Complementary Holism is an alternate conceptual framework intended to transcend traditional theories of history
(such as Marxism
). Most adherents of traditional perspectives claim that their particular concepts of structure
are at least the central determinants of oppression
and social change
, if not that important social relations
can all be reduced
to the economy
, or gender
. These monist or reductionist views distort whatever they are applied to. Pluralist views, such as Anarcho-Feminism
, seek to eliminate this distortion by adopting more than one perspective, but events are often so multifaceted that only a comprehensive theory can reveal their true character. Complementary Holism seeks to be this comprehensive theory.
Complementary Holism begins from the premise that each domination generates highly interconnected and irreducible social forces. There is no hierarchy of oppressions, but a holistic interweaving of oppressions. Complementary Holism states that society's boundary (composed of society's institutions and their role structures) and its center (composed of its citizens, their consciousness, personality, needs and skills) co define each other. It also focuses on economic, political, kinship, and community spheres showing how each may be usefully characterized by a predominant activity and particular defining social relations and group structure--each entwines with the others in a complementary holist fashion.
In essence complementary holism asks that social activists abandon the typical ideas that a single oppression is the most important. A Marxist focuses on class struggle but can not understand that a man and a woman of the same class will experience their class oppression differently, while a feminist will see only that a woman is oppressed by the males surrounding her without considering that that woman's experience differs if she is African-American rather than white or not heterosexual, etc.
Complementary Holism was "created" by Michael Albert, Lechie Lagan, Noam Chomsky, Robin Hahnel, Mel King, Lydia Sargent and Holly Sklar and is discussed in their book Liberating Theory. Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel have also pioneered an amazing economic theory called Parecon or Participatory Economics.