Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.
It is now technically feasible to reproduce without the aid of males (or, for that matter, females) and to produce only females. We must begin immediately to do so. Retaining the male has not even the dubious purpose of reproduction. The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.--Valerie Solanas (1967) SCUM Manifesto [HT Petra Van Brabandt]
The second paragraph is so arresting, as revolutionary transitions are wont to be, that it is easy to overlook, or deliberately pass over, the first sentence of SCUM manifesto. To do so would miss the extraordinary ambition of the text: it aims to establish the conditions of life worth living within a true society. The whole text is structured around two kinds of societies; the false or unauthentic one -- denoted 'society'-- and the true one to come after the civic-minded females have done their revolutionary work. The manifesto sharply distinguishes among three stages: the boring status quo; the thrilling revolution, which makes possible, a grooving society (society is the repetition that holds the manifest together). But it does it in the name of life and (thrilling) civic-mindedness.
For, a true "society" consists "of rational beings capable of empathizing with each other." Today I wish to articulate the nature of such a true society. In so doing, I pass over what is most exciting in her work: the critique of patriarchy, the unmasking of the art industry, the stinging attack on the corruption of science for life-destroying ends (go read SCUM Manifesto for yourself). This society, which is essentially "complete" and lacking competitive principles is anarchic in character without "a government, laws or leaders." Solanas associates philosophy, not unfairly, with pompous prattle, but she echoes (recall) Socrates' true city and Spinoza that the best political community is one with true companionship and no hierarchy (she also refers to it as "eternity and Utopia"). For in a true society, true community is possible:
A true community consists of individuals -- not mere species members, not couples -- respecting each others individuality and privacy, at the same time interacting with each other mentally and emotionally -- free spirits in free relation to each other -- and co-operating with each other to achieve common ends. Traditionalists say the basic unit of `society' is the family; `hippies' say the tribe; no one says the individual.
I do not wish to irritate more radical readers of Solanas (they can console themselves that before long my type is dispensable), but what she advocates here is the liberal good life.* She just thinks that men as they have been bred are incapable of it. Of course, she is not a thoroughgoing liberal; she embraces illiberal even thrilling means to solve the transition problem. But in this she is little different than those liberals who pine for Enlightened despots to help escape the cul-de-sac that is everyday politics.
The point for Solanas of stressing the individual is not to make possible possessive individualism, but to promote the better kind, "to relate, groove, love and be herself, irreplaceable by anyone else." And "like conversation, love can exist only between two secure, free-wheeling, independent groovy female females, since friendship is based upon respect, not contempt." Of course, the material conditions for this better kind of individualism "requires complete economic as well as personal freedom, leisure time and the opportunity to engage in intensely absorbing, emotionally satisfying activities which, when shared with those you respect, lead to deep friendship."
Not unlike Keynes, Solanas thinks the material conditions to make a true society possible are easily within reach. In fact, she advocates big data computing half a century before it became fashionable ("There now exists a wealth of data which, if sorted out and correlated, would reveal the cure for cancer and several other diseases and possibly the key to life itself. But the data is so massive it requires high speed computers to correlate it all.")
Before I close, I wish to prevent two misunderstandings: first, I do not mean to minimize Solanas's rejection of reform. Hers is a revolutionary program. As she writes, "SCUM will always operate on a criminal as opposed to a civil disobedience basis, that is, as opposed to openly violating the law and going to jail in order to draw attention to an injustice. Such tactics acknowledge the rightness overall system and are used only to modify it slightly, change specific laws. SCUM is against the entire system, the very idea of law and government. SCUM is out to destroy the system, not attain certain rights within it."** The destruction is menacing for those attached to the status quo.
Second, I do not mean to suggest that for Solanas the best community is only love and conversation. Near the end of her manifesto, she points to a range of activities presupposed in it "to explore, discover, invent, solve problems, crack jokes, make music -- all with love. In other words, create a magic world."
There is, thus, a lush gentility in Solanas's vision. In fact, it is so gentle that one wonders how the civic thrill-seekers will adjust to it once they can repose from their revolutionary work.