feminism, socialism and political organisation: questions for the contemporary left

a session at The Commune’s summer school ‘Beyond Resistance’: this session is from 2pm on Saturday 19th June

It is now thirty years ago since the publication of Beyond the Fragments: essays by three women active in feminist and socialist groups, both Leninist and libertarian, on the need for the left to consider anew the question of organisation in light of insights gained from the women’s movement.

As feminists drew attention to the underdevelopment of socialist theory on the relationship between the sexes, they connected this to the gendered nature of power relationships within the male-dominated left. Politics was not just about what you said and did, but how you said and did things. Their experiences of organising autonomously as women fed into a critical consideration of forms of political organisation.

The questions raised three decades ago continue to have resonance. Join us to discuss them in the context of our own experiences of the contemporary left.

An open discussion introduced by Alice Robson, Laura Schwartz and Laura Rogers. All welcome.

What is the relationship between forms of revolutionary organisation and the future we are fighting for?

(How) can we prevent the inequalities and hierarchies of capitalist society reproducing themselves in left groups?

Have we widened the range of issues that can be discussed on the left? What significance is given to these questions?

Is the development of people’s confidence and ability to be responsible for their own lives a priority for the revolutionary left?

What is the relationship between our emotions and our politics?

What steps can we take to ensure that the responsibility for change on the male-dominated left is shared by all involved?