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Statement by the Russian Maoist Party: “For a Belarus without Lukashenko and capitalists!”

By | 08/20/2020

Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is neither “red” nor progressive. Objectively, it expresses the interests of state-monopoly capital, linked with Russian imperialism and trying to maneuver between it and the West. The hopes that were pinned on Lukashenko in the mid-1990s as a “man of the people” did not come true. Today it is a regime of the Putin or Nazarbayev (ex-president of Kazakhstan) type. He is just as liberal in economics (he carries out privatization, restricts the rights of workers, raises the retirement age) as he is repressive and undemocratic in politics (he purged the political field from both the liberals and the nationalists, and from both the leftists and the real – not controlled by his administration – communists). Lukashenko makes nods towards the Soviet past, but in modern Belarus what has remained of it is at best an outer shell with a bourgeois content. And supporting someone out of nostalgia for the USSR is a big mistake.

The opposition to the Lukashenko regime, for the time being united by the figure of Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya (of course, she is only a symbolical figure), represents the interests of a part of the bourgeoisie dissatisfied with the existing regime. Both Tsikhanovskaya and the Belarusian opposition enjoy the support of the European Union and the United States, and orient themselves towards them. They also have business ties with Russia, with, for example, one of the contenders for the presidency of Belarus, Viktor Babariko, from 2000 to 2020 heading a subsidiary bank of Gazprom – Belgazprombank 1. According to local communists, the bulk of the protesters on the streets were initially students, schoolchildren, and the petty and middle bourgeoisie. According to media reports, workers’ rallies have also begun at industrial enterprises 2. The “single presidential candidate” program 3 is a program of neoliberal reforms that directly requires large-scale privatization, deregulation of the economy, attraction of capital from TNCs, “optimization of the number of old jobs” (in other words, mass layoffs), etc. The program of the “single candidate” and the program of Tsikhanovskaya also contain progressive demands for democratization (to limit the powers of the president and the term of office at that post, etc.), to hold free elections. All other things being equal, competitive and open elections are better, but it should not be forgotten that “freedom” and “honesty” under capitalism are conventions that are meaningful to the extent that they can serve the socialist movement in eliminating exploitation and oppression. On the other hand, among the opposition there are also extreme right-wing forces advocating decommunization and so forth. With the available forces and in a matter of days, this situation cannot be reversed – this is clear theoretically and can be observed in practice.

The proletariat and semi-proletarian strata are almost not represented in Belarusian politics, as elsewhere in the former Soviet republics. The so-called left movement, split into many small organizations, tries to defend their interests. The creation of workers’ councils and the victory of people’s democracy, as an alternative to “Lukashism” and the liberal-nationalist opposition, are possible only if there is a powerful vanguard communist party relying on the proletarian and semi-proletarian masses of workers in the city and countryside. There is no such structure in Belarus yet, in particular, due to the long domination of revisionism of the Khrushchev-Brezhnev type, and also due to the state-capitalist regime, which destroyed the institutions of bourgeois democracy and the possibility of creating uncontrollable political structures, although it would be naive to hope that liberal democracy in itself will automatically open the paths for development for the communists. The current moment may become a chance for Belarusian communists to exit this fragmented state if they can use the social upsurge in order to mobilize, strengthen ties with workers and maintain themselves in the legal field. When the proletariat again becomes a political entity, then and only then will the bourgeois-liberal forces no longer be able to use the workers in their political games as cannon fodder.

The task of defining the strategy and tactics of the proletariat in modern Belarus belongs to the Belarusian communists. We welcome their promising work in this direction, including participation in the organization of rallies and strikes with demands that express the interests of the working class and the working masses. For our part, we condemn the violence on the part of the current Belarusian authorities and support the democratization of the political system – not, however, in doing so supporting Tsikhanovskaya and the Belarusian liberal opposition – we are in favor of nationalization instead of privatization, and against interference in the affairs of Belarus by the imperialists, whether Russian or Western. We must also develop international proletarian solidarity and communist cooperation in our common cause of propaganda, organizational construction and the preparation of socialism.

Long live the Belarusian people!
Long live independent, democratic and socialist Belarus!

P.S. While we were working on this text, the situation continued to develop, and information appeared about the possible intervention of Russia in the state crisis in Belarus. On August 15, Lukashenko, after negotiations with Vladimir Putin, said that “at our first request, comprehensive assistance will be provided to ensure the security of Belarus”. The Kremlin does not rule out this either, hinting at “its readiness to provide the necessary assistance in resolving the problems that have arisen on the basis of the principles of the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State.” 4. The wording is rather vague, because Russia is playing a cautious game, supporting Lukashenko, while at the same time leaving open the possibility of agreement with the opposition if it comes to power. In a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on August 18, Putin said that Russia is against “any attempts to interfere from outside in the republic’s internal affairs, leading to a further escalation of the crisis.” This can be interpreted both as a warning to the European Union (which has still limited itself to the threat of sanctions), and as a promise not to interfere itself. Of course, the imperialists always lie, they will and do interfere in the affairs of relatively weak countries, dictating their will to them. In the case of Belarus, this is especially true of Russian imperialism, which dominates the republic. It is naïve to hope, as some do, that when “Russia comes” or “we will be in the European Union” life will spontaneously improve. Workers, not without reason, fear that a break with Russia will lead to the collapse of industry and unemployment, but another scenario is no less likely: in the case of concessions to Russia, it will demand a high price – the privatization of Belarusian state-owned enterprises, to which Russian “effective managers” will come, who will in fact will carry out Lukashenko’s threat, who frankly spoke about the “excessive number” of workers at the factories. It is necessary to appeal not to Russia or the European Union, but to the masses. Only they can show real solidarity and put pressure on their governments to respect the independence of other countries.

Notes:

  1. Gazprom is the biggest Russian monopoly controlled by the state.
  2. On August the 16th, a rally of supporters of Alexander Lukashenko and opponents of the liberal opposition took place in Minsk, and on August the 17th, Lukashenko arrived at the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) to talk to the workers.
  3. That is, the program uniting Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya, Valery Tsepkalo and Victor Babariko.
  4. Russia and Belarus together are officially “the Union State”.

Marxism, Mariátegui and the Feminist Movement

By | 07/05/2020

Publisher’s Note

Marxism, Mariategui and the Feminist Movement (CPP)Surpassing number of bends in the road, the People’s War in Peru is continuing since more than twenty years under the glorious leadership of Communist Party of Peru [PCP]. For the first time in the international communist movement, under the leadership of Chairman Gonzalo, it is the Party that scientifically analysed, explained and stubbornly upholds Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, at present as the guiding principle of revolutionary proletariat of all countries. Upholding Maoism, PCP had built up People’s Army, base areas and initiated People’s War in 1980. The impact of this People’s War can be well understood from the fact that despite capturing Chairman Gonzalo in 1992 and Comrade Feliciano – the chief of PCP after Comrade Gonzalo’s arrest – in 1999 and by keeping them into two separate underground cells at a naval base without allowing anyone to meet them and putting them into complete isolation, Fujimori, then the President of Peru as well as the present President Toleredo could not contain the People’s War. Consequently, Fujimori has to flee from the country. As the President of Peru, he had gone to Japan in a state-visit and there he had asked for the citizenship of Japan under the pretext that he is having a Japanese ancestor and stayed there. Very recently, immediately after the US’s Afghan War the US-President Bush’s Peru visit was also marked with massive violent demonstration and protest in the capital Lima itself.

PCP, a participant-member of Revolutionary Internationalist Movement [RIM], is always holding high the red banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Communist Internationalism.

Apart from other aspects that made PCP a strong Maoist Party that continuously is standing stubbornly and bravely against the US-backed local reaction and narcotic-warfare organised and executed by the US and disguised deployment of the US-army; one of the major aspect is PCP’s position on women and particularly the application of its policy on women. Consequently, at the level of Central Committee of PCP, even numerically, women have already become a significant force. During the Days of Heroism, the women war-prisoners of Callao Women’s Prison had set an example of how in the quest of actual emancipation of Woman can fight against the system that tries to subdue Her, crush Her by staunchly and ardently upholding correct political and ideological position.

We are happily publishing this document of PCP with this hope that assimilating the vital lessons from such a distinguishable document, the Indian Maoist Revolutionaries would take their movement to a qualitative height.

José Carlos Mariátegui

(1895 – 1930)

José Carlos Mariátegui, had founded the Communist Party of Peru in 1928 and died at the age of only 35 years. Shortly before his death, he led the Party in affiliating with the Third Communist International of Lenin and Stalin. When the Party became revisionist, Mariátegui’s teachings – the basis of the Party – were kept aside.

Dating the period of the Great Debate between Mao’s CPC and revisionist CPSU, the ideological issues that came up in the forefront as well as the revolutionary upsurges in Peru, the revolutionary section of the PCP had taken up the study of Mariátegui’s teachings to settle the political and ideological line of the Party, the basic line for the revolution in Peru, its targets and goals and tasks of the Communist revolutionaries.

Under the leadership of Comrade Gonzalo, rebuilding the PCP took 15 years In 1975, a document “Retomemos a Mariátegui y Reconturyamos Su Partido” [Reclaim Mariátegui and Rebuild His Party] was published by the Central Committee of the PCP under comrade Ganzalo’s leadership. The completion of this process was marked by a 1979 Central Committee meeting that approved the initiation and continuation of People’s War, which began a year later, i.e., in 1980 and is still continuing throughout the country.

I. The Woman Question and Marxism

The woman question is an important question for the popular struggle and its importance has become greater today, because actions are intensifying which tend to mobilise women; a necessary and fruitful mobilisation from the working class viewpoint and in the service of the masses of the people, but which promoted by and for the benefit of the exploiting classes, acts as an element which divides and fetters the people’s struggle.

In this new period of politicisation of the masses of women in which we now evolve, with its base in a greater economic participation by women in the country, it is indispensable to pay serious attention to the woman question as regards study and research, political incorporation and consistent organisational work, A task which demands to keep in mind Mariátegui’s thesis that teaches: “Women like men, are reactionaries, centerists or revolutionaries, they cannot therefore all fight the same battle side by side in today’s human panorama in which class differentiates the individual more than sex.” That way, from the beginning, the need to understand the woman question scientifically undoubtedly demands that we start from the Marxist concept of the working class.

1. The theory of women as “deficient feminine nature”

Through the centuries the exploiting classes have maintained and imposed the pseudo-theory of the “deficient feminine nature”. It has served to justify the oppression that still women are experiencing in societies by which exploitation continues to prevail. That way, the Jewish men’s prayer: “Blessed be God, our Lord and Lord of all the worlds, for not having made me a woman” and conformity by the Jewish women who pray: “Blessed be the Lord, who has created me according to his will,” clearly expresses the contempt which the ancient world had for the woman’s condition. These ideas were also predominated in Greek slave society. Famous Pythogoras said: “There is a good principle which has created order, light and man and there is a bad principle which has created chaos, darkness and woman”. Even the great philosopher Aristotle pronounced: “the female is female by virtue of certain qualitative fault,” and “the character of women suffers from a natural defect.”

These proposals passed on to the final period of Roman slave society and to the Middle Ages. Christian thinkers intensified the contempt of Woman by imputing Her as being the source of sin and the waiting room of hell. Tertulian claimed: “Woman, you are the door of the devil. You have persuaded Him whom the devil did not dare to attack frontally. By your fault the Son of God had to die; you should always go dressed in mourning and rags”. And Augustine of Hipona told: “The woman is a beast who is neither firm, nor stable.” While they condemned, others had passed sentence on feminine inferiority and obedience. Thus, Paul of Tarsus, the apostle, preached: “Man was not taken from Woman, but Woman from Man;” and “Just as the church is subject to Christ, let Woman be submitted in all things to Her Husband”. And hundreds of years later, in the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas followed with similar preaching: “Man is the head of the Woman, just as Christ is the head of Man” and “It is a fact that Woman is destined to live under the authority of Man and that She has no authority by Herself.”

The understanding of the feminine condition did not advance much with the development of capitalism. As Candorcet pointed out its social root when he said: “It has been said that women … lack a sense of justice, and that they obeyed their feelings rather than their conscience…. that difference has been caused by education and social existence, not by the nature”. The great materialist Diderot wrote: “I feel sorry for you women,” and “in all customs, the cruelty of civil laws joined the cruelty of Nature against women. They have been treated as imbeciles”. Rousseau, advanced ideologist of the French Revolution, insisted: “All education of women must be relative to that of men…. Woman is made to yield to Man and endure his injustices.” This bourgeois position is carried on to the age of imperialism, became more reactionary as time goes on, joined the Christian positions, by reiterating the old theses sanctioned through John 23: “God and Nature have given women various chores, which perfect and complement the chores entrusted to men.”

Thus, we see how all through the exploiting classes have preached the “deficient feminine nature.” Sustaining their idealist concepts, they have reiterated the existence of “feminine nature”, independent of social conditions, which is a part of their anti-scientific “human nature” thesis However, this so-called “feminine nature,” in its eternal and invariable essence, is also called “deficient” to show that the condition of Woman and their oppression and patronage is the result of their “natural inferiority compared to Man” With this pseudo-theory, it is intended to maintain and “justify” the submission of Woman before Man.

Finally, it is convenient to point out that even an outstanding materialist thinker like Democritus had prejudices with respect to women (“A woman familiar with logic: a fearful thing”, “Woman is much more prone than the male to think evil!”). Moreover, the defence of women is based in metaphysical or religious arguments (Eve means life and Adam means land: created after Man, Woman was finished better than he was). Even, when the bourgeoisie was a revolutionary class, it only conceived of women in reference to men, not as independent beings

2. The Development of capitalism and the women’s movement

With the development of capitalism women are getting incorporated into labour, providing the basis and conditions for them to develop; that way, with their incorporation into the productive process, women are having the opportunity of more directly joining the class struggle and in combative actions. Capitalism carried out the bourgeois revolutions and in this, it forges the feminine masses, especially working women, to be advanced.

The French Revolution, the most advanced one of the revolutions led by the bourgeoisie, was a great nourishment for feminist action Women were mobilised together with the masses, and participating in the civic clubs, they developed revolutionary actions. In these struggles they organised a “Society of Revolutionary and Republican women,” and through Olimpia de Gouges, in 1789 they demanded a “Declaration of the Rights of Woman” and created newspapers like “The Impatient“ to demand for the improvements in their condition. In the development of the revolutionary process, women won the suppression of the rights of the first born male and the abolition of the masculine privileges, and they also obtained equal rights of succession with males and achieved divorce. Their militant participation rendered some fruits.

But once the great revolutionary push was halted, women were denied access to the political clubs, their politicisation was suppressed and they saw themselves blamed and urged to return to the home, they were told: “Since when has Women been allowed to renounce their sex and become Man? Nature has told Woman: be a Woman. Your chores are to tend to infants, the details of the home and the diverse challenges of motherhood.” Even more, with the bourgeois reorganisation initiated by Napoleon, with the Civil Code, a married woman returned to be subjected to patronage, falling under her husband’s domain in her person and goods; she is denied the questioning of paternity. Married women, like prostitutes, lost their civil rights and they were denied divorce and the right to transfer their properties.

In the French Revolution we can clearly see how the advance of women and their setbacks are linked to the advances and setbacks of the people and the revolution. This is an important lesson: the identity of interests of the feminist movement and the people’s struggles, how the former is part of the latter.

Also this bourgeois revolution shows how the ideas about women follow a process similar to the political process; once the revolutionary upsurge was fought and halted, reactionary ideas re-emerged about women. Bonald maintained: “Man is to Woman as Woman is to a child”. Comte, considered as the “father of sociology,” proposed that femininity is a sort of continued infancy and that this biological infancy is expressed as intellectual weakness, Balzac wrote: “The destiny of women and their only glory is to make the hearts of men beat. The woman is a property acquired by contract, a mobile personal property, because the possession is worth a title; in all, speaking properly, woman is but an annex to man”. All this reactionary ideology is synthesised in the following words by Napoleon: “Nature wanted Women to be our slaves. … They are our property. … Woman is but a machine to produce children”. A character for whom feminine life should be oriented by “Kitchen, Church, Children,” – a slogan endorsed by Hitler in the 20th century.

The French Revolution raised its three principles of liberty, equality and fraternity and promised justice and to meet the demands of the people. Very soon it showed its limits and that its principled declarations were but formal declarations. At the same time, its class interests were counterpoised to those of the masses; misery, hunger and injustice kept on prevailing, except under new forms Although due to historic conditions the Utopians could not reach the root of the evil, but they launched a sharp and demolishing criticism against such an order of things Utopian socialists also condemned the condition of women under capitalism. Fourier, representing this position, pointed out: “The change of an historical age can always be determined by the progress of Woman … the degree of emancipation of Woman constitutes the natural path for general emancipation.”

Confronted with this great assertion, it is worth to counterpoise the thought of the anarchist Proudhon about women – and keep in mind his ideas, particularly in today’s context, when there are attempts to propagate anarchism to the four winds by presenting them as examples of revolutionary vision and consequence Proudhon maintained that Woman was inferior to Man physically, intellectually and morally, and that represented together numerically, Woman have a value of 8/27 the value of Man. So for this ‘hero’, Woman represents less than a third of the value of Man, which is but an expression of the petty-bourgeois thought of its author, a root that is common to all anarchists.

Throughout the 19th century, with their increasing incorporation into the productive process, women continued to develop their struggle for their own demands joining the workers’ unions and revolutionary movements of the proletariat. An example of this participation was Luisa Michel, a fighter at the Paris Commune of 1871. However, the feminist movement, in general, oriented itself towards suffragism, to the struggle to get the right to vote for women, in pursuit of the false idea that in getting the vote and parliamentary positions, their rights would be respected. These feminist actions were channelised towards parliamentary cretinism. However, it is worth to remember that the right to vote for women was not achieved free – during the last century and the start of this century, women fought openly and determinedly to get it. The struggle for the feminine vote and its achievement show once more that though it was indeed a victory, but it is not the means that allows genuine transformation of the condition of women.

The 20th century implies a greater development of the feminist economic action. Women workers increased massively, as well as women employees, to whom were added strong contingents of professionals. Women enter all fields of activities. In this process, World Wars are having significant importance, because they incorporated millions of women into the economy to substitute the men mobilised to the front. All this pushed ahead the mobilisation, organisation and politicisation of women. And starting from 1950s the feminist struggle starts again with greater force, amplified in the 1960s with great perspectives for the future.

In conclusion, through the economic incorporation of women, capitalism sets the basis for their economic autonomy. But capitalism by itself is not capable of giving formal legal equality to women. In no way it can emancipate them. This has been proven throughout the history of the bourgeoisie – a class that even in its most advanced revolution, the French Revolution of the 18th century, could not go further than merely a formal declaration of rights. Further, the later development of the bourgeois revolutionary processes and the 20th century, show that not only the bourgeoisie is incapable in emancipating the masses of women, but with the development of imperialism the bourgeois concept as regards the feminine condition becomes more reactionary as time goes on and, in fact, confirms the social, economic, political and ideological oppression of women, even when it disguises and paints the women question in myriad ways.

3. Marxism and the Emancipation of Women

Marxism, the ideology of the working class, conceives the human being as a set of social relations that change as a function of the social process. Thus, Marxism is absolutely opposed to the thesis of “human nature” as an eternal, immutable reality outside the frame of social conditions; the thesis belongs to idealism and reaction. The Marxist position also implies the overcoming of mechanical materialism (i.e., of the old materialists before Marx and Engels) who were incapable of understanding the historical social character of the human being as a transformer of reality, so irrationally it had to rely upon metaphysical or spiritual conditions, such as in the case of Feuerbach.

As Marxism considers the human being as a concrete reality generated historically by society, it does not accept the thesis of “feminine nature,” which is but a complement of the so-called “human nature” and therefore aggravated a reiteration that Woman has an eternal and unchanging nature. And we have already seen that idealism and reaction understand by “feminine nature” as a “deficient and inferior nature” compared to Man.

For Marxism, Woman, as much as Man, are but a set of social relations, historically adapted and changing as a function of the changes of society in its development process. Woman, is a social product, and Her transformation demands the transformation of society.

When Marxism focuses on the woman question, therefore, it does so from a materialist and dialectical viewpoint, from a scientific concept, which indeed allows a complete understanding of the question. In the study, research and understanding of women and their condition, Marxism treats the woman question with respect to property, family and State, because throughout the history the condition and historical place of women is intimately linked to these three factors.

From this viewpoint, an extraordinary example of concrete analysis of the woman question is seen in Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, by F. Engels, who pointing to the substitution of mother-right by father-right as the start of the submission of women, wrote:

“Thus, the riches, as they went on increasing, on one hand provided Man with a more important position than Woman in the family, and on the other planted in Him the idea of taking advantage of this importance to modify the established order of inheritance for the benefit of His children…. That revolution — one of the most profound humanity has known — had no need to touch even one of the living members of the gens. All its members could go on being what they had been up to then. It merely sufficed to say that in the future the descendants of the male-line would remain in the gens, but those of the female-line would leave it, going to the gens of their father. That way maternal affiliation and inheritance by mother right were abolished and replaced by masculine affiliation and inheritance by father-right. We know nothing of how this revolution took place among the cultured peoples, since it took place in prehistoric times. … The overthrowing of mother-right was the great historic defeat of the female sex throughout the world. Man also grabbed the reigns of the house; woman saw herself degraded, turned into a servant, into the slave of man’s lasciviousness, in a mere instrument of reproduction” (Our emphasis)

This paragraph by Engels sets the fundamental thesis of Marxism on the woman question: the condition of women is sustained in property relations, in the form of ownership exercised over the means of production and in the production relations arising from them. This thesis of Marxism is extremely important, because it establishes that the oppression attached to the female condition has its roots in the formation, appearance and development of the right of ownership over the means of production, and, therefore, its emancipation is linked to the destruction of the said right. In order to have a Marxist understanding of the woman question, it is indispensable to start from this great thesis And today when supposed revolutionaries and even self-proclaimed Marxists pretend to have feminine oppression arising not from the formation and appearance of private property, but from the simple division of labour as a function of sex which had attributed less important chores to Woman than those of Man, reducing Her to the sphere of the home, it has got further importance. Despite all the propaganda and efforts to present it as revolutionary, this proposal is but the substitution for the Marxist position on the emancipation of women with bourgeois proposals — which, in essence, are variations of the supposed immutable “feminine nature.”

Developing this materialist dialectical starting point, Engels teaches us how on this basis the monogamous family was instituted, about which he says:

“It was the first form of family not based on nature, but on economic conditions and concretely on the triumph of private property over spontaneously originated, common primitive property.” And: “Therefore, monogamy in no way appears in history as a reconciliation between Man and Woman, and even less as a higher form of marriage. Quite the contrary, it enters the scene under the form of the enslavement of one sex by the other, as the proclamation of a war between the sexes, up to then unknown in prehistory.” (Origin … Our emphasis.)

After establishing that private property sustains the monogamous family form, which sanctions the oppression of women, Engels establishes the correspondence of the three fundamental forms of marriage with the three great stages of human evolution: savagery and marriage by groups, barbarism and pairing marriage, civilisation and monogamy “with its complements, adultery and prostitution.” That way, the Marxist classics developed the thesis about the historically variable social condition of Woman and Her place in society, pointing out how the feminine condition is intimately linked with private property, the family and the State, which is the apparatus that legalises such relations and imposes and sustains them by force.

The scientific proposition systematised by Engels is a product of the Marxist analysis of the condition of Woman throughout history, and the most elementary study fully corroborated the accuracy and actuality of these proposals, which are the foundation and starting point of the working class for the understanding of the woman question. Let us make a historical recount allowing us to illustrate what Engels and the classics set forth.

In the primitive community, with a natural division of labour, based on age and sex, men and women developed their lives on a spontaneous equality and participation of women in the social group decisions. Later women were surrounded with respect and consideration, a deferential and even privileged treatment. Once riches began to grow, which heightened the position of men in the family, pushing forward the substitution of father-right for mother-right, women began to move to the background and their position deteriorated Echoes of this reach the times of the great Greek tragic Aeschillus, who in his work Eumenida, wrote “It is not mother who engenders that which is called her son: she is only the nurse of the embryo deposited in her womb. Who engenders is the father. The woman receives the seed as a foreign depository, and she preserves it if so pleases the gods. ”

Thus, in Greek slave society, the condition of women is that of submission, social inferiority and object of contempt. Of them it is said: “The slave absolutely lacks the freedom to deliberate; woman has it, but in a weak and inefficient manner” (Aristotle); “The best woman is she, of whom men speak the least” (Pericles), and the answer by the husband who investigates public affairs “it’s not your thing. Shut up lest I hit you… keep on weaving” (Aristotphanes: Lysistrata). What power of their tutor, whether the father, the husband, the husband’s heir, or the State, their lives passed under constant tutelage. They were provided a marriage-dowry, so they had something on which to live and do not go hungry, and in some cases they were authorised to divorce. For the rest, they were reduced to misogynism in the home and in society under the control of specialised authorities. Women could inherit when there was no direct male heir, in that case she had to marry the oldest relative within the paternal gens; that way she would not inherit directly, but was merely a transferor of inheritance; all to preserve the family property.

The condition of women in Rome, which was also a slave society, allows a better understanding as it was derived from property, family and the State. After the reign of Tarquinius once patriarchal right was set up, private property and therefore the family (gens), became the basis of society: women would remain subject to patrimony and the family. She was excluded from every “virile job.” and in public affairs, she was “a civil minor” – she was not directly denied inheritance, but was subjected to tutelage. Gaius, the Roman jurist, on this point said “Tutelage was established in the interest of the tutors themselves, so the woman of whom they are supposed to be heirs cannot wrest their willed inheritance from them, nor impoverish it by alienation or debts”. The patrimonial root of the tutelage imposed upon women was, therefore, clearly exposed and established.

After the Twelve Tables, the fact that women belonged to the paternal gens and to the conjugal gens (also strictly for reasons of safeguarding property) generated conflicts which were the basis for the advancement of the Roman “legal emancipation”. The sine manu marriage appears: her goods remain dependent on her tutors and her husband only acquires rights over her person, and at that shared with the pater familias, who retains an absolute authority over his daughter. And the domestic tribunal appears, to resolve discrepancies which may arise between father and husband, thus the woman can appeal to her father for disagreements with her husband, and vice versa: “it is no longer the matter of the individual.

On this economic basis (her participation in the inheritance, even if it was tutored), and the conflict between the rights of the paternal and conjugal gens for the woman and her goods, despite the legal restrictions, a major participation of Roman women in their society developed: the “atrium” was set up, the centre of the house, which governed work by the slaves, conducted education of the children and influenced them until a rather advanced age She shared the works and problems of her spouse and was considered as co-proprietor of his goods. She attended parties and on the street, even consulted and magistrates gave her preferential crossing. The weight of Roman women in their society was reflected by the figure of Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi.

With the Roman social development, the State displaces the contention among the gens and assumes the disputes about women, divorce, adultery, etc., which went to be heard in public tribunals, abolishing the domestic tribunal. Later, under imperial rule, tutelage on women would be abolished, answering to social and economic demands. Women got a fixed dowry (individual patrimony) which was hot to be returned to the agnates (parental relatives) nor belonged to husband, that way she was given an economic base for her independence and development. By the end of the Republic, mothers had been given recognised rights over their children, receiving custody of them due to the father’s misconduct or his being placed under tutelage.

Under emperor Marcus Aurelius, in the year 178, a great step was taken in the process of property and family: children were declared heir to their mother in preference to agnates, that way the family was based on a link of consanguinity and the mother emerged as equal to the father before the children, the children also were recognised as children of the wife and derived form the above, the daughter inherited just as her male siblings.

But, while the State “emancipates” women from the family, it submits them to its tutelage and restricts their acts. And simultaneously to the social rise of women, an anti-feminist campaign was initiated in Rome invoking their inferiority, their “imbecility and fragility of the sex” to legally reduce them.

In Rome then, socially women had it better than that in Greece and acquired respect and even greater influence in social life, as shown by the words of Cato: “Everywhere men govern women, and we, who govern all men, are governed by our women.” Roman history has outstandingly exalted women – from the Sabines, through Lucretia and Virginia to Cornelia. Criticisms of women, not as women, but as contemporaries, developed by the end of the First and Second centuries of our era. In this way Juvenal reproaches them: lasciviousness, gluttony, to dedicate themselves to manly occupations and their passion for hunting and sports.

Roman society recognised some rights of women, especially the right to property, but did not open to them civil activities and much less public affairs, activities – which the women developed “illegally” and in a restricted way. Due to this reason, Roman matrons (“having lost their ancient virtues”) tended to seek other fields to employ their energies.

To consider the feminine situation in the decline of slavery and the development of feudalism, one must keep in mind the influence of Christianity and the Germanic contribution. Christianity contributed quite a bit to the oppression of women. Among the fathers of the church, there was definite demeaning of women, whom they considered inferior, servants of men and sources of evil. To what has been said let us add the condemnation by St. John Cnrisostomus, a saint of the Catholic Church: “No savage beast is as damaging as woman.” Under this influence, the advances reached under Roman legislation were at first mitigated and later denied.

Germanic societies based on war gave women a secondary situation due to their smaller physical strength However, they were respected and had rights which made them an associate of their spouse. Let us remember that on this subject Tacitus wrote: “In peace and in war, She shares His luck, She lives with Him and dies with Him.”

Christianity and Germanicism influenced the condition of women under feudalism Women were in a situation of absolute dependence with respect to the father and husband and by the time of king Clovis “the mundium weighs over her during all her life”. Women developed their lives completely submitted to the feudal lord, although protected by the laws “as property of Man and mother of children”, Her value used to increases with fertility, being worth triple of the value of a free man, a value she used to loose if she could no longer bear offspring: woman was a reproductive womb.

Under feudalism we can see an evolution in the condition of women, in the function of curbing of feudal powers and increase of royal powers, as it had happened in Rome: the mundium was transferred from the lords to the king; the mundium became a burden for the tutor, yet the submission by tutelage was kept.

At the convulsive times when feudalism was formed, since the rights to sovereignty and property – public as well as private – were not well specified, the condition of women was uncertain. The condition of women was changing, heightened or lowered, according to social contingencies.

Because women had no public rights, first, they were denied private rights. Until the 11th century, force and arms impose order and sustain property directly. To jurists, a fiefdom “is a land possessed with charge of military service”. And women could not have feudal right since they could not defend it with arms nor render military service. When fiefdoms turned into patrimonies and were inheritable (according to Germanic norms women could also inherit), feminine succession was admitted. But this did not improve their condition: woman was just an instrument through whom dominion was transferred, as in Greece.

Feudal property is not familial as in Rome, but of the sovereign, of the lord, and women too belong to the lord; it is she who chooses her husband. As it was written, “an heiress is a land and a castle: suitors contended to dispute that prize, and often the young woman is only 12 years old, or younger, when her father or lord gives her as prize to any baron.” The woman needs a lord who “protects” her and her rights; thus, a Duchess of Burgundy proclaimed to the king: “My husband has just died, but what good is mourning … ? Find me a husband who is powerful, because I much need him to defend my land.” In this form, her spouse had great marital power over the woman, whom he treated without consideration, mistreating her, beating her, etc. and whose only obligation was to “punish her reasonably” – the same codes required today to correct children.

The prevailing warlike conception made the medieval knight pay more attention to his horses than to his wife and the lords preached: “damned be the knight that seeks advice from a woman when he should participate in a tourney”. While women were commanded: “get into your apartments, painted and gilded, sit in the shade, drink, eat, weave, tint the silk, but bother not of our affairs. Our affairs are to fight with sword and steel. Silence!” That is how the medieval world of the lords demeaned and cast their women away.

The 13th century saw the development of a movement of literary women, which travelling from south to north increased their prestige, the same one which was linked to chivalry, love and the intense Marianism of that era. It did not modify it deeply, as S. de Beauvoir said in The Second Sex, a book in which abundant information – useful data, of course, apart from the existentialist concepts of its author, which is not the idea that can fundamentally change the condition of women, nor the economic basis sustaining it – about the history of women is found. When the fiefdom goes from a right based on military service to an economic obligation, since they were perfectly capable of fulfilling a monetary obligation, we can see an improvement in the condition of women. That way the seigniorial right to marry to his vassals was suppressed and women’s tutelage was extinguished.

Thus, whether single or widowed, women had the same rights as men in possessing a fiefdom, she governed it and fulfilled its administrative duties and even commanded its defence by participating in battles. But to survive, feudal society, like all those based on exploitation, requires the submission of women in marriage and marital power “the husband is the tutor of the wife,” was preached, or as Beauvoir said: “As soon as marriage was consummated, the goods of one and the other are common by virtue of the marriage,” justifying marital tutelage.

In feudal society, as in others ruled by exploiters – slavery or capitalism, what has been described about the condition of women has governed and still governs – but we must highlight that only in the condition of poor women can we see a different and softer condition in the face of marital power, the root of this situation must be seen in the economic participation by women of the popular classes and in the absence of great riches.

The development of capitalism takes feudalism to its decomposition, a situation that impresses its marks on the condition of women, as we have seen already. It suffices to emphasise that in the beginning and development of the burgs, women took part in the election of deputies to the General States, which shows feminine political participation as well as the existence of rights over family goods, since the husband could not alienate real properties without the consent of the wife. However, absolutist legislation would soon fetter these norms to fight off the diffusion of the bad bourgeois example.

This historical exposition exemplifies the thesis by Engels and the classics on the social roots of the condition of women and its relationship to property, family and State, it helps us to understand its certainty and see its actuality more clearly All this carries us to the conclusion: the need to firmly adhere to the working class positions and apply them to understand the woman question, participate in its solution, and reject – constantly and decisively – the distortions of Marxist theses on the subject and the so-called superior developments which are but attempts to substitute bourgeois ideas for proletarian concepts on this front, to disorient the women’s movement on the march.

Having exposed the social condition of women and the historical outline of its development linked to property, family and State, what remains is to treat the question of the emancipation of women from a Marxist viewpoint.

A Marxist holds fundamentally that the development of machinery incorporates women, as well as children, into the productive process and thereby multiplies the number of hands to be exploited, destroys the working class family, physically degenerates women and materially and morally sinks them into the miseries of exploitation.

Analysing women and children at work Karl Marx wrote:

“In so far as machinery dispenses with muscular power, it becomes a means of employing labourers of slight muscular strength, and those whose bodily development is incomplete, but whose limbs are all the more supple. The labour of women and children was, therefore, the first cry of the capitalist application of machinery. That mighty substitute for labour and labourers was forthwith changed into a means for increasing the number of wage-labourers by enrolling, under the direct sway of capital, every member of the woman’s family, without distinction of age or sex. Compulsory work for the capitalist usurped the place, not only of the children’s play, but also of free labour at home within moderate limits for the support of the family.”

The value of labour-power was determined, not only by labour-time necessary to maintain the individual adult labourer, but also by that necessary to maintain his family. Machinery, by throwing every member of that family on to the labour market, spreads the values of the man’s labour-power over his whole family. It thus depreciates his labour-power. …”

“Thus we see, that machinery, while augmenting the human material that forms the principal object of capital’s exploiting power, at the same time raises the degree of exploitation,” “By opening the factory doors to women and children, making them flock in great numbers to the combined ranks of the working class, machinery finally breaks down the resistance of the male worker to this, despite the despotism of capital within manufacturing.” (Capital, volume I, pp. 394-395, Economic Culture Fund, 1966. Emphasis in original.)

Continuing his masterful analysis, Marx himself describes to us how capitalism uses even the virtues and obligations of women for its advantage:

“Mr. E., manufacturer, told me how in his textile mills he employed exclusively women, preferably married ones, and above all those who had at home a family living from or depending on her salary, since these were much more active and zealous than single women; besides, the need to procure sustenance to their families forced them to work harder. In this way, the virtues characterising women are turned against them: all the purity and sweetness of their character are turned into instruments of torture and slavery.” (Note 57 of above quoted volume and edition of Capital, p. 331)

But just as by incorporating women into production, capitalism increases exploitation, simultaneously with this process it provides the material basis for women to struggle and demand their rights And it’s a starting point for the struggle for their emancipation, as Engels taught in Origin…:

The freeing of women demands as a first condition the re-incorporation of the entire female sex into social industry, which in turn requires that the individual family no longer be society’s economic unit.” (our emphasis).

And evidently capitalism, with its own future interests, sets the basis for the future emancipation of women, as well as creating the class that will destroy it as it develops: the proletariat.

On the other hand, their economic participation and the development of the class struggle pushes forward the Politicisation of Women. We already highlighted how the French Revolution pushed forward the political and organisational development of women and how, by uniting them, mobilising them and forcing them to fight, it set the basis for the feminist movement. We also saw how feminist demands were reached through the rise of revolution and how their rights were abolished and their conquests swept away when the revolutionary process was fettered and thrown back. However, with all the positive aspects that the incorporation of women into the French Revolution had, the resulting politicisation of women was but elementary, restricted and very little compared with the major advances represented by the politicisation of women by the working classes. What does this politicisation imply? When capitalism massively incorporates women into the economic process, it wrests them away from inside of the home, to attract them mostly (o factory exploitation, making industrial workers out of them. Thus women are forged and developed as an integral part of the most advanced and latest class in history. Women initiate their radical process of politicisation through their incorporation into the workers’ union struggle (the great change implied by this is observed concretely in our country by the transformation seen in women workers, peasants and teachers of Peru, amidst the union struggle). A woman arrives at more advanced forms of organisation, which goes on building her up and shaping her ideologically for the proletarian concepts and, finally, she arrives at superior forms of struggle and political organisation by incorporating herself, through her best representatives, into the ranks of the Party of toe working class, to serve the people in all forms and fronts of struggle organised and led by the working class through its political vanguard. This politicisation process, which only the proletariat is capable of producing, and the new type of women fighters it generates has materialised in many glorious women fighters whose names are recorded in history: Luisa Michel, N. Krupskaya, Rosa Luxemburg, Liu Ju-Ian and others, whose memory the people and the proletariat keep.

Like today, for Marxism of yesterday, the politicisation of women was the key-issue in her emancipation and the classics dedicated special attention to it. Marx taught: “Anyone who knows something of history knows that the great social changes are impossible without the feminist ferment. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the weak sex.” (Letter to Kugelmann, 1888.) And to Lenin, the participation of women was more much urgent and important to the revolution:

“The experience of all the liberation movements confirms that the success of the revolution depends on the degree in which women participate.(Our emphasis)

Thus the development of the class struggle and its ever greater sharpening, within the specific social conditions of the revolutionary struggle under conditions of imperialism, sets forth and demands more decisively the politicisation of women. That is why, Lenin himself, in the middle of World War I and foreseeing the future battles for the working class which required preparedness, called to fight for:

“17. Abolition of any and all limitations without exception to the political rights of women in comparison to men. Explaining to the masses the special urgency of this transformation at moments in which the war and scarcity disquiet the masses of people and awaken interest in and attention to politics, particularly among women.”

And he proposed:

“It is necessary that we fully develop systematic work among these feminine masses. We must educate those women we have managed to wrest away from passivity, we must recruit them and arm them for the struggle, not just the proletarian women who work in the factories or toil in the home, but also the peasant women, the women in the various layers of the petty-bourgeoisie. They too are victims of capitalism.”

With these words. Lenin demanded the politicisation of women, the struggle for demanding their political rights, the need to explain to the masses the urgency of politically incorporating women, the need of working together with them, to educate them, organise them and prepare them for all forms of struggle. Finally, he emphasised orienting themselves towards working women, but without forgetting the importance of peasant women and remembering the various classes or layers of women being exploited, since all of them could and should be mobilised for the people’s struggle.

From the above, we see how the politicisation of women was proposed by Marxism from its beginnings, considering women’s struggles as being in solidarity with the struggles of the working class. That is why, last century Bebel said that “woman and the worker have in common their condition as oppressed,” and why the Socialist Congress of 1879 proclaimed the equality of the sexes and the need to struggle for it, reiterating the solidarity of the revolutionary feminist women and the working class struggle. On the other hand, as China proclaims today, following Mao Tse-tung’s thesis:

“The emancipation of women is an integral part of the liberation of the proletariat.” (Peking Review, No. 10.1972)

This brings us to consider. How can the emancipation of women be achieved? Investigating capitalist society and societies, in general, where exploitation and oppression prevail, Engels verified that misery, inequality and submission exist among men. But emphasising the woman question he pointed out: “The state of affairs with respect to the equality of men and women is no better than their legal inequality, which we have inherited from prior social conditions, is not the cause but the effect of the economic oppression of women.” And he continued “Women cannot be emancipated unless they assume a large socially measurable role in production and are only tied insignificantly by domestic work. And this has only been possible with modern industry, which not only admits feminine labour in a large scale but fatally demands it,”

This assertion by Engels, if taken out of context and unrelated to similar ones from Origin… helps some people, pseudo-Marxists and distorters of Marxism. They stretch his idea to claim that the mere participation of women in the economic process is sufficient for their emancipation. Engels proposed that the incorporation of women into production was a condition, that it is a base upon which women act in favour of their emancipation, and that this demands to socially end domestic work which absorbs and annihilates women, which to Engels implies destroying private ownership of the means of production and developing large-scale production based on the social ownership of the productive means. We repeat that it is good to be very clear about this thesis by Engels, because today some are attempting to hide themselves in this classic to distort the Marxist position on the woman question and to preach the simple participation of women in the economic process for the sake of the exploiting classes. Thus they are hiding the root of women’s oppression which is private ownership by avoiding large-scale social production based on destroying private property of the means of production.

Foreseeing this distortion, as in other cases, the classics analysed the problem of whether the incorporation of women to the productive process, which capitalism began, was capable of making men and women truly equal. Mao Tse-tung gave the concise and powerful answer once more in the 1950s:

True equality between men and women can only be achieved in the process of the socialist transformation of the whole of society.

Lenin researched the situation of women in bourgeois society and compared it with how it was under the dictatorship of the proletariat, an analysis that led him to establish:

“From remote times, the representatives of all the movements of liberation in western Europe, not for decades, but during centuries, proposed the abolition of these antiquated laws and demanded the legal equality of women and men, but no democratic European State, not even the most advanced republics, have managed to achieve this, because wherever capitalism exists, wherever private ownership of the factories is maintained, wherever the power of capital is maintained, men go on enjoying privileges.

“From the first months of its existence, Soviet power, as the power of workers, realised the most decisive and radical legislative change with respect to women. In the Soviet Republic, no stone was left unturned which kept women in a position of dependence. I am referring precisely to those laws which used the dependent situation of women in special way, making her victim of the inequality of rights and often even of humiliations, that is to say laws on divorce, on natural children and on the right of women to sue the father in court to support the child.” (Tasks of the Women Workers in the Soviet Republic.)

From this comparative analysis the conclusion is taken that only the revolution which places the working class in power in alliance with the peasantry is capable of sanctioning, and even further, in enforcing the true judicial legal equality between men and women. However, as Lenin himself taught, this true legal equality initiated by the revolution is but the beginning of a protracted struggle for the full and complete equality in life of men and women:

“However, the more we rid ourselves of the burden of old bourgeois laws and institutions, the more clearly we see that we have barely cleared the terrain for construction, yet construction itself has not begun.”

“The woman continues to be a slave of the home, despite all the liberating laws, because she is overburdened, oppressed, stupefied, humiliated by the menial domestic tasks, which make her a cook and a nurse, which waste her activity in an absurdly unproductive, menial, irritating, stupefying and tedious labour. The phrase, emancipation of women, will only begin for real in the country at the time the mass struggle begins (led by the proletariat already owning the power of the State) against this petty home economy, or more precisely, when their mass transformation begins in a large-scale socialist economy.” (A Great Initiative: emphasis in original.)

Thus, Lenin and Mao Tse-tung answered the anticipated opportunist distortions and pseudo-developments of Marxism, which today attempts to distort the theses of Engels and confuse the working class position on the woman question.

Marxism conceives the struggle for the emancipation of women as a protracted but victorious struggle: “This is protracted struggle, which requires a radical transformation of the social technique and of customs. But this struggle will end with the full victory of communism.” (Lenin, On the Occasion of International Working Women’s Day).

The above, in essence, shows there is an identity of struggle between the revolutionary feminist movement and the working class struggle for the construction of a new society; and, besides, it helps to understand the sense of Lenin’s words calling women workers to develop the institutions and means which the revolution placed at their disposal:

“We say that the emancipation of workers must be the work of the workers themselves and likewise THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN WORKERS MUST BE THE WORK OF WOMEN WORKERS THEMSELVES.” (The tasks…)

These are the central theses of Marxism on the emancipation, politicisation and the condition of women – the positions which we prefer to transcribe for the most by quotations from the classics, because these positions are not sufficiently known. Besides that, because they were masterfully and concisely expressed by the authors themselves, which relieves us from the task of pretending to give them new editing, more so after seeing their full and complete actuality. On the other hand the distortions of the Marxist positions attempted today on the woman question also demand the dissemination of the words of the classics themselves.

Finally, it is indispensable, even if it is in passing only, to make note that Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao Tse-tung set forth the thesis of the emancipation of women and not that of women’s liberation, as can be appreciated from the cited quotations. On this particular, it suffices to say that the analysis of the condition of Woman through history shows Her as subject to tutelage and in a situation of submission with respect to the male, which makes Woman a being who, while belonging to the same class as Her husband or the man She has a relationship with, finds Herself in a situation of inferiority with respect to Him, an inferiority which the laws bless, sanctify and impose. Consistent with this situation of undervaluing throughout history we see the need to demand Her rights to achieve a formal equality with Man under capitalism and how only the revolutionary struggle under the leadership of the proletariat is capable of setting up and fulfilling a genuine legal equality of men and women, though, as we saw, plentiful equality in life, as Lenin said, will develop as large-scale socialist production develops. These simple observations show the certainty of the thesis on women’s emancipation conceived as part of the liberation of the proletariat. While the thesis of women’s liberation historically surfaces as a bourgeois thesis, hidden at the bottom of which is the counterpoising of men and women due to sex and camouflaging the root of the oppression of women. Today we see how women’s liberation is exposed more and more in each passing day as bourgeois feminism, which aims at dividing the people’s movement by separating the feminine masses from it and seeking mainly to oppose the development of the women’s movement under the leadership and guide of the working class.