By Dave Andrusko
Well… I didn’t see this one coming, although I probably should have.
The Washington Post ran a “perspective” this morning under the headline “The model for mobilizing to protect abortion rights beyond voting: ‘We’re pro-choice and we riot!’ How anarchists reframed the fight for abortion.”
The author is Spencer Beswick, “a PhD candidate at Cornell University who writes about the history of anarchism and the left in the late 20th century. He blogs at https://emptyhandshistory.com.”
If you go to his blog, we learn his dissertation “particularly focuses on the development of revolutionary intersectional anarchism in the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation.” And that “Spencer has taught multiple courses on anarchism, Marxism, and anti-colonialism at Cornell University.”
Not your typical middle-of-the road pro-abortion liberal Democrat.
Even with the prospect of Roe’s imminent reversal, “the Democrats failed to lay out a plan of action for upholding abortion rights,” he writes. “Action at the ballot box appears insufficient to protect abortion rights.”
While “Feminists mobilized to protect abortion rights from right-wing attacks through a combination of protests, legislation and legal cases,” they wound up with the 1992 Casey decision which “substantively upheld Roe v. Wade but opened the door to further restrictions provided there was not an ‘undue burden.’”
However, there was an “alternative strategy,” Beswick writes.
On the other hand, anarchists (anti-state socialists) within the feminist movement rejected voting and legal reforms in favor of radical grass-roots activism. Instead of the slogan “we’re pro-choice and we vote,” anarchists often marched behind a banner reading “we’re pro-choice and we riot!”
Looking forward, he writes, “it is the lessons of anarchists within the feminist movement in particular whose actions can inspire and guide mass mobilizations today as we face the potential end of Roe.”
There are many twists and turn in Beswick’s “perspective” but all roads lead back to fighting “fascism” and copying the “anarcha-feminists in Love and Rage [who] built grass-roots infrastructure to perform abortions and provide for reproductive health more broadly.” He writes, “With parallel strategies undertaken in the courts and in the streets, feminist activists successfully defended abortion from both the Supreme Court and antiabortion mobilization during the 1980s-90s.”
He ends on a very mixed blessing note. “Yet abortion activism has remained on the defensive since reproductive rights were first won nationally in 1973. Even the framing of ‘pro-choice’ activism — rather than women’s autonomy or the right to abortion — reflects a retreat from the strategy of women’s liberation.”
It’s worth your time to read Beswick’s perspective. If one of the pillars of the Journalism Establishment is willing to print this post, it says something deeply unsettling about where we are in this time and place.
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