Ernest Belfort Bax

Equality, Not Privilege

(26 August 1893)

Equality not Privilege, Justice, 26th August 1893, p.5 (letter).
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

To the Editor of Justice

DEAR COMRADE, I must protest against “Delegate’s” cool statement that the resolution advocating certain special legislation of a privilege-granting character for women was, voted unanimously. The president (Volders) expressed a wish that it should be so voted, but as a matter of fact seven or eight of the British delegation, several of the Austrian. delegation, and a few others throughout the hall (together probably between twenty and thirty) voted against it. The resolution of Shaw protesting against any legislation for women which does not include men, and for which I was down to speak, was intentionally or unintentionally burked by the bureau and president (Volders), and this notwithstanding that the resolution and the speakers’ names had been sent in the previous afternoon. The fact is the Commission’s resolution was rushed through without any opportunity being allowed for adverse criticism. Without discussing it in detail, I may point out the absurdity of passing a general eight hours’ resolution and then on the top of it passing one advocating the measure for women, thereby implicitly excluding men. It looks very mach as it the first were intended only as a pious opinion, regarded as incapable of realisation, since obviously the second would be otherwise unnecessary. That it would be comparatively easy to obtain the passing of an eight hours’ law or any other form of privilege for women is not to be denied. The whole drift of public opinion is in this direction. Every class hails with jubilation the concession of this sort of sex-privilege. But the granting of it would undoubtedly head back the general eight hours’ movement, just as the abolition of brutally criminal punishments for women has practically extinguished the agitation for their general abolition. The same in all cases. The granting of special and one-sided privileges on sentimental grounds invariably retards the progress of a movement based on grounds of principle. – Yours fraternally,


E. Belfort Bax


Last updated on 11.6.2004