Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
A Challenge to the Readers of Revolution
Last week, Revolution published a Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity. This is a breath-taking and sweeping piece.
At a time when almost no standards exist in treating women like full and equal human beings even among progressive people, and at a time of miserably lowered sights and tremendous disorientation, this Declaration forcefully calls out the intolerability of the current deteriorating situation for women in every part of the world. It analyzes the source of this oppression and sets a new standard for all those concerned with the liberation of women and of humanity as a whole.
This Declaration has the potential to reshape the way a whole new generation of women—and men—understand the whole question of the position of women in society and the future possibilities. There is an ocean of untapped anger, potential to contribute, and impatience among millions and millions of women the world over. This Declaration has the potential to call it forward, temper and unleash it as a mighty force for revolution.
A CALL TO SPREAD THIS DECLARATION
Get bundles of this Declaration and get it out all over—to high schools and college campuses, to all the women’s studies departments and women’s organizations, to the buses largely filled with women going to visit men in prison, to the women behind bars, to gatherings of progressive people, to the neighborhoods and beauty salons, to the malls where teenagers hang out and to concerts and movie lines. Take it to artists and musicians, to medical professionals and scientists, to writers and public opinion makers, to rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. Take it everywhere people are discussing and debating, and everywhere they should be discussing and debating the conditions of women. Spread it through email, on websites and chatrooms... help it go viral and change the terms in which people are thinking, talking, and acting.
Talk to people, challenge them, stir things up.
Especially where people are gathered to talk about the conditions of women—take this Declaration out to people. Study its line and SPEAK UP. Challenge people sharply to break out of the limits and confines of how this question is currently posed. Bring to them the need for the most radical revolution in the history of humanity and BRING PEOPLE INTO THIS REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT.
Then, write in to Revolution and share with us your experience.
This Declaration can transform and strengthen the character of the revolutionary movement—from how fiercely and defiantly we fight the power, to how fully we unleash the fury of women in all we do, to how we ourselves think and even feel about the role of women in society and the relations between men and women. This Declaration can forge this movement into an even more powerful embodiment of the liberated future we are fighting to bring into being, and an even more powerful force of attraction to all those who yearn for a liberated world.
This Declaration is a tremendous breakthrough in communist theory and analysis of the origins of women’s oppression, the pathways (and obstacles) to liberation, and the understanding of what kind of future is possible and necessary for all of humanity to flourish. It is an expression of the breakthroughs Bob Avakian has made in developing a new synthesis on revolution and communism—and it is a form through which many can be introduced to his leadership and brought into this revolution as a whole.
In this Declaration, the Revolutionary Communist Party has developed a tremendous tool for transforming one of the most unnecessary and agonizing contradictions of all class societies—the subjugation and crippling of half of humanity—into one of the most powerful and dynamic factors of the communist revolution to get beyond all systems based on oppression and exploitation.
But, in order for that to be the case—this Declaration must be deeply studied, wrangled with, and taken out to people with substance, clarity and confidence. Ending the oppression of women will take more than tears and more than outrage. It will take a scientific understanding and a revolutionary solid core that is clear on where it is going.
It is worth it to step back further and really take in and appreciate the content—and the breakthroughs—that fill this Declaration.
This Declaration goes further than ever has been done before into the material roots of women’s oppression—digging deep into human history and into the ongoing development of the economic base of society—to reveal where this oppression comes from. Why it is not simply a matter of “human nature.” Or of the “attitudes of men.” Or of a “divine” or supernatural plan. This Declaration reveals how the earliest division of labor of human societies—a division of labor whereby, of necessity, women played a bigger role in childrearing—was transformed into an institutionalized relation of men oppressing women at the point in human history when society became divided into classes.
This Declaration is internationalist. It reveals how the oppression of women is integral to all reactionary social and economic systems, and how—very importantly—in this era of global capitalist imperialism it is the structures of global capitalism that have integrated in, reinforce and require not only the forms of oppression of women dominant in the “West” but also those which characterize the Third World countries they dominate and exploit.
This Declaration cuts through the crap of pitting different forms of women’s oppression against each other—where women in “democratic” “enlightened” countries like the U.S. are told there are no limits on what they can achieve (despite the constant and suffocating limits and dangers that surround them at every point) and that they should be grateful they are not in the countries where women are stoned to death. And, where fundamentalists of all varieties—from the Islamic fundamentalists growing in strength and influence throughout large parts of the world to the Christian fundamentalists who are every bit as misogynist and “medieval” right here in the U.S.—point to the degradation of pornography and sex trafficking to argue for and enforce their Dark Ages forms of patriarchal subjugation of women. From the burka to the thong—this Declaration cuts through the appearance of difference to the essence of women’s subjugation with materialism and science.
This Declaration goes deep into that “much cherished” institution of the family, getting to the roots of WHY it continues to be the most dangerous place for women and children. It ties together the origins of the family as a “household of slaves” to the way the family has evolved in capitalist societies. It reveals how marital relations are still fundamentally property relations and how this has everything to do with the double standard that deems women who have many sexual partners as “sluts” and men who have many sexual partners as “studs.” It even illuminates why men in this society feel entitled to venture outside their marriages for sexual gratification rather than striving for a more loving relationship and caring intimacy with their wives—and why so many women are forced into the material conditions and indoctrinated with the ideology of their “place” that makes them so available to be used and abused as sex objects by men.
This Declaration examines and makes sense out of the tremendously positive achievements of the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960’s and early 70’s as well as the shortcomings. It draws the lessons essential for advancing today and dissects the difference between the bourgeois feminist movement and those who take up the struggle for women’s emancipation as part of the overall fight to transform the whole world.
Repeatedly throughout this document, it is revealed how capitalism has not and cannot achieve the liberation of women but only has transformed the ways in which women are oppressed. It reveals how the Christian fascist movement to reinforce patriarchy and the traditional family became an essential vehicle of the ruling class as a whole to reverse the tide on a whole number of wide advances that had been made by the radical and revolutionary movements of the 60’s and 70’s. And this Declaration shows how the poison of patriarchy and religion has been a vehicle through which the rulers have drawn many who are still bitterly oppressed and once dreamed of another world into their reactionary fold.
A PARTICULAR INVITATION
From April 3 - 5 there will be a major conference at Hampshire College, “From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom.”
Every year this conference draws many hundreds of progressive and radical minded students from around the country who are dedicated to women’s advance. There will be many in attendance and on the panels who have contributed significantly to the fight for women’s liberation. At the same time, this conference will be marked by the very limitations polemicized against in the Declaration.
Everyone attending and organizing this conference needs to get this Declaration, be challenged with its content, and invited as well as challenged to relate to the revolutionary movement as the only way to liberate women and as a key part of emancipating all of humanity.
I will be attending and am putting out the call to all the readers of Revolution to join me in attending this conference. This will be the chance to intersect in a concentrated way with women and progressive men on campuses from around the country as well as a concentration of forces in the current women’s movement. This is a strategically very important way of impacting the country as a whole, spreading this Declaration coast to coast, and laying a foundation for wrenching out a new revolutionary movement for the liberation of women among a new generation.
If you are interested in attending as part of this revolutionary team, contact us through email@example.com.
Also, begin really wrangling with and getting experience taking out this Declaration. Use the editorial in this issue, “A Challenge to the Readers of Revolution” as a guide for getting further into the content and what is being called forward through this Declaration. Attending this will be an opportunity to really get trained in the revolutionary line of this Declaration and to spread it to a strategic and pivotal section of the population as a key part of hastening the development of and preparing politically to be able to seize on a revolutionary opportunity.
— Sunsara Taylor,
This Declaration reveals how, because an actual revolution was not made during the upsurges of the ’60s, the advances made were not able to be maintained. At a time when disorientation has engulfed so many, this Declaration takes the time to remind us that an actual revolution means the overthrow of one class by another and the establishment of a new state—not merely a lot of upsurge and struggle and change of attitudes.
This Declaration gets into how central the question of women’s right to abortion and birth control is to the full emancipation of women—why attacks on these fundamental rights have been a leading edge of the reactionary assault of the rulers of this country and the Christian fascists they have unleashed. And this Declaration challenges and calls out the disorientation and defensiveness on the question of abortion that has taken hold in the official bourgeois feminist movement.
From here, this Declaration goes into four major roadblocks to emancipation. These are questions that not only plague people broadly, but even muddle and confuse those who are genuinely seeking to contribute something positive to humanity. It is revealed how these wrong views—championing U.S. imperialism as a force that can “liberate women,” failing to challenge the cult of motherhood, fighting for “strong families” among the oppressed, and “choosing” to be a sex object as an act of “empowerment”—not only fall short, but lead people AWAY from the liberation that is so urgently needed and possible.
Never before has the communist movement spoken with such materialism and scientific sharpness to the need to break with the ideology that sanctifies motherhood and childbirth, to break with any romanticism around the family, to really step out of being played by the lose/lose “choice” between U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism, and to get fully beyond viewing women as sex objects and commodifying sex itself. These polemics speak powerfully to people “where they live” and there is an urgent need for sharp and uncompromising ideological as well as political struggle around these questions.
At the same time, it is essential to grasp that these polemics rest on—and are as powerful as they are precisely because they are rooted in—the materialism of a full understanding of the dynamics of capitalism-imperialism and the way it puts its stamp of oppression, exploitation, and bourgeois right on everything from the way people’s lives are curtailed to the way that even their dreams and aspirations are shaped. What makes these polemics searing and irrefutable, what makes them able to be so damning while at the same time so “sensitive” and lofty is the fact that they are so deeply scientific.
In opposition to all the settling in to the world as it is and the wrong, but “settled” verdicts against communism and revolution, this Declaration powerfully makes the case that ONLY communist revolution can liberate women. It busts the lid off the imagination and vision of human potential—painting a powerful picture of what could be accomplished very quickly with state power in the hands of the revolutionary proletariat led by their vanguard party. This Declaration boldly and correctly declares that revolutionary state power is “a most liberating thing!” It challenges people to imagine a society without rape, without systematic brutality and degradation of women, with full access to birth control and abortion as well as the scientific understanding necessary to destigmatize these fundamental rights. To imagine a revolutionary society where women and men are relating in radically new ways and women are being fully unleashed as part of the overall revolutionary process. It paints a vision of a society that goes beyond any which has been brought forward before; one that views outbreaks of struggle against vestiges of women’s oppression as a positive factor to be welcomed, learned from and unleashed—even where it bumps into and “disrupts” other very pressing needs of the new society. It shows how this can be a positive factor in forging new ways to meet society’s pressing needs that are both an embodiment of the liberated communist world being fought for and a living advance towards that goal.
Nowhere else is there such a sweeping, uplifting, and radical vision of what humanity can achieve—and nowhere else is there a vision that is so thoroughly grounded in a scientific understanding of reality and the ways in which it can be transformed.
This Declaration sets the record straight on the tremendously positive achievements of previous communist revolutions, including on this crucial question of the liberation of women—digging in particular into what was accomplished in China with the leadership of Mao Tsetung.
And this Declaration goes even further—pointing to the lessons that have been drawn from that period, overwhelmingly positive as well as negative—and made part of a new synthesis on revolution and communism developed by Bob Avakian. As the Declaration states, “There has never been a stream of human thought or endeavor that has been more radical when it comes to the emancipation of women than that of communism; and never has communism been more far-seeing and radical and scientific than with its development through the leadership of Bob Avakian.” How this is so is gone into.
Tune in live Tuesday, March 17 to: Beneath the Surface,” with Michael Slate, on KPFK 90.7 FM
Sunsara Taylor will be on live and taking calls about the RCP’s new Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity.
5:00 to 6:00 PM, Pacific Time on KPFK, 90.7 FM.
NOT IN THE LA AREA? You can listen online at kpfk.org; click “listenlive.” In Santa Barbara, tune in at 98.7 FM.
Sunsara Taylor is available broadly for interviews and select speaking engagements. Direct inquiries to her via firstname.lastname@example.org.
At least as important, this whole pathbreaking Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity is itself an expression of the breakthroughs Bob Avakian has made: in its historical sweep, its materialist dialectics, its thoroughly scientific approach, in its appreciation of the ways that not only people’s options—but even their desires and aspirations—get shaped by the class society in which they live, in its confidence in the people to come forward as emancipators of humanity, in its willingness to challenge people “where they live,” in its putting forth of a new standard and communist morality, and in its vision of a realizable and desirable future worth fighting to bring into being.
Never in history has such a radical, liberatory, and scientific document been produced on the oppression of women and the means through which that oppression can be abolished, as well as how this relates to and is bound up with the emancipation of all humanity.
Anyone and everyone who is serious about ending the oppression and degradation of half of humanity—and anyone and everyone who dreams of another world needs to take the time to seriously study and wrangle with what is in this document.
This Declaration: For the Liberation of Women and the Emancipation of All Humanity needs to mark a new day in the revolutionary movement. All of us—whether we’ve been in this struggle for decades or whether we are just now coming into political life—need to struggle to grasp deeply and on that foundation live up to the challenge and call forward the revolutionary movement articulated in this pathbreaking, breath-taking DECLARATION: FOR THE LIBERATION OF WOMEN AND THE EMANCIPATION OF ALL HUMANITY.
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.