March 8 marks International Working Women’s Day.
The first ever Working Women’s Day March was held in New York City in 1908 at the initiation of the (then revolutionary) Socialist Party of America. This march was pushed for after women workers protested their conditions in garment factories across New York City. Its implementation would then be championed principally by German revolutionary Clara Zetkin who, through the Second International, made the mobilization of International Working Women’s Day a world-wide event in 1910. Demonstrations led by revolutionaries – from the US to China – would be held on March 8 to commemorate and advance the struggle for women’s emancipation to be completed through socialist revolution.
Seizing on the revolutionary fervour of the masses, seeking to defang it into a passive day of celebration rather than a combative and militant one, the imperialists would turn IWWD into simply “International Women’s Day”. This can be seen by the United Nations adopting International Women’s Day as a harmless celebration. The change goes beyond just language, it removes the class character of the day and the revolutionary history of struggle surrounding women’s emancipation. The diluting of the class content of IWWD is done to cover for the imperialist and colonial powers that seek only to – at best – give lip service to the struggle against patriarchy, principally the oppression of women, among the big capitalist class. The capitalist women are fundamentally a reactionary group incapable of changing anything but the most superficial elements in the manifestation of patriarchy. They are unable to break this system, and fundamentally it is not in their class interest to do so, as the patriarchal exploitation of working women helps to line their pockets. This reveals the complete bankruptcy of postmodernist conceptions of “gender solidarity” where women can be united as women to fight patriarchy. Like the erasure of the class character of IWWD by the big capitalist class, this only serves to confuse contradictions, divide the working class, and prolong the existence of imperialism. Only the working class can destroy imperialism and only working women can be a vanguard fighter in the inseparable struggle to eradicate patriarchy.
A myth peddled by some is that women’s oppression no longer exists in Canada. This ilk would have you believe that some social and political rights – rights that had to be won by countless women revolutionaries who struggled tooth and nail to achieve them – means that patriarchy has been crushed. They would complement this by saying that patriarchy exists only in the “backward” societies. This is most often seen in countries like Canada in the characterization of Muslim-majority countries, wherein the most die-hard opponents of women’s emancipation in Canada will paint themselves as the most ardent feminists internationally. This lie perpetuated by the imperialists is nothing more than an attack on the people of the Third World, the nations oppressed by imperialism, by painting them as barbaric and thereby justifying intervention economically or militarily toward the strengthening of their political power over these nations. This lie also aims to keep private property and women’s oppression alive in the home markets.
The reality is that the exploitation and oppression of working women is alive and well in Canada and is integral to its functioning. The current economic crisis of imperialism has only sharpened this exploitation. The oppression of women is principally rooted in the existence of private property, whose origin allowed for the subjugation of women. This exploitation manifests in how they are pushed toward the role of reproductive and domestic labour whose value is erased, thereby justifying it going unpayed under capitalism. On top of this assignment to reproductive labour, women are also pushed into the workforce to conduct productive labour on top of reproductive labour. The jobs open to women are often restricted to “feminized labour” that is underpaid and overworked. In this way, capitalism provides the means for women’s emancipation by proletarianizing the bulk of them, yet it simultaneously thrusts this double exploitation, both in the home and as workers outside the home, upon them.
Marxist analysis shows that the State is made up of two main elements, primarily its armed force, and secondarily its massive bureaucratic apparatus. Under capitalism, this bureaucratic apparatus has brought forward a whole host of obstacles to prevent the organization of working women to break their chains. Access to healthcare, housing, stable and viable employment, and other necessities are stonewalled by these bureaucratic obstacles and they face increasing unavailability due to rising costs all around. Reproductive rights that include access to birth control, hormones, and abortion are under relentless attacks, whether from religious fundamentalists and fascists who are catered to by “moderate” politicians on the federal levels, or through economic means by denying funding to clinics for the sake of “balanced budgets” that makes access impossible even if “freed” from bureaucratic red tape. Universal childcare has been mocked as either a waste of resources or derided for “denying women their natural maternal role,” which has greatly worsened the condition of women and children as living expenses increase and schools are fluctuated between being opened or being closed. Increased living expenses and impoverishment has made escape from violence in the home and the workplace all but impossible for many, shackling countless women to incredibly dangerous and abusive living situations.
The already meagre situation of trans women has only been compounded. Access to necessities such as housing and medical services are out of reach due to costs, and trans women often experience violence at work or difficulty gaining stable employment due to discrimination. On top of all this, there are bureaucratic obstacles that are added with the very denial of their right to even call themselves women.
The imperialist and colonial core of Canada has only worked to strengthen women’s oppression. The genocide of Indigenous nations within the borders of Canada has been marked by the most ruthless violence against Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people. The fight to get the Old Canadian State to simply investigate the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women has been resisted, no doubt due to the clear reality that many of these murders were done at the hand of civil servants, police, and soldiers as a result of ongoing colonial policy and action. Within Canada’s borders to the global scale, Canada’s economic and military endeavours have only strengthened the oppression of women.
Canadian imperialism penetrates deeper into the Third World, creating new semi-colonies. The Old Canadian State does this economically through the export of capital to these colonies or through force. In the latter case, economic domination and ultimately political power follows. Imperialism stunts the economies of these nations, forcing many workers and peasants to flock to the imperial centres to support their families. This is best seen in the case of Filipina women who represent one of their country’s biggest exports.
The solutions normally offered to end patriarchy are often short-sighted and outright reactionary. Some liberal feminists believe the solution is through removing some obstacles so the few women at the top can reach esteemed positions easier; more women cops, corporate board members, drone operators and Hollywood producers. It is assumed that slightly better media representation and “sensitivity training” will somehow tear down patriarchy. Some politicians even recognize the primacy of the economic problem at the root of women’s oppression, only to then argue that this is proof there isn’t “patriarchy”, but rather it is an issue of poverty, leading to an argument for a “gender-blind” and purely economic solution. These social-fascists (they may posture behind more radical labels but amount to social-fascists all the same) will advocate a “revolution” to achieve this by incredibly incremental reform achieved only by glorified lobbying of politicians, by petitioning, and by voting. In total, these reforms do not empower women to attack the issues at their root but rather strengthen the reliance on the Old State through welfare aid.
Alongside these “progressives”, there exists a number of reactionaries who wish to cement old-style traditionalist oppression and paint it as liberation. Whether “traditional conservatives” or postmodernists, they will push for conditions that make it “easier” for women to remain subjugated in the home and workforce, whether it be through pushing tax credits to take care of families to outright justifying sexual exploitation as “legitimate options” or “alternatives” in place of destroying the root of patriarchal oppression stemming from putting women in these conditions against their will.
The reality is that only a revolution that destroys imperialism and settler-colonialism, principally imperialism, can destroy patriarchy. The only way to achieve revolution is through the conquest of Power to destroy the Old State through a People’s War under the centralized leadership of a Communist Party.
Today, the working class lacks this Communist Party. They have been robbed of it at least since its liquidation into the “Labour-Progressive Party” at the hands of the revisionist traitor Tim Buck in 1943. Since then, the proletariat has been left with nothing but opportunists and traitors falsely portraying themselves to the masses as a Communist Party. The most recent face adopted by revisionism in Canada is the “Revolutionary Communist Party”. Whether it is the RCP’s historic leadership in Montreal (the self-styled “Continuators”), or their recent splinter calling itself the Charles Gagnon Cell, or the postmodernist sycophants of Joshua Moufawad-Paul in English Canada, they are all the same: obstacles to be disposed of by the working class on the road to the reconstitution of the Communist Party of Canada as a Militarized Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communist Party.
Only when armed with our reconstituted Communist Party can we join our comrades in India, Peru, Turkey, and the Philippines in waging a glorious People’s War against the Old Canadian State, abolishing patriarchy alongside imperialism and settler-colonialism all the way until Communism, serving the World Proletarian Revolution.
Women of the working class: it is our duty to reconstitute the Communist Party of Canada!
Wave after wave, blow after blow – against imperialism and patriarchy!
Proletarian Feminism for Communism!