Sunday 7 March 2010

Warsaw Manifa (Women's Day)

On March 7, ZSP Warsaw took part in the annual Women's Day demonstration, going with a radical message as usual. For the third year in a row, ZSP formed a blok with the group WRS - this year known as the Revolutionary Blok.  Although only about 40 red and black activists marched in it. (the rest of the anarchists apparently prefering to march in the "colourful blok" (ie. clowns, etc.), the revolutionary blok attracted both the rest of the radical left, who marched nearby, as well as the teacher's union ZNP (which marched besides ZSP, causing a little confusion for onlookers, especially as ZSP was handing out the new newspaper for radical education workers.)

For the first time in the 10 years of this demonstration, there were several mainstream trade unions presence. However, most of these unions sent nothing but a symbolic group to march - some of them amounting to 20-30 people, thus lss than our blok. Curiously, despite the fact that these unions altogether must have brought about 200 new faces to the demo,  the crowd is smaller than in previous year, perhaps less than half of last year. Could it be that labour issues as just not as sexy as the scores of neoliberal celebrity feminists that usually party from the platform trucks?

Not to worry - keeping in typical "anti-sectarian" feminist style, after female unionists spoke, the platform was given over to a representative of the Confederation of Private Employers who told women how they have to behave in solidarity with their bosses so we can all survive this time of crisis.

As usual, we had our provocative leaflets and newspaper and a banner.This time our banner read "Social Revolution Instead of Parity" - a reference to the main project of feminists over the past year - trying to get a law passed requiring parties to put an equal number of women on the ballot.Our leaflet also referred to this project. Below is a translation ofthe main part of our leaflet.

Solidarity in Stuggle? But for what and against what?

The slogan of this year's Manifa "In Solidarity in the Crisis, In Solidarity in the Struggle" is meant to be a clear reference to the labour strugle and an allusion to the history of the Women's Day march. As participants of this march who have each year come to the demonstration calling for women's greater participation in workplace organizing and anticapitalist social movements, it would seem we should be delighted that such a slogan would appear this year.

Unfortunately we are faced with a different reality when coming to the Manifa and that is that large parts of the dominant figures in the feminist movement are in fact in solidarity with the neoliberal project or reformist social democracy which in fact is just a dangerous distraction from the real struggle: the struggle for building a grassroots social and labour movement, independent of the bosses and politicians. Only such a movement can start to break free from their agenda and threaten to topple their power.

Besides holding the occasional one-off lecture at some university on "women's role in labour", we wonder what the mainstream of the women's movement has been doing to show working class women that they are in solidarity with them. Surely not continuing with insisting that neoliberal women like Henryka Bochniarz*  are somehow in the same struggle as "women in general". The boices of feminists who calim no support for the neoliberal agenda are drowned by the chorus of moderate conformists who insist that owmen don't push such "divisive" issues as the class struggle.

(*head of a powerful business lobby and CEO of Boeing in Poland which sold F-16s to the government) 

Another project which has been one of the main activities of the feminist movement, btu is surely a diversion, is the call to introduce parity on electoral lists. At a time when working women are facing increasing hardship and need to organize effective, fighting social movements, the project of political parity is an astounding waste of reousces and activist time. We do not believe that gender determines the political line of women and the existence of powerful women in government or political life is no consolation to us. The fate of the Thatchers, Albrights and Rices of the world should be the same as the Berlusconis, Sarkozies and Obamas.

The political project of parity in Poland, at very best, can only guarantee us more HGWs, Anna Sobieskas and Nelly Rokitas, if not a string of female party hopefules a la Aneta Krawczyk. (*)

(* HGW - hardline neoliberal President of Warsaw, Anna Sobieska - ultra-conservative parliamentarian, Nelly Rokita, parliamentarian who became famous as the wife of another politician, Aneta Krawczyk, women who wanted to run for political office and wound up sexually molested and raped by multiple party leaders for a few years.)

There is no getting around it: women are part of the oppressive system, even if to a lesser degree than men. If one recognizes the postulates of capitalism to be the main factor in the dire situation of working women, changing over from capitalist   bastards to capitalist bitches is no progress. Selling it as so is just another liberal diversion to keep people from getting to the root of the problems or wahing any struggle which may threaten what the system really must maintain: not the patriarchy, but capitalism and political power over the people.

Much as we are opposed to sexism in all its aspects, the patriarchy can be significantly topples and still leave the system of exploitation and slavery in tact. Fighting the patriarchy is simply not enough.

Although we can support goals to change the politics of single issues (for example, eliminating laws that interfer with women's reproductive choices), a women's movement which stops at any issue wich may not be to the liking of the bourgeois, statist or neoliberal feminists does not excite us. For this reason, we do not go to your "breakthrough congresses" dominated by elites, or vote for the "Women's Party" or stand on corners collecting signatures for parity, but call for women to be more active in the grassroots social revolutionary struggle. 

For a world without bosses or masters, without bureaucrats or patriarchs.

Solidarity... in the class struggle.


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