On one of my link-following jaunts I noticed a conservative blogger quoting approvingly from Camille Paglia’s latest “WTF is she saying now?” piece.
Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.
I think that in their haste to welcome Paglia as the enemy of their enemy, some people are ignoring what some of her chest-pounding libertarian rhetoric implies.
Futurism was a very nasty movement. Yes, it had some cool elements like appreciating the beauty of the machine and it predated the cyberpunk ethos, I suppose. But otherwise:
…Woman — even in the limited role as a means of reproduction — was deficient and should be abandoned and replaced by some prosthetic device as soon as science had made the required discoveries. Seeing an airplane lift its passengers into the sky makes Futurist poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti reflect:
I confess that before so intoxicating a spectacle we strong Futurists have felt ourselves suddenly detached from women, who have suddenly become too earthly, or, to express it better, have become a symbol of the earth that we ought to abandon. […] We have even dreamed of one day being able to create a mechanical son, the fruit of pure will, a synthesis of all the laws that science is on the brink of discovering. (Marinetti 1991, p. 83)
The politics of Futurism was proto-fascist. Their enthusiasm for the future was closely tied to a hatred for the past (and a few other things as well). Their enthusiasm was reserved for technology, speed, noise, power, pollution and war. Futurist founding father Marinetti was standing beside Mussolini at the 1919 inception of the Italian Fascist Party. He was elected to its Central Committee and for a short time ranking second in the party hierarchy, just eclipsed by Il Duce himself.
Part of the Futurist program was clearly designed to terrify and to shock the public. In the Futurist Manifesto, Marinetti spews forth his hate for humanity (in general) and women (in particular).
Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice. […] We will demolish museums, libraries, academies, moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice. […] We will glorify war — the world’s only hygiene — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman. (Marinetti 1909) [My bold]
By tagging Palin approvingly as “futurist”, admirers like Camille Paglia are aligning her with people like Oswald Mosley. Is that what they really want?