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PHL271H1 (17)

MaKinnon The Liberal State

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University of Toronto St. George
Deirdre Flynn

MacKinnon, ‚The Liberal State‛, p.257 General Thoughts: - ‚MacKinnon sees the law as a potentially powerful medium of progressive change, one that has 1 historically not been in woman’s hands and has largely sided against women.‚ Definitions: civil society: existing social order; you are constrained to your current position in society Negative State: the view that government best promotes freedom when it stays out of existing social arrangements (preserves negative freedom in that it does not limit any group) Regarding Feminism: 2 - ‚Feminism has a theory of power but lacks a specific theory of state form‛ - Marx says that changes within a political system only emancipate the individual in so far as any changes are within the existing social order (revolution on this level was considered by him to be 2 ‚partial, merely political revolution‛  ‚The Marxist theory of inequality has been its theory on politics‛ 2  This is significant because it implies that Marxism, since it does not have its own theory on politics, believes that the only kind of politics that can exist are unjust systems 2  ‚The state has a definite class character, is definitely capitalist or socialist, but also has its own interests, which are to some degree independent of those of the ruling class and even of the class structure.‛ 3  Genius: ‚is the state essentially autonomous of class but partly determined by it, or is it essentially determined by class but not exclusively so?‛ - MacKinnon says that she has not found the law to be simply ‚bourgeois‛, meaning not simply governed by those in power, however she says that she has found it to be ‚determinately driven by interest‛ 4 - Feminism has developed a ‚theory on social determination specific to sex‛ but it has not confronted ‚the relationship between the state and society [...] it lacks jurisprudence, [...] a theory of the substance of law, its relation to society, and the relationship between the two.‛ 4  Such a theory of jurisprudence would demonstrate how the law acts in a manner that is gendered, resulting in ‚feminist practice oscillat[ing] between a liberal theory of the state [...] and a left theory of the state‛  Liberal theory because it means that the state is ‚predispose to no substantive outcome, or manipulable to any ends, thus available as a tool that is not fatally twisted.‛ 4  Leftist theory because sometimes ‚the state becomes a tool of dominance and 4 repression, the law legitimating ideology‛  The reason for the oscillation is because both ideologies present something of value and a prohibiting flaw. Firstly, liberalism presents the state as ‚a primary tool of women’s betterment and status transformation‛ however it does not allow for the analysis or argument that the state in and of itself is inherently male. The Marxist state on the other hand recognises the structure as male however ‚women are left to civil society‛, meaning that their pursuit of a just social and political (and 4 by extension legal) system is inherently fruitless. 1257 2258 3259 4260 MacKinnon, ‚The Liberal State‛, p.257  To grasp these problems is to begin to comprehend the role of the liberal state within a post-Marxist feminism of social transformation Regarding the Liberal State: MacKinnon says... - ‚Gender is a social system that divides power...over time, women have been economically exploited, relegated to domestic slavery, forced into motherhood, sexually objectified, physically abused, used in denigrating entertainment, deprived of a voice and authentic culture and disenfranchised and excluded from public life.‛ 5  Since MacKinnon sees a power relationship between men and women, she sees it as a political problem. She says political acts are those performed in power perspectives, therefore in order for something to be political, there must be a power differential. She quotes Robert Dahl who defines a political system as ‚any persistent patter of human relationships that involved, to a significant 5 extent, power, rule, or authority.‛ - HOW DOES MALE POWER BECOME STATE POWER?! - ‚The law sees and treats women as men see and treat women.‛ Through this, ‚the liberal state coercively and authoritatively constitutes the social order in the interests of men as a gender.‛ It does this through ‚legitimating norms, forms, relation to so
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