Susan Dorazio places Scottish independence firmly within the struggle for global emancipation and liberation against capitalist and patriarchal exploitation and oppression.
A Socialist and Feminist Republican Scotland would establish equality for women, but it wouldn’t stop there. Scots, no matter how gender-identified, would recognise that liberation and justice for one is liberation and justice for all.
A socialist and feminist republican Scotland would be our part of a global transformation of all aspects of society as we now know it – a revolutionary process underway today, from the streets of Greece and Spain, to the schools for young women in Pakistan, to the family planning/abortion clinic in Belfast.
For the radical left throughout the UK, the campaign for Scottish independence is an opportunity to forthrightly address and connect the issues of women’s rights and human liberation. Through this process, we can generate a programme and tactics that develop from a revolutionary analysis of capitalism; our socialist, feminist, communist principles; and the history of social movements.
Enriching the vision
In this way, the Scottish working class can craft a definition of independence that will make a real difference in our lives. This means not only organizing against budget cuts and for reproductive rights (including contraceptive, abortion, and child care services). It means maintaining and enriching the vision of socialism as an alternative to capitalism: the failed economic, social, interpersonal, and political system that is bringing misery to so many lives worldwide and will continue to do so until we unite across borders to replace it.
Lessons on the interplay between tactics and vision can be learned from such social movements as those for woman’s suffrage, the abolition of slavery, the formation of trade unions, civil rights, gay rights, women’s liberation, and the struggle by indigenous people for restitution from their colonizers.
In all these cases, human rights and liberation from oppression propelled the development of these movements, in spite of the conflicts and divisions that occurred within them. Indeed, their strength lay in opening the terrain for discussion and debate. Such needs to be the case with Scottish independence as we find ways to express our belief that a global democratic socialist and feminist society is possible.
This voice and perspective for social change will only be its strongest if women speak out, and put forward an agenda in ways that get our concerns paid attention to and acted upon.
This is the assumption behind a paper prepared in 2011 by the Scottish Women’s Convention. Entitled What Women Want! A Manifesto by the Women of Scotland, it is based on survey responses from local and national organizations representing views of women from 11 Local Authority Areas.
Issues identified include gender stereotyping and discrimination throughout every stage of education, employment, and personal life; lack of resources and funding for further education; low-wage work, with a steady loss of good public sector jobs; lack of affordable child and elder care; upsurge of carer responsibilities; high cost and inadequate availability of transport; sexist practices within a patriarchal culture, especially in response to sexual harassment and abuse; and increased family stress and greater impact on mental health and well-being resulting from the loss of jobs, support services, and benefits.
The concerns revealed in the Scottish Women’s Convention document belong to women only to the extent that women are disproportionately affected. Such a situation currently exists because of the ways that capitalism and patriarchy reinforce each other. Commitment to the creation of a socialist and feminist Scotland means that both men and women accept collective responsibility for matters that affect all ofus, such as the problems raised in the report on What Women Want. To get to this level of empathy, we will need to work simultaneously on consciousness and programme.
Consciousness involves valuing one another’s personal backgrounds, thoughts, and feelings; fostering connections between personal and political values; developing new kinds of communication systems and processes; taking each other’s insights, history, experiences, needs, and desires seriously; and working at the grass-roots/rank and file level to build international solidarity by maintaining personal and organizational contacts and communication leading to coordinated action across borders.
The purpose of developing a programme for a socialist and feminist Scotland would be to show just how intertwined liberation consciousness and socialist thought really are. It would directly link, through the formatting of the programme itself, feminist issues of inequity, violence, discrimination, and misogyny to socialist positions that challenge the ideology and practices of the capitalist, militarist, and monarchical systems.
For example, the call for zero-tolerance of violence against women and children; access to safe accommodation; and improved safety for women in all aspects of society – work, transport, home, public places would be paired with a halt to arms sales; global nuclear disarmament; a major reduction in UK military spending; and the disbanding of NATO. Patriarchy and capitalism breed violence.
And the call for fully-funded education, social support, healthcare, housing, elder care, child care, public transport, art, recreational, and library services would be paired with tax the rich through a steeply graduated income tax and taxes on luxury goods; social ownership of the production and distribution of all goods and services; and the transfer of key industries such as transport, banking, oil, gas, and electricity from private to public ownership and control.
Impoverishment and neglect of the vast majority of the world’s population will only cease to exist when a united working class, motivated by socialist and feminist values and actions, transforms global society by assuming control of, and responsibility for, resources and infrastructure.
And the call for women to be involved in the planning, development, and delivery of strategies that reflect the needs of women; and for more clarity around asylum-seeking women’s rights and entitlements would be paired with affirmative action for women; total separation of religion and state; and the abolition of the constitutional monarchist state and its crown powers.
Equality of access is critical
Women in Scotland and around the world crave participation in their country’s institutions. Equality of access is critical, and commitment to democratic, transparent, and accountable processes is essential. Non-elected heads of state and church, kept in power by antiquated laws, inheritance, and a military apparatus, have no place in a just, equitable, non-hierarchical society where the rights of women come before the right of kings.
Finally, the call for equal opportunity and access to education and apprenticeships; equal pay and working conditions; and flexible working practices, childcare, and travel provision would be paired with a 30 hour work with no loss of pay and with full benefits; the right of all workers to organize and to strike; closure of nuclear power plants; large scale toxic waste clean up and environmental restoration efforts at corporate expense.
Plenty of work to be done
Priorities are skewed under capitalism, patriarchy, and nationalism. There is plenty of work to be done to revive our communities and end the environmental damage caused by capitalism. When gender, racial, and ethnic barriers to employment come down, and critically necessary, socially useful jobs, on high quality work sites, replace those that are dangerous and anti-social, all who are able to work will be able to do so, and our neighborhoods and ecosystem will be liveable and sustainable.
In short, all our socialist and feminist principles, our strategies to embody them, and our plans to implement them, must be directed toward the creation of a non-sexist, non-racist, non-elitist, worker and community-governed society – one that brings out the best in people, enabling them to appreciate the rights and fulfill the needs of all. In unity there is strength. In collective action there is hope for the future of our planet. A just, peaceful, beautiful, joyful world is ours to bring into being.