I just watched a very powerful talk by Zahra Langhi on Libya:-
However I am left with feelings of absence and disagreement.
Absence – well she was an exile from Qaddafi’s regime but you would not expect TED to invite an anti-imperialist. In fact I consider that Qaddafi was a dictator who damaged his country but that is my personal opinion, this speaker decrying him does not add to that question because of TED’s bias.
Absence – there was no discussion of western interference. Western interference that promoted the revolution from Benghazi because of an alliance between the revolutionary leaders and western interests. Throughout the conflict NATO were responsible for many deaths, a significant proportion of the 50,000 Zahra quoted. And then a continued fuelling through arms and other support of the divisions in Libya. I contend that the movement started in Benghazi was a genuine revolutionary movement, others disagree; we will never know because of the interference. And the source of the interference – business interests and oil – the 1%.
But my disagreement lies in feminine values. First let me say how much I liked her analysis that making efforts at balancing the numbers of women elected (zipper list) did not resolve the situation. She described her society as “selfishness …. the politics of domination and exclusion by both men and women”. What she said was missing was feminine values – compassion, mercy and inclusion. I first met this notion of feminine values when I was involved in UK left-wing politics. Women advocated themselves as compassionate, merciful and inclusive, many excluding themselves from the left wing male world. I suggested they help change the organisation, I was encouraging a particular group of women activists to become involved with the local Trades Council in which I held the most significant position – secretary. They declined. Whilst I agreed that my particular local organisation was chauvinist, I disagreed with their stance.
The Kuan Yin values are extremely important for humanity, one could legitimately argue that these values are absent from the world today. Supposing the implication of this talk was that the women active in Libyan politics had lost their femininity (this was never said nor do I know whether Zahra believes it but I have heard feminists say it). This I have to disagree with. We, all human beings, are compassionate merciful and inclusive, both men and women have these Kuan Yin values even if in our current world these values are eschewed so much from the male psyche. Describing these values as feminine allows men to claim that enacting these values is not their responsibility. It is not my view that these values, associated with yin-yang, are meant to be literally taken as belonging to males and females. The yin-yang symbol shows male within female and vice versa:-
This traditional feminism needs to be questioned. Where is the evidence that women in power behave with values of compassion, mercy and inclusivity? Most women retort that to get into power women have to adopt male values, but is it the case that the values that they have to adopt are male? Is it the case that men entering politics lack compassion? That certainly wasn’t the case with the men on the left that I worked with in the grass roots movement, it was the system that eschewed the values – the 1% system. Claiming the values of compassion, mercy and inclusion as belonging to women is as divisive as any other divisive tactic adopted in the 1%-system. Compassion and mercy are values that are needed throughout the political world. Compassion and mercy would prevent the exploitation that is significant wothin the system. Compassion and mercy in the armed forces would begin to halt the militaristic Third World War we have been involved in since the end of the Second World War (see John Stockwell’s clip).
If I am any religious label I am a Buddhist, and for me the essence of Buddhism is compassion. Here in Thailand there is a chauvinist practice of excluding women from taking orders, yet compassion is still the essence of Buddhism. The absence of compassion, mercy or inclusivity is not because of gender but because of the 1% and their exploitative system. Educate all for and with compassion.