The decision by Amnesty International’s decision-making forum, the International Council Meeting, to call for the decriminalization of prostitution is another in a long line of triumphs for heartless neoliberal economics and the grotesque commodification of human beings that defines predatory capitalism.
“In the sickness of modern culture, the ability to exploit with impunity is distorted into a human right even by a renowned and respected humanitarian organization.” In “the grotesque commodification” of everything and everybody “freedom” means that even basic necessities such as air and water are commodities. Basic decency and humanity are considered luxuries beyond the ability of most to afford; the impoverished slaves are not to be considered victims but lazy or criminal schemers deserving their misery even if they didn’t choose to be slaves. In neoliberal capitalism everyone is responsible for whatever happens to them. It’s every man, woman and child for itself.
“Making war on people, as well as the planet, lies at the heart of neoliberal economics.” It is the only way that capitalism can continue. What is not mentioned is how Amnesty International and other NGO’s are used as weapons against non-capitalist countries or those outside “the new world order”. Human rights violations by the world’s biggest terrorist nation, the U.S.A., are conveniently hidden by the global corporate media and “freedom” is thought of as the right to exploit. This right to exploit is even held up as the way to self help through self exploitation. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps even if you’ve always been barefooted.
Legalizing prostitution is just another attempt at reforming capitalism. Capitalism cannot be reformed as any reform is only temporary and will be taken away unless it can be industrialized and made profitable. The left went to die with FDR who “saved” capitalism and convinced the left that capitalism could be reformed. That most people are brainwashed and conditioned from birth is the reality and pornography and prostitution of others and one’s self in the corporate world is the result. Capitalism is a societal disease that will progress to destruction.
That so many on the left remain lost in the idea of reforming capitalism recently expressed itself under the big leaderless tent of Occupy Wall Street. There was no clear message of destroying capitalism even though there were many socialists and anarchists there. There were also so called “Libertarians”(capitalist anarchists) there who openly want to reform capitalism.
Capitalism and its neoliberal commodification of everything and everybody cannot be reformed as people have been trying to do for centuries. Capitalism cannot be reformed nor can neoliberalism be removed from it except by something worse. That worst may be it’s own destruction via a worldwide economic and infrastructure collapse that many on both the left and right are anticipating. That anticipation of a coming collapse was even recently expressed to me by a young artist friend who considers himself a non-political atheist.
As admirable as fighting prostitution and human slavery is the excesses of neoliberal capitalism serve the purpose of distracting the left away from those areas where the capitalist does not want any opposition. Where are the war protestors? Next may be a war with Iran that could lead to a world war if the Ukraine doesn’t. For all the hype about the one remaining super power there are still three main conflicting imperialist powers in the world with Russia the other main nuclear power. In many ways the world resembles the pre World War II era.
The good news is that it only takes a committed three and a half percent minority to bring about revolution. But the single demand must be the destruction of capitalism and it must be a worldwide movement to defeat the neoliberal global capitalists(“the new world order’). In the meantime prepare as best you can by being ready to be self sustaining and network with others as, as I told my young friend, it’s not going to be some simple idyllic return to the land but violence where one can only survive in a group.
Capitalism is destroying itself but if enough of the left do not come out of the fog of reform than capitalism, in it’s neoliberal death throes, will probably destroy the human race.
National Propaganda Radio (NPR) also has had favorable things to say about the “liberation of sex-workers”.
When Fidel Castro marched into Havana in 1959, one of the first things he did was close the brothels and set up centers where the girls were taught to use sewing machines.
Privilege - something inextricably interwoven into predatory capitalist entrainment (think ‘entertainment’) is laser focused on establishing an identity that is fundamentally isolated as a commodity component to fit statistical priorities of supply and demand. Market research and advertising have hailed the insertion of advertising as ‘embedded’. Try sitting to watch any commercial movie production and observe to write down the set and prop components being sold in highly predictable plot variations to keep viewers glued. This, I would submit, should be a classroom exercise to raise the awareness of the ‘subliminalization’ of the entrainment industry.
The sub-culture made dominant is an ‘I am this - you are that’ identification with western societal rationals of crushing hierarchies, every human being a silo to maintain ever manipulable ‘demand’. ‘every ‘man’ is an island’ and every woman grabbed.
These distortions, channelings of attention are not unsurprisingly stunningly parallel to both cause and effect of centuries of viewing nature as ‘thing’ to exploited. It is interesting to read ancient chronicles of European explorers first experiencing the southern tropics, reversal of season, compass confusions, unfamiliar biomes and peoples - the disorientation fears that contributed to institutionalization of aggressions.
Today the “exotic” retains a twisted false nostalgia, quick short circuit for all the history erased from education. Today it is perfectly normal and highly desirable to ‘take a vacation’. What is being taken? What is being vacated? No one asks.
How about those destinations for a ‘sex vacation’? The epitomization of dissociative sexuality compounded with the market sanctioned pathology of negative transference for buying an experience of exploiting; the ‘embarrassed millionaire’ becomes ‘king for a day’- Think about it - an entire industry dedicated to get people to pay money to completely dissociate from systemically imposed daily disfunctionality, take it with you AND in fully sanctioned pathological denial that daily life is nearly unbearable, contribute to the oppression at the bottom-feeder level of the predatory model. You cannot make this stuff up… only systemic legacy pathologies can apply the psychic grease for industrial scale complicity so effectively veiled as the ‘desirable’, ‘identity affirming’ thing to do. Think of the social mileage sold to be able to brag about an ‘exotic vacation’.
“The current generation of neoliberal “feminists” cite the empowerment of a tiny, predominantly white female elite as proof of feminist advance.”
It is obvious now though I admit it took me a while to figure it out is that the 1 percent feminists were not feminists at all. If they had been advocating for all women, they would have embraced single payer health care, one of the best ways to help all women (and their children). But of course they couldn’t embrace anything resembling socialism; they are corporate capitalists. They were telling women that they could all somehow fit into the top 1 or 10 percent economic bracket. Newt Gingrich spread that nonsense to his disciples in the 90’s. It was bullshit then too.
I knew this piece was coming from Rev. Hedges. Sorry, but prostitution way, way, predates capitalism and no doubt it will exist in some form in any libertarian socialist or anarchist society I can imagine. And I don’t want to live in a society with the authoritarian structures what would be required to eliminate it.
It seems that a lot of people are confusing this crusading Chataqua-style protestant puritanicalism with leftism. Is Mr. Hedges going to start preaching temperance next?
Oops. This was not intended to be a reply to your post. But my browser is blocking the utilities for deleting or editing posts.
Yes. It still jars me to hear some female muckety muck say something like. “There’s no choice. We have to cut social security.” Galling.
The value of Hedges piece is that it is written to stimulate deeper consideration. What I see is how deeply entrenched the polarization of judgement is and the fact that it is not “one narrow venue of exploitation” but inextricably interwoven into an entire blanketing by a suffocating fabric centered on fragmentation for polarization purposes in order to maintain the speed of “growth” and the full bulwark of exploitation. It is rape in that, ultimately, it is not about healthy intimate sexuality - it is about twisted identity with power and victimhood precisely because it results in disempowerment.
While Canada (especially Ontario and the English-speaking parts of the maritimes) certainly has its stodgy puritanical protestant Scottish, things are much worse down here.
What mental contortions the orthodox left takes to somehow come to the conclusion that prostitution is either some “human right” needing protection or an evil that must be vigorously opposed. How much easier it is to blame “neoliberal economics” or “male domineering” (sneeringly referred to by some as “patriarchy”) The orthodox leftist mind produces such twaddle primarily because their hands are just as soiled and dirty as those whom they criticize and they are just as reluctant to submit themselves to any moral code beyond what “feels right” as those they oppose.
It is much easier to point the accusatory finger at others and blame them for the way things are while promoting a mind set where just about anything goes and nothing much matters anymore (except what we personally don’t like which may or may not agree with what others may like or dislike, blah, blah, blah!). That the dirt which soils the hands of the orthodox left is different than that which soils their opposition is irrelevant. All of us are morally polluted and we all need to be busily about cleaning up our own act instead of pointing with imperious piety an accusatory finger at the faults of others. Such personal growth hurts the one seeking it and most of us would rather inhabit our comfort zone than seek our own moral perfecting.
As long as people exist prostitution will exist.
Of course if they had NO ALTERNATIVE but to work in that trade then it’s understandable that legalization would make sense to them.
But if decent alternative employment were available to them then legalization probably would not be so attractive.
I agree. There is no black-and-white here. There is also the near universal assumption that because something is bad it automatically follows that a law against it is good. Look at what prohibition achieved! Or laws against drugs.
Laws, one way or another, will not sort the problem. Hedges christianity is prodding him in this article but I do agree with him that the sickness of our culture is the root. Obviously, the male element of that culture is directly at fault. But to be blunt, women are as keen to play with money as men are. Look at the idolisation of celebrity bodies… mostly female. What’s that all about if not titillating guys and marketing sex? Oh… bring on the insults now from all the feminists who think it’s 100% males to blame!
On a much broader front, if prostitution is illegal an awful lot of apparently respectable couples belong in jail!
I like your comment on jobs. Most people cannot see that… the control of everything through money having been so successfully choreographed.
Ah well not to worry… it might be over soon.
Mr. Hedges, an honorable and caring man, missed on this. His concerns are real but his cures are off the mark. Making this illegal, this aspect of living for the buyers or sellers, adds to PIC and capitalism, not the other way around. It also puts sex worker’s lives more at risk. Despite the " radical feminists " propaganda on this, they missed, too. Time to move on for the both of them. My advice: go find bigger fish to fry. The world is full of them, unfortunately.
Thank you, Chris Hedges… you are miles ahead of most in your Consciousness.
And this says it all:
“To be an anti-capitalist, to be a member of the authentic left who stands with all of the oppressed, is to embrace radical feminism—not the mock feminism of neoliberalism but the true feminism of Andrea Dworkin. It is to recognize that no assault against capitalism is possible, or morally permissible, unless it is accompanied by an assault against male violence and the exploitation of women and girls.”
I’ve felt so divided on this issue and tried to understand Amnesty’s position: that decriminalization would allow women–who were violently abused–to seek help. But the greater issue IS the culture of misogyny that makes prostitution a necessity for so many poor, desperate, displaced, and dispossessed women.
This is a GREAT article. So many males who pretend to hold Progressive or humanitarian values SPIT on women in all that they think, say, do, and feel entitled to. It’s painful to read comments (daily!) that express the glaring lack of humanity that presents itself as some kind of improvement over The Taliban.
You wait until your 6th paragraph to give voice at all to the subject of this article–the war on women/misogyny that lies at the root of not just capitalism, but the sense of male privilege which is global in scope. Whether you realize it or not, you are guilty of that same misogyny in that you do not want this subject to have air time. You want to carpet it over with a generic rap about capitalism leaving the specific damage done to women–through the commodification of their bodies–entirely out of the discussion.
Males like you never stop to examine what male privilege or white race privilege feel like. That’s why it’s irrelevant and inconvenient for you to consider these things; nor does your glaring lack of empathy do much to deepen your analysis.
Capitalism came much later into the human experience than did patriarchy, male-run hierarchies or human slavery. ALL of these are based on typically white male privilege. Capitalism is an EFFECT of a deeper root CAUSE, and that cause is borne of applying a lesser role, rank, status, worth, value, purpose, and purported spiritual viability to females along with deleting any mention of the Feminine side of Creation/Source/the Divine Essence.
You talk of the need for revolution but don’t realize that the ultimate revolution starts with GENDER equality, the 3rd rail that all you boy-soldier-would-be-revolutionaries can’t begin to wrap your (agent provocateur?) minds around. After all, you push the “human race” meme as a means of blanketing over the violence done BY men TO women.
Prostitution far predates capitalism and has been part of virtually all world civilizations up to and including the present. Education and educational opportunities seem to me the best way to offer a way out. That, and severe penalties to those that peddle young girls and sometimes boys.