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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(8 March 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 10, 8 March 1943, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The papers have been plastered with graphs to show how wonderful the OPA is. The Office of War Information (OWI) has issued these pictures of big stuffed purses – stuffed with money every family is “saving” because the OPA is so good.

As a housewife you only know that prices are the bane of your life, that ceilings matte you dizzy, that in the morning they may be at one place and in the afternoon a notch higher.

But OWI tells you something quite different. You actually “saved” $140 last year on the cost of living. Not only you “saved” $140, but every family in the land did, including our “good neighbors” on Park Avenue – to whom $140 in the bank means so much.

And here’s even better news of the same kind. In the year 1943 you and every family in the USA will “save” $400 more because the OPA – WHICH MAKES HISTORY BY THE NUMBER OF PRICE-RAISING RULINGS IT ISSUES – is so good somehow at keeping prices down.

How do the OPA and OWI figure this out? Well, if there were no OPA at all, say the statisticians, and prices were allowed to go up at the same rate as during the last war, then the cost of living would have gone up $6,000,000,000 more in 1942 than it did – or $140 more for every family. So yon just went and put that $140 in the bank, didn’t you? And in 1943, by the same kind of statistics, $17,000,000,000 will be “saved” nationally – and you will again “save” $400 on the cost of living.

Such statistics and the OWI are indeed indispensable. WITHOUT THEM, WE WOULD NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY WE HAVE IN THE BANK.

With them, we face a grim period of food shortages and war prices that will play havoc with our health – unless we take a little time off from going to the savings banks to organize our committees for action in our own interests.


It is reported by the Department of tabor that there are today 3,500,000 women workers in unions throughout the country as against about 1,000,000 a year and a half ago. Though these figures sound impressive, the fact is that the unionization of women lags far behind the needs. This is primarily due to the half-hearted attempts of union officialdom in the field of organization at this time, when 100 per cent organization for militant action is the only defensive and offensive weapon the working class has.

Though still very insufficient, the increased number of women in unions has brought up the question of women in union leadership. Women are stepping up – still on a small scale and in more or less minor positions. But the tendency is there. Courses are being given by some unions for the training of women for union leadership. As the war depletes manpower everywhere, more and more women will undoubtedly climb to union leadership.

There is a great danger lurking in this situation. The present union leadership has to a large extent deserted union militancy. Will this leadership train women to continue along the sell-out path of collaboration with the bosses? With such false training and the lack of personal experience in working class struggle, will women union leaders constitute a new force for union, conservatism and rank and file betrayals?

Women who have the ability for leadership and honestly wish to serve their own class, will do well to go easy. They will do well to study independently the glorious history of class struggle. They will do well to get a socialist understanding of the revolutionary role of the working class at this crossroads of history – one leading to fascist slavery and the other to socialist freedom. They will do well to stick close to the rank and file.


Housewives are urged to do their own washing because the laundries cannot get fuel. They are urged to substitute the kitchen stove for the can-opener because canned goods are precious. They are urged to do the family sewing because clothes will be scarce.

Summarizing these and other exhortations, it amounts to this: WOMEN ARE BEING PUSHED BACK INTO THE STATUS OF HOUSEHOLD DRUDGES. This is the kind of “progress” capitalist society is famous for. It gives us peace for a few years and takes it away – it gives us employment for a nonce and takes it away – it gives us improvements for a while and takes them away.

At the same time that the things that gave women a little freedom from drudgery are disappearing, droves of women are donning overalls and going into the factories – for reasons more pressing than patriotism.

Married women workers, working women with children, and even single working girls are all thus reduced to twofold slavery – they become slaves of the factory machine without benefit of machinery to help them in their household work.


The Axis powers are not alone in their worry about population. After all, war plays no favorites and – while this aspect of war is being planfully played down – death is depopulating the United Nations as well as the others. Also permanent war injuries cripple large portions of populations. On the civilian front, overwork and undernourishment sap the health of the people. Bombing takes its civilian toll also. So ruling classes are concerned about “replacements.”

Having more babies is the only way to increase populations so far known. So Herbert Morrison – labor traitor, now Home Secretary in Ihe British war cabinet – came out with the modest request that the average size of the British family should be increased by twenty-five per cent – five children instead of four.

But Mr. Morrison sees obstacles: “Parents have new ideas and standards, both for themselves and their children. They are increasingly refusing to have families if this is going to mean children that are ill-fed, ill-cared for or poorly educated and that the mother must become a perpetual drudge, ruining her life and health.”

So Mr. Morrison makes the deduction that: “The task of building up a social order that will induce such an increase [in population] provides one of the greatest tests of the wisdom and foresight of our people and the statesmanship of our leaders.”

Here looms up the ghost of the Beveridge Plan that was supposed to bring every kind of social security to every British family. IT PROVIDED $1.75 A WEEK FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF A CHILD – but just the same, this best of all possible plans that the British liberals could concoct WAS GIVEN THE BUM’S RUSH OUT Of PARLIAMENT. It is too “revolutionary” for the land and big business aristocracy that controls the British government and British life.


Nevertheless Morrison made a very important contribution on this subject of having babies.

He said, in effect, that the well-being of women and children depends on foreign trade. If business is going to be good after the war, then something of the profits made by the ruling class will be allowed to seep down to the working people who will produce ALL the goods that will be exported – provided there are post-war markets. Babies will be fed – but not if business is not good, for then fathers will not work and babies will sicken and many of them will die.

Mr. Morrison, has thus revealed an important secret – which has, however, been known to Marxian socialists right along. The “new era of the common man” – the brave new world that the war statesmen are desperately shouting so much about – MR. MORRISON TELLS US IS THE SAME OLD CAPITALIST SYSTEM.

Socialism is the system of society that will carry on production FIRST, LAST AND ALWAYS to supply the needs of babies, their mothers and their fathers – and to hell with foreign trade for profits and international wars for foreign trade!

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Last updated: 21 March 2015