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Rodney Stark The Soros Noise Machine

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Andrea Dworkin and the Pity of Feminism

by Christopher Chantrill
April 19, 2005 at 3:56 am


THERE IS something achingly sad about the life of Andrea Dworkin, 58, the feminist firebrand, who died April 9 of unknown causes. Daughter to a “committed socialist” Jewish postal worker she went to progressive schools and lived as an activist from childhood. She first hit the headlines in 1965 when she reported experiencing humiliating body cavity searches at a women’s detention center after arrest at the United Nations for protesting the Vietnam War.

Dworkin earned money from prostitution, and suffered an abusive marriage to a Dutch political radical. A prolific and shamelessly inflammatory writer, she achieved notoriety in the 1980s from her campaign against pornography. She reported being raped in a movie theater at the age of nine, and drugged and raped by staff in a Paris hotel in 1999. Morbidly obese, she never mentioned her real problem, according to Camille Paglia, which was food. Now she is dead.

Perhaps her problem was not food but her left-wing belief system. In “Investigation: Shameless and Loveless” British philosopher Roger Scruton reviews the four decades since “sexual intercourse began” in the sexual revolution. Maybe Andrea Dworkin became so liberated that she had lost any sense of sexual shame, a concept that “Max Scheler described... as a Schutzgefühl—a shield-emotion that protects you from abuse.”

In Woman Hating (1974) Dworkin determined “to destroy patriarchal power at its source, the family, [and] in its most hideous form, the national state.” She believed in the heart of the Left’s project: to destroy the nuclear family and to destroy the capitalist nation state, because they were all about power.

We often forget about power. We remember only that in Christianity we declare war on ruthlessness with the remarkable notion that God wants us to love one another, in proof of which he offered his Son as a sacrifice for love. In global commerce under the rule of law we channel the aggressive instincts of male warriors into the aggressive, but harmless, service of the consumers. In the bourgeois family we mitigate the patriarchal hegemony of the extended family into the equal partnership of the nuclear family.

To a leftist radical like Andrea Dworkin, all this misses the point. Look beneath the shiny Apollonian surface, she bellows, and you will see nothing but Dionysian power. Your whole bourgeois edifice is nothing but a mask for power.

Of course she is right. The love of God, the rule of law, global commerce, and bourgeois marriage do not eliminate power. The strong, the clever, the beautiful, and the ruthless still beat the weak, the stupid, the morbidly obese, and the diffident. And they always will.

But it is the lefties like Dworkin that miss the point. Maybe we patriarchal males have not eliminates power, but we have still achieved something remarkable. We have erected a defense-in-depth against power inside which the victimized, the misguided, and the morbidly obese can find relative safety.

If you sweep away the defense-in-depth of Christian love and the rule of law and bourgeois marriage you will not get peace and justice. You will get, as in the movie Downfall, Adolf Hitler in the Führerbunker lecturing his pretty secretaries on the importance of ruthlessness—over a vegetarian meal.

Let us answer the left’s challenge and strip away the Apollonian veneer from its discourse on power. What do we find? We find underneath the desperate struggle for existence in all its chthonian, Dionysian frenzy compared to which the patriarchal abuse of political and sexual “power” is a refined ballet.

Scientists are just beginning to find out just how desperate life was in the old days. About 40-60 percent of men died in conflict, and only about half succeeded in injecting their genes into the next generation. Some patriarchs. Some power.

Wrote Adam Bernstein in the Washington Post, “Encouraged by her socially conscious father, Ms. Dworkin embraced dissent from an early age. She refused to sing Christmas carols in elementary schools and by sixth grade decided she wanted to change restrictive abortion laws.” Yes, it’s not likely that an 11 year-old girl (like, ohmygod) would worry, unencouraged, about abortion. No doubt young Andrea then went on to excel in sex education classes that, in Scruton’s words, would have enjoined her “to put aside [her] hesitations, and to enjoy ‘good sex,’” and to regard shame as a “lingering disability.”

Freed from shame and the defense-in-depth of the bourgeois ethos, Dworkin became tragically vulnerable, easy pickings for every passing predator. She responded to her life as she had been taught, with left-wing activism and disputatious rage. But her problem was not with the patriarchy or even, pace Camille Paglia, food. Her problem was the missing shield of shame that could have sheltered her for the “project of love and the project of raising children.”

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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