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A Campaign Against Socialism

January 21, 1910 — The Women’s Forum, 22 West 44th Street, New York City


[Valesh said the socialists were using strikers for their own “dangerous purposes.” She charged that the Woman’s Trade Union League was “full of socialism, marked by its perfunctory interest for the strikers.”

She criticized the executive committee of the shirtwaist strikers for turning down an offer which, she said, was made through her informally by the Associated Waist and Dress Manufacturers.]

It was made informally, but I was assured that the organization would stand by it if the strikers agreed. The manufacturers proposed to submit the differences to a committee to be composed of either Samuel Gompers, John Mitchell or any labor leader they might name, a representative of the manufacturers, and a third man to be designated by the other two. The strikers’ committee refused to consider any overture but one agreeing to the closed shop. 

What is that strikers’ committee? Eighteen men and two girls were present the day I saw them — the men all socialists, connected with the trade perhaps, but ignorant of what the girls want. And to show you the feminine view point, those girl strikers are actually grateful to the men who are using them for their own purposes. “It’s so nice of the men, who know so much more than we, to serve on our committees,” they say. 

I propose to start a campaign against socialism. This strike may be used to pave the way for forming clean, sensible labor unions, and I want to enroll every woman of leisure, every clubwoman, in the movement. The existing unions aren’t doing what they ought to stem the tide of socialism this country. The Woman’s Trade Union League is dominated by socialism, though I won’t deny they have helped the shirtwaist strikers some. 

Socialism is a menace, and it is alarming to one who has been, as I have, away form New York for some years, to come back and see how socialism has grown here. I’ve been down to Clinton Hall, and I am terrified at the spirit that fills the people that congregate there. There’s nothing constructive about socialism. It just makes those ignorant foreigners discontented, sets them against the government, makes them want to tear down. And socialists are using the strikers.

“How about the suffragists?” demanded Mrs. William H. McCartney. 

That’s different. The suffragists have used the strikers, but they’ve helped them, given them spiritual vision, and, besides, the suffragists say frankly to the strikers, “We want votes for women,” while the socialists veil their purposes under all sorts of pretences. It’s to the interest of the socialists to foment trouble,’ and they are constantly saying to the girls out on strike, “Keep it up as long as the money flows in.”



Source: New York Daily Tribune, 22 January 1910, p. 9.