You hold in your hands the 8th issue of the International Communist Review which was published in 2018 and is dedicated to the necessary specialized work of the CPs amongst salaried and unemployed women, urban and rural self-employed women, young women from working class, popular families. The position of women in modern capitalist society is highlighted in these pages.
The rights of women receive consecutive blows by the bourgeois state, the capitalist employers, presenting major differentiations amongst the capitalist states. In a number of countries in Asia and Africa the bourgeois state subsidizes the sterilization of women, while in Malta, Ireland, Cyprus, Argentina there are laws that criminalize abortion. The unequal position of women in certain countries in the capitalist world also has a cultural, religious aspect, based on certain dress codes or codes of behaviour (Burka, clitoridectomy etc.). In some countries of the former USSR, certain measures for the protection of the female organism may be maintained, such as a lower retirement age, but the position of women in society is characterized by major contradictions in the framework of the capitalist path of development: The percentage of women's unemployment leads to emigration abroad to seek unskilled work, despite the fact that many of them have scientific and technical specialization.
In the contemporary conditions, the form of the double oppression of women, class and gender, is not equivalent to that at the beginning of the previous century. Capitalism has an interest in perpetuating inequality, as it is a source of additional profit, increases the rate of exploitation, facilitates political manipulation. Women were not freed from class-based economic and social coercion, as men were not either. The above confirm that the discrimination and inequality experienced by women of the working class, of the people, cannot be reformed through just a formal implementation of equal rights for both sexes, but it is a complicated historical and social phenomenon.
The formal recognition of some civil rights for women in contemporary capitalist society does not in reality free them from the problems in their lives. In conditions when the responsibilities for maternity are mainly thrust onto the shoulders of women, with the danger of them wilting under the double torment in the workplace and at home. The conditions of the state support for maternity and family care have deteriorated, through the commodification and privatization of health, welfare, education. All the above are in the epicenter of the strategy of the imperialist organizations (EU, IMF, OECD) and covered under the pretext of “gender equality”, “work and family conciliation”. The objective difficulties that the majority of the salaried women face when combining work obligations with the responsibility of family care are utilized, in order to generalize flexible labour relations and time schedules, leading to the intensification of exploitation of labour force. The interest of the bourgeoisie for the repartition of responsibilities within the family, between men and women (establishment of paternity leave) is related also to the effort to extend new forms of exploitation also to male labour force.
The basis of the material conditions of life and work objectively impedes and delays the development of the political, class consciousness of women, of the stable, organized participation of women in the struggle, in combination with the manipulation and the fostering of fear, particularly amongst women. Women are exposed to distorted ideas about gender equality, reproduced under the flag of cosmopolitanism of the capital. At the same time, anachronistic ideas and behaviours about the unequal position of women in the society, in the form of religious, nationalist doctrines, are reproduced with new forms. The economic, social and cultural coercion is maintained also in the institution of the family. This is not negated by the fact that- at least in the most developed capitalist societies where the integration of women into wage labour and the corresponding bourgeois modernizations have proceeded-the type of family, which was reproduced socially for centuries, tends to change.
However, within the framework of capitalism, new, equal relations between men and women cannot be formed. Relations without absolutely any financial motivation, which will be exclusively based on mutual intellectual-emotional-physical attraction, on mutual respect and sincerity. The germs of these relations between the two sexes cannot acquire this new content in a general way throughout society, because the material preconditions do not exist, i.e. the new relations of production, of social ownership, of central planning.
The new content in the relations of the individual with society and of society with the individual is formed on the basis of the reformation of society, of socialist construction and the corresponding legal superstructure. This process creates the basis for a complete recomposition of the family, the harmonic combination of social and family-based education of the children. A crucial conclusion is that the revolutionary changes in social relations, in the communist stance and thinking, lag behind the revolutionary overthrow, which comes about through the conquest of political power by the working class with the CP as its leading force. The further attempt of the CPs to study and to deepen their understanding of the experience of socialist construction can contribute to enrich our common view on the women's question.
The highlighting of the necessity, realism and timeliness of socialism needs to shed light on the potential which is liberated for the development of the productive forces by the socialist-immature communist-relations of production, the superiority of scientific central planning on the basis of the social ownership of the means of production. The example of the first workers' state, with the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, demonstrated the enormous leaps that took place in a country with significant pre-capitalist backwardness. The young soviet state, together with smashing the state apparatus of Tsarism and the bourgeois class, abolished all those laws that maintained and reinforced-inside and outside the family-the inequality between the two sexes. It created the preconditions so that women could participate equally with men in the construction of the new socialist society, in social and economic activity. It provided the possibility for the universal utilization of women's labour in way that was productive and beneficial for society, in combination with measures to protect maternity and the female organism. These achievements are a practical demonstration of the fact that the root of women’s inequality is found in the private-capitalist ownership of the means of production, that the liberation of women is intrinsically linked with struggle for its abolition.
The historical experience of socialist construction can be used by the CPs to curtail the impact of the consequences of the revolution on the consciousness of working and unemployed women, which lead to defeatism, fatalism, conservative trends. These difficulties are also reflected in the situation that prevails in relation to the global women's movement. There are women's organizations that identify the improvement of the position of women exclusively with the struggle for bourgeois modernizations, with the increase of women's participation in the boards of business groups and in bourgeois institutions, concealing the basic contradiction between capital and labour behind the "competition" between men and women. The criterion for politics and positions is not gender but which class interests are served by each man or woman. Only the CP can essentially serve on a class basis the political promotion of waged, unemployed, self-employed women in the institutions of the bourgeois state, and chiefly in the organs of the labour-people’s movement.
The contribution of communist women in the creation and development of women's organizations, with a radical class orientation can curtail the aims of the bourgeoisie. In the articles of the journal, there is an attempt to highlight the experience of the CPs in order to reinforce the participation of women in the class struggle and promote them in the organs of the labour-people's movement. The preparation of the CPs under non-revolutionary conditions to that direction plays a crucial role for the increase of women participation to revolutionary struggle. As Marx said, “great social changes are impossible without the feminine ferment”.