It has been a year since the coronavirus pandemic has begun. 95 percent of the earth with human population has been infected. Covid-19 has not only become a public health crisis which had an impact on the billions of human lives, but it has also cracked the neoliberal nutshell of imperialist capitalism and unmasked its brutally exploitative core. All neoliberal policies imposed in the name of “a new world” in the last three to four decades have now proved to be nothing but the continuation of the exploitative nature of “the old world” from the birth of capitalism to its ongoing highest stage, imperialism.
Privatisation of public healthcare has turned into an unbreachable barrier in terms of the access to free and quality health services. Commodification of scientific knowledge has become an obstruction in front of the billions of people whose best hope out of the pandemic is vaccination. With an almost impossible access to public education, a global generation has been created deprived of even the basic right to minimum bourgeois education.
Neoliberal policies of flexibility and social insecurity, such as part-time work, temporary employment, fixed term contract, etc. have expanded and turned into mass unemployment. The capitalist impasse in the face of the pandemic has produced disillusioned masses who have lost their livelihoods.
CAPITALIST STATE IS AN EVER GREATER BURDEN ON ‘DOMESTIC SLAVES’!
As the popular masses have been drawn into a whirlpool of misery and hunger, it was women again who were pushed to the bottom. This was a general manifestation of the fact that capitalism took over patriarchal family from pre-capitalist societies, a family in which women were “domestic slaves” as the oppressed gender, and turned it into an element of its own reproduction.
From overproduction and expansion to recession, in each cycle of capital accumulation, women are made slaves of the reproduction of labour force in particular. However, the periods of crisis accompanied by unemployment, impoverishment and high costs of living aggravates the burden on women in the form of unpaid care that they serve in the household for the reproduction of capital. Like all forms of reactionism exacerbated by the bourgeoisie to maintain its class hegemony, such as racism, nationalism, fundamentalism, etc., misogyny escalates this domestic burden to an unbearable level.
This historical and social reality has found its most extreme example in the inevitable isolation conditions during the pandemic. While international non-governmental organisations in the service of capital contented themselves with announcing “shadow reports” on increasing domestic violence, the whole world has witnessed that the lockdown is made possible only at the expense of women’s lives. The capitalist state did not take one single effective step to protect women on any part of the earth. On the contrary, women’s shelters were shut down, public help lines were cut off, and judicial processes were suspended. Being left alone, women have been confined to the household that became a crime scene due to increasing violence and femicides. The fact that the control over the pandemic cannot be achieved by the capitalist state apparatus is felt the most by women.
GREATER POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT FOR WOMEN
In addition to leaving women unprotected in the face of violence, the capitalist state has also become a tool for their impoverishment. All social classes have been affected by the pandemic but the state has ran for the rescue of the class that it is owned by. Public funds obtained from workers and labourers have been put in service of capitalists whose tax debts were erased, who received new stimulus packages. On the other hand, having long been chained in the neck with the micro-credits under the decades long neoliberal “women’s entrepreneurship” programmes, the self-employed and small producer women have been pressed by the debts now that they have become dispossessed and unable to pay back. They joined the ranks of the working class, some squeezed in the wheels of the exploitation of cheap labour, but mostly in the grip of unemployment.
Women and children as unpaid workers of rural poor families have been deprived of the most basic opportunities to survive, such as access to food, water and housing. Tens of millions of informal women workers have lost their income, as neoliberal insecurity has disarmed them in the face of the pandemic. Working women largely clustered in temporary employment and part-time jobs as part of the neoliberal policy presented in the form of “work-family balance” have become unemployed and been excluded from social protection even in the most advanced capitalist countries.
INCREASING PATRIARCHAL REPRESSION IN THE CAPITALIST CONTROL
While the Covid-19 pandemic, now that it has become a “working class disease” with workers being left out to herd immunity, is aggravating the crisis that the shrinking world economy is drawn into, these conditions are globally being turned into an opportunity by the capitalist class. The bourgeois states and governments abuse it skilfully in order to realise their medium and long term goals. The production of goods and services are sustained so long as the pandemic does not reach levels that jeopardise this production.
While attacks on the historical gains of the working class as a whole such as severance pay, pension and unemployment fund have been aggravated, the rights of women workers such as maternity leave have been practically wiped out. The capitalist competition for the post-pandemic world has already been escalated and made the control over the labour process much more oppressive. All workers are forced to fulfil the production targets without a break while women workers are being exposed to increasing mobbing, harassment and humiliation at the workplaces. In short, women have been affected by the crisis of capitalism and its so-called pandemic management not only as “domestic slaves” but also as “waged slaves”; they experienced the lockdown not only in the household but also in the workplace. There appeared examples where women workers locked into the factory during the day, and locked into dormitories at night with positive cases among them. Pandemic has already reserved its place in human history as a period in which the patriarchal character of the capitalist labour control has been unveiled.
MONOPOLY CAPITALISM RELYING ON FASCISM
The pandemic and the period of economic crisis escalate the competition among imperialists and monopolies for the redistribution of the world. Bourgeoisie finds it increasingly more difficult to ensure the maintenance of its class hegemony by ordinary means of the state. The devastating effects of the pandemic and the crisis are abused by the reactionary forces, especially fascist organisations, to gather strength. In many countries, the monopolist bourgeois cliques try to absorb the unrest and discontentment of the exploited and oppressed popular masses within the system by channelling them into racist, chauvinist and xenophobic policies. Furthermore, they tend to empower the right-wing populism which was already on the rise before the outbreak of pandemic, and use the state-run illegal organisations more.
On the other hand, workers and labourers in many countries are uniting to foght against the devastation in their living and working conditions caused by the pandemic and the crisis for their economic, social and democratic rights and freedoms. Working women show an active participation in these struggles.
A considerable number of working women are aware of the danger of fascism to be built in many parts of the world from the USA to India, from Brazil to Turkey. They have historical and contemporary experience that exploitation, inequalities, violence and racist-fascist policies cannot be stopped by liberal democracy.
This 8th of March 2021 marks a turning point that working women should raise their struggle globally and improve their organisation for economic, democratic and political rights and freedoms in opposition to the devastating effects of the pandemic and the crisis, concentrated exploitation and inequalities and racist-fascist aggression.
These intensified attacks can only be confronted by a strengthened and united struggle of all workers and labourers, with working women as an inseparable part of them.
All working women of the world, let us unite in the struggle for economic and democratic rights and socialism!
Long live international solidarity of working women!
Long live the organized struggle of women workers!
International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO)