Selma James is the international coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike, whose strategy for change is “Invest in Caring Not Killing.” Selma co-authored The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community. Her most recent book is Sex, Race and Class (PM Press in the U.S. and The Merlin Press in the U.K.). James is based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre in London.
Selma James, you have a long history of feminism, intersected with marxism and anti-imperialism. What have been the turning points in your development?
I joined the youth group of the Workers Party when I was 15, in part because my sister was in the party. It turns out that she was in a minority called the Johnson-Forest Tendency, and I found myself in that minority for months. I didn’t understand much, but Johnson-Forest was much less abstractly intellectual and much more respectful of working class people than the rest of the party.
The party talked about the Soviet Union as a “degenerated workers’ state,” and I could not believe that a state which organised forced labor could be a workers’ state, degenerated or not. CLR [James, the founder of the Johnson-Forest Tendency and Selma’s late husband,] said it was state capitalism and that once the party that had led the revolution had got power they had used that power against us. That made perfect sense to me.