Socialist Feminists rise up: Against genocide & the fascist threat

The text of the Socialist Party leaflet for International Women’s Day 2024

On 29 February, Israeli forces opened fire on malnourished Palestinians in Gaza gathering at aid trucks in what has now been dubbed ‘the flour massacre.’ Over 100 were killed, leaving the official death count in this 5-month-long genocide at over 30,000. Gaza is on the brink of mass starvation. Fifteen children have died as a result of malnutrition and dehydration in one North Gaza hospital alone. A socialist feminist slogan “Bread and Roses” calls for bread, which is necessary to survive, and roses, which makes life beautiful – art, culture, leisure time, relationships. The fact that capitalism today not only denies bread but massacres those who seek it, says everything about what those in power are willing to do to maintain their rule and profits. Meanwhile, government ministers, and shamefully, Sinn Féin TDs, plan to ‘greenwash’ US imperialism on St. Patrick’s Day — we say — “No shamrocks for Genocide Joe!”

No to gender-based violence, no to transphobia

The violent system which has spawned the genocide in Gaza has also led to an increase in violence the world over, from mass shootings to intimate partner violence, to transphobia. The recent tragic deaths of Nex Benedict in the US and Brianna Ghey in Britain – both of whom perished from violence at the hands of peers highlight the real life impact of transphobia. They also cannot be disconnected from the tragic femicides of cis women such as Sarah Everard and Ashling Murphy. A system which reinforces the gender binary at every turn in order to exploit the unpaid care work of women in the home, is one which is deeply damaging to cis women and LGBT+ people. The rise of the manosphere, attacks on trans healthcare, and abortion are therefore rooted in the capitalist system itself. Feminism that excludes trans people is not feminism at all. 

Fight racism & fascism

This divisive system which fosters violence against women and queer people is also behind the rise of the fascist threat and a dramatic increase in everyday racism that has appalling consequences for people of colour. The far right, which claims to be protecting women by promoting anti-immigrant bile, is creating more dangerous conditions for all. As shown by the racist riots on 23/11, the anti-racist and anti-Fascist struggle is an urgent one. It requires an immediate campaigning response in every one of our workplaces, colleges and communities to repel the far-right’s poison. 

The fact that this very poison is emanating straight out of the capitalist system itself — means that the most effective response is an anti-capitalist and socialist one. In this way, rising up for trans, anti-racist, feminist and workers’ struggles and freedoms must be indelibly connected with the socialist working class struggle to take the wealth out of the hands of a private elite that has perpetuated mass homelessness and ecological catastrophe. Taking the wealth into democratic public ownership means it can be used for the public good, for the needs of people and the environment.  

What feminism do we need today?

Clara Zetkin, a German Marxist revolutionary, proposed that “International Working Women’s Day” be established as an annual holiday to the International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910, inspired by the ‘uprising of 20,000’ in the United States the year before, where immigrant women workers in their teens and twenties waged an 11-week-long strike in the garment industry. The socialist feminism Zetkin embodied was anti-imperialist; vehemently opposing World War I; anti-racist – she stood with the Scottsboro boys; black teenagers boys falsely accused of raping white women, and unequivocally on the side of the most oppressed. She saw capitalism as the root of the world’s evils and revolutionary struggle and socialist change as the solution.

Today – tragedy and violence reign. But so do movements which oppose it: Women garment workers in Bangladesh shutting down 600 factories; a five month long solidarity movement with Palestine; 20,000 Kenyans marching against femicides; In Italy and Argentina where far-right victories promised only misery, a feminist movement and general strike respectively undermine the stability of the far-right President’s rule.

The will to change the world exists. Like Malcolm X said, “we aren’t outnumbered, we’re out organised.” So get organised – we haven’t a moment to lose. Join the socialist movement today

Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party rep on the Care Referendum:

“Listening to disabled activists persuaded me to change to a #YesNo in the referendums. The rejection by the government of the Citizens Assembly recommendation to support care both in AND outside the home is at the root of this. Privileged comments by Varadkar have further alienated disabled people and carers. 

I hope this leads to an invigorated movement for disability rights and look forward to more discussion on how I can be a part of this. I’ll discuss with  my colleague, Mick Barry TD about how we use Dáil time to advance this. Capitalism relies on unpaid care work and denying people with disabilities, their independence. Socialist feminism has socialised care as a core demand, and socialist change means putting care for people and planet at the heart of society, the polar opposite of capitalism’s drive for profit.”

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