Women's Web
stories actions




some Australian Women's responses to war

From 1909 to now, including
two women, two organisations, two journals during WWI


11-13  PREQUEL
11.  Two Women, Two Organisations
13.  Our Herstory Before WWI


18.  The British Empire on Trial


19.  AWNL - Federal Platform
20.  Do Not Seek Place or Power


21.  The Empire on Its Trial

23.  World Domination
23.  The British Empire on Trial
24.  Patriotic Meetings
26.  Fight or Work Campaign
26.  Patriotic Resolutions
27.  What the AWNL has Done
27.  Enemy Within the Camp
28.  Christmas of Faith and Hope

29.  Appalled Tades Hall Council
30.  Appeal to the Women
30.  The Striker and the Shirker
31.  I Didn’t Raise My Musket
32.  The Prime Minister in England
32.  Australia’s Honour at Stake
33.  Strikes are Rife in Australia
33.  Empire Day Demonstrationl
34.  Petition for Conscription
35.  22,000 Signatures Five Days
36.  Australia or Germany
36.  League Appeal to Women
38.  Defend the Empire’s Trade
39. Woman’s Influence

40.  War Savings Patritic Scheme
41.  The War Drum of Unionism
41.  Australia Finances Two Wars
42.  Suggestive Thoughts on Thrift
43.  1917 Petition for Conscription

44.  A Magnificent Demonstration
45.  Women’s Vote Responsible?
45.  Falling Birth Rate – Nat. Peril
46.  Disloyal Utterances
46.  Parents’ Consent
46.  A War-Time Election
47.  The Red Flag
48.  Trade Vigilance Committee
48.  The Power Behind the Throne
49.  The Armistice – and After

51.  Thankfulness to God
51.  Madness that is Bolshevism
52.  Those Who Will Never Return
52.  Peace Terms - Versailles

56.   War is Women’s Business


57.  Vida Goldstein


58. The Woman Voter
59. A Ministry of Peace
60. Settling Intrenational Disputes
61. Women Will Stand Together
61. Women of the World Unite!
62. Shall the Mothers Rejoice?
63. Women, Bethink Yourselves
64.  Fighting for Civil Liberty
65. Women of the World are One
66. An Outrage on Civilisation
66. White Australia Policy Done
66.  A Scheme Help Unemployed
67.  War and the People’s Bread
68.  Christmas Message All


69.  No Secret Imperial Policy
69.  W.P.A. Women’s Bureau
70.  Women Seeking Work
70.  Proposals for Work
71.  The Unemployment Bureau
71.  Women’s Farm
72.  A Farm Has Been Taken
72.  Labour Bureau New Office
73.  Women’s Conference Hague
74.  A Free Press
75.  Women’s Labour Bureau
75.  Attempt to Annihilate Bureau
76.  Defence of Their Own Rights
76.  Cost of Living Deputation
77.  Parliamentary Rebuff
78.  Members Frightened of Us?
79.  Deputation Minister Defence
79.  Form a Women’s Peace Army
82.  Congress of Women - Hague
83.  Mothers Fight
84.  Necessitous Women
85.  WPA Requests Prime Minister
86.  Asiatic Deprived of Work
86.  Tabloid Philosophy - Patriotism
87.  Venereal Disease
87.  I Didn’t Raise My Son Soldier
88.  Peace Mandate
89.  Our Bureau at Christmas Time
89.  Women Continue to Sing It


90.  Soldiers Attack Mr Katz
90.  Who Loses the War?
91.  War and Rights of Citizens
92.  Mr Hughes Incites to Murder
93. Condemns Authorities
93.  WPA and the Prime Minister
97.  The Little Nations
97.  War Profits, Food Prices
97.  Not Breeding Machines
98.  The Children’s Peace Army
98.  Almost Without Bread
98.  Peace Proposals
99.  Conscription by Proclamation
100. Justice Blind in One Eye
100. Women's Farm
100. Unemployed Women
101. Letter from a Prisoner of War
101. Yarra Bank Meeting
104. Who Profits War? Mining
104. Distress Amongst Women
105. Social Evil Convention
106. Women’s National League
106. Church and Social Questions
106. Women Belligerent Countries
107. State Govt. Compels Women
107. So Mr Hughes Hopes
108. Opposing Conscription
108. Peace Army Leaflets
110. Child Labour
111. Manifesto Peace Army
112. New Premises
113. Colours
114. 6,000 Processionists
114. Persia - New Agreement
114. Secret Mission to London
115. Proclamation Annulled!
115. Women for Permanent Peace


116. Women’s Terms of Peace
117. WPA and Russian Revolution
118. War is Out of Date
119. Workers Never Wavered
120. Raid on Parliament
120. The Strike
121. WPA Established a Commune
122. We Lead - Conscription No!
122. Hugely Successful Meetings


123. Press, Pulpit Purse
124. It is with Great Regret
124. The ‘Shirker’ Class
124. Meeting Guild Hall
124. Protest against Profiteering
125. President Wilson’s Speech
125. The Dawn of Peace


127. WPA Peace Buttons
127. Women’s Peace Congress
127. Delegation to Europe
129. Starving Babies of Germany
130. Peace Congress Zurich
131. Rule of Force and Spoilation 
131. Old Order is Not Changed
132. Peace - Unspeakable
134. Hatred Treaty of Versailles
134. Colour Caste’s a Lie
134. Pagan Rites Ended
135. It is War, It is War
135. Congress Deep Regret
136. Zurich and Versailles
137. Old-Time Despotism
138. Order Out of Chaos
139. The World is Sick unto Death
139. Misunderstanding and Hate
140. Not Enough Return Passage
140. This Publication Ceases


144-148 SEQUEL
144 Women in Black
145 Beyond the Garden Gate

149-177 APPENDICES - 1 to 9

178-180 INDEX 




Pages 149 to 177 Appendices 1-12 PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE


(By Telegraph from Our Correspondent.) 
MELBOURNE, 12 April 1902

A manifesto has been issued by the Victorian Employers' Federation outlining its future policy. The manifesto set out that the defensive attitude hitherto maintained by the Employers' Federation towards the aggressions or Socialistic legislation, which for so long have swayed Parliament, must now be abandoned in favour of a policy of opposition.

The federation has approved of the payment of good wages, and is antagonistic to sweating in every shape or form, and it is not aggressive to labour. Its objects are to protect the thrifty worker against the experimental legislation now being forced on him, to support the interests of employers and to act for capital as the Trades Hall acts for labour. Parliament has now become the arena where these questions are fought out, and it is there they must be met. The federation is distinctly opposed to undue Government interference in fixing wages and hours of labour, and would alter the Factories and Shops Act in these respects.

The federation is also opposed to the so-called Conciliation and Arbitration Acts operating in New Zealand and New South Wales, and now proposed to be introduced into Victoria, believing that their tendency is to cause irritation rather than conciliation. The federation has also approved of the reduction of the number of members of Parliament and of the rate of payment of members in the State Parliament, and a general reduction of the expenditure of the State.

To successfully accomplish these reforms it is necessary that all employers and producers should combine in sending into Parliament members pledged to these reforms. Brisbane Courier 14 April 1902


1906 The Woman’s Paper:
Melbourne 24th May, 1906 ‘Empire Day – We stand as the white man’s lonely outpost in Eastern Seas. Looming up above us are the mysterious, crowded lands of Asia. Once their hordes went west, desolating everything before them. Now, they will come south should the opportunity ever be presented to them. But that chance can only be given should Australia, in a fit of blindness, remove herself from the protection of Empire … It is a happy sign of the times that the first plank of our newest political body, the Australian Women’s National League, is “Loyalty”.

1907 Australian Women’s National League report 1/7/1907:
The AWNL is the outcome of a meeting between six women, in March, 1904, who decided that, to make effective use of the Commonwealth franchise, the women voters must be organised. These ladies (Mesdames A. E. Clarke, C. O’Brien, and Miss Durham) formed themselves into a provisional committee, and two public meetings were held in the Town Hall, Melbourne, with satisfactory results.

The Presidency was accepted by Janet Lady Clarke, whose interest in all matters relating to the public welfare is well known. The movement spread rapidly and, at the second Annual Demonstration, on the 4th September last, the League numbered eighty three branches, with a total membership of ten thousand … England doesn’t need us, we need England … What were the directions in which the outlying portions of the empire could be of benefit to the empire? We would divide them into three divisions. The first division was defence. (Applause) The outlying portions of the Empire should be able at a certain time to come in and take the responsibility of assuming a proper share, or something like it, of the burden of National Imperial Defence …

p. 5 The two great things the League had to oppose was, first, Trades Hall domination of Federal politics and union tyranny, and, secondly, the “wobblers” in politics who sided with the socialists when it suited them …

p. 9 The Anti-Socialist Alliance

An Anti-Socialist Alliance has been formed between the Farmers’ League and the AWNL and kindred associations. The new body will be controlled by a council composed of delegates from the affiliated bodies. The work will be to stir up the public against socialism and to carry on active organising work in preparation for the elections.

The following are the objects of the alliance:
1. To support loyalty to the throne.
2. To promote economy in public expenditure.
3. To oppose Government borrowings unless for defence purposes, redemption or reversal of loans, or for any but clearly productive works.
4. To oppose unjustifiable Government interference with private enterprise.
5. To resist the nationalisation of industries and manufactures, and any harassing legislation applied thereto, and to oppose the nationalisation of land or money or any excessive class taxation.
6. To oppose extreme socialism and undue domination in Parliament of the Labour or any other party.
7. To support legislation promoting the development of agriculture, pastoral, mining, manufacturing, commercial, and industrial pursuits.
8. To oppose the acquisition by Government of any industrial monopoly, on the ground that a private monopoly may be broken up by competition, but a Government monopoly by legislation become permanent.

p.25 An Address on the League – Mrs Hope, President …
With regard to the fourth object viz: To Protect the Purity of Home Life – we notice that the effect of our League Manifesto issued a few months ago, was to bring forth disclaimers from our prominent Labour leaders. They declared that they wish in no way to weaken the marriage tie, or to oppose religion. We rejoice to hear that they thus reject these Socialistic doctrines; but we much regret that our Labour members resolved, lately, at a Labour conference, to join in organised relationship with the International Socialists in Germany and to be directly represented at their conference. This step connects our Labour Party with Socialism and is much to be regretted.

Our belief is logical and well founded. We shall try to make this point clear … The beginning and end of socialism is the transference of individual and competing capital into a united and collective capital … When put in plain words, these statements mean that Socialism would transfer all private property to the State, and would do away with all competition.

The principle of family life is directly opposed to this principle of Socialism … May God preserve us from an ideal Socialist regime.

Logically, therefore, we believe that State Socialism must be opposed to the present marriage system, in order to be consistent to its principle and for the same logical reason we believe that it must oppose religion, because it maintains the sanctity of marriage and of family life. When we realise also that State Socialism would make each man, woman and child a State servant and would compel the mother as well as the father to work for the State, and to place their children in State nurseries, we maintain that State Socialism does mean danger to the marriage system, and must be fought “tooth and nail” by women.’

In 1907 it held the first Pan-Australian Conference of Anti-Socialistic Women's Organisations (25 October 1907)


The Woman
1 December 1917:
Australian Women’s National League Petition for Conscription –

To the Honourable the Speaker, and to the Honourable the Members of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned Electors of the Commonwealth, resident in Victoria, respectfully showeth that: -
1. In view of the extreme gravity of the situation regarding the War, and the turn that events have taken, consequent upon the downfall of Russia, we consider that the time has arrived when Australia can no longer remain the one volunteer nation fighting the war.
2. The failure of Italy to withstand the German invasion, following on and consequent upon, the downfall of Russia, sounds the clarion call to all the Allies concerned in this great struggle to marshal all their forces, and to throw every ounce of their energy into the scale now that the most serious phase of the War has been reached.
3. Australia’s safety and her honour are at present in the gravest peril. No sane man or woman can shut his or her eyes to the gravity of the situation.
4. Therefore we believe that the hour has struck when the voluntary system of enlistment is inadequate to meet the Nation’s need. We believe that Conscription is necessary, so that Australia may do her share in bearing the Empire’s burden, in preserving her honor untarnished, and in fulfilling her obligations to those heroic Australians who have already offered the great sacrifice on the battlefields.
5. Unless adequate reinforcements can be sent to keep up Australia’s strength in the field, the burden placed upon those brave men, who are already overtaxed, will be intolerable. We owe it to them as a solemn duty to send men who will keep Australia’s name in the proud position in which they have been made in vain. It is abundantly clear that under the voluntary system this cannot be done.
6. We therefore humbly pray that your Honourable House will speedily introduce such measures as will put the question of Conscription clearly before the people, feeling that if the facts are but rightly understood the Electors will emphatically declare that Australia’s honor and Australia’s safety are too precious to be trifled with, and that her soldier sons shall be reinforced by their fellow Australians. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.      


Woman Voter 1 August 1918:
By formally adopting the Red Flag as their emblem and deciding that it shall fly over the Melbourne Trades Hall all the year round, the extremists who control the Labour movement have come out into the open.

The forces of civilisation are today arrayed in fighting order under standards of their own choosing. A life and death struggle is in progress. Twenty-eight nations and countries are banded together in defence of the right of free peoples to remain free, and are pouring out their treasures of men and money to resist the evil that is known as Prussianism. Russia was in the struggle at the beginning. Her legions fought on the side of Right. But revolutionaries, waiting their opportunity, raised the Red Flag, and the nation that was known as Russia crumbled away in a night.

The Red Flag flies over what was once mighty Russia, but is now a warring cockpit in which the law is the “tooth and claw” of the jungle. For the protection of life and property in that unhappy country and the restoration of some form of law and order the Allies have landed troops on the Murman Coast. Even the United States Government, which for long looked askance at all suggestions for intervention has joined the expedition.

The forces that will resist the advance of the Allies – that are doubtless even now offering them battle – will be marshalled under the Red Flag, and will consist of as many of the fanatical revolutionaries as have the pluck to risk their precious skins, with the strong backing of the hosts of the Kaiser. All the forces of evil will be gathered together under the Red Flag. The emblem there - as elsewhere – will be a rallying point for all who desire to bring about the defeat of the Allies – who are not in sympathy with the cause for which the Allies are fighting, who would like to see one or more of the partners in the alliance humiliated and degraded. And in Australia the Red Flag has been raised by the Trades Hall! All sorts of excuses and explanations are, of course, advanced, but they were to be expected.

All loyalists, all who wish the Allies well, all who passionately believe in the cause for which the Allies are fighting, stand beneath the folds of the Union Jack and the Australian flag. There is no room here for other flags. Those who are not with us are against us. The unfurling of the Red Flag is, as the Acting Prime Minister so pointedly remarked, “a direct challenge to the patriotic sentiments of a large majority of Australian citizens”. Loyalists could have hoped that with the nation at death grips with a merciless and implacable foe the Trades Hall would have chosen otherwise. But, the choice having been made, the challenge will be accepted.



Hughes, Agnes Eva (c. 1856 - 1940) OBE
Born c. 1856, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia
Died  10 June 1940, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia
Occupation,  charity worker and Political activist
Alternative Names  Hughes, Eva (Preferred)

Eva Hughes was a prominent figure in women's groups as well as charitable and patriotic organisations in Melbourne from the early 1900s. She became second president of the influential, politically conservative, anti-socialist group the Australian Women's National League (1909-1922), after the death of her sister Janet Lady Clarke. During the First World War she encouraged war-work and became a member of the Australian League of Honour, the Lady Mayoress's Patriotic Fund and the Friendly Union of Soldiers' Wives and Mothers. She supported the government's conscription campaign, and garner support through her presidency of the Australian Women's National League. On 4 October 1918 Eva Hughes was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) (OBE) for services as president of the League. Following her retirement as president, Hughes continued to act as an adviser, and was made a life patroness and a life member of the League's council. http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0151b.htm

Goldstein, Vida (1869 - 1949)
Born 1869, Portland, Victoria, Australia
Died 15 August 1949, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia
Occupation, Feminist and Suffragist

Vida Goldstein ran for the Australian Senate in 1903. Though she was not elected, she was the first woman to be nominated for the Australian Parliament.

Woman Voter
Vida Goldstein - “To Mrs Hughes (of the Australian Women’s National League) the oneness of Empire was beyond all politics, and it quickly became apparent that her idea of consensus meant the submission of others - especially in the labour movement - to conservative principles. In the four arduous years of the war Mrs Hughes called unceasingly for sacrifice, but the measures she suggested indicate that it was the workers and their families who were asked to suffer and endure, not the employers.”

Women Voter
17 March 1914:
A Warning to Woman Voters Not to be Led by Men
The Women’s National League held its 10th anniversary on the 10th instant, and in the reports we look in vain for a woman’s speech. True, the president, Mrs Hughes gave a brief speech, but it was a man’s speech, expressing the man’s point of view of the part woman is to play in politics to help him. Convincing proof of this fact is given in her reference to women as the “fair sex”. Self-respecting women never use, nor permit the use of, this odious cognomen. It is utterly distasteful to us to offer criticism of another women’s organisation, but we have a duty to perform towards women and towards the public in safeguarding the woman movement from disintegration by men politicians, who, however disinterested their motives might be, cannot fail to lead women off the right path in politics.

The man’s political path is not the woman’s else there would not be the need for women’s enfranchisement and women in parliament. Therefore, when we see women being made the tools of men politicians, it becomes our serious duty to warn women of the treachery of which, all unwittingly, they are guilty towards their own sex. (Vida Goldstein would not refer to the AWNL as national, which she said it was not.)


Woman Voter 
29 September 1914:        
Open Letter to the Women of Australia,  Vida Goldstein - “Dear women of Australia, dear women of every shade of political and religious thought, come and let us reason together about war; the present war and war in general.  

But first let me tell you what has recently happened to us in this free Australia of ours. International Peace and Arbitration is one of the planks of our programme. When we put a subject in our platform it is not put there for show case or dress parade purposes – it is put there because we believe in it as a fundamental principle of our policy. It is not there to be spoken of only in the piping times of peace, and put away as soon as war breaks out. Immediately when war was declared we cleared the decks of our little Peace Dreadnought and prepared for action. We passed a resolution regretting that the statesmanship of nations had failed to maintain peace, and asking the President of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance to call upon the women of all affiliated countries to demand peace, and the submission of the points in dispute to arbitration. We published articles against war, basing our arguments on the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.

On September 3 we received a communication from the Military Censor informing us that the Woman Voter of 25th August and 2nd September contained “matter that should not have been published,” and enclosing a copy of “instructions to press.” These instructions referred only to cables, cargoes, movements of warships and troops, sensational reports of victories or defeats, seditious, disloyal, or contemptuous matter, etc., and we were asked to give an assurance that we would loyally carry out these instructions. We believed, and we believe, that we had not violated them in any way. We wrote to that effect to the censor, and asked specifically if it were not possible to plead in our paper for love and peace to reign between nations instead of hatred and bloodshed, and for the application of the teachings of Christianity to international differences.

No written answer was received to this letter, but one of the Censors visited our office and proceeded very earnestly, very courteously, to argue the matter out with us. We told him that we must continue to publish articles on the lines of those objected to, that we could not consent to being prohibited from preaching the gospel of love, that we could not admit that the military authorities anywhere had the right to prohibit the teaching of Christianity. The Censor could not meet us on this ground, but persisted in saying that we must not publish anything that was not calculated “to stimulate military enthusiasm.” We replied that we did not think the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” was likely to stimulate military enthusiasm” and we would teach that in season and out of season!
The Censor withdrew, expressing the hope that we would give the assurance asked for.

As we had made our position quite clear to the Censor, and as we had not transgressed the instructions, we wrote giving the unnecessary assurance. The next morning, when we went up to the establishment of our printers, Messrs Fraser and Jenkinson, to “make-up” that week’s Woman Voter, we were greeted by an armed guard, with fixed bayonets, a commanding officer, an officer in mufti, and a detective. We asked why this honour was thrust upon us, and we were told that as we had not given the assurance asked for the Woman Voter was to be seized and submitted to the Censor. We informed the officer that we had given the assurance. They said it had not been received at the Censor’s office. Just then the officer was called to the telephone. He was told that our letter had turned up, it was satisfactory, and the guard could be withdrawn. It was withdrawn but was soon sent for again!

We were asked on the telephone by the Censor what was going to be published in the current issue? We replied “The correspondence that has passed between us and ...” We got no further. The Censor said he could not permit that to be published. We claimed that we were entitled to do so in order to let our subscribers and the public know what was being done. We were commanded not to publish it, the armed guard returned, and another officer appeared on the scene; more police were telephoned for. The officer endeavoured to extract a promise from us that we would not publish the correspondence, but in the cause of civil liberty and the freedom of the press we could not conscientiously give it ...

We have outlined the above facts so that you may realize what military rule means. Up to the present the militarists have not obtained full control of Parliament and Cabinet, but they will not fail to get it as they have not failed in Germany, France, Russia, in all conscription countries - openly in these countries, secretly in non-conscription countries which are under the mesmerism of the belief that if you wish for peace you must prepare for war. Armaments must inevitably produce war. The breaking point must come at some time.

Now, what are you, Women of Australia, going to do about the whole question of militarism in Australia, about militarism in other countries? We believe that the women of the world are one, and we, as political units of the British Empire, which is in a state of war, feel that we are privileged to call upon all women everywhere to unite in working for peace, in making it an integral part of our woman movement. The men of all nations have made war and the preparation for war an integral part of their national policies. They have put “Fear of Foreign Foes” as the first plank of their political programmes. No wonder that the thing they greatly feared has come upon them!

The women of all nations have no fear of each other. The motherhood that is common to all makes them understand and respect each other. As the mothers of men, they do not even fear the men of other countries. The enemies they would attack are the enemies within the gates of their own country - vice, poverty, injustice, drink etc. The annihilation of these enemies would keep them so busy that they would have no time for thought of foreign enemies. Men can find millions of money for the destruction of human life, and then they tell us there is no money for the social reforms on preventative lines demanded by women.

This war has shown us what sacrifices of men and money men are prepared to make for the madness of war. Has not the time come for women to say that they will refuse to accept the policy that permits the butchering of men to settle international differences; that they demand that the energies of men and the expenditure of money shall be diverted from war purposes to purposes of social and industrial betterment, and of international peace and arbitration? ... 

In the Voter we shall give you each week news about the war that you will not get in any other paper in Australia. We have already given you sufficient to prove that every nation without exception has made such egregious blunders in its foreign policy that war was inevitable; that the war has been made by monarchs, politicians, diplomats, armament firms, and newspapers: that alliances and ententes cordiales are so many powder magazines ... Do not wait until “after the war”. Woman’s hour has struck. The war makes that clear. Enfranchised women of Australia! History will proclaim you false if you are silent now. “Come out and be separate” from all that makes for war.” 


Woman Voter
21 September 1916:
Dear Sirs,
On behalf of the Australian Women’s Peace Army and the democratic forces of the Commonwealth, I desire to place before you the method by which we, whose work brings us into close touch with all classes of the community, have seen the chains of militarism being fastened more and more firmly on the Women and the Workers, who are the chief sufferers from War and Militarism.

I feel impelled to make an appeal to you because I know the depth of feeling that is being aroused by the attempt to conscript the lives of Australian men, and by the gradual but steady loss of the great Bulwarks of Liberty, a Free Conscience, Free Press, Free Speech. Unless the rank and file of Parliament assert their control over the Government, and insist on the military authorities being deprived of their present powers over civilians, [...] in Australia cannot be avoided. First, let me assure you, who have only the daily papers to go by, that we, who have always opposed and will always oppose war as being contrary to the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, as inevitably sowing the seeds for future wars, and as an utterly futile method of settling international differences, let me assure you that we are not Pro-Germans, nor do we attempt to prevent men from voluntarily enlisting as soldiers.

We believe that the existing commercial and industrial system, the antiquated ideas governing secret diplomacy and foreign affairs, the predatory instincts of financiers, armament firms, newspapers, the militarism of Germany, the Navalism of Great Britain, and the consequent fears of other nations, produced a situation which Foreign Offices were incapable of meeting, and war became inevitable. We believe that every man over the age of 21 has a right to decide for himself whether he shall become a soldier or not. Never at any time have we done anything to “prejudice recruiting,” except insofar as the teaching of Christianity and explaining how wars are made and ended, may be said to be “prejudicial to recruiting.”

“It is the first step that counts”
The first attempt of the military authorities to deprive citizens of their rights was made in Melbourne on August-September, 1914, and it was made on women. I, as editor of the “Australian Woman Voter,” a weekly newspaper run by the Women’s Political Association, in the interests of woman and anti-militarist, propaganda, and our Business Manager, Miss Cecilia Johns, were visited by a military officer, and told that we must not publish certain matters dealing with war. I denied the right of military authorities to censor such matter, and informed them that I would appeal to the Government for a decision.

[...] as the Liberal Government was just going out, and the Labour Government had not yet taken office, I was compelled to wait until September 25 before an interview with Senator Pearce could be arranged. At that interview, the “Socialist,” the “Labour Call” and other Labour papers were also represented. We placed the facts about the [...] the office of “The Woman Voter” before the Minister, and he ridiculed the action of the military authorities, describing it as hysterical, and he assured us, unequivocally, that it was not the intention of the Labour Government to interfere with peace propaganda.

From September, 1914, to March, 1916, “The Woman Voter” and other pacifist papers were protected from military authorities by Senator Pearce’s pledge, which was given before he was captured – unconsciously I believe – by the military machine. That members may fully understand the present position, I must now recall to their minds the pledges given by the Prime Minister (Mr Fisher) and the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes), when the War Precautions Acts 1 and 2 were introduced in October, 1914, and April, 1915, when a definite pledge was made that “no general powers” would be given the military authorities under the Bills, that they were to protect the Commonwealth against treachery, etc. I ask you, gentlemen, to hold the Prime Minister to his pledges, the pledges that were the means – surely the honest means – by which he secured the assent of Parliament to the drastic powers contained in the War Precautions Acts.

While Parliament was in recess, the military authorities took to themselves, by regulations, more and more of the “general powers,” which Mr. Hughes said it was not intended to give them. And the position now is that we are not governed by laws made by Parliament, but by regulations made by military men, who are not responsible to the people, who have no sympathy with, and no understanding of the aims and ideals of Democracy. In October, 1915, military control of the public platform commenced. In March, 1916, complete military control of the Press, tried first with “The Woman Voter,” in September, 1914, was applied [...] to all papers, but

[...] Gradually it has been applied to all Labour papers. The great daily papers, the organs of vested interests, are censored only in regard to naval and military news. They are given unlimited powers in the expression of opinion, in preaching militarism, but “The Woman Voter,” the “Federal Independent Socialist,” and Labour papers, all of which are irreconcilably opposed to militarism, are censored at every vital point touching on anti-militarism in its broad educational and ethical aspects. The daily papers are permitted to lie freely about anti-militarists; [...]

In May, 1916, an Interstate deputation representing the Australian Peace Alliance waited on Senator Pearce to protest against the censorship of Platform and Press. The Minister has, undoubtedly, much to try his patience in these strenuous times, but a most regrettable change in his demeanour was noticeable from that with which he greeted the deputation in 1914. Then he was a democrat, the representative of the people, ever ready to hear what the people had to say, ever ready to defend them against official injustice. On this occasion he was the Minister of Defence, militarist zealous of preserving the militarists’ prerogative to oppress, without a thought of preserving the rights of the people which he had helped to wrest from the authorities in days gone by.
When asked by Mr. R. S. Ross to appoint to the censorship staff one or two persons acquainted with Labour terminology and ideals, Senator Pearce said: “I have no politics in the Censorship.” But the trouble is, gentlemen, that Censorship is all politics, and of one brand, Conservatism. I hope it will be understood that there is not a particle of malice in [...] of the Prime Minister, of the [...] nor of the Censors. They fight [...] to control a colossal, soulless machine called Militarism, and it has, instead, assumed control over them. Militarists come to believe, quite honestly, that Might is the only Right, that Conscience and Freedom undermine Right, and must therefore be crushed ruthlessly. You will be surprised to hear that we have not even the same measure of freedom that is allowed in Great Britain. Labour and Pacifist papers there are allowed the utmost latitude; only one or two fruitless attempts have been made to suppress anti-militarist propaganda.

The Prime Minister or the Minister of Defence will probably tell you that no action against anti-conscriptionists and anti-militarists is instituted, except with their consent. You will then probably say that neither Minister would consent to a prosecution unless he truly believed it was justified. I say so, too, but you must remember that the reports on which the prosecutions are based are made by newspaper reporters, or by members of the Secret Service, or by the police, which, torn altogether from their context, convey the very opposite of what the accused person said. You must remember also, gentlemen, that a prosecution with a Minister’s signature attached means that the case is pre-judged. The accused is already condemned before the evidence is heard. Every magistrate feels bound to uphold the Commonwealth Government in its conduct of everything connected with the war, and, although all the weight of evidence in each case that has been tried has been in favour of the accused person, the result has been, except on one or two occasions, a conviction. I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that the prosecutions under the War Precautions Act have not been for the purpose for which the Act was placed on the Statute Book, but for a wholly foreign purpose – that of crushing non-party, Labour and Socialist reformers in their anti-Militarist propaganda.

Conscription - If the fullest freedom of speech and press is not given to the anti- conscriptionists, I am in a position to know better than some of you who have been present at the meeting of Labour Councils to hear Mr Hughes, that, if this freedom is withheld and Conscription is forced upon the manhood of the country, there will be serious trouble. And the news will then be sent out to the rest of the world that the great Australian Democracy has willingly accepted Conscription. The public have not been allowed to know that Mr. Hughes has stood almost alone in Labour gatherings (except for a few of the Tory Labourites, beaten up from every direction) against Labour officials with the powerful unions behind them. A regulation has been issued ordering every leaflet intended for publication, which in any way deals with the war, to be submitted to the censor. By the time the Censor has finished deleting everything that might be useful as an argument against Conscription in the hundreds of leaflets which it is desired to issue, the Referendum will have been taken.

What is the use of taking a Referendum on a question on which full latitude is allowed to those in favour, and the most rigid restrictions are placed on those who oppose it? I ask you, sirs, whose duty it is to protect the people against tyranny and oppression, to fight, before Parliament goes into recess, as you have never fought before, for the people, and for those whose conscience directs them to oppose Conscription, from which it has always been the proud boast of Britishers that they were free. The nation that stifles Conscience, even in time of war, proves that it believes, with the Bernhardi it despises, that Might is the only Right.
Yours faithfully, Vida Goldstein., 215 Latrobe Street, Melbourne, September 21, 1916.http://www.marxists.org/history/australia/1916/woman-manifesto.htm


Woman Voter
24 February 1916:
Manifesto Issued by the Central Organisation for a Durable Peace
Headquarters, Theresiastraat 51, The Hague.

There is a great demand that this terrible war shall be followed by a lasting peace. This is the desire not only of the citizens of the belligerent Powers, but also of all neutrals; for they have all suffered by the war, which has thus given grim proof of the solidarity of the interests of mankind. If we wish for a lasting peace, we must endeavour to remove the causes which led to the war. How was this world-catastrophe possible? There may be disputes as to some of the deeper causes, as to the connection of war with the structure of our social system, the part played by conflicts of nationality, the immediate occasions of the present conflict, the distribution of personal responsibility. But there can be no doubt as to certain general causes. As a foundation for common action, the following demands are put forward: these represent the minimum that should and can be realised. They can be carried out, partly through international treaties, partly through simultaneous legislation, in the various States. And in their support there must be evoked a new spirit, to give force and life to the letter of the text; a spirit necessary to the existence of that new world, which must follow the collapse of the old ideas. We ask the support of all civilised nations.

Minimum Programme
1. No annexation or transfer of territory shall be made contrary to the interests and wishes of the populations concerned. Where possible, their consent shall be obtained by plebiscite or otherwise.
   The States shall guarantee to the various nationalities included in their boundaries equality before the law, religious liberty, and the free use of their native languages.
2. The States shall agree to introduce in their colonies, protectorates and spheres of influence, liberty of commerce, or at least equal treatment for all nations.
3. The work of the Hague Conferences, with a view to the peaceful organisation of the Society of Nations, shall be developed.
    The Hague Conference shall be given a permanent organisation and meet at regular intervals.
    The States shall agree to submit all their disputes to peaceful settlement. For this purpose there shall be created, in addition to the existent Hague Court of Arbitration,
    a. a permanent Court of International Justice
    b. a permanent international Council of Investigation and Conciliation. The States shall bind themselves to take concerted action, diplomatic, economic or military, in case any State should resort to military measures instead of submitting the dispute to judicial decision or to the mediation of the Council of Investigation and Conciliation.
4. The States shall agree to reduce their armaments. In order to facilitate the reduction of naval armaments, the right of capture shall be abolished and the freedom of the seas assured.
5. Foreign policy shall be under the effective control of the parliaments of the respective nations.
Secret treaties shall be void.


Woman Voter
30 March 1916:
Miss Goldstein then submitted the following -

1. Respect for Nationality - That no territory shall be transferred without the consensus of the men and women in it. That the right of conquest shall not be recognised.
2. That self-government shall not be refused to any people.
3. That foreign policy shall be subject to democratic control.
4. That women shall be given equal political rights with men.
5. That general disarmament shall be aimed at by the Governments taking over the manufacture of the munitions of war and controlling international traffic in them.
6. That trade routes shall be open on equal terms to the shipping of all nations.
7. That investments shall be made at the risk of the investor, without claim to the official protection of his Government.
8. That all secret treaties shall be void.
9. That our social system shall be remodelled on a basis of co-operation, so that production and distribution shall be controlled by the people, for the people.
10. That in future international disputes shall be referred to an International Court of Justice, in which men and women of all classes shall be represented.
Further, this meeting demands that the Commonwealth Parliament be summoned for the purpose of considering terms of peace and instructing Mr Hughes to place them before the Imperial authorities.


Woman Voter
8 November 1917:
continued ... The wharf labourers did not strike for themselves, for better wages, better conditions. They struck for their class and for the community, against the increased cost of living, against the increased cost of living, caused by gambling in food supplies. They struck for you and for me, and even if we had no thought of what the future must bring for the workers, and of assisting to bring it forth by Peace instead of War, by reason instead of by the Strike, we should still have considered it our duty to stand by the Wharf Labourers Union. The strike is not a Cause, it is an Effect, and we must all deal with the cause if we wish to have industrial peace.

Futile Appeals to the Prime Minister
Because we wish peace instead of war, we made three separate attempts to induce the Prime Minister to allow us to put before him the case for the men, from the standpoint of women who knew it, in practically every detail. The Women’s Peace Army at a mass meeting on the Yarra Bank passed the following resolution: That the Australian Women’s Peace Army, believing in industrial peace, as well as in international peace, and in the settlement if disputes by negotiation instead of by war, calls upon the Commonwealth Government to enter into negotiation with the men on strike, who are convinced that their lives and liberties are endangered by unjust Capitalistic methods of exploitation and production. Our efforts were unavailing, and we extended our work at the Guild Hall.

Guild Hall Commune - Miss John quickly organised a Registration Depot, Kitchens, Restaurant, Boot shops, Barbers’ Saloon, Recreation Hall, Grocer’s Shop, Baker’s Shop, with the assistance of an army of volunteers, men and women, who for fourteen weeks have carried on the most arduous, self-sacrificing work for love of their fellow-beings. Our friends will be interested to hear the system on which the Commune is worked.

Registration Depot and Grocery Store - Members of the Wharf Labourers Union register at the Guild Hall. Their names, addresses, number in family, and badge number is taken; these are sent to the Union, which gives each man a ticket endorsed with the WPA stamp, certifying that he is a member of the Union, repeats the number in family, and the member returns to the Guild Hall for a supply of groceries etc., which is made as liberal as circumstances will allow. Provision for over 5000 persons are given out each week.

Kitchens and Restaurant - A light luncheon is provided for any member of the WLU, or any member of his family, from 10.30 am to 5 pm, and a hot dinner is prepared for the members of the Union who are working without pay at Guild Hall, in the boot shop, barber’s saloon etc., or assisting the women volunteers in the many duties to be performed. From 1200 to 1500 persons are provided with meals at the Guild Hall each week.

Boot Shops - Miss John consulted Mr Peddie, boot maker, at his shop opposite the Guild Hall about mending the boots of wharf labourers and their families if we supplied the leather. Mr Peddie said that he knew a wharf labourer who mended his own boots, and he would be willing to let him work in his shop, and mend his own and his comrades’ boots. Miss John then discovered that there were several members of the Union who could repair boots, and they cheerfully agreed to give their services for this purpose. It was then decided that they should work at the Guild Hall, and first one shop, then a second, were fixed up. Hundreds of pairs of boots have been repaired in these shops, which form an exhibit of great interest to the visitors to the Guild Hall. Messrs Cookes and Hurley have presented us with gifts of valuable leather, and Messrs Ward Bros have lent us a boot-sewing machine that gives the finishing touch to the shop’s equipment.

Barber’s Saloon - The barber’s saloon arouses even greater interest than the boot shops. “A barber’s saloon? Why?” ask some visitors. Miss John, its founder, promptly replies: “One of the first essentials for victory in an industrial fight is that the men shall keep their self-respect, and nothing tends to break a man’s spirit so much as being unkempt. And so the barber’s saloon plays its part in the strike by keeping the men well shaved and their heads well trimmed.” No charge is made for the barbering, and the men greatly appreciate this attention to their personal appearance. The barbers, like the boot repairers, are also members of the WLU.

How Supplies are Obtained - We have depended entirely on the voluntary contributions of our members and friends, as the result of appeals made through the “Woman Voter” and on the Yarra Bank. One day women members of the St Kilda PLC brought us several hampers of groceries, which they had collected amongst themselves, and from this fine example and modest beginning has grown our grocer’s and baker’s shops, for we then made a general appeal for contributions in kind.

The employees at the Tobacco Companies, who had already levied themselves heavily to help us, as well as the Trade Union Defence Committee, immediately followed the St Kilda PLC’s example, and so the scheme has grown until we now receive gifts aggregating 20 tons per week, the men at Newport Shops and Sunshine Harvester Works supplying nearly half the quantity. But we require 100 tons weekly, and that is why we must appeal for financial help. The Australian Jam Co. donated £100 worth of jam; the Federal Milk Co. and the Bacchus Marsh Milk Co., the McAlpine bakery, and other firms, have also given us most generous contributions, but when we tell you that we have used £50 worth of groceries daily, £7 of potatoes, £3 for the boot shops, £5 for the kitchen, restaurant and barber’s saloon - a weekly total of £390 - you will understand that we require strong financial support.

Billeting Children - Mr Aarons, of the Hampton branch of the Australian Labour Party, proposed that the pressure on parents should be relieved by friends billeting the children of strikers in their homes. Many have done this, in fact many more homes were offered than we could find children for, as parents would not part with their children unless illness or extreme distress compelled them to do so.

Boarding Out Children - But Miss Mary McMahon devised a scheme for assisting mothers who could not, or would not, part with their children. Miss McMahon undertook to contribute 12/- per week for two children to be boarded out to their mothers for the period of the strike. This excellent example was followed by other members and friends, and it has been the means of helping a number of expectant mothers, or mothers with large families.

A Permanent Institution - We claim that we have demonstrated a method of giving timely help to unemployed trade unionists, and that the Guild Hall commune should be a permanent institution. When the workers reap the full reward for their labour, and can protect themselves against untoward conditions, there will be no need for such an institution, but as long as the workers permit the wage system to endure, self-help of this kind will be required.

We would confine the Commune to trade unionists, because those who would not make some personal sacrifice to secure justice for their fellow-workers by collective effort can, when they are unemployed, obtain help from the Ladies Benevolent Society or some such body. But self-respect and respect for one’s comrades demand that workers, who are aiming at changing our social system, through their industrial organisations, should not accept any help except that lovingly given by their fellow workers, and other friends who are also working to change the system, otherwise the help given is only a disguised form of charity.

 We do not infer that every trade unionist is a selfless individual, who is sacrificing himself for the future well-being of the masses of the people, but the sheep and goats are soon recognised, and then it becomes the union’s duty to lead those in the wrong fold into the true fold. If the Guild Hall Commune is not converted into a permanent organisation, we shall, at least, ask all enlightened trade unionists and others who support Production for Use to continue to contribute to our funds in money or in kind, until we report that the families of the Wharf Labourers are once again beyond the need for assistance. Rent is behind, bakers and milkmen and others who have stood by the men for so many months have to be paid, clothing and boots have worn out, babies are still coming into the world unprovided for, and there are many other needs to be met.  

Organisation of Women - We are also helping to organise women into strong trade unions, and to form a Women’s Union - One Big Union for Women - the condition of membership to be membership in a Trade Union, if eligible, or that the applicant shall be the wife, daughter, sister or mother of a Trade Unionist, or a woman who actively supports Trade Unionism, who shall be organised with the object of inspiring them with a sense of women’s responsibility for Industrial and International Solidarity, Justice and Peace.


Woman Voter
1 September 1919:
... There was scarcely a dry eye in the hall; but the tears were not tears of emotionalism, they sprang from deep wells of grief that hate, and jealousy, and ambition, and brutal malice should seem to have power to crush the love and trust that are the common attributes of mankind; they came also as tears of gratitude that there were some women in every country who had remained true to the universal sense of love, that the International Committee had succeeded in bringing them together from the ends of the earth, and was the first body to demonstrate to the world that love is strong enough to overcome suspicion, and distrust, and hate.

The speeches were delivered in English, French, or German, and translated; but often translation was barely necessary. We met one German woman who believed that the Peace terms were deserved by Germany. She was imprisoned during the war for her peace propaganda and criticism of the Government, and she maintained that since Germany, through her Government, had not expressed contrition for the crimes of Germany in the war, she merited severe punishment. She said if Germany had only showed one single sign of grace, she could have had some justification for expecting something better from the Allies, but not otherwise. On the other hand, we met women from Germany and Austria who made a sharp line of cleavage between their Government and the people of Germany, who had been lied to, and cheated and betrayed, as they claimed the people of all countries are lied to, cheated, and betrayed by the military system.

Although these women had suffered terribly during the war, and their faces showed the intensity of their suffering, there was not a trace of bitterness in their hearts against the enemy. Their one thought was to fight against the system. The greatest interest centred around the discussion of the Peace Terms, which were unanimously held to be a violation of the Fourteen Points, and the following resolutions were agreed to –

This International Congress of Women expresses its deep regret that the Terms of Peace proposed at Versailles should so seriously violate the principles upon which alone a just and permanent peace can be secured, and which the democracies of the world had come to accept.
- By guaranteeing the fruits of the secret treaties to be the conquerors, the Terms of Peace tacitly sanction secret diplomacy, deny the principles of self-determination, recognise the right of the victors to the spoils of war, and create all over Europe discords and animosities which can only lead to future wars.
- By the demand for the disarmament of one set of set of belligerents only, the principle of justice is violated and the rule of force is continued.
- By the financial and economic proposals a hundred million people of this generation in the heart of Europe are condemned to poverty, disease and despair, which must result in the spread of hatred and anarchy within each nation.

With a deep sense of responsibility, this congress strongly urges the Allied and Associated Governments to accept such amendments of the terms as shall bring the peace into harmony with those principles first enumerated by President Wilson, upon the faithful carrying out of which the honour of the Allied peoples depends. This Congress holds that the peaceful progress of the world can only be assured when the common interests of humanity are recognised in the establishment of a League of Nations, which shall represent the will of the people, and promote international co-operation. It therefore records its satisfaction that the idea of a League of Nations, regarded as impracticable by the majority of people at the time of the Congress of women at The Hague, in 1915, has become so widely accepted, that as one of the Fourteen Points, the idea was incorporated in the armistice terms of November 11, 1918, agreed to both by the twenty-eight Allied and Associated Powers, and by Germany.

But the Congress regrets that the covenant of the League, now submitted by the Allied and Associated Powers, in many respects does not accord with the Fourteen Points laid down as the basis for present negotiations, contains certain provisions that will stultify its growth, and omits others which are essential to world peace.

The Congress submitted certain essential conditions of a durable peace, which are omitted from the covenant, and which included -
a. Membership to be freely open to any State desiring to join and willing to perform the duties of membership.
b. Immediate reduction of armaments on the same term for all members.
c. Abolition of conscription.
d. Free access to raw materials for all nations, on equal terms.

The Congress agreed that the adoption of the following principles would strengthen the League -
a. Total disarmament - land, sea, air.
b. Registration and revision of all existing treaties.
c. Ratification of treaties only by elected legislative body.
d. Executive power of League to be democratically elected.
e. Universal free trade.
f. Plan of world production and distribution of necessities of life at the smallest cost.
g. No protection for investments of the capitalists of one country in the resources of another.

The resolution on famine and blockade was telegraphed at once to President Wilson - This International Congress of Women regards the famine, pestilence, and unemployment extending through great tracts of Central and Eastern Europe, and into Asia, as a disgrace to civilisation. It therefore urges the Governments of all the Powers assembled at the Peace Conference immediately to develop the inter-Allied organisations formed for purposes of peace, so that the resources of the world - food, raw materials, finance, transport - shall be made available for the relief of the peoples of all countries from famine and pestilence. To this end, it urges that immediate action to be taken -

1. To raise the blockade; and
2. If there is insufficiency of food or transport,
    a. To prohibit the use of transport from one country to another for the conveyance of luxuries, till the necessaries of life are supplied to all peoples; and
    b. To ration the people of every country, so that the starving may be fed.

The Congress believes that not only immediate international action on these lines can save humanity and bring about the permanent reconciliation and union of the peoples. President Wilson replied as follows -“Your message appeals to my head and my heart, and I hope most sincerely that means may be found though the present outlook is extremely unpromising, owing to infinite practical difficulties .”

Miss John and I were not successful in getting the following resolution through - That this Congress of the International Council of Women begs President Wilson to be guided by his head and heart - to insist on the starvation blockade being immediately removed, and the politician’s peace terms being abandoned - even to go so far as to withdraw the United States of America from all Peace negotiations until the pledges given to the world are fulfilled, and a People’s Peace is ratified on the basis of the President’s “Fourteen Points.” This Congress is convinced that the peoples of all countries would support the President in an uncompromising fight for ideals. It seemed as if we had a large number of delegates with us, but the chair ruled that the resolution could not be put, for some reason connected with business that had taken place before we arrived.

Two other extremely important decisions arrived at by the Congress were in relation to Russia and Hungary, and the attitude that women should take towards revolutionary methods. The opinions of the Congress were embodied in the following resolutions - This International Congress of Women, recognising the right of each nation to determine its own form of government, in accordance with President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, urges the immediate cessation of attack, whether by armed force, by supply of ammunitions or money, or by blockade, upon Russia and Hungary. We ask an explanation of the warfare now being waged, without open declaration of war, upon peoples who are experimenting in a new social and economic order , which has not yet had a fair trial, but which may prove to have a great contribution to make to the future of the world.

The world is facing widespread revolutionary changes at a time when the habit of violence has been fostered by a world war, and this Congress recognises that there is a fundamentally just demand underlying most of these revolutionary movements, and declares its sympathy with the purposes of the workers who are rising up everywhere to make an end of exploitation, and to claim their world: nevertheless, the women of the Congress reassert their faith in methods of peace, and believe it is their special part to counsel against violence on all sides. A proposal that women should strike against any future declaration of war, led the congress to urge that all the national sections should work for an international agreement between women, to refuse their support of war in money, work and propaganda.

We were more successful in opposing a proposal to give the support of the Congress and International Committee to the League of Nations proposal for the establishment of a Central Health Bureau. We declared that even if women were adequately represented in such a bureau, its establishment would be a mistake, and would open the way to the establishment of a medical autocracy, and a still worse autocracy, which could enslave the people at will, and seek to prevent the triumph of the co-operative commonwealth, against which autocracy in its present form is struggling with all its might, endeavouring to accomplish its ends by keeping the democracy from achieving its ends, through playing on their fear of death, the greatest of all human fears ... I have written at great length, but it is not easy to condense the volume of work accomplished by the Congress. I must now conclude by telling you that the Congress re-affirmed, with great emphasis, the resolutions passed at the Hague, in 1915, dealing with the economic causes of war.
Vida Goldstein, Lucerne, Switzerland


Woman Voter
, London, August 19, 1919
Vida Goldstein cont...

It is utterly useless to glaze over the situation. The same influences that are at work in Europe are at work in Australia. Unless people of all schools of political thought have the strength and courage to face the facts and try to understand them, dispassionately but earnestly, the working masses will act passionately, must do in self-defence, and will sweep the nations into the chaos of revolution. They will feel that this is the only way of saving themselves from the chaos caused by the inaction of their Governments in attempting to solve the new problems brought to us by the war. There is this great fact standing out above all others - there is an increasing number of strong, resourceful men and women in every country who honestly believe that revolution, armed revolution if necessary, is the only means of evolving order out of the present chaos.

They recognise, in common with many others, who do not advocate violence as the solution, what the Government does not recognise - that the war ended one epoch of civilisation and began another; that it ended one system of government and began another.

Because the war has overturned the capitalist system, they believe that the Russian revolutionary example is the only one to follow in establishing the new order. They forget Russia’s many decades of preparation for revolution and socialism, through suffering and persecution under a non-representative political system; they forget Britain’s many decades of training in and reverence for constitutional action under a form of representative government, no matter how imperfect it has been, and still is, to the point of decay. They forget also the hypnotising effect of the propaganda, labelling everyone “Bolshevik” who is opposed to the continuance of the capitalist system, because modern conditions tell them it has served its purpose, and is become a monster of oppression and tyranny. Having compelled others to fight a war for the avowed purpose of making the world safe for democracy and freedom, the anti-democratic forces are now using every form of mental poison to make the world safe only for autocracy and tyranny.

The war could not have been carried on by private enterprise; industry had to be socialised in almost every branch, and appalled at the idea of continued and increased socialisation, by the prospect of ownership and management of industries by those whose labour keeps them going, they are determined to poison the minds of the people by making them believe that a change in our social, industrial and government systems along these lines is a dangerous and immoral thing they call “Bolshevism”. Those who use this epithet are asked frequently for a definition of “Bolshevism”, but none is forthcoming; the suggestion that it is of the devil is much more useful.

The unhappy fact is that for the Government, and those who control it, the war has been fought in vain. They have not the knowledge of history, nor the vision to see how and why new epochs are born. For them the world is still the world of 1914, the capitalist-governed world, with a pseudo-democratic cloak drawn tightly round it to camouflage it. The new communist spirit, quickened by the communist spirit that, on the surface, united all classes during the war, has no message of hope for them; it is a monster that must be crushed out at any price, in every country.

An onlooker from another planet might think that with the failure of our boasted civilisation before their eyes, great statesmen would seize a new idea of government as something to be investigated at least; but no, no good thing, apparently, can come out of Russia that is not Tsarist, or bourgeois-republican. And so they continue to make war on the new idea in Russia. Although the Bolsheviks are said to be an insignificant minority, they will not leave the Russian people free to determine their own form of government. There is hardly a paper in England - Conservative, Liberal, Labour - that does not denounce the Government for its Russian policy; they consider it not only a menace to Russia, but to England. When, then, of the future with our unseeing Government? The other day I visited the House of Commons during the debate on the Profiteering Bill. There were about 30 members present; at one time there were 40, out of a total of nearly 700. The remoteness of Parliament from the people, from industry, from the vital needs of the community, could not have made itself felt more clearly. And thought turned naturally to other lands, with other messages, and I wondered how the change would come in English speaking countries.

Through Reason and Justice and Understanding; not by violence, is my hope. Vida Goldstein