A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History, Part II
CHAPTER 10: Power, the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Problem of Evil
10. 1. The Truth of Power
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copyright © 2004 - 5, 2006 by Lawrence C. Chin. All rights reserved.

The thermodynamic interpretation of history is a theory of power. In Part Three, this theory will have a preoccupation with feminism. This is because feminism, with its difficulty with dis-illusionment with itself, will offer a most instructive lesson as to the utter indestructibility of power -- because, once its nature be truly appreciated as the pressure on the Persons to contribute to the increase in supraorganismic ("Cormic") integration and metabolism, it becomes identical with the overall entropy-increase of the Universe and the arrow of time -- and how it operates.

The lesson from Foucault's later work is that resistance against power operates as a part of power, and that the purpose (or rather, the consequence) of this resistance against power is the reinforcement of power. This is where the use of Foucault by his feminist fans to explain, and construct resistance against, patriarchy, appears paradoxical and oxymoronic.1 If the feminists truly appreciate (the later) Foucault, shouldn't they look into, and discover, how the purpose (consequence) of feminism might be the reinforcement of patriarchy? This insight in fact would explain much of the schizophrenic tendencies of (especially cultural) feminism.

For example, feminism, such as in their critique of modern science, has accused men of science of attempting to create a "world without women". (Or: "Carolyn Merchant's The Death of Nature... or Evelyn Fox Keller's Reflections on Gender and Science... demonstrated how the existence of a dominant masculinist metaphor of strength, superiority, rationality, technology was contingent on either ascribing inferior values to feminine metaphors or on devaluing existing feminine values altogether. A rational world of men stood opposite the irrational worlds of women, children, savages, and psychotics. Power and domination of a male principle naturalized the subordination of the feminine." Renate Holub, "Feminist Theory".) If this be identified as the operation of patriarchal power -- the suppression of femininity until its complete disappearance -- then no ideology and no operation has been more successful in this goal than feminism and women's movement. The ostensible aim of liberal feminism, by emphasizing the essential sameness of women's "inner soul" as men's, has been getting women to acquire all of the male political rights, and to enter every aspect of the formerly male-occupied professional world: mobilization of women to play men's roles as well. Cultural feminism, though emphasizing women's differences from men, is also trying to get women to play men's roles in society, and in fact trying so more aggressively and with an added urgency, because it claims that men have not been playing these public roles well (they are destroying the world) and that women can, as so urgently needed, play them better because of their differences (which then amount to superiority). That is, cultural feminism is even more aggressive than liberal feminism in turning women into men when women take up men's roles: whatever the intention of the feminists, this is the result: rather than changing how these roles operate, rather than changing the world for the better, the women entering this world get changed by it.2 It seems that the radical emphasis on women's peculiar nature is just a cover-up of the feminists' utter hatred for the existence of women or femininity, just a misrepresentation of their spirit to the opposite. The more radical the cultural feminist, the more likely she is to be a lesbian, without ever having had children, without doing anything traditionally considered feminine: no make-up, but completely masculine in attire, demeanor, profession (no pink collar job), and even appearance. She in fact is, from the perspective of the functioning of the society, no different than a man. One can clearly discern a progressive intensification of the hatred for womanhood from the mild Betty Friedan to the radical lesbians. This would not seem strangely unjustified if the implicit feminist world-view be accepted that masculinity is just normal humanity and femininity an artificial slavery (Other) which patriarchy has manufactured for it to "complement" (be enslaved to) that normal humanity -- this normality of masculinity the cultural feminists of course then have difficulty pronouncing explicitly since they have to at the same time pin all evils in the world onto it. It should merely be pointed out that if "patriarchy" has an interest in a radical denial of the feminine down to its non-existence, it is doing well in using feminism to eradicate femininity from the face of the Earth by transforming all women into men: feminism as the reinforcement of patriarchy. This is why feminism is always terribly concerned with getting women to become more like men (or to do men's things) but has very little interest in getting men to become like women (to do women's things), even though the latter approach too means gender-equality and the extrication of women from control by men -- and at the same time men's becoming passive and homely in addition to passive and homely women seems like the best means to save the Earth.

In a similar way feminism can be considered the reinforcement of patriarchy when it has spawned such widescale discourse on the "truth of women" (the proliferation of women's studies in universities; of medical discourse on women's health [peculiar, different from men's]; of possible continued disadvantaged social and economic status of women). Just as the dispositifs sexuels had produced "sexuality" as somehow the truth of the human subject, and made us believe that we had been repressed in the expression of it in order to fool us into talking about it, giving it away to power's use as our "secret truth", all the while making us foolishly think that this exposition of our "truth" constituted our "liberation"; so now patriarchy, in trying to rid the world of women by transforming them into men, tells women that the most "secret truth" about them has been repressed in the past, that their "being" has instead been constituted solely through the perspective of men, that this "repression of truth" makes up the essence of the "oppression of women", that their persistent unearthing of what women's innermost "being" really is would then constitute their "liberation" -- in order that women may voluntarily give away their "secret" to patriarchy for its use, for it to better exploit women as men. It is certainly more efficient for women themselves to voluntarily dig up their own secret than for, as before "women's liberation", the gynecologists to dissect women's body in search for it. In Chapter 2 we have seen that feminists have taken over the central two of the new sexual dispositives for the consumerist age. It seems that these two new dispositives are manifestations of a larger dispositive about "womenhood" concerned with uncovering its truth, which is increasingly important as women are becoming an increasingly important productive-reproductive, central component of the new consumerist order. This, of course, is not to suggest that women's "truth" has not been repressed in the past; but is about how power may use facts from the past to -- through presenting it in a certain way -- constitute a new "truth" it now needs.

Consider this explanation by Lois McNay of Foucault's notion of how modern form of power operates (from "Identity and Power", 2002):

Foucault has frequently been co-opted by postmodernists. His theory of disciplinary power was written pretty much in response to the new social movements and the social and economic unrests which began to trouble western societies from 1968 onwards. Like many intellectuals, he was critically motivated by what he saw as the inadequacy of the PCF, the French communist party, to respond to the 1968 student uprisings in Paris, the growth of feminism, the anti-Vietnam movements, the civil rights movement, the hippy movement and so on. The response of the PCF was to say these were not genuine struggles because they were not sufficiently working class. They were the struggles of bourgeoisie students, or women, for instance. French intellectuals were already becoming disillusioned with the French communist party after the revelations of Stalinism which began to emerge in France during the fifties, followed by the realisation of the true nature of the cultural revolution in China. For them, 1968 was the watershed and most left the communist party and became non-aligned leftists, or gauchistes. This is the trajectory Foucault followed.

Foucault's intellectual response to this was to develop an alternative theory of power. On his view, prevailing concepts of power which had dominated thought in the post-war period, such as Marxism and liberalism, were unable to explain the social unrest and transformations they were witnessing. The reason for this is that they were stuck in an essentially negative or "monarchical" conception of power, which essentially says that power is the possession of either a single figure, a dominant class or the state, which is used against the masses or against individuals to repress and control them. Power is essentially negative in its operation, working through, for instance, rules and prohibitions.

Foucault sees this as a very crude way for power to operate. If it really is simply about prohibition individuals would protest against it, because it's a very visible manifestation of power. He argues for a positive notion of power which has more insidious face. He does not mean by positive that it is empowering or good, but that it is a productive force which engenders its own object of repression. It doesn't operate through repression but through normalisation.

He illustrates this point in A History of Sexuality Volume One by reference to Victorian attitudes to sexuality. Our stereotypical view of the Victorians is that they were uptight and repressed about sex. But if we look at the documentation from the Victorian era it is apparent that they were totally obsessed by sex and "perverse" sex in particular. The paradigm of this obsession is Freud and the birth of psychoanalysis and how the very idea of perverse sexuality was actually produced by the new psychoanalytic and psychiatric disciplines. The implication is that there was a need in the period of the growth of imperialism and capitalist expansion to ensure labour reproduction. The way that is ensured is through a creation and policing of a category of perversity and deviancy which has the oblique effect of reinforcing heterosexuality as the norm. Power doesn't explicitly prohibit homosexuality, rather it works through a more insidious way of demonising non heterosexual sexualities, producing them as a deviant other which subtly legitimates heterosexuality as the norm. What is particularly insidious about the way power operates in this case is that it is done under the guise of scientific knowledge. The production of the category of deviance is presented as an illness which can be cured.

From that flow several methodological points about power. One is that if we want to understand power we shouldn't look at "macro-physical" manifestations of power, such as social class or state, but look at "micro-physical" manifestations of power, for example, the control and manipulation of bodies in space. Second, against the negative paradigm of power as something exercised and possessed by a dominant elite, power is for Foucault a net-like web which permeates all social relations within which all individuals are situated. Third, the most insidious aspect of power is that with the development of capitalist society we internalise these roles and become "self-policing subjects".

Within these power complexes that control us are what Foucault calls "judges of normality", social workers, teachers, all the "experts" that assess and diagnose our lives.

It seems that by considering the traditional coating of femininity as a deviant construct of patriarchy imposed on women to enslave them to men, the feminists are obliquely reinforcing the normativeness of masculinity which then women must now absorb into themselves: and this is liberal feminism, as yet innocent. But when cultural feminists make the same evaluation of feminine deviancy, and yet at the same time construct an inner goodness of the feminine trapped in the deviant coating, and thus facilitate the even more aggressive absorption by women of male sex-roles, they end up reinforcing the legitimacy of masculinity even more -- and more urgently -- by packaging the "new man" (woman as man) in the wrap of goodness urgently needed by the world.

In another way this may help explain the concurrence with feminist ideologies of the widespread preoccupation with such deviant sexualities as sex with minors or child-molestation even if these are actually infrequent3 (in addition to the concern with sexual violences against women and yet excluding the consideration of homosexuality as deviant) since such preoccupation would then serve to reinforce the more "productive" ("reproductive"), "normal" heterosexual relationship (c.f. the sexual dispositives for the consumerist era, Chapter 2): as said, consumerism all around requires the mobilization of women for public production and more consumption, so that even in post-industrialized countries where feminism is relatively weak, e.g. Germany and Japan, women are going to work in increasing number. But the taste of professionalism tends inevitably to decrease women's interest in reproduction, and thus Germany, Japan, other Western post-industrialized countries such as Sweden, and even economically chaotic countries with, however, a long history of female mobilization for production, e.g. Russia, all face the problem of a shrinking population. American women's continued interest in reproduction despite full-time work can then be seen as the effect of, not just the women-pleasing climate created by feminist attitudes ("vulgar feminism") as suggested, but also of the obsession with sexual deviance which reinforces as "virtuous" the heterosexual relationship in conventional setting ("marriage") which leads to reproductive and child-rearing success. And this, despite the feminists' frequent negative judgment of marriage.

This technique of oblique reinforcement of the norm captures the essence of much of the contemporary feminist fear-mongering about, or the myth of, the "fragile girl," such as Christina Hoff Sommers has complained about (in The War against Boys):

In 1990, Carol Gilligan announced to the world that America's adolescent girls were in crisis. In her words, "As the river of a girl's life flows into the sea of Western culture, she is in danger of drowning or disappearing." Gilligan offered little in the way of conventional evidence to support this alarming finding... But Gilligan quickly attracted powerful allies. Within a very short time the allegedly fragile and demoralized state of American adolescent girls achieved the status of a national emergency.

"The description of America's teenage girls as silenced, tortured, voiceless, and otherwise personally diminished," based on the notion of American society as, in the words of Mary Pipher, a "girl-poisoning and girl-destroying" culture, soon permeated the entire American media, and motivated, for example, American Association of University Women's (AAUW) study, first about the crisis of adolescent girls in the matter of their self-esteem, and then about "How Schools Shortchange Girls":

This new study, carried out by the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women and released in 1992, asserted a direct causal relationship between girls' (alleged) second-class status in the nation's schools and deficiencies in their level of self-esteem. Carol Gilligan's psychological girl crisis was thus transformed into a pressing civil rights issue: girls were victims of widespread sexist discrimination in our nation's schools. "The implications are clear," said the AAUW; "the system must change."

Six years later, Diane Ravitch finally admitted:

"The AAUW report was just completely wrong. What was so bizarre is that it came out right at the time that girls had just overtaken boys in almost every area. It might have been the right story 20 years earlier, but coming out when it did it was like calling a wedding a funeral.... There were all these special programs put in place for girls, and no one paid any attention to boys."...

In other words, fear-mongering to create an imaginary opposite of reality (norm) serves to protect and further extend the norm:

There is an understandable dialectic: the more girls are portrayed as diminished, the more boys are regarded as needing to be taken down a notch and reduced in importance....

[In truth] Data from the U.S. Department of Education and from several recent university studies show that far from being shy and demoralized, today's girls outshine boys. Girls get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow a more rigorous academic program and participate more in the prestigious Advanced Placement (AP) program...

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more female than male students enroll in high-level math and science courses....

Girls, allegedly so timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and even in debating clubs. Only in sports are the boys still ahead, and women's groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance....

Girls read more books. They outperform males on tests of artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. Conversely, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely as girls to be enrolled in special education programs and four times as likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder...

The passage, for example, of the Gender Equity in Education Act in 1994 and the widespread practice among teachers to spend more efforts in the education of girls, both resulting from the feminist fear-mongering about imaginary threats, are instances of the oblique reinforcement thus produced: special protection of the privileged (white females) doesn't come "naturally." Compare this with the same technique prevalent during the Victorian era:

In general, esteem for work reached an all-time high during the work ethic's heyday (the late 19th century). Men devoted themselves to their work, and women resented their exclusion from work. Surprisingly, Victorian moralists bemoaned the alleged loss of regard for work. They said the age-old respect and appreciation for hard work were eroding... It was an ironic mistake: As society worked harder and harder, it saw itself as lazier and lazier. (Roy Baumeister, The Meanings of Life, 1991, p. 130.)

It had to fool itself to accept the opposite of reality because "the work ethic did not really have much force behind it." (Ibid., p. 131) The norm of the Victorian era is, in accordance with the focus of the economy at the time on production, dutifully productive men and reproductive women; today it is, in accordance with the focus of the economy on consumption, productive and consumptive women in addition to productive men.4

This answers the question why patriarchy glorifies masculinity with all these increasingly deceptive and irresistible techniques, or why patriarchy wants to deny the existence of femininity. Certainly not because of some mysterious male desire to dominate and yet deny womanhood. This work has tried hard dismissing the radical feminist attitude that men want to dominate and hate femininity simply because they want to dominate and hate femininity. But look for what good the masculine roles do: they are "productive" (as opposed to "reproductive"). So in fact patriarchy of the past did not deny femininity but promoted it because patriarchy needed it to reproduce itself (i.e. its functioning members): this promotion during the twilight days of formative capitalism Betty Friedan has called "the feminine mystique". And Chinese female foot-binding was a mechanism to reinforce/ intensify, to the point of pathological, femininity -- women's specialized reproductivity getting pathologically specialized -- rather than to ritually "kill off" and "dismember" women's self simply because men had forever been frightened of the divinity within women, as Mary Daly claims (a Sado-Ritual, Gyn/Ecology). (The difference in "mystique" between the two femininities reflects the difference between the reproductive needs of formative capitalism on the one hand and those of a saturated agrarian economy on the other.) Patriarchy (really, society) does deny femininity today (through feminism) because it needs more producers and a higher rate of consumption. Thus ultimately the concept of patriarchy is not productive in understanding why men and women have been molded to adapt to their given functions in society, but that of differentiation and rearrangement of metabolic and/or reproductive functions in a supraorganism is far more revealing. In fact patriarchy, as said, is just an imaginary construct produced by power to designate, with undesirable connotation, the inertia to its growth (like "sexual repression" in Foucault's analysis of sexual revolution) in order to mobilize sentiments and efforts to overcome this inertia and so increase itself through metamorphosis. The (radical) feminist oppressive hypothesis serves the same social function as does, during the hippie era of sexual liberation, the "repressive hypothesis" growing out of the sexual dispositives of the Victorian era. Power is then the operation by which the supraorganism manipulates and pressures persons to adjust to the given roles (traditional or revolutionarily new) in order to increase its metabolism and internal integration.

Hence fits herein Foucault's teaching that the operation of power in modern time -- and its purpose -- is to normalize individuals and then increase production; that only in the past was it about oppression and domination and operative according to "law", and thereby localized in singular, identifiable figures (monarchical concept: juridico-politique; Histoire de la sexualité, 1., Tel Gallimard, p. 115 - 6) -- because, in that "backward" time of insufficient technology, power could not do more than negatively suppress (from outside) among men behaviors interfering with "production" (or among women behaviors interfering with the "use" of them as reproductive machines: hence e.g. harem, footbinding, within the polygynous system) or rather any tendencies subverting the extraction, by the collective (Corm), of contributive efforts from the individuals (Persons). But once the technology had advanced enough at the turn of the "Classic Age" in Europe, it could now positively promote, through disciplinary measures, sexual dispositives, and large-scale population management, and moreover from inside the subjects, productive behaviors among men and reproductive behaviors among women.

Hence the Occidental shift toward monogamy and nuclear family during the formative period of capitalism (or rather mass-economy): the beneficial effects of such atomization for political integration and mass-economy already commented upon, the monogamous arrangement also allowed for finer control of women (but less oppressive or dehumanizing than the polygynous, large patriarchal family) in one-to-one situation which maximized their mothering function; far greater mobilization of energy and productive force and reproductive capacity as a whole was in fact achieved by monogamy, as every man was ensured of reproductive success and a domestic support for his productive function in the public, in contrast to the situation of classical patriarchy where a minority of men "held" the majority of women and most men dwindled away in matelessness (not to mention that in such backward time there were always fewer women than men as a result of their shorter life-expectancy than men's due to their frequent death from child-birth, and as a result of frequent female infanticide). Then the transition to the saturated period of capitalism has required the mobilization of women for public production as well which has broken down even this monogamous family with strict sexual division of labor.

To speak in feminists' imaginary language of patriarchy: the feminists and the "liberated" new women have now internalized the masculine, questing, productive ideal and are policing themselves to become "men" in order to increase consumer society's productivity and consumption.

This work extends Foucault's analytic of power by adding within the peculiar case of America (and some other English-speaking countries), next to "judges of morality", "judges of equality" (feminist or civil-rights related activists), whose function, despite their intention, within the power complexes has been the mobilization of those not yet productive and consumptive, whether women or minority races, to become productive and consumptive in order to enlarge the scope of consumerism. This is the peculiar dilemma of the modern form of power: there is no way out. Knowing that advocating female empowerment or gender and racial equality is really just means for the reinforcement of power (which is also really the "iron cage" of consumerism), one does not thereby advocate the return to female slavery or racial inequality; no doubt, while this iron-cage is aggressively colonizing and destroying the Earth and our mind, the improved status of women and racial minorities in the otherwise sexist and racist society has meant that they -- and especially women never before since the commencement of human civilizations -- are having easier lives, in the sense of being no longer at the mercy or beck and call of another and having control over the resources they need for their living: although whether they are really liberated is an open question, considering how much they are reduced to cogs in the machinery of the supraorganismic "iron-cage".

The debunking of the feminist "liberation of women" thus illustrates that there is no such thing as resistance against power, that everything one does in the context permeated by power ends up reinforcing power. This can be further appreciated with a linguistic example. America is a monolangual culture, reinforced by the international domination of English. Suppose that someone here wants to challenge this domination of English. But s/he has grown up in this monolangual culture and therefore speaks -- to make the example ideal -- only English; thus his or her challenge itself has to be formulated in English, with the result of reinforcing the legitimacy or domination of English.5 Here due exactly to the domination of English, one either cannot formulate the challenge in another language because one does not know it -- one is the product, also, of the monolangual domination -- or because, if one does know another, no one else can understand the challenge.

This is of course not an exactly parallel example because there do exist other languages whose carriers move in to the monolangual culture and can theoretically take over the culture. But if patriarchal values so permeate every aspect of society and human life as many feminists claim -- from institutional structures to socialization of daily comportments to language, hence to thought itself6 -- then to the famous feminist saying "the master's house cannot be dismantled with the master's tools" (but now do there exist any tools other than the master's?) has to be added also "neither can the master's house be dismantled with any tools made with the master's tools". But again, we believe that that pervasive net is really not patriarchy but supraorganismic metabolic and integrative pressure, which at present is capitalism turned consumerism.

Not everything however has to reinforce power. In this "English language example" if one refuses to speak at all -- and basically plays dead -- then one is not reinforcing the tyranny of English and has succeeded in resisting against power. Non-participation -- doing nothing, permanent strike -- in fact is the only possible and real resistance against power. This is our objection to the critical theorist position that everything is ideology, including the ideology that says that everything is ideology. A discourse is ideology if it reinforces power, but not everything reinforces power. And this is why we see philosophy -- e.g. Plato's approach to salvation in Phaedo, or Buddha's and Daoists' -- as the only resistance against power, and would offer it to the feminists as the only real resistance against patriarchy -- which feminism is definitely not. But the (radical cultural) feminists can be easily imagined to object, e.g. that Plato is "patriarchal" -- that nothing men do can be non-oppression of women. In respect of this I can only recount a (fictional) encounter of mine with the (radically cultural) feminists.

I once wanted to join the (cultural) feminists in order to liberate women and save the Earth. But they refused me because they said patriarchy had so permeated every aspect of human life (thought, speech, action) and society that anything I or men did necessarily reinforced patriarchal system and oppressed women. I got the impression that a man (whatever color), by virtue of his very existence, oppressed women. So I thought the only way for a man to be a feminist was to commit suicide, thereby eliminating this existence. Then I found Plato, who said that the meaning of life was philosophy (the pursuit of wisdom), and that the practice of philosophy was the practice of dying and being dead (Phaedo). Buddha in effect said the same, for the man was to lead the holy life (wandering around and doing nothing) and attain Nibbana, and the "final Nibbana without remainder" was death. So I went to the feminists and said these two men could be good feminists. But they said, Plato was patriarchal values, philosophy by and for men could not be good for women, but oppressed women. (These white females kept silent about, weren't willing to bash, the "ancient Eastern wisdom"; but really, Plato and Buddha were much the same.) The conclusion -- for the radical women -- seemed to be that even men being dead were reinforcing patriarchal values and oppressing women; even if men disappeared from the planet women were still oppressed (by...?); even if there were nothing else except women in the Universe they'd still be oppressed; for the essence of womanhood was being oppressed.

This reductio ad absurdum is meant to demonstrate that philosophers, and social drop-outs in general -- walking corpses -- all of whom had withdrawn from society altogether, could not be ideological and reinforcing power (or patriarchy in the limited feminist horizon which is constructed similarly as by the critical theorists in respect to men). The philosophers withdrew from the Corm of course because salvation required it. The relationship between salvation first invented by a few men and the liberation of women will be considered later.

In fact it was originally in considering the meaning of liberation for the (male) philosophers that I began to doubt that feminism was really about the "liberation of women." Consider the ideal example, that of Gotama Buddha. "[Gotama Buddha] belonged to the Sakya clan dwelling on the edge of the Himalayas, his actual birthplace being a few miles north of the present-day Indian border, in Nepal. His father, Suddhodana, was in fact an elected chief of the clan rather than the king he was later made out to be... Some of the states of North India at the time [ca. 563 B.C.] were kingdoms and others republics, and the Sakyan republic was subject to the powerful king of neighbouring Kosala, which lay to the south..." (The Long Discourses of the Buddha, trans. Maurice Walshe, p. 20) "According to the legends it was foretold of him that he would enter upon the ascetic life when he should see 'a decrepit old man, a diseased man, a dead man, and a monk.' His father tried his best to keep him away from these by marrying him and surrounding him with luxuries. But on successive occasions, issuing from the palace, he was confronted by those four things, which filled him with amazement and distress, and realizing the impermanence of all earthly things [meaning that life was sufferring] determined to forsake his home and try if he could to discover some means to immortality to remove the sufferings of men."7 (Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, p. 81) Or otherwise: "Though brought up to a life of luxury, the young prince was overcome by a sense of the essentially sorrowful aspect of life, and he decided to seek the cause and cure of this state which he termed dukkha (conventionally but inadequately rendered 'suffering' in English). At the age of twenty-nine he renounced the world, going forth 'from the household life into homelessness' in accordance with an already well-established tradition, thus joining the ranks of the wandering ascetics (samanas...)" (Walshe, ibid.) We see this as demonstrating that the traditional concept of liberation is "religious": eternal salvation, extrication from the temporo-spatial (i.e. thermodynamic) world, which entails precisely the liberation from work, toil, or the activities necessary for the maintenance of life-processes (metabolism) and also from the power structure of society. The modern concept of liberation (e.g. the feminist) by contrast inverts this into taking hold of power in this power structure as a way to maximize the life-processes through greater control of the resources (economic, political rights) necessary for their maintenance. Which also means more work: hence the feminists want women to work, work, and work. How and why did this inversion happen? Via power's manipulation.

Jacques Ellul in "Mythes modernes" (Diogène, 1958, 23) points out especially how the modern worldview (what he calls "modern myths") has reversed every one of the traditional values. The foundational principles of the modern worldview (the "meta-myths", as he calls them), "History" and "Science", lead to the secondary and tertiary "myths" (i.e. valuation, exaltation) of "Progress", "Nation", "Work", and finally "Youthfulness" (Jeunesse). As the myths or value-systems of the past are "regressive", the modern myths are "progressive" - in the formers the Past as the Golden Age of the Ancestors is where one wishes to return to; the old people are respected as wiser; and most importantly, idleness is taken as happiness. Since modernity, work has become equated with happiness. Since modernity, one says, "idleness [oisiveté] is the mother of all vices". "Since this moment the fundamental preoccupation in the bourgeois family is to know which profession the son should take up" (p. 36). Ellul must be given credit for seeing that "the workers in the beginning of the 19th century do not share at all this enthusiasm for work. And Marx is really a bourgeois thinker who explains all of history by work and assimilates work to the good, in such a way that the good becomes useless for it.8 He was one of the most coherent interpreters of the bourgeois myth of work, and, because he was a socialist, one of the most active agents for the penetration of this myth into the working class." (Ibid.) This is in exactly the same manner in which feminism is the most active agent for the penetration of patriarchal values into the female caste. Feminism has also bought into the modern myth of work = happiness, by figuring out a "liberation through working." Feminism is also an instrument by which these "modern myths" (modern perversions of human nature) may spread to the most resistant corners. Following Ellul, and in complete accordance with the Foucauldian formula "resistance against power is the reinforcement of power", Marxism should be considered the reinforcement of capitalism rather than an enemy to it. Another good lesson on how power works.

But, again, the axis of power must be shifted a bit, as communism never emerges within a capitalist society to reinforce its capitalism but only among agrarian societies to help inaugurate centralization and industrialization. In other words, just like Western nationalism and capitalism, Marxism in the East helps produce a modern nation-state out of an old, out-dated, cosmological civilization. After their successful revolution the number one goal of the Chinese communists has been to increase production: the Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward.... They failed miserably because the means (centralization) was just wrong, although they did make enormous progress in political integration (centralization of the state). Communism might be not so effective as the Western versions in the production of power for the nation-state, but the tactics is the same, and the same as feminism: fooling the oppressed with chimeras of liberation in order to exploit them even more. Emerging as a rural organization and in close contact with the peasantry, the Chinese communists - what did they do for the poor Chinese peasants they took it onto themselves as their mission to liberate once they were in power? Collectivization of agriculture in order to increase centralized control and total production for the sake of the state:

This nominal success in collectivization was hailed as a giant step toward economic benefit in the countryside. In fact, however, it was the final penetration of the state into the farm household, the politicization of peasant life in order to control it... (John King Fairbank, China: A New History, 1992, p. 353)

Villagers obtained their own grain rations by showing their certificates of household registration. These specified where they lived. If they traveled to another region where they did not live, they could not secure rations there. Thus, once the free grain markets were closed, farmers ordinarily could not travel but were fixed upon the land, dependent for food on the production team in which they worked. The paradox was that the revolutionary state, having established its legitimacy by freeing the peasant from landlordism and other constraints, now had him boxed in as never before. The state had become the ultimate landlord, and maintaining legitimacy in that role put statecraft to the test.

It met the challenge by performing a very clever two-stage trick. First, it kept the state agricultural tax at a minimum. At first this tax was about 10 percent of the harvest, but gradually it came down to about 4.5 percent. No one could claim the peasant was heavily "taxed." The second step was to establish a level beyond which the harvest was considered a "surplus" and then ask each production team to contribute grain... from its "surplus" by selling it to the state at the state's low fixed price. What team could give the most to Chairman Mao? The peasant, if sufficiently simple-minded, as few were, could feel himself a benefactor, not a serf! (Ibid., p. 354 - 5)9

A further elaboration by Foucault of the modern form of power is found in his "How is power exercised?" in "Subject and Power" (in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: beyond structuralism and hermeneutics): the net-like dispersion of power into the whole social context without localization within singular figures... Modern and postmodern power has completely saturated its domain down to the grass-root level and now uses the technique of oblique reinforcement at this level -- produces (fake) "resistance," categorizes deviancies, or otherwise fear-mongers about some imaginary opposite of reality -- to grow itself. Given this modern and postmodern form, the nature of power in general can only be explicated by our "system approach."


1. The fault of feminists' use of Foucault is to always apply Foucault's insight into cultural mechanisms to "patriarchy," i.e. that stereotype valid as a characterization only of the formative period of nation-state (up to the 1950s), but never to apply it to themselves and their stereotypes as part of the trend of the postmodern culture. The feminists always seem to consider themselves outside culture and not part of the continually working cultural mechanisms that Foucault analyzes. One feminist who does however apply Foucauldian insight to the stereotype world feminists are constructing is Linda Grant:

Linda Grant questions that date rape should always be presumed to have the devastating effects which media reports and therapists assume it does. She analyses the construction of the concept of date rape in the last fifteen years, and contrasts the way that date rape is considered now and the way that she herself experienced a sexual encounter she had in the 1970s, where she felt forced into having sex against her will. Although she categorised this sexual experience as unpleasant and it made her angry, she was surprised, when telling another person, to be informed that she had been raped. She says, describing herself in the third person - perhaps a telling strategy:

'By the end of the afternoon she'd pretty well forgotten about the night before. She did not feel defiled. She did not shower a dozen times, scrubbing at her skin. She did not feel her identity evaporate. She did not call the police... What she did do was to tell a number of people what had happened and it was agreed that it was typical of him - he was an arrogant, egocentric bastard... no one suggested that the woman should go for counselling. No one held her. She didn't develop an eating disorder and she was never afterwards able to feel that the event had been a trauma. She just had it down as a bad night.'

While this type of analysis does not aim to question the traumatic effect of violent rape on women... what Grant is drawing attention to is the way that date-rape has been constructed as a form of sexual behaviour which entails a number of different types of behaviour in response to it. She is questioning whether this set of behaviour need necessarily be consequent to this type of sexual experience. (Sara Mills, Michel Foucault, 2003, p. 90 - 1)

Culture not only constructs the behaviour of the perpetrator (feminists like to focus only on this) but also that of the victim - this latter also serves some important social function. That the victim of sexual manipulation is supposed to develop all those traumatic symptoms - to reinforce a certain social arrangement - is based on the new cultural feminist view of woman as especially fragile though (or rather because of this fragility) good, the social function of which view we'll see later (Ch. 8. 3., "Cultural Feminism's Transition to Victim Feminism"). Another example is the American cultural perception that abused children will become abusive parents or criminally sexual deviants, etc., on which we have already commented in Ch. 2 ("Biopower in Contemporary America"). Remember that in Confucian China virtually all parents regularly physically punished their children and yet there were no vast number of criminally sexual deviants or psychologically twisted resentful men roaming the streets of imperial Chinese society - because the culture did not socialize either the victims to develop sexual deviancy or other traumatized psychology as a response to physical abuse, or the populous to develop stereotypes of sexual deviants, etc., as the products of abuse. The agrarian culture did not need such reinforcing "mechanisms." Also, of course, we must make a distinction between physical punishment and abuse proper, there being in the former supposedly good intention on the part of the parents (which the punished child can always detect) but in the latter only malicious and sadistic pleasure (which is really what "hurts" the child).

2. Some exceptions, i.e. where the cultural feminist ideal actually materializes, include women police officers, who seem less likely to engage in police brutality, more professional in behavior, better at community relations, i.e. seem to be better police officers and better at policing.

3. Barry Glassner, The Culture of Fear, as noted in Ch. 2.

4. The campaign, started by Gilligan and the AAUW study in our example (and ultimately motivated by consumer society's need for female consumptional power in place of male productive power), to promote the privileged class through reality-inverting fear-mongering ("oblique reinforcement"), has today borne wondrous fruits, which no longer deceive many education administrators: "There's an endangered minority on American college campuses, said Kevin Wack in the Portland, Maine, Press Herald. It's not gays, or blacks, or even conservatives. It's men. Today in the U.S., 'about 57 percent of college students are female', and they earn about 200,000 more bachelor's degrees annually than do males. On plenty of campuses, the girl-boy ratio is approaching 60-40; at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, it's 80-20. To coax more men into applying, institutions of higher learning are getting desperate. At Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., where men made up only 36 percent of the Class of 2004, the administration added more photos of men to its admissions literature. When the Class of 2007 at Husson College in Bangor, Maine, came in at 65 percent women, the school responded by creating a football team. Many administrators are even resorting to lowering admissions standards for boys -- in effect, practicing male affirmative action.... One reason the male college applicant pool is suffering is that boys in general have serious academic problems growing up. They're 'more than 50 percent more likely than girls to repeat grades in elementary school, one-third more likely to drop out of high school, and twice as likely to be identified with a learning disability.' [Clarence Page in the Chicago Tribune.] It's also clear, said John Tierney in The New York Times, that boys are more easily distracted, less organized, and more reluctant to seek help in class than girls are.... When it was girls who lagged, school systems fell all over themselves to create special programs designed to help them catch up. Now it's the boys' turn. Instead of affirmative action, 'what they could use, long before college, is equal attention.'" ("College: Affirmative Action for Boys?" in The Week, April 14, 2006, p. 15.)

Another example of oblique reinforcement in the gender domain is the cry about women's violence against other women, as for example seen in Phyllis Chesler's Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2002). Eleanor J. Bader's review: "Second Wave feminists have for 30-plus years operated under the assumption that sisterhood is powerful. Indeed, women acting in concert have forced society to redefine gender, domestic relations, and the workplace. Still, despite huge gains in public visibility, female ascendance has been hampered by a rarely acknowledged reality: women often betray, hurt, and humiliate one another. Mothers stymie daughters, biological sisters compete, girlfriends gossip maliciously, and women bosses exert arbitrary and capricious authority. Chesler (Women and Madness, etc.) has been studying this phenomenon for 21 years, and her research is fascinating, resonant, and unsettling. While the book focuses on psychological rather than political factors and pays too little attention to race and class, it is nonetheless a groundbreaking look at how women perpetuate oppression." Since any idiot, with even a cursory glance on the Department of Justice Crime Statistics and using just common-sense in world-history, can tell that men's violence against other men is a far more pervasive phenomenon, and in fact constitutes the vast majority of violences humanity has suffered throughout history, such feminist attention on a rarity as if it were a major problem has as its purpose the increase of female solidarity (especially among middle-class white females in the Anglophone world) in face of the ever disintegrating unity or solidarity among males.

5. A milder form of such example is found in the debate over bilangual education in America. The conservatives, for simplicity's sake, maintain, out of their monolangual arrogance, that English should be the only instructional (or governmental administrative, for that matter) language, but the liberals, out of their sympathy for the new immigrants, want instruction (or administration) to be bilangual. The fact is that both share the same cultural foundation of monolangualism from which they come to view the world: the perceived utter difficulty in learning a second language. But one derives from this an intolerance for other languages and the other comes to think that it must be so difficult for the immigrant children to learn English... because they cannot imagine themselves learning a second language easily.

6. The problem of whether it is possible to "step painlessly and effortlessly outside the web of one's world and begin spinning a new one" is the focus of Andrea Nye's Feminist Theory and the Philosophies of Man (1988, p. 232), especially chapters 5 - 7.

7. In the Long Discourse (Digha Nikaya) the story of the sight of these four men as inducement to the realization of life being suffering is actually told of the first Buddha, Vipassi, 91 aeons before Gotama Buddha himself. C.f. Mahapadana Sutta (The Great Discourse on the Lineage).

8. "Et Marx est vraiment un penseur bourgeois qui explique toute l'histoire par le travail et assimile le travail au bien, de telle façon que le bien en devient inutile."

9. When giving the reason to justify his reform toward a market economy without compromising the Chinese Communist Party's ideological (and therefore political) standing in front of the Chinese people, Deng Xiaoping said: "There is no fundamental contradiction between socialism and a market economy. The problem is how to develop the productive forces more effectively. We used to have a planned economy, but our experience over the years has proved that having a totally planned economy hampers the development of the productive forces to a certain extent. If we combine a planned economy with a market economy, we shall be in a better position to liberate the productive forces and speed up economic growth." (Source: Satya Gabriel's China Essay Series) And in 1987: "Economic planning is not tantamount to socialism, because economic planning is also practiced in capitalist countries; the market economy is not tantamount to capitalism because a socialist country can also have a market economy. Both economic planning and the market economy are economic means. The essence of socialism is to emancipate and develop the productive forces, destroy exploitation, eliminate polarization, and attain common prosperity in the end." In other words, (1) the opposition between free market capitalism and socialism exists only on the surface, over the means (private enterprise production for profit without state interference versus complete state-planned and -owned enterprises in all areas of economic production); but they aim at a common end (increased production and a stronger nation). Therefore, Deng reasoned, if the goal of a communist state is the same as that of a capitalist state, the communist party can freely adopt free-market economy to whatever extent without compromising itself ideologically. (2) The purpose of the communist revolution is not liberation, but to increase production -- as Deng here admitted. Under the exigency demanded by circumstances, Deng finally gave up the truth which we have devoted our thermodynamic interpretation of history thus far to uncovering: that all "modern" ideologies are just ideologies of the nation-state, whether on the left, on the right, or in the middle, whether it be feminism, the Anglo-American tradition of democratic decentralized government with free-market, or the continental style of authoritarian centralized government and economy; they have all but one goal: the increase of production (supraorganismic metabolism) and the integration of society (supraorganismic integration); and they all use the same deception: liberation, liberty, freedom, with which, ultimately, they have not much to do, or to which they are in fact opposed. In the mind of Deng (and of the right-wing elements of the Chinese Communist Party), since both free-market and centralized, planned economy are just different techniques for the same end of supraorganismic metabolism, when one is not working, they should just adopt the other. Where is the problem?

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