International Women’s Day

100 Years ago today, commemorating International Working Women’s Day, the women textile workers in St. Petersburg, Russia called a strike to protest the war and the lack of bread. They sent to the steel workers for support, which support was not refused. Five days later, the Romanov Dynasty was gone forever.
It was not an accident, as Marxists like to say, that the most oppressed, downtrodden section of society led the way in overthrowing an autocracy that ruled 1/6th of the globe.
No one can predict what form the coming struggles will take, but I think it’s safe to say that the poor and working woman—in Trotsky’s words, doubly and triply oppressed—will not take the last place in the fight.

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27 thoughts on “International Women’s Day”

  1. “It was not an accident, as Marxists like to say, that the most oppressed, downtrodden section of society led the way in overthrowing an autocracy that ruled 1/6th of the globe.”

    This is tangentially related, but it’s no surprise to me that the most downtrodden, oppressed, and exploited workers (black, white, man, woman) are often the most ridiculed by the pseudo-left. It’s open season, for example, on “hillbillies”. As something of a hillbilly myself, I’m the first to admit there is backwardness present (there are objective reasons for this backwardness), but there’s also a history of working-class struggle (the Battle of Blair Mountain, anyone?). When struggle opens up into the streets, I don’t know how rural workers will respond, but there’s a lot of anger in these sections, and a lot of hardship. It will find an outlet.

    Anyway – I was hoping you’d comment on the St. Petersburg textile workers. It’s inspiring. Thanks.

  2. Five days? Oh, man. What was that quote about nothing happening for decades, then decades happening in extremely short periods?

  3. Kragar:
    “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

    I’ve heard it attributed to Lenin, but I can’t be sure about that.

  4. Henry, Do you have any insight as to how the “hillbillies” feel now that Trump has betrayed these supporters? So far the Trump supporters are awfully quiet in general. Still, they show up for support rallies by the dozen. ;>)

    skzb, I agree that pressure is building for some kind of complete reform / revolution as the politicians seem totally incapable of reforming themselves even when the need is absolutely obvious. Blacks and undocumented workers are probably the most oppressed part of US society. But I don’t know if they have the desire for revolution or the ability. The rest of the workers might not want to join in for many reasons including prejudice.

  5. David Hajicek: You’re actually starting to see some of that working class hillbilly rage in alot of these Republican town halls. We’re talking real, honest-to-goodnes anger here. There are ALOT of people in ‘Trump country’ (for lack of a better phrase) who already felt alienated and betrayed by both parties (hence Trump’s popularity). Now that the truth about the ACA (and the relevant misinformation by the GOP) is becoming more widespread, and the realities of life WITHOUT the ACA are becoming more well known, you are seeing a ground swell of bewilderment and anger from the white working class. Expect to see more of it.

  6. David: I think a lot of Trump supporters will realize the truth about the man sooner or later. I don’t know when; consciousness always lags behind history.

    But of the Trump supporters I spoke with in West Virginia, for example, none of them seemed particularly enthused about the election in general. I had the sense that they were voting for Trump out of disgust with the entire process (also, decent jobs are few and far between in the state, and Trump promised to bring coal jobs back). And it’s worth pointing out here that Bernie Sanders wiped the floor with Hillary Clinton in West Virginia. Not that Bernie was the real deal, but a lot of people in West Virginia thought he was.

  7. While I sympathize with the problems of the hillbillies, what I cannot quite believe is that they supported (often quite enthusiastically) this guy who had a reputation for stiffing everyone he had contact with, from unpaid workmen and small contractors to major banks who lent him money and then got caught holding the bag when he declared bankruptcy, having cleaned to till first. How could anyone believe he would do anything for anyone but himself. From a poll in the NY Times yesterday I see that a large majority of Republicans think he is doing a good job so far.

  8. Michael Barr:I think it is a combination of wishful thinking and an unfamiliarity with scoundrels. The same reasons people send money to Nigerian princes and down on their luck internet singles.

  9. Michael: I think people who voted for Trump did so for a myriad of reasons. But it’s probably true to say that of the Appalachian and Rust Belt workers who voted for him, it was out of economic misery. These people have seen nothing but trouble since the early 1970s – and with the 2008 crash, social life deteriorated even further. A great many of them voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12, crossing their fingers for that “Hope and Change” and then switched to Trump (because they couldn’t vote for Bernie) in ’16. Also, just in case you haven’t read it – I thought Steve’s post was useful in understanding. ( ) It doesn’t apply specifically to your post, but the following quote is a good point of departure for understanding why people voted for him.

    “In my opinion, social class determines interest, and in the long run is far more significant in every way that matters than what someone is thinking at any given moment; revolutions have more far-reaching effects than elections.”

    That’s not to say that Trump as president isn’t serious shit, because it is. But this is an historical moment that will pass. I think workers – including Rust Belt and Appalachian workers – will draw the necessary conclusion about the man sooner or later.

  10. “I think workers – including Rust Belt and Appalachian workers – will draw the necessary conclusion about the man sooner or later.”

    They saw a choice between Trump versus Clinton, who explicitly offered them 4 more years of the status quo. If the status quo was doing for you what it did for them, which would you choose?

    I think a lot of Democrats drew their conclusions about Obama before 2012. But when they saw a choice between Obama and Mitt Romney, enough of them voted for Obama to put him in for another 4 years. Those were better times….

    If Trump runs again in 2020, and the Democratic Party still looks like the only alternative, then it will depend on who the Democrats run whether Trump gets another 4 years.

    Of course, the more often that citizens see themselves as having two bad choices, the less viable it looks to vote as a way to influence government. So that will tend to increase both apathy and rage, often in the same people.

  11. Jethomas5: Voter turnout has been pretty low since the fifties, so I think a lot of people are already fed-up and disillusioned with voting.

  12. The leadership of the national Democratic Party has not appeared to have learned even the tiniest fraction of a lesson from their humiliating defeat of 2016, but instead have doubled down on all their previously failed concepts and maneuvers. Pelosi is still leading, Perez elected to DNC chair, Single-Payer still relegated to unmentionable status, etc.

    And I will bet you dollars to donuts (how cheap were donuts when that bon mot was coined?) that HRC will be the Democratic candidate for President in 2020, save only (maybe) if she is cold and in the ground. She’s simply too valuable as a fund raiser and a willing and proven tool of Wall Street and the MIC not to be. As she did in 2008 and again in 2016, she will lock up all the big donors and the superdelegates early, chasing off any other “mainstream” Dem challengers. And if a challenge emerges from the left? The DNC has proven how they will deal with that, as the same folks who did Bernie dirty are still in charge to this day despite getting their hands stuck in the cookie jar.

    Now cue “oneillsinwisconsin” to respond and assure me that everything would have been so much better had HRC won 5 months ago. Well he will probably get another chance to vote for her. HRC is making the rounds accepting awards from women’s groups, and mulling hosting a cable news talk show to help keep her in the spotlight to stay relevant for 2020.

  13. Kragar, what you say sounds plausible. But I have an even worse possibility in mind.

    I imagine the Demosaurs continuing like this, and then all of a sudden they get challenged by Fake Progressives. The FPs say that we all have to work together to beat the Demosaurs, and they collect contributions, and suddenly the Democratic Party announces that the FPs have won! Lots of people cheer, and the FP’s say that they couldn’t have done it without all of us! That now we have to all work together to win the elections!

    So they collect more money from widows and orphans, and they organize lots of volunteers to work hard winning the election, and they do win!

    But there are still enough Republicans in the Senate to stop them. So 2 years later people work even harder and contribute more money, and we have a Democratic president and a solid Democratic majority in the Senate and in the House. And then we find out it’s like Obama all over again. Nothing has really changed. The Fake Progressives were fake all along.

  14. It seems like HRC is done to me. If you can’t beat Trump, you can’t beat anyone.

    Now is definitely the time to point out flaws in the Right — they are on full display.
    It is also the time to point out the flaws in the Democrats. It is very interesting to watch those who are blinking on coming forward aggressively against Trump and those who aren’t. It only takes little shoves to move boulders in motion. Of course, that is also a dangerous thing to do.

  15. Big Capital prefers HRC losing to a Republican, as opposed to a genuine reformer winning and causing a bunch of trouble. Also, HRC does not give up so easily.

  16. ‘If you can’t beat Trump you can’t beat anyone’.

    Well, Clinton did win the popular vote, and there was heavy duty interference by Russia, hence those unhappy tweets from your President.

    Steve was utterly devoted to Trump winning because he hated the idea of Clinton winning. We know that the Russian Intelligence Service set out to encourage people like Steve to support Trump, and we know they succeeded. I suppose that at some point people like Steve may concede that they were played, but I’m not holding my breath; admitting that you were played is hard to do.

    My concern is that you’ve put a madman in charge of the nuclear codes; after that you’ve put a madman in to deny the existence of man-made global warming. Plus, of course, a madman who hates vaccines. A lot of people will die for that…

  17. Stevie:Neither skzb (the Steve in your comment I believe?) nor I, at all supported Trump.

    For skzb, it is a false inference to say that since he didn’t support Clinton, he supported Trump.
    For me, he is certainly not my president. I agree that he is incompetent and mentally unstable in a number of ways. Clinton lost for a number of reasons, but one of those was because she was Clinton. Almost any other candidate would have won against Trump. Her baggage drug her under.

  18. Stevie, “We know that the Russian Intelligence Service set out to encourage people like Steve to support Trump, and we know they succeeded.”

    It’s absurd to think that the Russian intelligence service is better at manipulating the US public than the CIA. Our own guys are the best.

    They just had too big a job trying to sell Clinton to the US public. It was asking too much of them.

  19. Stevie: If that was not me you were referring to, you ought to clarify of whom you were speaking. If it is, then you would know, had you paid the least attention, that as Steve Halter says above, I vehemently opposed both candidates, and all other bourgeois, anti-working class candidates.

    Until you provide evidence to the contrary, or withdraw your claim, you wear the brand of a dishonest slanderer.

  20. skzb–

    Stevie and others bought into the fallacy and false dualism that any criticism of HRC was tantamount to support for Trump. But that’s the way the system endlessly replicates itself. I tried so hard to convince them it was not the case, but that both candidates were and are completely unacceptable, for different reasons, to those who genuinely seek peace, justice and equality. It appears those efforts fell on some deaf ears.

  21. Kragar: Yeah, I get that. I cut oneilinwiscosin some slack because I recognize that there’s a level of ideological blindness there. But when you get to, “Steve was utterly devoted to Trump winning…” you’ve crossed the line from ideological differences to slander, and I see no reason to accept it.

  22. Yes, getting people and the country to break out of binary thinking is a crucial step. If someone says to you “Frying pan or fire,” saying, “I choose the kitchen chair” does not mean you support the fire.

  23. The binary choice is a trick to gain cooperation. We knew the kids didn’t like some vegetables, but if we gave them the choice between broccoli and green beans, we could get them to eat one. This election was a forced choice between two bad candidates.

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