Class trumps gender?

Tom O'Lincoln red_sites at
Sun Aug 11 16:06:20 MDT 2002

>Nancy: What exactly are you saying here? That in >cases of workers' actions to protect themselves from >the greed of the ruling elite, class trumps
>gender everytime? Of course class trumps gender in >the case of workers' actions to defend themselves -- >the struggle was a workers' struggle in the first >place.

Tom: This is a fair point. I've been dissatisfied for some time with the argument that "women are on both sides of the class struggle". It's true, of course. But then white workers can be on both sides of the black struggle, male workers on both sides of women's struggles and so on. And in fact workers are on both sides of the class struggle, because the bourgeoisie does not do its own scabbing -- it often uses the less conscious sections of the working class.

The argument needs another dimension. Which form of struggle has the potential to challenge capitalism? For the reasons Marx outlined I think it's class struggle. In summary: because workers have a strategic location at the point of production; because they can not only bring industry to a halt but can take it over and run it; because organised labour is capable of mobilising all the oppressed in the way no other group can.

Only if you accept this premise (as I do) does it follow that class "trumps gender".

>Viveka: My own observations about the workplace is >that lines are drawn first along
>class, with, certainly, men getting the lion's share >within each sphere.  To
>focus one's efforts on increasing the proportion of >women withIN each sphere
>does little to move us forward toward a classless >society.

Nancy: Are you saying that in the workers' struggle, the addition of more women
would do little to move us forward toward a classless society? I disagree. More
women means more people, numerically, on the picket line. And more women means more
families in support of the strike in other ways -- economizing so as to live on
less as long as there is no income for the family, bringing sandwiches and coffee
to the picket lines, etc. It is obvious to me that a strike with women is stronger
than a strike without women.

Tom: Some good points again. My concern though is that both of you seem to see women as secondary to the class struggle (bringing sandwiches, yet). No, they are workers and fighters themselves, millions and milions of them. And in Indonesia, where I'm involved, they have emerged repeatedly as *rank and file leaders* of the labour movement.

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