We are publishing a contribution to the discussion about the development of class consciousness by comrade mhou who regularly contributes to our internet forum. We agree with its approach but welcome further contributions, either as articles or on the forum.
In the first part of this article, published in the International Review n°150, we considered the role of women in the emergence of culture among our species Homo sapiens. In this second, and final, part we propose to examine what we feel to be one of the most fundamental problems posed by primitive communist society: how did the evolution of the genus Homo produce a species whose very survival is based on mutual confidence and solidarity, and more particularly what was woman’s role in this process.
In bourgeois mythology the first settlers to America were free men and women who built a democratic and egalitarian society from scratch in the New World. The reality is that the American proletariat was born into bondage and slave labour, faced barbaric punishment if it resisted, and was forced to struggle for its basic rights against a brutal capitalist regime that most resembled a prison without walls.
At the beginning of the year the scandal of beef products adulterated with horse meat broke, leading supermarkets across Europe to withdraw affected products, particularly processed and ready meals, some of which contained up to 100% horse instead of beef. Horse is of course much cheaper.
A billion human beings suffer from malnutrition. To that we must add the increasing misery of a growing mass of impoverished people, a majority of the world population. In spite of technical progress and unprecedented productive capacity a large number of people are still dying of hunger! How can we explain this paradox?
A leading figure in a nationwide institution has been accused of rape and sexual harassment. This has shaken many of those who had confidence in the organisation, although others have rallied round to defend him.
This is not a reference to a Scottish Cardinal and the Roman Catholic Church, nor to a Liberal Democrat peer, nor to a dead DJ and the BBC. The latest scandal concerns the ex-National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party.
The defeat of the miners and printers in Britain did not bring the wave of class struggles of that decade to a close. 1987 saw a nationwide strike of British Telecom workers. In February 1988, there was a real wave of struggles involving car workers, health workers, postal workers, seafarers, and others. Internationally the movement also continued, with important struggles in the education sector in Italy and among healthworkers in France.
These movements showed a number of signs of a process of maturation in the working class. The struggles in Italy and France, for example, saw the emergence of general assemblies and revocable committees to coordinate the struggle, and in several cases members of revolutionary organisations (the ICC and others) were elected as delegates.
There was also a small but potentially important development of organisation among unemployed workers. WR 92 (March 1986) contained reports of our participation in meetings of unemployed committees in France Germany, and the UK.
We are publishing an article by a close sympathiser of the ICC in India, responding to the notorious rape and murder of a young student in Delhi. It is followed by comments by two other women.
By announcing the forthcoming adoption of a law authorising gay marriage, the French government has provoked a series of mobilisations and media debates where everyone is asked to choose their camp : ‘for’ or ‘against’ gay marriage. The same thing has happened in other countries: in Britain David Cameron’s proposal to legalise gay marriage has created deep divisions in both the Tory party and the Anglican Church (which had already been convulsed by the scandalously radical idea of allowing gay priests and women bishops).
David Cameron has had a busy start to the year. In early February he visited Libya and Algeria. A couple of weeks later he was in India with the largest trade delegation ever assembled by a British Prime Minister. Before that he had given the long-awaited speech on Europe in which he finally promised a referendum after the next election. What does all this tell us about British foreign policy?