Friday, June 02, 2006


imagesJim Kunstler, whose writing I enjoy and who has made a wonderful contribution to the dialogue about energy, wrote a piece on May 29 that I simply could not let pass by. It begins with some commentary on soldiers returning from Iraq, and makes the mistake of positing an argument based on the assumption that the soldiers are all male. Then there are these comments:
"Another element of the story that stood out was the way these returned soldiers missed the exhilaration and camaraderie of the war zone, and what a contrast it had been to the banalities of civilian life they returned to in small town Pennsylvania. Some were eager to go back over. Others, while not exactly eager, were willing to go back if their national guard unit was called back into rotation.

Though this was not spelled out in the story, you sensed the utter vacuum of masculine roles in American civilian life these days. Everybody, more or less, male or female, has been reduced to the status of a soccer mom, condemned in one way or another, to endless duty driving the family cars here and there and everywhere, assigned the demeaning label of "consumers," with no duties, obligations, or responsibilities to anything greater than fetching Cheez Doodles and Pepsi for the larder back home in the double-wide.

In all the blather about the sufferings of women the past quarter-century, not a whole lot of attention has been paid to the dearth of meaningful roles for men, both socially and in work, and the drawn-out adventure in Iraq has stimulated a recognition that the passivity of "consumerdom" is not enough to keep society sane.

In my opinion, this must even redound into our politics, especially the politics of the Democratic party, if it is going to survive. It has to be re-masculinized. It has to allow men to come back into the centers of power, including the power to speak the truth -- even if the truth hurts somebody's feelings."
Certainly Chris Hedges, who has been there, would have some trenchant things to say about this. This was my response:
""In all the blather about the sufferings of women the past quarter-century, not a whole lot of attention has been paid to the dearth of meaningful roles for men, both socially and in work.."

You're too intelligent a man to really believe this, aren't you? Meaningful roles abound for all of us, everyday. From parent to friend to child to lover to mentor to apprentice, if we live amongst our own kind we live in a rich environment of opportunities to make meaningful choices and live out meaningful lives, regardless of what the television blats at us. And your denigration of the problems women face is not worthy of you. I don't know what world you live in that denies power to men, but it's not the one I've been residing in the last 53 years.

As for "re-masculinizing" the Democratic party, I have to agree with some of your other readers that the problem with the world, including the political parties of the U.S., is that we have swung too far to the Yang side of the spectrum. Chest-beating and displays of plumage and dance savvy are not helping evolve the race. And knowing the nature of the universe, it can only be a matter of time before all this Yang dissolves. Look at the U.S.: we are the most powerful nation in the history of our sorry species. If we truly wanted, we could bring other nations to their knees. Yet ultimately we can't, and why not? Because all our bluster amounts to nothing in the face of the need for diplomacy. Because to change minds and hearts, which is the only real key to security, we need the skills to cajole, persuade, and convince---diplomatic skills that are lost in the masculinist bullshit of threat and war. If war was the answer, we wouldn't still be waging it.

Your argument fails miserably, Jim. We have to find another way, one which doesn't depend on the ascension of one being over another."
Why belabor the point? Live life as a woman for 70 or 80 years, then go ahead and expound on"the blather about the sufferings of women".

No comments: