This post goes with an additional text to the last of the ten parts of our CU Generic Course called “No Woman, No Revolution”. The main text of this part is the compilation of articles on women from Umsebenzi Online that was previously commented upon.
During this course we have looked at the “woman’s question” in a practical way. Especially we have said that it is a revolutionary necessity that the women should be organised en masse in order that they should become a collective “Subject of History”. But we have not closely examined this thing called “Subject of History” during this particular course.
Simply, being a “Subject of History” means having the power to act, as in the revolutionary slogan “Power to the People!” It means being free. It means having “agency”.
The item linked below is “Postmodernism and Hindu Nationalism” by Meera Nanda [pictured]. In this context this piece of writing can help readers to understand how, in a triple context of philosophy, national liberation and feminism, the crucial or pivotal point of struggle is usually exactly this question of agency. Meera Nanda is a secular rational humanist philosopher in general and an expert on Hindu nationalism, bourgeois feminism and anti-humanist postmodernism in particular.
Postmodernist philosophy, reactionary nationalism and mystical feminism all bear down upon the concept of freedom, attempting to crush it. All try to return the people in general and women in particular to the condition of inevitable bondage and victimhood of circumstances.
What is common to all of these aspects, whether in India or in South Africa, is the evacuation of popular agency and the refusal of the mass Subject of History following the liberation struggle, which in the case of both India and South Africa promised precisely this thing - freedom - above all other things.
In India the promise was “Swaraj” and in South Africa, “Power to the People”. Independence and national sovereignty were supposed to be inseparable from mass popular agency, and vice versa.
In practice, political independence co-existed with bourgeois dictatorship and neo-colonialism, and these latter factors trumped and negated the mass popular power, including organised women’s power.
Revolutionary organs of people’s power were dismantled. Golden Calves were raised up in place of the slogans of popular power. These substitutes were the slogans of bourgeois nationalism, national mystique, women’s solidarity versus men, and the cult that holds inanimate things (the earth, the environment) to be more valuable than humanity.
In all cases the best remedy will be that of the SACP: Educate, Organise and Mobilise.
This ends the course “No Woman, No Revolution”. The next post will commence the course on Philosophy and Religion.
Please download and read this text via the following link:
Umsebenzi Online on Women, 2006-2009 (6340 words, 12 pages)