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In the name of equality and freedom

by : RUMINA SETHI
Tuesday February 28, 2006 - 22:47
1 comment
JPEG - 27.8 kb

of RUMINA SETHI

Feminist critique of the march of globalisation and the resultant shrinking of democratic possibilities

AGAINST EMPIRE - Feminisms, Racism, and the West: Zillah Eisenstein; Women Unlimited, an associate of Kali for Women, K-36, Hauz Khas Enclave, Ground Floor, New Delhi-110016. Rs. 350.

This book marks a significant attempt to conflate activism among women and the hegemonic processes of globalisation. Zillah Eisenstein’s particular attack is on the masculinist U.S. wars on Iraq and the way in which these acts of terrorism trample upon human rights. Although the U.S. acts of terror are her focus, she moves back to the bombing of Hiroshima, the Gulf War, the CIA-led coup against Allende in Chili, the war against Afghanistan and even the slave trade to expose the hollowness of democracy and the outrage committed against minorities.

As against these atrocities, the struggles for true liberty and freedom in the lives of Gandhiji, Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois and Ida B. Wells stand out so visibly. Above all, Eisenstein believes, are the women who silently and invisibly, carry on with the struggle against neoliberalism by demanding equality and freedom.

Rhetoric of war

The essays in the volume examine many related issues: among its primary themes are the unilateralism of the U.S., the `crusades’ against Iraq and Afghanistan, imperialism and slave trade, and racism and gender prejudice. The U.S., the `bully on the block’ lies and cheats, uses the Patriot Act to monitor its borders, exterminates `tyrants’ and thereby builds its empire.

The U.S. entered Iraq on the basis of a `triple lie’: that the terrorist act of 9/11 was connected with Iraq, that Osama-bin-Laden and Saddam were cronies and that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. As Arundhati Roy would say, the U.S. can even convince the world to believe that the atomic bomb was a weapon of world peace. Aided by the rhetoric of reporters like Thomas Friedman, the U.S. sets standards that establish the democratic norms in the world today.

What lies behind the rhetoric of war is the greed of corporate giants like Bechtel and Halliburton who rush to get contracts for reconstruction work in Iraq and thus profit on millions of dollars. As Eisenstein writes, "Operation Iraq Freedom is a pseudonym for U.S. empire building. Empires build grief and disorder, not democracies."

The Iraq war was democratic in quite another way, however. It enlisted the support of coed military units comprising mostly single mothers, black women and women from the migrant communities in the expectation that the chauvinistic Iraqi men would not shoot female soldiers from America. These women were to present the human face of the military. Although American female soldiers at war enabled the U.S. to call itself democratic, it was the Iraqi women who were made to suffer. During Saddam’s rule, they had some degree of freedom but with the state at war, these freedoms were also withdrawn.

War and gender

Eisenstein examines the gendered nature of war and the way in which the imagery of war and sex is often connected. Rape by soldiers is often legitimised as part of male psychology during war as an evidence of manhood. During the Second World War, Japan offered sexual slaves from Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines and China to its soldiers; today sex trafficking is a part of globalisation.

It is clear that there is hardly any empowerment for women both in times of war and peace. In Afghanistan, for instance, the Northern Alliance has no better record of supporting women than the Taliban regime, thus rendering U.S. intervention disastrous in terms of gender empowerment.

Women in the West, on the other hand, are not `free’ either. They are equally abused because they are forced to parade their nationalism by supporting military aggression. They have to live with their brutalised husbands and sons when they return from war.

Here is a case of national interest cutting across gender bonding. In such a scenario, it is a wonder how the West can call itself `democratic’ when its very civilisation is founded on slavery and slave rape. Virtually all Western thinkers who wrote on slavery from John Locke and Hobbes to Rousseau and Hegel, regard the non-white races as a species not quite human.

Need for activism

Eisenstein’s appeal against globalisation is sincere and moving, yet hard hitting, even though she claims to be writing a `messy’ book. She manages to convey the urgency of globalising resistance and moving the focus to the eradication of poverty and disease around the globe.

An inspiring lesson one learns from the book is its oblique comment on academic elitism: the role of the dissident intellectual is not simply to produce a disembodied, `objective’ commentary on political events but to engage in political activity fearlessly and passionately, to give radical opinions and commit oneself to social justice movements.

http://www.hindu.com/br/2006/02/21/...



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> In the name of equality and freedom
Friday March 3 - 00:53 - Posted by f5627d1b1e194b79...

Tell Zillah that her tribe the Zionists are the "behind the scenes" manipulators of ALL of the Western Worlds $$$$ problems and wars.....







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