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Women and the struggle for socialism

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5. Ideological Backlash

The collapse of the women's movement dealt a blow to the idea of collective struggle against discrimination and oppression. This was reinforced by the move to the right by the former mass workers' parties such as the Labour Party in Britain and their transformation into open capitalist parties in many countries.

This rightward drift took place against the backdrop of the extended economic boom of the 1980s and was given added impetus following the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and the subsequent ideological 'victory' internationally for the capitalist 'free market'.

The leaders of the trade unions were also infected by these developments, promoting 'partnership' and 'co-operation' with the bosses rather than strike action and collective struggle by workers to improve their lot.

As we have already seen, these developments led to a rolling back of many of the gains in the workplaces and in the welfare state, which working-class women and men had achieved through struggle.

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