Marxism or feminism?

There is a big problem with those ‘feminists’ (male and female) who walked out of the SWP. They are incompetent. They have zero comprehension of who some of their allies are in the student and trade union movement.

Richard Seymour’s ISN cadres refuses to challenge the ‘feminism’ of students who clearly just want more women in positions of power and influence in an elitist, militarist, exploitative society. These feminists have no problems using the special bodies of armed men and women to crush our skulls on picket lines, especially if Chief Constables and Generals issuing the orders are well paid women. These ‘feminists’ are easily satisfied. Their consciences can be bought off with an equality of males and females making personal fortunes for the hard ‘work’ of signing off on mass sackings of factory floor and office workers. These ‘feminists’ are in solidarity with bosses (of big and small capital) who wield chain saws to red tape, in other words, health and safety legislation and employment rights. These ‘feminists’ want freedom to sack their workers to boost profits, exposing the class antagonism between feminism on the one hand and Marxism on the other.

If you look at the BBC’s politics, news and current affairs output, many of the most wretched broadcasters these days are women. I am not saying that some of the BBC’s best broadcasters are not also women; they most certainly are. Nor am I saying that most of the men are fair and competent. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, the BBC thinks that so long as they have a fair share of female broadcasters it matters not a jot if the politics and competence of female employees represent a decline with respect to who came before: Any Answers has jumped the shark since Jonathon Dimbleby was replaced by Anita Anand. Westminster Hour under Carolyn Quinn is a disgrace, and Daily Politics is unwatchable when Jo Coburn is in the driving seat. I don’t pull my punches polemically when it comes to the men, but I suspect a lot of men feel they can’t criticise some of the women broadcasters for fear they will be accused of misogyny, which is complete and utter nonsense.

In the Scottish Socialist Party, I buckled and voted through a series of rule changes that robbed the left of a decent choice from that point on, ensuring that many very right wing explicitly anti-socialists ‘won’ senior positions in the party because we had (for whatever reason) failed to recruit enough women with decent class politics. I had assumed the party could win these women, or new recruits, to embrace better politics, but that is not how it turned out. The politics of these women only got worse from that point on, as they no longer felt any need to curry favour with the membership, as they were virtually ungetriddable. Furthermore, these women leaders managed to drag a significant section of the male cadre into their orbit as it was relatively so much harder to get rid of this section of the party leadership.

Marxists need to consider all such problems in terms of class and of politics. And feminism is utterly hostile to Marxism: two opposed perspectives, representing irreconcilable class interests. Women’s liberation needs Marxism since the working class can never be free so long as one of our genders remains unfree. Women’s liberation does not need an above-class ‘feminism’. It just doesn’t.

This entry was posted in politics, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Marxism or feminism?

  1. This article is a spoof right?


    • TomDelargy says:

      Is my article a spoof? No, it is not. Tell me what specifically you think is a caricature, and I will do my best to justify what I wrote, it or possibly concede that you had pinpointed an exaggeration which was indeed intended as a joke. The points I made here are serious. When we discuss issues relating to women’s liberation it is understandable when many committed to the project misinterpret what is being said, especially when it is said by a man, and especially if they are challenging some of what is taken as common sense on the left vis-a-vis feminism. My own approach is based on my reading of Chris Harman and others. On Twitter, with its 140 character limits, it is virtually impossible to get across nuances, complexities. On a blog this is at least possible. It is possible provided comrades want to seriously debate. I am up for that debate, Simon. Are you?


    • TomDelargy says:

      Simon, if you are interested in what I think I would like to clarify something. I think a problem is caused by lack of clarity on the terms. Feminism is often taken as a synonym for the struggle for women’s liberation. Insofar as that is what we are talking about, all Marxists are feminists, by definition. As I made clear, without women’s liberation, there can be no socialism. This argument is the same as the one about a nation that oppresses another shall never itself be free. The problem is that this definition of feminism is not what we usually mean. Within Marxism, there is room for considerable disagreement about strategy and tactics. People have switched back and forth about women’s only groups. I have been on both sides, and have quite recently been persuaded about something relating to this. There can be more heat than light when socialists misinterpret what each other are saying, because we can get very precious about our own ideas on tactics being obvious when others disagree. But a significant section of the women’s movement are openly hostile to the socialist project. Unfortunately, a significant section of socialists make concessions to them that they should not. It is simply not possible to reconcile this version of so-called feminism with any version of socialism and liberation of the working class and liberation for every other oppressed groups. Marxists are forced to take sides. And I am unapologetic in siding with Marxism.


  2. Ryan says:

    You’ve insulted the feminists for leaving but didn’t give the reason why they left. What was the reason?


    • TomDelargy says:

      Ryan, as I have tried to make clear I do not accept a single category of feminist. In its broadest sense as a synonym for the project of women’s liberation, I am a feminist. Do I think all who left the SWP have a single attitude towards feminism? No, I do not. Did I intend to insult them all? No. While there are many who left I have no time for, if you read the voluminous contributions I posted on the SWP crisis, you will spot that I appealed to SWP loyalists not to treat them all alike. I think many of them will be brought together again. I note that on both sides there is a recognition of a need not to polarize all future relations on the issue of the split. I do not think that the SWP central committee never made any mistakes. I am not even saying that there is not some things they still need to do. But the problem that lead to the split was created by a prior lack of education by the SWP leadership of its politics. John Molyneux was spot on when it came to democratic centralism. And the SWP’s attitude towards feminism had gotten blurred over the years. Those who left did so in large parts because they did not recognise what the SWP had taught in the past. The case I make in my blog contribution was a pretty straightforward defense of that position.


  3. Ryan says:

    You called them incompetent and have an inability to comprehend who their ”allies are” Surely saying things like that will make them feel more justified in leaving?


    • TomDelargy says:

      Ryan, I am not sure what point you are trying to make. You need to be much more specific. And I suspect you are jumping to conclusions on several things. In the first place, it might be that you assume I am an SWP member. I am not and have have not been for an indeterminate time. Chris Bambery managed to expel me secretly in 1987 along with at least one other central committee member, but without this being sanctioned by Chris Harman, Lindsey German, John Rees and by all accounts every other member of that committee or indeed the majority of the Glasgow district. When the latter thought I had been expelled and on what basis remains a mystery to me. I suspect they are/were under the impression I left of my own free will, which Bambery knows to be a lie, as does Mike Gonzalez and at least one senior member in Glasgow. Since I am not a member of the SWP, and have not been by my own decision since 1996, it should not matter to ISN members what I think. No one in the SWP bears any responsibility for my attitude towards the split. Furthermore, I do not dismiss everyone who left the SWP as one incompetent bloc. I refuse to place all blame for what happened on everyone who left. There were mistakes made by the central committee for which they are now paying a very heavy price. However, these mistakes do not justify anyone having left. Having said that, some of those who left should have been expelled a long time ago. Pat Stack and co were outrageously accommodating to Richard Seymour whose behavior was that of an agent provocateur. He was the embodiment of a political cancer that the SWP should celebrate having gotten rid of. But there are others who left due to reasons that is not primarily their fault. They left because they had been adequately educated to deal with the issues that rose during the debate. While they could all pinpoint mistakes of the central committee and some of their supporters (not all of which have, even today, been adequately dealt with, in my ‘humble’ opinion), the arguments they deployed during the crisis proves they had been recruited to the SWP prematurely. I am not arguing they are bad people. I am not scornful of the idea that the SWP should have engaged in constructive relations with such people; they certainly should. However, what they believed to be the case about democratic centralism proved they were never party material. Richard Seymour should have known that, had he spent his time reading Chris Harman, John Molyneux, Antonio Gramsci, Lenin, Trotsky, etc. But he self-evidently did none of these things. He wasted his time sinking into the mire of academic ‘Marxism’. Who should be blamed for this? In the first place, clearly he should. However, this accident waiting to happen can be traced to Chris Harman’s abandoning his attempt to reeducate the SWP cadres in the poison that is Althusserianism, and of academic ‘Marxism’ in its entirety. Harman obviously was not happy with this, but his central committee partners clearly outvoted him to relegate these preoccupations to a personal agenda of Socialist Worker’s editor, of John Molyneux as well. Others were told that it really didn’t matter, and maybe Alex Callinicos had been right all along. The SWP has to return to these questions. And Alex Callinicos has to recognize the problem of academic ‘Marxism’.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s