reply to Jurriaan
KatSummerland at aol.com
KatSummerland at aol.com
Mon Nov 18 07:44:19 MST 2002
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Personally I am a socialist appreciative of Marx and
some Marxists, and take a broad view of the socialist
movement. Maybe my formulations in my last mail were a
bit iconoclastic and cutting, but I become so, because
I find that Marxist phraseology is often so boring and
repetitive, being imitated or accepted on faith from
holy texts that people read, showing little real
thinking. It is alienating, not liberating. From my
point of view, programme, strategy and tactics have a
real function, a real meaning, they aren't just
rhetorical devices. You don't write a programme to
show your lineage from Marx, you write a programme for
the purpose of political intervention in today's
society, which appeals to living people and their
Could't agree more. Running off to find the most
appropriate quote from one of the high priests to
shore up your argument is the worst form of argument.
Men can be oppressed by women, just as women can be
oppressed by men, let us make no mistake about that. I
don't have a naive view of women as being "sugar and
spice and all things nice", I will tell you that now.
And I don't have a naïve view that all men are
"knights in shining armour". However I do try to
determine why someone may act out in an abusive or
tyrannical. Not always easy I know when you are the
butt of it. I do not have an essentialist view of
women. The so-called cultural feminism and separatism
of the 1970s really made me sick as does what Phil
calls "cultural safety". These PC arguments are just
straight jackets that deny the diversity of the human
Marx clearly saw that with industrialisation,
"Differences of age and sex have no longer any
distinctive social validity for the working class. All
are instruments of labour,........."
This is a sociological generalisation about the broad
historical tendency towards the homogenisation of
conditions of life and work for workingclass people,
and the fact that capitalist development wipes out
feudal (or simply precapitalist) status distinctions.
That was my point. Women are increasingly drawn into
paid employment and the so-called private activities
of home and hearth are incorporated into the market.
They are central to the new services industries.
But in reality differences of age and sex are still
very much points of conflict and controversy in modern
capitalist society, and new status distinctions make
their appearance. In the case of The Netherlands,
where I live at present, there has been e.g. an
ongoing controversy about the age at which workers may
still be legally forced to look for work, and women
are still paid less or work in less wellpaid jobs,
they account for a majority of parttime jobs and
In Australia we have the most sex-segregated labour
force in the world. Women work in the same fields
they have worked in since 1911. They have not moved
in any numbers into so-called men's jobs. And women
jobs are as you describe. In fact Australia and the
US have the highest proportion of marginalised workers
in casual and part time employment with women
predominating. This is a real problem in terms of
unionisation and claims for improved conditions of
As the slogan goes - No women's liberation without
socialist revolution! No socialist revolution without
I do not agree with that slogan, because women's
liberation cannot wait until a socialist revolution.
It starts now, it is a constant process. The true part
is that women's liberation must be part of the
socialist transformation of society, and there can be
no genuine socialist society without that occurring.
That is exactly what that slogan means to me. It was
after all formulated to counter the arguments of
Stalinists and Maoists that the struggle for women's
liberation was a diversion from the "main game".
Personally I am still appreciative of Marx, I marvel
at his insight into the development of modern society,
but I wouldn't say he is my model of a "good man" or
of good personal habits.
Yes for me the Communist Manifesto is one of the most
inspiring documents I have ever read and it still
basically stands up. Despite the vicissitudes of my
political life and thinking, I have always returned to
Marx and Lenin. As for Marx, the man, you probably
had to be there. The argument often put up here by
men is that they are just products of the society they
live in - end of discussion.
As you say it would have been easier and nicer to have
this conversation face to face but through the marvels
of modern technology we can talk. As someone who has
found it difficult to find an organisation through
which to be actively involved, the Marxism list
provides me with some connection to the debates and
It is great to see some names familiar to me from my
past Trotskyist past life.
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