Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Excerpts from a Speech by Comrade Hardial Bains Delivered at the National Conference of Revolutionary and Progressive Women Organized by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) January 25, 1975

First Published:The Workers’ Advocate Vol. 6, No. 3, March 15, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

I think it is erroneous to suggest that the Party did not take a serious attitude towards organizing women. It is erroneous, in the sense that organizing the Party itself is the reflection of taking a serious attitude towards organizing women. All the comrades must understand that women in the society exist as communists, as workers and as women. And all the struggle in the past has been in opposition to this idea: against those people who either wanted to say that women only existed as women in this society or women only existed as workers, or women only existed as some political formation. Over the years, especially since 1968, our Party has taken a correct attitude towards women, and has taken a serious attitude toward organizing women and I think it is erroneous to suggest that we have not taken a correct attitude or a serious attitude. Many times I have been asked by petty bourgeois women what attitude we take towards women in the Party. These petty bourgeois women are interested in equality under bourgeois dictatorship, which is equality on the minimum or lowest level. They have asked us what attitude we take towards women in the Party, and we have always answered that we have Communists in the Party. As far as the Party is concerned, there is no distinction; no differentiation in terms of sex, in terms of colour, creed, nationality or anything else. We have communists in the Communist Party and this is the first principle as well as the last principle. The question of what attitude we have towards women doesn’t arise as far as the Party is concerned. We advocated that in terms of organising women we must first organise the Communist Party, which can lead all classes and sections of society against the main enemy.

The significance of this meeting is not that we have taken an erroneous or not serious attitude in the past and that we are going to take a serious attitude now. The significance is that the Party is founded, its leading organs are established and the Party is now going into the mass movement, going into the phase of organising the broad masses of the people against our main enemies. Organising women comes under that category, that is organising the broad masses of the people. Comrades and friends have to look at the significance of this meeting in this light; that the Party considers the organising of women, as women, as an important activity at this time and the meeting is called to establish an organisation, establish a program, in practical as well as in general terms. We will have discussion on this question throughout the day, and various women comrades who have come out of the Women’s Liberation Movement as well as with other experience, that is the trade unions, will lead the meeting.

Another point I would like to make is that this is a women’s conference, not a conference of men, so I was quite surprised to see men in this meeting. When we were organising this conference and contacting various people, some individuals objected to myself coming here to address women. As far as the Party is concerned, women have the same leadership as workers in the society, as immigrants in the society, as anyone else in society. There cannot be two types of leaders as far as women are concerned. Even when the People’s Republic of Canada is declared you are not going to have two prime-ministers, one a woman and the other a man. People who want to introduce these kind of questions-I used to call them godforsaken, people who believe in deism, that is that there are some divine rights which god has bestowed on them and one of these rights is that women should have their own leaders. As far as we are concerned we want leaders coming from all sections of the classes of society to oppose the main enemy, and we look at leaders only in that respect. The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist- Leninist) is an organization of communists. As far as the leadership of this conference is concerned, the leadership is going to be the leadership of CPC(M-L). As far as the main force of this conference is concerned, it is going to be women, because it is dealing with the question of women in terms of organising them. Any progressive or revolutionary women are permitted to come to this conference, as are some male comrades who are in leading positions in the Party at various levels.

Comrades; there are 5 points on which you have to give your views, which means there has to be a very definite decision taken on these 5 points. The first point is to determine whether women, as a section of the people in society, are singled out for super-exploitation by the monopoly capitalist class. This of course, doesn’t include the big bourgeois women, the small minority of women which belong to the big bourgeois class. We have to make a decision whether women, as a section of the people, are singled out for super-exploitation or not. This point is very important, in the sense that women do not exist as a class. Just as any other section of society women come from all the classes. We have to decide whether there is such a thing as exploitation of women, as women, and as a section of the people in society, irrespective of which class they come from. Now usually when this discussion begins in society, the first point which comes up is that some women think that exploitation of women is caused by men. This whole line of thinking should not be taken seriously for discussion, because we reject it. You cannot be a communist if you believe that a division of people in the society can be based on sexuality or sex.

We are not presenting this for serious discussion, but at the same time we must look at what happens when the women’s movement arises in terms of working women. Various individuals have made some nauseating statements that they are working women who are exploited. But when these working women take up issues, it is all bourgeois women’s issues for which they agitate, and there is a serious betrayal of the cause of women as people in society. For example, there was an organisation in Vancouver called the Working Women’s Association. When they took up causes, in the main they were all issues dear to the hearts of bourgeois women. So why did they call themselves the Working Women’s Association? Why not the Women’s Association to take up the Issues of Bourgeois Women? As far as we are concerned, women, as a section of the people, are exploited and have been exploited throughout the history of class society.

It is altogether erroneous to suggest that this is not the case. Women have faced the worst kind of exploitation right from slave society to feudal society to capitalist society, and now in social-imperialist society; women as women. Even though a small minority of women have been incorporated into the ruling class.

The actual amount of exploitation and the nature of exploitation is the second point. Our point of view is that all women face class exploitation. This exploitation is not something independent of class exploitation, and for this reason it is in the interest of women to support the emancipation of the working class and proletarian revolution. Even for bourgeois women, it is in their interest for their own emancipation, as women, to come out to support the emancipation of the working class, for otherwise there can be no emancipation of any woman whatsoever. So, while those people who do not believe that women as women, are exploited and try to give this workers’ chauvinist line for women; then taking up bourgeois issues and trying to mislead women on that; we believe that women are exploited as a section of the people and face super-exploitation, and have faced it throughout the history of class society, and that their emancipation, their struggle, has to be in terms of proletarian revolution, which means that all classes of women, in the main, should take up the cause of the proletariat and only then can they find emancipation.

These are the first two points, or you can say the general analysis, which the comrades have to have some consensus on during the conference. If the general analysis given before is agreed upon, that is the basis and nature of exploitation of women as a section of the people in a class society, and that the exploitation which they receive is class exploitation, then a very serious issue arises, at this time in history, and that is the issue of International solidarity of women. This in terms of participating in the proletarian revolution in Canada.

Women have a very important role, as do other sections in the society, to support those women, on a world scale, who suffer the most vicious and worst kind of exploitation, repression and extermination at the hands of U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. I have in mind the women of Asia, Africa and Latin America who suffer the worst kind of feudal exploitation, as well as capitalist exploitation, as well as imperialist and social-imperialist exploitation. It is the view of the Party that Canadian women have a great deal of responsibility on the international, scale and they should discuss their role in terms of International solidarity – how to support the women of those countries which are facing the worst kind of aggression from imperialism and social-imperialism. This is not to say that we are going to have a hollow solidarity, devoid of the main content of national liberation; that you can have solidarity with all women and thus life will be fine. To have solidarity with women in Asia, Africa and Latin America, or have an International solidarity, is to participate in arousing a section of the people against imperialism and social imperialism here, and we feel that it is very important that the comrades here make a decision on how they can participate in that aspect of work.

Now lastly, as far as the Party is concerned, we are mainly interested in women as workers, and then women as communists; which means that the main emphasis of our work will be amongst the women workers and we will have communist leadership amongst women workers and will take up those causes that concern us as communists. This doesn’t mean that we consider that those women who come from the petty-bourgeois class and who are in petty production, or those women who come from the bourgeois class or who have some means of subsistence in independent of their labour–that these women are unimportant to be mobilized. We are not saying that; and we are not saying that class background decides whether a person is going to be a revolutionary or counter-revolutionary. This means that we oppose the line that says that except for workers everyone is a reactionary in this society. This is not the case. What we are emphasising is that we all will deal with our class; the majority of women in the society, in capitalist society, are workers and we would like to build a program which makes them the target, and all the bourgeois and petty bourgeois and other women should support that program, for, as I said before, in the first point, there is no program for women away from the program of the proletarian revolution.

In this respect, special emphasis has to be made again on the national minority women workers; the native women, who face the worst kind of exploitation, the women workers in Quebec, who suffer the worst kind of exploitation at the hands of the capitalist in terms of unemployment, and also women in other depressed areas of Canada, like the Maritimes where unemployment and other various problems are multiplied as far as women workers are concerned.

As the chairman of the meeting announced before, this is a working session and not a conference like those we usually have. My comments therefore, are going to be very brief. I would just like to go over our five points. The first is to decide whether women as a section of the people, are singled out by the monopoly capitalist class for exploitation. Secondly, what is the nature of the exploitation; is it that which some feminists talk about - men exploiting women, or is it of a class nature ? The third is the question of International solidarity. The fourth is the organizing of women as workers, and the last point is to organize women as communists. On all of these points the comrades have to make decisions.

So, in this conference, comrades must take a stand; that women must be communist organizers. Women must be communist organizers as individuals, independent of their husbands, independent of their parents, independent of their boyfriends, and of their kids, just as a male communist is. This disease, as I said before, is not just a disease of women comrades. Men are more to be blamed in many ways. But the point is that there is a negative line which all communists have to oppose.

All kinds of sexualism, disruption, and confusion arises from this erroneous attitude towards social relations in the home in terms of attitudes towards kids, that is, how the kids should be brought up and how the comrades should participate in revolution. And this point, I think, has to be discussed as a very serious organizational point. As far as the Party is concerned, the Party will not be doing its work properly in a resolute revolutionary manner if a large number of comrades are not women. By large I mean close to a majority of the total comrades. Whenever we organized correctly, we had that situation: women enthusiastically joined the revolution. There is no such thing as women having greater affinity towards the capitalist class than somebody else.

In terms of the correct orientation on political line, the question of mobilization cf women cannot be relegated to a secondary position. The reason for that is this; in those societies where capitalism has reached its final stages, such as Canada, the U.S., in many Western countries, where you have a monopoly capitalist system, an advanced capitalist system - in those countries, the question of women is going to become a very serious question immediately after the proletarian revolution, and women have to be the leaders, women have to be the organizers; while in other societies these questions don’t have that kind of urgency. Of course, there is urgency, in terms of emancipating from the feudal and other forms of oppression, women in Asia, Africa and Latin America, but the material conditions are not developed, for the issue of women workers, and the issue of women in production to arise; this issue does not have that kind of immediacy or urgency as it will have in the capitalist countries, and I will leave it to the comrades to arrive at correct orientation and conclusions. I believe that good secretaries are those who have the largest number of women in their organization. And IT m not saying that this can just be based on a head count - for example, we have one secretary of whom I asked how many women he had mobilized to come to this conference. He said eight. I was really impressed that one local secretary, with a very small branch, a unit of four or five comrades, could organize eight women to come. Then just out of curiosity I looked at the list. All those eight women were from the Party, people already mobilized, which means that a dishonest attitude was taken by the secretary in reporting eight. When we said mobilizing women, we meant going to activist women, arguing with them, and persuading them, having discussions with them that they should be sympathizers of the Party. Their emancipation lies only in terms of being communist organizers. It didn’t mean that you fill form and have eight Party comrades and friends listed there, and then you say that you have fulfilled your task. Many people have this sort of attitude, and in the initial stages – and this still is the case – a wrong line is taken-that is, one of organize my wife and I will be organized or organize my husband and I will be organized. I won’t say much more on this question.

(Editor’s Note: After the day-long session, which was stormy at various times, the majority of the comrades agreed with the five-point analysis presented by Comrade Hardial Bains. All delegates agreed to take these five points home and begin their work on the basis of these five points.)