Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 12, No. 10, October 2016
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Patriarchy as Negation of Matriarchy:
The Perspective of a Delusion

Claudia von Werlhof

This article was originally presented at the
First Congress on Matriarchal Studies, Luxembourg, 2003,
and published as Chapter 6 of
The Failure of Modern Civilization and the Struggle for a "Deep" Alternative
Claudia von Werlhof, Peter Lang Books, Frankfurt/New York, 2011


Preliminary Remark

So far, I have been studying patriarchy rather than matriarchy simply because I consider myself to be a matriarchal woman who does not really understand patriarchy. That is why I want to analyse it, which is just another way of saying that it is not matriarchy but patriarchy which is the problem. My analysis rests on the thesis that patriarchy is not an independent order of society but, squatting on matriarchy, exploits, changes, and destroys all formerly matriarchal ways of living and thinking. Binary and antagonistic in its form, this thesis may appear to neglect society's complexity, but it serves the purpose of working out as distinctly as possible the differences between matriarchy and patriarchy. Only on this basis can the complexity of society be adequately analyzed.  

I.  What is "Patriarchy"?    Thesis and Field of Research

According to my thesis and seen from a matriarchal viewpoint, patriarchy is neither in itself nor of its own an order of society, culture, or civilization. It is not independent of matriarchal forms of society but has developed out of the negation of matriarchy. Seen as such, patriarchy has to be called a delusion. The fact that it cannot exist or cannot have its own reality in the sense of its own definition enhances its phantasmagoric character. Patriarchy literally means "the father is the beginning", "father origin" or "father uterus", because the Greek word arché, which is part of the words "patriarchy" and "matriarchy", originally means "beginning, origin, uterus". Only much later, in times of patriarchy, "arché" acquires the meaning of "dominance" or "domination". Patriarchy as such remains a perspective, an idea, a Utopia, the project of a society that wants to be absolutely without a mother and independent of nature, cut off from its inter-connectedness with all other forms of being.

Efforts to make this Utopia concrete are, however, under way and will result in "patriarchy" or "the father's dominance" (that is "arché" in the second, the patriarchal sense of the word). The project of not only conceptualizing but also materializing patriarchy or of "technically" realizing it, is a project of modern times. Patriarchy in the original sense of the word was and still is scarce, if it exists at all.

In the process of materializing the patriarchal project such an enormous destruction of life, especially of women and nature, has occurred that patriarchy appears to have reached its limits. It seems that the race of destruction and "production", that is the construction of patriarchy, is in its final stage and will probably be decided in the very near future.

Patriarchy, seen from this perspective, must be understood as a process which continually extends its borders and which, at the same time, goes deeper and deeper. This process obviously tends towards becoming a system but, as basically never ending, cannot come to its conclusion. Its present phase of capitalism as a global system ("globalization") appears to be its, so far, last and most violent period in which many patriarchal tendencies of history come to a peak or accumulate.

With this thesis I oppose and contradict those who understand patriarchy as "the father's dominance" without asking for the reasons of the will to dominate, as if domination were, per se, a male need. I also oppose and contradict those who - literally standing at the other end of my thesis - do not see the connections between patriarchy and modernity but consider it to be a pre-modern or old-fashioned, "traditional", and backward phenomenon, a phenomenon which - seen from the perspective of technical progress - seems anachronistic and in the process of disappearing - all by itself!

In general, I also oppose and contradict those who fight against any periodization of history that goes beyond modern times, the middle ages or antiquity and who refuse to look back upon "pre-historic" times or the predecessors of patriarchy. This approach allows them to deny both the existence of matriarchies and the origins of patriarchies and to consider the former as irrelevant. Against that view let me warn with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

Wer nicht von drei Tausend Jahren
sich weiß Rechenschaft zu geben,
bleibt im Dunkeln, unerfahren,
mag von Tag zu Tage leben.

(West-Östlicher Divan, 1819)
Who never looks beyond
more than three thousand years,
will stay in darkness, fond
living day by day in tears.


And finally, I certainly oppose and contradict those who simply think systemically and do not want to see patriarchy as a historical phenomenon. Instead, they consider it to be unhistorical, as if it had existed from times immemorial as an independent, "necessary", or even "the best possible" order of society, an order with the special capacity of "evolving" into "civilization", the only relevant order worth noticing.

From my viewpoint, patriarchy is not only a general and vague term of political combat but, more than anything else, it is a basic theoretical concept for the global understanding of origin, development, and future of our present order of society (C. v. Werlhof 2003).

Attacks on Matriarchal Studies and on the Critique of Patriarchy

It is not insignificant that feminist matriarchal studies and the critique of patriarchy are presently under attack again in the way they had been attacked at the time of national socialism (s. AutorInnengemeinschaft 2003). National socialism was clearly interested in these topics and used them for its own purposes. Of course, its leaders did not pay attention to matriarchal studies or a feminist critique of patriarchy. On the contrary, such studies were forbidden by them, while they tried, with something like their own "critique" of patriarchy, to patriarchally utilize matriarchal studies with the purpose of both, defaming Jews and recruiting women for their national socialism. Of course, they carefully avoided to apply their critique of patriarchy to national socialism itself.

At present, attacks on matriarchal studies and on the critique of patriarchy come rather from the left and from women's groups that do not want to have anything to do with feminism. Women's lobbies, neo-liberal politicians, and, especially, post-modern as well as post-feminist "gender" researchers (B. Röder et al. 1996) vehemently fight against the concepts of matriarchy and patriarchy, and they probably do so because they could otherwise no longer legitimate their politics of participating in the global project of patriarchy (for a critique s. D. Bell/R. Klein 1999).

Certain left groups locate matriarchal studies and the critique of patriarchy on the extreme right, because they have themselves formulated a critique of capitalism. This critique, however, remains "within the system" by still considering "socialism" to be an alternative to "capitalism" and not as a component of one and the same "capitalist world system". Since these critics include neither the so called "second", supposedly "post-capitalist" nor the so called "third", supposedly "pre-capitalist" (not to speak of a matriarchal) world, they are not interested in issues such as:

1. alternatives to the state/to systems of domination;

2. alternatives to technical progress/to the machine;

3. alternatives to modern relations to nature/the impact of the question of ecology;

4. alternatives to patriarchy as the historical background or bearer of capitalism;

and they are, finally, not interested in

5. a serious discussion of the so called women's question, although only from such a  discussion the above mentioned problems could be seen within and as part of the patriarchal syndrome.

Accordingly, the fast points of this avoidance debate against matriarchal studies and the critique of patriarchy are:

Technical progress, especially technology as machine, hostile relations to nature, and (men's) domination must remain untouched, to the effect that eco-feminists, feminist critics of domination, subsistence theorists, and, even more so, subsistence practicians, or so called "spiritual" women and matriarchal researchers, who plead for alternatives, are seen as "esoteric", "conservative", and have to be, more or less, located on the right. Never mind, how much critique of capitalism they may have formulated!

The bottom line of all this debate is: Capitalism must not really be criticized. All that matters is the seizure of power by another group inside capitalism, and the critique is valid only as long as no change of power has taken place.

As a consequence of this attitude, the concepts of capitalism and patriarchy as well as their connections are taboo and must not be analysed to their full extent. With the patriarchal - capitalist orderof society moving toward its critical point, this taboo becomes even stricter and it seems that a discussion of alternatives to capitalism and to patriarchy must be avoided by all means (s. H. Göttner-Abendroth 2003).

Instead, I am pleading for understanding our social order as basically a global patriarchy which has evolved over a period of 5 to 7000 years, with global capitalism as its, so far, last and "highest" form of expression which marks the limits of its  development.   

Thus, once again after the times of national socialism and, historically for the first time within a global context, the question of alternative/s to  patriarchy - and not only to capitalism - is on the top of the agenda. Matriarchal studies are, more than others, summoned to answer the following questions: Would neo-matriarchal or generally non-patriarchal and no longer capitalist social relations present an alternative? What is already being done in this field? How could one conceptualize this alternative and in which form should it be materialized?

Matriarchy as a "Second Culture" within Patriarchy

Accepting the reversal of the common view of things and considering the problems of social development(s) within patriarchy as inter-connected, that is by using a more powerful "telescope" to look upon pre- and non-patriarchal times in order to learn for the present, two phenomena appear very clearly:  the phenomena of under- or overrating patriarchy.

1. Once we realize that patriarchy is not only a system of domination, especially of that of men over women, it will no longer be underrated. Patriarchy aims at much more than just the domination of men over women. It has an objective which goes far beyond that form of domination.

2. Patriarchy has a beginning and it will, therefore, eventually have an end. Seen from an evolutionary perspective, it is not "necessary" and it should, therefore, not be overrated. In other words: Societies organized according to "non-patriarchal" principles must, simply for logical reasons, have existed. Therefore, they can and possibly will, for the same logical reasons, develop again.

3. The fact that different matriarchies still exist today proves that patriarchies have neither at all times nor everywhere been the only form of society. At the same time, the existence of matriarchal societies in our time or their survival within patriarchies point toward the danger of continuous patriarchalization of still existing or newly formed matriarchal social relations.

4. There is, however, no easy answer to the question how and to what extent new, no longer patriarchal societies, resemble historical and still existing "older forms" of matriarchies. Living matriarchies can only give us clues for alternatives just like global alternative movements do.      

A glance at the etymology, at archaeology - which archaeologist could explain what it means that the sphinx is about 14000 years old?! - as well as a glance at societies of old or new living matriarchies, and finally a glance at non-patriarchal social relations inside patriarchy prove: For very long periods of human history there globally existed a many-faceted matriarchal world culture, and patriarchy is, in its different forms of appearance, simply an evolutionary error of very recent origin, although an extremely dangerous and violent one.

Against this background the following questions have to be asked: Why do so many people still and in spite of patriarchy think in matriarchal forms and find it so very hard to understand the patriarchal rules of thinking, acting, feeling, and being - in spite of continuous social pressure? Is this due to the fact that they "remember" matriarchal social relations, or is it only because of  their resistance to acute patriarchal oppression? But even though the latter may be the case one has to ask: Where does this resistance come from in a person who has had no experience with conditions other than patriarchal ones? This question harbors a genuine problem of epistemology. Is it possible that resistance to patriarchy or dissident thinking and behavior goes back to some form of matriarchal experience or memory? What would this question imply for the issue of "consciousness" in general? How and to what extent does a matriarchal consciousness still influence people's lives? To what extent can such influence be explained by indicating that human consciousness not only comprises a person's direct experience but also early stages of human existence as such? What is the role of still surviving matriarchal social relations or relations that point toward matriarchy as a 2nd culture within patriarchy (R. Genth 1996)? 

Only one thing is obvious: Matriarchal social relations and societies not only existed in forgotten pre-historic times which no longer have any impact upon our lives today and can, therefore, be neglected. On the contrary: The question, whether they have existed or not, is more important than ever. With every day matriarchal social relations or forms become more and more vital, they may even have always run like a red thread through our experience, our memories, and our states of consciousness; they may, as such, still influence our impressions, behavior, social relations, desires, feelings, ideas, and forms of thinking. From this perspective, it might be advisable, even wise, to study matriarchal social relations and phenomena right in the center of contemporary patriarchies. Such studies could help them surface and make us aware of them to such a degree that we could use them in our search of alternatives to patriarchy as immediate starting points.

II.  Patriarchy as the Development of a War System

Matriarchal and Patriarchal Social Relations:

Patriarchy as a Process of Patriarchalization

According to the relevant literature, social relations probably lost their matriarchal character in a situation of need, danger, or emergency that might have occurred on account of climatic changes that were followed by "catastrophic" migrations in the course of which matriarchal social relations were injured and spoilt and finally destroyed (M. Gimbutas 1994; H. Göttner-Abendroth 1989; J. de Meo 1997).

Let me define as matriarchal those social relations which most suit the life of human groups and communities that are closely connected with nature and other non-human forms of being and which best guarantee the groups' or communities' survival wherever they may live. According to this definition, such relations will have evolved in different forms all over the world and in a long historical process. The common feature of potentially manifold matriarchal cultures is - to take the word "culture" literally - the care of life and there can hardly be any doubt that it was the long history of the mother-child-relationship which led to the "evolution" of matriarchy and toward matriarchy (see certain parallels in specific psychoanalytic studies as the Melanie Klein-School). One may assume that, if there has ever been anything like "evolution" in human history, it has to be searched for in the mother-child-relationship.

In this sense indigenous matriarchal cultures in North America know, for instance, two basic rules according to which they orient their lives: All life comes from women. Life must not be endangered.

Matriarchal societies all over the world and at all times would probably stick to these two basic rules.

Patriarchal social relations will, according to the above given definition of matriarchy, most probably not have developed out of a project that arose within matriarchy against matriarchy. Such a development would imply that there existed, within matriarchal societies, social contradictions of a form in which they systematically only develop in long periods of violence, domination, oppression or subordination, exploitation, robbery, class formation, and the like. Such conditions are, however, only known to exist in patriarchies. In fact, it is exactly such conditions which define patriarchy. Yet, there are some researchers who suspect endogenous causes for the development of patriarchy out of matriarchal societies (s. C. Meier-Seethaler 1992 (1988)).

It seems, however, much more likely that patriarchal social relations have first developed in reaction to the fact that matriarchal social relations could no longer be continued in the way they had existed before. This would also explain why some societies, such as the Celts, for instance, preserved a great number of matriarchal traditions long after they had changed to patriarchal social relations (J. Markale 1984).

There are, in any case, many instances that indicate that matriarchal societies could successfully prevent the endogenous development of domination and that they were not naïve in regard of the potential danger of power, domination, and violence developing within their own social order (s. P. Clastres 1976; Ch. Sigrist 1979 (1994)). 

Apart from all these considerations there is no doubt that the decision to raid others comes about in a situation of emergency or a situation which may be (even fraudulently) interpreted/defined as emergency. It is raid to hunt animals that had previously been taboo, and/or to invade another human community in order to get food supplies. Most probably, in many cases people will have, in the long run, arrived at some kind of agreement. In any case, according to Marija Gimbutas, the Kurgans needed hundreds of years of organized waves of conquest until they finally erected a regular system of domination, that is a state (see, for example, the history of Sumer in Ancient Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, in the 4th millennium B.C.).

"Oriental despotism" which arose in those areas largely determined the rise and development of patriarchies in antiquity (s. K. Wittfogel 1977) and thus also the rise and development of Western patriarchy which was later established by means of Roman colonization and of violent waves of Christianization starting from Rome (s. M. Mies 2003).

In any case, the tremendous use of violence which, right from the beginning, characterizes patriarchal systems of domination (s. D. Wolf 1994) can hardly be explained, if one assumes that patriarchy arose within matriarchal societies as endogenous formation.

It does, however, make sense to speak of endogenous waves of patriarchalization as the result of outside influences which continue inside and lead to more and stronger waves of patriachalization within a matriarchal society. Such an endogenous process within matriarchal societies, which I would like to call "secondary patriarchalization", may have been started as protection against violence, particularly against the threat of war: "Protective or defensive forces" not only take over the defense against outside enemies but they also produce a power system inside society. This has been "the logic of war" up to present times.

The question when to call a certain society no longer matriarchal or when to consider it to be primarily patriarchal is probably mostly a question of periodization. If matriarchy is the first social order and if the development of patriarchy comes after and out of the conquest of matriarchy, it must follow that matriarchal social relations have outlived patriarchalization, have developed as new, oppressed, pauperized forms, or have been propagated only to veil domination or to legitimize it.

The "Logic" (of the Development) of Patriarchy

From our thesis that patriarchy is always based upon the destruction of matriarchy and as such "squats on" originally matriarchal social relations, it follows that there must be some basic principles which are at least "necessary" for the formation of patriarchies as long as they compete with and are opposed to matriarchies. To put it differently: If patriarchies do not "as such" exist on their own but develop only in opposition to matriarchal societies, then such basic principles should state what a patriarchal society or a society on its way to patriarchy "logically" and in any case requires in order to develop and to continue. As minimal principles they would form the basis of any patriarchy, no matter how different its social order in other respects may be, and, since they are basic and necessary for any patriarchal society, they would have to be defended by all means and at all costs. According to this "patriarchal logic" any attack upon these principles would have to be seen as an attack upon the basis of society itself. 

Since most of us have come to consider patriarchy as the normal form of society, the monstrosity of this logic and its fundamental opposition to everything that was and still is considered normal in matriarchal societies do not strike us as terrible. We become aware of its monstrosity only when we are directly confronted with it or when we really experience the moment when patriarchal logic bursts and suddenly turns its "structural" or latent violence into direct violence.  

In the following passages I will present the "logic" of patriarchy as a "necessary" negation of matriarchal social relations. Once the scandal of patriarchy has again become evident and entered our consciousness, we will be able to clearly differentiate between patriarchal and matriarchal principles. Then we will also realize that patriarchy always includes the usurpation or robbery of matriarchal acquisitions and achievements which, in the end, are presented to be genuinely patriarchal ones.

My analysis of this patriarchal logic is based on only one prerequisite: Patriarchy wants to exist and wants to assure its existence against the matriarchal society upon which it squats. This, however, is beyond doubt.

Patriarchy as "War System"

As far as we know today, patriarchy always and everywhere begins with war (R. Eisler 1993; M. Mies 2003; C. v. Werlhof 2003 a). War develops out of armed men on horseback raiding unarmed villages and towns, looting them, destroying them,  and conquering them (M .Gimbutas 1994). Only after conquering strangers, the people of one's own clan or group, and especially the women, can be conquered and enslaved. In this process, hostility of the sexes, different classes, private property as the result of robbed property (privare = rob), and the state are established.

"Violence" in patriarchy is not vague or some kind of incidental phenomenon which only appears at the moment when it is socialized or legalized and legitimized "from the top". In patriarchy, individual as well as collective violence, ordered from the top of society, is always the result of war and part of war. War is, in this process, not a temporary, sudden outbreak of "generative violence" (s. R. Girard 1992), it is rather continuous generative violence. Patriarchy, according to our thesis, does, therefore, not only begin with war, but takes war as its model for the time after war and for all times, those of so called "peace" included.

1.    In patriarchy social relations orient themselves on war and imitate war as their model.It is only the perspective on patriarchy as war which can explain its social relations and which allows to analyse the latter adequately.

Violence in patriarchy must, according to this perspective, be characterized as "legitimate" violence in so called "just" wars. When we look at human history and at the world as it presents itself right now to the socio-political observer, it is obvious that patriarchal forms of violence are, as such, "invented" in war. War is the "father" (and, indeed, not the "mother") of patriarchy as a whole system of violence with thoroughly planned – or "cold" -violence as one of its inventions. Patriarchal violence, socially produced, organized, and institutionalized, could not develop without war but arose with and in it: Violence is always and foremost violence of war. For hundreds of centuries, war as capital invention of patriarchy has supplied and still supplies the "necessary" empirical knowledge for itself (s. Sunzi 500 B. C., 1999). This also explains the establishment of violence as military and state monopoly, removing or suppressing other forms of coercion, such as quasi "autonomous", state independent violence.

2. If war not only marks the beginning of patriarchy but if patriarchy, as such, is war, that is war at all times, everywhere, in principle, and in all areas of life and society, then patriarchy is not only a system of violence but a system of war (for this new concept s. M. Mies 2004). War is the typical "order" of patriarchy, even in times of so called peace. The immediate and early phase of direct war will, in the course of time, have developed into patriarchy proper. Accordingly, processes of patriarchalization work to the effect that all social areas and relations are turned into "warlike", militarized conditions which systematically refer to each other. In this way, war will, step by step and always more deeply, penetrate all of society (U. Bröckling 1997). Virilio would call such a state that of "pure war" (s. Virilio/Lotringer 1984). It is a state in which social development solely turns around the "logistics" of the "war machine" (ibd., p. 121). 

3. War as the method of patriarchy must be re-defined. War in patriarchy, even though it may begin as a raid, is not only an attack that passes or a momentary conquest, that is an "offensive war". Nor is it anything like a more or less "fair" race or competition among opponents of equal strength (s. C. Schmitt 1932). War, according to its own logic, never ends with conquering what it wants to conquer, it always remains as "method" for further conquest, and it will be continued after the conquest inside the conquered area to prevent the conquered from freeing themselves. Furthermore, war is not only about killing the "enemy", it rather aims at subjecting the enemy to be used for the "victor's" purposes, such as cheap labor or "producers" of human beings. War is, therefore, not a kind of "continuation of politics by different means", it rather is the other way round: Politics, the economy, the technology, the relations to nature and the relationship between the sexes, and the strategies of legitimization in science, ethics, and religion in patriarchy are the continuation of war by - only partially - different means. What follows after "hot" war is, in the best case, cold war or equally "cold peace".

Since the return to peace would be a return to matriarchal social relations, there is no peace in patriarchy. We are not aware of this, because we have got used to considering as peace what is no more than the temporary absence of direct murderous violence. What we take for peace is simply the disappearance of obvious violence in our closer neighborhood. But when it seems to be taboo or invisible, it is just hiding in the form of "cold" violence. Because, from a patriarchal perspective society is seen as something that has to be permanently conquered and subjected. Since the groups or communities that were first conquered (and still are being conquered) were women's cultures with close relations to nature, it is no incident that the population of a country or the people are still considered to be "feminine" or somehow "natural".

4. Patriarchy is a Utopia which systematically uses war to become real and concrete. This war system paradoxically legitimizes itself by claiming to be capable of bringing about a "nobler" and "higher" world, a new creation of the world - by means of war and destruction. This "alchemical project" (s. B. Easlea 1986; C. v. Werlhof 2003) aims at a "society" in which women and nature are no more than matter to be transformed, that is mother-material seen as dead matter or as matter to be killed. The outcome of this project would be something like a "pure patriarchy" that finally got rid of everything matriarchal and that would need neither women nor nature any more. Only then patriarchy would have utterly emancipated itself from matriarchal society and would, standing on its own feet, have become an independent order of society. "Patriarchy" would then, in the fullest sense of the word, have realized itself. . "Social formation" would have given way to "technological formation" or to the "alchemical system" (C. v. Werlhof 2003) that would finally exist ex nihilo.

This illusion might represent the last and final legitimization of patriarchy. It would consist in the idea that patriarchy, in its proper form, wants to create a new "paradise",a place without scarcity and conflict. All forms of violence and war would be seen as passing, yet "necessary", phenomena on this way to progress which appears to be desired by god and nature, and even by the women.  

III.  Summarized Interpretation

Patriarchal Forms of Negating Matriarchy

1. Patriarchy negates matriarchy by pre-supposing itself as its own origin. Social alternatives to patriarchy are ignored, ridiculed, or demonized. Society is being reduced to patriarchy.

2. Patriarchy negates matriarchy by trying to usurp, appropriate, and incorporate the acquisitions of matriarchal cultures which are then presented as its very own creations. Accordingly, the lord, god, father presents himself as the better mistress, goddess, creatrix, mother, and nature (natural power). The ancient "mother right" is turned into the "father right" over life and death.

3. Patriarchy negates matriarchy by turning its rules and principles upside down or by perverting them. Matriarchal society is literally turned over to stand on its head. To do so, matriarchal taboos concerning food, sexuality, domination, exploitation, and killing have to be broken. With war as "the father of all things" instead of life as "the mother of all things", creation and wealth appear to come from willful destruction instead of from the cooperation of all things alive. War is considered to be beautiful, true, and good. Faith in the absurd stands against knowledge of the world. Sarcasm and cynicism toward life are considered as adequate and intelligent. Human intelligence is primarily used for destructive purposes.

4. Patriarchy negates matriarchy by destroying the latter. Murder of goddesses, mothers, and women become the rule. The sacrifice of women, nature, and culture are at the center of society with internal and external destruction as the result. The knowledge of subsistence, of life, and of peace, wisdom in dealing with conflicts, and empirical knowledge of nature, all these are, together with their witnesses, destroyed. Against all these, patriarchy sets up its nihilism.

5. Patriarchy negates matriarchy by trying to transform matriarchal societies into patriarchal ones. This leads to the "alchemical project" of constructing and producing patriarchal "creations" on the basis of a violent "divide et impera!" in all areas of life. Modern times and capitalism are, more than other historical periods, characterized by this project of direct material patriarchalization, particularly in the form of the production of commodities, of money bearing interest, and of machine technology ("the military industrial complex").

6. Patriarchy finally negates matriarchy by trying to replace matriarchal society by patriarchal order. To do so it has to totally abstract from matriarchal social relations or to absolutely set itself off from them. This is possible only when the constructs and products of patriarchy lead to an independent second "creation" which, in fact, replaces the former creation to such an extent that one can do utterly without it. Only with the establishment of such a "pure patriarchy" the annihilation of women and nature can - in retrospect - be "legitimized".  Such hybris, that is the willingness to stake the entire life on earth, is the true "secret" of patriarchy.

Toward a Neo-Matriarchal View of Inter-Connectedness

Alternative projects, even if they do not explicitly mention matriarchy, globally start with equality, subsistence, mutuality, the affirmation of life, and cooperation. The simple self-evident truth of life without dominance is again right at the center of thinking, acting, and feeling. The relation to internal and external nature is understood to be based on the idea of all things alive and all phenomena being inter-connected. Such matriarchal view on inter-connectedness does not transcend this world nor create another world beyond it, but it goes right through it (transcendere) without disconnecting the individual beings. On the contrary, it is transcending their limits and sees every being connected with every other. Thus, the thoughts pick up the threads of ancient wisdom woven by matriarchal cultures (s. C. v. Werlhof/Bennholdt-Thomsen/Faraclas 2003).

The delusion of patriarchy will, like a phantom, disappear from the surface of the earth ...

If we then turn back upon the times of patriarchy and look at it with "archaeological  eyes", we shall soon wonder how it could ever have existed.

(translation by Dr. Ursula Marianne Ernst)


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Claudia von Werlhof was born in 1943 in Berlin; 1988 Professor of Political Science/Women's Studies, University Innsbruck (Austria); Latin American Studies, University Bielefeld (Germany); PhD 1974, Habilitation 1984. Empirical research: Central and South America; Theoretical contributions: Critical Theory of Patriarchy. She founded, with many others, the Planetary Movement for Mother Earth and, more recently, the BOOMERANG Journal for the Critique of Patriarchy.

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