Wednesday, November 05, 2014

More on Doug Henwood's hatred for the "bourgeois feminists"

It appears that Doug Henwood, hater of "bourgeois feminists" recently gained notoriety by attacking Hillary Clinton at Harper's.
But who actually cares what Doug Henwood thinks? He claims to be a Marxist, whatever that means these days - is he a card-carrying member of the Communist Party? Since I read the work of anthropologist Marvin Harris, and his analysis of the Marxist-leaning school of anthropology I haven't been able to take Marxism seriously, influenced as it is by the airy-fairy Hegelian dialectic.

But as far as I can tell, what being a Marxist boils down to for Henwood is calling everybody you don't like "bourgeois" and especially feminists. So Henwood's economic analyses are completely useless - he's just a bitter ranting old man who has nothing helpful to add to any economic discussion.

This is from Jacobin (of the notorious Sarah Kendzior-instigated Jacobinghazi):

BKS: Accumulation and its discontents: is there a specifically Marxist understanding of the current economic crisis that you subscribe to?

DH: Mine, of course, which is that the bourgeoisie launched a successful war on a troublesome working class in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That assault – wage-cutting, speedup, deregulation, outsourcing, union-busting, cutbacks in the welfare state, all the familiar stuff gathered under the name of neoliberalism – created a problem for a system dependent on high levels of mass consumption both to maintain aggregate demand and to secure its political legitimacy. Why put up with the volatility and tsurris of American life if there’s no promise of plentiful gadgetry and upward mobility? So the answer was to counter the downdraft of falling wages with rising borrowing, via credit cards and mortgages. That model seemed to hit a wall in the recent economic crisis, but there’s no real recognition of that fact, and no new model for accumulation.
In orthodox terms, the U.S. would be ready for a serious austerity program, but our ruling class is afraid to push too hard on that, at least for now. So I think we’re going to stumble along for some time until some new economic and political model emerges. Or if one doesn’t emerge, maybe we’ll just fall apart.
Austerity program? Seriously? The thing right-wingers are always pushing for and Krugman is always objecting to? And Henwood claims to care so much about the poor, on whom all austerity programs would fall especially hard.

Now the "bourgeoisie" sound evil and Henwood's description of their activities would seem to identify them as Ronald Reagan and the Koch brothers, but the term's umbrella is very large, especially when it comes to feminists. As I noted yesterday, he blamed "bourgeois feminists" for exploiting workers in a t-shirt factory. He's referring to a Gawker article, but at least the article provides a link to the dastardly "bourgeois feminists" at The Fawcett Society, which has been working for women's rights since 1866. They say:
“Upon receiving samples of the range at our offices in early October we noted that the t-shirts had in fact been produced in Mauritius, upon which we queried (over email) the ethical credentials of the Mauritian factory, and the fabric used.
“We were assured by Whistles (over email) that the Mauritian factory:
‘is a fully audited, socially and ethical compliant factory which has the following accreditations.
So apparently these dastardly "bourgeois feminists" made a mistake. Which is all it takes for Henwood to attack them as heartless exploiters of the poor. Because of course over at the commune where he lives in Brooklyn, they vet every last consumer good they use, to ensure there is no exploitation anywhere in the production and distribution cycle. Which is why they only use artisinal cell phones.

But of course they don't - they just expect feminists (and unless you are in the Third World you are by definition a bourgeois feminist in Henwood's personal Marxist dictionary) to be perfect.

And then there's Henwood's lazy journalism.

I've been a fan of the work of Joe Conason and Gene Lyons since I read their "The Hunting of the President" and so was very pleased to see they both went after Henwood for his piece on Hillary Clinton.

Conason:
In short, Henwood simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about (and his reliance on former Fox News personality Dick Morris for guidance is mindboggling). What’s most disappointing is that a magazine of Harper’s’ reputation – which first exposed Whitewater as a political hoax – would provide a platform for his baseless speculations.
And based on Henwood's response to Lyons, I guess I shouldn't take his smearing and blocking me personally. Lyons writes:
...Then, after I wrote a column pointing out that almost everything he'd written about that phony scandal was nonsense, Henwood began calling me bad names on social media. "Clinton towel boy" was one.
So I posted the following on his Facebook page:
"I find it interesting that when confronted with several quite basic factual errors in his description of the great Whitewater scandal of legend and song, Doug Henwood's response is name-calling. That tells me pretty much all I need to know about him...

...Now if somebody took something of mine apart like that, I'd do my best to make them regret it. But Henwood can't, because he was blowing smoke to begin with.
"What I don't get," he answered "is why you're so invested in doing PR for these (bleeps)."
Sorry dude, not playing. Facts are facts.
Everybody makes mistakes. Professionals own them.
Apparently being nasty to his critics is just who Doug Henwood is. But at least we all know what the true meaning of "bourgeois" is now - if you make a living writing for the Nation, Harper's and your own blog, you are a righteous revolutionary. Pretty much everybody else in the First World is a member of the bourgeoisie. Especially those uppity feminists.

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