IWD 2023 leaflet: Fight the patriarchal capitalist system with socialist feminism

Text of Socialist Party leaflet for International Women’s Day 2023

Today, millions of women, young, LGBTQ and working-class people will march and strike globally to say “No more”. No to femicide; no to war and militarism; no to transphobia; no victim-blaming; no attacks on bodily autonomy; no to sexism and misogyny; and no to the racist poison of the far-right.

Misogynists like Andrew Tate are spewing out their bile on the manosphere. The US courts are poised to ban Mifepristone, the first abortion pill, in the wake of the overturning of Roe V Wade last year. The richest ten billionaires have wealth greater than the poorest 200 million women in Africa. Our planet is burning, while fossil fuel companies make record profits; as does the arms industry – making hundreds of billions from conflicts in Yemen and Ukraine.

These injustices are systemic and are rooted in a rotten, crisis-ridden and patriarchal capitalist system. Oppression and inequality are part of its DNA, creating the fertile soil for the racist and misogynistic far-right to grow.

Govt throwing women and children onto the streets

International Women’s Day 2023 in this state sees a raft of women currently in private rented accommodation, especially single mothers, facing the imminent threat of being thrown onto the streets with their children due to the actions of this Government. 

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien yesterday admitted as much when he accepted that the Government’s pro-landlord decision to lift the eviction ban could “very possibly” lead to an increase in homelessness. Callous. Heartless. Vile. This is the casual brutality that accepting the logic of the capitalist system leads to – as shown by the complicity of the Green Party.

International Women’s Day Past and Present 

International Women’s Day (IWD) was born out of the struggles of working and poor women and girls and has its roots in socialist feminism. The revolutionary socialists and architects of Marxist feminism from its outset – from Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl, to Clara Zetkin, founder of the first International Women’s Day, to Russian revolutionaries Alexandra Kollantai and Inessa Armand – refused to accept the brutal logic of capitalism and organised women workers in strike action, fought for the right to vote, opposed imperialist wars for power and profit, took a stance against colonialism. They consistently fought to ensure that feminist demands were inextricable from the whole working-class struggle against capitalism. 

The ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ revolt in Iran shows the potential for this today – a revolution against the Iranian dictatorship with women, girls and queer people taking a leading role and making their demands centre stage in the whole movement, garnering huge support of working-class men. This is the type of feminism of struggle that we need, paired with a consistently socialist and anti-capitalist perspective. In fact, it’s the only type of feminism capable of resisting the anti-feminist, anti-LGBTQ right-wing backlash imbued in today’s crisis-ridden capitalism. 

Clara Zetkin, the founder of IWD, was a Marxist who understood that backward ideas, discrimination and chauvinism were, and are, rooted in a system based on division and inequality. Capitalism inherited gender-based oppression and honed it down to a new level.

Resisting oppression and exploitation with socialist feminism 

This is as true today as it was when the pioneers of the socialist feminist movement initiated IWD protests 100 years ago. What’s happening in the United States speaks volumes – the cliché goes that US capitalism has created “the land of the free” – yet there the fundamental right to bodily autonomy is under a historic assault. 

We do not have to accept the world our capitalist rulers have given us: systemic inequality, murderous wars and destroying our ecosystem. We can overturn their rotten order and build a humane, democratic and socialist society, one built on solidarity and equality in which the collective ownership and democratic control of society’s wealth can allow each and all of us to flourish.

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