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VOL.19, NO.4
DEC 16



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Vol. 19, No.4 July-August 1985 (on newsstands Nov. 1985)

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VOL. 19, No.4 1985



Some Feminist Questions About the
Militarization of Central America
Cynthia Enloe

FROM THE MOVEMENT: "Myths and Realities 24

In Central America"
Jim O'Brien and Nick Thorkelson

Feminism and Socialism in Europe,
Marie Kennedy and Chris Tilly


Legal Repression and Worker Response
Jeff Ferrell and Kevin Ryan


Ron Schreiber

During the past year a combative and energetic opposition to u.s. policy in Central America has
becom,�more visible in this country. Actions in communities and campuses have emphasized diverse
approaclles to political education and mobilization. Most of the efforts have been specifically located
around'the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, against U.S. support for the contra terrorists
in Nicaragua, and in other specific campaigns. While there has been creativity in these anti­
interventionist efforts, there seems to be little interest among today's activists in rethinking the
theory of-imperialism itself. Unlike the anti-Vietnam war movement which took on a decidedly anti­
imperialist focus in its latter stages, current efforts remain anti-interventionist in character. While
attemp!iS, to incorporate such analyses as the conventional-nuclear war "deadly connections" scenario
or a "Ndfth-South" (vs. simply East-West) perspective that considers the Third World in Cold War
realpolitik are gaining some currency, most work is directed against specific policies rather than
world systems.
It was not long ago that debates emerging from the Left over the " lessons" of Vietnam complicated
people's notions of the nature and direction of imperialism. Some retreated from the abstractness of
the debates, others from sectarianism, still others from a naive perception that they had seen in the
case of Vietnam a "simple" case of errant policy. Does the strength of current anti-intervention work

rest in part on its capacity to tolerate, rather than phor but rather a basic aim of imperialist control?
engage, theoretical gaps and impasses in order to get W hat if perpetuating male privilege is seen as a stra­
on with the work at hand? In the vastly different ter­ tegic question, not a periodic tactic, of contemporary
rain of the 1980s, that may be the case. But if our imperialism?
notions of why and how imperialism exploits people Enloe's article is a beginning-it is suggestive and
and nations are stale, we may not recognize new ways provocative. As we discussed this article, it became
to expose and combat it. We may also inhibit a broader clearer to us how complex and contradictory are the
comprehension of resistance in the Third World and ways in which imperialism affects the men and
possibilities for connection. One example of that women in target countries. W hile right wing apolo­
came from our observation that while many feminists gists amazingly argue the improved lot of women in
were playing a growing role in the current mobiliza­ these countries, certain left theories that equate the
tions against U.S. policy in South Africa and Central level of oppression with the degree of resistance can
America, it was not clear that feminism has informed be as problematic. It is possible for a conclusion to be
analyses of how U.S. power operates. drawn, for example, from Enloe's discussion of the
In Cy nthia Enloe's article in this issue, she con­ various social dislocations of women under imperi­
siders how to extend her feminist analysis of militar­ alism, that such disruptions can only strengthen
ization to imperialism itself. She argues that even women's resistance. That is not clear. As we remind
radical theorists of imperialism present a conceptual ourselves, even in applying newer feminist and cul­
framework that is gender-blind. By not recognizing tural perceptions of the world to older theories, we
patriarchy and gender politics, standard critiques have must reflect on the Western lens we all share. In all,
no compelling reason for differentiating how women, Enloe's article is an important contribution to a
in contrast to men, are affected by imperialism. growing-and more inclusive-understanding of the
W hile women become invisible, men get viewed as effects of development and imperialism. We can also
the central players in a cast that runs the gamut from hope that such new ways of looking at the world can
multinational executives, policy makers and U.S. mili­ provide more energy and growth, and prod us to more
tary recruits, to landlords, juntas and revolutionary effective action.
fighters. In the pre-World War I American South, black and
white timber workers fought their own battle against
In contrast, Enloe suggests two ways that feminists the entrenched economic, legal, and political tenta­
can engage and take on prevailing views of imperial­ cles of capitalism. In their account of the fight of the
ism. The first is simply to gather all we have learned radical Brotherhood of Timber Workers (B.TW.)
both about how imperialism invades, and is resisted, against the southern lumber trust, Jeff Ferrell and
and then to ask-in the economic, cultural, political, Kevin Ryan document an important, if short-lived,
and military dimension: "Where are the women?" chapter in U.S. labor history. The story of the efforts
and "What are women doing?" Using U.S. domina­ of theB.T.W. brings to mind the similarly tenacious
tion of Central America and the Caribbean as a test battles of the Civil Rights Movement half a century
case, Enloe demonstrates how gender-specific mate­ later and suggests lessons for us in a time when con­
rial can surface. How do women respond to the eco­ servative forces increasingly use "legal" means to
nomic dislocations and "opportunities" caused by suppress labor militance.
multi-nationals? How are women negotiating the In an adventure story worthy of a movie script, an
increased absence of men? Enloe asserts that if interracial group ofB.T.W. labor militants, male and
women's experience is seen and valued, our under­ female, used secrecy, sabotage, and an inclusive net­
standing of imperialism and our capacity to combat work of community support, to fight the overwhelm­
it will be significantly enhanced. ing efforts of Southern lumbermen to break them.
Secondly, Enloe recommends a radical break with W hile the virulent anti-unionism that ty pified the
the basic assumptions of current anti-imperialist anal­ South of that period has continued into the modern
ysis, where fundamental feminist questions are never era, it is the cross-racial and cross-gender involve­
fully explored. Instead, Enloe asks what we learn ment that provides such a striking legacy. That legacy
when we introduce patriarchy as a primary element of the B.TW. would be revived during the 1930s and
in international aggression. W hat if we see rape and again during the 1960s as new labor militants would
violent intimidation as neither an excess nor a meta- try to break the barriers that divide and defeat South-

ern workers. As for the lumber industry, it was not forces but have found themselves parting company
until 1982, when Mississippi woodcutters finally more often than not around exactly such questions.
achieved legislative recognition that the efforts among Many of the tragedies of social movements have arisen
lumber workers were to reach some success. from what Tilly and Kennedy see as the failure to
In the U.S. of the 1980s that may be small consola­ "find more ground for common wmk" among differ­
tion, as a seemingly less violent but more insidious ing movements.
legal and media campaign against unions, as "special Here the example is socialists and feminists in
interests," is in high gear. The recognition by the Germany, France, and England at the turn of the cen­
Southern timberworkers over 70 years ago that extra­ tury. At that time socialism, although ideologically
ordinary means must be used to fight "legal" harass­ responsive to feminist demands, repeatedly failed to
ment is vital. In order to consider equivalent tactics integrate feminism into the daily concerns of a revo­
today, however, we need to know more than Ferrell lutionary movement: feminism was always secondary
and Ryan's account tells us. What happens to dem­ to class. Bourgeois feminism, on the other hand, con­
ocracy in a union riddled by spies? How do open, sistently failed to consider class differences among
wide-ranging political discussions about union women, and therefore was far from attractive to its
strategy occur in a climate of constant legal, politi­ working class sisters. For socialist-feminists the con­
cal and economic harassment? And how do the deli­ flict was a real one, only partially resolved by work­
cate social relations necessary to nurture interracial ing in "autonomous" women's groups parallel to or
and cross-gender trust take place in a context of within the feminist movement.
intimidation and attack from outside? Tilly and Kennedy locate their discussion histori­
Chris Tilly and Marie Kennedy offer another his­ cally as well as geographically, pointing to the polit­
torical look at an important contemporary question ical traditions specific to each nation under question
for social movements--:-what are the possibilities and in order to assess how that particular tradition shaped
problems of coalition building between feminists and the relative success of coalition building in each case.
socialists? The last twenty years of feminism, for As products of today 's socialist feminist movement
instance, has witnessed struggles between the New which has struggled often with these questions, we
Left and women's liberation, and among different welcome this article as part of a growing body of liter­
strains of feminism over the intersection of class and ature which helps us to understand the sources for the
gender issues. Historically, various liberation and divisions that continue to plague us.
"rights" movements have sought to unite and join


In our s pecial issue on "Questions for the Peace

Movement" (RA Vol. 19, No. 1), there was a
t y pographical error in the article b y Dan Smith,
"After Cruise: The View from Europe," which
we wish to correct. On p. 332, second column,
line 5, the sentence should read, "I am aware
that a fourth issue could be added 'Us and

the Third World' and a fifth Us and eastern


Europe.' '' The italicized section was in­

advertently omitted during editing.
The Editors

THOLOGY" - Special retrospective with selection of
articles that have appeared in RA since 1967: Black •••••••••••••
Liberation, Work-place Struggles, Feminism, Com-
munity Activism, American Left, Culture and Art.

Articles, commentary, poetry and art by C.L.R.

James, Sara Evans, E.P. Thompson, Herbert Mar­
cuse, Diane DiPrima, Ken Cockrell, Margaret Ran­
dall, Staughton Lynd, Manning Marable, Todd
Gitlin, Mari Jo Buhle, Ann D. Gordon, Ellen Willis,
Michael Lesy, David Montgomery, Aime Cesaire,
Bernice Johnson Reagon, Sonia Sanchez, Dan
Georgakas, Leonard Baskin, Gilbert Shelton, Edith
Hoshino Altbach, George Rawick, Marlene Dixon,
Mark Naison, Sheila Rowbotham, David Widgery,
Ron Aronson, Harvey O'Connor, Lillian Robinson,
David Wagner, Hans Gerth, Peter Biskind, Daniel
Singer, Jean Tepperman, Martin Glaberman, Stan
Weir, Dorothy Healey and the editors of Radical
America. Edited by Paul Buhle.
"FACING REACTION" - Special double issue on
the New Right and America in the 80s...Vol. IS, Nos . ••••••••••
1 & 2 (Spring 1981)...160 pages, illustrated.


by Manning Marable; ABORTION: WHICH SIDE
ARE YOU ON? by Ellen Willis; THE LONG
Withorn; also THE NEW TERRAIN OF
Gay Left; and Noam Chomsky and Michael Klare on

"DREAMS OF FREEDOM" - Special double issue

featuring "Having a Good Time: The American •••••••••••••
Family Goes Camping" ...Vol. 16, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring
1982)...180 pages.
Featuring: Interview with Carlos Fuentes; SPECIAL
SECTION: Reviews of recent Radical History on
women, blacks, rural populists, auto workers and
responses to industrialization; POSTAL WORKERS
Brodhead; E.R.A., R.I.P.-BUT HOW HARD
�'- Diamant; and, poetry, movie satires and more.


40070 Discount for 5 or more copies

Some Feminist Questions About the
Militarization of Central America


W hen you finish writing a book or an essay there is always this curious mix of elation and
uneasiness-elation from feeling that you've managed to come full circle in your thinking,
but uneasiness that you've left important puzzles more glaringly unresolved than ever. For
my part, since completing Does Khaki Become You?*, an exploration of how and why
militaries depend on and attempt to control women, I've had a sense that it may be more
than just military operations that are gendered; it may be the whole network of power and
dependency we call "the international political economy" that is gendered as we,ll.
By the time I had finished doing the research for Khaki, I was aware that n��. 'Cold �u"�t:
W ar cosmologies but also presumptions about sexuality-women's and men' � ha.ped ..
global military basing formulas. I also had been struck time and again by how militaries had
depended on the sexual division of labor to launch, and to end, their wars. But after the final
pageproofs went off to the publisher, I remained uneasy with an unexamined presumption,
that the subjugation of women, for the privilege of men, was not as much a part of the
workings of the W orld Bank as of the militaries that I'd been investigating. I realized that
for too long now, explaining the patterns of global power and profit has been dominated by
male historians and social theorists who have considered gender irrelevant.

*Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women 's Lives, Boston, South End Press, 1 983.

Photo: Susan Meiselas, from "NICARAGUA," 1981.

The well-known commentators that occupy that presumes the economic and emotional rela­
the stage of almost any critical discussion of im­ tions between women and men are outside the
perialism or interventionism apparently believe pale of serious politics. The practical result of
that there is almost nothing to be gained by this wariness has been that many of us are dis­
looking at women 's lives. Emmanuel Wallers­ satisfied today when the male activists of any
tein, Walter Rodney, Samir Amin, Perry political movement leave it to the women to
Anderson, Noam Chomsky-some of these take up "women's issues, " as if they were
men are from the first world, others from the peripheral to the movement's central thesis. It
third. Together, they have helped fashion the seems to me, that what would be helpful in
intellectual tools many of us use to explain how moving beyond those unexamined presump­
EXXON, NATO, the IMF, and Hollywood tions about the peripheral role of gender, at
have come to distort relations between the least in the anti-intervention movement, is pos­
world's rich and poor. But they have developed ing some questions about women 's lives.
this critical worldview without much con­ Perhaps by asking where women are and what
sciousness about gender. They almost never ask they are doing we can start to imagine what a
whether it matters that the Third World's distinctly feminist analysis of international
investment-attracting "cheap labor" is made politics would look like.
cheap by being feminized. They scarcely ever
wonder whether the IMF's standard package of Where Are the Women?
austerity measures, imposed on Third World
governments , changes the relations between It seems like such a simple question, why is it
women and men in those countries. They also so rarely asked? What in fact would we see if
seem to believe that the expansion of Third we looked at women 's lives in Central America
World militaries due to foreign arms sales and and the Carribbean, for example?
the influx of military aid do not depend at all One possibility is that we would understand
on changing notions of what constitutes how the policies of the American government
"masculine" behavior in those countries or in and its local allies intensify the hardships of
the donor country. When reading these com­ women 's lives. If we take women's lives
mentators, we are almost never prompted to try seriously, we cannot assume that local or inter­
to figure out what the connections might be bet­ national politics affect women and men in iden­
ween international debt, foreign investment, tical ways . For example, some of the issues
and militarism on the one hand, and rape, pro­ named and contested by feminism become visi­
stitution, housework, and wife battering on the ble as integral parts of U. S. intervention policy.
other hand. The message one comes away with The denigration of women intensifies with the
is that the former are inherently "serious " and U.S. militarization of Central America. There
" political, " whereas the latter are ' 'trivial" and is increased rape and battering. The male role
"private. " I as protector and sexual exploiter is affirmed
When we root our political organizing in and extended; prostitution is a mainstay of pre­
analyses which disregard gender, feminism can serving military organization. More difficult,
quickly get shrunk to a shadow of its formerly but equally important, we need to understand
vibrant self. If questions about where women the full costs of Nicaraguan militarization to
are, or whether ideologies of masculinity and the future of the revolution. While U.S. policy
femininity shape power, lose their political rele­ has forced such a mobilization, the way in
vance, then feminist politics can be limited to which the Nicaraguan government views its
challenging sexism inside our own political defense and appeals to its people to join the ef­
organizations or creating women's solidarity fort may deepen the power of men over women,
projects that are only marginally related to the as well as endangering democratic goals.
mainstream of an anti-intervention movement. There is also a second possibility. If we keep
Surely everything we have revealed in the last asking "Where are the women? " we may find
twenty years of the women's movement sug­ that we will have to modify our understanding
gests that we should be very wary of any theory of the requirements for U.S. policies to succeed

Through the months of writing and revising this article I have benefitted especially from suggestions made by Ann Withom,
Lois Wasserspring, Joni Seager, Saralee Hamilton, Kirsten Johnson, Marla Erlien, and Margaret Cerullo.
in the Third World. In other words, it might be Colonialism and the Reproduction of Gender
that women 's lives are worth considering not
only for the sake of detailing the impact of
Sugar. Coffee. Cotton. Limes. Cocoa. Baux­
militarism and imperialism, but also for the
ite. Rice. Bananas . These are the raw products
sake of clarifying their basic underpinnings :
for which the countries of Central America and
how U . S. power locks into existing power rela­
the Caribbean are famous. Each has its own
tions within the countries it seeks to control.
peculiar politics . Each has its own history.
This, in turn, has an impact on how we
Most have been nurtured not just by the
would rethink our organizing strategy around
region 's warm climate and rich soil, but by
Central America. For instance, what sorts of
foreign capital and hierarchies of class and skin
campaigns would we launch if we discovered
color. When militaries have been sent into these
that American corporate executives weighed
countries it has usually been to protect those
their overseas investments , not just in terms of
hierarchies and the rewards they have garnered
profits, but in terms of gender relations; or if
from their control of sugar, coffee, bananas
we knew that U.S. -Honduran joint military
and other products for export.
maneuvers depended as much on shared no­
In the last decades other, less traditional in­
tions of masculinity as they did on shared state
dustries have been added: tourism, cattle,
paranoia? At this stage we don't have a fully ar­
garment-making, electronics assembly, oil
ticulated feminist theory to explain how imper­
refining and, most recently, office work.
ialism and militarism have structured our rela­
tions with Central America and the Caribbean . Both the more traditional and the recently in­
troduced products have been enmeshed in
But we do have the makings of such a theory.
global power struggles from the outset. The col­
We do know enough about how power operates
onizing governments (Spain, Britain , the
inside societies to urge that men-as-men and
women-as-women be made visible in any Netherlands, the United States , France) and the
internationally competitive companies (Gulf
investigation of how power operates between
and Western, Tate and Lisle, Bookers, United

U.S. A id, Ecuador 1974. Photo: Dan Weaks. Reprinted from Radical History Review.

Fruit, Alcan, Kaiser, Del Monte and Dole) have tence of these divisions of Central American
waxed and waned in their fortunes, have bar­ labor accomplished without any dependence on
gained and fought each other, and have with­ sexism?
drawn from some places in order to intervene in We have heard a lot about the potency of
others . But remaining constant has been the ex­ machismo ideology, about how women in the
treme vulnerability of the local peoples to deci­ insurgent movements of El S alvador,
sions made outside their own societies . Guatemala and Nicaragua have had to struggle
Most historical accounts we have of these against the presumption of male privilege inside
decisions and how Caribbean and Central their own organizations, but we rarely ask how
American people have tried to cope with, or at machismo has supported the racist stratifica­
times resist, these decisions are written as tions on which most of the coffee, sugar and
though no one ever had gender on their mind. banana companies depend for their own opera­
But is this true? For instance, did British and tions. We often proceed as if ideologies of male
Spanish colonizers never consider whether dominance have their place in Central
female Africans made less valuable slave American history, ideologies of Indian inferior­
laborers than male Africans? New work being ity in turn have their place, and never the twain
done in this country by black women historians shall meet . Moreover, in most of our political
suggests that it is misleading to imagine that organizing it is the latter that gets treated with
sexist strategies didn't shape the ways in which more seriousness, as if Hispanicization and its
racism was developed to rationalize and complementary exploitation of Indians is what
organize slave labor. They suggest that these "really" explains how profits are squeezed out
early uses of sexist strategies have had lasting of sugar cane, banana trees or coffee beans.
effects, helping to sustain patriarchal notions Machismo's role in the process is hardly con­
within the black communities , notions which sidered, or, if it is, it is not discussed in ways
present obstacles to effective political action that could tell us how sexual divisions of labor
even a century or more after slavery's abolition. have been used to support racial and class divi­
What then of the present day politics of sions of labor.
Jamaica, Trinidad, Dominica, Guyana? Until
shown otherwise, it seems unwise to theorize
about post slavery "plantation societies" of the
Caribbean as if women and men experienced
slavery in identical ways or as if the politics of
post slavery communities were free of the
legacies of the colonists' patriarchal strate­
gizing .
Essentially we would be asking how divisions
of labor have been constructed , divisions that
have made the cultivation of sugar and
bananas, for instance, profitable enough that
they reaped profits for the overseas companies
and their local allies . Furthermore, questions
about how racist bases of such profitable divi­
sions are dependent on sexism aren 't relevant
solely to those countries in the region with his­
tories of slavery. In Central American societies ,
where colonists' use of African slaves was less
prevalent, racism nonetheless was wielded in
order to create domestic stratifications of color
that served to coopt the Hispanicized and ex­
ploit the Indian. Were the formulation and,
even more interesting for us today, the persis-
Brazil. Photo: Maria Thereza A lves, reprintedjtom IKON.


Banana inspection, c. 1910.

Bananas and Patriarchy The yellow bananas familiar to North

American consumers were not developed as a
distinct variety until the 1 9th century. They
Take the banana. The banana's history is em­ were first served at the homes of wealthy Bosto­
bedded in the history of European colonial ex­ nians in 1 875. United Fruit's corporate empire,
pansion and, later, North American neo­ which over the next century came to behave like
colonial control. It is also integrally tied to the a surrogate state in much of Central America,
ways that women's relations to men have been grew out of the American popularization of this
shaped by local governments and foreign com­ humble globe-trotting fruit. That marketing
panies , bolstered from time to time by U.S. success wove an invisible but crucial political
military intervention. So the banana perhaps is link of interdependence between the women of
a good place to start in our fashioning of a North America and the women of Central
feminist analysis of American militarization of America.
the region . In the 1 950s United Fruit took the lead in
The banana is not native to Central America. launching a brand name for its own bananas­
Its original home was Southeast Asia. By the "Chiquita. " Standard Fruit, its chief competi­
1 400s the banana had spread westward to tor, followed quickly on its heels with its own
become a basic food on the Guinean coast of brand name- "Cabana. " Thus began a
Africa. When Spanish slavers began raiding the marketing way to win the allegiance of the
coast and shipping captured Africans to the American and European housewife and her
West Indies and South America, they shipped local grocer. The goal remains today, to per­
bananas as well. The banana, then, entered this suade predominantly female consumers that
hemisphere as the slavers ' choice of a cheap and bananas from one company are of higher quali­
popular African staple to feed enslaved women ty, and possess longer shelf life and greater
and men. overall reliability.




The symbol of woman peace emerges from a Somoza tank, Nicaragua. Photo: © Catharine A llport.

The conventional way of thinking about how revealed how even mining and agricultural
and why it's "banana republics " that American operations that recruit only male workers still
officials want to preserve-by force, if neces­ depend on women's work. For without women
sary-in Central America is one that focuses on being relegated to doing the hard but unpaid
class alliances made by United Fruit and Del work of subsistence farming and household
Monte executives with local political and eco­ maintenance the companies would not be able
nomic elites on the one hand, and with to pay their male workers such low wages . The
Washington policy makers on the other. They unpaid work that women do-and the patriar­
all have a common stake in keeping banana chal assumptions on which that work depends
workers' wages low and their political con­ -allows for the survival and reproduction of
sciousness undeveloped . But who are these those paid workers.
workers? Pictures that I have seen of Honduran Given these realities , the "banana republics"
banana worker union members always appear that U . S . militarization is intended to sustain
full of men. Do only men work on the major are patriarchal in at least two ways . First, the
banana plantations, or is it only the male colonially seeded culture of machismo serves to
workers who are employed in the banana in­ legitimize local class and racial stratifications in
dustry in ways that allow for unionization? ways that make the subjugation of all women
Where are the women? One reality is that perpetuate the inequalities among the country's
women do work that makes bananas profitable men. Second, the gender, class, and ethnic
for this triple alliance of elites, but the work strategies of labor and profit that foreign com­
they do (weeding) is so marginalized that they panies use serve to perpetuate low wages and at­
develop a different sort of political conscious­ tenuate union organizing . If we thought these
ness and are excluded from the unions by their propositions were worth investigating, we
fathers and brothers who imagine their con­ would also find how they operate together so as
flicts with management more "political " , more to sustain the kind of internationally depend­
"serious . " Another reality is that women do ent, militarized society we have come to call a
not do any waged work on the plantations of "banana republic . "
United Fruit or Del Monte, that they are at The economies o f Central America and the
home doing unpaid subsistence farming, child Caribbean have been undergoing important
care and cooking. Feminists in scores of indus­ changes during the 1 970s and 80s. Most of
trialized and Third World countries have those changes have been initiated by foreign

corporations and governments in order to rese­ woven together into an imperialist web over the
cure their hold on the region. In part because of last three hundred years. And if we look at how
the growing militarization and its resultant sexual divisions of labor have been created as
social unrest and in part out of their own in­ the pillars of these industries we should not ex­
house global strategies, some of the largest pect to find precisely the same patterns .
banana companies are threatening to cut back Women in the region have been making their
their Central American operations. Both Hon­ own critiques to address the presumptions of
duras and Nicaragua have been told that coun­ gender 's political irrelevance or women's unin­
tries such as Ecuador and the Philippines now volvement . For instance, the Jamaican populist
look greener for banana operations . The cor­ women's theater collective, Sistren, has created
porate decisions have been reported in terms of a play about women sugar workers . They are
their effects on unemployment in already reminding Jamaican poor women (and us, as
fragile Central American economies . Scarcely well) that though Jamaican post-independence
anything has been said about what it has meant politics has been dominated by men in part
for relations between women and men. because it was men who led and filled the ranks
If we knew that women and men in Nicara­ of the pre-independence militant sugar workers
gua and Honduras had identical roles in the in­ unions, the sugar industry was not an all-male
ternational banana industry, then it would be affair. Women too worked to make profits for
superfluous to ask those questions . But we the giant British company. Yet they and their
know this is not the case. Women and men have labor have been made politically invisible in
been affected by these recent corporate deci­ ways that continue to obstruct Jamaican
sions in very different ways . For instance, Hon­ women 's entry into the nation's political life.
duran peasant women reportedly are trying to Similarly, before the U . S . military invasion,
develop cash generating projects such as the Grenadian women were organizing to make
making of straw hats and the processing of
cashew nuts. This is a political development, a
step women are taking to reduce their earlier
dependence on exploitative mid�lemen, coyo­
tes, and to gain some social autonomy as
women . But the pressure to start these new
cooperative projects is also coming from the
gendered ripple effects of the banana com­
panies' cutbacks. For the unemployed banana
workers are overwhelmingly the men in these
women's families. Women as mothers and
wives are joining women 's straw hat and
cashew nut cooperatives at least in part to off­
set the decline in household income. But what
are the long range implications of male banana
workers ' unemployment and women's cash­
producing projects? Will the political pro­
minence of the Honduran banana workers '
union fade? Will Honduran women demand a
larger say in leftist political organizations? It is
not unreasonable to predict that whatever
change or resistance to change does occur will
get played out not in the plaza but in thousands
of peasant homes.
Sugar. Coffee. Cotton. Limes. Cocoa. Baux­
ite. Rice. Bananas . Each deserves consideration
Young Mother, Ecuador 1975. Photo: Dan Weaks.
on its own in order to spell out how they are
Reprinted from Radical History Review.

----�-.. ---

their work in the cocoa industry (a principle ex­ towns, where they must accept low paid jobs
port sector) more visible. Grenadian women in with minimal workers ' rights, allows more and
the revolutionary movement began to insist that more Central Americans with relatively secure
the men take their work seriously. Beyond that, incomes to imagine that they have arrived in the
they began developing government policies middle or even upper middle class. For many a
which would dismantle the sexual divisions of man of this class it is an arrival that is accompa­
labor on which the island 's cocoa business has nied by peculiarly masculine privileges, sexual
relied . These important sexual politics were cut access to a young rural woman under his own
short by the landing of the U.S. Marines. It is roof who has only minimal resources with
likely that the post-invasion Grenadian society which to resist his demands. For the woman of
is being "developed " on an even more stark this growing middle class the role of employer
sexual division of labor by the expansion of the -of another woman-may serve to reconfirm
tourist industry and by the (not terribly suc­ her sense of upward mobility and blunt her
cessful) attempts by Washington officials to sense of shared destiny with other, poorer
"secure" Grenada by inviting American light women in her own country.
industries to establish cost-cutting assembly Simultaneously, prostitution is being inte­
plants there. Both tourism and light assembly grated into this gendered and globalized politi­
are notoriously feminized industries . The chief cal economy. A woman working as a domestic
political difference between them and the cocoa servant may be fired by her employers if she
industry is that women1; cheap labor contribu­ becomes pregnant-by the man of the house
tion is a lot harder to make invisible in the who wants to cover up his own actions, or by
former. the woman of the house who prefers to deal
with her husband 's "indiscretions" by turning
A Nation of Chambermaids her anger on the victim. Those women, as well
as women from the countryside who never were
As landlessness increases in Central America, lucky enough to find jobs (or who found jobs in
women and men may be making quite different a factory assembling bras or transistor radios
choices about how to survive . There is no only to be laid off soon afterwards), still have
reason to believe a priori that landlessness is children or parents to support. Thus they often
any less gendered than plantation labor. One turn to the last resort, prostitution.
indication that this is happening is the rising Our understanding of what changes are oc­
numbers of women migrating from the curring in Central America needs to go beyond
countryside to the towns to seek jobs as low simply talk of "landless peasants " or "peasant
paid seamstresses and , if they are less lucky, mobilization . " What kind of politics does a
domestic workers. According to one estimate, woman learn from being the sole caretaker of
64 per cent of all women working for wages in someone else's child? What are the understand­
Guatemala City today are employed as domes­ one's own child as well as surrogate mother to
tic workers . Many of these women are Indian someone else's child? What are the understand­
women working for Latino families. Many of ings about power that come from working as an
these women are the sole caretakers of children. Indian maid in a Latino home? At what point
The fact that more Latin American women does sexual harassment by the father or son of
work in domestic servant jobs than in any other that household begin to inspire resistance -
type of waged employment is an important clue resistance supported by whom? 2
to what kind of class transformations are In the Caribbean as well , the resort to domes­
occuring in the 1 980s as a consequence of tic work has been a growing trend among poor
changes in the international economy. Having women. Some of those women have sought
household servants is one of the most visible domestic servant jobs in their own countries .
signs of having joined the middle class. The Thousands of women have migrated to
push of more and more peasant women out of Canada, the U.S. and Europe in search of in­
the countryside, where they no longer can sup­ come with which to support themselves and
port themselves and their children, and into the their children. Some of them have started to

overcome the isolating effects of such work to bean into "nations of busboys . " That is, it is in
speak out and to politically organize . In the the very character of these sprawling Holiday
United States one such organization includes Inn chains to deskill their workers, institution­
both Caribbean and Central American women, alize racism and keep crucial decision-making
as well as U . S . -born Latina and black women . 3 prerogatives in the overseas headquarters. Fur­
What would our political analysis look like if thermore, the lengths to which Holiday Inn,
we took these domestic workers' political Club Med, et al. will go to make their Ameri­
messages and organizing efforts as seriously as can, Canadian, French, and British patrons
we did those of male activists and social comfortable with familiar foods and decor ends
theorists? up siphoning off whatever foreign exchange the
Even more striking and noticeable than the friendly regimes may hope to keep for them­
increase of domestic work has been the selves.
emergency of the tourist industry. Tourism But is it a "nation of busboys" that is replac­
seems to be the Caribbean replacement for the ing the region's plantation society? Is this the
world's declining sugar demand. Sometimes the most accurate way for us to make sense of the
shift happens very explicitly, such as in the kind of transformation that is taking place in
Dominican Republic last year when Gulf and Grenada, Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican
Western, the hydra-headed American conglo­ Republic and other countries that Washington
merate, sold off more than 200,000 acres of is trying to pull more tightly into its security or­
sugar cane fields to American entrepreneurs bit? Fear of becoming a "nation of busboys"
who plan to turn the land into tourist havens . may raise insecurities around manhood to
Already, by 1 984, tourism had leaped ahead of nationalist political mobilizations but it may
sugar to become the Dominican Republic's top not reflect the real gender dynamics of tourism .
foreign exchange earner. Observers who bother to put on their gender­
Typically, this rapid rise of foreign­ glasses note that tourism is a blatantly feminiz­
capitalized tourism is condemned by critics ed industry in its lowest ranks. Approximately
because it is turning the countries of the Carib- 75 per cent of all the 250,000 Caribbean

Nicara g u a , P h o to by Susan Meiselas fro m "NICARAGUA, June 1975-July 1979," Pantheon Books, 1981.
tourism workers are women. 4 Many of these the local regimes and American investors can
women are seeking hotel j obs in the wake of attract women workers. This in turn will de­
j obs lost in agriculture. Many women are also pend on their success in sustaining those myths
in desperate search for income because it has of masculinity, femininity, motherhood , skill ,
been women who, even more than men, have and family which together make and keep
had to find daily ways of coping with their women 's labor cheap. Women who write plays
government 's decisions to give in to Interna­ about wife battering, women who risk overseas
tional Monetary Fund pressure to cut public migration, women who unionize, women who
services and raise food prices . S In other words, demand more training, women who see single
one way we might understand how the Reagan motherhood as a political category-these will
administration is transforming American in­ not be the sorts of women that will guarantee
fluence in the Caribbean is to trace the lines bet­ the success of Reagan's Caribbean Basin Initia­
ween the decline in foreign-funded agribusi­ tive and the security objectives the CBI is de­
ness, the growth of tourism, imposition of the signed to serve.
IMF austerity programs, and the spread of US But along with older light industries, corpor­
control. It appears that each of these trends, as ate newcomers are taking up Washington's
well as their underlying connections, are illumi­ invitation, seemingly sure that the patriarchal
nated by taking the experiences of Caribbean myths can be kept alive.
women-as workers, as copers, and as Office work is becoming globalized .
challengers . American Airlines has been in the forefront,
shifting its reservations operations to Bar­
Women and "light industry" bados. Thanks to the wonders-and cost­
effectiveness-of satellite communications,
Light industry is the newest economic sector companies in the insurance, banking, credit and
to be opened up in the Caribbean and Central
America. Much of this development is based on Our History: Chapter 2

the lessons derived from Puerto Rico 's earlier The Spanish Paratrooper
"Operation Bootstrap, " a thoroughly feminiz­ Shirts sold out at
ed formula that depended on forced steriliza­ the flea market •••
tion and making women 's wages cheap . "Light ••• convinCing us that other
industry" usually encompasses such labor-in­ people liked our kinn of auth­
entic safari, action-oriented
tensive forms of manufacture as used in gar­
styles that nobody made as well as the
ment and toy manufacture, food processing, military••• Since fast-changing regimes
and electronics assembly. Taking a page out of meant steady reserves of surplus, in a
moment of whimsy, we named ourselves
the textile industry's history book, light in­ Banana Republic••• Now we
dustry's executives have defined their opera­ design our stores to
tions' assembly j obs as "unskilled, " requiring a evoke the stea�
exotic locales in
high tolerance for repetition, without loss of which we find so
precision, and thus low-waged and ideal for �� of our authentic
women. designs• •• And now,
we make our own
Reagan's advisors are urging friendly travel and safari
regimes of what they now misleadingly call the clothing--to the
exacting stan­
"Caribbean Basin" (which includes Central dards of the most
America and Columbia) to accept more light in­ fastidious
dustry foreign investment. The aim is not so tailors of a�
much the promotion of Caribbean economic
development or even American profits. Rather,
the aim is to cement a security alliance between
those weaker regimes and the United States
with the glue of economic dependency. But this
security scheme ultimately won't work unless
Ad in Village Voice (NY).

Postcard. Photographed in Leeds, UK April 1985.

reservations businesses have begun to look out­ paring the costs, productivity and controllabili­
side the United States for office workers . Inter­ ty of three groups of women office workers:
national lending agencies like the WorId Bank American women employed at the companies'
and the IMF have been enthusiastic. A own offices; American women contracted to do
Washington-based organization called the office work as home work in the suburbs (with­
"Free Zone Authority" is currently urging out the costs of overhead and in a setting that is
Jamaica's Seaga regime to open up a harder to unionize); finally Caribbean and
"teleport. " It has the added attraction of being Asian (especially Indian) women working off­
only a stone's throw from Jamaica's tourist shore.
mecca, Montego Bay. For American feminists this corporate
It is clear that it is the feminization of cheap strategizing presents at least two interlocking
labor, plus the legacy of English language in challenges . First, politically active office
post-colonial countries , that is making this new workers and their supporters must find ways to
stage in the global reach feasible. As one of the understand these global maneuvers that don't
off-shore office work boosters told a journalist, play into the hands of divide and rule union
"These workers are really good . . . Typing busters . Second, office workers and their sup­
skills are impressive, and accuracy is about 99 porters here and in countries like Barbados, the
per cent . " 6 They also can be hired at wage rates Bahamas and Jamaica will have to try to get the
far below those paid their American counter­ attention of women and men active in the anti­
parts. intervention movement. In the future, anti­
Diana Roos, researcher for the national of­ intervention campaigns will have to be shaped
fice of 9 to 5, says that American executives are out of an awareness of how women in the
still weighing alternatives. They are busy com- United States and other countries of the region

Subic Bay Naval Base, Philippines.

are being linked to one another in ways that duras are being fashioned s o as t o meet the
could serve to smooth the way for Caribbean alleged needs of the American military there. 7
militarization or, alternatively, could permit Komisar went t o visit the shanty town of
them to subvert Washington's grand security brothels that has grown up near the Palmerole
scheme. military base, one of the bases used by the U.S.
military in its series of "Big Pine" joint
Bases and patriarchy maneuvers . She found Honduran women serv­
ing as prostitutes to both Honduran and
Feminists in the Philippines , South Korea American soldiers. Her report revealed in
and Thailand have described in alarming detail microcosm what Honduran public health offi­
just how U.S. military bases have distorted the cials have noted more generally: that there has
sexual politics of the countries . A military base been a notable rise in the cases of venereal dis­
isn't simply an instillation for servicing ease in Honduras in the three years since the
bombers, fighters and aircraft carriers or a start of U . S . military build-up. Hondurans
launch-pad for aggressive forays into surround­ refer to the particularly virulent strain of vd as
ing territories . A military base is also a package "Vietnam Rose. " While the nickname once
of presumptions about male soldier's sexual again wrongly blames the victim, it suggests
needs and about the local society's resources that Hondurans see the Vietnamization of their
for satisfying those needs. Massage parlors are country in terms of sexuality as well as money
as integral to Subic Bay, the mammoth U . S . and hardware.
naval base i n the Philippines, a s its dry docks . Lucy Komisar lets us hear from some of the
If Honduran and Salvadoran women met people behind the statistics . First there are the
with Thai and Filipina women, what common young Honduran women, as young as 16 years
stories would they have to tell? What light old, who have been virtually kidnapped and
would those common stories shed on what it brought to the brothels as captives . One woman
takes for militarization to proceed? who tried to escape was caught and returned by
Lucy Komisar, a freelance reporter, has writ­ Honduran policemen . There are other women
ten an account of how sexual politics in Hon- who on the surface seem to have come to the

brothels "freely, " driven by the need for process that won't "work" unless men will ac­
money. They split their fees with the owners of cept certain norms of masculinity and women
the shabby cantinas where they conduct their will abide by certain strictures of femininity, we
business. But many of the women living on the might consider three other dynamics in addition
fringes of the base fall somewhere in between. to military prostitution. The first is rape. The
They have been drawn so deeply into debt to second is military recruitment. The third is the
the men who supply their food and minimal ideology of national security. How far are each
housing that they never seem able to pay off of these necessary for the American-sponsored
their debts and gain their freedom. militarization of the Caribbean and Central
The men involved are both American and America in the 1 980s? How far is each of these
Honduran . Komisar found that local policemen dependent not j ust on notions of gender but on
acted as the enforcers of the prostitution sys­ patriarchal relations?
tem. They in turn are controlled by Honduran
army officers, a reflection of the growing
capacity of the military to intimidate other
Honduran institutions. American men involved
are from both the enlisted and officer ranks. It
may be the construction of militarized
masculinity that is most responsible for
American enlisted men 's belief that one of the
prerogatives due an American male 01 overseas
is the sexual services of local women. It's not
clear yet how this presumption is being affected
by the fact that, unlike Vietnam where most
American military women were nurses, in Hon­
duras American field units include several
dozen women soldiers. So far the most com­
mon complaint that these women have had is
that they have not been issued proper sanitary
supplies . But where do American women
soldiers go for their "R and R" when their male
comrades head for the cantinas?
It would be wrong to imagine that this sort of
sexual exploitation is sustained solely by Hon­
duran military intimidation and diffuse
American patriarchal culture. As is true in
other base towns around the world, the system
requires explicit American policy making.
Two friends, Ecuador 1973. Photo: Dan Weaks. Reprinted
Komisar reports, for example, that it is
from Radical History Review.
American army doctors from the Palmerole
base who routinely conduct medical exams on We can only be suggestive here, but we might
Honduran women working in the nearby at least raise the level of genuine political
brothels. Their job is to insure that American curiosity. For instance, it seems remarkable
male soldiers will get access to the sex they want that there hasn't been more curiosity, more
without jeopardizing the army's operational committed political questioning about why
readiness. male soldiers' rapes of civilian women have
been so widespread in Central America.
The Militarization of Gender Typically rape is listed among an assortment of
repressive acts, as if rape were not qualitatively
In our attempt to discover j ust how much different both in its motivations and its reper­
militarization is a gendered process, that is, a cussions. But in fact why do male soldiers in


Guatemala or Contra soldiers in Nicaragua out how soldiers are trained, what are the sex­
engage in sexual assault on women so insistent­ ual assumptions woven into our soldiers' train­
ly? Is it one more product of masculinity mili­ ing and the training we provide soldiers and
tarized? Is it part of some self-conscious police of other countries .
officer-level policy of intimidation? Of whom? We will also have to listen more carefully to
Of the women themselves or of their husbands, women and men in El Salvadoran and Guate­
sons, and fathers whose sense of male honor is malan insurgent movements . Have the ex­
tied up in their capacity to protect "their" periences of rape, direct and indirect, had dif­
women? Guatemalan army commanders have ferent effects on their political mobilization? It
been quoted as saying that killing Indian may well be that a woman who herself has suf­
women and children is part of a deliberate fered rape by a government soldier or who has
strategy of counter insurgency: the foundation seen her mother or sister raped will think about
of the Indian guerrillas organization is seen to power and injustice rather differently than her
be the "family nuclei " : therefore, whole male comrades who either have not been politi­
families have to be murdered if the insurgency cized by rape at all or who have, but assign dif­
was to be crushed. 8 But this still doesn't explain ferent meanings to that indirect experience .
the sorts of rapes and sexual tortures of women Then there are the gendered politics of
that soldiers engage in before they murder In­ military manpower. When I hear that Barbados
dian women. Are we witnessing men acting as is expanding its military manpower, here are
men or men acting as soldiers? Are we seeing some of the things I wonder about. I wonder
men acting out of control or men acting in con­ how it is that Barbadian standards of mascu­
trol? Some Latin American feminists now be­ linity can be transformed so that the cricket
lieve that we are seeing men 's masculinity being player can be overtaken by the soldier (or the
militarized for the sake of the controlled militarized policeman). Not all societies, and
militarization of the larger society. 9 If this is certainly not most of those in the Caribbean
true, then we will have to focus our political and even some in Central America (e .g. , Costa
energies here in the U.S. much more on finding Rica), so merge soldiering and manhood that

Nicarag u a , Photo by Susan Meise / as fro m "NICARAGUA, June I 97S-July 1 979, " Pantheon Books, 1 981 .

they become almost indistinguishable . Certain­ dian and Costa Rican women 's beliefs about
ly it makes the military recruiter's task easier if masulinity? Are they changing in ways that will
to be a soldier proves a man is masculine. But ease Washington's militarizing plans? If
the two are analytically and historically separ­ women in these countries are resisting such
able. If they weren 't, governments would not cultural changes, then it is likely that their
need to waste their credibility by trying to en­ alienation from their governments, and
force conscription laws. possibly from the men in their lives as well, is
Finally, we could perhaps understand
militarization better if we looked at how "na­
tional security" is defined and how it is
gendered . I think it is useful to try to figure out
just how much militarization of any society re­
quires its citizens to rethink what they need to
feel secure. Feminists who have studied Euro­
pean and North American societies in wartime
have shown the huge differences between the
beliefs of men and women about what they
need to feel safe. They have also revealed how
governments intent upon legitimizing their ex­
panded wartime powers have used propaganda
emphasizing women's need for protection and
men's duty to serve as protectors to win that
There's strong reason to believe that some of
the same efforts might be needed if Caribbean
and Central American regimes are to gain their
people 's acceptance of the larger manpower
quotas , greater security budgets, wider
emergency powers, and more foreign bases on
their soil that Washington is fostering . Does
this mean that the U . S . -fueled militarization of
Nicara g u a ,
P h o t o by S u s a n Meiselas fr o m
these countries is dependent on an even more
"NICARAGUA, June I 978-July 1 979, " Pantheon Books,
entrenched version of machismo? This may not
be easy in the 1 980s. Today there are more
So when the Reagan administration sets out women in these countries raising children on
to urge governments in the Caribbean and Cen­ their own, farming on their own, learning how
tral America to increase their numbers of sol­ to read and write for themselves , joining crafts
diers it is asking them to engage in some tricky cooperatives . These are not the sort of ex­
cultural maneuvers . Unless those regimes can periences that will encourage women to accept
count on young men enlisting simply to escape national security doctrines that portray them as
the despair of unemployment or the threat of the objects of male protection.
repression---'and both of these are available to Sometimes when I think of U . S . militariza­
Caribbean and Central American recruiters­ tion of Central America and the Caribbean I
they will also have to convince their male citi­ imagine a big map showing women in all these
zens that soldiering is the ultimate proof of countries with arrows arising from some of us
manhood after all. They will also have to con­ directed towards others of us. It becomes a
vince women in their countries that men who visual portrayal of how the militarism of the
join the newly expanding armies are more ge­ United States and other countries need us all to
nuinely "real men " than are men able to get de­ behave as women. Otherwise their militarizing
cent civilian jobs. What is happening to Barba- goals won't be achieved. They need some

Postcard. Asociacion de mujeres de El Salvador.

American women to feel protected by a massive with the IMF. If local poor women can't
arms build-up and by their sons and husbands manage this demanding task, or if they refuse
in uniform . They need wives of soldiers to ac­ to privatize their economic struggles and in­
cept the extra duties of household maintenance stead take to the streets, then the U . S . fostered
when their husbands are on maneuvers in Hon­ militarization will be jeopardized by faltering
duras and El Salvador without worrying too local governments .
much about the rumors they've heard about the As I think about this map the arrows become
Honduran brothels . They need some-not too more dense, the connections between women
many-American women to view the military more subtle and complex. But what this sug­
as the place to prove their equality with men. gests is that we have just begun to understand
Still, among American women, the military how the relations between women and between
needs some Latinas, maybe new arrivals from women and men-in movements, in families ,
war-torn Central America, to work in Silicon on military bases, on plantations-are the pre­
Valley's electronic factories making the latest requisites for American-promoted military ex­
electronic weaponry and other Latinas to see pansion. Even with the fragmentary clues we
their boyfriends answering the army recruiter's now have we should be able to insist that gender
call as a step toward Americanization. in general and patriarchy in particular be made
In Central America and the Caribbean, central topics in any movement dedicated to
militarization seems to require women to work rolling back militarization.
for low wages for foreign companies or to sup­
port those companies' low-paid male workers
by performing family work that is rewarded
with no pay at all. It also requires women to do
the stress-inducing j uggling of household bud­
gets so that the government can cut their social
service budgets in order to live up to agreements

The Spanish empire crumbled in the
early 1 9th century, and Central Amer­
ica became independent in 1 823. At
first it was formally one united country,
but by 1 840 the five provinces (Gua­
temala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicara­
gua, and Costa Rica) had all gone their
separate ways.
In each country, politics had the same
pattern: Liberals vs. Conservatives. The
Liberals looked to Britain and the U.S.
as models of economic progress (which
they valued above everything else),
while the Conservatives wanted a strong
Church and a continuation of Spanish
colonial traditions.
Francisco Morazan from Honduras
and Justo Ruffino Barrios from Gua­
temala were two important Liberal
leaders who worked hardest for a united
EARLY INDEPENDENCE: Francisco Morazan(left), Honduran Uberal leader in the 1820s and Central America. Under both Liberals
'30s, and Justo Rufino Barrios, Liberal president of Guatemala during the 1870s, sought Central and Conservatives, however, there was
American unity.
an immense gulf between rich and poor.
The two parties simply spoke for two
different groups within the privileged

Into the middle of the Central Ameri­

can political struggles rode the North
American adventurer William Walker,
"the grey-eyed man of destiny." He
came to Nicaragua in 1 855 as the head
of a ragtag army of mercenaries under a
contract from the local Liberal party.
Soon Walker was ruling the country,
at first in alliance with the Liberals and
then as a front man for southern United
States slaveowners who wanted to
annex Nicaragua as a slave state.
Walker restored slavery, which had
been abolished when Central America
got its independence from Spain.
Walker's government was recog­
nized by the U.S., but he was defeated
by the united armies of the four other
Central American countries in 1 857. He
returned to a hero's welcome in New
Orleans, and later tried several other
expeditions to Central America before
being executed in Honduras in 1 860.

WILLIAM WALKER (inset) began his campaigns in Nicaragua at the Battle of Rivas, 1855.
,I I

Coffee and bananas became impor­

tant in Central America in the late 1 9th
century. The best lands in the highlands
(especially in El Salvador) were turned
into coffee plantations. Displaced pea­
sants, faced with starvation, planted and
picked the coffee at extremely low
On the Atlantic coast, U.S. compan­
ies gained huge tracts ofland, mainly for
growing bananas. Like the coffee
owners, they paid low wages and made
high profits. They dominated the local
governments, especially in Honduras.

EXPORT AGRICULTURE: Two laborers harvesting bananas In Honduras.

The United States became the most

powerful foreign nation in Central
America (replacing Britain) by the early
20th century. One country, Nicaragua,
became a virtual American colony. The
U.S. sent Marines there in 1 909- 1 0 to
depose one government and install
another, and then sent Marines again in
1 9 1 2. This time they stayed until 1933.
An American coffee planter in Nica­
ragua wrote to the Secretary of State in
193 1 that "Today we are hated and
despised. This feeling has been created
by employing the American marines to
hunt down and kill Nicaraguans in their
own country."
In fighting against the legenqary
Nicaraguan guerrilla Augusto Sandino
from 1 927 to 1933, the U.S. forces used
aerial bombing for the first time in the
history of the Western Hemisphere, but
they still could not capture or defeat
Sandino. Eventually, opposition in
Congress fo rced the Marines'

U.S. MARINES set out In fruitless pursuit of the Nicaraguan patriot Augusto Cesar Sandno (Inset).
From a 1931 photo.
While U.S. troops were still in Nica­
ragua, they set up the flamboyant Anas­
tasio "Tacho" Somoza as head of a new
army called the National Guard. Not
long after the Marines left, Somoza
tricked the guerrilla leader Sandino into
coming to the capital under a flag of
truce, and had him killed. He soon made
himself president.
By the time Somoza died of an assas­
sin's bullet in 1956. he had made Nica­
ragua into a kind of private estate; he
even owned nearly 1 /6 of the country's
land. His sons Luis and Anastasio, Jr.
("Tachito") held on to his power and
added to the family fortune until
"Tachito" was overthrown by popular
revolution in 1 979. His wealth was then
estimated at a half-billion dollars - in a
country where the average person got
$700 a year in total income.

THE SOMOZA DYNASTY in Nicaragua was founded by Anastasio Somoza in the 19305.

From 1944 to 1 954 Guatemala, the

biggest Central American country,
enjoyed freely elected reform-minded
governments under presidents Juan
Jose Arevalo and Jacobo Arbenz. They
tried to make the country's Indian
majority a real part of the nation's life.

The Arbenz government got in trou­

ble with the U.S. when its land reform
touched the mammoth United Fruit
Company. The CIA formed a mercen­
ary army which overthrew the elected
government in July 1 954. Guatemala
has been ruled by the military ever since.

PEASANTS RECEIVE LAND in Guatemala, 1953. Agrarian reform of Presidents Juan Jose
Arevalo (Inset above) and Jacobo Arbenz (below) was cancelled by CIA-sponsored coup of 1954.

NICARAGUAN REVOLUTION: Crowds In Managua raise a portrait of Sandlno to celebrate tbe

overthrow of Anastasio Somoza, Jr. and the National Guard.

The Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua just a change of governments, was

finally came to an end on July 19, 1979. needed.
It was not easy: the National Guard With the aid of tens of thousands of
fought so brutally that between 40,000 volunteers, a massive literacy drive
and 50,000 Nicaraguans died in the raised the percentage of adult Nicara­
struggle. guans who could read and write from
The most powerful force in the new around 50% to 88%. The new govern­
government was the Sandinista Front ment also dramatically improved health
for National Liberation, which had led care, abolished capital punishment, and
the armed rebellion. The "Sandinistas" encouraged labor unions.
insisted that a real social revolution, not

Archbishop Oscar Romero of EI Sal­
vador, shot while saying mass on March
24, 1980, was one of over 40,000 civili­
ans killed by the military forces of his
country. He was killed by a "death
squad" the day after he called on Sal­
vadoran soldiers to refuse to take part in
the killing of unarmed civilians.
EI Salvador is in some ways the most
economically "developed" of all Cen­
tral American countries, despite the ter­
rible poverty in which most of its people
live. It has a prosperous ruling elite,
based on industry as well as exportagri­
culture, that is determined to hold onto
power. As strikes and demonstrations
by urban workers and landless peasants
grew in the 1 970s, and a guerrilla move­
ment began to flourish in the country­
side, the Salvadoran military embarked
on a repression which, after 1 979,
became mass murder.
Under the Reagan administration,
the U.S. has given full support to the
Salvadoran military. Most recently, the
ASSASSINATED IN EL SALVADOR: Funeral of Archbishop Romero marks a low point in EI
U.S. has been providing the planes, fuel,
Salvador's civU war.
and training for an aerial bombing cam­
paign that seems to be aimed at wiping
out villages whose people sympathize
with the guerrillas. U.S. pilots fly recon­
naissance in this air war, in which 40
tons of bombs are dropped every month
on a country the size of Massachusetts. Thousands of Central American mil­
itary officers have gotten U.S. training,
mainly in the "School of the Americas"
set up in 1 950. During the I 980s, how­
ever, the U.S. has gone far beyond
Honduras, the poorest Central Amer­
ican country, suddenly has over a half­
dozen U.S. bases. While money is
lavished on military reconstruction,
Honduran hospitals run out of such
basic supplies as aspirin tablets for lack
of funds.
Meanwhile, military aid to EI Salva­
dor has risen dramatically, and the U.S.
has pressured Costa Rica (the most
peaceful Central American country) to
create an army. Military aid has been
resumed to Guatemala, whose military
rulers have killed an estimated 1 00,000
, .
i civilians since 1 954. And the Reagan
administration has created its own
makeshift army, the "contras," to carry
out terrorism inside Nicaragua.
MILITARY ESCALATION IN THE '80s signified by the appearance oflhis U.S. attache in Nebl\l,
Guatemala, 1982.

By Nick Thorkelson and Jim O'Brien


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Feminism and Socialism
In Europe, 1 890- 1 920


The three decades following 1 890 saw the growth of European socialism and feminism
from collections of sects led by intellectuals to mass movements committed to political ac­
tion. It might appear that these years offered a unique opportunity for the two powerful
movements to work together. On the surface, it appeared that the two emancipatory
ideologies and movements had much in common.
The socialists of the Second International ( 1 889- 1 9 1 4) held that socialism would lead to
the liberation of women as well as workers. " W omen and the workingman have since long
ago had this in common - oppression . . . . There can be no emancipation of humanity
without the social independence and equality of the sexes, " stated August Bebel in the in­
troduction of what was probably the most widely circulated socialist text of the time on the
" woman question, " Woman under Socialism 1 . Similarly, many feminists called for a sweep­
ing change in society . Hedwig Dohm, a German feminist, in an 1 876 pamphlet, hailed "the
struggle between the old gods and a new race of mankind. The god which must be overcome
is that of monopoly, from whose almighty power the kingdom , the State, the Church, the
classes and the sexes, draw their privileges, and which always supports and favours
might. . . . The center of this action is W omen's Suffrage. " 2 Beyond the rhetoric, both

Acknowledgements: For assistance in the formulative stages of this paper, we thank members of the former Bay Area
Independent Study Project on the History of the International Communist Movement and Laura Frader. For helpful com­
ments, we wish to thank Sandra Kanter, Charlotte Ryan, Louise Audino Tilly, and Jeanne Winner. Thanks also to our editors,
Elizabeth Francis and Ann Withorn.

Friedrich Seidenstucker, Germany, 1925. 35

socialists and feminists actively sought to look at : Germany, Britain, and France. Where
organize and mobilize working class women. possible, we attempt to generalize and draw
But the apparent opportunity for coalition parallels across the three countries ; mindful
was not seized . The socialist movement and the however that the histories are quite distinct.
women's movement failed to make common
cause. On the one hand, men remained the vast Feminism as a Liberal Ideology
majority of the socialist militants. While the
rights of women enjoyed mention in the pro­ The women and men who made up the
gram of most socialist groups, only a small feminist movement in Europe around the turn
minority of women and men made struggles for of the century stood for a politics that was
these rights a priority. On the other hand, the decidedly neither working class nor socialist .
bulk of women mobilized within the feminisP Feminists embraced the liberal ideals of in­
movement were middle class. The demands of dividual reponsibility for one's actions , equali­
the women 's movement remained determinedly ty before the law, free competition on the basis
reformist, despite the adoption of increasingly of merit, civic and professional activity as part
militant tactics in Britain and other countries . of the rights and duties of citizens - but tended
Many of the feminist groups made anti­ to overlook the economic and social barriers
working class arguments a part of their that made these ideas inaccessible for working
arguments for women's suffrage and moral class women.
reform . Socialist and feminist groups became Where documentation is available, it appears
bitter enemies . that most of the leaders and many of the
The opportunity for coalition in Europe - if members of bourgeois feminist groups were
opportunity there was - passed. By 1 920, the from the middle class . 4 Leisured women,
socialist movement had splintered. The wing

housewives , professionals and teachers filled
that formed the international majority had the ranks of the women 's movement . Virtually
yielded its earlier radical visions and taken up a

all of the leading figures had family ties to anti­
reformism which included little concern with clericalism and/or Republicanism in France,
women 's issues; the minority was too immersed left-wing liberalism in Germany, and liberalism
in narrowly defined class struggle and the mak­ or Labor politics in Britain. Feminism, it
ing of revolution to see women's liberation as a seems arose out of the contradiction between
central concern; and large numbers of socialists
simply left the movement in confusion and
disillusionment . The feminist movement had
won its central demand - women's suffrage -
in a number of countries. But throughout
Europe this victory was followed by
demobilization and conservatism in the
women 's mC·/ement .
We pose two questions here. Why didn't
these two movements for liberation find more
ground for common work during the three
decades of activity that followed 1 890? Failing
that, why didn't socialist feminism develop
beyond limited forms within the socialist move­
ment? The answers to these questions are im­
portant to those of us who seek to combine
socialism and feminism today. The interrela­
tionship of class and gender raises theoretical
and strategic questions which are unresolved in
the history of the socialist and feminist
movements in the three European countries we Madeleine Pelletier.

"Sweet Girl Graduates at Home. " The homelike atmosphere ofByng Hall, University of London, is emphasized to counteract
popular fears of "masculine " intellectual women. (Graphic, London 1884).

the prevalent liberal ideology of individual between socialists and feminists. However, her
rights and achievement, and the growing position remained an individual one never ac­
freedom of middle class men to act in accord cepted by the vast majority of the French
with this ideology in terms of themselves, while women's movement . Auclert's successors in the
restricting middle class women's roles to wife, French Union for Women's Suffrage aligned
mother, and, sometimes , teacher. themselves with the Radical Party (a liberal,
But nineteenth century feminists added reformist party) .
something to liberal ideology: the notion that Similarly, in Germany, the feminists re­
women would bring some special moral quality mained aloof from the German Social Demo­
into civic and political life. French feminist cratic Party, and instead built ties with a variety
Maria Deraismes stated this clearly: "By her of liberal parties. In Britain, where the National
constitution and the nature of her mandate . . . Union of Women 's Suffrage Societies (the main
[woman is] the moral and pacific agent par ex­ feminist coalition of its time) was linked to the
cellence. " 5 The theme recurred throughout the parliamentary Labor Party as well as the
history of European feminism. Most of the Liberals, this alliance was possible in part
feminists had little use for class-based because Labor was itself quite liberal and re­
socialism. Deraismes declared, formist .
Finally, most of the demands of the feminist
Certainly it is not impossible to seize riches movement were of special interest to middle
violently, but what remains inalienable, in­
class women. Early feminist demands in all
divisible, immovable are the sources that pro­
three countries focused on issues such as access
duce them: talent, genius, knowledge, char­
acter, beauty, health, etc. These are riches that
of women to education and the professions,
cannot be expropriated and cannot be held in and the right of married women to own sepa­
common.' rate property. The anti-prostitution movement,
which swept from Britain to France and Ger­
Yet Hubertine Auclert, founder of the many at the turn of the century, attacked state
French suffragist movement, rejected this view regulation of prostitutes, rather than demand­
and called as early as 1 879 for a united front ing, as socialists did, that prostitutes be given

an economic alternative. The call for women 's In France and Germany, the liberal women' s
suffrage marked common ground for women movement never attained this level of working
of all classes ; however, the mainstream British class participation - but there was no lack of
suffragists consistently supported a property­ well-intentioned outreach efforts . French
based franchise, and by 1 9 1 4 the vast majority feminists made a series of attempts to win over
of German suffragists had come around to the working class women between 1 889 and 1 900,
same position. Finally, bourgeois feminists in and they actively supported unionization of
all three countries consistently opposed protec­ women . But a contemporary observer com­
tive legislation for women workers, on the basis mented, "The feminists have a paternalistic at­
that it undermined progress toward gender titude towards working women . . . . "8 Mar­
equality. "Special treatment " for women in the guerite Durand, a wealthy feminist who
factories appeared to the feminists to conflict published La Fronde, the world' s first feminist
with their demands for equal status in the pro­ daily newspaper, explained in 1 900, "Working
fessions. women are the only ones yet to have shown
bravery . . . it is they who will make the revolu­
tion for their bourgeois sisters . " To explain her
own role, she added, "But what good are arms
which flail about when there are no brains to
guide them?"9
Durand founded three unions - all company
unions for the employees of La Fronde. Fur­
thermore, she encouraged the members of her
typographer 's union to take the jobs of striking
printers in Nancy, since the printers had barred
them from membership in the male printers'
union. As historian Charles Sowerwine points
out, "The women had a good case: just before
the strike, the male syndical had obtained the
ouster of a number of women typographers
from a Parisian newspaper. But to most
unionists, the action of going to Nancy con­
stituted scabbing . " l o The demands of gender
and class clashed. Durand 's choice was clear ;
the choice for French working class women was
more clouded .
At the 1 900 International Congress on the
Condition and Rights of Women, organized by
Hubertine Auclert.
Durand and other leading feminists, the con­
flicts between working women and mainstream
Feminism and Working Class Women feminists became evident . Working women
asked for a resolution proposing one day off a
All of this is not to say that the feminist week for domestics; the bourgeois women pro­
movement failed completely to include or reach tested . Middle class women objected to the in­
out to working class women. In Britain, the Na­ spection of the hours of work of minors, on the
tional Union of Women' s Suffrage Societies in­ basis that "If you protect minors, no one will
cluded some branches composed mainly of want to employ them and the result will be a
unionized working women, although these great quantity of girls driven into prostitu­
women were far outnumbered by middle class tion . " Bourgeois delegates repeatedly at­
women in the Union as a whole . · Working tributed the problems of working class women
women saw the vote as a way of extending the to the drunkenness , lazines s , and un­
power they had built up through unionization. 7 faithfulness of working class men. At the end

of the conference, feminst leader Maria Socialism and Women
Pognon accused the socialist delegates present
of trying to create "a wall of hatred" between While feminists remained ambivalent about
bourgeois and proletarian women. I I the role of the working class, the socialist move­
In Germany, class barriers were equally ment moved to place that class in the center of
strong . Feminists made some efforts to bridge its strategy. But the class-based socialists, who
the gap with charity, if not solidarity. The Ger­ dominated the socialist movement from the late
man Union for Women 's Suffrage classified the nineteenth century onwards, fell short of merg­
poor with defenseless children and animals: ing socialism and feminism in two ways . First ,
" [The movement for] Women 's Suffrage op­ the leading socialist line on " the Women Ques­
poses the exploitation of the economically and tion" held out a relatively narrow vision of the
physically weak, it takes pity on children and scope of women 's liberation, and subordinated
tormented animals, it makes laws against cruel­ that liberation to class struggle. Second, the of­
ty to animals and the exploitation of their ficial socialist commitment to women 's equality
working strength to exhaustion . " In 1 9 1 2 , often remained a dead letter in the practice of
when the Berlin branch of the Suffrage Union most socialist adherents.
held the first public procession to support suf­ The socialists took in a whole gamut of posi­
frage in Germany, "A working class woman tions on women 's liberation. At one end of the
came up and said 'How nice it is that rich ladies spectrum was the extreme anti-feminism and
should want to work for us now ! ' She received misogyny of English Social Democratic Federa­
the reply that the suffragists were all working tion leader Belfort Bax, who classified women
women who wanted to do their best to help as "midway between the child and the adult
their poorer sisters. " 1 2 But by 1 9 1 4 the Suffrage male" in biological, intellectual, and moral
Union had turned to supporting a property con­ development, and concluded that "True equali­
dition on the vote for women - hardly a posi­ ty involves that division of functions between
tion designed to inspire working class support . the sexes best adapted for furthering the general

A family in the East End of London, 1912.

of women and that of the proletariat. In early
works such as The Holy Family ( 1 845) and the
Communist Manifesto ( 1 848), they denounced
the hypocrisy and oppression inherent in the
bourgeois family. M arx believed that
capitalism 's tendency to draw women (and in­
deed children) into socialized production laid
the basis for future equality. This tendency, he
wrote in Capital, "by assigning as it does an im­
portant part in the process of production to
women, young persons, and to children of both
sexes, creates a new economic foundation for a \
higher form of family and of relations between
the sexes. " 1 5 However, Marx tended to negate
I I this insight by conceptualizing the working
I I class as a collection of male breadwinners who
supported their families .
Engels, in his 1 884 work The Origin of the
Family, Private Property, and the State, used
anthropological evidence to argue that the op­
pression of women originated with private
property, and that women 's subordinate posi­
tion has evolved with the economic organiza­
tion of society, which includes both "on the
one side, the production of the means of ex­
istence . . . ; on the other side, the production
of human beings themselves, the propagation
of the species . " 1 6
Maria Deraismes.

well-being. " ' 3 Marxism was used by Bax, and Appearing six years before Engels' book, but
by many others who were less flagrantly anti­ presenting many of the same ideas in more
woman, as a justification for ignoring women 's popular form, was Bebel 's Woman Under
oppression and pursuing only class demands . Socialism . Bebel, a national leader of the Ger­
At the other extreme was Madeleine Pelletier, man Social Democratic Party (SPD) reviewed
a doctor who died imprisoned in a French men­ the development of women 's status through
tal hospital for performing abortions. Pelletier history. Like the proletariat, he said, women
traveled through the rartge of socialists and were oppressed by capitalism. And like the pro­
anarchist organizations in Franch between 1 906 letariat , they would only be liberated through
and 1 930, searching in vain for links between a socialism. Bebel explicitly supported granting
revolutionary socialism and radical feminism the vote and full political rights to women, as a
that embraced reproductive rights as well as necessary step in educating and mobilizing them.
women's suffrage. She finally concluded that Indeed, he expressed support for a full range of
feminism had to be the top priortiy, above women's rights, including the right to sexual
other social struggles . ' 4 satisfaction.
The prototypical class-based socialist view Finally, in 1 889, Clara Zetkin of the SPD
was first espoused by Karl Marx and Frederick connected theory with strategy in The Question
Engels, and further elaborated by August Bebel of Women Workers and Women at the Present
and Clara Zetkin . Marx adopted the notion ad­ Time. She reiterated the claim that women's en­
vanced by the utopian socialist Charles Fourier try into the industrial workforce created the
that the position of women was a measure of possibility of women 's emancipation. Female
the level of development of society. He and labor in industry was both inevitable and pro­
Engels made analogies between the exploitation gressive in its effects. But only socialism could

carry out the full liberation of women . "The women who . . . want in the name of a so­
first essential step in this direction was to called sex struggle to enroll . . . the women of
organize the industrial woman worker, to the proletariat, in order to make them aux­
educate her politically and economically, and to iliaries of the women of the bourgeois class . " 1 8
bring her into solidarity with the men of her The continuing contact between French
class . " 1 7 It is important to note that although in socialist women and bourgeois feminists con­
practice Zetkin held that women should or­ firmed these inclinations. There were sensible
ganize women , she did not theoretically put reasons for refusing to work with bourgeois
women in charge of their own liberation; feminists in Germany as well. Zetkin com­
women were to be mobilized for socialism, plained that "The German feminists up to now
which in turn would liberate women . [1 900] have proven to be so muddle-headed,
\ wishy-washy, weak . . . . " (German feminists

did not even demand the vote until 1 902.)
Zetkin's colleague Ottilie Baader expressed
doubt that the liberal feminists would ever be
wiling to cooperate with the socialists, and add­

"The area of our propaganda extends to the

whole proletariat - large enough for our most
strenuous efforts. Association with the
bourgeois women's movement would have
divisive and confusing effects. The great mass
of our female workers are not yet so self­
confident that they feel as equals vis-a-vis the
society ladies." 1 9

But these practical considerations were fre­

quently linked to the denial that there could be
issues that united all women - the class divi­
Clara Zetkin with sons Kostja and Maxim, 1895. sion was simply too deep. Indeed, sometimes
this concern led socialist feminists to downplay
Women's Liberation and Socialist Strategy the conflicts between proletarian men and
women. "Zetkin asserted that since men and
Unfortunately, the emphasis on class in women in the working class had no wealth, they
socialism brought with it a discounting of the rejected men's privileged position in the
strategic importance of women 's liberation, family. " 2 0
and particularly the importance of struggles in The bottom line was that when it came to a
the personal sphere. From Marx to Zetkin, all choice between the perceived needs of women
the theorists agreed that women 's oppression and those of the working class, the working
was a subordinate part of the social (i .e. class) class took precedence . The suffrage issue pro­
question . vided one arena where these choices came up.
This meant, first of all, that many socialist La Femme Socia/isle (Socialist Woman),
feminists refused to work with bourgeois published by Saumoneau, lauded the Belgian
feminists. Zetkin ruled out collaboration with socialist women who dropped the demand for
the liberal feminists in Germany, and Louise women 's suffrage in order to aid their party's
Saumoneau shaped the French socialist campaign for universal manhood suffrage:
women 's movement in accord with an even "These women, by placing above their own in­
more extreme version of Zetkin's view. A 1 901 dividual rights the interest of the Worker Party
statement of the Socialist Feminist Union which [which] is at the same time the interest of the
was probably authored by Saumoneau declares, proletariat of both sexes, have given all
"Our direct adversaries are those men and socialists an admirable example of solidari-

-- -------- - -- --- -

ty. " 2 1 The British Labor Party, except for brief The reformist socialists tended to be more
intervals, refused to support extension of the hospitable to short-term reforms of various
vote to women on the same basis as men (Le. kinds in the position of women. British socialist
with property qualifications), fearing that such women struggling for birth control reforms,
a measure would enfranchise propertied women from Annie Besant in the 1 880s to Stella
who would vote Conservative. They advocated Browne in the 1 920s, worked better with the
universal adult suffrage rather than "women's Fabians and the Labor Party rather than the
suffrage first, " in spite of the massive support more orthodox Social Democratic Federation
for women's suffrage which included many or the Communist Party of Great Britain.

socialists and unionists who saw it as the first Within the German SPD, the reformist Lily
step towards adult suffrage. The SPD was not Braun's proposal to socialize housework by

forced into a hard choice between women's suf­ cooperative household arrangements was con­
frage first and adult suffrage, since there was in sistent with her vision of building " islands of

Germany no massive cross-class suffrage move­ socialism " ; revolutionaries held that this work
ment of the British type . They consistently was a diversion . Unlike Zetkin, who denied a
agitated and voted for adult suffrage, and de­ conflict of interest between proletarian men
nounced expedient compromises of the kind and women, Braun openly declared that the
made in Belgium. working class woman would have to struggle
Revolutionaries such as Zetkin in Germany with the man within the family, because "the
and Saumoneau in France did fight for the right bourgeois philistine morality was so deeply in­
of women to unionize and to vote. However, grained in him . "
these women tended to frown on attempts to But while the reformists may have been more
reform the sexual division of labor or relations tolerant of these proposals, on the whole they
between the sexes - these were matters to be devoted little thought to radically transforming
dealt with after the establishment of socialism . sex roles and the family. Socialists both revolu-



Suffragist arrested outside Buckingham Palace, May 21, 1914.

Woman chalking ' Votes jor Women ' on pavement, 1908. (Graphic, 1908)

tionary and reformist resolutely championed countered socialist-feminist criticism with belit­
women 's equality and their freedom to take tling humor, as in SPD member Ignaz Auer's
part in all aspects of public life, but their image jibe at Clara Zetkin in 1 896: "If that is the op­
of women's specificity was generally quite Vic­ pressed sex, then what on earth will happen
torian: woman 's nature was that of mother, when they are free and enjoy equal rights? " 2 S
nurturer, teacher. Common among many re­ Especially after the split in the Second Interna­
formist socialists was a romanticization of tional and the adoption by the communist par­
women's "homemaker" role. "Women 's final ties of tightly disciplined Leninist forms of
battle for freedom, " wrote Katharine Bruce organization, the reformist parties were more
Glasier of the Independent Labor Party in flexible than the revolutionary parties : they
1 914, " - what is it but the battle for the allowed more latitude in the ideology and prac­
chance to do their wife and mother work very tice of their members. On the one hand, this
well?"23 The reformists who took over control resulted in a lower overall commitment to
of the SPD women's section in 1 9 1 7 channeled women 's struggles in the reformist parties ; on
the socialist women's movement into municipal the other hand, the latitude allowed socialist
welfare work. feminists to find political spaces within which
Finally, even where theory was egalitarian, they were able to work.
practice - especially the practice of most A final measure of the limits of socialist
socialist men - did not follow suit. A German feminism is that the socialist parties organized
police agent commented on the SPD in 1907 : women in much smaller numbers than men.
"Most male comrades are not at all convinced Among the socialist groups we are examining,
of the future society with its abolition of the the German Social Democratic Party reached
private home and prefer to keep their wives in the highest female enrollment, at 16 per cent
the family and the domestic sphere, rather than ( 1 75 ,000 women) in 1 9 1 4. The French socialist
see them step into the political arena to the movement trailed with an estimated 2 to 3 per
neglect of their home . " 24 Male socialists cent women . 26

Socialist Feminist Movements: Successes was compelled to remain functionally separate
and Failures from the party. This allowed the socialist
women to work out forms of activity designed
In Germany, Britain, and France, socialist to attract and accommodate women. Second,
women's movements were built in different the SPD was blessed with outstanding women
forms and encountered different fortunes . leaders such as Zetkin, who enjoyed the sup­
In Germany, the working class women's port of Bebel and other party leaders, and who
movement was exclusively linked to the SPD . drew on a relatively rich German socialist
The movement grew to become the largest theoretical legacy of attention to the women
socialist women's movement in Europe, for question, exemplified by the work of Engels ,
three reasons. First, women were banned from Bebel, and Zetkin. Third, the German socialist
participating in political organizations before feminists articulated women's issues within
1 908, so that the socialist women 's organization what historian Jean Quataert calls a "tight class
framework . " This made the feminism accept­
able to male socialists , and allowed the SPD
women's section to address a wide range of
issues affecting working women.
Each strength was associated with a
weakeness. When it became legal to merge male
and female sections of the party in 1 908,
socialist feminists were no longer able to main­
tain the autonomy of a women's movement.
Furthermore, the years in separation (and the
constraints of operating under the eyes of a
police force prepared to disband any explicitly
"political " organization of women) had
hardened a distinction between " political "
issues and "women's" issues that carried over
into the unified party, resulting in the trivializa­
tion of women 's issues. 2,7
The central role of Clara Zetkin and her
associates became problematic as the majority
of the SPD shifted to reformist views. Zetkin
and the women's movement as a whole came
under attack as a stronghold of radicalism in
the party. Zetkin and other leading socialist
women left the SPD in 1 9 1 7 to help form the
German Independent Social Democratic Party
(USPD) - taking with them the majority of the
socialist women's movement - but they never
again had the kind of base that existed in 1914.
Finally, the hard shell of narrowly conceived
class analysis blocked socialist action on impor­
tant issues such as birth control or household
cooperatives . It set the stage for the
resubmergence of women 's issues beneath
urgent class issues of governance and revolu­
tion taken up by the SPD on the one hand and
the USPD, and later the Germ;lll Communist
Party (KPD) on the other, during the Weimar
years following 1 9 1 8 .
Meeting of striking clothiers and tailors, Paris 1901, on front
page of " Young Parisian . "
"In the St. Mary 's Working Girls Club, Stepney, " 1903. (Living London, 1903).

The French socialist movement subordinated special status for women in the party, and
sex to class even more strictly than did the SPD, basically saw working women as simply a
but lacked the features that attracted women to special group of workers . The result of all these
the German party. France was not favorable factors was that French socialism attracted few
terrain for socialist feminism. The anti-feminist women during this period .
views of Proudhonism2 8 had a strong hold on Britain, unlike Germany and France, had a
the French working class. Also, the French strong bourgeoisie and a history of early transi­
republic appeared fragile. Even the mainstream tion to democracy. The bourgeoisie was able to
feminists of the late 1 9th century held back maintain hegemony through democratic forms,
from supporting female suffrage, fearing that and to incorporate many reforms demanded by
conservative, church-dominated women's votes the working class into the structure of
would bring down the republic. Many socialists capitalism. In short, Britain had a relatively
used the same reasoning; at the same time, they large political space for liberalism, which
increasingly looked to electoral activity (from substantial portions of the feminist movement
which women were excluded) as a source of and the socialist movement jointly inhabited .
power. The greatest confluence of socialist and
Perhaps even more important, the French feminist politics in Britain took place during the
socialists believed that the principle of equality great women's suffrage campaign of the 1 900s .
precluded the special or separate treatment of The two most clearly defined centers of the
women in the party. When the various French British socialist movement , the Social
socialist factions united into the French section Democratic Federation and the Parliamentary
of the Second International (SFIO) in 1 905 , Labor Party, did not work with the women's
they did not feel it necessary to form a party suffrage movement (except in the case of
women's group - and did not do so until eight Labor, during limited periods). But there was a
years later. The ascendancy of Louise large working class suffrage movement that in­
Saumoneau as the key socialist women 's leader cluded male and female members of the In­
reflected and deepened this determination to dependent Labor Party, trade unions, coopera­
relegate women's issues and needs to secondary tives, and indeed even members of the Social
status. Although Saumoneau worked to organ­ Democratic FC"deration and the Parliamentary
ize working women, she firmly opposed any Labor Party. The socialism that permeated this

movement was a native, pragmatic strain that
was more committed to women's rights than
either the narrow, one-sided variety of Marxism
held by the SDF or the increasingly liberal
parliamentarism of Labor . It allowed cross­
class alliances that neither socialists nor
feminists in France and Germany were willing
to undertake.

Why Socialist Feminism Failed to Blossom

Why did socialist feminism remain so

ideologically, strategically, and practically
limited within the socialist movement in
One possible explanation is that women, in­
cluding working class women, were more con­
servative than men, and therefore simply did
not play much o f a role in socialist politics. This
view was commonplace among European so­
But many situations, and many women, con­
tradicted this generalization. During the Paris
Commune, women actively organized, advocat­
ed for their collective needs such as equal
education and day care, and played a wide
variety of roles, including that of agitators. The
1 75 ,000 women who joined the German Social
Clara Zetkin, left, and Rosa Luxemburg during the Con­
Democratic Party certainly were not held back gress of the Social Democratic Party, Magdeburg, 1910.
by conservatism . In any case, the socialist
i movement could have made the " backward­ fant and child mortality fell, and the
ness" of half of the population a major target "economic utility of children" declined (due to
II for education and mobilization - but it didn't. compulsory schooling, protective legislation,

A second possible explanation is that both and the assurance of social welfare support).
the men and the women of the European work­ Consequently, more working class women
i I
i i
ing class were essentially non-feminist or anti­ practiced birth control - using techniques that
feminist, so that the socialists at worst reflected had been available since 1 800. But the rising
their base, and at best, held more advanced working class standard of living in Britain also
positions than most of their base. went along with advocacy of a "family wage"
Since the attitudes of ordinary working class for men which assumed that women belonged
people, and particularly working class women, in the home - even though women in increas­
are not well-documented, it is hard to reach ing numbers were working outside the home . 29
definitive conclusions about this explanation . From these examples, it is clear that the at­
However, we believe that the attitudes of work­ titudes and actions of working class women and
ing class women and men must be seen as men towards feminist issues changed over time,
dynamic - changing as much in response to that these issues were embedded in an economic
changing conditions of life as to prevailing context, and that a single set of economic and
ideologies . Consider two feminist issues: social changes could lead to different conse­
women 's right to control births, and the ques­ quences for various feminist issues.
tion of whether "a woman's place is in the In our view, the most important factor in the
home . " As the standard of living of the English shortcomings of European socialist feminism
working class rose in the late 1 9th century, in- was the power of the ideology of the ruling

class. There are three aspects to this. First, the Epilogue: Victory and Decline
"founding fathers" started out with important
limits in their vision. For example, Marx's Socialism and feminism won major victories
analysis of capitalism constantly focused on the after World War I. The vote for women was in­
male worker, not on the work of women inside stituted in Germany and Britain in 1 9 1 8 . Re­
or outside the home; thus Marx implicitly formist socialists were brought into the govern­
adopted a very Victorian set of assumptions ments of Germany and France, as a defense
about the way sex roles were and should be. 3 0 against forces further right and left. But a
Second, male trade unionists, who occupied threshold had been crossed .
a central place in the European socialist move­ The feminists were divided by the war. The
ment, tended to have a view that one theorist more left-wing bourgeois feminists in Germany
calls "proletarian anti-feminism" - which and Britain took a pacifist stand, while
combined fear of competition from women mainstream feminists supported their govern­
workers with conservative views of a women 's ments. Redbaiting and other attacks on
proper role and produced an iron-clad deter­ feminism from the right increased the pressure
mination that women should stay in the on feminists to move towards more conser­
home. 3 1 Women unionists made up only about vative and patriotic stands .
a tenth of the labor movement in France, Ger- . After World War 1 , feminist divisions col­
lapsed . In Britain, the feminist movement was
so focused on the issue of women's suffrage
that it was left with nowhere to go when the
vote was won for women over 30. The German
movement became more and more conser­
vative, harping on themes of nationalism and

Ottilie Baader.

many, and Britain, and were not in a strong

position to challenge these views.
And third, at a certain point the ideology
held by the socialist parties, complete with
blind spots and conservative assumptions, took
on a life of its own: it became an "official "
ideology to be defended. Thus, even as the
socialist movement broadened in many coun­
tries to include more women, the socialist view­
point on the Woman Question remained con­ Alexandra Ko//ontai addressing Second International Con­
strained by the same limits . ference of Communist Women, June 1921.

Selina Cooper, far left, and other suffragists on a campaign in the west of England, circa 1910.

eugenics , campaigning for censorship of The socialist women did not stop organizing

II "obscene" materials and against prostitution,

and denying that men and women were equal .
women. But while SPD women mobilized other
women for social work, and the female
French suffragists were stymied by legislative militants of the USPD led women in protests
opposition to suffrage, and lost momentum. against wartime shortages, both factions were
World War I also precipitated a split in the largely setting aside the issues specifically in­
socialist movement . The socialist groups who volved in women's emancipation.
allied with their own warring governments were But the de-feminization of socialist women 's
at odds during the hostilities . But more fun­ politics was also a result of the socialist split
damentally, the Second International divided itself. The bulk of the organized working class
over the issue of support for one's own govern­ stayed with the reformist socialist parties . Even
ment on the one hand, or internationalism and in France, although the majority of the French
opposition to all sides of the war on the other. socialist party (SFIO) voted to join the Com­
Underlying this split was the more deeply intern, this wing of the socialist movement
rooted difference between reformist and dwindled after the SFIO split in 1 92 1 . So when
.' revolutionary approaches. Following the war women like Zetkin left the reformist parties

I' and the Russian revolution, the parties did not along with the other radicals, large numbers of
reunite as many expected; instead the break be­ working class women lost their strongest voices
tween social democracy and communism was for socialist women's liberation. The women
confirmed . who now led the social-democratic women's
Zetkin and Saumoneau, whose strict class movement generally championed a relatively
stands had been necessary to forumlate a weak version of equal rights, and had little left
feminism that was acceptable within socialism, to demand when the post-war years brought the
followed their class stands and went with the string of female suffrage victories.
left wing. Zetkin took with her the majority of Meanwhile, the revolutionary women found
the German socialist women's movement. themselves increasingly isolated. Divorced from
However, it was estimated that the party had their power base, and swept up by the volun­
already lost 1 00,000 women - over half the tarist notion that the time was ripe for small
1 9 1 4 total - by 1 9 1 6 . 32 Women's participation vanguards to work towards imminent revolu­
was fragile under the strains of war and internal tions in virtually all countries (an idea pro­
dissent. moted by the Third (Communist) International

through 1 922), the female radicals were com­
pelled to downplay women's issues in order to
make common cause with their comrades .
Lenin's famous admonition to Clara Zetkin in
1 920 says it all:

The record of your sins, Clara, is even

worse. I have been told that at evenings ar­
ranged for reading and discussion with work­
ing women, sex and marriage problems come
first. They are said to be the main objects of
interest in your political instruction and educa­
tional work. I could not believe my ears when I
heard that. The first state of proletarian dic­
tatorship is battling with the counter­
revolutionaries of the whole world. The situa­
tion in Germany itself calls for the greatest uni­
ty of revolutionary forces , so they can repel the
counter-revolution which is pushing on. But
active Communist women are busy discussing
sex problems and the forms of marriage -
past, present, and future. They consider it
their most important task to enlighten working
women on these questions. 33

Furthermore, in part because of the split, the Clara Zetkin, left, with Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin 's wife
1 920s were a time of general retreat for and colleague, Moscow, circa 1929.
socialism . Not only large numbers of women,
but large numbers of working men withdrew Conclusions
from the movement as it was split from within
and attacked from without . Both radicals and Why didn't the feminist movement and the
reformists were thrown on the defensive, socialist movement work together in late 1 9th
especially after the failure of insurrectionary at­ and early 20th century Europe? The evidence
tempts in eastern and central Europe between · from France, Germany, and Britain is that class
1 9 1 8 and 1 92 1 . divisions between the two movements were
Thus, by 1 920 feminists and socialists lacked paramount. The bourgeois feminist movement
either the capacity or the will to mobilize was, on the whole, exactly that: bourgeois in
masses of women around issues of women 's composition, liberal in ideology. The socialist
liberation. Some social chlilnges were, none­ movement was mainly working class in com­
theless, irreversible. As of the 1 920s, European position. Each was pursuing a class-based agen­
women were integrated into the political system da. The chief exception was cooperation on suf­
and the system of union representation - frage in Britain , a nation in which liberalism
although France lagged behind Britain and Ger­ was relatively strong and socialism was par­
many on both scores, and women everywhere ticularly reformist .
remained "second class citizens. " These ad­ The two movements were also divided by
vances occurred when the women 's movement gender. The feminist movement, which in its
had largely demobilized, but were consequences formative years probably included as many
of earlier struggles . Not until the late 1 960s men as women, became a movement led and
would there again be a large women 's move­ largely populated by women. The socialist
ment in these countries , let alone a large radical movement remained male-led and male­
or socialist women's movement . dominated. While the feminist movement was


organized around women 's rights , the socialists Within these limits , two models showed
reflected a strong streak of proletarian anti­ significant success in organizing working class
feminism based in the skilled, unionized section women: In Germany, the SPD organized work­
of the working class. ing class women around a sharply defined class
Given that the two movements were for the perspective, but within a relatively autonomous
most part not willing or able to work together , section of the movement with strong female
the socialist movement was the more likely one leadership. In Britain, the working class
to expand to deal with issues of both class and women 's suffrage societies organized women as
sex. While the liberal feminists spoke of moral part of a cross-class coalition focused on the
and social regeneration of all of society, the single issue of suffrage.
situation of the working class was of peripheral These successes, and the failure of French
concern for them. Most socialist groups, how­ socialist feminism, reflect two facts. First, the
ever, spoke up for the liberation of women. social setting in each country created a separate
This was a consequence of the growing weight set of possibilities . Liberal democratic Britain
and activism of women in the workforce, of the was different from autocratic Germany, and
conscious role of women like Clara Zetkin both both were different from France with its com­
inside and outside the movement, of an ideo­ bination of church-dominated conservatism
logical formation that drew on utopian and and volatile revolutionary ideologies . And se­
other radical traditions and sought to project cond, the strategies and tactics chosen by
the overthrow of all exploitation and oppres­ socialists made a difference. Autonomous
sion. organization of women within the socialist
movement (Germany) or in parallel to the
socialist movement (Britain) characterized suc­
cessful mobilization of working class women.
The separation of the struggles of the work­
ing class from the struggles of women in
Europe of the late 1 9th and early 20th cen­
turies is history. Women and workers still have
oppressions to overcome. Perhaps we can use
that history to construct new possibilities .


1 . August Bebel, Woman Under Socialism, New York:

Schocken Books, 1 97 1 (reprint of 1 904 translation by
Daniel DeLeon), pp. 6, 9 (emphasis in original).
Sylvia Pankhurst addresses a meeting in the East End of 2. Hedwig Dohm, Women 's Nature and Privilege,
London, 1912. Westport, Conn . : Hyperion Press, 1976 (reprint of 1 896
translation by Constance Campbell), p. 92.
Yet socialist mobilizations of working 3. We use the word "feminism" in two senses. We use it to
women fell short of fusing class and sexual refer to bourgeois feminism, which was indeed the meaning
politics in two ways . First of all, the commit­ of the term as used in the period under study. We also use it
ment of the socialist parties to a narrowly de­ to denote support for women's liberation - that is, support
for economic, social, and political equality for women
fined class politics led them to sidestep essential
(although not necessarily an end to distinct roles for the
issues of women 's oppression (the transforma­
sexes, since so few people advocated this during the period
tion of the family), and to sacrifice women 's in­ in question). This leads us to call " feminists" any number
terests on other issues (reproductive rights, suf­ of socialists who would have rejected the label, since it car­
frage in some cases). Second, the mobilizations ried a bourgeois connotation at the time. To avoid ambigui­
ty, we often refer to bourgeois or liberal feminism (using
took place in the context of larger socialist
the first meaning) and socialist feminism (using the second).
movements that were male-dominated and in­ For the purposes of this paper, we define as radical
consistent in implementing even the limited par­ feminists those (both socialists and liberals) who believed
ty line on women 's liberation. that women's liberation must start at once on all fronts,

and who held a global view of women 's oppression that in­ The Rise and Decline of the Women 's Movement in Ger­
cluded the personal sphere. Whenever we use the term man Social Democracy, 1863-1933, translated by Joris de
"anti-feminist , " it denotes opposition to equality and Bres, London: Pluto Press, 1 973, p. 45 .
emancipation of women - not just to the feminist move­ 1 8 . Sowerwine, op. cit . , p. 96.
ment. 1 9 . Jean H. Quataert, Reluctant Feminists in German
4. Richard J. Evans, The Feminists: Women 's Emancipa­ Social Democracy, 1885-191 7, Princeton, NJ: Princeton
tion Movements in Europe, A merica, and A ustralasia University Press, 1979, pp. 104, 109.
1840-1920, London: Croon Helm, 1 977, pp. 3 1 -3 3 . 20. Ibid., p . 103.
5 . Patrick Kay Bidelman, Pariahs Stand Up! The Found­ 21. Sowerwine, op. cit., p. 95 .
ing of the Liberal Feminist Movement in France, 22. Quataert, op. cit., p. 104.
1858-1889, Westport, Conn . : Greenwood Press, 1 982. 23 . Lohman, op. cit., p . 202.
6. Maria Deraismes, Oeuvres Completes de Maria 24. Quataert, op. cit., p. 1 57.
Deraismes, edited by Anna Feresse-Deraismes, Paris: F. 25. Thonnessen, op. cit., p. 67.
Alcan, 1 895 , p . 1 85 . 26. Sowerwine, op. cit., pp. 198- 1 99.
7 . Jill Liddington and Jill Norris, One Hand Tied Behind 27. Mary Nolan, "Women and Socialism in Germany, "
Us: The Rise of the Women 's Suffrage Movement, Lon­ paper presented a t the SUNY-Binghamton Women's
don: Virago Press, 1 978, p. 224. History Lecture Series, 1 98 1 .
8. Marie-Helene Zylbergerg-Hocquard, Feminisme et Syn­ 28 . Pierre-Joseph Proudon, a French utopian socialist
dicalisme en France A vant 1914, These 3eme cycle, Tours, theorist of the mid-1 9th century, summarized his view of
1973 , p . 275 . women's possible roles by saying: " Prostitute or
9. Charles Sowerwine, Sisters or Citizens? Women and housewife, no other choice . "
Socialism in France Since 1876, Cambridge, England: Cam­ 29. For discussion o f birth control, ses Angus McLaren,
bridge University Press, 1 982, p. 75 . Birth Control in Nineteenth Century England, New York:
10. Ibid. , p. 80. Holmes and Meier, 1978 . For two views on the history of
I I . Ibid. , p. 76-79; also Marilyn J. Boxer, "Socialism Faces the "family wage , " see Jane Humphries, "Class Struggle
Feminism: The Failure of Synthesis in France, 1 879- 1914" and the persistence of the working class family," Cam­
in Marilyn J . Boxer and Jean H . Quataert, eds . , Socialist bridge lournal of Economics, Vol. 1 , No. 3 , 1 977, and
Women: European Socialist Feminism in the Nineteenth Michelle Barrett and Mary McIntosh, "The Family wage:
and Early Twentieth Centuries, New York: Elsevier, 1978: some problems for socialists and feminists , " Capital and
and Maite Albistur and Daniel Armogathe, Histoire du Class, I I , pp. 5 1 -72.
Feminisme Francais, du Moyen Age a Nos lours, Paris: 30. See Harold Berenson, " Victorian Sexual Ideology and
Editions des Femmes, 1 977. Marx's Theory of the Working Class, " International Labor
12. Richard J. Evans, The Feminist Movement in Germany, and Working Class History, No. 25 , Spring 1 984.
1894-1933, London: Sage Publications, 1 976, pp. 77, 90. 3 1 . Thonnessen, op. cit.
1 3 . Judith S. Lohman, "Sex or Class? English Socialists 32. Quataert, op. cit., p. 2 1 5 .
and the Woman Question, 1 884- 1 9 1 4 , " unpublished PhD 3 3 . Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin, New York: In­
thesis, Syracuse University, Department of History, 1 979 ternational Publishers, 1 934.
(available through University Microfilms), pp. 250-25 1 ,
252. Marie Kennedy teaches community planning
14. Marilyn J. Boxer, "Madeleine Pelletier," in Jane
and organizing at the College of Community
Slaughter and Robert Kern, European Women on the Left:
Socialism, Feminism, and the Problems Faced by Political
and Public Service, U.Mass/Boston. Chris Til­
Women, 1880 to the Present, Westport, Conn . : Greenwood ly is a graduate student in economics and urban
Press, 1 98 1 . Not all revolutionary socialist/radical studies and planning at M. I. T. Both of the
feminists found it necessary to give up one or the other authors have become increasingly concerned
ideology. In Russia, Alexandra Kollontai , who ended up in with barriers to building an effective anti-racist,
the left wing of the revolutionary Bolshevik Party, held a
wide range of radical feminist positions - including a deep
anti-sexist, working class movement and this
concern with sexual liberation and the transformation of concern led them to the study that resulted in
the family. However, both her socialism and her feminism this article.

{O::t . �
proved too radical for the Bolsheviks, and she was isolated
politically after 1 92 1 .
1 5 . Karl Marx, Capital, ed . Frederick Engels , translated 29 (1 929) The Stock Market was down
from 3rd German edition by Samuel Moore and Edward day in very heavy trading.
Aveling, 3 vols . , New York: International Publishers, 1 967,
Vol. I, pp. 489-90.
Only one of 365 days in the new 1986
16. Frederick Engels, The Origins of the Family, Private
Property, and the State, Preface to the First Edition, 1 884, RADICAL AMERICA Calendar! See ad this
in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: Selected Works, New
York: International Publishers, 1 968, p. 455 .
17. Werner Thonnessen, The Emancipation of Women:
�issue. With graphics and illustrations and cover
from 18 years of RA .



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I \

Legal Repression and Worker Response


"Capitalist law and order means law forced upon the workers
by order of the capitalists ."

Between the years 1 9 1 0 and 1 9 1 4, the Brotherhood o f Timber W orkers (BT W ) - a broad­
based, radical unio n o f southern lumber workers - battled the southern lumber trust in the
woods and mill towns of Louisiana, Texas, and the South. By its very existence the Brother­
hood merits the attention of those seeking to recover a radical traditio n in the United States;
as Melvyn Dubofsky notes, "Southern labor history has always been something of a puzzle .
Few studies have been written about labor organizations or of working-class discontent
below the Mason and Dixo n line. " 1 It is the nature of the Brotherhoo d 's existence, however,
that assures its place in a traditio n of humane and courageous U. S. radicalism. To begin
with, the BT W built blacks, whites, Chicanos and other groups into a united fro nt against
the southern lumber trust. Perhaps one-half of the BT W membership was black, and included
among these members were union leaders such as W illiam Henry, D.R. Gordon, and J .
Bonier. Chicanos also participated in, and vigorously supported, the union . When, during
the conflict, the American Lumber Company attempted to identify all its employees by race
and unio n status, the n ote "Presumably Unio n (All Mexs. are)" was placed beside the name
of one M . Salinas, and comments such as "Big Union Negro" and "Strike Originator"
beside the names of various black employees. 2



Women were likewise accorded full member­ strikes and other organized activity, but in a
ship in the BTW, and filled key leadership roles more generalized antipathy towards the large
in the critical Merryville strike. Under the companies by workers, farmers, and small
guidance of strike-leader Fredonia Stevenson, business people. During the period of the
women picketed at the mill and train station, Brotherhood's battles, the region also saw
ran the BTW soup kitchen, and carried on the numerous strikes by railroad workers and long­
battle against scabs and other anti-BTW forces shoremen, and an IWW-led strike of maritime
after male BTW members were deported from workers in New Orleans .
the town. In addition to racial minorities and The conflict between the BTW and the
women, the Brotherhood included the region's southern lumber trust evolved also in the con­
population as a whole in its struggle. It brought text of the trust's systematic control of its
farmers and small merchants into the union, workers , amd workers ' rebellion against such
and incorporated both these groups and various control. Workers faced long hours of danger­
progressive organizations in a wide ranging net­ ous work, during which the lumber compaI).ies
work of support. This concern for building an utilized "scientific management " and other
inclusive radical union was shared with the techniques to produce maximum efficiency and
larger organization with which the BTW af­ control. For this labor, workers were paid irreg­
filiated in 1 9 1 2: the Industrial Workers of the ularly, and most often in company "scrip"
World. The Brotherhood shared with the IWW which could be spent at the company store or
another key characteristic as well: a propensity cashed at a discount. In fact, by holding pay­
for innovation, courage, and humor in battling days months apart, the companies forced their
economic, legal, and ideological repression. workers to accept interim payments in scrip,
Although this article touches on BTW's in­ channelling workers' purchases to the company
clusive character, it does so in context of this commissary. Paychecks were further decreased
final thrust: BTW's development of bold and through a series of forced deductions . Away
innovative strategies and tactics in response to from the j ob, workers lived in carefully con­
pervasive legal repression. trolled "company towns" or camps, which
were often fenced and patrolled by a company
Background to Struggle police force . Here, they paid exhorbitant rent
for company housing, sent their children to
The battle between the Brotherhood of company schools designed to socialize children
Timber Workers and the southern lumber trust into efficient and complacent work roles, and
grew out of a national social setting dominated attended company controlled churches and
by labor/capital conflict. Under the leadership YMCAs which taught similar lessons. As the
of the IWW and other labor organizations, BTW began to focus workers' rebellion against
miners were striking against coal companies in these systems of control, the lumber companies
West Virginia, Arkansas , and Colorado; responded by further "stockading " towns, and
railroad workers were battling major railroad increasing their force of guards and gunmen,
lines; the steel and textile industries of the The legal repression examined in this article can
North were being aggressively organized; "free­ be understood only in light of these broader
speech fights " were erupting throughout the systems of control, and workers ' responses to
country; and lumber workers were engaged in them .
maj or strikes throughout the Northwest . As this complex and often violent five year
Regionally, the organization of the BTW in conflict between the BTW and the southern
1 9 1 0 built upon a foundation laid in a previous lumber trust developed, it became increasingly
decade of hostility between much of the area's intertwined with the region 's criminal justice
population and the lumber corporations intrud­ system. In response to the Brotherhood of
ing upon it. Virtually since the first movement Timber Workers' organization in 1 9 1 0 and
of Northern (and Southern) lumber companies growth through early 1 9 1 1 , the southern
into the region prior to the turn of the century, lumber trust worked through the Southern
resistance developed, not only in the form of Lumber Operators ' Association (SLOA) to

begin in April 1 9 1 1 the use of "yellow-dog" I ncreasing hostility between BTW
contracts - contracts in which lumber com­ members/supporters and lumber company
pany employees pledged that they were not, and thugs and officials during June and early July,
would not become, BTW members - and 1 9 12, climaxed with the Sunday, July 7, "riot"
blacklisted any employee refusing to sign or at Grabow . Returning to DeRidder from a
otherwise found to be a BTW member . Despite meeting at Carson , Louisiana, a crowd of BTW
this, the Brotherhood continued to grow, not members and supporters led by BTW president
only in Louisiana and Texas but throughout the A.L. Emerson stopped at the Galloway Lumber
South, and in July 1 9 1 1 the SLOA began a Company mill at Grabow. As Emerson began to
general shut-down of lumber company mills in speak, shots were fired - apparently at him
which Brotherhood members were employed. and into the crowd from the company buildings
From July to November 1 9 1 1 the mills re­ - with members of the crowd returning fire; a
mained closed, and, although unemployed number of those present were killed or wound­
Brotherhood members suffered physically and ed . Following the "riot," Emerson and approx­
financially, BTW agitation and influence con­ imately sixty BTW members and supporters
tinued to spread . In November 1 9 1 1 the owners were arrested and indicted for murder, and jail­
began a three-month process of reopening the ed at Lake Charles , Louisiana. Brotherhood
mills and, with effective "yellow-dog" hiring members and sympathizers protested the open­
procedure and extensive blacklist, claimed the ing of their trial on October 7 by boycotting
death of BTW. During May 1 91 2, however, the work as part of the "union holiday. " Approx­
Brotherhood held its second annual conven­ imately a week after the defendants' acquittal
tion, began the process of affiliating with the on November 2, the mill owners forced a strike
Industrial Workers of the World, and launched at the American Lumber Company in Merry­
a new round of organization , agitation and ville, Louisiana , a BTW stronghold . In what
" the media called the " First American Soviet "
strikes , including a strike against the Galloway
Lumber Company at Grabow, Louisiana. and "The Commune of Merryville, " the
Brotherhood had built a network of support
which included merchants, farmers, and
workers in other industries . Despite this, the
company reopened its mills in January 1 9 1 3
with scab labor, and i n conjunction with the
local Good Citizen 's League and deputy
sheriffs began a series of beatings, arrests, and
deportations which culminated in mob violence
against striking BTW members on February
1 5-19. That April, A.L. Emerson was also at­
tacked and beaten by a mob at Singer, Loui­
siana, and in May submitted his resignation to
the Brotherhood's third annual convention; by
July, the Merryville strike was lost. The
Brotherhood's final attack on the southern
lumber trust - the "Sweet Home Front " strike
near Pollock, Louisiana - was begun in
December, 1 9 1 3 , and ended in August, 1 9 1 4 . 3

The Structure and Process o f Legal Repression

The criminal justice system played a major

role in the battle between the southern lumber
trust and the Brotherhood of Timber Workers,
A.L.Emerson, President of the Brotherhood of Timber
and legal repression a major role in the trust's
Workers. Wayne State University A rchives.

attacks upon the Brotherhood . The trust's state board of education members, and presi­
manipulation of the region 's legal system took dents of state and national conservation organi­
a variety of forms . Lumber companies ' domin­ zations . These lumbermen thus not only
ation of "company towns" was complete, and dominated local politics, but influenced state,
rooted in both economic and political power. regional, and national affairs; they sponsored
An investigator for the United States Commis­ pro-lumber industry legislation, influenced
sion of Industrial Relations, David J. Saposs, regulatory afforts, and worked with the gover­
found that the companies controlled not only nors of Louisiana and Texas and other political
private and public property in the towns, but figures . This work resulted , for example, in the
public office-holders and the voting process as Louisiana state militia being sent to the aid of
well, and concluded that the lumber companies three times during the
1 9 10- 1 9 1 4 conflict .
Anyone desiring to exercise the simplest right, This legal and political power of the lumber
which in ordinary peaceful American com­ companies in their "company towns" and in
munities is regarded as natural and unques­ the region as a whole resulted in a number of
tioned (such for instance, as the use of public specific abuses . As noted above, access to
streets), must fight for them in these industrial "company towns" - often in their entirety the
towns. : . . The form of government in these
private property of the lumber companies -
communities is avowedly absolutistic.
was controlled not only through police power,
Another investigator reported that , at but by fencing sawmills , workers' housing, and
Pineland , Texas , "the company store is the on­ entire towns . This "stockading" of towns was
ly one permitted to do business . . . on a large reported throughout the region, with even the
scale, " and that "land, houses, hotels, chur" United States Post Office enclosed and con­
ches and schools are owned by the company, trolled by the company in one case. Saposs
and its will is above the law . " He thus conclud­ reported that
ed that "the lumber communities of the Lone
Some of these towns are not even incorporated
Star State are as far removed from freedom and
so that they are the private property of the
democracy as though time had rolled back to
company. Almost invariably the residence
the days of Ivanhoe . " Even a lumber industry
quarters are unincorporated and fenced in.
journal acknowledged in 1 9 1 2 that, at Boga­ This, it was admitted by the officials, enables
lusa, Luoisiana, the Great Southern Lumber the company to deny admittance to those that
Company's general manager "is the law and it cannot control. By owning the ground and
order, except where some violent breach of law buildings the company has undue power over
occurs, then a deputy sheriff is called to main­ the inhabitants, no matter who they are.
tain the peace . ' "
I An important component in this legal and A resolution sent from the 1 9 1 2 BTW conven­
political hegemQny was the extensive participa­ tion to the Governor of Louisiana likewise
tion of southern lumber trust members in reported,
political institutions . Between 1900 and 1 9 1 5 ,
for example, members o f the trust served as Particularly, we call your Excellency's atten­
aldermen or councilmen in Texarkana, Beau­ tion to the conditions existing at the towns of
mont, and Orange, Texas , and Alexandria, Fullerton, Rochell, Elizabeth, Fields, Oakdale,
Louisiana; as the mayors of Alexandria, Boga­ and Cravens, La. , and which system is being
lusa, Vivian, and Zwolle, Louisiana, Orange rapidly spread over the entire State, where the
timber and lumber workers in many places are
and Beaumont, Texas , and Fourche, Arkansas ;
being practically held as peons within barbed
as state representatives or senators in Texas ,
wire enclosures [and] where there is no law ex­
Louisiana, and Kansas ; as the governor of Kan­ cept the will of the Lumber Trust's imported
sas; as U.S. Congressmen from Illinois and thugs and gunmen . . . . s
Michigan; as U . S . Vice President ; and in a
variety of positions ranging from county at­ This "stockading" was utilized, of course, to
torneys and supervisors to university regents, deny BTW organizers access to the commun-

The Company Town. Reprinted from St. Louis Lumberman, A ugust 1901.

ities, and the workers who resided in them. To "Planer Grader" and "Deputy Sheriff, who
further retard BTW organizing efforts, officials made Grabow arrests . " The Kirby Lumber
in Merryville, DeRidder, Carson and other Company even received regular reports from
Louisiana towns prohibited street gatherings one of its paid spies who was also a local
and public speaking. Where board fence and sheriff. A BTW resolution thus correctly re­
barbed wire stockades and legal prohibitions ferred to "Sheriffs, who are either owned by
failed to keep out BTW organizers , workers the Lumber Trust, or are themselves officers of
were held in their quarters by company guards the organization, deputizing hundreds of thugs
during the BTW meetings, and threatened with in the name of the State of Louisiana. " 6
dismissal and blacklisting if they attempted to I n dealing with the BTW, o f course, these
attend . If despite these many controls workers "company" police and deputized company
were found to have become union members or guards enforced the law in a most remarkable
activists, they then faced summary eviction fashion. Throughout the conflict, BTW
from their company housing. members were arrested and jailed for violation
Perhaps the most significant legal abuse by of a plethora of local, state, and federal
the lumber companies was their direct involve­ statutes; among the charges were "intimidating
ment with local police forces. This involvement labor, " " being a dangerous and suspicious
took two forms. First, the lumber companies character, " "obtaining money under false
often appointed and paid local police forces , pretenses , " embezzlement, vagrancy, and
which in turn served the companies by herding murder . 7 The charge of "intimidating labor"
men to work, harassing independent merchants, was common, often in conjunction with battles
intimidating citizens , and even circumventing between BTW members and scab laborers. Also
arrests so as not to deplete the labor force. common were attempts to enforce segregation
Second, lumber company guards and gunmen laws so as to shatter black/white solidarity
were deputized throughout the region during within the BTW; the BTW faced the threat of
the conflict period . Early in the strike at Merry­ injunction against an integrated convention , at­
ville, for example, a local sheriff deputized tempts to j ail black BTW members for "unlaw­
American Lumber Company gunmen, and an fully meeting in the same hall with white men, "
Ame{ican Lumber Company list of employees and intimidation from local sheriffs . For the
included one H . H . Swindell as a company leadership of the BTW, legal harassment was


particularly thorough. By March, 1 9 1 2, BTW As might be expected, the vigor o f the local
president A.L. Emerson reported that he had police in harassing the BTW was complemented
been arrested four times, on charges including by police inattentiveness to the crimes of the
"enticing labor, polluting in public, and ob­ southern lumber trust. During the conflict there
taining money under false pretenses ; " and by surfaced innumerable reports of beatings, flog­
May of that year - before his arrest following gings, shootings, attempted lynchings, and
the Grabow "riot" - Emerson reported that "water cures" - the pummelling of a re­
since January 1 , 1 9 1 1 , "I have been arrested strained man with a high-powered jet of water .
five times. Placed in jail once. Placed under In addition, the assassination of H.G. Creel
bond twice. Paid three fines . And am under was attempted ; A.L. Emerson was severely
bond now . " 8 beaten; and Emerson, Covington Hall, and
The southern lumber trust likewise utilized its other BTW leaders received numerous death
paid police and deputized guards to suppress threats, all with little or no police response. I I In
the ideology of the BTW, while at the same fact, company gunmen in many cases clearly in­
time systematically disseminating its own. stigated such violence to achieve two goals
Local police o ften denied Brotherhood beyond simple intimidation: to direct the blame
speakers from using public areas, and disrupted for the violence towards the BTW, as a jus­
BTW assemblies. In May, 1 9 1 2 , for example, tification for legal suppression; and to goad
A.L. Emerson reported that "I have had 37 BTW members into retaliation, which would
speeches broken up by the companies and their then precipitate further violence and legal sanc­
pimps , " and in June of that year BTW speeches tions. Moreover, local police were utilized to
at Carson and Bon Ami, Louisiana, were dis­ protect the operations of the southern lumber
rupted by deputy sheriffs and lumber company trust during the conflict . At a July 4
officers. 9 Those selling or subscribing to the Brotherhood gathering, for example, Cov­
BTW newspaper, the Lumberjack, were also ington Hall reminded the crowd of the com­
hounded by the authorities . 1 0 pany spies present , and A.L. Emerson noted

The Company Store. Reprinted from St. Louis Lumberman, February 1905.

th �! southern lumber trust leader John H. Kir­ and protect him as long as he is in the right as
by spends too much money in paying Sheriffs long as life lasts. So help me God. [signed]
and Deputy Sheri ffs to protect these D.E. I '
spotters . " 1 2 At that very gathering a Kirby
Lumber Company spy posing as a photograph­ A s can b e seen i n the oath, the Brotherhood
er was found out; in his report to the company, was likewise careful to keep its membership
he noted that he was in fact protected from the rolls secret. Two survivors of the conflict - the
angry unionists by one Sheriff Stevenson. 1 3 In first a BTW member, the second not - recalled
another case, Kirby instructed one of his distinctly this feature of the Brotherhood's ap­
associates to have "Hooker . . . get in touch proach:
with the Sheriff of Newton County . . . and see
that suitable deputies are detailed " to protect a Mr. Smokey: We all, I believe all of here is in
it, in the Union.
Kirby Lumber Company barbeque. 1 4
Ferrell: Was there any chance of getting fired
The Brotherhood 's Response for joining the Union?
Mr. Smokey: Yes, sir; oh, yea; you had to join
In battling the lumber trust, then, the it and keep it hid . . .
Brotherhood of Timber Workers thus faced not Ferrell: Well, so . . . all you gentlemen were
only the vast economic power of the trust, but a members of the union but you had to keep
vast array of social and political controls. In it quiet?
Mr. Smokey: Had to keep it quiet, yea;
this context, the BTW survived to fight the
couldn't tell.
southern lumber trust aggressively throughout
a five year period . To do so, the Brotherhood
Ferrell: Did some of the men you worked with
developed a number of broad strategies in deal­ . . . were they in the union, or was it
ing with the trust and its legal power . Central other places in the state?
among these were secrecy and deception, and Duplissey: Well, you couldn't tell any, in other
practical and ideological confrontation. words, if you belonged to it and all, you
Secrecy and deception enabled the Brother­ mustn't tell, and keep all that a secret -
hood to minimize both economic and legal that's one thing I didn't like at all . 1 7
repression; to the extent that secrecy could be
maintained, the Brotherhood could circumvent The BTW tactic could also b e seen in the
both the firing, eviction, and blacklisting, and reports of company operatives, which noted,
the concomitant legal harassment, of union for example, that at one camp "there are
members. The BTW therefore worked "in the several Union men . . . but one cannot tell who
silent, quiet ways of the forest and swamps . " they are , " and that at another, "the
The BTW's Constitution and By-Laws, for ex­ foreman . . . is reported as having all union
ample, provided for the "secret work of the men working for him and sending in their dues
order, " including various "guardians " and secretly. " 1 8
passwords. I S The importance of these pass­ In the day-to-day process of organization
words to the Brotherhood was evidenced in the and recruitment secrecy also protected the
following handwritten oath , entered as evi­ organizers, who travelled and worked in
dence in the Grabow trial of 1 9 1 2 : disguise. During the Brotherhood's formation ,
A.L. Emerson and Jay Smith travelled "in the
I d o hereby swear t o m y God and fellow man.
guise of book agents, insurance solicitors and
That I will hold forever sacred the vow that I the like, " and worked undercover at area mills.
am about to tak [sic] . And I will hold forever Similarly, a company operative reported
secret the signs, grips, tokens, and passwords . pointedly that a Mr. LaFollette, whom he had
I will never wrong a brother by giving his name met at a Lee's Mill union meeting, "told me he
to any one not belonging to the order. And I was selling soap, but he did not try to sell any at
will never wrong a brother by taking his place Lee's Mill . " In November, 1 91 2, the IWW's
from which he has walked off for more money Industrial Worker even published a detailed ac­
or beter [sic] conditions. But will stand by him count of union tactics which included posing as


to inspect certain "County Records " dealing
with Emerson's arrest and fining "was able to
get hold of the books by reason of his friend­
ship for some of the Janitor's people . . . . "
Similarly, Covington Hall recorded the "valu­
able information and tips" received by the
Brotherhood not only from persons within the
head offices of the lumber companies, but from
within "the principal offices of the National
Lumber Trust . " Even H . G . Creel - the union
sympathizer and speaker - "got employment

abotaqe means back,

as a bookkeeper with the Iron Mountain
Lumber Company" during the Sweet Home

to push strike, "and pa:;sed out information when
� pull out or break off the another crew of strikebreakers might be due,
(an1' o( Capitali.m
where it was to go, and where guards were
posted. " 2 1
As Hall concluded, the BTW was

everywhere and nowhere. It was ubiquitous

and unseen . . . [a) semi-secret organization,
with the usual passwords and grips so dear to
a gambler (with one's winnings helping to Southerners . . . . [The owners) never knew ex­
finance the union), a company informant (who actly how many "red-card men" remained on
could then have non-union men fired), and an the job. 2 2
evangelist. 1 9 The newspaper elsewhere reported
that the union's Grand Lodge officers, as well At times the Brotherhood emerged from its
as organizers, were taking measures to avoid secretive avoidance of legal repression to con­
entrapment . front such repression practically and ideologi­
Many of the union 's meetings were also cally; as the five year conflict wore on, such
clandestine . "Night meetings " were held not confrontation became more and more com­
only for the convenience of lumber workers, mon . In the preamble to its 1 9 1 1 Constitution
but to take advantage of privacy afforded by and By-Laws, the BTW was careful to note that
darkness outside the stockaded towns. An anti­
BTW letter published in Southwest scolded While demanding our rights, we, at the same
Brotherhood members who "meet in the dark, time concede, that the employer is entitled to,
on bridges and crossroads , [and] hold secret and we promise him, an absolutely square deal
tryouts , " and later reports from company spies in every sense which this implies. . . . Vio­
substantiated this claim. In one, an operative lence, in all its forms, shall be discouraged .
Property rights shall be respected . . . . At all
reported that the BTW "had a private meeting
times, and in all things, we shall be glad to
Thursday night in the country for the purpose
meet and counsel with those who employ us,
of getting the brethren together, " and in and by the arts of reason, justice, and persua­
another, it was reported that A.L. Emerson sion, try to convince them of the righteousness
"held a private meeting with BTW members of of our cause. 23
Lee's Mill only . . . and it was private; no one
except members employed at Lee's Mill being In the following years, however, such modera­
admitted . " 20 tion was often abandoned in both word and
Interestingly, the BTW was able to utilize deed. An IWW leaflet circulated in the region,
secrecy and deception to counter the economic for example, urged unionists to force mass ar­
and political power of the southern lumber rests by violating injunctions, thus crippling
trust in yet another way. During the conflict, both the legal system and employers. 2 4 More
A.L. Emerson noted that a BTW emissary sent common was the advocacy of violence in

In front of the courthouse at A bbeville. Photo: Lee, Farm Security Administration.

response to legal and extra-legal repression. Hall reported that "the boys in the forest and
Hall, for example, reported that " . . . there mills [have] notified the gunmen that they could
was much talk of guns. Both sides indulged; we shoot just as quick and straight as any gunmen
published a cut showing two crossed rifles , with ever did . . . . ' ' 27 A more direct threat was
this caption: 'The only argument a gunman received by John H. Kirby late in the conflict.
undersands . ' " 2 5 Moreover, BTW leaders at The threat - boldly but unevenly hand-lettered
times counseled violence . The most militant and mailed from New Orleans May 20, 1 9 1 5 -
BTW leader, Ed Lehman , argued that "to com­ was evidently in reference to the jailing of BTW
mit murder you have first to kill a human be­ organizer Charles Cline in San Antonio:
ing, and a gunman or Burns' detective is not a
human being. " He further argued against the Gov. J . H . Kurby [sic]
efficacy of non-violent tactics ("the might of
folded arms' ') in response to the types of legal Get Klyne [sic] out or get ready jar Hell. I
repression noted above: have been sworn for this and its [sic] you
or me. Liberty [or] death. 29
These lumber towns are being stockaded, and
During this same period - as the conflict
gunmen put at their gates to keep the union
dissolved into an "underground war . . . in­
out. As long as the gunmen stay there, the
Union will stay out. It is up to the militant
dustrially and politically" - The Lumberjack
union men to see that the gunmen do not stay even advertised a firm recommended by Mother
there. To hell with the might of folded arms ! 26 Jones, which sold "a fine rifle for only
$3 . 50 ! " 29 Reports of incidents of violence
These attitudes found expression both in throughout the conflict indicate that at least
threats of violence and in actual confronta­ some of these threats were fulfilled.
tions. The threats themselves , of course, con­ Perhaps the Brotherhood's clearest and most
stituted a tactic of counter-intimidation even thoroughgoing counter-attack came not
when not fulfilled. In May 1 9 1 2 , Covington through violence and threats of violence,

however, but through the defiance and Following the lead of the IWW, the Brother­
delegitimation of the legal system in BTW hood emphasized "direct action" in the
ideology. Like the IWW with which it was af­ workplace, rather than political action or other
filiated, the BTW utilized this technique time indirect means outside of work. Developed
and again to deny the legitimacy of the criminal from the French anarcho-syndalists, and in­
j ustice system under which it suffered . tegrated with the IWW's notion of revolu­
Throughout the conflict, the BTW put forth a tionary industrial unionism, this "direct
steady stream of prose and poetry aimed at ex­ action" entailed a number of specific tactics,
posing and condemning not only particular acts ' including various forms of temporary and on­
of legal repression, but the workings of a the-job strikes, and intentional work inefficien­
repressive legal system: cy. The most controversial component of
"direct action, " however, was sabotage -
The only thing the capitalist class uses the State workers' violence against owners' property.
for is to mislead the workers into the belief that Utilizing symbols such as the black cat (the
they have an equal show before the law. Law, "Sabo-Tabby Kitten") and the wooden shoe
Hell! What is law, but the will of the governing (French workers supposed fouled machinery by
class,' imposed upon the class that is governed?
tossing their sabots, or wooden shoes, into it),
(Jay Smith)
BTW and IWJN leaders at times openly ad­
" . . . To hell with the statutes and with laws,
vocated sabotage, but most often urged such
Made but to strangle Labor's cause ! action through more indirect and elusive
methods. During the conflict, a lead editorial in
" . . . To hell with courts, in crime grown old! the Industrial Worker read:
To hell with justice bought and sold !
Soap stops water from making steam in
(from Covington Hall's "The Fight Is On")
Asafetida keeps patrons from struck theatres .
An officer of the law is a walking delegate of
Capitalism. By working slow profits are greatly reduced.
(William D. "Big Bill" Haywood) Oil containing emery makes machinery strike.
Telling trade secrets wins battles for workers.
Damn the laws of the ruling class. We will have A ccidents often are an aid in winning strikes.
none of them. Capitalist law and order means Guerilla warfare always gets the bosses' goat.
law forced upon the workers by order of the Ends that are revolutionary justify the means.
capitalists. (Industrial Worker)
During the Merryville strike, the Industrial
Thy deputies, gunmen and militia, they [are] Worker published a similarly constructed
after me; notice:
Thou preparest a court martial for me
In the presence of mine enemies Scabs!
(from "The 23rd Psalm") Attention
Brother of Timber Workers
Now if you fellows want to arrest me just do so On strike at Merryville, La.
and put me in jail. If you arrest me without a Take warning!
cause then we will see about it. I am not going American Lumber Co.
to take any foolishness at all. I am going into Going crazy.
these places and if you want to arrest me pop Everybody's doin' it!
your whip. You can kill me but you can't scare
Doin' what? Nawthin ' . 3 1
me. Now if you fellows want Mr. Kirby to,
know this write him. I want him to see it. (A.L.
In addition, The Lumberjack published a
poem - "Saw Mill 'Accidents, ' By The
The confluence of these two broad responses Wooden Shoe Kid" - which detailed "ac­
to legal and economic repression - secrecy and cidents" with saws, engines, and pumps. Most
deception, and defiant confrontation - could remarkable was the following "warning to
be seen in a third BTW response: sabotage. wayward lumberjacks , " pointedly entitled

--- --- - - ------- - - --- - - --- -------

"Don 't Do It, Boys , " and published in the In­ work had to be done all over again; trees began
dustrial Worker: to show a tendency for absorbing spikes into
their interior against which the saws protested
by going up in the air; then, in backing up the
We are sure that no self-respecting lumber
log carts, the nuts would run off the spindles
worker would ever resort to that terrible thing
called sabotage. We wish to warn all workers and fall in the creeks and other places where
against it. they could never be found, so that everything
You don't know what sabotage is, you say? on the job had to come to a standstill; the
Well perhaps it is best to tell you so that you flanges on the car would break off on the
may take warning. curves and all the logs go back into the woods
Sabotage in the woods might mean working instead of going to the mills as they should; fly
slow on the job. You wouldn't do that would wheels became mentally unbalanced and
you? Never. It , is against the interest of [would] jump their jobs; and many other
Weyerhauser, Clark, Kirby and Long. You strange and mysterious things happen, why, no
love these gentlemen, don't "you? one knows.
Sabotage may mean misplacing the tools
where they are not easily found. Promise us
During the Merryville strike, the Industrial
that you will never do that. . . . Worker headlined further "Strange Actions in
Sabotage may mean that logs are cut shorter the Souther Lumber Camps, " and recorded as
than the required size . . . . well their effects :
Sabotage may mean the driving of spikes in­ A logging engine . . . decided to dodge a deep
to the logs or even into the trees. . . . Terrible! curve which skirted a deep, wide barrow pit,
No good, honest, Christian, gentlemanly log­ and take a short cut across the field . But the
ger would do anything like that. It isn't good engine failed to put its train hep to this flank
for mill saws. movement and on account of this lack of
Sabotage means lots of other things. We solidarity, an injury to one proved an injury to
may mention them from time to time as a all, and in a few moments engine, cars and logs
warning to wayward lumberjacks. We know were soon a mass of tangled wreckage . . . . An
that sabotage does not appeal to you . . . engine, with a few cars of scabs and gunmen,
Vote if you may, pray if you must, arbitrate was proceeding lawfully on its ladylike way
if you will, and even strike - in the dull season from the woods to town, one raw and gusty
after stockpiling and giving due notice - but evening . . . when lo t and behold, a giant pine
never, never, use sabotage. at side of the tracks suddenly grew tired of
All loggers who will agree not to use standing, and resolved at this psychological
sabotage please say "Aye . " Thanks. Now all moment to utilize the slowly moving engine
saw mill workers who won't use sabotage kind­ directly under it as a pillow, which it did, amid
ly hold up your hands. Your whole hands, rending of iron and steel. . . . We strikers are
please, Beg pardon! We forgot that saw mill at a loss (?) to account for all these immoral,
workers don't have whole hands. But you not to say unladylike, actions on t'he part of
won't use sabotage either, will you? Splendid ! the bosses' sacred property. How sad it is,
when even inanimate machines strike on their
For the love of your boss and the glory of generous (?) employers. It's a damn shame? 33
your soul don't use sabotage. 32 The sabotage of lumber company property,
When such instructive "warnings" led to then, embodied both the Brotherhood's orien­
sabotage, the BTW and IWW reported these tation towards secrecy and deception, and its
activities, but again in the language of in­ determination to defy and confront the
nocence. In a report to the Industrial Worker, southern lumber trust. While sabotage was
for example, Covington Hall noted that ' 'many clearly a defiant attack on the southern lumber
strange and wierd things are happening trust - and clearly illegal - it was both ad­
throughout the timber belt . " vocated and carried out in such a way as to
For instance, the log cutters made a demand minimize detection and subsequent legal pro­
for 60 cents per thousand feet and when it was secution. Sabotage - which IWW leader "Big
refused all special bills in some mysterious Bill" Haywood labeled "the law of the
manner ended up three inches short and the workers" - was designed to circumvent the


--- - --------
law of the owners . 34 closings were also designed to augment the
Two additional strategies which were part of trust's larger manipulation of the lumber
the Brotherhood's overall battle with the market through curtailment of production .
lumber trust were also useful in countering legal When, by the spring of 1 9 1 2 the BTW was not
repression . First, as previously noted, the BTW broken, and prices and demand for lumber had
maintained and utilized throughout the conflict continued to rise, a second strategy was
a widespread network of support which includ­ developed: keep sawmills struck by the BTW
ed farmers, small merchants, workers in other running with scab labor, and break the BTW
industries , and progressive organizations and financially. The Grabow "riot" of July 7 ,
publications . More than once, this network aid­ 1 9 1 2, was not, according t o lumbermen, a riot
ed the Brotherhood in its legal battles. In the precipitated by the BTW. Instead, according to
spring of 1 9 1 2, for example, E.F. Presley was the BTW and its supporters, the Grabow inci­
elected mayor of DeRidder, Louisiana, on a dent was engineered by the southern lumber
joint BTW ISocialist ticket . Following his elec­ trust in an attempt to assassinate BTW leaders
tion, he attempted to protect BTW members and destroy the union. Certainly, circumstan­
and socialists in the area, and fought area tial evidence points to the latter conclusion. The
lumber companies. Later in the conflict, when day before the incident there was an attempted
three BTW members were on trial following the assassination of H . G . Creel, and by most ac­
Sweet Home strike, "farmers and lumberjacks counts the first shot fired at Grabow hit a man
poured into Colfax [Louisiana] . . . [and] pro­ next to BTW president A.L. Emerson.
ceeded to hold a mass meeting in the street Whatever the causes of the Grabow "riot, "
[and] denounced in hot terms the 'arrest and however, the arrest and trial of BTW leaders
persecution of our boys , ' as they styled it . " 3 5 following the incident was clearly designed to
Second, the BTW taught its members indepen­ cripple the union. Although a coroner 's inquest
dence from "leaders" and "bossism , " and en­ found mill owner John Galloway "personally
couraged in members "the art of thinking and responsible" for the death of one man, only
acting for themselves . " In "A Parable, " for BTW members and supporters were arrested
example - composed by IWW I BTW organi­ and held in the Calcasieu Parish Prison at Lake
zer E.F. Doree, and circulated throughout the Charles, Louisiana. Although authorities
region - a mill "boss " warns a union denied A . L . Emerson the right to speak for
spokesman that "I can have [the union's] publication after his arrest, and forced him to
leaders sent to jail , " and the spokesman replies, issue a denial of jail conditions, he managed to
"I think you will find that we are all able to report to the editor of the socialist newspaper
lead and for every man you sen [d) to jail The Rebel that "I have been sick mentally for
. . . you make a hundred union men who never some time. There is so much noise in here that
thought of it before. " 36 In the aftermath of the one can hardly think. " 3 7
Grabow "riot" - with part of the union's Prior t o the trial, The St. Louis Lumberman
leadership in fact "sent to jail" - the BTW noted that
was forced to employ this strategy, as well as
the other strategies outlined above, in an effort The non-union men and the lumbermen are
to survive the most severe episode of legal said to have employed the leading talent of the
repression it would face during its five year South to prosecute the men whom they charge
existence. with murder and anarchy. They have expressed
their determination to break up the practices
Grabow and Its Aftermath
which have caused them great annoyance for
the past three years, and they are ready to take
The southern lumber trust's initial strategy up the battle now in earnest.
for breaking the BTW involved closing saw­
mills where the BTW was strongest, reopening During the trial, lumber leader M . L . Alexander
them with only those workers who signed non­ added that he was " not at all satisfied with the
union pledges , and blacklisting from the general conditions of the territory at the present
lumber industry those who did not sign. These time and if those men are acquitted, unionism


�'-- 7'"
· .. _- - - - - - - - .
-_. .. ....._-
_ --_ ..._- ------

will become more open and pronounced at (Winston Overton) with a history of pro­
every point and the fight will be a hard one . " lumber and anti-BTW decisions. Some eleven
The southern lumber trust and its allies years earlier, Judge Overton had in fact served
therefore did everything possible to prevent ac­ as toastmaster at an honorary banquet for U.S.
quittal, and to drain the BTW's finances in the Congressman A . P . Pujo, later to become chief
process . Prosepctive j urors were mailed a fake prosecutor in the trial. Not surprisingly, Judge
IWW leaflet designed to prejudice them against Overton consistently granted prosecution mo­
the BTW; witnesses were mailed threatening tions and denied those of the defense. The St.
letters . "All active for the defense were Louis Lumberman reported prior to the trial,
threatened with death or beating, " and, as a for example, that "in the charge given the
result of Burns Detective Agency work, three grand j ury by Judge Overton 'before submitting
BTW IIWW organizers were arrested, j ailed, this case he repeatedly charged the members to
and charged with bribery and intimidating investigate the possibility of a conspiracy, " and
witnesses . 3 8 Imprisoned BTW members were during the trial the southern lumber trust
also threatened by Burns detectives in the reported to its members that "the prosecution
emplov of the southern lumber trust . has been the victor as to every [defense] objec­
Moreover, the trust pressured regional tion offered. " In addition, Overton granted a
newspapers during the trial to the point that it key prosecution motion to sever the trial of nine
could report to its members that "all responsi­ defendants from the remaining forty-nine, and
ble papers in this section are now handling the ruled that defense witnesses could not return to
details of the trial in a very conservative way their homes while waiting to be called . The sup­
. . . " and even considered "secur[ing] a port of these witnesses while in Lake Charles,
representative paper . . . to take up and coupled with the costs of the trial as a whole, all
publish the true facts regarding this but emptied BTW coffers. Although the south­
situation. " 3 9 ern lumber trust finally failed to gain the con­
The trial itself featured a prosecution openly viction of the BTW defendants, it did succeed
funded by the southern lumber trust and aided in using the trial to disable the union financial­
by the Burns agency, and a presiding judge ly. By the time the trial ended, "pressing debts "

Industrial Worker, December 26, 1912,


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--------�-- -��----�. -_._' - ' - ' - " --

were being cited, and two months later the BTW was realized . SLOA Report # 1 68 noted
BTW could claim "exactly $30" in its that the financial report to the May, 1 9 1 3 ,
treasury. 4 0 BTW convention revealed "cash o n hand,
What few BTW funds remained were ex­ April 30th, $ 1 20.08, with scheduled liabilities
hausted by the Merryville strike, which the amounting to $7,696 ; " and Covington Hall
southern lumber trust precipitated soon after recalled that "we were financially flat broke"
the acquittal of the Grabow defendants by fir­ during the strike, and that "as the Merryville
ing from the American Lumber Company at union had been, toward the last, the treasury of
Merryville those employees who had testified the [BTW] , the loss of the strike left us prac­
for the defense at the trial . That the owners had tically bankrupt. "4 2
been planning to attack the BTW at its Mer­ For its part, the BTW called upon its full
ryville stronghold was obvious. As early as strategic arsenal as it fought to survive the
August, 1 9 1 1 , C . B. Sweet wrote John H. Kirby Grabow trial and Merryville strike. In the tense
that "the Merryville plant will possibly have aftermath of Grabow, the Brotherhood sought
their experience after our trouble is settled, " to minimize its legal repression through non­
and a November 1 3 , 1 912, telegram from E . P . violent tactics . The Rebel, for example, quoted
Ripley t o J . W. Terry - the Santa Fe Railroad a Houston Chronicle report that "none of the
officer in charge of the plant - quoted S.H. arrested men offered any resistance . As soon as
Fullerton's recommendation: they were notified that they were wanted they
agreed to come. " Moreover, Covington Hall
Possibly easiest and quickest way [to] clean up noted that he and other BTW leaders "worked
M. [Merryville] would be to sell timber to night and day " to abort open revolt in the
neighboring mills, ship out your manufactured weeks after the incident, and that he and others
lumber at M. and let that town do without a active in the trial remained unarmed, despite
manufacturing plant. Central Coal and Coke the threats and harassment noted above . When
Company, Kirby Lumber Company, Pickering to protest the opening of the trial the BTW
Lumber Company, Long-Bell Lumber Com­
declared a "union holiday" - during which
pany, and Gulf Lumber Company could buy
union members and sympathizers were to boy­
this timber at a price per thousand feet that
could be agreed upon. If this could be ar­ cott work, and gather to raise money for the
ranged, timber could be cleaned up quick and trial - it therefore warned participants that
citizens of M. be given object lesson which
they would not soon forget. At meeting held your mission must be a peaceable one . . . . All
[at] St. Louis few days ago this course sug­ weapons must be kept at home. No guns or
gested to some parties, and it was thought rifles will be tolerated . . . no one shall, upon
could be arranged . . . 4 1 that day, allow himself to become intoxicated
and shall not enter into heated arguments that
The St. Louis Lumberman thus noted the may cause trouble.43
"cleaning" that was being done "to get rid of
the Brotherhood, " and the Kirby Lumber As the situation unfolded, however, the
Company did in fact begin filling orders for the Brotherhood fought back with all types of con­
American Lumber Company. During the frontational tactics . During the trial, for exam­
strike, American Lumber Company gunmen ple, the Central Coal and Coke Company
were deputized , street meetings and public reported receiving anonymous letters threaten­
speaking were banned, BTW leaders were ar­ ing to burn its plant and kill its employees, and,
rested, deported, and jailed for "intimidating according to Hall, "rank and file" unionists
labor . " Strikers were beaten by a mob led by proclaimed that
the Good Citizens' League and deputized
gunmen, the BTW soup kitchen was destroyed, you can do anything you like in your crooked
and Union Hall was raided and ransacked, and courts but [the defendants] are not going to be
hanged, and they are not going to the pen! . . .
transients were compelled by local courts to
[if] we get the news of the boys' conviction
work for the company. By the end of the strike,
over the wires we are marching on Lake
the lumber trust's goal of bankrupting the

Pulpwood cutter in Mississippi today. Photo: Mike Russell, Southern Exposure.

Charles and burning sawmills and lumber piles and mobilize support. During the Grabow trial
as we come; and what's more, God Almighty these efforts peaked. Prior to the trial Cov-
will see more sawmill managers, gunmen- ington Hall was put in charge of publicity and
deputy sheriffs and Burns detectives hanging immediately began producing and distributing
to trees in Western Louisiana and Eastern
weekly circulars. These circulars - signed
Texas than he ever saw in one place in all His
"Committee of Defense, Brotherhood of
life! Now, convict them, G-D- you!
Timber Workers" - contained detailed ac-
Hall claimed that, as a result of this threat, the counts of the Grabow "riot , " jail conditions at
prosecution " weakened, and was not so eager Lake Charles, and the trial . They also included
to convict, " and that an anti-union group was urgent appeals for aid addressed to the "People
reportedly armed and "in readiness to stand off of Louisiana , " "Fellow Workers , " and
the 'mob' in case of conviction . " Also during "Negro Forest and Lumber Workers of the
the trial was born the secretive Clan of Toil, South" instructions for BTW members in the
whose threats of vengeance in the cause of region, and, of course, uncompromising at­
unionist deaths - "We mean to slug and kill tacks on the southern lumber trust and the "im­
you, man for man, rank for rank, officer for partial justice" being administered by the State
officer" - produced "a deciding restraining of Louisiana. A second series of circulars
effect on the Trust gun-toters . " Just after the signed "Jay Smith, General Secretary, " con­
Grabow trial, this tactic was again employed; a tained similar reports and appeals for aid.
reporter for the New Orleans Daily Item who Noting the wide distribution of these circulars
libeled the BTW in his articles was warned, "If and their effectiveness in raising funds and
you continue your lying about us as you are do­ arousing sympathy, the New Orleans Times­
ing, we will not be responsible for your safety. ' Democrat concluded that the Defense Commit­
Whereat he pulled out. " Moreover, plans were tee's purpose must be " to scatter the circulars
made for "a general strike of the woods and all over the United States . " In response to the
mills" to pressure Emerson's release from jail, fake IWW leaflet noted above, Hall even pro­
and as noted above, sabotage was advocated duced a counter-leaflet, "All About Bums, the
and practiced during the Merryville strike. 44 Big Sensation, " which parodied the fake
leaflet, and earned Hall a contempt of court
The BTW regularly utilized circulars and warrant . In addition, the "Emerson Defense
newspapers to attack legal and economic Committee" published in The Rebel a satirical
repression, disseminate its own information '
song which began "0 we love A.L. and the


. -- -
. --... :---�--�--------�
PALMIST: " There is a Man Following You With a Bludgeon."
CAPITALIST: "Yea, Yea! What Else Do You See?"
PALMIST: "Nothing But Your Fini.h!" Industrial Worker, March 27, 1913.

boys in jail , " and poetry attacking the southern papers with me, " and when asked about his Bi­
lumber trust 's legal harassment and warning of ble, responded "No, these papers are all I
retaliation was published in the Merryville want. "46
Times and The Rebel. 45 This network of progressive publications was
The Brotherhood was able to arouse sym­ in turn tied into the Brotherhood's larger net­
pathy, mobilize support, and generate much­ work of support . Hall, for example, noted that
needed funds not only through circulars, but the majority of the BTW members jailed after
through a remarkable network of progressive the Grabow incident were "lumberjacks and
publications . In early 1 9 1 3 both The Rebel and farmers, " and that the key factor in the union's
the Industrial Worker quoted BTW leaders as trial victory was "the hostile solidarity shown
citing the Industrial Worker, The Rebel, the toward the prosecution by the working men and
National Rip-Saw, Solidarity, The Interna­ working farmers throughout this section . . . . "
tional Socialist Review, and The Coming Na­ Indeed , the BTW received funds from farmers
tion as "six great papers . . . deserving especial throughout the region, and the support of the
credit" in the battle to free A.L. Emerson and Farmers ' Union; and after the acquittal of the
the other Grabow defendants. According to a defendants ' 'all seven of the farmer members of
BTW circular, prospective jurors in the the j ury, and one restaurant keeper " fratern­
Grabow trials were even " asked by the Pro­ ized with BTW members and supporters at a
secution if they had read 'The Rebel , ' 'The Rip­ victory celebration ! 47 The BTW likewise re­
Saw , ' or 'Appeal to Reason ' . . . one j uror be­ ceived support from workers in other industries
ing challenged peremptorily by the State be­ (including school teachers), and from various
cause he had read one copy of 'The Rip­ progressive organizations . Socialist locals
Saw. ' ' ' The New Orleans Times-Democrat throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi
added that a Brotherhood member arrested condemned the legal proceedings, passed
following Grabow told the arresting officer resolutions of support for the BTW, and sent
" Wait until I get my Rip-Saw and Appeal to financial aid . (The Grabow defendants even
Reason. I cannot go to jail without taking them formed a socialist local while in jail .) Regional

trade unions held protest meetings, helped feed trust's ongoing interconnection with the legal
defense witnesses, and celebrated with the BTW system , but also in its willingness and ability, in
its trial victory. During the Merryville strike a time of crisis, to exploit these connections
this aid continued, with area produce farmers towards specific ends.
and business employees joining the union, and Nevertheless, repression is not unidirection­
small business owners posting BTW placards in al . It is a dialectical process in which acts of op­
their stores. Also during the strike, the pression are met with clever and often suc­
Brotherhood further developed the innovative cessful reactions by the oppressed. A study of
tactics it used throughout the five-year battle. legal repression that focuses solely on how the
The BTW picketed incoming trains, throwing law works to maintain the dominance of the
leaflets to scabs and others inside them, women powerful does not capture the complexity in­
BTW members formed picket lines and at­ herent in the operation of social power. Such an
tacked scabs with hat pins, and boycotted mer­ analysis implies that oppressed people are
chants who were members of the Good passive objects of the machinations of the
Citizens' league. Additionally, they threatened powerful. "Top-down" analysis tends to sug­
to sue the town of Merryville for damages, and gest that oppression will be eternal, that
even engaged the mayor in fisticuffs . repressive social orders are ultimately in­
destructible - or, what amounts to the same
thing, that liberation can come only with the
Power entails the molding of con­ advent of some outside force not implicated in
sciousness so as to make the established order the social order . But studying power from the
appear legitimate to oppressed people. Power, perspective of the victims of legal repression il­
in short, is displayed in coercion, but also in luminates the possibility of transcending an op­
ideology. In addition, the tools of power are pressive social order .
employed in a context that serves to preserve In our example, the BTW responded to the
the hegemony of the powerful even when the trust's instrumental and ideological manipUla­
tools themselves are inadequate. Law is an in­ tion of the legal system in a variety of ways . By
tegral part of this order of power and partakes maintaining a veil of secrecy around its opera­
of its complex character. It is both coercive and tions and membership, by disguising organiz­
ideological, both an instrument manipulated by ers, by holding clandestine meetings , and by
the powerful to achieve their purposes, and a deceiving the lumber companies into employing
relatively autonomous body of social practices union sympathizers, it was able to establish a
that works without the conscious guidance of powerful counter force to control the legal and
the powerful to maintain social order. political environment. Moreover, as the strug­
As the struggle between the BTW and the gle developed, the union moved from a policy
southern lumber trust illustrates , however, legal of moderation to the advocacy and use of
repression is a complex process involving the violence in response to repression. On an
coercive and ideological machinations of ideological level, the BTW (supported by a
powerful groups, the varied modes of response, widespread network of sympathetic individu­
and the structural limits to both oppression and als, groups, and publications, sought to under­
response. The trust, confronted by a growing mine the legitimacy of the criminal justice
and increasingly powerful union, used the legal system by exposing the workings of a repressive
system to oppress timber workers when they legal order. They advocated (often in subtle and
threatened its continued hegemony. With elusive ways) direct action in the workplace -
regional and national connections, tightly con­ temporary strikes, intentional inefficiency,
trolled local towns and police forces, and a and, most importantly, sabotage. Far from be­
sympathetic court system, the southern lumber ing helpless victims of an oppressive social and
trust created around the BTW an environment legal order, the timber workers were willing and
of remarkably thorough repression. The crea­ able to fight back. The result was the escalation
tion of such a pervasively repressive environ­ of the trust's overt manipulation of the criminal
ment was rooted, of course, not only in the justice system, and an escalation of violence


--- � ______________________________�__--------__
that culminated in the Grabow trial . 4. David J . Saposs, "Self-Government and Freedom of
In the Lake Charles courtroom the BTW won Action in Isolated Industrial Communities, " Reports oj the
United States Commission on Industrial Relations,
a pyrrhic victory. It earned the acquittal of the
1912-1915 (No. HF, 1469, S3) pp. 4-6; George Creel, "The
defendants at the cost of its own ability to con­ Feudal Towns of Texas, " Harper's Weekly (Vol. IX, No.
tinue the struggle against the trust. The Grabow 303 1 , January 23 , 1 9 1 5) pp. 76-77; South west: Southern In­
trial thus shows the limits of the law's dustrial and Lumber Review (Houston, Texas), September,
autonomy. The legal process was independent 1 9 1 2, p. 64.
5. Saposs, p. 1 3 , see p. 14; Minutes oj the Second Annual
enough from the structure of power in the
Convention oj the Brotherhood oj Timber Workers (Alex­
social order to allow for unpredictable results andria, Louisiana: Brotherhood of Timber Workers, 1 9 1 2)
that cannot always be determined by the power­ p . 25.
ful, no matter how extensive their control. But 6. List in Kirby Papers; Leesville Toiler (Leesville, Loui­
- and here we see the structural constraints on siana), May 30, 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Papers.
7. Southwest, October, 1 9 12, p. 77; The St. Louis
the response of oppressed people - law served
Lumberman (St. Louis, Missouri), November I , 1 9 1 1 , p .
as only part of a complex of power relations 44 ; Industrial Worker (Spokane, Washington), April 20,
that safeguards the interests of the powerful, 1 9 1 1 , p. 1 .
often turning small defeats into systemic vic­ 8. Phineas Eastman, "The Southern Negro and One Big
tory. Union, " The International Socialist Review (Vol. XIII, No.
12, June, 1 9 1 3) p. 89 1 , see p. 890; A.L. Emerson speech
It would be wrong, however, to conclude that
typescript, March 25, 1 91 2, pp. 6-7 - Kirby Papers;
the system is a seamless web, a web in which we Minutes, 1912, p. 2.
are inexorably trapped. Like all webs, the web 9. In Minutes, 1912, p. 2.
of power has its weaknesses and its gaps. The 10. A Louisiana politician also attempted to prevent The
legal order imposes constraints, but not ab­ Lumberjack from being sent through the mails - see Cov­
ington Hall, Labor Struggles in the Deep South (unpub­
solute limits . It is powerful, not invincible. In
lished manuscript, no date) pp. 2 1 5-2 1 8 ; The Rebel (Hallet­
five years of struggle against overwhelming
tsville, Texas), August 9, 1 9 1 3 , p. 3 .
odds, the Brotherhood was able to shake the I I . Lumber companies also violated labor, wage, and
structure of power, to find and exploit seams peonage laws with relative immunity, and evidently had
and gaps in the web of legal repression. The "work for debt" agreements with local courts.
12. Emerson speech typescript, July 4, 1 91 2, p . 4 - Kirby
valuable lesson to be learned here lies not in the
Papers; see Covington Hall speech typescript, July 4, 1 91 2,
reasons for the BTW's ultimate failure. Rather,
pp. 3-4 - Kirby Papers.
it lies in the insight, offered by the BTW's suc­ 1 3 . According to the operative's report, the operative was
cesses, into the weaknesses of the system and later fined $9 for a fight with a BTW member; see
into the ways in which legal repression can be operative's report to Kirby Lumber Company, July 10,
countered. The sort of vigorous and ingenious 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Papers .
14. Kirby to C.P. Myer, June 27, 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Papers.
measures which the Brotherhood utilized to
The Hudson River Company likewise acquired deputy
stagger the southern lumber trust can inform sheriffs to proetct its mill and woods crews from the BTW
struggles against similar concentrations of - see New Orleans Times-Democrat (New Orleans, Loui­
power today. siana) July 30, 1 9 1 2, p. 7 .
1 5 . Industrial Worker, November 2, 1 9 1 1 , p . I ; Constitu­
tion and By-Laws oj Brotherhood oj Timber Workers
FOOTNOTES (Alexandria, Louisiana: Brotherhood of Timber Workers,
1 9 1 1 ), p. I I - see pp. 3-5, 9-10, 1 3 .
1 . Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All (New York: 16. Undated document entered as evidence October 3 1 ,
Quadrangle, 1 969), p. 209-210; but see, for example, James 1912, i n Grabow Trial Records (Trial 6021 ) , Calcasieu
R. Green, Grass-Roots Socialism (Baton Rouge: LSU Parish Courthouse, Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Press, 1 978). 1 7 . Mr. Smokey interview transcript, April 26, 1980,
2. American Lumber Company listing in John H. Kirby DeRidder, Louisiana, p. 3; Sam Duplissey interview
Papers (Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston transcript, Ajpril 25, 1980, Alexandria, Louisiana, pp. 2-3.
Public Library, Houston, Texas). 1 8 . Operative report to Kirby Lumber Company, June 16,
3. For further information on the BTW, the southern 1 91 2; operative report to Kirby Lumber Company, May 1 7,
lumber trust, and the overall context of their struggle - as 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Papers. The Brotherhood, of course, was as
well as details on specific topics discussed in this article - careful to protect recruits as it was regular members; in one
see Jeff Ferrell, The Brotherhood oj Timber Workers and speech, Emerson warned that
the Southern Lumber Trust, 1910-1914 (unpublished Ph.D. All of those who want to buy our books, or join the Union
dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1 982). come up [when] the meeting is over, and I will write you up,


2 1 . Emerson speech typescript March 25, 1 9 1 2 , p. 7 - Kir­
by papers; Hall, no date, p. 1 9 1 , 192, 193. A later report in­
dicated a similar incident involving the Kirby Lumber Com­
pany - see Southwest, April 1 9 1 5 , p. 5 3 .
22. Hall, n o date, p . 128.
23 . Constitution and By-laws, pp. 1 -2.

24. This tactic was also used in the 1 9 1 2 San Diego free
speech fight and elsewhere - see Jeff Ferrell, The In­
dustrial Workers of the World in San Diego: A Study in the
Complexity of Capitalist Domination (unpublished masters
thesis University of Texas at Austin, 1977).
__---------------- AT ------___________
25. Hall, no date, p. 199. Hall also utilized The Lumberjack

GRAND SALINE, TEXAS to generate political pressure.

26. Quoted in Hall, no date, pp. 1 54, 207-208; see p. 199.

AUGUST 1 8 TO 23. 1 91 3
27. Industrial Worker, may 30, 1 9 1 2 , p. 3.
28. Original attached to letter, O.L. Leake to "The Inspec­
Excursion Rates Will Be Secured Over All the Principal Rail­ tor in Charge, " May 25, 1 9 1 5 , Kirby Papers - emphasis in
roads of Texas for this Gigantic Gathering. original.
THlEE ..IIESSES DAILY by different orators who know and will tell the
29. Hall, no date, pp. 1 86, 1 99.
real truth. They will prove that Socialism will Ilive every man an equal 30. Smith in The Lumberjack (Alexandria, Louisiana), Ju­
opportunity to labor, with hand or brain, and receive the full product of his ly 3, 1 9 1 3 , quoted in the Industrial Worker, July 1 7 , 1 9 1 3 ,
toil undiminished bv legalized robbery. The only wav to get the facts
p . 4 ; Hall i n The Rebel, November 23 , 1 9 1 2 , p. 23 ;
about Sociali.m is to read and what repre:entativJ Socialists them­
Haywood in the Industrial Worker, December 14, 1 9 1 1 , p.
selves say it is.
4; Industrial Worker, September 19, 1 9 1 2 , p. 2, and June
.0.1.' II Pler.IESOIE PIOIIESS PAlIl one mile west of the T. & P. sta­
tion where there is an abundance of pure, limpid water for all purposes and 26, 1 9 1 3 , p. 2; "Psalm" in The Rebel, April 4, 1 914, p. 2;
plenty of dense shade. Sring all the folks, camp on the IIrounds and have Emerson speech typescript, January 1 6, 1 9 12, pp. 22-23 _
a solid week of instructive and entertaininll pleasure. Meals and supplies Kirby Papers.
on ,rounds at re,ular rates.
3 1 . Industrial Worker, June 1 2 , 1 9 1 3 , p. 2 - emphasis in
1.1' "OlllElr SPEAIIEn- Many of the brainiest and ablest speakers in original, and December 26, 1 9 1 2 , p. 8.
America will positively attend. The following is only a partial list of the
32. "Saw Mill 'Accidents ' " reproduced in Joyce L. Korn­
speakers expected: EUllene V. Debs, Dick Maple, A. W. Ricker, Asso­
ciate editor Appeal to Reason; A. M. Simons, editor Cominll Nation ; Sena­ bluh (ed.), Rebel Voices: An I. W. W. Anthology (Ann Ar­
tor Winfteld R. Gavlord, Samuel W. Sail of Chicago, Stanley J. Clark, Mrs. bor: University of Michigan Press, 1 964), pp. 56-57;
Kate O'Hare, Phil Callery of Okla., Hon. Lee L. Rhodes, Clinton Simon­ "Don't Do It Boys" in Industrial Worker, December 26,
ton of Iowa, Oscar Ameringer, Wm. A. Ward of st. Louis, Rev. M. A.
1 9 1 2, p. 2.
Smith, J. C. Thompson, editor Texarkana Socialist; Han. Dan HOllan,
editor Southern Worker; Rev. W . T. Woodrow, Hon. J . C. Rhodes. Geo. C. 3 3 . Industrial Worker, May 34, 1 9 1 2, p . 3 ; February 27,
Edwards, editor Dallas Laborer; Richey Alexander, 'N . S. Noble, Rev. John 1 9 1 3 , pp. 1 , 4; see New Orleans Times-Democrat, August 3,
A. Cumie, Tom Cross, D. B. Carter, J. L. Scollllin, Rev. D. D. Richard­ 1 9 12, p. 3.
lon, p, G. Zimmerman and Rev. Reddin Andrews. Watch for advertise­
34. I n Industrial Worker, February 27, 1 9 1 3 , p. 2.
menta and announcementa ,ivinll further particulars.
3 5 . Hall, no date. p. 195 .
....ILEla FOI IALE-For stands, shows, Ferris wheel and all kinds of
36. Industrial Worker, November 7, 1 9 1 2, p. 4; "A
ittractions that make an enjoyable and festive occasion. For information
address Richey Alexander. Parable" circular in Kirby Papers.
37. New Orleans Times-Democrat, July 10, 1 9 1 2 , p. 1 ; The
Grand Saline is the place. August 18 to 23 the dates. Every­
body Invited, Tell Everybody. Come Join the Mammoth Rebel, August 10, 1 9 1 2, p. 3 .
.Merry Throng and Have Your Part of the' Fun, 3 8 . The St. Louis Lumberman, August 1 , 1 9 1 2 , p . 91 ;
Advertiain, Committee-Richey Alexander, D. B. Carter and Will Anders.
SLOA Report No. 1 33 , October 1 5 , 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Papers;
Hall, no date, p. 200, see pp. 1 56- 1 74.
39. SLOA Report No. 1 30; B.J. Bonner to H.C. Fuller, Oc­
with the exception of the boys from Call 'front'; every one
tober 2 1 , 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Papers.
of you leave the building; one of Kirby's 'pimps' is here
from the front to turn you [in]; we will make arrangements 40. The St. Louis Lumberman, August 1 , 1 9 1 2 , p . 9 1 ; M.L.
to meet you later and take you into membership . . . . Alexander to C.D. Johnson, SLOA Report No. 128 - Kir­
(quoted in operative's report to Kirby Lumber Company, by Papers; Industrial Worker, November 14, 1 9 1 2 , p. 2;
June 16, 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Papers). Hall, no date, p. 1 78 .
19. Industrial Worker, October 24, 1 9 1 2 , p. 1 ; operative's 4 1 . Sweet to Kirby, August 10, 1 9 1 1 , and Ripley t o Terry ­
report to Kirby Lumber Company, June 16, 1 9 1 2 - Kirby Kirby Papers .
Papers; Industrial Worker, November 28, 1 9 1 2 , p. 7 . 42. St. Louis Lumberman, November 1 5, 1 9 1 2, p. 56;
20. Southwest, August, 1 9 1 1 , p . 2 3 ; operative's report to SLOA Report, May 24, 1 9 1 3 - Kirby Papers; Hall, no
Kirby Lumber Company, July 10, 1912; operative's report date, pp. 1 89, 1 86.
to the Kirby Lumber Company, June 1 6, 1 9 1 2 - Kirby 43 . The Rebel, August 2, 1 9 1 2 , p . 1 ; Hall, no date, p. 199;
Papers. Sam Duplissey recalls his adventures associated The Rebel, August 5 , 1 9 1 2 , p. 2 - emphasis in original.
with these night meetings - see interview transcript p. 3 . 44. Hall, no date, pp. 1 72-73 (emphasis in original), 1 7 3 ,


,I� :

177, 201 ; Industrial Worker, October 10, 1 9 1 2 , p. 4.
45 . New Orleans Times-Democrat, August 6, 1912, p. 3; If you have received a renewal notice recently,
The Rebel, September 2 1 , 1912, p.3. please don 't hesitate and send it in with your
46. Industrial Worker, January 23, 1913, p . 4 (see The payment right away. You won't miss an issue of
Rebel, February 8, 1 9 1 2, p. 2); "The Grabow Conspira­
RADICAL AMERICA and we'll get some
cy' " - original circular in Kirby Papers; New Orleans
Times-Democrat, August 3, 1 9 1 2, p. 4. financial resuscitation ! Here 's what your mail­
ing label looks like: __ OL. , q , � o . 4

47. Hall, no date, p. 1 5 3 ; Covington Hall, "The Victory of
the Lumber Jacks, " The International Socialist Review
(Vol . XIII, No. 6, December, 1 9 1 2) p. 470; Hall, no date, 10/31/85 10 00000oo
p. 1 69.
Jeff Ferrell teaches sociology at Regis College 1 6 1 s t ST . & R IVER AVE .
in Denver, Colorado and is presently working BRONX NY 1045 1
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culture. Kevin Ryan teaches sociology and rent subscription. We have kept longtime
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<.If r'l� 1/f:-AIJall,t"ATtA� O{r.'"f�IO... ICi::; uf 'fil" P(/8t'IStt[IijN,-,; �-,;;;,-.-,; - -- . -- . _-- -

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Itu.roI!A.��� � .����·,::,�,: AL::J��;:���-"� ��>�-�� � .�_��:�. �_.��1(�.. ��. _.�:"._��.� �.� � ��

Sections include : . . . . .-1 _ 14.i .

- Raising children - Adolescents in the 1 950s ­ .Il1hu j', /..l1!lIIe l.fH· :u� Unlun Sq . ' 1 4 �ulllt!l-v l l 1e KA O l ! 4 :i

Our Mothers, Ourselves - Our Radical Fore­
mothers - The Politics of Relationships ­
Spouses of Red Diaper Babies - The Next •

Generation - Jobs , Careers, Security - Class •

:.:,.:'"=;�,;.��'.-"�MJ�;'-;,�,�-������.����L���.t�,;.::;, �����;
Issues - Gay and Lesbian Red Diaper Babies ­ •

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Jewish Red Diaper Babies - more . . . •
"'':'OI J�' 'Jf.���_�.' Wl!fl l
• _"'... ���"�.:��_"�I��
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Woodstock is casually chic.

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___ __ ____ FILlNG O"-TE ___

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The Haight adorned with patisseries and J , I , J,"'J '''' L(j''L�l l , ! ,!'CUI ATI''N
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Berkeley famous for its quiches.
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u lb9 u

I: '::,:' :.:::�,::��::�;:;: T?! ��:

done in by ""�.: i: �--�-�----. - - _3!_m -I

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Nouvelle Cuisine. -

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Ln����� .ndUlU1JAN
H. ....., Jft2e. ""� III� 1St, I/lImwtloll ,/II I,,""�flel

calm down

1. details pile up like the chartreuse leaves along the

dirty laundry: the Registry highway more glowing than sunlight
loses my auto papers & the on the car, who rides the train

woman on the phone barks along the coast, the subways in

at me as if I 'd forgotten the city - am settled, and - as they
to take her on her morning walk. say in Brooklyn - relatively happy.

I call the Rent Board, where implanted. rooted in the ground.

the woman is pleasant & vague;
call the gas company, where 3. am I the white male who illustrates
the trickle-down theory of success?
people are systematically do tiny droplets water my roots
arrogant & accusatory (& they
are all women, a company ploy while they leave others drifting
& unsheltered? is this success?
against gallant male rage); this relative happiness with
call the plumber, who never
answers his phone. I finish details piling up like fresh dried
laundry I haven't put away? without
the typed pages of my course a labor union I'd make less, & unions
assignments for the fall, an
apparent organization students are being busted: pilots replaceable,
steelworkers not Korean enough,
like, but which I do only so garment workers too expensive for
I won't have to think of it again,
as if the paper were thin metal millionaires. these details are
the hassles of the vanishing middle
wires that keep my head attached . class. if I were black, or an Asian

2. details pile up like laundry woman with deft hands & weakening eyes,
waiting to be hanged. is this I wouldn't have to call the plumber
success? being settled down; or the auto registry, I wouldn't have

a lover who's faithful to me, to worry who used my bathroom, just

whom I see most days after his who piled the shit outside my door.
work & my chores are finished . if I had a door, if

I - who once thought change a I knew how to open it.

virtue in itself, who loves the
seasons if not the cold, who thinks
Ron Sch reiber


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