Categories
Educational Examples

The Igbo women’s revolution of 1929.

Comrades, let us be clear: there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. In Africa, the contribution of women in the fight against imperialism must be acknowledged for its crucial role in our revolutionary journey. In this article, we tell the story of the 1929 women’s revolution in Southeastern Nigeria. 

What were they revolting against?

Women were protesting against the exploitative and oppressive rule by warrant chiefs, unjust court systems, and taxes imposed on market women. All of this is rooted in British colonial rule. Warrant chiefs were the result of British colonialism, with British imperialists appointing chief-status to some of the indigenous elite. This resulted in some holding unprecedented levels of individual authority over many colonies; for example, prior to colonialism, the Igbo people made decisions through debate or through general consensus, not through the declaration of chiefs or kings. Warrant chiefs became increasingly exploitative, accumulating wealth at the expense of their subjects. Further, this colonialist intervention worsened (or in some cases, created) patriarchal systems of oppression, as only men were allowed to be warrant chiefs. 

Much of this exploitation occured through the court and taxation systems, which had now become corrupted thanks to colonial influence on the political system through the elevated status of warrant chiefs and the presence of British officials. For example, warrant chiefs began seizing property from their subjects, and they would imprison anyone who spoke out against them. Later, colonial administrators announced intentions to impose a special taxes on the Igbo market women, which would of course lead to the disproportionate success of the new European-owned stores:

“These women were responsible for supplying the food to the growing urban populations in Calabar, Owerri, and other Nigerian cities. They feared the taxes would drive many of the market women out of business and seriously disrupt the supply of food and non-perishable goods available to the populace.”

Aba Women’s Riots, Marissa Evans, Black Past

Forced economic reliance is a persistent tactic seen in colonial expansion, especially in current, “post-colonial” imperialism. For example, if you check out our other article Capitalism in Nigeria, and a call for unity of the proletariat!, we go over the environmental degradation caused primarily by western oil companies. This imperialist resource extraction destroys local soils and waterways, making it impossible for Nigerians to rely on farming and fishing.

Thus, they’re forced to rely on imports into the country, fostering this economic reliance on the imperialist powers exploiting them. This is also why the myth that technological development can “fix” the poverty of so-called undeveloped countries is so dangerous. It’s literally saying that addressing poverty in these countries can be solved only by more imperialist intervention…it’s masking the true cause of the problem, and it’s often framing the “helpers” as those seeking to profit further off economic exploitation. This is often nothing more than a reshuffling of exploitation meant to manufacture the consent of the exploited parties involved, and redirect anger towards the parties that aren’t really responsible. The misdirection of anger is very likely why local warrant chiefs were granted control of colonies. This masks the true source of systemic power. Thankfully, the Igbo women were not fooled by this: “Although much of the anger was directed against the warrant chiefs, most Nigerians knew the source of their power, British colonial administrators.”

What happened? 

In November 1929, thousands of Igbo women took to the streets in protest. This revolutionary action was led by rural women in the Owerri and Carlaba provinces, as well as in smaller nearby towns.

“Using the traditional practice of censoring men through all night song and dance ridicule (often called ‘sitting on a man’), the women chanted and danced, and in some locations forced warrant chiefs to resign their positions. The women also attacked European owned stores and Barclays Bank and broke into prisons and released [political] prisoners. They also attacked Native Courts run by colonial officials, burning many of them to the ground. Colonial Police and troops were called in. They fired into the crowds that had gathered at Calabar and Owerri, killing more than 50 women and wounding over 50 others. During the two month “war” at least 25,000 Igbo women were involved in protests against British officials.”

Aba Women’s Riots, Marissa Evans, Black Past

This gathering of women was compromised of women from six different ehthnic groupsㅡlbibio, andoni, ogoni, bonny, opobo, and Igbo. These women came together in solidarity to fight colonialism and Patriarchal systems of oppression, despite the emerging ethnic and religious tensions (which were ultimately rooted in colonial rule). This event marked the first major anti-colonial revolt led by women in west Africa, and many anti-colonial movements in Africa calling for independence from imperialist forces were built around this very revolt.

Did it work?

Indeed the purpose of the revolt was achieved! During this time, many warrant chiefs were forced to resign, and sixteen courts were destroyed. Colonial authorities were forced to drop their plans to impose a tax on the market women, and the power of warrant chiefs was significantly weakened. In 1930, the colonial government was even forced to abolish the system of warrant chiefs altogether, and several women were appointed to the native court systems.  

Nigeria, today.

Currently, Nigeria is facing severe oppression. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing more Nigerians dying of security officers than increasingly violent policing than the virus itself. With ports closing down, many are more fearful of starvation than coronavirus:

Njoku and her husband relied on their eldest son, who is into furniture work, for their daily meals. Unfortunately, that source of income has been put on hold since the state was on lockdown about four weeks ago. […]

The grey-haired woman has heard of government palliatives, food and a sum of N20,000 the Federal Government is giving out to vulnerable people like her to cushion the effect of lockdown but none has yet to come her way.  ‘I have not received any palliatives from government,’ she disclosed.

“‘I have become sick because of hunger. If not for God and help from some generous people, maybe I would have died by now,’ the grandmother bemoaned as she began to share her ongoing excruciating moments.

We’re old, poor and hungry, yet we’ve received no cash from FG –Lagos’ vulnerable persons, Punch News

This reliance on imports is explicitly linked to environmental degradation decreasing the viability of farming and fishing. This environmental degradation, in turn, is directly connected to western oil corporations, such as Shell and Exon-Mobile.

This forced reliance on imports is now resulting in widespread hunger throughout the country. Beyond this, as the above article indicates, help is not being sent to the families most in need of assistance. Instead, they’re met with harsh policing under the guise of safety, as if people aren’t starving, they’re just willingly disregarding quarantine. They’re not, they are hungry and in need of support. This is the same government that turned away during violent, forced evictions in waterfront communities. This is beyond corruption, this is a slow genocide.


To help out comrades in Unite4Action-Nigeria, consider contributing to the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund (GoFundMe). We appreciate any help you can give!


For more on the history of feminism, check out our related article:

Categories
Rogue reviewer: radical or recuperation? System Assessments

Liberal Feminism, and the Spectacle of Progress

Pop feminism in the United States.

Taking a look at the US, there is an undeniable link between gender and class, with women throughout the US not getting the right to vote until 1920. While women can now participate in electoral politics, their economic position has hardly budged since the suffrage movement. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, wealth inequality in the US was as bad as it was in the roaring 20s, and it’s only worsened since the outbreak; further, women are still far more likely to live in poverty than men. The gendered nature of poverty can largely be attributed to what labor capitalism deems valuable: “Women do at least twice as much unpaid care work, such as childcare and housework, as men – sometimes 10 times as much, often on top of their paid work.” As a result, feminine persons often work more and get paid less than their masculine counterparts. Women’s rights are largely workers rights, meaning feminism cannot really be divorced from class in a coherent way.

Hilary Clinton, girl boss.

These are all genuine problems…so how did feminism seriously become Hilary Clinton’s brand? This person is wealthier and more powerful than anyone I’ve ever met in real life. The Clintons are currently multi-millionaires, with Bill and Hilary both attending Yale Law School. While it’s often stated she came from modest means, her father was a college-educated businessman who owned his own textile company. Which maybe isn’t as relatable as political pundits think it is.

Not Muslim women though, lol.

Beyond this, Hilary grew up in a different economic time:

Like all women of her generation, Hillary faced formidable sexism, fighting for rights women now take for granted. But like many women of her generation, she also benefited from being born in an era when upward mobility was arguably more feasible, at least economically. […]

The Clintons rise to power was not buoyed by inherited wealth, but by a system that allowed lower and middle-class baby boomers increasing access to higher education and prestigious jobs. But the contemporary versions of Bill and Hillary Clinton—talented middle-class or lower-class students from the Midwest or South—may find that achieving the same success will be stymied by their family’s class status or their geographical distance from centers of power. The prototype for a future Hillary is someone who grew up more like Chelsea Clinton—wealthy, connected, and able to pursue multiple advanced degrees.

Most women won’t be able to follow in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps—unless they’re already rich, Sarah Kendzior, Quartz

Now I’d forgive a naive, well-meaning baby boomer for being unaware of this economic shift, but Hilary Clinton literally played a role in this push towards a neoliberalized economy. She made life materially worse for many women in America, all while putting her girl boss power into absolutely ruining the lives of many women abroad: “As Secretary of State Clinton was a forceful advocate for escalating US military operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. She also presided over the expansion of drone attacks that have killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians (up to 90% not being the intended targets).”

So how the hell did someone like this become some sort of icon of feminism?

Press play to die instantly.

Sometimes movements just need a little rebranding before they’re profitable.

While identity politics and social movements are all susceptible to recuperation, we’re going to focus on the feminist movement in the US.

What’s recuperation?

This is when more radical ideas become sanitized so as to eliminate their more threatening aspects. That is, anything that threatens the powerful must be sanded away. Done well, once radical concepts can become tools for maintaining the current structure of power. It may even become laughable that these ideas ever posed a genuine threat to the ruling class.

From The Eric Andre Show.

We’ll refer to this degenerated form of feminism as liberal feminism;  The book Feminism for the 99 Percent explains that the aim of liberal feminism is, 

“…not equality, but meritocracy. Rather than seeking to abolish social hierarchy, it aims to ‘diversify’ it, ‘empowering’ ‘talented’ women to rise to the top. […] 

“In general, then, liberal feminism supplies the perfect alibi for neoliberalism. Cloaking regressive policies in an aura of emancipation, it enables the forces supporting global capital to portray themselves as ‘progressive.’” 


Liberal feminism is one example of how social movements are essentially de-fanged under capitalism, re-configured to be a tool that sustains oppression, often under the guise of being “progressive.” Capitalism is a system that requires homelessness, prison labor, and colonialist resource extraction (such as oil extraction aided by the threat of military force). To justify these extreme inequalities, proponents of the system (1) must maintain that no real alternative exists, and (2) absorb any movements that assert otherwise (e.g. recuperation), giving themselves the aesthetic of social progress (e.g. “good” capitalists), all while maintaining the status quo.

Nancy Pelosi, quintessential girl boss for knowing the WMDs story fueling war with Iraq was a lie, but not deeming it an impeachable offense.

How was feminism ever a threat to the powerful?

Child labor laws? That’s communism!

Right to work, but for toddlers.

The suffrage movement drastically altered the US political system. Keep in mind this doubled the number of eligible voters, and this meant a sudden, significant shift in voting demographics. While this was more piecemeal due to some states altering voter eligibility before others, this was nonetheless a rapid shift in voter concerns. This altered the scope of electoral political issues permanently. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibited the employment of minors, e.g. this was the main law that outlawed the use of exploitative child labor in the US. This law passed in 1938…just 18 years after women won the right to vote. The movement against child labor was actually originally sparked by census results:

“The 1900 census revealed that approximately 2 million children were working in mills, mines, fields, factories, stores, and on city streets across the United States. The census report helped spark a national movement to end child labor in the United States. […] Social reformers began to condemn child labor because of its detrimental effect on the health and welfare of children. Among those helping to incite public opinion against it were Karl Marx and Charles Dickens, who had worked at a factory himself at age 12.”


Child worker in a glass factory. Children worked for “reduced wages but equally abusive work environments,” so I mean, I for one am just relieved to hear this toddler (with no advanced education) wasn’t getting paid more than he deserves. And he was an immigrant, so like, lucky we even let him in, amirite?
Childhood? Sounds like you just want free stuff. Nice try, sweaty.

While generally people in the US oppose the use of child labor today, it’s important to understand that this was a massive change in US economics, one fueled by the political shift following the suffrage movement. Nowadays, many view child labor restrictions as “common sense,” but this was far from the case. Capitalists were harshly opposed to the movement, with many claiming this was a “communist-inspired plot to subvert the Constitution.” I think the why here should be obvious: without child labor, capitalists would stand to make money at a reduced rate (they still fucking made money off other people’s labor, of course).

Tonight while we sleep, several thousand little girls will be working in textile mills, all the night through, in the deafening noise of the spindles and the looms spinning and weaving cotton and wool, silks and ribbons for us to buy.

Child Labor & Women’s Suffrage – July 22, 1905, Florence Kelley, women’s suffrage advocate and Marxist feminist

There was a great deal of overlap between women’s suffrage and the movement against child labor. Without the feminist movement, it’s difficult to imagine how the Fair Labor Standards Act would have ever passed. This was truly deemed an “extreme” position. So yes, the feminist movement posed a massive economic threat to those in power…and they won. Because organizing does work, and maybe the reason you think it doesn’t is because it threatens someone’s profit margins.


The Russian Revolution began with women protesting on International Women’s Day.

The Russian Revolution was a mass uprising of workers that ultimately overthrew the Russian monarchy. It’s typically cited as happening in 1917, but this was really a culmination of labor organizing and political action. On January 22, 1905, workers led by priest Georgy Apollonovich Gaponmarched marched to the Czar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg with a petition of demands, including fair wages and the gradual transfer of land to the people. A year earlier, similar demands for reform were made at a conference of regional governments (an assembly originally held to drum up support for an incredibly unpopular campaign for war with Japan), but these demands had continued to go unmet. Thus, workers took to marching their petition to the palace doors. There, imperial forces open fired on the unarmed workers, killing over a thousand people according to police records, in a massacre that would later be referred to as Bloody Sunday.

Strikes and massive protests followed the massacre, eventually forcing the Czar to form a series of representative assemblies (e.g. the king gave concession of representative democracy). This, uh, didn’t work out. I know, shocking, seeing how effective our representative democracy has been so far. Turns out all the parties were loyal to the ruling class and not the workers. So, like, totally unlike the Democrats and Republicans in the US…nothing to see here, guys.

Working conditions worsened, and overlord Czar was pushing for a war no one wanted. Tensions finally broke on International Women’s Day in 1917:

“Historians generally agree that the February Revolution began in Petrograd on International Women’s Day, 23 February (Old Style: 8 March) 1917, when thousands of women from different backgrounds took to the streets demanding bread and increased rations for soldiers’ families.”

Women and the Russian Revolution, Katie McElvanney, British Library
Women’s day protesters demanding increased rations.

Pamphlets were handed out, and it’s likely this literature ignited the ensuing 1917 revolutions that would eventually end the rule by the Russian monarchy. A translation from one such pamphlet reads:

Proletarians of all countries, unite! […]

Factory owners work both male and female comrades to exhaustion. Both men and women are thrown in jail for going on strike. Both men and women need to struggle against the owners. But women entered the family of workers later than men. Often, they still are afraid and do not know what they should demand and how to demand it. The owners have always used their ignorance and timidity against them and still do.

On this day, especially, comrades, let’s think about how we can conquer our enemy, the capitalist, as quickly as possible. […]

This terrible slaughter [e.g. WWI] has now gone into its third year. Our fathers, husbands, and brothers are perishing. Our dear ones arrive home as unfortunate wretches and cripples. The tsarist government sent them to the front. It maimed and killed them, but it does not care about their sustenance [hence the call for increased rations]. […]

There is no end in sight to the shedding of worker blood. Workers were shot down on Bloody Sunday, January 9, 1905, and massacred during the Lena Goldfields strike in April 1912. More recently, workers were shot in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Shuia, Gorlovka, and Kostroma. Worker blood is shed on all fronts. The empress trades in the peoples’ blood and sells off Russia piece by piece. They send nearly unarmed soldiers to certain death by shooting. They kill hundreds of thousands of people on the front and they profit financially from this. […]

It is hard for working people not only in Russia, but in all countries. Not long ago the German government cruelly suppressed an uprising of the hungry in Berlin. In France, the police are in a fury. They send people to the front for going on strike. Everywhere the war brings disaster, a high cost of living, and oppression of the working class.

Comrades, working women, for whose sake is war waged? Do we need to kill millions of Austrian and German workers and peasants? […] War is waged for the sake of gold, which glitters in the eyes of capitalists, who profit from it. […] Workers and peasants will bear all the sacrifices and pay all the costs. […]

They are ruined themselves. The government is guilty. It began this war and cannot end it. […] The capitalists are guilty. It is waged for their profit. It’s well-nigh time to shout to them: Enough! Down with the criminal government and its entire gang of thieves and murderers. Long live peace! […]

Down with the autocracy!

Long live the Revolution!


NOTE: Check out the following related article for one awesome example of revolutionary, anti-colonialist feminism in Africa during this same time period:

The Igbo women’s revolution of 1929.

Comrades, let us be clear: there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. In Africa, the contribution of women in the fight against imperialism must be acknowledged for its crucial role in our revolutionary journey. In this article, we tell the story of the 1929 women’s revolution in Southeastern Nigeria.  What were […]


The feminist movement played a key role in overthrowing a massive empire. The Romanov family ruled over Russia for over 300 years, and this abusive, tyrannical regime finally began to collapse thanks to the organizing of some revolutionary women, saying no, you’re not sending our men off to certain death in a rich man’s war just to let them starve if they make it back home. Enough is enough.

Contrast this to Hilary Clinton: “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat,” and it becomes clear why so many hold a negative view of feminism. Liberal feminism co-opts a radical movement based on working class solidarity, and morphs it into something petty and isolating. This isn’t some blunder, this is the strategic recuperation of a movement that has proven to be dangerous to the ruling class elite.


Reproductive rights, or the lack thereof.

What does liberal feminism have to do with immigration policy?

In Angela Nagle’s piece on the liberal dystopia that is Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, she points out the material affect this labor distribution has on a population where neoliberal policies prevail:

“US fertility rates are the lowest since records began in 1909 at about 1.85 births per woman. The US population, in other words, is no longer “naturally replacing” itself. Unlike the tale however, this is not due to ecological disaster. Today women’s long work hours combined with the continued burden of domestic work are causing increased levels of stress and ill health, with short maternity leave, expensive child care, and a low level of social prestige to the unpaid work of motherhood and domestic labor. Despite all of this Pew research shows that while birth rates may have collapsed the desire to have children has not, with the ideal in polls still remaining “two or more,” and 40 percent of American women nearing the end of their childbearing years having fewer children than they would like.”

The Market Theocracy, Jacobin 
Fair enough if you like this show, but I think it’s spectacular trash.

While the leftwing capitalist party in the US (the Democrats) oppose criminalizing abortion and tout the importance of (liberal) feminism, they seem uninterested in addressing certain forms of gendered violence. In fact, the “progressive” issues they often focus on tend to obscure their own support of continued systems of oppression. Lean in feminism, and “girl boss” aspirations insist that women ought to find fulfillment in the workplace, framing all criticism of this liberal brand of feminism as backwards women belong in the kitchen sentimentality. Keep in mind, a declining population means capitalists would eventually face a labor shortage. Thus, when liberals say, “immigration fuels the economy,” take them at their word. This is the motivation for their pro-immigration stance, not concern for the lives of actual immigrants.

“U.S. immigration law and its enforcement have never eliminated Mexicans from the workforce, but indirectly control the conditions under which they live and work. Mexican academic Jorge Bustamante argues that a primary purpose of U.S. immigration law historically has been—and still is—to regulate the price of Mexican labor in the United States.”

‘Close to Slavery’ or Legalization? The Farmworkers’ Hard Choice, The American Prospect (2019)

From their perspective, it’s cheaper to push American women into the workforce and instead rely on importing a new generation of workers (or exporting the work itself)…viewing this as some sort of generosity requires a complete misunderstanding of the global economy. Undeveloped countries aren’t merely lagging behind, they’re intentionally kept in a state of underdevelopment, as this is optimal for western exploitation. For a specific example of this, check out our article Capitalism in Nigeria, and a call for unity of the proletariat!


NOTE: Further, see The Guardian’s piece on how poor countries develop rich countries, not the other way around, economist William Easterly’s book The Tyranny of Experts, and anthropologist David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5,000 Years.


“But Democrats are the lesser evil of the two parties.”

This pro-immigration stance coupled with “girl boss” feminism is the platform of their “progressiveness.” This isn’t accidental. There will always be a moral argument for why some current mode of oppression is liberating, and this will always be contrasted with some previous mode of oppression…that is the “progress” of liberalism. How exploitation is carried out never really changes beyond an aesthetic shift, and very often the backwardsness of rightwing political figures is in their inability to let go of the old aesthetics. Once this becomes clear, the “lesser evil” of either capitalist political party becomes nothing more than personal preference. Politics collapses into the spectacle of a “culture war.”


NOTE: There is a racist, antisemitic, and misogynistic conspiracy theory, referred to as the Great Replacement that’s motivated mass shooters, including the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, and the El Paso shooting (with the gunman stating, “this attack is in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”). The bit is that “the Jews” are encouraging immigration and interracial marriage as a way to “genocide” the so-called white race. Oh, and women “fall for it” because they’re dumb whores with no loyalty, or something. If you think anything I’ve just said here about abortion and immigration “proves” this bullshit, seriously fuck off.

For more on this rise in violence fueled by white supremacist ideology, read Kathleen Belew’s book Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. So many of these far-right terror attacks originate in white supremacy and misogyny, many of them not involving guns at all (such as the Toronto van attack, or the fatal car attack in Charlottesville), which is why I genuinely don’t think guns are the problem, and yeah, I think the focus on gun reform has more to do with disarming the working class (especially the black working class) than a genuine concern for safety. If you think leftists are anti-gun, check out the Socialist Rifle Association (SRA), and consider the words of Marx and Engels: “under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”


Considering the previous considerations for why capitalists may promote liberal feminism, it becomes clear that the Democratic stance in favor of reproductive healthcare (such as access to contraceptives and abortions) likely has less to do with an individual woman’s right to her own body, and has more to do with the push towards women entering the workforce. If the next generation of labor can be outsourced to other countries, then they eliminate the cost of care labor (for themselves). Further, the gendered wage gap likely means women entering the workforce translates into increased profits. The increase in job-seekers overall allows for a “job market” where companies hold all the power over people desperate to find work. This pushes us further towards gig economy work (Uber, DoorDash, OnlyFans), a shift that undermines a century of workers protections


NOTE: It’s also worth mentioning that the “right” to an abortion is often not blocked by the legality of the procdure, but is rather blocked by a lack of healthcare funding or accessible facilities. And by “accessible,” I mean that in the concrete-sense. Democrats often discuss access to healthcare, not in the way that obtaining coverage is easy and affordable, but instead that coverage technically exists, provided you’re willing to put a lien on your house, sell your first-born, and never retire. This is not real access.


Reproductive rights that don’t extend past the pregnancy itself are not really reproductive rights at all. Rather, they constitute a reshuffling of capitalist labor extraction. A reshuffling that would never be considered if it didn’t maintain or increase profits. Keep this in mind next time a liberal attempts to use “feminism” as a bludgeon against the working class. This deceptive notion that feminism means “more female CEOs” is recuperation at its worst. Beyond a mere perversion of revolutionary ideas, this liberal conception of feminism as equal opportunity plutocracy is damaging to the vast majority of working class women. Pretending it is harmless is ignoring the cynical way in which it is employed to shield powerful politicians from criticism.


Manufactured Misogyny: The DNC doesn’t give a shit about women.

Skepticism of a standing US Senator’s political honesty is sexist since feminism = “girl boss” idol-worship, apparently.

During the 2020 Democratic primary in the US, we witnessed the media pushing a narrative that Bernie is a sexist. This really kicked off after the other so-called progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren claimed Bernie made sexist remarks in a private meeting they had, supposedly stating that he did not believe a woman could win. Despite this being a one-on-one meeting and Bernie denying the comments were made at all, CNN published an article as if this were a confirmed event, backed up by (multiple) sources. Keep in mind, if Bernie really did claim a woman couldn’t win, that doesn’t mean he believed a woman shouldn’t win. Rather, such a statement (at least to me) comes off as genuine concern that sexism could play a significant role in the 2020 election. I mean, is electability not one of the primary things mainstream media focused on in this primary election?

Despite this likely interpretation of a conversation that can’t even be confirmed as happening, Bernie Sanders and his “Bernie Bros” were deemed sexists. Actually, anyone expressing skepticism that Warren was being truthful was deemed sexist, with hit pieces flooding in that America has a problem with “believing women,”  (which…if that’s the case, then wouldn’t the conclusion be that a woman is not likely to win in 2020, just like Bernie supposedly said?). With influential liberals like Neera Tanden and Julia Loffe describing this event with “believe women” rhetoric, there is a very intentional link being made between skepticism of a major political figure’s statements and literal sexual assault survivors in the #MeToo movement.

Visual reconstruction of the liberal feminist’s interpretation of Bernie offering Warren a handshake post-debate.

NOTE: Warren walked back her support on Medicare for All…this is what led many of her progressive supporters to second-guess her political honesty. That, and her weird PR stunt “proving” her Native American heritage.


Biden can have a little rape.

Naively, I would have thought drawing a parallel between sexual assault victims, and a US Senator facing criticism online, would be highly offensive within the realm of liberal feminism. But it’s not! Because the rules aren’t logical, the rules are meant to serve the ruling class by shutting down genuine criticisms under the guise of morality. Which is why credible sexual assault allegations launched at Joe Biden don’t matter. Instead, there is rampant shaming directed at those genuinely upset over this, with liberals claiming any and all criticism of Joe Biden is “helping” Donald Trump. The DNC did not have to make a rapist their nominee.


We’re seeing that for many liberal feminists, maintaining the legitimacy of the Democratic party as a “progressive” party is the goal…the #MeToo movement was merely a tool for achieving that goal. One that could be dropped and replaced with the bludgeon of capitalist realism in the form of enforcing the two-party political system as the absolute extent of US politics: vote blue no matter who, not voting Biden is a vote for Trump, and voting third party is ‘throwing away’ your vote.

Two parties, one goal.

Vote for the good alien overlord, guys.

I’m going to propose something that may seem a little crazy…the leftwing of the ruling class doesn’t really care if Trump wins. Their real enemy was you. This is a class war.

The fact that Bernie’s campaign and many of his followers insist that a third party isn’t viable, the fact that Bernie’s endorsement of Biden has made many “lose hope in the revolution,” the fact that this whole campaign has genuinely convinced a lot of younger leftists that change only happens through the ballot box…the ruling class won. And they didn’t even need to give you a participation trophy because you never actually threatened their position of power. You have zero fucking leverage.

You fell for one of the classic blunders.

If you’re a Bernie supporter who’s interested in being bullied by my hot takes, check out my follow-up article The Democrats don’t care about democracy. (it’s shorter than this article), where I go into a bit more detail of why I think running Bernie in the DNC was a failed battle from the start.


NOTE: I thought it was a solid idea to “take over” the Democratic party by the way. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve really started to investigate strategy enough to conclude this was sort of a doomed mission. It’s ok to be wrong because you didn’t have all the information. We need to stop letting ego dictate the conversation, and we need to start genuinely collaborating.


The follow-up Bernie autopsy people are literally screaming at me to not give.

The Democrats don’t care about democracy.

The DNC does not have to hold fair elections. “Neoliberal theorists are, however, profoundly suspicious of democracy. Governance by majority rule is seen as a potential threat to individual rights and constitutional liberties. Democracy is viewed as a luxury, only possible under conditions of relative affluence coupled with a strong middle-class presence to guarantee political […]


Further, I propose an approach to revolutionary politics that I think is more sustainable. One that appears to work historically…I relate this back to the push to abolish child labor in the US. I plan on eventually publishing another article that goes into more detail about how these approaches can be adapted to the present.


If you’re interested in feminism beyond this cynical “girl boss” outlook, check out the book Feminism for the 99%, and consider attending the upcoming webinar discussion with one of the authors Tithi Bhattacharya; event hosted by International Women Strike (IWS) CT and Central CT DSA on May 27th at 7:00 PM EST. Further, consider checking out the article Feminism for the 99%: A Debate about Strategy by Andrea D’Atri on Left Voice.

Graphic by Juan Atacho, from Left Voice article mentioned above.

NOTE: This piece reflects my own political views, and not that of IWS CT or Central CT DSA.

Categories
System Assessments

10 ways COVID-19 is showing us the cracks in a global capitalist system.

Pictures added by Regina Larsen.

In the past few months, the pandemic has laid bare the horrors of our global neoliberal system. Here’s some lessons I’ve learned since the outbreak of COVID-19:


(1) All the resources and labor funneled into the military has done little to protect us from this crisis, and may even wind up exacerbating the spread.

Instead of investing in healthcare, workers’ time and energy has been wasted on  nuclear bombs, costly wars based on manufactured threats (that fail to even accomplish their real goals), and marketing meant to sway public opinion in favor of the war industry. 


(2) The US military is more concerned with its public image than the lives of its soldiers, or the lives of the American people.

As this disease rapidly spreads, militaries can’t even be bothered to protect their own soldiers and sailors, with the US Navy going so far as to fire Capt. Brett Crozier for trying to protect his sailors from infection after several aboard the aircraft carrier tested positive for the novel coronavirus.


“More than a dozen soldiers at installations across the United States and overseas told Army Times they’re frustrated with commanders still sending troops to the field, forcing soldiers to come to work to do mundane tasks that aren’t mission essential, and failing to test potentially sick individuals.”

Soldiers’ fears grow as commanders train through coronavirus outbreak, Army Times

A soldier assigned to 2nd Infantry Division on the joint base told Army Times, “in terms of PT and daily battle rhythm, absolutely nothing has changed.” The soldier goes on, “this is all taking place at a base which is in the epicenter of the outbreak in the US. We have over 100 cases in the two counties that surround JBLM and where a majority of families live, and over a thousand cases throughout the rest of Washington.” Apparently it’s “good leadership” to needlessly put thousands of soldiers and civilians at risk of infection so long as you don’t hurt public perception. According to a US Navy veteran we spoke to (who wishes to remain anonymous), this focus on public image at the expense of public safety has always been how the military operates, especially when it comes to the recruits themselves:


“The military wants to be able to control the soldiers; that’s what the chain of command is all about. You’re basically not a US citizen, you’re owned by the military. It’s a propaganda issue [in regards to Capt. Crozier being relieved of duty] is what it is. […]

“They’re less concerned with the lives of sailors or soldiers; they’re more concerned with the propaganda. […] I mean, that goes way back. Look at Vietnam. They [just] cared about selling a war to America.”


He further remarks on how US military conditions are simply not capable of handling a disease outbreak like this, highlighting, again, that retaliatory measures against those speaking out is more about controlling soldiers “through fear” than it is about a genuine security risk that could harm the American people. 


“What do we do with all these soldiers in basic training? In barracks? They don’t want to be there. […]

“Your living quarters are very small in a military ship. They don’t have [their own] rooms—there’s like 30 guys living in this small space. It’s worse than prison, really, as far as proximity goes. They’re all gonna get infected…there’s no way around it. […] I mean, look at [the spread of the virus in] cruise ships, and a Navy ship is even worse.

“All these people in small spaces. […] When you’re in basic…[training is] going on 12 months a year—all branches of the service. […] You have 80-100 guys living in barracks of bunkbeds, so yeah, it [COVID-19] gets in there, it spreads like wildfire.”


It’s worth considering that pneumonia and influenza killed more soldiers and sailors in the first World War than did enemy weapons, and that many researchers believe the spread of Spanish Influenza was significantly aided by wartime conditions (e.g. cramped quarters, and the war taking precedent over containing the outbreak).


(3) So-called first world countries have extremely poor healthcare systems.

These wealthy neoliberal countries seem almost entirely unable to address this public health crisis. In Italy, political officials delayed early containment, allowing the disease to spread quickly. In the US, faulty and delayed testing has led to widespread confusion. Containment was also severely worsened by political officials and media coverage downplaying the severity of the virus. Further issues are brought on by the US for-profit healthcare system, particularly tying health coverage to employment:


“More than three million Americans just lost their jobs in the middle of a global pandemic. For those whose jobs offered benefits, that also probably means they’re losing their health insurance, too — exposing yet another way in which the US health system is vulnerable amid a public health emergency.”

How do 3 million newly unemployed people get health care?, Vox News


(4) Capitalist governments are more concerned with corporate profits than the actual people they govern.

Many political officials seem more concerned with protecting their personal assets, than their people. Healthcare workers are struggling to find/keep housing with landlords viewing them as a liability, and of course, capitalism doesn’t guarantee housing…even if you’re on the frontline protecting people from a public health crisis. 


“These are the same people who are going to take care of you if you wind up in the hospital, or God forbid the ICU. And if I’m sleeping in my car, I’m not functioning my best. … If you want people to help, they have to have a place to live.”

nurse from Hawaii who recently faced eviction (no name given to respect request for anonymity)

While the death toll rises, people are hoarding resources to try to make a profit off the pandemic, while major media outlets continue to address the real victims of this crisis—the wealthy. For example, this article by The New York Times frames a guy hoarding hand sanitizer (with the intention of price-gouging) as the victim, while a headline by The Washington Post reads The struggle to argue for opening the economy without sounding as if you’re okay with more people dying…the article itself is behind a paywall, naturally.  


(5) Capitalist unity ranges from fragile to nonexistent; the European Union appears to be nothing more than lip service.

The European Union has all but abandoned Italy, with no plans to send medical assistance or supplies despite Italy being one of the worst-hit countries. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic bitterly commented: “European solidarity does not exist. It was a fairytale.”


“This is a shocking failure of European solidarity. The impression in Italy, Spain and Serbia and so on is that the weaker links will be left alone.”

— head of a European think tank

Meanwhile, China and Cuba, long depicted by capitalist countries as anti-humanitarian, have stepped up, sending medical equipment and personnel to combat the outbreak in Italy. 


(6) The United Nation and the World Health Organization are not the peaceful, humanitarian organizations they pretend to be.

Iran is facing US economic sanctions on top of the COVID-19 breakout. Over 3000 Iranians have already died from the disease, and sanctions make the novel coronavirus all the more deadly.  


“Following correspondence about the U.S. government’s illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its direct impact on the health of the Iranian people, unfortunately, so far, the United Nations and other relevant organizations including the World Health Organization, which claim to defend the rights of humanity, have taken no effective measures to lift the cruel sanctions against our dear children, women, men and patients.

“Instead, despite the urging of scientists, physicians and even some elected US officials to lift sanctions amid a worldwide Covid-19 disease pandemic, this irrational, ruthless American government has further tightened sanctions against the Iranian people.”

Alireza Marandi, President of The Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran

Now the Iranian government is being forced to request emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Considering the IMF collaborates with the United Nations, and the IMF’s decades-long track record of “imposing unnecessary and often harmful conditions on borrowing countries,” silence from the UN is very likely the real solidarity of capitalists. That is, the US has long been obsessed with gaining control in Iran, and thanks to the corporatization within the UN, it’s unsurprising the UN is complacent with the US waging economic (and now medical) warfare against the Iranian people. 


(7) The US is falling back on racism and xenophobia, blaming China in an attempt to derail how both the Republicans and the Democrats have put Americans at risk, while protecting corporate interests. The government is further using the crisis to push policy through under the radar.

While Republicans downplayed the servety of the outbreak, the Democrats held primaries in several states during the coronavirus outbreak (bringing the legitimacy of the Democratic primaries into question). A close up during a recent press briefing revealed Trump had crossed out “corona” and replaced it with “Chinese” in his notes, indicating his calling the disease “Chinese Virus” is an intentional ploy to redirect blame onto China for the US’s inability to slow the spread of the virus. 

Blaming China is an especially nonsensical response, seeing as the pandemic is linked to capitalist land development and agricultural practices, climate change, and the US’s defunded and privatized healthcare system. Sentiments that China is covering up conditions, ignores that this is happening in the US now thanks to hospital privatization.

Further, agricultural practices in the US have actually been specifically noted as a risk for novel diseases. 

The following video by The Real News Network goes over how anti-Chinese racism around coronavirus is an extension of colonialist and racist sentiments built into the US socioeconomic system. It’s also worth noting that building up China as a threat relates to (2), that is, this outside “threat” is likely being leveraged as a way to control military recruits who are becoming increasingly frustrated with poor leadership. All branches continue to insist many members are “essential” despite there being a lack of pressing tasks for these members to even attend to…is the GOP using China as a manufactured threat to bolster the military’s both internal and external credibility amid growing concerns from soldiers that leadership is recklessly managing the crisis? 

The US government is not just utilizing China to divert blame from its own inability to stop the spread of the virus, the government is using the crisis itself to mask huge political moves from the public-eye (e.g. Shock Capitalism). The following image depicts just one example of this disturbing push towards quietly implementing neoconservative policies, such as increasing surveillance and policing.

Shock capitalism is a concern everywhere. Israel’s lockdown over coronavirus has halted Palestinian human rights work, but hasn’t ended over-policing and violent abuse


(8) We have been lied to about what matters.

Many of the institutions and ideologies we’ve been told are vital to society are only hindering a response to the outbreak. Lack of paid sick leave, largely justified as being a privilege one needs to earn rather than a right, is worsening the spread of the disease in the US. Aggressive policing in New York City isn’t protecting people, it’s worsening the spread of the virus, thereby putting more people at risk. And prisons aren’t the closed systems people seem to think they are, and, unsurprisingly, cramped living quarters, unsanitary/violent conditions, and poor healthcareseverely increase the risk of prisons becoming hotspots for the disease

Further, the shutdown of many businesses is proving (1) many of this work is not necessary (e.g. corporate lawyers, lobbyists), and (2) Marx’s labor theory of value is extremely relevant today.


(9) The pain many people are experiencing did not start with coronavirus.

We all depend on each other every single day, often in ways we don’t even consider. This disconnect begins to look like a caricature with the outbreak hitting countries like the US and Italy. Consider the farming co-operative near Rome, started by formerly exploited African fruit farmer:


“Many of the founders took part in the Rosarno revolt, an uprising in January 2010 in which hundreds of African fruit pickers whose labour was being exploited in Italy’s citrus groves rose up in support of a workmate seriously injured in a racist attack. The rebellion broke the silence surrounding the conditions of immigrant workers in the Italian countryside.”

“A beautiful thing”: the African migrants getting healthy food to Italians, The Guardian 

These workers are now working “twice as hard” in response to the COVID-19 outbreak because they want to, and because they care about the scarcity many local households are facing. Don’t be grateful for grocery store workers putting their health at risk to give you food…stand in solidarity with them and demand working conditions be made safer. Stop with this notion that people are only willing to work if they’re treated like garbage, or showered with wealth. Stop with the guilt-complexes, the superiority-complexes…morality, shame, and narcissism do nothing but obscure the system hurting people. 

Don’t be grateful for their exploitation feeding you or making your medical supplies, which is essentially what the sentiment “be grateful, there’s children starving in Africa” boils down to. Join hands together in the fight for workers rights…children in Africa don’t need to be starving in order for you to eat and it’s high time we realize that. Right now there are people in refugee camps worried about the outbreak worsening already poor living conditions, there’s elderly people in Italy more fearful of loneliness than the virus, and in Africa, many of us are more worried about starvation than coronavirus thanks to Western oil companies polluting the farmlands and waterways forcing us to become reliant on imports…keep in mind we don’t profit off oil extraction, we’re just left with the consequences.


(10) This is a class war…workers need to stand together in solidarity; further, this crisis really highlights how many people think pessimistic escapism is optimism.

The working class are all feeling the same pain, even if we’re isolated from one another by country, citizenship, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. The problem is capitalism. We—workers, students, the unemployed, professionals—we need to stand together. This is a class war that we did not start. We need to stand together in solidarity right now, and we need to reject the ruling class’ plea that “we are in this together.” We, the workers, are in this together…if the exploiters would like to join in our fight for socialism, then they must do so on our terms. Corporations telling you “we are in this together” are trying to maintain the system that gives them all the power.

Be wary of the media telling you about the small business owner and the landlord that is only renting out the second floor of their house…they are using these people as a bludgeon against the working class. These people are not the ruling class, and we urge them to join together with us in solidarity. It is the international corporations that make it near-impossible for small businesses to survive. It is the ruling class that has led to the proletarianization of physicians, forcing doctors and nurses to work under exploitative and overly-demanding conditions

While it often seems as if the ruling classes aren’t themselves even happy, they are nonetheless the class with power. They are the class with a monopoly on violence that they’re quick to use if their power comes into question (e.g. police, military, etc.)…I don’t refrain from taking food from Bill Gates because I respect him, I refrain from doing so because I would be beaten, imprisoned, and/or killed. The ruling class is hoarding resources, enabling them to induce scarcity in areas to force people to do labor under conditions they would not normally agree to. They are manufacturing consent, and the COVID-19 crisis is making that glaringly obvious. 

Corporations telling us “we are in this together” are not being optimistic. Optimism is not pretending the world is already just when there is overwhelming evidence that it is not! That is the Just-World Phenomenon, and it is a way of excusing inequality. It is either cruel or pessimistic. That is, it is pessimistic to fall back on pretending the world is already just because that means it is you that thinks there is no hope of it getting better. If you cannot see hope in people discussing exploitation with passionate anger, it is you who is negative, not the people who are outraged…that outrage is fueled by the positive-thinking that things can get better if we stand together in solidarity and fight to make them better. 

There is a violent class war happening, and people need to realize socialists didn’t start it…socialists want to end it. Wealth is not an identity like race, religion, or sexuality. It is the material hoarding of resources at the expense of others. 

And if that doesn’t make you angry, you’re just not paying attention.