Thursday, 14 March 2013
Socialists, our organisations and women
As socialists we know under a capitalist society we and our organisations can never be fully immune from the pressures and horrors of the capitalist society we are made up of working class people full of the strains and pains of a day to day exploitative system. The recent allegations and the subsequent crisis in the SWP has largely not been talked about by my organisation I’m a member of the socialist party I’m disappointed by this as keeping quiet on the matter only adds to the suspicion around our own party which has lead some to say well what have they got to hide too why are they not coming out with a statement firmly opposing the methods and roots of the crisis in the SWP. Not for cheap political point scoring but to reaffirm our commitment to fighting women’s oppression day to day. I personally felt we should have produced a strong statement on our own terms not the terms set by other organisations or media establishments but reaffirming the socialist party’s position on rape and sexual assault. The thing is any organisation in this world, whether it is a business or a party, a union or a think-tank, should enough members pass through its ranks, is going to throw up cases of sexual assault by one member against another. Short of subjecting every potential recruit to rigorous psychometric tests, this is quite inevitable. There are only two things we have any control over: minimising the risk, and maximising our ability to deal with such offences as and when they occur. Marxists explain women’s oppression and exploitation in terms of determinate historical forces - economic, political, and ideological - in which it is materially rooted. It is neither an inevitable consequence of the division of humanity into sexes nor possible to wish away by fiat; it is necessary both to fight most energetically for women’s liberation, and to accept that the fight will not be won, not even in our own ranks, until our whole project is complete. Fighting sexism, racism and other forms of oppression is not something we can eliminate before over throwing capitalism and defeating exploitation but it is something we should be looking to take up day to day not brushing it under the carpet as though its something we can deal with at a later day. I personally feel making our meetings accessible to all is key to building a movement to change society. Having women’s sections in our organisation with strong minded women who fight everyday in their workplaces to change society bit by bit but realising that division and oppression will exist for as long as a system exists putting the need to make profit above anything else. As we know women are affected far more by the austerity cuts raining down on us and are far likely to become more politicised than men in this period a reawakening of feminism and trends of women not willing to sit quiet any longer on matters that have always affected them is a positive thing in my mind. Why should women keep quiet for the good of the organisation they area part of? Challenging sexism and women’s oppression wherever and whenever we can and keeping on our guard about it is key to providing a necessary arena for women to join the fight to change society. Being opposed to sexism, rape and other forms of discrimination is not just something we can put on our materials we must look to challenge it within our own ranks too whenever it rears its ugly head. Interestingly a new allegation of a leading trade unionist Steve Hedley of the RMT has come to light of domestic violence he has been alleged to have conducted. As Steve joined the socialist party last year at socialism 2012 claiming a lot of differences with our organisation but thinking we were good class fighters decided to join us its been very quiet on his joining from our party and now this recent allegation has come to light perhaps we can understand why now. Steve has now resigned from the party with the following statement. The Socialist Party has received a message from Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of the RMT, resigning from the Socialist Party. Steve feels it is necessary to resign in order to concentrate on dealing with an allegation of domestic violence which has been made against him. Steve refutes this allegation, which is currently being investigated by the RMT. Steve wrote: "Regarding our conversation earlier the police have dropped the case and I'm currently awaiting the outcome of the RMT investigation. "I am not in control of when the decision will be made and have been strongly advised against issuing a public statement whilst investigations are ongoing. "I know this puts the Socialist Party in a difficult position and is therefore resigning my membership. "I will continue to support TUSC and the NSSN and work constructively with SP comrades." I personally feel we should have added our own comments reaffirming our absolute seriousness in challenging domestic violence and giving our position on domestic violence mentioning the campaigns we’ve been involved in including In the 1990s the socialist party’s forerunner, Militant, founded the Campaign Against Domestic Violence, which fought “for better resources …, to promote awareness …, to campaign for legal change and to raise domestic violence as a workplace issue” Something like that should be highlighted and held up about how seriously we do take things of this matter. Maybe we will after the RMT investigation has concluded. But one thing is for sure socialist parties must be vigilant at all times and aware of what is going on in the wider world and to combat them at all times.