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(en) Aotearoa-New Zealand Imminent Rebellion #1 - Anarchism and Feminism

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 28 Jan 2004 11:13:35 +0100 (CET)

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THE Women's Liberation Movement has
displayed strong libertarian tendencies in
ideology and organisation. Much of the way in
which we perceive our oppression, and how
we organise to fight it has become anarchic in
both theory and practice for years. We now need
to become consciously aware of the connections
between anarchism and feminism, and use the
framework for our thoughts and actions in order
to be more effective, in order to create a future
we sense is possible, we must realise that what
we want is not change but total transformation
for it is women who now realise that revolution
cannot no longer mean the seizure of power or
the domination of one group by another it is
domination itself that must be abolished.

How has the Women's Liberation Movement been Anarchic?
Radical feminism states that women are
oppressed in a male dominated society. Male
dominance is the oldest, most basic form of
oppression, and the patriarchy maintains its
insidious control over our lives economically
through the system of capitalism and politically
through the state and its many repressive
institutions - the family, the education system,
the church, etc. Anarchism calls for the
destruction of all forms or hierarchy, and the
dissolution of power. Radical feminism takes
the analysis one step further because it shows
up all forms of hierarchy and leadership for
what they really are - oppressive structures of
male power and dominance.

Our lives are governed by patterns of
dominance and submission, and nowhere is this
more clearly illustrated than the nuclear family.
As well as being the basic unit of production
and consumption for capitalism, the family
serves as the main patriarchal tool for
authoritarian conditioning and repression. For
it is in the family that we learn to obey our
fathers which provide a model of all our
relationships in society - at school we obey our
teachers, at work the boss and in church we
obey the patriarchal God. We grow passive and
frightened, having well learned the lesson of
unquestioning acceptance of the system that
holds us in its power. As women, our passivity
is doubly reinforced and we are encouraged to
dutifully bear our oppression and to silently
take all the shit that men pour on us everyday.
The basic concept of anarchism is that people
take control of their own lives, and begin to
actively question their exploitation, attacking
it at its root cause. This is happening as women
no longer accept their predestined role, and
challenge the patriarchy in all its forms. In
attacking all forms of domination and hierarchy,
anarchism confronts the authoritarian attitudes
within people, and presents an alternative
world view based on cooperation and wholeness.

Fundamental to our ideas of oppression and
liberation is the fact that the oppressed person
is the one who can best understand and
articulate her oppression - any women,
regardless of her political involvement knows
only too well the pain of her experiences as a
women. The revolution for anarchists is the
transformation of society by people taking
direct control of their lives. We anarchists don't
want to liberate people - we want the people
to liberate themselves.

The concept "the personal is political" is
not new to anarchism. Anarchists have often
organised around the realm of daily life,
negating the idea of politics being out there
and removed. In our small women's
consciousness raising groups we came to
understand our oppression, our common
experience, and to see the connections between
our lives and the way society is organised. The
tool we used for making these connections was
the small, non-hierarchical group. This brings
us to the specific details of how the feminist
movement has been anarchic in practice.

In actual practice within the women's
movement feminists have had both success and
failure in abolishing hierarchy and domination.
I believe that women frequently speak and act
as intuitive anarchists. That is we approach or
verge on a complete denial of patriarchal
thought and organisation - our impulses
towards collective work and small leaderless
groups have been anarchist but in most cases
we haven't called them by that name. And that
is important because an understanding of
feminism as anarchism could springboard
women out of reforming and stop gap measures
and into a revolutionary confrontation with the
basic nature of authoritarian politics.
One of anarchism's most fundamental ideas
is that the means should reflect the end, and in
the women's movement we have attempted to
ensure that our ways of organising were
consistent with our ideology. At the basis of our movement
we formed small nonhierarchical groups. Through our
consciousness-raising groups we began to come
out of the isolation which society had forced
on us, and to understand our oppression as a
social class. We began to see the connections
between male power over all facets of our lives,
and the other forms of domination and
exploitation which exist in our society.

Learning to work collectively within our
groups meant that we began to take control over
our own lives, and become autonomous,
decision-making individuals. Concerned that
our structures were not inimical of the
authoritarian patriarchal forms that surround
us, we preferred cooperative work, consensus
decision-making, rotation of responsibilities
and sharing of knowledge, and skills. Using
the small group as a starting point our
organisational forms have grown from below,
rather than been externally imposed.
Anarchism implies that political organisation
must grow out of people's experience, and be
relevant to their needs and this cannot occur if
bureaucratic structures are laid down from
above. Spontaneous direct action has occurred
and the movement is diffuse and varied. Women
have been able to initiate and take action on
their local scene, while communication
networks enable generalised action when

Many of our actions have been the creation
of small women oriented projects aimed at
providing alternatives to patriarchal
institutions, while others have sought to help
those women who are victims of male violence
(rape crisis centres, women's refuges etc.). Our
alternatives (women's communities,
bookshops, magazines, music, printing presses
etc.) have been ways of challenging the
patriarchal state, and living the revolution now
by creating embryonic revolutionary forms.
We must not lose sight of our vision for hope
is women's most powerful revolutionary tool;
it is what we give each other each time we share
our lives, our work and our love. It pulls us
forward out of self-hatred, and the fatalism
which keeps us prisoners in separate cells. If
we surrender to depression and despair now
we are accepting the inevitability of
authoritarian politics and patriarchal
domination. And finally, we must be prepared
to question everything - even our most basic

- Margeret Flaws (Abridged. While this was
written at the outset of the feminist movement
it is just as relevant today as then considering
the women's movement was largely co-opted
by authoritarian types shortly after this was
written and has, as a result, only gained token
and superficial changes.)

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