To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
February 9, 2018
RE:The Women’s March, slavery by another name, and about the
much-vaunted rise in wages

  1. Another huge Women’s March
  2. Left-wing organizing and the Women’s March
  3. Slavery did not end in 1865
  4. It’s not workers wages that are rising, but those of their supervisors

Another huge Women’s March

By Pete Brown, Detroit Workers’ Voice

The weekend of January 20-21 there were two days of huge marches for women’s rights following up the one that took place the day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Nationally, about four million people all told participated, and this included people in cities where no one marched last year. Hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Chicago, and probably the largest march was in Los Angeles where about half a million marched. Comrades of the Communist Voice Organization joined the demonstrations in Seattle, Buffalo, and Lansing.

In Seattle scores of thousands came out; the local paper estimated a hundred thousand. CVO comrades passed out hundreds of leaflets calling for defense of all immigrants against Trump’s attacks. Reception was friendly, and comrades ran out of leaflets before the march even started.

In Buffalo there was a spirited march of some 5,000, double the size of last year’s event. Comrades distributed a leaflet with an article about fighting racism in the Trump era and another article supporting the women’s movement. Hundreds of copies were distributed to friendly marchers. The march was organized to deal with a number of different issues including immigrants and prison conditions (a number of people have died recently in Buffalo jails). Marchers were militant and upbeat despite the official speakers, who were mainly corrupt Democratic Party politicians. The mayor of Buffalo, for instance, spoke about his great love for immigrants; but this comes after he prevented Buffalo being declared a sanctuary city! In Lansing there was no march, but about 5,000 showed up for a rally at the state capitol. CVO comrades distributed a leaflet prepared for Martin Luther King Day that emphasized fighting racism and Trump. There too the reception was friendly, as people responded favorably to the communist agitation.

These demonstrations for women’s rights had a big variety of signs and slogans, as people exhibited their creativity in numerous denunciations of Trump and other misogynists. They also expressed support for many progressive causes like those of the immigrants, anti-racism, anti-war, anti-fracking, etc. This shows that anger against Trump is deep and broad despite the main organizers’ attempts to keep the demonstrations “non-partisan.” It also shows deep sentiment among the masses to take up political issues and not allow the Trumpite reactionaries to have things their own way. <>

Left-wing organizing and the Women’s March

by Joseph Green, Detroit Workers’ Voice

The gigantic Women’s March has given rise to discussion about what attitude those who want to see a movement independent of the two big capitalist parties should have towards it. The following is an excerpt from an interesting exchange on Facebook in late January.

An activist: I know that people are excited by the Women’s March and I would be too, if that is what it was, but instead it is a mobilization to get out the vote for Democrats. This will not solve our crises.

Democrats are not feminist. They have failed to guarantee that women have access to all of the health care they need without financial barriers, have undermined our education system, have reduced affordable housing, have not guaranteed economic equality or security for women, have not stopped poisoning communities, have not stopped police violence and are fine with killing women and their families in acts of aggression in other countries.

I’d like to see millions of women marching in protest to both corporate parties and for economic, racial and environmental justice and peace.

Another woman activist: I agree with much of the comments and attitudes expressed here. I don’t think anyone can say that bourgeois feminism does not exist. It always has, in fact it has often been the dominant phenomenon both here and historically elsewhere. Because women are oppressed as women in addition for their class and race and sexual/gender preferences and nationality and religion and language et all it would be weird if there were not a bourgeois feminism. I think the best tradition of revolutionary fighters for working class and oppressed women’s interests historically have not denied the existence of bourgeois feminism but cooperate with it on specific things while being openly hostile to it on a class basis in seething analysis. For me I have always preferred to say that I am for women’s liberation than to necessarily identify with feminism because if I say feminist I really mean women’s liberation not bourgeois feminism, and overall authentic revolutionary socialism has to include women’s liberation as well as the liberation of all oppressed people.

Myself: Yes, the bourgeois politicians dominate the movement, and it’s encouraging to read the remarks from those that recognize this and want to fight it. But I think the mass outpourings are important. The program of the leaders is one time; the sentiment of the mass at these marches is another. The demonstrations are theoretically “non-partisan”; the demonstrators are vehemently anti-Trump. The Democratic Party is channeling this towards themselves, but the masses are thinking about things. The marches help shake things up, help encourage resistance, and much of the left doesn’t know how to deal with it. For the politicians, the important thing is that they will get a few more votes; for us, the important thing should be that people want to demonstrate their opposition to what’s going on. We, from Detroit Workers’ Voice and Seattle Workers’ Voice, took part in the Women’s Marches last year as well as this year, identifying with the mass sentiment and putting forward our views on the path forward. At the Lansing, Michigan rally, where I was, Detroit Workers’ Voice was one of the few radical left groups doing so. [There was a much greater participation of the left at some other of the women’s march rallies.] So there is a problem in orientation, not just of these marches, but of the radical left. The people are going to go through a long process of gaining experience in this struggle, with many zigzags, dead-ends, and controversies, but it’s good there are mass outpourings against reaction. If one waits for mass actions that are free of problems of orientation, one may be waiting a long, long time. <>

Slavery did not end in 1865

By Tim Hall, Detroit Workers’ Voice

When black people protest racism today, some white people ask them, “why are you complaining? Slavery ended in 1865!” The implication, of course, is that things are just fine for black people and they have no business protesting.

But slavery did not end in 1865. Not only that, but other monstrous crimes have committed against blacks since then. But just sticking with the issue of slavery, actual chattel slavery, that is, the buying and selling and holding in bondage of black human beings, continued widely in the deep south for about 80 years. Sheriffs would arrest black men for vagrancy and other petty acts, then sell them to plantations, mines, mills, and lumber and turpentine camps, making a good little bundle off the sales. And then the black men would be held and beaten and worked, often to death, and seldom released. Such a system existed widely in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and throughout the old south.

This horrendous situation became well-known to the federal government around the turn of the 20th century, and the Teddy Roosevelt administration swore it would eradicate the practice. But when they found how widespread it was, and how devoted the southern mine and mill and plantation owners and general white public were to continued slavery, the Roosevelt administration backed off and the practice lived on until World War II. T. Roosevelt’s very failure demonstrated how widespread and deep-seated this continued slavery was.

This situation is documented in a book, Slavery by Another Name, released in 2000. The author carefully documented this outrage with research in southern courthouses. The practice is also documented in novel form, in Georgia Nigger by John Spivak. <>

It’s not workers wages that are rising,
but those of their supervisors

by Joseph Green

The establishment media has been a big fuss about wages in the private sector rising recently. It turns out, however, that it’s only the real wages of supervisory personnel that are accelerating. This is what Doug Henwood says in his article “The Boss Recovery” (1).

Henwood points out a change in how the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average hourly earning (AHE) of workers. The BLS “has been reporting monthly AHE stats for ‘nonsupervisory’ or ‘production’ workers since 1964. Nonsupervisory workers — defined by the BLS as ‘those who are not owners or who are not primarily employed to direct, supervise, or plan the work of others’ — are about 82 percent of the private sector workforce, a share that has hardly changed over the last fifty-three years.” But in 2006 the BLS also began reporting the average hourly earning (AHE) for all workers, and this is what “the Wall Street analysts” have been focusing on ever since.

It turns out that the AHE for nonsupervisory workers has been about 2.4% in 2017 and January 2018. This is barely above the inflation rate of around 2.1% for 2017. But what about the pay of bosses? Henwood calculated the AHE for supervisory workers, which the BLS itself neglects to do. He states that

“For the year ending in January, supervisory wages were up 3.9 percent, compared with 3.0 percent in December. Over the last three months, supervisory wages are up 6.4 percent at an annual rate. (In January, nonsupervisory wages averaged $22.34, and supervisory earnings, according to my estimate, sat at $47.35.) In 2015 and 2016, both series moved pretty much together, but the boss sector began pulling ahead of the bossed in early 2017, and the gap has been widening since.”

He goes on to point out that these bounce around a lot, so perhaps the 6.4 rate may settle back. Still, he concludes, the point is that the “acceleration in wages is not a mass phenomenon. It’s for the $95,000 a year set, not the $45,000 crew.”

[1]: The quotes from Doug Henwood, including the parenthetical remark, are from his article The Boss Economy at

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Posted on February 21, 2018
Some typos have been corrected.