chapter  4
Radical pretensions
Pages 9

As I have reconstructed it, what I am describing as the ‘surrational’ or ideological feminist treatment of dualisms contains four basic moves. The first two, the assertion of the determining presence of binary oppositions in Western thought and the inference of their necessarily hierarchical character, were discussed in the previous chapter in the course of attempting to reveal the strong connection between this kind of thought and an easy (because unargued) and flexible mode of political denunciation. They are moves without intellectual basis which, because of their ultimate reliance only on the authority of a certain political position, mean that this theoretical approach finds appropriate expression only in the exercise of power. In the last two moves, which assert the necessity and the insufficiency of a ‘moment of reversal’, we find very striking parallels with the structure of liberation theory. These, I shall now show, indicate the covert expression of feminist liberation theory and therefore, also, of an appeal to oppose such arbitrary authority or power. Once this has been demonstrated, my argument concerning this kind of postmodern feminist deconstructionist theory will be drawing to a close. For I shall then have shown that it is directed towards fundamentally opposed aspirations and is

based, therefore, on a contradiction. The contradiction is between its use, which can only be authoritarian, and its content, which will now be seen to imply a radical anti-authoritarianism. The existence of this contradiction, together with the obviously essential requirement that it remain concealed, must constitute a good part of the answer to the question with which I began concerning the apparently systematic and functional character of intellectual confusion in this kind of academic feminist thought. What I shall have done is to have identified the broad objective constraints or ‘discursive rules’ which constitute this ‘discourse’.