MIA: History: ETOL: Newspapers/Journals: Leon Trotsky Notebooks: April-May, 1979: Evelyn Reed (1905-1979)

Evelyn Reed (1905-1979)

Evelyn Reed, member of the American S.W.P. for forty years, died of cancer in New York on 22 March 1979. She was 73.

A painter, of a portrait of Natalia Sedova (Trotsky’s companion), Evelyn met members of the S.W.P. at the end of the 1930s, and settled in Mexico in 1939. There, she frequented Trotsky’s entourage, and it was under his influence, after many arguments, that she adhered to the S.W.P. in 1940. She would become a member of its National Committee from 1959 to 1975, and would involve herself in the organised American Trotskyist press: The Militant (the daily) and International Socialist Review (the theoretical journal).

But Reed’s most consistent contribution will be her collection of writings dedicated to the liberation of women. Applying the method of historical materialism to analyse the origins and the specific nature of women’s oppression in a class-based society, showing the indispensable articulation between the fight for women’s rights and for the overthrow of capitalism, refuting the countless pseudo-theories and male chauvinistic prejudices made to keep women marginalised from the decisive spheres of social life, fighting the “radical feminist” theories making men “the main enemy”… The principal themes of various articles written by Evelyn Reed since the milieu of the 1950s until her death. Evidently, her articles largely “nourished” the movement’s women liberation fraction, and in the international ladder, for who there will never be “freedom for women without socialism” nor “socialism without freedom for women”.

The book Evelyn Reed worked on for twenty years, Women’s Evolution (the evolution of women, an anthropological study) has not yet been translated into French. From her other book, circulated successively in English editions and translated into 8 languages, Problems of Women’s Liberation, 2 articles have just been published in French in Feminisme et socialisme aux États-Unis, collected texts from the S.W.P. translated and edited by Françoise Le Calvez (10/18/1979).

The office of the Institute Léon Trotsky and the board of editors of Cahiers L
on Trotsky extend their warm and saddened sentiments to the members of the S.W.P. and comrade George Novack, Evelyn’s companion for forty years.