Lately, I have been rummaging through my book collection and I came across this old gem, a pamphlet by the SWP on “The Struggle for Women’s Liberation”… the ending has the usual mantra, “There can be no women’s liberation without socialism’… Not sure how old the pamphlet was except to say it cost me 50 pence! But majority of the pages have my scrawl. There’s a couple of pages that distorts feminism and the 70s women’s liberation movement, mixed in with the usual workerism too. But what disturbed me somewhat was this was the explanation of domestic violence in working class homes:
“The disappointment and alienation is more likely to turn inward – to violence – in the poorest families”…
It’s a statement that let’s violent men off the hook, no mention of individual responsibility nor indeed an understanding that people make political choices. It’s also a highly insulting statement too. It’s a reductionist argument…. blame it on capitalism. Also, this pamphlet denies any kind of commonality between middle and working class women. Domestic violence has a tendency to transcend class.
I suppose flipping through this pamphlet made me even more acutely aware of the crisis gripping the SWP. From their leaflet handed out to Unison Women’s Conference (“Challenge Those Who Trivalise Rape”) to various meetings on International Women’s Day. To be honest, I can’t get my head around this mindset, this level of total denial, exposing sheer contempt and arrogance to their own members who question and also show disgust at the way the woman comrade who made the allegation of rape was treated. This doesn’t reflect solidarity or comradeship or basic support it exposes disdain and an absolute disrespect for their own members and for the left overall. It also shows a real disdain for justice, something which this woman didn’t get.
That leads me onto whether the “loyalists” actually give a damn for this young woman. The trauma and distress she may be going through, and has possibly been through. There are no words to describe the act of rape. I can only imagine it was compounded by the fact that comrade Delta was older, was in a more powerful position and had authority. The revolutionary Left reflects the unequal power relationships between men and women, which exist in society overall. The Left is not hermetically sealed from oppression.
And as we see unfortunately, when confronted with oppression in its own organisation, the SWP wants to sweep it under the carpet, move on, condemn the critics, expel them and stick their collective fingers in their ears chanting, “La-la-la… I am not hearing you”..behaviour can and does exist in a revolutionary organisation. Again, nobody wants to admit that vile behaviour can and does exist in a revolutionary organisation. Well, it does and the SWP needs to stop condemning the “filthy” “darkside” of the internet and confront its own massive failings. One being, not standing shoulder to shoulder with this young woman comrade. Rather than this closed off blinkered intellectual system, along with uncritical support for leadership that is coming across like a cult… a kinda religion but without a God. It’s a mindset that I certainly cannot understand or relate to, it’s eerie and creepy. No good can come from it other than destruction and further implosion.
It does stick in the crawl and make my hackles rise when I see leaflets that say “challenge those that trvialise rape”… Does include your own leadership, a confederacy of dunces who ran roughshod over justice? And now there’s meetings organised around International Women’s Day.…which has also appalled me.
One is titled, “How do we win liberation”….?
Here’s a suggestion… Stand shoulder to shoulder with your women comrades who make allegations of rape while confronting the abuse and oppression in your own organisation….