It is deeply sad to hear Chelsea Manning attempted suicide in her jail cell yesterday. She is serving a 35-year sentence for releasing classified documents detailing US war crimes.

Army officials did not inform her legal team of her condition & have denied them access to her until Friday.

Suicide is an act of despondency so profound that one can overcome the human instinct for survival. She was rushed to the hospital & is reportedly recovering. We send Chelsea solidarity & a sincere concern for her recovery.

The erasure of women & feminism from political discourse

The Chalice and the Blade

Rereading “The Chalice & The Blade” by Riane Eisler on the role of the matriarchy & women divinities in Paleolithic & Neolithic times is a refreshing return to feminist theoretics. It may seem blasphemous to many but in those eras covering tens of thousands of years of human history, the divine was female & the social structure matriarchal.

Of course in trying to reduce women to busty pin-ups or dowdy housewives, that history had remained unacknowledged, unexplored, even vigorously disputed & erased for centuries despite overwhelming anthropological evidence. The slanderous, demeaning notion that prostitution was the oldest profession for women took deep cultural root when in fact the oldest profession for women was farming in a universe reigned by goddesses.

With the emergence of feminism in the 1960s & 70s, female scholarship on that heritage began to get published & inspired other women to research the contributions of women to human civilization–as political figures, farmers & agriculturalists, inventors, writers, musicians, poets, scientists. It was the same kind of historical process as Black & Latino scholars retrieving the history of those nationalities in the Americas & as other scholars around the world refuting the narrative that made Europe the genesis of human civilization by writing off tens of thousands of years of contributions from Africa, Asia, & the Middle East.

The upshot of this process is that women took back our place in human history & asserted our contributions against the erasures of patriarchal dominance. But in the past few decades, a patriarchal backlash has developed disguised as progressive critique of feminism & trying to again silence the voices & presence of women.

Much of this backlash is led by leftists, including women, who are opposed to feminism. They promote prostitution as “sex work”; defend pornography as sexual freedom; herald bare-breasted protesting as the resurgence of feminism; lash out in incomprehensible screeds against “identity politics”; vilify feminists who disagree as TERFs & SWERFs; & in general try to shout down feminists who take issue to the backlash of opposition to feminism disguised as avant-garde politics.

One can see the same process of erasure, not just of feminist critique but of the female, in gender theoretics. Despite the fact that violence against women is an international horror putrefying every aspect of social life, we are supposed to deny that reality to accommodate a spectrum of genders that diminishes or does not include women.

You can call that progressive all you like; you can attempt to shout down women who object to erasure. But feminism is not going away because patriarchy is reasserting its claim against us. Been there for a millennia, done that. This is the era of female emancipation. And for the record, we are women. Not cis-women.

The suspension of Dilma Rousseff

Rousseff and Clinton ( Tânia Rêgo:Agência Brasil) July 6 2016

The suspension last May of Dilma Rousseff as president of Brazil was certainly the result of scheming between a cabal of extreme rightwing politicians & the Brazilian oligarchy. It was undemocratic beyond dispute. But the analyses, including by Glenn Greenwald, focused on the political character of Rousseff more than on what her removal represented.

Since assuming the presidency in 2011, Rousseff has presided over several neoliberal projects including massive land grabs from indigenous peoples (for purposes of multinational agribusiness), including violent military action against them; major infrastructure projects like the Belo Monte Dam involving land grabs & environmental destruction; millions spent on building stadia & infrastructure for the World Cup & Olympic games while there are millions of homeless children subject to vigilante violence, drug addiction, & sexual exploitation; military occupation of the favelas (urban slums); protests by millions against the neoliberal austerity measures imposed by her regime.

In 2015, while still president, Rousseff met with Henry Kissinger in NYC as well as with Rupert Murdoch & a number of bankers & CEOs, probably to lobby for more investment in Brazil. At that time, ignoring Kissinger’s malignant & notorious role in Latin American politics–particularly the murderous 1974 coup in Chile–Rousseff called him a “fantastic person, with a grand global vision.”

Whatever she was in her youth, her rebellion was long spent by her entry into capitalist politics in 2002. Her removal as president of Brazil is only of consequence because of what it represents–which appears to be that a conspiracy of rightwing politicians & the oligarchy think a more decisive, brutal, & repressive approach should be taken to the mass protests against neoliberal policies. Just as not that long ago, oligarchies across Latin America thought liberal democracies a more effective way to rule than through military juntas–& altered political rule accordingly. The career eclipse of Rousseff doesn’t matter a whit outside of that context.

Greenwald & others choose to interpret the protests as support for Rousseff’s policies but that’s because they think there are good capitalisms & bad ones. How they make that distinction in the barbaric phase of capitalism escapes analysis.

(Photo is Rousseff with Bill Clinton by Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil suggesting the character of her political allegiances)