Continuing what I said yesterday about about John Kerry’s ethically problematic text on war rape and its pro-“Humanity” implications…
Of course, there is fierce market competition among the The Party of Humanity, rather as there are among all religious cults, sects, and militant creeds in general.
But of course, what unifies each of these Communities of (Absolute) Truth is a tendency to diminish and trivialize the suffering of individuals.
This risks making the oppression of real people more palatable and tolerable, by coercively subsuming the experiences of concrete individuals into an unfeeling and empty abstraction.
And it is hard for anyone to perceive and value such an empty, shapeless spiritual wasteland as that of “Humanity,” unless they possess some kind of debilitated, doped-up spider-senses…
As distinguished from any real human warmth and affection.
But such a barren territory is, after all, the natural environment of flexible Realpolitik.
And on that note, can anyone doubt the correspondence (however crude and abstract) between subsumption Strategy A, and subsumption Strategy B?
That is, between:
Assimilating women into a monolithic “common humanity” (ComHum) as an absolute necessity or “categorical imperative…”
And subsuming nations into the fictive “international community?” (I.e. IntCom; fictive because, as we all know, it is actually made up of a few elite figures from a very narrow circle of influential countries).
And by the way, have you ever noticed:
Our Common Humanity good, COMMUNISM bad?
International Community good, Soviet INTERNATIONALISM bad?
I expect the Equivalence Police, if not perhaps the Godwin Police specifically, will be out in force after this one, bellowing: “IT’S ALL JUST SEMANTICS, ISN’T IT!”…
But then, this is a serious discussion; and as I don’t believe the rhetoric of EqPol and GodPol is particularly consequential, let us proceed to the second criticism I am making of Kerry’s article.
Charge Two: Crony Globalism
Kerry’s mobilization of the notion of war rape risks benefiting the assimilationist project of the existing global-institutionalist order.
I would suggest that, at least by implication, Kerry’s exceptionally prominent opposition to war rape carries the risk of enabling a generally complicit and enabling stance towards the current top-down, neo-colonialist, global-corporatist system of “Cosmopolitan Justice, LLC.” Or, if you will, CosJust/IntJust/GlobJust.
Hence, the Global Justice of the dreamed-of Cosmopolitan Police-State (ComPost) runs in a straight line from the hospitals and schools bombed in the latest Who-Cares-Where-Land du jour, to the achingly “impartial” International Criminal Court.
(The latter is the ICC, an acronym shared with the International Chamber of Commerce. But that’s just a coincidence, of course; because well-moneyed white straight guys flinging crumbs from the rich man’s table have absolutely nothing to do with all this stuff, amirite?)
But perhaps you will agree that, as in all efforts to create an an omnipresent police state of absolute security, the rule of law is a fiction; only the rule of the ruling masters is of any consequence.
So might it perhaps be that this “anti-rape” campaign is functioning, at least by implication, as a legitimizing tool of this same order? Is it conceivable that what is in question is a holistic, abstract or collective justice; liberty and equality for “Our Common Womanity,” (ComWom), and not for actual women?
(Note how the latter sexist phrase sounds like the similarly sexist ComWomb; this is probably quite telling).
But of course, the “comprehensiveness” of the scope of “legitimate” activities of global institutions tells us nothing whatsoever about the degree to which such “cosmopolitan justice” can be impartial, as opposed to being a tool for neo-corporatist elites from dominant countries to assert their will.
And doesn’t the falsely universal “National-Cosmopolitan” (NaCom-ist) and National Humanitarian (NaHum-ist) focus of the 2014 discussions represent an implicit endorsement of the global-institutional dominance…
And of the ethos of superficially democratic cronyism, patronage, and Gentleman’s-Clubbery…
Of what passes for commerce and politics in the Democratic Party and the Republic Party?
Well perhaps, given the actions of Kerry, Hague, and many other notable politicians, the future will be bright in the coming decades.
That is to say: justice for women will be considered a sound business investment for the distance future, heralding a bright and “prosperous” future for any rent-seeking corporatist and assimilationist politicians that will end up in power in the next few decades…
Possible male ones, in particular.
And perhaps a joint-venture White-Knight-Humanitarian-Liberation-Cartel with the UK and France would also be highly “benevolent?”
But in fairness, none of this has to detract from the significance of some female candidates running for the role US President. It is to be hoped that, should a female President be elected, that this would contribute to recognition of the fact that women have both the ability and the prerogative to govern a country.
Even so, Hillary Clinton works in a political context where the rights of women are a key focus of “conspicuous benevolence.” This could be an albatross around the neck of any female politician, at best.
Hence, it is to be hoped that future governments in the USA and elsewhere, whoever their leaders may be, will not be held ransom to an ethos of “White Knightery” and of “Conspicuous Exceptionality.”
For, if any political leader, regardless of gender, comes to be characterized as “representing” Our Common Womanity, or comes to be a male who is perceived as a “Conspicuous Exception” (the patron of all women), then it is dispiriting to speculate on what the consequences for individual women may be.
But it is, to say the least, highly unlikely that every woman will benefit from such a situation. And perhaps for some less fortunate women, (and to people close to them), the circumstances imposed on them will be nothing short of catastrophic.
(I need not cite any hypothetical examples here, but if you reflect on certain geopolitical events of the past few years or decades, it’s probably not difficult to come with a few cases of the subjection of women being largely synonymous with their “liberation.”)
So perhaps to Teju Cole’s notion of the “White-Saviour Industrial Complex,” the notion of a “White-Knight-Industrial-Complex” may be added.
Still, I should acknowledge that as a male, I do not wish to be dismissive of the significance of the prospect of a first female US President (whether Clinton, Warren, or indeed any woman from any party).
In addition, the danger of potentially playing off white or Western women against other women is a risk not to be undertaken lightly; and it is one which could itself easily have misogynistic implications.
(And I must also admit, as the French scholar Louis Althusser said, that acknowledging how one’s own reading is not “innocent” does not itself “absolve” one of one’s own accountability).
But even so, there is a risk that, in the end, people may be saying ruefully:
“Big Feminism is just another name for Big Misogyny.”
Needless to say, no-one believes in the ubiquitous maxim, “we’re all in this together” in the context of international relations. And many women have developed a deep suspicion of an uncritical “All-Togetherism” in a gendered context too.
In short: it’s very significant for a woman to be elected as President, or for a woman to even run for the ticket, in any male-dominated political environment.
But it it to be hoped that no country in the world, US or otherwise, will have a leader who will be presented as a savior of women (even if only unintentionally, by implication, or by their supporters).
For, women should not be hindered from struggling for their rights according to their own individual understandings and values, in their own social, economic, political and cultural contexts.
And if any other woman (or man, including myself) should end up intervening and taking this burden upon themselves from a globalizing standpoint, this would be deeply regrettable.
Re: the term “Godwin police” I’ve used above, it’s only fair to say that Mike Godwin himself does not condone abuses of Godwin’s Law. It seems that others have twisted his original notion. For a discussion and references, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law And for an explanation by Godwin himself, see http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/godwin.if_pr.html Godwin has done some great work relating to freedom of speech on the internet, so it’s important not to associate him with the foolish abuses of his ideas that others are conducting. I intend to write about this topic in the future.