The class character of the struggle for women's emancipation in capitalism. The situation in Spain

Raúl Martínez, member of the Political Bureau of the CC of the PCPE Marina Quintillán, Secretary of the Department of Women's Liberation of the CC of the PCPE

"The emancipation of women, together with that of all humanity, will take place only with the emancipation of labour from capital. Only in the socialist society the women, like the workers, will take full possesion of their rights".

Clara Zetkin, 1889.

1.- Introduction.

The process of emancipation of women is inseparable from the class struggle and the economic, social, political and cultural transformations that the revolutionary struggle introduces into society.

Scientific socialism, in discovering the objective laws of historical development, showed that the fundamental causes of women's oppression in society and in the family are based on objective conditions (socio-economic ones) and pointed the path to follow for their liberation.

Marx and Engels formulated the principle that class struggle is the motor of society since private property appeared, leading inevitably to the disappearance of social classes in the future communist society, thus inaugurating the true history of humanity.

No social, economic, political, or cultural question occurs outside or above the class struggle, nor does the question of women and their emancipation. In contrast to the idealistic interpretations of historical evolution which, at the same time deny the class struggle they maintain, to one degree or another, that the position of women in society is due to natural or even divine designs and has neither changed nor will never change, the materialist conception of History allows us to understand how the situation of oppression of women in society has had a beginning and will have an end because it is an inseparable part of the class struggle.

Marx and Engels argued that the degree of emancipation of women should be considered the natural measure of the degree of general emancipation, thereby linking the struggle for the liberation of women to revolutionary social transformations. Clara Zetkin, in an article published in Die Gleichheit (Equality) on March 25, 1903, affirmed with respect to Marx's work that "his contribution is irreplaceable and entirely essential in the struggle of women to conquer their rights. With the materialist conception of history we were able to clearly situate the struggle of women in the flow of general historical development, and hence to see justification and historical limits in the light of general social relations, to recognize the forces that encourage and direct it, the objectives it pursues, the conditions under which existing problems can find a solution. "

Thus, scientific socialism reached a first conclusion that maintains full validity: the complete emancipation of women, which constitutes a long and complex historical process, can only be achieved with the liquidation of society divided into antagonistic classes, with the construction of a new socialist - communist society in which the exploitation of human beings by others will cease, and where all forms of oppression will progressively cease, liberating the consciousness of the human being from prejudices and millenary influences reproduced by all the political, juridical, civil and moral superstructures of the exploitation-based societies, since the emergence of private property, the family and the State.

As Karl Marx pointed out: "the revolution is necessary not only because the ruling class can be overthrown only in this way, but also because only in this way can the rising class rid itself entirely of all the accumulated evils of the past and become capable of founding a new society”.

We start from the fact that the triumph of the Socialist Revolution creates the material conditions for the emancipation of women, but does not automatically imply it. It is through the revolutionary process, maintaining an intense class struggle after the seizure of political power that combats all residues of the past, how all forms of oppression will cease.

2.- The class character of the struggle for the emancipation of women in capitalism.

The first division of labour that existed in History (natural division), essentially between men and women (also by age, though), could not have an exploitative character, since the work was done in community and in the framework of a collective coexistence, where the low productivity of work prevented generating a surplus that could be privately appropriated.

With the development of the productive forces, it was possible to generate a surplus, giving birth to the private ownership of the means of production through its individual appropriation, and to the division of society in social classes. Women's work lost its communal character and the domination of men over women was institutionalized. Inequality was enshrined in family law, which reflects what happens in the field of economy. As Engels pointed out, "the female sex suffered a historic defeat." Any further division of labour is a social division based on the property relations that characterize class societies.

The so-called feminine question is historically linked to the economic transformations brought about by the rise of the bourgeoisie to power, to the extent that the birth of capitalism subverted the entire preexisting economic and social order. On the one hand, the first claims for the equality of women emerged within the framework of the new capitalist society: bourgeois feminism concretized in suffrage, which had its origin in the French Revolution. On the other hand, the incorporation of millions of women into factory labour led to the linking of the particular struggle for the emancipation of women with the labour movement, which became a material condition for the liberation of women, and this, in turn, a class question.

The development of capitalism, massively integrating women into production, concentrating them on large industry and thereby extending the field of exploitation, led to a qualitative change in the struggle for the emancipation of women. With the rise of the revolutionary labour movement, the struggle for the liberation of women and the liquidation of bourgeois society became inseparable.

Contrary to what a certain bourgeois historiography asserts, capitalism incorporated women to productive work from the beginning, but did so on the basis of a specific sexual division of labour, assigning the female work a subsidiary character in function of the conjuncture by which, in each moment, the economic-social regime is placed, seeking to intensify the rate of exploitation and extract the greatest possible surplus value.

Women do not constitute a homogeneous social layer, just as men belong to different social classes and, also between working women and bourgeois women, antagonistic classes. The existence of common partial objectives, conjunctural objectives most of the time, of very diverse social sectors does not change this reality. Working women are victims of an oppression coming from gender reasons and of class exploitation of precise content, so the differences between the working women's movement and bourgeois feminism reflect a particular class antagonism.

Formal equality, legally recognized in a majority of capitalist countries, is impossible to achieve in the real life of working women under capitalism, whose basis is settled on exploitation, oppression, injustice and discrimination.

For the communist movement, the emancipation of women means, on the one hand, the liberation of the working woman from capitalist exploitation and, on the other, and at the same time, the emancipation of women from the discrimination, inequalities and injustices to which they are subjected for reasons of gender. Clara Zetkin noted:

"Therefore the liberation struggle of the proletarian woman cannot be similar to the struggle that the bourgeois woman wages against the male of her class. On the contrary, it must be a joint struggle with the male of her class against the entire class of capitalists . "

3.- The struggle of the communist movement for the liberation of women.

It is not incidental that the communist movement has repeatedly been accused of having incurred in some kind of unconcern or incomprehension in the struggle for the liberation of women. It is a persistent attempt of bourgeois historiography to hide the close relationship between the important achievements of the twentieth century and the action of the workers' movement and the communist movement.

The dominant classes, while extolling individual histories of bourgeois feminist figures, defend the existence of an alleged community of interests among women regardless of their class belonging. Alexandra Kollontai, in her dispute with bourgeois feminism, clearly placed a key question:

"Is it then really possible to talk of the feminists pioneering the road to women’s work, when in every country hundreds of thousands of proletarian women had flooded the factories and workshops, taking over one branch of industry after another, before the bourgeois women’s movement was ever born? Only thanks to the fact that the labour of women workers had received recognition on the world market were the bourgeois women able to occupy the independent position in society in which the feminists take so much pride. ... "

Women do not form a social class, but constitute a heterogeneous social group from the class point of view, so it is necessary to denounce and combat the fantasies about a supposed community of women's interests. Women of the bourgeois class, even when they raise certain demands, do so within the framework of their social class: they support capitalism, which is the basis of the exploitation of the whole working class and also of the oppression suffered by working-class women and women of other popular sectors.

In the ideological struggle, the bourgeoisie uses its powerful media and the mechanisms of ideological reproduction - as well as the role of the opportunist left in the bourgeois institutions - to promote a kind of institutional feminism, which generates the fiction that it is possible to find a solution to the problems of working women in the framework of the capitalist state.

It is necessary to counteract all kinds of manipulation and to claim the role of the communist and workers' movement in the advancement of women's rights, especially the role of communist women, of revolutionary women.

The strengthening of the communist movement demands to face any kind of revision of our history and the constant negation of the undeniable achievements for women brought about the seizure of power by the working class in a whole series of countries. There is no room for neutrality in the political - ideological struggle, because every position responds to one or another class interest, so our struggle in the combat for the liberation of women must be fought without concessions of any kind.

The abovementioned in no way prevents the Party from having, as in other fields, the obligation to analyze with self-criticism the errors committed and the shortages of our own movement, from the categories of Marxism - Leninism, with great rigour and without taking the bait of the ideological traps, slanders and historical revisions sown by the ideological centers of imperialism and its opportunist agents within the workers' and popular movement.

We reaffirm that the struggle of the communist movement and the triumph of socialism in a number of countries, liberating working women from capitalist exploitation, achieved a high participation in work, science and culture, and decisively influenced in the emancipatory struggle of women on a world scale. It has been historically proven that women, by liquidating the capitalist regime, can and must conquer a real and truly dignified life, making the material bases of their exploitation disappear and progressively eliminating any ideological chink of discrimination and social oppression.

4.- Evolution of the movement for the emancipation of women.

Feminism, as a political and social movement, has a bourgeois origin and comes from the moment when the bourgeoisie was an ascending class, a progressive class. Woman suffrage was born, as the first feminist expression, along with the first triumphant bourgeois revolutions, centered on the partial claim of the right to vote for women and the legal equality of women, although the formal proclamation of woman suffrage dates from July 19, 1848, when the Seneca Falls Declaration was signed in the state of New York.

At the same time, the Industrial Revolution brought with it the incorporation of women into factory labour, which especially interested the bourgeoisie - just like child labour - because of its lower cost. A class-conscious movement of proletarian women was born, linked from its origins to the general revolutionary workers' movement, which, at the same time that claimed for the right to vote for women and their legal equality, linked these claims to the general struggle of the working class for its emancipation.

To the extent that in a large part of the capitalist countries the right to vote was achieved, and formal equality before the law was recognized, the suffragist movement disintegrated as a movement characterized by its bourgeois essence and, therefore, linked to the concept of individuality typical of the liberal political tradition, coming to an end after World War I. This class character led some bourgeois feminists to deny the proletarian women what they claimed for themselves.

The struggle for the liberation of women relied then in the hands of the revolutionary workers' movement which, from the outset, openly confronted bourgeois positions, even in claims that could be occasionally shared, as was the vindication of female suffrage. In this regard Clara Zetkin, in her work The Women's Question and the Struggle Against Reformism , affirmed:

"Our vindication of women's right to vote is not a feminist claim but a class and mass claim of the proletariat ... The right to vote helps the bourgeois women to break down those barriers, in the form of privileges for the male sex, that are an obstacle to their own development and activity. For workingwomen this right becomes a weapon in the battle which they must wage for humanity to overcome exploitation and class rule. "

A stage marked by the struggle of the labour movement began. The International of Socialist Women played a crucial role, its first conference took place in 1907 and the second in 1910, the communists in the latter proposing the celebration of the International Day of Working Women, which was organized for the first time on March 19, 1911, and in which, as the communist Alexandra Kollontai then expressed: "the motto of this important mobilization was the right to vote for workingwomen and join forces in the struggle for socialism."

It was on March 8, 1917 (February 23 in the Gregorian calendar) when the Russian working women demonstrated in Petrograd (Leningrad) demanding bread, the return of soldiers sent to the war front, peace and proclamation of the Republic, giving rise to the spread of the strike to the whole proletariat, transforming it into an insurrection that after five days overthrew Tsarism.

With the triumph of the October Revolution of 1917 the era of transition to socialism began, the era of proletarian revolutions. Soviet power elevated women to a new condition, and the world revolutionary labour movement struggled having in mind, from women's point of view, the undeniable achievements of socialism on the road to the definitive overcoming of the oppression of women.

Two years after the revolutionary triumph, Lenin drew attention to the fact that in that short space of time Soviet power, in one of the most backward countries in Europe, did more for the liberation of women and for their equality with the "strong" sex than all the progressive, cultured and "democratic" republics of the world, taken together, for 150 years.

The legal consecration of fundamental rights such as equality between men and women, the right to vote, the right to elect and be elected, the right to divorce, the suppression of religious marriage, the right to abortion, the protection of maternity as a social function, the protection of health, the right to work, the choice of profession, equal pay for equal work, etc., allowed the women of the Soviet Union and the rest of the countries of the socialist camp to have unequaled advances in relation to the rights of women in capitalist countries.

Millions of women fought alongside their male class comrades on every strike, every demonstration, every new attempt to assault power and also on the anti-fascist resistance. The international communist movement was in charge of organizing the Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF) in 1945. In our country it was the Communist Party that created the Anti-fascist Women's Group in 1933 and later, clandestinely, promoted the creation of the Women's Democratic Movement (MDM) in 1965.

We can not forget the struggle of the proletarian women in Spain. From textile factories in Catalonia, in the nineteenth century, to tobacco factories in Seville, Valencia and Alicante, through the canning industries of the Cantabric and Atlantic coasts, women were always present in the proletarian struggle. The advances of all kinds achieved during the Second Republic (right to active and passive suffrage, constitutional equality for both sexes in marriage, right to divorce, etc.), the role of women on the fronts and the rear during the national - revolutionary war, in the anti - fascist guerrilla, in the support of political prisoners and their families, in exile, in the mass struggle against Franco, in the labour and student movement and in each and every one of the battles that our working class fights every day must not be forgotten.

It is necessary to reclaim the role of working women since the days of the Paris Commune to the present day, to reclaim the importance given by the international communist movement to the struggle for the liberation of women, marking a new stage in the struggle of women against capitalist exploitation and against all forms of oppression. It is necessary to emphasize that the debate promoted by the revolutionary workers' movement on the political, civil and labour claims of working women contributed to lay the organic basis of the female workers' struggle around specific demands, with class-oriented objectives and integrated in the struggle for socialism at a time characterized by the massive incorporation of women into factory work in which the development and strengthening of the communist movement led to the intensification of women's struggle for better working conditions and social and political rights.

The bourgeoisie does not forget the revolutionary character, deeply linked to the struggle of working women and of the workers' and communist movement as a whole, of the advances in the field of the emancipation of women. And precisely because of this, this history of struggle is hidden, proposing the fiction that the movements for the emancipation of women disappeared at the beginning of the twentieth century, once conquered the right to vote, with the disintegration of suffragism, and did not reappear until the 60's of the last century.

With the birth in the United States of the new left and its transfer to Europe in the heat of the struggles of May '68, the bourgeois historiography starts to spea of a second feminist wave, understood as one of the so - called new social movements, called to question the centrality of the labour movement and the capital - labour contradiction. Their positions were largely based on the theories set forth by Simone de Beauvoir in her work The Second Sex, with an existentialist matrix, combined with a particular interpretation of racial movements in the United States, of the pacifist struggle against the Vietnam War and of the positions of the hippie movement. In Europe, along with the Frankfurt School and authors such as Wilhelm Reich, attempts were made to synthesize these theories with the positions of the new psychoanalytic school, and had an influence on petty bourgeois organizations with anarchist, Trotskyist and Maoist base, which along with other sectors shaped the so-called “new left” and launched a full-blown ideological attack against the essential principles of Marxism-Leninism, facing feminism and Marxism from an openly petty-bourgeois and anti-Soviet position.

It was precisely at that time when the international communist movement was entering into a serious crisis which began with the advance of revisionist positions at the 20th Congress of the CPSU (1956), which would be deepened by the Maoist split and the triumph of Euro-communist revisionism in a whole series of Communist and Workers' Parties that played an important role. The communist movement lost its vanguard position in general and specifically in the struggle for the liberation of the women.

This phenomenon reached Spain with some delay, in the 70's, finding an unequaled breeding ground. The Euro-communist turn of the PCE and the existence of a whole generation that began to accede to the University and to which fascism denied the most basic freedoms, forged the ideal conditions for the birth of a series of organizations, of the so-called extreme left, who espoused petty - bourgeois theories on the question of women and most of the New Left 's views, including MCE (Communist Movement of Spain), PTE (Workers' Party of Spain), OCE-BR (Communist Organization of Spain – Red Flag), ORT (Revolutionary Organization of Workers), LCR (Revolutionary Communist League), etc.

The struggles waged during this stage made visible the specific conditions of women's oppression and to achieve some partial objectives. However, in the midst of the crisis of the PCE, the militants and organizations that persisted in the defense of Marxism - Leninism were not able at that time to respond with the precise force to the ideological attacks that were developed both by the right and the left, to formulate a position of its own and to give the struggle for the liberation of women the necessary depth in a revolutionary perspective.

The question of women did not disappear from communist politics. In the Congress of Unity of the Communists, held in Madrid from January 13 to 15, 1984, a Resolution on the liberation of women was adopted, in which both the Party's concern and the work approach were correctly placed. This resolution, among other things, states the following:

"The issue of women is an aspect of our struggle that lends itself to many confusions. The oppression of women starts from the very moment of the appearance of private property, manifests itself in different ways in different periods of history and reaches a new feature in capitalism.

We, as an organization fighting for the liberation of the working class, must also contemplate from a revolutionary perspective the problem of the double oppression of women. (...) ".

But the events in the USSR, with the advance of Perestroika and Glasnost, the attempts to liquidate the Party and finally the counterrevolutionary triumph in most of the socialist camp, drove our Party and the whole of the International Communist Movement into a serious crisis that brought with it an extreme political - ideological weakening. Therefore, the attacks on Marxism - Leninism, launched by the new left and by all sorts of petty - bourgeois organizations, both in the struggle for the emancipation of women and in other fields, remained largely unanswered. These attacks, as has happened at other times in the history of the class struggle, focused on three basic aspects:

  • The Leninist model of the Party.
  • The central role of the working class as a revolutionary subject.
  • The dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist countries.

If we go throuh the bourgeois and petty - bourgeois feminist historiography, since the end of the sixties to the present, attacks against these three pillars of Marxism - Leninism follow. In short, the bourgeoisie could not ignore the fact that millions of women throughout the world demanded an end to the discrimination and oppression of which they are victims, there was growing understanding that the emancipation of women goes through the liquidation of the regime of exploitation, and then developed a great effort to divert the emancipatory struggles towards partial objectives by resorting to ideological diversionism.

Throughout the 1990s and the first decade of the present century, the postulates advocated by the new left were combined with the rise of postmodern theories within the social and political left. To the previous elaborations, openly confronted to the Communist Parties, the theoretical approaches of authors like Toni Negri, Michel Hardt, Slavoj Zizek, etc. were added. Idealist and reactionary positions that hold in the bottom, although from different angles, that it is the conscience that determines the social position, affirming that the inequalities are fruit of not being able to individually take advantage of the existing opportunities and not of the relation with the means of production and the position in the productive process, denying the class society.

5.- Current situation of the movement for the emancipation of women in Spain.

As a result of the process described, the current situation of the movement for the emancipation of women has been immersed in a serious crisis for years:

  • The specific role of working women and class-oriented approaches are practically nonexistent or they are in a very minority situation within the movement, in which petty-bourgeois positions predominate.
  • There is no state-level organizational benchmark, but the general thrust is the dispersion in many associations and platforms at local, sectorial and, in some exceptional cases, regional or autonomous levels.
  • State-level organizations are transmission belts of some political parties, as in the case of the Womens' Foundation with respect to the PSOE or the Women's Democratic Movement, which was recovered by the PCE in 2013 without a significant organizational reality.
  • The communist presence in the movement is extremely weak, without playing a leading role in existing organizations and platforms except on specific occasions and places.

Starting from the decisive character played in the communist strategy by the incorporation of the working women to the general class struggle, and also the organization of a movement for the emancipation of women that makes of the daily struggle for its claims a part of the process of accumulation of forces and class regrouping, it is essential to define clearly the tactics that should guide the action of communist militants in our country.

6.- General orientation of the work of the Party.

6.1. The relationship between the class struggle and the specific demands of women.

There is a dialectical relationship between the general struggle for political power and the specific struggle for the emancipation of women. The struggle for the transformation of the world, to put an end to monopoly capitalism, is a common struggle of men and women that demands a permanent and determined struggle against inequality in the economic base - fruit of a concrete sexual division of labour - and its reflection on backward ideas and practices as an indispensable condition for the birth of the new man and woman and the structuring of personal and social relationships on the basis of fraternity, mutual respect and equality.

It is important to emphasize the need to deepen the struggle for specific demands of women, the struggle for concrete objectives that contribute to the improvement of their immediate living conditions, to the understanding of the oppression to which they are subject and the development of their political and social conscience. But, as stated in the thesis of our 9th Congress, "in this struggle for the immediate interests of the working people and for the improvement of their living conditions, our Party does not generate expectations of a reformist type within the working class. At the same time that we giver our best in the struggle for every demand, the Party stresses the impossibility of reaching, within the capitalist framework, an emancipated future in which the aspirations of the majorities are finally satisfied, guiding and inserting each partial struggle in the general process of revolutionary and organized struggle for socialism, understanding it as a dialectical process with advances and setbacks.”

The struggle for the liberation of women should not be reduced to specific problems. This would lead to their isolation from the general struggle against all forms of oppression and social exploitation and to generate the reactionary illusion that equality can be conquered within the framework of this exploitative system.

The struggle for the satisfaction of the specific demands of women will be much more likely to succeed the more it is integrated in the general struggle for socialism - communism, which, in addition to laying the material basis for the disappearance of class society, places as a historical task to liberate women from all forms of exploitation and oppression. It can not, therefore, be regarded as an issue which concerns only women; on the contrary, it is a crucial issue which must involve the whole revolutionary movement.

Inessa Armand, a proletarian leader responsible for the first Women's Department in the Russian Revolution, said that "if liberation of women is unthinkable without communism, communism is unthinkable without the liberation of women."

In short, the general struggle is deepened insofar as the struggle for the liberation of women is strengthened, and in the same way, women's emancipatory struggle will be strengthened the closer it is to the general struggle for socialism and communism, the more solid and coherent their organic bases are.

6.2. The struggle for the incorporation of women into production.

One of the essential aspects of the communist programme, and also a material condition for the emancipation of working women, is its massive incorporation into production, in equal rights with the male working class and guaranteeing working conditions that allow their economic independence.

The access of women to work and to professional fulfillment is an objective condition for the equality of men and women within the family and society, along with equality in work, in political action and in cultural and civil life. Therefore, the right to work and the historic claim condensed in the slogan to equal work equal salary, are essential pieces of the communist struggle for the emancipation of women.

Earlier we have mentioned that the incorporation of women into production, under capitalism, is produced with the assumption of a subsidiary character. This particular sexual division of labour has been clearly perceived with the recent capitalist crisis, which has had a particularly serious impact on the living and working conditions of women of the working class and of other popular strata occupying the worse paid jobs, seeing their wages reduced, struck by part-time work and hiring in the shadow economy and with the price of their labour force being below the cost of reproduction, which means misery and economic dependence.

Therefore, the demand for the right to work of female workers and the struggle for their labour rights has a fundamental importance for the Communist Party. But access to work, being an objective condition for the emancipation of women, is not, in itself, a sufficient condition for the disappearance of gender oppression. Often, women work eight or more hours in the factory, in the services or in the land, and then all or most of the reproductive work, the care of the children, disabled relatives and of men rely on them. This does not only oppress working women in a general sense, but also makes it difficult for them to participate regularly in political and social life. In this sense, the historical struggle of the communist movement for the socialization of reproductive work is of decisive importance and becomes fully relevant, thus facilitating the massive incorporation of women into the revolutionary struggle.

The oppression of the working women is not only found in the labour or economic sphere, although the main contradiction relies there, but it is reflected in the social superstructure, attributing a social role to women based on inequality and oppression. Therefore, the elimination of private property does not automatically and definitively assure the surpassing of the subsidiary role of women in the family and society, because after the seizure of power by the working class they will still live in the consciousness and in the habits of broad social sectors that lead to social practices of oppression.

It is therefore necessary to confront machismo within the working class and its organizations, as an essential element in the struggle to raise the revolutionary consciousness, as part of the need that Lenin already pointed out to put into practice a specific and comprehensive policy towards working women.

6.3. The importance of the socialization of reproductive work.

Faced with certain petty bourgeois positions, which advocate the remuneration of domestic work, with the consequent proletarization of women within the home and the reproduction of roles, we defend the socialization of reproductive work as a second objective condition for the complete emancipation of working women and the destruction of the bourgeois family model.

The analysis of the reproduction of the labour force as an essential part of capitalist economic functioning is essential to understanding the oppression of women. Nowadays, the productive forces have reached such a degree of development that it would allow, without major problems, the social satisfaction of social necessity that involves all reproductive work [1], applying the scientific and technical advances to the reproductive work and dedicating to the same a little proportion of labour force, equally distributed.

The demand for collective laundries, popular kitchens, kindergartens and other educational and study centers, care for the elderly and disabled, adequate and eonough spaces for practicing sports and leisure activities, etc., frontally faces today the capitalist relations of production, which in conditions of intense crisis have found in all these spaces what they hypocritically call "new market niches", offering privately those services and goods to those who can afford them.

The socialization of reproductive labour was successfully tested in all socialist countries, and especially in the Soviet Union, which offers us many rich examples of the new conditions in which the struggle for the emancipation of women develops, when they are already massively incorporated to production and free of the chains of the domestic work:

  • Before the October Revolution, 83.4 per cent of Russian women were illiterate. In 1982, 59 per cent of the people completing specialized and higher education studies were women, and illiteracy had been completely eradicated many decades ago.
  • In 1982, women constituted 51 per cent of the entire working class and the employees of the USSR.
  • Unemployment was completely eradicated and the wage gap between men and women ended, strictly applying the principle of equal pay, equal work.
  • Benefits were recognized for child allowance, maternity leave, retirement 5 years earlier than men and with 5 years less service provision, which was further reduced in particularly painful work.
  • Education was completely free, including textbooks, transportation, residence in many cases, free or at symbolic prices canteens, etc.
  • Medical care for the population was completely free, articulating a number of benefits for women in pregnancy and childbirth, old age and illness.
  • A network of educational centers, gardens and children's hospitals, recreational institutions and pioneering camps were set up in places of residence and work, free of charge or at practically symbolic prices.
  • Plans were made to equip families with household appliances, with the intention of facilitating reproductive work and reducing the time spent on these tasks.
  • Collective services (laundry, nursery, canteens, etc.), cultural institutions, leisure and recreation centers (both at work and residence) and the improvement of their quality were developed spectacularly, to the service of the working class and the people.
  • In 1976, at all levels of power, from the supreme Soviets to the local ones, permanent committees of deputies were in charge of studying the questions related to the work and the life of the women, to the protection of the maternity and the infancy. They were also given full rights and powers to take decisions, execute them and monitor their compliance.

These and many other examples offer enormous potential in the struggle for women 's rights, defending the superiority of the socialist - communist formation in this area too.

While claiming and explaining the determinant character of the socialization of reproductive work, the claim within the capitalism of different proposals of socialization offers innumerable possibilities of work in the districts of our cities and also in the countryside, allowing to open a line of attack against capitalism based on the immediate needs of the people, and especially of working women, and of concentration of forces around the Communist Party and the organizational structures of the workers' and popular front for Socialism.

As we have expressed, the socialization of reproductive work would cover most of the material needs and is an objective condition for advancing the emancipation of working women. But it alone does not solve all the contradictions and problems that working-class women experience in their personal and family life. Even getting the massive incorporation of women into productive work and the socialization of reproductive work, impossible to achieve in capitalism, the question of affective relationships and coexistence within the family would remain unresolved.

There are many women and working-class or popular sectors' families who, because of their working conditions and working hours, have very little or almost no time to take care of their children, disabled people due to age or illness, or family in general. As an example we could mention the hundreds of thousands of women who work in the hotel sector, whose schedules prevent them from interacting with their families and children beyond the reduced rest periods they have.

Thus, in our practice and in our discourse on the socialization of reproductive work, at the same time as we participate in the struggles for the real recognition of the aforementioned rights for the women of the working class and of the popular sectors, we must emphasize as a central element that only in socialism, with the socialization and central planning of economic activity, can be solved the so-called reconciliation of work, family and personal life of women and men, subjecting working hours and conditions to social and affective-family needs that must be cared for on an equal basis.

7.- Main Lines of work for the communist struggle for the liberation of women.

The role of communist women and of the entire party structure are irreplaceable in the struggle for the emancipation of women, so that female workers and all women from the popular sectors are aware that the struggle against inequalities and oppression, the struggle for their rights, is inseparable from the struggle against capitalism.

Therefore, our fundamental lines of work are the following:

  1. The revolutionary struggle for social transformations that aim at the massive incorporation of women into production, for their labour rights and for the socialization of reproductive work, which are the basis and the fundamental dynamizing factor in the advance of the emancipation process of the working women and its relationship with the general struggle for socialism – communism.
  2. The struggle of the entire Party in the political, social, cultural and ideological sphere against all forms of exploitation, discrimination and oppression of working women, including prostitution.
  3. Promote the active participation of working-class and popular sectors women in the ranks of the Party and the Collectives of Young Communists on all fronts of work and at all levels of responsibility. To appoint comrades, in each organization and at each level of leadership, according to their pace of development, who are responsible for the organization and systematic follow-up of the work towards the masses of working-class and popular sectors women.
  4. The organization and mobilization of women by the Party and the CJC for the struggle in defense of their interests and rights and by concrete and immediate objectives, related, preferably, with what is indicated in point 1.
  5. The decisive participation of communists women in the creation and development of women's organizations.

8.- The struggle for the emancipation of women in the revolutionary strategy of the PCPE.

The revolutionary triumph in Spain, as in any other country, is impossible without a determined involvement of the working-class women, who must play a leading role in the general movement for the emancipation of women. For this to happen, communist women and all the Party structure must play a vanguard role, adjusting tactics at every moment to advance towards the strategic objective: the seizure of power and the construction of socialism – communism.

In the question of women, as in the rest of the mass fronts, the times of resistance, when it was sufficient to maintain a general orientation, have passed. It is decisive to recover a vanguard position that allows the preparation of the workers' and popular counter-offensive. The current development of the class struggle requires that the Communist Party draws up concrete intervention plans in each area.

The question of women, as well as all those in which communist militants intervene, is mediated by the fact of living in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism, the epoch of proletarian revolution. In our days, two social classes are placed face to face: the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. The middlelayers, from the objective point of view of their material conditions of life, are potential allies of the working class, but most are situated in political positions that favour capitalist domination. Given this order of things, our Party works for the concentration of class forces in a direction of overthrowing capitalism, of overthrowing the power of monopolies in Spain, for the destruction of the bourgeois State and all its mechanisms of domination and oppression.

Without a policy of alliances there is no possibility of a serious approach to the seizure of power. We are aware that it is not enough that our ideas are just, but that it is necessary to have the necessary strength and organization for ideas to succeed, striving to alter the existing correlation of forces. Conceiving that this front of struggle is not the sum of existing weaknesses, but the alliance of the oppressed layers. Among these oppressed layers are the women of the working class and the people, called to integrate social alliance that we are building to advance in the organization of a counteroffensive that leads to the workers' and popular power and the construction of socialism - communism .

9- Epilogue.- The need to continue deepening in the analysis.

To conclude, we place two issues that, due to their political - ideological significance, must be further studied by our Party, but on which we point out some initial reflections.

The question of patriarchy.

The theory of patriarchy has no Marxist origin. Neither Engels, Bebel, Zetkin, Kollontai, nor any later Marxist theoreticians formulated this theory, nor did it find favour in the International Communist Movement, past or present.

For Engels, for example, to speak of patriarchy or matriarchy, it is fundamentally limited to the distribution by gender of power within the family [2], especially as regards the determination of the sons 'or daughters' filiation, following a line of maternal determination (Matrilineal) or paternal, which is directly related to the family model (polygamous or monogamous) and to the origin of private property, which would make it especially important to determine the filiation in order to guarantee the transmission of property generation after generationthrough the institution of the inheritance and that has denied and denies the sexual freedom of the woman.

From the 60's of the last century, and as it was indicated with a non-Marxist origin, the existence of a patriarchal system (theory of patriarchy) that would coexist with the existence of the capitalist system and, previously, with the rest of social formations that existed throughout history began to be theorized.

The use of the category of patriarchy has not been sufficiently analyzed by the PCPE, but in the light of historical materialism, and in line with the Marxist theoretical developments embedded in the International Communist Movement of which we are part (without having in mind certain theories assumed by Trotskyist, Maoist or other sectors alien to Marxism - Leninism), we understand that the defense of a social system differentiated from the mode of production is not consistent with a historical materialist understanding of the capitalist social formation.

Another thing is to understand that insofar the oppression of women, embodied in a concrete sexual division of labour, is functional to the interests of the ruling classes and that the subsidiary nature of the female labour force in capitalist production has a concrete reflection in the field of the legal, moral, religious and ideological superstructure, it could be spoken of as patriarchal ideology. As a set of ideas, values, habits, etc., which constitutes the ideological reflection in the superstructure of capitalist society of a concrete sexual division of labour in capitalism, aimed at perpetuating the conditions of oppression of working women and, with them, capitalist exploitation as a whole.

In using the term patriarchy, no reference should be made to it as if it were a social system or a structure dissociated from the capitalist socio-economic formation, ideologically combating the concepts of "double exploitation" -in an economic sense-, "gender surplus value", etc., or the claims that socialist-communist socio-economic formation is as patriarchal as class-based formations such as capitalism.

The question of “feminism”.

The same applies to the use of the concept of feminism. In fact, and as discussed in this document, there are different types of feminism, but all of them constitute an ideology. On the contrary, communism is based on Marxism - Leninism, understood as a science, as a worldview capable of encompassing all facets of social life.

Throughout History, the communist movement has generally spoken of movement for the liberation of women or of movement for the emancipation of women, combating feminism as an expression of the position of the bourgeois woman vis-a-vis the proletarian woman . This was the case both in the PCE and in the PCPE since its inception. In fact, the generalization of the use of the term feminism and the name of the Commission of the Central Committee in charge of women's work came after the 8th Congress following a debate in the Central Committee (not in a Congress) in which the name of the respective Commission was modified: the Commission for the Liberation of Women happened to be denominated Feminist Commission. This issue has been solved in the 11th Congress.

These issues, not sufficiently debated, have sometimes led to the mistake of confusing the subject called to integrate into the social alliance. In this case the mistake would be to confuse working-class women and women belonging to the popular sectors with the political - ideological position of these women, depending on their definition or not as feminists or their identification with a particular type of feminism. In other words, the subject called to integrate into the ranks of the social alliance is not the feminist movement or movements, but the women of workers and popular extraction and their organizations.

[1] Engels, in 1885, said: “The true equality of rights for men and women can, in my opinion, become true only when the exploitation of both by capital has been abolished and private domestic work has been tranformed in a public industry”.

[2] Engels said in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State that “The overthrow of mother-right was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude, she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children. This degraded position of the woman, especially conspicuous among the Greeks of the heroic and still more of the classical age, has gradually been palliated and glozed over, and sometimes clothed in a milder form; in no sense has it been abolished. .” Ediciones ENDYMION, p. 56.