A statement on behalf of the Young Communist League Executive Committee to mark International Womens’ Day 2016.
Any attempts at achieving gender equality are effectively pointless until we admit that capitalism must be overthrown in doing so.
Capitalism exists to exploit the vast majority of the human population who are unfortunate enough to find themselves born into the working class. It maintains itself by keeping the working class divided and stratified so that there are barriers placed in the way of the working class that must be overcome before the workers are able to unite and overthrow capitalism. These barriers take many forms and capitalism tends to take advantage of pre-existing differences present within the human population such as race, nationality, sexual orientation and of course the largest; gender.
The patriarchy actually predates capitalism, but evidently it was useful to previous systems. Technically capitalism doesn’t actually need the patriarchy to be present as an inherent mechanism within the system. So, feasibly, the patriarchy could be abolished and gender equality could be achieved within capitalism. So say the liberal feminists, but such a victory would be hollow. Without one of its largest mechanisms to divide the working class the needs of capitalism to keep the workers divided would mean some other form of division through discrimination would be needed to enable capitalism to ensure its continued success. This would likely mean an increase of other divisions such as race, nationality or a deepening of the oppression of certain strata within the working class. Neoliberalism in the modern era has been prepared to make concessions to the feminist movement; notably seen in the rise of business women, women that have now been able to break into the upper echelons of the corporate world. But we should ask ourselves; has the whole feminist movement up until now fought so hard and used so much effort merely to have a select few women, the 1% placed in the boardrooms of large companies? Despite this supposed gender equality (that’s not to say true gender equality has yet been achieved but that is what we are encouraged to think) we have seen a huge deepening in the physical equality in society, a huge unprecedented rise in foodbank use, cutting of all kinds of benefits including benefits to the disabled. Many women have been affected by such cuts even if they now have a modicum of bourgeois equality. So where capitalism may be prepared to make concessions in some respects it will take the pressure off one area that it exploits and shift it to another.
So we see that whilst the feminist movement may be able to achieve some, let’s face it, fairly cosmetic reforms of the patriarchy under capitalism the way for both the patriarchy to be abolished and for every woman to achieve meaningful equality is socialism. A system that unites, rather than divides the working class and has no interest in exploiting the differences between groups and populations and will enable society to move towards a truly classless society free of all divisions along lines of race, gender etc.
Above: Owain Holland addressing the World Federation of Democratic Youth conference in Havana, Cuba
Britain’s young communists have a new general secretary. Owain Holland paid tribute to his predecessor Zoe Hennessy who has taken up new duties at the Morning Star. In assuming his new position and setting out the tasks for the immediate future the YCL’s former chair said:
Foremost in most people’s minds will be the pending EU referendum. It is vital that we make our position on the EU heard: the EU is a neoliberal organisation built for the soul purpose of servicing monopoly capital. Its anti-democratic structures exist precisely because these big multinational corporations, such as those currently dictating what they want to the EU autocrats, do not want democracy to present a barrier to their profits. This is why the EU is unreformable.
The only option must be an exit. Throughout the campaign you will no doubt hear others on the left saying things along the lines of “we can’t leave the EU whilst the Tories are in charge because they’ll strip away all our rights at work”.
As if the EU gave us these rights in the first place! Any labour laws that exist to protect us in work are the result of a long process of trade unionism and generations of working class people who took the fight to their employers and the government. Obviously the Tories are going to use any chance they get to strip our rights away to cut operating costs for those who bankroll them, but what have they done to stop the Trade Union Act? Where has the EU been when our steel needed saving?
I don’t think we can sensibly predict the outcome of the EU referendum, but regardless of the ultimate outcome we will still be living in the capitalist system. That is why it is so vital that we grow the Communist movement in Britain. A strong Communist movement has always in the past been linked to a strong and militant working class and this must remain our most important aim on the road to Socialism.
Our continued international and solidarity work is also important. At the WFDY General Assembly in November last year, I was able to hear from comrades from across the globe about the struggles being faced by anti-imperialist youth. In particular I heard from a very brave comrade from the Lenin’s Communist Society of Youth of Ukraine who detailed his experience of fascist brutality in Ukraine – an issue we have been actively campaigning against. Fascism is rising across Europe and we must act to counter it.
So you can see there is much to do, and there has never been a better time to join and get actively involved in the YCL. For peace, jobs and socialism!