Breaking From Our Men: Settler Women and Armed Struggle

Note: Another polemic from the other side of the US ‘Maoist’ movement, originally published on People’s Voice News on IWWD 2022 – coincidentally the same day when women militants in the CRCPUSA movement led the struggle against the leadership. Again, this is posted not as support for the FTP/MCP movement, but to represent dissenting voices against their leadership, especially the voices of militant women. There is little available material from dissenting women within the CRCPUSA movement because the leadership kept a tighter muzzle on their women militants. As usual I am posting this not as an endorsement but for study and discussion.

By Jane

Organizations that claim to be revolutionary but which refuse to develop a military policy before the question of confrontation becomes a practical reality, disqualify themselves as revolutionary forces. They are already acting as gravediggers of revolution, the quartermasters of stadiums and cemeteries.

T. Derbent


On Feb 20th, Benjamin Jeffrey Smith killed one woman and shot four other women near Normandale Park in Portland, OR where a protest was taking place in solidarity with Amir Locke, a young New Afrikan man who had been gunned down by pigs in Minneapolis two weeks prior. As time passed, it was revealed that Smith (to little surprise to anyone paying attention) had deep far-right leanings and had become increasingly angry with the protests taking place in Portland over the recent years as well as the homeless encampments. It may have seemed he had finally hit a breaking point — or rather, he finally had the courage to kill his enemy after seeing what his movement had been able to accomplish in the other killings and attacks of leftists broadly. Smith felt inspired to kill because of the success of his movement, a growing popular movement within the white (euro-amerikan settler) nation. And he is not alone. There have been many Benjamin Smiths before and there are certainly many more to come.

Ben is yet another non-state actor in an accelerating low intensity war of national oppression. The amerikkkan state continues to advance its program of genocide while its settler nation acts as its auxiliary storm troopers. Ben is just one of many of a growing number of fascists ready to kill and lay their life on the line for the preservation of the euro-amerikan oppressor nation. No matter how many victims there are of the genocidal state and its fascist movement, the white left seems to be the only “force” out of the loop that there’s a war going on. More often than not, the main target outside of the oppressed nationals in this conflict is undeniably settler women. While the male led white left continues to pay lip service to the liberation of oppressed nations and women, it retains its parasitic, reformist character. The settler left must wake up and smell the gun powder, in particular, settler women.

The War Outside

Low intensity warfare can be defined as a military conflict between two contending groups that falls below conventional warfare and above peaceful coexistence. It employs all the same tactics as conventional warfare: the employment of political, economic, informational, and military instruments with the intent to destroy an enemy force. All low intensity war takes on a protacted nature, and as the term implies, will boil over into escalating intensity–kidnapping, rape, sabotage, torture, and executions accompanied by militia forces growing in number, strength, and virulence. Within the settler nation itself, low intensity warfare seeks to accomplish the forceful reunification of the nation, stopping elements which seek to disunite themselves and break up the nation (notably settler women). In the low intensity warfare between the settler nation and oppressed nations, the character takes on that of total annihilation.

We need to understand that what happened in PDX is a skirmish, and that skirmishes with non-state actors are becoming increasingly violent and increasingly frequent at protests particularly. Yes, Rittenhouse has set some what of a precedent and marks a nodal point in the uptick in this low-intensity war, but he certainly isn’t the first. In Minneapolis, fash walked up and down Lake St (one brandishing a machete), attacking Somali people for nights after the precinct burned down, proud boys attacked antifascists and beat their heads in outside of a gate in NYC as well as in DC. Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville and Summer Taylor in the summer of 2020, their killings mocked and turned into 4chan memes by nazi creeps. Portland has been a site of continual confrontations between boneheads (white power skins) and SHARPs (skinheads against racial prejudice), and much, much more. This has been going on for years, yet they’re still treated as localized, self-contained “incidents.”

Liberals and neocolonial puppets spout this same rhetoric time and time again, and our analysis as revolutionaries should never echo this. We must view this on a macro level: reactionaries are exercising their power, testing its boundaries in the current situation. By testing the boundaries of their power, they are also testing the capabilities of the left, how prepared we are for combat quantitatively and qualitatively. The past few years have indicated that the left is far from ready for real confrontation–most haven’t developed military/combative capacities within themselves, and end up just tweeting about how somebody should wait outside the courthouse for Rittenhouse, Chauvin, whoever with a rifle.

If someone were to assassinate Rittenhouse or Chauvin or some other reactionary, they would need a network of safehouses and support systems. The assassin and their accomplices would be risking imprisonment and death. We must never call for violent retribution unless we ourselves are ready to commit it. We must never ask of a comrade or of the masses what we ourselves would not do. Attitudes such as this are corrosive to any aspiring revolutionary organization.

It’s A Woman’s Struggle

But even more central than the left’s general cowardice of real conflict, is the gendered aspect of the Portland shooting which cannot be ignored. Smith went out of his way to target a small group of women, who were far from the protest itself when he started shooting. This firsthand account provides a bone-chilling perspective of what happened. Bourgeois media has been consistently claiming that this was an altercation between a homeowner and protestors, when in reality, the man was a murderer following the trajectory of his reactionary movement and wanted to fulfill his male power fantasy by attacking and killing unarmed women.

In fact, gender is at the heart of this low-intensity conflict. The right is fixated on preserving their decaying oppressor nation and the centerpiece to this is the domination of women by men. Right wing men need white women to reproduce and show solidarity with them. Any threat to this is met with resistance. As Butch Lee and Red Rover reminds us in their book Night Vision, “The biggest right-wing white movement isn’t overtly over race, it’s over gender; because they believe that the future of their race (and nation) depends on who controls women’s gender.” Abortion clinics are bombed or legally outlawed by the bourgeois politicians. There is a general obsession with birthrates among the right, a fear that the white nation will die out, and in turn, a hyper-masculine, macho persona among the right’s movement violently demands women’s subordination to men. This is of course to keep women in a slave position in the house and to be nothing more than the reproducer of the white nation. So white women in particular become a target for the right when they “fall out of line”.

Women breaking from their men has always been a significant threat to men’s power. For settler women, this can be traced as far back as the witch hunts of europe. As industrial capitalism in europe began its development, men needed to finance it. Women who became widowed inherited their husband’s wealth, large or insignificant isn’t necessarily the concern here. For the state to finance industry, they decided these women must die, so that their inherited wealth would line the pockets of aspiring capitalists. Women started to break from their men, forming communalist societies. They offered a very practical alternative to poverty, and for that, they were captured and burned alive until their societies ultimately collapsed. The women that remained either already were or quickly became loyal servants to their men. In the Third world, patriarchal capitalism was violently brought about through european colonialism. Witch hunts continued to subjugate colonized women to the dual role of domestic slave for dick while doing the back breaking labor in the field or factory.

How is right now any different? Settler men are approaching their women in the same way with growing intensity. They want our lives as miserable as possible, they’ll kill us until we fall back into line, because without us, they’ve got no lifeline. And those women who fight alongside those struggling for national liberation, who want to see patriarchal capitalism destroyed and socialism achieved within their lifetime… well, they must be eradicated, shouldn’t they? Just like Heather Heyer, just like Marilyn Buck, just like June Knightly. 

The Military Strategy of Women

Why should we trust men to come to our aid, when history shows again and again, that they’d sooner let us be martyrs for their causes than defend us? Let’s ask, too, why we’re always so willing to die for, to kill for our men? ‘Cause some well-spoken bigmouth is in charge, spouting revolution and then mumbling awkwardly about women’s liberation with some throw-away words?

Why aren’t men willing to kill and die for us? Put themselves at risk of prison or torture for us? Communist men have continually, over and over, fallen short on the cause of women’s liberation. Hell, the wanna-be settler revolutionaries, the “crazy motherfuckers” of the Weather Underground denied a proposal for a Women’s Underground! While we’re at it, we might as well mention that the committees of gender oppressed people in revolutionary orgs are typically powerless and harrassed by sex pests. At every turn, women and gender oppressed people are tripped up, ostracized, and pushed out of orgs that claim to be about their liberation.

In this light, does it not become quite obvious that it never should have been “the woman question,” that it should have always been “the man question?” Bring this up and communist men will be rather quick to call you a postmodernist, an identitarian, or maybe even a wrecker! Hardly shocking, yet somehow they’re the principled historical materialists. Please.

So, the fellas ain’t coming to help us, but they’d be just fine with us fighting and dying (emphasis on dying) for their revolutions. What are we to do? It’s high time we get on with forming political-military organizations of our own, by and for women and gender oppressed peoples. And if men are to unite with us, it is to be under principled subordination. Feminist theorist Butch Lee states in an article titled Women & Children in the Armed Struggle:

“The more women try to have legal women’s institutions instead of armed liberation, the less we have and the weaker we are. Which then only becomes the further excuse for more accommodation to the patriarchy, in a downward gutter spiral. Armed liberation is extreme. It is both mother and daughter of a new culture, which thrives only in a state of illegality and danger. ‘Women’s life is a conspiracy.’ This has been true throughout modern history.”

If we are, as Butch Lee put it, to develop our own worldview, then that worldview must be developed through practice. We don’t need men to pick up the gun for us, we can do it with more determination and dedication, and with our dual roles in material production and social reproduction, we are better equipped than men to do it.

Back to Portland for a moment. One of the women who was shot was in fact armed. She even shot back at Ben Smith, incapacitating him. What if all 5 women were armed? What if they were trained and organized for this war we are in? The situation today necessitates more from us, more organization and discipline. Being armed alone isn’t going to cut it. Individual gun ownership means quite little absent of organization. Calls to arm trans women are really meaningless without revolutionary organization made up of disciplined women/gender oppressed cadre where we can physically protect one another. The girls know how to handle a gun, so what? Let’s really think: without revolutionary theory and organization, the sights simply cannot be accurate, and these women will remain economically and socially isolated from one another. We need more! Women need a military strategy, a political-military organization not only to survive, but in order to attain liberation.

Where To Next?

Settler women have historically sided with imperialism and sold out the oppressed for parasitism. Political development of white women must involve a process of self-transformation and a true regonition that for women to be free, amerikkka and capitalism must end. Any white woman interested in revolutionary politics must get to the root: our liberation is tied to the deafting of imperialism and the victory of socialism. It is going to take a lot of work and adruous struggle. It must include an organization of women practicing criticism and self-criticism, discipline, and holding a correct understanding of internationalism & nation (meaning we must struggle for socialism within our respective nations). What we need is partisans for women’s liberation, committed revolutionaries who seek an end to amerikkka and patriarchial capitalism. We need cadre of women.

It must be considered the means by which these political-military orgs for women / gender oppressed people are established. If we are to make only one recommendation, do not recruit from the internet, especially not for an org that knows it will eventually pick up the gun. It’s an opsec nightmare that pigs and wreckers would jump upon in a heartbeat. Additionally, internet recruitment tends to attract the petite bourgeois, the vast majority of the time lacking in any real discipline, lazy, and tend to be flighty, leaving when they are bored or when an org “doesn’t serve them.” This will be especially prevalent amongst settlers, since the settler nation has no true proletariat, and all settlers, regardless of class background, have a petite bourgeois consciousness. Let’s examine this quote:

“If, among those who have come together to discuss this question [of revolution], only two people are ready for this commitment, these two must resist the temptation to continue meeting with the others in the hope or illusion that by doing so, they will persuade the others to stop wavering and make a commitment, they will discover in the end that they are left either with the same two people, or that they themselves have begun to waver.

“The decision by a group of people, no matter how few, to commit themselves to this collective and protracted struggle and to reject ‘on the go’ politics, shapes everything that follows.” (Organization Means Commitment)

If you only recruit one, maybe two people in a whole year, but they are disciplined and absolutely committed to collective life and protracted struggle, that is a success. Really! It’s no good to have gained ten members, when only one of whom actually commits themselves. Those who waver and are undisciplined likely now outnumber the committed few. This will have enormously demoralizing effects. The undisciplined many will complain that the committed few are asking too much of them, but really betray their own liberal individualism. Members being unwilling to make near-zero personal sacrifices is a symptom of an org becoming a breeding ground for rightism and petit-bourgeois cowardice. This must be eradicated at its root, and it must be prevented from happening in the first place. Avoid internet recruitment, avoid rapid growth.

Slow and steady, quality over quantity, better fewer, but better, or so the saying goes.

But, where a group starts must be through transforming their subjective, individual understandings into a collective understanding through struggle. To that end, these texts provide a strong basis for political-military organizations for women and gender oppressed comrades: “Organization Means Commitment,” “Activist Study,” “False Nationalism, False Internationalism,” “The Military Strategy of Women and Children,” “Amazon Nation or Aryan Nation,” “Night Vision,” and “So That We Don’t Fool Ourselves — Again: Study Notes on Secure Communication.” And with that, comrades…