In this short contribution, Comrade Joti Brar reminds us of the common interest that working men and women have in uniting and fighting for socialism, since all of us will benefit immensely from the outcome of that joint struggle.
She points out that the world’s first socialist state, the Soviet Union, didn’t merely create a legalistic theoretical ‘equality before the law’ for women, but took concrete and consistent measures to remove the obstacles in women’s way and lighten their heavy household burdens.
She also reminds the audience that the proper name for 8 March is International Working Women’s Day. The date has been coopted as a festival of bourgeois feminism, when we are encouraged to admire mass murderers for capital such as Hilary Clinton and Madeleine Albright as shining examples of how ‘women can do anything’ under capitalism. But the fact that a few of the top servants of the exploiting class are now women does nothing to liberate the mass of working-class women from exploitation.
International Working Women’s Day has a revolutionary history and tradition that has been deliberately buried by the capitalist class, which wants us to see the women’s struggle as something we do separately from and opposed to men.
Meanwhle, we all know things are bad and need to change, says Joti, but only Marxism enables to understand how things need to change, and what we need to do to bring those changes about.
Russia’s tsarist policemen in the early twentieth century were right to say that mothers were the most dangerous force of all. That force is slumbering at this moment in Britain: huge numbers of women are kept busy looking after their children and made to feel that they are terrible mothers if they ever think to raise their eyes from that task to take part in a wider political or social life.
The gains women in the west made during the postwar period have turned out to be temporary concessions, and ones which our rulers no longer feel obliged to uphold. As our social provisions are being rolled back and dismantled, working-class women are once more under pressure to pick up the pieces of providing care to the young, the disabled and the elderly, all whilst doing the majority of the housework and cooking, and simultaneously (like all workers) working longer hours for less pay.
It was the Soviet Union that destroyed the centuries-old arguments about women’s inherent inferiority by proving in practice that women could do any job and fulfil any social position when given the chance to do so on an equal footing. Under the pressure of this example, the rulers of capitalist class society were forced to change their tune and admit in words that women are indeed equal – even as they failed to create the kind of social facilities that would actually allow working-class women to take their rightful place in productive and social life.
By socialising the essential and socially-necessary tasks that class society expects women to perform privately at home, socialist society transforms those tasks into highly valued and respected jobs: running creches, nurseries, kindergartens, after-school clubs, holiday camps, care centres and homes for the elderly and the disabled, public laundries … all of the best possible quality. And, of course, running public dining rooms where families can get decent, nutritious meals at low cost without cooking or shopping.
Working-class women don’t know that this is what socialism will do for them. If they did, they’d be queueing up to join the revolutionary movement. Which is exactly why the fake left organisations never talk about it.