A new correlation of forces in the US

Image: Anna Lowe
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By JULIAN RODRIGUES*

The US Supreme Court takes a giant step back, turning back the clock on equality and human rights by at least 50 years

 “And on these strange days, dust hides in the corners” (Renato Russo)

June 24, 2022. Historically sad date. the day when roae x wade was buried. A colossal step backwards in the US that has immense negative repercussions around the world.

In so many American films and series, we have come across characters citing the famous decision of the US Supreme Court (roae x wade) emanated in 1973, the one that recognized the right of women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy throughout the United States.

Some may claim that, strictly speaking, the main US court with this new decision has only delegated to each state to decide whether or not to allow the termination of pregnancy.

In practice, however, the new legal understanding immediately makes abortion illegal in 13 states – opening space for backlash in at least half of that country.

Such a victorious attack on women was not a bolt from the blue. The always militant right against sexual and reproductive rights had been accumulating several victories in the legislation of several states. O trumpism (American-style neo-fascism) did not end and did not even cool down with the defeat of Chief Donald in the 2020 elections.

The Supreme Court has 9 members who are appointed by the Presidents of the Republic. The 6 x 3 majority against sexual and reproductive rights was only possible because it fell to Trump to appoint a third of the current composition of the highest court.

A similar model for composing the Supreme Court is adopted in Brazil – with the difference, perhaps, that there, the nominees follow the programmatic positions of the nominee. They do not change sides or think they are above party politics (although here, those who have gone out of line are only those appointed in left-wing governments; those appointed in liberal-conservative governments remain consistent).

We states, we know in advance and clearly how the republican judge will vote and also the behavior that his/her democratic antipode will adopt. There are no illusions about the “impartiality” or “neutrality” of who makes up the main judiciary in the country. Useful lessons for the Brazilian left, right?

Recognition of the right to legal abortion in 1973 was the result of the rise of the women's movement, feminism, the black movement, the journeys for civil rights. Struggle from the left, from the liberals – from a broad social and political coalition. It took place in the context of the great progressive, revolutionary, reformist and democratic battles that, since the late 1950s, were taking place in the US – and around the world.

the excellent series Mrs America – with Cate Blanchet – tells the story of the iconic Betty Friedan – depicting the beginnings of the liberal feminist struggle in the 1970s. There was a lot of social action to push the reactionary Supreme Court judge to recognize women's rights in 1973.

The reactionary turn now reflects, therefore, a new correlation of forces in the USA and in the world. It is further evidence of the regressive and growing strength of conservatism, extremism, reactionaryism and neo-fascism.

Such a sexist decision by the Higher Court amounts to a historic humiliation to the US liberal-democratic field – which is very strong – in the cultural industry, for example. It's a knock on Hollywood, so to speak.

The historical regression in the struggle of women, progressives, democrats, the left of all stripes is not small. And it will not be limited to US borders, obviously. We need to recognize the size and strength of the blow. After all, we are talking about an immense obscurantist step in the very center of the empire.

The positive news is that there are already broad mobilizations against the new decision of the Supreme Court. From speeches by moderate Democrats Nancy Pelosi (President of the Chamber of Deputies) and Michele Obama to the indignation of the feminist movement as a whole, who have already taken to the streets in protest. In any case, this is an unavoidable warning sign. These are times that remind us of the dystopia of Gilead. GIlead is there, it is here – it threatens the entire world.

In Brazil, not even the right to legal and safe abortion has been conquered until today. Every year, thousands of poor, black and vulnerable women remain not only helpless, but above all criminalized if they intend or dare to try to interrupt a pregnancy. Here we had a judge from Santa Catarina, blonde fake, a super-reaction that tried to force an 11-year-old girl – who had been raped – to give birth.

And we have not only Bolsonaro on the offensive but also something more perennial, Bolsonarism – already ingrained and spread in our political, ideological, social, institutional fabric.

“Spine erect, head still, heart still.” A lot of fire in the heart, coldness in the mind and strength to row against obscurantism. Many cheers to the struggle of women, in the world and in Brazil.

* Julian Rodrigues, journalist and teacher, is a Human Rights and LGBTI activist.

 

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