Of the Hill Country thrushes, the Eastern bluebird, a species commonly thought to exist exclusively in Disney cartoons, infests El Rancho Deluxe with the least compunction. You can scarcely poke your head out the door around here without about 137 of’em swarming in to perch on you, radiating happiness. In a tribute to Western godbagosity, the noise it makes has been interpreted by certain melodramatic English-speaking poets as “purity, purity.” S. sialis, Blanco County, TX, December 2008.
Dang it, I was going to stake out a funnel-web spider’s lair this morning, but early reports from commentary on yesterday’s post reveal that some clarification is in order. Blaming before spider lairs, that’s the Faster family motto. So you’ll have to put up with this photo of a bluebird I took ten minutes ago. It’s supercute and all, but it’s no spider.
Yes, I’m afraid this is going to be one of those posts where I try to explain what I meant by my last post, the thesis of which, I perceive upon reading comments which appear to respond to another post entirely, was put forth with more than my usual degree of ineptitude.
I have examined the essay in question with fresh, limpid eyes, and believe that I have detected the nub of the problem. It lies in my careless flinging about of the word “guilt.”
It is difficult to get away with this word in these troubled times. For one thing, it has been co-opted by psychology, rendering it destitute of useful qualities. But what’s worse, guilt as a concept has been steeping for centuries in moldy holy water. It’s a key element in the whole good vs evil, sin vs virtue, black vs white system of simpletonian godbagious mind control. Without guilt there can be no innocence. The importance of this dichotomy in the Biblical myths, and its repercussions in modern social policy, cannot be overestimated. From Adam’n’Eve directly proceeds today’s popular misogyny. From the virgin birth you get a whole plethora of vile conventions, such as 21st century fetus-worship. To take but two repellent examples.
In yesterday’s post I attempted, like I do in every post, to show, by describing its inexorability, how patriarchy has debased the entire species.
Unfortunately, I used the word “guilt” where I should have used “unavoidable complicity.” Unable to leave it at that, I then effected a clumsy tie-in with Thanksgiving, the holiday where everybody complains self-indulgently about excess in a manner consistent with “white guilt.” You know white guilt? The practice whereby honkys trumpet their repudiation of racism by purporting to assume responsibility for the wrongs of their entire race? When I used the word “guilt” in conjunction with “honky excess,” many blamers reacted to what was understandably perceived as another boring Thanksgiving allusion to this white guilt crap.
But, as I tried (and failed) to explain, I may be boring, but I’m not talking about white guilt. I’m talking about the inescapable intrusion of patriarchal horror into everybody’s lives. By “everybody” I mean the haves, the have-nots, the have-somes, the what-have-yous. What I mean is not that — as one blamer jested — you should eat your Brussel’s sprouts because of “starving Armenians.” What I mean is not that you should feel bad because you have enough food to stay alive another day. It’s not a matter of “feeling” anything. I mean merely that, the way the system is set up, no one can opt out of exercising privilege, no matter how pure their soul or how unproductive they deem the practice of pointing this out. That our complicity in global violence is unavoidable is one of the defining characteristics of the whole social order, and is why revolution is so urgently needed.
I try to make this point often, because one of the most common obstacles to grasping the concept of patriarchy in all its gruesome enormity is the mistaken idea that it is merely theory, or that women are mostly equal now, or that it only affects people in Saudi Arabia or Ohio. Women as a class are the most obvious casualties of patriarchal ideology, but in praxis we’re perps, too, just like everybody else. What we call “patriarchy” is a social order based not just on misogyny, but in a broader sense on dominance and submission. Because of this set-up, nobody can avoid membership in some group or class that dominates some and submits to some other. Thus is your existence predicated on some oppression which benefits you and harms someone else. I offer this as a statement of fact. You can feel guilty about it or not; that’s on you.
Oh, in case you were wondering, the funnel-web spider I’d intended to spy on today has now vanished. Please, don’t feel bad that my duty to the blametariat prevented me from realizing a cherished personal goal. I live to serve.