IWD 2020: For the Real Liberation of Women

IWD 2020: For the Real Liberation of Women

08-03-2020: March 8 marks International Women’s Day (IWD), which began its history as International Working Women’s Day. Originally a movement for the redress of the oppression of women through class-struggle socialism, IWD has unfortunately over time been watered down into something eminently acceptable, and even promoted, by sections of today’s capitalist ruling classes. IWD corporate breakfasts, fun runs, commercial dinners and more are now all held by conservative business groups, charity foundations and other bodies which would bitterly oppose workers and other oppressed groups posing fighting for real women’s liberation through socialism.

Corporate rule offers nothing for working women

At times the agents of the ruling class attempt to recognise the gross disadvantages working women encounter throughout their lives under the profit system. For example, recently it has been highlighted that women are retiring from the workforce with an average 47% less superannuation than men. Despite comprising 46.9% of the workforce, 44% of women rely on their partner’s income as the main source of funds for their retirement. 40% of older single women live in poverty or experience significant insecurity in retirement.[1] Statistics like these graphically demonstrate the structural oppression of women which is built into capitalism. However, the response of some figures in the establishment, such as Victorian Labor Party Premier Daniel Andrews, is to push for superannuation for all workers to be pushed up from the current 9.5% to 15% as soon as possible.[2] The aim is supposed to be a measure of compensation for women who generally accumulate less superannuation throughout their working lives, due to factors such as taking time out of work to raise children, support their families and by working part-time.

Enlightened political elites can only offer a “solution” which will mainly enrich corporate magnates, rather than allow extra savings to accumulate for women workers. The superannuation industry itself is a giant honey pot, with chunks of workers’ wages being compulsorily diverted into billion-dollar funds which are then gambled on the stock market. Venture capitalists reap the windfall and hand out crumbs to workers when they retire. At best, an increase of compulsory superannuation may slightly lift the average savings women retire with, but it won’t address the gender gap. This is due to the reliance of the capitalist system on the unpaid labour of women in the home, largely as a result of the reinforcement of the nuclear family as class society’s smallest repressive unit. The real liberation of women can only come about once the duties of the family (child rearing, care for the sick and elderly, food, shelter, education assistance and so on) are collectively taken over by society itself. Women would then be able to participate as true equals in the basic elements of production.

TERFs and SWERFs divert from the real issues

In recent times, the feminist movement has been swamped by bitter conflicts between those who wish to exclude transgender women (TERF – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism) and sex workers (SWERF – Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminism) from the movement for women’s liberation. This is a huge discussion best held elsewhere. Suffice to say that while it is not in the interests of a working women’s movement for liberation to exclude transgender women or sex workers, these issues should not be the central issues defining the struggle for women’s liberation. The fact that they have become central issues speaks to the vast shortcomings of feminism. Feminism is not just an idea; it is a political program which is limited to fighting for the rights of women within the confines of the capitalist system. This is one reason why feminism as such cannot actually lead to the liberation of women but can in fact stand in the way. Women’s oppression is bound up with the family, private property and the state, as laid down by one of the founders of scientific socialism, Frederick Engels, in his 1884 treatise. It is these three pillars of class society which must be swept aside to enable the liberation of women from their second-class status under capitalism. Therefore, working women must ally themselves with working class men (and working-class transgender folk) in a pitch battle for the construction of a workers’ state – the first step towards the classless society.

For Women’s Liberation!

Practically, the most essential missing ingredient for the establishment of workers’ democracy is the Marxist vanguard party which can lead the working masses in the struggle to shatter the chains of capitalist wage slavery. This is therefore also the most pressing task of the movement for women’s liberation. A multi-gendered workers’ vanguard party would seek to assist the building and consolidation of a pro working-class movement for women’s liberation as part of the last-ditch effort to prevent the termination of humanity through climate collapse and/or nuclear war. But this perspective is light years away from all wings of the feminist movement, which is currently embroiled in unwinnable squabbles about issues which can appear esoteric to whole swathes of working people.

To be sure, there are women who sincerely believe in building a feminist movement who see themselves as anti-capitalist, and even socialist. Such pro-worker women staunchly resist the encroachments of the conservative and bourgeois feminists who only “fight” for more women members of parliament or more female CEOs in corporate boardrooms. But as long as feminism seeks to serve all women, regardless of class, it will be bogged down forever in a game to bridge the unbridgeable chasm between the ultra-rich and the very poor. As this divide cannot be united, screaming arguments ensue over issues which in themselves are important – but none of which question the rule of capital.

What is required is a pro-worker movement for women’s liberation as opposed to a cross (or upper) class feminist movement which debates the limited options available while the banks remain privately owned. It would fight for demands such as: free 24-hour childcare – to enable women to truly participate as equals in all parts of society. It would demand abortion services as part of a free healthcare system for all. It would demand free and expanded public transport to enable working women to travel anywhere at any time.  It ultimately demand the end of the profit system.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.womeninsuper.com.au/content/the-facts-about-women-and-super/gjumzs (26-02-2020)

[2] https://www.medianet.com.au/releases/184209/ (26-02-2020)

 

 

International Working Women’s Day 2019

International Working Women’s Day 2019: Workers Must Fight for Women’s Liberation

08-03-2019 – Despite all the technological and scientific advances that drive the 21st century, women in Australia in 2019 have yet to attain full equality. Just a few examples will demonstrate this graphically. The Australian government’s own figures from 2018 reveal that the gender pay gap averages at 14.6% overall, and is up to 25% in some industries, in terms of men earning more than women. For men and women in full-time positions, women earn a staggering $27 500 less per year than men.[1] 65.3% of the Australian workforce are women, and women live on average five years longer than men. Despite this, 40% of older single retired women live in poverty, and women currently retire with 47% less superannuation than men.[2]

Homelessness and poverty are increasing, which disproportionately affects women, especially single mothers. The Federal Government’s draconian “Parents Next” program is an obscenity, which is already making living conditions for single mothers dependent on welfare even more difficult than they already are. It reinforces decades old dogma that the raising of children – mostly performed by women – is not work, and therefore should not be paid. It also punishes single mothers for not returning to the workforce – which is hard enough in an era of high unemployment, let alone attempting to do it while raising children. The program targets women by a factor of 96%, and approximately 10 000 indigenous women.[3] The “mutual obligations” under the program are simply insulting, such as having to attend compulsory “story time” sessions, where women are compelled to discuss how they became single mothers.

Domestic violence against women is at epidemic levels. Domestic or family violence against women is the largest driver of homelessness for women, with police being called to deal with an instance once every two minutes across the country. Incredibly, on average one woman per week is murdered by a partner or former partner.[4] While both men and women can be subjected to domestic and family violence, the overwhelming majority is gendered, with men the perpetrators against women.

Profit system driving the collapse

Despite this, it would be wrong to target men per se for the crimes that some men commit against women. Any real analysis of the causes of male violence against women will reveal that the cause is rooted in the oppression of women under class society, and the current dire economic malaise of the capitalist system, not only in Australia, but in the US, Europe and Japan. The capitalist economies have not recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, and living and working conditions are subsequently worsening. Men, who once had permanent jobs which would pay enough to raise a family of four, now largely struggle with a skyrocketing cost of living, bullying from managers where they have work, self-serving politicians lining their own pockets while stripping society of essential services, and CEOs who earn millions of dollars more than the value of what they can possibly produce in one year. Any violence against women is abominable, but, unable to see a reason for their seemingly inescapable predicament, some men lash out in desperation against their female partners, unable to explain their own despair.

The only solution is a society where employment and a decent standard of living is guaranteed for all, where healthcare and education are provided at little or no cost, where transport and infrastructure are built for the collective use of society. Yet capitalism in 2019 is unable to deliver on any of these, and so it turns against those who produce the wealth of society – the working class. The greater the extent of the crisis of the profitability of capital, the more misery and oppression is thrown down upon the workers and the oppressed. Unsafe working conditions are one consequence, the destruction of the natural world through ecological collapse and unending imperialist wars are others.

Revolution the only way out

The three pillars of class society remain the family, private property and the state. Of these, it is society’s smallest repressive unit – the nuclear family – which is the deepest source of women’s oppression. Yet like the capitalist state, the family cannot be “abolished” – it can only wither away as a classless society approaches. Liberation for women therefore requires the overturn of the capitalist order, and the construction of socialism – the working class holding supreme power.

While it is true that all women are oppressed by capital, women of the middle and ruling classes can simply buy their way out of the burdens of second class citizenry. The women’s liberation movement therefore seeks to liberate working class women only, as a vital component of the struggle to emancipate the working class as a whole from capitalist bondage. Feminism as such denies this essential task, and seeks only to carve out the best possible conditions for the advancement of (upper class) women within the system and its corrupt parliaments and corporate boardrooms. Despite the intentions of some of its adherents, feminism is also usually silent, or actually endorses, imperialist war – one of the crucial issues of our time. To our knowledge, no strand of feminism has consistently opposed the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria, nor the impending ones on Russia, China, Iran, the DPRK (“North Korea”), Sudan, Venezuela and so on ad nauseam. It is the primary contradiction: one cannot be silent in the face of the marauding US Empire (and its allies in London, Paris and Canberra) and claim to stand for women.

The struggle for women’s liberation cannot be simply subsumed within the working class movement, however. Rather, male and gender non-binary workers need to be won to the fight for women’s liberation. The key to this task is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which can lead all of the oppressed towards the egalitarian order based on common property and a planned economy.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2018/11/27/these-kids-have-learned-harsh-reality-australias-gender-pay-gap (06-03-19)

[2] http://www.womeninsuper.com.au/content/the-facts-about-women-and-super/gjumzs (06-03-19)

[3] http://unemployedworkersunion.com/write-a-submission-to-the-parentsnext-senate-inquiry/ (06-03-19)

[4] http://www.domesticviolence.com.au/pages/domestic-violence-statistics.php (06-03-19)

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

28-07-2018 – The government passes new legislation which ensures women can enter reproductive health care clinics to access abortion and other services, without harassment by “pro-life” fundamentalists opposed women choosing their life outcomes. Sounds fantastic – or is it?

As with other political issues, the truth is always concrete. While those on the left uphold the right of women to choose whether or not to bear children, the particular political circumstances of the “safe zones” being legislated by the New South Wales (NSW) Australian Labor Party (ALP) government have to be studied closely. Especially as they may be soon followed in Queensland by the current ALP government.

Emma Norton from the left party Socialist Alternative, first raised the problems with “Safe Access Zones” in an article in Red Flag.[1] The author correctly notes that “Safe Access Zones” are areas where any protests are banned within 150 metres of health care clinics where abortion services are provided, and that they have been written into law in Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and most recently in NSW. While in theory designed to protect women, they conveniently set up yet another restriction on the right to protest – a democratic right which has rapidly been eroded under the impact of the economic decline of capitalism since the “financial” crisis of 2008. Along with the right of workers to strike being effectively outlawed, the left can scarcely afford to flag wave for yet another restriction on the very limited bourgeois democratic rights working people are allowed under “liberal democracy”.

There appears to be debate in Socialist Alternative on this issue, for Daniel Lopez struck back with a comment piece arguing in favour of the “Safe Access Zones” even if they are enforced by the capitalist state. Socialists are not libertarians, he writes, and socialists do not oppose all measures enforced by a state authority.[2] While it is true that socialists do not oppose state authority per se, again the truth is concrete. Firstly, what type of state is exercising authority – a capitalist state or a workers state? Secondly, for what reason is this taking place, and how should workers analyse this? The “Safe Access Zones” are being legislated in a parliament which is one of the strongest ideological apparatus in the hands of the capitalist ruling class. What is more, “Safe Access Zones” have to be enforced by the most viciously anti-working class arms of the capitalist state – the cops. On all other issues, socialists warn workers to be wary of the police, who are ultimately paid to protect the private property of the wealthy elite classes. If now, on the issue of “Safe Access Zones” the left advises workers to trust the police “just this once” – the political line breaks down.

Despite our sharp political disagreements with Socialist Alternative on other issues, we view Emma Norton’s line as being on point. She correctly highlights the fact that the ALP including “Safe Access Zones” in its legislative efforts are a cover for that party of government’s failure to ensure free, safe abortion on demand as a part of the health care system. The Queensland ALP’s proposed legislation could be described as partial decriminalisation, as it is only allowable up to 22 weeks of gestation. What is more, Labor Party Members of Parliament (MPs) are being given a conscience vote on the issue.[3] This cop-out allows more conservative Labor Party MPs to oppose the bill, lessening its chances of being passed. The three Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) MPs have stated their opposition, and intention to oppose Liberal and Labor Party MPs to vote against as well.

On occasion, Socialist Alternative grasp the class nature of the capitalist state. The Socialist Alliance, on the other hand, we would argue, consistently struggle to understand this area of Marxist theory. Kamala Emanuel, in response to Emma Norton’s original Red Flag article, follows with a Green Left Weekly article which appears blind as to just who will enforce the no protest “Safe Access Zones”. She writes:

“Neoliberal governments have been attacking workers and our rights to organise, and we need to defend ourselves from those attacks.

But Norton’s argument against safe zones rests on the absurd notion that we cannot demand the state support our rights — in this case to access health care without harrassment. She misses the signifiance of the new law as one more step in the direction of winning abortion access in NSW, and the ripple effects it will have on securing abortion rights in other states.”[4]

“….we cannot demand the state support our rights”, writes Emanuel. But it is not just any state – in this case it is a capitalist state, armed to the teeth with cops – who are routinely used against working class and the poor and downtrodden. The “Safe Access Zone” legislation, where it has been used, means no protest, by the left or the right. But the capitalist state is not neutral – this is also in the ABCs of Marxism. For every one step taken against the right, the capitalist state will take ten steps against the left. For the left to endorse swinging cop batons “for now” or “only on this issue”, won’t cut it.

If, as Green Left Weekly hopes, this will be used as “one more step in the direction of winning abortion access”, it will also increase political demands by the right for more no protest zones – even if under the name of “Safe Access”. If the left rallies behind effective no protest zones, under the guise of the protection of women entering reproductive health care clinics, the right will have much more political capital to demand the left allow another no protest zone on other issues, and at other locations. Pretty soon, no protest zones could be in place up and down the length and breadth of the country. In fact, it could lead to no protest zones being declared across entire regions. Needless to say, this would throw back the class struggle of the workers into decades past.

The Labor Party are not saviours for the workers – their history over the last 30 years at least should attest to that. They are smart enough to dangle a small reform in front of pro-choice campaigners, to throw dust in the eyes of some, and feed whole swathes of liberals and reformists, shepherding them back into their orbit. The plot has worked. With some pro-choice campaigners now effectively campaigning for the ALP, and even directly with and for Labor Party Members of Parliament, the Labor Party is once again “rehabilitated”. Into the bargain, the Labor Party has strengthened the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state – with the approval of the “left” !!  This repressive apparatus will now be freshly oiled and operational in a time where working people will need to resist stupendous economic inequality being generated, not to speak of the threat of imperialist war.

What is more, if the left and pro-choice activists endorse “Safe Access Zones”, it means politically aligning with key parts of the capitalist state – the ALP, the Parliament and, the police. Whenever the left finds itself in this company, alarm bells should start ringing. Wherever the working class, due to a lack of political leadership, demands “safety” and “security” from the capitalist state, it hands itself over bound hand and foot to the very forces it should be confronting with its own collective strength.

Instead of demanding the armed fist of the capitalist state “protect” women, the workers should be demanding that Union officials mobilise workers to guard health care clinics, to drive anti-choice bigots away. This way, workers soon learn to rely on their class power. Relying on the armed state of the class which keeps them in subjection, not only fails to protect working class women. It politically disarms workers, driving them back once again into the arms of the government which enslaves all wage earners. Yet here we run up, once again, against the conservative Union officials, who have a material interest in restricting and curtailing the political activity of their own members, and workers in general.

The fact that abortion currently remains on the criminal code at all, is a stark reminder of the status of women due to class society. Women’s oppression under capitalism is maintained by the three pillars – the family, private property and the state. Women’s liberation therefore, can only come about through a successful workers’ struggle for its emancipation – via socialist revolution. A prerequisite for women’s liberation – and workers’ emancipation – is the forging of a Leninist vanguard party. A workers’ party which fights for a workers government must be constructed using the most advanced political elements – women and men – of our class. The unfettered right of women to free, safe abortion services will be one of the first acts of the workers in power.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

 

[1] https://redflag.org.au/node/6374 (28-07-2018)

[2] https://redflag.org.au/node/6390 (28-07-2018)

[3] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/queensland-mps-to-be-lobbied-for-their-vote-on-abortion-laws-20180716-p4zrts.html (28-07-2018)

[4] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/abortion-access-and-free-speech (28-07-2018)

Backing “Safe Access Zones” means politically backing the parliament – one of the main institutions used against the interests of workers and women. Image from http://www.centralnews.com.au

 

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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)

Drive out Wicked Campers! For Women’s Liberation!

25-07-2015 – Many workers and supporters of women’s rights have rightly been shocked and appalled by the degenerate and grotesque sexism repeatedly displayed by Wicked Campers. The obscenely offensive slogans scrawled across their campervans for rent, scrape the bottom of a barrel that rarely surfaces. “Normal” sexism is unfortunately a daily occurrence in a society which is based on the oppression of women, as is reflected in the unrealistic fashion and body images constantly displayed in the mass media. Malevolent sexism, on the other hand, does not always surface. Wicked Campers have crossed this line, and then some.

Wicked Campers also brandish some racist and homophobic slogans, but most is directed at women. Yet Wicked Campers are not just a particularly poor example of the worst of society’s sexism. It is also a reflection of bourgeois morality becoming more and more decadent and self-indulgent as the capitalist system moves into an advanced state of decay. However, it is also a part of the “normal” functioning of the system of production (or in the case of Wicked Campers – renting) for profit. Under this system of business which is supposedly “natural”, business owners are “free” do whatever they wish to make a buck. This can include exploiting the labour of others, trashing the environment, or even a depraved public visual assault of women.

Under capitalism, the right to private property trumps all others. This is reflected in the fact that despite numerous rulings upholding complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau[1], this body has no power to direct Wicked Campers owner John Webb to remove the sexist slogans. In some respects, the “authorities” aspire to an orderly and “harmonious” society – but only in order to create the best conditions for the turnover of private profit. Business owners, including medium sized capitalists such as John Webb, must have free rein in the same way that Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer can ruthlessly exploit labour and even threaten the very existence of civilisation with carbon emission pumping coal mining and the like.

If business owners have unfettered rights under this system and therefore the “right” to display vulgar sexism to promote their sordid business, a question is posed for workers and supporters of women’s liberation. How exactly can the abomination of Wicked Campers be fought and overcome? The organisers of today’s rally have responded by placing a central demand forward – for the Queensland government to legislate against the public vilification of women. We admit we are non-plussed by this demand. Let us briefly examine just some of the moves of the current Queensland Government, since the ALP (Australian Labor Party) limped over the line to defeat the previous LNP (Liberal National Party) government. For a start, the ALP restarted the privatisation of state assets, when it announced weeks after being elected that sales of public housing would resume.[2] The continued privatisation of public housing will disproportionately affect women, especially single parents, for whom housing is often an almost unbearable cost. Another almost unbearable cost for working class women is electricity bills – but the latest ALP government budget includes measures which will inevitably lead to the privatisation of the generation and distribution of electricity. Plus, the ALP has reopened the Borallon Jail near Ipswich, at a cost of around $150 million dollars of taxpayers money.[3] Needless to say, this is hardly a progressive government…

It has also been put forward that the Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters moved a resolution in the Senate condemning Wicked Campers. The motion, seconded by Labor’s Senator Claire Moore, passed unanimously. All well and good? Not likely. The former federal ALP/Greens government carried out perhaps the most severe attack on women in 100 years when it pushed single parents (the overwhelming majority of whom are women) from the single parenting allowance to the miserably low Newstart allowance.[4] This unconscionable assault drove many women already struggling deeper into poverty – courtesy of the ALP and the Greens. To imagine therefore, that the QLD state ALP government can actually become a friend and protector of women, is a dangerous illusion.

It is an illusion, however, which the ALP state government, as well as the Federal Liberal government, is happy to foster. The QLD ALP government recently announced that it was spending $31 million to “tackle domestic violence”.[5] This money, will be used to set up a new Domestic Violence court, establish women’s refuges in Brisbane and Townsville, and set up a Domestic Violence Death Review Unit. So the state will review your passing if you lose your life through domestic violence – how does this help? In addition, the women’s refuges will operate on a 72 hour basis. That is, women fleeing from a domestic violence situation will have sanctuary for three days, after which they are on their own. And setting up an entirely new court, with highly paid judges and overpaid legal fraternity attending is hardly going to prevent new cases of domestic violence from occurring. What we have is the ALP government (and the LNP government before it) posing as defenders of women, and launching a campaign which will increase their powers, especially police powers, while not even beginning to address the reasons why the problem exists in the first place.

This is why we suggest the demand for the state government to pass laws against the vilification of women is misplaced. If the government does pass such a law, whom, pray tell, will enforce it? COPS! And who will try those accused of breaking such a law? THE COURTS! And where will those who are convicted of breaking the law be sent? TO PRISON! Ergo, the demand for the government to pass such a law leads directly to calls for, or actual, increased taxpayer funding for cops, courts and prisons. Firstly, this will not make women safer, as it doesn’t address the reasons why violence against women occurs. Secondly, increasing the power of the capitalist state apparatus inevitably means it will be used to even further suppress the working class – when ultimately the capitalist state is the source of the violence – especially against women.

The cops, courts and prisons are key elements of the armed fist of the capitalist state. A state, as Lenin emphasised, is an organisation of violence for the suppression of a particular class by another class. In capitalist society, based on production for private profit, the capitalist state acts to protect the interests of the capitalist class – the aforementioned Gina Rineharts and Clive Palmers – by suppressing the working class. Yet the oppression of women is built into the capitalist system through the constant fortification of the three pillars of class society – the family, private property and the state. A state which holds women in a permanent state of oppression cannot therefore be used as one of its tools for liberation. Women can only be liberated from this oppression through the uprooting of private property and the overturn of capitalism on a worldwide basis. This will require the taking of state power by the working class as a first step towards the implementation of a classless, socialist society. Such momentous struggles – no less than workers’ revolution – will inevitably entail a struggle against the cops, courts and prisons of the capitalist state. Yet, the demand for legislation outlawing vilification of women, despite its intentions, is in practice a demand for more cops on the streets. Supporting a special domestic violence court is also in practice a demand for more judges. Wittingly or unwittingly, the demand for legislation outlawing the vilification of women in practice is a demand to strengthen the armed and violent wing of the capitalist state. A beefed up capitalist state will not only use this power against workers – it will be used to deepen the oppression of women. Thus in our view, the demand for legislation on this issue is counter-productive.

The vilification of women (as in the example of Wicked Campers), like the problem of domestic violence, are both examples of the abuse of women which is a related aspect of the oppression of women in capitalist society. However, they are symptoms but not causes. To address the problem of Wicked Campers and domestic violence requires addressing the reasons which lead to the abuse of women by some men, whether business owners, or husbands and partners. Ultimately, violence against women is related to the increasing inequality generated by the capitalist economic crisis, which has been in deep recession since 2008. Jobs are being slashed in all industries, throwing thousands out of work, heaping pressure on men and women to somehow put food on the table and maintain a roof over their heads, and that of their children. When men and women actually have jobs, due to the recession workplaces are often extremely stressful, with staff overworked and subject to relentless bullying and harassment by management. The pressure that workers endure, daily being threatened with either the sack or being bullied if they do not work at breakneck speed, is too much to ask anyone to handle. Treacherous Union misleaders, who do nothing to organise resistance to often unbearable working conditions, only exacerbate the unhealthy mental and physical state of workers. Most men are able to take out their rage at this injustice in safe ways, such as playing sport, engaging in political activity to address important issues, gaming online or in some other way. Unfortunately, some men take out their rage on their female partners, terrorising them or physically harming them. Of course some men need to be removed from their families for the safety of the rest of the family and the community. However, if no action is taken to address the underlying economic and political causes of domestic violence, simply targeting men, or using cops to target men, will only drive the problem underground. This could later emerge in false solutions like “men’s rights” groups.

It is no coincidence that violence against women increases in direct proportion to the increasing inequality as a result of the economic crisis of the capitalist countries. Even the example of Wicked Campers is a reflection of the crisis. Business owners, due to the razor sharp competition to turn a profit, are prepared to take any measure to gain a competitive edge over their rivals. Not all business owners resort to John Webb style desecration of women, but many are prepared to do similar things, like desecrate the wages of their workers, or the natural environment, or turn to corrupt business practices, and so on. Turning around this situation cannot be addressed by “working within the system”, by lobbying parliament, and certainly not by allying with the cops – the sworn enemy of working class women and men. What is required is nothing less than women’s liberation through socialist revolution – the seizing of state power by the armed workers, and the initiation of a planned, socialist economy based on common ownership of the means of production. This in turn will require the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, comprised of the most class conscious women and men, to lead workers and all of the oppressed against their class adversaries, nationally and internationally.

While we forge a path towards liberation, the class adversaries of women’s liberation, who often pose as allies, need to be clearly identified. The ALP, the Greens, the cops, courts (even a special “domestic violence” court) prisons, local, state and federal governments and parliaments are all essential components of the capitalist state, and thus cannot be integrated, into the struggle for essential justice for women. Rather, the women’s liberation movement and its supporters need to fight for demands which will ease the economic burden on working class women and men, and thus dramatically lessen the aggravation caused to personal and social relationships. With regard to Wicked Campers, the movement could call on Unions to instruct their members to refuse to serve Wicked Campers at Service Stations, council parks, restaurants and so on. This could be backed up by women’s liberation/Union mobilisations to march on and picket Wicked Campers depots. This is an important issue. Down with Wicked Campers! For women’s liberation!

Workers League

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-16/pringle-wicked-slogans-arent-just-harmless-fun/5598858

[2] http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queensland-labor-government-to-sell-non-strategic-assets-20150305-13w9j7.html

[3] http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/borallon-prison-to-reopen-in-2016-20150708-gi7dcc?skin=dumb-phone

[4] http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/a-singleminded-struggle-to-get-by-20130822-2se9f.html

[5] http://www.warwickdailynews.com.au/news/special-domestic-violence-courts-will-be-trialled-/2698098/