11th of February 2020
By a commentator for Tjen Folket Media
From the 8th of February to the 8th of March the revolutionary movement is leading a campaign for the 8th of March. We encourage to participate in the campaign. Read more:
On the 8th of March, the International Working Women’s Day is celebrated. The day was established by women in the Socialist International before the split between communists and social-democrats. It was communist women that decided the date on their meeting in 1921.
Clara Zetkin stood central in the establishment of the day. She was for a long time the most prominent female communist leader in the international proletarian communist movement. It is in her spirit 8th of March should be continued in.
8th of March is a day of struggle. In Russia, the rallies on the 8th of March in 1917 played an important role to carry the revolution forward. The women spearheaded the radical demands that did not accept the bourgeois republic but wanted to continue the struggle for socialism.
In Norway, there is an attempt by liberal feminists and certain radical feminists attempts to make the day classless. In many countries, the day is almost a commercial mothers day to celebrate the “woman”. This has nothing to do with the original day of struggle 8th of March.
We have earlier published this text about Clara Zetkin:
Clara Zetkin was born in 1857 in the Kingdom of Saxony (later a part of Germany) and died in 1933 in the Soviet Union after the Nazis took power. She was a German communist and Marxist theoretician and is considered as the initiator to the International Working Women’s Day 8th of March in 1910.
She took the education to become a physician in the German city of Leipzig, she became a part of the Women’s Movement and around 1880 a part of the Social-Democratic Labour Party. She was a part of the German labour movement since its beginning. She was active during a time where the German statue under Bismarck persecuted the Labour Movement with the “Socialist Laws” and prohibition, Zetkin needed to go in exile for a decade, from 1882. She worked politically in both Switzerland and Paris before she later returned to Germany. In Paris, she played an important part in the Socialist International.
She was the editor for the labour parties women’s newspaper for 25 years. The Socialist Labour Party (SAP) was a result of the merger in 1875 with Lasalles ADAV-party and SDAP led by Bebel and Liebknecht. In 1890 the name was changed to SPD. Within the SPD Clara Zetkin was one of the leaders of the left-line in the party. She was a close friend and comrade to Rosa Luxemburg. Zetkin participated in the attack on the revisionism and reformism of people like Bernstein.
Zetkin fought for women’s rights. She was the leader of the women’s office to the labour party. She led the International Women’s Conference in association with the second congress of the Socialist International in Copenhagen 1910. It was here The International Working Women’s Day was declared for the first time, that later would be celebrated on the 8th of March.
Clara Zetkin was an outspoken and active opponent of bourgeois feminism. She saw this as divisive for the working class. She saw the feminist movement as dominated by the bourgeoisie and the women of the middle class and their political interests. She meant that only socialism could end the oppression of women.
In 1916 Zektkin was arrested for her opposition to the war but was released due to poor health. The same year she participated in the founding of the Spartacist League. In 1917 she was a part of the Independent SPD that split from the labour party because it had become a chauvinist and pro-imperialist war party. Zetkin also criticized the reformists for taking the Woman Question lightly.
In 1919 she participated in the constitution of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and was elected into the Reichstag for the communists from 1920 to 1933, she was a member of the central committee from 1927 to 1929. From 1921 to 1933 she held a seat in the executive committee of the Communist International (Comintern). She was responsible for the Women’s Secretariat in the Comintern.
In 1921 the second International Conference of Communist Women was held in Moscow. It was lead by Clara Zetkin and it was this conference that decided that the International Working Women’s Day from there on should be celebrated on the 8th of March. Thus Zektin was the chief executive for the Socialist Conference that adopted the International Working Women’s Day and the Communist Conference that decided that it should be celebrated on the 8th of March.
Clara Zetkin can thus justly be called the initiator of the 8th of March. These historical facts are also shown in that 8th of March belongs to the red women, that the day belongs to the international communist movement and not the bourgeoisie or the middle-class parties or NGOs. It is clearly shown that the 8th of March is a day for the world revolution and the struggle for socialism, and for the women’s struggle that is a part of this. This is the red thread in the 8th of March movement, and red women and all communists should highlight this on that day.
In 1925 Zetkin was elected as the leader of Rote Hilfe (Red Help), that gave solidarity and legal support to persecuted revolutionaries and socialists. In August 1932 she was president (chairwoman) for the Reichstag because she was the oldest member in parliament (75 years). In her opening speech, she encouraged the working class to unite in the struggle against fascism.
Communists have since criticized the German Communist Party’s political line in the 1920s. They organised no peoples army or armed struggled, they participated actively in the parliamentary game and election circus, in a period where fascism was growing and the imperialist war was again looming. This made it easier to put tens of thousands of communists in concentration camps and to destroy one of the largest communist party in the world. Clara Zetkins speeches and the communist party’s struggle was both zealous and heroic, but they suffered defeat and was not able to fight fascism or develope peoples war against fascism and reaction. Thus we must not only learn the positive from Zetkin and the german communists but also learn critically from their errors and shortcomings.
When Hitler and the Nazi Party seized the power the Communist Party was made illegal and Clara Zetkin and had to go in exile again. She died in 1933 in Arkhangelskoye, a little city close to Moscow and her ashes put to rest close to the Red Square in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis, where Joseph Stalin’s remains lay. Both Stalin and Lenin’s widow Nadezjda Krupskaja participated in the funeral.
Clara Zetkin wrote much, about Marxism, the worker’s movement and about the women question. She was an outstanding theoretician, leader and administrator in the midst of the international worker’s movement for more than 50 years. She dedicated her life to the class and the struggle. She has put lasting tracks. She was a red woman, internationalist and communist. Clara Zetkin lives in the red women’s movement and the international communist movement and the celebration of the 8th of March all over the world.
Quotes by Zetkin:
“Women workers who strive for social equality do not expect to obtain their emancipation from the women’s movement of the bourgeoisie which allegedly fights for women’s rights. That edifice is built on sand and has no realistic foundation. Women workers are totally convinced that the question of the emancipation of women is not an isolated one but rather constitutes a part of the great social question. They know very clearly that this question in today’s society cannot be solved without a basic transformation of society. ”
“The most important immediate task is the formation of a United Front of all workers in order to turn back fascism [..] in order to preserve for the enslaved and exploited, the force and power of their organization as well as to maintain their own physical existence. Before this compelling historical necessity, all inhibiting and dividing political, trade union, religious and ideological opinions must take a back seat. All those who feel themselves threatened, all those who suffer and all those who long for liberation must belong to the United Front against fascism and its representatives in government.”
“The bourgeoisie can no longer rely on its state’s regular methods of force to secure its class rule. For that it needs an extralegal and nonstate instrument of force. That has been offered by the motley assemblage that makes up the fascist mob. .”
“At present the proletariat has urgent need for self-defense against fascism, and this self-protection against fascist terror must not be neglected for a single moment. At stake is the proletarians’ personal safety and very existence; at stake is the survival of their organizations. Proletarian self-defense is the need of the hour. We must not combat fascism in the way of the reformists in Italy, who beseeched them to “leave me alone, and then I’ll leave you alone.” On the contrary! Meet violence with violence. But not violence in the form of individual terror—that will surely fail. But rather violence as the power of the revolutionary organized proletarian class struggle.”
“For the proletarian revolution, surging forward with a mighty impulse, must become a world revolution, carrying the new principles of humanity to victory; those principles that conceive the development of society as the conscious act of man, immediately embodied in the will and the work of the proletariat to destroy capitalism and establish communism.”