Women Leading the FIght in the Interests of All Society
Women are leaders in today’s most active motions for a new society. They are fighting for health care, housing, water, the earth, better wages, quality public education, against sexual violence and harassment, assault weapons corporations, police murder of unarmed people and deportation and the separation of families. All of these women are fighting for the entire working class, as they demand the government provide the basic necessities of life.
This is what they must do because of their position in society. As digital technology and automation are introduced into more sectors of the economy, jobs are eliminated, and the result is increased unemployment, the proliferation of contingent, low-wage jobs, and the steady reduction of public services. Digital technology is eliminating the necessity for human labor and creating a new class, a new section of the working class, that is being pushed outside of private property relations. As corporations have merged with our government to secure profits, the government has withdrawn public services. Corporations will not provide services for workers they no longer need. Women of the new class face a battery of increasing deprivation along with the men of the new class.
A powerful social movement is arising to meet the attack on our class. Why are women leading this in many respects? For one thing, historically and culturally, women are central to the caregiving and stability of their families, fulfilling roles as mother, sister, and daughter. This puts women on the frontline in the struggle for basic needs, since they often take responsibility (by tradition or by choice) for their children’s education, the nutrition and household needs of their family, and their children’s and elder parents’ health care and shelter. Women’s position as workers is another reason for their visible leadership role. Today, women and men’s workforce participation differ only by a few percentage points (47 percent for women; 53 percent for men in 2015). Yet women workers are still paid less on average than men. Over 70 percent of those below the poverty line are women and children. Women and families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
Growing Consciousness and Understanding of Unity
The huge women’s marches around the country after the Trump inauguration and again this past January, represented women taking the lead in uniting all kinds of just demands on the government for basic human needs. Although the ruling class attempts to create disunity by narrowing the role of women to “women’s issues,” the signs and messages at the marches addressed a range of demands that are in the interests of all of society.
Young women are also taking the lead in the youth-led anti-gun violence movement. Despite ruling class efforts to divide the movement by playing up ethnic and economic differences between the more financially secure students in Parkland and the low-income Black and Latino youth in urban centers, this student movement is calling for unity and showing it in their activity. For example, the student organizers of the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC highlighted a diverse lineup of speakers, including African American and Latino youth who have lost siblings to gun violence. In her speech, Emma Gonzalez, a driving force in this movement, reflected the growing impulses within society to reject the ideas of the rulers, and put forward a vision of a different kind of society. “This isn’t about Republicans v. Democrats ,” she wrote on Twitter, “Plenty of Republicans are openly with us and plenty of Democrats are openly against us. Any politicians being funded by the NRA and/or those voting against us every chance they get – on these people, we call BS.” The movement is broader than gun control. Speakers at the march demanded guns out of, and more resources into, our schools.
Another example of the call for unity is reflected in the statement by Lane Murdock, a 16-year-old girl from Connecticut, who originated the idea of the April 20 walkout on the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting. “We have a lot of powerful people against us. And they’re going to want infighting. They’re going to want division. They’re going to want us to look at our differences so they can take us down easier. And we’re not going to let that happen. This is about people—gay, straight, black, white, religious, nonreligious—coming together so their kids don’t have to be afraid to go to school.”
Like the anti-gun violence movement, the revolt of striking teachers in several states with the lowest education spending in the country is led by female and male teachers side by side. The strikes started in West Virginia and have thus far spread to Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina, demanding health care, pensions, decent pay and more educational resources for their schools. This movement against austerity is strong because the teachers, the majority of whom are women, are united with parents, students and other workers around the basic needs of education for children, and decent wages and benefits for public workers.
The women-led #MeToo movement is also a struggle for both human rights and economic rights, since sexual harassment in the workplace is a way for employers to control women workers and suppress their equality; and as women’s wages are kept down, so are men’s. The media focuses on famous and wealthy victims, but women in low-wage jobs must decide between sexual harassment and the economic survival of their families. For all these women, their social and historical position is interfering with their ability to work and survive.
Achievings it Historic Mission
Many fighters in the new class are awakening to the reality that the government and corporations stand in the way of our ability to survive and thrive. Women and men in the new class are beginning to go on the offensive to demand their needs be met by government. Their demands for food, housing, education, health care, and an opportunity to contribute to society are summed up as the demand for a cooperative society. The new class can only survive in a society based on the public ownership of the socially necessary means of production and the distribution of the social product according to need. The historic mission of the new class is to unite all those who can be united and lead society toward a new world. The ability to fulfill this mission will depend on it achieving consciousness of itself as a class.
Revolutionaries enter the struggles of the new class to line up their thinking with the reality of the laborless economy that is emerging. A world of cooperation that fulfills the needs of all humanity and protects the earth is attainable. The future is up to us.
July/August 2018 Vol28.Ed4
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011