Torture and the subjugating of women, workers

More gems from

Peter Linebaugh: Torture and Neo-Liberalism with Sycorax in Iraq

"just as enclosures expropriated the peasantry from the communal land, so the witch-hunt expropriated women from their bodies, which were thus 'liberated' from any impediment preventing them to function as machines for the production of labor."

Were there any exceptions? Did the sons, brothers, uncles, fathers, did the men of the community come to the defense of the women? Sadly, shamefully, there is but a single exception to the otherwise universal answer: in 1609 when the Basque fishermen of St. Jean de Luz heard that the women were being stripped and stabbed for witches, they cut short their Atlantic cod campaign and sailed back home and taking clubs in hand they liberated a convoy of witches being carted to the stake.

What we learn is the systematic, protracted, and global practice of torture. It is systematic in the sense that in the past church and state conspired to exercise it while state theorists developed philosophy for it, such as Jean Bodin ("We must spread terror among some by punishing many"), René Descartes ("I am not this body"), and Thomas Hobbes ("for the laws of nature, as justice, equity, mercy, and, in sum, doing to others as we would be done to, of themselves, without the terror of some power to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions"). It was protracted in the sense that it was not shock therapy based on the blitzkrieg, or sudden 'structural adjustment plan,' but an intermittent campaign of approximately two centuries which ebbed or flowed with prices. It was coeval with the European Renaissance, high and low, north and south. Finally, it was global in the sense that the degradation of women accomplished by means of terror of the body belonged to the same epoch as the genocide of indigenous people in America and the commencement of the African slave trade. "It was here that the scientific use of torture was born, for blood and torture were necessary to 'breed an animal' capable of regular, homogeneous, and uniform behavior, indelibly marked with the memory of the new rules."

Such beginnings are never completed. This is why "the sanctity of marriage" was a decisive electoral issue and the tortures of Abu Ghraib were not.

Fallujah. The mutilation of the human body and the globalization of commerce are two sides of capitalism, empire and torture.

The regime prevailing in the U.S.A. is lawless, cruel, and inhuman, and though it will plead that its atrocities are 'accidents,' or that they should be exculpated having been motivated in 'good faith,' such excuses scarcely scratch the surface of its crimes, because its deepest purposes and strategic goals are the very primitive accumulation and endless dominion which characterized its beginnings in the Age of Plunder...

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