In the following we want to publish an english translation of a Statement of the Red Front Collective (Austria) on occasion of the International Day against Violance against Women on the 25th of November 2019. We assume it to be an important contribution to forward the debate and dicussion on the development of an class concious womens movement in the imperialist countries. The German original you can find here.
25th of November: International day against violence against women
Forward in the struggle against violence against women:
Down with patriarchy and capital!
Being a „feminist“ has become fashionable today in broad parts of society and many representatives of the ruling class are trying to use it, to build up a good image for themselves. At the same time the reality of the majority of women in Austria shows, that despite this „fashion“ the actual politics are worsening the situation of women more and more and violence against women is not decreasing, but increasing.
Not least the increase of terrible murders of women, put violence against women on the agenda again. In the light of this reality the lie of absence of patriarchy in the „civilized, Christian Occident“ is collapsing like a house of cards. Suddenly patriarchy is „denounced“ even in the most conservative circles and new explanation attempts, like for example that patriarchy would be an „import product from abroad“, or a product of „aggressiveness of single men“, are build up from nothing in order to calm down the masses. For fear of even other great emphasized „western values“ could become unmasked as pipe dreams, the ruling class try to get themselves out of the line of fire by staging them as „enemies“ of women‘s oppression. Hypocritical compassion and demands of „stricter laws against perpetrators“ are presented as „solutions“. Despite the fact that not even 1% (!) of rapists are being sentenced with the actual laws, this „big words“ are just there to distract from the reality that violence against women is producing on the one hand individually terrible fates, but on the other hand is in no way just a „private problem“.
Already in the year of 1886 the communist Eleanor Marx-Aveling emphasized, that it is not enough to only draw attention to single fates (as tragic they may be), because thereby the root of women‘s oppression is not becoming „automatically“ visible: „those who attack the present treatment of women without seeking for the cause of this in the economics of our latter-day society are like doctors who treat a local affection without inquiring into the general bodily health.“(1) Economy is the basis of the society in which we are living, today capitalism/imperialism. Women are in a position of double oppression within it, because the majority of house-, care-work and child-raising burdens on their shoulders within the private household. At the same time women are supplementary work-forces, which are easily exchangeable and mainly earn that less, that they can only earn a „supplementary income“ for the family. It is only „consequent“ that on this economical basis also the position of woman within the family is laid down, the position in which the woman is at the mercy of man‘s arbitrariness. Although this important conclusion has been made 150 years ago, the ruling class is trying until today to blur and deny that fact. Also „recent“ theories like „Queer-Feminism“, „LGBTQI“, or the „Identity Policy“ are serving to cause confusion, because despite various approaches they have in common, that patriarchy is considered detached from the ruling social order, which is based on oppression and exploitation – thus on the division of classes.
Especially with the worldwide financial crisis in 2008, causing the deepening of the economical and political crisis of capitalism, also the ruling class in Austria adopted a more aggressive course to intensify the exploitation and oppression of the broad masses. Privatization, social regression, cuts, savings in the education and health system, price increase and working time extension are part of a reactionary program, which was pushed through by the various governments in the last decade. The „best of all possible worlds“ how it was presented in the 90s, more and more turned out to be a „giant with clay feet“, as unbearable parasite at the expense of the masses. Women are affected in a double way by that attacks, because the consequence is not only that it gets even harder to arrange work and family and that poverty between women and children is increasing, but also an increased dependence on man. While on the one hand working hours are increasing more and more and a new peak against the workers rights was reached with the implementation of 12 hours working day and 60 hours week, on the other hand the majority of women is forced to do poorly paid part-time or marginal jobs. Therefore the tendency that women are pushed back into „one‘s own four walls“ is not primarily a product of a „conservative trend“ among women, but especially an expression of the deepening crisis of capital and therefore of the aggravation of patriarchy. It is nothing but hypocrisy when now the ruling class, the politicians and „experts“ are pretending to be shocked in face of increasing violence against women within the family, because it is the ruling policy which is the major motor of increasing violence against women, much harder and decisive than a single man could ever be. To pretend that patriarchy would be a „struggle between sexes“ is not only distracting from the real enemy, but also pretends that only those women are oppressed by patriarchy which actually „get beaten“. Of course it has to be an important part of the struggle against the oppression of women to struggle for sufficient protection possibilities for women and to resist against any further cuts of women‘s shelters and victim protection facilities. But it should not be forgotten, that despite a women‘s shelter can save lives in various cases, it can not do anything against patriarchy as an instrument of power (it‘s purpose is different). Patriarchy can only be removed through the upheaval of economy, of the class society. Eleanor Marx-Aveling draws the following conclusion in her Marxist analysis: „It is essential to keep in mind that ultimate change, only to come about when the yet more tremendous social change whose corollary it will be has taken place. Without that larger social change women will never be free.“(2) The struggle against patriarchy therefore is also part of the struggle for the political power of the working class, therefore even today it has to be directed firmly towards the revolution!
That this orientation is nothing „exotic“ or „something belonging to the past“ becomes clear, if we turn the focus today out of the (pseudo-)liberal bubble. Especially in the oppressed countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America the women‘s struggle is already today an essential component against the capitalist/imperialist order. That the ruling class in Austria and several parts of the women‘s movement themselves present the female combatants of the YPJ(3) in North-Syria as „prototype“ of heroic and struggling women internationally, is by no means a „logical“ or „automatically“ result, because there in particular, women are not understood as a part of the revolution, but the so-called „women‘s liberation“ should become implemented by the separation of sexes, without any break with the ruling order – and in addition under the patronage of the USA.
Finally all efforts will stay ineffective, if women‘s oppression is considered detached from the revolution, detached from class struggle. Such „feminism“ will finally not be able to gain a bigger influence within the majority of women and stay detached from the real needs and aspirations of women. Just like there is no need for doctors who are content with superficial symptoms, there is no need for „feminists“ who do not want to know anything about economy and class struggle! That gives the strong task to all struggling and revolutionary forces of the women‘s movement, to direct their politics especially to the women of the working class (who are the majority of women!), those who are oppressed and exploited the most, in order to develop together the struggle against capital and patriarchy. Thereby it has to be especially taken into account, that the influence of bourgeois ideology has left deep marks on the masses of women and there is not only an increasing tendency of conservatism and liberalism, but also a lot of women are once again moving back into an „unpolitical“ attitude. This tendency hast to be understood in particular as a teaching, that the increase of oppression does not lead „automatically“ to the increase of resistance or struggle, but the crucial point is to be able to give orientation and perspective to the oppressed and exploited, on the basis of the real conditions. A women‘s movement which is not detached from the real conditions and the forces within the class struggle, can only be a class-conscious women‘s movement. Thereby the progressive women have the task, on the basis of proletarian feminism, to set the women‘s movement on scientific feet and thus carrying the firm orientation towards the revolution into the masses of women! Clara Zetkin, one of the most important representatives of the worldwide class-conscious women‘s movement, showed us with the following the key point of this task: „We must not conduct special women‘s propaganda, but Socialist agitation among women.“(4) Proletarian science has determined in the center of its teaching, that an upheaval of the social relations can not be spontaneous and therefore the struggle against patriarchy needs systematic and scientific work, thus organization. With proletarian feminism, as essential component of proletarian ideology, it created a powerful instrument in the struggle against patriarchy. The role of women, as half of the population, within class struggle thereby not only gains special significance, but even the success of revolution and therefore of socialism is assessed by the participation of women. Thus it becomes clear, that the struggle against patriarchy and also the struggle against violence against women can not be a minor matter and all tendencies which want to reduce the „women‘s question“ to a „problem of women“ or even only a „bad behavior“ have to be removed.
To master the task „to carry socialism into the women‘s masses“, it needs a program for the next goals and tasks of the women‘s movement. A program, under which the women can gather themselves and which is uniting them in an organization, is the decisive lever to break with passivity and spontaneity and to rise the struggle of the women to a conscious level. Thereby also the task to struggle against racist and chauvinist attempts of division within the women‘s movement has to be an important priority. The particular oppression of Muslim women through anti-Muslim racism is today an instrument of fragmentation of the women‘s movement and tries to replace internationalism as an important part of the women‘s movement. This tendency of the ruling class should not be underestimated and requires appropriate attention from all progressive and red women.
Contrary to the defeatism and chauvinism, it is necessary today to build up the firm orientation towards the revolution, which is today the main tendency on a world scale. Within the women‘s movement the international struggles of women serve as an important guiding star and orientation point. The development of the revolution on a world scale is unequal and that is why especially those struggles of women which are already further developed should serve as a source of inspiration and action to all progressive women in Austria. Special lessons are taught by those women, who forged themselves within the people‘s wars in India, Peru, Turkey and the Philippines in their hundreds of thousands under the leadership of communist parties to conscious combatants against imperialism and patriarchy. Those excellent examples will create a bond of internationalism among the masses of women and raise consciousness, that trusting in our own strength is a sharp weapon in the struggle against passivity and deputy-thinking.
Struggling women: Close the ranks on the international day against violence against women firmly with the oppressed women! Show on the 25th of November that violence against women is not a „minor matter“, which we could not oppose! Make the 25th of November to become a symbol of struggle of women against oppression and exploitation!
In service of the revolution: Down with patriarchy and capital!
Red Front Collective, November 2019
1 Eleanor Marx-Aveling and Eduard Aveling, The Woman Question (1886)
3 Kurdish Women's Protection Units in Northern Syria
4 Clara Zetkin: Only in conjunction with the proletarian woman will socialism be victorious, 1896