by Terry Moon
Reporter Sonia Sodha, who writes for the UK paper The Guardian, asked in a recent column: “Women in revolt achieved so much. Why are decades of progress now being reversed?” While she asks the question—which is mine as well and not just this year—she doesn’t attempt to answer it. Rather, she outlines the retrogression that women are facing now and the pain activists are enduring as “the steady, if slow, march towards equality” is “abruptly ripped away by male fundamentalists…” She writes that it “is an exquisite cruelty; no starker reminder that social progress can never be banked or taken for granted.”
ONGOING FIGHT AGAINST A RACIST USA
Those of us who live in the racist USA understand how monumental the struggle for freedom is. The history of this country—no matter how much right-wing Republicans and their followers want to obscure, erase, and rewrite it—is completely intertwined with the Black fight for freedom. That battle against slavery, racism, discrimination is as old as the U.S. and continues to this day. It is from that struggle that the women’s movement emerged in the late 1960s. The Civil Rights Movement was so intrinsically about freedom that it transformed what was a bourgeois—though critical—fight for women’s “equality,” which was translated as equal work for equal pay, into a revolutionary struggle for freedom and totally new human relationships.
Today it is not only women and Blacks who are experiencing a soul-bending loss of rights. So too are other minorities and LGBTQ+ people—especially the T, i.e., Trans people. All of us want freedom, all of us would benefit from a society that was grounded, not on capitalism and its werewolf hunger for profits and more profits while human lives and hopes be damned—but on a vision of a society based on relationships with others that would actually be a human relationship. Now, all our relationships are either alienated capitalist relationships, or are damaged by living in a society where human beings are so marginalized and many—including women—despised. That is true even in the best of times, but we’re not living in those times now.
Trump and his ilk have helped usher in an era of retrogression where fascist dictators like him have gained power in Hungary, Turkey, Italy, Russia, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Congo, Sudan and more. Unseparated from that, war seems to be everywhere, and as the environment degrades—as oil companies and other capitalist entities continue their quest for profit and the world faces unprecedented warming for which it is not prepared—all of this could get much worse.
TO BE COMPREHENDED AS HUMAN
What is clear as world fascism looms, is that entire groups of people are not seen as actual human beings. Hamas sees all Israelis as only oppressors, ignoring the long history of Israeli Jews who fought for and with Palestinians for human rights; Netanyahu and the IDF act as if all Palestinians are Hamas when they most emphatically are not. The mass killings of civilians, of children, the rape and murdering of women and girls and other innocents can only be accomplished if those civilians, those women and children are not comprehended as human begins, you know, just like us, just like our children. What is happening to women now in the U.S. is also possible only if women are not seen like “us.” “Us” in this case being white Republican men with so much power over our lives, who would never legislate that before they could access needed medical care they would have to be close to death or to losing the use of a “major bodily function.”
It not only aids capitalism to treat others as if they are not human. It’s a plus for oppressors too. They can make those deemed as less than human into servants, force them to have sex, have babies, clean homes, pick crops, work for less than living wages, and kill them for land or profit. It’s not like they’re killing or exploiting actual people. They don’t even really have to think about them at all.
Capitalism certainly gains from the othering of actual human beings, but not alone capitalism. That shows the shortcoming of that part of the Left who opine that getting rid of capitalism will free women and others—so you have to do that first and then they’ll worry about women, Blacks, etc.
It’s not true, which is why our vision of revolution can’t be confined to only overturning present oppressive fascist leadership and changing how we produce the things we need—although it would be a great start. The struggle for freedom and self-determination of all those who have been pronounced as less than human—as “vermin” to use one of Trump’s new favorite words, as bitches and the c word, the n word, and all the words for those who have been othered—is as important as the struggle of workers who directly confront capitalism. All these struggles for freedom reveal just how deep and total revolution must become. A task like this may sound and feel impossible. But as the great Irish revolutionary James Connolly said: “Revolution is never practical—until the hour of the revolution strikes. Then it alone is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the most futile and visionary of human imaginings.”