Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Opinion: Why I became a communist

First Published: Unity, Vol. 5, No. 1, January 29-February 11, 1982.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The following article was contributed by a middle-aged, white working woman who has joined the League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L).

* * *

I was born in a Midwest industrial city in the late 1930’s and quickly baptized a Catholic. I can say I experienced repression at an early age.

There were several things that directed my life: being Catholic, World War II, the shutdown of a local car plant, marriage, and meeting people from the League.

I rebelled against Catholicism. I believe it prevents people from viewing their lives and the world objectively. The ideas being – “pray a lot” – “it’s God’s will,” and if you want to get to heaven “stay in line” – so to speak. I gave up on the whole thing at the age of 28.

My father was in the last group of men to be drafted in World War II. He had a slight heart condition, but he was put in the infantry anyway. He fought in some of the worst battles in Europe. The Battle of the Bulge was one. The good old U.S.A. couldn’t get supplies through for weeks, so some of the men ate dirt and snow to ease their hunger.

The upheaval my father’s leaving caused in our family was great. When the emotional trauma was mostly over, my mother had to leave the city and move to a small town near her parents. We moved into a really small house. My mother was philosophical. She called it a doll house. We couldn’t make it in the doll house – not enough money coming in.

We then moved in with my mother’s parents, who had a small farm. Shortly after that, my mom got a job in an airplane plant. Financially, things were a whole lot better. However, my mother was constantly exhausted from long hours of climbing over airplane wings with a rivet gun and trying to deal with a foreman who pushed her to work faster. She said she could have gotten him off her case by meeting him after work – she didn’t.

The war was over, my father came home and started looking for a job. Another company took over the airplane plant and started making cars, and my dad got a job there; our family was stable for awhile.

In the 1950’s, the plant shut down and moved to another state. My father was looking for a job again, this time it was harder to find work – he never had a steady income again in his life.

I went to work to help support our family, which consisted of four then. Then came the moving. We couldn’t make the house payments, so we moved to cheaper housing. Sometimes there wasn’t money to pay bills, but the power company stockholders aren’t too interested in how people get along without electricity.

There were no food stamps then, but people could get government surplus food, and welfare. That whole scene was so outrageous and painful, 1 can’t think about it very much even now.

By that time, 1 was pretty angry and had a lot of unanswered questions on my mind. My father blamed himself a lot and as the saying goes, “the system brought him down.” At that point, I couldn’t identify the system as capitalism, but I knew it was pretty bad.

My father had a heart attack and went to the Veterans Hospital. Treatment was denied because he couldn’t prove his illness was service connected. He was dead at the age of 48.

In the late fifties I was married. I had babies. I met other women on my street, and the conversations centered around babies, in-law problems, floor wax and clean toilets. When the Civil Rights Movement started, and national TV showed cops breaking heads on the march from Selma to Montgomery, these women were still having almost the same conversations. It was all pretty strange – but I guess they were afraid to look too closely at what was happening, because they knew the time might come to look closely at themselves. I guess it was better believing they weren’t oppressed, and neither was anyone else.

I joined the women’s movement, and we started a local chapter of NOW in the early 1970’s. My views about how we should do things differed from the rest of the executive board. I felt we should do outreach to minority, blue and pink collar women, and women at home taking care of families. At that time it was not a popular view.

I left NOW and joined the farm worker boycott in the Midwest. I learned a lot from working with the farm worker families, and being on the picket lines, and dealing with police and the so-called system of justice. I believe this country is very close to being a police state (for lack of a better description).

In 1980 my anger and frustration were still building – it seemed clear to me that this system of government is wrong, corrupt and generally does not meet a whole lot of people’s needs. Then I met people from the League and finally began to understand and identify some of the horrible things I’d experienced and observed and had to deal with.

I feel relieved that there is an alternative to capitalism. Marxism – Communism – I’m not sure how it’s going to be implemented – but I can learn, and hopefully talk to other people I work with and meet and try to help them to understand and not be afraid. I believe I’m in for the duration.