21-03-2021: On March 15, thousands of women and their supporters around Australia rallied and marched against the threat and reality of sexual assault and rape, shaking the foundations of the system which has denied them justice for generations. Or did they? At least, such is the narrative of the corporate media. Undeniably, many attendees believed that is precisely what they were doing. Yet there are progressive rallies and marches, and rallies and marches which are organised with an agenda which is not at all what they are purported to be. If the mainstream narrative was to be believed, these actions, triggered by the revelations of Brittany Higgins’ claims of being raped in the parliamentary office of the Defence Industries Minister Linda Reynolds in 2019, were organised by a few women such as academic Janine Hendry, who had “had enough”. Is this plausible?
Significant material support
How can nationally coordinated simultaneous rallies and marches take place specifically on the opening day of parliament, with booming sound systems providing amplification, and with one rally being joined by a Labor state Premier, other female members of cabinet, as well as a Liberal National Party Opposition leader and Opposition spokesperson for women? Quite frankly, such actions cannot come about through a handful of activists with meagre resources. Extensive funding and institutional support at the very least is required. And the real organisers are very cagey about revealing exactly who they are. The “March4Justice” website provides virtually no information about how this thing just happened to spring into existence. It is a flashy and professionally put together website, with little or no indication about which organisation or groups or individuals are behind it. All of this is deliberate, but also dishonest and disingenuous. Yet a look at the actual politics of the actions reveals plenty.
In Melbourne, an aeroplane flew over the “March 4 Justice” flying a banner which read, “Women vote too”. This took place as the Deputy Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall spoke. Coincidence? Hardly. Such glaring red lights point to a presumption which is hidden in plain sight. We suspect the real forces organising the “March 4 Justice” were the liberal troika of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Trade Union bureaucracy, and the Labor Party feeder organisation GetUp! The liberal politics of these three are all over the March 4 Justice, as they gear up for a federal election later this year or early next year. It is transparently an attempt to put ALP politicians on the government benches in Canberra, and in addition, an attempt to re-gain political ground lost to the anti-lockdown movement. Just four weeks ago, tens of thousands of Australians protested in national rallies against the forced “Covid” lockdowns and supposedly voluntary and experimental vaccine on the eve of its rollout.
Not so radical
The bulk of the participants who were part of the “March4Justice”, ostensibly in support of women, were also firmly with the government – whether Labor or Liberal (or Green) – on the forced lockdowns which devastated Australia and much of the globe during 2020. This is hardly radical, because the government imposed lockdowns during the fake “pandemic” led to the worst year in history for domestic violence in Australia. Domestic violence is overwhelmingly inflicted against women, and the lockdowns during 2020 caused massive unemployment, increased inequality, anxiety and stress, leading to overwhelmed support services. Where were the Labor Party, the Union officials, GetUp! and the liberal left at this time? They blocked with the Liberal government to help enforce inhumane lockdowns which had not a shred of scientific justification. They assisted the capitalist state (one could argue they are the capitalist state) in removing the most basic civil and democratic rights from all citizens, including half of the population who are women. Women bore the brunt of these actions, at the very least through job losses AND vastly increased domestic violence. And now this lot – with a federal election approaching – are concerned about women’s rights?
To be sure, Brittany Higgins may well have been sexually assaulted in Parliament House in 2019, and sexual assault and rape is a huge issue which needs to be confronted. Yet it is clear that at least one of the major causative factors of sexual assault and domestic violence is poverty, unemployment and inequality. This is ultimately caused by the stage that capitalism now finds itself in, and the lockdowns are part of a further ruling class attempt to assault the working class still further. If the liberal “left” are really serious about ending sexual assault, and making workplaces and society at large safe for women, they will need to break with the entire ideology and politics of the current form of class-divided society – based on private production for private profit. This certainly means breaking from the Labor Party (and the Greens), but it also means breaking from the entire parliamentary and political apparatus of the capitalist system, in Australia and internationally.
Yet the “March4Justice” was aimed in precisely the opposite direction. It was a conscious attempt to drive women and their supporters back towards the federal parliament, and therefore back into the arms of the very capitalist system which is itself the ultimate cause of violence against women. The demands put forward were so narrowly confined to parliament that it was basically a petition. Some of the demands were:
1. Independent investigations into cases of gendered violence
2.Strengthening of the Sex Discrimination Act
3. Mandatory gendered violence and sexual harassment training for MPs and their staff
4. For all Australian parliaments to have a 50:50 gender split by 2030
5. The enactment of a Federal Gender Equality Act, to include a gender equity audit of Parliamentary practices.
Get the picture? To say that these demands are minor reforms to the system understates the issue. Liberals such as the Labor Party and the Union officials consciously try to paint the most minimal legislative amendments as a huge step forward. When in reality, it politically and ideologically reinforces “political change” as arriving through a bourgeois parliament – as if a bourgeois parliament is the end of historical achievement. If there was a genuine movement for women’s rights, such acts and processes of parliament may come about as a by-product of a struggle. But to restrict the aims of a movement entirely within a parliament which is in fact the direct foe of working women (and men) gives the game away.
For women’s liberation through socialism
The oppression of women is bound up with class society, which is thousands of years old. The oppression of women under capitalism, as Frederick Engels outlined, is bound up with the nuclear family, private property and the state. A movement for women’s liberation therefore must have the goal of the overthrow of these three pillars of class society. Feminism, as such, only attempts to redress the situation of women within the confines of capitalism – irrespective of whether some feminists claim to be “socialist feminists” or even “Marxist feminists”. Feminism – with its cross class basis – is far too easily used by the political forces of the liberal wing of the ruling class for their increasingly minimal agendas. Granted, the “March4Justice” was not posited as feminism per se. Yet it was a conscious attempt to politically restrict and restrain women and their supporters from overstepping the boundaries of capitalist politics. More than this, it was even restricted to a not-so-subtle “vote ALP” drive.
In this sense, the “March4Justice” was a cynical and hypocritical manipulation of a genuine issue to drive conservative politics – shrouded in “progressive” verbiage – into women, the working class, and society at large. Violence against women today is the unfortunate product of the breakdown of the capitalist mode of production, most particularly represented by the descent of the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand into a barbarous form of lockdown fascism. Liberal political forces such as the ALP, the Union officials and their hangers on firmly defended, or joined with, the capitalist state during the time when it was arguably at its most repressive point in history. Liberals may oppose instances of violence against women today, but they are the foremost defenders of capitalist imperialism in its lockdown phase. Therefore, their railing against “sexism, misogyny, patriarchy” is mere hot air.
Women cannot be truly equal partners in society until and unless the working class is able to supercede capitalist oppression through revolution, and the march towards a classless society. This requires the forging of a Marxist vanguard party capable of leading workers in a pitch battle against finance capital for its own state and its own government. Such a party must champion women’s liberation as an essential component of the struggle for revolutionary internationalist socialism, which leaves lockdowns and all forms of repression as relics of a distant past.