Feminist Anti-war Resistance: Russia is no alternative to Western imperialism

Russia is a fascist state — it is time to say it. But not fascist in the sense of grassroots mobilization, and not even so much on the level of declared ideology (I will address this further). But in the sense of governance. Karl Polanyi described fascism not as a “movement,” but as a “move,” a consensus among elites in response to the economic crisis to constitute an alternative to the radical redistribution (socialism) — which is resolved through the fusion of the state and capital in the name of capital accumulation through dispossession, through atomization and intervention into any type of attempts of crystallization of alternative political or economic actors. However, contemporary fascist regimes do not need the mass mobilization from below or fight against organized working-class struggle because all of this work, as Ilya Budraitskis (https://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article64534) writes, “has largely been done over decades since the neoliberal turn and “shock-therapy” market reforms in the 1990s.” And in this move Russian state is not alone — similar processes can be observed around the globe — we live in the triumphal march of “fascist rationality, internalized from the unconscious ideological practices of neo-liberal capitalism ”. That’s why we need an antifascist women’s front.

“Russia is a fascist state” might not sound convincing enough for people from outside the region, because in his speeches, Putin hides his bloody imperialist war under quite radical ideas about confronting Western imperialism, new economic order, decolonization, protection of minorities — and whatnot. He also actively refers to the Soviet Union. This combined might create a very obscure picture of Russia and convince the audience that Russia suggests an alternative, like the one by the Soviet Union. Do not let this façade trick you — no alternative or emancipation is coming from the current Russian state — the only things they can give are violence, capitalism, and patriarchy. Women know it the best, and feminism helps to expose it the most.

Russian state consistently promotes the idea of “traditional values”, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-gender ideology. It suppresses any type of sexuality besides heteronormativity, it doesn’t provide any protection for survivors of domestic or sexual violence, it attempts to restrict reproductive rights and urges women to return home to give birth to new soldiers, to contribute with their unpaid reproductive labor to the maintenance of the system. The place the issues of gender, LGBTQ+ rights occupy in Putin’s speeches is remarkable: there was none of them without reference to trans- or LGBTQ+ people, or as he called us, “lovers of gender freedoms” as main enemies of the regime as the embodiment of Western imperialism. However, besides the fact that we are a very convenient scapegoat — vulnerable, marginalized, disempowered — I believe that this focus on us is not random.

Left feminism radically opposes key elements of contemporary fascist regimes. Left feminism opposes the logic of division and atomization. It promotes the idea of a subject that can never be fully autonomous — a weird myth created by neoliberal ideologies. Feminism instead brings forward community and mutual care, the idea of our co-dependence and cooperation that make us more sensitive and stronger. Left feminism promotes the idea that is horrifying for big money bags, which got used to their exclusive access to politics, capital, the public sphere and joy — it is the idea of fair redistribution in favor of the most underprivileged, redistribution of financial, political and symbolic capital. Left feminism brings revolution that is in everyone: our desire, sexuality, and our right to our bodies. Our right to have not a bearable but joyful life is a nightmare for those who got used to having theirs at our expense.

But the most important, left feminism brings down the very fundament of the hierarchy — the hierarchy between sexes. Feminization as a way of humiliation is extensively used by Russian state against Ukraine and other political enemies, it is also used as means of racialization (and instead of one since Russian regime tries to present itself as a palace and not a prison of peoples, and forge alliances with the “Global South”). The “other” is marked as feminine, demasculinized. In one of his recent speeches Putin declared that he is fighting for the “traditional family” against family with “parent #1” and “parent #2” — to put in other words: for the family with a clear distinction between superior and inferior, the family that will help to reproduce inequality and division Gender as a continuum, sexuality as a continuum — this deliberate rejection of distinction strikes at the very core of contemporary fascism, which needs the hierarchy deriving from unpaid feminized labor and can use feminization as a means of exploitation and as a legitimation of violence.

We call to fight against Russian imperialism which brings no alternative to Western imperialism. Join our demo in Berlin this Sunday!