Friday, March 09, 2007

From Orthodoxy to Orthodoxy

I missed the passing of this feminist and Marxist historian. It is interesting to see her make the same historic transition in her life that many classic American liberals before her did back during the Cold War. Going from toying with Marxism to becoming hardened right wingers.


ELIZABETH FOX-Genovese, a controversial figure in American feminism, passed away last week at 65. The career of this remarkable writer and scholar illustrates the complexities and challenges of 20th- and 21st-century feminism. She evolved from a left-wing Marxist feminist into a deeply conservative Catholic anti feminist, two positions that are equally alien to me. Yet she managed, along the way, to raise many important questions and offer many brilliant insights.

Fox-Genovese's journey from Marxism to Catholic traditionalism -- shared by her husband, historian Eugene Genovese -- could be seen, from a classical liberal point of view, in starkly negative terms: as a full-circle transition from one anti-individualist, antiliberal philosophy to another. Yet when it comes to women's issues, her critique of individualism contains an important kernel of truth. Reconciling women's pursuit of their new roles, freedoms, and opportunities with the needs of families and children has often been a rocky road, as several generations of feminism's daughters have found out.


The advent of the victory of the Neo-Cons in setting the political agenda after 1989 was the advent of a new Cold War against "The Cultural Left". With the phony war on Terrorism in 2001, several on the Left became self professed War Hawks such as Christopher Hitchens, just as their liberal predecessors did having been rabid anti-Stalinists they devolved into New Right anti-communists during the Viet-Nam war.

The Fox-Genovese story is just another pathetic story of two liberal intellectuals in America who embrace ideas not praxis, subsequently careerism and opportunism shatters all their ideological flirtations with Marxism.

No different then the Daniel Bell story.


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2 comments:

Mike said...

"She evolved from a left-wing Marxist feminist into a deeply conservative Catholic anti feminist, two positions that are equally alien to me."

If you read Rothbard ("Left and Right" or "For a New Liberty"), they really aren't that far apart at all, so actually it is not surprising.

Good post.

eugene plawiuk said...

Cathy Young who wrote this piece actually is familiar with Rothbard since she is a Libertarian Feminist on the board of Reason Magazine.