English suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst


This video is called Suffragette [film] Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep Drama HD.

By Steven Walker from Britain:

The suffragette who has been conveniently ignored

Thursday 7th January 2016

Sylvia Pankhurst recognised early on that discrimination against women was an integral part of the capitalist system. STEVEN WALKER has the story

The film Suffragette, although widely welcomed, has come in for criticism due to its failure to portray black suffragettes.

Indian women demonstrate for women's suffrage in 2011

At its Bafta screening in London last November, the film’s screenwriter Abi Morgan stated that, due to the low levels of non-European immigrants residing in Britain in 1911-13, there were very few suffragettes of colour in Britain and that those few, such as Indian princess Sophia Duleep Singh, were upper-class women who did not move in the working-class circles in which Suffragette is set.

Dr Paula Bartley, a historian focusing on women in history and the suffrage movement and biographer of Emmeline Pankhurst, confirmed that the film’s depiction of race was historically accurate, telling the New Statesman: “Britain [in 1911-13] was a white society in the main, and [its] suffragette movement reflected that.”

Bartley stressed that the British suffragette movement was “very different from the American case or the Australian case or the New Zealand case, because although there were ethnic minorities in Britain at that time, there wasn’t the same scale or the same questions of citizenship as there were in other countries.”

But there is another omission in the film — Sylvia Pankhurst. The daughter of Emmeline was arguably the more radical member of that incredible family, yet she is largely absent from the screenplay.

Sylvia was passionately anti-war and organised a peace campaign in 1916 in the East End of London.

The protesters were violently broken up as the government sought to stoke nationalist fervour. She would later write: “Peace and the popular government of the world to end this capitalist system of ruthless materialism, stood out for me as the two great needs of the hour.”

This more explicitly socialist, internationalist and anti-imperialist perspective would come to define her activity in the next few years.

For example after the brutal crushing of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and the execution of leading Republican officials it was Sylvia who championed the cause of Irish secession from the United Kingdom.

It is often forgotten that the successful Russian revolution of October 1917 began with female textile workers going on strike in St Petersburg. This protest inspired men from other trades to join in and eventually the troops and sailors who mutinied became a decisive factor in Lenin’s success.

Sylvia Pankhurst was one of a few suffragettes who, while campaigning vigorously for women’s rights, also had a wider political view than her older sister Christabel.

She recognised the Russian revolution was a class war and criticised the provisional government established after the February 1917 uprising, which consisted of those whose leader was a prince who wanted to continue fighting in WWI and sought only superficial political change, and the soviets made up of peasants united with the military and urban proletariat who wanted deeper social changes.

She realised there was unfinished business in Russia and that the nascent February revolution should go further and become an anti-war movement.

When the Bolsheviks gained majority control … after the October victory they immediately pulled Russia out of WWI. This caused the other anti-German powers to change from having welcomed the premature February revolution in Russia and the pro-war provisional government, to condemning the Bolsheviks and begin a propaganda campaign demonising them.

Sylvia campaigned against this propaganda, organising radical groups in the East End of London, was imprisoned several times but helped establish a group who were to declare themselves the first British Communist Party.

This group, inspired by Sylvia and Jewish organisations in the East End of London, fought against Oswald Mosley’s virulent anti-semitism and fascist ideology, laying the foundations for the subsequent election of Phil Piratin as the first Communist Member of Parliament in 1945.

In a detailed analysis of her life, Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire, the author Katherine Connelly challenges the prevailing narrative about the Pankhurst family and how Sylvia has been eclipsed.

For example, she broke away from the middle-class elitism of the suffragette campaign organised by Emmeline and Christabel, instead charting a course that put working-class women at the forefront of fighting for the right to vote.

Emmelene and Christabel were in fact vociferous supporters of the war, suspended publication of the militant Suffragette and republished it as the patriotic Britannia.

They urged women to join in the war effort with Churchill’s blessing.

Sylvia, in contrast to Churchill’s desire to: “strangle the Bolshevik baby at birth,” was a strong supporter of the October revolution and was inspired by the soviets which placed power in the hands of ordinary people.

In the 1920s she was one of the first people to recognise the danger posed by the rise of fascism in Italy at a time when Churchill was expressing his admiration for Mussolini. She was also perceptive in predicting the colonialism that spread across Africa as an inevitable consequence of European imperialism.

Sylvia Pankhurst, the forgotten suffragette, was an inspiring and courageous leader, who more than anything else recognised that injustices and discrimination against women could not be separated from wider struggles against a capitalist system that is inherently corrupt and seeks to subjugate workers across the world and maintain the power and control of the ruling class.

Advertisements

25 thoughts on “English suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst

  1. Pankhurst is a true humanitarian she is thinking outside the box of labels, whilst we have feminism we will not achieve equality, we do not want more feminists we need people who work together, the labeling serves the capitalist system that uses labels to categorize and oppress, by the few the very few who having gained power and are increasing their share of power as can be seen by the CEOs, and corporation institutional power? can be seen as rip of individuals as increasing pay given to CEOs, I have contacted my niece through facebook and she no longer desires to communicate with the family, she having become so called “educated” now endowed with the superior and indoctrinated class system? what we do not want is the education turning out snobs who consider themselves as all part of the superiority set, what we do need is people whom are still in touch with humanitarian concerns not educated scum.

    Like

  2. Pingback: New British art Internet site | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Eleanor Marx new biography interview | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: International Women’s Day, 8 March | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Women’s rights march in London | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Olympic Games history, new book | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Anti-fascism in London, England, 1936-2016 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Facebook fat cat against women’s suffrage | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: World War I Somme bloodbath, 100 years ago | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: Feminist Sylvia Pankhurst’s statue in London | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: Political art exhibitions in New York City | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: Re-elected British Labour leader Corbyn thanks supporters | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: English Glastonbury classical music festival, early 20th century | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: Eva Gore-Booth, fighter for women’s and worker’s rights | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: Protests in history, London exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  16. Pingback: British artists about why they vote Labour | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. Pingback: British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst’s teddy bear | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  18. Pingback: United States artist Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition in Canada | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: Mary Wollstonecraft, my hero, Corbyn says | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  20. Pingback: Irish revolutionary feminist Constance Markiewicz | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  21. Pingback: International Women’s Day is today | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: World War I, May 1918 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  23. Pingback: More pro-environment activism needed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  24. Pingback: ‘British government, stop your nuclear weapons’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  25. Pingback: English painter Annie Swynnerton exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.