Editorial: Women and socialism
Socialists argue from the basic fact that capitalism’s private property relationships and class division are the cause of the oppression of both men and women. Women’s Liberation movements put forward immediate demands such as equal pay, equal educational opportunities, 24-hour nurseries, free contraception and abortion on demand. Some of these demands may well be achieved, but now more than ever there is a need for a revolutionary change in society. It must be recognised that the subjugation of women does not exist independently but is related to economic structures in society. Men and women are oppressed together in an institutional framework that makes inhuman demands upon the, and inculcates destructive beliefs about themselves. They must be liberated together by changing society.
The choicest fruits of human society are denied to the working class, although they produce the wealth and operate and organise society’s productive and distributive machinery. Once the majority of the world working class recognise that they can possess these themselves. they will establish socialism. It is not possible to have “little bits” of socialism or socialist “policies” and socialism does not exist anywhere in the world at this time.
The prerequisite for this new society is understanding and desire to co-operate.
Being world-wide, there will be no national barriers. There will be debates on the common aim, followed by organisation and action. Goods will be produced for use, so there will be no monetary system. This fundamental change in the basis of society will alter all social relationships and structures in our way of life. Police, lawyers and armed forces will give way to men and women doing useful work. Money, taxation and cheap goods will be replaced by production to meet human needs. With free access to wealth, there will be no starving millions, no poverty or degradation. Men and women and children will have complete equality in that they will have that free access to all goods produced. There will be freedom from want and fear. For the first time humanity will be controlling their environment.
New social relationships will form when socialism is established. There will be no husbands and wives because marriage derives from private property relationships. Men will no longer dominate women conditioned to be subservient. Today men and women stay together, often unhappily, because of economic necessity. The myth that child bearing and rearing is the fulfillment of a woman’s destiny will be rejected. Men and women will shape and create their own lives. The alienating nature of work will disappear. The exploitation of women as sexual objects, which seems so normal to many men today will be swept aside. Equally important, the sort of spite and resentment that men as well as women show towards each other today, expressed in emotional blackmail, will pass away. People will relate to each other purely as human beings.
The problems of capitalism are not to be solved within the social and economic relationships basic to this system. Capitalism is unable to satisfy the needs and desires of the people of the world. Socialism is technically possible now. All we need is action by a conscious socialist majority of men and women to free us all, without distinction of sex.
We are all oppressed by capitalism and only by its abolition can humanity truly become emancipated. Only with the establishment of socialism can we become free—free to control our own lives, free to have or not to have children without regard to any financial considerations, free to work at any job we choose or to do as many different jobs as we wish in the course of a lifetime. The aim of the women’s movement can only lead them into illogical impasses if they continue to pursue their goals within the framework of capitalism. Women should be aware that the Socialist Party of Great Britain has, since its inception 75 years ago, worked for the emancipation of the working class “without distinction of race or sex”—a rare phrase indeed in 1904, however much lip service may be paid to these ideas in 1979.