Eleanor Marx Aveling 1897

French and German Classes for the SDF.

Source: Justice, 5 September 1896, p.3;
CopyLeft: this text is free of copyright restrictions;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford;

DEAR COMRADE, – The recent International Congress has once more shown us how essential it is that we should try to learn at least one language other than our own, and especially how essential it is that we should try to understand the general methods of procedure and debate in other countries. Rules of procedure and debate are practically identical in all Continental countries, the English alone have certain rules and customs peculiar to themselves. When we thoroughly understand all the methods it would be easy to draw up special rules for the conduct of International Congresses.

It seems to me, therefore, that during the next three years some of us should try and familiarise ourselves with other languages, not only as they are “wrote,” but as they are “spoke,” and with the Continental rules of debate. To this end I would suggest that during the autumn and winter months we might start some S.D.F. classes. I am sure there are members who could easily and would willingly give elementary lessons in French or German. Personally I will from October to March give two or three hours one evening a week to those who already have a fair knowledge of one or both these languages. I would suggest the reading of books and newspapers or the discussing of these; the holding of imaginary meetings and congresses, students in turn to take the chair, present reports, move resolutions or amendments, rise to motions of order, propose the closure, and so forth. If the S.D.F. will lend their hall one evening a week for this purpose if any comrades care to come I shall he very glad to give them all the help I can.

Further I would suggest that the students pay a small fee. This would probably keep away many (I speak from experience) who join classes and after a week or two drop, out again. The fees would, of course, go to form some fund for a purpose to be decided upon by the students themselves – e.g. it might form the nucleus of a fund to defray the expenses of delegates to the next Congress, or it might go to the JUSTICE fund, or to a children’s holiday fund.

Finally we should have a secretary and treasurer. Will any comrades help in the matter? If so I think a preliminary meeting should be called for, say, the second week in September, when the various details of the scheme would be considered and everything got ship-shape for the start in October. Meanwhile, will any comrades agreeing with the general idea of a French and German reading and discussion class communicate with me? – Yours fraternally,

Eleanor Marx Aveling
The Den, Jews Walk, Sydenham.