I’ve spent a week in the dark parts of the lefty blogsphere. First I ventured into Socialist Unity – the home of the UK misogynist left, then I got sucked in to Harry’s Place – the home of the UK imperialist left. If this is representative of the RoUK left, its in a sorry, sorry state. I’ve dealt with the creepy rape apologism that passes for enlightened comment at Socialist Unity elsewhere, but just as you can’t fight fascism with sexism, you cant fight misogyny with imperialism either.
The white left as defined by Bermuda Radical is
Those segments of the left, both individuals and groups, white as well as non-white, who represent the privilege, power and interests of imperialist white power and settler-colonialism. This can be by either active advocacy/apologism for white power and settler colonialism, or in other ways. The first is being explicitly in the corner of white power, while the second one is implicit. The second type can be seen very strongly in the white “left’s” history of false internationalism, opportunism and parasitism in its relations with revolutionaries of colour….
And quite often the advocacy of, and apologism for white power and settler colonialism is bourne out of a faux concern for Black women. Women become an excuse for bombing, invading and occupying countries as the West, with its oh so enlightened gender politics, shows them the correct path. Black women become the objects of liberation to be acted on behalf of by imperial powers controlled overwhelmingly by white men. They are the white man’s burden, to be protected from the savagery of the Black man. While the country which gave us the “War on Terror” and the “War on Drugs” has now launched the “War on Women“.
To ‘protect the weak’ has always been the excuse of the ruler and tax-gatherer, the chief, the king, the baron; and now, at last, of ‘the white man’
Jane Addams, Chicago Liberty Meeting against the US invastion of the Phillipines, 1899
In Afghanistan the horrors of the Taliban, an organisation funded and supported by the CIA when it was convenient for them to do so, are used to justify an invasion which has seen women murdered in the interests of their freedom. In the Congo, US military funding – ostensibly provided to provide security for women – has accelerated an epidemic in which nearly 50 women per hour are raped. While in Libya while superficial advances mask the widespread sexual violence that occurred against women from ethnicities which tended to support Gaddafi and a turning back of the greater rights that Libyan women had compared with the rest of the region. In Iraq, the strategic alliances that the invading force used to gain control over the region have undermined the position of women both legally and in practice.
And it is not only abroad that women face violence as a result of military intervention. Riding in on their white chargers is a military force in which one third of its female recruits are raped and two thirds sexually assaulted are sent in to “liberate” them. Apart from the violence women suffer within the military, women who are in relationships with soldiers face higher levels of domestic violence. While funding that can be used for domestic education and health care is spent on murdering foreign civilians and maintaining weapons of mass destruction to intimidate the world into acquiescence and call it consent.
Even when there is no overt invasion, the presence of UN peacekeepers and NGOs can exacerbate the sexual violence that women experience in troubled countries. During the Balkan War, an estimated 80% of the clients of brothels were troops from the US, Germany, France and Italy, with brothels springing up around military bases providing a base for the ever growing sex trafficking racket. In both Liberia and Sudan, the presence of foreign non-governmental agencies have created a boom in the sex industry. While other NGOs, of the “raid and rescue” persuasion have seen women imprisoned for involvement in sex industry and children stolen under the pretence of saving them. While voyeuristic accounts of Third World child rape are peddled for the infotainment of the West.
To fall for the line that the West must save Black women – even if that means killing, imprisoning or raping them in the interests of their “liberation” is to deny their agency in fighting for their freedom, an agency which is key to the struggle against capitalism, and a freedom which is twofold. As victims of both colonialism and patriarchy, Black women have a unique insight into the kyriarchial structures which uphold exploitation, dancing between them while challenging both in tandem. Seeking solidarity with feminists when challenging misogyny and with their Black bretheren when challenging imperialism, Black women are critical agents in the fight against capitalism and the narratives which sustain it. Only Black women have experience of the dual role of colonisation of both land and body, of the exploitation engendered by those who own the means of production, and of the corporeal occupation inflicted on those who form the means of reproduction.