I’ve noted the Amnesty International view that violence against women is the greatest human rights scandal of our times. Their campaign against that scandal continues, with their submission of a report to the UN that complains, on human rights grounds, about the failure of the Spanish Government to do away with violence against women. The only hard figure that appears in the news report is that during the first half of this year 32 women died as result of violence by their “partners.” Since the population of Spain is around 40,000,000, that doesn’t sound like an unusually high murder rate. Nonetheless, it’s the thing picked out for concern.
It’s hard for many of us to understand what AI is getting at. Saying that governments shouldn’t torture people, which is what they used to say, makes some sense. Saying that a violent act against a woman, simply as such, is “torture” or anyway human rights abuse does not. It’s not a matter of the oddities of the particular people who run AI, since others say the same thing. The AI report wasn’t met with blank stares or laughed out of the UN, it was a normal contribution to mainstream human rights discussion.
So what’s going on? I think it’s the same tendency of thought that demands that the people be disarmed and forbidden to engage in self-defense, and parental spanking made a crime. If people are simply bundles of desire and impulse, each trying to get what he wants however he can, and each is completely separate from the others so the only possible legitimate order is formal public order designed and run by experts on impersonal principles, then the informal private order of neighborhood and family can only be a system of abuse and oppression on a par with a mafia protection racket. It’s simply a matter of some people getting stuff out of other people—including the pure pleasure of domination—by force. The appropriate response to such a system of violence and extortion would involve the AI proposals detailed in the story, in effect replacement of the private arrangement with a rational, universal, well-funded and transparent system of order that supervises private life, eradicates the understandings (now identified simply as “traditional stereotypes that perpetuate direct and indirect violence against women”) that enable the arrangement to function, and makes sure nothing at odds with the standards of the public system is allowed.
Basically, what we’re moving toward is communism squared. The original Bolsheviks were moderates who nationalized the means of production because they thought private property was at bottom simply a system of violence and exploitation. What we have now are stage-two Bolsheviks who nationalize the whole of private life because their principles tell them the same about institutions like the family.