A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History: Division Two
CHAPTER 12: The Problem of Feminist "Liberation"
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copyright 2004, 2006 by Lawrence C. Chin.

We now turn to the consideration of the problematic nature of every soteriological attempt to save the world. The reason why cultural feminism has failed, has produced the opposite of what they dream of, ridding the world of violences, saving the Earth, and the protection of species -- why it will be one of the factors most responsible for the destruction of the Earth and the extinction of humanity along with millions of other aerobic multicellular life forms, not to mention the powerful reinforcement of this destruction, the eradication of human mind -- is its inability to transcend the basic Western mode: action, doing, work. As noted, the fault of feminism is its wrong-headed starting point: instead of coming to the realization -- through a world-historical perspective -- that male superiority (in the achievements of civilization) is simply an illusion, that its reflection, male domination, has simply been an instrument of power, a means for supraorganismic formation and integration (from tribes through kingdoms to the early stages of nation-state, which Part Two on "the origin of women's oppression" has attempted to show), the feminists accept it as reality and attempt to recompense for their consequent felt "inferiority". In other words, they consistently place the cart before the horse: the actual causal chain being: process of social integration and stratification -> male-domination -> male superiority; the feminist perception has been: male superiority -> male-domination -> social stratification and formation of civilization. Thus the radical feminist starting point that "patriarchy, or male-domination -- not capitalism [nor anything else] -- is at the root of women's oppression" (Donovan's definition). That is, the male desire to dominate is the beginning point of history and civilization. Out of this ressentiment1 the recompense then first takes the form of equal performance as men, based on the understanding that women are simply man's soul (intellect) located in a different body (Wollstonecraft, liberal feminism). It then takes up the form of out-doing male performance in civilizational aspects by becoming the saviors of the world, based on the understanding that a different and superior being comprises the female soul which is forever inaccessible to men (cultural feminism, women superior to men, founders of a new civilizational mode). In the strive for performance they therefore fall into the trap of power, cultural feminism becoming no less an instrument of power than male-domination has been in time past. The lesson of Foucault has been that resistance against power through action always paradoxically results in the reinforcement of power, because power, the most clever thing, always goes one step ahead of its resistance, managing to manipulate the latter for its own ends. The historical function of the female strive for out-performance has been ostensibly the further integration of the state toward totalitarianism during the first wave and the increase of production and consumption as required by the transition of the traditional capitalism into consumerism during the second wave. And this consumerism on the global scale, I'm afraid, may be the cause of global warming, which may lead to human extinction. At any rate, mass extinction of other species has already shown its beginning, which no doubt is related to the onset of the globalization of consumerism, which erupts, as we have said not insignificantly, with its primary reinforcing mechanism, feminism of the second wave in America.

The infusion of the Voegelinian thinking about the origin of the "soteriological modernity" into the Foucaultian framework that began this thermodynamic interpretation of history reveals a different operation of power conspicuously at work. Throughout history the growth of power has the characteristic of progressively purging from human consciousness and praxis anything extraneous to its interest, i.e. to the material meaning of life and supraorganismic metabolism. Thus the use of humanistic ideology to expurgate resource-wasting praxis, such as human and animal sacrifices during the classical period in China. Since the inception of the European nation-state, superstitious practices and religious devotions were also being stamped out, as in the aftermath of French Revolution.2 The study of philosophy and classics, in both Europe and China, has shrunk from a necessary and respected activity for anyone who could or wanted to join the ruling elite (China) to a condemned activity by the marginalized, such as in the consumer societies of both Asia and West today.3 The purge by the pressure of supraorganismic metabolism (power) of any pursuit for the spiritual meaning of life in order to concentrate all human energy on the material meaning of life has been regarded as human beings at last becoming "practical", returning to Earth. Recall Robert Bellah’s observation of the history of religion as consisting (so far) of the three stages of intraworld, world-rejecting, and the return to intraworldly concerns again during modern time which is dictated by the rise of the nation-state and modern economy (the Vernunft of history, if one will) which requires us to rid ourselves of those unproductive otherworldly concerns and return to this world to produce – and now to consume: secularization. (In traditional societies where power is less powerful, less advanced, activities unconducive to supraorganismic integration and metabolism are allowed to flourish.) In this respect feminism, in addition to its function of reinforcement of consumerist habits and institutions, converges with such other ideological strands as post-modernism, etc., to simply destroy (deconstruct) all civilizational achievements of the past, especially with regard to the pursuit of the spiritual meaning of life. Within the context of feminism this seems to be the third tendency of, instead of out-performing, simply destroying "male" achievements. Within the total context of power, however, this is merely the final attempt of power to destroy the remaining traces of the human mind so that human beings would not have means at all to awaken from the addictive attachment to the material (thermodynamic) meaning of life as dissipation and would remain inextricably addicted to the acquisition, consumption, and disposal of consumer products as the only possible meaning of life. This essential component of the consumerist order precludes any possible reversal of the trend of human history toward its extinction.

"Doing" is always inescapably the participation in power. The only possible resistance against power -- if there may be resistance at all -- seems to be total non-participation, as the non-participation in society, the "non-doing" (wu wei) of the Daoist, whose similar forms are explicitly espoused by many other enlightenment traditions and implicitly by all.

Perhaps because power has traditionally used men to create civilizations in the process of supraorganismic formation, the desisting and disillusionment from it has also always been male business. All of this minority of enlightened souls in the history of Homo sapiens sapiens have been males.

As said, the nature of the condition of finitude to be saved from in the pursuit of salvation has shifted; we are now concerned with saving ourselves from our attempts to save ourselves (soteriological social movements) and to improve our condition of existence ("living standard"; bio-power, and the general sanctification of human life).

An exemplary lesson comes from Daoism. The dictum of Laozi, "reversal is the movement of Dao", ends the discussion of the reason why, so paradoxically it seems, feminists' saving the world and humanists' sanctification of human life in the end simply destroy the world and lead us to extinction. "Among the laws that [so the Daoist posits] govern the changes of things, the most fundamental is that 'when [something] reaches [the] extreme, it [reverses course].' [物極必反] These are not the actual words of Lao Tzu, but a common Chinese saying, the idea of which no doubt comes from Lao Tzu... The idea is that if anything develops certain extreme qualities, those qualities invariably revert to their opposite." (Fung Yu Lan, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, p. 97) This then leads to this, that "[t]he general rule for the man 'practicing enlightenment' is that if he wants to achieve anything, he starts with its opposites, and if he wants to retain anything, he admits in it something of its opposite. If one wants to be strong, one must first start with a feeling that one is weak, and if one wants to preserve capitalism, one must admit in it some elements of socialism." (Ibid., p. 99) How well does Foucault's observation in The History of Sexuality fit in here, that so much concern in modern time with the "survival" of one's race and one's nation has only led to the most genocidal war and to the threat of nuclear holocaust, while in time past when people did not care much about "human life" and when wars were only waged in the name of the glory of King and God, the destructions following these wars were incomparable with modern warfare waged in the name of the survival and sanctity of human "life"; or again my added observation that the incessant concern with "living standard" and the quality of life -- the vanguard of consumerism -- today has led only to the threat of environmental catastrophe and our possible extinction. So it goes with the cultural feminists' world-saving mission. Perhaps our premature death and extinction wouldn't be so guaranteed if we just take it easy and not do so much about the preservation and improvement of our lives.

The second type of discourse, true knowledge, always leads its possessor to desist from the attachment to the material meaning of life: consumption, living standard, etc. This is most exemplified not just by Daoism and but Buddhism as well, and has been advocated by Plato and Hindu philosophy alike. In our use of Daoism here as example, Marcel Conche's reflection on the import of the Daoist spirit of Laozi for Western culture is instructive, and the following first segment applies to all the secular soteriological fantasies, feminist or otherwise:

Reste que la sagesse de Lao-tseu est profondément dérangeante pour nos préjugés occidentaux. Je retiendrai deux points qu'une telle sagesse met en question essentiellement: la valorisation de l'action, la valorisation du courage guerrier. "Au commencement était l'action", dit Goethe. D'après le mythe biblique, Dieu a créé le monde selon un plan réfléchi. C'est une action. La fondateur de la philosophie chrétienne moderne, Descartes, conçoit la philosophie sous l'horizon d'une action sur la nature en vue des fins humaines. Les révolutionnaires de 89 et des années suivantes ne parlent que d'action. Napoléon fut "le grand génie d'action qui ait jamais existé", dit Chateaubriand. Marx veut "transformer" (veraendern) le monde, c'est-à-dire agir... Théoriciens ou praticiens de la révolution -- ou d'une révolution --, tous ne songent qu'à l'action. D'autre part, les nations occidentales deviennent impérialistes, fondent des empires coloniaux, et après la décolonisation, gardent la haute main sur l'économie mondiale. Les hommes politiques se valorisent par des projets d'action, qu'arrivés au pouvoir ils mettent en oeuvre plus ou moins, par des interventions tous azimuts dans les divers domaines de la vie des citoyens. Ainsi le cours de la politique ne laisse pas les citoyens vivre en paix, sans les perpétuelles secousses émanant des pouvoirs.

A cela, Lao-tseu oppose le non-agir comme méthode universelle, et, en particulier, comme méthode de gouvernement. Mais une telle méthode est politiquement inapplicable en Occident. Elle est incompatible, en effet, avec les régimes démocratiques, lesquels exigent que les hommes politiques se manifestent aux foules par des actions ou des promesses d'action. Cela ne signifie pas que les hommes d'État ne puissent gagner à s'inspirer de Lao-tseu et du non-agir. Ils peuvent apprendre l'art de la retenue, ou, par la réflexion, se fortifier dans cet art -- et peut-être prendre l'habitude de ne faire un usage violent de la force qu'à la dernière extrémité.

It remains that the wisdom of Laozi is profoundly disturbing for our Western prejudices. I'll take up two points that such wisdom questions essentially: the valuation of action and that of the warrior courage. "In the beginning was the deed", says Goethe. According to the Biblical myth, God has created the world according to a design. This is action. The founder of modern Christian philosophy, Descartes, conceives philosophy within the horizon of an action on nature in view of human ends. The revolutionaries of 1789 and of the following years speak of nothing except action. Napoleon was "the greatest genius of action that has ever existed", says Chateaubrian. Marx wants to "transform" (veraendern) the world, that is to say, doing... [Might we not want to bring cultural feminists in at this point as well?] Theoreticians or practicians of the revolution -- or of a revolution -- all think only of action. On the other hand, the Western nations become imperialists, found colonial empires, and, after decolonization, keep a high hand over the world economy. The politicians rate themselves by projects of action, that, once come to power, they would get to work more or less, by interventions in all directions into the diverse domains of the life of citizens. [The prelude to the totalitarian society... Might this apply to the humanists and especially as well to the feminists, who, at least, did so much to impose a new "system" of thinking in society and academia?] Thus the course of politics does not let people live in peace, without perpetual "assistances" emanating from powers.

To this, Laozi opposes non-action as the universal method, and, in particular, as the method of government. But such method is politically un-applicable in the West. It is incompatible, in effect, with the democratic systems, which require that the political people demonstrate themselves in mass by actions or the promises of action. [Keep in mind what has been said about the meaning of the reciprocity between people and the government as the essence of modern "representative government"... Power wants people to participate en masse, it wants mass-mobilization: the essence of Western modernity: power. The Daoist, as anti-Western, is anti-power.] This does not mean that the people of the State cannot gain from the inspiration of Laozi and of non-action. They can learn the art of "retention", or, through reflection, fortify themselves in this art -- and maybe acquire the habit of not employing violence except as the last resort.

This thus sums up our exposition of democracy, totalitarianism, and nation-state as well. The next segment of Conche's reflection does not apply to the cultural feminists, who are frequently anti-war under all conditions. It however has import for the manner in which the nation-state mobilizes the sentiments of men -- not women -- in order to manipulate them for competition within the interaction sphere of supraorganisms. In this epilogue to the thermodynamic interpretation of history, the following therefore concludes the power mechanism of the (modern) nation-state in regard to men and their possible resistance against manipulation by power.

Un second et grave préjugé est celui de la valorisation du courage guerrier, en liaison, notamment, avec le sentiment patriotique: "Mourir pour la patrie est le sort le plus beau!" Mais peut-il être beau de mourir prématurément par sa faute? On honore les morts à la guerre. On décore les soldats qui ont accompli des actions courageuses -- on ne leur reproche pas d'avoir tué des humains. Des bombardements ont lieu qui font des victimes civiles. On dit: "C'est la guerre." La guerre et généralement la violence provoquent une éclipse du sentiment d'humanité. Lao-tseu nous invite à dire "non" à la guerre -- à toute guerre, bien sûr -- aux armes, à la violence, au bénéfice de la force véritable, qui est vie.

Mais a y-t-il chance qu'en Occident vienne le moment du renoncement radical à la guerre? On ne peut l'espérer ni à court terme, ni à moyen terme. La pacifisme a mauvaise presse. Les Églises mêmes soutiennent qu'il y a des guerres justes, ce qui n'est pas le problème, car ce n'est pas parce qu'une guerre est juste qu'elle est justifiée. En effet, il y a un abîme entre les motifs, supposés légitimes, de la guerre, qui ne sont que des mots, et la guerre elle-même, injustifiable par nature -- puisqu'une guerre juste est injuste au premier innocent tué.

Si la sagesse de Lao-tseu ne peut guère avoir d'effet sur la politique des États, elle peut être une aide pour les individus, pour ceux du moins qui ont déjà une disposition à recevoir l'enseignement du non-agir. Celui qui a expérimenté l'avantage de jouer le rôle féminin, le rôle passif ou, comme je le disais, de garder profil bas, trouve, dans les versets du Tao-te-king, une confirmation de ce qu'il pressentait. Il comprend Lao-tseu parce qu'il a déjà éprouvé, sans la nommer, l'efficacité de sa méthode. On peut trouver des hommes sages, qui savent retenir leur force, ne pas la laisser se dévoyer en violence. Ils sont forts, paraissant faibles, actifs, paraissant passifs, assuré, paraissant hésitants, confiants, paraissant humbles, et ménageant toujours autrui sans en avoir l'air, pour ne pas le blesser. J'ai connu de tels hommes. S'il agissent, c'est sans s'absorber dans l'action, et en gardant leur attention à autrui. Ce sont surtout des hommes à qui demander conseil. Cependant, je ne les dirai pas "taoistes", car je n'ai constaté chez aucun la capacité de passer outre au sentiment patriotique au nom de la non-violence. Ils acceptent de courir le risque de mourir prématurément lorsque c'est pour la patrie. Sur ce point, la sagesse taoiste comporte une exigence qu'ils ne peuvent satisfaire. Ils n'entendent pas le conseil: "Ne va pas à la guerre, sois courageux autrement; au courage guerrier qui conduit à la mort, préfère le courage pacifique qui conduit à la vie: préfère le courage qui sauve au courage qui nuit." Ils répondent que le courage qui nuit à l'individu sauve le patrie. Ils reconnaissent que si tous les hommes étaient pacifistes, ce serait le salut à la fois de l'individu et de la patrie. Mais c'est là l'idéal, et ils agissent dans le réel. Ainsi l'idéal reste l'idéal et le réel reste le réel; de sorte que rien ne change. La Sage, lui, agit -- sans agir -- dans l'idéal pour le rendre réel. Alors, les choses peuvent changer. Et la voie du changement, c'est cela, le Tao. (Tao Te King, Presses universitaires de la France, 2003; p. 34 - 7)

A second and grave prejudice is that of the valuation of the warrior courage, in relation especially with the patriotic sentiment: "To die for the country is the most beautiful kind!" [The brain-washing properly of men by the state.] But can it be beautiful to die prematurely because of its fault? We honor those who die at war. We decorate the soldiers who have accomplished courageous deeds -- we don't reproach them for having killed human beings. Bombings take place which result in civilian casualties. We say, "that's war." War and generally violence result in an eclipse of the sentiment of humanity. Laozi invites us to say "no" to war -- to all wars, of course -- to arms, to violence, for the benefit of real force, which is life. [I.e. not to destroy life for the sake of protecting life -- power's manipulative and deceptive slogan -- but simply protecting life, without trying too hard of course.]

But is there a chance that in the West a moment may come of radical renouncement of war? We cannot hope for it, not in the short run nor in the long run. Pacifism receives bad press. Even the churches support the opinion that there are just wars -- which is not the problem, because it is not because a war is just that it is justified. In effect there is a chasm between the motives, supposedly legitimate, of war -- which are nothing but words -- and the war itself, unjustifiable by nature - since a just war becomes unjust the moment when the first innocent is killed.

If the wisdom of Laozi can hardly have effect on the politics of the State, it can be an aide for the individuals, for those at least who are already disposed to receive the teaching of non-action. He who has experimented with the advantage in playing the feminine role, the passive role, or, as I have said, in keeping a low profile, will find, in the verses of Daodejing, a confirmation of that of which he has a presentiment. He will understand Laozi because he has already experienced, without naming it, the effectiveness of the [Daoist] method. One can find wise men, who know how to retain their force, how to not let it deviate into violence. They are strong, though seemingly weak; active, though seemingly passive; self-assured, though seemingly hesitant; confident, though seemingly humble; and always caring for another though without appearing so in order not to hurt him. I have known such men. If they act, it is without being absorbed in the action, and by being attentive to the other. They are especially the men from whom to ask advices. However, I will not call them "Daoists", because I do not confirm in any of them the capacity to pass beyond the patriotic sentiment in the name of non-violence. [They have not yet transcended manipulation by power.] They would agree to run the risk of premature death when it is for the country. On this point, the Daoist wisdom carries an exigency which they cannot satisfy. They do not understand the advice: "Don't go to war, be courageous in another way; to the warrior courage which leads to death, prefer the courage of pacifism which leads to life: prefer the courage which saves to the courage which harms." They respond that the courage which harms the individual saves the country. [Power's brain-washing.] They recognize that if all men were pacifists, that would be salvation at once of the individual and of the country. But that's ideal, and they act in the real. Thus the ideal remains ideal and the real real; so that nothing changes. The Sage, he, acts -- without acting -- in the ideal in order to make it real. Thus, things can change. And the way of change, that's it, the Dao.

The implication of this for the cultural feminists however also points up the limit of Conche's reflection here. For here "doing" is taken to lead to such non-pacifist intervention as war, and this is how power (supraorganismic integrative pressure) is able to mobilize usually men for self-sacrificial destruction through the ideology of patriotism. In the late- and post-Cold War era, when war increasingly gives way to trade as the mechanism of supraorganismic integration and metabolism, power has started to utilize the pacifist type of "doing" -- the saving of the world without war -- and this is the reason (Vernunft) behind the rebirth of cultural feminism during the second wave. Now power has to brain-wash women, with cultural feminism, to take up a savior status. The end result is the production of more mindless consumers (Mass Woman in addition to Mass Man) which power needs. I have nothing to say about cultural feminism of the first wave, since it essentially did not accomplish anything: its utility to power not yet ripen. That is, the cultural feminism of the first wave is essentially a secular soteriological movement born too soon, and this accounts for the hiatus between the cultural feminism of the first wave and that of the second. When it receives re-birth in the era of trade, the form remains the same, saving through doing. But, as said, its ideological content, the "female culture" adopted, is continuation from the first wave only superficially; there is, so to speak, an amnesia.

Some women have noticed that the liberation of women from domestic slavery (and even from marriage, in the case of the throng of single mothers) seems only to result in a different slavery in an office prison from 9 to 5 that is just as meaningless as housework (in addition to domestic slavery in the case of these single mothers). Some single mothers complain: "feminism has deceived, telling us 'we can do it [raise children] all by ourselves, we don't need men'; but after a whole day of drudgery [at some meaningless job], we pick up the kids and have to come home for a 'second shift', while [whether true or not] the child's support from the guy is just enough to buy the kids shoes and bags." What they consistently do not notice, however, is that their mindless hardwork has helped increase the rate of consumption and thereby expanded the economy: the real goal of their "liberation." (Think, the "father" is complaining too about being reduced to a cash machine, constantly paying, but having his visitations consistently sabotaged by the mother: "taxation without representation"; who's the real beneficiary in all this?... The housing industry! which is selling or renting out two home-units instead of one if the two were together; and the Chinese, who have sold two TV sets instead of one...) What then, is real liberation? Mary Wollstonecraft has got it vaguely: the development of the spirit, intellect, and moral integrity instead of prostitutive behavior that precludes this. But she is misunderstood if this is equated merely with joining the public sphere of production. Feminism would be considered to have succeeded in liberating women (and probably in saving the world as well) if they turn housewives into spiritually oriented philosophers and theoretical physicists. Philosophers, insofar as authentic, i.e. non-ideological, are however useless to power, not participating in it, not doing anything useful, so people (power) say. Insofar as -- using academia as a sign -- the percentage of women in these "pure-thinking" fields amidst universities remains single digit -- the proliferation of ideological propaganda courses in academia notwithstanding -- and yet female consumers multiply, feminism has definitively failed. It is an instrument of power.

Consider the meaning of liberation in more detail by turning to an example of an ordinary (not academic) feminist thinking, e.g. Exploration Of The Failure Of Feminism by Kara Curtis. This is her response to another woman's lamentation over the "failure of feminism", that woman really isn't capable of what man can because of the burden of their biology, and should stay home ("It is this biological thing that's just there, these organs we're born with. The truth is, a woman cannot live a true feminist life [i.e. 'careering' as a man] unless she denies her childbearing biology." "women don't belong in 12-hour-a-day executive office positions. . .as long as that biology is there, women can't compete equally with men." "Women should get educations so they can be brainy in the way they raise their children..."). In other words, dissatisfaction with the New Woman's double life as Man and Woman (in the traditional sense) because it is "too much life". Curtis shows disgust with such irresponsibility and cowardly rejection of woman doing as man in addition to being a biological woman fulfilling or not, according to her choice, her biological (childbearing) destiny. "I believe that women can and should pursue executive positions, or any job they desire, including full-time parenting if that satisfies them. I agree that biology plays a role in every woman's life, but instead of weakening and limiting us, it empowers us. It forces us to make choices about our lives. [It is this sort of active, participatory, overcoming doing that lies as the backbone of contemporary consumerism, what the Protestant work ethic was for formative capitalism.] We must select and name our priorities, deciding what is most important to us at every stage of our lives. However, this does not constrict women, instead it strengthens us. In making choices we become completely self-defined, not defined by others... In her review of feminism, Ebeling [the complaining one] misses the celebration of this power. She rejects her responsibility for choices that she has already made, and masks her failure to achieve her goals by blaming feminism. She tries to avoid future mistakes by reverting to the past, a past that defines the role of women so precisely that she would have no room for self-created mistakes... she expected feminism to be a utopia, to hand her all its benefits, without any personal commitment on her part. When she began to see how wrong she was, she too experienced confusion and disillusionment." (This is very existential in de Beauvoir's manner, as she criticized, in The Second Sex, women for remaining in the role of immanence to avoid the hard work of self-actualization [and the dizziness of freedom, of having to choose] through transcendence.) Both are operating on the ordinary level and fail to see any trace of why history should have suddenly decided that woman should assume a double life (i.e. because it's good for the economy and conducive to the power of the state). Thus the complaining one wants to return to the old slavery (housewife) because of its simplicity and easiness and the feminist one wants to encourage entrapment in the new slavery (full participation in the affairs of society) despite the extra efforts involved, given the drag of women's biology, in having a double life. Real liberation, on the other hand, as argued here, consists in not participating in society at all, neither in the domestic (as a housewife) nor in the public (as a career woman). A woman that learns superstring theory in class or reads ancient mystic philosophy in a dead language in a coffee house -- activities completely useless to any participation in society through some idiotic career and to raising children -- simply because she likes to know what reality is made of and how to think about it, thus developing her mind and spirituality, without any possibility of a mindless office prison job ahead nor any interest in bearing and raising children as a matter of obligation or accident -- or even a woman that just sits around the beach doing absolutely nothing with her life: now that's a liberated woman that feminism would have produced if it were not a failure. Instead of being both man and woman in the same person, how about neither man nor woman? Forget "the usefulness of being useful", and retain "the usefulness of being useless". In the past, society (not men) chained women in the kitchen because that was good for the (agrarian and formative capitalist) economy (polygynous housewives for the agrarian, and monogamous housewife for the formative capitalist). Now society (and not really the feminists, who are just brain-washed to think they do) wants women to get the courage and go to work because this is good for the (mature capitalist, consumer) economy. Both are slavery. (Note that Curtis is arguing from the perspective of liberal feminism, wanting women to go to work to "fulfill" themselves; at least she's not telling them to go to work in order to "save the world" [cultural feminism]).

This real liberation of course society would not permit, because this is the true resistance against power. Power wants people and so women to be useful to society, in the past as a reproductive slave, now as both a productive and a reproductive slave. If everyone were useless and refused exploitation, then economy, society, would collapse. Feminism plays the important role of making women more than ever useful to society -- more than doubling the burden on the Earth-environment in the process. Hence real liberation can only be a fantasy for the throng, and the actually liberated women must be few, if they manage to escape the honest but deceptive exhortation of the feminists to join the public world and do more useful things. In all cases to be useful to oneself is always to be useless to society, because the pursuit of a spiritual meaning of life (the most useful to oneself) is always the negation of the pursuit of the material meaning of life on which the growth of society depends and which it therefore commands among its population as the most important duty -- and now through feminism among its female population.

We, then, go back to the cause of this failure, "doing", in the case of feminists socially encouraged by power and psychologically motivated by ressentiment. The non-doing was conceived by Laozi originally as the best self-preservative technique which incidentally would also lead to the peace of the world; and this, given the "cunning of power", is the only real sense in which philosophy -- or anything -- can save the world: accidentally, as a side-product to the individual's salvation. I have thus taken non-doing as the only possible resistance against power: resistance through non-participation in it, through the refusal to be useful to, to be enslaved by, power. In this way, the identity between the individual's and the collective salvation (earthly, minor salvation; c.f. part two). Those who actively try to save the world tend to mess up the world even more because power is more cunning than they. What about those who do out-do power's cunningness, the philosophers? As Plato has well observed, those truly enlightened ones who try to awaken the rest of humankind from the ensnarement and enslavement by power always get destroyed by power: the fate of the doing enlightened ones. Only the falsely spiritual as of the soteriological social movements succeed with their "saving" (transformations) because they are reinforcing power. Power never fails, never gets overthrown; hence a sure way to distinguish between the truly spiritual saviors from the falsely spiritual is to see if they get destroyed or not. The savior who succeeds in saving (feminists or communist revolutionaries or whatever) must be false savior; the savior who gets executed is likely to be the true savior.4 The Daoist technique, under this reflection, is infinitely better, since it saves a little and also preserves oneself.

Now the non-doing of Laozi is taken up to a higher level in Zhuangzi to become complete uselessness to power. Zhuangzi was particularly sensitive to the issues of power's exploitative use of persons to accomplish its own ends. In his time -- the old form of power, prélèvement -- the exploitation is in the obvious form of taxation of one's labor to achieve something. Today power's exploitation has become one of discipline of good warrior or producer-consumerist habits. Non-participants may still be forced to participate. His parables frequently express this theme:

莊子釣於濮水。楚王使大夫二人往先焉,曰:「願以境內累矣。」莊子持竿不顧,曰:「吾聞楚有神龜,死已三千歲矣,王巾笥而藏之廟堂之上。此龜者,寧其死為留骨而貴乎?寧其生而曳尾於涂中乎?」二大夫曰:「寧生而曳尾涂中。」莊子曰:「往矣!吾將曳尾於涂中。」 (外篇, 秋水)

Zhuangzi was fishing on Pu River. The king of Chu [large kingdom in the south] sent two officials to meet him, saying: "[The king] wishes to burden you with the interior administration [of the state]." Zhuangzi held his [fishing] stick without looking [at them], saying: "I have heard that in Chu there was a sacred tortoise, which, when it died, was 3,000 years old. The king kept the tortoise carefully in a chest hidden in the ancestral temple. Now this turtle, would it rather be dead and have its remains venerated [in a luxurious environment], or would it rather be alive and wagging its tail in the mud?" The two officials said: "It would rather be alive and wagging its tail in the mud." Zhuangzi said: "Go away. I'd rather wag my tail in the mud." The feminists, it seems, due to manipulation by power, would rather send women into enslavement to be venerated -- not just on the pretext of for their own good any longer but for the redemption of humanity -- than liberate them into the mud.

Through disability, however, one cannot even participate in power; the very condition of possibility has been undermined. In such case power has no choice but to leave one alone. Although, again, the Daoist purpose is self-preservation, it ends up saving (preserving) the world as well. Consider Zhuangzi's parables:

匠石之齊,至于曲辕,見栎社樹。其大蔽数千牛,契之百圍,其高临山十仞而後有枝,其可以為舟者旁十數。觀者如市,匠伯不顧,遂行不辍。弟子厭觀之,走及匠石,曰:‘自吾执斧斤以随夫子,夫尝见材如此其美也。先生不肯視,行不辍,何邪?”曰:“已矣,勿言之矣!散木也。以為舟則沈,以為棺椁則速腐,以為器則速毀,以為門戶則液瞒,以為柱則蠹,是不材之木也。无所可用,故能若是之壽。匠石歸,栎社見夢曰:“女將惡乎比予哉?若將比予于文木邪?夫楂梨橘柚, 果艹之属,實熟則剥,剥則辱。大枝折,小枝泄。此以其能苦其生者也。故不終其天年而中道夭,自掊击于世俗者也。物莫不若是。且予求无所可用久矣!几死,乃今得之,為予大用。使予也而有用,且得有此大也邪?且也若與予也皆物也,奈何哉其相物也?而几死之散人,又惡知散木!”匠石覺而诊其夢。弟子曰:“趣取无用,則為社何邪?”曰:“密!若无言!彼亦直寄焉!以為不知己者诟厉也。不為社者,且几有翦乎!且也彼其所保與眾異,而以義喻之,不亦遠乎!”

A mechanic, Shih, going to Qi [the kingdom on the eastern coast] , came to Chui-Yuan, and saw an oak tree which was used as the altar for the spirits of the earth. It was so large that its shadow could cover a thousand oxen. Its trunk had a circumference of a hundred spans. It rose up ten chei on the hill before it threw out any branches, after which there were ten or so, from each of which a boat could be hollowed out. People came to see it in crowds as in a market place, but the mechanic Shih did not look around at it, but held on his way without stopping. His student [however] looked long and admiring at it, and then came to his master, saying: "Since I've picked up my axe and bill to follow you, I have never seen such beautiful timber as this. But master, you didn't look round at it, but went on without stopping; why?" [Master] said: "Stop. Don't speak about it. It's useless [disintegrated, disabled] timber. A boat made from it would sink; a coffin or shell made from it would soon rot. Objects made from it would soon disintegrate. A door made from it would exude sap. A pillar made from it would be riddled with insects. It is un-utilizable [lit. un-timber] wood. [The tree] cannot be used for anything, hence it could have attained such great age as it has. When mechanic Shih returned, the altar-oak appeared in his dream, saying: "To what [tree] will you compare me? Will you compare me to one of your ornamental trees? Take these hawthorns, pear-trees, orange-trees, pummelo-trees, all these fruit-bearing plants. When their fruits are ripe, they are knocked down from them, then thrown among the dirt. The large branches are broken, and the smaller torn away. This is how their [productive] ability [usefulness] makes bitter their life. Hence they do not complete the natural term of their life, but come to a premature end in the middle of their time, bringing onto themselves destruction by those worldly and profane. All things are like this. Thus so have I sought after [the art of being] useful for nothing. I have almost died [once], but now acquired this [art], and it has been of the greatest use to me. Suppose that I were useful, should I have acquired such great size as this I am? Moreover, you and I are both things, why is it that you [judgmentally] evaluate [other] things? And you useless [lit. disintegrated] man, near-death [yourself], what do you know about the useless [lit. disintegrated] tree?" Mechanic Shih awoke and was determining the meaning of the dream. The student said: "Being so taken with its uselessness, why is it then that it yet acts as the altar [for the spirits of the land]?" [The mechanic] said: "Quiet. You say not. The altar came simply residing there [without the tree's asking for it]... [Even] if it were not used as an altar, would it be still in danger of being cut down [it being so useless already] ? Moreover, [the reason of] its preservation is different from that of things generally; but you try to analogically [understand] it with conventional thinking [reasons], isn't it far off [the mark]?" [Translation altered from James Legge's]


This is in regard to the custom (at the time) of villagers throwing sacrificial animals and humans into the river as gifts to the river god. Hence in selecting [the sacrificial victims the shaman excludes] the oxen with pale forehead or pigs with [abnormally] high nose, and also people with releasing defects [e.g. diarrhea] , these cannot be given to the river. These [defects] the shaman and shamaness use to determine [the qualification of the sacrifice]; thus so these are considered inauspicious. And this is why these [defects] the divine person considers as greatly auspicious. Uselessness, not usefulness, is auspicious for the divinely oriented mind.


There was the deformed man Shu. His chin is hidden in his navel. His shoulder rose as high as his forehead. The knot of his hair pointed to the sky [the knot of hair usually hanged from the back of the head] His five organs became located on the upper side. [meaning that his back was so bent as to face the sky] And his two thigh bones were like ribs. By [some] sewing of clothing and washing of dishes he could make enough to feed himself. By cleaning the market, [or] throwing straws [yarrow stalks?] for divination, or shifting and washing rice, he could feed 10 people. When the king was recruiting soldiers, this deformed would swing his arms around to wander in the streets. [Since, given his disability, he had no fear of being drafted, he did not have to hide like other able bodied men of his age. When the king [was drafting able bodies] for construction works, this deformed escaped the draft because of his constant disabilities. When the king gave out grain to the sick, he would receive 3 zong and 10 bundles of fire wood. Now someone with a body so deformed was well enough able to keep intact and nourish his body, and to complete the natural span of his life, how much more can those whose virtues [de] are deformed? "Virtue" in the Daoist context means the "being" of a person or anything, the constitution that makes this person this person that he is or that thing that thing that it is.


The mountain trees bring about their own demises [by being useful], burning oil exhausts itself in fire [when people use it in oil lamp]. The fruits of the cinnamon tree can be eaten, hence the trees are cut down; the varnish tree is useful, hence incisions are made in it. Everyone knows the usefulness of being useful, but no one knows the usefulness of being useless.


1. In Nietzsche' sense in The Genealogy of Morals. Otherwise may it be termed "envy". This accounts for why every time the feminists detect instances of gender inequality, they always propose just the solutions that promote consumerism and reinforce the economy. E.g. if men work at professions but women only at home, then they formulate "equality" as women working also at professions, side by side with men in the public sphere, rather than as getting men to come home also; if women earn 69 cent per every dollar men earn for the same work, then equality is achieved by raising women's 69 cent to men's dollar rather than decreasing men's dollar to women's 69 cent. If men drive, then equality means that women should drive too, rather than that men not drive. The former solutions have the effect of increasing production, consumption, and the buying power of the population as a whole (but also of straining the environment further), while the latter are bad for economy. Whatever men take to be good the feminists immediately assume to be good, even while emphasizing (erroneously) the specialness and superiority of women in doing men's things in a different way. Taking men's values as the norm, they thus also come to think "more is good" and "less is bad." Thus since men do not value being a garbage man, the feminists make no qualm about the garbage disposal industry's being virtually 100% male-dominated.

2. J. M. Roberts, in The History of the World, remarks regarding the 10 turbulent years of the French Revolution (1789 - 99). "The derivation of authority from popular sovereignty acting through a unified National Assembly, before whose legislation no privilege of locality or group could stand... [Now this] powerful legislative engine was employed to overturn and rebuild institutions at every level of French life... In retrospect, the signposts to market society seem pretty plain... Such great changes were bound to be divisive... conservatism was especially hard to interpret in religious affairs... The holy vessel kept at Rheims from which the kings of France had been anointed since the Middle Ages was publicly destroyed by the authorities during the Terror, an altar to Reason replaced the Christian one in the cathedral of Notre Dame and many priests underwent fierce personal persecution. Clearly, the France which did this was no longer Christian in the traditional sense, and the theocratic monarchy went unmourned by most Frenchmen. Yet the treatment of the Church aroused popular opposition to the Revolution... the cults of quasi- [i.e. substitute] divinities such as Reason and the Supreme Being which some revolutionaries promoted were a flop, and many Frenchmen (and perhaps most Frenchwomen) would happily welcome the restoration of the Catholic Church to French life when it eventually came" (p. 680 - 1). Nevertheless, the trend could no longer be reversed. Whereas in the Middle Age the entire population of European societies were taking this life as only a temporary station and awaiting for a redemption beyond this world that had nothing to do with the consumption of consumer goods, today this type of people constitutes a small minority in the thoroughly secularized European society where attention is not directed beyond living standard (consumption).

3. The case of India at the time of Buddha is very instructive here. Besides the Brahmins, the guardians of the Vedas, there were also the samanas, "the more usual type [of which] was a wanderer who had indeed 'abandoned the world' to lead a more or less ascetic life. He -- or, rarely, she -- was in fact, to use a modern expression, a drop-out from society, though differing from our modern drop-outs in at least one important respect: the samanas as a group received no less respect from all classes, even kings, than did the Brahmins. Their teachings were many and varied -- some wise and some exceedingly foolish, some loftily spiritual and some crudely materialistic. The point is that they were completely free to teach whatever they pleased, and, so far from being persecuted... were received with honour wherever they went... [Of these t]here were in particular the self-mortifiers on the one hand, and the wanderers on the other, whose only austerity probably consisted in their detachment from family ties and... their observance of chastity... The wanderers (paribbajakas), some of whom were Brahmins, wore clothes (unlike many of the others, who went completely naked), and they led a less comfortable life. They were 'philosophers' who propounded many different theories about the world and nature, and delighted in disputation." (Maurice Walshe in the introduction to his translation of Digha Nikaya, p. 23) Buddha himself might in fact be categorized among these wanderers. And wherever he went, accompanied by the hundreds of monks -- basically social drop-outs -- following him, he was well received by the dignitaries who provided shelters and food. The point is that these who abandoned the pursuit of the material meaning of life and concerned themselves only with its spiritual meaning were revered in ancient societies, India being only the extreme case. Today with the moulding of human mind by the capitalist, industrialist, consumerist, and nation-state ideology (which both socialism and capitalist democracy have adopted as their common base) -- the work-ethic, the ideology of being a useful, productive member of society -- reinforced by a host of mechanisms, such as the feminist ideology, ordinary people will no longer accept, let alone venerate, these phenomena of social drop-outs, but will mock, persecute, and perhaps "rehabilitate" them into useful, productive "members".

4. Hence we don't say that the purpose of this book is to "save" the world. For if this book should succeed in saving the world, then this book would not be really saving the world but only destroying it, that is, it would be falsified. If this theory shall have wide positive influence, then it is wrong (not telling the truth), according to this very theory that is.

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