The persistence of gender inequality in the most advanced capitalist societies gives the lie to the idea that women’s liberation is possible within the framework of capitalism. Today, the ‘gender gap’ is widening as women, especially in the Third World, bear the brunt of the capitalist neoliberal offensive against the working class as a whole. The correctness of the Marxist analysis of women’s oppression as a cornerstone of class society and its revolutionary approach to achieving women’s liberation is clearer than ever before.
There are enormous lessons to be learnt about the path towards women’s liberation from both the positive and negative experiences in Soviet history. The progress achieved by the Bolsheviks, as well as the defeats inflicted on women during the subsequent Stalinist counter-revolution, demonstrate the absolute correctness of the Marxist analysis that because women’s oppression is rooted in the family as the basic unit of class society, the liberation of women will require not only their complete re-integration into social production, but also the socialisation of all of the functions of the family. Having overthrown capitalist property relations, granted women full legal equality, begun the process of socialising domestic labour (albeit with major limitations), and consciously striven to eradicate the backward social attitudes and ideological justifications for women’s second-class status, the Bolsheviks’ program for women’s liberation remains the most radical yet seen.
Centred on works and speeches by V.I. Lenin, this collection also contains a number of appendices presenting material by Leon Trotsky, from the Bolsheviks’ program, Comintern documents, and so on. On the Emancipation of Women documents the main ideas, debates and experiences in the Bolsheviks’ struggle for the emancipation of women, and is therefore essential reading for serious socialists and feminists.