March 8th, which Has Become a Bourgeois Celebration of Solidarity between Classes from a Day of Proletarian Struggle, Must once again Become a Symbol of Proletarian Struggle
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 20; Autumn-Winter 2023)
On March 8, 1917 (February 23, according to the Julian calendar then in use in Russia), the proletarian women of St. Petersburg, led by workers from the textile industry, took to the streets to fight against the difficult living conditions they were suffering because of the war, low wages, lack of food, etc. This revolt, which is the real origin of the later commemoration of the proletarian women’s day, triggered the greatest revolution that history has yet known, the one that brought the Bolshevik Party to power, the overthrow of the bourgeois state, the victory of the workers’ and peasants’ soviets and the most wide-spread call for worldwide proletarian insurrection.
On that 8 March, in a Russia still dominated by the tsarist monarchy that had led it to participate in the First World War alongside the French and British imperialist powers, the proletarian women set an example that in a short time caused the revolt to spread both to the factories and to the front, where thousands of soldiers played a decisive role in strengthening the workers’ power that was rising through the soviets. Proletarian women suffered not only from the hardships of working-class life in peacetime, but also from the particularly difficult conditions caused by the imperialist war, the lack of food, clothing and housing: while men worked to death in factories converted into production centers of the war industry, proletarian women bore on their shoulders the consequences for an unbearable life for human beings, imposed on them in the name of the country’s superior interests and the exigencies of the national economy.
These proletarian women did not rise up in the name of abstract «equality»; they did not confront the tsarist police to defend the interests of all women, regardless of their social stratum. They rose up, fought and died as proletarian women and as such called upon other proletarians in Russia and throughout the world by their example to rise up and fight against imperialist war, against all bourgeois factions, against all fatherlands and states, in all corners of the world.
Their gesture was not in vain. With the February Revolution, the tsarist power fell and the first episode of the Russian Revolution began. Since then the proletarian forces have been fighting against the bourgeois parties, which have led the workers to the slaughter not in the name of the crown and Russian traditions, but in the name of democracy and liberty, with which the bourgeoisie sought to rule the country. They also opposed those alleged proletarian currents, such as the Mensheviks, who wanted to support the bourgeois class state by modernizing its social structure and sought conciliation through parliament, so that the proletarians in return would agree to continue to be exploited and used as cannon fodder on the front. Within a few months, religious, authoritarian, democratic and liberal pretexts flashed before the eyes of the Russian proletarians so that the social order could be preserved through their own efforts and blood. The lesson the proletarians acquired was that the proletarian class must fight to impose its class dictatorship, otherwise it will always be subject to the class dictatorship of the enemy; this gave them the strength to establish with the Bolshevik Party the first real proletarian state in history. From October 1917 and for several years, Petrograd and Moscow were the symbol of the revolutionary power of the proletariat, and proletarians in all countries looked to them as examples of what the working class could do.
The origin of March 8 is the celebration of the great victorious revolution of the proletariat. And it is celebrated in the name of the proletarian women, because it is from the strength that this section of the working class possesses, from the anger and hatred against the bourgeoisie that it harbors in its heart, that the first spark of insurrection was ignited. The proletarian woman, doubly suffering from the hardships of the capitalist world, which adds to the economic exploitation the social oppression imposed by her position, was rightly the first to revolt against the situation suffered by the entire Russian and European proletariat in 1917. And it is this day and this struggle that we communists defend today, more than a hundred years later, and it is this struggle that the proletarian class would have had to carry as its banner if the meaning of this day had not been distorted, falsified and stolen for so many years.
Today, 8 March is a holiday in the hands of bankers, businessmen and ministers. Even the Queen celebrates it. It has become a date when proletarian women are called upon to celebrate alongside their oppressors, to fight hand in hand to defend the rights that working women can never truly enjoy in bourgeois society. The freedom and equality claimed on this day are the freedom and equality of bourgeois women vis-à-vis bourgeois men: the freedom to exploit the workforce, the equality to run the state in the sole defense of their own class interests, the unity of both sexes to once again send proletarians to kill each other on the war fronts in defense of the superior exigencies of the nation.
What’s left for the proletarian woman? Beyond the institutionalized celebrations, beyond feminist ministries or progressive governments, working women continue to be subjected to a burdensome social condition: lower and lower wages, higher and higher prices, difficulties in finding housing, raising children, etc. On top of this is the specific pressure they face as women in countries where they are denied the most basic rights (as in Iran, where the latest wave of protests began with the murder of a young Kurdish woman… for not wearing the veil according to the imposed rules!) and in those where these rights are legally recognized but are repeatedly denied by the force of reality, in which women continue to occupy a subordinate place.
The 8th of March 1917 was a day of struggle for the proletarian class; today’s bourgeois 8th of March is a celebration of the solidarity between classes and thus the subjugation of proletarian women to the demands of the bourgeois class as a whole. The triumph of movements like the feminist one, which in a country like Spain is recognized as a source of inspiration for the state, is the triumph of the mobilization of proletarian women under the banner of national unity. At a time when the peace achieved after the Second World War, both inside and outside national borders, seems to be showing the first signs of its exhaustion, the mobilization of the proletarian class is necessary to accustom it to accept the exigencies that the bourgeois class may need to impose on it. The extolling of values supposedly above the social classes, such as equality, so-called «sisterhood», etc., serve as banners to deceive certain proletarian strata, in this case especially women, and to lead them away from the field of class struggle.
After the defeat of the proletarian revolution in 1917 at the hands of its external and internal enemies, whether openly bourgeois or disguised as communists, such as Stalinism, the following decades, up to the present day, have been marked by a permanent and preventive counter-revolution. In this counter-revolution, which the bourgeoisie wages by all means and at all times against any attempt at independent struggle by the proletariat and seeks to incapacitate it before it even arises, currents such as feminism promise proletarian women a way out of the problems their position poses, without the need to demolish the capitalist system, and acts as a very powerful paralyzer of the social struggle aimed at suppressing any response to the specific problems of women in the field of class struggle carried out through their confrontation with the bourgeois class and their implacable defense of the living conditions of the proletariat as a whole. Feminism, which is now a state ideology, responds to questions that concern the lives of proletarian women in particular by calling for «the end of discrimination», «equality», etc. When proletarian women lose their jobs because they become pregnant, the bourgeoisie invokes using the feminist doctrine of «co-responsibility for the upbringing of children». To the deafening and continuous social violence to which women suffer at home, in the workplace or on the street, the bourgeoisie responds by doubling down on ultra-repressive laws that allow the state to strengthen its police role. And so it is in all cases.
More than a hundred years have passed between 8 March 1917 and the present day. We are a long way from episodes like the one staged that day by the proletarian women of Petrograd. And this is not so much because of the time as because of the depth of the counter-revolution which has plunged the proletarian class into the most terrible defeat and even makes it impossible to refer to the great events of its class struggle for an understanding of the world today. But sooner or later these material forces which really move society, the same forces which divide it into opposing social classes and so tend to undermine any shock absorber which might serve to relieve the tension which exists between them, will eventually break through the foundations of social peace. On the horizon, perhaps not imminent, but looming, the clouds heralding the storm of war reappear. Everywhere, the national bourgeoisies are preparing to grease again the propaganda machine with which they intend to bombard the proletarian class. And meanwhile, the living conditions of the proletariat continue to deteriorate...
For revolutionary Marxists, the revolutionary perspective does not focus on the duration of a single human life, but on the rhythms of history, which speed up or slow down, but always march towards the final triumph of the classless society. That is why we are absolutely certain that the proletarian March 8 will return with all the force with which the proletarian class, which today seems defeated, like the Russian workers in 1917, will rise again against war and misery and for social revolution.
Long live the proletarian 8th of March!
For the resumption of the class struggle!
March, 8th 2023
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