Today is international women’s day, a day for appreciating the status of women in the modern world. It was on this day that women textile workers kicked off the February Revolution against the Romanov Empire with a demonstration, creating a chain reaction that would ultimately destroy one of history’s most powerful imperial states. The struggle of women is a historic one, bound particularly to the modern world-economy. The capitalist system operates through hierarchical divisions of labor where the roles and rewards allotted to some are better than those allotted to others. It is for this reason that women were initially barred from the workforce and relegated to domestic work and that even after women have entered the workforce world over they face worse pay and conditions than men and have the double burden of domestic work on top of wage labor.
This division of labor works through devaluing the labor of women. Women’s labor is valued less in the capitalist world-economy than that of the man. This presents those of us working for an egalitarian society with a double dilemma. On the one hand, there can be no hope of a non-patriarchal capitalism. The division of labor which allows capital to accumulate is one in which women are saddled with more work and less benefit and always has been. It may not be a technical impossibility to have a capitalist world that doesn’t run on the oppression of women, but given the historical reality of capitalism such an idea becomes so practically deficient that our best bet is to replace capitalism with a more egalitarian system. On the other hand, our movements can not pretend that the destruction of capitalism means the destruction of sexism. There is no guarantee that a post-capitalist world will be an egalitarian one, another form of exploitation (including new forms of sexism) could easily replace capitalism.
This double dilemma for modern radicals means that we only have one option. We need to build a horizontally integrated, egalitarian, anti-capitalist movement, in which women and all other exploited and oppressed groups take an active and equal part in a collective, solidaric struggle, for the deliberate creation of the most democratic social order humanly possible. Historically Anarcho-Syndicalists, such as those who participate in organizations such as Workers’ Solidarity Alliance and International Workers’ Association, have called such a society “Libertarian Socialism”. A Libertarian Socialist social order means rank and file control of society through mass assemblies which elect delegates who’s only and restrictive function is to carry out the rank and file decisions on the larger scale. A Libertarian Socialist society would be made up by a planetary confederation of mass assemblies around the world, the participatory nature of such a confederation preventing the marginalization of specific groups to the benefit of other groups.
The planetary confederation through the mass assemblies which elect delegates would organize the world wide system of production and distribution. The participatory nature of the mass assemblies would mean that women would participate on equal footing in making the important social decisions to all other gender groups and as a result; there would be no division of labor which saddled women with the most work and slimmest benefits. In the coming years as capitalism invariably becomes more unstable and conservative forces mobilize to ensure the preservation of inequality Anarcho-Syndicalists as well as all those seeking an egalitarian world should make international women’s day, time and time again, about the active struggle of women, in solidarity with all other oppressed and exploited groups, to make a better world not only possible, but actual.