File spoon-archives/marxism2.archive/marxism2_1996/96-04-30.191, message 99

Date: Wed, 24 Apr 96 09:36:28 GMT
Subject: Re: Women's oppression

Ralph writes:
> After reading most of what Adam's written here, I can only come to the
> conclusion that he differs from myself, and maybe others, who describe
> themselves as socialist feminists in two (albeit important ways):

You have indeed touched upon the issues which divide me from
socialist feminists. But, so far anyway, Justin has not said
anything which suggests he thinks there is anything called
patriarchy floating in a realm of its own outside class society,
nor has he said anything which suggests he has the same attitude
to autonomous movements as you do. This is why I said the differences
between what he thinks and between what most feminists think has
through most of history gone under the title "socialism vs feminism".

Lisa also has a definition of feminism which is more all inclusive
than that of every feminist I have come across.

> 1. He doesn't call his perspective socialist feminism, like most everybody
> else.  In so doing he doesn't identify with that "actual existing"  left
> wing of the feminist movement which is actively socialist, and
> some revolutionary socialist, and even trotskyist :-) at that.
> I see this only as a method of marginalizing oneself, really.

Thank you for your concern over me marginalising myself.

> 2. He hasn't said anything about autonomous women's organizing, indicating
> that he thinks that women's liberation is only comprehensible as part of
> overall working class struggles.  I think this is misleading since it
> neglects the fact that a) patriarchy is a semi-permanent structure which
> is only _used_ by capitalism for its own labour division purposes, not
> created and thus it requires permanent organization by women to oppose it

Women's oppression was created by class society and can only be ended
by getting rid of class society. In each class society, women's 
oppression takes different forms, according to the needs of the
ruling class in that society.

The working class is the only class which can get rid of capitalism
and class society as a whole. Workers Revolution is the only way to get rid
of women's oppression.

> b) social struggles are almost never played out as socialist struggles,
> but in varied autonomous movements, and the job of socialists should be to
> try and link and integrate these struggles _while building_ those
> movements in good faith.  I think he agrees on the linking part, I just
> don't think he agrees about the necessity for building the movements.

What is a "socialist struggle" ?

The fight for a womans right to choose is as socialist a struggle
as a strike for higher wages. Do you mean "trade union" vs "political"
or something ?

A while back there was an attack on abortion rights in the UK. The
National Abortion Campaign organised a campaign against it. Good.
We ( that is, men + women in the SWP ) were part of that campaign.
We petitioned on the streets with the NAC petitions, we raised
the issue in our union branches, both support for the demo and
affiliation to NAC. [ I raised it in my branch, and there was one
of the best and most well attended meetings we'd had for a long time,
although it eventually led to the resignation of an anti abortion
union rep ].

However, NAC called a march which excluded men ! Not only that,
the march itself was organised on the basis that women didn't
do such macho things as shout slogans, get into shoving matches
with the police who didn't want them to get near parliament, etc.

We, primarilly the women in the SWP, argued that this effectively
cut down the attendance on the demo by half, making it more likely
the anti abortion bill went through. Equally, or perhaps even more
importantly, it was saying to working class men that this isn't
really an issue which concerns you, letting them off the hook.
Also, it the feminism was acting as cover to reduce the militancy
of the pro choice movement. This flowed from the popular front
approach of the NAC leaders - they thought they'd get more joy from
male lords and liberal + tory mps than campaigning militancy from
working class men + women,

This is an example of autonomous organisation, and a political theory
which doesn't see working class men as part of the solution, weakening
the fight for reforms within the system. This is why I don't see
autonomous organisation as the way to fight against women's oppression
within the system, nor as the way to get rid of it altogether. After all,
what autonomous organisation actually means is "across class autonomous


Adam Rose


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