Is Another World REALLY Possible?
Sketch-Pad: Histories of Revolutionary Emergence
1. Collective Creation
2. Billions vs. Billionaires
- Rules of the Game
3. Mutiny on Starship Earth
Sketch-Pad: Histories of Revolutionary Emergence
1. Collective Creation
2. Billions vs. Billionaires
3. Mutiny on Starship Earth
As environmental disasters continued to sweep the world, middle class Americans suddenly found themselves to be refugees. Survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, and the wild fires on California found themselves without homes, jobs, food, or health care weeks, months, even years after the events “ended.” As the Trump Administration's incompetence and indifference became clear, and frustration with local efforts grew, survivors looked to each other for progress.
First organically coming together in family and neighbor units, some survivors developed an intentional process for organizing. Lead by single mothers and their children, fully functioning communities based on the City of Joy sprang up in Puerto Rico, Houston, Southern Florida, New Orleans, California.
Recognizing these communities as refugees of environmental disaster, the peoples of the First Nations opened their lands and conferred “citizenship” on these “immigrants.” With the influx of human, political, and economic power (many of those affected by the California wildfires were rich) the First Nations waged a successful campaign for recognition by the United Nations.
Similarly, groups of refugees won the right to compete in the Olympic games under the Olympic banner, bringing international attention to the Trump Administration's - and capitalism's - inability to protect human life.
More to come… https://www.onebillionrising.org/
It is often difficult for today’s students – raised in societies where equality, and gender equality in particular, is the norm – to comprehend the oppressive conditions under which women workers were forced to labor just a century ago. Twenty seventeen was the year things started to change when numbers of female employees in the media, business and government came foreward to accuse their bosses, prominent, powerful men, of perpetrating predatory sexualized violence on them; it was the year they were finally heard.
Thus, thanks partly to social media, the ancient wall of silence surrounding male violence and bosses’ ‘right’ to compel sexual favors with impunity had been breached. That breach was first opened up by women in the celebrity class, and through it poured a vast army of angry, indignant lower-ranking female workers and employees who were tired of suffering fear, humiliation or sexual violence on the job and were now also demanding justice. This flame of women in revolt spread from one country to another and eventually grew into an international mass movement to put an end to male predation in the workplace and contest the patriarchal power on which the then-existing class system was based.
The spark that lit the flame in 2017 was the publication in early October, of a NY Times story detailing numerous accusations of sexual harassment against a powerful movie producer named Harvey Weinstein, whose films had won a number of Academy Awards. The story detailed three decades' worth of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact accusations made against Weinstein by a number of women, including actress Ashley Judd. The story started a flood of new accusations from dozens of other women, including some who said Weinstein had raped them. Weinstein’s predatory behavior had been an open secret in Hollywood for years, but his victims were cowed by his threats of retaliation, and the industry establishment had kept his secret.
At last the genie of “sexual harrassment” was out of the bottle. Under the hashtag #MeToo, thousands of U.S. women began outing famous predators, and under the hashtag #balance ton porc (“out your pig”) the rebellion spread to France, where the taboo protecting males was deeply entrenched. Among the upstanding Americans outed were a liberal talk-show host and media icon named Charlie Rose (who preached “character”) and Alabama Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore – who as a judge had famously placed the Ten Commandments in front of his court, a breach of the law of separation of church and state, for which he was twice fined. Moore, a racist reactionary accused of molesting teenage girls, was strongly defended by President Trump, a self-confessed “pussy grabber” whom sixteen women had accused of sexual harrassment.
At first this rebellion against sexualized workplace violence played out in the celebrity spheres of politics and entertainment, and the media, had a field day publicising ever-new sex scandals about the rich and famous. The underlying labor issue of power and inequality in the workplace was downplayed.
“It is not at all the same thing to tweet in 140 characters and to bring a complaint in court,” said Marilyn Baldeck, a lawyer with the European Association Against Violence Against Women at Work in France, where legal procedures enabling female employees to sue their bosses for sexual harassment were quietly being further restricted. These procedures generally lead to more humiliation and paltry results, and in any case ordinary working women with children to feed were too scared to complain and find themselves fired, as was often the case when women did complain, a process that often led to more humiliation and paltry results. Acting on legal precedent, U.S. courts routinely dismissed cases brought by workers who claim their supervisors propositioned them, kissed them or grabbed their breasts. The judges declared that the conduct does not constitute harassment in a legal sense, and refused to let the cases go to trial.
Then, in an amazing gesture of solidarity, elite celebrity women in the US organized the TimesUp initiative and reached across class lines to the millions of underprivileged working women. They used their visibility to bring to light the struggles of women farm workers, domestic workers, restaurant workers, native Americans and others, dramatically inviting representative leaders of these movements to appear as their guests at the Golden Globes awards ceremony before an audience of millions. In addition to demanding legislative action to protect women workers, the celebrity women also created a legal fund to help low-paid women to bring suits against abusive employers. In an expression of acute class consciousness, the well-paid celebrity women referred to their own powerlessness as employees in a male-dominated capitalist industry not different in essence from the position of waitresses and other low-paid female employees obliged to please their mostly-male bosses to get hired or keep their jobs. Called Time’s Up, the movement was announced with an impassioned pledge of support to working-class women in an open letter signed by hundreds of women in show business, many of them A-listers. The letter also ran as a full-page ad in The New York Times, and in La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper. Time’s Up also helps defuse criticism that the spotlight on the #MeToo movement has been dominated by the accusers of high-profile men, while the travails of working-class women have been overlooked.This was highlighted in November, when an open letter was sent on behalf of 700,000 female farmworkers who said they stood with Hollywood actresses in their fight against abuse. Time’s Up members said the letter bolstered their resolve to train their efforts on both Hollywood and beyond.
Encouraged by the TimesUp initiative, low-wage women, formerly too poor to bring a lawsuit and too obscure to interest the media, struck back collectively. They picked up the method of struggle they were most familiar with: the picket line. First in NY, then in Paris and around the world, “Out Your Pig!” picket lines began springing up in front of McDonald’s and other fast-food emporiums. Indignant women carried picket signs demanding predators be fired including the names (and photos) of the bosses they were outing. While guilty supervisors cringed inside and desperately called headquarters for help, customers, both female and male, turned away or joined the pickets. Local media had a field day covering the picketing, videos of confrontations went viral, and “Out Your Pig” picket lines sprung up outside hospitals, factories, retail stores wherever bosses and supervisers were using their power to abuse their workers.
These images of working women in revolt soon spread around the globe. The pent-up indignation of super-exploited female workers in sweatshops from Central America to South-East Asia, long brutalized and sexually humiliated by their bosses, exploded into direct action. In Dakha, Bengladesh, scene of the disastrous 2012 garment factory fire, a sewing machine operator, trapped in the stockroom by her supervisor who expected her to submit to his advances instead called loudly for help. Her fellow workers came to her defense, swarmed over the supervisor, and, laughing, pulled down his pants to shame him! This predatory supervisor was never seen again, and his colleagues suddenly began acting more respectful. A video showing him trying to run away with his bottom bare and his pants around his ankles soon went viral.
This boss’ humiliation gave a new meaning to the expression “out your pig,” and from then on there was no way to stop the swarming and de-pantsing scenario from repeating itself all over the world. When the factory women informed the press that their company was making clothes for famous brands like Timmy Holfiger, women in the U.S. declared a boycott to pressure management to clean up their act.
In the midst of this crisis, women across the world took to the streets on Nov. Saturday on the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Crowds poured into the streets in Peru, Mexico, France, Sweden, Spain, Mozambique, and other countries and protest femicide, rape and sexual harassment. In Turkey, thousands of women clashed with police in Istanbul during the protest. “They do not even let this (march) happen. They cannot even tolerate this. They do not want us, the women, to be free. But we will not leave the streets, as long as we can.”
In France and Morocco, the outing of vastly popular Morroaccan singer Saad Lamjarred exposed the underlying culture when the women he raped was villified and the King supported the rapist. “This case is a little summary of the reality in Morocco,” said Saida Kouzzi, a founding partner of Mobilizing for Rights Associates, a nongovernmental organization based in Morocco. “We can be tolerant about rape and forget all moral and religious values when it concerns men,” she added, “while at the same time we are not willing to protect women.” Marital rape is not a crime in Morocco, and sex outside of marriage is illegal. Both rules discourage rape victims from coming forward because of the fear of being incriminated, advocates said. “Going to the police to file a complaint about rape can also become an admission of having sex outside of marriage,” Ms. Kouzzi said.
The womens’ new-found power naturally sparked further struggles for better wages and conditions. Historically, women workers’ resistance to the boss’ sexual predations had been at the origins of the organized labor movement. In 1905, many of the women who hand-painted the world-famous Limoges vases and figurines went on strike in France — not because they were poorly paid or toiled long hours, but because they were prey to the factory overseer’s sexual urges. In the 19th century similar struggles brought together young women textile workers in Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 1844 and so continued on.
In the U.S., the women workers’ revolt grew out of the developing 21st century culture of social-movement style labor organizing among low-paid workers. These underpaid jobs had long been consigned to women and oppressed minorities. Since 2012, the “Fight for $15” movement, backed by progressive unions like SEIU, had grown from a walkout by by 200 fast-food workers in NY City to a global movement of home health aides, child care teachers, airport workers, adjunct professors, retail employees – and underpaid workers in over 300 cities on six continents demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage. The change to “$15+Dignity” seemed hardly a big jump. Soon the ardent demand for gender justice was grafted on to a movement which was already allied with the movement for racial justice. Although in that period it was nearly impossible for low-paid workers to actually strike and legally win union rights under US labor laws, they were able to win victories by adapting the tactics of the civil rights movement through “direct action, taking to the streets, organizing” Indeed, the alliance between labor and the Black liberation movement went back to the 1960s, and you may have learned Martin Luther King met his assassination when went to Memphis, TE to support a municipal strike of Black garbage workers. This alliance was renewed in Memphis in 2017 by a public alliance between the ASCME union and #Black Lives Matter. The women’s revolt for dignity completed the picture.
In the early 21st century, the most dynamic unions remaining on the dismal US labor scene were movements of majority female workers led by women, like the Chicago Teachers Union, the California Nurses and the Social Service Employees. In contrast, membership in traditional, male-dominated bureaucratic unions was at an all time low. Thus a new alliance, between labor, civil rights and the gender justice movement was being formed in the struggle against the male violence, openly racist billionnaire class war offensives of the Trump era. From the very beginning, women had taken the lead in uniting the fractured elements of the U.S. resistance to misogynist Trump. On January 21, 2017 the day after Trump was inaugurated, a national Woman’s March brought millions of women and their allies into the streets in Washington, New York, and six hundred cities in the U.S. and world-wide. As Trump’s support plummeted to 32% in the polls, the N.Y. Times reported that the women’s protest was three times the size of the Inauguration crowd.
The Women’s March had been organized, rather spontaneously, soon after Trump’s election, by a bunch of women who got together via social media, started the ball rolling and created a loose federation of networks and social movements. The Women’s March brought together unprecedented masses to state loud and clear their solidarity with all oppressed people – women, exploited workers, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, civilian casualties of American imperialist wars abroad. In the words of actress America Ferrera:
We are gathered here and across the country and around the world today to say, Mr. Trump, we refuse. We reject the dehumanization of our Muslim mothers and sisters. We demand an end to the systemic murder and incarceration of our black brothers and sisters. We will not give up our right to safe and legal abortions. We will not ask our LGBTQ families to go backwards. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance. We won’t build walls, and we won’t see the worst in each other. And we will not turn our backs on the more than 750,000 young immigrants in this country currently protected by DACA.
Against Trump’s open misogyny and racism, the marchers maintained that women’s oppression is the basis of all oppressions. The speakers and signs proclaimed mutual solidarity among the social movements they represented – while at the same time maintaining each own group’s demands. Many signs took up the 2011 slogan of Occupy Wall Street: “This is what America Looks Like.” The most original feature of the demonstration was the proliferation of knitted Pussy Hats – a charmingly feminine satirical jibe at America’s pussy-grabber-in-chief that actually warmed peoples heads.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke out nine months later, nine months into the Trump regime, which turned out to be more horrendous, but also more divided than had been imagined by the January pussy hat marchers. And so the stage was set for a showdown…
EDITORS’ NOTE: In further chapters, we will discuss how women spearheaded the popular mass revolts that provoked a split in the U.S. ruling classes when the Trump administration called upon Federal troops to brutally disperse their demonstrations and sentenced activists to long prison terms. We will also study the origins of the famous March 8 International Assembly of Working Women, which inaugurated the first global strikes against multinational corporations which forced them to their knees through a bottle-neck strategy interrupting their global supply-lines.
Faced with an entrenched social evil, the media concensus in 2017 America was to indict “human nature” (which of course could not be changed!) instead of indicting politically sanctioned workplace oppression and inequality. Thus, the NY Times which first broke the story published an essay a month later entitled “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido ”. The author, one Steven Marche, apparently blind to the power and impunity of a self-protective male establishment, accused “the nature of men in general” and concluded that “the problem at the heart of all this [is] the often ugly and dangerous nature of the male libido.”
Thus the Times, considered the mouthpiece of U.S. liberalism was unwittingly spouting the same party line as the Saudi Arabian Wahhabist Immams, who also used that “dangerous male libido” as a pretext to lock up all Moslem women in the home and “protect” them by denying them civil rights and basic freedoms.
By now 22nd century are naturally asking: Was this about sex? Or about power? Young people today are growing up free to explore and express your individual sexuality at your own pace. You live in a world where cooperation has replaced domination, and you understand that sex is about caring and sharing, about pleasure, adventure and love. So you ask yourselves: what is is “sexy” about a powerful male dominating, humiliating and violating his helpless female subordonates? From your 22nd century viewpoint, it seems obvious that the male predation behavior of earlier historic times had more to do with power than with pleasure, with domination than with sex, with class society than with human nature.
Historically, male-dominated societies, priestly, royal or capitalist, had from earliest times proclaimed their rule to be ordained by the Gods, or more recently as “natural,” but this was propaganda. Modern archeologists and anthropologists have supplied ample evidence of the existance of stable matriarchical and matrilineal societies both in ancient history and among groups that remained isolated from Western influence well into the 20th century. Indeed, it was Morgan’s 19th century study of the Iroquois that inspired Friedrich Engels to conclude in The Origins of Private Property, the Family and the State (1884) that the rise of male dominance within previously egalitarian clans and the transformation of cattle, women and children into the personal property of the dominant male was the basis of all future class societies.
Under European feudalism, the lords of the manor gave themselves the “right” to compel the sexual services of the young women who worked and lived in their domains. In the U.S., whippings, beatings and the fear of having their children sold down the river, compelled enslaved African-American women to submit to their masters. The same oppression prevailed under capitalism, where bosses routinely expected female workers to submit to their lusts if they wanted to keep their jobs. In addition, despite legal “equality” under capitalism women were made to do most of the work, both as wage earners, as informal workers and as unpaid home-makers, cooks, child-care and elder-care providers. No wonder why the elite men who ran those primative societies united to keep women “in their place” and closed ranks against them. No wonder why many subordinate men, themselves exploited and humiliated in the workplace, were tempted to oppress and exploit the women this male culture placed under their power. And no wonder so many guilty men in those dark times unconsciously hated women, feared their power, and used violence to humiliate and subdue them. Today in 2117 in our egalitarian society where women no longer fear male violence, where women are free to openly express their own libido and where social labor is cooperative and mostly voluntary, the question of “human nature” and the allegedly “uncontrollable” male libido” seem curiously antiquated.
How did the epochal Women’s Global Strike for Dignity begin? The idea was first broached at the huge All-Women’s Assembly organised at the World Social Forum the year before. The topic was “Women at Work,” and participating were organised networks of female workers and professionals in every field including agriculturists, market-women and garbage-pickers (from the million-member Indian Self-Employed Women's Union). Panelists of specialists and women researchers documented what everyone already knew: women do most almost all the actually necessary work on the planet, both paid and unpaid.
Statistics were produced to show that in most societies women tend the crops, haul the water, care for the children, cook the meals, teach the young, care for the sick and aged, and perform most of the actual manufacturing in the labor-intensive industries like textiles and electronics that supply ordinary consumers. Men, on the other hand, were perceived as useless jerks running around giving orders and waving guns – or else sitting around in cafés and/or government offices, talking with other men (while women serve them), getting drunk, and generating useless paperwork (for women to type and file). A consensus soon emerged among the assembled women’s : we can do very well without men, but men can’t do without us. So let’s teach the men a lesson. Let’s get together and go on strike!
Hassan Mahmoud of the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Irak took the floor to state that although there was much truth behind that male stereotype – especially in Irak – women everywhere need to unite with the majority of working men, who are also exploited. This basic class division, she explained, was why the Iraki Organisation for Women’s Freedom support with the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions, who in turn support women’s equality and freedom. She proposed that the women invite working men to participate in the general strike of women and to take responsibility for the children and household work so that the women could meet and demonstrate.
March 8, celebrated for nearly a century as International Women's Day was chosen as the date for the strike. Since 2003, Eve Ensler, feminist author of ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ had been organizing “V-Days” on March 8 – a planet-wide series of events, including dancing in the streets, aimed at eliminating the growing world-wide epidemic of violence against women. What actually transpired exceeded her wildest expectations. Julia Guseva, an anarcho-marxist from Moscow, reminded the women that March 8, 1917, the day when Russian women strikers made the rounds of St. Petersburg factories calling out the men to join their strike, had signalled the beginning of the Russian workers’ and peasants’ revolution which brought sexual and social equality to Russian women before degenerating into a male-dominated, bureaucratic, state-capitalist dictatorship under the Communist Party. Quoting Marx, who wrote that ‘woman is the proletarian of the proletarian, the slave of the slave,’ Guseva urged the women present to take a great oath never to allow women's issues to take a back seat to anyone else’s ‘urgent priorities.’
And so it was agreed that on March 8 women everywhere withhold their labor – waged and unwaged – and assemble in their workplaces, villages and neighborhoods to demonstrate their power and discuss what to do next. The idea behind the Women’s Global Strike for Dignity was to demonstrate – by their idleness – that without women’s work the world economy . The women’s first demand was that governments and corporations respect the right of women to work as free laborers – not as slaves toiling in the fear of beatings by male bosses, landlords, foremen, husbands, pimps and religious enforcers.
Their slogans of the “Day Without Women” were “Stop Male Violence!” “Hands off Working Women!” “Women will no more be the slaves of slaves!”
“Sisters Rise Together!” the Strikers’ Handbook advised each collective and each individual woman to plan the level of her resistance according to her social and personal situation. In countries where unions were tolerated and civil rights respected, women would strike and demonstrate. But in other cultures more subtle forms of resistance might be appropriate, like slowdowns and various forms of sabotage – everything from letting the machines break down, burning the soup, misplacing household objects, acting sullen, and giving men the silent treatment. Resistance could take the form of a ‘sick headache’ – and still provoke a beating from a husband used to service plus sexual favors. The Handbook retold the ancient story Lysistrata, who organised an international sex strike to force their Spartan and Athenian husbands to stop the Peloponnesian War.
The idea caught on quickly among U.S. feminists and activists. Democratic officials eager for women’s votes gave their female state and municipal workers the day off. Smart employers like Google encouraged their employees to participate. (‘Sex discrimination creates a disunited workplace and is bad for productivity’). The Greeting Card Manufacturers’ Association and the Florists’ Council, smelling another Mothers Day bonanza, quietly lobbied for the March 8 holiday and began working on a heartfelt Women’s Day cards to send, accompanied by flowers, to “Mom,” “Sis,” “Grandma,” “Daughter” and Tilly the Toiler, the “girl” in the office. The Fishies used their cyber network to spread the word and help their mothers, sisters and girlfriends communicate with other women around the world. (See Rules of the Game BvB: “All winning strategies involve the free and active participation of the female Billions – united as equals with the male Billions.”)
In the poor countries, where women's oppression is direct and brutal, the very idea of a Strike for Dignity presented difficulties for women – both in the family or clan and in the factories where women workers were routinely confined and beaten. Within traditional families, the rising pitted wives and daughters against the authority of fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles and mothers-in-law. Despite fear of reprisals, women organised events in their towns and villages – wherever there was some form of women’s cooperative enterprise, trade union or women’s center connected to the world-wide women's networks. Often traditional women's activities, including female dancing, served as a pretext for gatherings. [See below: “The Dance Craze to Saved the World”]
In many societies, the very act of women leaving the house or the sweatshop without male permission, of getting together with other women to organise and protest was considered revolutionary – and scary as well. Yet there were women in all these lands courageous enough to resist: for example Nigerian women struggling against the destruction of their land by Shell Oil. When troops killed dozens of male demonstrators, these women had taken their place in the struggle and dramatically bared their breasts/ to shame the soldiers. And so from Africa to Asia to the Middle East and Latin America, the Women’s Strike call went out along the grapevine linking AIDS clinics, women's cooperatives, human rights groups, unions, NGA’s and on into the hinterland.
In preparation for the international one-day strike, women activists from the rich countries sent delegations to accompany women strikers in the poor countries – hoping that their witness presence would shield them from the worst organised violence. Naturally, the local potentates, police chiefs, warlords, and religious enforcers were enraged. There were increasingly violent attacks on women’s organisations everywere from Afganistan to Zambia, and ‘foreign agents’ were often singled out.
The crisis went global when the HBollywood star Sarah Azad was kidnapped in an attack by armed men in Nigeria. After long days of suspense and mounting pressures on Shell and the Nigerian generals, the sexy, straight-talking actress was released. Bruised, exhausted and shaken, Azad pointedly thanked the world-wide women's solidarity movement for pressuring the initially-reluctant Republican Administration in Washington to intervene on her behalf. “It’s not about me,” she went on, “it’s about daily about state-sponsored terrorism against all Nigerian women.” Asked if she had been raped, Azad looked straight into the reporter’ eye: “What do you think?” before being ushered out of the press conference, tears streaming down her cheeks.
In answer to Azad’s call, new international women’s delegations came streaming into the poor countries, while from Washington, London, and Paris the word went down to the thugocracy to “chill the violence until this Women’s Day bullshit blows over.” Sensing the moment, millions of poor women took courage, left their homes and flocked around previously isolated women’s rights and self-help groups. Suddenly, International Women's Strike for Dignity Day – originally yet another ‘Good Idea’ initiated by the usual woman activists – was blooming into a living planetary movement.
By March 7, millions of women were streaming in from the countryside by bus or on foot – toward cities many had never seen before. Moreover, for every militant woman who managed to march, hundreds of her sisters remained defiant whether shackled in sweatshops or cloistered at home – engaging in subtle forms of sabotage, sullenly refusing to work or even to speak. The more intelligent and confident Machos, tiring of arguments, cold meals and cold beds, chose to dismiss the Strike as a harmless female whim and generously ‘let the girls have their Day.’ The rest – scared, mean, threatened, disappointed men – simply beat their wives with anything handy.
The organisers had attempted to provide shelters for women in fear of their lives, but many feared these shelters would attract additional violence. Nonetheless, non-violence was the Order of the Day. Out of common sense, the women organisers had refused (with thanks) offers from various armed revolutionary groups to act as bodyguards or escorts. Violence was incompatible with the women’s tactic of shaming their male oppressors in order to neutralising them. In any case, parading around with guns would only provoke the vastly superior firepower, while the presence of thousands of participant-witnesses might provide a shield. “Our strength is in our willingness to die for our cause, not kill for it” was the movement’s byword.
On the male side, the violent Rabbis, fanatical Mullahs, Christian fundamentalists, Hindu nationalists, feudal princes and warlords – used to acting with impunity – found the women’s challenge to their God-given patriarchal authority intolerable. As Women’s Strike for Dignity Day approached, their seething hatred boiled over. During the first week of March, abortion clinics were bombed in Texas, AIDS clinics burned out in Africa, women's centers destroyed in Afghanistan – all by unidentifiable “radical elements” repudiated (with a wink and a nod) by their respective fundamentalist leaders. This unchecked violence became a worldwide scandal on March 7 when fanaticised mobs dragged hundreds of Asian women from a train packed with demonstrators and hacked them to pieces for hours as police and army stood aside and digital cameras beamed out photos and videos in real time via the Internet.
These horrific pictures became world-transforming images, like those of September 11, 2001. The whole world stopped and took a breath. World-wide saturation media coverage brought home the strikers’ message: Violence against women must cease! those responsible – both high and low – must be brought to justice! Far from intimidating the women of the planet, the tragedy provoked anger and resolve in the vast numbers of women who – vaguely sympathetic to the goals of the strike but convinced that it would do no practical good – had remained passive.
The outpouring of women on March 8 was massive. As dawn traveled from East to West, women woke to the news of the huge turnout in earlier time-zones. This created a snowball effect as the strike followed the sun around the planet. Safety in numbers: even timid women dared to stand up and be counted on this historic day. By noon in the world, business and every other social activity had ground to a halt. Vast numbers of women of all ages and conditions on every continent had left their houses and congregated, whether in village greens or the great squares of teeming cities. The roads were choked, transportation at a halt, no work was done. The army and police, overwhelmed, either made themselves scarce or tried to look useful for once in their swaggering lives. That day, the planet belonged to the women.
No one was more surprised by this massive outpouring than the women themselves, beginning with the pioneering visionaries and courageous local activists who had launched the strike in the first place. For feminist historians, the March 8 Women Strike for Dignity marked the beginning of the end of a whole era of female defeat and despair under patriarchy – an era which had begun with the invention of by jealous, ambitious, violent, punishing male chiefs, kings and priests of jealous, ambitions, violent, punishing gods.
These feminists saw womankind, acting together, re-emerging as a self-acting historical subject with her own, radically different project of society – a society based on community, with power flowing in circles and webs rather than through competition, hierarchy and domination. Their goal was not separation from men, but new relations with men as equal, yet different, partners in the struggle for the survival and reproduction of the species as well as in the quest for sexual fulfillment.
A billion women were in the street, taking the measure of their common condition, common needs, and the power of their unity. No longer did their individual miseries appear to them as somehow inevitable and somehow their own fault. A new global superpower had been released, and this female Genie – unlike the vain and stupid male Genie of Scheherazade’s tale – would never again let herself be put back in the bottle.
Joyful to celebrate their new-won unity and solidarity, multitudes of women everywhere began descending non-violently into the streets and dancing up such a storm that even the hired mercenaries of the capitalists had to put down their guns and join the joyful throng! The images of Billions of people dancing in the streets, flashed around the globe, became a paradigm of the potential of humanity’s radical Emergence. ‘The Dance Craze to Save the World’ amazed many orthodox revolutionaries. Instead of organizing a centralized World Revolutionary Party, the masses, in that age of planetary connectivity where fads, fashions and financial disasters were propagated literally at the speed of light, people began organizing a Dance Party for the Planet.
This wasn’t the first time that dance epidemics swept across the world. The ancient Greek historians Paucities and Plutarch report that female worshippers of Dionysius called maenads used to abandon their spinning and children and run out into the woods in a frenzy of dance. In the Middle Ages, an infectious ‘dance plague’ called the Tarantella swept from village to village across Italy, irresistibly drawing people into the streets to dance until they dropped. In the 21st Century, even in the most repressive societies, women still retained their traditional female circle dances, and women – including women of faith – took the lead in dancing humanity’s way out of self-destruction. Men were irresistibly drawn into the dance, but they had to lay down their weapons before they were allowed to join.
The apparently chaotic, irrational movement of masses of people dancing frightened many pundits, statesmen, intellectuals and outside observers who were afraid that the individuals were lost in a terrifying mob. However, the world’s leading scientists posted a paper comparing the movements of people dancing to the Quantic interactions of sub-atomic particles. “As dancers move together rhythmically (the wave function) they retain their individuality (the particle function) while at the same time creating a new emergent holistic system (the dance itself). Dancers enjoy the feeling of getting ‘swept up’ or ‘lost’ in the dance, yet somewhere they also retain awareness of their own individuality.” The physicists’ and psychologists’ report saw no ‘contradiction’ between the dancers’ individual and social selves. The dance itself emerged as they interact with other dancers, mirroring their movements and being mirrored in turn. Like all emergent holistic systems, the dance was seen as ‘a whole greater than the sum of its parts.’
The psychologists concluded that humans apparently crave this kind of creative interaction. Historians pointed out that ecstatic danced religion – still practiced in indigenous societies into the 21st Century – was humanity’s earliest expression of spirituality. On the other hand, down through the ages the established authorities of organized religion and the state uniformly tried to repress this tradition because of its revolutionary potential. As feminist-socialist Barbara Ehrenreich had pointed out years before, collective joy has been the enemy of power from Greek King Pentheus’ suppression of the worship of Dionysius to Puritanism’s suppression of Carnival and its replacement by spectacle and individual consumption under capitalism. Now the revolution of collective joy was visible everywhere: dancing in the streets!
ANNA In many cases, it was indigenous and peasant women who lead the anti-capitalist struggles in the Global South, as they were most affected by the neoliberal globalization and the destruction of their natural environment and traditional subsistence practices. Moreover, they connected the interpersonal violence, especially the violence against women in their communities, to the colonization of their countries by neoliberal policies of the so-called development that lead to impoverishment and militarism. Women insisted that they were not able to eradicate gender inequality unless the forms of structural violence in their countries maintained by the predatory world financial institutions and multinational corporations were ended. Thus, the women of the Global South were able to connect to the struggles of women inside the developed world who were resisting domestic neoliberal policies.
Fighting for a needs-based, sustainable economy that recognizes the role of Mother Nature, indigenous and peasant women in Latin America popularized their values, for example an indigenous vision of good living, Buen Vivir, in Ecuador and Bolivia, across the world that emphasizes the “complementarity” between men and women.
From the global networks of sharing new and traditional practices of a better living, Westerners learned alternative ways to organize social reproduction. A monogamous marriage was no longer an only option for raising children. No longer could the conservatives justify unhappy marriages by the need for children to be raised by both their parents. Other ways of childcare were explored. E.g. one group in Portland decided to experiment with collective childcare practiced by some indigenous people in South America, e.g. Mapuchi. Biological parents were no longer the only carers, an extended network of social relationships - extended family, neighbors, friends participated in raising children of the community.
This turned out to have many beneficial effects on the transforming value system. Instead of a self-centered, me and my mentality, children learned to love and care about their community in large, they grew up not in isolated individualistic families, but together with other children. As the same ressources for childcare were available to all, there was no development of perceived privilege, envy and greed. From the very early age, children were socialized into the community, as if it was their big family. They shared their toys with each other, just like they shared their caregivers. The interdependence fostered trust between community members and encouraged relations of solidarity and respect.
Moreover, women no longer were imprisoned by their childcaring tasks. Those who did not want to abandon their intellectual or artistic or professional interests, and yet wanted to experience the joy of maternity, could rely on the community network of childcaring. On the other hand, those women who enjoyed being with kids could devote themselves full-time to raising of children. Similarly, old people never experienced lonliless as they could alwasy spend time in childcaring centers that were staffed by volunteers or by parents and family members on a rotating basis. As the values continued to change, men started taking on more and more responsibilities in child caring and proved to have great fathering skills. Once the society stopped perpetuating the historically conditoned -but made to seem natural - division of labor, everyone could choose to engage with childcare to the degree they desire.
Barry: non traditional family - made me think tht multi national corporations, global capitalism is fine with non traditional families, it seems. i was thinking about curious ways that revolution and status quo interact with each other depending on which facet of each you look at.
Richard: global capitalism as global system definitely favors the male dominated family where the father has power over his sons and daughters.
B: depends on which labor market you look at. Big corporations are friendly to gay, e.g. It is a complicated world.
R: E.g. Thomas Friedman's praising of the new Arab Spring, the top down introduced by the crown prince as he finally allowed women to drive.
B: this has more to do with authoritarian alliance that fits into the Trump story. we always tolerated authoritarianism in our capitalist friends. But not central to capitalism.
R: I believe that violent male dominance is essential to all class societies, beginning with first enclosures beginning in Mesopotamia. That it's a cornerstone of all exploitation. To make them do the work and prevent from expressing themselves.
Fred: but there is also the way in which capitalism at least in US and W Europe adjusted to second wave feminism and managed to leverage their achievements and demands. Now, most households have to have both women and men to work. that eroded male domination in the household.
B: women have a lot of advantages in terms of the bottom line. even in college, women do better along the number of measures. capitalism seizes it and tries to profit from it.
R: in my piece Out Your Pig is basically a movement of labor, that takes place mainly in workplace. As Lola pointed out, in France most women would absolutely refuse to identify themselves as feminists. Macron is tightening restrictions to prevent women to fight against harassment in jobs. instead of individual women bringing lawsuits, they should organize collectively.
THEN For successful societal change, for the improvement of the conditions of living of a disadvantaged group, throughout history, one could not wait for the sudden good heart of the oligarchs. Rights had to be taken. One individual alone could hardly achieve this goal, people had to get together, not to beg, but to take their due.
The same goes for the rights of women. For a long time, women couldn’t vote, they were dependent on their husbands on many aspects of their lives. Feminist movements fought and won the vote, the financial independence in Western countries.
Yet, gender equality wasn’t the norm in the early 21st century. Sexism hadn’t been eradicated. Paradoxically, many women in the Western world hold feminist attitudes, but few engaged in collective action in the name of women. Why that paradox, you may be wondering.
It’s important to note that women need to identify as feminists in order to actively engage in collective action for other women. Sadly, that was difficult for many. Why? We can distinguish two main reasons inherent at that time. First, because the feminist identity was broadly stigmatized, which lead some women to avoid it simply because they didn’t want to be associated with the negative stereotypes associated with it.
The weight of neoliberalism helps to explain another barrier to this identification. The ideologies associated with neoliberalism, such as meritocracy, free choice and personal responsibility lead women to hold feminist attitudes, such the belief in the need for equality in pay between men and women, while rejecting the perception of systematic bias in society. Believing in those ideologies is believing that collectivism hinders self-determination and that everyone is personally responsible for their successes or failures. It is putting individual interests before the interest of women in general. Those women didn’t engage in collective action because it would have meant challenging the status quo, in which they believed. For those reasons and some others, collective action in the name of women’s rights was not only seen as unnecessary, but even as a threat. This rendered progress difficult.
Lola: obviously, equality of wages, division of labor/roles, representation. Indirect equalities: human relationships. How we think of “men” and “women” and their qualities. We now see them as human qualities that anyone can have.
Jenny: at basis, we just want to be treated like human beings, to walk through the world as individuals and not representatives of a “class” (people of color experience this in the extreme). In the western world, the definition of normal has been heterosexual white male and anything that deviates from that is seen as abnormal and in need of “fixing.” But NOW, women are simply seen as individual humans. Judged on behavior and talent, not in relation to a standard, but as individuals.
Fred: denormalizing and normalizing
Sam: Response to Richard's request of summary of Marge Percy, Margaret Atwood, etc. Atwood really gives a dystopian view with a utopia inserted inside as God's Gardeners. Combo of community garden movement and Anglican Church. Men have lactation as well and can feed their children. Percy-“Women on the Edge of Time” Burgoyne-Corbett (spelling?), 1889-“The New Amazonia”. A dream utopia of Vegetarian, belief in a positive after-life, women led.
Dave: Kim Stanley-Robinson-“2312” Diversity of sexuality.
FRED: Once femininism is introduced into Utopia it ramifies out to other needs and demands, like oppressed minorities, affecting the whole society. Cf Engels “condition of women expresses condition of the whole society.”
Sam: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's HERLAND uptopia. Women reproduced their own kind.
RG summarized Anna's WIKI piece on collective childrearing. Anthropological contribution and archiological evidence.
David cited two books (please fill in, David) from a Marxist viewpoint. Lisa Vogal (?) and social reproduction theory. KS Robinson comes from a sort of neo-malthusian perspective projected into future. He is utopian, not distopian – refreshing and inspiring. Distopia pushing people back into escapism.
MOSCOW back again !!!! Scandal in Western countries. Different internationally. Women need rights as citizens. Basic rights of 20th century needed NOW. Christian and Muslims both repress women. Monks write public school state school texts on family life. Women in Iran make revolution by removing their veils and defying religious taboo. Women's lib comes with liberation of whole working class.
David: Netflix series of imagined history of gang in Manchester. Peekee Blinders.'Jesse Eden a real person organized women in a huge general strike around 1933, active Communist, tenants organizer etc Dave will send her bio. Progressive messages in series. Women working for gang walk out and join general strike, struggle for equal wages, abuse at work. Powerful. Popular culture today showing progressive examples, prefiguration (Ernst Bloch), even in corporate culture.
Alexei: among these sources one by Meryl ???? why the armed Kurdish women fighting ISIS where women are bearers of civilization against barbarism, dispelling myths about womens' 'backwardness' fighting not for 'western' values but HUMAN values; building democratic society as SUBJECTS of liberation not formal liberation as in USSR.Would like someone to report on this here.
David knows someone. Anna is studying this.
FRED: Nextweek: violence, non-violence, and self-defense (Kurdish women)