On Afghanistan and the Extreme Oppression of Women:
One Oppressor Cannot Liberate Us from Another—We Need Revolution!

| revcom.us


Editors’ Note: The following is adapted from “U.S. Pullout from Afghanistan: Three Lessons and Two Points of Orientation” posted at revcom.us last week.

As the accompanying articles point out, the U.S. has in part justified this war as a war to “liberate the women of Afghanistan.” As these articles also show, while some significant reforms did happen for a section of women in the cities, the vast majority remained brutally oppressed and subordinated in conditions similar to those before. But this tactic proved successful in mobilizing support for this war from “progressive” sections of U.S. society, including many liberals and progressives.

A question: why would anyone who cared about the half of humanity who is female call on the powerful country that sits atop a system in which millions of women a year are trafficked into prostitution and sexual slavery... in which the right to abortion, and soon birth control, is under constant assault and now hangs by thread... in which rape and other forms of assault go on all the time against women and the hatred and denigration of women permeates society, taking countless forms and in which those horrors take an even more concentrated form in the very armed forces that were supposedly being sent to “liberate” the women of Afghanistan... in which discrimination in every sphere still runs rampant... and in which the super-profits that make the “standard of living” possible in imperialist countries is disproportionately sucked out of the labor of bitterly exploited women in the global South? Why, when you came to grips with these facts, would you call on people to line up on the side of such major oppressors of women, in the expectation that they would end the oppression of any women, anywhere?!?

And what in fact did this war bring? Death, destruction, and horror—the overwhelming majority of it against civilians—far beyond what was done on September 11. By August 2016, some 111,000 people had been killed and over 116,000 injured as a result of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Nearly five million people have been forced from their homes by the war. At dungeons set up by the U.S. military, countless numbers of Afghans were imprisoned without trial and brutalized, including two prisoners tortured to death at the notorious Bagram prison. One repressive and corrupt government after another, all imposed and run by the U.S., which perpetuated and made worse the misery, poverty, and enforced backwardness that the Afghan people had to confront every day. Afghanistan is among the 10 poorest countries in the world, with nearly 50 percent of people living below the poverty line and 36 percent facing “acute food insecurity.” And yes, while there were reforms in the situation of women, mainly in the urban areas, even these reforms were nowhere near thoroughgoing. They did not strike at the roots of the oppressive patriarchal relations there, nor were they intended to. In reality, the fundamental change in the situation of women that is needed in this situation can only come about from a thoroughgoing communist revolution, in which this oppression is targeted from the beginning and in which the economic, social, political, and ideological roots are dug at.

And what are the net results of the two decades of horror that killed thousands and thousands of people and destroyed the lives of millions? First, that the barbarically patriarchal Islamic fundamentalist grip on Afghanistan will be strengthened, at least in the short run.1 Second, that the U.S. imperialists were able to at least temporarily mobilize a section of people who have progressive impulses behind the utterly false, corrupting, and profoundly damaging idea that this government can be pressured to “bring democracy” to other countries and that therefore when these butchers are able to drape their wars in these robes the people should support them.


This system of capitalism-imperialism has been built on, and continues to perpetrate, slavery and white supremacy and all manner of atrocities against Black people, other oppressed peoples, and the masses of humanity throughout the world, including the half of humanity that is female. Some claim that the answer to this is Islam, and in particular fundamentalist Islamic jihad. But that is not the answer—it is not a radical alternative to this system and its monstrous crimes—it is itself another form of enslavement, oppression, and atrocity, against women and the masses of people overall. The answer is an actual revolution—a really radical and emancipating revolution—communist revolution, to bring an end, at long last, to all oppression, everywhere.

Bob Avakian


1. It is the case that the dynamic that has played out in Afghanistan, and in significant sections of the Middle East, is exactly what Bob Avakian described in terms of the two outmodeds confronted right now. As the U.S. and other imperialist powers launched horrific and repressive attacks against the Afghan population, what has transpired is increasing support for the Taliban in opposition and resistance to that. What is now the situation, with the Taliban poised to take control of Afghanistan, with horrific effects, is the result of 20+ years of this dynamic.  [back]

Afghan villagers near home hit by U.S. NATO air strike — killing five women, three children, one man—north of Kabul, Afghanistan, March 5, 2007. Photo: AP/Musadeq Sadeq

The U.S. promised to improve life for the Afghan people, but over half Afghanistan’s 35 million people remain impoverished, a quarter of them severely, constantly facing hunger. Nearly half of Afghan children don't go to school, with girls disproportionately affected. Here children make bricks to survive. (Photo: RAWA)



Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.