On January 21st, an estimated 2.9 million people participated in Women’s Marches around the U.S., setting a record for the largest one-day protest in the nation’s history. For many feminists, a public display of enthusiasm of this degree is inspiring, perhaps marking the resurgence of a mass movement against the politics of the right. But in order to take the widespread anti-Trump sentiment and turn it into a movement to end inequality and injustice around the world once and for all, we need to be able to name the primary system behind this evil mess. To understand exactly how these various oppressions, injustices, and terrible governmental leaders are produced and interrelated, we need to take a critical look at the bedrock of not only American society, but the world: the economic structure. Capitalism.
Not crony capitalism, or corporatism, or Republicanism. Just plain old capitalism, functioning as it should, and as it must. A market-based economy necessitates cutthroat competition for firms to survive. Because material costs for manufacturers are relatively inflexible, it is labour costs that must be pushed down. Walmart and McDonalds spend millions on lobbyists to have influence in the government while paying their employees, whose labour produces all their value and profit, next to nothing. Capitalism, from its early industrial development until now, is fundamentally premised on the few profiting off the backs of the many, on eliminating competition and using monopoly to drive up prices, on working with the capitalist state to pass laws to protect profits.
To boot, capitalism thrives off racial hatred and caste systems. These both prevent workers from unifying against the capitalists and devalue the labour and lives of non-white workers. In other words, racism creates cheaper labour. Racism serves to justify imperialism, which is what happens when capitalism’s need for infinite growth drives capital out of its home country to exploit resources and labour abroad. Imperialist wars to secure territory and resources for corporations back home have killed millions of people and displaced even more. Women and girls suffer especially hard in war-torn areas, and in areas destabilized by U.S. military intervention and left to conservative extremist militias. Imperialism is not caused by greed, or the evil personalities of the capitalists like Trump (although they may be nasty). It is necessarily how capitalism develops, and what it does in order to grow.