Russell Means on "Paradigm Shift"

l like the highest wisdom is kindness.
watched a programme tonight bout a women in search of the tribes [all humans] who had travelled from where the 'first' mother created progeny [north africa-ish]; in this episode she stayed with some northern aborigines [after travelling via s.india and malayasia and noticing 'african' features in some 'tribes', especially those who stayed by the coast] whose creation story was of the 'creation mother from across the sea', which was completely different from the interior aborigines origin myths.
lets not talk about guilt spilt:)
l like the humour though:D
pathless said:
A large part of my objection to the deconstruction of his message by focusing on his use of the offensive term "matriarchy" has to do with the fact that the Lakota, as well as any other group of American Indians, have, throughout the process and reification of American history since colonization, been stripped of their own languages and cultures. By the same fell strokes that have brought death and stagnation to their long-held cultural traditions, the roots of their languages, their sense of place and meaning, and their means of well-being, the remnants of these diverse groups of people have been forcibly herded onto impoverished bits of land called reservations and have had the English language stuck into their mouths and minds through violence and repression.

I understand your objection, however that doesn't in any way make his language less dangerous. For me this isn't about what happened to Means' people. That's in the past. I am more concerned, in general, with the world as it exists today and where it is going than with how it got that way. We can learn from the past, yes, but we live in the present, for the future.

You are conjecturing what my response would be to a hypothetical situation in order to project your own response in this situation onto me in this similar hypothetical situation that you have presented. This is pretty close to putting words into my mouth.

I'm not attempting to project my own response onto you, just to draw a parallel. And was my example wrong? If so then I think it's likely another example would have worked in its place. You've already suggested a few.

To give another example, hasidism has an extremely negative view of non-Jews. This formed after many generations of persecution and negative stereotypes against Jews. At the same time, some of the ideas presented in hasidic texts are very progressive or of value in personal development. Hasidism began, for that matter, as an anti-authoritarian movement in Poland when the Jewish leadership, which had been given authority by the Polish government over the Jewish community, had become corrupt. I can get with the progressive ideas and personal growth stuff but I'm still critical of the anti-gentile language even if the reason for that language seems likely to have been persecution. What's more, their cultural dogmas became institutionalized. Now the anti-gentile language has become problematic. Chabad maintains those views and is one of the most active groups in terms of educational outreach toward other Jews. They're now educating noahides according to a cosmology that views gentiles as inherently less than Jews. I could excuse their language because some of what they say is good, but I don't. I criticize it. And I can't stand with them. So why risk the possibility that the language go that far? It's better to address it at its root.

I'm generally in the company of progressive folk. One thing I've observed is the way that those on the far left aren't all that different from those on the other end of the spectrum. For example, when I was a vegan I had a very difficult time relating to other vegans because of their dogmas. My reason for being vegan was the suffering of an animal while alive, its suffering during slaughter being less of an issue for me. For this reason I considered hunting an acceptable practice and would have eaten meat that was hunted had I been given the opportunity. But that difference in perspective didn't agree with their dogmas. If I expressed my opinion I frequently found myself ganged up upon.

Why choose the Islamic leader to represent the anti-female views, by the way? Why not Christian? Why not Corporate American? Why not Martian? What's the value in the name of a chosen Demon, after all?

Because I was attempting to play to widely held biases in order to most likely cover your own. The culture doesn't matter, only the analogy.

My response depends not on the manipulation of logic detached from a moral stance,

Is this an accusation? My arguments have a moral impetus that I've stated multiple times. Means' use of language is potentially dangerous. There are other people who've made similar cases without the same type of language, hence there's no reason to get behind Means and good reason to criticize him.

My response depends not on the manipulation of logic detached from a moral stance, although I will use logic, as well as emotional rhetoric, in service to a moral stance

Now you're just playing word games. It's manipulation when someone else does it and not manipulation when you do it. Manipulation according to this definition is toward ends that you don't agree with. If it serves an end that you do like, then you don't consider it manipulation.

Does this make me any different from a fundamentalist? Yes. How so? Because I am arguing not for the suppression of essential human rights and diversity in an effort to impose hegemony, but for the empowerment of all of us who make up the dispossessed and margnialized bits that consitute the majority of the world. I am not perpetuating establishment dogma, and there can be no comparison of the act of advocating "anti-establishment" positions, which are varied and multiple, to actively promoting the encrusted hegemony that rules the world through manipulation of emotions and opinion, and which uses acrobatic feats of logic to pervert "truth".

The definition that you linked to isn't in agreement with yours. You would have been better off just presenting your own definition. Also, you're using the words 'dogma' and 'position' to refer to synonymous situations. Why not be honest and say "there can be no comparison of the act of advocating "anti-establishment" [dogmas]..."? That's what's at issue. In this case too we see "manipulation of emotions and opinion". Criticism of the establishment isn't at issue. I've no gripe with that.

but I will be so bold as to suggest here that y'all double check your sources in order to be sure that your arguments and thinking have not been subtly influenced and shaped by this same crusty hegemony.

I don't think that's at issue. I recently spent some time studying social constructionism for my IBA. Much of what I wrote was criticism of hard constructionism and what I coined constructionist-structurism, acting as if what has been unmasked is objectively true even when alternative and equally possible explanations exist, while acknowledging my own weak constructionist tendencies. My advisor is very into cultural studies. She reacted defensively and made assumptions about me that were untrue. This I have noticed is not uncommon for those who hold similar views, both the defensive reaction and the assumption that the critic falls into a particular category of people. It was for this reason that I had to clarify, and I will do so here as well, that I am critical of both status quo dogmas and those that are anti-status quo when they become overly dogmatic or morally problematic. In Means' case, I feel that both apply. To leave Means uncriticized would be to ignore a moral imperative.

Your position, as I understand it, is that Means' position isn't morally problematic and that criticism of him is. This is the likely core of our disagreement.

-- Dauer
I would like to add to what I wrote above.

I decided to do a little reading into Dashu before hitting the sack. I couldn't find much academic material that took her seriously as a scholar (though I admittedly haven't had a chance to look through any of the academic search engines yet.) Most of the sites linking to her are interested in some form of gender politics or women's spirituality, not academic studies. To her credit, she has spoken at a number of universities but that doesn't legitimize her research. In fact the only academic critique of her work that I have seen could be found here, where the most relevant statements appear near the end of the page (and this is by no means an in-depth critical essay):

The Goddess Lives

Note these comments were not directed to her writing, but rather to an essay similar to her critique of Eller which would have made a critique of her paper redundant:
The most disconcerting element of this article is the criticism Marler launches against Eller for changing her perspective. The fact that Eller’s book illustrates her departure from her past as an avid spiritual feminist infuriates Marler, which reveals the personal and dubious nature of this “debate.” A debate in which intelligent people cannot change their minds in light of new or compelling evidence is fundamentally flawed. Eller’s book apparently includes her evolution from embracing “female-centeredness” through to realizing that the myth of universal matriarchy largely serves to keep women bound in their place as mothers, nurturers, etc. Marler defensively explains that Eller’s main goal is to use the term “myth” to cast doubt on everything “feminist matriarchalists say.” Marler’s criticism focuses on the fact that Eller’s standpoint might diminish the momentum and “self-awakening” gained by many women who found spiritual sustenance in the Goddess movement. Marler reveals a problem I noticed when researching my essay about Feminist Spirituality; namely, the two debates do not have the same subject. Marler is concerned about contemporary feminist aims (despite overtly criticizing Eller’s position as being ‘political’) while Eller seems to be focusing on the evidence (or lack thereof) from the past and the potentially anti-feminist outcomes the active mis-representation of those facts may lead to. A movement that will not dialogue with its critics or incorporate and address their contributions, (as we have seen so frequently in this course), is not one which can claim rigor or authenticity."
One of the interesting things about the article to me is that it attempts to deconstruct the culture in which Dashu is enmeshed much in the same way that she criticizes academia. I think it's worthwhile to note that both the author of the article cited above and Eller are female and Eller appears to still be active in gender studies.

I am no scholar of the ancient world and I leave it to those who know better about the subject to figure what's what. I do know that it's not difficult for a motivated and believing individual to string a convincing narrative together out of inconclusive evidence. Dashu's is only one side of an ongoing debate that is better represented by more serious scholars whose views, as far as I can tell, generally side against her. She does of course cry foul against the academic community. Given the hit after hit in a simple google search for her name by groups that are involved in one way or another with gender politics I see little reason to give her words weight over the community that she criticizes. Being in a minority doesn't make a person more correct. While Dashu must appeal to "covert agendas" in academia, Olchowski is able to cite example after example of the gender politics that influence the writings of Dashu and other similar authors.

If the presentation of material by Dashu is only meant to make the case that matriarchies which were, due to the nature of matriarchy, superior to patriarchal societies -- which are inferior due to the nature of patriarchy -- may have existed then I have no objection. It's possible despite the lack of conclusive evidence. That possibility doesn't justify Means' rhetoric.

-- Dauer
Interesting thread. I especially like the first post in this thread.