Even as the extreme far-right gets into power in the USA, India, the Philippines and now Brazil and even as it gathers up followers world-wide, the patriarchy that underpins this kind of macho rule begins to show signs of serious disarray. The social forces of modern capitalism can no longer justify the exploitation and domination the economic system demands, let alone the old feudal patriarchy. The rise of the far-right is both a sign of the desperation of macho men faced with the decline of patriarchy’s unquestioned power, and at the same time patriarchy’s revival in its worst form: fascism.
This phenomenon of disarray in patriarchy is visible at the macro and micro levels, locally and world-wide.
The most recent outburst of the “pathetic little victim” form of patriarchy was the Saudi Foreign Minister. The macho Saudi regime was reacting to near-unanimous criticism against it for having sent a 15-man hit-squad to go set a trap for and kill a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, when he went to fetch papers for his coming marriage from the Saudi Consul’s office in Istanbul on 2 October. The hideous truth has seeped out that the Saudi team then, in a premeditated way, chopped the poor man up with a bone saw, and got rid of his desecrated body parts through an unnamed sub-contractor. The regime then proceeded to lie through its teeth for weeks on end – first pretending he had left the Consulate, while they dressed a look-alike in Mr. Khashoggi’s clothes, and then, faced with this evidence, the Saudi regime admitted he had been killed but, taking the cue from Trump, by rogue elements. Later they said there was a fist-fight and he was killed accidentally. Then they said he was killed in a choke-hold. Now finally they say there will be charges for premeditated murder against the 15 plus 3 others. The foreign minister’s betrayal of the regime’s disarray came when, in addition to all this lying, he claims that, of all things, it is not the journalist Jamal Khashoggi that is victim, it is Saudi Arabia that is the victim. Saudi Arabia actually comes forward and pleads weakness. Saudi Arabia wants our pity. The ultimate patriarchal hierarchy (a theocratic monarchy) is reduced to pled febles, claiming weakness for pity. This is just not the way patriarchy usually behaves. Saudi Arabia’s Minister wines in a plaintiff little voice, that the Regime is a victim, a victim of “press hysteria”. The press is the cause of the problem. He, representing Saudi Arabia is the victim. Not Mr Khashoggi.
Fascism and patriarchy pleading weakness
Patriarchy does not typically plead weakness. Unless of course it is cornered.
Hitler, of course, did plead weakness. Patriarchy in Germany was cornered, as was its Weimar capitalist reign. So patriarchy pleads weakness in times when there is the rise of fascism. The fascist reaction is that of a cornered right-wing, nationalist patriarchy: it pleads weakness. The trade unions that group together mere employees, the communists, Jewish people and the Gypsy people, disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexual people, all threaten the great German Nation, Hitler was wont to wine. Other countries took advantage of Germany at the end of the First World War, he moaned. The Communists are a threat, Jews are a threat, he said. Everybody is a threat to poor little Hitler. Germany lost World War I, Hitler said, because of the German Army being “stabbed in the back” in1918-19 by Germans – communists in the Navy, putchists and Jews in Munich, socialists in Berlin. Even as the German State kidnapped and handed over Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht to death squads that tortured them, battered them to death, and threw their bodies into a canal, Hitler claimed that he and the German nation were the victims. He would soon rise to power.
Donald Trump is also good at this line. As leader of the world’s “greatest” imperialist war-mongering state, he pleads weakness, the old fascist ploy, whenever he gets a chance. “Other countries are taking advantage of us,” “NATO countries are not bearing their share of the burden”, “China is cheating us,” he says, “The world is laughing at us,” he moans. “Immigrants are threatening us”, he says as he puts up what gets named the “Muslim ban”. He even complains that a caravan from Central America made up of youngsters, women and children “is invading us”. Meanwhile his extreme right supporters say that there are Jewish plots up. Or Muslim plots. Or foreign plots. Or Chinese plots.America is the victim. Trump is the victim. The far right machos are the victim. Trump even generalizes it: “ Well, I’d say that it’s a very scary time for young men in America”. Yes, it’s the young men who are victims in cases of sex abuse!
Bollywood, Indian Politicians, Private Sector Bosses
In India, the #MeToo movement has been even more dynamic than in the US, if that’s imaginable. The women in India needed more courage and get more pushback than women in the USA. And in India, men have resigned as Minister, as actor in films, as editors, and a film production house has been dismantled. And no sooner has this happened, it being an even more patriarchal society than the USA, than Indian patriarchy is claiming men are victims. Their poor reputations! There are defamation cases against women and the patriarchal men are gathering to claim victimhood.
Even in small examples …
In Mauritius, we have also seen men beginning to turn themselves into pitiful victims even as they attack. Look at this example from a supposed left-wing male accused of verbal sexual violence against a LALIT woman member. A journalist interviewing the man, Jack Bizlall, asks him how he reacts to the statement of a LALIT man, Ram Seegobin, “LALIT does not take you seriously, according to Ram Seegobin.” (L’Express, 27 August 2017). As we commented in an ealier article: “Jack Bizlall is allowed, in his reply, to get away with singling out once again a woman member for his counter-attack.” He becomes the victim. Referring out-of-the-blue to Lindsey Collen, a woman LALIT member, he blurts out, “Elle m’a agressé”!! (She assaulted me.) He perpetrates sexual abuse against a LALIT woman member, and then declares that he is the poor little victim … even when this is not the subject of the interview. (See http://www.lalitmauritius.org/en/newsarticle/2034/mauritian-politics-interacts-with-world-politics-paradise-papers-arabian-princes-sexual-abuses-diego-garcia/)
As well as pleading weakness, patriarchy has to rely, in times of crisis, on lies. The Saudi example in the Khashoggi case is clear. They Saudi authorities can lie and lie and lie again, and it is quite difficult to get them to register any shame.
Brett Kavanaugh also told outright lies, as he was forced to face up to his past actions.
And Trump tells lies by the hundred. “In his first year as President, Trump made 2,140 false claims, according to the [Washington] Post. In just the last six months, he has nearly doubled that total to 4,229. In June and July, he averaged sixteen false claims a day.
And Hitler had a whole way of operating that included lies. What the US Office of Strategic Services (what became the CIA) wrote during the war about Hitler’s psychological profile is this: “His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
World-wide, it is important to recognize that patriarchy, as it is attacked, portrays itself as the victim, even as it continues to attack, and to attack more vehemently. It lies without a qualm. And these are signs of both disarray and desperation. As such, patriarchy is dangerous. Capitalism, with patriarchy intertwined into it, are literally in their final stages. Understanding how patriarchy works when it is in a corner can help us to defend against the violence of the system we live in, even as it convulses in its crises, one after the other. And through defence, we can prepare new ways of finding a way to construct socialism, even out of this total disorder.
This article is based on a brief discussion in LALIT’s recent central committee meeting and also follows the Muvman Liberasyon Fam article published on our site on 25 October. The MLF article was in the context of the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh, who only won the nomination as US Supreme Court Justice after public accusations of sexual assault by pleading that he was the victim in all this. He literally as the MLF put it, snivelled, blubbed, filibustered and lied. He then lashed out and counter-attacked, and a whole pack of male Republicans lashed out as well, dismissing their female questioner, and protecting the poor little victim, Brett Kavanaugh. The victim is not Dr. Blasey-Ford who testified truthfully about being assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh. The victim is the attacker.
While drafting this article and editing it, we came across the following article written today, loaded 15 minutes before we read it, on the very same subject, but concentrating on Trump and Hitler, as fascists who plead victimhood even as they aggress, rather than on the patriarchal presentation of the issues: