[Marxism] Class and race and gender

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Jun 23 21:59:17 MDT 2004

It's kind of amusing how some comrades come back to inanities like:
>Perhaps, in New Zealand, the 
> oppression of women, *as women*, has pretty much been eliminated, 
> women and men share housework equally, the responsibilities for child 
> care are dealt with socially on an equal basis, gender-stereotyping of

> occupations no longer exists, and you have equal participation of 
> women - not only in CEO life - but also in working-class political 
> life.  This would surprise me. . .

As Ian noted in response to this silliness:
"Phil was referring specifically to upper and middle class women, who in
terms of housework and child care are much  more likely to be able to
pay someone else to do it (most often a working class woman).  The
interests of those who struggle to look after children at the same time
as bringing in sufficient earnings to feed and cloth them, etc., can
never be equated with those how can pay a nanny to do that."

Comrades such as Lou Paulsen and Carroll Cox seem to totally dismiss the
significance of racialised and class differences among women.  However,
these are by no means insignificant.  

We are not talking about some minuscule almost powerless layer of women
when we talk about middle class women, for instance.  These days, middle
class women play a significant role in the administration of the
capitalist state, capitalist governments and business.  And if Lou
Paulsen and Carroll Cox think these women do all the housework, they
really need to wise up.  Even Barbara Epstein, who is no Marxist,
understands that they don't.    

Some US comrades also have an extremely bad - I will avoid using the 'c'
word - habit of extrapolating from the US onto the other imperialist
countries and assuming that our imperialist societies must merely mirror
the US, because the US is so spectacular, and therefore telling us how
to conduct Marxist politics in Britain, NZ etc.  Or making snide
comments about how things must be in Britain, NZ, often without even the
benefit of having even holidayed over here. 

So just like the US tries to boss around the lesser imperialist powers,
we have Marxists in the US telling Mike Pearn and Ian Pace and others
how it must be and how Marxists must go about things in Britain, and
then having the nerve to use the 'c' word about people like Mike who
demur and who say, well, actually comrades, it's not quite like that
over here.

An example of this is the apparent inability of *some* US comrades to
see Marxists as an integral part of oppressed communites, and therefore
fighting within those communities against crap politics just as fight
within the labour movement against crap trade union politics, backward
ideas among white workers etc.  Maybe this is a result of the levels of
segregation in the US historically, but such politics are just bizarre
and irrelevant when applied, especially template like, to every other
imperialist country.

I give an example.  In NZ, Maori and pakeha are thoroughly intermixed.
Every Maori - pretty much - has pakeha cousins or in-laws.  Half of the
entire population designated Maori by census criteria who have a partner
are in an inter-racial relationship with a pakeha.  Moreover, the way
ethnic groups are categorised here is on the basis of ancestry in the
case of people identified as Maori - this means that since I have a
Maori great-granny I could be Maori for official purposes.

Any revolutionary organisation with any serious working class base or
orientation is going to have Maori and Pacific Island members, so are
*part of* those communities.  The idea of a revolutionary organisation
of white folk standing on one side, while the oppressed communities lead
an entirely separate existence and self-determine their politics without
any Marxist input, is just whacky and unreal in NZ.

Recently, Maori discontent with Labour has led to the formation of a new
Maori party.  At present this organisation is simply called The Maori
Party.  Already, a mere few weeks into its existence, 20 percent of its
membership is pakeha and pakeha are welcome to join because even the
Maori who have formed this "Maori party" and given it its current name
would regard it as *bizarre* to have a Maori-only party in the context
of NZ society. 

*Some* US comrades need to wake up, stop hiding behind race and gender,
drop the arrogance, and look at trends in other imperialist countries.
Not least because, I suspect, our more evolved imperialist societies
show you the future of your own.



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