Dora Montefiore Justice 1910
Source: Justice, Our Women’s Circle, p. 5, January 15, 1910;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
It will interest English women Socialists to know that their American sisters are no whit behind their men comrades in the fight against the authorities for free speech. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn is now serving a sentence of three months in Spokane Gaol, Washington, on a charge of criminal conspiracy; and; as the “New York Call” points out, “if she serves her term of ninety days she will pay a dear price for her devotion to the cause of free speech. For she expects to become a mother before the end of three months.” Elizabeth Flynn has been a fighter in the cause of the people from the age of 15 years, when, in February, 1906, she gave her first lecture under the auspices of the Socialist Party. When asked once by a reporter if she did not think it better for a young girl to stay at home rather than go out into public life, she replied: “There are no real homes for working people under capitalism. We are used to this talk about the beauty of home. But think what most of us working people have. No luxuries, few comforts, no incentives to make our temporary places of residence better than they are, had we the strength and energy to do so after the daily struggle for bread is over. For the sacredness of a home goes for naught beside the rude demands of the landlord,” In 1909 Elizabeth Flynn was married to John Archibald Jones; and on the subject of women and their struggle for emancipation, she writes: “Woman does not care much for individual rights. If she did she would take advantage of present rights which are not now denied her. Why does not woman keep her own name after marriage? No law prevents her. It is only her acknowledgment of possession by man for a woman to take his name. Women who have outgrown the idea that they belong to their husbands have no excuse for clinging to the symbol of ownership.” And what is the offence that this brave, outspoken woman has committed, that in “free” America she should be herded with criminals and convicts? She undertook in November the editorship of the “Industrial Worker,” well knowing that the five previous editors had been arrested and sentenced to prison on account of their activity in upholding the right of free speech in Spokane. Truly, the women of the world are not fearing to tread the dangerous path of liberty, and when the day dawns over the mountain-tops they will not be far from the summit!
When either Tory or Liberal ladies want to get their sons or husbands into Parliament, they remember for the time being that there are such things as working women, who by their exploited labour make possible the luxury and leisure of the privileged classes! Viscountess Galway has been speaking at Scarborough to the women workers of that town, and urging them to influence their men-folk to vote for Tariff Reform, as it was “very much a woman’s question.” That is very likely more true than her ladyship realises, but then most of the legislative questions of the day are “very much woman’s questions”; only no attempt is made by our legislators to get at the woman’s point of view. For the exploited woman-worker it is of little importance whether a Tariff Reform or a Free Trade Government is in power, for under either tyranny her miserable earnings will be every week considerably reduced by indirect taxation, imposed on the tea, cocoa, coffee, currants, and sugar which form a large proportion of her simple diet. The only question that is of real importance to her is: How long will it be before a sufficiently numerous and strong Socialist Party gets into Parliament who will shift this burden of indirect taxation from the shoulders of the workers and place it as direct taxation on the shoulders of the well-to-do? Neither Tariff Reformers nor Free Traders will ever move a little finger to do this; whilst Labour members, once they get into Parliament, become so hypnotised with the tradition and atmosphere of the House that many of them appear to forget the sweated and exploited workers who have sent them there, and who, men and women, contribute towards their Parliamentary salaries. Socialism (one cannot repeat it too often) is the only hope of the workers, because it is only under Socialism, when men and women work for the community instead of for a master, that workers will own their own bodies and souls, and will be freed for ever from wage-slavery.
I began this article in Italy; I am finishing it in Burnley! A greater contrast in surroundings, atmosphere, and conditions it would be impossible to conceive! But Burnley is at this moment the Mecca around which International Social- Democratic thought centres; and all Socialists who can are flocking to Burnley to help comrade Hyndman, the first interpreter and apostle of Socialism in this country, in his election contest. These words will be read on the eve of the election, and I do not hesitate to aver that the eyes of International Social-Democracy are fixed on this corner of Lancashire, where our comrade is fighting so pluckily the wealthy and organised forces of reaction. If on Saturday night we can flash to the four quarters of the globe the two magic words “Hyndman Burnley,” the workers will know that their cause is indeed marching on, and the shirkers will realise that the sands in their glass are running low.
Two women barristers, Mme. Fleisthutz, of St. Petersburg, and Mme. Guensberg, of Kieff, have appeared in courts of justice and asked permission to plead. After due consultation of the members of a Council representative of the various institutions of Russian lawyers and jurists, it was decided that the appearance of these ladies as counsel was illegal. Russian women lawyers will therefore have to carry on the same fight for legal recognition as their sisters are doing in England.