I recently found myself embroiled in a debate on the entanglements of patriarchy & capitalism, the two most prominent systems of power in modern society. My counterpart was arguing that there is no capitalism without patriarchy - that a feminist expression of capitalism is inherently impossible. I found this position unbearable and, bluntly, myopic, resting on the idea that capitalism as it exists today (and has existed for a few centuries) is the true expression of capitalism as a system.
I find this position unbearable because it seems clear that capitalism is a system of power, separated from questions of who and how. That patriarchy and capitalism are linked, impossibly so at times, is no question - but that is a function of who was in the vantage point to capitalize on capitalisms power balancing. That 'men' (aka white, cis, heterosexual men) were in power is, to be sure, a function of the patriarchal systems that were in place at the start of the industrial & capitalistic revolutions. Even a cursory look at history shows how the start of capitalism was not predicated on patriarchal oppression - women took up a very large part of the early workforce as capitalism took hold, signaling again capitalisms disdain for gendered victims.
The "beauty" (if you will) of capitalism is not that it rests on the shoulders of patriarchy, but in it's mutability, it's incessant move towards power, monopoly and oppression - blind to questions of borders, age, gender - that it is a methodology inherently built to adapt, to consume it's competition, it's detractors and resurface stronger still (look no further than the myriad of clothing designs featuring the visage Che Guevara).
That this is a difficult thing to tease out is undoubted and uncontested. But there is an importance in teasing out these distinct and disparate systems, not as triage, but as understanding, as calling things "by their true names".
I'll be exploring more of this in my continued writing here - tying these ideas to toxic masculinity and cultural understanding of men, power, oppression and growth.
Reference "Does capitalism really need patriarchy?: Some old issues reconsidered" by Carol Johnson