Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

CPUSA switches on ERA to sabotage women’s fight

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 17, May 1, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Equal Rights Amendment has a new “champion”–the revisionist Communist Party (CPUSA). After years of opposing the ERA, the CPUSA has suddenly seen the light. In the January issue of their theoretical journal, Political Affairs, they publicly declare their “support” for the amendment.

In short, now that a broad base of support for ERA has been built, these opportunists are jumping On the bandwagon. But don’t let them fool you. The CPUSA hasn’t changed its real stand of betrayal on the question of women’s equality. They have chosen the road of least resistance.


Real communists support the ERA along with the fight to keep special protection for women on the job. Tens of thousands of women have demonstrated for passage of the amendment, which simply states that “Equality under the law shall not be abridged or denied on the basis of sex.”

But no words on a piece of paper can end capitalism’s systematic discrimination against women. No amount of reforms can ever change the basic conditions of exploitation and oppression that enslave women. Communists fight for the ERA, not as the final goal, but as part of the struggle to get rid of capitalism altogether and replace it with socialism.


Compare this to the strategy of the CPUSA. Both their phony “support” and their previous opposition to the ERA–on the grounds that it was “too vague”–are based on their program of seeking liberation for women under capitalism. They continue to spread the myth that “legislation can lead to equality,” as they claim in the Political Affairs article.

Look at the revisionists’ explanation for their change of heart over the ERA. According to the article, “ERA: New Trends, New Developments,” by Alva Buxenbaum, “a new climate of struggle has been created” since Jimmy Carter’s election. This “new climate” they say, has created positive conditions for “how the ERA is to be interpreted,” and “by whom.” In other words, now the courts can be “pressured” to rule in women’s favor.

Have they “forgotten” what kind of “climate” has really been created in recent years? Medicaid funds for abortion have been wiped out; forced work for welfare mothers will become, the law of the land by 1981; the Supreme Court has ruled that employers don’t have to pay a penny of disability for pregnancy; and Allan Bakke, with the backing of the ruling class and the courts, has embarked on a crusade to get rid ’ of affirmative action for minorities and women.

In the CPUSA’s eyes, all these vicious attacks on women disappear in light of the Supreme Court’s stand on the issue of–believe it or not–̵separate bathrooms and showers.

The Political Affairs article also attributes the new-found support for the ERA to the existence of working class women’s organizations, such as the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). But since 1976, CLUW has degenerated even further into an organization of and for the labor bureaucrats. Thanks to the sabotage of these very revisionists and the union bigwigs they cozy up to, CLUW has been robbed of its many strong rank-and-file forces.


Behind the CPUSA’s about-face on the ERA lies nothing more than opportunism. They were isolated by their stance and they knew it. They’ve also faced deep divisions within their own ranks.

The CPUSA’s line is still based on concern for narrow economic issues only, belittling the importance of the fight for women’s political rights.

They still argue that the decisive question is convincing the courts of the intent behind the ERA. In fact, they’re mobilizing to pass “resolutions of intent” in each state to “assure” that the ERA won’t be used against affirmative action and protective laws.

The revisionists spread the illusion that if the courts only knew what women want, they’d rule in their favor. But the courts are an arm of the capitalists, who reap millions in profits from the exploitation and oppression of women. How the ERA will be used if and when it is passed will be determined not by any “resolutions of intent,” but by the level of struggle of the masses of workers.

Whether the CPUSA operates outside or inside the movement for the ERA, their “intent” is the same–to wreck the genuine fight for women’s political and economic equality.