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Lydia Beidel

Workers’ Forum

On the Ladies Who Now Own
the Daily Worker

(17 August 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 33, 17 August 1940. p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


So without a shot being fired or a command to surrender being uttered, the Daily Worker has gone underground – behind three skirts! And no ordinary skirts, either! I refer to the Daily Worker’s announcement of its sale to three ladies.

There’s Ferdinanda, who’s 63; and Susan, still going strong with a camera and lecture notes at 71; and Caro, delving daily deeper into research despite her 81 years.

And lest you think that years be the most notable of their assets, be assured that these three venerable dames began collecting background decades before they popped into the world singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Take Ferdinanda, for instance. Hers is a Wesselhoeft skirt, flouncing in and out of America, Europe and the USSR these six decades, sweeping in its wake a collection of artistic accomplishments covering sculpture, music and classical literature. Reeking with tradition, it walks in the noble memory of such names as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Martin Van Buren, John Calhoun, Horace Greeley and Carl Shurz, some of whom in their weaker moments put themselves trustingly in the hands of Grandpapa Wesselhoeft and his “famed Brattle Sanitorium” Ferdinanda learned about the class struggle from a book called Through the Eye of a Needle by William Dean Howells.

Susan is a D.A.R. and veteran of the back-to-the-land struggle. Her 71 years of historical reminiscence include the thrilling rescue of “two wagon-loads of priceless archives from the Navy Department and the White House” by her great grandfather who seems to have been around when Dolly Madison needed help. She was practically born into the staff of the Bankers Magazine.

And Caro has had 81 years of Puritan inheritance complicated with a degree from Vassar. Most of her life has been spent in research. If she is responsible, not the least of her research contributions to the Communist Party has been the digging up of three such fossils as herself and her two associates in this democratic binge they are out on – buying up newspapers to insure “freedom of expression” in a cock-eyed and decaying society. It’s only too bad they should right crack out of the box get stuck with the Daily Worker.

Imagine Earl Browder though, grooming himself for the historic moment when the forces of reaction pounce upon his erstwhile official organ. He is probably at this very moment standing before a pierglass declaiming with heroic gestures the lines which ring through the corridors of every little schoolhouse (out of consideration for his feelings, we left out the adjective “red”) in the country:

“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on! ...”

Contemplate if you will the impenetrable bulwark of defense the brain trust of the Comintern has thrown around their press: three females; three almost or actual octogenarians; three members of the firstest families. One can see capitalism cringing before it!

We should like to be allowed a few friendly words of advice to the new owners of the Daily Worker. To Ferdinanda: If you want to know how really little the eye of a needle can be quit staring at the veracity record of the Daily Worker for a while and try smuggling a few copies of the Russian Bulletin of the Fourth International over the Russian borders. To Susan: Why not really emulate your illustrious ancestor and tear over to the Kremlin with a couple of wagons while there are still a few “priceless archives” of the Russian Revolution still undestroyed by Stalinite vandals.

And with Browder and company we should like a word too. If the Communist Party, trembling before the possibility of imminent illegality, wants to save its press by a legal transfer of ownership we have absolutely no objection. Even if it has in mind only the avoidance of payment on judgments against it for libelous statements we still say all right With us. But why the monkey-business with octogenarian skirts of good family? Who the hell do you think you’re kidding – us, yourselves, the capitalists or the three old ladies?


Lydia Beidel

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