Authoritarian Liberalism: The Politics of the Forked  Tongue
Chapter Three

The Feminist Road To Fascism


I.  Compulsory Niceness And The Failure of Nerve

The unquestioned acceptance of feminist goals has become almost universal in Western political and intellectual life.  That is not to say that the populations of Western nations have been converted to feminism en masse.  On the contrary, feminism and feminists themselves are probably more objects of revulsion and ridicule than ever before.  That revulsion and ridicule is now accentuated by fear.  Fear stems from an awareness of the power that feminist ideology exerts over academics, educators, policy-makers and the media, over those who make intimate decisions about other people’s lives, such as doctors and social workers, or those who interpret and enforce the law.  It explains the tendency of institutions, including highly traditional institutions, to give in to feminism and become vehicles for dogmatic social engineering.  ‘I am a feminist,’ protests the conservative commentator.  ‘I am not a sexist,’ the Anglican traditionalist assures his critics.  ‘Of course “equal opportunity” is a good thing,’ declares the Infantry officer, defensively.  Such protestations effectively neutralise moral arguments for the traditional family, theological arguments against the ordination of women, or the case for the all-male regiment, with the pride, stability and  esprit de corps that it engenders.  Thus important and valuable arguments are being lost before they even begin.  This has nothing to do with whether they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.  For each of the arguments I have listed raises distinctive questions, moral, social and in one case theological.  They can be resolved, therefore, only as individual problems on a case-by-case basis, not in the context of an abstract, all-embracing doctrine of ‘equality’.  But as soon as the word ‘equality’ is mentioned, feminism’s opponents suffer a failure of nerve.

That failure of nerve has several powerful cultural and political causes.  One of these is feminism’s manipulation of the ideal of male chivalry, although they decry it as chauvinistic and outdated.  At a personal level, feminists play shamelessly upon a man’s wish, both natural and nurtured, to treat women with politeness and respect, and to concede graciously to  their interests or requirements.  The impotence of many men in authority when confronted with feminist demands for change stems from those very traditions of male courtesy which feminists disparage.  When a man of tolerant disposition is browbeaten into believing that feminists ‘represent’ all women, and that failure to ‘include’ women or give them preferment over other men is hurtful or downright cruel, then he is more or less destined to surrender.  This is why many of feminism’s most effective opponents have been women rather than men.  They know from their experiences and observations that feminist ideology is laughably out of tune with most women’s priorities and needs.  Unfettered by male chivalry, they can opposition clearly and logically, or give vent to their anger without constraint.[1]

The significance of the abuse of chivalry should not be underestimated.  It informs decisions made every day in business, politics, the media and institutions of learning at all levels.    In personal terms, therefore, feminists profit from the survival of traditional patterns of behaviour and thought.  They benefit, too, from having a ‘total’ view of the world, which their opponents generally lack.  That is to say, they believe that all aspects of life are intimately connected and that these connections are all entirely political.  The opponent of feminism, by contrast, is likely to draw distinctions between his working life, his family life and his private hobbies.  There might be overlaps, but they are nonetheless distinctive parts of his life and are judged by different criteria.  The feminist draws no such distinctions, her world view pithily encapsulated in the assertion that ‘the personal is political’.

The fear of being different is another powerful deterrent to opposition, and is perhaps especially marked amongst intellectuals.  Part of this is cowardice.  When George Orwell  described his contemporaries as ‘the pansy left’, he was not referring to the sexual orientations of his literary colleagues, as much as their lack of intellectual virility.  They had refused to open their eyes to the totalitarian nightmare that was Soviet Communism because it was easier and more convenient to ‘fellow travel’.  Yet there is more to it than that.  One aspect of the Western intellectual tradition has always been reductionism,  the desire to level man, society and nature to a series of simple formulae and so ‘resolve’ the human predicament.  This explains the recent popularity, amongst modern intellectuals, of totalitarian movements, be they left or right, just as inflexible religious dogmas prevailed amongst their scholarly forebears and Idealist schools inspired the learned men of antiquity. 

Opposed to this is a rival, parallel tradition of critical thought, questioning and fearless, unfettered discussion.  Although never wholly secure, this tradition of freedom has given Western culture its dynamism.  It has been the source of our great literature and art, of our exploratory instincts, scientific inquiry and capacity for reasoning, achievements now denigrated by feminist ideology as ‘patriarchal’ and ‘male-dominated’.  The Western sense of freedom is rooted in respect for the individual.  As such, it acknowledges the complexities of the human experience and opposes all forms of fanaticism.   It has stood, with varying degrees of success, between Western man and those grand designs that threaten the balance between the individual and society,  tradition and change, reform and continuity.

That sense of freedom Tocqueville rightly described as ‘the sacred flame of liberty’.  In the West today, it is more ‘scared’ than ‘sacred’ and it is remarkable that it continues to burn even faintly.  Free thinking can take place only in an atmosphere of confidence.  That means confidence in the underlying values of a society and the confidence which the individual has in himself.  The former is under attack from the ideology of ‘multiculturalism’ which, turning old-fashioned prejudice on its head equates the pursuit of truth, individual freedom and rational thought with white supremacy.  In the political sphere, multiculturalists abolish the idea of equality for all individuals under the rule of law and replace it with special privileges for groups: reverse racism, known as ‘affirmative action’ and ‘hate crime’ legislation, which amounts to a form of ‘affirmative lynch law’.  Academic multiculturalists, where possible, impose curricula based on a know-nothing, think-nothing cultural relativism that regards the slogans of Algerian terrorists and the thoughts of Greek philosophers as equally ‘valid’, but brooks no opposition to egalitarian doctrines.  This mentality is typified by Reverend Jesse Jackson leading a band of student activists around Stanford University in the early 1990s chanting ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civilisation’s got to go!’[2]  Jackson’s own career has been built on the continued existence of racism and black poverty.  As Blake, expressed it, in an awful prophecy of state socialism:

Pity would be no more

If we did not make somebody poor. ...[3]

Feminists ally themselves with multiculturalists in their generalised attack on freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of association.  Like multiculturalists, they attack ‘Western culture’[4] for valuing reason over intuition and for pursuing objectivity rather than merely accepting subjectivity.  Where multiculturalists interpret these qualities as ‘white’ and inferior, feminists interpret them as ‘male’ and unconscionable.   However, feminism itself quickly assumes racialist, indeed imperialist, overtones in its overt contempt for non-Western societies and the role of women within them, in its insistence that there is only one path to ‘equality’ and that it is secular, materialistic and careerist.  Feminism soon sheds its ‘multicultural’ rhetoric when it confronts traditional structures such as arranged marriages and the extended family, or cultures which revere motherhood over work outside the home.  Women from traditional societies are not asked whether or not they wish to be ‘liberated’ by feminist social policy.  It is believed, by the new missionaries of ‘reproductive rights’ and paid employment that they must change, whether they want to or not.  Feminist values, therefore, play a pivotal role in the process of ‘globalisation’, economic and cultural.  They seek to abolish traditional attitudes towards the family and work, and with them patterns of behaviour that challenge corporate dominance and uncritical consumerism.

Allied to the multiculturalist attack on individual freedom and cultural confidence is a system of education which increasingly favours conformity over individuality, sociability over idiosyncrasy and passive ‘socialisation’  over original thought.  Although allegedly ‘progressive’ and centred upon the individual, the overwhelming thrust of modern mass education is towards persuading the individual to conform.  Unlike more traditional educational methods that are defamed as oppressive, it favours levelled-down consensus over individualistic argument and replaces discipline and moral guidance with therapy and counselling.  The superficial freedom afforded by the modern school or college - absence of uniform, dress code or rigid rules; stress on sexual egalitarianism - conceals a more ‘censored’ environment than that of a traditional boys’ boarding school.  There is little institutional ethos, but there is peer pressure supported by a perpetually benign yet stifling authority structure.  There is no organised religious observance - at least not with any dangerous spiritual content - but the gospel of equality is preached assiduously at all levels.  Eccentricity, that great humanising force, is discouraged, amongst educators and educated alike, for ‘tolerance’ is a virtue only when extended to groups, not to individuals who think differently.  There are few formal rules, but a system of values that encourages quiet obedience (educational and behavioural), memorising rather than thinking for oneself, co-operation rather than individual discovery. 

Modern education, in short, provides a system that seems to favour traditionally female values of restraint over traditionally masculine values of exploration, independence and physical energy.   This is indeed ironic, given that one of the purposes of ‘progressive’ education was to break down differences between the sexes, which were thought to be culturally conditioned rather than influenced by biology.  Feminists tend strongly to support this education in sentimentality, largely because they believe that it will have an emasculating effect on men.  Rewarding passive conformity and imposing pacific values certainly has the effect of alienating large numbers of physically and mentally healthy young men, along with a good number of spirited young women, too.  The energies of these young people are, from an early stage, diverted from the pursuit of knowledge and towards less fruitful ways of questioning authority.  Young men who lack male mentors and are offered ‘counselling’ in place of more traditional forms of character training will tend to rebel against this tyranny of Compulsory Niceness.  With the decline of manufacturing industry and the growing ‘political correctness’ and loss of status of the Armed Forces, they have fewer constructive outlets for their naturally rebellious energy.  This vacuum is filled increasingly by bullying, crime, alcoholism and drug abuse.  Further education - and academic life in general - becomes attractive to young people whose instinct is to absorb and accept, rather than argue and think.

In The Lonely Crowd, David Riesman and his colleagues describe the educational impact of the social transition they identify in American society: from ‘inner-direction’, where the individual draws upon his inner resources, and ‘other-direction’, by which individuals derive their values from their peers.  They show that ‘progressive’ schooling in American cities has proved instrumental in that transition.  As the emphasis shifted from formality to informality, single sex to ‘co-ed’ classes, pure academic education to ‘nurturing’, a new pattern of conformity was imposed, one more extreme than the old because rebellion against it was well-nigh impossible[5]:

The effort is to cut everyone down to size who stands up or stands out in any direction.  Beginning with the very young and going on from there, overt vanity is treated as one of the worst offenses, as perhaps dishonesty would have been in an earlier day.  Being high-hat is forbidden.

Temper, manifest jealousy, moodiness - these, too, are offenses in the code of the peer-group.  All ‘knobbly’ or idiosyncratic qualities are more or less systematically repressed.  And judgment of others by peer-group members are so clearly matters of taste that their expression has to resort to the vaguest phrases, constantly changed: cute, lousy, square, etc. ...

But to say that judgments of peer-groupers are matters of taste, not of morality or even opportunism, is not to say that any particular child can afford to ignore these judgements.  One the contrary, he is, as never before, at their mercy.  If the peer-group were - and we continue to deal here with the urban middle classes only - a wild, torturing, obviously vicious group, the individual child might still feel moral indignation as a defense against its commands.  But like adult authorities in the other-directed socialization process, the peer-group is friendly and tolerant.  It stresses fair play,  Its conditions for entry seem reasonable and well meaning.  But even where this is not so, moral indignation is out of fashion.  The child is therefore exposed to trial by jury without any defenses either from the side of its own morality or from the adults.  All the morality is the group’s.[6]

The Lonely Crowd was first published half a century ago.  Since then, the ‘progressive’ ethos of Compulsory Niceness has pervaded higher, as well as primary and secondary, education.  It is the system of values against which most public policies are measured.  Compulsory Niceness is an institutionalised failure of nerve.  Its quest for bland consensus does not favour genuine moderation, which is intellectually rigorous and uncompromising.  Instead, it provides a backdrop of messy compromise, against which totalitarian fanatics can play out their ideological dramas.  It is marked, too, by a diminution in the importance of the autonomous individual, with a resulting shift of emphasis from individual freedom to group rights.  Government is seen, increasingly, as a mediator between groups claiming rights at the expense of other groups, or the rest of society.  Where these groups are presented as ‘disadvantaged’, or having suffered in the past, opposition to their demands is seen as a form of bad manners, or as an implicit act of cruelty.  It is, quite literally, ‘not nice’ to be against feminism, when it is assumed that feminists speak for all ‘women’.  It is not nice to be against ‘gay rights’, if gay activists speak for all homosexuals, or against ‘multiculturalism’, if we accept that multiculturalists speak for all black people, or indeed all ‘ethnic minorities’.  That all these propositions are manifestly untrue is a matter of inconvenience and irritation, which ‘nice’ people don’t mention.  They assume that individuals fit neatly into groups which act en bloc, and if for some reason they fail to do so, they must be persuaded, then coerced.[7]

There is a striking similarity between the meaningless phrases uttered by the children in Riesman’s survey and the slogans of politicians and activists fifty years later.  Peer group pressure defines what is ‘cool’ or ‘neat’ amongst adolescents.  Amongst intellectuals, it defines the meaning of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’, two of the buzzwords of Compulsory Niceness.  Diversity becomes a euphemism for conformist acceptance of group rights, and hostility to those who emphasise individualism or tradition instead.  Inclusion is taken to mean favouring members of acceptable groups (women, ethnic minorities, homosexuals) at the expense of unacceptable groups (men, ‘white Europeans’, heterosexuals) and ritually denouncing anyone who questions this process.[8]  In the name of diversity and inclusion, some ideas are placed off-limits, others accorded a superstitious reverence.  To of the latter are ‘progress’ and ‘equality’.  As ideas, they are intimately connected, for one is deemed to lead logically to the other.  They are both defined, in Looking-Glass terms, as whatever their supporters ‘choose them to mean’.  Progress can mean curtailing freedom of speech, if that speech is deemed ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’.  Equality can mean its opposite, inequality, provided that it is inequality for groups disliked by egalitarians.   To oppose progress is to be a ‘reactionary’, which the modern intellectual fears more than almost anything else, except being a ‘bigot’, which is his fate if he opposes socially engineered equality. 

Feminism is the ultimate group rights ideology.  Its supporters claim that they are the natural representatives of all ‘women’.  They present ‘women’ as an oppressed minority, when claiming special rights.  When asserting themselves politically, they stress the numerical majority that ‘women’ actually make up.  On behalf of ‘women’, they seek legal reparations against the collective ‘enemy’ (men) through skewed divorce laws, reverse discrimination in employment and special privileges in political representation.[9]  At one level, they demand the right for women to do exactly the same things as men, in every sphere of life.  At another, they claim for ‘women’ special insights of a spiritual or ecological nature.  A movement founded on double-think, feminism thrives in a political climate where its is considered ill-mannered (or, in old-fashioned terms, ungentlemanly) to question the demands of single-issue movements.   It is sustained by a culture in which equality has acquired totemic status and support for equality is a condition of entry to the intellectual peer group.  Compulsory Niceness deters consideration of what kind of ideology feminism really is.

II.  Socialism With A Human Face-Lift?

It is tempting, indeed almost compelling, to view feminism as a left-wing ideology, or as a movement that has evolved from socialism.  Many on the left believe this, which is why they capitulate so easily to feminist demands even when their instincts cry out against it.  It explains, too, why it is difficult to elicit opposition, or even mild criticism of feminist ideology from the political left.  For surely, the principled leftist will argue, the aims of feminism are good ones, although its methods are sometimes wrong.  Surely the intention of feminists is to uplift the status of women, and so we must support them, even when we disagree with their methods.   To such left-wingers, accession to feminist demands is akin to support for ‘progressive’ dictatorships, because their authoritarian methods are merely ‘instruments of transition’, or because ‘imperialist aggression’ makes them necessary. 

For socialists of the Marxist or Fabian schools, which have more in common than is widely realised, feminism offers rich opportunities for collectivist solutions, for ‘bringing the state back in’ to the individual’s life.  For ageing New Left radicals, is the latest stage in the sexual revolution.  Along with its illegitimate offspring, ‘gay liberation’[10], feminism provides a virulent critique of

family life which rationalises past selfishness and present disappointment.  Association with its triumphs conveniently compensates for political failure.  Socialists of a green, decentralist or more liberal bent see in feminism, and single-issue campaigns more generally, a humanitarian alternative to the centralised, class-based politics of the orthodox left.  They believe the rhetoric of ‘non-hierarchical structures’ and ‘leaderless coalitions’ and willingly mouth sentimental slogans about ‘reclaiming herstory’ (as opposed to male-imposed history), ‘celebrating queer culture’ (homosexuals as an ersatz ethnic group) and ‘embracing diversity’ (patronising tokenism).  To such jaded idealists, the tawdry reality of these movements is of little consequence.  They fulfil a wish, perhaps a need, for continuous agitation, and they hold out faint hopes for the transformation of mankind.  Critics of feminism accept its quasi-socialist credentials.  The American ‘neoconservative’ Michael Levin, for instance, described campaigns for ‘equal pay for equal work’ as ‘the feminist road to socialism’.[11]  Erin Pizzey, who was censured, even threatened by feminists when she pointed out that women as well as men commit domestic violence, has spoken of ‘radical feminists’ as Marxists who have ‘jumped ship’.[12] 

This interpretation of feminism is understandable, given its promise of an egalitarian Utopia and its successful mimicking of socialist rhetoric.  In practice, too, feminist agendas require a vast amount of state intervention in the economy and society, with the enforcement of ‘equal opportunity’ laws becoming a vast, unproductive nationalised industry.  Feminist assumptions have certainly been built into Marxist political thought from the beginning, despite Marx’s own apparent conservatism on such matters.[13]  As early as 1854, Marx’s collaborator Friedrich Engels wrote The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, in which he identified relations between the sexes with the ‘antagonism’ of class struggle, rather than with the human qualities of affection, loyalty or passion:

the first class oppression that occurs in history coincides with the development of antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage. and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male.[14]

Modern feminism can also claim with good reason to the child of the 1960s New Left.  For Herbert Marcuse, the student movement’s eminence rouge, believed that the revolutionary dynamic had shifted from the white working man of the West, who was swollen with affluence, and towards those who were ‘marginalised’ by the system: black people, women, students and Third World revolutionaries.  It mattered little that  black communities were for the most part conservative and religious, that many women felt anything but ‘marginalised’, that students were a privileged caste who could evade the draft and that Third World revolutionaries terrorised their own peoples. 

Much as the Viet Cong, Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge commanders claimed to be the voice of Indochina’s peasants, as they were terrorising them, today’s feminist ‘spokespersons’ claim to be the only true voice of that women have.  They aim to impose their vision of equality on women who reject it as much as on men who resist it, through methods which include state coercion, vilification of critics and efforts to indoctrinate children and students against traditional values.  The hostility of feminists towards traditionalist women is, if anything, more virulent and ideologically charged than their hostility to men.  Betty Friedan, supposedly American feminism’s moderate or liberal face, described mothers who stay at home with their children as ‘obsolete’.  More extreme still, but with refreshing Gallic honesty, the childless Simone de Beauvoir proclaimed as early as 1975 that:

No woman should be authorised to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.[15]

In the same dialogue with Friedan, Jean-Paul Sartre’s consort defines feminism’s central goal as ‘freedom of choice’.  To view this position as inconsistent is to misunderstand feminist ideology.  For the choice of a woman to stay at home with her young children, or to put her family life before her career, is not an authentic choice.  It is based on traditionalist prejudices about the role of women, which she has ‘internalised’ and from which it is the duty of feminists to ‘free’ her.  For feminists, by definition, represent ‘women’ and interpret their interests for them, just as an earlier Marxist generation interpreted the will of ‘the working-class’.  Feminism is quietly rejected by many women and so depends on male support, much of which is achieved through emotional blackmail, such as the threat of being called ‘sexist’, which few ‘sensitive’ male liberals appreciate.  In the much the same way, state socialism depended on middle-class support, because it was often deeply unpopular amongst working class communities. 

Male supporters of feminism are, but for a few extremists, self-conscious and uncertain.  To follow feminism’s correct line, they tie themselves in complicated ideological knots.  When this author observed, in correspondence with a socialist, pro-feminist man, that poverty amongst women had increased dramatically after two decades of feminist social policy and the resulting family breakdown, his reply was as crisp as it was honest.  ‘They may be poorer,’ he told me, but at least they are free from chauvinist men’.  Such a romantic association of poverty and freedom seems odd for a socialist ‘moderniser’, resembling a certain strain of conservative thought, or a rustic anarchism long scorned by the ‘progressive’ left.  And it fails to explain how a new morality that accepts the desertion of women by men, leaving them to bring up their children alone and in poverty, can be anything other than ‘chauvinistic’.  Pro-feminist men denounce traditional masculine attributes with the same zeal that some white liberals denounce ‘Western civilisation’ and all that flows from it, including democracy.  They apologise, as if on behalf of all ‘men’, for oppressions past, present and yet to come.  They pay ritual tribute to ‘the women’s struggle for rights, which has a long and valorous history’[16].  They make a point of saying ‘his or her’, or ‘her or his’, refusing to use the word ‘man’ (although ‘woman’ is still acceptable, for some reason) and drooling like Pavlov dogs whenever ‘women’s issues’ are mentioned.  Most do this for purely self-serving reasons, or through the failure of nerve discussed above.  A few, however, display a virulent hatred of their own masculinity.  Were they homosexuals, they would be denounced for ‘self-hatred’ by shrilly intolerant gay activists.  As Robert Bly explains:

[Male feminists] put forward the view that traditional masculinity authenticates itself through oppressing women.  Masculinity to them is essentially toxic, like a poison.

Traits traditionally imagined as masculine, such as competitiveness, wildness, and aggression, spring, they believe, from culture, not genetic inheritance.  Since masculinity is made, it can be remade.  They want a new man, and they want him now.

Most feminist men hate the concept of “deep masculinity”.  The feminist writer Tim Beneke says:  “There is no such thing as deep masculinity because there is no such thing as masculinity.”  Whatever comes out of the masculine soul is, in their view, wrong by essence.[17]

Such ‘feminist men’ have much in common with middle-class radicals who ostentatiously renounce the bourgeois culture that sustains them and adopt fake working class accents.   Indeed, like ‘female’ feminists, they believe that they know ‘what women want’ better than most women know it themselves.  Feminist ideology inherits from Marxism the theory of ‘false consciousness’.  Put simply, this is the notion that the worker is oppressed, even if he does not know it, or even if he is actively hostile to the idea.  Those loyalties that give his life meaning, such as to a church, a regiment or a football team, are false loyalties, as is his sense of patriotism or pride in his local community.  Part of the revolutionary process is to ‘demystify’ him, so that he becomes conscious of his oppression.  For in Marxist terms, he is defined by his relationship to the means of production, not to his fellow men.  For feminists, the means of production are replaced by the means of reproduction.  A woman’s loyalty to her sex comes before her personal tastes and preferences, her religious or moral beliefs and the relationships that give her life meaning.  Feminist ideology assumes, for example, that a mother in the North of England will be more interested in ‘opportunities for women’ than the fate of her unemployed husband (displaced by the decline of manufacturing) or the fate of her sons in an education system that is increasingly anti-male.  Her love for her husband and sons is a form of ‘false consciousness’, which prevents her from ‘asserting her rights’.

Also inherited from Marxism is the idea of an underlying struggle.  For Marxists, that is the economic struggle between worker and capitalist, the class struggle, for feminists, it is a sex struggle, or ‘gender war’, in which the individual is required to take sides.  And just as the class struggle culminates in the classes socialist society, so the sex struggle must culminate in the unisex society.  Unisexism takes as its starting point two ideas.  First, it insists that differences between the sexes are culturally conditioned  and owe nothing to human nature, which is also seen as an artificial ‘construct’.  Secondly, those differences are always wrong and must always be ‘challenged’ and broken down.  It would be mistaken to conclude from this that unisexism was about giving men and women the freedom to ‘be themselves’ and express their true natures as individuals.  On the contrary, it seeks to impose on both sexes a revolutionary imperative of change.  Males are expected to apologise, concede and repress their ‘aggression’, females to overthrow ‘gender stereotypes’.  As in socialist political programmes, the state is looked to as the agent of change and education is seen as a means to indoctrinate the young.  Thus the state has a duty to enforce unisexist precepts, to ensure that women are encouraged, or compelled, to perform the same social functions as men.  Where this does not happen, ‘positive action’ must be taken, because the revolution has been betrayed.  The married woman who stays at home is a counter-revolutionary.  She and her husband should be penalised financially by the state until she makes the politically correct choice.  This is why institutionalised discrimination against the stay-at-home mother has been built into government policy in Britain, the logical conclusion of years of state-directed change.  In taxation, the married couple’s allowance has been replaced  by a ‘working families tax credit’, the working family defined as one where both ‘partners’ work.  Low income single mothers, meanwhile, are compelled to seek work outside the home.  This means that a mother who leaves her own children and is paid to look after someone else’s, is considered a better citizen than one who stays with her offspring.

Feminist social policy does not discourage single motherhood, because of the relative poverty - and lack of opportunity - that it tends to produce.  On the contrary, it is presented as one amongst many ‘lifestyle options’, along with cohabitation, ‘serial monogamy’ and lesbian motherhood.  All these options are morally equivalent, but some are more equivalent than others.  The most equivalent of all are those which demonstrate that women can live independently of men, even where that independence is artificial and leads to a form of forced marriage to the state, or dependence upon a sweatshop employer.  Thus, in the true forked-tongued manner of modern pseudo-liberalism, it is politically correct to dismiss traditional marriages as reactionary, but incorrect in the extreme to criticise artificial insemination for single women.

In the interests of socially engineered equality, feminists and their supporters are obsessed with eliminating male bastions.  These range from professions and professional organisations, such as Working Men’s Clubs, gentlemen’s clubs, sports clubs and even clubs or societies for male homosexuals.  Methods vary from emotional blackmail to recourse to the courts, from invocation of ‘anti-discrimination’ laws to the refusal of public funds.  The destruction of male bastions is considered an ethical goal in its own right, more important than the true aspirations of women.[18]  In England and Wales, for example, the Fire Service has been set a ‘recruitment target’ of fifteen per cent more women, purely for ideological reasons.  The same government report grudgingly admitted that the Service was efficient, well-lied and trusted more than any other public agency, but then attacked it for its ‘male’ ethos and ‘militaristic culture’.  Similarly, the Armed Forces are increasingly forced to take account of feminist preoccupations in their recruitment policy, their training and their disciplinary structure.  The Ministry of Defence has a ‘Gender Unit’, the very title of which implies profound ideological bias.  Its brief includes expanding areas of ‘gender integration’ and pressing for women to be sent to the front line.  Operational efficiency has nothing to do with any of these considerations.  On the contrary, it is subordinate to the dogma of ‘equality’, so that the very structures and traditions which have made for cohesion are wilfully undermined.  The following recommendations, issued by the anti-discrimination industry to a compliant government, express well growing demands for ‘feminisation’:

The Equal Opportunities Commission urges that it should be made easier for women to join the Services.  The Army should recruit more of them to a wider range of posts, said Julie Mellor, the commission chairman.

“We believe that the Armed Forces are missing out on many good quality potential recruits.

“Training initiatives to equip women to work in jobs traditionally done by men would help to boost the number of women applying.”

The commission says that the culture within the Services must change, so that attitudes towards women, especially those with children, do not stop them applying for jobs.[19]

The United States provides much evidence that ‘gender integration’ is unpopular in the Forces, and becomes a source of indiscipline and litigation.  There, the process of feminisation has advanced much further than in Britain, to the extent that group rights are routinely placed above the needs of a fighting force.  This makes it the model for British feminists, who loathe successful masculine cultures more than they dislike ‘male violence’.  The politically correct administration of the US Armed Forces is personified by Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, the highest ranking woman officer dubbed ‘Hillary Clinton’s favourite General’ and centre of a high-profile ‘sexual harassment case’.  Criticised for her alleged closeness to the Democratic Party, General Kennedy is remembered for proclaiming to West Point cadets in falsetto voice: ‘This is not the Army your fathers joined’.[20]

On both sides of the Atlantic, the Armed Forces are used increasingly as a social laboratory,  the aim of the experiments is to prove to the wider society that the traditional roles of the sexes can be transformed or reversed.  Unlike a genuine scientific experiment, there is little attempt at objectivity.  The response to failure is not to abandon the project, but to return to it with renewed zeal, to conclude that more ‘equal opportunities training’, or more ‘anti-discrimination’ edicts are required.  In civilian life, as well as the Forces, unisex feminism seeks education as the key to ‘progress’.  Education, in this context, does not mean the quest for knowledge, but propaganda techniques that call to mind the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe and China under the ‘gang of Four’.  Amongst these are the censorship of traditional and much-loved children’s books for alleged ‘sexism’, alongside other bugbears such as ‘racism’, ‘imperialism’ and ‘militarism’.  More proactive - a word beloved of social engineers - are ‘social education’ classes.  These propagate ‘anti-sexist’ doctrines, and other ‘politically correct’ shibboleths, as if they were truths, and as if no other views of the world could ever exist.  Sex education, also, is presented in increasingly in terms of crude bodily functions rather than complex moral choice, with children of both sexes taught to ‘role play’ and some cases to experiment.  They are encouraged to question the values of their parents, if they are conservative, but the permissive, hedonistic approach is held to be beyond criticism.

Such methods are justified in terms of promoting ‘safer sex’ or preventing teenage pregnancies.  These claims are belied by statistics, which show continually rising pregnancies in girls under sixteen, along with an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease amongst young people in general.  It might seem that the real objective of ‘sex education’ is less to inform and promote free discussion, more to break down the barriers of discretion and reserve between males and females, along with the civilisation, courtesy and mutual trust that they engender.  There is also the intention that the ‘patriarchal’ family should disappear,  because it is the originator of ‘inequality’.  British parents cannot withdraw their children from ‘personal and social’ education, even where it is a vehicle for propaganda, but they can withdraw them from religious instruction.  Those teachers who oppose religion in schools, and wish to banish prayer from morning assemblies, tend also to be the strongest advocates of ‘anti-sexist’ or ‘anti-racist’ education, or instruction in ‘value-free’ sex - not value-free at all, but far more ‘judgmental’ than traditional censure.  The classroom is not the place to consider anything transcendent, but it can and should be used for ‘talking gender issues’ or ‘eliminating sexism’.

In the United States, where state schooling is rigidly secular, feminist intervention in the curriculum is commonplace and has aroused deep antipathy.  Reassuringly, perhaps, American feminists seem to possess a special talent for revealing their totalitarian instincts and exposing themselves to ridicule.  Alice Rossi, for example, recommended that school outings or field trips be curtailed, for fear that ‘going out into the community in this way, youngsters would observe men and women in their present occupational roles’.  In the late 1970s, the [former] Department of Health, Education and Welfare reviewed children’s books for indications of ‘sexism’.  The intention was that books aimed at children should reflect reality ‘not as it was, but as it will be’.  Demands persist for ‘unisex’ schoolbooks, pointedly showing men and women in identical roles, or better still in roles that have been reversed.  Meanwhile, the feminist commentator Judith Bardwick describes the hostility of children to such attempts at brainwashing as an ‘anti-feminist backlash’:

Another source of resistance to feminist goals is the conservatism of children.  They seem very resistant to changing ideas about what the sexes are supposed to do and be like.[21]

The ‘conservatism of children’, which Bardwick condemns, arises from an instinctive, and culturally inherited sense of freedom, and a contempt for those who use positions of trust to impose alien ideologies.  To feminists, it is further evidence of false consciousness, requiring more, rather than less unisexism to counter undesirable ‘influences’ from home, society or students thinking for themselves.  Unisexism’s revolutionary imperative to destroy traditional stereotypes means that, for both young women and young men, a preference for those stereotypes is not an option.  If we assume that boys play with soldiers and girls with dolls simply out of  ‘conditioning’, and that such ‘conditioning’ is always a bad thing, then it follows that girls should be forced to play with soldiers and boys with dolls.  If we assume that there is a sex struggle, in which ‘male’ values are inherently oppressive, it follows that young males should be forced to conform to values identified as ‘feminine’.  A good example of this approach is found in a report on the future of outdoor pursuits published in Britain in the early 1980s, which despite (or perhaps because of) an all-male panel is blatantly contemptuous of the ‘traditionally masculine’ associations of outdoor activities.  These activities are no longer seen as hobbies to be enjoyed, but as a means to fit children into unisex moulds:

This may entail a departure from the prevalent male-oriented models of outdoor programmes.  However, there may be substantial gains, not only in enabling and encouraging young women to participate more readily, but also for the young men to experience a different way of living and behaving.  Both boys and girls may become more aware of each other’s capabilities.

Even this level of care in designing outdoor experiences may not be sufficient to encourage some young women to participate.  The appropriate answer may be to provide all-female outdoor experience.[22]

As always with unisexist programmes, some are more equal than others.  There is no mention of single-sex provision for those young men who benefit more from that approach or find it preferable to ‘mixed’ activities.  Furthermore, it is the ‘young men’ who are required to ‘experience  a different way of living’, as private pursuits are turned into vehicles for social change.  One result of such attempts to politicise outdoor pursuits has been to create a nation of youthful couch potatoes.  The alienation of young men from activities allowing them positively to express their masculinity, and learn from older men, has made anti-social behaviour seem more attractive.  The attempt to tame young men has, like the socialist attempt to banish competitive instincts, failed abysmally.  Meanwhile, single-sex outdoor pursuits become increasingly a privilege, for those who can pay for them, or those who have fathers at home, male relatives close by or inspiring older male friends.

Feminism, especially when expressed through unisexist programmes, has much in common with dogmatic socialism.  It is based on an abstract vision of women, and of men, which denies both individual choice and individuality itself.  It attempts, with disastrous results, to transform human nature through the force of the state.  Just as state socialism repudiates ‘bourgeois’ class distinctions, feminism denies the value of differences between the sexes, except where those differences can be used to feminist advantage.  Feminists and socialists alike repudiate distinctions between public and private life, and establish no limits to the state’s power to intervene.  Both are offended by, and seek to destroy, those institutions that operate successfully on principles opposed to theirs: hierarchy, deference, all-male membership or, occasionally, all-female membership of a non-feminist nature.[23]  Yet the totalitarian implications of feminist ideology need not be associated exclusively with the left.  It might be more instructive to see in feminism a mutation from the socialist tradition, rather than a logical development thereof.  In this sense, it bears a striking resemblance to fascism.

III.  The Appeal to Unreason

The popularity of ‘anti-fascist’ slogans in left-wing circles obscures the connection between fascist and the socialistic world views.  For the inspiration behind fascist movements did not come from the conservative wing of politics.  Fascism instead emerged as a revolutionary movement for change, a technocratic movement favoured by Italian Futurist painters who celebrated the machine[24] and at the same time a mystical ideology, invoking race rather than citizenship or class, as the source of personal and political identity.  More than that, race is presented as a cosmic abstraction, in which the will of the individual is submerged and directed towards collectivist ends.  In this way, the individual at once ‘discovers’ his true identity and loses his consciousness of himself.  For the theorists of National Socialism, loyalty to the Volk overrode lesser loyalties, such as to family or friends.  Fascist ideology in that respect resembles Marxism, which elevates ‘class’ above everything else in the individual’s life.  It also resembles feminism, which elevates ‘gender’ over all things.

Fascism, like modern ‘political correctness’, is based on group rights.  These rights are exercised through the exclusion or conquest of other groups.  The individual acquires rights (or loses them) through his membership of a group based on ties of blood or ethnic origin.  The parallels between fascist group rights and the claims of multiculturalist ideologues are quite uncanny.  For one of the ironies of multiculturalism is that it has meant that racial classifications are discussed as assiduously on the left as on the extreme right.  More significantly for this discussion, fascist group rights resemble those of Marxism and feminism.  They place innate loyalty to group over other, freely chosen loyalties or interests.  They posit a theory of rights based on claims against other groups, and acquired through struggle.  Whether it is a struggle by woman against man, worker against capitalist, or ‘race and nation’ against ‘inferior’ races, the underlying principle is antipathy to the liberal state, based on the balance between tradition and individual choice.

However unlike Marxism, but like feminism, fascist ideology exalts unreason, seeing in primitive superstition a higher truth.

Fascism’s left-wing antecedents can be found largely in anarcho-syndicalism, a radical movement fashionable in Western Europe and the United States before World War I, which persisted in Spain and South America until the 1930s.  Anarcho-syndicalism was a variant of revolutionary anarchism which favoured the class struggle and viewed industrial workers as agents of change.  Where syndicalists and other socialists differed was in their rejection of parliamentary procedures, even as a tactical ploy.  They opposed party structures as authoritarian and lacking in revolutionary purity.  But crucially, anarcho-syndicalists also abhorred the ‘scientific’ approach of Marxist ideologues.  They saw in the group dynamic of working-class organisation something beyond mere politics and economics: a form of spiritual energy.  Georges Sorel, the Frenchman who inspired anarcho-syndicalism, regarded the workers’ revolution as an apocalyptic event, a cleansing of ancient decadence, rather than merely the latest stage in the class struggle.  This meant that he idealised ‘mass man’ and saw in crowd behaviour a modern aesthetic.

Anarcho-syndicalists, including Sorel, attached supreme importance to the power of myth, which they placed above scientific political analysis or rational thought.  Myths, Sorel wrote, are neither ‘utopias’ nor ‘descriptions of things’. Instead they are the ‘expression of a will’, the ‘collective consciousness’ of the masses in narrative form.  Syndicalism’s defining myth was the General Strike, through which the workers collectively seize control of the means of production.  There was no timetable for this event, nor even a strategy to bring it about.  It was, nonetheless, the ultimate goal of anarcho-syndicalist activity, expressed through organisations such as the Confederation General du Travail (CGT) in France[25]  and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in the United States.   The General Strike was to be an apocalyptic moment, historically and also spiritually: a form of secular Last Judgement.   For Sorel, the General Strike myth was an instrument of mass psychology, a means to manipulate those left cold by rationally-based socialist propaganda.  It was

the myth in which all of socialism is contained; that is, it involves a complex of images capable of evoking all the feelings which are raised in the struggle of the socialist movement against contemporary society.[26]

Syndicalism differed from Marxism, and moderate social democracy, in its emphasis on ‘evoking feelings’ in mass man, rather than appealing to the worker’s rational self-interest.  A similar stress on ‘feeling’ above reason became a central component of fascism, and is one of feminist ideology’s main tenets as well.  Anarcho-syndicalists, in other words, sought to revive the irrational in politics.  Unlike Marxists, who regarded themselves as the natural successors to liberals, syndicalists regarded liberal rationalism as a greater enemy than conservative reaction:

The ferocity of the assault Sorel launched against the liberalism of his own age is thus theoretically as well as practically induced.  For it was liberalism that became identified with the stultifying effects of reason and rationalized organization in society.[27]

Anarcho-syndicalism fell out of favour amongst radicals after World War I. The experience of the Great War proved that old patriotic ‘myths’ were more powerful than modern concoctions such as the General Strike.  The Russian Revolution also galvanised a generation of leftists, whilst a new strain of right-wing nationalism combined the appeal to unreason with a propensity for political violence.  In its various incarnations, fascism attracted radicals previously drawn to the anarcho-syndicalist tradition.  Mussolini himself was born to anarcho-syndicalist parents.  His left-wing newspaper, Avanti, had been contemptuous of the parliamentary road to socialism, both before and after the War.  The ‘Corporate State’ ideal at the centre of Italian fascism was based on the indirect representation of the individual by members of his profession or social group, rather than direct representation by parliamentarians, an idea adapted from syndicalist trade unions.[28]   Germany’s National Socialism had, as its name suggests, a collectivist vision of politics.  It was a movement led by bohemians and artisans, but competing with left-wing parties for the working class vote.  Accordingly, Nazism presented to ‘the workers’ a distorted version of the class struggle, whereby class became identified with race, the ‘greedy capitalist’ with the ‘profiteering Jew’. 

Fascism adapted from syndicalism the idea of the great political myth.  In Italy, the myth of the General Strike, through which workers liberated themselves (psychologically and economically) gave way to the myth of the Leader.  Because the Leader embodied the people’s will, his rule was superior to any form of representative government.  The ‘Leadership Principle’ of the Nazis saw the Fuhrer  as embodying racial destiny.  Whereas anarcho-syndicalists saw irrationalism as a tool of class consciousness, fascists gave mythical status to ‘race and nation’.  Their conception of nationhood paid no heed to political borders, or to the liberal conception of citizenship conferred regardless of ethnic origin.  The nation was based exclusively on racial identity, the political expression of the collective ‘folk soul’.

It is easy, too easy, to see fascism as a reactionary movement, because of its racialism and its emphasis on strong leadership.  But this is to overlook the radical dynamic of fascist politics, which was driven by hatred of tradition and an obsession with change.  Fascist politicians regarded themselves as ‘modernisers’, working on behalf of ‘the people’ and asserting the true national interest against a corrupt, conservative and treacherous elite.  Their rhetoric of modernisation was more a reflex response than an ideology.  Indeed the absence of an ideological goal was interpreted by Hitler as a strength.  National Socialism, he claimed, was powered by a ‘revolutionary creative will’ which had ‘no fixed aim’ except for the perpetual advancement of the Volk.[29]  In contrast to Marxists, who aimed for the ‘classless society’, National Socialists

[knew] that there is never a final stage, there is no permanency, only eternal change ... the future is an inexhaustible fount of possibilities of further development.[30]

This approach to politics was not as distinct from that of the totalitarian left as Hitler clearly imagined.  It had much in common with Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ and the similar doctrines later enunciated by Mao.  The shallow rhetoric of modernisation and change bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the slogans of post-socialist politicians in our own time, as they search for an elusive ‘third way’. 

National Socialism was, therefore, a technocratic movement obsessed with change, which saw the state as the agent of that change and so institutionalised a worship of the state.  Yet the irrationalism inherent in fascist movements created an underlying ambivalence about modern society, in particular the alienation of man from the rest of nature.  This was not ascribed to urbanisation, technology and the breakdown of traditional authority structures, but to pernicious cultural influence of Semitic origin.  Jewish influence ‘denatured’ German society and diluted German thought.  According to Nazi propaganda, the religion of the Jews was ‘fossilised’ and coldly rational.  ‘Jewish’ reason, ‘Jewish’ literature, ‘Jewish’ science and ‘Jewish’ philosophy had colonised German culture, stifling its creativity.  Reconnecting with nature and releasing the Aryan ‘folk soul’ from bondage meant expunging  from German culture all traces of Jewish influence.

Feminist ideology shares National Socialism’s ambivalence about modernity and nature.  At one level, feminists revere technology and mass society: the former because it encourages women into the work force (and contributes to male unemployment), the latter because it undermines tradition and convention.  Yet the demands of feminists are underscored by the idea that ‘women’, like ‘Germans’ or ‘Aryans’ for the Nazis, enjoy a special relationship with the natural world.  Thus, as National Socialists blamed ‘Jewish money power’ for denaturing German society, feminists blame ‘male domination’ for ecological crisis:

The patriarchs ... want to continue dominating the Earth, exploiting its forests, minerals and land.[31]

‘Men’, like ‘Jews’, have an inferior appreciation of nature.  Both groups dominate the economy and culture with a sterile rationalism that suppresses spontaneity and diminishes the importance of the natural world.  National Socialism adapted an earlier form of Volkisch romanticism, which held that the character of a people could be determined by their natural surroundings, and that the uprooted urban man could connect to his racial ‘life force’ by exploring mountains and forests:

Man was seen not as a vanquisher of nature; nor was he credited with the ability to penetrate the meaning of nature by applying the tools of reason; instead he was glorified as living in accordance with nature, at one with its mystical forces.  In this way, instead of being encouraged to confront the problems cast up by urbanization and industrialization, man was enticed to retreat into a rural nostalgia.  Not within the city, but in the landscape, the countryside native to him, was man fated to merge with and become rooted in nature and the Volk.[32]

From the beginning, this connection between Volk and landscape was imbued with racist prejudices.  The landscape of central Europe, with its mountains, forests and temperate climate, was not considered ‘native’ to the Jews.  They were a ‘desert people’ whose materialism and rationalism derived from the aridity of their native land.  Such notions might seem laughable to the twenty-first century reader, until he realises that feminist academics use the same arguments and the same metaphors, but apply them to men rather than Jews.  An American study, Women’s Ways of Knowing, speaks of male scholars as ‘separate knowers’, because they emphasise the quest for objective knowledge.  ‘Separate knowing’ is defined as ‘the game of impersonal reason’, and it has ‘traditionally belonged to boys’.  Women, by contrast, are ‘connected knowers’, who respond to feeling and instinct, and for whom sceptical education is inappropriate, since they ‘find it easier to believe than to doubt’.[33]  Like the proto-Nazi Volkisch movement, feminism uses topographical metaphors to exalt and exclude whole categories of humanity.  For feminists, however, mountains are evil and patriarchal, the strongholds of male ‘vertical thinking’.  Valleys, by contrast, are lush, fertile and feminine, the source of ‘lateral thinking’.  Dr Peggy McIntosh, an educational theorist in Massachusetts who helps design high school curricula, questions the need for schools to focus on the ‘mountain strongholds of white men’ and calls for a shift to ‘valley values’ - the intuitional approach of women, and also she claims of ‘ethnic minorities’[34]In the same way that National Socialism diverted environmental consciousness towards racial hatred, feminism exploits ‘green’ issues to further its hatred of masculinity.  This has created a form of man-hating green politics known as ecofeminism.  Where Nazis argued that ‘Aryans’ were closer to nature than Jews, ecofeminists contend that women are closer to nature than men.  For humanity and nature to reunite, instinctual female values must triumph over male reason:

[T]o the extent that women’s lives have been lived in ways which are less directly oppositional to nature than those of men, and have involved different and less oppositional practices, qualities of care and kinds of selfhood, an ecological feminist position could and should privilege some to the experiences and practices of women over those of men ...[35]

In its attack on ‘male’ reason, ‘male philosophy’, ‘male science’ and ‘hegemonic, phallocentric literature’[36], this brand of green feminism echoes uncannily the Nazi attack on Jewish ‘hegemony’.  As part of its appeal to unreason, Nazi ideology made use, selectively, of the pre-Christian faith of Northern Europe, distorting heroic legends to justify racial triumphalism.[37]  Ecofeminists similarly attempt to revive the cult of the Indo-European Earth Goddess, through a series of selective and vague references which omit such uncomfortable details as human sacrifice.  This bowdlerised paganism is part of a larger attempt to deconstruct, and de-rationalise, Western culture, to cleanse it of male influence which represses affinity with nature.  Hazel Henderson, a prominent ecofeminist, speaks of ‘the neurotic notion of scientific objectivity’ as the product of centuries of alleged male supremacy:

We see it in the long saga of patriarchal literature, from the Greek myths of the hero and the hero’s journey to the angst and alienation from Nature echoed from Hegel, Marx and the Frankfurt School to Hermann Hesse, the existentialists, Sigmund Freud and his followers.[38]

The rhetoric of philistinism and cultural destructiveness is familiar to anyone who has lived under an extreme right-wing regime.  Yet the targets of Henderson’s anger are most significant.  Objectivity, for example, ensures the freedom of the individual under the rule of law.  It guarantees that academic study, whether artistic or scientific, is based on dispassionate inquiry rather than crude propaganda.  To ecofeminists and National Socialists, however, the quest for objectivity is respectively a male and Jewish evil.  Likewise the hero’s journey, in the Western tradition, is not about male ‘domination’ at all, but the ways by which a man acquires compassion, wisdom and a feeling for his fellow creatures.  True compassion has nothing to do with ecofeminist values, which place collective consciousness above individual wisdom and sentimentality above knowledge.  Significantly, too, the male thinkers Henderson attacks were ridiculed by the Nazis in identical terms.  Many were persecuted and exiled by the National Socialist regime, and a remarkably high proportion of them are Jewish.  Henderson’s replacement for ‘patriarchal’ Western culture is a feminised irrationalism based (like the Aryan ‘folk culture’ of the Third Reich) on biased pseudo-history linked to a simplistic ‘New Age’ pantheism:

Women’s spirituality affirms and celebrates human embeddedness in Nature, and confirms it by researching [sic] the early matrifocal cultures and humanity’s first great universal religion: that of the Great Mother Goddess. .

Today’s eco-feminism is restoring this earlier prehistory, its art and rituals celebrating Nature.  Eco-feminism re-sacralises Nature.[39]

Like her ideological forebears, the National Socialists, Henderson brushes aside the practical dilemmas thrown up by the rejection of rational culture.  She does not, for instance, express an intention to stop taking ‘male’ medicine or disconnect her drains because they were designed and installed by male engineers.  Much of her writing revolves around incitement to hatred against men in general, male scientists and creators in particular, combined with a sickly ‘New Age’ evangelism.  She talks obsessively of a ‘Solar Age’ and of emerging ‘through today’s crises and clouds into the sunshine of an Age of Light’.[40]  Sun worship, and the ‘symbolism of the reborn sun’[41] were beloved of National Socialists as well.   Nazi racial theorist Johann von Leers, author of an anti-Semitic tract called ‘Jews, Look At You’ believed that Nordic peoples had a special relationship with the sun, and that through Nazism they were emerging from ‘fog’ into ‘light’.[42]  His attitude towards ‘objectivity’ and ‘reason’ is identical to Henderson’s, except that the hate targets are Semitic rather than male.  Henderson becomes interesting, however, when she explains in pseudo-scientific terms the ecofeminist view of the individual:

I believe there is a deeper layer underlying the old issue of the individual versus the state, ...  Perhaps the deeper and biologically irreconcilable conflict is that of the individual human phenotype versus the species genotype.  ...  Only a statistically insignificant number of phenotypes ever produces a genetically useful innovation of form or function that survives and is incorporated into the human gene pool.  From the perspective of the genotype (the species as a whole) the fate of each individual phenotype is irrelevant.[43] 

When we translate the jargon into English, we find that the individual human being - the ‘phenotype’ - has no inherent value and is ‘relevant’ only as part of a larger group, the ‘genotype’.  Even within that group, his significance is peripheral and linked only to his ability to produce a ‘genetically useful innovation’.  In Henderson’s ecofeminist schema, the relationship between ‘phenotype’ and ‘genotype’ matches the National Socialist conception of the individual’s relationship with the Volk.  Under both systems, feminist and Nazi,  the individual is deprived of political freedom and personal autonomy[44].  His thoughts, feelings, needs and values count for nothing against the collective will. 

Both systems also favour eugenics.  Henderson, and other ecofeminists, are fanatical devotees of ‘population control’, whilst National Socialists favoured selective breeding and its inevitable corollary, selective sterilisation.  With equal inevitability, the ‘old issue of the individual versus the state’ is resolved decisively in favour of the latter.[45]   For the all-powerful state expresses the underlying will of the Volk or interprets the underlying ‘rhythms’ of the genotype.  National Socialists identify the state with ‘race and nation’, the nation forcibly enlarged to include all members of the ‘race’, whether they wish to be included or not.  Ecofeminists envisage the state as a creche on a gigantic scale, a world-wide matriarchal tyranny.  These two ideas of the state might seem opposed to each other, but they are essentially the same.  This is because they both call for the dissolution of political borders between nations, shaped by historical events and confirmed by democratic consent.  They both reject the concept of the individual that has been central to Western thought since classical antiquity, reaffirmed by the Judaeo-Christian tradition and by liberal political thought.  That is to say, the individual as a being who is capable of moral choice, who has an inherent value, a right to life and a responsibility to himself and others.[46]   And last, but by no means least, both the National Socialist and ecofeminist world views are founded on hatred and exclusion.  Their opponents - Jews and homosexuals for the Nazis, males of whatever type for the ecofeminists - are less close to nature and so it follows that they must also be less human.[47]

Feminist ideology and its fascist precursor take the impulses behind orthodox socialism and transfer them towards alternative goals.  The idea of collective consciousness is shifted from ‘class’ towards allegiances of ‘race’ or ‘gender’.  Collective hatred for the ‘ruling class’ is shifted towards ‘male supremacy’, ‘Jewish money power’, ‘sexist philosophy’ or ‘degenerate art’.  Feminism resembles fascism in that it combines a contempt for the individual and hatred of tradition, inherited from the revolutionary left, with mystical irrationalism and sentimentality.  The popularity of feminist clichés  amongst Western ‘progressives’ testifies to the intellectual impoverishment and paralysis of will on the left.  From the 1970s onwards, feminism’s rise correlates with a reduction of interest in the ‘good society’ for all citizens.  The purpose of progressive politics is ceasing to the betterment of the condition of the whole people, or creating a sense of community that transcends economic and social divisions.  It is now less about affording opportunities to individuals, more about refashioning society into a series of abstract patterns. 

One of feminism’s most striking features is its contempt, even hatred, for its supposed constituents, namely women themselves.  It is a characteristic shared with other totalitarian ideologies.  Marxism constantly berated the working class for its ‘false consciousness’, susceptibility to bourgeois propaganda, reformism and individualism.  Fascist leaders similarly exhorted members of ‘their’ race and nation to live up to a twisted ideal of greatness.  Under Marxist regimes, workers who challenged authority, or retained traditional beliefs, were deemed ‘class traitors’ and dealt with by summary injustice.  National Socialism often persecuted its ‘Aryan’ critics as if they were Jews.  Hermann Hesse, who is condemned by Henderson on feminist grounds, was forced in to exile by the Third Reich.  His books, which reflect a concern for nature more profound than that of any Nazi or feminist, were banned by Hitler’s regime.  This phenomenon of self-appointed group leaders excoriating members of ‘their’ groups is repeated, with gusto, in single issue campaigns of modern times.  The gay rights movement, for example, vilifies its homosexual critics more than its enemies on the religious right, resorting to old-fashioned blackmail with the trendy new label of ‘outing’ and claiming to speak for ‘all’ homosexuals just as the feminist movement speaks for ‘all’ women.

Both in its ecofeminist and unisexist guises, feminism is unremittingly hostile to real women.  Ecofeminism recycles, as articles of feminist faith, the very arguments that were once deployed against women’s advancement in politics and the professions.  Women are intuitive rather than rational, feeling rather than thinking, subjective rather than dispassionate.  They have an abstract connection with ‘nature’ that is not shared by men, and which is more important than their relationships with male lovers, husbands and sons.  It is a very great insult to the rational woman to tell her that reason is ‘male’, that the Western cultural tradition is ‘patriarchal’ and so not for her, and that her capacity for reason is somehow incompatible with her natural feelings of love or concern.[48]  Equally, it is insulting to the rational man to tell him that he is disconnected from nature, inherently violent (towards ‘women’ and ‘nature’ alike) and incapable of thinking about, let alone solving, environmental problems.  Ecofeminism misunderstands the entire basis of political ecology, because it is using ‘nature’ only as a weapon of war.  The origins of ecological concern do not lie in a conflict between male and female principles, but in men and women thinking rationally about the economy and society, then questioning the assumptions of both.  Unease about the effects of unlimited economic growth on the environment, or the moral effects of unbridled consumerism, is rooted in reasoned thought and confirmed by objective inquiry. 

Ecofeminism ignores real women, as individuals, and substitutes an idealised vision of Woman, connected mystically to nature but divided irrevocably from Man.  Unisexism, meanwhile, dismisses femininity, like masculinity, as a ‘social construct’, seeks to abolish female as well as male spheres of influence, to abolish the delicacy that surrounds relations between the sexes, indeed all intimate relationships, and replace it with a matter-of-fact  promiscuity.  In seeking to erase all differences between male and female, unisex feminism undermines the values of kindness and respect for private space that enable men and women to treat each other with dignity. 

Unisexists demand the overthrow of masculine values, the abolition of ‘male’ institutions and the use of ‘educational’ brainwashing to abolish differences between the sexes.[49]  Yet the ‘traditional’ woman, who is well-disposed towards men, dislikes female ‘role models’ in business or politics and is disgusted by the thought of women being sent to the front line is as much a thought criminal as the ‘traditional’ man who believes in the male role of protector and provider.  In place of the masculine, the unisexist vision offers not femininity but androgyny.  Feminists today often openly celebrate the androgynous.  Henderson, for example, speaks of the ‘rising, ecologically-aware androgynized concern for the future’, proving that ecofeminism and unisexism do not contradict each other, but are part of the same ideological attack on individual freedom.[50]  Attempts to impose ‘androgynous’ values are, in practice, coarsening and demoralising to members of both sexes.  Often, they have the very opposite effect to the desired end.  In his masterly study of the demoralising effects of ‘feminisation’ on the American military, Brian Mitchell cites a study of male cadets at the US Air Force Academy in 1980, the year they were ‘integrated’ with women:

Wilson and Gillman [concluded] that the few experience actually shared by both male and female cadets served to diminish rather than increase the attachment of males to the academy and to their class, particularly to their female classmates.  Though shared experiences do serve to bond men together when “the major social value of military society is a warrior image”, at the Air Force Academy “a new social value of an androgynous warrior was pressed upon the members of the institution”.  The sharing of experience by men and women in order to mold androgynous warriors would necessarily have made the women more masculine and the men more feminine, had not the men resisted this imposition on their inner self.  Instead of growing closer, male and female cadets grew further apart.[51]

The rite of passage for young people is one of the constants of human societies, ‘developed’ or otherwise.  It involves the separation of the sexes, so that their distinctive needs can be addressed.  Yet that separation is balanced, creatively, by interaction between them.  The balance is not easy to strike, and some societies over-emphasise sexual segregation, for youth  and adults alike.  Feminism’s mistake is to confuse all single-sex activities with inequality, to assume that the removal of barriers to success for women means that the existence of male and female spheres of influence must always be wrong.  Unisexists fail to recognise that single-sex activities, and institutions, need not be oppressive.  Instead, they can help preserve that  social balance which affords to both men and women greater freedom.  The unisexist attack on ‘male’ institutions, from the Armed Forces to the ‘patriarchal family’ is contributing to unhappiness, alienation and violence amongst young men - violence directed against themselves and others, including women.  Rather than address these questions, unisexism advocates such emotional cul-de-sacs as ‘political lesbianism’ and demands the ‘right’ of women to raise children without men.  So grievous are the consequences of these feminist approaches that women themselves are now rebelling against them.

Ecofeminism and unisexism are two sides of the same ‘politically correct’ coin.  They are founded on hatred for half of the human race, and for the very   culture that permits free expression of their ideas.  They are part of an ideology that places abstract concepts of ‘gender’ before individual affections and preferences.  This cold-hearted collectivism contains in it the seeds of its own destruction.  For the experience of twentieth century totalitarianism offers two lessons.  The first is that placing the group before the individual produces only suffering.  The second is that using the state to alter human nature ends only in human catastrophe.

[1] Female critics of feminism come from a variety of political backgrounds.  In Britain, they include Erin Pizzey and Melanie Phillips, who began their careers on the left of politics and still identify with a ‘progressive’ tradition.  In the United States, the most prominent anti-feminist woman is probably Phyllis Schlafly, a staunchly conservative commentator who helped prevent the ‘Equal Rights Amendment’ in the early 1980s, because it placed equality before freedom.  More recently, Christina Hoff Sommers has opposed feminist dogma from a very different perspective.  As we saw in Chapter 1, she regards herself as an ‘equity feminist’ as opposed to a ‘gender feminist’.

[2] ‘Western Civilisation’ was a course taken by most American undergraduate students until recent times.  It is being replaced, increasingly, by ‘cultural studies’ courses that are largely an attack on culture, Western or otherwise.

[3]  William Blake, The Human Abstract

[4]  It is worth noting that ‘Western culture’ is described by these ideologues as if it were a monolithic structure, rather than a series of intersecting circles.  Ironically, they thus echo false Western generalisations about ‘Africa’, ‘the East’ or ‘Islam’.

[5]  In Britain, the move towards ‘comprehensive’ education and the expansion of universities reflects a similar pattern of thought, and has had similar social consequences.

[6]  David Riesman, Nathan Glazer and Reuel Denney, The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1953 edition), p.93

[7]  An assumption parallel to that of group rights, and possibly related to it, is the idea that a corporation has the status of ‘a person’ in law, and so is accorded the rights and protections traditionally accorded to individuals.  This concept of corporation-as-person is most fully developed under American law, and it is in the United States that the idea of group rights has been most politically pervasive.

[8]  These denunciations operate on an ‘equal opportunity’ basis, against opponents of whichever ethnic background, sex or sexual orientation.

[9]  The ‘all-women shortlists’ adopted by the British Labour Party before the 1997 election are a classic example, as is the idea that fifty per cent of State delegates to party Conventions should automatically be women.

[10]  ‘Gay liberation’ is now ritually referred to as ‘lesbian and gay’ liberation, invariably in that order.  It is increasingly an offshoot of feminist ideology and policy-making, with the demands of its male participants subordinated to feminist goals.  But that is a subject for a different discussion.

[11]  Michael Levin, ‘Comparable Worth: The Feminist Road to Socialism’, Commentary, Vol. 74, no. 3 (September 1984), pp. 13-19; ‘Comparable Worth’ chapter in Feminism and Freedom (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1987), pp.137-142

[12]  Erin Pizzey founded the first shelter for battered women in Britain.  Her sin, in feminist eyes, was to examine the complexities surrounding domestic violence, and so help real women and real men, rather than accept an ideological line that defied her experience.

[13]  It is worth noting here that Marx never considered himself a ‘Marxist’, and indeed objected to that label.

[14]  Engels, quoted in Janet Coleman, Against the State: Studies in Sedition and Rebellion (London: BBC Books, 1990), p.187

[15]  Quoted in Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women (New York: Touchstone Books, 1995), pp.256-7

[16]  Robert Bly, The Sibling Society (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1996), p.175

[17]  Bly, op. cit., p. 175

[18]  The pervasive nature of unisexist propaganda is evidenced by the following letter in The Daily Telegraph, an almost notoriously conservative newspaper, published 27 October 2000.  It concerns attempts to force the Carlton Club, associated with the Tory Party, to accept women as full members, even though eighty per cent of ‘lady associate members’ wished to retain the status quo:

Sir -  The problem with women such as Yvonne Clifford, who are perfectly “content with the way things are” at the Carlton Club, enjoying the right to pay half the subscription of male associate membership (letter, Oct, 23), is that they do a tremendous damage to women who wish to be treated as equals.

It is all too easy to be regarded as acceptable in an inferior role.  Women in golf clubs have done this for almost a century, p[paying a lower subscription and then being faced with restricted tee times, no voting rights and a man’s bar.

“Ladies” collude.  Women have a better sense of their own identity and assert themselves.  Liz Kahn, Barnet, Herts

Note the assumption that these ladies have a duty to their sex, defined by feminists.  Their expressed wishes, because they conflict with feminist goals, can be dictatorially overruled.  Note too that Miss Kahn uses ‘lady’ as a term of abuse (like ‘scab’ or ‘class traitor’) and that she makes the totalitarian assumption that private clubs are public property.

[19]  ‘Women get the call-up,’ Daily Telegraph, London, 25 October 2000

[20] For a full history of feminist pressure on the US Armed Forces, and its negative effects on the discipline and morale of men, see Brian Mitchell, Women in the Military: Flirting With Disaster (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998).

[21]  Judith M. Bardwick, In Transition: How feminism, Sexual Liberation and the Search for Self-Fulfillment have Altered Our Lives (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979), p.15

[22]  Lord Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine (ed), In Search of Adventure: A Study of Opportunities for Adventure and Challenge for Young People (Guildford, Surrey; Talbot Adair Press, undated but early 1980s).

[23]  It was pressure from feminists that led the Mothers Union to accept men as members.  The Hunt Report, cited above, speaks of girls’ strong interest in equestrian pursuits as if that was something to be lamented, rather than something good.

[24] Filippo Tomasso Marinetti, Futurism’s principle spokesman, was also a founder member of the Italian Fascisti.

[25]  This federation of unions later abandoned anarcho-syndicalism and backed the French Communist Party.

[26]  Georges Sorel, Refelxions sur la violence (Paris, 1908), quoted in Larry Portis (London, 1980), p.58

[27]  Irving Louis Horowitz, ‘American Radicalism and the Revolt Against Reason’, in Horowitz, Ideology and Utopia in the United States, 1956-1976 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 180-194.  Horowitz notes a renewed interest in Sorel and anarcho-syndicalism, during the 1960s student protest. He notes too some similarities between syndicalists and the New Left, such as rejection of orthodox Marxism, stress on emotion above reason and intense hostility to the liberal state.  The 1960s New Left was the precursor to more recent ideologies of group rights, including feminism.

[28]  For a discussion of the relationship between the fascist Corporate State and ‘politically correct’ ideas of representation by race, ‘gender’, sexual orientation, etc., see Chapter One.

[29] Noel O’Sullivan, Fascism (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1983), p. 138.  O’Sullivan is quoting from Hitler’s conversation in 1934 with Herman Rauschnig, a traditionalist conservative.

[30] Hitler, quoted in O’Sullivan, op. cit., p. 139

[31] Hazel Henderson, Paradigms in Progress: Life Beyond Economics (London: Adamantine Press Limited, 1993), p.140

[32]  George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich (New York: Schocken Books, 1981 edition), p.15

[33] Mary Field Belenky, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger and Jill Mattuck Tarule, Women’s Ways of Knowing (New York: Basic Books, 1986), p. 104.  Quoted in Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women (New York: Touchstone, 1995), p.67

[34] Peggy, McIntosh, ‘Seeing Our Way Clear: Feminist Revision and the Academy’.  Quoted in Hoff Sommers, op. cit., p.67.  The choice of the phrase ‘feminist revision’ is also interesting, given the popularity of ‘historical revision’ amongst neo-Nazi groups, and their euphemistic, pseudo-scholastic use of that term.

[35] Valerie Plumwood, quoted in Andrew Dobson, Green Political Thought (London; Routledge, 1995), p.194

[36]  This last choice phrase is quoted in Bly, op. cit., p.175

[37]  The inclusion of old German beliefs in an anti-Semitic ideology makes little sense, when we remember that there was no Jewish presence in central Europe when the Germans worshipped Wotan and Thunor.

[38] Hazel Henderson, ‘Beyond the New Paradigm’, in John Button (ed), The Green Fuse: The Schumacher Lectures, 1983-8I (London: Quartet Books, 1990), p.123

[39] ibid., p.123

[40] ibid., p.123

[41]  Mosse, op.cit., p.72

[42]  ibid., pp.71-2.  Mosse records that von Leers spent his post-War exile in Egypt, where (not surprisingly, perhaps) he refined his philosophy as sun worship and its connection with National Socialism.

[43]  Henderson, in Button, op.cit., pp.124-5

[44]  Expressions of individual consciousness, Henderson argues, are expressions of patriarchal ‘duality’.  National Socialism postulated a similar theory of individual consciousness as worthless in comparison to ‘folk-consciousness’.

[45]  Mussolini also believed that the question of balance between individual freedom and state power was ‘old-fashioned’, like representative democracy or equality before the law.  Indeed the state could be seen as the expression of a national genotype:

The State [sic] is not only present, its is also past, and above all future.  It is the state which, transcending the brief limit of individual lives, represents the immanent conscience of the nation.  Quoted in Anthony Arblaster and Stephen Lukes (eds), The Good Society: A Book of Readings (London: Methuen & Co ltd, 1971),  pp.314-15.  Once again, the parallels with Henderson’s phenotype-genotype theory are quite remarkable.

[46]  This conception of the free individual is not, of course, confined to Western culture.  In Hinduism and Buddhism, for example, the idea of karma implies an individual responsibility for his actions, and the effect of those actions on future incarnations.  Confucianism emphasises individual responsibility, as in a very different way does Islam, and as do Native American hero myths and the Germanic sagas which the Nazis defiled.  These areas, although interesting to pursue, lie largely outside the scope of this study.

[47]  Here the feminist arguments in support of abortion on demand are interesting.  At one level, there is the assertion of ‘rights’, expressed through the rhetoric of ‘a woman’s right to choose’.  This appears conventionally socialist, at least in terms of post-1960s ‘issue-based’ socialism.  Yet abortion is defended not as a tragic necessity in certain cases, but as a ‘right’ by which absolute power over the unborn child may be exercised.  To justify that power, the unborn child is described as ‘not quite human’ or ‘not a human being’ and therefore having no ‘right’ to exist.  Over the issue of abortion on demand, there emerges another ideological convergence between feminists and National Socialists.  Both have a conception of the ‘subhuman’, which they use to justify the technologically assisted taking of life.

[48]  In the same way, the multiculturalist identification of reason with ‘white’ culture revives racist assumptions which have been long discredited.

[49]  The American unisexist Gloria Steinem, for example, believes that boys ought to be ‘raised like girls’.

[50]  Hazel Henderson, Paradigms in Progress: Life Beyond Economics (London: Adamantine Press Limited, 1993), p.140

[51] Mitchell, op.cit., p.44.  The report he summarises, The Integration of Women into a Male Initiation Rite: A Case Study of the USAF Academy’, was influenced by the work of Arnold van Gennep, who researched rites of passage in both ‘primitive’ and ‘modern’ societies.

Jump to Top of Page
Jump to
The Age of Violent Young Men
Conference Web Site