AF3IRM: Women Must Defeat the Resurgence of Dictatorships and Their Legacy

Ninotchka Rosca, AF3IRM NY/NJ
Jollene Levid, AF3IRM National Chair | [email protected]

NATIONAL–We, the women of AF3IRM, recognize that the dismal fate of Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, who characterized her impeachment as president of the country as “a political death penalty,” is an apt omen of what women will suffer under the rude, crude and deadly politics of right-wing toxic masculinity. Even before Ms. Rousseff was formally thrown out of office, the new leadership of recycled corrupt politicians already downgraded institutions relevant to women and installed a practically all-male ruling elite.

We should not be surprised by the sheer prowess of right-wing pro-imperialist forces at manipulating parliamentary procedures to defeat the peoples’ will. Capital, after all, created the modern state as an expression of its will and its interests. Today, as wealth and income inequality intensifies under neo-liberal globalization, and climate change renders acute the struggle for control of natural resources and of land, we see Capital molding the State into the ultimate expression of its iron will and relentless greed.

The process has been a long one, starting with the auto-golpe (self-coup) by which a sitting president near the end of his term declares an emergency, has the Constitution re-written and thereby extends and consolidates his power over government. From Lesotho to Nepal, the auto-golpe was used by various presidents to ascend to dictatorship; hence, we met such unsavory characters as Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra of Ecuador, Thanom Kittikachorn of Thailand, Ferdinand E. Marcos of the Philippines, Park Chung Hee of Korea, Alberto Fujimori of Peru — down to the most recent, Recep Tayyip Edrogan of Turkey.

Each ruled with an iron fist and destroyed every check-and-balance present in the modern state and led their countries into perdition and starvation. And each regime was a bloody one, as any dissent was ruthlessly suppressed even as the public treasury was as ruthlessly pillaged. Women, of course, fared the worst in these scenarios, being already among the poorest of the poor. From deprivation of the right to public space and public engagement under Erdogan, to being prostituted wholescale under Marcos’s R & R and tourism program, to sterilization under Fujimori, women fared very far from well under the toxic masculinity of the fascist state.

Today, we are again witnessing the rise of the rude, crude and deadly in politics around the world — under the standard guise of protecting the nation against an illusory threat even as the protector is himself the worst of predators. In the United States, this election campaign season has been marked by the worst surge of naked racism, sexism and xenophobia — targeting people of color, scapegoating them as a means to hide the reality that vast numbers are in the throes of poverty because the already rich have demanded and taken even more of the social wealth. This has been accompanied by a whole scale attack on the rights of women, by an intensification of sexual violence while the push continues to institutionalize the male right to sexual access through legalized prostitution.

In these times, it is well to recall Lenin’s caveat: “While the State exists, there can be no freedom.” It is well to recall as well what Catherine McKinnon wrote: “[W]hat is this state, from women’s point of view? The state is male in the feminist point of view. The law sees and treats women the way men see and treat women. The state’s formal norms recapitulate the male point of view on the level of design.”

What then is to be done? Women, especially women of color, transnational women, must organize even more intensely in these times — both as an act and a means of resistance. And beyond that, to create the politics of intersectional liberation as a shield against the rude, crude and deadly that seek to distract us from the crisis of inequality — social, political and economic — that has been the result of relentless plunder by the ruling class.

AF3IRM calls all women to engage in heightened theory-building to address and resist the new wave of strengthened fascism we are facing. We invite all organizations to study and shift our collective resistance to these new threats. We stand on centuries of movement history and face an additional responsibility to advance a new resistance. We call all transnational, women of color to join our AF3IRM ranks.

A new world is possible — but only with the rising of the women.

Onward to women’s liberation and the liberation of humanity!
Fight back against fascism’s resurgence!
A woman’s place is at the head of the struggle!

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