19: SCOTUS vs Roe; Sharon Smith on intersectionality

July 23, 2018

This week, Sharon Smith joins us to talk about a Marxist approach to intersectionality, why socialists should embrace the concept, and what Marxism has to offer activists who want to fight all forms of oppression and exploitation. Sharon is the author of Women and Socialism: Class, Race and Capital (http://bit.ly/WomenandSocialism) and Subterranean Fire: A History of Working Class Radicalism in the United States (http://bit.ly/SubteranneanFire).

Sharon begins her discussion with us by rooting the concept of intersectionality in the long history of Black feminism — going back to Sojourner Truth — and tracing its evolution through the Combahee River Collective. We go on to discuss the different theories that have deployed the concept of intersectionality — contrasting postmodern politics of difference with the emerging politics of solidarity today.

We then talk about why Marxism is important for understanding where the power lies to challenge exploitation and oppression. Sharon also talks about how many working class struggles in recent years have directly addressed issues of oppression. She talks about how this new instinct towards solidarity is creating a potential for a much stronger working class and socialist movement.

In our intro, we talk about the announcement by Justice Kennedy that he will be retiring from the Supreme Court and the threat that a new Trump appointment poses for Roe v. Wade and the fight for abortion rights. We talk about Trump’s top pick, Brett Kavanaugh, and how he has been endorsed by the Federalist Society. We talk about why it’s important to wage an all-out fight against any Trump nominee, but also why we need to rebuild a militant abortion rights movement regardless of who is on the Supreme Court. Finally, we discuss the history of how Roe was won in the first place — under Nixon and with a Republican-dominated Supreme Court.

Links for this episode:

Sharon’s article in Socialist Worker on the Marxist case for intersectionality (http://bit.ly/SharonSW)

Sharon’s talk at Socialism 2015 on Marxism and intersectionality (http://bit.ly/SharonSocialism)

Video of a panel at Socialism 2017 on the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective, featuring Demita Frazier, Barbara Ransby, Barbara Smith, Sharon Smith and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (http://bit.ly/CombaheeS17)

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective (Haymarket Books), edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (http://bit.ly/HaymarketCombahee)

Links for our intro on the Supreme Court and Roe:

Socialist Worker article: “Without struggle, there is no Roe” by Michelle Farber and Elizabeth Schulte (http://bit.ly/RoeSW)

Report on plans for a protest to pressure Sen. Susan Collins to vote “no” on Kavanaugh (http://bit.ly/CollinsProtest)

Episode 13 of this podcast, on abortion without apology (http://bit.ly/AbortionNoApology)

Music for this episode:

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Cat Power, “Nude As The News”
Digable Planets, “La Femme Fetal”
Beyoncé, “Freedom” (International Day of the Girl)
Sam Dew, “Victor”
Queen Latifah, “U.N.I.T.Y.”