legislation that reflects or espouses racism, sexism, misogyny, classism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, cissexism, xenophobia, US supremacism, fat hatred, etc. and failing to get rid of already such existing legislation — need I go on?

  43. Salix
    Salix August 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm |

    @ Melinda,

    I agree wholeheartedly. By “disproportionately benefit” I meant that, for example, different people in America benefit different amounts from our exploitation of the global South. Also, someone who uses, say, zir experience in the finance industry to work as a forensic accountant and punish wrongdoers is still complicit in/benefiting from an exploitative system–ze wouldn’t have a job if there wasn’t corruption there–but is actively working to benefit *less*.

    It’s just a distinction that I, personally, find useful for avoiding the whole “well I HAVE to buy food in order to survive, that makes me a failure as a human being trying to fight oppression, might as well run out and profess my love for Milton Friedman!” mindset. Which is useless.

  44. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm |

    Miss S: My larger point was that her “belief in responsible spending ” would seem to be at odds with her job
    I think she was referring to responsible government spending. It’s highly unlikely that she makes decisions for government spending just by being in the finance industry.It wasn’t the finance industry- it was a few key players that made billions. I agree with you about the greed aspect, I’m just trying to explain that it wasn’t everyone in finance.

    I would disagree that it was a few key players. And as far as responsible govt. spending, they had their hands out when the time came. If PrettyAmiables beloved free markets would act as such, would take true risk, I would have far fewer problems with them.

    The passionate defense of the financial sector here is puzzling, to say the least. Wasn’t giving them our great, great, great grandchildrens’s future enough? Their honor is to be defended as well?

    1. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm | *

      The passionate defense of the financial sector here is puzzling, to say the least. Wasn’t giving them our great, great, great grandchildrens’s future enough? Their honor is to be defended as well?

      I’m not sure it’s so much that people are passionately defending the financial sector so much as pointing out that broad generalizations about “the financial sector” and all of its ills and evils are too sweeping to really mean anything. We didn’t “give them” our great, great, great grandchildren’s futures. There were some greedy individuals working at greedy banks, and there was a lack of regulation and there was undue influence on behalf of some very wealthy individuals, banks and companies. I agree with others here that it’s terrifying how much influence banks and corporations wield in the political sphere; it’s terrifying how our laws and regulations have centered around protecting banks and giving them greater benefits rather than protecting consumers, customers and citizens.

      But this idea that the entire finance industry and everyone it is evil is just… I mean, I don’t even know where to start in explaining how silly that is. Especially when the reality is that we are operating in a capitalist(ish) economy. Nona’s post rightly points out that we should be thinking more radically about how our financial systems are structured, but reform doesn’t happen overnight — and in the meantime, we need to focus on changes like a reasonable living wage, labor organizing rights, etc. Do you really think that the finance industry has nothing to do with non-profits? Nothing to do with education? Nothing to do with the benefits that the federal government provides citizens?

  45. Tracey
    Tracey August 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm |

    @Nona: Oh, I know you stated so in your post, and hope my post didn’t come across as implying that you didn’t or that you were one of the U.S. liberal (Dem) feminist who see voting Dem as default. I use to be one of the “lesser of two evils” types until really wondering how I could condemn Bush repeat voters or hold them responsible and not examine the reasons that many on the left didn’t vote for Gore in 2000 and how their decisions weren’t responsible for handing the election to Bush or they weren’t “throwing away their vote.”

    @Sheezlebub: corporate feudalism is an amazing way to look at it. Corporations not only control the resources, but in many individual countries, and on the international scale, they have the governments and ruling bodies in their pockets also. I mean, what a nation must go through in order to grant authority for the production of cheap generic medications, or the number of safety regulations BP was granted exemptions for, not to mention that a company can even get exemptions for safety regulations, is beyond sad. In addition, we depend on them for so much in the way of liviliehood and there really aren’t a whole lot of ways to opt out. Some companies have even patented certain crop strands they find in various places so that the local farmers who developed the strand are now beholden to the corporation for permission to grow and profit from it.
    Not only can capitalism as it was envisioned not work when government steps in to favor it, but the mobility of companies has turned Adam Smith’s vision on its head. When faced with the idea of companies being the ones with mobility, Smith conceded it would make capitalism’s self-correcting cycles not work, but the technology we have today was so far off Smith didn’t have to give it a lot of consideration. But now, instead of worker’s being able to leave or hold out for higher wages and better working conditions, the company’s themselves can just pick up and leave.

  46. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm |

    Jill:
    We didn’t “give them” our great, great, great grandchildren’s futures.There were some greedy individuals working at greedy banks, and there was a lack of regulation and there was undue influence on behalf of some very wealthy individuals, banks and companies.I agree with others here that it’s terrifying how much influence banks and corporations wield in the political sphere; it’s terrifying how our laws and regulations have centered around protecting banks and giving them greater benefits rather than protecting consumers, customers and citizens.But this idea that the entire finance industry and everyone it is evil is just… I mean, I don’t even know where to start in explaining how silly that is.Especially when the reality is that we are operating in a capitalist(ish) economy.Nona’s post rightly points out that we should be thinking more radically about how our financial systems are structured, but reform doesn’t happen overnight — and in the meantime, we need to focus on changes like a reasonable living wage, labor organizing rights, etc.Do you really think that the finance industry has nothing to do with non-profits?Nothing to do with education?Nothing to do with the benefits that the federal government provides citizens?  

    Well, Jill, you can term me silly and naive all you’d like but I think you’re pretty naive to think that the financial sector has any interest in a living wage or labor rights. I mean, really? Have you read any American history? That is directly against the interests of capitalism.

    And yes, WE gave THEM a gigantic pile of money, the long term consequences of which are too vast to even contemplate. How is this not 100% accurate?

    1. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm | *

      Well, Jill, you can term me silly and naive all you’d like but I think you’re pretty naive to think that the financial sector has any interest in a living wage or labor rights. I mean, really? Have you read any American history? That is directly against the interests of capitalism.

      Except that we don’t live in a purely capitalist system — we live in a system where capitalism, as a concept, is generally applied but is further twisted to suit the interests of the most politically powerful. Look, I’m not saying that capitalism is Totally Awesome, or that labor rights or living wages are a natural off-shoot of a capitalist system — quite the opposite, actually. I am saying that The Financial Industry (TM) is made up of diverse individuals and myriad professions, and that it’s ignorant to paint all of those individuals and their interests with a broad brush.

      And all of that aside, good luck paying for all of the social programs we value without the financial industry and the individuals who work in it.

      I am, again, not saying that we should just accept the status quo and look the other way when it comes to our economic systems; but broad statements about how the financial industry is terrible are misguided. What do you think should happen to “the financial industry”? We should just get rid of it entirely? No one progressive or liberal should ever work in it?

  47. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm |

    Do you really think that the finance industry has nothing to do with non-profits? Nothing to do with education? Nothing to do with the benefits that the federal government provides citizens? Jill

    Only insofar as they can exploit them.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm | *

      Do you really think that the finance industry has nothing to do with non-profits? Nothing to do with education? Nothing to do with the benefits that the federal government provides citizens? Jill

      Only insofar as they can exploit them.

      Do you think the CPA who does the taxes for a non-profit organization is exploiting them? What about the person who helps them to manage their investments? What about their tax expert who helps them to get tax breaks where they can, so that they can commit more funds to doing the progressive work that they do, and so that they still pay their fare share to the state and federal government — taxes that fund valuable social programs? All of those people are exploitative and are only doing it because they’re cold-hearted greedy bastards looking to make a buck? Their services aren’t valuable or helpful for progressive groups?

  48. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm |

    This is becoming tedious, but I wouldn’t consider a CPA “in finance.” My beef is with the profiteers. And as I said before, it is all deliberately obfuscated.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm | *

      This is becoming tedious, but I wouldn’t consider a CPA “in finance.” My beef is with the profiteers. And as I said before, it is all deliberately obfuscated.

      You wouldn’t call a CPA “in finance”? Who do you think is looking after the money management and employee salaries at most companies? Who do you think is running the in-house audits at big financial firms? I guarantee CPAs are getting paid for their work — are they “profiteers”?

      I have very little interest in defending the corrupt and exploitative practices of much of the financial industry. But I do think that we all have an interest in understanding, at least on a basic level, that the financial industry is huge and diverse, and that not all of it is bad, and that certainly there are many individuals at work in that industry who are not greedy fat-cats. There are ways to make the industry work in favor of more progressive causes; there are ways to reform our financial practices in the United States to make them less exploitative and more responsive to what people actually want and need.

  49. iiii
    iiii August 4, 2010 at 2:31 pm |

    “Corporate feudalism” – what an excellent name for it.

  50. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm |

    Jill:
    Except that we don’t live in a purely capitalist system — we live in a system where capitalism, as a concept, is generally applied but is further twisted to suit the interests of the most politically powerful.Look, I’m not saying that capitalism is Totally Awesome, or that labor rights or living wages are a natural off-shoot of a capitalist system — quite the opposite, actually.I am saying that The Financial Industry (TM) is made up of diverse individuals and myriad professions, and that it’s ignorant to paint all of those individuals and their interests with a broad brush.And all of that aside, good luck paying for all of the social programs we value without the financial industry and the individuals who work in it.I am, again, not saying that we should just accept the status quo and look the other way when it comes to our economic systems; but broad statements about how the financial industry is terrible are misguided.What do you think should happen to “the financial industry”?We should just get rid of it entirely?No one progressive or liberal should ever work in it?  

    Why is it misguided? Because someone’s feelings might get hurt? Because they’ll take their toys and go home? Hasn’t that already happened? Seems to me the jig is up. I believe that their probably are a few people in that industry that aren’t completely evil, or at least not Republicans, but they are few, far between, and don’t have much power.

  51. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 2:56 pm |

    Jill:
    You wouldn’t call a CPA “in finance”?Who do you think is looking after the money management and employee salaries at most companies? Who do you think is running the in-house audits at big financial firms?I guarantee CPAs are getting paid for their work — are they “profiteers”?
    I have very little interest in defending the corrupt and exploitative practices of much of the financial industry.But I do think that we all have an interest in understanding, at least on a basic level, that the financial industry is huge and diverse, and that not all of it is bad, and that certainly there are many individuals at work in that industry who are not greedy fat-cats.There are ways to make the industry work in favor of more progressive causes; there are ways to reform our financial practices in the United States to make them less exploitative and more responsive to what people actually want and need.  

    I think you can figure out the difference, Jill, between working for a salary and speculating for profit, no? And I think you know what the word profiteer means.

    And it certainly seems like you have a keen interest in defending somebody.

    What are these ways? When are they going to happen? Surely, Jill, you can at least admit the possibility that their are many that do not want the reform your talking about? Many that wield enormous power, with huge resources at their disposal? Who is silly now?

    1. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm | *

      Surely, Jill, you can at least admit the possibility that their are many that do not want the reform your talking about? Many that wield enormous power, with huge resources at their disposal? Who is silly now?

      Surely I can admit that, since I’ve said it a bunch of times already. See, e.g.:

      I agree with others here that it’s terrifying how much influence banks and corporations wield in the political sphere; it’s terrifying how our laws and regulations have centered around protecting banks and giving them greater benefits rather than protecting consumers, customers and citizens.

      Look, I’m not saying that capitalism is Totally Awesome, or that labor rights or living wages are a natural off-shoot of a capitalist system — quite the opposite, actually.

      I’ll say it again: Large corporations and financial institutions wield way too much political power! They are largely not interested in progressive reforms! Their power should be curtailed!

      And also: Not everyone who works in the financial industry, or who profits from the financial industry, holds those views. Many of those individuals actually do good, progressive work.

      Reading comprehension: It’s more than just fun!

    2. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm | *

      And it certainly seems like you have a keen interest in defending somebody.

      I have a keen interest in defending our readers who have self-identified as working at financial institutions, and who I don’t think are soul-sucking capitalist pigs who are crappy feminists. Yeah, I definitely have an interest in defending somebody.

  52. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm |

    OK, but then how did you draw the conclusion that PA was a “profiteer?” How do you then conclude that she’s “probably making a boatload of money screwing the rest of us over”? How do you know she isn’t a CPA? A forensic accountant? A CFP who charges per service?

    I mean, jeez, I tend to agree with you on most points here, but I think you were out of line tearing into PA when you don’t know squat about her actual job.

    Contrary to your assertion, CPA’s are considered to work in “finance.”

  53. Jigae
    Jigae August 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm |

    “corporate feudalism” is a great phrase. I also like “oligarchy.”

    Re “finance”: I think the problem here is the same as the problem on many other threads. There is something a word means in mass culture and what a word means in the world of critical theory or even just here on Feministe. In the broader US pop cultural context, “working in finance” would make most people I know assume you are somehow involved with the industry that helped cause a housing crash, profited from it, and then called the government for bailouts when the scam fell apart. When Obama talks about “financial industry reform” no one assumes he’s talking about CPAs at non-profits.

    Having said that, without investments and endowments, almost no non profits would exist. We’re trapped in a complicated system that largely benefits those at the top.

  54. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm |

    Not everyone who works in the financial industry, or who profits from the financial industry, holds those views. Many of those individuals actually do good, progressive work.

    I’m going to need more than just anecdotal evidence of that. And please, please, do not trot out charitable good works. We all know what that is about – tax breaks.

    I’m sure you’re right, about these good people. I think you’re wrong about their number though, and their prospects for success within a rigged system.

    Look, we all live in a capitalist system and we all gotta do whatever it is we have to do to get by. Of course I know that the financial sector is vast, and that few within it either profited greatly or had much personal responsibility for what happened.

    I’ve already explained why I made my original comment. PA said she worked “in finance” at “the highest level.” She talked about fiscal responsibility (Republican talking point #1) at a govt. level. I pointed out the irony of that, rather meanly. You all think it was out of line, I stand by it. Enough threadjack.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm | *

      I’m going to need more than just anecdotal evidence of that. And please, please, do not trot out charitable good works. We all know what that is about – tax breaks.

      Yes, of course the only reason that anyone working in finance would ever do something charitable is for the tax breaks.

  55. Salix
    Salix August 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm |

    @ Jigae,

    Having said that, without investments and endowments, almost no non profits would exist.

    If you’re interested, INCITE! has a good, quick overview of the non-profit industrial complex. There are links to further reading at the bottom of the page that are also very worth checking out.

  56. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm |

    JigaeWhen Obama talks about “financial industry reform” no one assumes he’s talking about CPAs at non-profits.

    Yes, exactly.

  57. Jay
    Jay August 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm |

    Nothing against the original poster, but I strongly dislike the ‘evil capitalist juggernaut of doom’ vs ‘benevolent government intervention’ dichotomy that most people try to set up for a few reasons.:

    – it ignores the role state authority plays in enabling corporate tyranny in the first place.

    – as an anarchist, I automatically either outright oppose or am deeply skeptical of all manifestations of state authority, so I’d automatically oppose the ‘social programs’ lauded in the original post by default. I’m not a ‘fiscal conservative’, though – I’m not a fiscal anything, since I don’t view state authority as legitimate in the first place.

    – the claim that opposition to certain social programs amounts to leaving the poor to ‘fend for themselves’ rests on another false dichotomy of ‘government officials goad the public into doing X’ and ‘X doesn’t get done at all’.

    An anti-capitalist critique is secondary to an anti-authoritarian, anti-statist critique, imo – just as many people don’t consider ‘fiscal conservatives’ to be their allies, I similarly reject statists/authoritarians as mine. I’m really not that much more comfortable with, say, social Democrats than I am with the most hawkish, corporatist neocon.

  58. smmo
    smmo August 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm |

    You’re right Jill. I’ve been overly cynical. I shall abandon my poor attitude, and tomorrow unicorns will come clean my home. Cupcakes for all! Whee!

  59. gadgetgal
    gadgetgal August 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |

    @smmo – don’t worry, I feel you here. I wouldn’t necessarily pick on anyone specifically, none of us know enough about each other for me to do that, but since I’ve been made redundant twice this year and am in danger of losing my home I must admit I give a little less time to the opinions of the people who not only work within the industry that caused it but are also still defending it as being a good thing! Working in an industry because you have to earn money somehow is one thing (we all have to do that), extolling it’s virtues is another, at least I think that’s what you were saying anyway!

    @ Salix – really good link! And also decidedly scary!! I’m just glad they were able to take a stand but still make up the funds they lost when they took it!

    And on the article – very interesting, there don’t seem to be enough discussions that cover things like specific political persuasions or economic philosophies and how they affect feminism, or how closely related they are (or aren’t!). I come from one of those more left-wing countries, but with very close ties to the US, so the recession hit us hard, and I’m just glad that we have the social services in place so that I don’t starve or have to go without medical care (something a lot of my US friends are facing right now, by the way). I’d be wary of tying the voting up with whether or not you’re a feminist, though – as someone pointed out earlier most European countries would find the Democratic Party in the US to be very right-wing in comparison to their own parties (right OR left), and a lot of us only have two or three major parties to choose from, so usually you end up voting for someone who has at least one or two policies (or possibly more) you don’t agree with. Maybe more of us should spoil our ballot papers in protest at the lack of choice – do they still count them as well?

    And be proud of the socialist tag – I think that most political theory was made up to try and make society better, but I prefer to come at that with the good of the majority being my first aim (i.e. from the left), and not my second after the good of the individual (i.e. the right). It just seems a little, I don’t know, nicer?

  60. haley
    haley August 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm |

    @jay

    I’m a bit surprised by your last paragraph:

    “An anti-capitalist critique is secondary to an anti-authoritarian, anti-statist critique…”

    Capitalism, at its foundation, simply refers to the means of production being privately owned. A lot of middle-class people mistakenly think they ARE Capitalists or aspire to one day be Capitalists, so they vote against their own class interest in favor of the wealthier, coordinating elite.

    Within a truly free market, the government would not regulate or interfere within the market except to protect property rights. This is what Friedman and the classical Libertarians are calling for. I bring this up because it seems to me that maintaining Capitalism, that is, protecting private property, demands a strong State such as cops and military. So I wouldn’t say that being Anti-State is primary over that of being Anti-Capitalist. Especially when wars are being waged in order to instill a free market Capitalist economy in other Nations.

    On a related tangent, but not directed at you, its worth noting that the father of Free Market ideology, Milton Friedman, was an advisor to the Chilean Dictator Pinochet. Friedman’s free market ideology was rejected in the progressively radical 1960’s. It really wasn’t until Reagan that he was lauded as an economic hero and the ideology of Free Markets really gained momentum. I find this pretty telling of the reactionary times we are living in.

    Also, I think its possible to be an Anarchist and support social programs. So, you can support a direct democratic government (not a state) and have an Anarcho-syndicalist society which decides to collectively provide daycare for all parents, or provide free housing for all citizens, health care and so on.

  61. Miss S
    Miss S August 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm |

    The passionate defense of the financial sector here is puzzling, to say the least.

    I’m not defending the finance industry. I interned in finance and have friends who are/were in it and we often discuss the problems within the industry. I’m defending people who are in it and had nothing to do with the financial crash and certainly didn’t make millions- which are most of the people I know. I certainly don’t disagree with all of your statement- just the “everyone in finance” part. I agree with your general idea.
    You may use ‘finance’ to refer to speculators, but most people do not.

    Jay, what you describe sounds like a libertarian ideology- rejecting an authoritative state. I suppose the idea is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? (I’m genuinely asking) If we rejected authority, would people be able to organize into smaller communities and support one another, therefore not needing social programs?

  62. Chris
    Chris August 4, 2010 at 11:03 pm |

    “Let’s call these positions what they are: a pure, religious devotion to corporations. An unwillingness to re-imagine capitalism.”
    Until this point in the post, this is exactly what i was thinking. There is a difference between capitalism and corporatism. Further you hit on another point shortly there after: that we should begin looking for alternatives.
    “Feminism isn’t only about equality; it’s about believing that you can alter the status quo, and feminism has deep historical connections with socialism/Marxism/anarchism.”
    As a Marxist, and a feminist, this also resonated with me. Philosophy is not just about thinking, but right action. By failing to act, we can commit harm. Systems of oppression are vast and interconnected. Corporate capitalism is tied into most if not all of them. We need to have an honest discussion on the system as it is and alternatives.
    Which leads me to my next question. Do the Chicago Bughouse Square Debates occur every year at the end of July? I am sad that i have never heard of this event. It sounded absolutely wonderful. I have often wished for this sort of open dialog. I often think that our society would be better off if people were willing to engage ideas; even if that means screaming at each other out on the streets.

  63. haley
    haley August 4, 2010 at 11:58 pm |

    @Miss S-

    I know you addressed Jay, but if you read my response to him, at 72, that should answer your question on the difference between classical Libertarianism and Anarchism. Left Libertarianism, or specifically, libertarian socialism, is interchangeable with the word anarchist. There are different titles for different anarchists.

    ex:
    Anarcho-syndicalist, anarchist-communist, anarcho-primitivist

    The above share much in common, but each takes a slightly different approach to enacting change, or how they see the future.

  64. Jesse G.
    Jesse G. August 6, 2010 at 5:38 am |

    Samantha b.: @JesseG, unadulterated capitalism eats itself. See: subprime mortage crisis.  

    I think you are missing part of my argument, which is that what we have isn’t anything close to unadulterated capitalism. Additionally, while I think any true form of unadulterated capitalism would be better than what we currently have, a type of corporate capitalism where almost all of the arms of government and all of the relevant regulators are captured by industry, I still think the best economic system is one with relatively strict but “light” regulation like that of the northern European countries that set the terms of the market and create a fair playing field but allow for a great deal of freedom in the marketplace beyond those relatively few heavy rules.

  65. Miss S
    Miss S August 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm |

    Thanks Haley!

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