Historically, feminism is closely linked to anarchism and socialism. It was feminism that produced such brilliant figures as Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, or Emma Goldman, to name just a few. In the final analysis, one can see the politics of woman’s emancipation after the October Revolution of 1917 as this movement’s main success. In the West, many feminist thinkers have understood the struggle for gender-equality as the most consequent strategy for reaching social equality, considering feminism as the most radical form of struggle to come from the Left.
By today, the political struggle of women’s liberation has successfully activated a broad spectrum of “gender identities” and played a decisive role in redefining how we consider subjectivity and the notion of the Other. Many varieties of feminism have become an integral part of the dominant neo-liberal ideology. At the same time, the universal strategy of solidarity between all women in resisting patriarchy has been called into question on a fundamental level. There is good reason to doubt the traditional feminist solidarity, which arguably ignores a great many differences between women all over the world.
For an example, in post-Communist Russia, any reworking of both feminism and socialism seems nearly impossible. At present, both forms of resistance to exploitation have been marginalized from political and social discourse, as Russian society voices its reactionary demand for the “law and order”. Women are attributed with the status of a “leisure class”, as their lack of economic and political independence becomes the norm. The liberalization of the economy has given rise to new, especially inhuman models of sexploitation. All of this demonstrates the pressing need for a critical re-examination of feminist politics both in Russia and in the West.
Which political role can feminism play in the contemporary world?
Which strategies of solidarity between women of different social, national, and ethnic backgrounds are possible today?
Or is it better to shift our focus from the differences between men and women in order to address different universal features, such as political power-relations or social class?
Feminism strives for equality. But when a woman attempts to reach equality in the contemporary world, she will often adopt a male model of behaviour, becoming forceful, aggressive and conceited. Suddenly, a great number of important human qualities such as patience and the ability to understand the Other appear irrelevant. They are displaced onto the periphery and hidden in privacy; society is apt to experience them as completely unwanted forms of weakness. If this is subjectivity, then many women would prefer not to become subjects. In Russia today, we can clearly see in how far women have been successful in developing their own manipulative practices in order to reach their goals by playing with their “weaknesses” and their vulnerabilities. And men? Even they are hardly free in all their machismo. Real emancipation must free both sexes!
Do you feel that qualities like “vulnerability” will die out as unnecessary capacities?
Or is it possible to engage in a certain revolutionary politics of vulnerability?
How can feminism convince human beings of both genders of the need for emancipation and of the benefits of real freedom?
In the contemporary world, there is much sex and much sentiment, but very little love. All too often, love is defined as a form of uncomplicated romantic relationship, welcomed as a brief interruption in professional and social life. In this case, love is a part of the machine of consumption, an example of how people are unable to deal with their own freedom and how they are incapable of truly accepting the freedom of the Other. On the other hand, love is often experienced as a traumatic addiction, requiring liberation or therapy, since it robs the human being of her-his independance. Is this something we should accept? Or can we search for love as a revolutionary possibility for freeing one another?
The act of love offers a possibility for stepping into a relationship of solidarity and becoming a part of a network of resistance to the capitalist order. Love has always been the fundamental means of breaking the illusion of existential loneliness. Today, it becomes the most relevant way of countering a notion of privacy that is trapped in autistic consumption. In this sense, the notion of love can hardly be confined to the bounds of the couple or the family; once it is opened toward the world at large, love can create communes of resistance and desire.
At the same time, love is a “ordinary” experience of the relation between human beings, men and women alike. This “ordinary” experience is only possible because it can be repeated again and again in the act of giving and liberation, withstanding the urge toward exploitation and consumption. Everyone knows this experience of stepping out to meet the Other. Now, it is time to bring this experience to the politics that define the life of our society.
Does love have any political potential in your opinion?
Do you think that there is anything specific in the feminine experience of love?