– Marxism and the Emancipation of Women
On 26 February, at Saklatvala Hall in Southall, a new book was launched entitled
Marxism and the Emancipation of Women.
Ella Rule, the editor of this new book, explained that the decision to bring it out was based on the need to counteract the negative effect on the cause of women’s emancipation brought about by the books on women’s liberation written by bourgeois feminists and their hangers-on. These books flooded the market on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the setting up of the women’s liberation movement in Britain in 1969. Comrade Ella explained that feminists were those who directly or indirectly set up men as the enemy women had to fight to gain their emancipation While this view has a great deal of appeal for the spontaneous movement of women against their oppression, it is quite wrong and unless corrected cannot but lead to defeat.
Women must have a correct understanding of the causes of their oppression if they are going to be able to put an end to it. The reality is that it is the interests of private property – the megaprofits of the super-rich and powerful – which stands in the way of society providing for itself the social facilities (nurseries, other forms of social childcare, family restaurants, social care for the elderly and disabled) that will free women from their responsibility for household drudgery that keeps them from taking their rightful position as the equals of men in every aspect of the life of society.
For this reason, women who seek the emancipation of all women from the age-old fetters that have chained them to the kitchen sink need to work to draw women into the revolutionary proletarian movement to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism; and for this purpose they must struggle alongside proletarian men – a task that is not possible if they have been misled into thinking it is men who are the enemy.
Comrade Ella explained that the new book is based on the struggles of women in the 1970s to introduce to the women’s liberation movement in Britain a proper understanding of the cause of women’s oppression and the way forward to liberation. It is divided into four sections. The first reproduces texts circulated by these comrades explaining Engels’ brilliant analysis of the question, as set out in his
Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.
The second part substantiates this Marxist analysis by reference to the experience of women in various socialist countries. The third part sets out and answers the incorrect feminist and opportunist theories circulating in the movement and vying for women’s hearts and minds in an effort to protect the interests of capital, and the fourth section is devoted to exposing the dirty tricks to which the opportunists resorted when they ran out of arguments in the face of inexorable Marxist logic inextricably bound up in truth.
Although most of the articles collected in this new book date back to the 1970s, they remain as relevant today as they were when they were first published. Despite all the new literature produced by opportunists who have since the heady days of the women’s liberation movement become leading lights of Women’s Studies departments in Britain’s ivory towers, there have been no new ideas, only variations on themes that were fully covered by the articles that the new book reproduces.
Stressing the importance for both men and women socialists to give major importance to the struggle for women’s emancipation, Comrade Ella expressed the hope that
Marxism and the Emancipation of Women
would prove to be an effective weapon in that struggle. Her presentation of the book was followed by an excellent rendition of progressive songs by the choir of the Workers’ Musical Association; and other comrades also sang progressive songs and recited revolutionary poetry.
Marxism and the Emancipation of Women is available from E J Rule at 14 Featherstone Road Southall UB2 5AA at the cost of £10 + £2 p&p (paperback) or £15 + £3 p&p (hardback). Please make cheques payable to E J Rule.