Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What does "Radical" mean here?

image of book cover is from Powell's Books, here

I am thinking now about Winona LaDuke's comments in a book which originally came out in 1998, called Talking About A Revolution: Interviews. She mentions how "radical" the Bush policies have been: those of GHW, at the time that book came out; who knew we'd look back on GHW as the lesser of two evil Bushes. LaDuke discusses how she's a conservative, not the white kind. By this she means she's into honoring and conserving the Earth, not objectifying it and wasting it away, conserving Native/Indigenous language, culture, and, societies, and not continuing the genocide that the US government has been practicing for the last 150 plus years, in the hopes of "finally" perfecting it.

The dominant culture's radical policies have all been advocated or endorsed by all them good ol' whiteboy presidents ["whiteboy" here is a political term, not a biological category of humans: it is not synonymous with "humans who are pale, male, and young"]. Each and every one of 'em presidents of the US of A, has put in place or maintained policies and practices that are a combination of the following: pro-slavery, pro-white supremacy, pro-male supremacy, pro-industrial civilization, pro-post-industrial civilization, pro-urbanization/suburbanization, and/or pro-agribusiness. This is all a fancy way of saying that the themes in U.S. presidential ethics are inhumane and pro-destruction, radically, to the root. The whiteboy leaders have not maintained these dehumanising and death-loving practices all by themselves, but they have done so with considerable power and influence, regionally and globally. The trajectory of this course of action leads to only one thing: the callous disregard and destruction of all spiritual/material being on/around Earth: water, air, rock, plant, insect, animal, and human, with some nifty perks for rich white folks, especially rich heterosexual white men, on route to hell.

One could also take her mention of "radical" to mean those presidential policies are extreme.

"Radical" is used, often enough, as a synonym for "extreme" or "extremist".

What is "extreme" and harmful to the root, following up on LaDuke's comments, is rape, racism, heterosexism, and ecocide. It don't get much more "extreme" than charting a one-way course to destruction of the Earth and its inhabitants, some of whom think "we own the place." (That would be, disproportionately and overwhelmingly, white Corporate-Christian publicly heterosexual men, and the followers of them.) Pro-corporate Christian whiteboys are radicals, extremists, pure and simple.

But when I use the term, here, what I mean is this: a profeminist who is open to being challenged to the root of any issue and discussing any issue that serves the aim of ending CRAP (corporate, racist, atrocious patriarchies); a profeminist who thinks white supremacy and male supremacy are inextricably linked, and that those men folks and/or white folks who claim otherwise don't understand what their manhood-behavior or white-behavior means and does to people who are gender- and race-oppressed; a profeminist who thinks ecocide and genocide are intricately related, and no less (or more) harmful and atrocious than patriarchal crimes against humanity; a profeminist who doesn't assume that everything harmful can be reduced to or seen as originating from "sin", personal history, social psychology, capitalism, patriarchy, science, God, the Left, or the Right. Not that the Right is right: it's ethically, morally, and politically wrong alright.

Radical here also means "not [white male supremacist] liberal". NOT liberal: not viewing the world, people, social and environmental issues as primarily problems of the individual mind or heart solvable through "better" philosophical ideas, or more empathic communication, or by being more loving. I'm not against developing new theories, new ways of relating, or embracing dying ways of doing things that were better than the way we do them now. I'm saying that the source, the central force of what we experience, collectively--all of us sentient beings--does not find its motor in an individual's childhood; it is not a consequence of of unintelligent thinking, poor planning, laziness, tough luck, innate inferiority, or "feeling like a victim".

Radical here, means that promoters, profiteers, and enforcers of liberal society cannot adequately explain or efficiently end rape. A radical profeminist perspective doesn't sit with occasional discomfort believing "rape happens to some women, unfortunately, so too bad for them." It doesn't assume those who have been and are traumatised and degraded "were in the wrong place at the wrong time". It doesn't displace the responsibility for the violent act on the one who was harmed by saying "she should have known better than to go out with a guy like that." It means rape is understood as part of a larger system of interpersonal and institutionalized terrorism, violation, and social subordination of women by men, in service to men's greater domination over and control of women as a class. A radical profeminist view sees that those of us in North America live inside a network of interlocking systems which men control and own, not women; whites control and own, not people of color; that the rich control and own, not the poor. A radical perspective on rape means one looks at it in terms of both race and gender politics, among other issues, not just gender politics, because rape is a raced act as well as a gendered one, largely perpetrated here by white men against women of all ethnicities.

Radical means I don't accept that "race" or "sexuality" or "desire" are either "natural and inevitable" or "biologically driven" in the f*cked up dualistic sense in which many people--often white academic men who call themselves scholars--toss those terms around. Nature/nurture and biological/social are made up binaries. The world don't work that way, in binaries. There's gray in them there black and white understandings of reality, and colors too.

Please read Yurugu for a much more thorough and deep understanding of this.

Radical means open to new and other understandings, to new and other perspectives, to new and other awareness; it means valuing, through practice, self-examination and self-critique. White Men's Conservatism and White Men's Liberalism are closed systems of thought. The champions of these points of view deny that they have any the boundaries, any limits, any misunderstanding. The most statused advoates of white Conservatism and white Liberalism are ideologues who refuse to acknowledge, identify, or name the problems in their perspectives, or that they are operating out of a perspective. Radicalism as a social-political perspective, here means not closed. It means acting without the assumption that "people like me" know it all. Radicalism means it is understood that no one view is correct, but when manifested as actions, some are more oppressive and deadly than others.

And "a radical", the noun, not "radical", the adjective, means that if one is also profeminist, one is an activist, not a passivist. It means one is engaged in a daily practice of resistance and struggle toward transformation, alone or in groups or community, to stop rape, end racism, and halt ecocide.

So that's what I mean by the word here on this blog, and that's why it appears before the term "profeminist".

And I have great respect for Indigenist and non-Western perspectives which see the U.S. presidents and U.S. CEOs of globalizing corporations as "radical" and "extremist."

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