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2022年5月 6日 (金)

Seki Hirono and Feminism (1)

 Looking back at Seki Hirono's work today, one thing that stands out is his active voice in feminist thought and movement. Of particular importance are "On Peace and Sovereignty in the House" (1986) and his review of Dolores Hayden "The Grand Domestic Revolution" (original 1981, Japanese translation 1984). Therefore, I would like to make these two almost-forgotten works accessible on the Internet in Japanese/English. As a first step, I would like to post the former one.
※All English translations below are based on DeepL.

※See article (2).

Seki Hirono, "On the Peace and Sovereignty of the House," 1986.

  I have books by Johann Jakob Bachofen and Robert Briffault gathering dust on my bookshelves without having time to taste them. If I dare to talk about feminism, it is only in the capacity of someone who has dabbled in the history of Western thought and political economy. However, I am well aware that the issues raised by contemporary feminism go far beyond the scope of the old theories of women's rights expansion and gender equality. Women have become a universal problematic existence that should liberate all mankind through their own liberation, just as the proletariat did for Marx in the past. This is because the fact that nature has imprinted on our bodies the sexes of men and women has become the subject of politics and controversy, symbolizing and summarizing the historical and "ontological" crisis and turning point of our time regarding the relationship between nature and culture. With its radical interrogation of the relationship between nature and culture, feminism heralds a discreet but enormous tectonic shift at the bottom of civilization.

 But I have some objections and criticisms of both so-called Marxist feminism (MF) and ecological feminism (EF). For example, I am not convinced by the theory of the junction of capitalism and patriarchy that some MFs preach. The "from the patriarchal relations of the tundft and guilds to the monetary relations of the manufactures" is one of the crucial points of the Marxian understanding of capitalism. From a Marxist perspective, contrary to MF, who calls himself a Marxist, the oppression and discrimination of women in the modern world must be explained solely as a result of the penetration of capitalist monetary relations. The distortions in MF's theory (as it appears to me) are not MF's fault, but rather the result of the limitations of classical Marxism, which sees monetary relations, or "economistic" class relations, as the only possible explanation. What is needed here is a viewpoint that sees monetary relations as a univocal symbolic order of logos, and that what is problematic in modern society is not classical class but a hierarchical order composed of various kinds of discrimination and segregation. In this hierarchical order, women are reduced to mere lower-class workers simply because they are women. Sex is used as a signifier of discrimination that actually has nothing to do with gender.

 On the other hand, the EF, which tries to value women as an entity alien to the modern industrial world in terms of life, nature, and motherhood, is concerned with the possibility of women falling back into the trap of bourgeois culture since Romantic literature, which has placed women under a kind of clever political confinement by equating the feminine with nature and spirituality. EF reflects the ideological confusion of ecology itself. The ecological movement cannot be equated with a romantic celebration of nature and life. On the contrary, for ecologists, human beings are to all intents and purposes defined by technology and labor, and tend to deviate from the natural order of things, and are therefore entities that can only be regulated by ethics and law, not nature. It is bourgeois ideology that regards nature as a self-evident "given," and in this sense there is a paradoxical complicity between Romantic culture and environmental destruction.


The limitations of both MF and EF, in my opinion, stem from the fact that both remain within the framework of the so-called Ortner Paradigm (Sherry B. Ortner), in which "men = culture/women = nature. The former seeks to elevate women from nature to culture through social participation and status elevation, while the latter seeks women's virtue in their natural existence. However, this paradigm, which has been ultimately perfected by modern structuralism, is nothing but a political myth fabricated by men, the state, and capital to deceive women. Unfortunately, it is impossible to comment on this issue here, so I will only discuss the basics.

 It is the enduring achievement of Veblen and his inspiration, the technological historian Mumford, to have discovered and emphasized the great role of women as engineers and industrialists in the Neolithic period, when mankind was learning to settle down and begin its journey to civilization. There is no doubt that almost all of the technologies that made sedentary life possible, including cooking, were developed by women - perhaps out of necessity to care for children and the elderly. And cooking is the prototype of modern technology in that it is the act of man adding energy to matter to alter its chemical composition.

 The home and family are not only natural biological endowments, they are the cultural effects of the first "technological revolution" in human history, led by women. Women as engineers, through their cultural revolution, created the first law-home peace in history.

"Here, then, let us turn back and see how the peace-element develops alongside the war-element. We shall find that peace-rules and peace-institutions have been established, from the earliest civilization, even for the relations of groups with each other. House-peace is perhaps the simplest form. The nature-people very often bury a man under his own fireplace, and from this usage radiate various customs, all of which go to associate the ghosts of the dead with the hearthstone of the living. It follows that quarreling, brawling, or violence near the hearth is an insult to the ghosts. Hence arises a notion of religious sacredness about the hearth an atmosphere of peace is created, and the women who live in the house and work at the hearth profit by it.
(William G. Sumner)." Note (1)

The earliest Germanic law was structured around the peace of the house, where torts against women were punished with sentences two to three times heavier than those against men.

 As priestesses of the culture of the home, women had a mission that went beyond mere housekeeping to preserve the peace of the home while preserving the memory of the dead, weaving traditions like weaving a loom, and revitalizing them in the midst of young life. In this sense, the feminine has a deep affinity with the warrior and youth. The development of the peace of the house gives birth to the rural and urban as a federation of houses. The Western concept of citizenship, beginning with the ancient Greek polis, arose as an extension of the culture of the house, as the discovery of the political significance of "dwelling. What the culture of the polis demonstrates is not the negation of the culture of the house, but its perfection.

 Modern people, with their modern, parliamentary-democratic prejudices, tend to believe that in the ancient polis women were subjected to political disenfranchisement and oppressed by patriarchal tyranny. However, the ancient polis was a ruralized city (Marx), where the independence and supremacy of the domestic (oikos) culture over the polis and the sovereign status of women in the household were self-evident premises of political life, as in the traditional rural areas. Without such a view, the works of Sophokles and Aristophanēs would be inexplicable. Incidentally, the "ancient" situation in which women were the mainstay of the family persisted in traditional rural societies for quite a long time, even into the modern era. Of course, such societies were not entirely free from discrimination and oppression of women. But it is also true that women in traditional societies have never protested against men. This cannot be blamed on their ignorance or resignation.


 The irony that runs through Western history, however, is that Western civilization, which discovered the political meaning of dwelling as the very idea of citizenship, has simultaneously continued to devote itself to the deconstruction of the culture of home and the meaning of dwelling. The sovereignty of the oikos becomes oikonomia (economy) as the domination of the state over the oikos. The possibility of the city also implies the possibility of commerce and war, through both of which the process of civilization can be transformed into a process of barbarization. This reversal began in the Roman Familia. In the case of the ancient Romans, who saw in the process of urbanization only increased opportunities for profit and advancement through commerce and war, the family itself became a familia, a unit of slavery based on such opportunities for profit and power, and the wife and children became chattel slaves that could be freely used and sold by the pater familias, the proprietors of the family. The wife and children became chattel slaves who could be freely used and sold by the managing patriarch, the pater familias.

 In response to this barbarization in the name of civilization, Stoic philosophy, the imperial ideology of the Roman Empire, began to explain the decadence and disintegration of culture as a "return to nature. This is a fact that should be well noted when considering the traditional Western conception of nature in relation to the Ortner-Paradigm mentioned above. Under the rule of domestic peace, women represented culture. Men, however, justified the dismantling and death of house culture under patriarchal slavery in the name of nature, eventually toppling the value standard to male=culture/female=nature.

 While the Roman patriarchs dismantled the peace and sovereignty of the house in search of their own glory (gloria) and reorganized the house into a slavery management unit, the Christian Church, in the name of the grace of God (gratia), established a welfare-based rule over the house based on intervention and manipulation. Again, it is not possible to discuss the church's domination of the people in detail, but I would like to point out just two important things in relation to the issue of the house.

 First, the church organization, modeled on ancient slavery and organized around an asexual, absent God as an imaginary master, realized a fatherless, abstract patriarchy with immortality and universal influence that was not limited by the humanistic antagonism between the two sexes. Here began the colonization of the house by bureaucratic power.

 Second, since the church is neither a military nor a commercial organization, but a power organization established solely on the basis of pure human morality, and its rule is justified in the name of love, shelter, and service in the likeness of the culture of the house, the distinction between the logic of the house and the pseudo-patriarchal power of the church becomes increasingly difficult to discern.

 It is only in the West, in the wake of the Church's domination of the people, that this expanded form of impersonal power in the form of patriarchy was established, and this is what also characterizes the bureaucracy of the modern state, which has inherited much of its heritage from the Church. No other civilization has such an example, where a clear line is drawn between the house and family order and public power, which is parasitic on popular society on the basis of ritual and military violence.

 Chinese, Islamic, and other powers have never attempted to intervene from above in the foundations of the autogenous and traditional autonomy of the house and peasantry. Only Western bureaucratic power, in the form of extended patrimony, therefore, has the concept of "management" or "finance," as the German word for state finance, Staatshaushalt, suggests. In other words, in the West, the household was thoroughly colonized by such power, not only by the burdens of taxation and military service imposed on the household and family, but also by the level of the culture of the household.

 Here, human reproduction, production, and education themselves became the objects of power. What other civilization can conceive of a public authority with a general marriage policy such as the medieval church, which took over marriage as a sacrament? The power to colonize the home denies the home as a community of man and woman precisely because of its colonialism, and replaces same-sex existence with the universal concept of the "human being. The theological concept of the human being is transformed into a biological one in the modern world.


 However, the domination of the Church over the house in the Middle Ages was only a prelude to the colonization of the house by capital and the state that began with the birth of capitalist society in the 16th century and beyond. The kings of absolutist states compared the state to a large family and legitimized themselves as patriarchs of their subjects. First, Puritans, and then bourgeois ideologues such as Locke, rebelled against this state patriarchalism and overthrew the monarchy, but their rebellion and liberation were conditioned on the family itself becoming an autonomous political, economic, and cultural unit that assumed many functions of church and state. Puritanical patriarchs were not greedy slavery managers like the Roman patriarchs. They were priests in a secular world who ruled their families in the name of love for their wives and care for their children. But therein lies the problem.

"Women were expected to love and cherish their husbands after marriage, and were taught that this was their sacred duty. (omitted) Paradoxically, one of the first consequences of conjugal love was the strengthening of the husband's authority over his wife and an increase in conformity on her part to submit to his commands. This is tantamount to a paradox in which the growing interest in the children strengthened the determination to frustrate their will by flogging." Note (2)

 The early bourgeoisie was not clearly aware of their profit motive, but saw it as love for the family, an effort to leave their children rich property and high status. Through this modern bourgeois love of the family, the family was reduced to a unit of formation and preservation, inheritance and accumulation of private property.

 Thus, the bourgeois family became an isolated world, detached from kinship and land relations, and marriage and childbearing became regulated by the capitalist logic of investment and accumulation. The medieval household, which included members outside the immediate family, was gradually replaced by the modern family, with the immediate blood relatives at its core, but this emphasis on blood relations, which gave rise to racism and other forms of discrimination, inevitably emerged from the nature of bourgeois wealth, which is based on the private appropriation of the wealth produced by the community. This emphasis on kinship, which produces racism and other forms of discrimination, inevitably emerges from the nature of bourgeois wealth, which is founded on the private appropriation of community-produced wealth.

 The pious love for the family created by capitalism ends up becoming a worship of biological facts as fate. But until the late nineteenth century, as Marx's words about the proletariat "free from the family" show, these modern families were only a phenomenon of upper-class society, and the medieval tradition of the household remained among rural and urban minorities who still had a strong local economy. The completion of the nation-state and the waves of industrialization and urbanization since the last century have forced this bourgeois family norm on all classes, leading to the progression of the nuclear family.

 Capitalist society, dominated by the blind profit motive and competition, is incapable of creating any communal ethic on its own, and therefore must incorporate non-capitalist Gemeinschaftian elements into its system as servo-mechanisms for sustained and stable growth. In other words, the free and anarchic development of the capitalist economy cannot be achieved without the maintenance and strengthening of the authoritarian structures of the state and the family.

 However - and this is the point - capitalism does not combine in its system elements that are totally alien to itself in the family and the state. (If it did, the family and the state could be the weapons to bring down the capitalist system.) On the contrary, the Western family and the state, which have their origins in the Roman familia and the popular rule of the Christian church, have from the beginning contained elements of a managerial organization to manage reproduction and production in an economically rational way, which is why they can be successfully "joined" with the capitalist economy. It was only natural, then, that the Livs of the 1960s started out by demanding the dismantling of the modern family. Their demands, like the objections of the young people who called for the dismantling of the universities, were an indispensable first step toward a massive transformation.


 The history of Western power in the form of "extended domesticity" has thus been a process in which the apparatuses of state and capital control over the family itself have become increasingly integrated and indistinguishable from each other on a daily basis. This process culminated in the Keynesian welfare state and consumer society of the post-World War II era, when to be a homesteader was to be a statist and a "capitalist. The destruction of the ancient peace and sovereignty of the house, the colonization of the house by the fatherless patriarchy of capital and state, was completed here.

 Again, one of the essential conditions for the establishment and development of capitalism is the denial of the sovereignty of the house by patriarchal power, the dismantling and reduction of the house to a biological substructure of public power. In this regard, the Soviet Stalin Family Law of 1936 deserves to be studied more. This law is a good example of the attitude that the state, even in the National Socialist Soviet Union, must take toward the family in order to be a state.

 However, the lib and feminist movements since the 1960s have not emerged because of the ever more desperate deterioration of the status of women, but on the contrary, they have emerged in response to the weakening of capitalism's integrating power in the wake of the Keynesian crisis of the state and the economy. And as the crisis of the capitalist system in the "North" has deepened, no other cultural field has undergone such growth and transformation over the past decade. It is quite possible that ecology will eventually merge with the feminist movement. This is because the restoration of peace and sovereignty of that lost home is now slowly emerging on the horizon of movements and theories as a fundamental goal shared by both.

 Can the feminist movement carry out a two-sided strategy? Can it transform the isolated nuclear family into a social family open to the community and the world, and even into a communal home, while at the same time dismantling the abstract unity of the nation imposed from above into a solidarity and union of home and home? Can the family, encapsulated under the "my home" principle and now on the verge of disintegration, be transformed into the home as a site of daily struggle against capital and the state?

 But it is the sovereignty of these homes that constitutes real socialism. For if the house, the universe of use-values, becomes the ultimate subject of political economy, and if public politics and economy exist only as a relationship of mutual support between house and house, then the logic of capital accumulation, G-W G´ must revert to the original logic of exchange, W-G-W. But socialism is also a form of capitalist society.

 But socialism is also a task of collective conversion and turnaround of the people from the perverted motivations prevailing in capitalist society. A socialist society will need a holy being, a transcendent being who can suppress and penetrate the secular ego in order for its communal ethics to remain unshaken. There can be no reversal from capitalist secularization without an encounter with the transcendent. Herein lies the most important task that feminism must undertake.

 Having lost sight of the transcendent through secularization, human beings, after the death of God, found the other, the opposite sex, inherent in their bodies, and our bodies became a place where the transcendent invades through the fundamental division into sexes. Therefore, we must expect not unity and equality between the two sexes, but strife and antagonism. And until the day comes when the struggle between the two genders is transformed from something unjust and subtle into something positive and productive, when we can reconcile with the opposite sex as our inner Other through the struggle, we cannot say that we have been liberated.

 What is fundamentally productive in the Marxian sense of the word is the friendly struggle between man and woman that shatters any identity and continuously transforms and generates it.

Note (1)
William Graham Sumner, War and Other Essays (1919), I War, p.16

The following is a continuation of the same paragraph,

"The householder has a dignity and prerogative in his house, however humble his social position may be; hence the maxim that a man's house is his castle goes back to the beginning of civilization. It may be only a wind-shelter, but [17] the ghosts protect it; and any stranger, fugitive, suppliant, even an enemy, if admitted, comes under the house protection and hospitality while there. As the house becomes larger and better the peace-taboo extends from the fireplace to the whole house and then to the yard or enclosure. This is the house-peace."

Note (2)
Lawrence Stone "Rise of the Nuclear Family" in Charles E. Rosenberg ed. The Family in History, 1975. (pp.53-54)


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