Letters, March 2013

Issue section: 

Uniting in struggle

Alex Callinicos makes an excellent defence of the politics of the SWP in his article, "Is Leninism finished?" (Feature, Socialist Review, February 2013). But I would like to add something on another issue over which the SWP has recently been criticised. This is the claim that the SWP has not been doing enough to proclaim its support for feminism.

In fact the SWP has an excellent record of fighting against the oppression of women. SWP members fight alongside all types of feminists in campaigns against the various manifestations of sexism and women's oppression.
But what about this word "feminism"? The problem is that different people use it to mean different things. If you are just using the word "feminist" to mean a person who fights for equality for women, then Marxists are by definition feminists.

But in fact the word is usually associated with some form of "patriarchy theory". Patriarchy does not just mean sexism and women's oppression; it means "rule by men" or "male power". The problem with this is that it tends to lead to the conclusion that all men are the problem and that all women, whatever their class, should unite to fight against male power.

But society is not ruled by all men. It is ruled by the capitalist class. It is capitalism, not the whole male sex, which benefits from the oppression of women. Indeed gender inequalities have always been linked to class divisions, ever since the rise of class societies.

Working class women have nothing in common with ruling class women. We need to fight sexism in the here and now, but the only way to end all types of oppression for good is for the working class - women and men - to unite in struggle and get rid of capitalism.

Phil Webster


I was very pleased to see an article on Loyalism and the flag protests in Northern Ireland ine the last issue (Feature, Socialist Review February 2013).I found it to be a thoughtful and accurate analysis of the current failures of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

As you will see in Politics courses around the UK the GFA is seen as a success and is exported around the world as a great undertaking of great statespeople. In reality the GFA has and is failing the working class people of Northern Ireland - and is destroying Protestant working class areas at a rapid rate.
The GFA from its inception was seen as a stepping stone out of the sectarian hell that we, in Northern Ireland, lived in. But it has become a framework for sectarianism and Neoliberal policies.

It is rolling back gains made in the civil rights movement, destroying heritage sites and selling out working class people.

The current attempt by the ruling class to split the working class of Ireland in the middle this crisis of capitalism will drag working class people further into poverty and create the very conditions that brought about the Troubles in the first place.
As the author mentioned, the potential for the working class to unite and work for a better future exists.

The evidence of this was seen in 2009 after a series of shootings on the army and police. Thousands took to the streets across the province in Belfast, Derry, Newry, Downpatrick and Lisburn to proclaim "Not going Back". Union Banners and the orgainised working class where clearly evident within these protests.
On November 30 2011 over one hundred thousand workers took part in strike action in Northern Ireland, showing the real potential for change is in the North is through the working class - but only if we fight to break down the framework of sectarianism and hate that is used by the ruling class to blind us from the possibilities for united resistance.

Ruairi O Neil