Herbert Burrows, Justice, 14 December, 1907

Bax And The Woman Question

Source: Justice, Letter, 14 December, 1907, p.10;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

DEAR COMRADE, – A good many enquiries have been made of me as to why I do not answer Bax’s articles on women. There are certain things a man does not do, and one of these is to argue with a madman. In all friendliness to Bax I say that on this subject of women he is quite mad. He is a well known woman hater, and his personal bias vitiates everything he says on the question. When a man wonders, as he does, that there are not more wife-beatings and murders because of the legal do domination of woman over man, and when he gives such a ridiculous travesty of the whole woman’s movement as Bax does in his last article the only reasonable answer is silence. I am quite aware that some of the principal members of the S.D.F. believe Bax’s views to be sound philosophy, sound economics, and sound common sense, and that is no doubt the reason why they obtain such prominence in JUSTICE. In my opinion so much the worse for JUSTICE and for English Socialism, not only here but on the Continent, for I know from private correspondence what harm Bax’s views are doing us abroad, especially in Germany. The fact is that there is more than a tendency in some S.D.F. quarters to treat the whole women’s question, and the women themselves, as they are treated by the ordinary bourgeois and the middle-class Liberal, with a contemptuous tolerance which makes use of them in the movement, but would fain prevent a finger being lifted to help them to attain their real status. My own views on the matter are perfectly well known. They have been expressed in the columns of JUSTICE and often in public. I am quite willing to argue with any opponent who will take the trouble to make himself acquainted with the elementary facts of the question, but I should no more think of discussing, them with Bax than I should think of discussing Local Veto with a drunkard, the advantages of Trade Unionism with a Free Labour Federation blackleg, Socialism with certain members of the Liberty and Property Defence League, or the flatness of the earth with “Parallax.”

– Fraternally yours,

[We have received a somewhat similar letter to this of our comrade Burrows from Mrs. Eleanor Marx Aveling which, with others we do not think it worth while to print, as such personal abuse is no more likely to help their side than it is to raise the tone of the discussion. After all, scurrility is not argument. We have opened our columns to this discussion precisely because there is a difference of opinion among Socialists on the subject, and we object to the utterances of any hysterical individual being accepted as the expression of general Socialist opinion. Merely to attack Bax will not help to elucidate the matter. There are many besides Bax who largely agree with the views he holds, and if, in Burrows’s opinion, Bax is not worth arguing with on this question, his arguments should be met for the sake of these others. If Burrows would not argue Local Veto with an actual drunkard, he should remember that every person with whom he might argue it is a potential drunkard. Hitherto, none of the statements made by Bax have been met. We have only had torrents of “wild and whirling words” and shrieking protests against those statements having been made at all, and against their author. – ED.]