Kavanaugh’s appointment is serious blow to women, femmes, and the entire working class. It will have repercussions for years to come in many realms: executive power, LGBT rights, environmental protections, affirmative action, and especially abortion rights.
The hearings, deeply triggering and devoid of the bipartisan consensus that used to prevail in the 1990s, express the growing polarization pulling apart the bourgeois state. The political elite was never able to represent our interests–that’s why so many working class people abstain from voting. Now they are becoming incapable of agreeing among themselves and producing social consensus around their policies.
That Republicans forced Kavanaugh through despite it “tearing the country apart” indicates how determined right wing forces are to retain their hold on the levers of state power, no matter how undemocratically: in this case case through the supreme court, the most undemocratic institution in the elitist American settler state.
For decades capitalism has sustained itself by degrading living standards, and foisting the burden of social reproduction onto women and feminized workers. The strategy has depended on stoking patriarchal ideology; re-cohering gender divisions; amplifying violence toward women, queers and trans people; and absorbing and eroding the gains of the 1970s, left unfinished as the feminist movement receded. Kavanaugh expresses this putrescence on the judicial level.
Bourgeois feminism can sometimes stall this process, but only at the cost of eroding our ability to make further change. When we defend old gains through courts and legislation, and abdicate our collective power to Democrats who claim to wield it on our behalf, we are left dispersed and disempowered. Cultural representation alone cannot empower us, nor can the advancement of individual women into the system of exploitation.
The new feminist movements emerging across the globe––in Poland, Ireland, Argentina, and #MeToo in the U.S.––are rebelling against these conditions. We confront violence and rape, and the re-imposition of unsafe clandestine abortions. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But our potential continues to grow.
The coming feminist movement must be autonomous from the state, rooted in grassroots organizations that reflect our everyday experiences. Our movement will build collective power and challenge patriarchal relations in families, workplaces and the streets. We will impose demands on the state, not through lobbying, but by grinding society to a halt. We will not only win gender rights, but overthrow Kavanaugh and the system that created him.