In its 30 years of existence, the IWL-FI is proud of its persistence in maintaining and continuing the trajectory of Marxism in all fields of the class struggle, particularly  in a very special one: the fight against the women’s oppression.

Marxism is the theory and practice of the necessity of changing the world aiming at human emancipation in relation to every kind of deprivation and dependency, both in relation to nature as well as to capital, combined with the endless range of false ideologies produced by bourgeois society. So, the fight against all kinds of oppression, submission, and vilification of the human being is a seed and a constituent part of Marxism as philosophy and practice.

{module Propaganda 30 anos}Throughout the history of Marxism, as from the studies of Marx and Engels on the capitalist mode of production and its core idea, the exploitation of man by man through the extraction of surplus value, a mechanism transformed into an ideology, Marxism has always brought the implicit unwavering certainty that the capitalist mode of production must give rise to a new society, a communist society. A communist society, directed to the fulfillment of human needs as a sine qua non condition towards overcoming all oppression and all impediments to the full development of men and women.

This idea, which seems so limpid and clear, has not always been so. It gave rise to so many controversies and different interpretations that, throughout the long history of the labor movement, the issue of women’s oppression was a watershed between Marxism and the various ideologies that confronted it, in particular, all variants of idealism. Accusing Marxism of not worrying about the woman’s issue was actually a way to discredit the Marxist analysis that woman’s and all other oppressions have a material basis because they are originated and are fueled on the exploitation of man by man. For idealism and its variants, to accept this idea would mean accepting that the supposed inferiority of women, their alleged lack of rationality would not be natural features, but cultural, historically constructed by the material conditions  throughout the various modes of production well known today. And therefore it would prove to be susceptible of transformation, as everything that exists. Such transformations are also inextricably linked to the need of the working class, led by a revolutionary Marxist party, to destroy capitalism and together with it, all kinds of oppression.

The idea of the congenital inferiority of women, even being disproved daily throughout time, has been widely spread and fueled by bourgeois institutions – church, school, family, parties and different political trends – so that oppression remains unchanged. The ideological struggle against all such institutions, which basically are all variations on a single   theme, characterized the trajectory of the revolutionary movement throughout the ages, since Lenin and Trotsky, during the Russian Revolution, to its continuity today in IWL-FI. This is a fight not only ideological, but also real, practical and militant, which can be summarized in one central idea: the struggle in defense of Marxism on the woman’s issue remains livelier than ever, both against bourgeois feminism as well as among the international leftwing.

The readers of the 30 years of the IWL-FI hot site will learn, from the articles on this special webpage on women, the theoretical and practical development of the struggle against women’s oppression, from their first steps in the Second International – from wich Engels was one of the founders and played an important role in the organization that International in it’s early years – going through the achievements made by the Russian Revolution and the Third International; Trotsky’s struggle against the destruction of women’s accomplishments caused by Stalinism, to the present days, when the IWL-FI maintains the continuity of our masters’ struggle against women’s oppression and other oppressed sectors by capitalist imperialism.   The articles shown have a thread of continuity with each other, which is indicated at the beginning and end of each one of them, but they can also be read separately.

* Cecília Toledo and Alicia Sagra are membres of the IWL-FI’s International Women Bureau

Continues on: The Women’s Issue in the II International