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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(12 August 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 18, 12 August 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Mussolini and Hitler did everything they could to turn the unfortunate women of Italy and Germany into machines for producing the human victims of their war policies. The rulers of this country are building a war machine second to none. A warning that we can expect a similar campaign for babies here was given by Professor Carle C. Zimmerman, Harvard sociologist, at a conference on Tomorrow’s Children.

He stated that of the 30 million American families only 3 million have more than four children, about 7 million have three or four, and 20 million have two or less, According to the Professor, this is very bad for “American ideals”. Each woman “must bear between three and four children on the average to sustain a population, presupposing greater losses some years than in normal times”. This is indeed a delicate way of referring to the mass murder inflicted by war.

On the question of “American ideals” he was more outspoken. He said “NO MATTER WHAT WE THINK WE ARE, THE FACT IS THAT WE HAVE ADOPTED AN IMPERIALISTIC WORLD MOOD.” Except for the “we”, the Professor agrees with what Labor Action has been hammering home for weeks, namely, that, to day “American ideals” equal bosses’ profits. He concludes that “We must either keep up our population and keep it in shape to support the policy, or give up the imperialism.”

The bosses and their politicians of both parties are not willing to give up imperialism. That is as clear as the nose on a face. Therefore, for America’s women, Professor Zimmerman’s speech assumes the importance of hand-writing on the wall.

As the opposition to compulsory military training becomes more pronounced, the propaganda of those supporting it becomes more unscrupulous. The following from the pen of the First Lady of the land is an example.

“We rarely bear any objection now to the fact that we are compelled to pay taxes for the support of the public school systems, and yet that is a good example of the kind of a compulsion all of us enjoy without protesting every day. In view of the necessity for mobilizing our country why should we not compel ourselves to do a little more?”

Mrs. Roosevelt puts education and war on the same basis. No working woman agrees with that.

Education is for life – boss war is for useless death.

In democratic England, where everyone is supposed to be making sacrifices for the war, a committee of the Labor Party reports that there is considerable resentment among the poor. They assert that poorer households only are called on to make real sacrifices in war-time food rationing. Well-to-do families, able to afford more expensive food, “can get as much as they can pay for”. Real restrictions are placed only on the working class housewife.

Who says only the working women are making sacrifices?

Doesn’t the queen make daily tours of the hospitals to smile at the wounded?

Don’t the duchesses sell their trinkets for the war chest?

Aren’t the wives of munition manufacturers rolling bandages while they sip their tea and chat?

You have heard it said scores of times that in this country labor is not a commodity or article of commerce. In other words, we, the workers, are supposed to be human beings. But this idealism about the worker dwells somewhere up in the stratosphere above these United States. Down here on earth, there is no smell of it. Witness the case of 1,000 hostesses who until a week ago worked in the taverns of Newark.

Suddenly they are without jobs, due to an ordinance passed by the Newark City Commission which prohibits women employed in taverns from accepting beverages or food paid for by customers. This makes it unprofitable for tavern-owners to employ hostesses. So they are fired.

I can think of much more suitable work for women to do than to be hostesses in taverns. But the point is that these hostesses are not potatoes or shoelaces or bathtubs. They have to eat to live.

When the Newark City Commission took away their present jobs – for moral reasons presumably – why were they not moral enough to provide these women with other means of livelihood?

From Boston, from Los Angeles and from cities in the 3,000-mile span, come reports of a great increase in applications for marriage licenses. The city registrar of Boston, canceled his vacation because of the rush, surpassing even that of 1917. In Los Angeles “the increase has been becoming more noticeable with each day.”

The bridegrooms are between 21 and 30, the age group from which conscripts for the Army will first be taken.

We can imagine what happens in the minds of these young people. Many of them were not planning to and are not prepared to marry. But the death-mask of war haunts them. They hope marriage will afford them a little protection. Many of them will have families, prematurely, without the means or the wish for children.

In this way also the capitalist war-makers are shaping the destinies of men, women and children. Socialists do not submit to this tyranny. WE ARE. FIGHTING THAT PEOPLE MAY BE ABLE TO CONTROL THEIR OWN LIVES.

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