The recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice and sexist pig Brett Kavanaugh has highlighted the fundamentally patriarchal nature of U.S. society. While Democrats mounted some token opposition as a build up to Midterm elections, they did little to actually stop Brett from being confirmed. Since then, Brett the Predator has been welcomed as part of the “Supreme Court Family.” This helps to clarify that the Court does not serve the people, but only the ruling class.
Brett the Predator was outraged that he was questioned about his prior sexual exploits, frat parties, and his drinking habits.
Last October, after over two months of hearings, several allegations of sexual assault, and the rallying of conservative rightists, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to be the next Supreme Court Justice. Kavanaugh himself is not so special. His support of various anti-people policies is typical among federal judges. Kavanaugh is pretty much in line with all the other judges Trump could’ve chosen from. In fact, his name was one of many on a list of nominees provided to Trump by the far-right Federalist Society, a group of ultra-conservative lawyers and judges who lobby for anti-worker, misogynist, and racist legislation.
Soon after his nomination was announced, mass protests erupted in response to allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when the two were in high school. Soon, even more reports of abuse and assault came out against him from his time in college. As opposition to his nomination grew across the country, the ensuing circus of the confirmation hearings was used as a political tool to build the hype around the 2018 midterms, for both parties.
Republicans, on the one hand, worked to rally their traditional white, middle-class, evangelical base in opposition to Democrats and the “uppity women” opposing Kavanaugh. They characterized the protests against Kavanaugh as an “unruly mob” who were threatening the foundation of U.S. society. To them, the accusations were nothing more than “character assassinations” of a good rich white Christian boy by “the Left”. For their base, they successfully painted the allegations of Ford and others as a plot of the Democrats to block Trump’s nominee. They lauded Kavanaugh’s academic record at Yale and his “family values” as evidence that he could never be the violent and abusive person described by Ford and several others. The message being sent to the Republican voting base was: Democrats are out to destroy so-called “family values,” they hate straight white men and want to destroy them, and you can stop them by voting Republican.
The Democratic Party machine worked hard to funnel mass outrage at patriarchy in the election booth. They printed premade shirts, signs and banners with disturbing slogans that portrayed voting as the solution to patriarchy.
Democrats, in turn, funneled the outrage against Kavanaugh into their own campaigns for 2018. As part of a long-standing strategy of the Democrats to paint themselves as a “progressive” alternative to the Republicans, the Democrats (especially the ones running in the midterms) began to campaign against Kavanaugh and paint them-selves as a feminist and pro-woman party. However, they took their sweet time with this, and waited until the weeks before the elections to move against Kavanaugh politically. As a result, the struggles against Kavanaugh were diverted towards the voting booth and as a result, crushed.
The patriarchal white supremacist capitalist power structure of America has never granted anything to the masses of people without the people waging big struggles against the power structure. Everything from the eight-hour workday to civil rights have been won only by the brave struggles led by workers and oppressed people in this country. Because of this, the ruling capitalist class—the bourgeoisie—works constantly to dissuade people from actually coming together and fighting for a better system and a better world.
By diverting action away from building up a wider struggle against patriarchy and into the singular, once-every-few-years act of casting a vote, the Democrats stifled the struggle. Over the last few years we have seen how they have worked hard to funnel the hopes of a larger women’s movement into “get out to vote drives.” The Democrats have been fairly successful in transforming mass outrage against the brutally patriarchal nature of our society into a movement that is dutifully carrying out the interests of the ruling class. Despite some Democrats’ statements in support of feminism, their actions show a consistent policy of massively betraying of the growing women’s movement in the United States. This is to be expected as they are political party supported and financed by many patriarchal pigs from the capitalist class.
Women’s Movement and American Patriarchy
The MeToo movement of the past year built much of the basis for such mass opposition to sexual abuse and harassment, especially by men in positions of power. It inspired many women to get involved in political struggles, and revealed how prevalent misogynist and patriarchal attitudes are among the capitalist ruling class in this country. Many of those who have been exposed by the MeToo movement are members of the ruling class themselves. Big Hollywood capitalist Harvey Weinstein was one of the first men to be exposed as a serial rapist. Weinstein is also a long-time supporter of and major donor to the Democratic Party, helping raise millions of dollars for the Party’s campaigns and individually donating over $350,000 to the Party himself!
More recently, over 20,000 Google employees walked out against the company’s $90 million buy-out of Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android who was accused of sexual harassment. The buy-out and reason for Rubin leaving the company in 2014 were kept secret by Google until they were exposed earlier this year. The widespread presence of sexual abuse and harassment—and misogynist attitudes more generally—within the ruling class isn’t simply the fault of a few individuals, but is an important way the tiny ruling class maintains its rule over the majority of people on the planet.
Serial rapist Harvey Weinstein with his pal Obama and Democratic Senators Lautenberg and Schumer.
Patriarchy is a necessary part of the capitalist and white supremacist system of the U.S. It helps to keep women, especially poor and non-white women, in a subordinate position to oppress them, give them lower wages, and easily fire them if they don’t submit to and accept sexual harassment, “jokes,” and requests of bosses. For women workers, this type of sexist piggery is often an everyday experience, and even led to a one-day protest of McDonalds workers in Chicago, St. Louis, and several other large cities in September 2018, as workers walked out against sexual harassment from managers and other higher-ups. On top of all this, U.S. culture and media––especially pornography––continually advertises and spreads sexualized images of women which treat them as commodities or sex objects instead of as people. This reinforces and justifies, even subconsciously, the idea that women are lesser than men, and either “deserve” or “asked for” different types of abuse.
While the MeToo movement has done much to expose many individual sexual abusers within the ruling class, and supported women in coming forward to talk about their own experiences, it has many limitations as well. Much of the movement has been co-opted by the Democratic Party as part of its efforts to paint itself as a “progressive” alternative to the status-quo.
In both the MeToo movement and the Women’s March which took place after Trump’s inauguration, attention was widely diverted away from digging out the roots of patriarchy in our society and from connecting the women’s struggle with other struggles. Instead, the voting booth was said to be the answer to all our problems. In all this, the more revolutionary aspects of the movement were sidelined or washed out. The leadership of these movements said voting for women, or for Democrats more generally, was the solution. In contrast this, a revolutionary approach is needed which works to unite the people in an active struggle against patriarchy as an essential part of the struggle to overthrow the capitalist ruling class of this country and establish a society that serves the people’s interests.
The reality is that Democrats are part of the problem. This is reflected most clearly in their own individual acts of abuse and misogyny, such as Bill Clinton’s history of sexual harassment during his time both as Governor of Arkansas and as President, but also in their support of policies that actively oppress women. The Democrats pay lip service to the fights for pay equality, maternity leave, childcare, and more, but they repeatedly have shown an unwillingness to wage a serious fight for these issues. Instead, they leave the majority of woman in the lurch, struggling to meet ends meet and raise their kids, while the Democrats live comfortable lives financed by big donations from capitalist pigs like Harvey Weinstein and others.
Supreme Court Justices show their true faces. While some have tried to pretend Judges appointed by Democrats are progressive forces, they too have historically been bought and sold by corporate interests.
The oppression of women by the U.S. state is felt even more by those living under the thumb of U.S. imperialism (both military and financial domination). This includes the U.S. military occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq which have seen U.S. military personnel commit huge numbers of sexual assaults on Afghan and Iraqi women; it includes U.S. bombs being dropped on women in countries across the Middle East and North Africa; it includes the U.S. keeping whole countries under financial control, forcing women to choose between working in a sweatshop for U.S. companies or being forced into prostitution to make ends meet. And the Democrats have historically supported all of these policies.
Even Obama, who ran in large part on the fact that he had opposed the Iraq War, contin-ued and expanded the wars abroad and facilitated corporate plunder of the world on an unprecedented scale. One of his first acts as president was to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. He also facilitated the bank bailout which transferred trillions of dollars from poor Americans to banks. With all this, it becomes clear that the Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh was not about ending patriarchy or supporting women, but about their maneuvers to re-take the seats of power from the Republicans.
Kavanaugh and the Court
Part of the Democratic strategy in opposing Kavanaugh was to paint him as an unwelcome “blemish” on the otherwise “noble” institution of the Supreme Court, and that he would make the Court a “partisan” institution divided between the two ruling class parties. This idea relies on the ruling class myth that the court is an “impartial, nonpartisan body” which mystically hovers above the rest of society and makes decisions only on legal expertise. But in reality, it is part of a legal system which defends the interests of the wealthy ruling class and maintains their rule. The court is undemocratically stacked with representatives of the ruling class, of judges with deep connections to Wall Street and corporate America, but with some different ideas on how to best maintain and expand their power over workers and other oppressed people––which is anything but impartial!
Throughout history, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the worst and most backwards aspects of U.S. society. Until the Civil War, the Supreme Court routinely upheld the rights of slaveholders (with many of the “Justices” themselves owning slaves); for nearly 100 years afterwards, it defended and maintained Jim Crow apartheid. The Supreme Court has also routinely worked to expand the power of capital over labor. In the latter half of the 1800s, decisions were passed to expand the legal rights of corporations.
The idea of “corporate personhood” ––that corporations have the same rights as individuals under the Constitution––was first decided in the Supreme Court in the 1886 decision Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company. This granted huge power to companies in the courtroom, especially in cases of labor disputes, as they were treated not as companies with huge amounts of power in sway in a growing capitalist economy, but as a person on equal legal footing with the wage worker being exploited by the capitalist.
More recent cases have shown the Supreme Court continues to act solely in the interests of the ruling class. In the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC case, the Court ruled that corporations, non-profits, and corrupt unions that sell out workers could spend unlimited sums on political advertising and political donations to super PACs on the basis that these institutions have the same legal right as individuals to “free speech.” This only furthered the reach of corporations essentially buying elections.
The Supreme Court of the United States of Corporate America.
In June 2018, the Janus v. AFSCME case was a gutting of public sector labor unions, at a time when class struggles and the labor movement is at an all-time low in the U.S. While the unions in question in the Janus case are largely toothless, bureaucratic messes which routinely betray workers, the ruling expanded the power of the ruling class to prevent workers all over the country, unionized or not, from coming together and collectively struggling against injustices and exploitation in the workplace. The court––which had actually added one of the supposedly more “progressive” judges between Citizens United and Janus (Elena Kagan)––even argued that in Janus, union dues were a form of “political advocacy”, but in Citizens United, the political ads and donations by super PACs were not! These decisions did not come from some abstract legal opinion, but out of the class interest of the rich people who run this country.
There are a few exceptions to the Supreme Court acting in the blatant interests of the ruling class, which the political pundits focus on to obscure the Court’s real history. These include Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade in the last century. What is conveniently ignored by defenders of the Court in discussing these cases, is the massive upheavals of people protesting in the streets and waging major struggles which greatly influenced the ruling class to make changes in attempts to restore the masses’ faith that “the system works.” For example, with the Brown v. Board of Education case, the civil rights movement and Black liberation struggle were gaining steam, and were putting immense pressure on the United States both domestically and internationally.
The ruling class during the Cold War was worried that the continued practice Jim Crow and growing internal rebellion would harm the image of the United States in the eyes of other countries, and spark revolutionary developments at home. So, they began to roll back the legal apartheid system beginning with the Brown decision. This was a major victory for the people of this country, won not by kindly asking the Supreme Court to do the right thing but by courageously and resolutely fighting against the current power structure for liberation. The struggles for women’s liberation that saw their peak in the late 60s and 70s also contributed to the Roe v. Wade ruling.
The patriarchal nature of U.S. society is reflected in how many people experience sexual harassment and assault.
Thanks in large part to these struggles and many more, the U.S. system currently allows certain democratic rights and protections for people. Only through struggle did landless men, women, and Black people win basic rights and freedoms. But these are also constantly under attack by the ruling class through Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, and all other levels of the state. Today, both parties routinely purge voter rolls (largely of poor and nonwhite voters), gerrymander districts back-and-forth, attack basic rights to free speech, expand government surveillance to dystopian levels, and more. The rights won through struggle are stripped and repealed over time, since in the long run they are incompatible with the interests of the ruling class having power over the majority of people.
Kavanaugh has already been accepted by the ruling class now that election season is over. The wide struggles against him have been dissolved, as Democrats move away from the issue and even embrace the new member of the Supreme Court. In fact, Sonia Sotomayor, who was nominated by Barack Obama and considered one of the “most progressive” members of the court, welcomed Kavanaugh as “a member of the family”! The bourgeoisie used Kavanaugh to build up electoral fervor, and then worked to silence the movement against him to prevent it from turning against the power structure.
For the movements like MeToo to develop as part of a wider revolutionary women’s movement, and not have their victories systematically rolled back and squashed, we must break from their reformist tendencies. Instead of just funneling people into the voting booth every few years we need to question the role of capitalism and the U.S. state in women’s oppression. We must grow struggles to expose perpetrators of rape, abuse, and harassment, not just for the movie stars who were the first to voice their accusations but also for working women who experience routine harassment and abuse from their bosses, landlords, abusive relationships, and more. Patriarchal ideas which are engrained into our society and internalized by many men and women should be criticized and talked about openly. We need to smash this system which which says that women should be subordinate to men. This cannot be done through the halls of the U.S. state, through the Democrats, or through a movement coopted by the ruling class. It can only be done by working women and men, united in struggle against the current rotten power structure.
With a revolutionary movement by and for the people, we can organize and win victories against the ruling class, not just to fight for legal rights, not just to elect a different “lesser evil” every few years, but to organize and fight for people’s power, against capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.