Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 25. 3rd October 1973

The Politics of Menstrual Extraction

The Politics of Menstrual Extraction

Dear Comrades,

Ron O'Briens letter, like those of Kay Goodger, Debbie Jones and Linda Evans seems largely based on arguing against inferences which he has arbitarily drawn from my nonsupport of Lorraine Rothman and from my letter to Jill Basher setting out some of my reasons why. One inference all four writers draw is that I am an "ivory tower revolutionary" etc etc who is opposed to concrete reforms and who prefers to wait safely ensconced in a university until the revolution. This, of course, is a quite stupid allegation — as stupid as Tom Scott's cartoon in Salient last week.

In the first place it cannot be sustained from a consideration of my concrete political practice. In the second place and most importantly the question in New Zealand at present is not an abstract "reform vs revolution", Where the conditions for open revolutionary struggle are so obviously not present, it becomes a question of what type of reforms or concrete measures build cumulatively in the direction of radical social change, I do not have space here to do so, but I am happy to discuss why Rothman's orientation does not lead in that direction, an opinion which I hold all the more strongly having heard her.

Goodger, Evans, Jones and O'Brien have all demonstrated that they are prepared to accept that if a group of women propose a concrete direction such as Rothman and self-help represents them ipso facto this direction must be one which helps to liberate women. They then go on to obscure their refusal to make concrete differentiations between reformist actions by accusing me of being an abstract, sloganeering super-revolutionary when I attempt to do so.

Nor can O'Brien successfully hide his pragmatism or establish the socialist character of his criticisms by including in his letter inspired insights to the effect that the reproduction of labour power as a commodity is carried on in the family. In his case, as with Goodger, there are special political reasons for this uncritical reformism.

For myself, I agree with O'Brien when he says that masses rather than "theoreticians and pedantic revolutionaries in ivory towers" make revolution though apart from his implication that I fit in the latter category, one could also see in this statement a certain anti-theory bias which is typical of the politics of labour as opposed to those of socialism. And anyway, I find the original Mao more instructive on the mass line than O'Brien's bastardised paraphrase Not to mention a sight more plausible than when it comes from one with O'Brien's political orientation.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Wilson.