Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tyrants with one-track minds

There was an interesting piece in Guardian Weekend this Saturday (just how often can you write that?) on conducting a love affair in Iran.

One of the best descriptions of totalitarianism came from my late University tutor back in the early 1980's, Alex Shtromas. He described it as the abolition of the private. In reality, it is the attempted abolition of the private. People always resist. The revelation of Iran as a nation of young people addicted to mobile phone sex as a way of circumventing the morality police is an intriguing picture of oppression and resistance, the creation of a realm of the private that runs against the whole principle of totalitarianism. In a rather odd way, it is a picture of hope.

Libertarian movements have often seen sexual liberty, political freedom and women's emancipation as inseparable. I enjoy the work of the Individualist Feminist Wendy McElroy. Her book challenging the radical feminists, XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography, provocatively argues that the suppression of pornography and the suppression of women go together as part of a movement of insidious personal social repression. The book is out of print but is available as a free download here. I imagine that many will dispute McElroy's thesis but it is a wonderful example of research and writing that challenges conventional wisdom and is an articulate defence of individual liberty in all facets of life, especially the private. In the age of Islamism, it seems particularly apt.

What always strikes me is how this concern with the control and suppression of sex is so prevalent in some authoritarian political thought. They are all obsessed. Don't they think of anything else? Freud could have had a field day. As the latest American evangelist to drop his trousers (in a way that he vehemently insisted that God had forbidden) shows, it is doomed to failure. Personal morality is just that, it is related to our private relationships and not something to be imposed and policed by a State ideology. In this way, the personal is not just political; it is anti-totalitarian.

1 comment:

Doc Martin Diva said...

Headline: Feminists caught floundering in fishnets.

Wendy - what a hero (Whoops!) The trouble with the idea of feminism is that, it seemed a good idea at the time. However, and maybe unfortunately, it is in danger of cancelling itself out. Greer's U-turn, some 20 years after her bra-burning show of female solidarity must have left many feminists feeling unsupported. 'Equality for men and women - no, that's not what I meant'- she argues. Hmm? Don't even get me started. I'm all for parity of equality - but on my own terms, please, not written in hormones by those who have some sort of Freudian envy.

Who wears the pants is a redundant question, now - well, in my house it is.

And, what's wrong with pornography, for goodness sake!?

Dworkin et al - Get a life!!