A key distinguishing feature of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory and practice is our commitment to and development of proletarian feminism, which is the ongoing theoretical and practical development of the struggle against patriarchy from the perspective of the proletariat. The seminal work of the CPI (Maoist) cadre, Anuradha Ghandy, cadre name Avanti, Philosophical Trends in the Feminist Movement, lays out a merciless critique of bourgeois/radical trends of feminism and shows how they are theoretically and practically insufficient for the immense liberatory tasks before working class women in the 21st century. Proletarian feminism leaves no room for bourgeois feminism of the Hillary Clinton/Margaret Thatcher/shaking hands with pigs at the Women’s March school, nor does it leave room for bioessentialist ranting and raving about how “pussy grabs back”, etc. Nor does it leave room for hoteps raving about “defending our queens”. Nor does it leave room for white feminists excluding and silencing working black and brown and trans women and carrying the women’s liberation struggle down dead ends. What it does leave room for, however, is the study and practice of the eventual and inevitable overthrow of patriarchy and capitalism at the hands of the most exploited and oppressed people in the US and around the world, working class black and brown non-men. I can assure you that when proletarian feminism becomes the dominant theoretical and practical trend in the black women’s struggle and becomes a material force, white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy will begin to hear their final death peal. This is because, in the centuries old New Afrikan liberation struggle, working women have always been the vanguard, and when they pick up the gun and make revolution (they usually do before men), shit moves.
It was black women who, in the Americas to which our people were dragged as slaves to lay the foundations for the Industrial “Revolution” and the rise of capitalism-imperialism, sounded the call for and did much of the dirty work for the revolts that, in many cases, ended with the formation of free settlements of formerly enslaved people, called maroon colonies in the British West Indies and quilombos in Brazil. Transported African women were the guardians and transmitters of traditional medicine, culture, warfare methods, religious practices, and were often reviled and feared as “witches” by Europeans, who recognized the power and respect that African women, by virtue of their knowledge and critical role in the societies from which they came and in which they found themselves being forced to create in the Americas, commanded among their people. In North America, African women during the slavery era were oftentimes separated from their children, husbands, and entire families by force and design, as a result the nascent New Afrikan nation developed extended kinship networks, and women played a central role, raising and nurturing children who, although not their biological own, were considered by everybody in the community as such. Black women were the defenders of our communities, the slave revolts, mass escapes, and rebellions that ripped through the country in large and small form were, more often than not, organized by and heavily participated in by women. The communities of runaway slaves in the Great Dismal Swamp were, in most instances, headed by women. Women poisoned the master’s food, broke the master’s tools, broke the master’s head with axes. Women formed communities and struggled in a variety of forms against oppression of all kinds, from men of all kinds, snatching whatever respite they could from the hell which surrounded them. Women healed wounds from whips and dog bites, transmitted secret knowledge of healing, childbirth, and warfare brought from ancestral homelands in Africa, and maintained centuries old religious/cultural traditions. In terms of production and critical role in the economic structure of society, without the labor performed by black women in field and home (their own and that of the pigs that owned them), society would have collapsed. It’s ridiculous for patriarchal, feudal minded black men to claim to want to “step up” and take a vanguard role ahead of women in this revolutionary liberation struggle that we have never had in the first place! The step up that they want is a step backwards, a step into oblivion. To get free, we don’t push back the vanguard. Throughout our history, it has been women propelling our nation forward, from the plantation to the ghetto. During the sharecropping/Jim Crow era, while black men were in prison, unemployed, or in the North, having, in many instances, abandoned their families or been driven off the plantation, Black women, who, in many cases, could read and write, were arguing with employers, taking part in unionization efforts, attending meetings, and doing a myriad of tasks to bring home money with which they supported their entire families. The black woman’s work and wage is what has carried and sustained our nation throughout our history. My own grandmother worked, in many instances, 2 and 3 jobs and raised 7 children with little to no help from men. My great grandmother did the same.
In revolutionary movements that Black people have waged for our liberation, we again see women as vanguard. Men have done much talking of the Eldridge Cleaver type, engaged in much adventuristic posturing with no substance, expressed how much they wanted to blow off a pig’s head, and expelled much piss and vinegar, gotten into many ego duels, but in terms of actual building and sustaining of movements, in terms of actual service to the people, women laid the groundwork from top to bottom. In the Black Panther Party, the programs that acquired them the love of the masses and hatred from the pigs, the clinic programs, sickle cell anemia testing, the Breakfast for Children programs, the schools, were improved, worked on, and led by women. Women in the BPP, as Assata Shakur (and history) have showed us, were also fully capable of and willing to pick up the gun, as they were at all times throughout our history as a nation, but did not, as many men did, focus solely on the gun. The women of the BPP also waged a unapologetic struggle against the male chauvinism and abuse that pervaded the left, and that organization in particular at this time, many male Panthers saw Panther women as sex objects or otherwise unworthy of respect, this was a natural and predictable result of their line and orientation towards the lumpen-proletariat and their bringing of lumpen elements into the Party without placing emphasis on transforming their class outlook and stand to enable them to serve the people in an all around and deep way. This same error is being reproduced in many of the “revolutionary but gangsta” (RBG) organizations, which oftentimes are even worse than the original BPP was on this. Oftentimes, these organizations are led by egotistical men such as Umar Johnson, etc. who discuss “black queens, goddesses, etc.”, push all sorts of metaphysics, get into strange arguments with others on Facebook and Twitter, and engage in various sorts of sexual abuse of women and orient themselves around whatever makes them money. This is a travesty and a shame, a counterrevolutionary one. Any New Afrikan so-called revolutionary organization that does not study, adopt, and put into command proletarian feminist practice in more than name will reproduce these errors and will not be able to make revolution. This problem is not just in New Afrikan revolutionary circles, of course, the disgusting, sick and sad collapse of the NCP-LC and the subsequent mess have shown that the US Left, especially Maoists, since we hold ourselves to higher standards and consider ourselves as the most advanced Communists, those who are armed with the theory and practice that makes us the most able to make revolution in this country, need to do serious work on this and take it seriously, otherwise, we’re just yet another bunch of sorry ass men talking shit and doing fuck-all. Let’s not be that, let’s make revolution instead, and acknowledge that nonmen belong in front, and we follow their guide.