lbo-talk-digest V1 #100

Gar W. Lipow lipowg at
Mon Jun 1 15:39:00 PDT 1998

> Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 16:59:58 -0400
> From: Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at>
> Subject: Re: Abortion and the Death Penalty (was Re: abortion litmus test)
> At 04:08 PM 6/1/98 -0500, Katha Pollitt wrote:
> >
> >
> > I don't think this issue would even come up if abortion rights, and women's rights generally, were not seen as unimportant, a distraction.
> I do not see a connection here. Abortion is distraction not because it pertains to women's rights, but because it is revisiting of an old battle (won in the Roe v. Wade decision), in the time when the economic spoils are being divided by the corporate elites.

I think both Wojtek Sokolowski and Katha Pollitt are wrong here -- Wojtek for what he says, and Katha for what she omits.

The idea that abortion is a battle that is already won is nonsense. Abortion is less available the lower your income, the more rural your area, the more Catholic hospitals have taken over your local health care system, and more anti-choice your state is. And I do not find that "pro-life" rhetoric resonates all that well with working women -- especially not young working women.

Katha is right that to marginalize third world people or women or gays, to see such struggle as somehow less fundamental than that against class oppression is evil and foolish. But she ignores (at least in the posts on this list) is that a great many who engage in "identity" politics overlook the problems of poor and working people. Her own articles in the Nation pointed out how few, and how weakly mainstream feminist groups defended poor working women against welfare deform. In other words, I think there is a tremendous class bias in the "left" a tremendous prejudice against working people, perhaps even a rich and "upper middle-class" supremacist viewpoint. The same people who would not dream of uttering the word "N.....R" don't hestiate to use the word "R--neck". In other words, I think class has to be acknowledged as equal in importantance to other forms of oppression such as race and gender, and sexual preference. And I think we have to acknowledge that there are as many (maybe more) leftists failing on class issues as on race, and gender ones.

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