Federazione dei comunisti anarchici
Cremona, 19-20 June 2004
Motion on Ethics and Gender Policies
(approved at the 6th Congress of the FdCA - Cremona, 20 June 2004)
1.1 Women's struggles for their rights and the widening of their freedoms, as well as the appearance of a new form of subjectivity, have established gender (J. W. Scott, 1984) as a constituent element in social relations based on a conscious difference between the sexes.
1.2 Dealing with gender does not thus mean dealing with women, or with women's questions or secondary, non-material questions, since biopolitics (a concept of Foucault) - the expression of powers and politics on life, on the discipline of labour bodies and power, on the control of birth rates and death rates, on epidemics and the health of the people - becomes completely understandable only if one starts from the assumption that the symbolic organization of power uses the social construction of male and female sexuality in order to differentiate and structure itself, by acting on four levels:
- the symbolic level: culturally widespread symbols, marked as male and female;
- the level of normative concepts: those concepts marked as being male and female which are concerned with providing an explanation of the symbols with regard to religious, educational, scientific, legal and political doctrines;
- the economic and political level: how capitalist society is divided and structured in a male and female way, how the job market, education and political representation are formulated and changed;
- how socialization comes about: in a strongly-marked male or female sense.
1.3 These four levels are sectors of plural execution of power, both on the micro level of relationships and the macro level of organizations.
1.4 The problem of power and how to surpass it is and will remain a central, unavoidable one both in anarchist communist thought and in the construction of anarchist communist action.
1.5 Gender is thus an indispensable key to fully understanding the mechanisms of the legitimization and perpetuation of power.
2. Material contradictions: materialist reflection and gender category for an integrated reading of the capitalist economy.
2.1 Marxist feminists - who have long debated the genesis of the sexual exploitation of women by men and the relationship between the work of production and the work of reproduction, between pre-existing patriarchal societies and capitalist societies - have found themselves faced with a blind alley in that they considered the difference between male and female as a by-product of the changes in economic structures and gender has not enjoyed an autonomous analytical statute.
2.2 Capital, which - according to Marxian analysis - should have met with the collapse of profits, is still in a situation which is far from any sort of widespread collapse since with the widening of markets it became the leading economic model on a global level and in parallel has been able to marginalize entire slices of labour force. The marginalization, impoverishment and exploitation of the labour force, that has operated by means of the feminization of entire markets and with the markets themselves of entire segments of workers (male and female), has been used as a safety valve in order to maintain the level of profits in the capitalist mechanism.
3. The connection between nationalism and capitalism, centralism and capitalism, localism and capitalism: the category of gender for an integrated reading of today's global politics.
3.1 Gender difference plays a very important role in the political articulation which forces the various forms of capitalism and Capital itself to move in order to reassemble the political concepts which translate into "localist", "nationalist" identities and generate divisions and internal struggles in geographic areas that are particularly delicate with regard to the momentary interests in flows of accumulation of energetic resources or changes connected to expanding markets.
3.2 By means of a critical use of the concept of gender it is possible to make it easier to understand and see the mechanisms which weaken the internal political structures of entire regions of the earth in which the re-intensification of "identities", "affiliations" and "ethnic groups" on the basis of blood and/or history and cultural tradition, are concentrated on the difference between male and female, producing a passivization of the weak, non-aligned elements. All of this directly affects the individuals and the social relations of entire groups, creating inequalities and privations of freedom which can be seen, in male symbology, in the offensive, victorious and protective side and, in female symbology, in a lack of integrity and identification and/or in a passivity to protect.
4. The connection between patriarchal policies on the bodies of women and men and new rules in the labour market and in the control over our bodies: biopolitics and bioethics.
4.1 Capital needs to use elements of patriarchal tradition in order to control the workforces of various countries on a gender basis. Thus, laws are passed which strongly limit the freedom of self-determination of the body and the will of political subjects, through the demand to manage our lives with the helpful complicity of monotheistic, patriarchal religions. At this juncture, in this country, we see the introduction not only of Law No.40/2004 on assisted reproduction but also regulations regarding bioethics on sexuality, abortion and pain management, and euthanasia. In other parts of the world and in particular in Latin America certain choices have been made on a gender basis which raise serious questions on two fronts. The first is with regard to eugenetics and racism operating on the differences between women and men, with the forced sterilization of around 10,000 indigenous women in recent years in Peru. On the other front, it is necessary to unmask - by means of the concept of gender - certain worrying choices in democracies governed by the Left: abortion is still illegal in Lula's Brazil, where thousands of very poor, single women in the favelas continue to die or to be arrested and imprisoned upon release from hospital where they had taken abortion-inducing drugs.
4.2 The new forms of flexibility in the labour market also have an aspect on the basis of gender and the control of the labour force is effected through this determining factor. Some aspects of the current situation are: fundamental disparity between men and women; the effects of sexist stereotyping on hiring; double presence of women in productive work and in the sphere of reproduction and care in the home; horizontal and vertical occupational segregation; the feminization of work coinciding with a loss of bargaining power by some professions which are thus being increasingly carried out by women and with an impoverishment of professional competences in certain sectors. With the continual changes to the labour market and with the progressive rise in flexibility even in a rigid context such as Italy, where the participation of women has so far been less evident because the costs of their social protection have been considered too high in economic policies, there has been an increase in the presence of women in relation to the various forms of atypical work (flexibility in working hours, short-term contracts, temporary work, telecommuting, part-time work, vertical part-time over a few days, working anti-social hours or days, etc.).
5.1 Given that feminism in the 1970s left as a legacy its strong critical approach to male-dominated left-wing politics and renewed the sphere of politics both from a methodological point of view and as a result of a reconfiguration in the theory of politics (by criticizing all forms of power and by the insertion of aspects of private life and daily life into politics, placing ecology daily action and the concept of responsibility at the heart of politics), and considering that libertarian politics has had many elements of action in common with this movement, we need to harmonize the heritage of feminism into our anarchist communist action by means of a concrete use of political analysis and reflection of the concept of gender.
5.2 The FdCA has thus created an Ethics and Gender Policies Commission whose task is to work on deconstructing the economic, social and political situation on an international, national and local level, starting from the conceptual distinction of gender and articulating this concept with the concept of class.
5.3 The Federation acts in various fields, bearing in mind the question of gender as an element of reflection and political decision not as one of the questions to be dealt with but as a basic categorical element in order to be able always to work in all the areas with which our political organization deals.
5.4 Thus the Gender Commission, which examines bioethical and biopolitical questions, actively participates in every area of the federation's political theoretical work and political action as it can bring a fundamental wealth of cross-readings of the disciplines of power and of material and symbolic relations in the areas of:
- work (trade union)
- wars (anti-militarism)
- internal and territorial politics
- international economy and politics (capital, States, multinationals)
- social relationships (men and women)
- immigration and migration (men, women)
Approved by the 6th Congress
Cremona, 20th June 2004
FEDERAZIONE DEI COMUNISTI ANARCHICI