Written: Pravda, March 4, 1920
Published: Women and Communism, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1950
Transcribed and HTML Markup: Sally Ryan
Capitalism combines formal equality with economic and, consequently, social inequality. This is one of the principal distinguishing features of capitalism, one that is mendaciously screened by the supporters of the bourgeoisie, the liberals, and that is not understood by the petty-bourgeois democrats. Out of this distinguishing feature of capitalism, by the way, the necessity arises, while fighting resolutely for economic equality, openly to recognise capitalist inequality and, under certain conditions, even to include this open recognition of inequality as a basis for the proletarian state organisation (the Soviet Constitution).
But capitalism cannot be consistent even with regard to formal equality (equality before the law, "equality" between the well-fed and the hungry, between the property-owner and the property-less). And one of the most flagrant manifestations of this inconsistency is the inferior position of woman compared with man. Not a single bourgeois state, not even the most progressive, republican democratic state, has brought about complete equality of rights.
But the Soviet Republic of Russia promptly wiped out, without any exception, every trace of inequality in the legal status of women, and secured her complete equality in its laws.
It is said that the level of culture is best characterised by the legal status of woman. There is a grain of profound truth in this saying. From this point of view, only the dictatorship of the proletariat, only the socialist state, could achieve and did achieve a higher level of culture. Therefore, the foundation (and consolidation) of the first Soviet Republic--and alongside and in connection with this, the Communist International-inevitably lends a new, unparalleled, powerful impetus to the working women's movement.
For, when we speak of those who, under capitalism, were directly or indirectly, wholly or partially oppressed, it is precisely the Soviet system, and the Soviet system only, that secures democracy. This is clearly demonstrated by the position of the working class and the poor peasants. It is clearly demonstrated by the position of women.
But the Soviet system represents the final decisive conflict for the abolition of classes, for economic and social equality. For us, democracy, even democracy for those who were oppressed under capitalism, including democracy for the oppressed sex, is inadequate.
The working women s movement has for its objective the fight for the economic and social, and not merely formal, equality of woman. The main task is to draw the women into socially productive labour, extricate them from "domestic slavery", free them of their stultifying and humiliating resignation to the perpetual and exclusive atmosphere of the kitchen and nursery.
It is a long struggle, requiring a radical remaking both of social technique and of customs. But this struggle will end with the complete triumph of communism.