Revolutionary Worker #1144, March 24, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
"Let us once again on this day turn our fury into a fighting force and continue our struggle with perseverance and firmness against the oppression of women and all other oppression..."
--earlier IWD programme of Afghanistani women in Pakistan
The emancipation of the international proletariat is inseparable from the liberation of women, just as the oppression of women cannot be ended without remaking society on a new and different basis--without exploitation or social classes. As has been starkly shown once again by the US war in Afghanistan, which the US threatens to expand by invading other parts of the world, the links in the chains of women to their oppressors are links in the chains between the oppressed worldwide and the imperialist system.
After recent exposure of the Taliban's brutal treatment of women under its fundamentalist religious rule, the Western bourgeois media suddenly spread the myth that one of the US rulers' goals was to "liberate" the women of Afghanistan. The captains of the empire itself, Bush and his junior partner Blair, had their wives give speeches about the importance of "ending tyranny" and even "stopping women's oppression" there. This supposed discovery of the oppression of women in Afghanistan turns hypocrisy into crime, for this is coming from the mouths of those who created and brought the reactionary Taliban forces to power through the CIA and US puppets in Pakistan. These imperialists never raised a single objection to the Taliban stripping women of public posts and placing them under "house arrest" or beating or executing them for defiling "vice and virtue" laws. They never withdrew a single bloody dollar of the millions they used to prop up the Taliban government and other `traditional' reactionary warlords and woman-hating Mujahedeen forces over the past 15 years--whether such money was delivered by Osama bin Laden, himself at one time on the CIA payroll, or other Saudi collaborators.
It was in truth the US-backed Mujahedeen who opposed women's education and public activity and who made the burkha,the suffocating head-to-foot veil, obligatory in 1992 when they took over the government. The new US stooge Karzai and the whole circus line- up of reactionary feudal rulers the imperialists put in place in Bonn are more similar to the Taliban than they are different. When reporters ask about their policy towards women, today Karzai says "we are Muslims" and thus will apply Muslim principles and practices. Even if some of the most outrageous anti-women rules are modified, such changes will be minor and cosmetic, and will tend to benefit a relatively small number of professional women in the largest cities. They have no plan to fundamentally change the situation of the overwhelming majority of poor and rural women. The underlying social relations between women and men, between oppressed sex and oppressor, are clear to anyone who looks. The subjugation and oppression of women in Afghanistan is deeply woven into the backward semi-feudal fabric of the society itself. While American bombs backed by British special forces have killed thousands of the women they profess to `liberate', they could not eliminate semi-feudalism even if they had the slightest intent or interest in doing so--which they do not. This unbearable tissue of relations stifling women can only be destroyed and new liberating relations created by the masses of women and all the new- democratic forces in Afghanistan themselves overthrowing the semi-feudal system altogether and kicking out the imperialists, who will sustain it as long as it furthers their global aims.
It is a dangerous lie that imperialism, despite its repugnant ways -- like this brutal war of terror against those seen as opposing the US empire -- can at least bring some "progress" to oppressed women. Such illusions only tighten the chains on women by obscuring reality and strengthening the hand of Bush & company. In truth, clear evidence of just how concerned the US (and other) imperialists are with improving the lives of women around the world can be seen in their long and bloody trail of tyranny, in the way they overthrow regimes not to their liking or that interfere with their plans, in their murderous exploitation of extremely low- paid women workers in the pursuit of superprofits in the Third World, as well as in their military's practice of "rest and recuperation" wherever their troops are stationed--meaning the massive sexual assault of women from places like Korea, Panama, Thailand or even Japan's Okinawa. Ask Filipino women whether they welcome the return of US troops!
Even if the Western imperialists send more blood-soaked dollars to repair the glass their bombs have shattered in the public schools of Afghanistan that some girls (in a few cities) may be able to attend, the imperialists are no more interested in equality for women today than they were yesterday, when they belittled the deaths of hundreds of Afghanistan's women and children and the devastation of civilian villages as so-called `collateral damage'. The US is intent on bringing this and other unstable regions of the world under its control, and as crass and naked as their warmongering has become, they will continue to stoke the illusions of anyone who will listen--to pretend that they can bring democratic rights and genuine progress to the same oppressed masses who every day are subjected to brutality and savage repression by the very workings of the imperialist system.
For those who genuinely want to support the struggle of the Afghani women to shed their veils--along with many other shackles and reactionary traditions-- for good , their first contribution should be to actively oppose and expose the hypocrisy of the imperialists and their war of aggression against the world's people, and to refuse to allow their righteous anger to be used by the likes of Bush and Blair to cover up their bloody crimes in the name of women's `liberation'.
Note the similarity between the Christian fascist fanatics advising Bush and the feudal Islamic fundamentalists--both of whom, in or out of government, treat women like property and sexual objects, using their religion as an excuse for the most degrading forms of social and patriarchal subordination.
The Maoists say, "Break the chains, unleash women as a mighty force for revolution!" This means breaking all the chains holding back women from liberating society. It means the chains of the world's wealthiest imperialist countries directly strangling the life of the poor countries in a thousand ways, as well as the visible and less visible chains reinforcing men's domination of women in particular, whether in modern Western metropolises or the most backward of the world's villages, whether through widespread but intolerable social practices and the control of women's labour, or within the male supremacist strongholds of family and marriage.
The People's War in Nepal is proving what has already been shown in Peru and other revolutionary movements -- the tremendous outpouring of the revolutionary potential of women. Women are discovering what it is like to be equal fighters in the struggle for liberation. No longer humiliated for being uneducated and poor, they are welcomed and trained, including with weapons, and are participating in transforming their poor villages into base areas of people's power. Led by the proletarian party, they are fighting for a new kind of society; they will never be satisfied to return to the semi-feudal degradation and misery the system has reserved for the millions of people like them throughout Nepal. They are changing and so are their soldier- brothers in the course of this historic people's war. Together they are aiming for political power so as to uproot all of the oppressive relations of the old society from the top of the Himalayas to the lowest plains, as part of the international struggle to emancipate the people of the world.
Women's oppression afflicts women of all social classes, and rebel sisters all over the earth are building movements to fight against every kind of stultifying veil. The workings of the system are further impoverishing the feminine population. At the same time, growing numbers of women are filling the ranks of the international proletariat, better enabling our class to wage fierce battle together with others against all aspects of women's oppression and male chauvinism and to carry out its revolutionary task of remaking the world.
Tear off every veil of oppression!
8 March 2002-- Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement
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