Sunday, March 11, 2007

Marxism and Women's Struggle

On 4th of March 1921, Lenin gave his famous speech on International Working Women’s Day (and not the capitalist Women’s Day), and he said:

“The essence of Bolshevism and the Soviet power is to expose the falsehood and mummery of bourgeois democracy, to abolish the private ownership of land and the factories and concentrate all state power in the hands of the working and exploited masses. They, these masses, get hold of politics, that is, of the business of building the new society. This is no easy task: the masses are downtrodden and oppressed by capitalism, but there is no other way—and there can be no other way—out of the wage-slavery and bondage of capitalism.

But you cannot draw the masses into politics without drawing in the women as well. For under capitalism the female half of the human race is doubly oppressed. The working woman and the peasant woman are oppressed by capital, but over and above that, even in the most democratic of the bourgeois republics, they remain, firstly, deprived of some rights because the law does not give them equality with men; and secondly—and this is the main thing—they remain in household bondage", they continue to be “household slaves", for they are overburdened with the drudgery of the most squalid, backbreaking and stultifying toil in the kitchen and the family household.” Link

Probably the Revolutionary Communists were the first to tackle the term Double Work with women. Marx, Engels, and others were the first in a wave to call for the Emancipation of Humanity, which of course included women. In the 18th and 19th Century, most “leading women” in Europe were the bourgeoisie who played a role in campaigning for their husbands, or assisted socially in safeguarding the ‘family business’. With the Communists rising in the 19th Century, women were not only activists defending their rights, rather they were even leaders. The logic is of course, our science demanded the emancipation of all the Proletariat despite race, GENDER, nationality, color, and religion. The current Neo-Cons seem to forget to mention how the Communist women of the 19th Century and 20th Century played a role in emancipating women to fight not only for their rights, but for other the collective. Sadly, several extremist feminists tried to invent women’s cause as strictly for women, and became exactly the same as Sexists, but from the opposite gender.

A nice glimpse on women from a Marxist perspective is Tony Cliff’s master piece: Class Struggle and Women’s Liberation (1980) and almost a century earlier Eleanor Marx Aveling (along with her Husband Edward Aveling): The Women Question (1886) Avelin Reed provides different reasons, in a simplistic matter, on how from the beginning Women were oppressed, and what were the reasons that lead to them, in The Myth of Women’s Inferiority (1954) and The Matriarchical-Brotherhood: Sex and Labor in the Primitive Society (1954)

Probably the most famous three Communist trio females were Eleanor Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, and Clara Zetkin. Eleanor Marx played a role in organizing the Paris Commune revolution of 1871 and it was her idea, along with Engels and Aveling, to honor the fallen ones of the Chicago Hay Market Massacre in 1886 to establish May Day (known to the Lebanese as Workers’ Day). Rosa Luxemburg was the first female to lead not only one party (the Polish Social Democratic Party) rather also two parties at the same time (the German Social Democratic Party). Rosa Luxemburg evolved to become a school of her own within the Sciences and Ideology of Marxism, and eventually her assassination in 1919 paved way for the rise of the Nazis. Clara Zetkin’s participation in class struggle dates back much earlier. She played a role in developing the famous Iskra (Spark), and was part of a quadratic meeting which also included Lenin, Plekhanov (father of Russian of Marxism), and Axelrod. She initiated International Working Women's Day in 1910 as a day of militancy. Moreover, Clara was 100% supportive of the Bolsheviks (before Stalin came and ended their reign), and was Lenin’s close friend.

Some of the interesting publications would include Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle (1912) , Clara Zetkin’s archive, and Eleanor Marx’s dense activism on the matter.

Marx and Engels again to the core argument paved way for everything to be discussed till current times. No matter how much different schools of “leftist” schools try to defame them or Neo-Cons try to erase their ideas, they will remain till this current day relevant. Marx, from Das Capital, wrote the following on Women: Appropriation of Supplementary Labour-power by Capital and The Employment of Women and Children (link) and Engel’s legendary book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884) . This does not mean that others did not contribute. A lot of the Marxist intellects worked and upgraded the ideology. I mean by “upgraded” as filling the gaps and confirming that our ideas have been correct since then.

Moreover, the first women’s activity was initiated by the 2nd International, not to forget Marx’s contributions during the first regarding the issue. Marx pushed to have the first survey to be done on the status of the female workers, and initiated full activities to emancipate them into the cause. In 1883, women marched out in the streets of London demanded better life conditions and wages. This was the first female demonstration, forged again by the 2nd International. (link)The Second International finally established International Working Women’s Day, which currently reactionaries simply call it Women’s Day, and deviating from our goals of real emancipation of all the proletariat. Worse, some have degraded our goals and called it simply for the women while others tagged it Patriarchy and opened solo rather class struggle. The details of how International Working Women's Day is located here.

In the end, there is no struggle but class struggle



Renegade Eye said...

Really good post.

In the US, the Democratic Party is trying to portray Hillary Clinton's campaign for president, as a victory for women's rights.

Angry Anarchist said...

Hillary Clinton and women's rights? hehehehe.... just when I had thought U.S politics couldn't hit a new low... it did. :D