Hands Off Russia! No to Nuclear War

Hands Off Russia! No to Nuclear War

18-03-2018 – Lies, lies and more lies. Lies which could ignite a world war. It is a cliché that truth is the first casualty of war, but the lies spewing forth from the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and Germany over the circumstances of the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia go beyond the standard lies we come to expect from Western politicians. These lies test the rational discourse necessary to operate a society on a basis which is even half civil. Capitalism has long since ceased to be civil, if it ever was. And now it pushes humanity towards the brink of the unthinkable – a mutually destructive nuclear holocaust. The prime movers towards this unthinkable are none other than the ruling classes of the supposedly “advanced” West. Russia is but the scapegoat.

Gulf of Tonkin like incident

Former UK parliamentarian for the Labour and Respect parties George Galloway has poignantly stated that the response by the Western governments to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury is eerily reminiscent of the lead-up to the unforgivable US/UK/AUST invasion of Iraq in 2003. Then, partially on the basis of a UK government “dodgy dossier” which claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which were able to be deployed within 45 minutes, the US and its Western allies carried out an unprovoked invasion, slaughtering up to 1 million innocent Iraqis. He also stated that the blaming of Russia for the poisoning of Skripal will go down in history as one of the great hoaxes, a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident.[1] The Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred in 1964, where the US destroyer USS Maddox exchanged shots with North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Two days later, the US government claimed the Maddox came under fire again. Although most historians now agree this second attack never happened, the pretext was set, and within 12 months 180 000 US troops were on the ground in Vietnam. The war dragged on for years, and slaughtered 3 million Vietnamese and changed 20th century history. This time, the West’s target is not a small country in Asia, but the world’s largest country by landmass – Russia.

As usual, the Australian government has already given an assurance that it will back the provocateurs, as it has done in every real and potential imperialist war for decades. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has stated that “there is no other plausible explanation” that the Russian government ordered the attack, or allowed others to use its chemical agent stockpiles for the attack.[2] Predictably, Bishop stated that the Australian government would back moves by the UK to send weapons inspectors to Russia. That is, in the same manner as in the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003, the West proposes to send chemical weapons inspectors into Russia, when not a shred of evidence to support their wild allegations has been put forward. Arguably 90% of the world’s population strongly opposed the US led war on Iraq in 2003, because they did not believe attempted government justifications for war. Where is world opinion now?

Mother of all distractions

As others have noted, Sergei Skripal was a double agent, and thus had a lot of enemies. He was tried and convicted of handing over the names of 300 Russian agents to foreign powers, and sentenced to 13 years in prison.[3] In 2010, he was able to escape to the UK as part of a spy swap deal. Given the relatively light sentence for treason that Russian courts handed him in 2004, the Russian government seemingly did not recognise him as a major threat. Russia has consistently denied any involvement in the poisoning of Skripal, and has repeatedly asked for samples of the alleged nerve agent used, as provided for in the conventions of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The British government refused these requests by Russia point blank, while issuing absurd ultimatums to Russia. The discourse from the UK government and its assistant corporate media is childish and pathetic, but there is some basis for their warped behaviour.

The UK, and the imperialist West generally, needed a distraction from the upcoming Russian presidential elections. In these elections, it is almost assured that President Vladimir Putin will win, and win hands down, especially considering his approval rating hovers around the 80% mark. This astronomically high figure can be largely attributed to the fact that Putin and his backers pulled Russia back from the brink of complete social, economic and political catastrophe which followed the capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union in 1991-2. During the 1990s, Russian life expectancy plummeted, leading to Russia’s population shrinking. Economic output more than halved. Alcoholism skyrocketed, as despair set in. From around 1999, Russia with Putin at the helm, started to claw back some of the state owned enterprises which had been privatised during the 90s. Ironically, Putin’s government, despite remaining capitalist, used nationalisation and not privatisation to re-boot the Russian economy. In the process, Putin had to take on and defeat some of Russia’s known oligarchs who had grown rich on the basis of massive and almost unfettered corruption – such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky.[4]

The concept of a Russian leader being overwhelmingly popular, and being endorsed heartily by its citizens, is simply too much for the West to bear. Add to this the fact that the soccer World Cup will in a few months be held in Russia, which will inevitably add at least some prestige to the Russian government on the world stage – and you have a scenario which is tailor made for a Western manufactured “false flag,” of which there have been many over the last several years. Western politicians are arguably universally loathed by working people themselves, due to decades of government funding cuts, austerity, joblessness, homelessness and relentless attacks on living standards. While working people internationally cannot completely endorse the domestic or international politics of the Russian government, working people do have an interest in defending Russia against hysterical attacks from the ruling classes of “their own” countries. In defending itself against the dangerously provocative actions of NATO and Western imperialism, the Russian government takes measures which safeguard the international working class – if only temporarily.

Western defeat in Syria

As the Western governments make lamentable attempts to blame Russia for everything, while presenting no proof, the final stages of the liberation of Syria from the hordes of Western armed ISIS and Al Qaeda mercenaries is taking place. In days past, the Syrian Arab Army announced it had retaken 70% of the areas controlled by terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta.[5] This follows years of occupation by US/UK armed barbarians holding Syrian civilians hostage, starving them, and shooting at them if they tried to escape. Russia was key to the defeat of the US and the UK in Syria (which was backed by Canberra), which created, funded and trained unhinged cutthroats in an effort to effect regime change. If the West had have succeeded in overthrowing the Syrian Arab Republic, Iran would almost certainly be next on the list, likely followed by Russia itself. In defending itself against this barely concealed aggression, Russia performed a service for humanity which is barely recognised. This is similar to the virtual non-recognition of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi led fascism in the Second World War.

Russia almost single-handedly destroyed the West’s creation – ISIS. The practice of Wall Street employing a barbarian proxy army, who could carry out regime change while the US, UK, French and Australian governments claimed “plausible deniability” was derailed by Russia, in a masterful act of military and political brokering. Russia checkmated the West by taking on all terrorists active in Syria, and inviting the West to help them do so. The West could not join such a campaign – exposing them as the ultimate sponsors. In response the West attempts to whip up a pathological hatred of Russia, which arguably eclipses standard Russophobia. The government of the West are creating an atmosphere of thinly veiled racism against Russians, and an almost unbound dehumanisation of Russians, not just the Russian government or its leader – although there is plenty of that. The dehumanisation of an entire people is meant to sanitise the most horrific depredations against them – including the destruction of millions of innocents through nuclear war. The worlds’ working people must be alert to what is occurring.

Consistently evidence free narrative

The US Empire, backed by its allies in London, Paris, Berlin and Canberra cannot act using force alone. Heavy and sustained propaganda must be used to fool the working people internationally, lest they take political action to force an end to insane war provocations. On every issue where the West has attempted to point the finger of blame squarely at Russia, at the Russian government, and at Putin himself, there has consistently been a distinct lack of any probative proof.

The Russian government was blamed for shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for invading and “annexing” Crimea – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for invading Ukraine – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for a state sponsored doping program of its Olympic athletes – with no proof. And on and on it goes. The West and their allies don’t need proof – this is not the way the New McCarthyism works. All that is needed is smear and innuendo, baseless allegations from the “authorities” with no substantial evidence. The relentless repetition of what is essentially slander is rained down upon working people in the West. It is assisted by liberals, bought and paid for academics, principle free journalists, conservative Trade Union bureaucracies and some left parties. Genuine anti-war activists are thus faced with an enormous task.

Russian “imperialism”

Unfortunately, some left parties buy into the plainly absurd theory that Russia today is “imperialist”. Such claims are laughable, but it allows them to tail after NATO and the US into war after war, even while they claim they are anti-war. For one thing, Russia today is halting imperialist wars, rather than prosecuting them. Arguably Russia should have intervened in some way to block NATO’s obliteration of Green Libya. But since then, Russia drew a line in the sand in Syria, and skilfully brought the imperialist war machine to a screeching halt. If Russia actually was imperialist, it would not be tactically blocking the advance of NATO, it would be joining in its abominable wars. It has not done this, and neither did it sponsor even one terrorist sent into Syria, in stark contrast to the governments of the US, UK and France. Ironically, the governments of the US, France and Germany have now joined the UK in holding Russia responsible for an alleged murder plot (of the Skripals) on British soil. This very act rebuffs those left parties claiming Russian “imperialism”, and demonstrates precisely just who the imperialists are.

The debate on Russian “imperialism”, such that there is one, requires a separate study. Suffice to say that Russia – a middle ranking capitalist economy at best – cannot be imperialist even if that was the desire of its rulers. An imperialist economy is one totally dominated by finance or bank capital – which necessitates an expansionary foreign policy – either through economic subordination or through outright war. But the only thing which is expanding in relation to Russia is NATO. NATO’s relentless expansion to the East, taking in countries of the former Soviet bloc, in violation of express affirmations that it would not do so, mean that Russia must take more countermeasures.[6] These countermeasures are then painted as “Russian aggression”. One look at a map of Europe will show NATO countries which now include Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey – all lie on the border with, or in the immediate vicinity of, Russia. Russian encirclement by NATO countries strongly suggest that Russia is a target of the imperialists – rather than being one itself.

As if to further underscore the case, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced that US, British and French Special Forces are on the ground in Syria, and their governments no longer deny it.[7] That is, military forces of the West who were not at any stage invited into Syria, as Russia was. Syria remains a flashpoint for a potential reckless mistake which could spark a world war. Working people internationally need to stand foursquare in the defence of Russia should such a conflict break out. At the same time, workers need to understand that the threat of war will remain as long as the real imperialism, led by Washington, exists. All efforts must go not only into ending the threat of war, but of ending the profit system which creates these threats in the first place. HANDS OFF RUSSIA!

WORKERS LEAGUE

Sergei Skripal (behind bars) and his daughter Yulia. http://www.abc.net.au

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201803141062501430-skripal-poisoning-responsibility-mystery-investigation/ (18-03-2018)

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-18/australia-meets-with-russia-over-ex-spy-poisoning/9560102 (18-03-2018)

[3] https://meduza.io/en/feature/2018/03/06/a-hundred-grand-and-hundreds-of-betrayed-agents (18-03-2018)

[4] https://qz.com/161135/how-russias-once-richest-man-hid-his-last-170-million-from-vladimir-putin/ (18-03-2018)

[5] https://sana.sy/en/?p=130716 (18-03-2018)

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/putin-says-russia-planning-countermeasuresto-nato-expansion/2016/11/21/83f5673c-afe1-11e6-ab37-1b3940a0d30a_story.html?utm_term=.caab842cc6e3 (18-03-2018)

[7] https://www.rt.com/news/421582-lavrov-foreign-special-forces-syria/ (18-03-2018)

Free Ahed Tamimi! For Palestinian Liberation!

Free Ahed Tamimi! For Palestinian Liberation!

Cartoon depicting Ahed Tamimi over an Israeli Defence Force soldier. Image from http://www.islam21c.com

09-03-2018 – The video footage went viral. A young 16 year old Palestinian woman, Ahed Tamimi, slapping an Israeli soldier as they were invading her family home. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) was yet again attempting to terrorise all Palestinians into submitting to the gross injustice of the Israeli state occupation. Ahed Tamimi and her family live in the village of Nabi Salih in the occupied West Bank. Some reports claim that the slapping incident took place just an hour after Ahed learned that her cousin, Mohammed Tamimi, had been shot in the head by the IDF.[1] Her cousin is just one of the many teenagers who take part in regular protests against the Israeli occupation forces, who frequently invade and threaten any Palestinian who resists, and many who do not. Shootings, being thrown in arbitrary detention to be faced by a military (not civilian) court, checkpoints, physical and verbal harassment and much worse are a daily experience for Palestinians under occupation. These collective crimes, and much worse, against the Palestinian people have continued almost without a pause since 1948, when the state of Israel was established on the forcible expulsion of the Arabic people of the region.

Needless to say, no damage was caused to the slapped soldier, save perhaps some pride. The real impact that Ahed’s actions had were that, despite the massive imbalance of power, the occupying Israeli armed forces were shown to be humiliated by an unarmed young Palestinian woman. The power of world public opinion turned sharply against the Zionist Israeli state yet again. The result was that the Israeli state charged Ahed herself, on ridiculous grounds such as “assault” (of a heavily armed soldier) and now faces arbitrary detention like many other Palestinian children and young people. One estimate has it that 375 Palestinians between the ages of 12 and 17 were under Israeli military detention in 2016, often for the charge of stone throwing.[2]  That children risk their lives daily in an attempt to somehow ward off the fourth strongest military in the world is testimony to incredible bravery the Palestinians constantly display.

US wars of regime change

Ahed Tamimi’s brave actions followed soon after US President Donald Trump’s announcement last December that Jerusalem will be recognised as the capital of Israel – or at least by his administration. This has actually been US government policy for decades, including under the previous Obama administration, but President Trump has only been the first to state it openly. As reactionary as Donald Trump’s actions are towards Palestine, he has been an inconsistent applicant of usual US designs. Trump campaigned on withdrawing the US from the war of regime change on Syria before becoming President. After being elected, he backflipped on this as much as on any issue. Nevertheless, Trump’s lack of total support for regime change in Syria dovetailed with the heroic defence of the Syrian Arab Army, backed by the military power of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The result was that US imperialism and their allies suffered an ignominious defeat in Syria, even if the war is still smouldering.

Given that the Zionist Israeli state was one of the principal allies of the US in sustaining its catastrophic war on Syria, one would assume that Palestinians themselves and their international supporters would be the strongest opponents of the violent overthrow of a direct neighbour of Palestine by Saudi Arabian armed ISIS and Al Qaeda barbarians. Wouldn’t these perpetrators of unspeakable atrocities – some of whom were injured and then treated for free in Israeli hospitals[3] – turn their guns, or their beheading swords, against Palestine after Syria? Wouldn’t the Western Palestinian solidarity movement – if they truly opposed the Israeli state – vehemently protest Israeli air strikes in support of ISIS, and repeated Israeli air strikes on Syria?[4] Unfortunately, if one assumed this, one would be wrong.

With some important exceptions, much of the Western Palestinian solidarity movement was either silent, or actually gave material and political support to the US/Israeli war of regime change on Syria. Tragically, Palestinians themselves were divided on the “war next door”. In effect, Hamas treacherously backed its arch enemy Israel against Syria, while on the other hand some Palestinian militias fought heroically alongside the anti-imperialist coalition (Russia, Iran, Hezbollah) defending Syria. These Palestinian militias, which include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Liwa Al-Quds and Quwat Al-Jalil[5], fought against imperialist war – the right side of history. In the process, they exposed the shaky politics of large parts of the Western Palestinian solidarity movement.

BDS ?

The direct lesson is that the defence of Palestine is impossible without strident opposition to imperialism. It is imperialism, led by the US, but assisted by Britain, France, Australia and others, which sustains the Zionist Israeli state. Without the financial, military and political backing of US imperialism, Israel would not be a shadow of itself, and a secure Palestine would be closer to reality. Which brings us to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. With notable exceptions, international advocates of BDS and backers of the imperialist war on Syria largely coincided. There are important reasons for this.

BDS is an attempt to garner world opinion against “Israel”, in order to thereby free “Palestine”. Marxists however, recognise no nation as a unified whole, but an assemblage of classes. The BDS movement implicitly has a classless analysis of both Israel and Palestine, and this is then extended onto the world stage. The BDS movement therefore seeks any ally of any class who can be convinced to take any action against Israel. Though they welcome working class support, in effect who they really try to win to their cause are capitalist corporations (“divestment”) and capitalist governments (“sanctions”). BDS advocates are thus literally, and in practice, appealing to imperialism itself – as if imperialism can and should be your ally in a political campaign. Even the “boycott” part is aimed at workers as consumers, not as workers. It assumes that the whole set up of capitalism – and ultimately imperialism – is the natural order of things, and the most we can do is to choose not to shop for certain consumer goods. It was also in the natural order of things for imperialism to wage war against Syria, which many BDS advocates did not oppose, or openly supported. And so the circle closes.

BDS is in practice a moral position, rather than a political one. BDS effectively claims that Israel is uniquely immoral, that its continued occupation of Palestine contains so many crimes that it has no parallel on the planet. Anyone who questions this likewise brings their own morality into question. Yet there are no moral absolutes for those with a basic class struggle perspective. The morality of a worker who toils endlessly for enough to live on cannot be compared to the morality of billionaire financiers who bleed society white in order to purchase another seaside mansion. To be sure, the crimes of the Israeli state against the Palestinians are heinous and abhorrent, and are ongoing. But the nature and scale of these crimes, as repulsive as they are, scarcely reach, let alone exceed, the crimes of its benefactor – the US Empire. The historical colonialist records of Britain, France, Belgium, Spain and indeed Australia – contain abominations at least equal, and sometimes worse – than those committed by the Zionist Israeli state.

Diverse but unequal

There is no denying the manifest crimes against humanity deployed daily by this Zionist state – the detention and likely incarceration of Ahed Tamimi is yet another one. The point, however, is that these are crimes of the capitalist state of Israel, not Israel itself. Israeli, Jew and Zionist are three different entities. Only 75.5% of Israelis are Jewish, and 1% of these are Ethiopian Jews. The religious views and practices of the Israeli Jews cannot at all be lumped together either. Only 7% of Jews are Ultra-Orthodox, while 15% are Orthodox, 32% are ‘traditional’ – but the largest majority of Israeli Jews identify as secular.[6] Arabs make up 20.2% of the overall population of 8.45 million, and another 4.3% comprises minority groups such as non-Arab Christians and Circassians.[7] That is, around 25% of the population of Israel are not Jewish at all, let alone Zionists.

Given these brief statistics, one can already start to see the problems with a boycott of the whole of Israel. But it goes much further. Israel is one of the most unequal countries on Earth. Roughly 20% of Israelis live below the poverty line, with the poverty line declared as less than 50% of the median disposable income. Of the 34 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries – the world club of rich countries – Israel is close to the one which sustains the most inequality.[8] Ironically, Israel runs a close second to the US in terms of inequality. Its gross average annual earnings of full time employees sits below the US at just $28, 817, compared to a $40, 060 average for the rest of the OECD.[9]

Housing affordability – a major issue in Australia where young people are basically priced out of the market – is similarly a huge issue in Israel. In 2011, there were massive “Occupy” style protests in Israel specifically targeting the high cost of housing. In fact the scale of these protests dwarfed the Western Occupy protests at that time. One report stated that in Israel between 2007 and 2015, house prices increased by 114%, and rents by 49%, making housing almost unattainable for young people.[10] There is now the phenomenon of young Israelis leaving the country due to the high cost of housing!

Situational irony

We could go on, but just a glance at figures such as these show that there is huge scope for the workers movement to attempt to reach out to Israeli working class to ally with them against capitalism in their backyard, and abroad. Yet the BDS movement could very well set up a scenario of situational irony. That is, the BDS movement could have the opposite effect of what was intended. Rather than the BDS movement somehow turning Israelis against their own state, a boycott and sanctions effort often tends to drive the inhabitants of that state further behind it, in the manner of bunkering down against a siege. For example, when Iraq under Saddam Hussein was sanctioned by the West before its invasion, Iraqis rallied behind Hussein despite whatever crimes he committed previously against Iraqis. In a similar way, Syrians who were ambivalent towards, or even opposed, President Bashar Al-Assad before the US/Israeli led war against their country, soon rallied behind their leader when it became apparent he was leading an anti-imperialist defence of their secular state. BDS, despite its aims, arguably creates more Zionists rather than undermines them.

Most BDS advocates see themselves as left-wing and pro-worker, and BDS is backed by some socialist parties. These groups recognise instantly that inside a workplace, if anyone sides with the boss against the workers, it is an act of utter class betrayal, to be resolutely condemned. Yet they struggle to apply this correct principal outside the workplace, nor internationally. For example, BDS advocates try to unite the world against Israel. But “uniting the world” in practice means working with the political – and corporate – leaderships of the world states who are inveigled to boycott Israel. A worker in one factory who advocated joint efforts with employers of other factories against his own would be laughed out of any Union meeting.  Yet BDS advocates don’t see the contradiction in calling on the very imperialist states and corporations they usually campaign against – to join with them against the “evil” Israel.

Rather than a cross-class, imperialist friendly movement for Palestinian liberation, what is needed is a pro-working class, anti-imperialist movement. Rather than uniting with class enemies who claim to stand for Palestine (the Labor Party, corporations, capitalist governments, imperialist powers), what is required is to unite all those who recognise that class enemies cannot be allies in any way, despite whatever “progressive” language they may throw up from time to time. Palestinian liberation is bound up with the overthrow of the rule of capital in Israel, Palestine and the Middle East. This means uniting the Israeli, Palestinian and Middle Eastern working class in a struggle for socialism in their region. Palestinian liberation can scarcely come about in any other way. A pre-requisite for this task is the forging of Marxist vanguard parties throughout the Middle East and internationally, including on these shores.

FREE AHED TAMIMI!  FOR PALESTINIAN LIBERATION!

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-behind-ahed-tamimi-s-slap-her-cousin-s-head-shattered-by-idf-bullet-1.5729500 (06-03-2018)

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/internet-famous-in-the-west-bank/549557/ (06-03-2018)

[3] http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-Israel-treating-al-Qaida-fighters-wounded-in-Syria-civil-war-393862 (06-03-2018)

[4] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43019682 (06-03-2018)

[5] http://www.meforum.org/5775/quwat-al-jalil-a-pro-assad-palestinian-syrian (06-03-2018)

[6] http://cija.ca/resource/israel-the-basics/demographics-of-israel/ (07-03-2018)

[7] ibid.

[8] https://www.haaretz.com/income-inequality-in-israel-among-highest-in-oecd-1.5364971 (07-03-2018)

[9] http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Poverty-inequality-mar-strong-Israeli-economy-OECD-report-finds-443386 (07-03-2018)

[10] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2017-02-14/soaring-housing-costs-approach-crisis-levels-in-israel-analysts-warn (07-03-2018)

For Real Women’s Liberation…There Is Only Revolution!

For Real Women’s Liberation….There Is Only Revolution!

Rosie the Riveter, the image which often denotes the Women’s Liberation movement.

10-03-2018 – As we mark another International Women’s Day, a quick glance at basic numbers show just how far away the goal of equality, let alone liberation, for women remains. By the Australian government’s own statistics, women are paid $26, 527 less than men per year averaged out across all occupations.[1] The official gender pay gap is 17.9%, or $284.20 per week.[2]  Domestic violence figures are nothing but shocking. Women are overwhelmingly the victims of the increasing scale of domestic violence. In Australia it is estimated that one woman per week is murdered by her current or former partner, one in three women have experienced physical violence, and one in five women have experienced sexual violence.[3] Aboriginal women suffer rates of domestic violence that are many times higher. To the astonishment of those who believed that it had been previously won, access to the medical procedure of abortion remains on the criminal statutes in Queensland and New South Wales.

Why, despite all the gains of the second wave of feminism (the 1960s and 70s), do women still experience the myriad manifestations of oppression, even in the most “advanced” and wealthiest countries, topped with the most “liberal democratic” parliaments? In a word, because capitalism still rules, at least in Australia, Europe, and the United States, despite the ongoing economic crisis they have endured since 2008. The second wave of feminism, for all its victories, did not aim at the overturn of the rule of capital, despite a section of its participants supporting what they understood as “socialism”. Although some still adhere to a “left-wing” feminism, the second wave was relatively easily bought off and diverted into academia, high-paying public service jobs, or indeed the corporate world itself.

International Working Women’s Day

International Women’s Day began as International Working Women’s Day, as it was Clara Zetkin who was instrumental in pushing for its marking internationally. Zetkin was a German Marxist who worked within the Social-Democratic Party (SPD), but later joined the Independent Social-Democratic Party and then the far-left Spartacist League after the SPD had shown its true colours by fully backing the imperialist slaughter of the First World War. Zetkin was heavily influenced by the Bolshevik Party in Russia, and indeed worked closely with its central leader VI Lenin on a number of issues. Later, after the victory of the socialist revolution, the Soviet Union awarded her the Order of Lenin, the highest honour of the workers’ state. Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxembourg and other founders of International Working Women’s Day were crystal clear on what can actually lead to the end of thousands of years of women’s subjugation through class society – the triumph of a proletarian revolution.  They were also crystal clear on what the feminists of that time were really about – the winning of acceptance for wealthy and ruling class women within the male dominated echelons of the capitalist elite. All feminists in that time were bourgeois feminists, who cared not one whit about working class and poor women.

The family as a pillar of class society

The ABCs of Marxism locate the oppression of women within society’s smallest repressive unit – the nuclear family. Indeed, the three pillars of class society remain the family, private property and the state. The family is where, despite all the advances of the 20th century, women are primarily responsible for the care and welfare of its members, the upbringing of the young, and an overwhelming proportion of domestic labour. This burden is not lifted even where women take part in the labour force, not simply due to centuries of tradition, but also current government policy. The taxation system rewards mothers who stay at home full-time, and an unemployed woman cannot access meagre unemployment benefits if she is married, or even in a live-in relationship with a man. Basic child care is now privatised, and prohibitively expensive for most working class women. Capitalism is thus not simply an unequal economic system – it is also comes with political and ideological justifications for the second class status of women – which are ultimately enforced by the armed police and military wings of its state.

As the family arose historically in concert with the formation of class society, it follows that the family, and women’s oppression within it, cannot be dissolved without the dissolution of class society itself. Frederick Engels, co-founder with Karl Marx of the theory of scientific socialism, sketched the outlines of how women could be relieved of the duties that society itself should be responsible, enabling the full participation of women in productive, political and social life:

With the passage of the means of production into common property, the individual family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of children becomes a public matter.”

In the aftermath of the 1917 October Revolution, the new Soviet government began to implement some of these far-reaching changes. Communal laundries, communal eating houses and crèches which delivered essentially free child care were established. Marriage was made a civil registration issue, which could be dissolved at the request of either party. Property ownership and inheritance was separated from marriage. The concept of illegitimate children was abolished, as were all feudal laws against homosexuality. Abortion was made a part of the health system, and provided to all women who needed it. Although all these gains were later reversed through the isolation of the Soviet Union and the lack of other workers’ revolutions breaking through, these efforts remain a glimpse of what is possible with workers in power.

Can a feminist movement deliver?

A workers’ government, however, or anything even remotely approaching it, is not the aim of what is loosely described as a feminist movement today. This is not because there are not many women within it who are appalled at the direction in which society is heading, and even are dead against the capitalist system with its numberless crimes. Primarily, this flows from essentially classless feminist ideology, which sees the fundamental division in society as being between women and men, rather than being between labour and capital. Of course, there are feminists who recognise that it is not men per se who are the enemy. There are various strands of feminism which do not advocate separatism. And there are also “socialist” and “Marxist” feminists who claim that socialism and feminism can be melded together as easily as writing down the words in succession. But this is an illusion.

Practice is always the test of theory. And in practice, as long as the feminist movement includes ALL women, or states that its aim is to liberate ALL women, the movement will be tied up in its own contradictions. As long as Gina Rinehart, the billionaire mining magnate, and Anna Bligh, the former Labor Party premier who is now head of the Australian bankers association, can claim that they are part of the feminist movement by virtue of their gender, feminism will lie exposed as a cross-class doctrine which ultimately only serves the elite. Even female small business owners, high-paid lawyers and journalists have no real interest in abolishing the system of private production for private profit. While they may experience some discrimination that all women face, materially they can virtually buy their way out of oppression.

Moreover, a feminist movement which allies itself with ruling class women, or political representatives of them such as the Labor Party – can only damage the prospects of working class women, regardless of their intentions. Sometimes this is explicit. The blurb for the International Women’s Day rally being organised in Brisbane this year actually states point blank that “Women’s liberation means ALL women, all classes [!?!}, all backgrounds, from all countries and all cultures”. It seems unnecessary to have to point out that if class privilege and class exploitation continues, working class women will continue to suffer unbearably, while wealthy women will sail along basically unaffected. And this is to say nothing of the poverty and anguish that women in the Third World endure. Yet this is the logic of an “all inclusive” (classless) feminist movement.

In the same way that humanity cannot be liberated from capitalism other than through the seizure of state power by the working class, women cannot be liberated in any other way other than through a socialist revolution. That is, the oppression all women suffer cannot be eliminated without first liberating working class women. It is axiomatic that a socialist revolution can only succeed by politicising and mobilising the workers, regardless of gender. Its immediate concern is not at all the middle and upper classes. Similarly, a movement for women’s liberation can only succeed if it aims at empowering working class women – rather than well-paid women in comfortable corporate or academic careers, nor indeed, well-remunerated female but conservative Union officials, building superannuation nest eggs on the back of the workers’ dire needs.

Feminists for imperialist war

The political elements leading this year’s International Women’s Day rallies appear to be a combination of the dead hand of the Labor Party (even Labor Party Members of Parliament!), conservative Trade Union officials, the Australian Greens, domestic violence support and health services, polite society women’s peace groups, Amnesty International through to left parties such as the Socialist Alliance and the Cloudland Collective. These seemingly disparate political groups give the impression that they stand not only for a world free of discrimination against women, but also a world full of peace and harmony. Yet little could be further from the truth. Each and every one of these political organisations were either silent, or were vociferous advocates, of the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria, which were unforgivable crimes of annihilation over the last seven years. Further, not one of them utters a word of dispute, let alone opposition, to the relentless drive to thermonuclear war led by the US Empire targeting Russia, Iran, the DPRK (“North Korea”) and China. It is their collective fealty to Anglo/US/AUST imperialist power, rather than their dissent, which enables them to unite for “women”.

To be sure, there are some women and individuals who identify as feminist who genuinely oppose imperialist war, from whichever direction it approaches. But while these folk remain united with the likes of the Labor Party here, not to speak of embracing Hilary “Destroyer of Worlds” Clinton in the US as one of their own, they will continue to pay yeoman’s service to the very cause they themselves oppose. It is scarcely necessary to state that one cannot claim, in any way, to stand for the rights of women while simultaneously backing the potential military obliteration of millions of women from Libya, Syria, Russia, Iran, China, the DPRK or whichever Third World country next bobs up on the Pentagon’s radar.

For a workers’ party which champions women’s liberation

It is one of the most revealing non sequiturs – feminist activists railing against the very real problem of domestic violence against women, whilst looking away as Canberra follows Washington into yet another atrocious war. Yet this contradiction flows naturally from other feminist contradictions. While rightfully highlighting the injustices of the gender pay gap, abortion services remaining out of reach, the double shift (paid work and domestic work), the crushing expectations to be perfect mothers and sex symbols at the same time, not being safe on the streets at night and so on, the feminist movement is effectively still captive to the bourgeois feminists – almost exactly 100 years after the October Socialist Revolution. That is, in practice, the feminist movement campaigns against the effects of the capitalist system, rather than the rule of capital itself. This is consciously backed by the likes of the Labor Party, self-serving Union officials, and pro-corporate women’s advocacy organisations, but unconsciously backed by those trailing in their wake, including some left parties.

The second wave of feminism, in the 1960s and 70s, undoubtedly made some serious gains for the standing of women, at least in the countries of the First World. However the feminist movement today is still hampered by a political leadership loyal to ruling class women, but now with a more sophisticated “inclusive”, and even pro-Union, vernacular. What is desperately needed is not a feminist movement as such, but a movement for women’s liberation. The political leadership of such a movement would be committed to irreconcilable opposition to the capitalist system in toto. This means a leadership which does not hesitate to split from ANY representative of the ruling elite, especially the likes of the Hilary Clinton, Anna Bligh or Annastacia Palaszczuk. More than this, the capitalist Labor Party cannot be allowed to pose as the saviour of women for a moment longer. Women’s liberation can only be really championed by a Marxist vanguard party, which stops at nothing to weld together the most politically advanced and class-conscious women and men in a resolute struggle to overturn the lawless rule of finance capital. The liberation of women begins with the triumph of socialism. Let us build it now.

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WORKERS   LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

P.O. Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-17/women-paid-$26,527-less-than-men-per-year-but-pay-gap-narrowing/9159468 (24-02-2018)

[2] www.security4women.org.au/equal-pay/gender-gap (24-02-2018)

[3] https://www.ourwatch.org.au/understanding-violence/facts-and-figures (24-02-2018)