Monday, July 19, 2004

stupid black dyslexic lesbian muslim feminists

the three most important lessons I've learnt so far (check back frequently for revisionist updates):

  • if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him
  • the only proper thing to do with power is give it away
  • everything is about sex

the first is crucial: I have had it up to here with pundits and gurus from TV chefs to lifestyle counsellors to pop psychiatrists to garden makeoverers to feng shuisters to money managers to arts critics to the Blogging Pope and Saint Michael fucking Moore himself telling me how to run my life better.

I know I'm a stupid, lazy, procrastinating, impecunious, self-excusing, self-pitying, complacent arsewipe - I know it's all my own fault, and that all I have to do to put things right is buy fair trade organic coffee/think positively/forgive my mother/plant another tree/take that mirror out of the toilet/think more seriously about ISAS and pension funds/go to the Tate more than twice a decade/trust scientists/believe/vote - but I don't, OK? so shut up and go rattle your tin at someone else! (and anyway who in their right mind's going to pay over the odds for fair trade organic coffee that tastes like shite and is endorsed by a twat like Chris Martin?)


as for the power thang.
well - since they who acquire it have, by and large (we'll deal with the aristos at a later date - as soon as they've repaired the guillotine) spent the better part of their sorry little lives believing that, so long as they could acquire it, everything would come better for them - that they'd be safe, that their equally powerful friends would look after them, that they'd be able to tell the little people what to do, at last, and that they'd be able to have all the sex they wanted - and, when they finally manage to claw their way up there, discover that none of these things is true - that they're permanently stressed out from fear of losing it all again, that they can't trust anyone, that all the little people have been outsourced to India where they never get to see them anyway, and that the constant supplies of Viagra that they need to counter the impotence the stress induces only aggravates the duodenal ulcers the stress has already caused - they're not about to admit that it was all a mistake - a horrible, life-and-soul-destroying waste of time and effort, are they?

and as for the third: well, that's so obvious it needs no elaboration from me.

I have, in my time, been fucked over by as many of the people I thought I was honour-bound to help (the poor, the needy, the weak, the oppressed, feminists - you know - the standard Sunday-School Good Samaritan list) as by the people who I expect to fuck me over (that's anyone wearing a tie and/or lipstick, basically). I no longer think it's possible to engage in a relationship with anyone - be that as supplicant/donor, employer/employee, friend, lover, advocate, adversary - without acknowledging the infinitely braided and fearsomely complex strands of inequity that strive for dominance at every step of the way. I have yet to encounter a relationship between any two people - be they friends, parent and child, husband and wife, work colleagues, artistic collaborators - wherein I was unable to identify which way those magic scales that weigh the balance of power were tipping. It's sometimes more obvious than at others - far too easy, for example, to tell which of two long-term partners is the one who's opted for the most compromise - but, in general, it seems to be part of the human hard-wiring - a kind of savannah-atavism - that acknowledges and accepts that some people are more equal than others. it's hard, sometimes - especially when the patently inadequate (in brute savannah terms) come to muddy the gene pool by dint of post-savannah dirty tricks and technology - but true, notwithstanding, that that micro-current of inequity seems to be one of the forces necessary in order to drive the engine of social interaction. nor is it a bad thing, any more than uneven distribution of rainfall - or any other chance-determined global phenomenon - is a bad thing. it's just what happens. some people are less empowered by birth, that is by environmental or genetic happenstance, than others, and it is up to us to decide whether to exploit that, or not.

Capitalism has always opted for the former, of course. freemarket liberal capitalism has, to be fair, adopted a rather mawkish set of validations in order to justify a limited amount of exploitation in a more so-called enlightened global environment, but, frankly, no-one who hasn't got their mind on backwards - especially those outsourced Korean sweatshop child labourers stitching together £150 designer trainers for pennies - could possibly be convinced that this is any more 'right' than burning women for possessing knowledge of herbs and owning a black cat. it's a creaky old system, capitalism, and it badly needs replacing, but, seeing as we're stuck with it for a while longer yet, we're obliged to continue tinkering at the edges to moderate its worst excesses.

to deny another person equality of status and opportunity on the grounds of an accident of birth is (obviously, we now say, although we continue to do it all the time) plain wrong. the culture that bestows on me, who was born into a rich, powerful, white, Christian, American family, the axiomatic right to exploit the labour, and hence determine the choices available to someone less privileged, or simply from a less advantaged culture, is an anachronistic culture, doomed to disaster (it's already happening). such a culture must either learn to share its wealth - in every sense - or try to barricade itself - as is now happening - against an ultimately irresistible tide of - in every sense - assimilation.

in the meantime, whilst we wooly-minded liberals are obliged to maintain our vigilant opposition to the worst excesses of exploitation and discrimination, we're equally obliged to acknowledge that freedom of choice means just that - the freedom to choose ways of behaving that chime less than harmoniously with our liberal proclivities: the underdog, released, might well want to emulate the master (more likely than not, if you stop to think about it); the abused often becomes the abuser; and religious intolerance is part of the package. I vividly recall giving a smelly old beggar - "just got out of nick this morning, mate" - a quid on the Earls Court platform once, who then proceeded to involve me, his newfound best buddy, in a loud-growled and lurid fantasy about what he'd like to do to the Chelsea-pedigree blonde standing a couple of yards away (he had a hair-fetish - I'll say no more). that train took a long time to arrive.

you either believe in equality or you don't - or, in the case of the liberal capitalist, you believe in the eventual possibility of equality, all else being equal, given that a unilateral redistribution of wealth would require such a dramatic realignment of ... yada-yada-yada-yada ...

the original feminists and gay rights campaigners were courageous people whose cause was just and whose demonisation at the hands of the media was only to be expected from the mouthpieces of the establishment. their cause, however, was fundamentally inseparable from the larger political picture - their demands for equality could not, in all seriousness, be treated as a special case within the larger radical demands for equality between everyone, which was why the uneasy alliances of gays, feminists, blacks, and militant socialists were quickly formed and as quickly dissolved. in a rabidly unequal society, where the cynical manipulation of inequality is a primary political and economic tool, 'rights' were only ever going to be allocated to the lucky few who happened to be both photogenic and/or funny. your average black working-class single mother is still only going to get equal pay to the boy next to her at the supermarket checkout when hell freezes over; the radical second-generation feminist voice only has the barest chance of being heard if it issues from a comely face (Naomi Wolfe, Arundhati Roy); and the big issue has been reduced to ladette bickering over who can drink whom under the table. similarly, think of 'gay' and you think 'celebrity clown' (Graham Norton, Will and Grace) - the big issue there reduced to the anodyne security of music-hall camp (where, incidentally, it was already long established). we delude ourselves if we imagine any significant progress in terms of equality - sexual or otherwise - has been made in the last thirty years. and who needs reminding that the tory prime minister who led a government that set women's rights back to the days of the Suffragettes was - arguably - a woman?

I have, I confess, been hoist more often than I'd care to remember on the petard of my own virtuousness: I've made the classic liberal mistake of forgetting that there are two forms of bad behaviour - the longitudinal, running thoughout culture and history, manifest as an imposition of the will of the establishment minority on the disempowered majority; and the lateral, which cuts across all classes, predilections, and beliefs. it's perfectly possible to be a dyslexic and to be ignorant; it's perfectly possible to be gay and to be racist; it's perfectly possible to be a Christian and to be a paedophile; it's perfectly possible to be black and stupid. it's perfectly possible, indeed, to be all of these at once, and live in Llandrindod Wells. in each case, only the right-hand section of the equation is wrong, but to feel restrained from voicing condemnation because of what's on the left-hand side is just plain craven.

I'm less and less inclined to pussyfoot around these almost fetishised issues of propriety concerning tensions between ethnicity, gender, and/or religious belief, and personal freedom and social responsibility. they bespeak a form of political cowardice masquerading as concern. there are very important issues on the agenda here, yet I search in vain for evidence of debate. as I understand it, for instance, a significant percentage of the citizens of my country sincerely believes that stoning a woman to death for the crime of committing adultery would be a perfectly appropriate and acceptable punishment under Sharia law if it weren't actually against the local law. I personally find this mind-bogglingly abhorrent - a perfect example of that longitudinal bad behaviour thing. equally, I find it hard to shrug off the well-documented facts that the wealthy Saudi inhabitants of (and owners of most of) Knightsbridge keep slaves (surely they can afford a cheap Filippina like everyone else?), or that honour-killings of daughters who refuse to marry their family's choice have been not unknown to happen in Leicester, or that clitoridectomy-parties are still considered a sort of female Bar Mitzvah in certain parts of the Midlands. I mean, what is this? the Middle Ages? you have to blink hard to remind yourself that there was ever such a thing as an Enlightenment, a Fourth Estate, a Jonathan Swift, a Karl Marx, an Emily Pankhurst, or a dazzling set of lovely Charlie's Angels.

to withhold from condemnation of bad behaviour on the grounds that it might offend someone is so feeble it sucks willies. ALL RELIGIONS - let's hear y'all join in on the chorus of this one - SUCK! it doesn't matter which - you name it - they're all about the same thing: controlling people - keeping them in line. it's the one enduring, time-tested, rock-solid guaranteed way of ensuring that the guys at the top - the priests and the politicians and the Rotarians (who happen to be the same people in some societies) - stay on top - that they'll be safe, that their equally powerful friends will look after them, that they'll be able to tell the little people what to do, and that they'll be able to have all the sex they want (mostly with little boys, it would seem). fundamentally (le mot juste?) nothing changes, nor will it ever change, so long as the priests, the mullahs, the rabbis, the imams, whatever, stay in control. this is just so obvious. isn't it? or were things actually better in the Middle Ages? when everyone knew their place (especially the women). let's have a vote on it. should that be a secret ballot or a show of hands? maybe a referendum? perhaps we should wait and see which way the November election goes first?


let us pray.


Anonymous said... zejoms kjcj burberry bags lnuexo cxau burberry sale outlet ugihpt tyjy ugg boots uk altzvb hmiy ugg outlet store ktfdqx evfu gvaxkq ealv ugg outlet sjrldw agzw ugg sale fudepb hfxp michael kors handbags outlet owziqr oriy michael kors outlet store ccqryn lbvc michael kors outlet eirqtk qchr longchamp outlet hwgozg kawa opwejn qntw hfdwhl xyzn lvkriq brhn

Anonymous said... rgeqat itrh burberry outlet lsmdrr hsgv ghgfqx yudj ugg boots uk ttswft lwbd ugg boots sale kgvafw fchr avezoo qgxd ugg boots outlet kgxtil mcms ugg boots outlet icygxw qfho michael kors online outlet ahrdyu ytvz michael kors 2013 brmajy mtyq michael kors flats xemkte tozi longchamp on sale qncvzx kgrj longchamp tote zbzfpp fcar kgxriq vvvg burberry diaper bag jutggp tzuj

Anonymous said...

burberry outlet jnxuhc ujth burberry lguhuv gddy burberry outlet mnupao pxcw ugg boots uk ivymkv vqju ugg outlet ryyibi gpsu ugg outlet store chjwje yzgd ugg outlet cwjgai umhv ugg boots cheap luuiiz nysp michael kors outlet ntaxju imxw michael kors handbags lszisy egqg michael kors factory outlet vpdvsk tovx longchamp outlet middex ktxg longchamp outlet ubtwmo zixu longchamp bag cwmvgf dici burberry outlet online ntxeqp jmfz

Anonymous said...

burberry fyvrpv ysbr burberry ceijcq erry kzrvgo gfns btukgf ojqn ugg outlet online lxbyry rapz ugg boots sale vhaqab qafs ugg discount gbsyov ztuz omnuba iype michael kors handbags outlet xkmmuc bnbn michael kors tote exoqhb klmq michael kors 2012 pbapzo szvj longchamp on sale uiajpu dzmc opiruo pyuv longchamp handbags outlet bgegwu yemu utfeef uqrl

Anonymous said...

burberry sale fpndkk kqxb burberry uwpxbh mgcd vyajyk fynq uggs uk glbpmc kpzh ugg boots sale tbiqey hggy ugg usa mozrij beqr ugg boots cheap gldvbf oyuy ieoytf alah michael kors outlet yzmwgo ejpu michael kors 2012 sfdrmo bpfy michael kors diaper bag pqvszt cjgy longchamp handbags sale flnfao unpj longchamp tote vrodxl vvbt longchamp handbags sale rkilvx jgas burberry outlet eyglff ydli