Clara Zetkin

The Women’s Movement

The Third Anniversary of the Kommunistka,
the Women’s Organ of Soviet Russia’s
Proletarian Revolution

(28 June 1923)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 37 [27], 28 June 1923, pp. 467–468.
Transcription & HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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Can it be only three years since the Kommunistka first appeared among our women comrades, among the proletarian and peasant women of Soviet Russia, as a friend and guide, going before to show the path, and to strengthen the forces of the women striving and fighting for their emancipation through socialism? How many and how mighty are the events which have been enacted during these three years in Soviet Russia itself, and in the world beyond its frontiers! Events numerous and important enough to fill whole volumes of history, were we to fully describe and examine them. Events such as generally require decades, or even centuries, to so transform the face of society of intervene so decisively in the life of the peoples. But the heroes of these events arise from classes hitherto consigned to the outer darkness, and who are now pressing forward into the full light of history – those classes which in other countries are still trampled under foot as mere refuse: the workers and peasants. The three years during which the Kommunistka has existed and carried on its work are not be measured by our common conceptions of time. These have been years of proletarian revolution, of the revolution arising from the creative masses, and it is this which imparts to the third anniversary of the Kommunistka its great importance.

And indeed: The work and value of the Kommunistka can only be properly estimated in the light of the great world historical happenings in which this women’s organ has originated, and which it serves. It is the concentration of something which has been evolving for centuries, the concentration of the longing and desire of innumerable generations. These three years have been filled with the life and work of revolution, above all of a proletarian revolution, which is not content – like a bourgeois revolution – with placing state power, in the hands of a class hitherto dominated and suppressed, but which at once entrusts the state power of this class with an enormous task: that of revolutionizing economics and society in accordance with that communism which alone is capable of giving to the weary and sorrow laden, and therefore to women, their share of the sunshine of perfect freedom, their share of every gift and opportunity common to humanity.

The Kommunistka appeared as an organ of a revolution which was already able to boast of proud victories. But precisely for this reason, the tasks confronting the revolution were the more gigantic and difficult. It had to defend what it had won against the treacherous and unscrupulous attacks of counter-revolution at home, and against the no less treacherous and unscrupulous machinations of the world bourgeoisie. At the same time it had to devote a great part of its energies to the construction and improvement of economics, to their renewal and development in accordance with communist ideals. And Russia’s economics were, for the most part, still deep in the morass of backwardness, still suffering from the effects of the worst sins of capitalism and Czarism, and shaken to their foundations by tire crime of the predatory world war. The Russian workers had no one to help them in this unheard of task. The proletariats of the highly developed capitalist countries had allowed themselves to be inoculated with the virus of diffidence, of lack of confidence in their own powers. They started back in alarm from the fulfilment of their historic duty of carrying on the world revolution begun by their Russian brothers and sisters. Soviet Russia has been the scene of a Titanic battle for the development of a new world order, of a world which is to realize the dream of the thinkers, poets, and prophets, a world which is to satisfy that cry of lamentation and hope which such innumerable millions have uttered all through the history of mankind: a society of liberty, equality, and fraternity for all, a society of peace on earth and goodwill among all men!

The proletarian and peasant women of Soviet Russia, whose torchlight is the Kommunistka, have never been mere inactive spectators of this struggle. Their whole will and capacity are devoted to its service. The proletarian revolution is flesh of their flesh, bone of their bone, spirit of their spirit. Was it not working women and soldiers’ wives who first sounded the alarm bell of revolution, and demonstrated in tens of thousands in the streets of Petrograd, crying out: Bread and peace! Women were lacking in no struggle in which the workers, led by Bolsheviki with clear aims, fought for the conquest of political power; and women have been among the victims ot these struggles. Women have played their part as fighters, defying death, as nurses, as commissaries, and in many other responsible positions in the rank and file of the heroic Red Army, when this was defending the soil of Soviet Russia, sacred to the revolution, against the armies of Yudenitch, Denikin. Koltchak, Wrangel, and the bands of White Guard Poland. Millions of working and peasant women have undergone every deprivation in the “trenches” of industry and agriculture, and thereby helped to render the Red Army invincible. With burning hearts, and with never-resting hands, they took up arms against the famine catastrophe and its frightful results in 1921. With utter self-abnegation they have worked for the economic and social structure in which free and happy human beings are to dwell.

To be sure, the enormous totality of working women and peasants of Soviet Russia do not yet belong to the army of those who have worked comprehendingly, courageously, and self-sacrificingly for the mighty and fruitful creation of the revolution. This has so far been the work of the revolutionary vanguard only, the elite of these gigantic masses. But that which this revolutionary vanguard has already accomplished, and is still accomplishing daily and hourly, is a proof that it is imperatively necessary for the broad masses of women still outside of our movement, but belonging to the producing classes, to be filled with the clear and penetrating spirit and strong will of the revolution. The great historical hour must bring forth a generation of women worthy of it. Communism, if it is to break the fetters which exploiting ownership has fastened upon man and woman alike, requires the joint labors of man and woman. How great is the honor which thus falls to the Kommunistka but how great also the task and responsibility bound up with its existence and its endeavors. It has to keep alive the sacred fire of revolutionary conviction, of energy, and enthusiasm among the women of the proletariat and peasantry; it must fan the flame into ever greater creative incandescence. It must serve those who are already awakened, but whose footsteps are still uncertain, as an enlightener and instructor; and to those who already know the goal and the path leading to it, it must act as advisor and stimulator; to all it must be a faithful and reliable guide, the voice of the revolution, the voice of the social proletarian conscience.

For three years the Kommunistka has faithfully and successfully carried out these manifold tasks. Has carried them out amidst all the dangers and difficulties with which revolutionary Soviet Russia has been wrestling, and despite the many obstacles inherent in the nature of tins organ and its field of activity.

The Kommunistka, in giving knowledge and insight to the women of the proletariat and peasantry, binds them firmly together in spirit and will with the revolution and the Soviet system – a pledge that evolution is leading to communism. Allied to the peasantry, the workers hold political power in their hands. Under this system, they exercise their dictatorship, and their representative, the Communist Party, steers the ship of revolution across the stormy sea, straight to the communist harbour. Soviet power implies proletarian power, and proletarian power implies social revolution, annihilation of capitalism, establishment of communism. The Kommunistka, which enlightens the proletarian and peasant women on the historical significance of events, gathers them together and makes them loyal supporters of Soviet power. It hammers into their consciousness the truth that Soviet power signifies their power as well, that Soviet power secures their future liberty.

The Kommunistka, a pillar of fire will light the way for working women of Soviet Russia in the days of hardship and struggle now confronting us. The world bourgeoisie is on the point of culminating its general offensive against the proletariat, the disinherited of every country, in a campaign against Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia is the first great Proletarian position of power created by the world revolution. It is the stronghold of all the exploited and enslaved who rebel against oppression, who Jong for freedom, human dignity, and happiness. So long as the Russian workers’ and peasants’ state remains unconquered, world capital cannot fully enslave all those who possess little or nothing, and consolidate its rule upon the lasting misery of the poor. And Soviet Russia is not merely maintaining itself, it is making progress, it is developing further by its peaceful work. Within a comparatively short space of time the Soviet republic will be a flourishing community, whilst the capitalist states all around are falling into decay. And it should be remembered that the rich natural resources of Russia, and the many millions of workers and peasants, arouse the greed of the capitalists for profits.

The English imperialists are whetting their swords for an attack on Soviet Russia. Lord Curzon’s ultimatum was a declaration of war. The vassal states of the Entente, from the Gulf of Finland to the mouth of the Danube, are arming for invasion. The murder of our esteemed Vorovsky was the danger signal. Conscious of the significance of peace for the reconstruction of her economy, and for the working masses of the whole world, Soviet Russia has made the greatest possible concessions in order to arrive at an understanding. The workers of England, and the thinking workers of the whole world, are at one with Soviet Russia, in the cause of peace. And in case of war there is the unconquered Red Army, and the Red Fleet. But war against Soviet Russia would necessarily mean another world war. Such a war is already being prepared for in the Ruhr by the French imperialists, for these are not satisfied with robbing Germany economically, but strive for her political dismemberment. War may come like a thief in the night on the Dardanelles question, on the question as to who is to have the first rights of robbery in Turkey, or to rule in the Near and the Far East.

Thus the. storm clouds darken the whole sky, and the deadly lightning may prove disastrous even to the economy of the Russian workers’ and peasants’ state, and to its general development. But Soviet Russia is armed and ready. Its passionate desire for peace will only be equalled by its valor and determination in fighting if fight it must. And again it will be the proletarian and peasant women of Soviet Russia who devote the whole of their energies to ensuring victory to the Soviet flag, whether by peaceful work for the reconstruction of economic life, or amidst the clash of arms in a life and death struggle. The Kommunistka will lead these heroines in the future as it does today, firing their enthusiastic devotion, increasing their energies. In this full confidence the revolutionary proletarian women, and their champions, the communist women, send greetings from all countries to the Kommunistka on its anniversary. And in greeting the Kommunistka they greet all the brave and self-denying proletarian and peasant women of Soviet Russia, who live for the cause of revolution, and are ready to give their heart’s blood for it. They greet in the Kommunistka a considerable part of that proletarian revolution to which the future belongs in Soviet Russia, and in the whole world!

Last updated on 17 October 2021