Socialism and Feminism

In this first issue, we have wrestled with a central question…What does it mean to be a revolutionary socialist and a feminist?

Feminism is often maligned, ridiculed and disavowed by both women and men, or, alternately, claimed by ruling-class politicians for their own self-serving purposes. The ruling class of the United States, men and women alike, could not care less about the needs of working and oppressed women at home or abroad.

Our first issue lays out the contours of this concern. In poetry, art, theory, information, opinion, argument, history and narrative, the lines are drawn. We are revolutionary socialists. We are feminists. Join us. 

Women Resist the Poverty of Capitalism

In our second issue, we tackle a question that resonates with women all over the world — why are women so poor even though they work so hard?  As the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, we cannot ignore this paramount fact.  Beyond exposing how poverty affects women through economic and sexual violence, we analyze poverty as a necessary product of capitalism’s need for profit and juxtapose this reality with socialism. This is a critical point to understand especially as the women’s movement gears up to fight against President Trump’s sexist, racist, and xenophobic agenda.  From Standing Rock to Ciudad Juarez, the urgency to fight for a new system has never been clearer.

No Borders in the Women’s Liberation Struggle

The Trump agenda constitutes an all out attack on the working class with an unrelenting attack against immigrant workers front and center. Every legislative and executive assault from the Trump administration has been met with resistance and solidarity from people from all backgrounds. Immigration and the struggle of undocumented workers is a feminist issue because women are immigrant workers and experience particular forms of oppression and exploitation as women. The liberation of women is integrally tied to the liberation of the working class as a whole, through socialist revolution.

This issue dissects how modern capitalism enables women’s oppression and the exploitation of immigrant workers and explores how immigration is central to monopoly capitalism. We also address head on how LGBTQ rights are tied to immigrant rights in an interview with Jennicet Gutierrez, Mexican transgender activist. We examine the resistance against attacks on immigrant rights on an individual, national, and international level and call to build an organized, militant front.

The Struggle for Healthcare

Capitalism makes us sick. It keeps us sick. It profits from us being sick. Health care in the United States, as in any capitalist system, is commodified. Every aspect of health care–sickness and health to medicines and doctor’s visits to insurance and research–is constructed around generating huge profits for a tiny group of bankers and CEO’s. Women’s bodies are controlled — all people who identify as women, their bodies are restricted by lack of health care system in the U.S. Although it’s a story rarely told, women have fought for health care rights in innumerable different ways. We are fighting for society in which healthcare is a right. Socialist health care is a radically different approach to health that has had and would guarantee quality health care for all working people. Everyone is healthier when women’s health is guaranteed.

This issue of Breaking the Chains identifies health care as a feminist issue. We examine at length how the intensity of the sexism, misogyny and bigotry woven into capitalist society means that capitalist health care has particular significance for all women in the United States. We address head on how people’s movements throughout history have fought for quality health care drawing from the experiences for Cuba, the Soviet Union and revolutionary Black Panther and Young Lords parties.

Outrage and Optimism: Women Confront Imperialism

The women’s movement has often been divided over the question of confronting imperialism. There are sectors within the women’s movement that advocate for sanctions not war and others that claim to support women’s rights in places targeted by imperialism, advocating for one imperialist policy or another.  Both of these positions, however, ignore the connection between imperialism and feminism. This issue of Breaking the Chains polemicizes against those ideas. We establish a popular argument grounded in Marxist theory for why the women’s movement and feminists must stand in solidarity with the people of the world who are confronting imperialism. Our approach is based on our analysis of the balance of forces in the class struggle that wages daily across the globe; it addresses many of the facets of imperialist war and policies within this framework. In this issue, we investigated the environmental impacts of war and domination through the experiences of women in Vietnam and Puerto Rico. We dug up history on a battle fought by the Vietnamese resistance against the French at Dien Bien Phu that holds lessons for today’s struggle. We address the difference between capitalism and socialism in terms of foreign policy.

The Housing Issue

While housing is widely recognized as a right, capitalism denies it to millions of people. In the wealthiest country in the world, rampant homelessness and inadequate housing is testament to this. Capitalism fails to provide adequate living conditions precisely not because there aren’t enough homes but because housing is a commodity. The profit driven motive and the chaos of overproduction under capitalism mean that housing is a privilege, not a right, in this society. The right to profit off housing is protected at all levels by the capitalist state and the struggle for housing often puts the people’s movement in direct conflict with the state and the capitalist system. For super-oppressed workers, like women, the lack of adequate housing deepens our oppression, making us even more vulnerable to the brutalities of the capitalist system.

“The Housing Issue” explores many of the problems surrounding the denial of housing and the question of patriarchal oppression. The testimonials elicit tears and anger at the capitalist system. The analysis explains the fundamental contradictions we face. The interviews educate us about the frequently untold history of our struggle. The description of socialist housing offers an alternative.

Working to Survive, Struggling for Dignity

Women work hard. We know that. But what does it really mean to work as women in capitalist society? Our class has nothing to sell but it’s labor power, and the value the capitalists extract is a driving force in society. This defines our relationship to work. We must work to survive under conditions of exploitation to benefit the drive for capitalist profit. The contradictions inherent to capitalism and the historical oppression of women in class society combine to define a particular experience of work. How do revolutionary feminists define work, understand work, and relate work to structures of oppression in capitalist society?

“Working to Survive, Struggling for Dignity” explores the relationship between work and women in capitalist society in our struggle, as socialist revolutionaries and members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, to liberate ourselves from the oppressive mantle of capitalist society.

Not a Moral Issue

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The right-wing campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade has reached a critical moment. Having successfully restricted access to abortion, reactionary forces are preparing legal challenges to Roe v. Wade itself, banking on a rightward turn in the courts. The history of the struggle for reproductive rights, and for reproductive justice in this country is rich and instructive for the current period. 

Breaking the Chains Vol. 4 No. 2, entitled “Not a Moral Issue,” articulates a Marxist understanding of reproductive rights and a socialist feminist perspective toward building the movement needed to defend Roe v Wade and expand the struggle for women’s liberation.