THESES ON THE ABORTION STRUGGLE
The following document diverges briefly from the primary thread of this project in order to respond to the rapidly shifting political terrain with which the women’s movement is currently faced (namely, the impending Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade). We see political intervention on this front to be of particular exigence given the current situation.
- We take for granted the position that abortion access is a basic democratic right for women, connected to the general questions of social healthcare and the struggle to smash the family-form as the economic basis of women’s oppression; the move to revoke that right is part of a broader reactionary onslaught against the working class, evidenced by the repressive anti-trans and anti-gay bills gaining traction around the country which will be augmented by this most recent attack on women’s rights. The Democratic Party has always been a willing accomplice to this process, and promises to defend women’s rights only insofar as that serves to maintain the political power of its particular wing of the bourgeoisie.
- Despite Roe v. Wade, abortion access has always been precarious or non-existent for many working class women, particularly for women of oppressed nations and those living in areas controlled by more openly reactionary sectors of the bourgeoisie. That is, in practice, such legal protections are often little more than formalities: the right to an abortion is secured only insofar as it can be defended, a task for which we cannot rely on the bourgeois state apparatus. While fierce struggles to win and defend such rights are of paramount importance, these must be clearly linked to the political struggle against the old state, for a proletarian class dictatorship, hence the urgent need to develop a revolutionary, proletarian feminist line.
- The state apparatus – the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie – exists to maintain the conditions of capitalist production and ensure the ongoing rule of the owning class; its vacillation on the legal rights of women follows from the immediate demands of capital – which, as we have argued elsewhere, depends directly on the the exploitation of women for the extraction of superprofits and the reproduction of the conditions of production – but also, and more significantly in the current context, on the ideological structures which follow from those demands, and the mass struggles of women against them.
- It is incorrect at this time to imply that the impending revocations of abortion rights can be directly connected to the question of social reproduction or “reproduction of the laborer,” a position which we have already seen taken up by some sectors of our trend. While these questions contribute to the determination of the oppression of women in the last instance, it is clear that the motivations of the reactionary “justices” of the “Supreme Court” (of the bourgeoisie) are principally in the service of patriarchal ideology, rather than economic concerns as such. Althusser correctly observed that law ‘expresses’ the relations of production (to which, as we have argued, the oppression of women is tied) while making no mention at all, in the system of its rules, of those relations of production – on the contrary, it makes them disappear. We ignore this distinction at our peril; a primary function of the impending decision is to obscure the economic basis of the oppression of women by operationalizing patriarchal ideology and we must equip ourselves to confront it accordingly.
- The militant mass struggles of women for abortion access which erupted throughout the 20th century – and, in many places around the world, the 21st – were the only guarantees of women’s democratic rights. The bourgeois state apparatus is often ready to negotiate the conditions of the oppression of women, particularly insofar as contradictions between liberal ideology and the demands of capital can be leveraged to force a break; that is, on occasion, it is to the benefit of the ruling class that limited democratic rights are ensured (for example, in situations wherein mass rebellions pose a serious threat to the reproduction of the conditions of production). In such cases, certain conciliatory measures are often a less expensive or dangerous measure than the other option available to the haute-bourgeoisie (fascism) to stave off the development of a revolutionary situation. These will always be reversed at their first convenience: we are faced with exactly such a reversal today.
- The proletarian feminist task: intervention in the spontaneous mass women’s movement which is emerging around the country in order to advance the revolutionary working class line of armed struggle for communism. Mao taught that “without a people’s army, the people have nothing.” Without a political instrument capable of defending the gains of the women’s movement, we will remain trapped in the mire of reformism. Only the class dictatorship of the proletariat can secure complete liberation for women, but the victory of the revolution depends upon the mobilization of women for the class struggle. We must therefore place a proletarian feminist line in command of the current struggle for democratic rights.
ALL POWER TO THE REBEL WOMEN. PEOPLE’S WAR UNTIL COMMUNISM.