Revolution or War n°23

(January 2023)

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Abort Bourgeoisie Democracy: Reflections on the American Midterm Elections

This statement was written before the final results of the mid-term elections were fully known; in particular, before the Democratic Party’s control of the Senate was fully secured. As with the election of Biden, and the defeat of Trump, two years ago, the US bourgeoisie and its entire state apparatus have demonstrated their mastery of their electoral game by allowing the Biden administration to have free hands to pursue US imperialist policies on the offensive in Europe and the Pacific vis-à-vis China. In order to successfully mobilize voters and achieve these results, the use of “democratic” mystifications, and in particular leftist identity and feminist ideologies, was once again essential.

With this election the Democrats now will be able to persist in their support the continuation of the imperialist war in Ukraine. With the war beginning to settle into a bloody stalemate, the continuation of dollar military-aid in the billions from the United State is more necessary than ever for the imperialists, and the maintaining of Democratic power helps facilitates this flow. [1] Of course, a Republican victory would not have constituted a victory against imperialism as it would have only resulted in America’s war engine turning to face China. [2] Additionally the results of these midterms have allowed President Biden and Congress to invoke the Railway Labor Act of 1926 in order to prevent rail workers from striking to obtain sick leave. [3]

While there are several factors at play for these results, Donald Trump’s unpopularity, the inability of the Republicans to link fear of crime to an electoral program, the Republican reliance on a shrinking demographic of retirees, the most essential explanation is the recent Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court, giving state governments the jurisdiction to determine abortion laws. While the Democratic Party now presents electoralism as a necessary weapon in the war for “women’s liberation,” it is nothing more than a bourgeois sham to mobilize voters into supporting the capitalist state. [4] As Kollontai observes in her 1909 pamphlet, The Social Basis of the Woman Question:

“The women’s world is divided, just as is the world of men, into two camps; the interests and aspirations of one group of women bring it close to the bourgeois class, while the other group has close connections with the proletariat, and its claims for liberation encompass a full solution to the woman question. Thus although both camps follow the general slogan of the “liberation of women”, their aims and interests are different. Each of the groups unconsciously takes its starting point from the interests of its own class, which gives a specific class colouring to the targets and tasks it sets itself.” [5]

This is not the first time the bourgeoisie have utilized the cause of “women’s liberation.” During the First World War bourgeois feminists buoyed the war efforts of their varying nations by mobilizing women to work in factories and maintain support on the homefront. Suffragettes such as Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst not only called for the end of militant action but supported the “white feather movement,” which utilized patriarchal ideas about honor and cowardice to shame those who did not enlist for the slaughter. [6] This is not to suggest that these figures “failed” to be proper feminists, but rather that the realities of working within the boundaries of bourgeoisie society cannot lead to the abolition of bourgeois social relations. As the IGCL’s political platform states:

“While it is true that the proletarian revolution will bring about new relations in all areas of social life, it is wrong to believe that we can contribute to this by organizing specific struggles on piecemeal problems such as racism, women’s condition, pollution, sexuality and other aspects of daily life. By their very content, partial struggles, far from strengthening the necessary autonomy of the working class, tend on the contrary to dilute it in the confusion of particular categories (race, gender, youth, etc.) which are totally powerless in the face of history.” [7]

In the end, the feminist movement during the First World War only served to advance the cause of the bourgeoisie, not the liberation of women beyond those within the bourgeoisie camp.

Just as the bourgeois mobilization in World War One tells us about the pitfalls of answering the “women question” on the bourgeois terrain, the Russian Revolution tells us much about the advantages of answering this question on the terrain of the proletariat. While the Provincial Government did grant suffrage, the October Revolution attempted to change the social fabric upholding the patriarchal order. Not only did women position themselves in important roles in the Red Army and the Cheka, but they brought about a sexual revolution in which marriage was secularized, abortion became legal, and the process for receiving a divorce was eased. As Kollontai argued, women workers were not passive actors in these events as they had been before during bourgeois revolutions, but active participants. In undoing bourgeoise morality, the Bolsheviks hoped to see the emergence of a “new woman,” who was free from all patriarchal norms and superstitions. [8] Such changes could not come about in a piecemeal fashion but only as part of a wider revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party. Unfortunately, these changes were reversed with the revolution itself during the Stalinist Counter Revolution.

These lessons are doubly applicable to those living in the current form of state capitalism. Instead of voting for bourgeois rule in the United States, a rule which continues supporting the war in Ukraine, increases tensions in East Asia, and imposes austerity at home, in the hopes that local governments may be able to protect abortion access, workers must strike at the heart of social relations, capitalism itself.

Abort the Bourgeoisie! Abort Capitalism! No War but the Class War! These are the proper proletarian responses to the current moment in the United States.

Frederick, November 2022