On March the 23th, Argentina received the “visit” of Barak Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama. We were on the streets, shouting very loud “Out with Obama”, while they were carrying out an agenda full of work. Among the activities that they carried in our country, there is the speech Michelle gave at the Metropolitan Design Center of Barraca,s in front of a large group of young women and students. Now, who is Michelle Obama? What interests does she respond to? What kind of ideology hides behind her words?
By: Dina Ciraolo
Who is Michelle Obama?
Michelle Obama represents the interests of imperialism. She is one more agent of the policies her country implements in other countries over the world. She is a guarantor of economic policies that bring destruction to entire peoples through war, bombing, indebtedness, looting of knowledge, cultural emptying, and so on. She represents the biggest weapon manufacturer country, not only responsible of famine and war around the world, but also about hunger, unemployment, violence, repression and marginalization within the US. She is responsible for implementing a policy that means marginalization of millions of women on the planet. So, what does the speech she gave in Barracas mean?
What kind of ideology is behind her words?
Michelle gave a speech riddle with common places and low blows. She spoke about the poverty she suffered during her childhood; she described how she had to face gender discrimination, and how, through study, willpower, effort and dedication, she managed to be who she is today.
She made a call to all young women to come forward, to study, to not be intimidated by obstacles in their path just for being women, because only that way they would manage to advance and hold important positions, that allow them to implement measures for the benefit of all women.
What hides behind her speech is the concept of empowerment, which is “a process through which people who belong to a social stigmatized category throughout their whole lives can be helped to develop and improve skills in the exercise of interpersonal influence and achievement of valuable social roles”.
It is not about going against the system of oppression as a whole and rise in a global and collectively rebel form against him. Besides, this concept is reflected in the passive role of the person who is “empowered” by others, and appears as the ultimate goal of “empowerment”, to reach positions of power inside the “dominant culture”. It suggests the capitalist slogan “everyone can become president of their country” or “everyone can be millionaire if he/she works hard enough”.
Supposedly, all of this is possible, and mostly if you are well empowered. In fact, the best example of black empowerment would be, according to these theories, President Barack Obama, a man empowered by capitalist elites. Because no one reaches such position if it is not with their support.
In fact, Juliana Awada, in her presentation before Michelle’s speech, said: “you can be scientists and make discoveries, be doctors and save lives, attorneys, or engineers, and make bridges… or be presidents”. She added Michelle Obama represents a phrase Mauricio and she like a lot: “yes we can… yes, we can move forward, we can achieve our goals”.
It is obvious, Macri’s “yes we can” includes debt forgiveness his family’s enterprises had during the dictatorship, because the economic plan carried out by the Military Government had foreign enterprises and international credit organisms, like the International Monetary Fund, as main beneficiaries’. All private debt was taken into public ownership, which meant the exorbitant increase of external debt, the destruction of national industry and the increase of exploitation; with it, also came reduction of salaries, unemployment, increase of poverty and inflation. The Macri family was beneficiated in such a way by the military dictatorship, that they nationalized the debt of their companies SOCMA and Sevel, and from 1973 to 1983, went from owning 7 companies to 46. On the other hand, the “yes, we can” Juliana loves includes slave work inside her textile companies, as it was already film and widely denounced.
So… what is the true solution to women’s oppression?
Inside the dominant speeches, women empowerment has been, for a few years now, the new workhorse. Feminism and the World Bank, by Cristina Kirchner and the UN, all of them have adopted it. And now it comes from the hand of Michelle Obama and Juliana Awada. Not a single line, not even a word in Michelle’s speech, questions who creates and causes economic inequality, leading millions of women to be outside the educational system, to be victims of violence, to be killed, discriminated and oppressed.
What she proposes is an individual solution, for just a few women who will become leaders of the same system that oppresses and exploits to serve the economic interest of a minority.
What is behind the speech is the simple idea of how women could contribute to the capitalist system, through higher levels of productivity; nothing more than how could the system better exploit us and at the same time make us believe it is for our self well being.
We, the socialist, the revolutionaries, say this is not the answer. We say \ the only way to end oppression is finishing exploitation, struggling together, working women and men. Because the only way to build more human and healthy bonds between men and women is destroying the capitalist system, ending the economic repressive policies needed to hold it.
And the only way to achieve this is building a political organization, strong and solid enough to lead forward. The PSTU and the IWL are at the service of this task, and we need you with us to advance.
 Wife of Mauricio Macri, Argentina’s elected president.
 SOCMA – Sociedad Macri (Macri Society), & Sevel, automobile company.
Translation: Misty M.