New Links

Two new additions to the list of links I like. First, the Triple Crisis blog, which has contributions on crises in finance, development and the environment by, among others, the excellent South Asian economist Jayati Ghosh. I interviewed her for Stuffed and Starved, and have seldom encountered a sharper mind. Next, my friend and fellow-writing-grotto-partner Scott James who now has a column bearing his name in the New York Times Bay Area edition. Scott has been writing some fine columns for a while now but I wanted to flag his column for what I think’s one of the most important pieces in a long time. No, it’s not the column he’s about to publish, but his article on open gay marriage published last Friday. What’s so terrific about it is that, unpretentiously and honestly, challenges one of the most foundational social assumptions – that a marriage necessarily involves monogamy. In the debate around gay marriage, the judicial debates invokegay couples who very closely resemble the white-picket-fence world of the perfect straight couple. The debate around gay marriage can, however, be a way to discuss far richer and deeper questions that affect the whole of society: about how love can flourish in a range of different arrangements, monogamy being only one among many. It’s quiet, sensible, unflinching dynamite.

3 Replies to “New Links”

  1. The Value of Nothing?
    Perhaps we should ask ourselves, what value do we place on our relationships? What are we prepared to forgo, to sacrifice, for our relationships? Judging by Scott James’ article, very little indeed. It seems to reinforce the idea that you can have everything, all the time, immediately, and for the minimum possible outlay (on credit if possible, and pay the piper later). The fact that extra-marital relations are referred to as ‘play’ seems very appropriate to me. Is that what sex has become? A game to be played at, for amusement, for instant gratification of our baser instincts and desires? Perhaps Bill should have just owned up and said, “Oh its OK, Hillary and I have rules, you see, and its the 3rd of the month, and she’s out of town, so it’s all hunky-dory” What are the children of these arrangements supposed to make of it all?

  2. This morning, I watched your panel discussion with Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein on C-Span. The discussion was so professional and so intelligent and so dignified, I longed to hear you three discussing Gay Rights issues in the same clear-headed way.

    I’ve listened to many roundtable discussions with Gay activists, and they quickly deteriorate into “radical queer” gobbledygook and infighting. Most of the participants have completely bought into the concept of Gay people as societal outsiders, as people who “don’t need” certain Constitutional rights like marriage and military service, and who must needs appropriate cruel epithets (“queer”, “dyke”) in futile attempts to neutralize their toxicity.

    The radical image of their movement comes across as more important than the goals of the movement. These people have no idea why the power structure fails to take them seriously. Something is definitely missing. I think it’s the heterosexual ally’s perspective.

    One day I’d love to see Straight progressives such as yourself, Ms. Goodman, Ms. Klein, Noam Chomsky, Faye Wattleton, Vandana Shiva and Julian Bond, whose areas of specialization are not Gay Rights, weigh in on the tactics of today’s Gay Rights movement. You could respond to questions Gay activists find themselves unwilling or unable to ask:

    What is the movement doing that it shouldn’t be doing? What should it be doing that it isn’t? Is “reclaiming” sexual slurs a wise strategy for advancing equality goals? Can strictly secular strategies succeed against organized religion-based assaults?

    If you were to be part of a panel discussion with only Straight participants, I’m sure it would spark outrage among some Gay activists who’d challenge your right to speak on their issues. However, I think Civil Rights and victimization by the religious Right Wing are topics that every fair-minded person (progressive or conservative) has the right to address. I also think Straight progressives have valuable ideas to contribute to the equality struggle. Please give it some thought.

  3. “The Value of Nothing” identifies what Greenspan referred to as the “flaw in the ideology” as economic thinking that places self-interest over fair play as a biologically unsound perspective, and therefore the cause of our economic ills.

    We need a similar connection to be made between a value that is biologically unsound in the arena of human emotion and our approach to our sexual relationship(s). This connection comes to us from neuroscience. The value underlying our concept of marriage is reproduction. In society today this value has got overtaken by the older notion of sex being about pleasuring ourselves.

    Sadly, for the health of society (and the longevity of our relationships), both are out of touch with biological reality. Neuroscience reveals that the purpose of sex is neither pleasure nor reproduction – these are mere side-effects of a much deeper purpose. In fact study of our neurophysiology reveals that the purpose of sex is “neural stability”. This shifts the onus on longevity of relationship from pleasuring ourselves to emotional maturation! (That’s all!)

    Richard Chamberlain, the actor, describes this as the transition from the “lovely illusions of hormonal ecstasy” to the “serious work” – in his autobiography “Shattered Love”. See “A General Theory of Love” by Thomas Lewis et al. for the scientific research underlying this perspective.

    Once we get the core value right we’ll be on the way to understanding how to regulate our relationship(s).

    Until then we flounder about, just like our economy!

    I recommend this book – and mine when it comes out!!

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