We Need to Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!
On December 1, during a hearing over a case that will shape the future of abortion rights across the country, the fascist “justices” ho now make up a majority on the nation’s Supreme Court unleashed a shock-and-awe barrage of cruel disregard for the lives and humanity of women. They stand poised to eviscerate the legal right to abortion and give a green light to states to force women to have children against their will.
Yet, instead of calling forward furious outpourings of the millions of people who do not want to see women forced to choke on their dreams as their bodies and futures are hijacked by a patriarchal state that coerces them into bearing children against their will, the so-called “women’s movement” is largely doing the opposite. Shamefully, many are promoting feel-good fairy tales and the deadly delusion that all this isn’t really that bad and we have a lot to celebrate anyhow. You really can’t make this shit up.
Listen to what Amy Littlefield, a pro-choice writer who makes a big deal of the fact that her views are informed by and reflect her conversations with at least 50 abortion rights activists, had to say on Democracy Now!:
I think the most important thing that I saw was not what was going on inside the Supreme Court which is sort of confirmation that they’re going to do what the Christian Right has been planning for decades, but what I saw outside was an abortion rights movement that was really emboldened, that was prepared, that was debuting the messaging that is going to be needed to rebuild a mass movement to change the culture and to reshape the fight in the years to come after the right to legal abortion falls.
Giving in to Female Enslavement Without a Fight
While it is posed mostly as an afterthought in her comments, it should not be missed that Littlefield is explicitly capitulating in advance to the fall of legal abortion rights. She, like almost every “pro-choice leader” these days, is looking at the fascist majority on the court as a reason to accept a fascist ruling and work within its limits, rather than as a reason to reject and step outside of the terms of this system and its institutions. This is all the more damning right now as there are examples all over the world—from Mexico to Poland to Argentina—of women standing up in society-shaking outpourings of mass fury against abortion restrictions and in some cases wrenching victories from even viciously patriarchal states.
Is anything less needed here now? We are talking about the enslavement of half of humanity! Consider the casual cruelty concentrated in “Justice” Amy Coney Barrett asking what the big deal would be about forcing women to carry pregnancies to term and then give the baby up with no future parental rights, as if this were something casual, not enslaving and deeply scarring. And let’s be clear, just as the widespread lynchings of Black people did not only affect their direct victims but had a terrorizing effect on the entire Black population, this kind of cruelty and dehumanization wouldn’t affect only the individual women cruelly forced in this way to bear children and then give them away. This barbaric threat—just one of many horrific scenarios that would become common without safe, legal abortion—would hang like a weight and a terror over all women and all girls. This future should absolutely not be conceded to or shrugged off.
But that is not the only thing wrong with Littlefield’s confidence that “the movement” will be able to “reshape the fight in the years to come after the right to legal abortion falls.”
The assault on abortion is not isolated. It is not taking place against a backdrop where the rest of society and its institutions remain unchanged. This assault on abortion is part of a larger fascist remaking of society to one in which unrestrained white supremacy, male supremacy, and crude America-First chauvinism are enforced by an open and aggressive dictatorship that tramples on and perverts the rule of law and relies on the violence and terror of fascist mobs.
Already, fascist mobs are invading every sphere of public life. They are threatening school board members, public health officials, election workers and more. And the Republican Party has not only purged itself of anyone who firmly opposed the violent coup attempt by Trump’s supporters on January 6, it has been moving aggressively to so thoroughly corrupt the election processes that they will either win regardless of the popular vote or be able to unleash violent mobs to nullify an election they lose. A win for them in decimating abortion rights would accelerate their momentum.
The idea that the “pro-choice movement” could then just retreat into local elections and build up power over years and decades (a “strategy” put forward by Littlefield elsewhere in her writings, as well as by many “pro-choice leaders,” and robustly refuted by Toni RedTree here) is a complete fantasy out of touch with what is really going on.1
Abortion Pills Are No Match for a Fascist State
But let’s go further, still. What exactly did Littlefield see outside the court that gave her such confidence? She spoke about how outside the courthouse, activists chanted, “Abortion Pills Forever!” and promoted the medication that can safely induce abortions in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, adding:
[A]s organizer Amelia Bonow told me, Republicans might have the courts, but we are out here having abortions. They can’t stop them. That was the point. They are in open defiance of the court. They are saying you can ban abortion legally, but now that these pills are out there, you can’t actually stop people from having abortion.
Stop playing. Of course the state and a fascist society can stop women from safely accessing abortions! The state has a monopoly on the use of “legitimate” force and uses this force to enforce its laws. Have these people really never noticed the millions and millions of people who have been violently packed into this country’s prisons—many of them for simple, low-level offenses like marijuana possession? Of course it matters if the state criminalizes abortion—all the more if it also unleashes growing mobs of Christian fascist and other fanatics to hunt down women and those who assist them the way Texas has. Just look at El Salvador, where abortion is so criminalized that not only are women sent to prison, but doctors are legally required to report miscarriages to the police or risk prison themselves. Or, look at Indiana, where, in 2015, Purvi Patel was sentenced to prison for allegedly inducing her own abortion.
Even in the “most democratic” of times, the state that rules over the U.S. uses its monopoly on the legitimate use of force to maintain a dictatorship of the capitalist-imperialist class. In a fascist state, this dictatorship becomes more blatant, terroristic and openly repressive—and the full force of all of this will be brought against any woman who dares defy their edict.
Women of Color Are NOT Talismans Who Guarantee Victory
The other piece of make-believe that caused Littlefield to take on an air of giddy triumphalism is that, as she explained:
[F]or the first time in history that both NARAL and Planned Parenthood are led by women of color.
But women of color are not talismans (magical objects) whose mere existence guarantees victory. The decisive question is not the “identity” of the individuals who are leading, but whether their outlook and program correspond to the actual problem we face and the real solution. Littlefield claims that there is going to be a different, more combative approach advanced by this new leadership. But there is nothing about the current program of either of these organizations that has fundamentally ruptured with their decades-long pattern of capitulating to and working defensively within each new restriction on abortion as it comes—now in the form of accepting and preparing to work within the reversal of abortion protections nationally.
There IS a Way Forward, and Leadership to Take Us There!
The point in all this is not that the state is all powerful or that there is no leadership to take us forward.
To the contrary: precisely when those fascists in control of key portions of the state (and aiming for total control) are ripping up rights and norms that generations of people have expected and relied on, the state has tremendous vulnerabilities. It is in times like this that the millions who are shocked and jolted out of their normal passivity can and must be won to wage ferocious mass struggle against the barbaric acts of the state and the fascists they unleash, changing the whole atmosphere throughout society, tempering themselves and calling even more people into the struggle as they go forward. It is in times like this that people very broadly can be compelled to question fundamental things about society that they’ve unthinkingly accepted before—including whether this is the only way things can be. It is in times like this that the state risks losing the allegiance of huge sections of the population and growing numbers of people can be organized, leap by leap, into a movement for revolution aiming to bring this whole system down.
And there is leadership for this! Bob Avakian (BA) is a revolutionary leader and author of the new communism who roots himself on a scientific basis in the reality that the patriarchal oppression of women—along with white supremacy, environmental destruction, American chauvinism and more—are deeply rooted in this system and can only be solved through a real revolution. Through decades of work and struggle, he has forged a strategy for how this revolution can be made and a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a radically new society that is the road to real emancipation. Of tremendous importance right now, BA has led in recognizing that, as he put it in the title of a must-read piece for everyone who cares about the future, THIS IS A RARE TIME WHEN REVOLUTION BECOMES POSSIBLE—WHY THAT IS SO, AND HOW TO SEIZE ON THIS RARE OPPORTUNITY. And, one hallmark of BA has been his work to advance humanity’s understanding of the centrality of the fight for the full liberation of women to the process of emancipating all of humanity, beyond what Marxism—or any other school of thought—had previously understood.
Seizing on this rare opportunity requires breaking with all forms of make-believe. It requires, instead, tapping into and unleashing the pent up fury of millions and millions of women who refuse to be slammed backwards, degraded, insulted and enslaved, as a mighty force for a real revolution. It requires coming to grips with the fact that a system that would put women’s most fundamental rights on the chopping block is completely illegitimate and must be overthrown. It requires lifting our sights to and digging deeply into the revolution BA is leading. And it requires courageously standing up against—and organizing thousands and soon millions more to stand up against—the rising fascism in this country as part of building up the organized strength and societal repolarization necessary to bring the whole system down.
ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY!
FORCED MOTHERHOOD IS FEMALE ENSLAVEMENT!
BREAK THE CHAINS! UNLEASH THE FURY OF WOMEN AS A MIGHTY FORCE FOR REVOLUTION!
1. Littlefield expands on this approach in her December 1 New York Times op-ed titled “Where the Pro-Choice Movement Went Wrong.” Here, a few further words about that op-ed: In addition to Littlefield’s failure to accurately assess where the “pro-choice movement” actually went wrong, she completely erases the one political force that consistently called on people to forge a mass movement to fight unapologetically for abortion on demand and without apology (in opposition to decades of pro-choice “leaders” insisting that abortion should be “rare”); that called on people to fight this in the streets in their millions, that forcefully exposed and opposed the Hyde Amendment for depriving poor and especially Black and Latino women of access to abortion; that fought against relying on the courts or politicians; and more. This was done by Refuse & Resist! in the 1980s and ’90s and by Stop Patriarchy in the 2010s (including its Abortion Rights Freedom Rides which traveled the entire country in the summer of 2013, focused that fall on Jackson, Mississippi, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then in 2014 went to Texas for a month). These efforts were decisively influenced by the leadership of Bob Avakian, who has identified the struggle for abortion and female emancipation as a touchstone question for everyone. At the same time, these efforts united and were the product of people from very diverse political perspectives standing together against the real enemy. But through this time, far too many in “the movement” not only stood aside from, but actively attacked and attempted to “cancel” Stop Patriarchy and anyone who dared support it. This did great harm and has contributed significantly to the dangerous situation we face today. If there is going to an accurate summation of where the pro-choice movement went off course, this whole wrong approach needs to be sharply criticized and defeated by people standing up in unity and waging a heroic struggle now. [back]