The Invisible Economy of Albania’s "Nuse of the House": Gender and Social Reproduction in Albania’s Market Economy - Lefteast

Louis Proyect

Patriarchal morality and house chores: Do you believe in life after work?

The concept of the Albanian “nuse of the house” is deeply embedded in Albanian culture and social norms, to the point that a direct translation in English language would be impossible without sacrificing some of the concept’s underlying meanings. The word nuse is ascribed to the Albanian woman on her wedding day, meaning bride. But, as she transitions into her married life, “nuse” takes on the meaning of the young man’s wife, a term not entirely devoid of ownership nuances. As it has been most common in the past, Albanian men would continue to live with their parents after their marriage. Therefore, the married Albanian woman is not only her husband’s nuse, but also his parents’ nuse: she is the “nuse of the house.” Rooted in this tradition, the word nuse also means daughter-in-law. Albanian “nuse of the house” as a multi-layered term, simultaneously meaning bride, wife, and daughter-in-law, is steeped in patriarchal and gender-oppressive practices. The dominant discourse on the “nuse of the house” is underpinned by moral considerations of what an Albanian woman should be: the “nuse of the house” is always obedient, keeps the house clean without complaining, and does all the cooking. She always puts the needs of her husband (and her in-laws) before her own and she is a dedicated mother who raises good children (preferably boys). In addition, the “nuse of the house” is always heterosexual and untainted by lust and pre-marital sexual intercourse. These narratives take place within the context of the traditional Albanian family unit. Far from being a relic of the past, the “nuse of the house” idiom shapes and reproduces gender-oppressive relations in Albanian society today, dictating the moral conduct of many Albanian women inside and outside the private sphere.

Call for contributions to special issue: Karl Marx in his own times

Sven-Ove Hansson <soh@...>

Call for papers

Karl Marx in his own times

The recent revival of Marx scholarship has shown his relevance to urgent present-day issues. It has sometimes been forgotten that in order to fully appreciate his work, we need to know how it related to issues and movements in his own time. Therefore, Nineteenth Century Prose invites papers for a special issue on Karl Marx in his own times. Contributions can attend to social conditions, movements, persons, texts, cultural and political events that made an impression upon him, as well as his impact on others. The deadline is 31 October 2021. Please send inquiries and contributions to the guest editor, Sven Ove Hansson, at soh@....

Format and style instructions: articles should typically be around 25-30 pages (11 point Times New Roman, double-spaced), but both shorter and longer texts will be considered. Include an abstract (100-250 words) and append a brief bio (two or three sentences) written in third person. Endnotes should be manually generated. Paragraph indents should be .3 inches using tabs (not automatic ‘first line’), and indented quotes should be .5 inches left and right. References to Marx’s work should refer to at least one of the standard editions, the first and second Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA1 and MEGA2), Marx-Engels Werke (MEW), and the translated Marx-Engels Collected Works (MECW).

Re: DSA rolls Dem dice in NV; beats the house

Mark Lause

When political parties actually had some grassroots networks, this sort of loss of local or state control was less unusual than it is in our time. The national body invariably gets the final say about such things, and, historically, would rather lose than to have the party win without the appropriately vetted leadership.   The DNC will have much to say about this in the end.  

I don't know that the Democratic party apparatus ever organized unions, and the entire notion that it should is rather revealing.  Put another way, if we want to organize unions, we organize unions.  You want mass demonstrations, you build mass demonstrations.  You don't start by taking over seats in the Democratic party hierarchy.

Biden and deportation

Dayne Goodwin

Biden’s New ICE Guidance Completely Backtracks from 100-Day Deportation Moratorium Promise, Expands Enforcement Priorities
Colin Kalmbacher, Law & Crime, Feb 19, 2021

Breaking Down the Biden Administration's Immigration Policies
NPR, The Takeaway, March 9

Biden Administration Deporting Haitians to a Country in Turmoil
NPR, The Takeaway, March 9

Biden’s border regime: Postcards from the honeymoon
by Ashley Smith, Tempest, March 4

Joe Biden’s Immigration Policies Must Bring Deportees Back Home to the US
Under the Obama administration, millions of people were ripped from the United States and deported to countries they hadn’t known for years or even decades. The Biden administration needs a plan to bring those deportees back home to the United States.
by Hilary Goodfriend, Jacobin, March 4

Re: DSA rolls Dem dice in NV; beats the house

Dayne Goodwin

On Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 1:48 PM Michael Meeropol <> wrote:
NOW -- if the new leadership of the Democratic Party in Nevada would concentrate on expanding union density in that state, they would be both building a Democratic Majority and creating independent centers of working class power ... (hope, eh?)

The best way for Democrats to weaken the far right? Build up the labor movement
by Brendan O’Connor, Guardian, March 9
. . .
... because an organized working class that can fight (and win) is our
only hope to defeat an increasingly militant far right. Without a
robust labor movement, guided by the principles of anti-fascism and
anti-racism, the sole bulwark against far-right violence will be the
state – specifically, the law enforcement agencies whose repressive
power has grown exponentially in the last few decades, and is
inevitably turned against workers, the poor, the racialized and the
. . .
The point is not to attempt to win over people who would take up arms
to oppose a multiracial, socially equitable democracy; the point is to
build a movement that can fight for a society where the appeal of such
ideologies is obviated. The more successful any fascist or far-right
populist movement is, the more working-class people will be absorbed
into it, won over by its subversiveness, its superficial
anti-capitalism, and its appeals to blood and soil. But at their core,
these movements are not for working people and the poor; they are
based in the reactionary middle classes: the heirs to suburban
fortunes; the cops and prison guards and border patrol agents; the
serial entrepreneurs who never have to suffer the consequences of
their failures.

The struggle against fascism does not begin or end with fighting
fascists in the street. In fact, the most successful antifascist
mobilization is not one in which the fascists get beaten up, but one
that is so well-organized, publicized, and receives such popular
support that the fascists never show up at all. ...

Sustaining such mobilization over time will not be possible without a
dynamic, vital labor movement, freed to experiment with new
organizational forms that reach new layers of the American working
class – a movement that can also lead the fight against climate
change, police violence and mass incarceration, and against the
capitalist order that, when in crisis, gives rise to fascism in the
first place.
Brendan O’Connor is a freelance journalist and the author of Blood Red
Lines: How Nativism Fuels the Right

Re: Monthly Review | An Ex-Marine Sees Platoon

Dayne Goodwin

On Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 4:59 PM Louis Proyect <lnp3@...> wrote:
> Leo Cawley article.

" Strangely, the air war is absent from the film in ways that might have been included. I kept expecting a patrol to pass through an area that had been hit by 2,000 pound bombs from a B-52 raid."

The bombing campaigns of the Vietnam War were the longest and heaviest aerial bombardment in history. The United States Air Force, the U. S. Navy, and U. S. Marine Corps aviation dropped 7,662,000 tons of explosives. By comparison, U. S. forces dropped a total of 2,150,000 tons of bombs in all theaters of World War II.

The American air campaign during the Vietnam War was the largest in military history...  Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force Curtis LeMay stated that "we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age".

#GreenLeft30: Celebrating 30 years of Green Left


#GreenLeft30: Celebrating 30 years of Green Left
Green Left
 is celebrating 30 years of people-powered media on February 18. We would like to encourage you to join us at our anniversary event on March 27 with Kavita Krishnan. (Please book now!) Below are some of the messages of support we've received. Please share your own message of support on social media with the hashtag #GreenLeft30. And, if you like our work, become a supporter!

Watch a playlist of #GreenLeft30 messages

How Unfair Property Taxes Keep Black Families From Gaining Wealth

Paul D'Amato <pangelod@...>

How Unfair Property Taxes Keep Black Families From Gaining Wealth
Flawed assessments for America’s $500 billion in annual property taxes hit Black neighborhoods hardest.

Read in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Shared from Apple News

Monthly Review | An Ex-Marine Sees Platoon

Louis Proyect

Re: DSA rolls Dem dice in NV; beats the house

Steven L. Robinson

Conflict is surely not over. The Executive Director who just resigned got a promotion to a position in the DNC. The staffers and consultants who just resigned surely are not leaving politics and probably not even Nevada.


H-Net Review [H-Buddhism]: Bouthillette on Cabezon, 'Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism (Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism)'

Andrew Stewart

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 5:40 PM
Subject: H-Net Review [H-Buddhism]: Bouthillette on Cabezon, 'Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism (Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism)'
To: <h-review@...>
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>

Jose Ignacio Cabezon.  Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism
(Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism).  Somerville  Wisdom
Publications, 2017.  viii + 617 pp.  $39.95 (cloth), ISBN

Reviewed by Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette (Ghent University)
Published on H-Buddhism (March, 2021)
Commissioned by Ben Van Overmeire

There was perhaps no better time for José Ignacio Cabezón's book,
_Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism_, to appear. The year
2017, following the exposure of the widespread sexual-abuse
allegations against Harvey Weinstein, saw the sudden rise to fame of
the _#MeToo_ movement, an international effort to promote justice for
those suffering various forms of sexual abuse. Since then, the need
has been felt for informed discussions on themes such as sexual
violence, sexual diversity, and sexual discrimination, to name but a
few areas of concern related to gender and sexuality in general.
Cabezón's work is carefully designed to provide historical
background precisely on such issues relevant to contemporary
international communities of scholars and followers of Buddhism. As a
reference work, this book is set to remain a monument in the field
for a long time. Though not totally virgin, as pioneering work had
already begun with scholars like Bernard Faure and Janet Gyatso, for
example, the field had not yet produced anything close to the
towering and detailed 617-page-long overview presented here by
Cabezón, spanning classical genres of literature in three ancient
Asian languages, Pāli, Sanskrit, and Tibetan. While Cabezón
provides a broad overview of the rich perspectives on sexuality
ancient Indian Buddhist texts offer, he rarely takes a definite
position on contemporary debates. It is after all to be expected of a
history manual that it will open doors to dialogue rather than close
them. Hence Cabezón's book can be well integrated into broader
discussions on ritual purity, ritual taxonomy, or even on Buddhist
Madhyamaka, for example, as it provides textual evidence for a
variety of hermeneutical strategies in matters of sex. The book is
driven by the laudable conviction that "any serious study of Buddhism
and sexuality must take the classical texts into account" (p. 5).

Upon opening the book, I found it rather unfortunate that the table
of contents has been designed as a very minimalistic account of the
whole work. Each of the eight chapters enumerated therein have
numerous and meaningful subdivisions and it would have been most
convenient, in the spirit of a reference book, to include them in the
table's listing to facilitate browsing. In an attempt to provide such
an overview, this review will therefore present a broad sketch of the
book's content while trying to make its subdivisions more apparent. I
will focus my comments on a few exemplary issues while presenting the
main topics in order, chapter after chapter. I must apologize in
advance for the length it requires. My general concern here is to
present to the reader an exhaustive, useful, and traceable overview
of the wide coverage of literature and problematics assembled under
Cabezón's praiseworthy title. 

To anchor the Buddhist discourse on sexuality in the broad
thought-paradigm of its plurimillennial tradition, Cabezón usefully
begins his study with an exploration of the Buddhist cosmology of sex
(chapter 1). He further divides the literature grouped in this
section depending on whether the cosmological concerns of the texts
are "temporal" or "spatial." Within the temporal passages, one finds
myths recalling how human beings progressively fell from subtle to
ever grosser bodily forms, how greed or craving (p. 22) for food
allegedly bound humans to the earth and made them lose their natural
luminescence while gaining in bad habits. In such literature, it is
pleasure, and not procreation, that is the main purpose of sex (p.
32). Notions of romantic love are simply absent (p. 33). Spatial
cosmological concerns discuss the various Buddhist realms of
existence, including the realms of form, the higher realms, and the
hells. Cabezón highlights the types of sexual activities conceived
as taking place therein. We learn that higher spirits enjoy more
refined types of sex (p. 38); that sexual misconduct is unknown in
the form realm, while sexuality is totally absent from the realm of
the formless gods onward. In brief, sexuality prevails only in the
desire realms, where there is an implicit hierarchy, however,
concerning whose sex is the best. Ages before the advent of the
internet, for Buddhist cosmologists, the best sex was considered to
be that which requires the fewest senses, the least effort, and the
smallest amount of physical contact (p. 42). The discussion on the
hells, as expected, is quite colorful, too. According to the
_Smṛtyupasthāna_, for example, sex in hell is compulsive and
thwarted. It ends in torture. Worst of all, it is repetitive and
cyclical (pp. 47-48)! Sexual sinners are principally found in hot
hell no. 3, "compression" or "crushing," and in hot hell no. 7,
"really hot," the second worst of all hells (p. 48). There are
various subhells suited for men who engage in different forms of
misconduct, including oral and anal sex, the rape of women or of
young boys, bestiality, and so on (p. 48); there are special hells
for lustful monks as well (p. 49). The Great Lotus Hell
(_mahāpadma_), for example, is the abode of the latter, along with
homosexuals (p. 50). Men who seduce nuns (p. 55), monks who seduce
lay women (p. 55), men who rape laywomen (p. 56), women who tempt
monks (p. 56)--the book covers the karmic outcomes imagined for a
complex typology. On the basis of this, Cabezón speculates that the
rape of nuns must have been widespread (p. 63). He also posits a
relation between the Buddhist hell literature and that of the
_dharmaśāstra_-s (p. 67). In conclusion, Cabezón stresses that the
strangeness of the hell literature reflects the concerns of their
likely authors: monks/men (p. 72). Most important, to recast such
discussions within the monastic worldview in which they took place,
Cabezón remarks that, in general, the Buddhist path functions to
reverse the devolutionary momentum of history that is articulated by
such cosmologies (p. 76), to transcend time and space and the
cosmological-historical order altogether (p. 77). In other words, one
should not be surprised to notice that Buddhist monasticism mirrors
the imagined pure way of life of the first humans. We have here a
telling illustration of the famous Eliadian ritual-effort at the
reversal of time, supported by an implicit taxonomy of purity.
Cabezón generally shies away from such theorization, however, as I
will demonstrate further on.

The second chapter takes us to a broad discussion on desire and human
sexuality according to Buddhist sources of a more psychological and
philosophical bent. This section is perhaps the most useful to frame
the ideological underpinnings of Buddhist sexual theories in
religious studies classes. Of crucial significance is the notion that
the "function of desire" is to attach the mind to the object, binding
or fastening it to the wished-for thing (p. 98). Cabezón highlights
five recurring Buddhist views toward "desire": 1) Sense desire occurs
only when in contact with the beautiful or agreeable; (p. 101). 2)
Desire involves the misrepresentation of the object; (p. 102). 3)
When a mind predisposed to reifying objects experiences something as
pleasurable, this causes the mind to dwell on the object or to
"stick" to it, refusing to let go; (p. 104). 4) Desire leads to a
compulsion to acquire the object so as to realize the pleasure that
is thought to be associated with it; and (p. 104). 5) Desire is
unable to bring lasting happiness (p. 105). The section moves on to
discuss the widespread practice of prostitution in ancient India (pp.
106-114). Sexual desire and the sexual act then come into focus with
Cabezón's own attempt at formulating an encompassing Buddhist
definition of "sexual desire." In brief, "sexual desire is a yearning
for bodily pleasure. It can either be self-directed (autoerotic) or
directed at another. In the former case, it is yearning for or
relishing of the pleasurable tactile sensation that results from
self-stimulation of one's own genitals. In the latter case, it is a
yearning for and relishing of the pleasurable feelings that come from
erotic flirting, nongenital tactile contact, or genital-tactile
pleasure achieved in dependence on another" (p. 116). Sexual desire
is always object directed (p. 124) and that object can be human,
animal, or even a spirit (p. 124). The same, the opposite, or the
third sex may be its object (p. 124), just as it may be a whole body
or a part of it (p. 135). In itself, sexual pleasure is a mental
state and is therefore nonphysical (p. 126). Cabezón then examines
what the monastic code (Vinaya) has to say about sexual desire (pp.
132-138). Basically, if the act does not involve desire, it is not
the type of sex that results in "defeat" (breaking one's vows) (p.
138). The discussion moves on to examine what scholastic sources have
to say about the ancillary factors that contribute to sexual desire
(pp. 138-141) and about sex and love (pp. 142-162). We learn that
Buddhists shared with non-Buddhists the belief that marriage did not
require love, and that as long as one was not violating conventional
morality, there was nothing ignoble or unethical about having sex for
the sheer pleasure of it (p. 145). Finally, Cabezón assesses the
strengths and weaknesses of the Buddhist doctrine of sexual desire.
According to him, its strength lies in considering that sex is for
pleasure, allowing for a candid acknowledgement of the tremendous
diversity of sexual desires (pp. 162-163). The simplicity and
parsimony of the Buddhist theory also play in its favor in the eye of
the author (p. 164). However, this simplicity has a downside (p.
165). The fact that all lust is seen as coming from sense perception
is too simplistic for Cabezón, for whom it appears "narcissistic and
genitally obsessed," oblivious of any notion of "mutuality" (wanting
to give pleasure to someone else) (p. 168). He nonetheless concedes
that "it is hard to imagine someone really having sex apart from some
kind of physical contact" (p. 167). On this last comment, one may
observe that new developments in artificial intelligence may
eventually trigger Cabezón's imagination.

With chapter 3 we move into a general discussion on the function of
monasticism and its methods in dealing with sexuality. Cabezón lists
three types of interventions generally considered by Buddhist authors
to deal with lust: 1) to take distance from the object of desire (p.
175); 2) to apply appropriate antidotes (pp. 175-177); 3) and, for
the most advanced, to meditate on emptiness and no-self (p. 177).
Moral discipline, concentration, and wisdom are then presented as
complementary strategies for dealing with desire (p. 177-201),
followed by a discussion on the difficulty of celibacy (pp. 201-206)
and the alleged efficiency of monasticism in dealing with desire (pp.
207-219). This section also contains an interesting theoretical
discussion on the relation between the Vinaya (as a legalistic ritual
code) and Buddhist soteriology (pp. 195-200). Cabezón argues that
"there is no reason not to see the Vinaya as operating _both_
functionally/sociologically _and_ soteriologically" (p. 198). While I
agree with Cabezón, I believe that the argument could have been made
stronger by involving ritual theories in the discussion, if only to
illustrate how legalism, ritualism, and soteriology commonly work in
tandem to anchor metaphysical beliefs in concrete communal
experience. Yet, as noted already, Cabezón seldom ventures onto
broader comparativist theories. The scope of the book being broad
enough already, one can understand this theoretical stance. Yet I
feel that, at times, a broader theoretical scope would have been
possible without losing focus. A further theorization of the
intersection of ritual norms and sexual taboos could be done,
however, in the context of a religion class on Buddhist sexuality in
South Asia.

Chapter 4 is dedicated to those practices which aim at curbing lust
through meditation. Within this are listed practices that fight
desire through contemplation (pp. 223-27) and those meditations which
focus on the impurity of the body (pp. 227-236). As is to be expected
of a literature produced by monks, the texts depicting such practices
put greater emphasis on the foulness of the female body (p. 228).
Interestingly, Cabezón explains that, because they fail to address
the most fundamental cause of desire, that is, ignorance, these forms
of meditation are "at most balms that bring temporary relief to the
symptoms of desire" (pp. 238-239). Following a presentation of the
synthetic treatment of such practices by the Tibetan author Potowa
(pp. 239-241), the chapter concludes with a reflection on the general
mentalist attitude of Buddhist authors toward desire. Cabezón
stresses that further dialogue on desire between Buddhism and modern
science, and especially with psychology, are a desideratum (p. 245),
but he himself offers little in this respect but preliminary lines of
inquiry summarizing his previous points.

Along with chapter 2, chapter 5 is perhaps most appealing to scholars
versed in Buddhist philosophy. Its general thematic is the antidote
of wisdom as a means to deconstruct sexual desire. The basic
principle here is that the most fundamental cause of desire is
delusion, "ignorance" (p. 250). Ignorance requires a firm and solid
object to cling on to. It literally creates objects (p. 256). These
mental fabrications require a thorough deconstruction, through
analysis. Here comes a section on Nāgārjuna and his deconstruction
of desire, stressing the therapeutic value of analysis (pp. 257-60).
This section is followed by the deconstruction of desire in
Śāntideva's Bodhicaryāvatāra (pp. 260-263); by how Madhyamaka
deconstruction eliminates desire (pp. 263-266); by how to theorize
the emptiness of bodies and the reappropriation of beauty (pp.
266-273); by how Mahāyāna scriptures in general, and Madhyamaka in
particular deal with sex and gender dichotomies (pp. 274-278); and
finally, by what to do with Āryadeva's deconstruction of the self
through gender (pp. 278- 280). The last subsection is most
fascinating, dealing with sex in the aftermath of wisdom, the
Mahāyāna antinomianism and its control (pp. 280-296). Again,
Cabezón formulates a general hermeneutic principle of broad
significance, this time concerning the theorization and hierarchical
classification of competing claims to authority coming from within
Buddhism. "When we examine the Buddhist tradition as a whole, we find
that what is proscribed by one law is often prescribed by another,
higher law. Hence what is antinomian from the earlier Buddhist
ethical perspective comes to be considered 'pronomian' from the
perspective of a new _nomos--_in this case, the law of the
Mahāyāna" (p. 286). One is here tempted to see this hermeneutic
principle as another reflection of the most common hierarchical
classification scheme found in South Asian philosophical
doxographies: the latter truth expands the previous one. Pedagogy and
rhetoric are here intertwined. Within this last section one also
finds a brief reference to recent sex scandals, but this angle is not
deeply explored.  (p. 292).

Sexed bodies, gender, and sexual desires take center stage in the
sixth chapter. Here, again, Buddhist speculation is not homogeneous
(p. 300). To launch the discussion, Cabezón presents an overview of
the European and North American theoretical perspectives on these
issues (pp. 300-305), followed by a discussion on gender in selected
non-Buddhist literary genres (pp. 305-312), before getting deeper
into the various degrees of the theorization of gender found in
selected Buddhist sources (pp. 312-320). An interlude on the Buddha's
sex ensues (pp. 320-326), moving on to a more sobering overview of
gender norms from the treatment of celibacy in the Vinaya (pp.
326-333). Cabezón notes that the Vinaya's treatment of women's
sexuality is highly androcentric (p. 329) and, that, when sexual
norms are constructed negatively, the door is open for loopholes to
be exploited (p. 333). The following subsection explains how the
Buddhist tetralemma (_catuṣkoti/_fourfold negation) serves as an
organizing principle grounding discussions on sex, gender, and desire
(pp. 334-350). This discussion is meaningful for the wider practice
of categorization within Mahāyāna Buddhism. Here, Cabezón also
argues that a case can be made for a Buddhist acceptance of a third
gender (p. 345). Then the Abhidharmika view on related topics is
enunciated (pp. 350-360) prior to a discussion on the male and female
faculties in the Pāli tradition (pp. 361-367). The chapter concludes
on Buddhist theories concerning the role of sexual desire in
conception and how sex and gender arise in fetuses (pp. 367-371).

Chapter 7 offers a detailed treatment of the Buddhist construction of
sexual deviance. The overall focus here rests on queerness and queers
(_paṇḍaka_-s). We are first introduced to a queer story from the
Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya (pp. 373-379) before proceeding to a
discussion of the hypothesis that the chief purpose of the Buddhist
typologies of queerness is the control of the sexual "other" (pp.
379-385). An expose on sexual deviance and social marginalization in
the broader social context of South Asia follows (pp. 385-389), and
we learn that Buddhist texts never challenge Brahmanical literature
in their denigration of queer people (p. 386). As an aside comes a
brief but insightful discussion on lists in Buddhist literature
(391-393). Then, the anti-queer rhetoric behind the ethical and
cognitive denigration of _paṇḍaka_-s is made clear (pp. 389-391)
before the chapter moves on to an enumeration of lists of bodies
classified as queer found in various literatures: lists of queer
people in the medical literature (pp. 393-403); queerness in the
_Nārada Smṛti_ (pp. 403-406); Pāli Buddhist lists (406-413);
_saṇḍha_-s (impotent or castrated men) and their relationship to
_paṇḍaka_-s (pp. 413-421); the Sanskrit _paṇḍaka_ lists (pp.
422-432); and the five female _paṇḍaka_-s (pp. 433-441).
According to Cabezón, the typology of male _paṇḍaka_-s allows us
to deduce what it means to be a normal male (p. 431). Normative male
sexual desire is, first and foremost, the desire to penetrate. As for
normative women, they are those women who offer to men an
"unambiguous, hospitable, and nonthreatening receptacle for the
phallus" (p. 439). When it comes to discussing the neuter gender,
Mahāyāna antinomianism, and Tantra (pp. 441-447), we are reminded
that "nowhere do we find the slightest hint that a tantrika ever took
(or could take) a person of the same sex as a partner in sexual yoga"
(p. 446). In the last section of the chapter, on the end(s) of
deviance (pp. 448-451), we read that taxonomies of queerness had a
practical reason. The clergy needed to know whom not to ordain in
order to avoid ill-repute (p. 446). However, Cabezón also alludes to
the possibility that such theories betray deeper motives of social
engineering--to create an ideal community cleansed of deviant bodies
and abnormal sexual desires, for example. For this reason, he
suggests that the time has come to challenge the assumptions behind
these views. He benevolently recognizes that Mahāyāna Buddhism
offers a fertile ground on which to elaborate such a "queer Buddhist
theology" discourse (p. 447). Yet he does not take up the challenge
of enunciating what such a discourse would look like. Unfortunately,
Cabezón's rather descriptive enunciation of Buddhist treatments of
queerness does not make a full argument on its own--in favor of
reforms for example--but leaves it short of a strong rallying point:
a conclusion. This is perhaps better left to be done in the classroom
or in conferences, in fact, using Cabezón's book to facilitate
otherwise difficult discussions. Cabezón's caution is appreciated.

A quantity of queer details found in literature is not in itself an
explanation for their meaning in human history, nor does it alone
offer any reason as to why things _should_ be different. Here again
one feels that, in the context of a classroom, Cabezón's arguments
could be engaged further in dialogue with well-known theories in
religious studies. In this case, I particularly suggest involving it
with the kind of conceptual analysis of the notions of "pollution"
and "taboo" found in Mary Douglas's _Purity and Danger_ (1966). The
advantage would be to sustain Cabezón's considerations on the ritual
context of these discriminative taxonomies of queerness. After all,
Cabezón insists that the Buddhist ban against sexual minorities is
an idea that belongs to the Vinaya (p. 451). This collection of
texts, as we know, is primarily vested in legislating the collective
performance of monastic rituals and routines, telling what to do and
what not to, in different contexts built out of narratives. When it
comes to their ban on deviant bodies and abnormal desires among the
members of the Buddhist monastic community, one may insightfully draw
parallels with Douglas's general law about clean and unclean meats in
_Leviticus_, wherein, as a rule, hybrids and other confusions are
abominated. "To be holy is to be whole, to be one; holiness is unity,
integrity, perfection of the individual and of the kind," she
observes, while pointing out that dietary rules merely adapt the
metaphor of holiness, that is, not being "mixed up" or "confused,"
both being signs of decay and perversion.[1] She later adds that
"those species are unclean which are imperfect members of their
class."[2] In other words, in many known ritualist mindsets, strange
crossovers, mixtures, and similar hybridizations of preestablished
categories set in scriptures are ritually unclean and improper for
holy life. If the ideological principles at play behind ingrained
hygienic views are, as Douglas suggests, derived from ancient myths
and ritual customs in order to micro-legislate the behaviors of
entire communities, even up to their minute dietary habits, the same
likely holds true when it comes to other hygienic concerns, such as
those related to sexuality. Integrity of form, or conformism, is a
prime ritual concern in human cultures worldwide. It tends to
reverberate in diverse metaphysics as well as in politics. Read in
the context of ritual taboo, the Vinaya ban on queerness and
abnormality reveals a common human attitude towards impurity and
dirt, a mindset in tune with deep psychological habits of severe
consequences in the social environment of yesterday, today, and
tomorrow. If these habits were to be acknowledged for what the
theoretical study of religion allows us to see them as, as
expressions of taboos--perhaps the equivalent of "mental formations"
(_saṃskāra_-s) in theoretical Buddhism--for example, grounded in
cultural notions of ritual purity, then Mahāyāna Buddhism could
indeed, as Cabezón suggests, offer a fertile ground for their
refutation, through an analytical contemplation of a Nāgārjunian
kind, for example. However, once undertaken, it is likely that this
same analytical criticism eventually leads to a much broader reform
than a "queer Buddhist theology." For, since a renewed perspective on
"gender," "hybridity," and "normativity" would unavoidably affect the
entire taxonomy of Buddhism, and since taxonomy is so intimately
related to ritual practice, such a theoretical shift, even if it
appears to deal only in abstract categories, would reverberate
throughout the "reformed" Buddhist church, in deed and creed. In
other words, while it is conceivable to imagine a pro-queer reform of
Buddhism, it is impossible to predict how this reformed religion will
develop in the future. The general caution of Cabezón, felt
throughout the book, is thus again warranted. If a queer Buddhist
theology takes roots, would Buddhism be the same or different? What
would Nāgārjuna say?

The final chapter of Cabezón's book is dedicated to Buddhist sexual
ethics and the evolution of views on sexual misconduct. Michel
Foucault's theories on the power dynamics at play behind Western
shifts of discourses on sexuality are introduced herein. Cabezón
wonders whether similar shifts in discourses can be noticed in India.
This section "traces the evolution of the doctrine of sexual
misconduct from the Pāli sources through a sampling of Indian
Sanskrit works down to the writings of Tibetan scholars" (p. 456). It
is subdivided as follow: lay sexual ethics in the Pāli _Suttas_ and
_Jātakas_ (pp. 456-470); wives and their classification (pp.
471-485); Indian scholastic literature on sexual misconduct (pp.
485-508); the Tibetan sources (pp. 508-519); and the conclusion:
Buddhist sexual ethics then and now (pp. 519-528). In summary,
Cabezón concludes that it is the Sanskrit scholastic tradition that
is principally responsible for the more restrictive sexual ethic that
became standard in later Indian and Tibetan Buddhism (p. 508). Among
the Tibetan sources, the most complete and systematic treatment comes
from Tsongkhapa's _Lam Rim Chenmo_ (p. 510).

Can Cabezón's book be easily introduced in the context of a standard
academic course on religion or Buddhism? It undoubtedly can and
should. For the study of religion, it provides ample materials to
illustrate the significance of symbolic taxonomies in defining ritual
and social norms, for example. The style of the work as well as its
main topics are accessible even to nonspecialists. As I hope to have
made clear, the scope of this research is of the same magnitude as
its academic significance. Once more, José Ignacio Cabezón has both
enriched and indebted his field. 


[1]. Mary Douglas, _Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of
Pollution and Taboo _(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), 55.

[2]. Ibid., 66.

Citation: Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette. Review of Cabezon, Jose
Ignacio, _Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism (Studies in
Indian and Tibetan Buddhism)_. H-Buddhism, H-Net Reviews. March, 2021.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

Best regards,

Andrew Stewart

Re: DSA rolls Dem dice in NV; beats the house

Dayne Goodwin

Progressive Takeover of Nevada Democratic Party Sparks 'Mass Exodus'
of Staff, Consultants
by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, Feb. 9

On Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 12:46 PM Gibbons Brian via
<> wrote:

See link

Re: DSA rolls Dem dice in NV; beats the house

Michael Meeropol

Seems to me that DSA members on this list could make that recommendation to their Nevada comrades

Re: DSA rolls Dem dice in NV; beats the house

Gibbons Brian

Michael M wrote:

"NOW -- if the new leadership of the Democratic Party in Nevada would concentrate on expanding union density in that state, they would be both building a Democratic Majority and creating independent centers of working class power ... (hope, eh?)."

Yeah, I'd hope so... 90% of the state's population is in Clark County (Vegas) and the Reno-Sparks MSA which on the logistics ledger in one mark in the plus columns for making it easier to reach people; not spread organizing resources too thin. 

And NV is a top ten state for % of workforce organized. 

Brian Gibbons

Re: The People vs Agent Orange | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Alan Ginsberg

Correction to my earlier post:

the interview is with one of the filmmakers and activist Carol Van Strum

Re: Create a Mass Party! - COSMONAUT


You are probably right Louis, I will follow your mailin list as some observer as before. I thought that some of most important questions  ( most important for all humanity) which should be discussed is how to fight global warming, use of AI and robotics , the role of working class .For me answer to those questions is socialism  "Socialism or barbarism". That some analysis and discussions using   marxism as a tool could be also find here , not just discussions of the  past and present failures, mostly failures,  preparing itself and trying organise itself  for some revolution.  which will never come. What kind of revolution in US is possible it was shown by Trump. How to prevent that? Those ways toward some change toward socialism, communism which failed in so called socialist countries and some as Cuba or Venezuela  should be abandoned. Obviously we need mass leftist party but based on different principals than Lenism.

Re: The People vs Agent Orange | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Alan Ginsberg

The filmmakers were interviewed by Leonard Lopate on WBAI last week.

Re: DSA rolls Dem dice in NV; beats the house

Michael Meeropol

NOW -- if the new leadership of the Democratic Party in Nevada would concentrate on expanding union density in that state, they would be both building a Democratic Majority and creating independent centers of working class power ... (hope, eh?)

On Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 2:46 PM Gibbons Brian via <> wrote:
See link

Brian Gibbons

Re: The People vs Agent Orange | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

George Robinson

At the risk of tooting my own bugle, allow me to second the endorsement of "The People Vs. Agent Orange" and direct your attention to my interview with the filmmakers, Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson:

George Robinson

Follow my blog, Cine-Journal at
and my Twitter feed @GRCommunicati13

On 3/9/2021 3:00 PM, Louis Proyect wrote:

Just by coincidence, the documentary “The People Vs. Agent Orange” that opened on March 6th in virtual theaters could have easily been released to coincide with International Women’s Day that is celebrated on March 8th. The film is a profile of two women who have dedicated their lives to terminating the use of a deadly chemical herbicide that cost the lives of both Americans and Vietnamese. You might rightly assume that the Americans were GI’s serving in Vietnam like Leo Cawley, an economist who hosted “Fearful Symmetry,” on WBAI-FM in the late 80s—the best program on a network that has lost its way. Leo died of complications from a bone-marrow transplant, the after-effects of being exposed to Agent Orange when he was a marine in Vietnam.

But you didn’t have to be in Vietnam to get sick or die from Agent Orange. Unbelievably, after its use was banned in 1971, it eventually sprayed by the millions of gallons in Western Oregon upon the soil that once held millions of trees. After they were cut down, Agent Orange was used to kill the weeds left behind as an aid to reforestation.


The People vs Agent Orange | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect

Just by coincidence, the documentary “The People Vs. Agent Orange” that opened on March 6th in virtual theaters could have easily been released to coincide with International Women’s Day that is celebrated on March 8th. The film is a profile of two women who have dedicated their lives to terminating the use of a deadly chemical herbicide that cost the lives of both Americans and Vietnamese. You might rightly assume that the Americans were GI’s serving in Vietnam like Leo Cawley, an economist who hosted “Fearful Symmetry,” on WBAI-FM in the late 80s—the best program on a network that has lost its way. Leo died of complications from a bone-marrow transplant, the after-effects of being exposed to Agent Orange when he was a marine in Vietnam.

But you didn’t have to be in Vietnam to get sick or die from Agent Orange. Unbelievably, after its use was banned in 1971, it eventually sprayed by the millions of gallons in Western Oregon upon the soil that once held millions of trees. After they were cut down, Agent Orange was used to kill the weeds left behind as an aid to reforestation.


9681 - 9700 of 16797