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Ayn Rand, GOP hero, condemns Christianity, Altruism, and love for the, "weak" among us.

Think Progress 

A film adaptation of the 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, opened this past Friday. The release of the film has coincided with a resurgence of popularity for Rand on the American Right. The trailer for Atlas Shrugged had its world premier at this year's CPAC conference, the Tea Party group FreedomWorks has rolled out a massive campaign to promote the film, and the story's opening line — "Who is John Galt" — has appeared on numerous signs at Tea Party rallies.

At the same time, some of the right's leading political and media lights have heaped praise upon Rand. The author of the Republicans' new budget plan to gut Medicare and Medicaid, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has said Rand is the reason he entered politics. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) have both declared themselves devotees of her writing. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has his law clerks watch the film adaptation of Rand's book The Fountainhead. She's also received accolades from right-wing pundits Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, John Stossel, and Andrew Napolitano.

During her lifetime, Rand advocated "the virtue of selfishness," declared altruism to be "evil," opposed Medicare and all forms of government support for the middle-class and the poor, and condemned Christianity for advocating love and compassion for the less fortunate:

Rand also dismissed the feminist movement as a "false" and "phony" issue, said a female commander in chief would be "unspeakable," characterized Arabs as "almost totally primitive savages," and called government efforts to aid the handicapped and educate "subnormal children" an attempt to "bring everybody to the level of the handicapped."

As for the new Atlas Shrugged film, it made $1.7 million in its first three days in theaters, reasonable but unspectacular numbers for a limited release on 299 screens. But box-office watchers looking to see if the Tea Party represents a discrete market would have been disappointed. The movie grossed just $5,608 per theater over that time period, hardly a sign that groups were buying out theaters or that the movie was a pop culture phenomenon. By contrast, An Inconvenient Truth took in $70,333 per theater during its first five days on screens. That number fell to $17,615 per theater in its second week, but that number is still higher than Atlas Shrugged's more widely-available debut. And Atlas Shrugged's numbers look positively puny next to another culture-war adaptation of a popular book, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which raked in $125,185,971 over its first five days in theaters.


Feminism Has Been Hijacked by The Bourgeois!

by Hester Eisenstein

And, by identifying freedom with paid work, mainstream feminism offered the perfect cover to multinational corporations exploiting women’s labor in free trade zones.
In short, feminism became the language of capitalist modernization.

Feminism Seduced: How Global Elites Use Women's Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World, by Hester Eisenstein weaves a compelling account of how the central ideas of “hegemonic feminism” have legitimized the corporate capitalist assault on the working class in the United States and on small farmers and workers, both urban and rural, in the global South.
In this way, she argues, mainstream feminism has served as unwitting handmaiden to the capitalist class. Situating her analysis of mainstream feminism in a broader context of the economics of capitalist globalization, Eisenstein connects changes in the gender order to the rise of neoliberalism.
By hegemonic feminism, she means that certain liberal feminist ideas have become part of the “commonsense” of U.S. culture. In particular, she argues, the notion that paid work, in itself, represents liberation for women is widely accepted.
Second-wave feminism included a strong tradition of socialist/anarchist feminism, third-world and women of color feminism, as well as radical feminism.
But the dominant ideas of the movement emphasized individual achievement and the possibilities for self-actualization inherent in the competitive, free-for-all marketplace and political system.
Liberal feminism addressed many different issues, but focused overwhelmingly on women’s right to compete with men on equal terms in the labor market.
While purporting to represent all women, mainstream feminism has primarily advanced the interests of women with higher education, so that after forty years of feminist activism, there is now an enormous class divide among women workers.
To understand how and why this has happened, Eisenstein traces the history of feminist ideas and politics in the context of the fundamental restructuring of the global economy and the rise of the neoliberal political order.
Taking globalization as the framework for describing this “sea change” in the world capitalist political economy, Eisenstein identifies deindustrialization, the rise of export processing zones in the global South.
Also, the growth of the service sector, the explosion of the financial sector, and the employers’ offensive against unions as key to the transformation of women’s relation to waged labor.
In the North, globalization entailed a precipitous decline in men’s wages, marking the end of the “family wage” for men who had often provided sole financial support in traditional male breadwinner marriages. At the same time, the rise of the service economy opened up a huge demand for low-wage, female labor.
In the South, the “new enclosure” movement threw women into an expanding labor market. Insofar as mainstream feminism had lauded paid employment for women as a route to escape the oppression of patriarchal marriage, feminism in the United States helped to create a new pool of labor that capitalist employers could use to cut costs.
Women’s willingness to enter the workforce in massive numbers allowed corporations to resist the pressure for wage increases.
And, by identifying freedom with paid work, mainstream feminism offered the perfect cover to multinational corporations exploiting women’s labor in free trade zones.
In short, feminism became the language of capitalist modernization.


Vittorio Arrigoni Kidnapped Palestinian Freedom Fighter Found Dead in Gaza

Kidnapped Palestinian Freedom Fighter Found Dead in Gaza

His body was found hours after the Islamist group, Tawhid and Jihad, claimed to be holding him hostage, in exchange for the release of their leader. As of April 15th, the group has released a statement saying that they deny having murdered him, but are pleased to see him dead.
Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian Human Rites activists, who arrived in Gaza with the, Free Gaza, movement. He also wrote for the Italian Newspaper, Il Manifestoin addition to blogging on Guerrilla Radio.


Porn and Capitalism, We All Sell Ourselves For Money

...just a little.

By Sadie Ryanne.

Mainstream porn is exploitative and degrading. But it’s more complicated than that.

We should be focused on dismantling a society that forces us to sell ourselves, not one particular industry within that society – especially an industry that is currently (for better or worse) the livelihood for some of the most vulnerable people in our culture

A few months ago I signed up for a workshop for sex worker activists at HIPS and presented with the Red Umbrella Project.

It’s called “Personal Storytelling for Social Change” and encourages sex workers to tell their/our stories in the face of widespread ignorance about the realities of sex work.

I see it as claiming space within a dialog that is overwhelmingly dominated by non-sex workers, especially white, middle class, cis [on the same side] Christians and feminists.

So, I was thinking about what I would say about my experience in the industry. Then, my Facebook displayed an advertisement for an organization called “Porn Harms.”

It’s just another group dedicated to exposing the negative impact of porn on women (presumably by perpetuating sexist ideas) and men (presumably by degrading their morality/masculinity).

The website is full of questionable research about how porn is addictive and obligatory appeals to how it “destroys families” and “corrupts children.”

Can porn perpetuate sexist/racist/cissexist/transphobic ideologies? Absolutely.

Is most porn ethically bankrupt? Of course.

Can it be fun and empowering? Sometimes.

Some sex-positive activists — particularly relatively better-off ones who do sex work purely by choice — focus on this last one.

They talk about how porn can be reclaimed, and even make anti-oppressive porn that is by and for female, queer, and trans people. (Can you tell I had a subscription to Crash Pad?)

I think it’s amazing that we have stuff like Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Women Porn Project working to portray trans women’s sexuality in a realistic way, and not based only on some cis guy’s fantasies.

We desperately need more of that. You should probably buy that movie, and then go make your own. (If you want to.)

But the reality is that a lot of mainstream porn is exploitative and degrading. A lot of people do it purely for money. If we only defend porn that is understood as “queer” or “empowering”, we still leave ourselves open to attack from the right and from anti-porn feminists.

If pro-porn activists only focus on queer/liberating porn, the right’s accusations about mainstream porn (and the people who work in it) will go unchallenged.

If we don’t speak explicitly about mainstream porn (the oppressive, cis supremacist kind), they will keep dominating the discourse on this type of porn.

And by extension, the people who depend on it for a livelihood. People who have worked in mainstream porn should be allowed to tell the story from our points of view.

So, yes, mainstream porn is exploitative and degrading. But it’s more complicated than that.

This got me thinking about other shit I’ve done to survive under a capitalist economy. I would say all of it is exploitative and degrading in some way or another.

Under a capitalist economy, we’re all forced to sell ourselves somehow. Judging or focusing on one group of marginalized and oppressed people (a) makes no sense and (b) perpetuates the harm done to them.

The same moral condemnation used against porn is directed at prostitution and other forms of sex workers, who often have it a lot harder than people like me who aren’t working dark alleys with anonymous strangers at night.

Porn performers have to deal with stigma and certain levels of fear, while street-involved sex workers face the brunt of physical violence. (The contrast is no accident, by the way. Porn is legal and regulated.

“Prostitution” is criminalized. Abusive photographers can be reported. Abusive pimps get away with it precisely because the cops are just as abusive.)

But it is the same whorephobia underlying both kinds of oppression. The prudish voices that condemn porn are usually the same voices (even the “feminist” ones) decrying the “moral depravity” of prostitution.

And that’s the idea behind the criminalization of prostitution: policies that put more sex workers on the streets, behind bars and in danger.

We should be focused on dismantling a society that forces us to sell ourselves, not one particular industry within that society — especially an industry that is currently (for better or worse) the livelihood for some of the most vulnerable people in our culture.

We should be trying to build a world where, instead of working for the profit of others, we work for pleasure and for the benefit of ourselves, our communities and our planet.

Focusing on porn, and ignoring the larger context of capitalism, only serves the interest of those in power and harms those with the least power.