The emancipatory dimension

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By JULIAN RODRIGUES*

Disqualifying struggles against oppression is neither leftist nor Marxist

“For a world where we are socially equal, humanly different and totally free”
(Rose Luxemburg)

The foundations of Marxism are human emancipation, in all its dimensions. It is not necessary to mention the intuitions of Engels or the socialist feminism born in the 19th century. Not even the advances that the Russian revolution promoted in its first years.

If an important part of the socialist left became “straight” and conservative throughout the 1960th century, this conservative deviation has already been corrected since the XNUMXs. Gender equality, racial equality, sexual freedoms, democratic freedoms are elements of any leftist program, socialist, marxist, communist, revolutionary for many years. Or should be.

Big mistake. White elitist heterosexual economicist machismo remains firm and strong among leftist intellectuals. Eager to disqualify the struggles against oppression, as if the working class were a homogeneous mass of middle-aged heterosexual white men – these scribes do not cease to despise everything that is not classic unionism.

Their first operation is to label the struggle of women, black people, LGBT as 'identities'. Small thing, almost ridiculous. They don't take the trouble to know the political differences that exist within the movements. They treat, for example, feminism as a homogeneous whole – something primary.

These “intellectuals”, in addition to not incorporating the emancipatory dimension of the socialist struggle – and understanding capitalism as an articulated system of overlapping oppressions – do not even bother to differentiate liberal perspectives from socialist perspectives. Discard everything.

Suggestion for this class: read feminist authors. Rescue the history of the women's struggle, the anti-colonial struggle, the struggle of sexual minorities. There is no socialism without feminism. Nor without racial equality.

As an LGBT and communist militant I have to simultaneously confront both the “progressive neoliberals” and the “conservative left”.

For starters: avoid the terms identity agenda or identity struggle

When someone on the left uses that word, they usually want to disqualify the movements and struggles of LGBT, women, black people.

Do not confuse criticism of the limits of progressive liberalism with the legitimacy of struggles against structural oppression.

Facing patriarchal-racist-cisheteronormative capitalism is no minor thing, or just a claim for representation, which would ignore the class struggle. Liberals are the ones who limit such demands to the “recognition” dimension. Socialists fight for recognition, material equality and political participation.

So, don't be like José Pacheco Pereira , or like a certain Bahian writer whose name I refuse to divulge, don't go all Mark Lilla. And so many others that it's better not to mention. Look at Chile, at the protagonism of young women. When in doubt, Nancy Fraser solves it. Or go back to Rosa Luxemburg. A Marxist left is necessarily feminist, libertarian, anti-racist – its horizon is human emancipation itself. Since always.

* Julian Rodrigues is a professor and journalist, LGBTI and human rights activist

 

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