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Reviving the fighting spirit of International Women's Day
"Organized, we are a mighty force"

March 7, 2003 | Page 3

MARCH 8 is International Women's Day. And with George W. Bush dead set on a slaughter in Iraq, this socialist holiday that stands for internationalism and opposition to war has never been more timely.

International Women's Day was founded by an international socialist women's conference in Copenhagen in 1910. When it was first celebrated in Russia in 1913, women workers were forced to gather secretly, to avoid persecution at the hands of the repressive Tsarist regime.

Four years later, with the world's workers thrown by their rulers into a bloody world war, Russian women textile workers organized a demonstration on International Women's Day to voice their opposition to the slaughter, high food prices and the conditions they faced at work. The sentiment of the demonstration was taken up by other Russian workers, and strikes spread to other workplaces.

That International Women's Day ignited a revolution that overthrew the Tsar's tyranny. Eight months later, Russian workers would organize a second revolution that put a workers' government in power for the first time in human history. The 1917 Revolution would save Russian workers from the horrors of the world war--and offer the world a glimpse of the potential of a society where workers are in the driver's seat.

Its goal was to end the war for all workers, in every country--and to spread the revolution internationally. "While the war continues, we cannot build the new Russia, cannot resolve the problem of bread, of food, cannot halt the rising cost of living," the Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollantai wrote in the Bolshevik newspaper Woman Worker in 1917. "While, with every hour that passes, the war continues to kill and cripple our children and husbands, we, the women of the working class, cannot know peace!

"If our first task is to help our comrades build the new, democratic Russia, our second task, no less urgent, and closer to our hearts, is to rouse working women to declare war on war…Isolated, we are but straws that any boss can bend to his will, but organized, we are a mighty force that no one can break."

Today, as world leaders gamble on the future of millions in Iraq and around the globe, our side must renew the spirit of International Women's Day--of an international working-class solution to their world of never-ending war.

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