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Title: Woman and Socialism

Author: August Bebel

Translator: Meta L. Stern

Release Date: October 30, 2014 [EBook #47244]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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Transcriber’s Notes

This e-text is a translation of August Bebel’s Die Frau und der Sozialismus.

Table column headings that have been supplied by the transcriber are enclosed in [square brackets].

Gesperrt (spaced-out text) in the original is denoted by underline.

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Meta L. Stern (Hebe)

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Introduction 3





Conclusion 500



WWE are living in an age of great social transformations that are steadily progressing. In all strata of society we perceive an unsettled state of mind and an increasing restlessness, denoting a marked tendency toward profound and radical changes. Many questions have arisen and are being discussed with growing interest in ever widening circles. One of the most important of these questions and one that is constantly coming into greater prominence, is the woman question.

The woman question deals with the position that woman should hold in our social organism, and seeks to determine how she can best develop her powers and her abilities, in order to become a useful member of human society, endowed with equal rights and serving society according to her best capacity. From our point of view this question coincides with that other question: In what manner should society be organized to abolish oppression, exploitation, misery and need, and to bring about the physical and mental welfare of individuals and of society as a whole? To us then, the woman question is only one phase of the general social question that at present occupies all intelligent minds; its final solution can only be attained by removing social extremes and the evils which are a result of such extremes.

Nevertheless, the woman question demands our special consideration. What the position of woman has been in ancient society, what her position is to-day and what it will be in the coming social order, are questions that deeply concern at least one half of humanity. Indeed, in Europe they concern a majority of organized society, because women constitute a majority of the population. Moreover, the prevailing conceptions concerning the development of woman’s social position during successive stages of history are so faulty, that enlightenment on this subject has become a necessity. Ignorance concerning the position of woman, chiefly accounts for the prejudice that the woman’s movement has to contend with among all classes of people, by no means least among the women themselves. Many even venture to assert that there is no woman question at all, since woman’s position has always been the same and will remain the same in the future, because nature has destined her to be a wife and a mother and to confine her activities to the home. Everything that is beyond the four narrow walls of her home and is not closely connected with her domestic duties, is not supposed to concern her.


In the woman question then we find two contending parties, just as in the labor question, which relates to the position of the workingman in human society. Those who wish to maintain everything as it is, are quick to relegate woman to her so-called “natural profession,” believing that they have thereby settled the whole matter. They do not recognize that millions of women are not placed in a position enabling them to fulfill their natural function of wifehood and motherhood, owing to reasons that we shall discuss at length later on. They furthermore do not recognize that to millions of other women their “natural profession” is a failure, because to them marriage has become a yoke and a condition of slavery, and they are obliged to drag on their lives in misery and despair. But these wiseacres are no more concerned by these facts than by the fact that in various trades and professions millions of women are exploited far beyond their strength, and must slave away their lives for a meagre subsistence. They remain deaf and blind to these disagreeable truths, as they remain deaf and blind to the misery of the proletariat, consoling themselves and others by the false assertion that it has always been thus and will always continue to be so. That woman is entitled, as well as man, to enjoy all the achievements of civilization, to lighten her burdens, to improve her condition, and to develop all her physical and mental qualities, they refuse to admit. When, furthermore, told that woman—to enjoy full physical and mental freedom—should also be economically independent, should no longer depend for subsistence upon the good will and favor of the other sex, the limit of their patience will be reached. Indignantly they will pour forth a bitter endictment of the “madness of the age” and its “crazy attempts at emancipation.” These are the old ladies of both sexes who cannot overcome the narrow circle of their prejudices. They are the human owls that dwell wherever darkness prevails, and cry out in terror whenever a ray of light is cast into their agreeable gloom.

Others do not remain quite as blind to the eloquent facts. They confess that at no time woman’s position has been so unsatisfactory in comparison to general social progress, as it is at present. They recognize that it is necessary to investigate how the condition of the self-supporting woman can be improved; but in the case of married women they believe the social problem to be solved. They favor the admission of unmarried women only into a limited number of trades and professions. Others again are more advanced and insist that competition between the sexes should not be limited to the inferior trades and professions, but should be extended to all higher branches of learning and the arts and sciences as well. They demand equal educational opportunities and that women should be admitted to all institutions[5] of learning, including the universities. They also favor the appointment of women to government positions, pointing out the results already achieved by women in such positions, especially in the United States. A few are even coming forward to demand equal political rights for women. Woman, they argue, is a human being and a member of organized society as well as man, and the very fact that men have until now framed and administered the laws to suit their own purposes and to hold woman in subjugation, proves the necessity of woman’s participation in public affairs.

It is noteworthy that all these various endeavors do not go beyond the scope of the present social order. The question is not propounded whether any of these proposed reforms will accomplish a decisive and essential improvement in the condition of women. According to the conceptions of bourgeois, or capitalistic society, the civic equality of men and women is deemed an ultimate solution of the woman question. People are either unconscious of the fact, or deceive themselves in regard to it, that the admission of women to trades and industries is already practically accomplished and is being strongly favored by the ruling classes in their own interest. But under prevailing conditions woman’s invasion of industry has the detrimental effect of increasing competition on the labor market, and the result is a reduction in wages for both male and female workers. It is clear then, that this cannot be a satisfactory solution.

Men who favor these endeavors of women within the scope of present society, as well as the bourgeois women who are active in the movement, consider complete civic equality of women the ultimate goal. These men and women then differ radically from those who, in their narrow-mindedness, oppose the movement. They differ radically from those men who are actuated by petty motives of selfishness and fear of competition, and therefore try to prevent women from obtaining higher education and from gaining admission to the better paid professions. But there is no difference of class between them, such as exists between the worker and the capitalist.

If the bourgeois suffragists would achieve their aim and would bring about equal rights for men and women, they would still fail to abolish that sex slavery which marriage, in its present form, is to countless numbers of women; they would fail to abolish prostitution; they would fail to abolish the economic dependence of wives. To the great majority of women it also remains a matter of indifference whether a few thousand members of their sex, belonging to the more favored classes of society, obtain higher learning and enter some learned profession, or hold a public office.[6] The general condition of the sex as a whole is not altered thereby.

The female sex as such has a double yoke to bear. Firstly, women suffer as a result of their social dependence upon men, and the inferior position alloted to them in society; formal equality before the law alleviates this condition, but does not remedy it. Secondly, women suffer as a result of their economic dependence, which is the lot of women in general, and especially of the proletarian women, as it is of the proletarian men.

We see, then, that all women, regardless of their social position, represent that sex which during the evolution of society has been oppressed and wronged by the other sex, and therefore it is to the common interest of all women to remove their disabilities by changing the laws and institutions of the present state and social order. But a great majority of women is furthermore deeply and personally concerned in a complete reorganization of the present state and social order which has for its purpose the abolition of wage-slavery, which at present weighs most heavily upon the women of the proletariat, as also the abolition of sex-slavery, which is closely connected with our industrial conditions and our system of private ownership.

The women who are active in the bourgeois suffrage movement, do not recognize the necessity of so complete a transformation. Influenced by their privileged social position, they consider the more radical aims of the proletarian woman’s movement dangerous doctrines that must be opposed. The class antagonism that exists between the capitalist and working class and that is increasing with the growth of industrial problems, also clearly manifests itself then within the woman’s movement. Still these sister-women, though antagonistic to each other on class lines, have a great many more points in common than the men engaged in the class struggle, and though they march in separate armies they may strike a united blow. This is true in regard to all endeavors pertaining to equal rights of woman under the present social order; that is, her right to enter any trade or profession adapted to her strength and ability, and her right to civic and political equality. These are, as we shall see, very important and very far-reaching aims. Besides striving for these aims, it is in the particular interest of proletarian women to work hand in hand with proletarian men for such measures and institutions that tend to protect the working woman from physical and mental degeneration, and to preserve her health and strength for a normal fulfillment of her maternal functions. Furthermore, it is the duty of the proletarian woman to join the men of her class in the struggle for a thorough-going transformation of society,[7] to bring about an order that by its social institutions will enable both sexes to enjoy complete economic and intellectual independence.

Our goal then is, not only to achieve equality of men and women under the present social order, which constitutes the sole aim of the bourgeois woman’s movement, but to go far beyond this, and to remove all barriers that make one human being dependent upon another, which includes the dependence of one sex upon the other. This solution of the woman question is identical with the solution of the social question. They who seek a complete solution of the woman question must, therefore, join hands with those who have inscribed upon their banner the solution of the social question in the interest of all mankind—the Socialists.

The Socialist Party is the only one that has made the full equality of women, their liberation from every form of dependence and oppression, an integral part of its program; not for reasons of propaganda, but from necessity. For there can be no liberation of mankind without social independence and equality of the sexes.

All Socialists will probably agree with the fundamental principles herein expressed. But the same cannot be said in regard to the manner in which we picture the realization of our ultimate aims, that is, in regard to the particular form that institutions should take to bring about that desired independence and equality for all. As soon as we forsake the firm foundation of reality, and begin to depict the future, there is a wide field for speculation. A difference of opinion immediately arises as to what is probable or improbable. Whatever, therefore, is stated in this book concerning future probabilities, must be regarded as the personal opinion of the author, and eventual attacks must be directed against his person, because he assumes full responsibility for his statements. Attacks, that are honestly meant and are objective in character, will be welcome; those that distort the contents of this book or are founded upon an untruthful interpretation of their meaning, will be ignored. It remains to be said, that in the following chapters all conclusions should be drawn which become necessary for us to draw, as a result of our investigation of facts. To be unprejudiced is the first requirement for a recognition of the truth, and only by expressing without reserve that which is and that which is to be, can we attain our ends.


Woman in the Past.
Woman in the Past.

The Position of Woman in Primeval Society.

1.—Chief Epochs of Primeval History.

IIT is the common lot of woman and worker to be oppressed. The forms of oppression have differed in successive ages and in various countries, but the oppression itself remained. During the course of historic development the oppressed ones have frequently recognized their oppression, and this recognition has led to an amelioration of their condition; but it remained for our day to recognize the fundamental causes of this oppression, both in regard to the woman and in regard to the worker. It was necessary to understand the true nature of society and the laws governing social evolution, before an effective movement could develop for the purpose of abolishing conditions that had come to be regarded as unjust. But the extent and profoundness of such a movement depend upon the amount of insight prevailing among those strata of society affected by the unjust conditions, as also upon the freedom of action possessed by them. In both respects woman, owing to custom, education and lack of freedom, is less advanced than the worker. Moreover, conditions that have prevailed for generations finally become a habit, and heredity as well as education make them appear “natural” to both parties concerned. That explains why women accept their inferior position as a matter of course, and do not recognize that it is an unworthy one, and that they should strive to obtain equal rights with men, and to become equally qualified members of society.

But whatever similarities exist between the position of woman and that of the workingman, woman has one precedence over the workingman. She is the first human[10] being which came into servitude. Women were slaves before men.

All social dependence and oppression is rooted in the economic dependence of the oppressed upon the oppressor. Woman—so we are taught by the history of human development—has been in this position since an early stage.

Our understanding of this development is comparatively recent. Just as the myth of the creation of the world, as taught by the Bible, could not be maintained in face of innumerable and indisputable facts founded upon modern, scientific investigation, it also became impossible to maintain the myth of the creation and development of man. Not all phases of the history of evolution have as yet been elucidated. Difference of opinion still exists among scientists in regard to one or another of the natural phenomena and their relation to each other; but, on the whole, clearness and a general consension of opinion prevails. It is certain that man has not made his appearance upon the earth as a civilized being—as the Bible asserts of the first human pair—but that in the long course of ages he gradually evolved from a mere animal condition, and that he passed through various stages during which his social relations as well as the relations between man and woman experienced many transformations.

The convenient assertion that is resorted to daily by ignorant or dishonest people, both in regard to the relation between man and woman as also in regard to the relation between the rich and the poor—the assertion that it has always been thus and will always continue to be so—is utterly false, superficial and contrary to the truth in every respect.

A cursory description of the relations of the sexes since primeval days is of special importance for the purpose of this book. For it seeks to prove that, if in the past progress of human development, these relations have been transformed as a result of the changing methods of production and distribution, it is obvious that a further change in the methods of production and distribution must again lead to a new transformation in the[11] relation of the sexes. Nothing is eternal, either in nature or in human life; change is the only eternal factor.

As far as we can look backward along the line of human evolution, we see the horde[1] representing the first human community. Only when the horde increased in numbers to such an extent that it became difficult to obtain the necessary means of subsistence, which originally consisted of roots, seeds and fruit, a disbanding of the members resulted, and new dwelling places were sought for.

We have no written records of this almost animal-like stage, but studies of the various stages of civilization among extinct and living savages prove that such a stage has at one time existed. Man has not stepped into life as a highly civilized being, upon a command from the Creator, but has passed through a long, infinitely slow process of evolution, and in the ups and downs of wavering periods of development, and in a constant process of differentiation, in all climes and in all quarters of the globe, has passed through many stages until finally climbing the height of his present civilization.

And while in some parts of the globe great nations represent the most advanced stage of civilization, we find other peoples in various places representing varied stages of development. These present to us a vivid picture of our own past, and point out to us along which roads humanity has traveled in its long course of evolution. If we shall at some time succeed in establishing general and definite aspects according to which sociological investigations shall be conducted, an abundance of facts will result, destined to cast a new light upon the relations of men in the past and the present. Events will then seem comprehensible and natural, that at present[12] are quite beyond our comprehension, and that superficial critics frequently condemn as irrational, sometimes even as immoral. Scientific researches, commenced by Backofen, and since continued by a considerable number of learned men as Taylor, MacLennon, Lubbock and others, have gradually lifted the veil from the earliest history of our race. These investigations were elaborated by Morgan’s able book, and to this again Frederick Engels has added a number of historic facts, economic and political in character. Recently these researches have been partly confirmed and partly corrected by Cunow.[2]

The clear and vivid descriptions given by Frederick Engels in his splendid work, that is founded upon Morgan’s investigations, have cast a flood of light upon many factors in the histories of peoples representing various stages of development; factors that until that time had seemed irrational and incomprehensible. They have enabled us to obtain an insight into the gradual upbuilding of the social structure. As a result of such insight we perceive that our former conceptions in regard to marriage, family and state, have been founded upon utterly false premises. But whatever has been proven concerning marriage, family and state, is equally true in regard to the position of woman, which, in the various stages of social development, has differed radically from what is supposed to be woman’s “eternal” position.

Morgan divides the history of mankind—and this division is also adopted by Engels—into three chief epochs: savagery, barbarism and civilization. Each of the two earlier periods he subdivides into a lower, a[13] medium and a higher stage, because these stages differ in regard to fundamental improvements in the method of obtaining the means of subsistence. Those changes which occur from time to time in the social systems of nations as a result of improved methods of production, Morgan considers one of the chief characteristics in the progress of civilization, which is quite in keeping with the materialistic conception of history as laid down by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Thus the lowest stage in the period of savagery represents the childhood of mankind. During this stage men still were tree-dwellers, and fruit and roots constituted their chief nourishment; but even then articulated language began to take form. The medium stage of savagery begins with the consumption of small animals such as fish, crabs, etc., for food, and with the discovery of fire. Men begin to manufacture weapons, clubs and spears made of wood and stone, and this means the inception of the hunt and probably also of war among neighboring hordes, who contended with one another for the sources of nourishment and the most desirable dwelling places and hunting grounds. At this stage also cannibalism appears, which is still met with among some tribes in Africa, Australia and Polynesia. The higher stage of savagery is characterized by the invention of the bow and arrow; the invention of the art of weaving; the making of mats and baskets from bast and reeds, and the manufacture of stone implements.

As the beginning of the lowest stage of barbarism, Morgan denotes the invention of pottery. Man learns the domestication of wild animals with the resultant production of meat and milk, and thereby obtains the use of hides, horns and furs for the most varied purposes. Hand in hand with the domestication of animals, agriculture begins to develop. In the western part of the world corn is cultivated; in the eastern part, almost all kinds of grain, with the exception of corn, is grown. During the medium stage of barbarism we find an increasing domestication of useful animals in the East, and in the West we find an improved cultivation of nourishing plants with the aid of artificial irrigation. The use of[14] stones and sun-dried bricks for building purposes is also originated at this time. Domestication and breeding favor the formation of herds and flocks and lead to a pastoral life, and the necessity of producing larger quantities of nourishment for both men and animals leads to increased agriculture. The result is a more sedentary mode of life with an accompanying increase in provisions and greater diversity of same, and gradually cannibalism disappears.

The higher stage of barbarism has been reached with the smelting of iron ore and the invention of alphabetical writing. The invention of the iron plough gives a new impetus to agriculture; the iron axe and spade and hoe make it easier to clear the forest and to cultivate the soil. With the forging of iron a number of new activities set in, giving life a different shape. Iron tools simplify the building of houses, ships and wagons. The malleation of metals furthermore leads to mechanical art, to an improvement in the manufacture of arms, and to the building of walled cities. Architecture is developed, and mythology, poetry and history are conserved and disseminated by means of alphabetical writing.

The Oriental countries and those situated about the Mediterranean Sea—Egypt, Greece and Italy—are the ones in which this mode of life was especially developed, and here the foundation was laid to later social transformations that have had a decisive influence upon the development of civilization in Europe and, in fact, in all the countries of the globe.

[1] “The theory of natural rights and the doctrine of the social contract, which places an isolated human being at the beginnings of human development, is an invention utterly foreign to reality, and is therefore worthless for the theoretical analysis of human institutions as it is for a knowledge of history. Man should, on the contrary, be classed with gregarious animals; that is, with those species whose individuals are combined into permanent groups.”—(Edw. Meyer: “The Origin of the State, in Its Relation to Tribal and National Association.” 1907.)

[2] Backofen’s book was published in 1861. It was entitled, “The Matriarchate; Studies of the Gynocratic Customs of the Old World in Their Religious and Legal Aspects.” Publishers, Krais & Hoffmann, Stuttgart. Morgan’s fundamental work, “Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery Through Barbarism to Civilization,” was published in 1877 by Henry Holt & Co. “The Origin of the Family,” by Frederick Engels, founded upon Morgan’s investigations, was published by J. H. W. Dietz, Stuttgart, as was also “Relationship Organizations of the Australian Negro; a Contribution to the History of the Family,” by Henry Cunow, which appeared in 1894.

2.—Family Forms.

The periods of savagery and barbarism were characterized by singular social and sex relations, that differ considerably from those of later times.

Backofen and Morgan have thoroughly investigated these relations. Backofen carried on his investigations by a profound study of ancient writings, with the purpose of gaining an understanding of various phenomena presented in mythology and ancient history, that impress us strangely and yet show similarity with facts and[15] occurrences of later days, even down to the present time. Morgan carried on his investigations by spending decades of his life among the Iroquois Indians in the State of New York, whereby he made new and unexpected observations of the modes of family life and system of relationship prevailing among them, and these observations served as a basis to place similar observations, made elsewhere, in the proper light.

Backofen and Morgan discovered, independently from one another, that in primeval society the relations of the sexes differed vastly from those prevalent during historic times and among modern, civilized nations. Morgan discovered, furthermore, as a result of his long sojourn among the Iroquois of North America, and his comparative studies to which these observations led him, that all existing primitive peoples have family relations and systems of relationship that differ markedly from our own, but which must have prevailed generally among all peoples at a remote period of civilization.

At the time when Morgan lived among the Iroquois, he found that among them existed a monogamous marriage, easily dissolved by either side, termed by him the “pairing family.” But he also found that the terms of relationship as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, although there could be no doubt in our minds as to whom such terms should apply, were not used in their ordinary sense. The Iroquois addresses as sons and daughters not only his own children, but also those of all his brothers, and these—his brothers’ children—call him father. On the other hand, the Iroquois woman does not only call her own children sons and daughters, but also those of all her sisters, and again all her sisters’ children call her mother. But the children of her brothers she calls nephews and nieces, and these call her aunt. Children of brothers call one another brothers and sisters, and so do children of sisters. But the children of a woman and her brother call each other cousins. The curious fact then presents itself that the terms of relationship are not determined by the actual degrees of relationship, but the sex of the relative.

This system of kinship is not only fully accepted by[16] all American Indians as well as by the aborigines of India, the Dravidian tribes of Deckan and the Gaura tribes of Hindostan, but similar systems must have existed everywhere primarily, as has been proven by investigations that were undertaken since those of Backofen. When these established facts shall be taken as a basis for further investigations among living savage or barbaric tribes, similar to the investigations made by Backofen among various peoples of the ancient world, by Morgan among the Iroquois and by Cunow among the Australian Negroes, it will be shown that social and sex relations constituted the foundation for the development of all nations of the world.

Morgan’s investigations have revealed still other interesting facts. While the “pairing family” of the Iroquois is in contradiction to the terms of relationship employed by them, it was shown that in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) there existed up to the first half of the nineteenth century a family form which actually corresponded to that system of kinship that among the Iroquois existed only in name. But the Hawaiian system of kinship again did not agree with the family form prevailing there at the time, but pointed to another form of the family, still more remote, and no longer in existence. There all the children of brothers and sisters, without exception, were regarded as brothers and sisters, and were considered the common children, not only of their mother’s and her sisters’ or their father’s and his brothers’, but of all the brothers and sisters of both their parents.

The Hawaiian system of kinship then corresponded to a degree of development that was still lower than the prevailing family form. We are thus confronted by the peculiar fact, that in Hawaii as among the North American Indians, two different systems of kinship were employed that no longer corresponded to existing conditions, but had been superseded by a higher form. Morgan expresses himself on this phenomenon in the following manner: “The family is the active element; it is never stationary, but progresses from a lower to a higher form in the same measure in which society develops from[17] a lower to a higher stage. But the systems of kinship are passive. Only in long intervals they register the progress made by the family in course of time, and only then are they radically changed when the family has done so.”

The prevalent conception that the present family form has existed since times immemorial and must continue to exist lest our entire civilization be endangered—a conception that is vehemently defended by the upholders of things as they are—has been proven faulty and untenable by the researches of these scientists. The study of primeval history leaves no doubt as to the entirely different relation of the sexes at an early period of human development from their present relation, and when viewed in the light of our present-day conceptions, they seem a monstrosity, a mire of immorality. But as each stage in social development has its own methods of production, thus each stage also has its own code of morals, which is only a reflection of its social conditions. Morals are determined by custom, and customs correspond to the innermost nature, that is, to the social necessities of any given period.

Morgan arrives at the conclusion that in the lowest stage of savagery unrestricted sexual intercourse existed within the tribe, so that all the women belonged to all the men and all the men belonged to all the women; that is, a condition of promiscuity. All men practice polygamy, and all women practice polyandry; there is a common ownership of wives and husbands as also a common ownership of the children. Strabo relates (66 B. C.) that among the Arabs brothers have sexual intercourse with their sisters and sons with their mothers. Incest was originally a requirement to make it possible for human beings to multiply. This explanation must especially be resorted to if we accept the biblical story of the origin of man. The Bible contains a contradiction in regard to this delicate subject. It relates that Cain, having killed his brother Abel, fled from the presence of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod. There Cain knew his wife and she conceived and bore a son unto him.

But whence came his wife? Cain’s parents were the[18] first man and woman. According to the Hebrew tradition, two sisters were born to Cain and Abel, with whom they begot children. The Christian translators of the Bible appear to have suppressed this unpleasant fact. That promiscuity prevailed in a prehistoric stage, that the primeval horde was characterized by unrestricted sexual intercourse, is also shown in the Indian myth that Brama wedded his own daughter Saravasti. The same myth is met with among the Egyptians and in the Norse “Edda.” The Egyptian god Ammon was the husband of his mother and boasted of the fact, and Odin, according to the “Edda” was the husband of his own daughter Frigga.[3] Dr. Adolf Bastian relates: “In Swaganwara the daughters of the Rajah enjoyed the privilege of freely choosing their husbands. Four brothers who settled in Kapilapur made Priya, the eldest of their five sisters, queen mother and married the others.”[4]

Morgan assumes that from the state of general promiscuity, a higher form of sexual relation gradually developed, the consanguine family. Here the marriage groups are arranged by generations; all the grandfathers and grandmothers within a certain family are mutually husbands and wives; their children constitute another cycle of husbands and wives, and again the children of these when they have attained the proper age. In differentiation then from the promiscuity prevailing at the lowest stage, we here find one generation excluded from sexual intercourse with another generation. But brothers and sisters and cousins of the first, second and more remote grades are all brothers and sisters and also husbands and wives. This family form corresponds to the[19] system of kinship that during the first half of the last century still existed in Hawaii in name but no longer in fact. According to the American and Indian system of kinship, brother and sister can never be father and mother to the same child, but according to the Hawaiian system they may. The consanguine family also prevailed at the time of Herodotus among the Massagetes. Of these he wrote: “Every man marries a woman but all are permitted to have intercourse with her.”[5] Similar conditions Backofen proves to have existed among the Lycians, Etruscans, Cretans, Athenians, Lesbians and Egyptians.

According to Morgan, the consanguine family is succeeded by a third, higher form of family relations, which he calls the “Punaluan family”—“punaluan” meaning “dear companion.”

Morgan’s conception that the consanguine family, founded upon the formation of marriage classes according to generations, which preceded the Punaluan family, was the original form of family life, is opposed by Cunow in his book referred to above. Cunow does not consider the consanguine family the most primitive form of sexual intercourse discovered, but deems it an intermediary stage leading to the true gentile organization, in which stage the generic classification in strata of different ages belonging to the so-called consanguine family, runs parallel for a while with the gentile order.[6] Cunow says, furthermore: The class division—every man and every woman bearing the name of their class and their totem—does not prevent sexual intercourse among relations on collateral lines, but it does prevent it among relations of preceding and succeeding lines, parents and children, aunts and nephews, uncles and nieces. Terms as uncle, aunt, etc., denote entire groups.

Cunow furnishes proof in regard to the points in[20] which he differs from Morgan. But though he differs from Morgan in many respects, he clearly defends him against the attacks of Westermarck and others. He says: “Although some of Morgan’s theories may be proven to be incorrect, and others partly so, to him still is due the credit of having been the first to discover the identity existing between the totem-groups of the North American Indians and the gentile organizations of the Romans. He, furthermore, was the first to show that our present family form and system of relationship is the outcome of a lengthy process of evolution. We, therefore, are indebted to him for having made further research possible, for having laid the foundation upon which we may continue to build.” In the introduction to his book he also states explicitly that his work is partly a supplement to Morgan’s book on ancient society.

Westermarck and Starcke, to whom Dr. Ziegler especially refers, will have to accept the fact that the origin and evolution of the family are not in keeping with their bourgeois prejudices. Cunow’s refutations should enlighten the most fanatical opponents of Morgan as to the value of their opposition.

[3] Dr. Ziegler, professor of zoology at the university of Freiburg, ridicules the idea of attaching any historical importance to myths. This conception only proves the biased judgment of the scientist. The myths contain a profound meaning, for they have sprung from the soul of the people and are founded upon ancient customs and traditions that have gradually disappeared but continue to survive in the myths glorified by the halo of religion. If facts are met with that explain the myth, there is good ground for attaching historical importance to the same.

[4] Dr. Adolf Bastian, “Travels in Singapore, Batavia, Manila and Japan.”

[5] Backofen: “The Matriarchate.”

[6] In the gentile order each gens has its totem, as lizard, opossum, emu, wolf, bear, etc., from which the gens derives its name. The totem animal is held sacred, and members of the gens may not kill it or eat its flesh. The significance of the totem was similar to that of the patron saint among the medieval guilds.

3.—The Matriarchate.

According to Morgan, the Punaluan family begins with the exclusion of brothers and sisters on the mother’s side. Wherever a woman has several husbands, it becomes impossible to determine paternity. Paternity becomes a mere fiction. Even at present, with the institution of monogamous marriage, paternity—as Goethe said in his “Apprenticeship,” “depends upon good faith.” But if paternity is dubious in monogamous marriage even, it is surely beyond the possibility of determination where polyandry prevails. Only descent from the mother can be shown clearly and undeniably; therefore, children, during the term of the matriarchate, were termed “spurii,” seed. As all social transformations are consummated infinitely slow upon a low stage of development, thus also the transition from the consanguine family to the Punaluan family must have extended[21] through a great length of time, and many retrogressions must undoubtedly have occurred that could still be perceived in later days. The immediate, external cause for the development of the Punaluan family may have the necessity of dividing the greatly increased group for the purpose of finding new soil for agricultural purposes and for the grazing of herds. But it is also probable that with increasing development, people gradually came to understand the harmfulness and the impropriety of sexual intercourse between brother and sister and close relatives, and that this recognition led to a different arrangement of marriage relations. That this was the case is shown by a pretty legend that, as Cunow tells us, was related to Gason among the Dieyeris, a tribe of Southern Australia. This legend describes the origin of the “Murdu,” the gentile organization, in the following manner:

“After the creation fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and other closely related persons married indiscriminately among themselves, until the evil consequences of such marriages were clearly seen. Thereupon the leaders held a council to consider what could be done, and finally they begged Muramura, the great spirit, to bid them what to do. Muramura bade them divide the tribe into many branches and to name these after animals and inanimate objects to distinguish them from one another; for instance, Mouse, Emu, Lizzard, Rain, etc. The members of each group should not be permitted to marry among themselves, but should choose their mates from another group. Thus the son of an Emu should not marry the daughter of an Emu, but he might marry the daughter of a Mouse, a Lizard, a Rain, or any other family.” This tradition is more plausible than the biblical one, and shows the origin of gentile organization in the simplest manner.

Paul Lafargue showed in an article published in the German periodical, “Neue Zeit,” that names like Adam and Eva did not originally denote individual persons, but were the names of gentes in which the Jews were constituted in prehistoric days. By his argumentation Lafargue elucidates a number of otherwise obscure and contradictory[22] points in the first book of Moses. In the same periodical M. Beer calls attention to the fact that among the Jews a superstition still prevails according to which a man’s mother and his fiancee must not have the same name, lest misfortune, disease and death be brought upon the family. This is a further proof of the correctness of Lafargue’s conception. Gentile organization prohibited marriage between persons belonging to the same gens. According to the gentile conception, then, the fact that a man’s mother and his fiancee had the same name, proved their belonging to the same gens. Of course, present-day Jews are ignorant of the connection existing between their superstition and the ancient gentile organization which prohibited such marriages. These prohibitory laws had the purpose of avoiding the evils resulting from close intermarriage, and though gentile organization among the Jews has gone out of existence thousands of years ago, we still see traces of the ancient tradition preserved. Early experiences in the breeding of animals may have led to a recognition of the dangers of inbreeding.

How far such experiences had been developed may be seen from the first book of Moses, chapter 30, 32 stanza, where it is told how Jacob cheated his father-in-law Laban by providing for the birth of spotted lambs and goats that were to be his, according to Laban’s promise. Thus ancient Israelites were applying Darwin’s theories in practice long before Darwin’s time.

Since we are discussing conditions that existed among the ancient Jews, it will be well to quote a few further facts which prove that in antiquity maternal law actually prevailed among them. Although in the first book of Moses, 3, 16, is written in regard to woman: “And thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee,” in the first book of Moses, 2, 24, we find the lines: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.” The same wording is repeated in Matthew, 19, 5; Mark, 10, 7, and in the epistle to the Ephesians, 5, 31. This command then is rooted in maternal law, for which[23] interpreters of the Bible had no explanation and, therefore, presented it incorrectly.

Maternal law is likewise shown to have existed in the fourth book of Moses, 32, 41. There it is said that Jair had a father of the tribe of Juda, but his mother came from the tribe of Manasseh, and Jair is explicitly called the son of Manasseh and became heir to that tribe. In Nehemiah, 7, 63, we find still another example of maternal law among the ancient Jews. There the children of a priest who married one of the daughters of Barzillai, a Jewish clan, are called the children of Barzillai. They are, accordingly, not called by their father’s but by their mother’s name.

In the Punaluan family, according to Morgan, one or more series of sisters of one family group married one or more series of brothers of another family group. A number of sisters or cousins of the first, second and more remote degrees were the common wives of their common husbands, who were not permitted to be their brothers. A number of brothers or cousins of various degrees were the common husbands of their common wives, who were not permitted to be their sisters. As inbreeding was thereby prohibited, this new form of marriage was favorable to higher and more rapid development, and gave those tribes that had adopted this family form an advantage over those who maintained the old form of sex relations.

The following system of kinship resulted from the Punaluan family: The children of my mother’s sisters are her children, and the children of my father’s brothers are his children, and all are my brothers and sisters. But the children of my mother’s brothers are her nephews and nieces and the children of my father’s sisters are his nephews and nieces, and all are my cousins. The husbands of my mother’s sisters are still her husbands and the wives of my father’s brothers are still his wives, but the sisters of my father and the brothers of my mother are excluded from the family group, and their children are my cousins.[7]


With increasing civilization sexual intercourse among brothers and sisters is put under the ban, and this is gradually extended to all collateral relatives on the mother’s side. A new consanguine family, the gens, is evolved that originally consists of natural and remote sisters and their children, together with their natural or remote brothers on the mother’s side. The gens has a common ancestress to whom the groups of female generations trace their descent. The men do not belong to the gens of their wives, but to the gens of their sisters. But the children of these men belong to the gens of their mothers, because descent is traced from the mother. The mother is considered the head of the family. Thus the matriarchate was evolved that for a long time constituted the foundation of family relations and inheritance. While the maternal law prevailed, women had a voice and vote in the councils of the gens, they helped to elect the sachems and leaders and to depose them. When Hannibal formed an alliance with the Gauls against the Romans, he decided that in case disputes should arise among the allies, the Gallic matrons should be intrusted with the mission of arbitrating; so great was his confidence in their impartiality.

Of the Lycians who recognized maternal law Herodotus tells us: “Their customs are partly Cretan and partly Carian. But they have one custom that distinguishes them from all other nations in the world. If you ask a Lycian who he is, he will tell you his name, his mother’s name, and so on in the line of female descent. Moreover, when a free woman marries a slave, her children remain free citizens. But if a man marries a foreign woman or takes unto himself a concubine, his children are deprived of all civic rights, even though he be the most eminent man in the state.”

At that time “matrimonium” was spoken of instead of “patrimonium,” “mater familias” was said instead of “pater familias,” and one’s native country was referred to as the motherland. Just as the earlier family forms, the gens was founded on the common ownership of property, that is, it was a communistic form of society. Woman was the leader and ruler in this kinship organization[25] and was highly respected, her opinion counting for much in the household as well as in the affairs of the tribe. She is peacemaker and judge, and discharges the duties of religious worship as priestess.

The frequent appearance of queens and women rulers in antiquity, and the power wielded by them even when their sons were the actual rulers, which was the case in Egypt, for instance, was an outcome of the matriarchate. During that period mythological characters are chiefly feminine, as seen from the goddesses Astarte, Demeter, Ceres, Latona, Isis, Frigga, Freya, Gerda, and many others. Woman is invulnerable; matricide is deemed the most dreadful crime that calls upon all men for vengeance. It is the common duty of all the men of the tribe, to avenge an injury inflicted upon any member of their kinship by a member of any other tribe. Defense of the women incites the men to highest bravery. Thus the influence of the matriarchate was perceived in all social relations of the ancient peoples, among the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Greeks before the heroic age, the Italic tribes before the founding of Rome, the Scythians, the Gauls, the Iberians, the Cantabrians, the Germans, and others. At that time woman held a position in society as she has never held since. Tacitus says in his “Germania”: “The Germans believe that within every woman dwells something holy and prophetic; therefore they honor woman’s opinion and follow her advice.” Diodorus, who lived at the time of Cæsar, was quite indignant over the position of women in Egypt. He had heard that in Egypt not sons but daughters supported their aged parents. He therefore spoke disparagingly of the hen-pecked men at the Nile, who granted rights and privileges to the weaker sex that seemed outrageous to a Greek or a Roman.

Under maternal law comparatively peaceful conditions prevailed. Social relations were simple and narrow and the mode of life was a primitive one. The various tribes kept aloof from one another and respected each other’s domain. If one tribe was attacked by another the men took up arms for defense and were ably supported by the women. According to Herodotus, the women of the[26] Scythians took part in battles; virgins—so he claims—were not permitted to marry until they had slain an enemy. Taken all in all, the physical and mental differences between man and woman were not nearly as great in primeval days as they are at present. Among almost all savage and barbarian tribes, the differences in the size and weight of brains taken from male and female individuals, are smaller than among civilized nations. Also the women of these tribes are not inferior to the men in physical strength and skill. Proof of this is furnished not only by the writers of antiquity in regard to peoples living under maternal law, but also by the Amazon regiments of the Ashantis and the King of Dahome in Western Africa, that excel in ferocity and courage. What Tacitus relates in regard to the women of the ancient Germans, and Cæsar’s opinion of the women of the Iberians and the Scots, furnish additional proof. Columbus was attacked near Santa Cruz by a troop of Indians in a small sloop in which the women fought as bravely as the men. This conception is furthermore confirmed by Havelock Ellis: “Among the Andombies on the Congo, according to Mr. H. H. Johnstone, the women, though working very hard as carriers and as laborers in general, lead an entirely happy existence; they are often stronger than the men and more finely developed, some of them, he tells us, having really splendid figures. And Parke, speaking of the Manyuema of the Arruwimi in the same region, says that they are fine animals and the women very handsome; they carry loads as heavy as those of the men and do it quite as well. In North America again an Indian chief said to Hearne: Women were made for labor; one of them can carry or haul as much as two men can do. Schellong, who has carefully studied the Papuans in the German protectorate of New Guinea from the anthropological point of view, considers that the women are more strongly built than the men. In Central Australia again, the men occasionally beat the women through jealousy, but on such occasions it is by no means rare for the woman, single-handed, to beat the man severely. At Cuba, the women fought beside the men and enjoyed great independence. Among some[27] races of India, the Pueblos of North America, the Patagonians, the women are as large as the men. So among the Afghans, with whom the women in certain tribes enjoy a considerable amount of power. Even among the Arabs and Druses it has been noted that the women are nearly as large as the men. And among Russians the sexes are more alike than among the English or French.”[8]

In the gens women sometimes ruled with severity, and woe to the man who was too lazy or too clumsy to contribute his share to the common sustenance. He was cast out and was obliged either to return to his own gens, where he was not likely to be received kindly, or to gain admission into another gens where he was judged less harshly.

That this form of matrimony has been maintained by the natives of Central Africa to this very day was experienced by Livingstone, to his great surprise, as related by him in his book, “Missionary Travels and Researches in Southern Africa.” At the Zambesi he encountered the Balonda, a strong and handsome Negro tribe, engaged in agricultural pursuits, and was soon able to confirm the reports made to him by Portugiese, which he had at first declined to believe, that the women held a superior position among them. They are members of the tribal council. When a young man marries, he must migrate from his village into the one in which his wife resides. He must at the same time pledge himself to provide his mother-in-law with kindling wood for lifetime. The woman, in turn, must provide her husband’s food. Although minor quarrels between man and wife occasionally occurred, Livingstone found that the men did not rebel against female supremacy. But he found, on the other hand, that when men had insulted their wives, they were severely punished—by their stomachs. The man—so Livingstone relates—comes home to eat, but is sent from one woman to another and is not given anything. Tired and hungry, he finally climbs upon a tree in the most populous part of the village and exclaims, with a woe-begone voice: “Hark, hark! I[28] thought I had married women, but they are witches! I am a bachelor; I have not a single wife! Is that just and fair to a lord like myself?!”

[7] Frederick Engels: “Origin of the Family.”

[8] Havelock Ellis: “Man and Woman.”

Conflict between Matriarchate and Patriarchate.

1.—Rise of the Patriarchate.

With the increase in population a number of sister gentes arose that again brought forth several daughter gentes. The mother gens was distinguished from these as the phratry. A number of phratries constituted the tribe. So strong was this social organization that it still constituted the unit of military organization in the states of antiquity, when the old gentile constitution had already been abandoned. The tribe was subdivided into several branches, all having a common constitution and in each of which the old gens could be recognized. But as the gentile constitution prohibited intermarriage among remote relatives even on the mother’s side, it undermined its own existence. A social and economic development made the relation of the various gentes to one another more and more complicated, the interdict of marriage between certain groups became untenable and ceased to be observed. While production of the necessities of life was at its lowest stage of development, and destined to satisfy only the simplest demands, the activities of men and women were essentially the same. But with increasing division of labor there resulted not only a diversity of occupations, but a diversity of possessions as well. Fishing, hunting, cattle-breeding and agriculture, and the manufacture of tools and implements, necessitated special knowledge, and these became the special province of the men. Man took the lead along these lines of development and accordingly became master and owner of these new sources of wealth.

Increasing population and the desire for an extensive ownership of land for agricultural and pastoral purposes,[29] led to struggles and battles over the possession of such land; it also led to a demand for labor-power. An increase in labor-power meant greater wealth in produce and flock. To procure such labor-power the rape of women was at first resorted to, and then the enslavement of vanquished men, who had formerly been killed. Thus two new elements were introduced into the old gentile constitution that were incompatible with its very nature.

Still another factor came into play. The division of labor and the growing demand for tools, implements, weapons, etc., led to a development of handicraft along distinct lines apart from agriculture. A special class of craftsmen arose, whose interests in regard to the ownership and inheritance of property diverged considerably from those of the agricultural class.

As long as descent was traced from female lineage, members of the gens became heirs to their deceased relatives on the mother’s side. All property remained within the gens. Under the changed conditions the father had become owner of flocks and slaves, weapons and produce, but being a member of his mother’s gens he could not will his property to his children, but had to leave same to his brothers and sisters or to his sisters’ children. His own children were disinherited. A strong desire for changing this state of affairs therefore began to manifest itself, and it was changed accordingly. Polygamy and polyandry gave way to the pairing family. A certain man lived with a certain woman, and the children born from this relation were their children. These pairing families developed gradually, being hampered by the marriage interdicts of the gentile constitution, but favored by the above enumerated economic causes. The old household communities were not in keeping with the idea of private property. Class and occupation became determining factors in the choice of a place of residence. An increased production of commodities gave rise to commerce among neighboring and more widely separated nations and necessitated the development of finance. Man was the one to conduct and control this development. His private interests, therefore, were no longer harmonious to the old gentile organization; on the contrary,[30] they were frequently diametrically opposed to it. Therefore this organization became of less and less importance, and finally all that remained of the gens was the conducting of a number of religious rites within the family group. The economic significance was lost and the final dissolution of the gentile constitution only remained a question of time.

With the breaking up of the old gentile organization the power and influence of woman rapidly declined. The matriarchate disappeared and the patriarchate took its place. Man, being an owner of private property, had an interest in having legitimate children to whom he could will his property, and he, therefore, forced upon woman the prohibition of intercourse with other men.

But for himself he reserved the right of maintaining as many concubines as his means would permit beside his legitimate wife or wives, and their offspring were regarded as legitimate children. The Bible furnishes important evidence on this subject in two instances. In the first book of Moses, 16, 1 and 2, it says: “Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children; and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram: Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing; I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.” The second noteworthy evidence is found in the first book of Moses, 30, 1; it reads as follows: “And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said unto Jacob: Give me children or else I die. And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel and he said: Am I in God’s stead who has withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? And she said: Behold my maid, Billah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees that I may also have children by her. And she gave him Billah, her handmaid, to wife, and Jacob went in unto her.”

Thus Jacob was not only married to two sisters, the daughters of Laban, but both also gave him their handmaids to wives, a custom that was not immoral according to the moral conceptions of the time. His two chief wives he had married by purchase, having served their[31] father Laban seven years for each of them. At that time it was the general custom among the Jews to purchase wives, but besides they carried on a widespread robbery of women from nations conquered by them. Thus, for instance, the Benjamites robbed the daughters of Shiloh. The captured woman became a slave, a concubine. But she could be raised to the position of a legitimate wife, upon fulfillment of the following command: She had to cut her hair and nails and exchange the garments in which she was captured with others given to her by her captors. Thereupon she had to mourn for her father and mother during an entire month, her mourning being destined to signify that her people were dead to her. These regulations having been complied with, she could enter into wedlock. The greatest number of women were owned by King Solomon, who, according to the first book of Kings, chapter 11, had no less than 700 wives and 300 concubines.

As soon as the patriarchate, that is, paternal descent, was established in the gentile organization of the Jews, the daughters were excluded from inheritance. Later this rule was modified in cases when a father left no sons. This is shown in the fourth book of Moses, 27, 2–8. There it is told that when Zelophehad died without leaving sons, his daughters complained bitterly that they should be excluded from their father’s inheritance that was to pass to the tribe of Joseph. Moses decides that in this case the daughters should be heirs to their father. But when, according to an old custom, they decide to choose husbands from another tribe, the tribe of Joseph complain that thereby they are losing an heritage. Thereupon Moses decides that the heiresses may choose freely, but that they must make their choice from among the men in their father’s tribe. So it was in behalf of property that the old marriage laws were annulled. As a matter of fact, in the days of the old Testament, i. e., in historical times, the patriarchal system was prevalent among the Jews, and the clan and tribal organization were founded on descent in the male line, as was the case with the Romans. According to this system the daughters were excluded from inheritance. Thus we[32] read in the first book of Moses, 31, 14 and 15, the complaint of Lea and Rachel, daughters of Laban: “Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not counted of him strangers? For he hath sold us and hath quite devoured also our money.”

Among the ancient Jews, as among all other nations where the matriarchate was succeeded by the patriarchate, women were utterly devoid of rights. Marriage was a purchase of the woman. Absolute chastity was demanded of her; but not so of the man, who moreover was entitled to have several wives. If the man had cause to believe that the woman had lost her virginity prior to marriage, he was not only entitled to cast her off, she might also be stoned to death. The same punishment was meted out to the adulteress; but the man was subjected to the same punishment only then when he committed adultery with a Jewish matron. According to the first book of Moses, 24, 1–4, a man was entitled to cast off a woman he had just married if she found no favor in his eyes, even though his displeasure be only a whim. Then he might write her a bill of divorcement, give it in her hand and send her out of his house. A further proof of the degraded position of woman among the Jews may be gathered from the fact that to this day women attend services in the synagogue in a space separated from the men, and are not included in the prayer.[9] According to the Jewish conception, woman is not a member of the congregation; in religion and politics she is a mere cipher. When ten men are assembled they may hold services, but women are not permitted to do so, no matter how many of them are assembled.

In Athens, Solon decreed that a widow should marry her nearest relation on her father’s side, even if both[33] belong to the same gens, although such marriages were forbidden by an earlier law. Solon likewise decreed that a person holding property need not will it to his gens but might, in case he were childless, will it to whomsoever he pleased. We see, then, that man, instead of ruling his property, is being ruled by it.

With the established rule of private property the subjugation of woman by man was accomplished. As a result of this subjugation, woman came to be regarded as an inferior being and to be despised. The matriarchate implied communism and equality of all. The rise of the patriarchate implied the rule of private property and the subjugation and enslavement of woman. The conservative Aristophanes recognized this truth in his comedy, “The Popular Assembly of Women,” for he has the women introduce communism as soon as they have gained control of the state, and then proceeds to caricature communism grossly in order to discredit the women.

It is difficult to show how the details of this great transformation were accomplished. This first great revolution that took place in human society was not accomplished simultaneously among all the civilized nations of antiquity, and has probably not developed everywhere along the same lines. Among the tribes of Greece, the new order of things attained validity primarily in Athens.

Frederick Engels holds the opinion that this great transformation was brought about peaceably, and that, all preliminary conditions making such a change desirable being given, a mere vote on the matter in the gentes sufficed to put the patriarchal system in place of the matriarchal system. Backofen, on the other hand, believes—his opinion founded on ancient writers—that the women vehemently opposed this social transformation. He considers many myths of the Amazon kingdoms that are met with in the histories of Oriental countries, in South America and China, proofs of the struggle and opposition of women against the new order.

With the rise of male supremacy the women were deprived of their former position in the community. They were excluded from the council and lost their determining influence. Men compelled women to be faithful in[34] marriage without recognizing a similar duty on their part. When a woman is faithless, she commits the worst deception to which a citizen of the new order can fall a victim; she brings another man’s children into his house to become the heirs of his property. That is why among all the ancient peoples adultery, when committed by a woman, was punishable by death or slavery.

[9] In the oldest quarter of Prague is an old synagogue, built during the sixth century, the oldest synagogue in Germany. Upon descending about seven steps into the dusky chamber, the visitor beholds a row of small loop-holes on the opposite wall leading into an utterly dark room. Upon inquiry we are told by the guide that this is the woman’s room, where the women attended services. Modern synagogues are less gloomy, but the separation of men and women is still maintained.

2.—Traces of the Matriarchate in Greek Myths and Dramas.

Although the women were thus deprived of their former influential position, the customs connected with the ancient cults continued to dominate the minds for centuries; only their deeper meaning was gradually lost, and it remained for the present time to investigate them. Thus it was customary in Greece that women appealed for advice and help to the goddesses only. The annual celebration of the Thesmophoria clearly derived its origin from matriarchal times. Even in later days Greek women still celebrated this festival in honor of Demeter, which lasted for five days, and in which no man was allowed to participate. A festival of the same character was held annually in Rome in honor of Ceres. Demeter and Ceres were the goddesses of fecundity. In Germany, similar festivals were observed up to the Christian middle ages. These were consecrated to Frigga, the ancient German goddess of fecundity, and here also men were excluded from participation.

In Athens, the matriarchate had to make way to the patriarchate at an early period, but apparently not without strong opposition on the part of the women. The tragedy of the transformation is pathetically presented in the “Eumenides” by Aeschylus. The following is a synopsis of the story: Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, husband of Klytaemnestra, on his expedition to Troy, sacrifices his daughter Iphigeneia, in obedience to a command of the oracle. The mother is enraged over the sacrifice of her child that, in accordance with natural law, does not belong to her husband, and during Agamemnon’s absence she accepts Aeghistus as her husband, thereby not committing any objectionable act according[35] to the ancient laws. When Agamemnon returns to Mycenae, after an absence of many years, he is murdered by Aeghistus, whom Klytaemnestra has incited to this deed. Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Klytaemnestra, upon a command from Apollo and Minerva, avenges his father’s death by killing his mother and Aeghistus. The Eumenides, representing the old maternal law, prosecute Orestes for the murder of his mother. Apollo and Minerva—the latter, according to the myth, not having been born by a mother, since she sprang from the head of Zeus in full armor—defend Orestes, for they represent the new paternal law. The case is brought before the areopagus and the following dialogue ensues in which the two conflicting views are expressed:

Eumenides: The prophet (Apollo) bade thee then become a matricide?

Orestes: Aye; and I never yet my destiny regretted.

Eumenides: When judgment will be given thou wilt not speak thus.

Orestes: Perhaps. But from his grave my father will send aid.

Eumenides: What hopest from the dead thou, who hast killed thy mother?

Orestes: She had been guilty of a double, bloody crime.

Eumenides: How so? Explain unto the judges what you mean.

Orestes: She killed her husband and she thereby killed my father.

Eumenides: Her crime she expiated now, but you still live.

Orestes: Why did you fail to prosecute her while she lived?

Eumenides: She was no blood relation to the man she killed.

Orestes: But I, so you assert, am of my mother’s blood.

Eumenides: Did she, thou bloody one, not bear thee ’neath her heart? Wouldst thou thy mother’s sacred blood deny?

The Eumenides accordingly do not recognize the right of the father and husband. They proclaim maternal law. That Klytaemnestra caused the murder of her husband seems unimportant to them, for he was a stranger to her. But they demand punishment of the matricide, for by killing his mother, Orestes committed the most unpardonable crime that could be committed under the dominance of the gentile organization. Apollo, on the other hand, holds the opposite point of view. Upon a command from Zeus he has induced Orestes to murder his own mother to avenge the patricide, and before the judges he thus defends the deed:


Then say I, listen ye unto my word of justice:
The mother is not procreatrix to her child;
She only the awakened life doth keep and bear.
The father is the procreator; she but keeps
The forfeit for her friend, unless a god destroy it
I will submit a proof that cannot be denied.
For one can have a father, yet no mother have.
Minerva, daughter of the great Olympian Zeus,
Within the darkness of a mother’s womb ne’er rested,
And yet no goddess e’er gave birth to fairer offspring.

According to Apollo, then, procreation gives the father a superior right, while the view that had prevailed until then proclaimed the mother, who gives life to the child by her own blood, the child’s sole possessor, and deemed the child’s father a mere stranger to her. Therefore, the Eumenides reply to the views of Apollo:

Thou overthrowest forces of remotest days....
Thou, the young god, wouldst us, the ancient ones, dethrone.

The judges prepare to pronounce their verdict; half of them favor the old law and the other half favor the new, giving an equal number of votes to both sides. There Minerva seizes a ballot from the altar and casting it into the urn she exclaims:

Mine is the right to utter final judgment here,
And for Orestes I cast in the urn this stone;
For unto me no mother was who gave me birth,
Therefore with all my heart all manly things I praise
Excepting marriage. For I am my father’s quite.
Less criminal I deem the murder of this woman,
Because her husband she has killed, the home’s maintainer.
Though even be the vote, Orestes is victorious.

Another myth depicts the fall of the matriarchate in the following manner: During the rule of Cecrops, a double miracle occurred. Simultaneously an olive-tree sprang from the earth at one place, and a well at another. The frightened king sent a messenger to Delphi to question the oracle concerning the meaning of these miracles. The reply was: The olive-tree represents Minerva, the water represents Neptune, and the citizens may decide after whom of the two deities they choose to name their city. Cecrops summoned the popular assembly, in which both men and women were entitled to vote. The men voted for Neptune, and the women for Minerva, and since[37] the women had a majority of one vote, Minerva was victorious. Thereupon Neptune became infuriated and let the sea flood the lands of the Athenians. To appease the fury of the god, the Athenians then inflicted threefold punishment upon their women. They were to be disfranchised, their children were no longer to bear their mother’s name, and they themselves should no longer be called Athenians.[10]

Thus the new order was established. The father became the head of the family. The patriarchate conquered the matriarchate.

[10] Backofen: “The Matriarchate.”

3.—Legitimate Wives and Courtesans in Athens.

Just as the transition from the matriarchate to the patriarchate was accomplished in Athens, it was accomplished elsewhere as soon as a similar degree of development had been attained. Woman was restricted to her home and isolated in special rooms, known as “gynacontis,” in which she dwelt. She even was excluded from social intercourse with the men who visited the house; in fact, this was the special object of her isolation. In the Odyssee we find this change in customs expressed. Thus Telemachus forbids his mother to be present among her suitors, and utters this command:

But go now to the home, and attend to thy household affairs;
To the spinning wheel and the loom, and bid thy maids be assiduous
At the task that to them were allotted. To speak is the privilege of men,
And mine is especially this privilege, for I am the lord of the house![11]

This was the prevailing conception in Greece at the time. Even widows were subjected to the rulership of their nearest male relatives, and were not even free to choose a husband. Weary of the long waiting imposed upon them by the clever Penelope, the suitors send to Telemachus their spokesman, Antonioos, who thus voices their demand:

See now, the suitors inform thee that thou in thy heart mayest know it
And that all the Achæans may of the fact be informed.
[38]Send thy mother hence, and command her to take as her husband
Whom she chooses to take, and whom her father selects.[12]

At this period woman’s freedom has come to an end. When she leaves the house she must veil her face—not to waken the desires of some other man. In the Oriental countries where sexual passions are stronger, as a result of the hot climate, this method of isolation is still carried to the extreme. Among the ancients, Athens served as a pattern of the new order. The woman shares the man’s bed, but not his table. She does not address him by his name, but calls him master; she is his servant. She was not allowed to appear in public anywhere, and when walking upon the streets was always veiled and plainly dressed. When she committed adultery she was, according to Solon’s law, condemned to pay for her sin either with her life, or with her liberty. Her husband was entitled to sell her as a slave.

The position of Greek women of those days is powerfully expressed in Medea’s lamentation:

“Of all creatures that have soul and life
We women are indeed the very poorest.
By our dowery we’re obliged to purchase
A husband—and what then is far worse still,
Henceforward our body is his own.
Great is the danger; will his nature be
Evil or good? Divorce is to the woman
A deep disgrace. Yet she may not say nay
Unto the man who was betrothed to her.
And when she comes to lands with unknown customs,
She has to learn—for no one teaches her—
To understand the nature of her husband.
And when we have succeeded in all this,
And our loved one gladly with us dwells,
Then our lot is fair. But otherwise
I’d rather far be dead.—Not so the man.
If in his home he is not satisfied,
He finds outside the home what pleases him,
With friends and with companions of his age;
But we must always seek to please but one.
They say that we in peace and safety dwell,
While they must go forth to the battlefield.
Mistaken thought! I rather thrice would fight,
Than only once give birth unto a child!


Very different was the man’s lot. While the man compelled the woman to abstain absolutely from relations with other men, for the purpose of insuring the legitimacy of his heirs, he was not inclined to abstain from relations with other women. Courtesanship developed. Women noted for their beauty and intellect, usually foreigners, preferred a free life in the most intimate association with men to the slavery of marriage. Nor was their life deemed a loathsome one. The name and the fame of these courtesans who associated with the foremost men of Greece and took part in their intellectual discussions and in their banquets, have come down to us through history, while the names of the legitimate wives are lost and forgotten. One of these was Aspasia, the friend of the famous Pericles, who later made her his wife. Phryne had intimate relations with Hyperides, and served Praxiteles, one of the foremost sculptors of Greece, as a model for his statue of Venus. Danae was the mistress of Epicure, Archæanassa was Plato’s. Lais of Corynth, Gnethanea and others were equally famous courtesans. Every one of the famous Greeks had intercourse with these courtesans. It was part and parcel of their life. The great orator Demosthenes in his oration against Neaera thus characterized the sexual relations of Athenian men: “We marry women to have legitimate children and to have faithful guardians of our homes, we maintain concubines for our daily service and comfort, and courtesans for the enjoyment of love.” The wife was only destined to bear offspring and, like a faithful dog, to guard her master’s house. But the master himself lived to suit his pleasure. In many cases it is so still.

To satisfy the demand for mercenary women, especially among the younger men, prostitution developed, an institution that had not been known during the dominance of the matriarchate. Prostitution differs from free sexual intercourse by the fact that the woman yields her body in return for material gain, be it to one man or to a number of men. Prostitution exists wherever a woman makes the selling of her charms a trade. Solon, who formulated the new laws for Athens and is famed as the founder of these laws, introduced the public brothel,[40] the “deikterion.” He decreed that the price should be the same to all visitors. According to Philemon this was one obolus, about 6 cents in American money. The “deikterion” was a place of absolute safety, like the temples in Greece and Rome and the Christian churches in the middle ages. It was under the immediate protection of the public authorities. Until about 150 B. C. the temple in Jerusalem was the general rallying-point of the prostitutes.

For the boon bestowed upon Athenian men by his founding of the “deikterion,” one of Solon’s contemporaries thus sings his praise: “Solon, be praised! For thou didst purchase public women for the welfare of the city, to preserve the morals of the city that is full of strong, young men, who, without thy wise institution, would indulge in the annoying pursuit of the better class women.” We will see that in our own day exactly the same arguments are being advanced to justify the existence of prostitution and its maintenance as an institution sanctioned by the state. Thus the state laws approved of deeds committed by men as being their natural right, while the same deeds were branded as criminal and despicable when committed by women. It is a well-known fact that even to-day there are a great many men who prefer the company of a pretty offendress to the company of their wife and who, nevertheless, enjoy the reputation of being “pillars of society” and guardians of those sacred institutions, the family and the home. To be sure, the Greek women frequently seem to have taken vengeance upon their husbands for their oppression. If prostitution is the complement of monogamic marriage on the one hand, adultery of wives and cuckoldom of husbands are its complements on the other. Among the Greek dramatists, Euripides seems to have been the most pronounced woman-hater, since in his dramas he preferably holds up the women to ridicule and scorn. What accusations he hurls at them can best be seen from a passage in “The Thesmophoria” by Aristophanes,[13] where a Greek woman assails him in the following manner:


With what calumny doth he (Euripides) not vilify us women?
When e’er hath silent been the slanderer’s tongue?
Where there’s an audience, tragedy and chorus,
We are described as man-mad traitoresses,
Fond of the cup, deceitful, talkative.
We’re wholly bad, to men a tribulation.
Therefore, when from the play our husbands come,[14]
They look distrustfully at us and search about
If somewhere not a lover is concealed,
And henceforth we no longer are permitted
To do what harmlessly we did before.
Such wicked things he tells the men about us,
That when a woman only makes a garland,
They think she is in love; or when at home
She works about and dropping something, breaks it,
The husband promptly asks: “For whom this broken glass?
Quite evidently for the guest from Corinth.”

It is not surprising that the eloquent Greek woman thus serves the defamer of her sex. But Euripides could hardly have made such accusations nor would they have found belief among the men, had it not been well known that they were justified. Judging by the final sentences of the above quoted harangue it seems that the custom, well known in Germany and other countries, whereby the master of the house honors his guest by placing his own wife or daughter at the guest’s disposal, did not prevail in Greece. Of this custom, that was still observed in Holland in the fifteenth century, Murner says: “It is the custom in the Netherlands that whosoever hath a dear guest, unto him he giveth his wife in good faith.”[15]

The increasing class struggle in the Greek states and the deplorable conditions that existed in many of these small communities led Plato to an investigation of the best constitution of the state and its institutions. In his “State,” that he conceives as an ideal one, he demands that among the highest class of citizens, the guardians, women should hold a position of absolute equality. Like the men, they should take part in military exercises and should perform all civic duties, only should the lighter[42] tasks be alloted to them on account of the weakness of their sex. He holds that the natural abilities are the same with both sexes, that woman is only weaker than man. He further demands that the women should belong to all the men in common as should also the children, so that no father might know his child nor a child its father.[16]

The views of Aristoteles are more in keeping with the bourgeois conceptions. According to his “Politics,” every woman should have the right of freely choosing her husband. She should be subservient to him, yet she should have the privilege of giving him good advice. Thucydides expresses a view that meets with the approval of all Philistines. He says: “To that wife is due the highest praise of whom one speaks neither well nor ill outside of her home.”

While such views prevailed women were bound to sink lower and lower in the esteem of men. A fear of excess of population even led men to avoid intimate intercourse with women. An unnatural satisfaction of sexual desires was the result. The Greek states consisted mainly of cities having very limited landed property, and it therefore was impossible to maintain the population at their accustomed nourishment beyond a given number. This fear of excess of population caused Aristotle to advice the men to shun their wives and to indulge in sodomy instead. Before him Socrates had already extolled sodomy as a mark of superior culture. Finally the foremost men of Greece indulged in this unnatural passion. The esteem of woman sank to its lowest level. Bawdy houses containing male prostitutes were maintained, beside those containing female prostitutes. It was in such a social atmosphere that Thucydides could say of woman that she was worse than the sea raging in storm, worse than the fire’s fierce glow and the mountain torrent’s rushing stream. “If it is a god who invented woman, whoever he be, let him know that he is the nefarious originator of the greatest evil.”

While the men of Greece practiced sodomy, the[43] women drifted into the opposite extreme, indulging in the love of their own sex. This was especially the case among the inhabitants of the island of Lesbos, wherefore this aberration was called Lesbian love and is still called so, since it is by no means extinct but continues to exist among us. The chief representative of this “love” was the celebrated poetess Sapho, “the Lesbian nightinggale,” who lived about 600 B. C. Her passion is fervently expressed in her Ode to Venus:

“Thou who rulest all, upon flowers enthroned,
Daughter of Zeus born of foam, o thou artful one,
Hark to my call!
Not in anguish and bitter suffering, O goddess,
Let me perish!—”

Still more passionate is the sensuality expressed in the ode to the beautiful Athis.

While in Athens and other Greek states the patriarchal system prevailed, in Sparta, Athens’ greatest rival, we still find the matriarchate, a condition which had become entirely foreign to most Greeks. Tradition has it that one day a Greek asked a Spartan how the crime of adultery was punished in Sparta; whereupon the Spartan replied: “Stranger, there are no adulterers in our midst.” “But if there should be one?” quoth the stranger. “Then,” said the Spartan mockingly, “his penalty would be to give an ox, so tall that he could stretch his neck across the Taygetus and drink from the Eurotas.” Upon the astonished query of the stranger how an ox could be so tall, the Spartan laughingly replied: “How can there be an adulterer in Sparta?!” The dignified self-consciousness of the Spartan women finds expression in the reply given to a stranger by the wife of Leonidas. The stranger said to her: “You Lacedemonian women are the only ones who rule over men.” To this she replied: “And we are the only women who bring forth men.”

The freedom enjoyed by women during the matriarchate heightened their beauty and increased their pride, their dignity and their self-reliance. There is a uniformity of opinion among ancient writers that these attributes were highly developed in women during the matriarchal period. The condition of servitude that followed[44] naturally had a deteriorating influence. The change is manifested even in the difference of dress that marks the two periods. The dress of the Doric woman hung loosely from her shoulders, leaving her arms and the lower part of her legs uncovered. It is the dress worn by Diana as she is represented in our museums, a free and daring figure. But the Ionic dress covers the figure completely and restrains the motions. The manner in which women dress was and is to this day a proof of their dependence and a cause of their helplessness to a far greater extent than is generally assumed. The style of dress worn by women to this day makes them clumsy and gives them a feeling of weakness that is expressed in their carriage and their character. The Spartan custom of permitting girls to go about naked until maturity—a custom that was made possible by the climate of the country—had the effect, so an ancient writer tells us, of teaching them simplicity of taste and regard for the care of their bodies. According to the views of the time, this custom did not shock the sense of decency or arouse physical passions. The girls also took part in all physical exercises just like the boys. Thus a strong, self-respecting race was reared, conscious of their worth, as is shown in the reply given to the stranger by the wife of Leonidas.

[11] Homer’s “Odyssee.”

[12] Homer’s “Odyssee.”

[13] “Comedies by Aristophanes.”

[14] The theatre, to which Greek women were not admitted.

[15] “German History of Manners and Civilization,” by Johann Scherr. Sudermann deals with the same subject in his drama, “Honor.”

[16] Plato: “The State.”

4.—Remnants of the Matriarchate in the Customs of Various Nations.

Certain customs are closely linked with the vanished matriarchate that modern writers have erroneously termed “prostitution.” In Babylon, for instance, it was a religious duty for young girls upon reaching maturity to go to the temple of Mylitta and there yield to some man, making a sacrifice of their virginity. Similar customs were observed in the Serapis of Memphis, in honor of the goddess Anaitis in Armenia, in Tyrus and Sydon in honor of Astarte or Venus. The Egyptian festivals of Isis were accompanied by the same religious rites. This sacrifice of virginity was deemed an atonement to the goddess for the exclusiveness of surrender to one man[45] in marriage. “For woman is not endowed with all the beauties nature has bestowed upon her, to fade in the arms of a single man. The law of substance condemns all restrictions, hates all fetters, and considers exclusiveness a crime against its divinity.”[17] The continued good will of the goddess must be purchased by this sacrifice of virginity to a stranger. In conformity with this conception the Libyan maidens earned their dowery by their surrender. According to the matriarchate they enjoyed sexual liberty before marriage, and the men, far from taking offense at this pursuit, in choosing a wife gave preference to the girl who had been most desired. The same condition existed among the Thracians at the time of Herodotus. “They do not guard the maidens, but give them complete freedom to have relations with whomever they choose. But the married women are closely guarded. They buy them from their parents for a large portion.” The Hierodules in the temple of Venus in Corynth were far famed. There more than a thousand girls were assembled, constituting the chief attraction for Greek men. Of the daughter of King Cheops of Egypt the legend relates, that she had a pyramid built from the proceeds obtained by the abandonment of her charms.

We still find similar conditions in existence in the Marquesas Islands, in the Philippines and Polynesia, and, according to Waitz, among various African tribes. Another custom, which was maintained on the Balearic Islands up to recent times and that expressed the right of all men to every woman, was that in the bridal night all the men related to the bride, were admitted to her successively in accordance with their ages. The groom came last. Among other peoples this custom has been changed to that effect, that one man representing the others, the high priest or chieftain of the tribe, exercises this privilege with the bride. The Claimars in Malabar engage putamares (priests) to deflour their wives. It is the duty of the chief priest (namburi) to render this service to the king (zamorin) upon his marriage, and the[46] king pays for it with fifty pieces of gold.[18] In India and on various islands of the Pacific either the priests or the tribal chiefs (kings) perform this office.[19] It is the same in Senegambia, where the tribal chief practices the defloration of virgins as one of his official duties and receives presents in return. Among other peoples the defloration of the virgin—sometimes even of female babies—is accomplished by idols constructed for this purpose. We may assume that the “jus primae noctis” (right of the first night), which was in practice in Europe until far into the middle ages, derived its origin from the same tradition. The landlord, considering himself master over his serfs, practiced the right of the tribal chief that had come down to him. We will return to this subject later on.

Remnants of the matriarchate are also seen in a peculiar custom of South American tribes, that has likewise been met with among the Basques, a people that have preserved many ancient customs and practices. Here the father takes to his bed, instead of the mother, after the birth of a child, feigns being in labor-pain, and lets the woman care for him. The custom designates that the father recognizes the newly born child as his own. The same custom is said to exist among several tribes of mountaineers in China, and it existed until a recent date in Corsica.

In the records of German colonies submitted to parliament (during its session 1904–05) there is a report of the South-West-African region that contains the following passage: “The tribal chief in a Herero village cannot decide upon the slightest matter without the advice of his council, and not only the men but generally the women also give their advice.” In the report of the Marshall Islands it says: “Rulership over all the islands of the Marshall groups was never concentrated upon a single chief.... but as there is no female member of this class (The Irody) living, and the child inherits nobility and station from the mother only, The Irodies will become[47] extinct with the death of their chiefs.” The manner of expression and description used by the informants shows how utterly foreign the conditions they describe are to them and that they fail to understand them.[20]

Dr. Henry Weislocky, who for many years lived among the Gypsies of Transylvania and finally was adopted into one of their tribes, reports,[21] that two of the four tribes in whose midst he lived, the Ashani and the Ishale, observed maternal law. If the migratory Gipsy marries, he enters the clan of his wife, and to her belong all the furnishings of the Gipsy household. Whatever wealth she has belongs to her and to her clan, the man is a stranger. In accordance with maternal law the children also remain in their mother’s clan. Even in modern Germany remnants of the matriarchate survive. The “Westdeutsche Rundschau” (published in Westphalia) reports in the issue of June 10, 1902, that in the parish of Haltern the laws of inheritance were still subject to the old[48] maternal law of the gentes. The children inherit from their mother. Until now all attempts at reforming this antiquated custom had failed.

How little the present family form and monogamic marriage can be regarded as eternal or exceedingly ancient, can furthermore be gathered from the wide-spread existence of marriage by purchase, marriage by rape, polygamy and polyandry. In Greece, too, woman became an article of purchase. As soon as she entered the house of her lord and master she ceased to exist for her family. This was symbolically expressed by burning before her husband’s house the gaily decorated carriage that had brought her there. Among the Ostiaks in Siberia the father still sells his daughter and bargains with the envoys of the groom over the sum that is to be paid. Among several African tribes the custom still exists—as in Jacob’s day—that a man wooing a maiden enters the service of his prospective mother-in-law. Marriage by purchase still exists in our very midst, in fact, in bourgeois society it is more generally established than at any other time. The money marriages, so prevalent among our propertied classes, are nothing more than marriage by purchase. As a symbol of the purchase whereby the woman becomes the man’s property, the bridal gift, which it is customary for the man to give his fiancee, may also be regarded.

Beside marriage by purchase we find marriage by rape. Robbery of women was practiced not only by the ancient Jews, but practically by all nations of antiquity. The best-known historical example is the rape of the Sabines, by the Romans. Robbery of women became the custom quite naturally wherever women were scarce or where polygamy existed, as everywhere in the Orient. There especially this custom was wide-spread during the duration of the Arabian realm from the seventh to the twelfth century before Christ.

In a symbolical way marriage by rape is still practised among the Araucanians in the southern part of Chile. While the would-be bridegroom’s friends bargain with the girl’s father, the man himself slinks about the house and tries to catch the girl. As soon as he has grasped[49] her he lifts her on his horse and carries her away toward the forest. Thereupon men, women and children set up a loud clamor and try to prevent the flight. But as soon as the man has succeeded in reaching the shelter of the forest the woman is considered his wife. This is the case even if the robbery was perpetrated against the parents’ will. Similar customs are met with among Australian tribes.

Among civilized nations the custom of wedding journeys still serves as a reminder of the ancient rape of women; the bride is abducted from her paternal hearth. In the same way the exchange of wedding rings is a symbol of the old submissiveness of woman and her being chained to the man. This custom originated in Rome. The bride received an iron ring from her husband to signify that she was chained to him. Later on this ring was made of gold, and much later still the exchange of rings was introduced to signify the mutual bond.

Polygamy has existed and still exists among the Orientals; but owing to the limited number of women that are at a man’s disposal, and owing to the expense of their maintenance, it is at present practised only by the privileged and propertied classes. The counter-part of polygamy is polyandry. This is found especially among the mountaineers of Thibet, the Garras living at the boundary of India and China, the Baigas in Godwana, the Nairs in the southernmost part of India, and also among the Eskimos and Aleuts. Descent is determined on the mother’s side—as must needs be the case—and the children belong to her. The woman’s husbands usually are brothers. If an oldest brother marries, the other brothers thereby become husbands to his wife. But she has the right to take other husbands beside these. The men also are entitled to several wives. From what conditions polyandry sprang is as yet unexplained. As the tribes practising polyandry without exception live either in mountainous regions of a high altitude or in the frigid zone, polyandry may perhaps be explained by a phenomenon that Tarnowsky has pointed out.[22] Tarnowsky[50] was told by reliable travelers that a lengthy sojourn on high altitudes greatly diminishes sexual desire, which reawakens with renewed vigor upon descending. This diminution of sexual desire, so Tarnowsky believes, might explain the slow increase in population in mountainous regions, and by becoming hereditary might be one of the symptoms of degeneration leading to perversity.

Continuous living in high altitudes or in frigid zones might in the same manner signify that polyandry did not make extraordinary demands on women. Women themselves are influenced accordingly by their nature, since among Eskimo girls menstruation, as a rule, does not set in until the nineteenth year, while in the torrid zone it sets in with the ninth or tenth year, and in the temperate zone between the fourteenth and sixteenth year. It is generally known that hot countries have a stimulating effect upon sexual desire; that is why polygamy is especially prevalent in hot countries. In the same way cold lands, and high altitudes having a similar climate, may have a restrictive influence. It is also a matter of experience that conception is less frequent when a woman has cohabitation with several men. The increase in population is, therefore, weak where polyandry exists, and is adapted to the difficulty of obtaining food in cold climes and high altitudes. This goes to show that even in regard to this strange custom of polyandry, the relations of the sexes are in the last instance determined by the methods of production. It still remains to be investigated whether the frequent killing of female infants is practised among the tribes living in mountainous regions or in the frigid zone, as has been reported of Mongolian tribes living in the mountainous regions of China.

[17] Backofen: “The Matriarchate.”

[18] K. Kautsky: “Origin of Marriage and the Family.” Kosmos, 1883.

[19] Mantagazza: “Love in Human Society.”

[20] Similar conditions are still met with in Camerun and in other parts of Western Africa. A German naval surgeon who studied the land and people from his own observations sends us the following information: “Among a great many tribes the right of inheritance is founded on maternity. Paternity is a matter of indifference, only children of the same mother consider one another brothers and sisters. A man does not will his property to his own children, but to his sisters’ children, his nephews and nieces, who can be shown to be his nearest blood relations. A chief of the Way tribe explained to me in broken English: ‘My sister and I surely are blood relations, for we are children of the same mother. My sister again surely is the blood relation of her son. So her son is my heir, and when I die he will be king of my town.’ ‘And your father?’ I asked. ‘I do not know what that is, my father,’ he replied. When I then went on to ask him whether he had no children of his own, he was convulsed with laughter and replied that with them not men but only women had children. I can assure you,” our informant goes on to say, “that even the heir of King Bell in Camerun is not his son, but his nephew. The children of Bell, many of whom are being trained in German cities, are but the children of his wives, while their fathers are unknown. One of them I might lay claim to myself.”—How are the people who deny the existence of maternal law impressed by this description of present-day conditions?! Our informant is a keen observer who goes to the bottom of things. But few who live among these savages do so. Therefore we are given such false descriptions of the alleged “immorality” of the natives.

[21] H. v. Weislocky: “Sketches of the Life of the Transylvanian Gypsies.”

[22] Tarnowsky: “Pathological Phenomena of Sexual Desire.”

5.—Rise of the State.—Dissolution of the Gens in Rome.

After the dissolution of the matriarchal gens, the patriarchal gens took its place with considerably diminished functions. The chief function of the patriarchal gens was the strict observation of common religious and funeral rites and mutual aid and protection. It entailed[51] the right, and sometimes the duty, to marry within the gens; the latter being the case especially in regard to rich heiresses and orphans. The gens also controlled all the remaining common property.

With the rise of private property and the right of inheritance connected with it, class distinctions and class antagonism came into existence. In the course of time the propertied members made common cause against the propertyless ones. The former sought to gain control of the administrative positions and to make them hereditary. Finance had become a necessity and entailed conditions of indebtedness that had previously been unknown. Struggles against external enemies, internal conflicts of interest, and the varied interests and relations created by agriculture, industry and trade, necessitated a complicated system of laws and the formation of public bodies destined to keep the social machine in orderly motion and to settle disputes. The same was true concerning the relations of masters and slaves, debtors and creditors. Thus a power was needed to control all these relations, to conduct, regulate, arbitrate, protect and punish. The state came into existence as a necessary product of the new social order based on conflicting interests. Its direction naturally was assumed by those who had the greatest interest in its founding and who, thanks to their social power, were most influential: the propertied classes. Thus aristocracy of wealth and democracy opposed one another, even where complete equality of political rights was maintained.

During the old matriarchal system no written law existed. Conditions were simple and custom was hallowed. In the new, far more complicated order, written law became one of the urgent necessities and special officials were needed for its administration. But as the legal relations became more and more complicated, a special class of persons arose, devoted exclusively to the study of law and having a special interest in still further complicating them. The jurists, the lawyers, came into existence, and owing to the importance of the law to the body social, they soon became one of the most influential estates. The new civic jurisprudence in the course of[52] time found its most classic expression in the Roman state, that explains the influence exerted by Roman law down to the present time.

We see then that the state organization is the natural outcome of a society divided into a great variety of occupations and having varied, frequently opposing and contending, interests. An inevitable result was oppression of the weaker members. This truth was recognized by the Nabataeans, an Arabian tribe, who, according to Diodorus, issued the command neither to sow nor to plant, to drink no wine, and to build no houses, but to live in tents, for if they did all these things they might be compelled to obey by a superior power (the state). Among the Rechabites, the descendants of the father-in-law of Moses, we find similar decrees.[23] In fact, Mosaic law is framed in a manner destined to prevent the Jews from developing beyond the stage of an agricultural society, because their lawmakers feared that it might bring about the downfall of their democratic, communistic organization. For the same reasons the “holy land” was selected in a territory that was bounded on the one side by a mountain range which was difficult of access, the Libanon, and on the other, especially in the East and South, by barren lands and a desert, making isolation possible. For the same reasons, moreover, the Jews were kept at a distance from the sea, which is favorable to commerce, colonization and the acquirement of wealth. For the same reasons there were strict laws forbidding mingling and intermarriage with other nations; and the poor laws, the agrarian laws, the year of jubilee, all were institutions destined to prevent the acquirement of great fortunes by individuals. The Jews were to be prevented from becoming a state-forming nation. That is why the old gentile constitution founded on tribal organization was maintained by them until their dissolution, and has left its traces among them even to-day.

Apparently the Latin tribes who participated in the foundation of Rome had already superseded the matriarchal development. As previously stated, they robbed[53] the women who were wanting among them from the tribe of the Sabines and called themselves Quirites after these. At a much later date the Roman citizens in the popular assembly were still addressed as Quirites. “Populus Romanus” designated the free population of Rome generally; but “populus Romanus quiritium” designated Roman citizenship by descent. The Roman gens was patriarchal; the children inherited from their natural parent. In case there were no children the property fell to relatives on the man’s side, and if these were wanting, it fell to the gens. By marriage the woman lost all rights of inheritance to her father’s property and that of her father’s brothers. She withdrew from her gens, and thus neither she nor her children could inherit from her father or his brothers. Otherwise the hereditary portion would have been lost to the paternal gens. The division into gentes and phratries for centuries remained the foundation of military organization and the enactment of civic rights. But with the decay of the patriarchal gentes and the decline of their significance, conditions became more favorable to Roman women. They not only obtained the right of inheritance, they also obtained the right to control their own fortunes; they accordingly held a far more favorable position than their Greek sisters. This freer position gradually won by them, gave the elder Cato—born 234 B. C.—cause for the following complaint: “If the head of each family, following the example of his ancestors, would seek to maintain his wife in proper submissiveness, the entire sex would not give so much trouble publicly.” When a few tribunes in the year 195 B. C., moved to repeal a law enacted previously, for the purpose of restricting the luxury of women in dress and personal adornment, he stormed: “If each of us had maintained his manly authority with his own wife, we would have less bother here with all the women. Our power that has been shattered in the home, now is being broken and trampled upon in the forum too by the unruliness of women, and because we are incapable of resisting them individually, we fear them all together. Our ancestors decided that women should not even attend to their private affairs without the control of a[54] guardian, that they should be subject to their fathers, brothers, husbands. But we submit to it that they take possession of the republic and interfere with the popular assembly. If you give free reign to the imperious natures of these unruly creatures, do not imagine that they will recognize any limits of their tyranny. The truth is that they desire freedom, nay, dissoluteness, in all things, and when they have begun to be our equals, they will soon be our superiors.”

At the time Cato delivered this speech the father was guardian to his daughter during his lifetime, even when she was married, unless he appointed another guardian. When the father died the nearest male relative assumed the guardianship. The guardian had the right to transfer this guardianship to whomever and whenever he pleased. Originally then the Roman woman had no will of her own before the law.

The forms of marriage ceremonies were varied and underwent many changes in the course of the centuries. The most ceremonious marriage ceremony was performed by the high priest in the presence of at least ten witnesses, whereupon the bridal pair ate a cake made of flour, salt and water as a symbol of their union. This ceremony has a strong resemblance to the eating of the sacramental wafer at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. A second form of marriage was merely by taking possession. If a woman had lived with her chosen husband under the same roof for one year, with the consent of her father or guardian, the marriage was legalized. A third form was a sort of mutual purchase. The man and woman exchanged some coins and promised to be husband and wife. At the time of Cicero[24] free divorce to both partners in the marriage contract was already established, and it was even denied that an announcement of the divorce was necessary. But the “lex Julia de adulteriis” prescribed that a divorce must be solemnly announced. This law was caused by the frequent occurrence that women, having committed adultery and then having been called to account, claimed to have divorced[55] their husbands. Justinian (The Christian)[25] prohibited divorce, except when both parties wished to enter a monastery. But his successor, Justinian II., found it necessary to introduce it again.

As Rome grew in wealth and power, vice and licentiousness of the worst kind replaced the moral austerity of its early days. Rome became the center from which lewdness, debauchery and sensual finesse spread over the entire civilized world of that period. Especially during the time of the emperors, and frequently encouraged by the emperors themselves, the debauchery assumed forms that could only have been inspired by insanity. Men and women vied with each other in immorality. The number of public brothels increased rapidly, and besides the “Greek love” (sodomy) was practised more and more by the men. At one time the number of male prostitutes in Rome was greater than the number of female prostitutes.

The courtesans appeared in great pomp, surrounded by their admirers, on the streets and the promenade, in the circus and theater, sometimes reclining on couches carried by Negroes, holding a mirror in their hand, decked with jewels, partly nude, fanned by slaves, surrounded by a swarm of boys, eunuchs and flute-players, with grotesque dwarfs bringing up the rear.

These debaucheries assumed such dimensions in the Roman empire, that they threatened its very existence. The bad example set by men, was followed by women. There were women, so Seneca[26] reports, who did not count years by the consuls, as was customary, but by the number of their husbands. Adultery was general, and in order to escape the severe penalties attached to it, women had themselves registered as prostitutes. Even some of the most aristocratic ladies of Rome were among these.

Besides these debaucheries, civil wars and the system of the latifundia caused such a marked decline of the marriage and birth-rate, that the number of Roman citizens and patricians was greatly diminished. In the year[56] 16 B. C. Augustus enacted the so-called Julian law;[27] that placed a penalty upon the unmarried state of Roman citizens and patricians, and rewarded them for having children. Whoever had children was deemed of higher station than childless or unmarried persons. Unmarried persons could not inherit property from anyone except their nearest relatives. People who had no children could only claim half of an inheritance, the other half was turned over to the state. Women who had been convicted of adultery, were compelled to give a part of their dowery to their deceived husbands. This provision caused some men to marry with a desire for adultery on the part of their wives. That caused Plutarch to remark: “Romans do not marry to have heirs, but to become heirs.” Later on the Julian law was still increased in severity. Tiberius issued an edict that no woman whose grandfather, father or husband had been or was a Roman knight, might prostitute herself. Married women, who had their names entered in the lists of prostitutes, should be banished from Italy. For the men, of course, no such punishments existed. As Juvenal reports, husband-murder by poison was a frequent occurrence in Rome of his day.

[23] “Mosaic Law,” by John David Michaelis.

[24] Born 106 B. C.

[25] From 527 to 565 A. D.

[26] Seneca lived from 2 to 65 A. D.

[27] Augustus, the adopted son of Caesar, was by adoption a member of the Gens Julia, from which the Julian law derived its name.


While in the Roman empire the marriage and birthrate were permitted to decline more and more, the Jews maintained far different customs. The Jewess was not entitled to choose her own husband; he was chosen for her by her father. But she regarded marriage as a duty which she faithfully performed. The Talmud advises: “When thy daughter has attained maturity, set one of thy slaves free and betroth her to him.” The Jews likewise faithfully obeyed the commandment of their God: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Accordingly the Jews have[57] steadily increased in spite of persecution and oppression; they are staunch opponents of Malthusianism. Tacitus said of them: “They firmly hold together and readily assist one another, but are hostile and full of hatred against all others. They never eat or sleep with enemies, and though very much inclined to sensual passion, they refrain from pairing with foreign women. Yet they are eager to increase their tribe. To destroy their offspring is a sin to them; and the souls of those who have been killed in battle or executed, they consider immortal. Therefore they combine love for propagation with a contempt for death.” But Tacitus hated and despised the Jews because they, regardless of their paternal creed, eagerly accumulated wealth. He calls them “the meanest people,” “an ugly nation.”

Under Roman rule, the Jews became more and more closely linked with one another, and during the long time of suffering they were doomed to endure from this time on through the entire middle ages, that intimate family life developed among them, which still is regarded as a sort of model by bourgeois society. In Roman society meanwhile, that process of decay and dissolution took place that brought the empire to an end. The debauchery bordering on madness was opposed by the opposite extreme, rigorous self-denial. Asceticism now assumed religious forms, as the debaucheries had previously done. Eccentric fanaticism made propaganda for it. The boundless luxury and extravagance of the ruling classes was in striking contrast with the want and misery of the millions and millions of people who were brought to Italy into servitude by the conquering Romans from all the countries of the world known at that time. Among these there also were ever so many women, torn from their homes, their parents, their husbands and children, who were most deeply afflicted by their misfortune and longed for liberation. Many Roman women who were thoroughly disgusted by what was going on about them, were in a similar mental state. Any change in their position seemed desirable. A profound longing for change, for redemption, manifested itself in wide circles, and the Redeemer seemed to approach. The[58] conquest of the Jewish realm and Jerusalem by the Romans, resulted in the destruction of national independence, and brought forth idealists among the ascetics of that country who predicted the coming of a new kingdom with freedom and happiness for all.

Christ came and Christianity developed. It personified opposition against the beastly materialism that prevailed among the rich and mighty ones in the Roman empire; it represented rebellion against the oppression and disdain of the masses. But since it sprang from Judaism that knew woman only as an oppressed being, and since it was biased by the biblical conception that she is the source of all evil, it preached the disdain of woman; it preached abstinence and destruction of the flesh, that was sinning so much at the time, and with ambiguous expressions pointed to a coming kingdom—conceived by some as a celestial, by others as an earthly kingdom—that would bring universal peace and justice. In the mire of the Roman realm, the seeds of these doctrines were planted in fertile soil. Woman, hoping for liberation and redemption from her position like all the other unfortunates, gladly and eagerly embraced the new faith. Until this day no great and important movement has taken place in all the world in which women did not figure as heroines and martyrs. They who praise Christianity as a great achievement of civilization, should not forget that to woman it owed many of its victories. Her eagerness to make converts played an important part both in the Roman empire and among the barbarian peoples of the middle ages. Through her efforts those in power often were converted. Thus, for instance, it was Chlotilde who induced Chlodwig, King of the Franks, to embrace Christianity. It was Bertha, Queen of Kent, and Gisela, Queen of Hungary, who introduced Christianity in their countries. The conversion of many prominent men was due to the influence of women. But Christianity rewarded woman poorly. Its doctrines contain the same disdain of woman that is met with in all the religions of the Orient. It commands her to be an obedient servant to man, and even to-day women must promise obedience to their husbands before the marriage[59] altar. Let us hear how the Bible and Christianity speak of woman and marriage.

The ten commandments of the old testament are addressed exclusively to the man. In the ninth commandment the woman is mentioned together with the domestic servants and domestic animals. The man is warned not to covet his neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is his neighbor’s. Woman then is an object, a piece of property, that man should not desire if in someone else’s possession. Jesus, who belonged to a sect that maintained rigorous asceticism and practised voluntary emasculation, when asked by his disciples whether it were well to marry, replied: All men cannot receive this saying save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb; and there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.

According to this, then, emasculation is agreeable to God, and renunciation of love and marriage is a worthy deed. St. Paul, who may be called the founder of Christianity even more so than Jesus himself, St. Paul, who removed this creed from the narrow Jewish sectarianism and gave it its international character, writes to the Corynthians: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband.

“Matrimony is a degraded station; to marry is good, not to marry is better.” “Walk in the spirit and resist the temptations of the flesh.” “The flesh conspires against the spirit and the spirit conspires against the flesh.” They, whom Christ has won, have crucified their flesh with all its passions and desires.———

He was true to his own views and refrained from marriage. This hatred of flesh is the hatred of woman, but also the fear of woman, who is represented as man’s seducer. In this spirit the apostles and fathers of the church preached; in this same spirit the church used its[60] influence during the entire middle ages, by establishing monasteries and introducing celibacy of priests, and it is still using its influence in the same direction.

According to Christianity woman is impure. She is the seducer who brought sin into the world and wrought man’s destruction. Therefore the apostles and fathers of the church regarded marriage as a necessary evil, as prostitution is regarded at present. Tertullian exclaims: “Woman, you ought to go about clad in mourning and rags, your eyes filled with tears of remorse, to make us forget that you have been mankind’s destruction. Woman, you are the gate to hell!” And: “Celibacy must be chose, even though the human race should perish.” Hieronymus says: “Matrimony is always a vice, all that can be done is to excuse it and to sanctify it; therefore it was made a religious sacrament.” Origines declares: “Matrimony is impure and unholy; a means of sensual passion.” To escape the temptation he emasculated himself. Augustin teaches: “The married people will shine in heaven like radiant stars, while their parents (their procreators) will be like dark stars.” Eusebius and Hieronymus are agreed that the teaching of the Bible: “Be fruitful and multiply,” is no longer suited to the times, and does not concern Christians. Hundreds of similar sayings by the most influential teachers of the church might be quoted, to prove that they all taught in the same spirit. By their continuous teaching and preaching they have disseminated those unnatural views about everything pertaining to sex and the sex relation, which after all is a law of nature, and the fulfillment of which is one of the most important duties in the plan of life. Modern society is still suffering from the effects of these doctrines, and is but slowly recovering from them.

St. Peter exclaims with energy: “Wives, obey your husbands!” St. Paul writes to the Ephesians: “The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church.” And to the Corinthians: “The man is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of the man.”

According to this any fool of a man may deem himself better than the most excellent woman, and as a matter[61] of fact it has been so in practice until this day. Against the higher education of women St. Paul also raises his voice. In the first Epistle to Timothy 2, 11, etc., he says: “Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness”; and in the Epistle to the Corinthians, 14, 34 and 35: “Let the women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak. But let them be in subjection as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.” St. Thomas of Aquino (1227 to 1274) says: “Woman is a rapidly growing weed, an imperfect being. Her body attains maturity more rapidly only because it is of less value, and nature is engaged less in her making. Women are born to be eternally maintained under the yoke of their lords and masters, endowed by nature with superiority in every respect, and therefore destined to rule.”

Such doctrines are not characteristic of Christianity only. As Christianity is a mixture of Judaism and Greek philosophy, and as both are rooted in the more ancient civilizations of India, Babylon and Egypt, the inferior position alloted to woman by Christianity was common to all the civilized nations of antiquity after the passing of the matriarchate. In the Indian book of laws of Manu we find the following: “The cause of dishonor is woman; the cause of hostility is woman; the cause of worldly things is woman; therefore woman should be shunned.” Beside the degradation of woman, the fear of woman is repeatedly naively expressed. Thus it is further stated in Manu: “Women are ever inclined by nature to seduce men; therefore a man should never, even in the company of his closest female relative, sit in a lonely spot.” The Indian conception, the old testament, and the Christian conception, all unite in declaring woman the seducer. Every condition of oppression entails the degradation of the oppressed. The oppression of woman has been maintained until this day; but among the Oriental peoples, whose social development has been retarded, it has been maintained more rigorously than among the Christian[62] nations. Yet the factor that made for improvement in the position of women among Christian nations was not Christianity itself, but the civilization of the Western countries attained in the struggles against the Christian conception.

Christianity is not the cause that woman’s position is superior to-day to what it had been at the time of the origin of Christianity. Only reluctantly has it been compelled to abandon its true attitude toward woman. They who are enthusiastic over the “redeeming mission of Christianity,” of course, hold a different view. They claim that Christianity has liberated woman from her former degraded position, and they base this claim especially upon the cult of the Holy Virgin, which they consider a token of respect for woman. The Catholic Church which maintains this cult, might hardly share this opinion. The above-quoted sayings of the saints and the fathers of the church which could easily be multiplied, all express hostility to woman and marriage. The Council at Macon during the sixth century, which indulged in serious discussion as to whether woman had a soul, and finally decided in her favor by a majority of one, also disproves the claim that Christianity was favorable to women. The introduction of celibacy of priests by Gregory VII,[28] the purpose of which was to create a power by having an unmarried priesthood that would not be withdrawn from the service of the church by any family interests, was made possible only by that fundamental view of the church, that all desires of the flesh are sinful. Many reformers, especially Calvin and the Scotch ministers, have raved so vehemently against the “lust of the flesh,” that they left no doubt in regard to the hostile attitude of Christianity toward women.[29] By introducing[63] the cult of the Virgin Mary, the Catholic Church, with wise calculation, merely put this cult in place of the cult of the ancient goddesses, that existed among all the peoples who were converted to Christianity at that time. Mary replaced Cybel, Mylitta, Aphrodite and Venus among the Southern nations, and Freia, Frigga and others among the German tribes. She was only endowed with a Christian, spiritual idealism.

[28] Among others the parish priests of the Diocese of Mayence thus protested against this ordinance: “You bishops and abbots possess great riches, elegant hunting outfits and enjoy royal banquets; we poor, simple priests have but a wife for our comfort. Abstinence may be a virtue, but it is forsooth severe and hard.”—Yves Guyot, “Les Théories sociales du Christianisme.”

[29] A great many instances in evidence of this are furnished by Buckle in his “History of Civilization in England.”

Woman in the Mediaeval Age.

1.—The Position of Women among the Germans.

The robust, physically healthy, coarse but unsophisticated peoples that during the first centuries after Christ came from the North and East, flooding like mighty ocean waves the enervated Roman empire in which Christianity had gradually come into power, vehemently resisted the ascetic teachings of the Christian preachers, who were obliged to make allowances for these healthy natures. The Romans were surprised to find that the customs of these peoples differed considerably from their own. Tacitus takes note of this fact in regard to the Germans, of whom he thus expresses his approval: “Their marriage laws are severe and none of their customs are more laudable than this one, for they are practically the only barbarians who content themselves with one wife. Among this numerous people one rarely hears of adultery, and when it does occur, it is promptly punished, the men themselves being permitted to inflict the punishment. Naked, her hair clipped, thus the man drives the adulteress out of the village before the eyes of her relatives, for a sin against virtue is not condoned. There nobody laughs over vice and to seduce and being seduced are not considered a sign of good breeding. The youths marry late; therefore they maintain their strength. The maidens, too, are not married off hastily, and they are of the same stature as the men, and[64] present the same healthful glow of youth. Of equal age, equally strong, they wed, and the strength of the parents is transmitted to the children.”

Evidently Tacitus depicted the matrimonial relations of the ancient Germans in a somewhat too rosy hue, to set them before the Romans as an example. They indeed severely punished the woman who committed adultery, but the punishment was not inflicted upon the man who committed adultery. At the time of Tacitus, the gens still flourished among the Germans. Tacitus, being accustomed to the more advanced Roman conditions that made the old gentile organization and its foundations seem strange and incomprehensible to him, wonderingly relates that among the Germans a mother’s brother regards his nephew as a son, and that some considered the bond of blood relation between an uncle on the mother’s side and his nephew as being even more sacred than the bond between father and son. For this reason, so he furthermore relates, when hostages were asked for, it was considered a stronger security when a man gave his sister’s son instead of his own. Upon this subject Engels remarks: “When the member of a gens gave his own son as a hostage and he was sacrificed by a breach of the agreement, it was the father’s own concern. But if his sister’s son had been sacrificed a sacred gentile right had been violated. The nearest gentile relation by duty bound to protect the boy or youth, had caused his death. He should either not have pledged him, or should have kept his agreement.”[30] Engels shows that in other respects among the Germans at the time of Tacitus, the matriarchate had already been replaced by the patriarchate. The children inherited from their father. In the absence of children, brothers and uncles on both the father’s and mother’s side were the lawful heirs. That the mother’s brother was admitted to a share in the inheritance, although inheritance was determined by descent on the father’s side, can be explained by the fact that the old law had but recently disappeared. Memories of the old law also caused that profound respect of the[65] German for the female sex, which so greatly surprised Tacitus. He also observed that the courage of the men was kindled to the utmost by the women. The thought of seeing their women led into captivity and servitude was most terrible to the ancient Germans and impelled them to the utmost resistance. But the women also were animated by a spirit that greatly impressed the Romans. When Marius would not permit the captured Teuton women to become priestesses of Vesta (the goddess of virgin chastity) they committed suicide.

At the time of Tacitus the Germans possessed fixed abodes. There was an annual division of the soil, which was determined by lot, and the wood, the streams and the pasture-ground were considered common property. Their mode of life was extremely simple; their wealth consisted mainly of cattle; coarse woolen cloaks or the hides of animals constituted their clothing. Women and some men of rank wore linen under-garments. Metal tools and weapons were manufactured only by those tribes who lived in too remote parts for the importation of Roman products of industry. In minor matters decisions were rendered by the council of chiefs; in more important matters by the popular assembly. Originally the chiefs were elected, though usually from one particular family. But the transition to the patriarchal system favored the heredity of the position, and finally led to the formation of a hereditary nobility that later on developed into kingship. As in Greece and Rome, the German gens perished by the rise of private property, the development of industry and commerce, and intermarriage with members of foreign tribes and nations. The gens was replaced by the mark community, a democratic organization of free peasants that constituted a firm bulwark against the encroachments of church and nobility for many centuries, and did not quite disappear even then when the feudal state had come into power and the free peasants had been forced into a condition of servitude. The mark community was represented by the heads of the families. Wives, daughters and daughters-in-law were excluded from the council. The times had passed in which women conducted the affairs of the[66] tribe—an incident which greatly amazed Tacitus, and which he describes with remarks of scorn. In the fifth century the Salic law repealed the right of inheritance of women to patrimonial estates.

Every male member of the mark community was entitled, upon marriage, to share in the common soil. Usually grandparents, parents and children lived under one roof in a household community, and so it frequently occurred that for the purpose of obtaining an additional share, a son who had not yet attained the marriageable age was joined in wedlock with some maiden of marriageable age by proxy, the father acting as husband in place of the son.[31] Newly married couples were given a cartload of beachwood and wood to build a log cabin. Upon the birth of a daughter, parents also received one cartload of wood; upon the birth of a son they received two. The female sex accordingly was considered worth only half as much as the male sex.

The marriage ceremony was simple. Religious rites were unknown. A mutual agreement was sufficient, and as soon as the couple had entered the nuptial bed, the marriage was contracted. Only in the ninth century that custom arose according to which a religious ceremony was necessary to legalize a marriage, and as late as the sixteenth century, marriage was made a sacrament of the Catholic Church by a decision of the council of Trent.

[30] Engels: “Origin of the Family.”

[31] The same custom was met with in Russia during the rule of Mir.

2.—Feudalism and the Right of the First Night.

With the rise of the feudal state the position of a great many commoners became considerably worse. The victorious leaders of the army abused their power by taking possession of large tracts of land. They considered themselves entitled to the common property, and did not hesitate to distribute it among their followers, slaves, serfs or freed men, either for temporary use or with the right of inheritance. Thereby they created for themselves a court and military nobility, devoted to them in all things. The establishment of a large realm of the Franks destroyed the last traces of gentile organization.[67] The council of the chiefs was replaced by the leaders of the army and the newly created nobility.

Gradually the great mass of the commoners were driven into a condition of exhaustion and pauperism, as a result of the continuous wars of conquest and the disputes of their rulers, for which they had to bear the heaviest burdens. They could no longer serve in the militia. In their place the lords and noblemen recruited vassals, and the peasants placed themselves and their possessions under the protection of a worldly or spiritual lord—for the church had succeeded in becoming a great power within a few centuries—in return for which they paid rent and taxes. Thus the free farms were transformed into leased property, and as time went by new duties were constantly imposed. Having once come into this dependent position, it was not long before the peasants were deprived of their personal liberty as well. Bondage and serfdom expanded more and more. The feudal lord held almost unrestricted sway over his serfs. His was the right to compel any man who had attained the eighteenth and any girl who had attained the fourteenth year, to become married. He could prescribe to both men and women whom they were to marry, even in the case of widows and widowers. As lord of his subjects, he considered himself entitled to sexual intercourse with his female serfs, and his power was expressed in the “jus primae noctis” (the right of the first night). This right might also be practiced by his representative (major domo) unless the right were waived upon payment of a tax. The terms “bed-tribute,” “virgin’s tribute,” etc., betray the nature of these taxes.

It has frequently been denied that this right of the first night existed. The knowledge of its existence is uncomfortable to some people, because it was still practiced at a time that they like to represent as a model for virtuousness and piety. We have already shown that this right of the first night was a custom which had its origin in the time of the matriarchate. When the old gentile organization disappeared, the custom of surrendering the bride in the bridal night to the members of her kinship was still maintained. But in the course[68] of time the right was restricted and finally practiced only by the chief or priest. It was transferred upon the feudal lord as a result of his power over the people who lived upon the land owned by him, and he might practice this right if he so chose, or waive it in return for a payment in kind or in money. How real was this right of the first night may be seen by the following passage from a tale by Jacob Grimm: “The groom shall invite the manager of the estate to the wedding and he shall also invite the manager’s wife. The manager shall bring a cartload of wood to the wedding, and his wife shall bring a quarter of a roasted pig. When the wedding is over, the groom shall let the manager lie with his wife for the first night, or he shall redeem her with five shillings and six pence.”

Sugenheim[32] holds the opinion that the right of the first night was given to the feudal lord because his serfs, in order to marry, needed his consent. In Béarn this practice led to the custom that all first-born children of marriages in which the “jus primae noctis” had been practiced, were regarded as of free estate. Later on this right was generally redeemable by the payment of a tax. According to Sugenheim, the bishops of Amiens stubbornly maintained this tax until the beginning of the fifteenth century. In Scotland the right of the first night was declared redeemable by payment of a tax by King Malcolm III at the close of the eleventh century. In Germany it existed much longer. According to the records of the Swabian monastery Adelberg of the year 1496, the serfs living in the community of Boertlingen, could redeem the right if the groom gave a bag of salt and the bride gave 1 lb 7 shillings in a dish “large enough that she might sit in it.” In other localities the brides might redeem it by giving the feudal lord so much butter or cheese “as was the size of their seat.” Elsewhere they had to give a dainty leather chair “in which they just fitted.” According to a description of the Bavarian judge of the court of appeals, Mr. Welsh, a tax for redeeming the jus primae noctis still existed in Bavaria in the eighteenth[69] century. Engels furthermore reports that among the Scots and Welsh the jus primae noctis was maintained thruout the middle age, but since here the gentile organization continued to exist, it was not the feudal lord or his representative who practiced this right, but the chieftain of the clan, and by him it was practiced as representative of all the husbands unless a tribute was paid.

So there can be no doubt as to the existence of the right of the first night, not only in medieval days, but even down to modern times, and that it held a place in the feudal code of laws. In Poland noblemen arrogated the right to deflour any maiden who chanced to please them, and if someone protested against this usage, they condemned him to receive one hundred blows with a cane. Land-lords and their employees still consider the sacrifice of virginal honor to their lust a matter of course, not only in Germany, but in the entire southern and south eastern portion of Europe, as is asserted by those who are acquainted with the land and the people.

During feudalism it was in the interest of the feudal lord that his serfs should become married, for the children became his serfs also, adding to the number of his workers and increasing his income. Therefore both worldly and spiritual masters encouraged marriage among their subjects. The question assumed a different aspect tho as far as the church was concerned, when an unmarried person was likely to will his property to the church. But this only applied to free men of low estate, whose conditions grew steadily worse as a result of the conditions described herein, and who gave over their possessions to the church to seek protection and peace within the walls of the monasteries. Others again placed themselves under the protection of the church by paying a tax or by rendering services. But in this way the fate they had sought to escape frequently befell their descendants; they gradually came into bondage or were made novices for the monasteries.

[32] History of the abolition of serfdom in Europe until the middle of the nineteenth century.

3.—The Rise of Cities.—Monastic Affairs.—Prostitution.

The cities which had begun to flourish with the eleventh century, favored the increase of population in their own[70] interest by facilitating residence and marriage. They became places of refuge to the rural population seeking to escape unbearable oppression, and to fugitive serfs. But at a later day these conditions changed again. As soon as the cities had obtained power, and a class of mechanics in comfortable circumstances had come into existence, a feeling of hostility manifested itself against new-comers who tried to settle down as mechanics, since they were regarded as undesirable competitors. Barriers were erected against the new-comers; heavy taxes were levied upon them if they would obtain the right of residence and become qualified as master-workmen. Trades were limited to a certain number of master-workmen and their journeymen, thereby forcing thousands into a condition of servitude, celibacy and vagabondage. When during the sixteenth century the cities began to decline,—owing to conditions that will be discussed later on,—it was quite in keeping with the narrow views of the time that residence and the right to independently practice a trade were made still more difficult. The tyranny of the feudal lords constantly increased, until many of their subjects preferred to abandon their miserable lives for the freer life of beggar, tramp or robber, the latter being favored by the large forests and the poor condition of the highways, or, making the most of the numerous warfares of the time, they became mercenary soldiers, selling their services wherever the pay was highest and the booty most promising. Male and female rabble flooded the country, becoming a public nuisance. The church helped to increase the general depravity. The forced celibacy of the clergy alone led to sexual debauchery, and this was still heightened by the constant association with Italy and Rome.

Rome was not only the capital of Christianity, being the residence of the popes, it was also, true to its traditions under the heathen emperors, a new Babel, the European high-school of immorality, and the papal court was its most distinguished center. The Roman empire at its dissolution had left to Christian Europe all its vices. These were cultivated in Rome and from there penetrated into Germany, favored by association of the clergy[71] with Rome. The numerous clergy, consisting to a great extent of men whose sexual desires were increased to the utmost by a lazy and luxurious life, and whom enforced celibacy drove to illegitimate or unnatural satisfaction of their desires, transmitted this immorality to all strata of society. The clergy became a pestilential danger to the virtue of women in cities and villages. Monasteries and nunneries,—and there were countless numbers of them,—frequently differed from public brothels only inasmuch as life within them was still more licentious and dissolute. Crimes, especially infanticide, were frequently committed there with impunity, because only those were permitted to pass judgment who were more often than not connected with the crimes. Sometimes peasants tried to protect their wives and daughters from being seduced by clergymen, by refusing to accept as pastor any one who would not consent to keeping a concubine. This circumstance led a bishop of Constance to impose a concubine tax upon the clergy of his diocese. Such conditions explain the historically authenticated fact, that during the mediæval age described by one writer of romance as a pious and virtuous age, for instance in 1414, at the council of Constance, no less than 1500 prostitutes were present.

But these conditions by no means made their appearance only at the decline of the middle age. They appeared at an early date and gave cause for constant complaints and ordinances. Thus Charlemagne issued an ordinance in the year 802, in which it says: “the nunneries shall be closely guarded. The nuns shall not roam about but shall be carefully watched, neither shall they live in discord and quarrels with one another, and under no circumstances shall they disobey their mothers superior. Where they have monastic rules they shall absolutely abide by them. They shall not be given to covetousness, drunkenness and prostitution, but shall lead a just and temperate life. Neither shall any man enter their convent except to attend mass, and then he shall immediately depart again.” Another ordinance of the year 869 declared: “if priests keep several wives or shed the blood of Christians or heathens, or break the canonical[72] law, they shall be divested of their priesthood because they are worse than the laity.” The fact that in those days the priests were forbidden to have several wives, shows that in the ninth century polygamy was not rare. Indeed there were no laws forbidding it. Even later, at the time of the minnesingers, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it was not considered objectionable to have several wives. In a poem by Albrecht of Johansdorf in the collection “Love-songs’ Springtime,” we find the following stanza:[33]

Particularly detrimental to the moral condition of the age were the crusades, that kept tens of thousands of men away from their homes for years, and led them to become acquainted with customs in the Eastern Roman empire that had until then been unknown in Western Europe. The position of women became especially unfavorable, not only as a result of the many hindrances to marriage and permanent residence, but also because their numbers by far exceeded the male population. The chief cause of this was the numerous wars and the fact that commercial traveling in those days was a dangerous undertaking. Moreover the death rate among men was higher than among women, as a result of their intemperate living, which was especially manifested during the plague that frequently ravaged the population in the middle age. Thus there were 32 plague years in the period from 1326 to 1400; 41 from 1400 to 1500, and 30 from 1500 to 1600.[34]

Hosts of women roamed about on the highways as musicians, dancers, magicians, in the company of wandering scholastics and priests, and flooded the markets and fairs. They formed special divisions in the troops of foot-soldiers where they were organized in guilds according to the spirit of the age, and were assigned to the different ranks according to age and beauty. By severe[73] penalty they were forbidden to yield to any man outside of the prescribed circle. In the camp they had to help the baggage-carriers to gather in hay, straw and wood, to fill up holes and ditches and to clean the camp. During sieges it was their task to fill up the ditches with brushwood, branches and tufts of grass to facilitate the attack; they helped to place the guns in position and to drag them along when they became stuck in the muddy roads.[35] To give some relief to these numerous helpless women, so called beguinages, that were maintained by the municipality, were erected in many cities from the middle of the thirteenth century on. Here the women were given homes and were encouraged to lead decent lives. But neither their institutions nor the nunneries could shelter all those who sought help and protection.

The hindrances to marriage, the journeys of noblemen and other worldly and spiritual lords who came into the cities with their hosts of knights and attendants, the young men within the cities and, last but not least, the married men who were not troubled much by moral scruples but believed that variety was the spice of life,—all these created a demand for prostitutes in the medieval towns. As every trade in those days was organized into guilds and submitted to definite regulations, so also was prostitution. In all the larger cities brothels were maintained that were municipal, state or church property and whose profits went to fill these respective treasuries. The women in these houses had a senior-mistress elected by themselves, whose duty it was to maintain order and who was especially charged with the task of seeing to it that no competitors outside of the guild harmed the legitimate trade. If such competitors were caught, they had to pay a legal fine. Thus the inhabitants of a brothel in Nuremberg complained to the magistrate about the competition of women who were not members of their guild: “that other keepers also maintain women who go upon the streets at night and harbour married men and others, and who ply their trade in a much coarser way, and that such were a disgrace and should not be permitted in this praiseworthy[74] town.”[36] The brothels enjoyed special protection; breach of the peace in their vicinity was punished more severely than elsewhere. This female guild was also entitled to appear at festivals and in processions in which it was customary for all the guilds to participate. They were even sometimes invited as guests to princely and official banquets. The brothels were considered desirable “for the protection of married women and the honor of virgins.” This was the same argument which was resorted to in order to justify the maintenance of brothels by the state in Athens. Nevertheless barbarous persecutions of the prostitutes were met with, that came from the same men whose demand and whose money maintained the prostitutes. Thus Charlemagne decreed that a prostitute should be brought nude upon the market place and be flogged there. He himself, the “most Christian” king and emperor had no less than six wives simultaneously. His daughters, evidently following their father’s example, were not models of virtue either. Their mode of life gave him many unpleasant hours, and they brought several illegitimate children into his house. Alkuin, a friend and advisor to Charlemagne, warned his pupils of “the crowned doves who fly thru the Palatinate at night,” meaning the emperor’s daughters.

The same communities that officially organized and protected the brothels and granted all sorts of privileges to the prostitutes inflicted the hardest and most cruel punishments upon a poor forsaken girl who had gone wrong. The infanticide who, driven to despair, had killed her own offspring was subjected to cruel death, while no one bothered about the unscrupulous seducer. Perhaps he sat among the judges who pronounced the death sentence on the unfortunate victim. The same is possible still.[37] Adultery of wives was also severely punished; to be put in the pillory was the least she might expect. But[75] adultery of husbands was concealed by the cloak of Christian forbearance.

In Wuerzburg it was customary for the brothel-keeper to take an oath before the magistrate, pledging faith and allegiance to the city and that he would diligently enlist women. Similar oaths were taken in Nuremberg, Ulm, Leipsic, Cologne, Frankfort, and others. In Ulm the brothels were abolished in 1537; but in 1551, the guilds moved to reinstate them “to avoid a worse state of affairs.” When strangers of note visited a city, prostitutes were placed at their disposal at the city’s expense. When King Ladislaus entered Vienna in 1452, the magistrate sent a committee of public prostitutes to meet him, clad in transparant gauze that disclosed their beautiful shapes. Emperor Charles V, upon entering Antwerp, was also received by a committee of nude girls, a historic scene that Hans Makart depicted in a large painting which is now on exhibition in the museum at Hamburg. Such occurrences created no scandal in those days.


Would he not be fickle
Who would choose to have a second wife
Beside his virtuous one? Speak, Sir, would you?—
Let it to men be granted but to women not!

[34] Dr. Charles Buecher: “The Woman Question in Mediæval Times.”

[35] Dr. Charles Buecher: “The Woman Question in Medieval Times.”

[36] Joh. Scherr, History of the German Woman, 4th ed. Leipsic, 1879.

[37] Leon Richter in “La femme libre” reports a case where a servant girl was convicted of infanticide by the father of her child, a pious lawyer, who was a member of the court. After the girl’s conviction it became known that the lawyer himself was the murderer and that she was innocent.

4.—Knighthood and the Veneration of Women.

Phantastic writers of romance and scheming persons have endeavored to depict the mediæval age as an especially virtuous one, and as one imbued with a profound veneration of women. The time of the minnesingers, from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, is dwelt upon to furnish proof to this assertion. The poetic courtship of the knights, that was first introduced by the Moriscos in Spain, is supposed to prove that women were highly honored at that time. But let a few facts be remembered. Firstly, the knights only constituted a very small portion of the population, and in the same way their ladies constituted a small portion of the women. Secondly, only a very limited number of the knights practiced this knightly courtship; and thirdly, the true nature of this custom has been considerably misunderstood or distorted. The time when knighthood was in flower, was the age of the rule of brute force in Germany; it was the age in which all bonds of law and order were broken, and the knights practiced extortion, plundering and highway-robbery without restraint. Such an age of brute force is not one[76] in which mild and poetic sentiments predominate. On the contrary. This age was destined to shatter the respect for the female sex that might still have remained. The knights, in the country as well as in the towns, were mostly coarse, brutal fellows, whose chief passion, besides warfare and excessive drinking, was the unrestricted satisfaction of their sexual desires. The chroniclers of that time tell of incessant acts of violence and ravishment committed by the nobility of town and country, who controlled the municipal governments throughout the thirteenth, fourteenth and into the fifteenth centuries. Because the knights conducted the courts in the towns, and the feudal lords passed judgment in the rural districts, the injured persons rarely obtained redress of their grievances. It is a great exaggeration then to assume that their customs of courtship caused the ancient nobility to treat women with special respect and to regard them as superior beings.

A small minority of the knights seem to have been enthusiastic over feminine beauty, but their enthusiasm was by no means platonic but pursued very material aims. Even that clown among the romantic admirers “of lovely women,” Ulrick of Lichtenstein of ridiculous memory, was a platonic lover only so long as he was compelled to be. In the main, this romantic worship of woman was nothing but deification of the mistress at the expense of the legitimate wife; it was nothing but courtesanship, as it has existed in Greece at the time of Pericles, transplanted into medieval Christianity. The mutual seduction of wives was frequently practiced among the knights also, as it is still practiced in certain circles of our bourgeoisie.

The open manifestation of sensuality, characteristic of that age, constituted a frank recognition of the fact that the natural desires implanted in every healthy, adult human being rightfully seek satisfaction. In that respect it expressed a victory of healthy nature over the ascetic teachings of Christianity. But on the other hand it must again be emphasized, that this recognition came into consideration for the one sex only, while the other sex was treated on the assumption that it could not and dare not have the same impulses. The slightest transgression by[77] women of the moral laws laid down for them by men, was punished with unmerciful severity. Women, as a result of constant oppression and a singular education, have become so accustomed to the conception of their rulers, that they still consider this condition quite natural. Were there not also millions of slaves who considered slavery a natural condition and who would never have liberated themselves had not the liberators sprung from the slave owning class? When Prussian peasants were to be emancipated from serfdom, they petitioned the government not to emancipate them, “for who should provide for them when they were aged or ill?” And do we not meet with the same situation in the modern labor movement? How many workingmen still permit their exploiters to influence them and lead them at will!

The oppressed needs some one to animate and inspire him, because he lacks the initiative for independence. It was thus in the present day movement of the proletariat, and it is the same in the struggle for the emancipation of women. Even the bourgeoisie, that enjoyed a relatively more favorable position in its struggle for independence, found its leaders and spokesmen among the nobility and clergy.

Whatever the shortcomings of the middle ages may have been, it possessed a healthy sensuality which sprang from the strong, buoyant nature of the people, and which Christianity could not suppress. The hypocritical prudery and concealed lasciviousness of our day, that fears to call a spade a spade and to speak of natural things in a natural way, was foreign to that age. Neither was it familiar with that piquant ambiguity to which we resort in speaking of what we dare not name, because to be prudish and unnatural has become customary with us, and which is all the more dangerous because such language allures, but does not satisfy, allows us to surmise but does not express clearly. Our social conversations, our novels and our theaters abound with these piquant ambiguities, and their effect is manifested. This spiritualism of the roué, concealed by religious spiritualism, has a powerful influence.


The Reformation.


The healthy sensuality of the middle ages found its classic exponent in Luther. We are here not so much concerned with the religious reformer, but with Luther, the man. In regard to all human relations, Luther’s strong, unsophisticated nature clearly manifested itself, and caused him to express freely and without reserve his desire for love and enjoyment. His position as a former Roman clergyman had opened his eyes and had taught him from experience how contrary to all the laws of nature were the lives of monks and nuns. Therefore he roundly condemned the celibacy of priests and monks. Luther says: “Unless specially endowed by a rare, divine grace, a woman can no more dispense with a man, than she can dispense with food, drink, sleep and other natural needs. In the same way a man cannot do without a woman. The cause is that the desire to propagate the race is as deeply implanted by nature as the desire for food and drink. Therefore God has given unto the human body limbs, veins, circulation and all that serves this end. He who opposes this, and will not let nature take her course, what does he do but seek to prevent nature from being nature, fire from burning, water from moistening, human beings from eating, drinking and sleeping?” In his sermon on marriage, he says: “Just as it is not within my power not to be a man, so it is not in thy power to do without a man, for it is not free will or advice but a natural necessity that every man must have a woman and that every woman must have a man.” But Luther does not only express himself so strongly in favor of marriage and the necessity of sexual relations, he also expresses himself as opposed to it that the church and marriage should have anything in common. He says in regard to this: “Know that marriage is something extrinsic as any other worldly action. As I may eat, drink, sleep, walk, ride and deal with any heathen, Jew, Turk or[79] heretic, so to one of these I may also become and remain married. Do not observe the laws of fools that forbid such marriages.... Heathens are men and women, well and wisely created by God, just as well as St. Peter and St. Paul and St. Luke, not to speak of any false and wanton Christian.” Luther furthermore, like other reformers, opposed all restrictions to marriage, and favored permitting divorcees to marry, which was opposed by the church. He says: “in regard to matters of marriage and divorce among us I say, let the jurists dispose of them, and let them be subject to worldly rule, since matrimony is a worldly, extrinsic thing.” In accordance with this view, it was not until the end of the seventeenth century that a religious ceremony was considered essential to a legal marriage among Protestants. Until then the so called conscience marriage sufficed, that is, a marriage founded upon the mutual agreement to regard one another as husband and wife and to live in matrimonial relations with one another. According to German law such marriages were legal. Luther even went so far as to adjudge to the unsatisfied party in a marriage contract—even if the party were the woman—the right to seek satisfaction outside of marriage, “in order to do justice to nature that can not be resisted.”[38] In this matter Luther sets forth opinions that would rouse many of our present day respectable men and women, who always point to Luther in their pious zeal, to vehement indignation. In his treatise “on married life,” II, 146, Jena 1522, he says: “if a healthy woman is joined in wedlock to an impotent man and could not nor would for her honor’s sake openly choose another, she should speak to her husband thus: See, my dear husband, thou hast deceived me and my young body and endangered my honor and salvation, before God there is no honor between us. Suffer that I maintain a secret marriage with thy brother or closest friend while thou remainest my husband in name. That thy property may not fall heir to strangers; willingly be deceived by me as you have unwillingly deceived[80] me.” It should be the husband’s duty, Luther goes on to say, to consent to such arrangement. “If he will not she has the right to abandon him and go into another country and marry another man. In the same way if a woman will not perform her conjugal duty, the man has the right to seek another woman; only he should first tell his wife.”[39] We see, the opinions set forth by the great reformer are very radical and even immoral, when viewed in the light of our age, abounding with prudery and hypocrisy. But Luther only expressed the popular conceptions of his age. The following is told by Jacob Grimm: “If a man cannot satisfy his wedded wife, let him take her gently upon his back and carry her to his neighbors. There let him set her down softly, without anger or rudeness but upon mutual agreement, and let him appeal to his neighbors to help his wife in her need. If they will not or can not, then let him send her to the nearest fair. There shall she appear, becomingly dressed and adorned, wearing a gold embroidered veil as a token that she may be wooed. If after all she returns from the fair still unsatisfied, then may the devil help her!”

The peasant of the middle age primarily sought marriage for the purpose of having heirs, and if he was unable to beget them himself, being a practical man, he left this pleasure to another without having particular moral scruples about it. The main object was to attain his purpose. We repeat: Man does not control his property, he is controlled by it.

The above quotations from the writings and sermons of Luther are of special importance because the views in regard to marriage expressed in them are diametrically opposed to those maintained by the church to-day. Luther and the other reformers went still further in matters pertaining to marriage but, it must be admitted, for opportunistic reasons, in order to please such sovereigns whose lasting support and good will they sought to win and to maintain. The landgrave of Hessia, Philip I, who was in sympathy with the reformation, had a legal wife, but fell in love with another woman who refused to yield to[81] his entreaties unless he would marry her. It was a delicate case. To become divorced from his wife without good and sufficient reason would imply a great scandal; to be married to two women simultaneously was a shocking occurrence with a Christian sovereign of the newer era, bound to create a still greater scandal. Nevertheless amorous Philip chose the latter alternative. It only was necessary to determine that this step was not in opposition to the teachings of the Bible, and to obtain the consent of the reformers, especially Luther and Melanchton. The landgrave then opened negotiations with Butzer, who consented to the plan and promised to win Luther and Melanchton. Butzer explained his view by pointing out that to have several wives simultaneously was not in conflict with the gospel, since Paul, who had mentioned many who shall not inherit the kingdom of God, had said nothing about those who have two wives. Paul had decreed that a bishop and his servants should not have more than one wife. If it had been necessary that no man should have more than one wife, he would have stated this and would have forbidden polygamy. Luther and Melanchton declared themselves in accordance with these views and consented to the double marriage, after the landgrave’s wife had also given her consent under the condition “that he should perform his conjugal duty toward her even more than heretofore.”[40] Luther had been previously troubled by the question whether bigamy was permissible when asked to give his consent to the double marriage of Henry VIII of England. That can be seen from a letter which he wrote to the Saxon chancellor Brink in January 1524. In this letter he wrote that on principle he, Luther, could not object to bigamy since it was not in conflict with the Holy Scripture,[41] but that he considered it offensive when occurring among Christians, for there were some things from which Christians should refrain even if they were not forbidden. After the[82] marriage of the landgrave, which actually took place during March 1540, he wrote (April 10) in reply to a letter of appreciation from him: “I am glad that Your Grace is pleased by the advice we have given; but we should prefer to have secrecy maintained. Otherwise the coarse peasants, seeking to follow the example set by the landgrave, might present the same or even better causes, which would give us no end of trouble.”

Melanchton probably had fewer scruples in giving his consent to the double marriage of the landgrave, for he had previously written to Henry VIII, that every sovereign was entitled to introduce polygamy in his realm. But the double marriage of the landgrave caused so much unpleasant notoriety in his country, that in 1541 he had a pamphlet distributed in which polygamy was defended on the ground that it was not in opposition to the Holy Scripture. But conceptions had been greatly modified since the ninth or twelfth century when polygamy was accepted without averse criticism. The double marriage of the landgrave of Hessia was however not the only one that gave offense to wide circles. Such princely double marriages were repeated both in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as will be shown.

When Luther declared the satisfaction of sensual desire to be a law of nature, he only expressed what his contemporaries thought and what the men claimed as their privilege. By the reformation, which did away with the celibacy of the clergy and abolished the monasteries in the Protestant countries, he gave to hundreds of thousands of men and women the possibility to seek legitimate satisfaction of their natural desires. Hundreds of thousands of others, of course, remained excluded from this possibility by the existing forms of property and the laws founded upon them.

The reformation was the protest of the rising bourgeoisie against the constraint of feudal conditions in church, state and society. This rising bourgeoisie struggled for liberation from the narrow bonds of the guild, the court and the papal anathema; it strove for centralization of the powers of the state, simplification of the[83] extravagant church affairs, and the abolition of the numerous abodes of idle persons, the monasteries.

Luther represented these endeavors of the bourgeoisie upon the religious field. When he stood for the freedom of marriage, it was the bourgeois marriage that was realized only in our day by the civil marriage laws, and the freedom of migration and freedom of choice in trade and domicile. We will see to what extent the position of woman was modified by these changes. During the reformation this change of development had not yet been reached. While on the one hand the reformation made marriage possible for many people, on the other hand free sexual intercourse was subjected to the most bitter persecution. While the Catholic clergy had maintained a certain tolerance toward sexual excess, the Protestant clergy, having been provided for itself, declaimed against it with redoubled zeal. War was waged against the public brothels that were declared to be the devil’s dens. Prostitutes were persecuted as daughters of Satan, and every woman who had “fallen” was considered a paragon of wickedness and was subjected to relentless persecution. The merry, life loving townsman of the middle ages became a bigoted, austere, sombre philistine, who lived miserly that his later day bourgeois descendants might live all the more extravagantly. The honorable citizen with his stiff cravat, his narrow intellectual horizon, his severe but hypocritical morality, became the prototype of society. Legitimate wives who had not favored the sensuality tolerated by the Catholicism of the middle ages, were generally better pleased by the Puritan spirit of Protestantism. But other causes that had an unfavorable influence on conditions in Germany generally, also influenced the position of women unfavorably.

[38] Dr. Carl Hagen—Germany’s Literary and Religious Conditions during the Reformation.

[39] Dr. Carl Hagen.

[40] John Janssen—History of the German People.

[41] This is true and can be explained from the fact that the Bible had its origin at a time when polygamy prevailed both among the Eastern and Western people; but in the sixteenth century it nevertheless was in direct opposition to custom.

2.—Results of the Reformation.—The Thirty Years’ War.

Transformations in the conditions of production, exchange and finance, that were brought about especially by the discovery of America, and the discovery of the passage to India, resulted in a great social reaction for Germany. Germany ceased to be the center of European commerce. The German[84] trades and manufactures declined. At the same time the religious reformation had destroyed the political unity of the nation. Under the cloak of the reformation, the German princes sought to emancipate themselves from imperial rule. On the other hand, these princes oppressed the nobility and favored the cities to serve their own ends. Some of the cities voluntarily placed themselves under the rule of the princes, driven to this step by conditions that were steadily growing worse. The bourgeoisie upon seeing their income threatened, tried to make the restrictions that were intended to guard them against undesirable competition more and more rigorous, and the princes willingly conceded their demands. The ossification of conditions increased, but the general impoverishment increased likewise.

Another result of the reformation were the religious struggles and persecutions—used by the princes to serve their own political and economic ends—that raged in Germany with some interruptions for over a century, and finally ended with its complete exhaustion at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. Germany had become a vast field of corpses and ruins. Entire countries and provinces had been devastated, hundreds of cities and thousands of villages partly or completely destroyed, and many of them had been wiped from the surface of the earth forever. In many places the population had been reduced to a third, a fourth, a fifth, even an eighth or a tenth of its original number. Such was the case in Nuremberg, and in the entire Franconian province. In this utmost need, in order to increase the population in the depopulated towns and villages, the unusual measure was occasionally resorted to of permitting one man to have two wives. Men had been decimated by the wars, but there was a superabundance of women. On the 14th of February 1650, the Franconian district council at Nuremberg decreed that “men under 60 should not be admitted into monasteries”; it furthermore decreed that “those clergymen who were not members of an order should become married.” Moreover, “every man should be permitted to wed two wives, but the men should be frequently reminded and exhorted from the pulpits to[85] employ good judgment and discretion, that a married man who ventured to maintain two wives should not only provide well for both of them, but should also endeavor to avoid ill feeling between them.” So even the pulpits were employed to make propaganda for the double marriage and to lay down rules of conduct for the men.

Commerce and industry almost came to a standstill during this long period; in many instances they were almost completely destroyed and picked up but very gradually. A large portion of the population had become demoralized and brutalized and disaccustomed to all regular work. During the wars, troops of mercenary soldiers had crossed Germany from one end to the other, plundering, destroying, ravishing and murdering, a terror alike to friend and foe. After the wars countless numbers of beggars, robbers and vagabonds maintained the population in constant terror and made commerce and all traffic difficult or impossible. To the female sex especially it was a time of great suffering. In this period of dissoluteness the contempt of woman had increased to the utmost, and the general condition of unemployment weighed most heavily upon her shoulders. Like the male vagabonds, thousands of women populated the highways and forests and filled the alms-houses and prisons. All these sufferings were still increased by the forcible expulsion of numerous peasant families by the greedy nobility. Since the reformation the nobility had become more and more subjected to princely rule, and by holding court and military positions their dependence on the princes had constantly increased. Now they tried to reimburse themselves for the losses sustained through the princes by robbing the peasants. To the princes, on the other hand, the reformation offered the desired excuse to acquire the property of the church, which they proceeded to do on a large scale. Prince August of Saxony, for instance, had, at the end of the sixteenth century, acquired no less than 300 ecclesiastical estates.[42] His brothers and cousins, the other Protestant sovereigns, above all those of the House of Hohenzollern, did likewise. The nobility followed[86] their example by appropriating the remaining communal property, and by driving both free peasants and serfs from hearth and home and taking possession of their estates. The unsuccessful peasant revolts during the sixteenth century gave them the desired pretext for such action, and after the attempt had once succeeded, new pretexts were constantly found to continue this forcible method. Various schemes and distortions of justice were resorted to, made easy by the Roman law which had been established in Germany in the meantime, to increase the property of the nobility by forcing the peasants to sell theirs at lowest prices, or by simply expropriating them. Entire villages and the farms of entire districts were usurped in this manner. To quote just a few examples: Of 12,543 knightly peasant estates which still existed in the province of Mecklenburg during the Thirty Years’ War, only 1,213 remained in the year 1848. In the province of Pomerania 12,000 farms were abandoned since 1628. The transformations in the methods of farming that took place during the seventeenth century gave a further impulse to the nobility to expropriate the peasants and to transform the last remnants of communal property into their private estates. The rotation of crops had been introduced, which provided for changes in the cultivation of the soil in definite periods of time. Tilled land was occasionally transformed into pasture which favored cattle-breeding and made it possible to diminish the number of workers.

In the cities conditions were not much better than in the country. Formerly women had been permitted to acquire the title of master-workman and to employ journeymen and apprentices without any opposition from the male craftsmen. They were even compelled to join the guilds to force them to meet the same conditions of competition. So there were independent women workers among the linen-weavers, the cloth-weavers, the carpet-weavers and tailors. There were female gold-smiths, girdle-makers, harness-makers, etc. We find women employed as furriers in Frankfort and the Silesian cities; as bakers in the cities along the Rhine; as girdle-makers and embroiders of coats of arms in Cologne and Strassburg;[87] as harness-makers in Bremen; as cloth-shearers in Frankfort as tanners in Nuremberg; as gold-smiths in Cologne.[43] But as the circumstances of the craftsmen grew more and more unfavorable, a sentiment of ill will against the female competitors arose. In France, women were excluded from the trades at the close of the fourteenth century; in Germany, not until the close of the seventeenth century. At first they were forbidden to become master-workmen—with the exception of widows—later on they were also excluded from becoming assistants. Protestantism, by abolishing the ostentatious Catholic cult, had seriously injured or entirely destroyed a number of artistic crafts, and these were the very crafts in which many women had been employed. The confiscation and secularization of church property resulted in a decline of charitable work, and widows and orphans were the main sufferers.

The general economic decline that manifested itself during the sixteenth century, as a result of all the enumerated causes, and lasted through the seventeenth century, caused the marriage laws to become more and more severe. Journeymen and people employed in menial service (men and maid servants) were prohibited entirely from marrying, unless they could prove that there was no danger of their future families becoming a burden to the community in which they lived. Marriages contracted in opposition to the legal premises were punished frequently severely, sometimes barbarously. According to Bavarian law, for instance, the penalties were imprisonment and public flogging. Illegal marriages, that became more frequent as the marriage laws became more severe, were subjected to especially violent persecution. All minds were ruled by the prevailing fear of over-population, and to diminish the numbers of beggars and vagabonds, the various rulers enacted one law upon another, and each was more severe than the preceding one.

[42] John Janssen—History of the German People.

[43] Dr. Carl Buecher—The Woman Question in the Middle Age.


The Eighteenth Century.

1.—Court Life in Germany.

Following the example set by Louis XIV. of France, most of the princely courts, that were very numerous in Germany in those days, indulged in an extravagance of outward display, especially in the maintenance of concubines, that were in no relation to the size and productiveness of their small domains. The history of the courts of the eighteenth century constitutes one of the ugliest chapters of history. One ruler tried to excel the other in hollow conceit, mad extravagance and costly military sport. But it was especially in the affairs with their courtesans that the wildest excesses were indulged in. It is hard to tell which of the many German courts excelled in this extravagant mode of living that had a corrupting influence on public life. It was one to-day and another to-morrow. None of the German states were spared this disgrace. The nobility imitated the sovereigns and in the capitals the bourgeoisie imitated the nobility. If the daughter of a bourgeois family was fortunate enough to please one of the gentlemen of the court or His Serene Highness himself, in nineteen cases out of twenty she considered herself highly favored, and the family willingly consented to her becoming a princely or royal concubine. Among the families of the nobility the same was the case if one of their daughters found favor with the sovereign. Wide circles were dominated by an utter lack of character and modesty. It was worst of all in the two chief cities of Germany, Vienna and Berlin. Although during a great part of the century Vienna was ruled by Maria Theresa, known for her moral austerity, she was powerless against the doings of the rich, profligate nobility and an eagerly imitative bourgeoisie. By establishing purity commissions, that resulted in an extensive system of espionage, she caused much bitterness and made herself ridiculous. The results amounted to nothing. In frivolous Vienna during the[89] second half of the eighteenth century, proverbs were circulated like the following: “one should love one’s neighbor like meself; that means, one should love one’s neighbor’s wife like one’s own”; or, “If the wife turns to the right the husband may turn to the left; if she takes to herself a man servant, let him take a lady friend.” How frivolously marriage and adultery were viewed at that time, may be seen from a letter written by the poet Christian von Kleist to his friend Gleim in 1751. It contains the following passage: “I suppose you heard of the adventure of the landgrave Henry. He has sent his wife to his country seat and intends to get a separation from her because he found her with the Prince of Holstein. The margrave would have acted more wisely if he had kept the affair secret instead of causing all Berlin and half of the world to speak of him. Besides, one should not judge a natural occurrence so severely, especially one who is not over virtuous himself. Disgust is bound to result in matrimony, and by their acquaintance with other amiable persons all men and women are induced to be faithless. How can we be punished for something we have been forced to do?” In 1772 the British ambassador, Lord Malmesbury, wrote the following in regard to conditions in Berlin: “moral depravity prevails among both sexes of all classes. To this is added a general insufficiency of means, due partly to the heavy taxes imposed by the king, and partly to the love of luxury introduced by his grandfather. The men lead a dissolute life notwithstanding their limited means, and the women are shameless harlots. They deliver themselves up to the one able to pay the highest price; modesty and true love are foreign to them.”

The worst conditions existed in Berlin during the rule of Frederick William II. from 1786 to 1797. He set his people the worst possible example. His court chaplain, Zoellner, even degraded himself by marrying the king to his courtesan, Julie von Voss, although he had another wife; and when she died soon after in childbirth, Zoellner again consented to marry the king to another one of his courtesans, the Countess Sophie von Doenhoff. Other rulers had set an equally bad example at the beginning[90] of the century. In July, 1706, Duke Louis of Wurtemberg married, as an additional wife, his courtesan, Gravenitz, the “corrupter of the country,” as she is still called in Wurtemberg. His cousin, Duke Leopold, still excelled him in profligacy, for he had three wives simultaneously, two of which were sisters. Of his thirteen children he joined two in marriage. The doings of these sovereigns caused much comment among their subjects, but that was all. The marriage of the Duke of Wurtemberg with Graevenitz was annulled by imperial intervention. But she entered into a mock marriage with a profligate count, and thereupon remained for twenty years more the duke’s concubine and the “corrupter of the country.”

2.—Commercialism and the New Marriage Laws.

The increasing power of sovereigns and the formation of larger states had led to the institution of standing armies. These standing armies and the extravagant mode of life indulged in at most of the courts, could not be maintained without heavy taxation, and to make such taxation possible a large, taxable population was required. Therefore governments from the eighteenth century on, especially those of the larger states, adopted measures for increasing the population and for heightening the taxability of the inhabitants. The foundation for such measures had been established by the social and economic transformations referred to above, i. e., the discovery of America, the discovery of the passage to India, and the circumnavigation of Africa. This transformation first manifested itself in Western Europe, but later in Germany also. The newly opened thoroughfare had created new commercial relations of an extent undreamt of until then. Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and England were the first to profit by the transformation; but France and eventually Germany also were benefited by it. Of all these countries Germany was most retarded in development, as a result of the numerous religious wars and its political disunity. The establishment of a world market and the constant opening of new markets for the products of European industry, not only revolutionized[91] the methods of production, but also revolutionized the views, sentiments and conceptions of the European nations and their governments. The former mode of production, destined to supply only the daily needs of a given center and its immediate vicinity, was superseded by manufacture on a large scale, which implies the employment of a large number of workers and an increased division of labor. The merchants possessing large financial resources and broadness of perception, became the leaders along these new lines of industry that partly replaced and partly abolished the old handicrafts and put an end to their guild organization. Thereby a period had been ushered in which made it possible for woman to resume her industrial activity. The textile industries; cloth manufactury and the manufacture of laces opened up to her new fields of activity. At the close of the eighteenth century we already find 100,000 women and 80,000 children employed in the textile and printing trades of England and Scotland, unfortunately under conditions, both in regard to wages and hours of work, that were simply appalling. Similar conditions prevailed in France at the same time, where also tens of thousands of women were employed in various manufactures.

This economic development demanded more people, and as the population had been greatly diminished by the wars of conquest in Europe during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and by the expeditions of discovery beyond the seas, the more advanced governments found it necessary to facilitate marriage and the right of settling. Spain, that by its imperialistic policy had become greatly depopulated, was obliged as early as 1623 to pass a law exempting from taxes for a number of years all persons who became married between the ages of 18 and 25. Poor persons were even given a dowry from public funds. Parents who had six or more male children were entirely exempt from taxes. Spain also encouraged immigration and colonization.

King Louis XIV. of France, who had decimated his people by his numerous wars, found it necessary to counteract this devastation by exempting from taxes for from four to five years all taxpayers, who constituted a great[92] majority of the population, if they became married before the twentieth or twenty-first year of age. Complete exemption from taxes was, furthermore, guaranteed to all who had ten living children, provided that none of these had become a priest, a monk or a nun. Noblemen having the same number of children, provided that none of them had become priests, monks or nuns, received an annual pension of from 1,000 to 2,000 livres. Citizens not subject to taxation under the same conditions received one-half of this amount. Marshal Maurice of Saxony even advised Louis XV. not to permit marriages to be contracted for a longer period than five years.

In Prussia, by laws enacted in the years 1688, 1721, 1726 and 1736, and by various government measures, endeavors were made to encourage immigration; especially were the immigrants welcomed who had been subjected to religious persecution in France and Austria. The theories in regard to population maintained by Frederick the Great were expressed with brutal frankness in a letter written by him to Voltaire on the 26th of August 1741. He wrote: “I consider men as a herd of deer in the deer park of some great lord, having no other task but to populate the park.” By his wars he certainly made it necessary to have his deer park repopulated. In Austria, Wurtemberg and Brunswick immigration was also encouraged and there, as in Prussia, emigration was forbidden. Furthermore, in the course of the eighteenth century, England and France removed all obstacles to marriage and settlement, and other nations followed their example. During three-fourths of the eighteenth century political economists as well as the governments considered a large population the greatest good fortune to the state. Only at the close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century a reversion of opinion took place. This was due to economic crises and to warlike and revolutionary events, that continued during the first half of the nineteenth century, especially in Germany and Austria. The age at which marriage was permitted was raised again, and proofs were required showing that the contracting parties were assured of a certain amount of wealth or a secure income, and could[93] maintain a given standard of living. To the destitute, marriage was made impossible, and the municipalities were given a great influence in determining under what conditions marriages might be contracted. Occasionally peasants were even forbidden to build their little homes, or compelled to tear them down when they had been built without princely permission. Only in Prussia and Saxony the marriage laws remained comparatively liberal. Since human nature will not be suppressed, the result of all these hindrances to marriage was, that in spite of all the harassing and persecution, illicit relations greatly increased, and that in some German states the number of illegal children was almost as great as that of the legal ones. Such was the fruit of a paternal government that prided itself on its Christian morality.

3.—The French Revolution and the Rise of Industry.

In those days the married woman of the middle class lived in severe domestic retirement. The number of her domestic duties was so large, that it was necessary for the conscientious housewife to be at her post from morning till night, and frequently she could accomplish all her tasks only with the aid of her daughters. It was necessary to perform not only those daily domestic tasks that are still performed by the present-day housekeeper, but also many others from which modern woman has been freed by the industrial development. She had to spin, weave and bleach, cut and sew all the garments, manufacture tallow-candles and soap, and brew the beer. She was indeed a perfect Cinderella and her only relaxation was going to church on Sunday. Marriages were contracted only within the same social circle. A severe and ridiculous caste feeling dominated all social relations. The daughters were educated in the same spirit and were maintained in close domestic confinement. Their education was insignificant, and their intellectual horizon did not extend beyond the commonplace domestic relations. To this was added an empty superficial formality, that was supposed to make up for the lack of intellect and education, making woman’s life a sheer treadmill. The spirit of the reformation had degenerated into the worst[94] kind of pedantry; the most natural human desires and the joy of life were crushed beneath a mass of apparently dignified, but soul-killing rules of behavior. Emptiness and narrow-mindedness dominated the middle class, and the lower classes lived under a leaden pressure and in wretched conditions.

Then came the French revolution. It swept away the old political and social order in France, and also wafted a breath of its spirit to Germany, that could not long be resisted. French rule especially had a revolutionizing effect upon Germany; it swept away what was old and decrepit or, at least hastened its destruction. Though strenuous efforts were made during the reactionary period after 1815 to turn the course of development backward, the new conceptions had become too powerful and were victorious in the end.

Guild privileges, lack of personal freedom, market privileges and proscription were gradually laid on the shelf in the more advanced states. New mechanical inventions and improvements, especially the invention of the steam engine, and the resultant cheapening of commodities, provided employment for the masses, including also the women. Capitalistic industry was born. Factories, railroads and steamboats were built, mines and foundries, the manufacture of glass and china, the textile industry in its various branches, manufacture of tools and machinery, the building trades, etc., rapidly developed. Universities and polytechnical institutes provided the intellectual forces required by this evolution. The new class that had come into existence, the capitalist class, the bourgeoisie, supported by all those who favored progress, insisted upon the abolition of conditions that had become untenable. What had been shaken by the revolution from below during the movement of 1848 and 1849, was finally abolished by the revolution from above in 1866. Political unity, according to the desire of the bourgeoisie, was established, and this was followed by the final overthrow of all the remaining economic and social barriers. Freedom of trade, right of settlement and emigration, and the repeal of laws restricting marriage followed, creating those conditions that capitalism[95] needed for its development. Besides the workingman, woman was the one to profit chiefly by this new development, since it opened up to her new avenues and brought her greater freedom.

Even before the new order had been introduced by the transformations of the year 1866, several German states had removed a number of the old, rigid barriers, which caused pedantic reactionaries to predict the destruction of decency and morality. In 1863 the Bishop of Mayence, von Ketteler, lamented that “to abolish the existing barriers to marriage meant the destruction of marriage itself, since now married couples were enabled to leave each other at will.” This lament contains the unintentional confession that in modern marriages the moral bonds are so weak, that man and wife can be kept together only by force.

Since marriages now were contracted much more frequently than before this period, a rapid increase of population resulted. This fact, and the fact that the new, rapidly developing industrial system created social problems that had not previously existed, caused the fear of over-population to spring up again, as it did in former periods. It will be shown what this fear of over-population amounts to; we will test its true value.


Woman at the Present Day.
Woman at the Present Day.

Woman as a Sex Being.

1.—The Sexual Impulse.

In present-day bourgeois society woman holds the second place. Man leads; she follows. The present relation is diametrically opposite to that which prevailed during the matriarchal period. The evolution from primitive communism to the rule of private property has primarily brought about this transformation.

Plato thanked the gods for eight favors they had bestowed upon him. The first was that he had been born a free-man instead of a slave, and the second was that he had been born a man instead of a woman. A similar thought is expressed in the morning prayer of the Jews. They pray: “Be thou praised God our Lord and Lord of the earth, who hast not created me a woman.” In the prayer uttered by the Jewish women the corresponding passage is worded: “Who hast created me according to thy will.” The contrast in the respective positions of the sexes could not be more forcibly expressed than in this utterance of Plato and the prayer of the Jews. Man is the real human being according to numerous passages in the Bible, and both the English and French languages furnish proofs of this conception, since the word “man” denotes both male and human being. When speaking of the people we usually think of men only. Woman is a factor of slight importance, and man is her master. Men generally consider this state of affairs quite proper, and the majority of women still accept it as a divine ordinance. In this prevailing conception the present position of woman is reflected.

Regardless of the question whether woman is oppressed as a proletarian, we must recognize that in this[97] world of private property she is oppressed as a sex being. On all sides she is hemmed in by restrictions and obstacles unknown to the man. Many things a man may do she is prohibited from doing; many social rights and privileges enjoyed by him, are considered a fault or a crime in her case. She suffers both socially and as a sex being. It is hard to say in which respect she suffers more, and therefore it only seems natural that many women wish they had been born men instead of having been born women.

Of all the natural desires that are a part of human life, beside the desire for food in order to live, the sexual desire is strongest. The impulse of race preservation is the most powerful expression of the “will to live.” This impulse is deeply implanted in every normally developed human being, and upon attaining maturity its satisfaction is essential to physical and mental welfare. Luther was right when he said: “He who would thwart the natural impulse, seeks to prevent nature from being nature, fire from burning, water from moistening, man from eating and drinking and sleeping.” These words ought to be engraved above the portals of our churches in which the “sinful flesh” is so vehemently denounced. No physician or physiologist could more accurately express the necessity of satisfying the human desire for love.

If the human organism is to develop normally and healthfully it is essential that no portion of the human body should be neglected, and that no natural impulse should be denied its normal satisfaction. Every organ should perform the functions which it has been destined by nature to perform, unless the whole organism is to suffer. The laws of the physical development of man must be studied and observed as well as the laws of mental development. The mental activity of a human being depends upon the physiological condition of his organs. Physical and mental vigor are closely linked. An injury to one has a detrimental effect upon the other. The so-called animal instincts are not inferior to mental requirements. Both are products of the same organism and are mutually interdependent. This applies to both man and woman. Hence it follows that knowledge of the[98] nature of the sexual organs is as necessary as that of all other organs, and that the same attention should be bestowed upon their care. We ought to know that organs and impulses implanted in every human being constitute a very important part of our existence, that they as a matter of fact predominate during certain periods of life, and that therefore they must not be objects of secrecy, false shame and complete ignorance. It follows furthermore that among both men and women knowledge of the physiology and anatomy of the various organs and their functions should be as widely diffused as any other branch of human knowledge. Endowed with an exact knowledge of his physical nature, man would take a different view of many circumstances. This knowledge would lead to the removal of many evils that society at present passes by silently, in solemn awe, but that nevertheless claim consideration in almost every family. In regard to all other matters knowledge is considered a virtue; it is regarded as the loftiest, most desirable human aim. But we decry knowledge pertaining to those matters that are most closely linked with our own “ego” and are at the bottom of all social development.

Kant says: “Man and woman together form the full and complete human being; one sex supplements the other.” Schopenhauer says: “The sexual impulse is the most complete expression of the will to live, it is the concentration of will”; and long before these Buddha thus expressed himself: “The sexual impulse is sharper than the prod by means of which wild elephants are tamed; it is hotter than flames; it is like an arrow driven into the soul of man.”

Such being the intensity of sexual impulse, it is not to be wondered at that with both men and women sexual abstinence frequently leads to serious disorders of the nervous system, and in some cases even to insanity and suicide. Of course, not all natures manifest an equally strong sexual impulse. It can also be restrained to a great extent by education and self-control, especially by avoiding the stimulant of lewd conversation and literature, alcoholism, etc. It is held that the sexual impulse is weaker among women than among men, and that[99] sometimes women even feel revulsion against sexual contact. But these constitute a small minority whose physiological and psychological dispositions are peculiarly constituted.

We may say that the manner in which the natural desires of the sexes are expressed, both in their organic and physical development, in form and in character, marks the degree of perfection of a human being, be it man or woman. Each sex has attained its own highest development. “Among civilized human beings,” says Klenke in his essay on “Woman as a Wife,” “sexual intercourse is controlled by moral principles dictated by common sense. But nothing could ever fully subdue the instinct of race preservation, implanted by nature in both sexes. Wherever healthy male or female individuals failed to fulfill this duty, it was not of their own free will, though they may deceive themselves into believing it, but was a result of social hindrances and restrictions. These hindrances have impeded the laws of nature, have stunted the organs, and have transformed the whole organism into an atrophied type both in appearance and in character and have caused nervous disorders that bring about abnormal, pathological conditions of body and mind. The man becomes effeminate; the woman becomes masculine in form and character, because the sexual contrast has not been realized; because such particular human being remained one-sided, failing to attain his own integration, the full height of his existence.” Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell says in her essay on “The Moral Education of the Young in Relation to Sex”: “Sexual impulse exists as an inevitable condition of life and the foundation of society. It is the greatest power in human nature.... While undeveloped it is not an object of the thoughts, but it remains nevertheless the central force of life. This inevitable impulse is the natural guardian against all possibility of destruction.”[44] Practical Luther has positive advice to offer. He advises: “Let him who has no desire for chastity look about him[100] for work and turn to matrimony; a boy at the latest when he is twenty, a girl when she is fifteen or eighteen years of age. Then they are healthy and skillful and trust to God to provide for them and their children. God gives them the children and he will provide for them.” Unfortunately our social conditions make it impossible to follow Luther’s good advice, and neither the Christian state nor Christian society believes in trusting to God to provide for the children.

Science, the views of the philosophers, and Luther’s sound common sense, all are agreed that man is entitled to normal satisfaction of those desires that are part and parcel of his very life. If social institutions or prejudices make this impossible, his development is hampered thereby. The results are well known to our physicians, and can be met with in hospitals, insane asylums, prisons, and in thousands of disrupted families. In a book published in Leipsic we find the following thought expressed: “Sexual impulse is neither moral nor immoral; it is simply natural like hunger and thirst. Nature knows nothing of morality.” But organized society is very far from recognizing the truth of this sentence.

[44] E. Blackwell, “Essays in Medical Sociology.” Page 177. London, 1906.

2.—Celibacy and the Frequency of Suicide.

Among physicians and physiologists it is generally assumed that even an imperfect marriage is preferable to celibacy, and this assumption is substantiated by experience. It is a striking fact that the rate of mortality is lower among married than among unmarried people (comparing about 1,000 married persons 30 years old with 1,000 unmarried persons of the same age). The difference is especially marked in the case of men. During some periods of life the rate of mortality among unmarried men is almost twice as great as that among married men. Mortality is likewise very great among men who have become widowers while still young.[45]

It is furthermore claimed that the number of suicides are increased by unsound sexual relations. In all countries suicides are much more frequent among men than[101] among women. The following table shows the ratio in various European countries:

  During the years. Among 100,000 suicides. Ratio of female to male suicides.
Male. Female.
Germany 1899–1902 33.0 8.4 25.5
Austria 1898–1901 25.4 7.0 27.6
Switzerland 1896–1903 33.3 6.4 19.2
Italy 1893–1901  9.8 2.4 24.5
France 1888–1892 35.5 9.7 27.3
Netherlands 1901–1902  9.3 3.0 32.3
England 1891–1900 13.7 4.4 32.1
Scotland 1891–1900  9.0 3.2 35.6
Ireland 1901  2.3 1.2 52.2
Norway 1891–1900 10.0 2.5 25.  
Sweden 1891–1900 21.1 8.6 40.8
Finland 1891–1900  7.8 1.8 21.1
European Russia 1885–1894  4.9 1.6 32.7

During the years 1898 to 1907 we find the following ratio of suicides in the German Empire:

Year. Total. Male. Female.
1898 10,835 8,544 2,291
1899 10,761 8,460 2,301
1900 11,393 8,987 2,406
1902 12,336 9,765 2,571
1904 12,468 9,704 2,764
1907 12,777 9,753 3,024

For each 100 male suicides there were female suicides: During 1898, 26.8; during 1899, 27.2; during 1900, 26.8; during 1904, 28.5; during 1907, 31. But during the period of life from the fifteenth to the thirtieth year, the rate of suicide is higher among women than among men.

The following table shows the ratio between the 15th and 20th, and between the 21st and 30th year:

  During the years. 15th to 20th year. 21st to 30th year.
Male. Female. Male. Female.
Prussia 1896–1900 5.3 10.7 16.   20.2
Denmark 1896–1900 4.6  8.3 12.4 14.8
Switzerland 1884–1899 3.3  6.7 16.1 21.
France 1887–1891 3.5  8.2 10.9 14.[46]


The following table shows the ratio of male and female suicides in Saxony between the 21st and 30th year:

  Men. Women.
1854–1868 14.95 18.64
1868–1880 14.71 18.79
1881–1888 15.3  22.3  

We find an increased number of suicides among widowed and divorced persons also. In Saxony among divorced men the rate of suicide is seven times as high, among divorced women three times as high, as the average rate of suicide among men and women. Also suicide is more frequent among those widowed or divorced men and women who are childless. Among the unmarried women who are driven to suicide between the 21st and 30th year, there are many who have been betrayed in love or have “gone wrong.” Statistics show that an increase of illegal births is generally accompanied by an increase of female suicides. The rate of female suicides between the 16th and 21st year is exceptionally high, which also points to the conclusion that ungratified sexual impulse, love-sorrow, secret pregnancy or the deceit of men constitute frequent causes.

In regard to the position of woman as a sex being, we find the following thought expressed by Professor Krafft-Ebing[47]: “One source of lunacy among women that should not be underrated, is their social position. Woman is by nature more desirous of love than man, at least in the ideal sense, and she has no honorable means of gratifying this desire except marriage (Mandsley). Marriage is, furthermore, her only means of livelihood. Through countless generations her character has been developed in this direction. Even the little girl is mother to her doll. Modern life with its increased demands is constantly diminishing the prospects of satisfaction through marriage. This is especially true of the upper classes where marriages are contracted less frequently and later in life.

“While man owing to his greater physical and intellectual force and his free social position, readily obtains[103] satisfaction of his sexual impulse, or at least finds an equivalent in some life’s work that requires all his strength, these paths are barred to the unmarried women of the upper classes. This leads, consciously or unconsciously, to dissatisfaction with one’s self and the world and to morbid brooding. For some time compensation is sought in religion, but in vain. The religious fanaticism, with or without masturbation, leads to a number of nervous disorders that frequently culminate in hysteria or insanity. This explains the fact that unmarried women fall victims to insanity most frequently between the 25th and 35th year of life. It is that period when the bloom of youth fades and hope fades with it; while among men insanity most frequently occurs between the 35th and 50th year, the period during which the struggle for existence makes its greatest demands upon their strength.

“It is not a mere coincidence that with the decline in the marriage rate the question of the emancipation of women is becoming more and more urgent. I regard it as a signal of distress showing that woman’s position in modern society is steadily becoming more unbearable. It is a just demand that woman should be given an equivalent for that which has been assigned to her by nature and of which she is being deprived by modern social conditions.”

In speaking of the effect of ungratified sexual impulse on unmarried women, Dr. H. Ploss says: “It is a noteworthy fact, of interest not only to the physician but to the anthropologist as well, that an infallible remedy exists whereby the process of fading bloom, so manifest in old maids, cannot only be arrested, but the already vanished bloom of youth can even be reinstated, partly at least, if not in its entire charm. Unfortunately our social conditions rarely permit its application. This remedy is a regular, orderly, sexual intercourse. We can often observe that when an elderly girl is still fortunate enough to attain matrimony, a marked change in her appearance takes place shortly after her marriage. Her shape obtains its former roundness, the roses return to her cheeks, and her eyes regain their former brightness.[104] Marriage then is a real fountain of youth to the female sex. Thus nature has its fixed laws that inexorably demand obedience, and every unnatural mode of life, every attempt to adapt the organism to conditions of life that are not in keeping with the laws of nature, inevitably leaves marked traces of degeneration. This is true of both the animal and the human organism.”

The question now presents itself: Does society fulfill the demands for a rational mode of life, especially in the woman’s case? If it does not, we are confronted by a second question: Can society fulfill them? If this question also must be answered in the negative, a third question ensues: How can they be fulfilled?

[45] Dr. G. Schnapper-Arndt: “Social Statistics,” Leipsic, 1908.

[46] H. Krose, “Causes of the Frequency of Suicide.” Freiburg, 1906.

[47] Text-book of Psychiatry—Stuttgart 1883.

Modern Marriage.

1.—Marriage as a Profession.

“Marriage and the family are the foundations of the state. Whoever, therefore, attacks marriage and the family, is attacking society and the state and undermining both.” Thus exclaim the defenders of the present order. Monogamic marriage as has been sufficiently shown, is the outcome of the system of gain and property that has been established by bourgeois society, and therefore undoubtedly forms one of its basic principles. But whether it is adapted to natural needs and to a healthy development of human society is a different question. We will show that this marriage, which depends upon the bourgeois system of property, is a more or less forced relation, having many disadvantages, and frequently fulfilling its purpose only insufficiently or not at all. We will, furthermore, show that it is a social institution which is and remains inattainable to millions of persons, instead of being a free union founded on love, the only union suited to nature’s purposes.

John Stuart Mill says in regard to modern marriage: “Marriage is the only real bondage recognized by law.” According to Kant’s conception man and[105] woman together constitute the perfect human being. Upon a normal union of the sexes the healthy development of mankind depends. Satisfaction of the sexual impulse is essential to the sound physical and mental development of both man and woman. But man has gone beyond the animal stage, and so is not contented by the mere physical satisfaction of his sexual impulse. He requires intellectual attraction as well, and the existence of a certain harmony between himself and the person with whom he enters into union. Where such intellectual harmony fails to exist, the sexual intercourse is purely mechanical and thereby becomes immoral. Men and women of refinement demand a mutual attraction that extends beyond their sexual relations, and that shall have an ennobling effect upon the new beings which may spring from their union.[48] The fact that such a standard of ideals fails to exist in countless present-day marriages caused Varnhagen von Ense to write: “Whatever we saw about us both of marriages already contracted, and of marriages about to be contracted, was not likely to implant in us a good opinion of such unions. On the contrary; the entire institution which is supposed to be founded on mutual love and respect and is instead founded on anything but that, seemed coarse and despicable to us, and we fully agreed with Friedrich Schlegel, whose opinion on this subject we found expressed in the fragments of ‘Atheneum’: Almost all marriages are concubinages; they are at best remote approaches to the true marriage, which should be a blending of two persons into one.” This is quite in keeping with the views of Kant.

The joy in having progeny and the responsibility toward same makes the relation of love existing between two persons one of longer duration. A couple desirous[106] of entering marriage should therefore carefully consider whether their respective traits of character are suited to their union. The answer to this grave question ought to be unbiased. But that is only possible by the exclusion of every other interest that has no direct bearing on the purpose of the union, satisfaction of the sexual impulse and propagation of one’s own personality by means of propagation of the race, guided by a certain measure of insight that controls blind passion. As these conditions fail to be observed in a tremendous number of cases in present-day society, it is evident that modern marriage frequently fails to fulfill its true object and that we are not justified in regarding it as an ideal institution.

How many marriages are contracted on an entirely different basis than the one described above cannot be demonstrated. The parties concerned like to have their marriage appear different from what it really is. Here a condition of hypocrisy presents itself, such as no previous social period has known in a similar degree. The state, the political representative of society, has no inclination to institute investigations that would cast an unfavorable light upon society. The state itself marries its officials and servants according to maxims that cannot be measured by the standard that should constitute the foundation of true marriage.

[48] “The sentiments and feelings with which husband and wife approach one another undoubtedly have a decisive influence upon the effects of sexual intercourse and transmit certain traits of character upon the being that is coming into existence.” Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. “The Moral Education of the Young in Relation to Sex.”—See also Goethe’s “Affinity,” where he distinctly shows the effects of the feelings that prompt two human beings to intimate intercourse.

2.—Decline of the Birthrate.

Marriage, in order to realize the purpose of nature, should be a union founded on mutual love. But this motive is rarely met with unalloyed under present conditions. To the great majority of women, marriage is a means of livelihood that they must obtain at any cost. On the other hand, a great many men regard marriage from a purely commercial point of view, weighing and considering its material advantages and disadvantages. Even those marriages that are not based on selfish, sordid motives, are frequently marred and broken up by the harsh realities of life. Only rarely those hopes are realized that were held by a man and woman prior to their marriage. That is only natural. For in order to lead a[107] contented married life not only mutual love and respect are required, but economic security as well; that is, a certain measure of the necessities and comforts of life in order to satisfy the needs of man and wife and their children. Material cares and the cruel struggle for existence are destructive to marital contentment and happiness. But these material cares increase with the increasing number of offspring; in other words, the better marriage fulfills its natural object, the greater become these cares. The peasant, for instance, takes pleasure in every new calf that his cow brings forth, he cheerfully counts his suckling pigs and relates the good news of their arrival to his neighbors. But he looks somber when a new baby is added to the number of children that he feels able to support without care—not a large number, forsooth—and he looks doubly somber if the newly-born babe has the ill fortune of being a girl.

We may say then that both marriages and births are controlled by economic conditions. This is especially evident in France where agriculture is carried on by a division of the land into small lots, the products of which are not sufficient to support a large family. The famous, or notorious, French system of having no more than two children, a system that has developed into a social institution in France, is the result. In many provinces the population is accordingly almost stationary, while in others there has been a marked decline. The same results that the methods of farming have produced in the rural districts, have been produced in the cities by industry. In fact, the birthrate is declining even more rapidly in the cities.

The number of births is constantly decreasing in France, in spite of the fact that the number of marriages is increasing. This is true not only of France, but of the majority of civilized countries. This fact points to a development produced by our social conditions that should make the ruling classes think. In 1881, 937,057 children were born in France; in 1906, 806,847, and in 1907, only 773,969. In 1907, 163,088 fewer children were born than in 1881. It is a noteworthy fact that the number of illegitimate births did not decrease. There were[108] 70,079 of these in 1881; during the period from 1881 to 1890 they attained their highest figure, 75,754, and in 1906 there still were 70,866. The decline of the birthrate then was confined entirely to the legitimate births. During the entire century a decline of the birthrate was noticeable. The following table shows the number of births for every thousand inhabitants of France during more than a century:

1801–1810 332
1811–1820 316
1821–1830 308
1831–1840 290
1841–1850 273
1851–1860 262
1861–1870 261
1881–1890 239
1891–1900 221
1905 206
1906 206
1907 197

This represents a decline of 135 births for every thousand inhabitants from 1801 to 1907. It is natural that this symptom is a cause of much concern to French statesmen and economists. But the problem is not confined to France. Since a long time the same phenomenon may be observed in Germany, especially in Saxony, where the decline of the birthrate has been even more rapid. In Germany there were the following number of births for every thousand inhabitants:

1875 423
1880 391
1885 385
1890 370
1895 373
1900 368
1905 340
1906 341
1907 332

The majority of the other European countries present a similar condition, as the following table shows:

  For every 1,000 inhabitants.
1871 to 1880 1881 to 1890 1891 to 1900 1901 to 1905 1907
England & Wales 35.4 32.5 29.9 28.1 26.3
Scotland 34.9 32.3 30.2 28.9 27.  
Ireland 26.5 23.4 23.   23.2 23.2
Sweden 30.5 29.1 27.2 26.1 25.5
Italy 36.9 37.8 34.9 32.6 31.5
Austria 39.   37.9 37.1 35.8 35.  
Hungary 44.3 44.0 40.6 37.2 36.  
Belgium 32.3 30.2 39.   27.7 25.7
Switzerland 30.8 28.1 28.1 28.1 26.8
Netherlands 36.2 34.2 32.5 31.5 30.  


The decline of the birthrate then is a general one, and though France and Ireland show the lowest figures, the decline is most rapid in England, Germany and Scotland. We meet with the same phenomenon in the United States and Australia. The fact presents itself still more strikingly if we proceed to compare the number of births with the number of married women between the 15th and 49th year of age:

1876 to 1885 1886 to 1895 1896 to 1905
England and Wales 250 259 203
Scotland 271 255 235
Ireland 250 245 264
Denmark 244 235 217
Norway 262 259 246
Sweden 240 231 219
Finland 259 246 244
Austria 246 250 242
Hungary 234 235 216
Switzerland 239 230 225
German Empire 268 258 243
Prussia 273 265 250
Bavaria 276 263 259
Saxony 267 250 216
Wurtemberg 288 259 262
Baden 266 248 251
Netherlands 293 286 272
Belgium 264 236 213
France 167 150 132
Italy 248 249 232

The above enumerated facts go to prove that the birth of a human being, “God’s image,” as religious persons say, is, on an average, estimated below the value of a newly-born domestic animal.

In many respects our views differ but slightly from those of barbarian people. Among the latter, newly-born children were often killed. This fate especially befell the girls. Among some living savages the same custom still prevails. We do not kill the girls; we are too civilized for that, but frequently we treat them as parias. Man, being the stronger, everywhere represses woman in the struggle for existence, and if she still persists in the struggle, she is often persecuted by the stronger sex as[110] an undesirable competitor. Men of the upper classes are especially bitter against female competition. Among workingmen the demand to exclude women from the trades is voiced only rarely. When a resolution formulating such a demand was presented at a congress of French workingmen in 1876, it was voted down by a large majority. Since that time the conviction that the working woman is a fellow being entitled to equal rights and privileges, has grown among the class-conscious workingmen of all countries. The resolutions passed by international workingmen’s congresses prove this. The class-conscious workingman knows that present industrial conditions compel woman to enter into competition with man. He also knows, that an attempt to exclude woman from industry would be as futile as an attempt to forbid the use of machinery. Therefore he endeavors to instruct woman in regard to her position in society and to enlist her aid in the struggle for freedom of the proletariat against capitalism.

3.—Mercenary Marriage and the Matrimonial Market.

Modern society has undoubtedly advanced beyond any previous stage of development, but our conceptions concerning the relation of the sexes has in many respects remained unchanged. In 1876 Prof. L. v. Stein published a book on “Woman in the Field of Political Economy,” that is not suited to its title, since it merely draws a very poetically tinted picture of marriage. But this picture clearly shows the submissive position of woman in her relation to the “lion,” man. Stein writes: “Man desires a being who not only loves him but also understands him. He seeks one who is not only devoted to him, but whose soft hand smoothes the wrinkles on his forehead; who brings into his life peace, calm, order, gentle self-control, and all the many little comforts of life to which he returns daily. He needs some one to enhance all these things with the inexpressible charm of womanliness, imparting warmth and joy to his home.”

Beneath this apparent praise of woman lurks her degradation and the egotism of man. The professor[111] depicts woman as a dainty creature, endowed nevertheless with the needful knowledge of arithmetic to keep the household accounts well balanced, caressing like a gentle spring breeze the master of the house, the ruling lion, and with her soft hand smoothing the wrinkles from his forehead, that perhaps have appeared there from brooding over his own stupidity. The professor depicts woman and marriage such as barely one among a hundred actually exist.

About the many thousand unhappy marriages, about the great number of women to whom it is never given to attain marriage, and about the millions of women who must slave beside their husbands from morning till night to earn their daily bread, he seems to see and know nothing whatever. All these marriages are stripped of poetry by the harsh reality of life, more quickly than a careless hand strips the colored dust from a butterfly’s wing. One glance at those countless women sufferers would have greatly marred the professor’s poetically tinted picture. The women he observes only constitute a small minority, and it is doubtful whether they represent an advanced type.

There is a frequently quoted saying, that the degree of civilization attained by a nation may be measured by the position of its women. We uphold the justice of this saying. But upon applying this standard we find that our highly lauded civilization does not amount to much. In his book on the “Subjection of Women”—the title shows the conception of the position of woman held by the author—John Stuart Mill says: “Men have become more domesticated. Increasing civilization has put more fetters on man in regard to woman.” That is true to some extent wherever an honest marriage relation exists between husband and wife. But to a considerably large minority it does not apply. Intelligent men will recognize, that it is to their own advantage, if women are drawn out into the world from their narrow domestic sphere, and are given an opportunity to become acquainted with the great problems of the day. The “fetters” that are[112] thereby placed on him, are not hard to bear. On the other hand, the question arises whether modern life has not brought new factors into the matrimonial relation that are more apt to destroy marriage than any previously known.

Marriage has become an object of material calculation in a marked degree. The man who wishes to marry, in seeking to obtain a wife, also seeks to obtain property. That was the chief reason why daughters, who were at first excluded from the right of inheritance when the patriarchal system came into power, were at an early period reinstated to this right. But never before was the marriage market as openly and cynically displayed as to-day; never before was marriage regarded in the same degree as a simple speculation, a mere financial transaction. At present match-making is frequently carried on so shamelessly, that the often-repeated phrase about the “sanctity of marriage” becomes a farce. Still, for this fact, as for all others, an explanation can be found. At no previous time was it so difficult for the great majority of people to accumulate a modest fortune, as it is at present, and at no previous time was the striving for a decent livelihood and the enjoyment of life so general. Those who do not attain the aim they have set for themselves feel their disappointment all the more keenly, because all believe to have the same right to enjoyment. No formal difference of class or caste exists. Everyone hopes to attain some aim that seems attainable in accordance with his station in life. But many are called and few are chosen. In order that one may live in comfort, twenty others must live in want; and in order that one may revel in luxury, hundreds or thousands must dwell in poverty. But everyone is eager to be one of the favored few, and accordingly resorts to all means that are likely to lead him to his goal. One of the simplest and most accessible means of attaining a privileged social position is a mercenary marriage. In this way the desire for money, on the one side, and the desire for social rank and title, on the other, obtain mutual satisfaction among the upper classes of society. Here marriage is degraded[113] to a business transaction. It becomes a conventional union that both sides respect outwardly, while secretly both all too often follow their own inclinations.[49]

In every large city there are certain places where upon definite days members of the upper classes come together, chiefly for the purpose of match-making. Rightly have these reunions been called the “matrimonial market”; for just as on the stock market, speculation and barter dominate, and not infrequently fraud and deception enter into the dealings. Here we find officers of the army, over head and ears in debt, but possessing some ancient title of nobility; roués, weakened by a life of debauchery, who seek a wife to nurse them and hope to mend their shattered health in marriage; manufacturers, merchants and bankers, who are at the verge of bankruptcy, sometimes at the verge of imprisonment and who wish to be saved, and public officials who have prospects of promotion, but are in need of money; here they come as customers and conclude the marriage bargain. In these marriages it frequently is deemed quite immaterial whether the future wife is young or old, pretty or ugly, well-built or deformed, educated or ignorant, pious or[114] frivolous, a Christian or a Jewess, provided that she has money. Money redeems all faults and compensates for the lack of anything else. According to the German law, procurers are severely punished by imprisonment. But when parents or guardians barter their children or relatives to some unloved man or woman for life, for the sake of wealth, social position or some other advantage, no public prosecutor may interfere, and yet a crime has been committed. There are many well-organized matrimonial agencies, and any number of procurers and procuresses who are searching candidates for the “sacred wedded state.” These transactions are especially profitable when performed in the interest of members of the upper classes. In 1878 a procuress was tried in Vienna who had been accused of being an accomplice in murder, and was finally sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. Among other things the trial revealed that the former French ambassador to Vienna, Count Banneville, had paid this woman 22,000 guilders for procuring a wife for him. Other members of the aristocracy were also involved in this trial. For years the authorities had permitted this woman to ply her criminal trade unmolested. In the capital of the German Empire similar occurrences were reported. They are met with wherever there are persons seeking to contract mercenary marriages. During the last few decades the daughters and heiresses of American millionaires have become special objects of desire to the pauperized European nobility. These American women, on the other hand, have exchanged their millions for the rank and title that are unknown in their own country. A number of communications, published in the German press during the fall of 1889, contained some characteristic information on this subject. According to this a German nobleman living in California had offered his services as a match-maker by advertising in German and Austrian papers. The offers he received in return clearly show the conceptions prevailing in the circles concerned, in regard to the sanctity of marriage and its ethical side. Two Prussian army officers, members of an ancient nobility, sought his services, and frankly stated as the reason of their doing so, the fact,[115] that together they owed over 15,000 dollars. In their letter to the procurer they literally wrote: “It is self-understood that we cannot pay anything in advance. You will receive your remuneration immediately after the wedding journey. Only recommend ladies to us whose families are in no wise objectionable. We would also consider it very desirable to meet ladies who are particularly good-looking. If required, we will give your agent our photographs, who can also give us further details, show us the ladies’ photographs, etc. We regard this whole transaction as an affair of honor (!) and expect the same of you. We expect an early reply through your agent on this side.

“Baron v. M........
“Baron v. W........
“Berlin, Frederick St. 107, Dec. 15, 1889.”

A young German nobleman, Hans v. H...... wrote from London that he were five foot ten, of ancient nobility, and employed in diplomatic service. He confessed that his fortune had been greatly diminished by unsuccessful betting at the races, and that he was therefore compelled to seek a rich wife. “I am prepared,” he wrote, “to come to the United States immediately.” The German-American nobleman asserted that besides a number of counts, barons, etc., he had counted among his customers three princes and sixteen dukes. Some men who were not the proud possessors of a title bargained for American heiresses likewise. An architect, Max W. from Leipsic, asked for a fiancée who must be rich, beautiful and cultured. A young manufacturer, Robert D., from Kehl on the Rhine, wrote that he would content himself with a fiancée owning 100,000 dollars, and promised in advance that he would make her happy. But we need not look far to find further instances of this sort. We need but glance at the matrimonial advertisements in many of our capitalistic papers to recognize them as the outward signs of degrading views. The prostitute who plies her trade as a result of bitter need is morally superior to these marriage seekers. The editor of a Socialist paper who should venture to publish such advertisements would be expelled from his party. The[116] capitalistic press does not hesitate to publish such advertisements, because they pay. But that does not prevent this same press from railing against the Socialistic principles as being destructive of marriage. No age has been more hypocritical than ours. Most of these newspapers are nothing more or less than matrimonial agencies. One might fill entire pages with clippings taken from leading newspapers on a single day. Sometimes the interesting fact is revealed, that even ministers are sought in this way and that ministers also resort to this method to seek wives. Sometimes the applicants even consent to overlook a moral blemish, provided that the girl is rich. The moral degradation of certain strata of society could not be more vividly exposed than by this sort of marriage.

[49] For the sake of completeness we must also mention marriage for political reasons as contracted in the highest circles. In these marriages the right is also silently conceded to the man to follow his own inclinations outside of his marriage. There was a time when rulers considered it good form, a sort of royal attribute, to have at least one mistress. Thus, according to Sherr, King Frederick William I. of Prussia, otherwise noted for his temperate life, maintained an intimate relation with the wife of a general. It is well known that King August of Poland and Saxony had almost 300 illegitimate children, and that King Victor Emanuel of Italy left 32 illegitimate children. In the picturesquely situated little capital of a German principality there still stood not many years ago about a dozen beautiful villas that had been erected by the ruler for his abdicated mistresses. One might write volumes on this subject; in fact, an extensive collection of books exists that deal mainly with these piquant occurrences. In view of these facts it is indeed very necessary that sycophantical historians should strive to present the various fathers and mothers of their countries as models of domestic virtue, as faithful husbands and devoted mothers. The augurs are not yet extinct, they fatten, as in the days of Rome, upon the ignorance of the masses.

Disruption of the Family.

1.—Increase of Divorce.

The part played by church and state in this sort of “sacred marriage” is not a worthy one. The state official or the officiating clergyman whose task it is to perform the marriage ceremony, never pauses to consider by what methods the couple he is about to join in wedlock have been brought together. It may be quite evident, that the two are in no wise mated either in regard to their ages or in regard to physical and mental qualities; the bride may, for instance, be twenty and the groom seventy, or vice versa; the bride may be beautiful and full of vitality, the groom may be old, cross and inflicted with infirmities, it makes no difference to the representative of state and church. The marriage is consecrated, and the consecration is most solemn in character where the monetary reward for this “holy function” is most generous. But when such a marriage turns out to be an exceedingly unhappy one, as could have been foreseen by anybody, and frequently was foreseen by the unfortunate[117] victim itself—the woman generally being the victim—and when one or the other party then seeks separation, both church and state place the greatest difficulties in their way. Yet neither church nor state questioned in advance whether love and moral sentiments, or shameless, coarse egotism brought about the union. Moral revulsion is not considered sufficient cause for separation; obvious proofs are demanded, proofs that will degrade one or the other party in public opinion, to make divorce possible. That the Catholic Church does not permit divorce at all, except by special permission from the pope, which is very hard to obtain, makes conditions particularly unfavorable among the Catholic population. The German code of civil law has also made divorce much more difficult. Thus divorce by mutual consent, that had been permitted by Prussian law, was abolished. Many divorces had been granted under this law, some for more serious reasons that were concealed out of regard for the guilty party. In Berlin, for instance, there were 5,623 divorces from 1886 until 1892; 1,400 of these, approximately 25 per cent., were granted upon mutual consent. In many cases divorce is granted only then, when the party seeking divorce does so within six months after discovery of the cause for divorce. According to Prussian law, the time limit is one year. Take, for example, that a young wife discovers soon after her marriage, that she is tied to a man who is no husband to her at all. It is asking a great deal that she should determine on divorce within six months, a step that requires a considerable amount of moral strength. To justify the increased difficulty in divorce, the following argument is advanced: “Only by making divorce increasingly difficult, can the advancing disruption of the family be counteracted and the family bonds be strengthened.” This argument is a contradiction in itself. A disrupted marriage is not made bearable by forcing husband and wife to continue living together in spite of their inward estrangement and mutual aversion. A condition of this sort, maintained by law, is profoundly immoral. The result is that in a large number of cases adultery is made a cause for divorce, since this[118] cause cannot be ignored by the law; neither the state nor society are improved by this process. It must also be regarded as a concession to the Catholic Church, that in many cases separation takes the place of divorce which was formerly not the case according to civil law. It is no longer considered a cause for divorce, when through the fault of the one party, a marriage remains childless. The new German code of civil law contains the following paragraph: “The religious duties in regard to marriage are not touched upon in the rules laid down in this paragraph.” This likewise is a concession to the church. It is merely ornamental in character, but it is characteristic of the spirit still prevailing in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century. For our purposes the admission is important, that divorce was made more difficult to counteract the advancing disruption of the family.

Human beings then remain chained to one another for lifetime against their will. One party becomes a slave to the other and is forced in fulfillment of “matrimonial duties,” to endure intimate embraces that perhaps seem more loathsome than harsh words and ill treatment. Rightly Mantegazza says: “There is no greater torture than to suffer the caresses of an unloved person....”[50] Is such marriage not worse than prostitution? Even the prostitute has a certain degree of liberty of withdrawing from her abominable trade, and if she is not the inmate of a public brothel, she may refuse herself to a man she does not wish for some reason or other. But a woman sold in marriage must endure the embraces of her husband, even though she have a hundred reasons to hate and despise him.

If the marriage has been contracted from the outset and by mutual understanding, as a mere marriage of convenience, matters are not quite as bad. Mutual obligations are considered and a bearable mode of life is found. Scandal is avoided, especially out of consideration for the children, where such exist; and yet it must be said that the children are the ones to suffer most[119] when their parents lead a cold, indifferent life, devoid of love, even if it does not deteriorate into a life of open hostility. More frequently yet an agreement is accomplished to avoid material loss. Usually the husband’s misbehavior is the cause of trouble in marriage; that may be seen from the divorce cases. When a man remains dissatisfied with his marriage his domineering position enables him to find compensation elsewhere. The woman is far less inclined to go astray, firstly because physiological reasons make a transgression much more dangerous in her case, and secondly because when she is the one to break the marital vow, it is considered a crime that society will not condone. The woman alone—be she wife, widow or maiden—has “fallen”; the man, when he commits the same sin, has, at the worst, behaved with impropriety. The same action then is judged by entirely different standards, according to whether it has been committed by a man or by a woman, and the women themselves are often most bitter and unmerciful in their condemnation of a “fallen” sister.[51]

As a rule, women will seek divorce only in cases of flagrant infidelity or gross ill-treatment, because they are in a dependent position and are obliged to regard marriage as a means of subsistence; also because the social position of a divorced woman is not an enviable one. She is regarded and treated more or less as a cipher. If in spite of all this women constitute the majority of plaintives in divorce cases, this goes to prove what moral tortures they must endure. In France, even before the introduction of the new divorce laws, by far the most proceedings for separation were instituted by women. Until 1884 a woman in France could sue for divorce only in case her husband brought the woman with whom he maintained an intimate relation into the domicile of[120] his wife against her will. Thus proceedings for separation were instituted annually by:

  Women. Men.
1856–1861 1,729 184
1861–1866 2,135 260
1866–1871 2,591 330
1901–1905 2,368 591

Not only were the majority of proceedings instituted by women, the figures also show that their number steadily increased. By information gathered from reliable sources it may be seen, that elsewhere also the greater number of actions for divorce and separation are instituted by women, as the following table shows:[52]

  During the years. Husbands. Wives. Husbands and wives.
Austria 1893–1897   4.4    5.0 90.6
Roumania 1891–1895 30.6  68.9  0.5
Switzerland 1895–1899 26.4  45.4  8.2
France 1895–1899 40.0  59.1 ..
Baden 1895–1899 36.0  59.1  4.9
England & Wales 1895–1899 60.4  39.6 ..
Scotland 1898–1899 43.3  56.7 ..
Austria 1897–1899   4.9  16.6 78.5
France 1895–1899 15.9  84.1 ..
England & Wales 1895–1899   3.0  97.0 ..
Scotland 1898–1899 .. 100.    ..

In the United States, where the divorce statistics cover a period of forty years, we find the following ratio:

  1867–1886. P. C. 1887–1906. P. C. 1906. P. C.
Men 112,540 34.2 316,149 33.4 23,455 32.5
Women 216,176 65.8 629,476 66.6 48,607 67.5
Total 328,716 100 945,625 100 72,062 100

The above table shows that in more than two-thirds of all divorce cases women were the plaintiffs.[53]


In Italy we find a similar ratio. During 1887 there were 1,221 divorce cases; 593 of these were instituted by wives, 214 by husbands, 414 by both husbands and wives. In 1904 there were 2,103 cases; 1,142 by wives, 454 by husbands, and 507 by both.

Statistics teach us that the majority of divorces are sought by women, and they furthermore teach us that the number of divorces is rapidly increasing. Since the introduction of the new divorce law in France in 1884, the divorces have increased from year to year, as follows:

Years 1884. 1885. 1890. 1895. 1900. 1905. 1906. 1907.
Divorces 1,657 4,123 6,557 7,700 7,820 10,019 10,573 10,938

In Switzerland, too, the divorce-rate is increasing. From 1886 to 1890 there were 882 divorces. From 1891 to 1895 there were 898 divorces; in 1897, 1,011; in 1898, 1,018; in 1899, 1,091; in 1905, 1,206; in 1906, 1,343. In Austria during 1899 there were 856 divorces and 133 separations. In 1900 there were 1,310 divorces and 163 separations. In 1905 there were 1,885 divorces and 262 separations. The number of divorces and separations have been doubled during a decade. In Vienna there were 148 divorces in 1870 and 1871; they increased with each succeeding year until in 1878 and 1879 there were 319 cases. Vienna being a Catholic city, divorces are not easily obtained. Nevertheless, a Viennese judge exclaimed during the eighties: “The charge of broken marriage vows is as frequent as the charge of broken windows.”

The following shows the increasing divorce-rate in the United States:

Years 1867. 1886. 1895. 1902. 1906.
Divorces 9,937 25,535 40,387 61,480 72,062

If the number of divorces in relation to the population had remained the same in 1905 as in 1870, the exact number of divorces in 1905 would have been 24,000, and not 67,791, as actually was the case. The total number of divorces from 1867 to 1886 was 328,716; from 1887 to 1906, 945,625. The United States have the highest divorce-rate. For every thousand marriages there were the following number of divorces: In 1870, 81; in 1880,[122] 107; in 1890, 148; in 1900, 200. Why is divorce more frequent in the United States than in any other country? Firstly, because in some of the states the divorce laws are less rigorous than in most of the other countries, and, secondly, because women enjoy a freer, more independent position than in any other country of the world, and are accordingly less willing to submit to the tyranny of husbands.

The following shows the number of divorces in Germany from 1891 to 1900:

Years 1891. 1892. 1893. 1894. 1895. 1896. 1897. 1898. 1899. 1900.
Divorces 6,678 6,513 6,694 7,502 8,326 8,601 9,005 9,143 9,563 7,928

We see that from 1899 to 1900, the number of divorces have decreased by 1,635, because on the first of January, 1900, the new code of civil law went into effect which made divorce more difficult. But life is stronger than law. After there was a decrease in the divorce-rate from 1900 to 1902, there has been a rapid increase ever since, as the following table shows:

Years 1901. 1902. 1903. 1904. 1905. 1906. 1907.
Divorces 7,964 9,069 9,933 10,868 11,147 12,180 12,489

In Saxony, too, in spite of various fluctuations, there has been a steady increase, as may be seen from the following table:

Years. Divorces. For each 1,000 marriages.
1836–1840   356 121
1846–1850   395 121
1871–1875   581 122
1891–1895   921 138
1896–1900 1,130 151
1901–1905 1,385 168

For each thousand marriages in Prussia there were the following number of divorces: 1881 to 1885, 67.62; 1886 to 1890, 80.55; 1891 to 1895, 86.77; 1896, 101.97; 1905, 106; 1908, 121. That is a tremendous increase. The increase of divorce is not a national but an international[123] symptom. For each thousand marriages there were the following number of divorces in:

  1876–1880. 1881–1885. 1886–1890. At the close of the century.
Austria .. 19.4  19.7  31. 
Hungary 31.6 30.4  30.5  58. 
Roumania 37.3 52.3  73.1  98. 
Italy 11.8 11.3  10.6  15. 
France 33.9 75.9  80.9 129. 
England & Wales  6.5  7.4    7.   10.6
Scotland 12.3 13.    16.7  26. 
Ireland  0.6  0.4    1.1    1. 
Belgium 25.5 31.9  43.    72. 
Netherlands .. .. ..  78. 
Norway 13.9 12.1  19.3  33. 
Sweden 28.5 28.6  31.6  45. 
Finland 16.1  7.8  10.0  29. 
Switzerland 220.     200.     188.     199.9

It would be a great mistake to draw conclusions from these widely diverging figures about the moral status of the various countries enumerated above. No one would claim, that cause for divorce is four times greater among the Swedish people than among the English people. The laws must be taken into consideration that make divorce more or less difficult as the case may be.[54] The moral status, that is, the causes making divorce appear desirable to either man or woman, are a secondary consideration. But the figures show, that the divorce-rate is increasing more rapidly than the population; that is increasing, in fact, while the marriage-rate is decreasing. We will return to this phase of the question later on. Great differences of age between husband and wife play a considerable part in divorce. That is shown by the following table gathered from official statistics in Switzerland:


  1881–1890. 1891–1900.
Man older; 26 years and more 271 328
Man older; 11 to 25 years 189 198
Man older; 1 to 10 years 193 181
Husband and wife of same age 195 190
Man younger; 1 to 10 years 226 226
Man younger; 11 to 25 years 365 431
Man younger; 26 years and more 759 870

The following statistics from Saxony during 1905 and 1906, and from Prussia from 1895 to 1905, show the divorce-rate in its relation to the various strata of society:

  Saxony. Prussia.
Agriculture  59  34
Industry 220 158
Commerce 297 229
Public service and learned professions 346 165

In Saxony divorces were most frequent among officials and professional men. In Prussia they were most frequent among those employed in commerce. In Saxony those employed in commerce came second; in Prussia, officials and professional men. Men employed in industry come third; 220 in Saxony, and 158 in Prussia. Those employed in agriculture furnished the lowest figures. When we compare the growing number of divorces in the cities with those among the rural population, we are led to the conclusion that the rapid development of industry, accompanied by an increasing instability of public life, makes the marriage relation more unfavorable, and adds to the factors that make for the disruption of marriage. On the other hand, the growing divorce-rate shows, that the number of women are increasing who resolve to cast off a yoke that has become unbearable.

[50] The Physiology of Love.

[51] Alexander Dumas correctly says in “Monsieur Alphonse”: “Man has created two standards of morality: one for himself, and one for woman, one that permits him to love all women, and another that permits woman as a compensation for her lost freedom, to be loved by but one man.” See also Marguerite’s self-accusation in “Faust.”

[52] George v. Mayer: “Statistics and Social Science.”

[53] Marriage and Divorce. 1887–1906. Bureau of the Census, Bulletin 96, p. 12. Washington, D. C., 1908.

[54] In England divorce is a privilege enjoyed by the rich. The cost of a trial is so exorbitant, that divorce becomes almost impossible to people of moderate means, especially as it necessitates a journey to London. In the whole country there is only one divorce court, which is situated in London.

2.—Bourgeois and Proletarian Marriage.

The corruption of marriage increases at the same rate at which the struggle for existence grows more[125] severe, making matrimony more and more an object of mercenary speculation. As it is becoming increasingly difficult to support a family, many men choose to refrain from marrying, and so the declamations about it being woman’s duty to practice her natural profession of wifehood and motherhood, are just so many meaningless phrases. On the other hand, these conditions are bound to foster illegitimate relations and to increase the number of prostitutes; they also increase the number of those who fall victims to an unnatural satisfaction of the sexual impulse.

Among the ruling classes the wife is frequently degraded, just as she was in ancient Greece, to the mere functions of bearing legitimate children, acting as housekeeper, or serving as nurse to a husband ruined by a life of debauchery. For his amusement, or to gratify his desire for love, the man maintains courtesans or mistresses who live in elegance and luxury. Others who do not have the means of maintaining mistresses, associate with prostitutes during marriage as before marriage, and a number of wives are sufficiently corrupted to consider such relations quite proper.[55]

In the upper and middle classes of society the chief evil in marriage is its mercenary character. But this evil is still heightened by the mode of life that prevails among these classes. That applies to the women as well as to the men, since they frequently lead lives of idleness or devote themselves to corrupting occupations. The society woman’s spiritual nourishment usually consists[126] of the following: Reading ambiguous novels, visiting frivolous plays, enjoying sensuous music, resorting to intoxicating stimulants, and indulging in scandal-mongering. Idleness and ennui frequently entice her into love-intrigues, that are sought more eagerly still by the men of her circles. In the mad pursuit of pleasure she rushes from one banquet and entertainment to another, and in summer she goes to watering-places and summer resorts to rest from the exertions of the winter and to seek new amusement. Scandals are a daily occurrence with this mode of life; men seduce and women allow themselves to be seduced.

Among the lower classes mercenary marriage is practically unknown. The workingman generally marries for love, but nevertheless many harmful and destructive influences exist in the proletarian marriage also. Blessed with many children, cares and worries ensue, and all too often bitter poverty prevails. Disease and death are frequent guests in the proletarian family, and unemployment heightens the misery. Many are the factors that lessen the workingman’s income and frequently deprive him of that meagre income altogether. Hard times and industrial crises throw him out of employment; the introduction of new machinery or of new methods of production, makes him superfluous; wars, unfavorable tariff and commercial treaties, the imposition of new indirect taxes, or black-listing by his employers as a result of his political convictions, destroy his means of subsistence or gravely injure them. From time to time one or another thing occurs that entails a longer or shorter period of unemployment with its accompanying misery and starvation. Uncertainty is the mark of his existence. Such vicissitudes are productive of ill temper and bitter feelings that most frequently lead to outbursts in domestic life where demands are made daily and hourly that cannot be satisfied. This leads to quarrels and harsh words and eventually to a rupture in the marriage relation.

Frequently both husband and wife must work for a living. The children are left to themselves or to the care of older brothers and sisters, who are still in need of[127] care and education themselves. The noon-day meal, usually of the poorest quality, is devoured in utmost haste, provided that the parents have time to come home for this meal. In the majority of cases this is impossible, owing to the distances between homes and factories and to the brevity of the time allowed for rest. Weary and worn, both parents return at night. Instead of a cheerful, pleasant home to come to, theirs is only a small, unsanitary dwelling, frequently wanting in fresh air and light and devoid of the most elementary comforts. The scarcity of available lodgings with all the resulting evils, is one of the darkest phases of our social system that leads to countless vices and crimes. In spite of all attempts at relief, the housing problem is becoming more serious every year in all the larger centers of industry; and other strata of society, such as professional people, clerks, officials, teachers, small dealers, etc., are affected by it. The workingman’s wife who returns to her “home” at night exhausted from a day’s hard labor, must begin work anew. She must toil in feverish haste to attend to the most necessary details of housekeeping. After the children have been put to bed, she still continues to mend and sew until far into the night. Rest and recuperation are unknown to her. The man often is ignorant and the woman still more so, and the little they have to say to one another is quickly said. The man goes to a saloon where he at least finds some of the comforts that he lacks at home; he drinks, and no matter how little he spends, he is spending too much for his income. Sometimes he falls a victim to the vice of gambling, that claims many victims in the upper strata of society also, and then still loses more than he spends on drink. Meanwhile the woman is brooding at home full of grudge. She must toil like a beast of burden, there is no rest or recreation for her; but the man enjoys the liberty that is his, just because he had the good fortune of having been born a man. Thus discord arises. If the woman is less conscientious; if she, too, seeks pleasure and diversion when she has returned from a hard day of work, to which she is surely entitled, her[128] household goes to ruin and the misery becomes greater still. Nevertheless, we are living in “the best of worlds.”

Thus marriage is constantly being disrupted among the proletariat also. Even favorable periods of employment often have a detrimental influence, for they involve over-time work and sometimes also work on Sunday, thereby depriving the worker of the little time he is able to devote to his family. Often the distances from the workingmen’s homes to their places of employment are so great, that they must leave at day-break, when the children are still soundly asleep, and do not return until late at night when they are sleeping again. Thousands of workingmen, especially those connected with the building trades, remain away from home during the entire week and only return to their families on Saturday night. How can family relations prosper under such conditions?! At the same time the number of women workers is constantly growing, especially in the textile industries, for thousands of spinning-machines and power-looms are being tended by women and children, whose labor is cheap. Here matrimonial relations have been reversed. While the wife and the children go to the factory, the unemployed man not infrequently, remains at home performing the domestic duties. “In a number of cloth factories in Chemnitz we find women who are employed there only during the winter months, because their husbands who are road-builders, masons or carpenters, earn little or nothing in winter. During the absence of the women, the men attend to the housekeeping.”[56] In the United States, where capitalism has developed so rapidly, that all its evils are manifest on a much larger scale than in the industrial countries of Europe, a characteristic name has been coined for this state of affairs. Industrial centers where women are mainly employed while men remain at home, have been called “she-towns.”[57]


At present it is generally conceded that women should be admitted to all trades. Capitalistic society in its mad chase of profits has long since recognized, that women can be more profitably exploited than men, since they are by nature more pliant and meek.[58] Accordingly the number of trades in which women may find employment are increasing with every year. The constant improvement of machinery, the simplifying of the process of labor by an increased division of labor, and the competitive warfare among individual capitalists, as also among rival industrial countries—all favor the steady increase of woman labor. The phenomenon is common to all industrially advanced countries. As the number of women in industry increases, the competition between them and the male workers grows more severe. The reports of factory inspectors and statistical investigations prove this.

The position of women is especially unfavorable in those trades in which they predominate as, for instance, the clothing trades, and particularly in those branches in which the workers perform the work in their own home. Investigations concerning the condition of women workers in the manufacture of underwear and the clothing trades, were made in Germany in 1886. This investigation showed among other things that the miserable pay[130] these workers received frequently drove them to prostitution.

Our Christian government, whose Christianity is sought in vain where it is really needful, but is met with where it is superfluous—our Christian government is like our Christian bourgeoisie, whose interests it serves. This government finds it exceedingly difficult to decide upon the enactment of laws which would limit the work of women to a bearable degree and prohibit child-labor entirely. This same government also fails to grant a normal work-day and sufficient rest on Sundays to its own employees, thereby harming their family relations. Frequently men employed in the mail and railroad service and in prisons must work many hours overtime without receiving adequate remuneration.

As the rents are also far too high in comparison with the incomes of the workers, they must content themselves with the poorest quarters. Lodgers of one sex or the other, sometimes of both, are taken into the workingman’s home.[59] Old and young of both sexes live together in a small space and frequently witness the most intimate relations. How modesty and decency fare under such conditions, has been shown by horrible facts. The increasing demoralization and brutalization of the young that is being discussed so much, is partly due to these conditions. Child-labor, too, has the worst possible influence on children, both physically and morally.

The increasing industrial activity of married women has the most detrimental effect during pregnancy and at child-birth and during the early babyhood of the children, when they depend upon the mother for nourishment. During pregnancy it may lead to a number of[131] diseases that are destructive to the unborn child and harmful to the organism of the woman, and bring about premature births and still-births. When the child has been born, the mother is compelled to return to the factory as soon as possible, lest some one else take her place. The inevitable result for the poor, little babes is neglect and improper or insufficient nourishment. They are given opiates to be kept quiet; and as a further result of all this, they perish in masses or grow up sickly and deformed. It means race degeneration. Frequently the children grow up without ever having experienced real parental love. Thus proletarians are born, live and die; and society and the state marvel at it that brutality, immorality and crime are increasing.

During the sixties of the last century the cotton industry in England almost came to a standstill, as a result of the Civil War that was being waged in the United States. Accordingly, thousands of working-women were unemployed, and among them physicians made the astounding observation, that in spite of the existing want, infant mortality was decreasing. The reason was that the babies now were being nursed by their mothers and more care was bestowed on them than ever before. During the crisis of the seventies of the last century similar observations were made in the United States, especially in New York and Massachusetts. Unemployment enabled the women to devote more time to their children. The same fact was noted during the general strike in Sweden in August and September of 1909. The mortality in Stockholm and other large Swedish cities had not been as low for many years as during the weeks of this giant strike. One of the eminent medical authorities of Stockholm declared that the low rate of mortality and the general state of good health was in close connection with the great strike. He pointed out that the out-of-door life which was being led by the army of strikers was chiefly responsible for this satisfactory state of health, for no matter how extensive the sanitary regulations might be, the air in the factories and workshops was always more or less detrimental to[132] the health of the workers. The same medical authority pointed out, furthermore, that the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating drinks during the great strike, also tended to improve the state of health.

Domestic industry, which is depicted so alluringly by the romancers among political economists, is not more favorable to the workers. Here man and wife both toil from dawn to darkness and the children are trained as helpers from their earliest childhood on. The entire family and perhaps some assistants live together in closest quarters among rubbish and disagreeable odors. The bedrooms are similar to the workshop, usually small, dark spaces with insufficient ventilation, detrimental to the health of the persons who are obliged to sleep in them.

The struggle for existence that is growing increasingly difficult, also sometimes compels men and women to commit acts that they would loathe under different circumstances. It was shown in 1877 in Munich that among the prostitutes entered on lists by the police, there were no less than 203 wives of workingmen and mechanics. Many more married women are driven to occasional prostitution by need, without submitting to police control that deeply degrades all modesty and human dignity.

[55] In his book on “The Woman Question in the Middle Ages,” that I have frequently quoted, Buecher laments the dissolution of marriage and the family. He condemns the employment of women in industry, and demands that woman should return to her “particular sphere,” the only one where she creates “real values,” the home and the family. The aims of the modern woman movement appear “amateurish” to him, and he expresses the hope that “a better way may be found.” But he fails to point out a successful way. From his bourgeois point of view it would be impossible to do so. The matrimonial conditions as also the position of women in general, are not the result of wilful creation. They are the natural product of social evolution, and this social evolution is consummated in accordance with inherent laws.

[56] Technics and Political Economy.

[57] The following clipping taken from an American newspaper in 1893 gives an adequate description of a “she-town”: “A singularity that is met with in the factory towns of Maine, is a class of men who may rightly be called housekeepers. Any one visiting some of these workers’ homes shortly after the noon hour, will find the men, wearing an apron, washing dishes. At other hours of the day they may be seen making the beds, dressing the children, scrubbing or cooking.... These men do the housekeeping for the simple reason that their wives can earn more in the factories than they, and it is more economical for them to remain at home while the women work.”

[58]Mr. E., a manufacturer, informs me that he employs only women at his power-looms. He prefers married women and especially those who have a family at home depending upon them. They are much more attentive and docile than unmarried women, and are obliged to exert themselves to the utmost in order to earn the necessary means of subsistence. Thus the peculiar virtues of woman’s character are turned to her own detriment, and the gentleness and decency of her nature become a means of her enslavement.” From an address by Lord Ashley on the ten-hour bill, 1844.—Karl Marx, “Capital,” second edition.

[59] The Prussian census of 1900 has shown that in Prussia there are 3,467,388 persons not related to the families in whose midst they live. In the entire state about one-quarter of these non-related members of the households consisted of strange boarders and lodgers; in the rural districts they constituted only one-seventh, but in the cities one-third, and in the capital, Berlin, more than one-half.—G. v. Mayer, “Statistics and Social Science.”

Marriage as a Means of Support.

1.—Decline of the Marriage Rate.

When we consider the conditions enumerated above, it requires no further proof to recognize that a growing number of persons do not regard the wedded state as a desirable goal, but hesitate to enter into it. This explains the phenomenon, that in most civilized countries the marriage rate is stationary or declining. It was a matter of old experience, that an increase in the price of grain had[133] a detrimental effect on both the marriage and birth rates. With the growing industrial development of any country the marriage and birth rates are influenced more and more by the ups and downs of the market. Economic crises and a lowering of the general economic standard have a lasting unfavorable influence. This may be seen from the marriage statistics of various countries. According to the latest census, 12,832,044 marriages were contracted in the United States during the period from 1887 to 1906.

1887 483,096
1891 562,412
1892 577,870
1893 578,673
1894 566,161
1902 746,733
1903 786,132
1904 781,145
1905 804,787
1906 853,232

These figures show that as a result of the crises during 1893 and 1894, the marriage rate declined by 12,512. The same phenomenon recurs in 1904, during which year the marriage rate declined by 4987. The following table shows marriage statistics gathered in France:

1873–1877 299,000
1878–1882 281,000
1883–1887 284,000
1888–1892 279,000
1893–1897 288,000
1898–1902 296,000
1903–1907 306,000

The marriage rate attained its highest figure, 321,238, during the year 1873. From that time on the marriage rate declined only to increase again with times of prosperity. In France the highest marriage rate since 1873 was attained in 1907 when it reached 314,903. To some extent this increase was due to a new law that went into effect on June 21, 1907, by which the legal formalities required in order to become married were simplified. This increase was especially noticeable in the poorer districts. The following table shows the number of marriages contracted for every thousand inhabitants in various European countries:


COUNTRIES 1871 to 1875 1876 to 1880 1881 to 1885 1886 to 1890 1891 to 1895 1896 to 1900 1901 to 1905 1907
German Empire 18.84 15.68 15.40 15.68 15.88 17.83 16    16.2
Prussia 18.88 15.86 15.92 16.32 16.40 16.86 16.2 16.4
Bavaria 18.92 14.65 13.64 13.96 14.76 16.09 15.2 15.4
Saxony 19.96 17.70 17.62 18.64 17.52 18.76 16.6 16.8
Austria 18.30 15.52 15.88 15.40 15.76 16.04 15.8 15.8
Hungary 21.51 19.30 20.24 17.72 17.92 16.05 17.2 19.6
Italy 15.54 15.06 14.08 17.64 14.96 14.40 14.8 15.4
Switzerland 16.06 14.90 13.80 14.00 14.72 15.59 15    15.6
France 16.06 15.16 15.04 14.48 14.90 15.14 15.2 16   
England and Wales 17.08 15.34 15.14 14.70 15.16 16.14 15.6 15.8
Scotland 14.98 11.76 13.76 18.02 13.68 14.94 14    14   
Ireland  9.72  9.04  8.66  8.66  9.48  9.87 10.4 10.2
Belgium 15.44 13.94 13.94 14.34 15.24 16.45 16.2 16.2
Netherlands 16.64 15.76 14.28 14.04 14.48 14.88 15    15.2
Denmark 15.88 15.54 15.38 13.94 13.84 14.79 14.4 15.2
Norway 14.58 14.40 13.82 12.76 12.92 13.73 12.4 11.8
Sweden 14.04 13.20 12.84 12.20 11.45 12.04 11.8 12   
Finland 17.68 15.72 14.90 14.40 12.98 15.34 13    13.6
European Russia excl. the Vistula province 19.62 17.62 18.06 17.94 17.08 17.80
Bulgaria 18.04 17.24 16.07
Servia 22.80 23.32 22.14 21.76 19.84

That the marriage rate rises and sinks with the rise and decline of national prosperity is most strikingly noticeable in Germany. The largest number of marriages (423,900), were contracted in Germany in 1872, the year after the close of the Franco-Prussian war. From 1873 on, the marriage rate declined until in 1879, the year when the crisis was at its worst, it attained its lowest figure (335,133). Then it gradually increased again until 1890, a year of prosperity, to sink once more in 1892 and again to increase with the years of returning prosperity until with the height of prosperity the highest figures were attained (476,491 in 1900, and 471,519 in 1899). The next crisis brought another decline. In 1902 the number of marriages did not exceed 457,208 while in 1906 and 1907 it rose up again to 498,900 and 503,964.

But in general the statistics of most countries point to a decline of the marriage rate. The highest numbers attained during the seventies were attained only in exceptional[135] instances at the close of the nineties. But not only the earnings have a strong influence on the marriage rate, the conditions of property have so likewise. Statistics from the kingdom of Wurtemberg show, that with the increase of large estates the number of married men between 25 and 30 years of age decreases and the number of unmarried men between 40 and 50 years of age increases. Small estates are favorable to the marriage rate, because they enable a greater number of families to maintain a decent though modest livelihood, while large estates are, for obvious reasons, unfavorable to the marriage rate. With the growing industrial development of a country, the number of marriages in urban trades and professions increases. The following statistics from Sweden during the years 1901 to 1904 show the relation of marriage to occupation:

Agriculture per 1000 4.78
Industry 7.17
Commerce 7.75
Learned professions 6.33

All these figures prove that not moral but economic causes are the determining factors. The number of marriages like the moral status of a social group depend upon its material foundation.

2.—Infanticide and Abortion.

Fear of poverty and doubts as to whether it will be possible to bring up the children suitable to their station in life, cause many women of all classes to commit deeds that are averse to the laws of nature and to the laws of organized society as well. Such deeds include the various methods to prevent conception, and when this has occurred nevertheless, artificial abortion. It would be a mistake to assume that such methods are resorted to only by frivolous, unscrupulous women. They are, on the contrary, frequently resorted to by conscientious wives, who feel that they must limit the number of offspring and rather submit to the dangers of abortion, than to deny themselves to their husbands and thereby drive[136] them to the devious paths. Other women again take this step to conceal a “sin,” or because they abhor the discomforts of pregnancy, child-birth and motherhood, or because they fear that their physical beauty will be impaired and that they will accordingly seem less attractive to their husbands and to men in general. These women readily obtain medical and surgical aid at high prices.

Artificial abortion seems to be practiced more and more. It was frequently practiced among the ancients and is practiced to-day among both civilized nations and savages. The old Greeks practiced it openly, without any legal restraint. Plato regarded it as within the province of the midwife, and Aristotle permitted it to married people when a pregnancy that was not desired took place.[60] According to Jules Ronyer, the women of Rome practiced abortion for several reasons. In the first place they wished to conceal the results of their illegitimate relations; secondly they wished to indulge in uninterrupted excesses, and thirdly they sought to avoid the detrimental effects of pregnancy and child-birth upon their beauty.[61] Among the romans a woman was considered old when she attained the thirtieth year, and the women therefore shunned everything that was likely to make them age more quickly. During the mediaeval ages abortions were punishable by severe penalties, in some instances even by capital punishment, and a free woman who had practiced it became a serf.

At the present time abortions are practiced chiefly in Turkey and in the United States. “The Turks do not regard a foetus as being really alive until after the fifth month, and have no scruple in causing its abortion. Even at later stages, when the operation becomes criminal, it is frequently practiced. In 1872 at Constantinople, more than three thousand cases of abortion were brought before the courts in a period of ten months.”[62]

More frequently yet it is practiced in the United States. In all the large cities of the union institutions exist where[137] women and girls can go to bring about premature birth. Many American newspapers contain advertisements of such places.[63] In some strata of American society an artificial abortion is discussed as openly as a regular confinement. In Germany and other European countries it is regarded in a different manner, and according to German law both the perpetrator and the accomplice may be punished by imprisonment. Abortion is often followed by the worst results; not infrequently it results in death, and in many cases it means the permanent destruction of health. “Dangers from the most unfavorable pregnancy and child-birth are less great than from artificial abortions.”[64] Sterility is the most frequent result. Nevertheless the practice is becoming more frequent in Germany also. The following number of persons were convicted of criminal abortion: From 1882 to 1886, 839; from 1897 to 1901, 1565; from 1902 to 1906, 2236.[65] During recent years several cases of criminal abortions created a sensation, because distinguished physicians and prominent society women figured in these cases. Judging by the advertisements in German newspapers, there also is an increase of those places and institutions where married and unmarried women are given an opportunity to await the results of their wrong-doing in absolute secrecy.

The fear of a too numerous progeny in consideration of the economic status and the cost of education has caused the introduction of preventive measures among entire classes and nations and has gradually developed into a regular system that threatens to become a public calamity. It is a wellknown fact that almost all strata of French society abide by the custom of limiting their offspring to two children. Few civilized countries have as high a marriage rate as France; but notwithstanding this fact, in no other country the birth rate is as low and the increase of population as gradual. The French bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the working class, all abide by[138] this custom. In some parts of Germany the conditions among the peasantry seem to have lead to a similar state of affairs. In a picturesque region in the south-western part of Germany, a certain species of tree, which furnishes an ingredient for an abortive remedy, is grown on every farm. In another region the peasants have long since followed the custom of limiting their offspring to two children; they do not wish to divide up their farms. Another noteworthy fact is the marked increase in the publication and sale of literature discussing and recommending means for optional sterility. Of course, these books are always clothed in “scientific” garb and invariably point to the threatening danger of excess of population.

Besides the prevention of conception and artificial abortion, crime also plays a part. In France child exposure and infanticide have increased as a direct result of French civil law, according to which it is interdicted to investigate paternity. The “Code civil” provides that “La recherche de la paternité est interdite,” but “la recherche de la maternité est admise.” This law forbids to search for a child’s father but permits to search for its mother. With brutal frankness it thus proclaims injustice to the unfortunate girl who has been seduced. The men of France may, by the provision of this law, seduce as many girls and women as they please; they are freed from all responsibility and do not have to contribute anything to the support of their illegitimate children. This law was framed under the pretext that women must be deterred from seducing men. We see, everywhere it is the poor, feeble man,—although his is the strong sex,—who never seduces but always is seduced. The result of this paragraph of the “Code civil” was the framing of another paragraph which provides that “L’enfant conçu pendant le marriage a pour père le mari” (the husband is father to every child conceived during marriage). While it is forbidden to search after a child’s father, deceived husbands must regard children as their own, that have sprung from illicit relations their wives may have maintained. We must admit that the French bourgeoisie is at least consistent. Until now[139] all attempts to repeal these obnoxious laws have failed. On the other hand the French bourgeoisie seeks to atone somewhat for the cruelty of preventing women, who have been deceived, from seeking financial aid from the fathers of their children, by establishing foundling institutions. Thus the new-born babe is deprived not only of its father but of its mother as well. According to the French conception foundlings are orphans, and the French bourgeoisie thus permits its illegitimate children to be reared as “children of the nation” at the expense of the state. A wonderful institution!

Lately French methods have been copied in Germany. The new German civil law contains provisions in regard to the legal status of illegitimate children, that are in contradiction to the more humane laws that were in force heretofore. One paragraph states that “an illegitimate child and its father are not regarded as being related,” while Emperor Joseph II had already decreed that legitimate and illegitimate children should be equal before the law. Another paragraph states that “an illegitimate child is fatherless if its mother maintained relations with several men at the time of conception.” The child is made to suffer for its mother’s frivolousness, weakness or poverty. Frivolous fathers are not taken into consideration by the law. The law concerning illegitimate children furthermore provides: “it is the mother’s right and duty to care for the person of the illegitimate child. The father of the illegitimate child is obliged to provide for same until the completion of its sixteenth year, in accordance with the social status of the mother.” According to former Prussian law, the seducer was obliged to provide for the child in accordance with his own social status and wealth. If the woman had been seduced with the promise of marriage, she was entitled to all the rights of a divorced wife, and in those cases the illegitimate children were regarded as legitimate before the law. These more just and humane provisions have now been dispensed with. The tendency of German legislation is a retrogressive one.

During the period from 1831 to 1880, 8568 cases of infanticide were tried before the French court of assizes.[140] This number increased from 471 during the years 1831 to 1835 to 970 during the years 1876 to 1880. During the same period 1032 cases of criminal abortion were tried, 100 of these during the single year 1880. It goes without saying that only a small number of the artificial abortions actually practiced ever come to the notice of the courts. As a rule only such cases are brought to public attention that result in severe illness or death. The rural population furnished 75 percent of the infanticides, and the urban population furnished 67 percent of criminal abortions. The women residing in cities have more means at hand to prevent normal child-birth; therefore the cases of abortion were numerous and the cases of infanticide relatively few. In the rural districts the inverse ratio prevails. In Germany the following number of persons were convicted of infanticide: from 1882 to 1886, 884; from 1897 to 1901, 887; from 1902 to 1906, 745.

This is the picture presented by present day society in regard to its most intimate relations. It differs considerably from that picture which is usually drawn for us by poetic visionaries, but it at least has the advantage of being true. Yet the picture is incomplete; a few characteristic features must still be added.

[60] Elie Metchnikoff—The Nature of Man.

[61] Jules Ronyer, Etudes médicales sur l’ancienne Rome. Paris 1859.

[62] Elie Metchnikoff—The Nature of Man.

[63] According to an official investigation, 200 persons were counted in New York who made a profession of artificial abortions.

[64] Edw. Reich—History of Abortion and its Dangers.

[65] Criminal statistics of the German Empire for the year 1906.

3.—Education for Marriage.

All parties are agreed that at the present time the female sex is, on an average, mentally inferior to the male sex. Balzac, who by no means was an admirer of women, nevertheless declared, “a woman who has obtained the education of a man, indeed possesses the most brilliant and fruitful qualities for establishing her own happiness and that of her husband.” Goethe, who was well acquainted with the types of men and women of his day, uttered the following sharp remark in “The Years of Travelling of William Meister” (Confessions of a fair soul): “scholarly women were held up to ridicule, and educated women were not popular either, probably because it was regarded as impolite to disgrace so many ignorant men.” But that does not alter the fact that women, as a rule, are mentally inferior to men. This[141] difference is bound to exist, since the mental status of woman is but what man, her master, has made it. The education of women has always been pitifully neglected, even more than the education of the proletariat, and even at the present time it is insufficient. In our age the desire for the exchange of ideas is a growing one among all classes of society, and accordingly we begin to recognize the neglected mental training of women as a great mistake, one from which not only women, but men also must suffer.

With men education is mainly directed upon the development of the intellect; it is supposed to sharpen their reasoning powers, to expand their knowledge and to strengthen their will-power. With women, especially among the upper classes, education is mainly directed upon the development of their sentiments; it chiefly consists of attaining various accomplishments that only tend to heighten their imaginative faculty and to increase their nervous irritability, such as music, literature, art and poetry. That is the greatest error in education that could possibly be committed. It shows that educators have allowed themselves to be guided by their prejudices concerning the nature of woman and her narrow sphere in life. The development of sentiment and imagination in women should not be artificially stimulated which only increases the tendency to become nervous. With women, as well as with men, the mental faculties should be developed and they should be acquainted with the practical facts of life. It would be the greatest advantage to both sexes if women were less sentimental and more rational; if they displayed less nervousness and timidity, and more courage and will-power; if they possessed fewer accomplishments, and a broader knowledge of the world and mankind and the natural forces of life. Until the present time the spiritual life of woman and her sentiments have been stimulated to the utmost, while her intellectual development has been neglected, hampered and repressed. As a result she literally suffers from spiritual and sentimental hypertrophy, which makes her susceptible to all sorts of superstitions and miracle-frauds, an easy victim of religious and other swindles, a[142] willing tool of bigotry and reaction. Men in their short-sightedness frequently lament this fact; but they do nothing to change it, because the great majority of them are still deeply entrenched in their own prejudices. As a result of this false education, women generally regard the world very differently from men, and thereby another great source of differences and misunderstandings between the sexes is established.

For every man in present day society, participation in public life is one of the most essential duties; that many men still fail to recognize this duty does not alter the fact. But an ever widening circle of men has begun to recognize that public institutions directly affect the private relations of each individual, and that the welfare of individuals and families depends far more upon the nature of public institutions than upon personal qualities and actions. They have begun to recognize, that even supreme efforts on the part of a single individual are powerless in combatting evils that are rooted in social conditions, and influence his position accordingly. Moreover the struggle for existence necessitates far greater exertions to-day than formerly. Demands are made upon a man to-day, that require more and more of his time and strength. But the ignorant, indifferent woman is usually incapable of comprehending his duties and interests. We may even say that the differentiation between man and woman is greater to-day than it was formerly, when conditions were more petty and narrow, and therefore more within the range of woman’s understanding. Occupation with public affairs to-day claims a greater number of men than formerly. This expands their ideas, but it also estranges them from their domestic circle. Thereby the woman feels neglected, and one more source of differences has been created. Only in rare cases do men succeed in making themselves understood by their wives and in convincing them. As a rule the man holds the opinion that his aims and interests do not concern his wife, and that she is unable to understand them. He does not take the trouble to instruct her. “You don’t understand that,” is the usual reply when a woman complains to her husband that he is neglecting her. The lack of understanding[143] on the part of the women is still heightened by the lack of common sense on the part of the men. Among the proletariat the relation between husband and wife is more favorable, when both recognize that they must follow the same path, since one, and one only leads to a better future for them and their children: the complete reorganization of society that will make all men and women free. As this recognition spreads among the women of the proletariat, their wedded life becomes idealized in spite of misery and want. For now both husband and wife have a common aim to strive for, and their common struggle furnishes an inexhaustible source of inspiration in exchange of opinions. The number of proletarian women who have awakened to this recognition is growing with each year. Here a movement is expanding that will be of vital importance to the future of mankind.

In other marriages the differences of education and conceptions, that were overlooked in the beginning while passion was still strong, become more and more noticeable with the advancing years. But as sexual passion decreases, it ought to be replaced by mental conformity. Quite disregarding the fact whether or not a man recognizes that he has social and civic duties, and whether or not he fulfills these duties, his business or profession alone suffices to keep him in constant touch with the outside world, and to create an intellectual atmosphere about him that broadens his views. Contrary to the woman, he is usually in a state of intellectual moulting; but domestic activities require the woman’s time and attention from morning till night, and being deprived of opportunity for mental development, she is apt to become dull and mentally stunted.

This domestic misery in which the majority of wives in present day society are obliged to live, has been truly pictured by Gerhard v. Amyntor in his book on “A Commentary to the Book of Life.” In the chapter on “Fatal Stings” he says: “It is not the terrible occurrences that no one is spared,—a husband’s death, the moral ruin of a beloved child, long, torturing illness, or the shattering of a fondly nourished hope,—it is none of these that undermine the woman’s health and strength, but the little[144] daily recurring, body and soul devouring cares. How many millions of good housewives have cooked and scrubbed their love of life away! How many have sacrificed their rosy cheeks and their dimples in domestic service, until they became wrinkled, withered, broken mummies. The everlasting question: ‘what shall I cook to-day,’ the ever recurring necessity of sweeping and dusting and scrubbing and dish-washing, is the steadily falling drop that slowly but surely wears out her body and mind. The cooking stove is the place where accounts are sadly balanced between income and expense, and where the most oppressing observations are made concerning the increased cost of living and the growing difficulty in making both ends meet. Upon the flaming altar where the pots are boiling, youth and freedom from care, beauty and light-heartedness are being sacrificed. In the old cook whose eyes are dim and whose back is bent with toil, no one would recognize the blushing bride of yore, beautiful, merry and modestly coquettish in the finery of her bridal garb.—To the ancients the hearth was sacred; beside the hearth they erected their lares and household-gods. Let us also hold the hearth sacred, where the conscientious German housewife slowly sacrifices her life, to keep the home comfortable, the table well supplied, and the family healthy.” That is the only consolation that bourgeois society is able to offer those women who slowly perish as a result of the present order!

Those women who enjoy a freer position as a result of their more favored social circumstances, usually have a narrow, superficial education that is manifested in connection with inherited, female characteristics. Most of these women are interested only in external appearances; dress and personal adornment are their chief concern, and the satisfaction of their depraved tastes and their unbridled passions, form their object in life. They are not interested much in the children and their education; that would mean too much trouble and annoyance. Therefore they willingly turn over their children to nurses and governesses and later on to boarding-schools. At the most they regard it as their duty to make silly doll-women of their daughters, and superficial, extravagant dandies of[145] their sons. This class of young men, who regard idleness and extravagance as a profession, furnishes the seducers of the daughters of the people.

The conditions described above have lead to a number of traits of character peculiar to women, that are more fully developed from generation to generation. Men seem to find satisfaction in ridiculing these traits, but they forget that they themselves are to blame for them. The following are some of these frequently condemned female traits of character: talkativeness and scandal-mongering; the inclination to discuss the most insignificant things at the greatest length; the exaggerated interest in outward display; the love of dress and coquetry; envy and jealousy toward the members of her sex, and the tendency of being dishonest and hypocritical. These traits of character usually manifest themselves with the female sex at an early age; they are general and only differ in degree. These traits have developed under the pressure of social conditions, and they have been further developed by heredity, example and education. One who has been brought up unwisely is not likely to bring up others wisely.

In order to understand the origin and development of traits of character common to an entire sex or to an entire people, we must follow the same method that modern scientists apply to understand the origin and development of living beings and their characteristics. The material conditions of life to a great extent imprint upon every living being its traits of character. It is compelled to adapt itself to these existing material conditions, until the adaptation becomes its nature.

Human beings form no exception to that which holds true for all living beings throughout nature. Man is not exempt from natural laws. Viewed physiologically, he is merely the most highly developed animal. Of course, many persons refuse to admit this. Thousands of years ago ancient peoples, although they knew nothing of modern science, held more rational views in regard to many human problems, than a great many of our contemporaries, and, what is more noteworthy still, their views that were based on experience, were put into practice.[146] We praise and admire the strength and beauty of the men and women of ancient Greece; but we forget that it was not the climate of this beautiful country that had such a favorable influence upon the nature and development of its population, but the educational maxims that were consistently carried out by the state, and that were destined to combine beauty, strength and skill with mental sharpness and vigor. Indeed the mental development of woman was neglected even then, but not so her physical development.[66] In Sparta where physical culture of both sexes was most extensively practiced, boys and girls went about naked until the age of puberty, and together they joined in physical exercises, games and wrestling-matches. The display of the nude human body, the natural treatment of natural things, prevented the extreme sexual irritation that is mainly caused by an artificial separation of the sexes from childhood on. The body of one sex was no mystery to the other. No dallying with ambiguities could arise. Nature was regarded as such. Each sex took pleasure in the beauty of the other.

To a natural, untrammeled relation of the sexes must mankind return; we must cast aside the unsound spiritualistic conceptions concerning human affairs and create methods of education that shall bring about a physical and mental regeneration. The prevailing conceptions in regard to education, especially the education of women, are still exceedingly reactionary. That a woman should possess such qualities of character as strength, courage and determination, is decried as unwomanly, and yet no one can deny that by means of such qualities she will be better enabled to protect herself. But her physical development is hampered, just like her mental development. This is due in no small degree to the irrational mode of dress. Woman’s dress not only interferes with her physical development, it frequently does her direct bodily harm; and yet there are few, even[147] among physicians, who dare to oppose it. Fear of displeasing the patient causes them to be silent or even to flatter her follies. The modern style of dress prevents women from freely exercising their strength, hampers their physical development, and creates a feeling of helplessness in them. Moreover, woman’s dress endangers the health of her environment, for at home and on the street she is a walking generator of dust.

The physical and intellectual development of women is furthermore severely hampered by a rigorous separation of the sexes in school and in social intercourse, that is quite in accordance with the spiritualistic conceptions implanted by Christianity, and is still sadly prevalent among us. The woman who is given no opportunity to develop her abilities and talents, who is maintained within a narrow sphere of ideas, and rarely permitted to associate with members of the other sex, cannot rise above the commonplace and trivial. For her ideas are centered in the occurrences of her immediate environment. Verbose conversations over a mere nothingness and the tendency to gossip are fostered by this narrow life, since the mental activities that reside in every human being must find expression somewhere. Men are frequently grievously annoyed and driven to despair by these qualities which they roundly condemn, without pausing to consider that they, “the lords of creation,” are chiefly to blame for them. During recent years numerous attempts have been made to introduce more rational conceptions of life; but they are merely a beginning, and until now have been confined to a very small portion of society.

[66] Plato, in “The State”, demands that women should be given an education similar to men, and Aristoteles in “Politics” declares as a fundamental principle of education: “first let the body be developed and then the mind.”

4.—The Misery of Present Day Marriages.

As a result of our social and sexual relations, woman is directed toward marriage by every fibre of her existence, and naturally marriage constitutes a chief topic of her conversation and thought. As woman is physically weaker than man, and is subjected to him by custom and law, her tongue is her chief weapon to be used against him, and she naturally makes a liberal use of this weapon. In the same way her much berated love of dress and personal[148] adornment can be explained, that leads to increasingly eccentric follies of fashion and often causes financial troubles and unpleasantness to fathers and husbands. To man, woman has chiefly been an object of enjoyment. Being socially and economically dependent, she must regard marriage as a means of support, and thus becomes subservient to man, becomes his property. Her position is rendered more unfavorable still by the fact that the number of women usually exceeds the number of men; we will return to this phase of the question later on.—This disproportion increases the competition of women among themselves, all the more so because, for numerous reasons, many men fail to marry. Woman is therefore compelled to enhance her personal charms, in order to compete with the members of her own sex in the struggle for the possession of a man. When we consider that this disproportion has existed through many generations, it is not to be wondered at that these characteristics have gradually assumed their present, extreme form. We must consider moreover that at no time the competition among women for the possession of man was as severe as it is at present, owing to causes, some of which have already been, and others that still are to be enumerated. The increasing difficulty of obtaining a decent livelihood also directs woman more than ever to marriage as a means of support.

Men do not object to these conditions, since they are favorable to them. It flatters their vanity and serves their interest to play the part of the ruler, and as all rulers they are not easily accessible to reason. It is all the more important therefore that women themselves should strive to bring about conditions that will liberate them from their present, degraded position. Women can no more rely upon the aid of men, than the workers can rely upon the aid of the bourgeoisie.

When we furthermore consider what traits of character are developed by competition along other lines, how, for instance, industrial competition leads to hatred, envy and calumny, and how the competitors resort to the basest means, we find an explanation for the fact that similar traits of character have been developed in women by their[149] competition for the possession of a man. It is due to this permanent competition that women, as a rule, cannot get along as well with one another as men can; that even intimate friends are easily led to quarrel when the favor of a man enters into consideration. This competition also explains what may be frequently observed, that when two women meet, even though they are utter strangers to one another, they regard each other in a hostile way. With a single glance they have summed up each other’s shortcomings in the manner and style of their clothes, and in the looks of each the verdict may be read: “I am better dressed than you are and am better able to attract attention to myself.”

On the other hand woman is by nature more impulsive than man. She is less given to reflection, is more unselfish and naive, and is more controlled by passion. These traits of character are expressed in their most beautiful form by the unselfish self-sacrifice with which she serves her children and others who are near and dear to her and cares for them during illness. But when angered, her impassionate nature manifests itself in its ugliest form. Yet the fact remains that both good and evil qualities are fostered, hampered or transformed, by the social position. The same propensity that may be harmful under unfavorable circumstances may, under favorable circumstances, become a source of happiness to oneself and others. Fourier has ably shown that the same human propensities may, under different circumstances, lead to opposite results.[67]

Beside the improper mental education, the improper or insufficient physical education in regard to the purposes of nature, remains to be considered. All physicians are agreed that woman’s education for her profession of motherhood is almost entirely neglected. “Soldiers are trained in the use of their weapons, and mechanics in the use of their tools. Every profession requires preliminary study. Even the monk has his noviceship. Only the[150] woman is not educated for her serious maternal duties”.[68] Nine tenths of all maidens who are given an opportunity to marry, enter matrimony in complete ignorance of motherhood and its duties. The unpardonable prudery that prevents mothers from speaking to their grown daughters about the important functions of sex, leaves them in a state of densest ignorance concerning their duties to their husbands and to themselves. The entrance into marriage means to most women entrance into an utterly strange world. Their conceptions of marriage are purely imaginative, drawn from novels of doubtful value, and are usually very foreign to reality.[69] Another source of differences may be found in the lack of practical knowledge of housekeeping that is still quite essential in present day marriage, though women have been relieved of many domestic activities that were formerly inevitable. Some women are deplorably ignorant of household duties because they consider themselves superior to such work and regard it as a task for servants only. Others, daughters of the proletariat, are equally ignorant, because the struggle for existence compelled them to toil in the factory from morning until night, and they found no time to prepare for their future profession of housekeeper. It becomes more and more evident that the trend of development makes individual housekeeping unpractical, and that it can be maintained only by an irrational sacrifice of time and money.


There is still another cause that to many men destroys the purpose of marriage: the physical enfeeblement of women. The food we eat, the manner in which we live, the conditions of our work and the character of our amusements, all tend to act more destructively than favorably upon our physical condition. Rightly is our age termed a nervous age. But nervousness leads to physical degeneration. Anaemia and nervousness exist in an especially marked degree among women. This physical degeneration is fast becoming a social calamity, and if it would continue to exist for several generations more, without our being able to procure more normal conditions of development, it would ultimately lead to race destruction.[70]

The female organism requires special care in consideration of its special sexual functions. It requires good and sufficient nourishment and at certain periods it requires rest. For the great majority of women such care does not exist, nor can it be obtained under present-day conditions. Women have so accustomed themselves to self-denial that many women consider it a matrimonial duty to give their husbands the best morsels and to content themselves with insufficient food. It also frequently happens that the boys of a family are better nourished than the girls. It is generally assumed that women can content themselves with poorer and less nourishment than men. Young girls are therefore often a sad sight to professional authorities on hygiene and physical culture.[71] A great number of our young women are weak, anaemic, and extremely nervous. The results are suffering during menstruation and diseases of the sexual organs that sometimes make it dangerous or impossible to give birth to children or to nurse them. “If the degeneration of our[152] women continues to go on in the same manner as up to the present, it will become doubtful whether civilized man may still be classified with the mammals.”[72] Instead of being married to a healthy, cheerful companion, a capable mother, a wife attending to her domestic duties, the man is burdened with a sickly, nervous woman who cannot endure the slightest draught or the least noise and requires the constant attendance of a physician. We need not dwell longer on this subject. Everyone knows of a number of such cases among his own friends and relatives.

Experienced physicians assert that the majority of married women, especially in the cities, are in a more or less abnormal, physical condition. According to the degree of the ailment and the characters of husband and wife, such marriages must be more or less unfortunate. In accordance with public opinion they entitle the men to take liberties outside of their matrimonial relations, and the knowledge of this fact must heighten the misery of the wives. Sometimes the sexual requirements of husband and wife also differ widely and give rise to profound disharmonies, yet the much desired separation is not possible.

In connection with this, the truth must not be concealed that in a great many cases the men are responsible for the severe physical sufferings that befall their wives in marriage. As a result of their profligate lives, many men suffer from chronic sexual diseases that they frequently treat lightly, because they do not cause them much trouble. But during sexual intercourse with their wives, these fall victims to severe abdominal diseases that set in shortly after marriage and frequently result in sterility. Usually the unfortunate woman is ignorant of the true cause of the disease that mars her life and destroys the purpose of marriage, and reproaches herself or is reproached for the condition that her husband has caused. Many a blooming young woman becomes a chronic invalid after she has barely entered marriage,—neither she nor her relatives are[153] able to explain her condition, and the physician must maintain silence. Recent investigations have shown that childless marriages are frequently due to sexual diseases of men; while formerly the lords of creation maintained the convenient theory that the woman was always to blame when their marriages remained childless.[73]

Numerous are the causes that prevent present day marriage from being what it ought to be. It is therefore a recommendation of doubtful value when even learned men seek to oppose the woman movement by pointing out to woman that marriage is their true vocation. As a result of our social conditions marriage has become a carricature foreign to its true purposes.

[67] A. Bebel—“Charles Fourier, His Life and His Theories.” Stuttgart, 1907. J. H. W. Dietz.

[68] Irma v. Troll-Borostyani—“The Mission of our Century. A Study of the Woman Question.”

[69] In “Les Femmes qui tuent et les femmes qui votent,” Alexander Dumasjr., relates that an eminent Catholic clergyman had told him that among hundred of his former female pupils who had become married, at least eighty came to him after a few months had elapsed and told him that marriage was a disappointment to them and that they regretted having married. That seems very plausible indeed. The French bourgeoisie find it compatible with their conscience to have their daughters reared in convents. They are influenced by the assumption that an ignorant woman is more easily guided than an enlightened one. Conflicts and disappointments in marriage are the inevitable result. Laboulaye even frankly advises to maintain the women in moderate ignorance, for “notre empire est détruit si l’homme est reconnu.” (Our rule will be destroyed if man is recognized.)

[70] Softening of the brain has increased more rapidly among women than among men. Among every hundred patients admitted to asylums in Prussia there were cases of softening of the brain:

  [Women] [Men]
1876–1879 17.0 3.7
1880–1891 17.3 5.4
1892–1894 17.7 6.8
1895–1897 18.5 7.6
1898–1901 16.2 7.5

[71] Further details on this subject may be found in “The Book of Women,” by Mrs. H. S. Adams, M. D., Stuttgart.

[72] Dr. F. B. Simon, “The Care of the Health of Women.”

[73] Dr. F. B. Simon discusses this subject and the analogous subject, why so many young women become ill after marriage without being able to account for it, at length. His book is a glaring reflection upon the wrongdoings and vices of men.

The Chances of Matrimony.

1.—The Numerical Proportion of the Sexes.

The usual advice to women to seek their salvation in marriage, this being their true profession, is thoughtlessly approved of by the vast majority of men. But it seems like mockery, that many of those who give such advice and of those who applaud it, refrain from marrying themselves. Schopenhauer, the philosopher, has only the conception of a philistine concerning woman and her position. He says: “woman is not called upon to perform great tasks. Her characteristic is not doing but suffering. She pays her debt to life by the throes of child-birth, care of her child and submissiveness to her husband. The supreme expressions of vitality and perception are denied her. Her life should be more tranquil and insignificant than man’s life. Woman is called upon to be the nurse and educator of childhood because she is childish herself; because throughout life she remains[154] a big child, a sort of intermediary stage between child and man, the true human being.... Girls should be reared to be domestic and submissive.... Women are the most thoroughgoing, incurable philistines.

The work by Lombroso and Ferrero, “Woman as a Criminal and Prostitute”, is also written in the spirit of Schopenhauer. We have never met with an equally extensive scientific book,—it consists of 590 pages,—that contains so little convincing material in regard to the subject it deals with. The statistics from which the most daring conclusions are drawn, are very inadequate. Sometimes a dozen cases have sufficed the author to form a weighty opinion. It is a noteworthy fact that the material contained in the book which may be regarded as the most trustworthy has been furnished by a woman, Dr. Mrs. Tarnowskaya. The influences of social conditions and social development are almost entirely disregarded. All phenomena are judged from a narrow physiological and psychological point of view and much ethnological information concerning various peoples—is interwoven with the argumentation, without any attempt being made to investigate the nature of this information. According to the authors, as according to Schopenhauer, woman is a big child, an incarnate liar, weak in her judgment, fickle in love, incapable of any heroic deed. The inferiority of woman,—so they claim,—has been proven by a great many physical differences and characteristics. “Woman’s love is, at the bottom, nothing but a secondary character of motherhood. All the sentiments of affection that bind a woman to a man are not derived from the sexual impulse but from instincts of devotion and submission acquired by adaptation.” But how these instincts were acquired the authors fail to examine. If they did, it would imply an investigation of the social position of woman during thousands of years which has made her what she is to-day. The authors describe the dependence and enslavement of woman among different nations and during various periods of civilization, but being blinded by a narrow conception of the Darwinian theory, they trace everything to physiological causes, and disregard the social and economic[155] causes that have had the strongest influence on woman’s physiological and psychological development.

Among other things the authors discuss the vanity of woman and express the view that among people at a low stage of development men are the vain sex, which may be observed even to-day on the Hebrides, Madagascar and among the tribes about the Orinoco river, as also on many islands of the Polynesian Archipelago and among a number of African and South Sea Island tribes; while among nations of high stage of development, women are the vain sex. But why is this so? The answer is simple. Among peoples at a low stage of development, matriarchal conditions prevail or have been abandoned but recently. Here woman’s position is such that she is relieved of the necessity of wooing man. The man woos her, and for this purpose he adorns himself, he becomes vain. Among peoples at a higher stage of development, especially among all civilized nations, man does not woo woman, but woman woos man. It rarely occurs that woman takes the initiative and literally offers herself to a man; modesty forbids that. But the offer nevertheless is made by manner and dress, the luxury of her personal adornment and her coquetry. Such conduct is forced upon her by the fact that there are more women than men and by the social necessity of regarding marriage as a means of support and as the only institution by means of which she may satisfy her sexual impulse and obtain social recognition. Here again we find purely economic and social causes bringing forth qualities, now in the man and now in the woman, that we are accustomed to regard as quite independent of social and economic causes. From this we may draw the conclusion that when society has reached a state of development in which every form of dependence of one sex upon the other will cease, vanity and the follies of fashion will disappear as will many other vices that we deem ineradicable to-day, because we believe them to be inherent in human nature.

In regard to Schopenhauer it must be said that he, as a philosopher, is as biased in his judgment of women as the majority of our anthropologists and medical men who[156] regard her only as a sex being, never as a social being. Schopenhauer had never been married. He failed to contribute his share that one more woman might fulfill the purpose in life that he prescribed to women. This leads us to another, no more pleasant phase of the question.

It is generally known that many women remain unmarried because they are given no opportunity to become married. Custom forbids the woman to offer herself. She must allow herself to be chosen; she may not choose. If she is not chosen she must join that great army of unfortunate women who have missed their purpose in life and who are frequently subjected to a life of poverty and want, sometimes made more bitter still by ridicule. But what causes the numerical disproportion of the sexes? Many are quick to reply: too many girls are born. The persons who make this statement are misinformed, as we shall see. Others draw the conclusion that if women are in the majority in most civilized countries, polygamy ought to be permitted. But polygamy is not only averse to our customs, it also entails the degradation of woman; although that did not prevent Schopenhauer from asserting that “to the female sex in general polygamy is a boon.” Many men do not marry because they believe that they are unable to support one woman and the children who are likely to be born according to their station in life. Only few men are able to support two women, and among these, many do have two or several wives: one legitimate wife, and one or several illegitimate wives. Those privileged by wealth allow nothing to prevent them from doing as they choose.

Even in the orient where custom and law have suffered polygamy to exist for thousands of years, relatively few men have more than one wife. We speak of the degrading influence of life in Turkish harems. But we overlook the fact that only very few men belonging to the ruling class can afford to maintain a harem, while the great mass of men live in monogamic marriage. In the city of Algiers at the close of the sixties of the last century, there were among 18,282 marriages no less than 17,319 with only one wife; there were 888 marriages with two wives, and only[157] 75 with more than two. In Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish empire, conditions are probably quite similar. Among the rural population in the orient the conditions favoring monogamic marriage are still more striking. In the orient, as with us, material conditions come into consideration that compel the majority of men to content themselves with one wife.[74] But if conditions were equally favorable to all men polygamy could still not be generally maintained because there are not enough women. Under normal conditions the numbers of persons of both sexes are almost equal, which everywhere points to monogamic marriage. The following table which has been published by Buecher in the “General Statistic Records,” proves this assertion.[75]

  Number of male persons Number of female persons Entire population Number of women for every 1000 men
Europe 170,818,561 174,914,119 345,732,680 1,024
America   41,643,389   40,540,386  82,183,775   973
Asia 177,648,044 170,269,179 347,917,223   958
Australia    2,197,799     1,871,821    4,069,620   852
Africa    6,994,064    6,771,360   13,765,425   968
  399,301,857 394,366,865 793,668,722   988

The result of this compilation may, to many people, be a surprising one. With the exception of Europe where there are, on an average, 1,024 female inhabitants for every 1000 male inhabitants, the male population predominates. Even if we may assume that the information is incomplete, especially in regard to the female sex, and that especially in countries with a Mohammedan population the female population surpasses the given figures,[158] the fact remains that, except in a few European countries, the female population nowhere considerably exceeds the male population. In the meantime the imperial bureau of statistics in Berlin has published a new compilation of the census in European and non-European countries which includes 883,000,000 people. “When we take into consideration the census, not included in this compilation, of Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Argentine Republic, the Transvaal, Orange River Colony, Cyprus, Formosa and Pescadores, the number of enumerated inhabitants of the earth attains 882,000,000 with a general average of 991 female persons for every 1000 male persons. For the enumerated population of the earth we may therefore assume an almost equal representation of both sexes with a slight preponderance of the male.”[76]

In Europe the conditions are different. With the exception of the countries of South Eastern Europe, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Servia, Bulgaria, Rumania and Greece, the female population predominates. The proportion is least unfavorable in Hungary and Italy where there are respectively 1,009 and 1,010 female inhabitants for every 1000 male inhabitants. Belgium comes next with 1013 female for every 1000 male inhabitants. Portugal and Norway show the most unfavorable proportion; next to these Great Britain with 1063 female for every 1000 male inhabitants. France, Germany, Austria and Russia lie in the middle having for every 1000 male inhabitants respectively 1,033, 1,032, 1,035 and 1,029 female inhabitants.[77] In Germany during the last two decades each census has shown a more favorable proportion. On Dec. 1, 1885, the female population exceeded the male population by 988,376 persons. The census of Dec. 1, 1890, still showed an excess of the female population of 966,806 persons. 1895—957,401; 1900—892,684, and according to the census of Dec. 1, 1905 the excess of the female population had sunken to 871,916 persons (1029 female for every 1000[159] male inhabitants). The decline of this difference may be chiefly accounted for by the decline of emigration in which the male sex is mainly concerned. This may be clearly seen from the proportion of the sexes in the United States, into which the stream of emigration is mainly directed, and where the dearth of women is almost as great as the excess of women in Germany. In 1900 for every 1000 men there were only 953 women. This emigration from Germany decreased from 220,902 persons in 1881 to 22,073 persons in 1901 and to 19,883 persons in 1908. The fact, that more men than women emigrate, accounts in the first place then for the difference between the numbers of persons of both sexes. Italy furnishes a good example; for there the male population still predominated at the beginning of the forties of the last century, while at present the female population predominates, owing to the large emigration.

Furthermore, more men than women meet with accidents in agriculture, industry, commerce and traffic. Also more men are temporarily absent abroad as merchants, sailors, marines, etc. Another fact that has been statistically proven and that constitutes an important factor is that women on an average attain a higher age than men and that therefore there are more old women than old men. According to the census of 1900 the proportion of the sexes according to age in Germany was the following:

AGE Male Female More male More female Excess of female
Under 10 years  6,904,732  6,871,599 33,133
From 10 to 15 years  2,925,918  2,912,573 13,345
         15    21       3,179,813  3,162,448 17,365
         21    30       4,251,204  4,293,775  42,571
         30    40       3,669,656  3,731,556  61,900
         40    50       2,770,451  2,923,228 152,777
         50    60       2,053,085  2,320,273 267,188
         60    70       1,300,637  1,545,808 245,171
         70  years up     681,751    868,671 186,920
  27,737,247 28,629,931 63,845 956,527 892,684


This table shows that up to the twenty-first year the number of boys exceeds the number of girls.[78] This excess of boys is due to the fact that everywhere more boys than girls are born. The following number of boys and girls, for instance, were born in the German empire:

During the year 1872 for 100 girls 106.2 boys
1884 100 106.2
1900 100 106.0
1905 100 106.3
1907 100 106.3

But the male sex dies younger than the female sex; especially during infancy more boys than girls die. Our table shows that from the twenty-first year on the female population exceeds the male. The following figures show the death-rate of male and female inhabitants in Germany:

During the years Male Female
1872–1875 29.5 26.3
1876–1880 27.8 24.5
1881–1885 27.3 24.2
1886–1890 25.8 23.1
1891–1895 24.6 22.1
1896–1900 22.6 20.0
1901–1905 21.0 18.8

[79] Hygienic and ethnological conditions of the German Empire. Berlin, 1907—During the year 1907 for every 100 female deceased there were 109.3 male.

The table on page 159 furthermore shows that at the true marriageable age, between the twenty-first and fiftieth year the female sex exceeds the male sex by 257,248 persons (in the year 1890 by 422,519) and between the fiftieth and seventieth year by 699,279 (in the year 1890 by 566,400). In Germany as in England the number of old women increases each year. A great disproportion, that constantly increases, is furthermore met with among widowed and divorced persons.

According to the census of 1890 and 1900 there were the following numbers of widowed persons in Germany:


  1890 1900
Men    774,967    809,238
Women 2,157,870 2,352,921
More women than men 1,382,903 1,543,683

These widowed persons were of the following ages:

  1890 1900
Men Women Men Women
40 to 60 years 222,286    842,920 225,191    900,357
60 years and older 506,319 1,158,712 537,116 1,299,905

The number of divorced persons were during 1890, 25,271 men and 49,601 women. During 1900, 31,279 men and 60,738 women. These were of the following ages:

  1890 1900
Men Women Men Women
40 to 60 years 13,825 24,842 16,976 30,385
60 years and older  4,917  7,244  5,713  8,452

These figures show us that widowed and divorced women are excluded from remarriage, even during the age best suited to marriage. For during the years 1890 and 1900 there were respectively 46,362 and 46,931 widowed men up to the fortieth year of age, while during the same years there were respectively 156,235 and 152,689 widowed women. There were divorced men in 1890 and 1900 respectively 6519 and 8590 and divorced women 17,515 and 21,901. Here the disadvantage of divorce to the women is proved by figures.

The following shows the proportion of unmarried persons during 1900:

  Men Women
15 to 40 years 6,700,352 5,824,464
40 to 60 years    426,388   503,406
60 years and older   141,416    252,134[80]

Among the unmarried persons between the fifteenth and fortieth year there are, as above table shows, 875,888 more men than women, which appears to be very favorable to women. But men between the fifteenth and twenty-first[162] year of age,—at which age there are 3,175,453 men to 3,064,567 women,—are, with very few exceptions, unable to marry. The same may be said of men between the twenty-first and twenty-fifth year of age, the great majority of whom are unable to support a family, while women of this age are all marriageable. When we furthermore consider the fact that for diverse reasons a great many men do not marry at all,—the number of unmarried men over 40 years were 567,804,—we find that the position of women in regard to marriage is a highly unfavorable one. A great many women then, under present-day conditions, are compelled to deny themselves the legitimate satisfaction of the sexual impulse, while men seek and find satisfaction in prostitution. The position of women would become a far more favorable one, as soon as a transformation of social conditions would abolish the obstacles that at present prevent hundreds of thousands of men from becoming married.

As already mentioned the disproportion in the numbers of the sexes is due to a great extent to emigration. Obligatory service in the army also drives many young men, frequently the strongest, to seek their fortune abroad. According to official reports of the army, 135,168 men were convicted of illicit emigration, and 13,055 more cases were being investigated. These figures include men up to the forty-fifth year. This illicit emigration of men from Germany causes a considerable loss. Emigration is especially large in the years following great wars; that was seen after 1866 and during the years 1871 to 1874.

We furthermore have great losses of life among men by accidents. In Prussia during the period from 1883 to 1905 no less than 297,983 persons were killed by accidents; of these there were, during the one year 1905, 11,792 men and 2,922 women. From 1886 to 1907, 150,719 persons were killed by accidents in industry, agriculture and state or municipal employment; only a small fraction of these were women. Another considerable portion of persons employed in these occupations become maimed or crippled for life and therefore unable to maintain a family. (There were 40,744 of these from 1886 to 1907.) Others die young leaving their families in the neediest[163] circumstances. Much loss of life among men is also connected with navigation. From 1882 to 1907, 2,848 sea-going vessels were sunk, entailing a loss of life of 4,913 members of the crew,—almost all men,—and 1,275 passengers.

Only when the highest valuation of human life has been established,—which will be the case in a Socialistic community,—will society be enabled to prevent a great majority of accidents on land and sea. At present many persons are killed or maimed as a result of illapplied economy of employers. In many other cases accidents are due to excessive speed or over-fatigue of workers. Human life is cheap. When one workingman has been killed there are many others to take his place.

Especially in navigation many preventable accidents occur. By the revelations of Plimsoll in the English parliament during the seventies, the fact became generally known that many owners of unseaworthy vessels, impelled by criminal greed, insured these vessels at a high rate and then sent them with their crew to almost certain destruction, in order to obtain the amount of insurance. These are the so-called death-ships that are not unknown in Germany either. Every year the marine bureaus are called upon to pronounce their verdicts in connection with a number of marine accidents, and those verdicts usually show the accidents to be due to advanced age or overloading or improper condition of the vessel or insufficient equipment, or a number of these causes combined. In the cases of many sunken ships the causes of their sinking can never be determined, because the disasters occur in mid-ocean and no one survives to tell the tale. Many crimes are committed in this way. The stations for saving ship-wrecked persons established at the coasts, are also very insufficient because they are chiefly maintained by private charity. An organized society that will regard it as its highest duty to provide equally for all its members, will succeed in making all these accidents of extremely rare occurrence. But under the present predatory system, where human lives are[164] regarded as mere ciphers and the sole aim is to attain the highest possible profit, a human life is sometimes sacrificed in order that a dollar may be gained.

[74] Throughout India polygamy exists in only a moderate form. According to the census of 1901 which includes all religions, there were for every 1000 married men, 1,011 married women. According to this the monogamic equilibrium is not seriously interfered with.—D. v. Mayer.

[75] Karl Buecher, on the distribution of both sexes upon the earth; lecture delivered on Jan. 6, 1892, before the Geographical and Statistical Society of Frankfort on the Main. General Statistic Records published by Dr. George v. Mayer. Vol. II. Tubingen, 1892.

[76] G. v. Mayer—Dr. G. Schnapper Arndt in his book of Social Statistics arrives at the same conclusion. “Taken all in all the proportion of both sexes is approximately equal.”

[77] According to G. Schnapper Arndt; founded on recent census figures, around the close of the century.

[78] According to the census of 1890, there was an excess of boys only up to the tenth year of age, and according to the census of 1895, up to the sixteenth year.

[80] Statistics of the German Empire. Census of Dec. 1, 1900.

2.—Obstacles to Marriage.—The Excess of Women.

There are still other causes that make marriage difficult or prevent it entirely. A considerable number of men are prevented from marrying by the state. People condemn the enforced celibacy of the Catholic clergy, but they do not mention the fact that a far greater number of soldiers are doomed to celibacy likewise. When an officer of the army wishes to marry, he not only requires the consent of his superiors, he is also denied the free choice of a wife, since it is prescribed that he must possess a certain amount of wealth. In Austria a captain of the army seeking to marry, must give a security of 30,000 florins if he is under thirty years of age, 20,000 florins if he is over thirty; minor officers must give a security of 16,000 florins. In all cases the fiancée of an army officer must have lead an immaculate life, and her standard of living must be suited to his rank. In Germany, officers of the army may seek permission to marry only when they can prove that they have an additional income. The required size of this additional income varies with the different ranks. These are striking proofs of the materialistic conception of marriage maintained by the state.

Public opinion in general maintains, that men should not marry until they have attained their twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth year of life. This opinion is founded on the fact that few men are able to support a family before they have reached this age. Only persons who are fortunate enough not to be obliged to win an independent position,—persons of princely rank, for instance,—form an exception. In their case we regard it as quite proper that a man should become married at eighteen or nineteen, and a maiden at fifteen or sixteen years of age. Princes come of age when they are eighteen years old, and are considered competent to rule the most numerous people. Common mortals do not come of age until they are twenty-one years old.


This difference of opinion in regard to the age at which marriage is desirable, shows that only social considerations are taken into account, that have no bearing upon man as a sex being. But nature will not be fettered by definite social conditions and the views that have sprung from these conditions. As soon as a human being has attained maturity, the sexual impulse manifests itself with all its vigor.

The advent of puberty with the female sex differs according to the individual, the climate and the mode of life. In the torrid zones it sets in as early as the ninth or tenth year, and sometimes one meets women of that age with their first babes in their arms; but they are faded when they have attained their twenty-fifth or thirtieth year.[81] In the temperate zones girls usually attain puberty at fourteen or sixteen years of age, in some cases later still. The age of puberty also differs with girls living in the country from those living in cities. Among the healthy, robust country girls who work hard, as a rule menstruation sets in later than among our poorly nourished, effeminate, ethereal young ladies in the cities, who suffer from over-excitement of the nerves. In the country puberty usually developes in the normal way. In the city its normal development is an exception, and not infrequently it is accompanied by various symptoms of disease that drive physicians to despair. Often physicians are obliged to say that the only certain cure would be marriage. But in many cases this cure cannot be applied, owing to the unsurmountable obstacles.

All these factors show where we must seek a change. To begin with, we need a complete revolution in our educational methods. We need a system of education that takes both the physical and intellectual qualities into consideration. Furthermore, we need an entirely different mode of living and working. But both cannot be brought about except by a complete transformation of social conditions.

Our social conditions have created a profound contradiction between man as a sex being and man as a social[166] being. This contradiction has never been so noticeable as in the present age, and it leads to many evils and diseases to which women especially are subjected. In the first place the woman’s organism is far more influenced by her sex mission than man’s organism (for instance, the regular recurrence of menstruation); in the second place she is confronted by the greatest number of obstacles that prevent her from satisfying her strongest natural impulse in a natural way. This contradiction between natural impulse and social constraint leads to anomalies, to secret vices and excesses that are bound to undermine even strong constitutions. Unnatural satisfaction is frequently aided in a most shameless manner. In the advertisements of newspapers and periodicals, certain manufactures are recommended in a more or less veiled manner. These advertisements appeal to the wealthy classes of society, because the price of the manufactures are so high that a person of moderate means could not buy them. Besides we find advertisements of obscene pictures, entire series of photographs, and poetry and prose of a similar character, whose very titles are intended to produce sensual excitement. These matters ought to claim the attention of the police and public prosecutors. But these gentlemen are too busy persecuting Socialism, “that will destroy the home and the family,” to give their full attention to such doings. A part of our novels influence the sentiments of the reading public in the same direction. It is really not to be wondered at if sexual debauchery, artificially stimulated, gradually becomes a social disease.

Many women of the wealthy classes lead an idle, self-indulgent life. They stimulate their nerves by the most extraordinary means, and indulge in a certain enjoyment of art that creates an exaggerated sentimentality and heightens their nervous irritability. All this increases the sensual passions and naturally leads to excesses. Among poor people sexual irritability is frequently heightened by certain kinds of hard work, especially such work that compels people to lead a sedentary life which creates congestion of the blood in the abdominal organs. One of the most dangerous occupations in this respect is constant work at the sewing machine, an occupation in which a[167] great many women are employed at present. This work is so detrimental to the health of women that ten to twelve hours of it daily will shatter the strongest constitution in a few years. Excessive sexual irritability is also brought about by long hours of work in a high temperature, for instance in sugar refineries, laundries, printing establishments, etc. The same may be said of night work with artificial light in overcrowded work-shops, especially where members of both sexes work together.

Here again we are confronted by a number of evils that clearly show the unhealthful and irrational character of present-day conditions. But these evils that are deeply rooted in our social conditions, cannot be removed by moralizing or by resorting to palliative measures, such as social and religious quacks always have in readiness. It is necessary to strike the root of the evil. The only redemption will be to bring about social conditions that shall enable all persons to obtain a natural education, to lead a healthful mode of life and work, and to find normal satisfaction of all natural and healthy desires.

Many obstacles do not exist for the man that do exist for the woman. Owing to his position of rulership, his free choice of a mate is in no wise hampered, except by the social considerations enumerated above. But the nature of marriage as a means of support, the numerical superiority of women, and custom,—all prevent the woman from asserting her wishes. She is obliged to wait until someone seeks her. As a rule she gladly avails herself of the first opportunity of finding a husband who will save her from the social disregard and indifference that are the usual portion of that unfortunate being, the old maid. Many women look down with disdain upon those of their sisters who are possessed of sufficient human dignity not to sell themselves into the prostitution of marriage to the first man who comes along, but prefer to walk on life’s thorny path alone. Nevertheless the man who wishes to marry for love has social obstacles to consider. He must ask himself: can I support a wife and the children who are likely to come, without being weighed down by financial cares? If the man has an ideal conception of marriage, if he is determined to let his choice be influenced by[168] love only, this question becomes all the more important. At present conditions of earning and property are such, that many men must answer this question in the negative, and they accordingly prefer to remain unmarried. Many men do not acquire an independent position, suited to their demands, until late in life, and are not able to support a wife according to her station in life unless she has a considerable fortune of her own. It must be admitted of course, that many young men have an exaggerated idea of what constitutes living according to their station; but owing to the false education of many women and their social habits, these young men must indeed be prepared that their wives will make demands upon them that will exceed their means. They frequently do not make the acquaintance of the good, modest women who are simple in their tastes, because they are modest in their manners also and are not met with in society where men have accustomed themselves to seek wives, while the women they do meet often are the kind who seek to fascinate a man by outward appearances and to deceive him in regard to their personal qualities and their material position. When this type of woman has attained an age at which marriage becomes urgent, lures of all sorts are resorted to all the more eagerly. When such a woman has succeeded in capturing a man, she has become so accustomed to outward show, extravagance in dress and costly enjoyments that she wishes to maintain them in her married life. Here men find themselves on the verge of an abyss, and many prefer to leave the flowers that bloom at this abyss unplucked. They prefer to pursue their path alone and seek entertainment and enjoyment while maintaining their freedom. Deception and fraud are common practices in bourgeois society. It is not surprising that they also play a part in the contracting of marriages and entail severe suffering of both parties.

Statistics show that the educated and wealthy classes as a rule marry later in life than the lower classes. According to Westergaard the average age of marriage in Copenhagen was: among professional people, merchants, manufacturers and bankers, 32.2 years; among mechanics and small dealers, 31.2 years; among clerks and commercial[169] employees, 29.7 years; among waiters and domestic servants, 28, and among factory workers, sailors and day-laborers, 27.5 years. In Prussia from 1881 to 1886 the average ages at which men married were: miners, 27.6; factory workers, 27.7; metal workers, 28; stone-masons, 28.2; building trades, 28.6; workers in wood, 28.7; machinists, 29; teaching, 29.1; agriculture, 29.6; railway service, 30; commerce, 30.9; physicians, clergymen and officials, 31.8 to 33.4. According to Ansell the average age at which the well-to-do and educated classes married in England from 1840 to 1871, was 29.95 years; but since then it has been raised. From 1880 to 1885, the average ages at which men of different professions married, were as follows:

Miners 23.56
Textile workers 23.88
Clothing trades 24.42
Mechanics 24.85
Day-laborers 25.06
Clerks 25.75
Merchants 26.17
Farmers 28.73
Professional men and capitalists 30.72

These figures show how marriage is influenced by social position. The fact that the average age of marriage in most European states has been somewhat lowered during the last decades, is due to the general growth of industrialism. This may be seen in Germany, Austria and Sweden where the increase of early marriages is in connection with the growing number of persons employed in industry. In older industrial countries, as France and England, the average age of marriage has been raised. Russia forms an exception; here the rise in the average age of marriage is due to the abolition of communal property.

The number of men who are prevented from marrying for numerous reasons is constantly increasing. This applies especially to the men of the upper classes and the higher professions; firstly because they are more pretentious, and secondly because these men are best enabled to find companionship and pleasure outside of marriage. Conditions are especially unfavorable to women in places where there are many pensioners with their families, and[170] few young men. There we find from twenty to thirty women among hundred who are unable to marry. The lack of men seeking marriage is most severely felt by those women, who have been accustomed by their social position to require a certain standard of life but who have no dowery. This is especially true of the young girls of those numerous families that depend upon a fixed salary which leaves them socially respectable but poor. These girls often become dangerous competitors to the working girls who earn their living by embroidery, making underwear, making artificial flowers, hats, gloves, etc.; that is, in all those trades in which the employers prefer to have the work done in the homes of the workers. These ladies often work for the lowest wages because they are not obliged to earn their living entirely but only wish to add to the family income or to earn enough to pay for their clothes. Employers favor the competition of these ladies, because it enables them to reduce the wages of the poor proletarian workers and to drive them to the utmost exertion of their strength. Many wives of government officials, whose husbands are poorly paid and cannot maintain them according to their standard of living, also employ their spare time in such sordid competition, which means increased exploitation among large strata of female proletarians.

The agitation carried on by the bourgeois women’s clubs to elevate women’s work and to gain admission for women into the higher professions, is especially destined to improve the position of women of the upper classes. In order to do this successfully, these clubs seek the patronage of ladies of high rank. In this respect the bourgeois women only follow the example of the bourgeois men, who also seek such patronage and become interested in such endeavors that only show small, never large results. In this way people waste a tremendous amount of effort, and deceive themselves and others in regard to the necessity of thorough-going reform. In these circles no doubt is permitted to arise as to the justice and wisdom of our present state and social order. The conservative nature of such endeavors prevent clubs of this kind from being permeated by so-called destructive[171] tendencies. At a convention of women in Berlin during the spring of 1894, a minority expressed the thought that it might be well if the bourgeois women would co-operate with the proletarian women, that is, the Socialist women; but with a majority of the delegates this suggestion called forth a storm of protest. But the conservative tendencies of the bourgeois women will not accomplish the liberation of womankind.

How many women are excluded from marriage owing to the causes previously stated, cannot be definitely determined. The numerical superiority of women in Germany is distributed very unevenly, both in regard to the different countries and districts and in regard to age. The following table has been compiled from the census of 1900 (Statistic of the German Empire):

  Number of women for every 1000 men
under 15 15 to 40 40 to 60 over 60
Berlin 1012 1044 1191 1659
Kingdom of Saxony 1015 1030 1107 1360
                   Bavaria to the right of the Rhine 1015 1024 1083 1163
                   Bavaria to the left of the Rhine  986  997 1070 1157
                   Wurtemberg 1015 1041 1134 1179
Baden 1000  974 1079 1173
Hamburg  999 1031 1038 1454
Province of Brandenburg  993 1015 1089 1276
                 Pomerania  989 1035 1099 1214
                 the Rhine  991  954 1008 1120
German Empire  995 1008 1087 1218

At the true marriageable age, from 15 to 40 years, the numerical superiority of women in the entire German Empire is 8 for every 1,000 men. The number of male inhabitants between 15 and 40 years of age is 11,100,673; the number of female inhabitants between 15 and 40 years of age is 11,187,779. So we have a super-abundance of 87,106 women. In 1900 there were 11,146,833 German women of child-bearing age (18 to 45 years). Among these only 6,432,772 (57.71 percent) were married; 283,629 (2.54 percent) were widowed; 31,176 (0.28 percent) were[172] divorced, and 4,399,286 (39.47 percent) were single. The following table shows the proportion of the sexes in other countries:

  In the year Number of women for every 1000 men
under 15 15 to 40 40 to 60 over 60
Germany 1900  995 1008 1087 1218
Austria 1890 1005 1046 1079 1130
Hungary 1900  998 1029  982 1033
Servia 1896  969  952  925  804
Italy 1881  963 1021 1005  980
Switzerland 1888  999 1059 1103 1148
France 1896  998 1012 1029 1108
Louxembourg 1900  992  853  988 1063
Belgium 1890  992  984 1018 1117
Netherlands 1899  986 1031 1031 1145
Denmark 1890  978 1080 1073 1179
Sweden 1899  971 1016 1146 1252
England and Wales 1891 1006 1075 1096 1227
Scotland 1891  973 1073 1165 1389
Ireland 1901  968 1037 1103 1032
United States of America 1900  979  969  989  987
Egypt 1897  943  996  943 1015
Japan 1891  978  962  951 1146
New South Wales 1891  978  827  679  665
Queensland 1891  976  698  559  611
Tasmania 1891  977  877  898  632
New Zealand 1891  979  927  661  654
Cape of Good Hope 1891  989 1008  939 1019

This table shows that in all countries having a similar economic structure, similar conditions exist in regard to the proportion of the sexes. In all these countries then a great many women,—apart from all other obstacles already mentioned,—have no prospect of becoming married. In England in 1901 among 1,000 women over 15 years only 496.4 were married; in Scotland, 442.8; in Ireland, 370.9; in Sweden, 468.2; in Norway, 469.9.

How do these facts impress those persons who oppose the struggle of women for independence and equal rights by relegating them to marriage and the home? It is not due to ill will on the part of the women if so many fail to marry.

But what becomes of these victims of our social conditions? That nature has been sinned against is expressed[173] in the peculiar features and traits of character by which old maids and ascetic old bachelors are distinguished from other persons in all countries and climates, and goes to show the strong and harmful influence resulting from the suppression of natural instincts. Many forms of hysteria among women are due to this cause. Hysteria is also caused by dissatisfaction in marriage, which sometimes results in sterility.

These are the general characteristics of modern marriage and its results. From them we must draw the following conclusion: Present-day marriage is an institution that is closely connected with existing social conditions, with which it must stand and fall. But this marriage is in a state of decline and dissolution as bourgeois society itself. Which are the salient points that we have determined in regard to bourgeois marriage?

1.—The birth-rate is declining although the population is increasing, which shows that the economic status of the family has deteriorated.

2.—Divorces are increasing more rapidly than the population is growing, and in most cases women are the ones to seek divorce, although they suffer most in consequence of it, both economically and socially. This shows that the unfavorable factors in marriage are increasing, that marriage is in a state of dissolution.

3.—The marriage-rate is declining, notwithstanding the fact that the population is increasing; which proves that in the eyes of many persons marriage no longer accomplishes its social and moral purpose and is regarded as worthless or of doubtful value.

4.—In almost all civilized states there is a disproportion in the number of the sexes, the female sex predominating. This is not due to natural causes,—since more boys than girls are born,—but to unfavorable social and political factors that are rooted in conditions of state and society.

As all these unnatural conditions that are especially harmful to women are established by the nature of bourgeois society and increase with the duration of its existence, this society proves itself incompetent to abolish the evils and to liberate woman. To accomplish this a different social order will be necessary.

[81] Ely Metschnikoff—The Nature of Man.


Prostitution a Necessary Social Institution of Bourgeois Society.

1.—Prostitution and Society.

Marriage constitutes one phase of the sex relations of bourgeois society; prostitution constitutes the other. If men fail to find satisfaction in marriage, they, as a rule, seek it with prostitution; and those men who for one reason or another refrain from marrying, seek satisfaction with prostitutes also. To those men then, who voluntarily or involuntarily lead an unmarried life, and to those who do not find their expectations realized in marriage, opportunities for satisfaction of the sexual impulse are far more favorable than to women.

Men have always regarded it as their “just” privilege to employ prostitution. But they are relentless in condemning a woman who is not a prostitute, when she has “fallen.” That natural impulses are implanted in women as well as in men and that these manifest themselves particularly strongly at certain periods of a woman’s life, does not alter their judgment. By means of his ruling position man compels woman to suppress her most powerful instincts, and makes chastity the condition of her social position and of marriage. Nothing can prove the dependent position of woman in a more emphatic and revolting way than these vastly differing conceptions in regard to the satisfaction of the same natural impulse.

Man is especially favored by conditions. The results of sexual intercourse have been assigned to the woman by nature, while man has the enjoyment only without trouble or responsibility. This natural advantage of men over women has fostered the unbridled lust which characterizes a great many men. But as a great many causes prevent or limit the legitimate satisfaction of the sexual impulse the result is its illegitimate satisfaction.

Prostitution thus becomes a necessary social institution of bourgeois society, just as the police, the standing army, the church and the capitalist class. This is no exaggeration;[175] we can prove it. We have shown how prostitution was regarded as a necessary institution in ancient society and how it was organized by the state in both Greece and Rome. We have also shown what views prevailed in regard to it during the Christian middle ages. Even St. Augustin who was, after Paul, the staunchest pillar of Christianity and ardently preached asceticism, could not refrain from exclaiming: “Suppress the public prostitutes and the force of passion will overturn everything.” St. Thomas Aquin, who is still considered the greatest authority on theology, has expressed the same opinion more forcibly still by saying: “Prostitution in the cities is like the cess-pool in the palace; if you remove the cess-pool the palace will become an unclean and evil smelling place.” The provincial council at Milan in 1665 held the same view. But let us consult some modern opinions.

Dr. F. S. Huegel says: “Advancing civilization will gradually clothe prostitution in more pleasing forms, but only with the destruction of the world will it come to an end!”[82] That is a bold assertion, but whoever cannot think beyond the form of bourgeois society, whoever does not admit that society will transform itself to attain healthful and natural conditions, must agree with Dr. Huegel. M. Rubner, an authority on hygiene, professor at the University of Berlin, and director of the Hygienic Institute, expresses a similar opinion. He says: “Prostitution of women has existed at all times and among all peoples. It is indestructable because it serves the sexual impulse and springs from human nature and because in many cases the tendency to prostitution is due to an innate vice of some women. Just as we find in every population geniuses beside idiots, giants besides dwarfs, and other abnormities, so we also find by the chance of birth abnormities which must lead to prostitution.”[83]

None of the above-named conceive the thought that a different social order might remove the causes of prostitution,[176] and none seek to investigate the causes. Some who take up this problem faintly recognize that unfortunate social conditions, weighing heavily upon countless women, might be the chief cause why so many sell their bodies. But they do not draw the conclusion that if this be the case, it becomes necessary to bring about different social conditions. Among the few who recognize that economic conditions form the chief cause of prostitution is Th. Bade.[84] He says: “The causes of the boundless moral degradation from which the prostitute girls emerge are founded on social conditions. They are especially due to the decline of the middle classes, particularly the artisan class, among whom only very few continue to ply their trade independently.” Bade concludes his observations by saying: “Material need which has destroyed many middle class families and continues to destroy them also leads to their moral degradation, especially to that of the female sex.”[85]

But prostitution is not an institution of nature that, as R. Schmoelder says: “Will remain a constant companion of humanity,”[86] it is a social institution without which we cannot conceive bourgeois society.

The police physician of Leipsic, Dr. J. Kuehn, says: “Prostitution is not only a bearable, but a necessary evil. It protects women from adultery (which only men have a right to commit—the author) and guards virtue (of course the virtue of women because men are not required to be virtuous—the author) against assault and destruction.”[87] These words grossly characterize the incarnate selfishness of men. Kuehn maintains the correct position[177] of a police physician, whose duty it is to guard men against unpleasant diseases by the police surveillance of prostitution. Only the man is taken into consideration to whom celibacy is horrible and a torture, but the millions of women doomed to celibacy must content themselves. What is considered right in the man’s case, is considered wrong, immoral and criminal in the woman’s.

Another interesting gentleman is Dr. Fock, who regards prostitution as a “necessary correlation of our civilization.”[88] He fears an overproduction of human beings if all persons should marry after having attained maturity, and therefore considers it important that prostitution should be regulated by the state. He considers police surveillance of prostitution justifiable, and that the State should furnish men with prostitutes who are free from syphilis. He declares himself in favor of closest surveillance of all women who can be convicted of leading a disorderly life. But can this surveillance be carried out, if ladies leading a disorderly life belong to the upper classes? It is the old story. Dr. Fock also recommends that a tax should be levied upon prostitutes and that they should be confined to certain streets. In other words, the Christian state should make prostitution a source of income by state organization and protection of vice in the interest of men.

Dr. Henry Severus,[89] who also favors legal recognition of prostitution maintains an original point of view. He regards it as a useful institution, because it is a necessary correlation of marriage, and that without it the free choice in marriage would be impaired. According to him prostitution is a sort of safety-valve of bourgeois society. He claims: “Much of the poverty that leads to such deplorable social conditions may be traced to the fact, that marriages are recklessly contracted, without questioning how the necessary means of livelihood might be obtained. It is in the interest of the state, that such marriages should not be contracted, for the children that spring from them cannot be sufficiently provided for by[178] their parents, nor do they belong in the foundling hospital, being legitimate children, and thus become a peril to society. Prostitution,” he goes on to say, “prevents that the force of natural instinct should lead to the contracting of marriages that result in an increase of those elements of the population who, owing to lack of education and an unfortunate childhood, developes sentiments that are hostile to the state and become enemies of society.” So according to this, state regulation of vice furnishes a protection and a remedy against socialism—a view that may at least lay claim to originality.

So we may reiterate our assertion, prostitution is a necessary social institution of bourgeois society, just as the police, the standing army, the church and the capitalist class.

[82] F. Huegel.—History, Statistics and Regulation of Prostitution in Vienna, 1865.

[83] Max Rubner—Text Book of Hygiene. Leipsic, 1907.

[84] Th. Bade. Procurers and public dance halls.

[85] Statistics gathered by the Berlin police in 1871–72 concerning the parentage of 2,224 enrolled prostitutes showed the following figures: 1,015 equal 47.9 per cent. came from the artisan class; 467 equal 22.0 per cent. were daughters of factory laborers; 305 equal 14.4 per cent. of minor officials; 222 equal 10.4 per cent. of merchants, etc.; 37 equal 4.1 per cent. of farmers, and 26 equal 1.2 per cent of military men. With 102 the father’s profession could not be determined.

[86] R. Schmoelder, Punishment of fornication as a trade.

[87] J. Kuehn. Prostitution in the nineteenth century from the standpoint of police sanitation.

[88] Dr. Fock—Prostitution in its ethical and sanitary aspect.

[89] Dr. H. Severus—Prostitution and the state.

2.—Prostitution and the State.

State supervision and organization of prostitution does not exist in the German empire as it does in France; prostitution is merely tolerated. Disorderly houses are prohibited by law and procurers may be severely punished. But notwithstanding these laws in many German cities, among others in Mayence, Magdeburg, Altona, Kiel, Nuremberg, Worms, Freiburg, Leipsic, Regensburg, Hamburg, Augsburg, Wuerzburg, disorderly houses exist that are tolerated by the police.[90] This seems an incredible state of affairs and its contradiction to the laws must be well known to our government officials. According to German law, persons renting an apartment to a prostitute are subject to punishment. On the other hand, the police are obliged to tolerate thousands of prostitutes and to protect them in their trade if they submit to the prescribed rules, for instance, to regular examination by a physician. But if the state makes concessions to prostitutes and supports them in the plying of their trade, it is necessary for them to have a residence also; in fact, it becomes necessary to public health and order that their trade should be carried on[179] in definite quarters. What contradictions! On the one hand the state officially recognizes prostitution; on the other hand it persecutes and punishes prostitutes and procurers. Moreover, this attitude of the state confirms, that to modern society, prostitution is a sphynx whose riddle it cannot solve. Religion and morality condemn prostitution, the laws punish it, and yet the state tolerates and protects it. In other words, our society that prides itself on its morality, its piety, its civilization and culture must suffer itself to be polluted by the slow poison of immorality and corruption. Still another conclusion follows from these conditions: the Christian state admits that marriage is insufficient and that the man is justified in seeking illegitimate satisfaction of the sexual impulse. The woman is taken into consideration by this same state only, inasmuch as she yields to the illegitimate satisfaction of male lust, that is, becomes a prostitute. The police supervision and control of enlisted prostitutes does not include the men who mingle with the prostitutes, which ought to be a matter of course if the medical surveillance were to be partly effective at least, quite disregarding the fact that justice demands that the law should be equally applied to both sexes.

This protection of the man from the woman by the state overturns the nature of conditions. It appears as if men were the weaker, and women the stronger sex, as if women were the seducer, and poor, weak man the seduced. The myth of temptation of Adam and Eve in Paradise continues to influence our conceptions and laws and sustains the Christian assumption, that “woman is the great seducer, the source of sin.” Men ought to be ashamed of the pitiable and unworthy part they are playing, but it is pleasing to them to be regarded as “weak” and as “victims of seduction” for the more they are protected the more they may sin.

Wherever men come together in great numbers, they do not seem to be able to enjoy themselves without prostitution. That was seen among other instances by the occurrences at the rifle match in Berlin during the summer of 1890. These occurrences caused 2,300 women to sign a petition to the mayor of the German capital, which[180] read as follows: “We beg your honor to permit our quoting what has been reported in regard to this festival by the press and other sources. These reports, which we read with the greatest indignation and disgust, among other things thus described the entertainments provided at the festival: ‘First, German Herold, greatest Café Chantant of the world’; hundred ladies and forty gentlemen; besides small variety shows and rifle ranges from which exceedingly obtrusive women molested the men; furthermore free concerts, where lightly garbed waitresses boldly and unrestrained, with seductive smiles forced their attentions alike on men and youths, on college boys and fathers of families. But the ‘lady’ who was almost nude and who invited them to visit the booths ‘The Secrets of Hamburg, or a Night in St. Pauli,’ might at least have been removed by the police. But the worst, something that plain men and women from the provinces can hardly accredit to the far-famed capital of the empire, was the fact that the committee on arrangements had permitted, that instead of waiters, young women in great numbers were engaged as waitresses and bar-maids without pay. We German women, as mothers, wives and sisters, frequently have occasion to send our brothers, husbands, sons and daughters to Berlin in service of the fatherland, and so we beg your honor, trusting to your influence as chief executive of the national capital to investigate these occurrences and to prevent a repetition of these orgies, especially at the forthcoming celebration of the victory at Sedan.”

During all large festivals, including the national ones, when men come together in great numbers, similar scenes occur.[91]

The German governments made frequent attempts to do away with the contradiction that exists between the legal theories and actual practice in regard to prostitution. They introduced bills among other things, which authorized the police to assign definite places of residence[181] to the prostitutes. It was admitted that prostitution could not be suppressed and that it would therefore be better to limit it to certain places and to control it. Such a law—on this all were agreed—would have reinstated the public brothels that had been officially abolished in Prussia during the forties of the last century. The introduction of these bills caused great excitement and aroused much protest. It was stated that the state by extending protection to vice spread the opinion that prostitution was not averse to morality and was an officially sanctioned trade. These bills that met with much opposition in Parliament, have until now, remained unsettled. But their very introduction shows the predicament of the state.

State regulation and control of vice not only create the belief among men that the state favors prostitution, it also leads them to believe that this regulation protects them from disease, and this belief makes men more reckless and increases the employment of prostitution. Public brothels do not diminish sexual diseases, they promote them, because men become more reckless and careless. To what conceptions the official protection of brothels leads may be seen from the term applied to the licensed prostitutes in England, who were called “Queen’s women” because they had obtained official recognition through a law enacted by the queen. Experience has taught, that neither the introduction of public brothels under police supervision nor regular medical examination insure safety from contagion.

To an inquiry from the woman’s committee of Vienna for combatting the state regulation of vice Dr. Albert Eulenburg wrote as follows: “In regard to the question of police supervision of prostitutes I fully share, as a matter of principle, the point of view set forth in your petition, though, of course I recognize the practical difficulty of its immediate application. I regard this practice which has been introduced in most countries as unjust, unworthy, and moreover as entirely unsuited to attain the object stated with any certain degree of safety.” On July 20, 1892, the Berlin Medical Society declared that[182] the reinstatement of public brothels would be undesirable, both from a hygienic and moral point of view.

The nature of these diseases is such that in many cases it cannot be recognized easily, or at once, and to attain a certain degree of safety several daily examinations would be necessary. But this is impossible, owing to the great number of women in question and the large expense it would entail. Where 30 to 40 prostitutes have to be examined in one hour, the examination is nothing more than a farce, and in the same way one or two weekly examinations are entirely insufficient. Dr. Blaschko[92] says: “The belief, that control of prostitutes furnishes protection against contagion, unfortunately is a widespread and detrimental error. Rather can it be asserted that everyone who associates with a prostitute or a frivolous girl faces a grave danger each time.”

The success of these measures fails also because the men who carry the germs of disease from one woman to another remain entirely free from control. A prostitute who has just been examined and found healthy may become infected by a diseased man in the very same hour, and before the next examination takes place, or before she herself has become aware of the disease, she may have infected a number of other visitors. The control is an imaginary one. Besides the obligatory examinations by male instead of female physicians deeply injure the sense of modesty and help to destroy it completely. This statement is confirmed by a great many physicians who perform such examinations.[93] The same is admitted even in the official report of the Berlin police department, where it says it must be admitted that official enrollment[183] still increases the moral degradation of those affected by it.[94] The prostitutes do whatever they can to escape this control.

Another evil result of these measures is, that it is made very difficult, indeed almost impossible to prostitutes, to return to a decent means of livelihood. A woman who has fallen into police control is lost to society; as a rule she miserably perishes after a few years. The fifth congress for combatting immorality, held in Geneva, thus expressed itself forcibly and correctly against the state regulation of vice: “The obligatory medical examination of prostitutes is a cruel punishment to the woman, for in those who are subjected to it the last remnant of modesty that may still exist in the most depraved, is forcibly destroyed. The state that seeks to regulate prostitution by police control forgets that it owes equal protection to both sexes, it degrades and demoralizes the woman. Every system of official regulation of vice permits of arbitrary police rule and leads to the infringement of personal safety against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, against which even the lowest criminal is guarded. As these encroachments occur only at the expense of the woman, they lead to an unnatural inequality between her and the man. The woman is degraded to a mere object and is no longer treated as a person. She is excluded from the law.

How little police and medical control avail has been strikingly shown in England. Before the beginning of official regulation, in the year 1867, the number of venereal diseases in the army were, according to a military report, 91 per 1,000. In 1886, after the regulation had been in effect for nineteen years they were 110 per 1,000. In 1892, six years after the regulation laws had been repealed they were only 79 per 1,000. Among civilians the cases of syphilis were 10 per 1,000 during the years 1879 to 1882, that was during the years of public regulation. After the abolition of public regulation, from 1885 to 1889 they were only 8.1 per 1,000.


The prostitutes themselves were far more affected by the regulation laws than the soldiers. In 1866 there were among 1,000 prostitutes, 121 cases of disease. In 1868 after the law had been in force for two years there were 202 cases among 1,000. After that the number gradually decreased, but in 1874 there still were 16 cases more per thousand than in 1866. The death rate among prostitutes also increased appallingly during the reign of that law. When at the close of the sixties of the last century the English government attempted to extend the regulation laws to include all English cities, a storm of indignation arose among English women. They regarded the law as an insult to their entire sex. The habeas corpus, they claimed, that fundamental law which guaranteed protection to every English citizen, was to be abolished for women; every brutal police officer impelled by revenge or other base motives, would be permitted to attack the most respectable woman if he suspected her of being a prostitute, while the licentiousness of men would not be interfered with, but would on the contrary be protected and fostered by law.

The fact that English women under the leadership of Josephine Butler championed the most degraded of their sex, caused ignorant men to misconstrue their intentions and to make insulting remarks about them. But regardless of these attacks they opposed the extension of the obnoxious law with utmost energy. In newspaper articles and pamphlets arguments in favor of it and against it were fully discussed, until its extension was prevented, and in 1886 is was repealed.[95]


The German police has a similar power, and sometimes cases have been called to public attention in Berlin, Leipsic, Cologne, Hannover and many other places, showing that abuses or “misunderstandings” easily occur with the exercise of this power, but not much is heard among us of an energetic opposition to such transgressions.[96] In Norway, brothels were prohibited in 1888, and in the capital, Christiania, the obligatory registration of prostitutes and the medical examination connected with it was abolished. In January, 1893, the same ordinance was enacted for the entire country. Very correctly Mrs. Guillaume-Shack says in regard to state “protection” for men: “To what purpose do we teach our sons to respect virtue and morality if the state declares vice to be a necessary evil; if young men, before they have even attained intellectual maturity, are given women stamped like commodities by the public authorities as playthings of their passions?”

A man inflicted with a sexual disease may indulge in unbridled licentiousness and may infect any number of these unfortunate beings, most of whom have been driven by seducers or by bitterest need into this abominable trade. The law leaves him unmolested. But woe to the poor, diseased prostitute who does not immediately submit to medical treatment! The garrison towns, university towns and sea port towns, where many strong, healthy men aggregate, are the chief centers of prostitution and its dangerous diseases, which are disseminated all over the land and everywhere spread suffering and destruction. The moral qualification of a great number of[186] our students is described in the following manner in the “Gazette for Combatting Public Immorality”[97]: “Among a majority of the students the views concerning moral questions are appallingly base, almost depraved.” From these circles that boast about their “German spirit” and “German morals,” our public officials, prosecutors and judges are obtained. How bad matters must be, especially among students, may be seen from the following: In the fall of 1901, a large group of professors and physicians, among them leading men in their professions, published an appeal to German students, in which they called special attention to the deplorable results of sexual debauchery, and also warned the young men of excessive indulgence in alcoholic drinks, which in many cases have a stimulating influence on sexual debauchery. At last people are beginning to recognize that the policy of silence is a mistaken one, and that we must call a spade a spade, if we would check an immeasurable disaster. Among other classes of society also this warning should not remain unheeded.

The Biblical utterance that the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon their children applies in its fullest measure to the man afflicted with a sexual disease; unfortunately also to his innocent wife. “Apoplectic strokes among young men and women, forms of paralysis of the spine and softening of the brain, various nervous diseases, weakening of the eye sight, inflammation of the bowels, sterility and general debility are frequently due to no other cause than a neglected case of syphilis, that has, for good reasons been kept secret. As conditions are to-day ignorance and carelessness transform blooming daughters of the nation into weak and sickly creatures who must pay with chronic diseases for the extravagances of their husbands before and outside of marriage.”[98] Dr. A. Blaschko says among other things: “Epidemics like cholera, small pox, diphtheria and typhoid terrify the people, because the suddenness of the results are clearly[187] visible to everybody. But syphilis is regarded by society with an appalling indifference. And yet syphilis is far more widespread and much more terrible in its effects than any of the above-mentioned diseases.”[99] The fact that we regard it as “indecent” to discuss such matters, accounts for this indifference. Even the German diet could not bring itself to provide legally for the treatment of persons afflicted with sexual diseases by means of the sick benefit funds, as in the case of other diseases.[100]

The poison of syphilis is the most tenacious and the hardest to eradicate of all poisons. Many years after the disease has been apparently cured the evil results frequently manifest themselves in the wife of the diseased or in his new-born children, and countless sicknesses of married women and children are due to the sexual diseases of husbands and fathers. In a petition addressed to the German Parliament in the fall of 1899 by the society “Jugendschutz” (protection of the young) it was stated that there are about 30,000 children in Germany who are blind from birth due to contagion from gonorrhoea, and that among 50 per cent of childless women, sterility is due to the same cause.[101] As a matter of fact an alarmingly large number of marriages is childless, and moreover the number of childless marriages is increasing. Feeble-mindedness and idiocy among children is also not infrequently due to the same cause, and many instances have shown what disasters can be caused with vaccination by a single drop of blood inoculated with the poison of syphilis. The great number of persons suffering from a sexual disease has caused several suggestions to be made for the enactment of[188] a national law providing special treatment for persons so afflicted. But until now no such step was taken, probably because one feared the enormity of the evil that would then become manifest. Medical authorities have generally gained the conviction, that gonorrhoea, which was formerly regarded as harmless, is one of the most dangerous of these diseases. This disease continues to act upon the human system even after it has been apparently cured. As Dr. Blaschko reported in a lecture in Berlin on the 20th of February, 1898, the medical examinations of prostitutes reveal only one-fourth, or at best one-third of the actual number of cases. As a matter of fact, the overwhelmingly great majority of prostitutes are afflicted with this disease, while only a small percentage of the cases are properly diagnosed. Of those in whom the disease is recognized it is again only a small percentage with whom a permanent cure is effected. Here society is confronted by an evil for which it has no remedy as yet, but which is an imminent peril to mankind, especially to its female half.

[90] Paul Kampffmeyer—Prostitution as a social class phenomenon and the social and political struggle against it.

[91] “When the Farmers’ Association convenes in the Circus Bush, or large conventions are being held in Berlin, there is a rise in price of human flesh.” Satyr—Life at Night in the Friedrich Strasse, Berlin, 1907.

[92] Handbook of Hygiene, published by Th. Weyl, M. D. Hygiene of Prostitution and Venereal Diseases, compiled by Dr. A. Blaschko, Berlin.

[93] “As a matter of fact the system of regulation does not successfully fight the venereal diseases, nor even noticeably diminish them. The delusive feeling of safety given to men makes them more reckless. The increase in the number of correlation heightens the danger of contagion by at least as much as it has been diminished by the removal of a few who were seriously diseased.” August Forel—The Sex Question, Munich, 1907.

[94] Third report of the royal police department of Berlin for the years 1881 to 1890.

[95] The most reliable supporters of the women were the English workingmen. In her famous publication on “The History of a Crusade,” Josephine Butler says: “We resolved to appeal to the nation. In the fall of 1869 we sent personal letters to every member of Parliament of both houses and to many other leaders of political and religious parties. Of all the replies received only very few expressed complete agreement with our point of view. As we obtained so little encouragement from those circles whose interest we had hoped to win, we turned to the working class population of the country. I am conscious of the fact that the working class has its faults and is no less devoid of egotism than other classes of the population. But I am firmly convinced that when the people are appealed to in the name of justice they almost invariably show a loyal and reliable conviction.”

[96] In 1901 it occurred in Vienna that a French lady was abused by the police agent, Newhofer, amidst the shouts of a mob, was imprisoned among prostitutes and subjected to a forcible medical examination. This case led to five interpellations in the diet. In 1902 in Hamburg and Kiel ladies were arrested as prostitutes and were treated with brutality. These occurrences led to a gigantic meeting of protest in Hamburg on September 8, that was attended by members of all parties.

[97] August 15, 1893, Berlin.

[98] The detrimental results of prostitution. Dr. Oscar Lassar, Berlin, 1892, August Hirschwald.

[99] Treatment of sexual diseases in sick benefit fund institutions and hospitals, Berlin, 1890.

[100] The ordinance of the insurance laws which enabled communities to refuse the payment of sick benefits in cases of sexual diseases was repealed by a law on May 25, 1903, that went into effect January 1, 1904.

[101] Examinations in asylums for the blind showed that the following number of persons were blind from birth through infection: Berlin, 21.3; Vienna, 31; Breslau, 35.1; Budapest, 47.9; Munich, 73.8.—Th. Weyl, Social Hygiene, Jena, 1904.

3.—The White Slave Trade.

As the number of men increases who refrain from marriage, be it by choice or under the pressure of circumstances, and who seek illegitimate satisfaction of the sexual impulse, the temptations and opportunities for illegitimate satisfaction increase likewise. Because immoral enterprises yield high profits many unscrupulous persons are engaged in them, and resort to the craftiest methods to attract customers. Every requirement of the patrons according to position and rank and means is taken into consideration. If the public brothels could reveal their secrets, it would become known that their inmates, who are of lowly birth, ignorant and uneducated, but possessed of physical charms, have intimate relations with educated and cultured men who occupy prominent social positions. Here they freely come and go, public officials, military men, representatives of the people, judges, the aristocracy of birth and finance, of commerce and industry. Many of these men are regarded as upholders of[189] public morality and guardians of the sanctity of marriage and the family, and some are leaders of Christian charitable undertakings and members of organizations “to combat prostitution.” In Berlin, the owner of one of these establishments serving immoral purposes even publishes an illustrated gazette, in which the doings of his patrons are described. In this establishment 400 persons can be seated, and every evening a fashionable gathering assembles there, among them (so the gazette tells us) many members of the aristocracy. Frequently well known actresses and famed belles of the demi-monde are present. The merriment reaches its height when in the wee hours of the morning the proprietors arrange an eel-catching tournament. Then the fair patronesses squat about the tanks with their clothes tucked up and try to catch the eel, and so forth. The police is well aware of these doings, but carefully refrains from interfering with the amusements of fashionable society. The following circular, sent by the management of a Berlin dancing establishment to fashionable men, is another shameless form of pandering. It reads: “The undersigned management of the hunting establishment to whom you, dear sir, have been recommended as a passionate hunter, beg to call your attention to a newly-opened hunting ground with a splendid stock of deer and to invite you to the first chase on August 26th. Special circumstances make our new hunting grounds particularly convenient and pleasant: they are located in the heart of the city and the game-laws are not enforced.” Our bourgeois society is like a great masquerade in which all seek to deceive one another. Every one wears his official gown with dignity, while inofficially he indulges his passions without restraint. Yet, outwardly, all feign decency, religiousness and morality. In no age was hypocrisy as widespread as in ours.

The supply of women for immoral purposes increases faster than the demand. Unfavorable social conditions, poverty, seduction, and the fact that many women are attracted by the outward glitter of an apparently free life, help to furnish victims from all strata of society. In[190] a novel by Hans Wachenhusen[102] we find a characteristic description of the conditions that prevail in the German capital. The author thus describes the purpose of his novel: “My book especially tells of the victims of the female sex and their increasing depreciation as a result of our unnatural social conditions, partly through their own fault, partly through a neglected education and the love of luxury. It tells of the surplus of this sex that makes the lives of those, who are born and grow up, more hopeless each day. I wrote as a public prosecutor might write, who had gathered data from the life of a criminal to determine his guilt. If a novel is supposed to be drawn from imagination, then the following is not a novel, but a faithful portrayal of life.” In Berlin conditions are neither better nor worse than in other large cities. Whether orthodox St. Petersburg or Catholic Rome, Christian Berlin, or heathenish Paris, Puritan London or frivolous Vienna is more nearly like ancient Babylonia, it is hard to determine. Similar social conditions bring forth similar results. “Prostitution has its written and unwritten laws, its resources, its various resorts from the lowliest, to the glittering palace, its countless degrees from the lowest to the most cultured and refined. It has its special amusements and its special places of meeting, its police, its hospitals, its prisons and its literature.”[103] “We no longer celebrate the festivals of Osiris, the Bacchanalia and the Indian orgies in the spring month, but in Paris and other large cities in the darkness of night behind the walls of public and private houses, orgies and Bacchanalia take place that beggar description.”[104]

Under such conditions the traffic in women assumes huge dimensions. It is carried on in the midst of civilization on a large scale and in a well organized manner, and is but rarely detected by the police. An army of male and female jobbers, agents and transporters carry on the trade in as cold-blooded a manner as if they were bartering[191] a commodity. Certificates are made out that contain an exact description and qualification of the various “pieces” and are handed to the transporters as a bill of lading for the customer. As with all merchandise, the price varies according to the quality, and the “goods” are assorted and shipped from different places and countries according to the taste and requirements of the customers. By skilful manipulations the traders seek to escape the pursuit of the police, and sometimes large sums are employed to bribe the guardians of law and order. A number of such cases have been revealed in Paris.[105]

To Germany belongs the deplorable reputation of being a market for women to half the world. The rambling spirit, which is innate in the German people, also seems to affect a portion of the German women, so that they furnish a larger quota to international prostitution than the women of other nations, with the exception of Austria and Hungary. German women populate the harems of the Turks and the public brothels in the interior of Siberia and as far as Bombay, Singapore, San Francisco and Chicago. In his book on travel “From Japan, through Siberia to Germany,” the author, W. Joest, says the following about the German white-slave trade: “In our moral Germany, people often grow indignant over the slave trade carried on by some negra sovereign in western Africa, or over conditions in Cuba or Brazil, while we ought to consider the beam in our own eye. In no other country of the world white slaves are bartered to the same extent, from no other countries are such large quantities of this living merchandise shipped as from Germany and Austria. The course taken by these girls can be clearly traced. From Hamburg they[192] are shipped to South America, Bahie, Rio de Janeiro; the greater part are bound for Montevideo and Buenos Ayres, while a few go through the Straits of the Magellan to Valparaiso. Another stream is directed over England to North America, but there competition with the domestic product is unfavorable to the trade, so the girls are shipped down the Mississippi to Texas and Mexico. From New Orleans the coasts down to Panama are furnished. Other troops of girls are sent across the Alps to Italy and on to Alexandria, Suez, Bombay, even to Hongkong and Shanghai, Dutch India and eastern India, especially Japan are poor markets, because Holland will not tolerate white girls of this sort in its colonies, and because in Japan the native girls are far too pretty and cheap. Moreover, the trade must reckon with American competition from San Francisco. Russia is supplied by eastern Prussia, Pomerania and Poland. The first station is Riga. Here the dealers from St. Petersburg and Moscow assort their merchandise and send it in great quantities to Nishny Novgorod across the Ural Mountains to Irbit and Krestowsky and even into the interior of Siberia. In Tschita, for instance, I met a German girl who had been traded in this way. This trade is thoroughly organized—agents and traveling salesmen carry on the negotiations. If the foreign office of the German Empire would ask its consuls for reports on this trade interesting tables might be compiled.

That this traffic is flourishing, has been repeatedly stated by Socialist deputies in the German Parliament.

Other centers of the white-slave trade are Galicia and Hungary, from where women are sent to Constantinople and other Turkish cities. Especially many Jewesses, who are otherwise rarely met with in public brothels are bartered to the Turks. The prices for the journey and other expenses are usually paid to the agents in advance. In order to deceive the public authorities, fictitious telegrams, that are not likely to attract attention, are sent to the customer. Some of these telegrams read: “Five kegs of Hungarian wine will arrive in Varna to-morrow,” meaning five beautiful girls; or “Have shipped three barrels of potatoes by S. S. Minerva.” This refers[193] to three less beautiful girls: “Common goods.” Another telegram reads: “Will arrive next Friday per S. S. Kobra; have two bales of fine silk on board.”

[102] “What the street engulfs.” Social novel in 3 vols., Berlin. A. Hoffmann & Co.

[103] Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell—The Moral Education.

[104] Mantegazza—L’Amour Dans L’Humanitè.

[105] The relation of the police to prostitution is an interesting one in more than one respect. In 1899 it was shown in a trial in Berlin that a police commissioner employed a prostitute to watch and question a student whom he suspected of being an anarchist. In Prague the wife of a common policeman had her license for maintaining a disorderly house revoked because her husband had ill-treated a prisoner. So the police rewards its officers by giving them licenses for the maintenance of disorderly houses. What lovely conditions!

4.—The Increase of Prostitution.—Illegitimate Motherhood.

It is difficult to estimate the number of prostitutes—impossible to determine it exactly. The police may approximately determine the number of women for whom prostitution is the sole or chief source of income, but they can not determine the far greater number of those who resort to prostitution as a partial support. Nevertheless the numbers that have been determined are enormous. According to Oettingen at the close of the sixties of the last century the number of prostitutes in London was estimated to be 80,000. In Paris on January 1, 1906, the number of enrolled prostitutes was 6,196, but more than one-third of these manage to evade police and medical control. In 1892 there were about 60 public brothels in Paris, harboring from 600 to 700 prostitutes; in 1900 there were only 42. Their number is constantly decreasing (In 1852 there were 217 public brothels). At the same time the number of private prostitutes has greatly increased. An investigation, undertaken by the municipal council of Paris in 1889, estimated that the number of women who sell their bodies had reached the enormous figure of 120,000. The chief of police of Paris, Léfrine, estimates the number of enrolled prostitutes at 6,000 and the number of private prostitutes at 70,000. During the years 1871 to 1903 the police inhibited 725,000 harlots and 150,000 were imprisoned. During the year 1906, the number of those who were inhibited amounted to no less than 56,196.[106]

The following numbers of prostitutes were enrolled with the Berlin police: In 1886, 3006; in 1890, 4,039; in 1893, 4,663; in 1897, 5,098; in 1899, 4,544, and in 1905, 3,287. In 1890 six physicians were employed, who performed examinations for two hours daily. Since then the[194] number of physicians has been increased to twelve, and since several years a female physician has been employed to perform these examinations, notwithstanding the objections of many male physicians. In Berlin, as in Paris, the enrolled prostitutes only constitute a small fraction of the entire number, that authorities on this subject have estimated to be at least 50,000. In the single year 1890 there were 2,022 waitresses in the cafés of Berlin, who, with very few exceptions were given to prostitution. The yearly increase in the number of harlots inhibited by the police also shows that prostitution in Berlin is growing. The numbers of those inhibited were: In 1881, 10,878; in 1890, 16,605; in 1896, 26,703: in 1897, 22,915. In the year 1907 17,018 harlots were brought to trial before the magistrates, which was about 57 for each day the court was in session.

How large is the number of prostitutes throughout Germany? Some claim that there are about 200,000. Stroehmberg estimates the number of enrolled and private prostitutes in Germany to be between 75,000 and 100,000. In 1908 Kamillo K. Schneider attempted to determine the exact number of enrolled prostitutes. His table for the year 1905 includes 79 cities. “As besides these there are other large places in which a considerable number of girls may be found, he believes 15,000 to be a fairly correct estimate of the entire number. With a population of approximately 60,600,000 inhabitants that means one enrolled prostitute for 4,040 inhabitants.” In Berlin there is one prostitute for 608, in Breslau for 514, in Hannover for 529, in Kiel for 527, in Danzig for 487, in Cologne for 369, and in Brunswick for 363 inhabitants. The number of enrolled prostitutes is constantly decreasing.[107] According to various estimates the ratio of the number of public controlled prostitutes is to the number of private prostitutes, as 1 to 5, or 1 to 10. We are, accordingly dealing with a vast army of those to whom prostitution is a means of subsistence, and conformably great is the number of victims claimed by disease and death.


That the great majority of prostitutes grows thoroughly tired of their mode of life, that it even becomes revolting to them, is an experience on which all authorities are agreed. But very few of those who have fallen victims to prostitution ever find an opportunity to escape from it. In 1899 the Hamburg branch of the British, Continental and General Federation undertook an investigation among prostitutes. Although only few answered the questions put to them, these answers are quite characteristic. To the question “Would you continue in this trade if you could find some other means of support?” one replied, “What can one do when one is despised by all people?” Another replied, “I appealed for help from the hospital”; a third, “My friend released me by paying my debts.” All suffer from the slavery of their liabilities to the brothel keepers. One gave the information that she owed her landlady $175. Clothes, underwear, finery, everything is furnished by the keepers at fabulous prices; they are also charged the highest prices for food and drink. Besides, they must pay the keeper a daily sum for their room. This rent amounts to $1.50, $2 or $3 daily. One wrote that she was compelled to pay her procurer from $5 to $6 daily. No keeper will permit a girl to depart unless she has paid her debts. The statements made by these girls also cast an unfavorable light on the actions of the police, who side more with the brothel keepers than with the helpless girls. In short, we here behold in the midst of Christian civilization, the worst kind of slavery. In order to better maintain the interests of their trade, the brothel keepers have even founded a trade paper that is international in character.

The number of prostitutes increases at the same rate at which the number of working women increases, who find employment in various lines of trade at starvation wages. Prostitution is fostered by the industrial crises that have become inevitable in bourgeois society, and to hundreds of thousands of families mean bitter need and desperate poverty. A letter sent by the chief of police, Bolton, to a factory inspector on October 31, 1865, shows that during the crisis of the English cotton industry[196] caused by the Civil War in the United States, the number of young prostitutes increased more than during the preceding twenty-five years.[108] But not only working girls fall victims to prostitution. Its victims are also recruited from the “higher professions.” Lombroso and Ferrero quote Macé,[109] who says of Paris: “The certificate of a governess of a higher or lower grade is far less an assignment to a means of support than to suicide, theft and prostitution.”

Parent-Duchatelet has at one time compiled statistics which showed the following. Among 5,183 prostitutes there were 1,441 who were driven to prostitution by utmost need and misery. 1,225 were orphans and poor. 86 had become prostitutes to support old parents, young brothers and sisters, or their own children. 1,425 had been deserted by their lovers; 404 had been seduced by officers and soldiers and had been carried off to Paris. 289 had been servant girls who were seduced by their employers and subsequently discharged, and 280 had come into Paris to seek employment.

Mrs. Butler, the ardent champion of the poorest and most unfortunate of her sex, says: “Accidental circumstances, the death of a father or a mother, unemployment, insufficient wages, poverty, false promises, seduction, the laying of snares may have driven her into her misfortune.” Very instructive is the information given by Karl Schneidt in a pamphlet on “The Misery of Waitresses in Berlin,”[110] in regard to the causes that drive so many of them to prostitution. He says that a surprisingly large number of servant girls become waitresses, which means in nearly all cases that they become prostitutes. Among the answers Schneidt received to his list of questions that he circulated among waitresses are the following: “Because I became pregnant by my employer and had to support my child”; “because my book of references was spoiled”; “because I could not earn enough by sewing and such work”; “because I had been[197] discharged from the factory and could not find other employment”; “because my father died and there were four younger ones at home,” etc. That servant girls, who have been seduced by their employers, constitute a large quota of the prostitutes is a well known fact. Dr. Max Taube[111] makes some very incriminating statements concerning the great number of seductions of servant girls by employers or their sons. The upper classes also furnish their quota to prostitution. Here poverty is not the cause, but seduction, the inclination to lead a frivolous life, the love of dress and enjoyment. A pamphlet on “Fallen Girls and Police Control”[112] contains the following statement in regard to the prostitutes from these classes: “Horror stricken many a worthy citizen, minister, teacher, public official or military man learns that his daughter is secretly addicted to prostitution. If all these daughters could be named a social revolution would have to take place, or the public ideas concerning virtue and morality would be seriously impaired.” The high class prostitutes, the smart set among them, are drawn from these circles. A great many actresses also owing to a glaring disparity between their salary and the cost of their wardrobe, are compelled to resort to this vile means of support.[113] The same is true of many other girls who are employed as salesladies and in similar positions. Many employers are so infamous that they seek to justify low wages by hinting at the assistance from “friends.” Seamstresses, dressmakers, milliners, factory workers numbering many thousands are subjected to the same conditions. Employers and their assistants, merchants, landed proprietors, etc., frequently regard it as their privilege to make female workers and employees subservient to their lusts. Our pious conservatives like[198] to point to the rural conditions in regard to morality as a sort of ideal compared to the large cities and industrial districts. But whoever is acquainted with the conditions knows that they are not ideal. We find this opinion confirmed by a lecture delivered by the owner of a knightly estate in the fall of 1889, which newspapers in Saxony reported in the following manner:

“Grimma. Dr. v. Waechter, owner of a knightly estate, at a meeting of the diocese which was held here delivered a lecture on sexual immorality in our rural communities, in which local conditions were depicted in no favorable light. With great frankness the lecturer admitted that the employers themselves, even the married ones, frequently maintained intimate relations with their female employees, and that the results of such relations were either atoned for by a payment of money or were hidden from the eyes of the world by a crime. Unfortunately it could not be denied, that immorality was introduced into the rural districts not only by country girls who had been employed in the cities as wet nurses and by boys who had become demoralized while serving in the army, but also by educated men, by managers of the large estates and army officers, who come into the country during manoeuvres. Dr. v. Waechter claims that here in the country there actually are few girls who have attained their seventeenth birthday without having fallen.” The honest lecturer had to pay for his love of truth by being socially ostracised by the offended officers. Reverend Dr. Wagner had a similar experience when he ventured to say some disagreeable truths to the landed proprietors in his book on “Morality in the Country.”[114]

The majority of prostitutes are driven into their unfortunate trade at an age at which they cannot be regarded as competent to judge their actions. Among the women who secretly prostituted themselves arrested in[199] Paris from 1878 until 1887, 12,615 equal 46.7 per cent. were minors. Of those arrested from 1888–1898, 14,072 equal 48.8 per cent. were minors. Le Pilleurs gives the following resumé of the prostitutes of Paris, which is as concise as it is pathetic: “Defloured at 16, prostituted at 17, afflicted with syphilis at 18.”[115] Among 846 newly enrolled prostitutes in Berlin in 1898 there were 229 minors. There were:

 7 at the age of 15
21 16
33 17
59 18
49 19
66 20[116]

In September, 1894, a scandalous affair was revealed in Budapest, where it became known that about 400 girls not more than fifteen years of age had become the victims of rich libertines. The sons of our “propertied and cultured classes” not infrequently consider it their right to seduce the daughters of the poor and then to forsake them. These confiding, inexperienced daughters of the poor, whose lives are often devoid of all joy and who sometimes have no friend or relative to protect them, easily fall victims to the art of the seducer, who approaches them with all the temptations of pleasure and affection. Bitter disappointments and despair and eventually crime are the results. Among 2,060,973 children born in Germany in 1907 179,178 were illegitimate. One can imagine the amount of care and heart-ache that the births of these illegitimate children mean to their mothers, even if some of them are legally married later on by the fathers of their children. Infanticide and the suicide of women are in a great many cases caused by the misery and need of forsaken women. The trials for infanticide present a sombre but instructive picture. In the fall of 1894 a young woman was on trial in Krems, Austria. Eight days after her confinement she had been discharged from the lying-in hospital in Vienna, with her infant and penniless, and being desperate she had[200] killed her child. She was condemned to death. In the spring of 1899 the following was reported from the province of Posen: “On Monday last the 22-year-old working girl, Katherine Gorbacki, from Alexanderruh, near Neustadt was on trial for murder. During the years 1897 and 1898 the defendant had been employed by the Provost Merkel in Neustadt. As a result of intimate relations with her employer, she gave birth to a daughter in June last. The child was placed with her relatives. The provost paid $2 for the child’s board during each of the first two months, but then refused to meet any further expenses. As the girl could not meet the expenses for the child’s maintenance, she decided to do away with it. On a Sunday during September last she smothered the child with a pillow. The jury convicted her of murder in the second degree and admitted extenuating circumstances. The public prosecutor moved to inflict the maximum penalty, five years imprisonment. The judge sentenced her to three years in prison.”

Thus the seduced and forsaken woman, disgraced and desperate, is driven to the utmost, and kills her own offspring. Then she is brought to trial and is sentenced to long periods of imprisonment, or even to death. But the real unscrupulous murderer is allowed to go unpunished. Perhaps shortly after the tragedy he will marry a girl from some good and righteous family, and will become a highly honored and pious man. Many a man is held in great esteem who thus polluted his honor and his conscience. If women had a voice in the making and administration of the laws things would be different. Evidently many cases of infanticide are never discovered. In July, 1899, in Frankenthal on the Rhine a servant girl was accused of having drowned her new-born, illegitimate child in the Rhine. The public prosecutor asked all police departments along the Rhine from Ludwigshafen to the boundary of Holland to report whether within a definite time the body of a child had been washed ashore. The surprising result of this inquest was, that the police departments within the stated time reported no less than 38 bodies of infants that had been fished from the Rhine, but whose mothers had not been found.


The most cruel system is resorted to, as previously stated, by the French legislation, which forbids to seek the father, but instead maintains foundling hospitals. The law framed at the convention of June 28, 1793, reads: “La nation se charge de l’éducation physique et morale des enfants abandonnés. Désormais, ils seront désignés sous le seul nom d’orphelins. Aucune autre qualification ne sera permis” (The nation undertakes the physical and moral education of abandoned children. Henceforward they will be known only by the name of orphans. No other designation will be permitted.). That was a very convenient method to men, for thereby they could turn over their individual obligations to the community and were spared from being publicly exposed. National orphan and foundling asylums were erected. In 1833 the number of orphans and foundlings amounted to 130,945. It was estimated that every tenth child was a legitimate one that its parents wished to get rid of. As these children were not properly cared for, their mortality was very great. At that time 59 per cent. died during the first year; up to the twelfth year 78 per cent. died; so only 22 from 100 children attained the twelfth year. At the beginning of the sixties of the last century there were 175 foundling asylums; in 1861 there were admitted into these 42,934 enfants trouvés (foundlings), 26,156 enfants abandonnés (abandoned children) and 9,716 orphans; together this made 78,066 children who were maintained at public expense. All in all the number of abandoned children has not decreased during recent decades.

Foundling asylums maintained by the state were also established in Austria and Italy. “Ici on fait mourir les enfants” (here children are made to die); a monarch is said to have suggested these words as a suitable inscription for foundling asylums. In Austria the foundling asylums are gradually disappearing. At present only eight remain, but at the close of the nineties of the last century these still contained over 9,000 children, while more than 30,000 children were placed outside of the asylums. During recent years the number of foundlings has greatly decreased, for in 1888 there still were 40,865[202] children who were public charges in Austria; 10,466 were in asylums; 30,399 were placed in private care. Their maintenance cost 1,817,372 florins. Mortality was not as great among the children placed in asylums as among those privately cared for; this was especially so in the province of Galicia. Here, during the year 1888 31.25 per cent. died in asylums—far more than in the asylums of other countries; but of those who were privately cared for 84.21 per cent. died; a wholesale butchery. It seems as if Polish mismanagement endeavored to kill off these poor, little creatures as quickly as possible.

In Italy 118,531 children were admitted into asylums from 1894 to 1896. Annual average: 29,633; boys: 58,901; girls: 59,630; illegitimate, 113,141; legitimate, 5,390 (only 5 per cent.). How great the mortality has been may be seen from the following table.[117]

  1890–1892 1893–1896 1897
Number of children admitted 91,549 109,899 26,661
Died during first year 34,186 41,386 9,711
Percentage 37.3 37.6 36.4
Mortality of illegitimate children in Italy 25.0 27.2 23.4
Mortality of legitimate children 18.0 17.5 15.9

The record was broken by the foundling asylum Santa Cosa dell’Annunziata in Naples, where in 1896 of 853 infants 850 died. In the year 1907 the foundling asylums admitted 18,896 children. During the years 1902 to 1906 the mortality of these unfortunate little ones was 37.5 per cent; that means that more than one-third of the children maintained by the state die during the first year.[118] It is a generally known fact, that the rate of mortality is always higher among illegitimate children than among legitimate ones. According to Prusian statistics[203] the following number of deaths of infants occurred for every 10,000 births.

    1881–1885 1886–1890 1891–1895 1896–1900 1904
Legitimate City 211 210 203 195 179
Country 186 187 187 185 172
Illegitimate City 398 395 385 374 333
Country 319 332 336 336 306

“It is a striking fact which clearly shows the connection between prostitution and the unfortunate condition of servant girls and menials employed in the country, that of 94,779 illegitimate children born in 1906, 21,164 were the children of servant girls and 18,869 were the children of girls otherwise employed in the country. Together this made 40,033 or 42 per cent. If servants employed in the country and female farm hands are taken together, they constitute 30 per cent., while girls industrially employed constitute 14 per cent (13,460).”[119]

The difference in the rate of mortality between legitimate and illegitimate children is especially marked during the first month, when the mortality of illegitimate children is on an average three times as great as that of legitimate children. Lack of care during pregnancy and during the confinement and improper care of the child after birth are the simple causes of this great mortality of illegitimate children. Ill treatment and neglect help to increase the number of the victims. The number of still-born children is greater among the illegitimate than among the legitimate also. This is probably chiefly due to attempts on the part of the mother to bring about the death of the child during pregnancy.

To this must be added the cases of infanticide that are not found out because the murdered child is counted among the still-born. Bertillon claims, that to the 205 cases of infanticide recorded in the legal documents of France, should be added at least 1,500 alleged still-births and 1,400 cases of intentional killing by starvation.[120]

The following table shows the number of legitimate[204] and illegitimate children in various European countries for every 100 still-births.

  During the years Legit­imate Illegit­imate
Germany 1891–1900 3.15 4.25      
Prussia 1900–1902 3.02 4.41      
Saxony 1891–1900 3.31 4.24      
Bavaria 1891–1900 2.98 3.61      
Wurtemberg 1891–1900 3.30 3.48      
Baden 1891–1900 2.62 3.35      
Austria 1895–1900 2.64 3.86      
Switzerland 1897–1903 3.40 6.14      
France 1891–1895 4.40 7.54      
Netherlands 1891–1900 4.38 8.13      
Denmark 1893–1894 2.40 3.20      
Sweden 1891–1895 2.46 3.30      
Norway 1891–1900 2.47 4.06      
Finland 1891–1900 2.54 4.43      
Italy 1891–1896 3.89 5.16[121]

The survivors revenge themselves on society for the ill-treatment accorded them by furnishing an unusually high percentage of the criminals of all grades.

[106] Dr. Licard de Planzoles—La Fonction Sexuelle. Paris, 1908.

[107] Kamillo Karl Schneider—The Prostitute and Society—a Sociological and Ethical Study, Leipsic, 1908.

[108] Karl Marx, Capital.

[109] Ibid.

[110] Berlin, 1893.

[111] Max Taube, M. D.—Protection of Illegitimate Children, Leipsic, 1893, Veit & Co.

[112] Berlin, 1889, Wm. Iszleib.

[113] In a pamphlet on “Capital and the Press,” Berlin, 1891, Dr. F. Mehring relates that a talented actress was employed at a well known theatre at a monthly salary of $25, while the expenses for her wardrobe amounted to $250 in a single month. The difference was made up by a “friend.”

[114] At the conference of the purity societies on September 20, 1894, at the instance of Dr. Wagner an investigation was decided upon. The results of this investigation have been published in two volumes, entitled: The Sexual Morality of Protestant Country People in the German Empire, 1895–1896.

[115] Prof. S. Bettman—Medical Supervision of Prostitutes. Handbook of the social science of medicine, Jena, 1905.

[116] Ibid.

[117] S. Turcranji and S. Engel. The Foundling System in Italy. Quarterly journal of public hygiene, 1903.

[118] Encyclopedia of Social Science; 3d edition, vol. iv., 1909. Article: Foundling Asylums.

[119] Encyclopedia of Social Science, 1909.

[120] Schnapper Arndt.

[121] F. Prinzing—The Causes of Still-Births. General records of statistics, 1907.

5.—Crimes Against Morality and Sexual Diseases.

We must still briefly dwell upon another evil that is often met with. An excess of sexual enjoyment is far more harmful than the want of same. An organism abused by excesses is eventually destroyed. Impotence, sterility, idiocy, feeble mindedness and other diseases result. Temperance in sexual intercourse is as necessary as temperance in eating and drinking, and other human requirements. But young men living in luxury seem to find it very difficult to be temperate. Therefore we often find senility among young men of the upper classes. The number of old and young roués is large, and because they are satiated and dulled by excesses, they require special stimulants. Beside those in whom love for their own sex (sodomy) is innate, there are many who succumb to this perversity of the Greek age. Sodomy is[205] far more widespread than most of us imagine; the secret documents of many police departments might reveal appalling facts.[122] Among the women, too, the perversities of ancient Greece have been revived. Lesbian, or Sapphic love is, so Taxel claims, prevalent to an enormous degree among the fashionable ladies of Paris. In Berlin about a quarter of the prostitutes indulge in this perverse passion and it is not unknown among the fashionable women, either.

Another unnatural satisfaction of the sexual desire are the criminal assaults upon children that have greatly increased during the last decades. The following numbers of persons were convicted of crimes against morality in Germany: In 1895, 10,239; in 1905, 13,432; in 1906, 13,557. Among those were 58 persons in 1902 and 72 in 1907, who were convicted of criminal assaults upon children. The following number was convicted of fornication with persons under fourteen: In 1902, 4,090; in 1906, 4,548; in 1907, 4,397. In Italy the number of crimes against morality was: 1887 to 1889, 4,590; 1903, 8,461; which is 19.44 per cent. and 25.67 per cent. for every 100,000 inhabitants. The same fact has been observed in Austria. Very correctly H. Herz says: “The rapid increase in crimes against morality during the period 1880–1890 shows that the present economic structure with its decrease in the marriage rate and its instability of employment is in no small degree the cause of the low standard of morality.”[123]

In Germany members of the learned professions furnish about 5.6 per cent of the criminals; but they furnish about 13 per cent. of those convicted of criminal assaults upon children. This percentage would be higher still if members of those circles would not have ample means to conceal their crimes. The terrifying revelations made by the “Pall Mall Gazette” at the close of the eighties of the[206] last century concerning the criminal abuses of children in England, have shown the widespread existence of frightful conditions.

Concerning venereal diseases and their increase, the following table, showing the number of cases treated in German hospitals, contains valuable information:

  Gonorrhoea Syphilis
1877–1879 23,344  67,750
1880–1882 28,700  79,220
1883–1885 30,038  65,980
1886–1888 32,275  53,664
1889–1891 41,381  60,793
1892–1894 50,541  78,093
1895–1897 53,587  74,092
1898–1901 83,374 101,225
1902–1904 68,350  76,678

If we take the average annual number of persons afflicted we find that within a period of 25 years the cases of gonorrhoea have increased from 7,781 to 22,750 and those of syphilis from 22,583 to 25,559. The population has increased only by 25 per cent. while the cases of gonorrhoea have increased by 182 per cent and those of syphilis 19 per cent! We have another statistic that does not cover many years, but just one single day which shows how many patients afflicted with venereal diseases were under medical treatment on April 30, 1900. The Prusian minister of public instruction has caused this investigation to be made. A list of questions was sent to every physician in Prussia. Although only 63.5 per cent. of these replied, the investigation showed that on April 30, 1900, there were about 41,000 persons in Prusia afflicted with venereal diseases. 11,000 were newly infected with syphilis. In Berlin alone there were on this day 11,600 persons afflicted with venereal diseases, among them 3,000 fresh cases of syphilis. For every 100,000 adult inhabitants, the following number were under medical treatment for venereal diseases.

  Men. Women.
In Berlin 1419 457
   17 cities having more than 100,000 inhabitants  999 457
   42 cities having 30,000 to 100,000  584 176
   47 cities having less than 30,000  450 169
   other cities and rural communities    80   27
In the entire German Empire  282   92


The cities mainly afflicted are those situated at harbors, college and garrison towns and large industrial centers (In Koenigsberg for every 100,000 inhabitants, 2,152 men and 619 women are diseased; in Cologne 1309 men and 402 women; in Frankfort 1,505 men and 399 women).

Of Berlin Dr. Blaschko says: “In a large city like Berlin annually of 1,000 young men between 20 and 30 years, almost 200, about one-fifth, become diseased with gonorrhoea and about 24 with syphilis. But the time during which young men are exposed to venereal infection is much longer than one year. For some it is five years, for others ten years and more. After five years of unmarried life then a young man will become diseased with gonorrhoea once and twice in ten years. After five years every tenth young man, after eight to ten years every fifth young man would acquire syphilis. In other words, of the men who marry after their thirtieth year every one would have had gonorrhoea twice, and every fourth or fifth one would be inflicted with syphilis. These figures have been compiled by careful calculation, and to us physicians who learn of so many misfortunes that are concealed from the eyes of the world, they do not appear exaggerated.”

The results of the research of April 30, 1900, are confirmed by a careful study of this problem in connection with the Prussian army compiled in 1907 by the surgeon-major, Dr. Schwiening.[124] It was shown that the various divisions of the army annually show about the same number of recruits afflicted with venereal diseases. Some divisions have a particularly large number of cases, especially the division recruited from the province of Brandenburg. Berlin is mainly to blame that 2 per cent. of these recruits are diseased. Dr. Schwiening’s compilation of the percentage of diseased recruits from the various government districts clearly shows the extension of venereal diseases among civilians. Of 1,000 enrolled recruits the following number was afflicted:


  1903 1904 1905
Berlin 40.9 37.2 45.2
27 cities having more than 100,000 inhabitants 14.9 16.7 15.8
26 cities having 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants 11.6   9.6   9.5
33 cities having 25,000 to 50,000 inhabitants   8.2   6.8   9.1
Cities having less than 25,000 inhabitants and rural communities   4.3   5.0   4.0
State   7.6   8.1   7.8

The greatest number of diseased recruits came from Shoeneberg, having 58.4 for every 1,000 enrolled. In large cities outside of Prussia, the following numbers were recorded: Hamburg, 29.8; Leipsic, 29.4; Dresden, 19; Chemnitz, 17.8; Munich, 16.4. According to G. v. Mayer the increase of venereal diseases for every 1,000 inhabitants from 1903 to 1904 was: Prussia, 19.6; Austria and Hungary, 60.3; France, 27.1; Italy, 85.2; England, 125; Belgium, 28.3; the Netherlands, 31.4; Russia, 40.5; Denmark, 45. The increase in venereal diseases is especially great in the navy. In the German navy from 1905 to 1906 the number of cases were: On ship-board abroad, 113.6 per thousand; in domestic waters, 58.8; on land, 57.8. In the English navy there were in 1905 121.55 cases and in 1906 121.94 cases.

We have seen that our social conditions have produced all sorts of vices, excesses and crimes that are constantly increasing. The whole social organism is in a state of unrest by which the women are most deeply affected. Women are beginning to realize this more and more and to seek redress. They demand in the first place economic independence. They demand that women, like men, should be admitted to all trades and professions according to their strength and ability. They especially demand the right to practice learned professions. Are these endeavors justified? Can their aims be realized? Will they bring relief? These are the questions we must seek to answer.

[122] The trials of Moltke, Lynar and Eulenburg have since revealed a more revolting picture than one could suspect. They have shown how widespread is this perversity among the higher strata of society, especially among military men and in court circles.

[123] Dr. Hugo Herz—Crimes and Criminals in Austria, Tuebingen, 1908.

[124] Director general of the army medical department, Dr. Chumburg, The Venereal Diseases, Their Nature and Dissemination.


Woman in Industry.

1.—Development and Extension of Female Labor.

The endeavor of women to earn their own living and to attain personal independence is, to some extent at least, regarded as a just one by bourgeois society. The bourgeoisie requires an unhampered release of male and female labor power in order that industry may attain its highest degree of development. The perfection of machinery and the division of labor, whereby each single function in the process of production requires less strength and mechanical training than formerly, and the growing competition, not only between individual manufacturers, but also between entire manufacturing regions, states and countries—causes the labor power of woman to be sought more and more.

The special causes which lead to an increased employment of female labor in a growing number of trades have been set forth in a previous chapter. One reason why employers resort more and more to the employment of women beside men, or instead of men, is, that women are accustomed to require less than men. Owing to their nature as sex beings, women are obliged to offer their labor power cheaper than men. They are, as a rule, more subjected to physical derangements that cause an interruption of their work, and owing to the complication and organization of modern industry, this may lead to an interruption in the whole process of production. Pregnancy and child-birth lengthen such periods of interruption.[125] The employer makes the most of this fact and[210] finds ample indemnification for these occasional interruptions by the payment of considerably lower wages. Moreover the woman is tied to her particular abode or its immediate environment. She cannot change her abode as men are enabled to do in most cases. Female labor, especially the labor of married women workers appears particularly desirable to employers in still another way, as may be seen from the quotation from “Capital,” by Karl Marx on page 129. As a worker the married woman is “far more attentive and docile” than the unmarried one. Consideration for her children compels her to exert her strength to the utmost in order to earn what is needful for their livelihood, and she therefore quietly submits to much that the unmarried working woman would not submit to, far less so the working man. As a rule working women rarely combine with their fellow workers to obtain better working conditions. That also enhances their value in the eyes of the employers; sometimes they even are a good means to subdue rebellious male workers. Women moreover are more patient, they possess greater nimbleness and a more developed taste, qualities that make them better suited to many kinds of work than men.

These womanly virtues the virtuous capitalist appreciates fully; and so, with the development of industry, the field of woman’s work is extended each year, but—and this is the decisive factor—without materially improving her social condition. Where female labor power is employed, it frequently releases male labor power. But the displaced male workers must earn their living; so they offer their labor power at lower wages, and this offer again depresses the wages of the female workers. The depression of wages becomes a screw set in motion by the constantly revolving process of developing industry, and as this process of revolution by labor-saving devices also releases female workers, the supply of “hands” is increased still more. New branches of industry counteract this constant production of surplus labor power, but not sufficiently to create better conditions of labor. In the new branches of industry[211] also, as for instance in the electrical, male workers are being displaced by female workers. In the motor factory of the General Electric Company most of the machines are tended by girls. Every increase in wages above a certain standard causes the employer to seek further improvement of his machinery, and to put the automatic machine in the place of human hands and human brains. In the beginning of the capitalistic era only male workers competed with one another on the labor market. Now sex is arrayed against sex, and age against age. Women displace men, and women in turn are displaced by young people and children. That is the “moral regime” of modern industry.

This state of affairs would eventually become unbearable if the workers, by organization in their trade unions, would not counteract it with all their might. To the working woman, too, it is becoming a sheer necessity to join these industrial organizations, for as an individual she has still far less power of resistance than the working man. Working women are beginning to recognize this necessity. In Germany the following numbers were organized: in 1892, 4,355; in 1899, 19,280; in 1900, 22,884; in 1905, 74,411; in 1907, 136,929; in 1908, 138,443. In 1892 women constituted only 1.8 per cent. of all members of trade unions; in 1908 they constituted 7.6 per cent. According to the fifth international report of the trade union movement the numbers of female members were in Great Britain, 201,709; in France, 88,906; in Austria, 46,401.

The endeavors of employers to lengthen the work day in order to extract larger profits from their workers is met with little resistance by women workers. That explains why in the textile industry, for instance, in which more than half of the workers are women the work day is longest. It was necessary therefore that government protection by limiting the hours of work should begin with this industry. Women being accustomed to an endless work day by their domestic activity, submit to the increased demands upon their labor power without offering resistance.


[Version of the table for narrower screens]

Entire Population Gainfully employed Persons gainfully employed in percentage of population
Male Female Both Male Female Both Male Fe­male Both
German Empire 1907 30,461,100 31,259,429 61,720,529 18,599,236 9,429,881 28,092,117 61.1 30.4 45.5
Austria 1900 12,852,693 13,298,015 26,150,708 8,257,294 5,850,158 14,107,452 64.2 44.0 53.9
Hungary 1900 9,582,152 9,672,407 19,254,559 6,162,298 2,668,697 8,830,995 64.3 27.6 45.9
Russia 1897 62,477,348 63,162,673 125,640,021 25,995,237 5,276,112 31,271,349 41.6  8.4 24.9
Italy 1901 16,155,130 16,320,123 32,475,253 10,998,462 5,284,064 16,272,526 68.0 32.4 50.1
Switzerland 1900 1,627,025 1,688,418 3,315,433 1,057,187 498,760 1,556,577 65.0 29.5 46.9
France 1901 18,916,889 19,533,899 38,450,788 12,910,565 6,804,510 19,715,075 68.2 34.8 51.3
Belgium 1900 3,324,834 3,368,714 6,693,548 2,123,072 948,229 3,071,301 63.8 28.1 45.9
Netherlands 1899 2,520,603 2,583,535 5,104,138 1,497,159 433,548 1,930,707 59.4 16.8 37.8
Denmark 1901 1,193,448 1,256,092 2,449,540 752,559 353,980 1,106,539 63.1 28.2 45.2
Sweden 1900 2,506,436 2,630,005 5,136,441 1,422,979 551,021 1,974,000 56.8 21.0 38.4
Norway 1900 1,066,693 1,154,784 2,221,477 599,057 277,613 876,670 56.1 24.0 39.5
England and Wales 1901 15,728,613 16,799,230 32,527,843 10,156,976 4,171,751 14,328,727 64.6 24.8 44.1
Scotland 1901 2,173,755 2,298,348 4,472,103 1,391,188 591,624 1,982,812 64.0 25.8 44.3
Ireland 1901 2,200,040 2,258,735 4,458,775 1,413,943 549,874 1,963,817 64.3 24.3 44.0
Great Britain and Ireland 1901 20,102,408 21,356,313 41,458,721 12,962,107 5,313,249 18,275,356 64.5 24.9 44.1
United States of Ame­rica[126] 1900 39,059,242 37,244,145 76,303,387 23,956,115 5,329,807 29,285,922 61.3 14.3 38.4

[126] These figures include 91,219 persons of the army and navy who were absent from the country while the census was taken.


In other trades, such as millinery, manufacture of artificial flowers, etc.,[127] they reduce their own wages and lengthen their own work day by taking home extra work. They frequently do not even notice that thereby they become their own competitors and do not earn more in a sixteen hour day than they might in a well regulated ten-hour day.

The table on page 212 shows to what extent female labor has grown among various civilized nations, both in relation to the other sex and in relation to the entire population.[128] Our table shows that the number of women employed in gainful occupations constitutes a considerable percentage of the entire population. The percentage is largest in Austria, France and Italy. This may be partly due to the manner of census-taking, as not only those female persons are counted, whose principal occupation is a gainful employment, but also those who perform incidental work for wages. The percentage is lowest in the United States. It is also important to compare the growth of the laboring population with former periods. Let us begin with Germany:

[Version of the table for narrower screens]

Years in which census was taken Entire Population Persons gainfully employed Persons gainfully employed in percentage of population Of 100 persons gainfully employed
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
1882 22,150,749 23,071,364 13,415,415 5,541,517 60.57 24.02 71.24 28.76
1895 25,409,161 26,361,123 15,531,841 6,578,350 61.13 24.96 70.25 29.75
1907 30,461,100 31,159,429 18,599,236 9,492,881 61.06 30.37 66.21 33.79

This table shows firstly, that the number of persons gainfully employed increases more rapidly than the population; secondly, that the growth of female labor still exceeds this increase; thirdly, that the male laboring population is relatively stationary, while the female[214] laboring population shows a relative and absolute growth, and lastly, that female labor at an increasing rate displaces male labor. The number of persons gainfully employed has increased from 1882 to 1895 by 16.6 per cent.; the number of men, by 15.8 per cent. and 19.35 per cent.; the number of women by 18.7 per cent. from 1882 to 1895, and by 44.44 per cent. from 1895 to 1907. The increase of the population from 1882 to 1895 was only 19.8 per cent., and from 1895 to 1907 only 19.34 per cent. So the entire number of persons gainfully employed has increased; but as the growth of the number of men gainfully employed has approximately kept pace with the growth of the population, the number of women gainfully employed has grown mostly. This shows that the struggle for existence requires greater efforts than formerly.

From 1882 to 1895 and from 1895 to 1907 we find the following increase (+) and decrease (−) among the population of Germany:

From 1882 to 1895 From 1895 to 1907
Female persons gainfully employed
+ 1,005,290 = 23.60 per cent + 2,979,105 = 56.59 per cent
Male persons gainfully employed
+ 2,133,577 = 15.95 per cent + 3,077,382 = 19.85 per cent
Female servants
+      31,543 =   2.46 per cent −     64,574 =  4.91 per cent
Male servants
−      17,151 = 40.35 per cent −      9,987 = 39.38 per cent

The following table shows the number of persons gainfully employed in various trades:

[Version of the table for narrower screens]

  1882 1895 1907
Male Female Male Female Male Female
Agriculture, Forestry 5,701,587 2,534,909 5,539,538 2,753,154 5,284,271 4,598,986
Industry and Mining 5,269,489 1,126,976 6,760,102 1,521,118 9,152,330 2,103,924
Commerce and Traffic 1,272,208 298,110 1,758,903 579,608 2,546,253 931,373
Various kinds of wage labor 213,746 183,836 198,626 233,685 150,791 320,904
Public service and learned professions 373,593 115,272 618,335 176,648 799,025 288,311
Army and Navy 542,282 630,978 651,194


The following table shows the increase and decrease in various trades:

[Version of the table for narrower screens]

  From 1882 to 1895 From 1895 to 1907
Female % Male % Female % Male %
Agriculture, Forestry +  218,245  8.60 −  162,049  2.80 +1,845,832 67.04 −  255,267  4.61
Industry and Mining +  394,142 35.00 +1,490,613 28.30 +  582,806 38.31 +2,392,228 35.39
Commerce and Traffic +  281,498 98.40 +  486,695 38.30 +   351,765 60.69 +  787,350 44.76
Various kinds of wage labor +    50,029 27.20 −     15,120  7.10 +    87,039 37.22 −    47,835 24.08
Public service and learned professions +    61,376 53.25 +   154,285 33.25 +   111,663 +  180,690
Army and Navy +   179,153 39.65 +    20,216
Total +1,005,290 23.60 +2,133,577 15.90 +2,979,105 +3,077,382

Among the persons gainfully employed there were:

[Version of the table for narrower screens]

  1895 1907
Female % Male % Female % Male %
Independent  1,069,007      22.1      4,405,039      31.3    1,052,165  4,438,123
Employees      39,418       0.81      582,407      4.1      159,889  1,130,839
Laborers, etc., excl. servants 3,745,455     77.09  9,071,097     64.6  6,422,229 11,413,892
Total 4,853,880 = 100.00 14,058,543 = 100.00 7,634,283 = 100.00 16,982,854 = 100.00

The following shows the increase and decrease of women holding independent positions from 1895 to 1907:

  [1907] [1895]   [%]
Industry (domestic industry) 477,290 519,492 − 42,202 =  8.10
Commerce and traffic 246,641 202,616 + 44,025 = 21.77
Agriculture 328,237 346,896 − 18,659 =  9.04

The greatest number of female persons were employed in the following trades:

  1907. 1895.
Agriculture 4,585,749 2,745,840
Clothing and cleaning 883,184 713,021
Commercial lines 545,177 299,829
Textile industry 528,235 427,961
Restaurants and cafés 339,555 261,450
Articles of food and luxury 248,962 140,333
Metal works 73,039 36,210
Stone and pottery 72,270 39,555
Paper industry 67,322 39,222
Wood and carving industry 48,028 30,346


The following are the trades in which more women than men are employed in Germany:

  Women. Men.
Agriculture 4,217,132 2,737,768
Textile industry 466,210 390,312
Clothing trades 403,879 303,264
Cleaning trades 85,684 58,035
Restaurants and cafés 266,930 139,002
Domestic service 279,208 36,791
Nursing 129,197 78,520

These figures clearly show us the prevailing state of affairs in Germany. Although the number of persons gainfully employed has increased more rapidly than the population, the growth of female labor still exceeds this increase. The employment of women is rapidly growing in all lines of industry. While the male laboring population is relatively stationary, the female laboring population shows a relative and absolute growth. In fact the increase in female labor constitutes the chief portion of the general increase of persons gainfully employed in the entire population. The number of female members of families supported by men rank from 70.81 per cent. in 1895 to 63.90 per cent. in 1907. Woman has become such a powerful factor in industry that the Philistine saying, the woman’s place is in the home, seems utterly void and ridiculous. In England the following numbers of persons were industrially employed:

    For every 100 persons gainfully employed
Total Male Female Male Fem.
1871 11,593,466  8,270,186 3,323,280
1881 11,187,564  7,783,646 3,403,918 69.59 30.41
1891 12,751,995  8,883,254 4,016,230 68.09 31.91
1901 14,328,727 10,156,976 4,171,751 70.09 29.91

Within thirty years the number of men gainfully employed increased by 1,886,790 persons = 22.8 per cent.; the number of women gainfully employed increased by 848,471 = 25.5 per cent. It is especially noteworthy that during 1881, the year of a crisis, the number of men emparent one, since most of the wives and daughters of[217] number of women employed increased by 80,638. The relative decrease of female labor in 1901 is only an apparent one, since most of the wives and daughters of farmers are now counted as having no profession. Besides, during the last twenty years those industries have grown mostly in which male labor is chiefly employed, while the textile industry has relatively, and since 1891, positively declined.

  1881 [1901] Percentage of increase Female workers among these
Stone and pottery industry 582,474 805,185 53    5,006
Metal works and manufacture of machinery 812,915 1,228,504 52   61,233
Building trades 764,911 1,128,680 47    2,485
Textile trades 1,094,636 1,155,397   5 663,222

Nevertheless female labor has again increased at the expense of male labor. Only the share in increase of female labor that was 12.6 per cent. from 1851 to 1861 and 7.6 per cent. from 1871 to 1881 was reduced to 1.8 per cent. from 1891 to 1901. In the year 1907 the following numbers were counted in the textile industry: 407,360 men = 36.6 per cent. and 679,863 women = 63.4 per cent. In the clothing trades and in commerce female labor has increased much more. But it is furthermore seen that older women are displaced by younger ones, and as women under 25 are mostly unmarried and the older ones are mostly married, or widowed, it is seen that women are displaced by girls.

The following are trades in which more women than men are employed in England:

  Women Men
Domestic service 1,690,686 124,263
Clothing trades 711,786 414,637
Textile trades 663,222 492,175
Among these cotton 328,793 193,830
wool and yarn 153,311 106,598
hemp and jute 104,587 45,732
silk 22,589 8,966
embroidery 28,962 9,587

In almost all the branches women receive considerable less pay than men for the same amount of work. A recent[218] inquiry showed that the average weekly wage in the textile industry was 28 shillings 1 penny for men, and only 15 shillings 5 pence for women.[129] In the bicycle industry where female labor has rapidly increased as a result of the introduction of machinery, women receive only from 12 to 18 shillings per week, where men received from 30 to 40 shillings.[130] The same conditions are met with in the manufacture of paper goods and shoes and in binderies. Women are paid especially low wages for the manufacture of underwear; 10 shillings per week is considered a good wage. “As a rule a woman earns half or one-third of a man’s wage.”[131] A similar difference in remuneration between men and women is met with in the postal service and in teaching. Only in the cotton industry in Lancashire both sexes working an equal length of time earned almost equal wages.

In the United States we find the following development of female labor:

  1880 1890 1900
Agriculture 594,510   678,884   977,336  
Learned professions 177,255   311,687   430,597  
Domestic and personal service 1,181,300   1,667,651   2,095,449  
Commerce and transportation 63,058   228,421   503,347  
Manufacture 631,034   1,027,928   1,312,668  
    %   %   %
Total, women 2,647,157 14.7 3,914,571 17.4 5,319,397 18.8
     “     men 14,774,942 85.3 18,821,090 82.6 23,753,836 81.2
  17,422,099 100 22,735,661 100 29,073,233 100

Here we see that the number of women gainfully employed has grown from 3,914,571 in 1890 to 5,319,397 in 1900. It has increased more rapidly than the population which increased from 62,622,250 persons in 1890 to 76,303,387 in 1900; only by 21 per cent. In the same inexorable way the number of employed men is decreasing, since they are being displaced by women. Now for 100 persons gainfully employed there are 18.8 women, while[219] in 1880 there were not more than 14.7 per cent. Of 312 occupations there are only 9 in which no women are employed. According to the census of 1900, we even find among them 5 pilots, 45 engineers and firemen, 185 blacksmiths, 508 machinists, 11 well-borers, 8 boilermakers. “Of course these figures are not of great sociological importance, but they show that there are very few occupations from which women are absolutely excluded, either by their natural capacity or by law.”[132] Women are especially numerous in the following occupations: Servants and waitresses, 1,213,828; dressmaking, 338,144; farm labor, 497,886; laundresses, 332,665; teachers, 327,905; independent farmers, 307,788; textile workers, 231,458; housekeepers, 147,103; salesladies, 146,265; seamstresses, 138,724; nurses and midwives, 108,691; unqualified trades, 106,916. In these 12 occupations 3,583,333 = 74.1 per cent. of all bread-earning women have been counted. Besides there are 85,086 stenographers; 82,936 milliners; 81,000 clerks; 72,896 bookkeepers, etc., together 19 occupations, comprising over 50,000 women = 88.8 per cent. of all women breadwinners. Women predominate in the following trades:

  For every 100 persons employed.
Manufacture of underwear Women 99.4 Men   0.6
Millinery 98.0   2.0
Dressmaking 96.8   3.2
Manufacture of collars 77.6 22.4
Weaving 72.8 27.2
Manufacture of gloves 62.6 37.4
Bookbinding 50.5 49.5
Textile trades 50.0 50.0
Housekeeping 94.7   5.3
Nursing 89.9 10.1
Laundry work 86.8 13.2
Domestic service 81.9 18.1
Boarding 83.4 16.6
Stenographers 76.7 23.3
Teachers 73.4 26.6
Music teachers 56.9 43.1


Of 4,833,630 women employed in gainful occupations aged 16 years and more, 3,143,712 were single, 769,477 were married, 857,005 were widowed, 63,436 were divorced. The American report says: “The increase in the percentage of persons gainfully employed was greatest for the married women, since it was by one-fourth greater in 1900 than in 1890. In 1890 there was only one married working woman among 22; in 1900 there was one among 18.” The number of widowed and divorced women is very great, both relatively and actually. In 1900 among 2,721,438 widowed women 857,005 = 31.5 were earning their living, and among divorced women the percentage was still greater. Of 114,935, these 49 per cent. were earning their own living in 1890 and 55.3 per cent. in 1900. Thus more women became self-supporting each year. Among the 303 occupations in which women are employed there are:

 79 with less than 100 women
 59 100 to   500
 31 500 to 1000
125 more 1000
 63 5000

Among 100 persons from 16 years up we find the following wage-scale:

Men Women
Less than    7 dollars  18     Less than    7 dollars 66.3  
  7 to   9 dollars  15.4   7 to   9 dollars 19.6  
  9 to 20 dollars 60.6    9 to  15 dollars 13.2
20 to 25 dollars   4.8   15 to 20 dollars   0.8 
More than 25 dollars   2    20 to 25 dollars   0.1 
Average weekly wage $11.16   $6.17

We see that 60.6 per cent. of the men earn more than $9, while only 13.2 per cent. of the women earn more than $9, and more than two-thirds (66.3 per cent.) earn less than $7.[133] The average weekly wage for men is $11.16; the average weekly wage for women $6.17, almost half of the man’s wages. Among government employes the difference is equally great. Among 185,874 persons engaged in civil service there were 172,053 men = 92.6 per[221] cent., and 13,821 women—7.4 per cent. In the District of Columbia, the seat of the national administration, the percentage of female labor amounts to 29 per cent. And yet 47.2 per cent. of the women earn less than $720, while only 16.7 per cent. of the men earn less than $720.[134]

In France, according to the census of 1901, the laboring population amounted to 19,715,075 persons, 12,910,565 men and 6,804,510 women. They are distributed among various trades as follows:

  Men. Per Cent. Women. Per Cent.
Agriculture 5,517,617 72    2,658,952 28    
Commerce 1,132,621 65    689,999 35    
Dom’tic service 223,861 23    791,176 77    
Learned prof. 226,561 67   173,278 33   
Industry 3,695,213 63.5 2,124,642 36.5

“The female laboring population amounts to one-half of the male laboring population.”[135] As in all other countries, fewest women are employed at those occupations that require greatest physical strength (In mining 2.03 women for 100 men; in quarries 1.65; in metallurgy, 1.06). The greatest number of women are employed in the textile trades, 116 women for 100 men—in the clothing trades, in laundries, 1,247 women for 100 men, and in the manufacture of underwear 3,286 women for 100 men.[136] It generally holds true, as Mme. C. Milhand states, that the greatest number of women are employed in those industries where the hours of work are particularly long and wages particularly low. “It is a sad fact that while the industries, where the hours of labor are short, only employ a few thousand women, those where the hours of work are long, employs hundreds of thousands of them.”[137] In regard to the wage scale E. Levasseur says that a woman’s wage rarely amounts to two-thirds of a man’s wage and more frequently only to one-half.[138]

[125] A number of lists from sick-benefit funds, compiled by the factory inspector Schuler, showed that female members were ill 7.17 days annually, while male members were ill only 4.78 days annually. The duration of each illness was 24.8 for female members and 21.2 for male members. O. Schwartz, The results of the employment of married women in factories from the standpoint of public hygiene.—German quarterly gazette for public hygiene.

[127] “This is especially the case in the clothing trade, but also in other industries such as the manufacture of toys, underwear, cigarettes, paper goods etc.” R. Wilbrandt—Protection of working women and domestic industry.—Jena 1906.

[128] Encyclopedia of Social Sciences.—H. Zahn, Statistics of professions and trades.

[129] Textile Trades in 1906. London, 1909.

[130] E. Cadbury, C. Matheson and C. Shaun—Women’s work and wages. London, 1906.

[131] E. Cadbury and F. Shaun—Sweating. London. 1907.

[132] Statistics of women at work. Washington, 1908.

[133] Earnings of wage-earners. Bulletin 93, page 11. Washington, 1908.

[134] Executive civil service of the United States. Washington, 1908.

[135] C. Milhand—L’ouvrière en France. Paris, 1907.

[136] E. Levasseur—Questions ouvrières et industrielles en France sous la troisième république. Paris, 1907.

[137] C. Milhand—L’ouvrière en France. Paris, 1907.

[138] E. Levasseur—Questions ouvrières et industrielles en France sous la troisième république. Paris, 1907.


2.—Factory Work of Married Women.—Sweatshop Labor and Dangerous Occupations.

Married women form a large percentage of working women and their number is steadily increasing, which means a serious problem in regard to the family life of the working class. In 1899, German factory inspectors were instructed to investigate the work of married women and to inquire into the causes which lead them to seek employment.[139] This investigation showed that 229,334 married women were employed in factories. Besides 1,063 married women were employed in mining above the ground, as was shown by the report of the Prussian mining authorities. In Baden the number of married working women increased from 10,878 in 1894 to 15,046 in 1899, which is 31.27 per cent. of all adult female workers. The following table shows the distribution of married women factory laborers among the various trades:

Textile industry 111,194
Articles of food and luxury 39,080
Stone and pottery industry 19,475
Clothing and cleaning trades 13,156
Paper industry 11,049
Metal works 10,739
Wood and carving industry 5,635
Polygraphic trades 4,770
Manufacture of machinery 4,493
Chemical industry 4,380
Various 5,363
Total 229,334

Besides the textile industry, the manufacture of articles of food and luxury, especially the manufacture of tobacco, gives many married women employment. Then comes the paper industry, especially employment in work shops for the assorting of rags, and employment in brick yards. “Married women are mainly employed in difficult occupations[223] (quarries, brick yards, dyeing establishments, manufacture of chemicals, sugar refineries, etc.), implying hard and dirty work, while young working girls under twenty-one find employment in porcelain factories, spinning and weaving mills, paper mills, cigar factories, and in the clothing trade. The worst kinds of work, shunned by others, are taken up by the elder working women, especially the married ones.”[140]

Of the many replies in regard to the causes which lead married women to seek work only a few need to be mentioned. In the district of Potsdam the main reason given for the factory labor of married women was, that the earnings of the men were insufficient. In Berlin according to the reports of two inspectors 53.62 per cent. of the women who helped to support their families stated, that the earnings of their husbands were insufficient to support them. Similar information was given by the factory inspectors for the districts of western Prussia, Frankfort on the Oder, Franconia, Wurtemberg, Elsatia, etc. The inspector for Magdeburg gives the same cause for the majority of married working women, but also states that some married women must work because their husbands are dissolute and spend all their earnings on themselves. Others again, it was reported, worked as a matter of habit and because they had not been trained to be housekeepers. It may be true that these causes hold good in a minority of cases; but the great majority of these women work because they must. The factory inspector for Alsace states as the main cause for gainful employment of married women in modern industry, the demand for cheap labor, created by the means of transportation and by unrestricted competition. He furthermore states that manufacturers like to employ married women because they are more reliable and steady. The factory inspector for Baden, Dr. Woerishoffer, says: “The low wages paid to women workers is the main cause why[224] employers resort to female labor wherever it can be made use of. Ample proof of this assertion can be found in the fact, that wages are lowest in those industries in which the greatest number of women are employed. As female labor can be employed to a great extent in these industries, it becomes a necessity to the working class families that the women should seek employment.” The factory inspector for Coblentz says: “Women usually are more industrious and reliable than young girls. Young working girls generally have an aversion against disagreeable and dirty work, which is accordingly left to the more unassuming married workers. Thus, for instance, dealers in rags frequently employ married women.”

That the wages of working women are lower everywhere than those of workingmen, even for equal work, is a well known fact. In this respect the private employer does not differ from the state or community. Women employed in the railroad and postal service receive less than men for the same kind of work. In every community women teachers receive a lower salary than men teachers. This may be explained by the following causes: Women have fewer needs and are, above all, more helpless; their earnings are in many cases only additional to the incomes of fathers or husbands, the main supporters of the families; the character of female labor is amateurish, temporary and accidental; there is an immense reserve force of female workers which increases their helplessness; there is much competition from middle class women in dressmaking, millinery, flower and paper goods manufactory, etc.; women are usually tied to their place of residence. All these causes make the hours of work longest for women unless they are protected by legislation.

In a report on the wages of factory laborers in Mannheim in 1893 the late Dr. Woerishoffer divides the weekly wages into three classes.[141] The lowest class comprises weekly wages up to 15 marks ($3.75), the middle class from 15 to 24 marks ($3.75 to $6), and the high class[225] above 24 marks ($6). These wages were distributed among the workers as follows:

  Low class Middle class High class
All the workers 29.8 per cent 49.8 per cent 20.4 per cent
Male           20.9               56.2               22.9              
Female       99.2                0.7                 0.1              

The majority of the working women were paid starvation wages, as the following table shows:

A weekly wage of less than  5 marks ($1.25) was paid to  4.62 per cent
from  5 to  6 ($1.25 to $1.50)  5.47
 6  8 ($1.50 $2.00) 43.96
 8 10 ($2.00 $2.50) 27.45
10 12 ($2.50 $3.00) 12.38
12 15 ($3.00 $3.50)  5.30
more than 15 ($3.75)  0.74

An inquiry by the department of factory inspection of Berlin showed that the average weekly wages of working women was 11.36 marks ($2.82); 4.3 per cent. received less than 6 marks; 7.8 per cent. 6 to 8 marks; 27.6 per cent. 12 to 15 marks; 11.1 per cent. 15 to 20 marks, and 1.1 per cent. 20 to 30 marks. The majority (75.7 per cent) earn from 8 to 15 marks. In Karlsruhe the average weekly wages of all working women amounts to 10.02 marks.[142]

Wages are lowest in the domestic industries for both men and women, but especially for women, and the hours of work are unlimited. Also domestic industry frequently implies the so-called sweating system. A sub-contractor distributes the work among the workers and receives for his remuneration a considerable amount of the wages paid by the employer. How wretchedly female labor is paid in these sweated trades, may be seen from the following reports on conditions in Berlin. For men’s colored shirts, manufacturers paid from 2 to 2½ marks in 1889. In 1893 they obtained them for 1.20 mark. A seamstress of medium ability must toil from dawn to darkness to finish from 6 to 8 shirts daily; her weekly wages amounts to from 4 to 5 marks. An apronmaker earns 2½ to 5 marks weekly, a tiemaker 5 to 6 marks, a skillful shirt-waist maker 6 marks, a very skilled worker[226] on boys’ suits 8 to 9 marks, a worker on coats 5 to 6 marks. An experienced seamstress on fine men’s shirts can earn 12 marks per week if the season is good, and if she works from 5 o’clock in the morning until 10 o’clock at night. Milliners who can copy models independently earn 30 marks monthly; experienced trimmers who have been working at their trade for years earn 50 to 60 marks per month during the season. The season lasts five months. An umbrellamaker earns 6 to 7 marks weekly with a twelve-hour day. Such starvation wages drive working girls to prostitution, for even with the most modest requirements no working girl can live in Berlin for less than 9 to 10 marks per week.

All these facts show that the modern development of industry draws away women more and more from the family and the home. Marriage and the family are being disrupted, and so from the standpoint of these facts also it becomes absurd to relegate woman to the home and the family. Only they can resort to this argument who go through life blindly and fail to see the trend of development, or do not wish to see it. In many branches of industry, women are employed exclusively; in a great many they constitute the majority of workers, and in most of the remaining branches women find more or less employment. The number of working women is steadily growing and new lines of activity are constantly being opened to them.

By the enactment of the German factory laws of 1891 the work day of adult women workers in factories was limited to eleven hours, but a number of exceptions were permitted. Night work for women was also prohibited, but here too exceptions were made for factories that run day and night, and for manufactures limited to certain seasons. Only after the international convention at Bern on September 26, 1906, determined on a night’s rest of eleven hours for factory workers, and after Socialists for many years energetically demanded the prohibition of night work for women and the establishment of an eight-hour day, the government and the bourgeois parties are yielding at last. The law of December 28, 1908, limits the hours of work for women to ten hours daily in all[227] factories where no less than ten workers are employed. On Saturdays and on days preceding holidays the limit is eight hours. Women may not be employed for eight weeks prior to and after their confinement. Their readmission depends upon a medical certificate stating that at least six weeks have elapsed since their confinement. Women may not be employed in the manufacture of coke, nor for the carrying of building materials. In spite of the energetic opposition of Socialists, an amendment was accepted that the controlling officials may permit overtime work for 50 days annually. Especially noteworthy is the clause which constitutes a first interference with the exploitation by domestic industry. This clause determines that women and minors may not be given work to take home on days when their hours of work in the factory have been as long as the law permits. Regardless of its imperfections the new law certainly means progress compared to the present state of affairs.

But women are not only employed in growing numbers in those occupations that are suited to their inferior physical strength, they are employed wherever the exploiters can obtain higher profits by their labor. Among such occupations are difficult and disagreeable as well as dangerous ones. These facts glaringly contradict that fantastic conception of woman as a weak and tender creature, as described by poets and writers of novels. Facts are stubborn things, and we are dealing with facts only, since they prevent us from drawing false conclusions and indulging in sentimental talk. But these facts teach us, as has been previously stated, that women are employed in the following industries: The textile trades, chemical trades, metallurgy, paper industry, machine manufacture, wood work, manufacture of articles of food and luxury, and mining above the ground. In Belgium women over 21 are employed in mining underground also. They are furthermore employed in the wide field of agriculture, horticulture, cattle-breeding, and the numerous trades connected with these occupations, and in those various trades which have long since been their specific realm—dressmaking, millinery, manufacture of underwear, and as salesladies, clerks, teachers, kindergarten teachers,[228] writers, artists of all kinds, etc. Tens of thousands of women of the poorer middle class are employed in stores and in other commercial positions, and are thereby almost entirely withdrawn from housekeeping and from the care of their children. Lastly, young, and especially pretty women, find more and more employment as waitresses in restaurants and cafés as chorus girls, dancers, etc., to the greatest detriment to their morals. They are used as bait to attract pleasure-seeking men. Horrible conditions exist in these occupations from which the white slave traders draw many of their victims.

Among the above-named occupations there are many dangerous ones. Thus danger from the effects of alkaline and sulphuric fumes exists to a great degree in the manufacture and cleaning of straw hats. Bleaching is dangerous owing to the inhalation of chloral fumes. There is danger of poisoning in the manufacture of colored paper, the coloring of artificial flowers, the manufacture of metachromatypes, chemicals and poisons, the coloring of tin soldiers and other tin toys, etc. Silvering of mirrors means death to the unborn children of pregnant workers. In Prussia about 22 per cent. of all infants die during their first year of life; but among the babies of working women employed in certain dangerous occupations we find, as stated by Dr. Hirt, the following appalling death-rate: mirror makers, 65 per cent.; glass cutters, 55 per cent.; workers in lead, 40 per cent. In 1890 it was reported that among 78 pregnant women who had been employed in the type founderies of the government district of Wiesbaden, only 37 had normal confinements. Dr. Hirt asserts that the following trades become especially dangerous to women during the second half of their pregnancy: the manufacture of colored paper and flowers, the finishing of Brussels laces with white lead, the making of metachromatypes (transfer pictures), the silvering of mirrors, the rubber industry, and all manufactures in which the workers inhale poisonous gases, such as carbonic acid, carbonic oxide, sulphide of hydrogen, etc. The manufacture of shoddy and phosphoric matches are also dangerous occupations. The report of the factory inspector for Baden shows, that the average annual number of[229] premature births among working women increased from 1039 during the years 1882 to 1886 to 1,244 during the years 1887 to 1891. The number of births that had to be preceded by an operation were on an average 1,118 from 1882 to 1886, and 1,385 from 1887 to 1891. More serious facts of this sort would be revealed if similar investigations were made throughout Germany. But generally the factory inspectors in framing their reports content themselves with the remark: “Particular injuries to women by their employment in factories have not been observed.” How could they observe them during their short visits and without consulting medical opinion? That furthermore there is great danger to life and limb, especially in the textile trades, the manufacture of explosives and work at agricultural machinery has been shown. Moreover a number of enumerated trades are among the most difficult and strenuous, even for men; that can be seen by a glance at the very incomplete list. It is very easy to say that this or that occupation is unsuited to a woman. But what can she do if no other more suitable occupation is open to her? Dr. Hirt[143] gives the following list of occupations in which young girls ought not to be employed at all on account of the danger to their health: Manufacture of bronze colors, manufacture of emery paper, making of straw hats, glass cutting, lithographing, combing flax, picking horse hair, plucking fustian, manufacture of tin plate, manufacture of shoddy and work at flax mills.

In the following trades young girls should be employed only if proper protection (sufficient ventilation, etc.) has been provided: Manufacture of wall paper, porcelain, lead pencils, lead shot, volatile oils, alum, prussiate of potash, bromide, quinine, soda, paraffine and ultramarine (poisonous), colored paper (poisonous) colored wafers, metachromatypes, phosphoric matches,[144] Paris green and artificial flowers. Further occupations on the list are the cutting and assorting of rags, the assorting and cutting[230] of tobacco leaves, assorting of hair for brushes, cleaning (with sulphur) of straw hats, sulphurizing of India-rubber, reeling wool and silk, cleaning bed-feathers, coloring and printing of goods, coloring of tin soldiers, packing of tobacco leaves, silvering mirrors, and cutting steel pins and pens. It is certainly no pleasant sight to behold women, even pregnant women, working at the construction of railways, together with men and drawing heavily loaded carts, or helping with the building of a house, mixing lime and serving as hod-carriers. Such occupations strip a woman of all womanliness, just as, on the other hand, many modern occupations deprive men of their manliness. Such are the results of social exploitation and social warfare. Our corrupted social conditions turn the natural order upside down.

It is not surprising that workingmen do not relish this tremendous increase of female labor in all branches of industry. It is certain that the extension of the employment of women in industry disrupts the family life of the working class, that the breaking up of marriage and the home are a natural result, and that it leads to a terrible increase of immorality, degeneration, all kinds of disease and infant mortality. According to the statistics of the German Empire, infant mortality has greatly increased in those cities that have become centers of industry. As a result infant mortality is also heightened in the rural districts owing to the greater scarcity and increased cost of milk. In Germany, infant mortality is greatest in Upper Palatine, Upper Bavaria and Lower Bavaria, in some localities of the government districts of Liegnitz and Breslau and in Chemnitz. In 1907 of every 100 infants the following percentage died during the first year of life: Stadtamhof (Upper Palatinate) 40.14 per cent.; Parsberg (Upper Palatinate) 40.06; Friedberg (Upper Bavaria) 39.28; Kelheim (Lower Bavaria) 37.71; Munich 37.63; Glauchau (Saxony) 33.48; Waldenburg (Silesia)[231] 32.49; Chemnitz, 32.49; Reichenbach (Silesia), 32.18; Annaberg, 31.41, etc. In the majority of large manufacturing villages conditions were still worse, some of which had an infant mortality of from 40 to 50 per cent.

And yet this social development which is accompanied by such deplorable results means progress. It means progress just as freedom of trade, liberty of choosing one’s domicile, freedom of marriage, etc., meant progress, whereby capitalism was favored, but the middle class was doomed. The workingmen are not inclined to support small trades people and mechanics in their attempts again to limit freedom of trade and the liberty of choosing one’s domicile and to reinstate the limitations of the guild system in order to maintain industry on a small scale. Past conditions cannot be revived; that is equally true of the altered methods of manufacture and the altered position of women. But that does not preclude the necessity of protective legislation to prevent an unlimited exploitation of female labor and the employment in industry of children of school age. In this respect the interests of the working class coincide with the interests of the state and the general humane interests of an advanced stage of civilization. That all parties are interested in such protective measures has frequently been shown during the last decades, for instance, in Germany in 1893, when an increase of the army made it necessary to reduce the required standard, because our industrial system had greatly increased the number of young men who were unfit for military service.[145] Our final aim must be to remove the disadvantages that have been caused by the introduction of machinery, the improvement in the means of production and the modern methods of production, and so to organize human labor that the tremendous advantages machinery gave to humanity and will continue to give[232] may be enjoyed by all members of society. It is preposterous and a crying evil that human achievements which are the product of social labor, should only benefit those who can acquire them by means of their power of wealth, while thousands of industrious workingmen and women are stricken by terror and grief when they learn of a new labor saving device, which may mean to them that they have become superfluous and will be cast out.[146] What should be joyfully welcomed by all thereby becomes an object of hatred to some, that in former decades frequently led workingmen to storm factories and demolish the machinery. A similar hostile sentiment prevails to some extent at present between working men and working women. This sentiment is unnatural. We must therefore seek to bring about a state of society in which all will enjoy equal rights regardless of sex. That will be possible when the means of production become the property of society, when labor has attained its highest degree of fruitfulness by employing all scientific and technical improvements and advantages, and when all who are able to work shall be obliged to perform a certain amount of socially necessary labor, for which society in return will provide all with the necessary means for the development of their abilities and the enjoyment of life.

Woman shall become a useful member of human society enjoying full equality with man. She shall be given the same opportunity to develop her physical and mental abilities, and by performing duties she shall be entitled to rights. Being man’s free and equal companion no unworthy[233] demands will be made upon her. The present development of society is tending in this direction, and the numerous and grave evils incidental to this development necessitate the introduction of a new social order.

[139] Employment of married women in factories. Compiled from the annual reports of factory inspectors, for the year 1899 in the Home Department. Berlin, 1901.

[140] “In the centers of the weaving industry the percentage of married women among factory workers rises far above the average 26 per cent; for instance, in Saxony-Altenburg to 56 per cent, and in Reuss to 58 per cent.”—R. Wilbrandt, The weavers at the present time. Jena, 1906.

[141] Woerishoffer—The social status of factory workers in Mannheim.

[142] Mary Baum—Three classes of women wage-earners in industry and commerce of the city Karlsruhe. 1906.

[143] Industrial activity of women.

[144] By an international agreement between Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland on Sept. 26, 1906, the use of white phosphorus in the manufacture of matches will be forbidden from January 1, 1911. In Germany the manufacture of these goods has been prohibited since Jan. 1, 1907, and since Jan. 1, 1908, they may neither be sold nor otherwise distributed. In England a similar law was enacted in 1909.

[145] The following percentage of men examined were found fit for military service: 1902, 58.5; 1903, 57.1; 1904, 56.4; 1905, 56.3; 1906, 55.9; and 1907, 54.9. The following percentage had to be discharged owing to disability after they had been enrolled: from 1881 to 1885, 2.07 per cent; from 1891 to 1895, 2.30 per cent; from 1901 to 1905, 2.47 per cent. W. Claassen—The decrease of military efficiency in the German Empire.

[146] In December 1871, factory inspector A. Redgrave delivered a lecture at Bradford in which he said among other things: “My attention has recently been called to the changed appearance in the wool mills. Formerly they were full of women and children; now the machines seem to do all the work. Upon my inquiry a manufacturer gave me the following information: ‘under the old system I employed 63 persons; after the introduction of improved machinery I reduced my hands to 33; and recently, as a result of further great improvements, I was able to reduce them from 33 to 13’.” Within a few years then the number of workers was reduced by almost 80 per cent while the same amount of goods were produced.—Further interesting information on this subject may be found in Capital by Karl Marx.

The Struggle of Women for Education.

1.—The Revolution in Domestic Life.

Although the change in the position of women is obvious to all who go through life with open eyes, we still continue to hear the idle talk that the home and the family are woman’s natural sphere. This cry is most loudly raised wherever women attempt to enter the learned professions to become teachers at higher institutions of learning, physicians, lawyers, scientists, etc. The most ridiculous objections are resorted to and defended in the guise of scientific arguments. In this respect, as in many others, supposedly learned men base their arguments on science to defend what is most ridiculous and absurd. Their main objection is, that women are intellectually inferior to men; that in the realm of intellectual activity they cannot attain any noteworthy achievements. Most men are so prejudiced in regard to the professional abilities of women, that whoever resorts to arguments of this sort is sure to meet with approval. As long as the general status of culture and knowledge is as low as at present, new ideas will always be met with rigorous opposition, especially when it is in the interest of the ruling classes to limit culture and knowledge to their own strata. Therefore new ideas are at first upheld only by a small minority, and this small group is subjected to ridicule, slander and persecution. But if the new ideas are good and rational, if they have sprung up as a natural consequence of existing conditions, they will be disseminated, and the minority will eventually become the majority. It was thus with every new idea in the course of human history, and the idea of obtaining[234] woman’s true and complete emancipation will meet with the same success. Were not the believers in Christian faith at one time a small minority? Was the reformation not ushered in by a small and persecuted group? Did not the modern bourgeoisie contend with overwhelmingly powerful opponents? Nevertheless they were victorious. Or was Socialism destroyed in Germany by twelve years of persecution by exceptional laws? The victory of Socialism was never more certain than when it was thought to be destroyed.

The assertion that housekeeping and child-rearing is woman’s natural sphere is as intelligent as the assertion that there must always be kings, because there have been kings as long as there has been a history. We do not know how the first king originated, just as we do not know where the first capitalist appeared. But we do know that monarchy has been greatly transformed in the course of thousands of years, that it is the tendency of evolution to diminish the power of kings more and more and that the time will come—and that time is not far distant—when kings will be quite superfluous. Just as monarchy, so every institution of state and society is subjected to changes and transformations and ultimate destruction. In the historical expositions of this book we have seen, that the present form of marriage and the position of woman have by no means always been what they are to-day. We have seen that both are the product of an historical line of development that is still in progress. About 2,350 years ago Demosthenes could assert that woman had no other vocation but to give birth to legitimate children and to faithfully guard the house. To-day this conception has been overcome. No one could dare to defend this standpoint to-day without being accused of contempt of women. Indeed there are some even to-day who secretly share the view of the ancient Athenian, but no one would dare to express publicly what one of the foremost men of ancient Greece asserted freely and openly as a matter of course. Herein lies the progress.

Now, although modern development has undermined millions of marriages, it has on the other hand influenced the evolution of marriage favorably. Only a few decades[235] ago it was a matter of fact in every citizen’s and peasant’s home, that women not only sewed, knitted, washed, cooked, etc., but that they also baked the bread, spun and weaved, and bleached, brewed beer and manufactured tallow candles and soap. Running water, lighting and heating by gas—not to speak of electricity—besides numerous other modern housefurnishings were unknown in those days. Antiquated conditions persist even to-day, but they are exceptions. The majority of women are relieved from many occupations that were inevitable formerly, because many things can be made better and cheaper industrially than by the individual housewife. Thus, within a few decades a great revolution has taken place in our domestic life to which we pay so little heed, only because we take it for granted. People do not notice transformations even when they take place under their very eyes as long as they are not sudden and disturb the accustomed order, but they resent new ideas that threaten to interfere with their treading of the beaten path. This revolution in our domestic life that is still going on, has considerably changed the position of woman in the family in still another respect. Our grandmother could not and would not think of visiting theatres, concerts and places of amusement even on week days. Nor would any woman in the good old days have dared to bother about public affairs as so many do to-day. At present women organize and join clubs pursuing the most varied, aims, they found newspapers, subscribe to them and edit them and hold conventions. As working women they organize industrially and attend the men’s meetings. In some localities of Germany they even possessed the right to elect members to courts of trade, but of this right the reactionary majority in the diet deprived them again in the year of the Lord, 1890. Although these altered conditions have their dark sides too, the bright sides predominate, and not even any reactionary would wish to abolish them again. The women themselves, regardless of the conservative character of most of them, have no inclination either to return to the old, patriarchal conditions.

In the United States, society is organized along bourgeois[236] lines also, but it is not burdened with old European prejudices and antiquated institutions, and is therefore much more inclined to adopt new institutions and ideas if they hold promise of advantage. There, since quite some time, the position of woman is regarded differently than in Europe. Among wealthy circles women have been relieved not only of baking and brewing, but of cooking as well, and the one kitchen of an apartment hotel replaces many individual kitchens. Our army officers, who are no Socialists or Communists, have a similar method. In their casinos they form a sort of housekeeping community, appoint a manager, whose business it is to purchase the food wholesale, and to draw up the menus, and the food is cooked by steam in the kitchen of the barracks. They live far more cheaply than they could in a hotel, and their food is at least as good. Thousands of wealthy families live in boarding houses or hotels all year or part of the year without missing their domestic cooking. They, on the contrary, regard it as a great comfort to be relieved of the private kitchen. The general aversion of rich and wealthy women against kitchen work does not seem to signify that this occupation is a part of woman’s “natural sphere.” Indeed, the fact that rich families and large hotels employ male cooks makes it appear as if cooking were man’s work. Let these facts be noted by men who cannot conceive woman except surrounded by pots and pans.

Nothing could be simpler than to combine a central laundry with a central kitchen—as has already been done in all large cities by wealthy private residents or speculators—and to make the institution general. With the central kitchen, central heating, hot water supply, etc., might be connected, and much troublesome work entailing a great waste of time and effort would be abolished. Large hotels, many private houses, hospitals, schools, barracks and other public buildings have these and other modern improvements, as electric light, bathing establishments, etc. The mistake is that only public institutions and wealthy persons profit by these improvements. If made accessible to all, they would save a tremendous amount of time, effort, labor and expense,[237] and would considerably heighten the general well being. In the summer of 1890 German newspapers published reports of progress being made in the United States in regard to central heating and ventilation. In these reports, among other things, the following was stated: “Experiments that have recently been made, especially in North America, to heat entire blocks or portions of a city from one centrally located place, have been successful in no small degree. The construction has been so carefully planned and so practically applied, that the favorable results and financial advantages will undoubtedly lead to an extension of this system. Recently further experiments have been made to provide not only the heating but also the ventilation of entire districts from centrally located places.”

Many of these contemplated improvements have since been realized and further improved. Narrow-minded philistines shrug their shoulders when such and similar plans are discussed; and yet in Germany, too, we are in the midst of a new industrial revolution, whereby the individual kitchen and other housework will become as superfluous as labor by manual tools became superfluous by the introduction of modern machinery. As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, even a Napoleon could deride as a crazy idea the project of moving a vessel by steam. People who were considered intelligent, regarded the plan of building a railroad as an absurdity; they claimed that no one could live in a vehicle travelling at such high speed. In the same manner many new ideas are dealt with to-day. If some one had told our women a century ago that they should get their water from a faucet in the kitchen instead of drawing it from the well, he would have been accused of seeking to encourage laziness in housewives and servants.

But the great technical revolution along all lines is in full swing. Nothing can stay its progress. It is the historical mission of bourgeois society that has ushered in this revolution, to lead it to its climax, and everywhere to bring to light the germs of transformation, which a society organized on a new basis will merely need to generalize and to make the common property of all.


The development of our social life does not tend to lead woman back to the home and hearth, a state that fanatics on domesticity desire, and for which they clamor as the Jews in the desert clamored for the lost flesh-pots of Egypt. It demands the release of woman from her narrow sphere of domestic life, and her full participation in public life and the missions of civilization. Laveleye is right when he says[147]: “With the growth of what we call civilization, the feelings of piety toward family life decrease and its bonds become looser and have less influence on the actions of men. This fact is so general that it may be regarded as a law of social development.” Not only has the position of woman in the family changed, but also the position of son and daughter in their relation to the family. They have gradually obtained a degree of independence that was unheard of formerly. This is especially so in the United States, where young persons are educated to become self-reliant and independent to a far greater extent than in Europe. The dark sides that are incidental to this form of development also are not necessarily connected with it, but are rooted in the social conditions of our time. Bourgeois society does not produce any new and pleasing phenomena that do not have a dark side as well. As Fourier already pointed out with much perspicacity, all its progress is double-edged. Like Laveleye, Dr. Schaeffle also recognizes the changed nature of the modern family as a result of social development. He says:[148] “Thruout history we find the tendency of the family to return to its specific functions. The family abandons one provisionally and temporarily maintained function after another and, inasmuch as it only filled out the gaps in social functions, it yields to the independent institutions of law, order, power, divine service, teaching, industry, etc., as soon as such institutions are developed.”

[147] Original Property. Chap. XX, Household Community. Leipsic, 1879.

[148] Structure and Life of the Body Social. Vol. I. Tuebingen, 1878.


2.—The Intellectual Abilities of Women.

Women are advancing, tho at present only a small minority strives to advance, and of these again only a few are fully conscious of their aims. They not only wish to measure their strength with that of men industrially and commercially, they not only wish to hold a more independent position in the family, they also wish to employ their intellectual abilities in higher positions and in public life. They are met time and again with the argument that they are unfit by nature for intellectual occupations. The question of the practice of learned professions only concerns a small number of women in present-day society, but it is important as a matter of principle. The majority of men seriously believe that women must remain subjected to them intellectually also and that they have no right to seek equality; therefore they are vehemently opposed to the intellectual ambitions of women. The same men who do not object to women being employed in difficult and dangerous occupations that threaten their womanliness and injure their maternity, would bar them from professions that are far less difficult and dangerous and far better suited to their physical abilities. In Germany, the lively agitation for the admission of women to universities, has called forth a great number of opponents who especially oppose the admission of women to the study of medicine. Among these are Pochhammer, Fehling, Binder, Hegar, and others. J. Beerenbach seeks to prove that women are not qualified for scientific study, by pointing out that no genius had as yet sprung up among women. This argument is neither valid nor convincing. Geniuses do not drop from the sky; they must have an opportunity for development, and such opportunity women have been lacking, for since thousands of years they have been oppressed and deprived of opportunity for intellectual development, and thereby their mental abilities have become atrophied. A considerable number of distinguished women exist even to-day, and if one denies the existence of potential geniuses among them, that is as far from being true as the belief that there were no more geniuses among men than those that were recognized as such. Every country schoolteacher knows[240] how many able minds among his pupils are never developed because they lack opportunity for development. Indeed we all have in our day met persons in whom we recognized rare ability and who, we felt, would have become a credit to the community, if circumstances had been more favorable to them. The number of talents and geniuses among men is far greater than could be revealed until now. The same is true of the abilities of women that have for thousands of years been far more hampered, repressed and cramped than those of men. We have no standard whereby we can measure the amount of intellectual strength and ability among men and women, that would unfold if they could develop under natural conditions.

To-day it is in human life as in plant life. Millions of precious seeds never achieve development because the ground on which they are cast is unfertile or is already occupied, and the young plant is thus deprived of air, light and nourishment. The same laws that apply to nature apply to human life. If a gardener or farmer would claim that a plant could not be perfected without having made an attempt to perfect it, his more enlightened neighbors would consider him a fool. They would hold the same opinion of him if he would refuse to interbreed one of his female domestic animals with a male of more perfect breed to obtain more perfect stock.

There is no peasant to-day who is so ignorant not to recognize the advantage of a rational treatment of his vegetables, fruit, and cattle; whether his means allow the application of advanced methods is another question. Only in regard to humanity even educated people will not admit what they regard as an irrefutable law with the rest of the organic world. Yet one need not be a scientist to derive instructive observations from life. How is it that peasant children differ from city children? How is it that children of the wealthier classes are, as a rule, distinguishable from the children of the poor by facial and bodily traits and by mental qualities? It is due to the difference in their conditions of living and education.

The one-sidedness of training for a certain profession leaves its particular imprint upon a person. As a rule a[241] minister or a school teacher can easily be recognized by his bearing and the expression of his face, as also a military man, even in plain clothes. A cobbler is easily distinguished from a tailor, a carpenter from a locksmith. Twin brothers who greatly resembled each other in their youth, will show marked differences in a more advanced age if their occupations have been very different from one another; if, for instance, one is a manual laborer, say a blacksmith, and the other has studied philosophy. Heredity on the one hand and adaptation on the other, are decisive factors in human development as well as in the animal kingdom, and man, moreover, is the most adaptive of all creatures. Sometimes a few years of a different mode of life and a different occupation suffice to alter a person completely. External changes are never more clearly seen than when a person is transplanted from poor and narrow circumstances to greatly improved ones. His past can perhaps be disavowed least in his mental culture. When people have attained a certain age, they frequently have no ambition for intellectual improvement, and often they do not need it either. A parvenu rarely suffers from this shortcoming. In our day money is the chief asset, and people bow far more readily before the man with a great fortune than before the man of knowledge and great intellectual abilities, especially if it is his ill fortune to be poor. The worship of Mammon was never greater than in our day. Yet we are living in the “best of worlds.”

Our industrial districts furnish a striking example of the influence of decidedly different conditions of life and education. Even externally, workers and capitalists differ to such an extent as if they were members of two different races. These differences were brought home to us in an almost startling manner at the occasion of a campaign meeting during the winter of 1877 in an industrial town of Saxony. The meeting, in which a discussion with a liberal professor was to take place, had been so arranged that an equal number of both parties were present. The front of the hall was occupied by our opponents, almost without exception healthy, strong, and some stately figures. In the rear of the hall and on the galleries[242] were the workingmen and small traders, nine-tenths of them weavers, mostly small, narrow-chested, hollow-cheeked figures whose faces bore the imprints of care and need. The one group represented the well-fed virtue and morality of the bourgeois world, the other represented the worker—bees and beasts of burden on whose labor the gentlemen waxed strong. If one generation were reared under equally favorable conditions of life the differences would be greatly decreased and would quite disappear among their progeny.

It is usually more difficult to determine the social position among women than among men. They easily accustom themselves to altered conditions and readily adopt more refined habits of life. Their adaptability is greater than that of the more clumsy man.

What good soil, air and light are to the plant, that to man are healthful social conditions, which enable him to develop his physical and mental qualities. The saying that “man is what he eats” expresses a similar thought somewhat too narrowly. Not only what a man eats, but his entire standard of life and his social environment advance or hamper his physical and mental development, and influence his feelings, his thoughts and his actions favorably or unfavorably, as the case may be. We see every day that persons living in good financial circumstances go to ruin mentally and morally, because outside of the narrow sphere of their domestic and personal relations, unfavorable influences, social in character, were brought to bear upon them and gained such control over them that they were driven into evil ways. The social conditions under which we live are even more important than the conditions of family life. But when the social conditions of development will be the same for both sexes, when there will be no restriction for either, and when the general state of society will be a healthful one, woman will rise to a height of perfection that we can hardly conceive to-day, because until now no such conditions have existed in human evolution. The achievements of individual women justify our highest expectations, for these tower above the mass of their sex just as male geniuses tower above the mass of men. If we apply[243] the standard of rulership, for instance, we find that women have shown even greater talent for ruling than men. To mention just a few examples: There were Isabella and Blanche of Castilia, Elizabeth of Hungary, Katherine Sforza, Countess of Milan and Imola, Elizabeth of England, Katherine of Russia, Maria Theresa, and others. Basing his assertion on the fact that women have ruled well among all nations and in all parts of the globe, even over the wildest and most turbulent hordes, Burbach is led to remark that according to all probability women would be better qualified for politics than men[149]. When in 1901 Queen Victoria of England died, a large English newspaper made the suggestion to introduce female succession exclusively in England, because the history of England showed that its queens ruled better than its kings.

Many a great man of history would shrivel considerably if we always knew how much was due to his own efforts and how much he owed to others. As one of the greatest geniuses of the French Revolution, German historians regard Count Mirabeau. Yet research has revealed the fact, that he owed the preparation of almost all his speeches to the willing assistance of a few learned men who worked for him secretly and whose labor he skillfully made use of. On the other hand, women like Sappho, Diotima, at the time of Socrates, Hypatia of Alexandria, Madame Roland, Mary Wollstonecraft, Olympe de Gouges, Madame de Staël, George Sand, and others, merit our highest admiration. Many a male star pales beside them. The influence of women as mothers of great men is also well known. Women have accomplished as much as they could accomplish under exceedingly unfavorable circumstances, and that entitles us to great expectations for the future. As a matter of fact, women were admitted to competition with men in various realms of activity only during the second half of the nineteenth century. The results obtained are very satisfactory.

But even should we take for granted that women, as a[244] rule, are not as capable of development as men, that there are no geniuses and philosophers among them, we are nevertheless led to ask whether this factor was considered among men when they, according to the wording of the laws, were given complete equality with the geniuses and philosophers. The learned men who deny the intellectual ability of women, are inclined to do the same in the case of workingmen. When persons of nobility pride themselves on their “blue” blood and their pedigree, they smile and contemptuously shrug their shoulders; but in the presence of the man of lowly birth they consider themselves an aristocracy that have achieved their favored position, not through their more advantageous circumstances, but only by their own peculiar talents. The same men, who are unprejudiced in one respect and have a poor opinion of persons who are not as liberal-minded as they, become incredibly narrow-minded and fanatical when their class interests or personal conceit are involved. Men of the upper classes judge men of the lower classes unfavorably, and in the same way almost all men judge women unfavorably. The majority of men regard women only as a means to their comfort and enjoyment. To regard them as beings endowed with equal rights is repugnant to their prejudiced minds. Woman should be modest and submissive; she should confine her interests to the home, and leave all other domains to the “lords of creation.” Woman should check every thought and inclination, and wait patiently for what her earthly providence, father or husband, may decide. If she lives up to this standard she is praised for her good sense, modesty and virtue, even tho she may break down under the burden of physical and moral suffering. But if we speak of the equality of all human beings, it is preposterous to wish to exclude half of humanity.

Woman has the same right as man to develop her abilities and to employ them freely. She is a human being as well as man and should have the freedom of disposing of her own body and mind and be her own master. The chance of having been born a woman, must not affect her human rights. To exclude woman from equal rights because she has been born a woman and not a man—a fact[245] of which both man and woman are innocent—is as unfair, as to make rights and privileges depend upon religious or political opinion; and it is as irrational as the belief that two persons are innate enemies because, by the chance of birth, they belong to different races or nationalities. Such views are unworthy of a free human being. Progress of humanity consists in removing whatever keeps one human being, one class or one sex in slavery and dependence upon another. No difference is justified except those differences established by nature to fulfill its purpose. But no sex will overstep the natural limits, because it would thereby destroy its own purpose in nature.

[149] Dr. Havelock Ellis.—Man and Woman.

3.—Differences in Physical and Mental Qualities of Man and Woman.

One of the chief arguments of the opponents of equal rights is, that woman has a smaller brain than man and is less developed in other respects, and that therefore her lasting inferiority is proven. It is certain that man and woman are two human beings of different sex, that each has different organs adapted to the sexual purpose, and that, owing to the fulfillment of the sexual function, a number of differences in their physiological and psychological conditions exist. These are facts that no one can nor will deny; but they do not furnish any cause for social or political inequality between man and woman. Humanity and society consist of both sexes; both are indispensable to their maintenance and development. Even the greatest man was born by a mother to whom he may owe his best qualities and abilities. By what right, then, can woman be denied equality with man?

According to the opinion of eminent authorities, the most marked differences in physical and mental qualities between man and woman are the following: In regard to stature, Havelock Ellis considers 170 centimeters the average height for men and 160 centimeters for women. According to Vierordt, it is 172 and 160, and in northern Germany, according to Krause, 173 and 163 centimeters.[246] The proportion of man’s stature to woman’s is as 100 to 93. The average weight of adult persons is 65 kilograms for men and 54 for women. The greater length of the trunk in a woman’s body is a well-known difference; yet this difference is not as great as has been generally assumed, as careful measurements have shown. The legs of a woman of medium size are only by 15 millimeters shorter than those of a man of medium size, and Pfitzner doubts that this difference is noticeable. “The differences in the lengths of body and legs are influenced by the stature, and are independent of sex.” But the female arm is decidedly shorter than the male arm (as 100 to 91.5). The male hand is broader and larger than the female hand, and with men the ring-finger is usually longer than the index, while the opposite is the case with women. By this the male hand becomes more ape-like, as the long arm also is a pithecoid (ape-like) characteristic.

In regard to the size of the head, the proportion of the absolute height of male and female heads may be set down as 100 to 94. But the relative sizes (in proportion to the size of the body) are 100 to 100.8. So actually woman’s head is somewhat smaller, but in proportion to the size of her body, it is somewhat larger than man’s. The bones of woman are smaller, finer, and more delicate in form and have a smoother surface, for the weaker muscles require less rough surface to fasten upon. The weaker muscular development is one of the most striking characteristics of woman. Each separate muscle of a woman’s body is finer, softer, and contains more water. (According to v. Bibra the quantity of water contained in the muscles is 72.5 per cent. with man, and 74.4 per cent. with woman.) In regard to the adipose membrane the opposite proportion exists; it is much more amply developed with woman than with man. The chest is relatively shorter and narrower. Other differences are directly connected with the sexual purpose. The statements of various authors in regard to relative and absolute weight of the intestines, are very contradictory. According to Vierordt the proportion of the weight of the heart to the weight of the body is as 1 to 215 with men,[247] and as 1 to 206 with women. According to Clendinning it is as 1 to 158 and as 1 to 149. Taken all in all, we may assume that the female intestines are absolutely smaller, but relatively, in proportion to the weight of the body, heavier than the male.

The blood of women shows a larger percentage of water, a smaller quantity of blood-globules, and a smaller quantity of hemachrome. With woman the smaller size of the heart, the narrower vascular system, and probably also the larger percentage of water in the blood, cause a less intense assimilation of matter and an inferior nutrition. This may also account for the weaker jaws. “It may thus be explained that even civilized man in many respects is more closely connected with the animal world, especially the ape, than woman, that he possesses pithecoid traits which may be seen in the shape of the skull and the length of the limbs.”

In regard to the differences of the skull of both sexes, let it be stated that, according to Bartels, there is no absolute indication whereby we could determine whether a skull belonged to a male or female person. Absolute comparison shows that the skulls of men are larger in all dimensions. Accordingly the weight is greater, too, and the interior space is larger.

As a medium weight of normally developed brains of adult persons, Grosser states 1388 grammes for the man and 1252 grammes for the woman.[150] The great majority of male brains (34 per cent.) weigh between 1250 and 1550 grammes, and the great majority of female brains (91 per cent.) weigh between 1100 and 1450 grammes. But these weights are not subject to direct comparison since woman is smaller than man. It is, accordingly, necessary to determine the weight of the brain in proportion to the body. When we compare the weight of the brain with the[248] weight of the body we find that with the man there are 21.6 grammes of the brain for every kilogram of the weight of the body, and with the woman there are 23.6 grammes. This outweighing is explained by the fact that woman’s stature is smaller.[151]

Different results are obtained by a comparison of equally large individuals of both sexes. According to Marchand the weight of the female brain is, without exception, lighter than that of men of the same size. But this method is as incorrect as a comparison with the size of the body. It takes for granted what remains to be proven: a direct relation between the size of the body and the weight of the brain. Blakeman, Alice Lee and Karl Pearson have determined on the basis of English data and measurements, that there is no noticeable relative difference in the weight of the brain between man and woman; that is, a man of the same age, stature and skull measurements as the average woman, would not differ from her in regard to the weight of his brain.[152]

Even Marchand points out that the smaller size of woman’s brain may be due to the greater fineness of her nerves. Grosser says: “Indeed, this has not yet been determined by means of the microscope, and would be difficult to determine. But we must point to the analogy that the eye-ball and the cavity of the ear are also somewhat smaller with woman than with man, yet these organs are no less fine and serviceable. Another, perhaps the chief reason, for the lighter weight of the woman’s brain may be found in her weaker muscular development.”[153]

Inasmuch as the differences are rooted in the nature of sex, they can, of course, not be altered. But to what extent these differences in blood and brain can be changed by a different mode of life (nourishment, physical and[249] mental culture, occupation, etc.) cannot be definitely determined for the time being. That modern woman differs from man to a greater extent than primitive woman or the woman of inferior races, seems to be established, and when we consider the social development of woman’s position among civilized nations during the past 1000 or 1500 years, it seems only too obvious.

The following shows the capacity of the female skull according to Havelock Ellis (assuming the capacity of the male skull to be 1000):

Negro 984
Hottentot 951
Hindu 944
Eskimo 931
Dutch 913
Russian 884
German 838 to 897[154]
Chinese 870
English 860 to 862
Parisian, 19 yrs. 858

[154] According to five different authors: 838, 864, 878, 883, 897. For Prussia (Kupfer), 918; for Bavaria (Rause), 893.

The conflicting statements among the Germans show that the measurements have been taken among greatly differing material, both in regard to quality and quantity, and that therefore they are not absolutely reliable. But the figures clearly show one thing: that Negroes, Hottentots and Hindu women have a considerably larger capacity of the skull than the German, English and Parisian women; and yet the latter are far more intelligent.

A comparison of the brain-weights of well-known deceased men shows similar contradictions and peculiarities. According to Professor Reclam, the brain of the scientist Cuvier weighed 1830 grammes; that of Byron, 1807; that of the famous mathematician Gauss, 1492; of the philologist Hermann, 1358; of the Parisian prefect Hausmann, 1226. It is said that the weight of Dante’s brain also was below the average weight of the male brains. Havelock Ellis gives us similar information. He reports that the brain of an unknown person, weighed by Bischoff, had a weight of 2222 grammes, while the brain of the poet Turgeniew weighed only 2012 grammes; the third largest brain was that of an imbecile; the brain of a plain workingman that was also examined by Bischoff,[250] weighed 1325 grammes. The heaviest female brains weighed between 1742 and 1580 grammes; two of these were taken from women who had suffered from mental derangement. On the congress of German anthropologists, which was held in Dortmund in August, 1902, Professor Waldeyer stated that an examination of the skull of the philosopher Leibnitz, who died in 1716, had shown that its contents only measured 1450 cubic centimeters, which corresponds to a brain weight of 1300 grammes. According to Hausemann, who examined the brains of Mommsen, Bunsen and Adolph v. Menzel, Mommsen’s brain weighed 1429.4 grammes; it accordingly did not exceed the average brainweight of an adult man. Menzel’s brain weighed only 1298 grammes and Bunsen’s less still—1295 grammes, below the average male brainweight and not much above the brainweight of a woman. Those are striking facts that completely overthrow the old assumption that intellectual abilities could be measured by the capacity of the skull. After an examination of the English data, Raymond Pearl comes to the following conclusion: “There are no proofs of a close relation between intellectual abilities and brainweight.”[155] The English anthropologist, W. Duckworth, says: “There is no proof that a heavy brainweight is accompanied by great intellectual ability. Neither the brainweight, nor the capacity of the skull, nor the circumference of the head, where they could be determined, have been of any use as a measure of intellectual abilities.”[156] Kohlbruegge, who has during recent years published the results of the examinations of human brains of many races, says: “Intelligence and brainweight are entirely independent of one another. Even the greater brainweight of famous men is not sufficient proof, since it exceeds the general medium weight, but not that of the upper classes to which these men belonged. But by these statements I do not seek to deny that brainweight can be increased, especially by excessive study during youth, which may account for the heavier brainweights and the[251] greater skull capacity of the upper classes and of scholarly persons, especially when—as is usually the case among the well-to-do—excessive nourishment is added. This increase in weight by mental over-exertion has its dark sides also, as is well known. Lunatics often have very heavy brains. The main point is that it cannot be proven that intelligence (something entirely different from productiveness) has any relation to weight. It is true of the external formation also, that until now, no connection could be shown between certain forms and higher mental development, intelligence, or genius.”[157]

It is established, then, that we cannot draw conclusions from the brainweight as to mental qualities, as little as we can draw conclusions from the size of the body as to physical strength. The large mammals, such as elephant, whale, etc., have larger and heavier brains; yet in regard to proportional brainweight they are excelled by most birds and small mammals. We have some very small animals (ant, bee) that are far more intelligent than much larger ones (for instance, sheep, cow), just as people of large stature often are mentally inferior to persons of small and insignificant appearance. According to all probability the mass of the brain is not the determining factor, but its organization and the practice and use of its powers.

“In my opinion,” says Professor L. Stieda, “the difference in psychic functions can doubtlessly be accounted for by the finer construction of the gray matter, the nerve cells, the white matter, the arrangement of the blood-vessels, the construction, form, size and number of nerve-cells, and last but not least, their nutrition, their metabolic assimilation.”[158]

If the brain is to attain the full development of its faculties, it must be exercised regularly, and the brain must be properly nourished, just as every other organ; if this is left undone, or if the training is a faulty one, the[252] normal development will be hampered, even crippled. One faculty is developed at the expense of another.

There are some anthropologists, as Manouvrier and others, who even seek to prove that woman is morphologically more highly developed than man. That is an exaggeration. Duckworth says: “When we compare the two sexes, we find that there is no constant difference that lets one sex appear morphologically superior to the other.”[159] Havelock Ellis only admits of one limitation. He believes that female characteristics show fewer variations than the male. But, in an anticritique, Karl Pearson has explicitly shown that this is only a pseudo-scientific superstition.[160]

No one who is acquainted with the history of the development of woman can deny, that woman has been sinned against. If Professor Bischoff asserts that woman was enabled to develop her brain and her intelligence as well as man, this assertion merely shows an incredible degree of ignorance upon the subject. The description we have given in this book of the position of woman during the course of civilization, makes it appear quite natural, that thousands of years of male rule have brought about the difference in the physical and mental development of the sexes.

Our scientists ought to recognize that the laws of their sciences apply fully to man also. Heredity and adaptation prevail with man as with every other living creature. But if man constitutes no exception in nature, the law of evolution must apply to him also, whereby that becomes clear what otherwise remains wrapped in darkness, and then becomes an object of scientific mysticism or mystic science.

The brain formation of the sexes has developed in accordance with their different educations. Indeed during a great portion of the past, the word education could not be applied to woman at all. Physiologists are agreed that those parts of the brain which influence the intellect are[253] situated in the fore-part of the head, while those that specially influence feeling and sentiment, are situated in the middle part. The conception of beauty for man and woman has developed accordingly. According to the Greek conception, which still prevails, woman is supposed to have a low forehead, while man is supposed to have a high and broad forehead. This conception of beauty, which is a symptom of her degradation, has been so impressed upon our women, that they consider a high forehead unbeautiful and seek to improve upon nature by combing their hair over their forehead to make it appear lower.

[150] The following average weights of male and female brains have been determined by the following scientists:

  Male brain. Female brain.
Bischoff (Bavaria) 1362 1219
Boyd (England) 1325 1183
Marchand (Hessia) 1399 1248
Retzius (Sweden) 1388 1252

[151] “Men of genius as a rule are small of stature with a massy brain. These are also the chief characteristics of the child, and their general facial expression as also their temperament resemble the child’s.”—Havelock Ellis, Man and Woman.

[152] J. Blakeman, Alice Lee & K. Pearson—A Study of the biometric constants of English Brainweights. Biometrica, 1905.

[153] Dr. Otto Grosser—The structure of the female body in “Man and Woman.” Stuttgart, 1907.

[155] Raymond Pearl—Variation or Correlation in Brainweight. Biometrika, vol. IV. June, 1905.

[156] W. Duckworth—Morphology and Anthropology. Cambridge, 1904.

[157] Kohlbruegge—Investigations of the furrows of the brain of human races. Journal of Morphology and Anthropology. Stuttgart, 1908.

[158] L. Stieda—The Brain of the Philologist. Journal of Morphology and Anthropology, 1907.

[159] Duckworth (as above).

[160] K. Pearson—Variation in Man and Woman in Chances of Death. London, 1897.

4.—Darwinism and the Condition of Society.

It has accordingly not been proven, that women are inferior to men as a result of the quantity of their brain; yet the present intellectual status of women is not surprising. Darwin is surely right in saying, that if a list of the ablest men on the subjects of poetry, painting, sculpture, music, science and philosophy were placed beside a list of the ablest women on the same subjects, the two could not compare with one another. But could it be otherwise? It would be surprising if it were not so. Very correctly Dr. Dodel (Zurich)[161] says, that it would be different if for a number of generations men and women would be similarly educated. As a rule, woman is physically weaker than man also, which is by no means the case among many uncivilized peoples.[162] How much can be attained by practice and training from childhood on, may, for instance, be seen with ladies of the circus and female acrobats, who achieve most astounding things in regard to courage, daring, skill and strength.

As all these things are conditioned by the mode of life and education, as they are—to use a scientific term—due[254] to “breeding,” it may be assumed as certain that the physical and intellectual life of man will lead to the best results, as soon as man will consciously and expediently influence his development.

As plants and animals depend upon conditions of existence, as they are fostered by favorable and hampered by unfavorable ones, and as compulsory conditions force them to change their nature and character—provided that their influence does not destroy them—thus it is also with man. The manner in which a human being obtains his means of subsistence not only affects his external appearance, but also his feelings, his thoughts and his actions. If unfavorable conditions of existence—that is, unfavorable social conditions—are the cause of insufficient individual development, then it follows that by a change of his conditions of existence—that is, his social condition—man himself will be changed. The point in question, then, is, so to organize social conditions that every human being will be given an opportunity for the untrammelled development of his nature; that the laws of development and adaptation—called Darwinism after Darwin—may be consciously and expediently applied to all human beings. But that will only be possible under Socialism. As a rational being, capable of judgment, man must so alter his social conditions and everything in connection with them, that equally favorable conditions of existence prevail for all. Every individual shall be enabled to develop his talents and abilities to his own advantage as well as to the advantage of society, but he must not have the power to harm other individuals or society at large. His own advantage and the advantage of all shall coincide. Harmony of interests must supercede the conflict of interests that dominate present-day society.

Darwinism, like every true science, is an eminently democratic science.[163] If some of its representatives claim that the opposite is true, they fail to recognize the range of their own science. Its opponents, especially the clergy, who are always quick to perceive any advantage[255] or disadvantage to themselves, have recognized this, and therefore denounce Darwinism as being Socialistic or atheistic. In this respect Professor Virchow agrees with his most vehement opponents, for at the congress of Scientists, held in Munich in 1877, he asserted in opposition to Professor Haeckel: “The Darwinian theory leads to Socialism.”[164] Virchow tried to discredit Darwinism because Haeckel demanded, that the theory of evolution should be introduced into the school curriculum. The suggestion to teach science in the schools according to Darwin, and the results of modern scientific investigations, is vehemently opposed by all those who wish to maintain the present order. The revolutionary effect of these doctrines is well known; therefore it is deemed wiser to propagate them only among the chosen few. But we contend that if the Darwinian theories lead to Socialism, as Virchow claims, that is no argument against these theories, but an argument in favor of Socialism. Men of science should not question whether the consequences of a science lead to one form of the state or another, whether one social condition or another is justified by them; it is their sole duty to investigate whether the theories are in accordance with truth, and if they are, to accept them with all their consequences. Whoever acts otherwise, be it for personal gain or favor or to serve class or party interest, commits a despicable action and is[256] no credit to science. The representatives of corporate science, especially at our universities, can indeed only rarely lay claim to independence of character. The fear of financial loss, or the fear of being discredited with the powers that be and of being thereby deprived of title and rank and the opportunity of advancement, causes most of these representatives to bow down and either to conceal their conviction, or to say publicly the opposite of what they believe and know. At a ceremony of homage to the ruler held at the University of Berlin in 1870, Dubois-Reymond exclaimed: “The universities are institutions where the intellectual body-guards of the Hohenzollern are trained.” If a Dubois-Reymond could express himself in this manner, we can imagine what conceptions in regard to the object of science are held by the majority of the others, who are very inferior to this eminent scientist.[165] Science is degraded to serve the purposes of the ruling powers.

It is only natural that Professor Haeckel and his adherents, Professor O. Schmidt, v. Hellwald and others, remonstrate energetically against the terrible accusation that Darwinism leads to Socialism. They claim that the opposite is true, that Darwinism is aristocratic, since it teaches that everywhere in nature the more highly organized and stronger living beings suppress the inferior ones; and since, according to their conception, the propertied and educated classes constitute these more highly organized and stronger living beings in human society, they consider the rule of these classes a matter of course, since it is justified by the laws of nature.

These, among our evolutionists, are ignorant of the economic laws which dominate bourgeois society. Otherwise they would know that the blind rule of these laws does not raise to social pre-eminence either the best or the ablest or the most competent, but frequently the worst and the most cunning, who thereby are placed in a position of making the conditions of life and development most favorable to their progeny, without the least[257] effort on their part. Under no economic system did persons, possessing good and noble human qualities, have so little opportunity of attaining and maintaining an elevated position, as under the capitalistic system. Without fear of exaggeration it may be said, that this state of affairs increases with the development of this system. Lack of consideration for others and unscrupulousness in the choice and application of means to attain one’s end, prove far more effective than all human virtues combined. Only one who is ignorant of the nature of this society or who is so dominated by bourgeois prejudices that he cannot reason properly or draw correct conclusions, could regard a social system based upon such conditions as a society of the “fittest and best.” The struggle for existence is always present with all organisms. It goes on without any knowledge on their part of the laws and conditions that shape it. This struggle for existence prevails among men also and among the members of each social group from which solidarity has disappeared, or where it has not yet been developed. This struggle for existence changes its form according to the various relations of men to one another in the course of human development. It assumes the character of class struggles on an ever higher scale. But these struggles—and thereby man is distinguished from all other human beings—lead to a growing understanding of the nature of society, and finally to a recognition of the laws which determine its development. Eventually man will but need to apply these laws to his social and political institutions and to transform them accordingly. The difference is that man may be called a reasoning animal, but the animal is not a reasoning human being. This many Darwinists fail to see, owing to their biased conceptions, and therefore arrive at false conclusions.[166]


Professor Haeckel and his adherents also deny that Darwinism leads to atheism. Thus, after they have done away with the “creator” by all their scientific arguments and proofs, they make desperate efforts to re-introduce him. To attain this purpose a new sort of individual “religion” is formed, that has been termed “higher morality,” “moral principles,” etc. In 1882 at the congress of scientists in Eisenach, in the presence of the Grand-duke of Weimar and his family, Professor Haeckel endeavored not only to save religion but also to represent his master, Darwin, as being a religious man. The attempt failed, as anyone can affirm who read the lecture and the letter from Darwin that was quoted in it. Darwin’s letter expresses, though in careful terms, the opposite of what Professor Haeckel claimed it to express. Darwin was obliged to consider the piety of his fellow-countrymen, the English, therefore he never dared to express publicly his true views in regard to religion. But he did so privately, as became known shortly after the congress in Weimar, for he told Dr. L. Buechner that he had not believed since his fortieth year—since 1849—because he had not been able to obtain proofs to justify belief. During the last years of his life Darwin also supported an atheistic newspaper, which was published in New York.

[161] The Newer History of the Creation.

[162] Proofs of this may be found in the previously quoted book by Dr. Havelock Ellis. He relates that among many savage and semi-savage tribes woman is not only man’s equal in regard to size and strength, but even his superior. Ellis is agreed with others that the differences of brain between the sexes have increased with the development of civilization.

[163] “The hall of science is the temple of democracy.” Buckle—History of Civilization in England. Vol. II.

[164] Ziegler denies that this was the sense of Virchow’s remarks, but his own report of Virchow’s speech only confirms it. Virchow said: “Now, just picture how the theory of evolution is conceived even to-day by the brain of a Socialist! (Laughter) Yes, gentlemen, that may seem amusing to some of you, but it is a very serious matter, and I only hope the theory of evolution may not bring us such horrors as similar theories have brought about in our neighboring country. If this theory is consistently followed out it is very hazardous, and you cannot have failed to observe that Socialism is in sympathy with it. We should make this perfectly clear.”—Well, we have done what Virchow feared, we have drawn the conclusions of the Darwinian theories that Darwin himself and many of his followers either failed to draw or drew incorrectly, and Virchow warned against the dangers of these doctrines because he perceived that Socialism would draw and would have to draw the conclusions that are involved in them.

[165] In reference to former attacks upon him, Dubois Reymond repeated the sentence quoted above in February, 1883, during the commemoration of the birthday of Frederick the Great.

[166] Enrico Ferri published a book on “Socialism and Modern Science, Darwin—Spencer—Marx,” in which he proves, especially in answer to Haeckel, that Darwinism and Socialism are in complete harmony and that it is a grave error on Haeckel’s part to characterize Darwinism as being aristocratic. We do not agree with Ferri’s book in every respect. We especially do not share his point of view in judging the qualities of women, which is, in the main, the point of Lombroso and Ferrero. Ellis has shown in “Man and Woman” that an existing difference in the qualities of man and woman does not imply the inferiority of one—a confirmation of Kant’s utterance, that only man and woman together constitute the complete human being. Nevertheless Ferri’s book is a welcome one.

5.—Woman and the Learned Professions.

Women are justified in entering into intellectual competition with men, instead of waiting until it pleases the men to develop their intellectual faculties and to clear the path for them. The woman’s movement is providing for this. Already women have removed many barriers and[259] have entered the intellectual arena—in some countries with marked success. The movement to obtain admission to the higher institutions of learning and to the practice of learned professions is, in accordance with the nature of our conditions, limited to the circles of bourgeois women. The proletarian women are not directly concerned since, for the time being, these studies and the resulting positions are closed to them. Nevertheless, this movement and its success is an object of general interest. In the first place, it is a matter of principle, since it affects the general position of woman; in the second place, it is destined to show what women can accomplish even at present, under conditions that are highly unfavorable to their development. Moreover, all women are interested, for instance, in being able, in case of sickness, to be treated by physicians of their own sex, if they so choose, since many feel that they can confide with less reserve in a woman than in a man. To a great many of our women female physicians are a blessing, for the fact that they must turn to male physicians in the case of diseases or ailments connected with their sex functions, frequently prevents them from seeking medical aid in time. This leads to many troubles and serious results, not only to the women themselves, but to their husbands also. There is hardly a physician who has not had some experience with this reticence of women, that may sometimes be called almost criminal, and their aversion against confessing to their ailments. That is readily understood. But it is inconceivable that the men, and especially many physicians also, will not recognize how justifiable it is, therefore—indeed how necessary—for women to study medicine.

Female physicians are no novel factor. Among most of the ancients, especially among the ancient Germans, women practiced the art of healing. There were female physicians and surgeons of note during the ninth and tenth centuries in the kingdom of the Arabs, especially in Spain, under the rule of the Arabs (Moors), where they studied at the University of Cordova. The study of women at various Italian universities, as Bologna and Palermo, was also due to Moorish influence. When the[260] “heathen” influence ceased in Italy, these studies were prohibited. In 1377 the faculty of the University of Bologna issued the following decree: “As woman is the source of sin, the devil’s tool, the cause of the expulsion from paradise, and the cause of corruption of the old law, and as therefore every conversation with her should be carefully avoided, we distinctly forbid and interdict any one to venture to introduce any woman, no matter how respectable she may be, into this college. Should some one do so nevertheless, the rector shall punish him severely.”

One good result of the study of women is, that female competition has a very stimulating influence on the studiousness of the male students, which has left much to be wished for, as has been affirmed by various sources. That alone would be a great gain. It would furthermore considerably improve their habits. The drunkenness, pugnacity, and beer-saloon habit of our students would become greatly checked. Those places from which our statesmen, judges, public attorneys, police officials, ministers, representatives of the people, etc., are chiefly recruited, would become more worthy of the objects for which they were founded and are being maintained. According to the impartial opinions of those competent to judge, such an improvement is exceedingly needful.

The number of states that admit women to their high-schools and universities are rapidly increasing since a few decades. None that lays claim to being a civilized state can offer continued resistance to this demand. The United States took the lead and Russia followed, two states that are diametrically opposed to one another in every respect. In the North American Union women have been admitted to high-schools and universities in all the states; in Utah since 1850; in Iowa since 1860; in Kansas since 1866; in Wisconsin since 1868; in Minnesota since 1869; in California and Missouri since 1870, and in Ohio, Illinois and Nebraska since 1871. Since then all the other states followed. Quite in accordance with their opportunity for study, the women in the United States have achieved their positions. According to the census of 1900 there were: 7399 female physicians and surgeons,[261] 5989 writers, 1041 architects, 3405 ministers, 1010 lawyers, and 327,905 teachers.

In Europe, Switzerland took the lead in opening its universities to women. The following shows the number of male and female students at Swiss universities:

  Total Enrolled female students Total number of women attending courses
1896–1897 7676 1502 2757
1900–1901 8521 1904 3156
1905–1906 4181   391   728
1906–1907 5301   854 1429

During the term 1906 to 1907 the female students were distributed as follows among the various faculties: law, 75; medicine, 1181; philosophy, 648. According to nationality there were 172 Swiss women, and 1732 foreigners. The number of German women students in Switzerland has decreased, since they are admitted to German universities now, although not without restrictions. During the term 1906 to 1907 the number of regularly enrolled female students constituted about 30 per cent. of all the students. In England women are admitted to lecture at the universities, but at Oxford and Cambridge they are still barred from taking degrees. In France in 1905 there were 33,168 students, among these 1922 women (774 foreigners). They were distributed as follows: Law, 57; medicine, 386; sciences, 259; literature, 838; miscellaneous, 382. The following are the countries in which women have been admitted to universities: United States, England, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, France, Turkey and Australia. Female physicians are admitted to the practice of their profession in India, Abyssinia, Persia, Morocco, China, etc. Especially in the Oriental countries female physicians are constantly gaining ground. The restrictions that custom and religion place upon women in these countries make female physicians an especially great boon.

After long struggles and great exertions, Germany, too, has at last taken a new course, though timidly at first. By a decision passed by the Federal Council on[262] April 24, 1899, women have been admitted to examinations for the practice of medicine and dentistry, as well as pharmacy, upon the same terms as men. By another decision of the Federal Council of July 28, 1900, German women physicians who studied abroad are admitted to practice in Germany, and studies commenced abroad were accredited to them. Even since 1898 some German universities, as Heidelberg and Goettingen, had opened their doors to women. During the term 1901 to 1902, 1270 women attending courses were already enumerated in the registers of the universities. In a number of German cities girls’ high-schools and colleges were founded; thus in Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Hannover, Koenigsberg, Hamburg, Frankfort on the Main, Breslau, Berlin, Schoeneberg, Mannheim, etc. But in the spring of 1902, the senate of the University of Berlin again declined a request by female students, to be matriculated upon presentation of a certificate of admission from a German college. The opposition by very influential circles in Germany against the study of women had not yet been overcome. During March of 1902, the Prussian minister of public instruction delivered a speech in the Prussian diet, in which he said among other things, that the girls’ colleges are an experiment that must be declined by the ministry of public instruction. He feared, so he said, that the differences between man and woman established by nature and developed by civilization, would be impaired by the study of girls at colleges and universities, and that the characteristics of the German woman ought to be maintained for the welfare of the German family. That is quite in keeping with the old conception. Many German professors also continue to oppose study for women, though others admit that many of the female students are well, some even excellently qualified, to meet the demands made upon them. What some of the students, perhaps a majority of them, thought in regard to the study of women, may be seen from the following protest of the clinical students at Halle, addressed to the medical students of Germany generally during March of 1902. After it states that the protest has been caused by the agitation, carried on by[263] the “Society for Furthering the Education of Women in Berlin,” to admit women to the study of medicine, it goes on to say: “Since this question has been called to public attention, the clinical students of Halle turn to those circles to whom the decision is of prime importance, the clinical students and physicians at German universities. They either know the resulting unpleasantness from personal experience, or can picture to what unwholesome situations, devoid of all modesty, this common clinical instruction must lead, situations that are too revolting to be described. The medical faculty of the university of Halle was one of the first to admit women to the study of medicine, and the innovation may be regarded as a complete failure. Into these halls of earnest endeavor cynicism has entered with the women, and scenes frequently occur that are equally obnoxious to instructors, students and patients. Here the emancipation of woman becomes a calamity, conflicting with morality, and should be checked. Colleagues, who would dare, in the face of these facts, to oppose our just demands? We demand the exclusion of women from clinical instruction, because experience has taught us that a common clinical instruction of male and female students is incompatible with a thoroughgoing study of medicine, as well as with the principles of decency and morality. This question taken up by us is no longer a local one. Already it has been stated in government circles, that women are to be definitely admitted to the study of medicine. You all now are equally interested in our cause, and therefore we appeal to you: Express your opinion on this question and join with us in a common protest!”

This protest is a striking proof of the narrow-mindedness of the clinical students and also of their envy, for petty envy is at the bottom of most of their moral considerations. How can an institution that has existed for years in other civilized countries, without injuring the morals and the sense of decency of male and female students, be considered a peril to Germany? The German students are not famed for their morality and ought[264] to refrain from a moral outburst that seems like a jest.[167] If it is not incompatible with decency and morality for female nurses to be present and to render assistance to the physicians during all kinds of operations upon male and female patients, if it is decent and proper for dozens of young men to surround, for the purpose of study, the bed of a woman in the throes of child-birth, and to witness operations upon female patients, then it is ridiculous to seek to exclude the female students.

Very different from the reasons given by the clinical students of Halle, was an argument advanced against the admission of women to the study of medicine by the late Professor Bischoff. The reason he gave was the brutality of the male students, which he was well qualified to judge. But, regardless of the narrow-mindedness or envy of men, the question has been decided in favor of the women. On August 18, 1908, an edict was published, decreeing the regular enrollment of female students at the universities of Prussia, where until then they had been admitted to the lectures. The only restriction is, that for the purpose of immatriculation German women require the consent of the minister in one case, and foreigners require it in all cases.[168] The entire number of women students enrolled at German universities was, during the term of 1908–1909, 1077, as against 377 during the summer of 1908, and 254 in 1906. They were distributed among the various universities as follows: Berlin, 400; Bonn, 69; Breslau, 50; Erlangen, 11; Freiburg, 67; Giessen, 23; Goettingen, 71; Greifswald, 5; Halle, 22; Heidelberg, 109; Jena, 13; Kiel, 2; Koenigsberg, 17; Leipsic, 44; Marburg, 27; Munich, 134; Tuebingen, 6; Wuerzburg, 7. Only the universities of Strassburg, Rostock and Muenster had no female students. The entire number of women attending courses was 1787 during[265] the summer of 1908, and 1767 during the term 1908 to 1909. They were distributed as follows: Berlin, 313; Strassburg, 249; Breslau, 168; Munich, 131; Bonn, 120; Koenigsberg, 116; Leipsic, 95; Giessen, 93; Goettingen, 73; Tuebingen, 67; Halle, 54; Freiburg, 50, and in all others less than 50. Of the regularly enrolled women students 3 studied theology; 31, law; 334, medicine, and 709, philosophy.

The admission of women to the universities necessitated a thoroughgoing reform of girls’ high-schools. According to the provisions of May 31, 1899, a nine years’ course had been set down as the rule for girls’ high-schools, while a ten years’ course was the exception. But development necessitated the regular introduction of a tenth class. According to statistics there were in 1901, 213 public high-schools for girls; among these 90 had a nine years’ course and 54 a ten years’ course. In October, 1907, the number of schools having a nine years’ course had decreased from 90 to 69, and the number of schools having a ten years’ course had increased from 54 to 132. Among the private schools for girls, too, there were, besides 110 with a nine years’ course, 138 with a ten years’ course. It only remained to add the bureaucratic seal to this actual development, and to preserve as much as possible of the “characteristics of German women.” According to the reform of August 18, 1908, girls’ high schools shall consist of ten grades. To “complete her education in regard to the future life’s work of a German woman,” it is planned to found a lyceum with a course from one to two years. In order to prepare young girls of the upper classes for academic training, colleges are being planned, which are to be under the same management as the girls’ high-schools.

Thereby an experiment, which the board of education still refused to consider in March 1902, is now, six years later, under the pressure of economic development, being introduced by that same board on a national scale. Let us consider the official argumentation! It reads as follows:

“The rapid development of our civilization and the resulting changes in social, economic and educational conditions,[266] have brought about that, especially in the middle and upper classes, many girls remain unprovided for, and much ability reposing in woman, that may be valuable to the community, remains unapplied. The numerical superiority of the female population and the increasing bachelorhood of men of the upper classes, compel a large percentage of educated girls to renounce their natural profession of wifehood and motherhood. It becomes necessary to open professions to them that are suited to their education, and to give them an opportunity to earn their living, not only by teaching, but also by other professions attainable by a university education.” This almost reads like an extract from my book!

Be this as it may, the higher education of women can no longer be halted. There are female physicians in all civilized countries of the world, and even in some that are not yet regarded as civilized. The late Li Hung Chang had appointed as his family physician a Chinese woman doctor who practiced at the woman’s hospital of her native town, Futchang. The late Sonia Kowalewska, the noted mathematician, was professor of mathematics at the University of Stockholm from 1889 until her death in 1891. There are many women professors in the United States, and some also in Italy, Switzerland, England and France. In France the famous Marie Curie, who together with her husband discovered radium and polonium, was, after the death of her husband in 1906, appointed his successor at the university. We see women acting as physicians, dentists, lawyers, chemists, physicists, geologists, botanists, teachers at higher institutions of learning, etc., and it is up to the women themselves to prove by their achievements, that they are as competent to fill the positions entrusted to them as men. In Switzerland, during the summer of 1899, a majority of voters in the Canton of Zurich, favored the admission of women to the practice of law. The decision was passed by 21,717 against 20,046 votes. In the United States women are admitted to the bar in 34 states. They are also admitted in France, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Canada and Australia.

Many men, especially learned men, are opposed to the[267] higher education of women, because they believe that the sciences will become degraded if even women can practice them. They regard scientific study as a privilege reserved for the chosen few of the male sex.

Unfortunately our universities, as our entire educational system, still leave much to be wished for. As the children in the public schools are frequently robbed of the most valuable time to cram their brains with a lot of things that are not in conformity with reason and scientific knowledge, as they are burdened with a lot of learning that will prove useless in life and will rather hamper than help their development, thus it is also with our higher institutions of learning. In the preparatory schools the pupils are crammed with a lot of useless stuff, mostly learned by rote, that absorbs most of their time and strength, and in the universities the same method is generally pursued. Besides good and useful things, many that are antiquated and superfluous continue to be taught. Most professors repeat the same lectures term after term even down to the interspersed jokes. To many the noble profession of teaching becomes a mere trade, and it does not require much intelligence on the part of the students to perceive this. The prevailing conceptions concerning college life also prevent the young people from taking their studies too seriously, and some who would like to take them seriously are repulsed by the pedantic and uninteresting methods of many professors. It is generally admitted that students at high-schools and universities are becoming less studious, a fact that has caused some alarm among the authorities. Alongside of this we find toadyism and patronage playing an important part at our institutions of learning in this age, which is marked by a lack of character. To be of good family and to have “sound principles,” is regarded as being of greater importance than knowledge and ability. A patriot—that is, one who has no convictions of his own, but takes his cue from his superiors and fawns upon them—is considered more than a man of character, wisdom and ability. When examinations come around, men of this type cram for a few months what is needful to attain the passing[268] mark, and when the examinations have been passed successfully, and they have attained an official or professional position, many of these “scholars” merely continue to work in a mechanical way. Yet they are very insulted if a man, who is not a “scholar”, does not treat them with utmost respect and fails to regard them as a superior species of human being. The majority of our professional men, lawyers, judges, physicians, professors, public officials, artists, etc., are merely mechanics in their line, and their sole object is personal gain. Only the industrious man discovers later on how much superfluous knowledge he assimilated and how often he failed to learn that which he requires most, and then begins to learn anew. During the best part of his life he has been bothered with much that was useless or harmful; he requires a second part of his life to cast what is useless or harmful aside and to attain the heights of the views of his time, and then only can he become a useful member of society. Many do not surpass the first stage, others come to a standstill in the second, and only few have the energy to struggle on to the third.

But decorum demands that the mediæval trash and superfluous learning should be maintained, and as women have been until now, and in many cases still are, excluded from the preparatory institutions, this fact furnishes a convenient excuse for excluding them from the lecture halls of the universities. In Leipsic, during the seventies, one of the most noted professors of medicine made the following frank confession to a lady: “A classical education is not essential to an understanding of medicine, but it must be made a condition of entrance to maintain the dignity of science.

Opposition against an obligatory, classical education as being essential to the study of medicine, is gradually manifesting itself in Germany also. The tremendous advance of the sciences and their great importance to life in general, necessitates a scientific training. But the classical education, with its special preference of Greek and Latin, considers science unimportant and neglects it. It therefore frequently happens that young students are wanting in the most elementary scientific knowledge,[269] that is of decisive importance for a study like medicine. Even teachers themselves are beginning to oppose this one-sided method of education. In other countries, for instance, in Switzerland, the study of science has long since been held as being of prime importance, and all who possess sufficient preliminary knowledge in the natural sciences and mathematics are admitted to the study of medicine, even without having had a so-called classical education. The same is true of Russia, the United States, and other countries.

In Russia, where suppression and persecution of the Jews is considered one of the maxims of government, an imperial ukase, in 1907, prescribed that in the newly established school of medicine for women, only 5 per cent. of the students might be of other than Christian faith. Of these only 3 per cent. might be Jewesses, and the remaining 2 per cent. were to be reserved for students of Moslem origin. This is one of the retrogressive measures which are daily occurrences in Russia. The Russian government certainly had no cause for such provisions, because there is quite a dearth of physicians in that tremendous realm, and because the Russian women practitioners, regardless of their faith or origin, have been noted for the most unselfish devotion in the practice of their profession. Dr. Erismann, who practiced in Russia for many years, delivered a lecture at the 54th annual convention of the Medical Society in Olten, in which he said: “Very favorable were the experiences gathered during the first years in regard to the activity of the female physicians. From the very beginning they were enabled to win the confidence of the people. In the noble competition with their male colleagues they even carried off the laurels. It was soon observed that the female physicians, on an average, treated more patients annually than the male physicians, although the latter proved very efficient and unselfish, likewise. Female patients especially, in great numbers, sought aid with the women doctors.”[169]


On the other hand, female competition, so much feared by men, especially in regard to the practice of medicine, has not been in evidence. It seems that female physicians obtain a circle of patients from their own sex who apply to male physicians rarely, or only in cases of extreme necessity. It has, moreover, been observed that a great many women physicians abandon their profession as soon as they enter into marriage. It seems that in present-day society the domestic duties of married women are so numerous, especially where there are children, that many women find it impossible to have two professions simultaneously. A physician must be constantly prepared, by day and by night, to practice her profession, and to many that becomes impossible.[170]

After England,[171] the United States and France took lead in employing women as factory inspectors—an innovation that has become all the more necessary because, as has been shown, the number of women in industry is rapidly increasing, and the industries employing women, chiefly or exclusively, are increasing likewise—a number of German states have also followed their example. Baden, Bavaria, Hessia, the Kingdom of Saxony, Weimar, Wurtemberg, and others have added women assistants to their factory inspectors, and some of these have already achieved much recognition by their activity. In Prussia there are three women factory inspectors in Berlin, and one each in Duesseldorf, Breslau and Wiesbaden. This proves again how the progress of Prussia has been retarded compared with other German states. There is not a single woman assistant in districts[271] like Potsdam (with 32,299 working women), Frankfort on the Oder (with 31,371), Liegnitz (with 31,798), and others, where their presence is extremely needful. Here, too, it has been seen that working women confide more readily in members of their own sex, and that female factory inspectors have been able to obtain much information that was denied to their male colleagues. One shortcoming of this institution is that the assistants frequently are not given the autonomy that is needful in their position, and their pay is not what it ought to be, either. The new institution is being tried out carefully and hesitatingly.[172]

In Germany the prejudice and aversion against employing women in public offices is particularly strong, because so many retired military men annually seek appointments to all kinds of offices in the state and municipal administrations, that there is hardly any room left for applicants from other circles. When women are employed, nevertheless, their salary is considerably lower, whereby they immediately appear as being worth less than men, and whereby they also become a means to keep down wages and salaries.

The great variety of female ability could be observed especially well at the World’s Fair in Chicago, in 1893. The splendid woman’s building had been entirely planned by female architects, and the articles displayed that had been designed and made by women exclusively, were much admired for their tasty and artistic execution. In the realm of invention, too, women have achieved much and will achieve still more. An American trade-journal published a list of inventions by women; among them were: An improved spinning machine; a rotary loom, which produces three times as much as the usual kind; a chain elevator; a connecting-rod for a propeller; a fire-escape; an apparatus for weighing wool, one of the most delicate machines that have ever been invented, of immeasurable value to the wool industry; a fire extinguisher;[272] a process of employing petroleum as a fuel for steam-engines instead of wood or coal; an improved spark-catcher for locomotives; a signal for grade-crossings; a system of heating cars without fire; a lubricating felt to diminish friction (on railroads); a typewriter; a signal-rocket for the navy; a deep-sea telescope; a system for subduing the noise of the elevated trains; a smoke-consumer; a machine for folding paper bags, etc. Many improvements on sewing machines have been made by women; for instance, an appliance for sewing canvas and coarse cloth; an apparatus for threading the needle while the machine is running; an improvement of machines for sewing leather, etc. The last-named invention was made by a woman who was a harness-maker in New York. The deep-sea telescope, invented by Mrs. Mather and improved by her daughter, is an invention of great importance, since it makes it possible to examine the keel of the largest vessel without bringing same into a dry-dock. With the aid of this telescope sunken wrecks may be examined from ship-board, obstacles to navigation and torpedoes may be located, and so forth.

A machine famed in America and Europe for its complicated and ingenious construction, is one for the manufacture of paper bags. Many men, among them noted mechanicians, had tried in vain to construct a machine of this sort. It was invented by a woman, Miss Maggie Knight. The same lady has since invented a machine for the folding of paper bags, which performs the labor of thirty persons. She personally conducted the construction of this machine in Amherst, Massachusetts.

[167] A statistic compiled by Blaschko gives the following information in regard to the extension of sexual diseases among the various occupations. First come the secret prostitutes with 30 per cent; then the students with 25 per cent; merchants with 16, and workingmen with 9 per cent.

[168] In special cases women may be excluded from certain lectures with the consent of the minister of education.

[169] The organization of free clinical treatment of patients in the large cities of Russia.—German Quarterly of Public Hygiene.

[170] What difficulties are entailed for women who have a family and at the same time wish to, or have to, practice a trade or profession, has been ably shown in the book by Adele Gerhard and Helen Simon: “Maternity and Intellectual Occupations” (Berlin, 1901, George Reimer). It contains the personal experiences and opinions of writers, artists, singers, actresses, etc., and these opinions prove that society must be completely reorganized to give full play to the great amount of female intelligence that exists and strives for expression, since it is in the interest of society itself that it should be given full play.

[171] According to the last report for 1908, England has 16 female factory inspectors, Miss A. M. Anderson and 15 assistants.

[172] The first woman factory inspector was appointed in Bavaria in 1897. From then until 1909 the number of woman factory inspectors rose to 26. Fourteen states had until then not appointed any.

The Legal Status of Women.

1.—The Struggle for Equality Before the Law.

The social dependence of a race, class, or sex, always finds expression in the laws and political conditions of the country in question. The laws of a country are the[273] formulated expression of its ruling interests. Women, being the dependent and oppressed sex, find their legal status mapped out to them accordingly. Laws are both negative and positive. They are negative by failing to take notice of the oppressed in the distribution of rights. They are positive inasmuch as they point out his dependent position and denote whatever exceptions there may be.

Our common law is founded on the Roman law, which considers the human being solely in his quality as a propertied being. The old German law, that dealt more favorably with women, has maintained its influence only to a slight extent. In the French language, as in the English language, human being and the male are denoted by the same word, “l’homme”—man. In the same way, the French law only recognizes the man as a human being, and, until a few decades ago, this was true also of England, where women were maintained in abject dependence. It was the same in ancient Rome. There were Roman citizens and wives of Roman citizens, but no Roman citizenesses.

In Germany the legal status of women has been somewhat improved, inasmuch as the great variety of existing laws have been replaced by a uniform law, whereby rights enjoyed by women here and there have been made general. Thereby, unmarried women were admitted to guardianship; women were permitted to act as witnesses, to sign contracts, and to carry on a business independently. Both husband and wife are entitled to the common ownership of each other’s property, unless the demands made by either party may be regarded as an abuse of his or her rights. If there are conflicting opinions between them on this subject, the decision rests with the husband, who also is entitled to determine the place of residence. If the husband should abuse this right, the wife is exempt from obedience. The sole management of the household rests with the wife. She has the so-called power of the keys, which empowers her, within her domestic sphere, to attend to her husband’s affairs and to represent him. The husband is liable for his wife’s debts. But the wife’s power of the keys may[274] be restricted, or entirely abolished, by her husband. Should he abuse his power, this limitation may be annulled by the courts. The wife is obliged to do the housework and to perform tasks in her husband’s business, but only where such occupations are customary, in accordance with the husband’s standard of living. A demand to establish, as the rule, separate rights of ownership by husband and wife, was declined by the Diet. This can only be obtained by means of the marriage contract, which is usually neglected, and may lead to disagreements later on. Instead, community of management was established. The husband is thereby entitled to dispose of his wife’s property, while she is limited to her dowry. On the other hand, the wife has unrestricted control over whatever she may earn during marriage, by personal labor or in business. The husband has no right to deprive the wife of her earnings or her dowry. The wife may also demand security, in case she has good reason to fear that her property is endangered, which she may sometimes learn too late. She may also enter a complaint to have the common ownership abolished, if her husband should fail to provide for her and her children. The husband is liable for damage resulting from mismanagement.

The wife may be grievously wronged by the existing divorce laws. For, in case of divorce, the joint earnings of husband and wife belong to the husband, even if he is the guilty party, and if most of their common property has been earned by the wife. But the woman is entitled to alimony, according to her station, only if it can be shown that she is not able to maintain her standard of living by means of her own property or earnings.

Paternal control has been replaced by the joint control of both parents, but in case of disagreement between the parents, the decision rests with the father. In case of the father’s death, parental control, including the management and use of the child’s property, devolves on the mother. A divorced woman has no right to represent her children legally, or to control their property, even if the children have been awarded to her, while the father continues to enjoy full parental rights.


In England, until 1870, according to the common law, a husband was entitled to all the personal property of his wife. Only real estate remained her property by law, but even this the husband was entitled to manage and to use. The English woman was a mere cipher before the law. She could not sign any legal document, not even a will. She was her husband’s chattel. If she committed any crime in her husband’s presence, he was held responsible for it, since she was regarded as a minor. In case she damaged any one’s property, the damage was viewed as if done by a domestic animal; her husband was answerable for it. In 1888 Bishop J. N. Wood delivered a lecture in the chapel at Westminster, in which he said, among other things, that as late as a century ago English women had not been permitted to eat at their husbands’ table, nor to speak until they were spoken to. As a symbol of his marital power, a whip hung above the bed, that the husband was permitted to wield when the wife was not as docile as her lord desired her to be. Only her daughters were obliged to obey her. By her sons she was regarded as a servant.

By the laws of 1870, 1882 and 1893, the woman is not only entitled to all the property brought into marriage by her, she is also entitled to everything she may obtain during marriage by her earnings, by inheritance, or by gift. This legal relation can be modified only by special agreement between husband and wife. In this respect English legislation has followed the example set by the United States. By the Custody of Infants’ Act, of 1886, in case of the father’s death, parental control devolves on the mother. The Intestate Estates Act, of 1890, still gives the man a privileged position. Both husband and wife are free to dispose of their property by their last will and testament. But if the wife dies intestate, all her personal property belongs to her husband; while, if the husband dies intestate, his widow is entitled to only one-third of his personal property and income on real estate; the remainder belongs to his children. Many remnants of the old mediaeval law remain in force that greatly impair the legal status of married women. As we have seen, the divorce laws are still highly unfavorable to[276] women. If a man commits adultery, that alone is no ground for divorce for the woman, but only in connection with cruelty, bigamy, rape, etc.[173]

The civil law is especially unfavorable to women in France, and in all those countries—mostly Romanic countries—that are strongly influenced by the French “code civil,” or where it has been adopted in full, with some modifications. This is the case in Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Russian Poland, the Netherlands, and in most of the cantons of Switzerland. There is a saying by Napoleon I. that is characteristic of his conception of the position of women, and that still holds true; it is: “One thing is not French, a woman who may do as she pleases.”[174] As soon as a French woman marries she is placed under the guardianship of her husband. According to the Code Civil, she may not appear in court without the consent of her husband, not even if she is connected with a lawsuit. The husband shall protect his wife, and the wife shall obey her husband. He controls the property brought into marriage by his wife; he may sell, rent, or mortgage same, without being obliged to ask her consent. The result is, that women frequently live in a condition of absolute servitude. A man may spend his wife’s earnings on drink, or on frivolous women; he may gamble and run into debt, leaving his wife and children in want; he is even entitled to demand from an employer the wages his wife has earned. Under such circumstances it is not to be wondered at that many women prefer to desist from marriage, as was frequently seen in France.

In most Romanic countries women cannot act as witnesses to legal documents, contracts, wills, etc. In France this was the case until 1897. But they are permitted—by a strange inconsistency—to act as witnesses at court in all criminal cases, where their testimony may perhaps lead to the execution of a human being. In criminal law woman is everywhere regarded as man’s[277] equal, and crimes and transgressions committed by her are measured by the same standard as those committed by man. Our law-makers seem blissfully unconscious of this glaring inconsistency. As a widow, a woman may make her will, but in a great many states she is not admitted as a witness to a will, yet she may be appointed as executrix. In Italy women are admitted as witnesses in civil law since 1877.

The privileged position of men is especially manifest in the divorce laws. According to the “Code Civil,” in France a man might obtain a divorce if his wife committed adultery; but a woman could not obtain it, unless her husband had brought his concubine into their home. This article has been changed by the divorce law of July 27, 1884, but in French criminal law the distinction has been maintained, which is very characteristic of the French law-makers. If a woman has been convicted of adultery she is punishable by imprisonment of from three months to two years. But the man is punishable only if he has maintained a concubine in his own household, as per the former article of the “Code Civil.” If found guilty, his only punishment is a fine of from 100 to 2000 francs. Such inequality before the law would be impossible if there were women in the parliament of France. Similar laws are in force in Belgium. The penalty for adultery when committed by a woman is the same as in France. The man goes unpunished, unless adultery has been committed by him in his and his wife’s domicile; in that event he may be punished by imprisonment of from one month to one year. In Belgium the injustice is not quite as glaring as in France, but in both countries we find one standard of law for the man and another one for the woman. Under the influence of French law similar provisions have been made in Spain and Portugal. According to the civil law of Italy, enacted in 1865, a woman cannot obtain a divorce on the ground of adultery, unless her husband maintains his concubine in his own home, or in a place where her presence appears as a particular insult to the wife. In 1907, together with the enactment of June 21, which has modified a number of articles of the Code Civil in regard to marriage,[278] both chambers finally adopted the law of July 13, whereby the wife became the sole owner of property earned by her, or obtained by inheritance or gift. The husband has been deprived of his former control over the personal property of his wife. That is the first breach in French law, and thereby French women have obtained the same legal status that was obtained for English women by the law of 1870.

Much more advanced than the “Code Civil” and more advanced also than German civil law, is the new civil law of Switzerland that was adopted on December 10, 1907, and will come into force on January 1, 1912. Until now the various cantons of Switzerland had their own laws. In Geneva, Waadt, and Italian Switzerland they were partly founded on the “Code Civil.” In Bern and Lucerne they were founded on Austrian law, and in Schwytz, Uri, Unterwalden, etc., the old common law prevailed. Now Switzerland is to have a uniform code of laws. The freedom of the wife and the children is assured. The new law provides that the wife is entitled to one-third of her husband’s income, even if she is only occupied as his assistant or housekeeper. In regard to inheritance, also, the laws are more favorable to women than the German laws. When a man dies, his wife is not only entitled to one-half of his property, but also, together with the man’s parents, to the lifelong use of the income from the other half. If people owe money to a man who fails to provide for his wife and children, the judge may instruct them to pay these debts, not to the man himself, but to his wife. The law no longer forbids a divorced person to marry the person with whom he has committed adultery. The property rights of married persons are mainly determined by the marriage contract that may be drawn up by both before and during marriage. Illegitimate children—in cases where the mother had been given a promise of marriage—are not only entitled to alimony from their father, as according to the new German law, but they are also entitled to their father’s name, and thereby obtain the full rights of legitimate children.

Swedish women are given full control over their own[279] earnings by a law of Dec. 11, 1874. In Denmark a similar law was enacted in 1880. According to Danish law no claims may be made on a woman’s property for the payment of her husband’s debts. The Norwegian law of 1888 and the Finnish law of 1889 are quite similar. The married woman has the same control over her property as the unmarried woman; only some exceptions are provided for that are stated in the law. In the Norwegian law it is clearly stated, that the woman becomes a dependent by marriage.

“In the Scandinavian countries, as elsewhere, this universal movement to extend the property rights of women originated in the same way as it did in England: through the gainful employment of married women. The ruling classes were far more willing to abandon the patriarchal superiority of the common man over his working wife, than that of the man from their own ranks over his propertied wife.”[175]

In the law of May 27, 1908, Danish legislation advanced still another step. If a husband and father fails to provide for his family, the wife and children may have the sum, awarded to them by the authorities, advanced out of the public funds.

In most countries the father has the sole control over the children and the right to determine their education. Only in some countries the mother is given joint control with the father in a more or less subordinate way. The old Roman principle, whereby the father had complete power over his children, everywhere forms the key-note of legislation.

In Russia married women have some control over their property, but as bread-winners they remain utterly subservient to their husbands. No pass—which is absolutely essential for any change of residence—is ever issued to a married woman without her husband’s consent. In order to accept a position or to practice any trade or profession, she must also have her husband’s permission. Divorce is made so difficult, that it can be obtained only in very rare cases. The position of Russian women was[280] much more independent formerly in the old peasant communities, which was due to the remaining communistic institutions or to the reminiscences of these institutions. The peasant woman was the manager of her own estate. Communism is the most favorable social condition for women. We have seen this from our exposition of the matriarchal period.[176]

In the United States the women have succeeded in winning almost complete equality before the law; they have also prevented the introduction of English and other laws regulating prostitution.

[173] A. Chapman and M. Chapman—The Status of Women under the English Law. London, 1909.

[174] L. Bridel—La puissance maritale. Lausanne, 1879.

[175] Marianne Weber—Wife and Mother in the Evolution of Law. Tubingen, 1907.

[176] The correctness of this conception may be seen from the comedy by Aristophanes, “The Popular Assembly of Women.” In this comedy Aristophanes depicts how the Athenian state was so mismanaged that no one knew what to do. In the popular assembly of the citizens of Athens the prytanes submit the question how the state is to be saved. A woman, disguised as a man, moves to entrust the government to the women, and this motion is carried without resistance, “because it was the only thing not yet tried in Athens.” The women proceed to steer the ship of state and immediately introduce communism. Of course, Aristophanes ridicules this condition, but the characteristic part of his play is, that he has the women introduce communism as the only rational social organization from their point of view, as soon as they come into power. Aristophanes had no idea of how much truth was in his jest.

2.—The Struggle for Political Equality.

The evident inequality of women before the law has caused the more advanced among them to demand political rights, in order to attain their equality by means of legislation. The same thought has also led the working class to direct their agitation toward the conquest of political power. What is right for the working class, cannot be wrong for the women. Being oppressed, devoid of rights and, in many instances, disregarded, it is not only their right, but their duty to defend themselves and to adopt any method that appears good to them, so that they may win an independent position. Of course these endeavors are opposed by the usual reactionary croakings. Let us see to what extent these are justified.

Women possessing eminent intellectual abilities have[281] influenced politics at all times and among all peoples, even where they were not endowed with the power of sovereigns. Even the papal court was not exempt from this. If they could not exert any influence by means of the rights conceded to them, they did so by their intellectual superiority, even by intrigues. For many centuries their influence was particularly strong at the court of France, as also at the Spanish and Italian courts. At the close of the seventeenth century, at the court of Philip V. of Spain, Marie of Trémonille, Countess of Bracciano and Princess of Ursins, was the prime-minister of Spain for thirteen years, and during this time very ably conducted Spanish politics. As the mistresses of rulers, many women have succeeded in obtaining a great political influence; we need but mention the well-known names of Maintenon, the mistress of Louis XIV., and Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV. The great intellectual awakening of the eighteenth century, that produced men like Montesquieu, Voltaire, d’Allembert, Holbach, Helvetius, La Mettrie, Rousseau, and many others, did not fail to affect the women. This great movement, which questioned the justification of the fundamental principles of the state and feudal society and helped to undermine them, may have been joined by some women to follow the fashion, to satisfy their love of intrigue, or for other unworthy motives. But a great many women were impelled to take part in this movement by their profound interest and enthusiasm for its noble aims. Decades before the outbreak of the great revolution, which swept over France like a purifying cloud-burst, tore the old order asunder and cast it down, causing jubilation among the most advanced minds of the age, women had thronged into the scientific and political clubs, where philosophical, scientific, religious, social and political problems were discussed with unwonted daring, and had taken part in the discussions. When at length, in July, 1789, the storming of the Bastille ushered in the great revolution, women of the upper classes and women of the common people participated actively and exerted a very noticeable influence both for and against it. They participated excessively in both good and evil wherever an[282] opportunity presented itself. The majority of historians have taken more notice of the excesses of the revolution than of its great and noble deeds. These excesses, by the way, were only too natural, for they were the result of tremendous exasperation at the unspeakable corruption, the exploitation, the imposition, the baseness and villany of the ruling classes. Under the influence of these biased descriptions, Schiller wrote the lines: “And women there become hyenas and mock at horror and despair.” And yet in those years women have set so many noble examples of heroism, magnanimity, and admirable self-sacrifice, that to write an impartial book on “the women in the great revolution,” would mean the erection of a noble monument in their honor.[177] According to Michelet, women even were the van-guard of the revolution. The general poverty and want from which the French people suffered under the predatory and disgraceful rule of the Bourbon kings, especially affected the women, as is always the case under similar conditions. Being excluded from almost every decent means of support, tens of thousands of them fell victims to prostitution. To this was added the famine of 1789, which increased the suffering of women and children to the utmost. This famine led them to storm the town-hall in October and to march in masses to Versailles, the seat of the court. It also caused a number of them to petition the national assembly “that the equality between man and woman be reinstated, that work and employment be opened to them and that they be given positions suited to their abilities.” As the women recognized that they needed power to win their rights, but that they could attain power only by organizing and by standing together in great numbers, they organized women’s clubs throughout France, some of which had a surprisingly large membership, and also took part in the men’s meetings. While brilliant Madame Roland preferred to play a leading political part among the “statesmen” of the French Revolution, the Girondistes, passionate and eloquent Olympe de Gouges took[283] the leadership of the women of the people and espoused their cause with all the enthusiasm of her fervent temperament.

When the assembly proclaimed “the rights of man” (les droits de l’homme), in 1793, she promptly recognized that they were only rights of men. In opposition to these, Olympe de Gouges, together with Rose Lacombe and others, wrote “The rights of Women,” in seventeen articles. On the 28 Brumaire (November 20, 1793), she defended the rights before the Paris Commune, with arguments that are still fully justified. In her argumentation the following sentence, characteristic of the situation, was contained: “If a woman has the right to mount the scaffold she must also have the right to mount the platform.” Her demands remained unfulfilled. But her reference to the right of woman to mount a scaffold met with bloody confirmation. Her defence of the rights of women on the one hand, and her struggle against the atrocities of the assembly on the other, made her appear ripe for the scaffold to the assembly. She was beheaded on the 3d of November, of the same year. Five days later Madame Roland was beheaded, also. Both went to their death heroically. Shortly before these executions, on October 17, 1793, the assembly had shown its attitude of hostility toward women by deciding to suppress all the women’s clubs. Later on, when the women continued to protest against the wrong perpetrated against them, they were even forbidden to attend the assembly and the public meetings, and were treated as rebels.

When monarchical Europe marched against France, and the assembly declared “the fatherland to be in danger,” Parisian women offered to do what was done twenty years later by enthusiastic Prussian women, to bear arms in defence of the fatherland, thereby hoping to prove their right to equality. But they were opposed in the commune by the radical Chaumette, who addressed them thus: “Since when are women permitted to deny their sex and to make men of themselves? Since when is it customary for them to neglect the tender care of their households, to forsake the cradles of their children, to come into public places, to speak from platforms, to enter[284] the ranks of the army, with one word, to perform those duties which nature has destined man to perform? Nature has said to the man: ‘Be a man! The races, the hunt, agriculture, politics, all exertions are your privilege.’ She has said to the woman: ‘Be a woman! The care of your children, the details of the household, the sweet restlessness of motherhood, these are your tasks.’ Foolish women, why do you seek to become men? Are human beings not properly divided? What more do you ask? In the name of Nature, remain what you are, and far from envying us our stormy lives, make us forget them in the midst of our families by letting our eyes rest upon the lovely sight of our children, happy in your tender care.” Undoubtedly the radical Chaumette expressed the opinion held by most men. It is generally considered an appropriate division of labor that men defend the country and women care for hearth and home. For the rest the oratorical effusion of Chaumette consists of mere phrases. It is not true that man has borne the burdens of agriculture. From primeval days down to the present woman has contributed a large share to agriculture. The exertions of the hunt and the races are no “exertions,” but a pleasure to men, and politics entails dangers only for those who combat current opinions, while to others it offers at least as much pleasure as exertion. Nothing but the egotism of man finds expression in this speech.

Aims similar to those pursued by the Encyclopedists and the great revolution in France found expression in the United States, when, during the seventies and eighties of the eighteenth century, the colonists won their struggle for independence from England and established a democratic constitution. At that time, Mercy Ottis Warren and the wife of the second president of the United States, Mrs. Adams, together with a few other women, favored political equality. It was due to their influence that the State of New Jersey bestowed the right of suffrage upon women, of which it deprived them again in 1807. In France, even before the outbreak of the revolution, Condorcet, later a Girondist, published a brilliantly written essay in favor of woman’s suffrage and the political equality of both sexes.


Inspired by the great events in the neighboring country, it was brave Mary Wollstonecraft, born in 1759, who proclaimed woman’s cause at the other side of the channel. In 1790 she wrote a book in opposition to Burke, one of the most vehement opponents of the French Revolution, in which she defended the rights of man. Soon after she proceeded to demand the rights of man for her own sex. In her book, published in 1792, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” she severely criticised her own sex, but demanded and bravely defended complete equality for women in behalf of the common welfare. She met with vehement opposition and was subjected to severe and unjust attacks. Heart-broken by bitter inward struggles, she died in 1797, misunderstood and ridiculed by her contemporaries.

At the same time, when the first serious endeavors to obtain political equality for women were being made in France, England, and the United States, even in Germany, which was particularly retrogressive then, a German writer—Th. G. v. Hippel—anonymously published a book in Berlin, in 1792, on the “Civic Improvement in the Condition of Women,” in which he defended the equal rights of women. At that time a book on the civic improvement in the condition of men would have been equally justified. We must therefore doubly admire the courage of this man, who, in his book, ventured to draw all the logical conclusions from social and political sex equality and defended same very ably and intelligently.

Since then the demand for political rights of women has remained dormant for a long time; but gradually it has been taken up again by the woman’s movement in all countries and has become realized in a number of states. In France the St. Simonists and Fourierists favored sex equality, and, in 1848, the Fourierist Considérant moved in the constitutional committee of the French parliament to bestow equal political rights upon women. In 1851, Pierre Leroux repeated the motion in the chamber, but likewise unsuccessfully.

At present matters have an entirely different aspect. The development of our social conditions and all social relations have undergone a tremendous transformation[286] and have at the same time transformed the position of women. In all civilized states we find hundreds of thousands and millions of women employed in the most varied professions, just like men, and every year the number of women increases, who must rely on their own strength and ability in the struggle for existence. The nature of our social and political conditions, therefore, can no longer remain a matter of indifference to women. They must be interested in questions like the following: Whether or not the control of domestic and foreign affairs favor war; whether or not the state should annually keep hundreds of thousands of healthy men in the army and drive tens of thousands from the country; whether or not the necessities of life should be raised in price by taxes and duties at a time when the means of subsistence are very scarce to a great majority, etc. Women also pay direct and indirect taxes from their property and their earnings. The educational system is of the greatest interest to women, for the manner of education is a determining factor in the position of their sex; it is of special importance to mothers.

The hundreds of thousands and millions of women employed in hundreds of trades and professions are personally and vitally concerned in the nature of our social legislation. Laws relating to the length of the work-day, night-work, child labor, wages, safety appliances in factories and workshops, in one word, all labor laws, as also insurance laws, etc., are of the greatest interest to working women. Workingmen are only very insufficiently informed about the conditions existing in many branches of industry in which women are chiefly or exclusively employed. It is to the interest of the employers to conceal existing evils that they have caused; and in many instances factory inspection does not include trades in which women are exclusively employed; yet in these very branches of industry protection is most needful. We need but point to the workshops in our large cities, where seamstresses, dressmakers, milliners, etc., are crowded together. We hardly ever hear a complaint from their midst, and there is no investigation of their condition. Women as bread-winners are also interested[287] in the commerce and custom-laws and in all civil laws. There can no longer be any doubt, that it is as important to women as it is to men, to influence the nature of our conditions by means of legislation. The participation of women in public life would give it a new impetus and open new vistas.

Demands of this sort are briefly set aside, with the reply: “Women don’t understand politics; most of them do not wish to have a vote and would not know how to use it.” That is both true and false. It is true that until now, in Germany, at least, not very many women have demanded political equality. The first German woman to proclaim the rights of women, as early as the sixties of the last century, was Hedwig Dohm. Recently the Socialist working women have been the chief supporters of woman’s suffrage and have undertaken an active agitation for the winning of the ballot.

The argument that women have until now shown only a very moderate interest in politics, does not prove anything at all. If women have failed to care about politics formerly, that does not signify that they ought not to care about them now. The same arguments that are advanced against woman suffrage were, during the first half of the sixties, advanced against universal manhood suffrage. In 1863 the writer of this book himself was among those who opposed it. Four years later it made possible his election to the Diet. Tens of thousands experienced a similar development. Nevertheless there still are many men who either fail to make use of their political right, or do not know how to use it. Yet that would be no reason to deprive them of it. During the parliamentary elections usually from 25 to 30 per cent. of the voters fail to vote, and among these are members of all classes. While among the 70 to 75 per cent. who do vote, the majority, in our opinion, vote as they ought not to vote if they understood their own advantage. That they do not understand is due to a lack of political education. But political education is not obtained by withholding political rights from the masses. It is obtained only by the practice of political rights. Practice alone makes perfect. The ruling classes have always known it to be in their own interest[288] to keep the great majority of the people in political dependence. Therefore it has been the task of a determined, class conscious minority to struggle for the common good with energy and enthusiasm, and to arouse the masses from their indifference and inertia. It has been thus in all the great movements of history, and therefore it need not surprise or discourage us that it is the same with the woman’s movement. The success that has been obtained so far shows, that work and sacrifice are not in vain and that the future will bring victory.

As soon as women shall have obtained equal rights with men, the consciousness of their duties will be awakened in them. When asked to vote they will begin to question “why” and “for whom.”

Thereby a new source of interest will be established between man and woman that, far from harming their mutual relation, will considerably improve it. The inexperienced woman will naturally turn to the more experienced man. Therefrom an exchange of ideas and mutual instruction will result, a relation that until now has been very rare between man and woman. This will give their life a new charm. The unfortunate differences in education and conception between the sexes that frequently lead to disputes, breed discord in regard to the various duties of the man and injure the public welfare, will be adjusted more and more. A congenial and like-minded wife will support a man in his endeavors, instead of hindering him. If other tasks should prevent her from being active herself, she will encourage the man to do his duty. She will also be willing to sacrifice a fraction of the income for a newspaper and for purposes of agitation, because the newspaper will mean instruction and entertainment to her, and because she will understand that by the sacrifices for purposes of agitation, a more worthy human existence can be won for herself, her husband and her children.

Thus the common service of the public welfare, that is closely linked with the individual welfare, will elevate both man and woman. The opposite of that will be attained which is claimed by short-sighted persons or by the enemies of equal rights, and this relation between the[289] sexes will develop and become more beautiful as improved social conditions will liberate both man and woman from material care and excessive burdens of toil. Here, as in other cases, practice and education will help along. If I do not go into the water I will never learn to swim; if I do not study and practice a foreign language, I will never learn to speak it. That is readily understood by everyone; but many fail to understand that the same holds true of the affairs of the state and society. Are our women less capable than the inferior Negro race that was given political equality in North America? Or shall a highly cultured, educated woman be entitled to fewer rights than the most coarse and ignorant man, only because blind chance brought the latter into the world as a male being? Has the son a greater right than the mother from whom he has perhaps inherited his best qualities and who made him what he is? Such “justice” is strange, indeed.

Moreover, we are no longer risking a leap into the dark and unknown. North America, New Zealand, and Finland have paved the way. On the effects of woman suffrage in Wyoming, Justice Kingman, from Laramie, wrote to “The Woman’s Journal,” on November 12, 1872, as follows: “It is three years to-day that women were enfranchised in our territory and were also given the right to be elected to office, as all other voters. During this time they have taken part in the elections and have been elected to various offices; they have acted as jurors and as justices of the peace. Although there probably still are some among us who oppose the participation of women, on principle, I do not believe any one can deny that the participation of women in our elections has exerted an educational influence. The elections became more quiet and orderly, and at the same time our courts were enabled to punish various kinds of criminals who had been allowed to go unpunished until then. When the territory was organized, for instance, there was hardly a person who did not carry a revolver and make use of same upon the slightest provocation. I do not remember a single case where a person had been convicted of shooting by a jury composed entirely of men; but, with two[290] or three women among the jurors, they always followed the instructions of the judge.”

The prevailing sentiment in regard to woman suffrage in Wyoming, twenty-five years after its introduction, was expressed in a proclamation by the legislature of that state to all the legislatures of the country. It read:

Whereas, Wyoming was the first State to adopt woman suffrage, which has been in operation since 1869, and was adopted in the constitution of the State in 1890; during which time women have exercised the privilege as generally as men, with the result that better candidates have been elected for office, methods of election purified, the character of legislation improved, civic intelligence increased, and womanhood developed to a greater usefulness by political responsibility; therefore,

Resolved, by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, that, in view of these results, the enfranchisement of women in every State and Territory of the American Union is hereby recommended as a measure tending to the advancement of a higher and better social order.”

It is certain that the enfranchisement of women has shown many advantageous results for Wyoming, and not one single disadvantage. That is the most splendid vindication of its introduction. The example set by Wyoming was followed by other states. Women were given full parliamentary suffrage in Colorado in 1894, in Utah in 1895, in Idaho in 1896. Women have municipal suffrage in Kansas, and school suffrage, tax-paying suffrage, etc., in a number of other states in the Union. In 1899, after the innovation had been in force in Colorado for five years, the legislature decided upon the following resolution, by 45 against 3 votes:

Whereas, equal suffrage has been in operation in Colorado for five years, during which time women have exercised the privilege as generally as men, with the result that better candidates have been selected for office, methods of election have been purified, the character of legislation improved, civic intelligence increased[291] and womanhood developed to greater usefulness by political responsibility; therefore,

Resolved, by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, that, in view of these results, the enfranchisement of women in every State and Territory of the American Union is hereby recommended as a measure tending to the advancement of a higher and better social order.”

In a number of states the legislatures have passed woman suffrage bills, but these decisions were annulled by the vote of the people. This was the case in Kansas, Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana, and Oklahoma. In Kansas and Oklahoma this proceeding has been twice repeated, and in Oregon even three times. The noteworthy fact is that each time the majorities against the political emancipation of women became smaller.[178]

“The municipal rights obtained by women are very varied, but, taken all in all, do not amount to much. As a matter of course, women enjoy the full municipal rights of citizenship in those four states in which they have been given national suffrage. But only one other state, Kansas, has given women municipal suffrage, which also includes school and tax-paying suffrage and makes them eligible to school boards. A limited municipal suffrage, founded upon an educational qualification, has been exercised by the women of Michigan since 1893. Louisiana, Montana, Iowa, and New York give women the right to vote on municipal questions of taxation. The women have not obtained as much influence in the general administration of municipal affairs as they have in regard to the administration of schools. They have school suffrage and are eligible to school boards in the following states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. In Kentucky and Oklahoma they have school suffrage, but are not eligible to office; in Kentucky[292] the school suffrage is limited by certain restrictions. In Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Iowa and California, women are eligible to school boards, but only to certain offices.”[179]

In New Zealand, women have had full parliamentary suffrage since 1893. They have actively participated in the parliamentary elections, more actively than the men, but they are not eligible to office. Only men may be elected. In 1893, of 139,915 women of voting age no less than 109,461 registered; 785 for each 1000; 90,290—645 for each 1000—took part in the elections. In 1896 108,783 (68 per cent.) of the women voted; in 1902, 138,565; in 1905, 175,046.

In Tasmania, women were given municipal suffrage in 1884 and national suffrage in 1903. In South Australia, women have had national suffrage since 1895, in West Australia since 1900, in New South Wales since 1902, in Queensland since 1905, in Victoria since 1908. Federated Australia introduced parliamentary woman’s suffrage in 1902. The parliamentary suffrage implies the eligibility of women to parliament, but until now no woman has been elected. Women who are of age may vote for members of parliament and be voted for on the same terms as men. The municipal administration is less democratic. The right of participation in the administration of municipal affairs is connected with military service. Since 1889, tax-paying women are eligible to the charity-boards of town and rural communities. They may also be elected as directors of charitable institutions and members of school boards.

The grand general strike of October, 1905, and the victory of the Russian revolution made possible the restoration of the constitution in Finland. The working class, by bringing pressure to bear upon the National Diet, succeeded in obtaining the passage of a law that provided for the introduction of universal suffrage, including the women. Only such persons were excluded who received aid from public funds, or who owed their personal tax to the state, 50 cents for men and 25 cents[293] for women. In 1907, 19 women, and in 1908, 25 women were elected to the parliament of Finland.

In Norway, women participate in the administration of schools since 1889. In cities, the city councils may appoint them to school boards, and women having children of school age take part in the election of school inspectors. In the rural districts all who pay school taxes, regardless of sex, are entitled to take part in the school meetings of the communities. Women may hold the office of school inspector. Gradually women were given a voice in other municipal matters also. In 1901, municipal suffrage was extended to all Norwegian women who had attained their twenty-fifth year, who were Norwegian citizens, having been in the country at least five years, and who paid taxes on an income of at least 300 crowns, in the rural districts, and 400 crowns in the cities, or whose husbands paid the required amount of taxes. Women answering these requirements were also made eligible to municipal offices. By this law 200,000 women were enfranchised, 30,000 of them in Christiania alone. During the first election in which the women participated, 90 women were elected as members of town and city councils, and 160 as alternates. In Christiana, 6 women councillors and one alternate were elected. On July 1, 1907, the Norwegian women were given parliamentary suffrage, but not upon the same terms as men. Parliamentary suffrage was extended to women on the same terms on which they had been given municipal suffrage; 250,000 proletarian women still remain excluded from political rights.

In Sweden, unmarried women take part in municipal elections since 1862, on the same terms as men; that is, they must be of age and must pay taxes on an income of at least 140 dollars. In 1887 only 4000 women among 62,000 voted. At first, women were not eligible to any municipal office, but in 1889 a law was enacted which declared them eligible to school boards and boards of charity. In February, 1909, Swedish women were declared eligible to all town and city councils. In 1902 parliamentary[294] woman suffrage was rejected by the lower house by 114 against 64 votes; in 1905 by 109 against 88 votes.

In Denmark, after many years of agitation, women were given municipal suffrage in April, 1908, and were also made eligible to municipal offices. All those women are enfranchised who have attained their twenty-fifth year and who have an annual income of at least 225 dollars in the cities (less in rural districts), or whose husbands pay the required amount of taxes. Moreover, servant girls are enfranchised, in whose case board and lodging are added to the wages they receive. During the first election in which women participated, which took place in 1909, seven women were elected to the city council of Copenhagen. In Iceland, women have municipal suffrage and are eligible to municipal offices since 1907.

The struggle for woman suffrage in England has a considerable history. According to an old law, in the mediaeval ages, ladies of the manors had the right of suffrage and also exercised judicial power. In the course of time they were deprived of these rights. In the election reform acts of 1832, the word “person” had been employed, which includes members of both sexes. Yet the law was construed not to refer to women, and they were barred from voting wherever they made an attempt to do so. In the election reform bill of 1867, the word “person” had been replaced by the word “man.” John Stuart Mill moved to reintroduce the word “person” instead of “man,” explicitly stating as the object of his motion that thereby women would be given the suffrage on the same terms as men. The motion was voted down by 194 against 73 votes. Sixteen years later, in 1883, another attempt was made in the house of commons to introduce woman suffrage. The bill was rejected by a majority of only 16 votes. Another attempt failed in 1884, when a much larger membership of the house voted down a suffrage bill by a majority of 136 votes. But the minority were not discouraged. In 1886 they succeeded in having a bill providing for the introduction of parliamentary[295] woman suffrage passed in two readings. The dissolving of parliament prevented a final decision.

On November 29, 1888, Lord Salisbury delivered an address in Edinburgh, in which he said, among other things: “I sincerely hope that the day may not be distant when women will participate in parliamentary elections and will help to determine the course of the government.” Alfred Russell Wallace, the well-known scientist and follower of Darwin, expressed himself upon the same question in the following manner: “When men and women shall be free to follow their best impulses, when no human being shall be hampered by unnatural restrictions owing to the chance of sex, when public opinion will be controlled by the wisest and best and will be systematically impressed upon the young, then we will find that a system of human selection will manifest itself that will result in a transformed humanity. As long as women are compelled to regard marriage as a means whereby they may escape poverty and neglect, they are and remain at a disadvantage compared to men. Therefore the first step in the emancipation of women is to remove all the restrictions which prevent them from competing with men in all branches of industry and in all occupations. But we must advance beyond this point and permit women to exercise their political rights. Many of the restrictions from which women have hitherto suffered would have been spared them if they had had a direct representation in parliament.”

On April 27, 1892, the second reading of a bill by Sir A. Rollit was again rejected by 175 against 152 votes. On February 3, 1897, the house of commons passed a suffrage bill, but, owing to various manœuvres of the opponents, the bill did not come up for the third reading. In 1904 the same scene was re-enacted. Of the members of parliament elected to the house of commons in 1906, a large majority had declared themselves in favor of woman suffrage prior to their election. On June 21, 1908, a grand demonstration was held in Hyde Park. On February 28, a bill providing that women should be given[296] parliamentary suffrage on the same terms as men, had been passed by 271 against 92 votes.[180]

In regard to municipal administration, woman suffrage in Great Britain is constantly expanding. In the parish councils tax-paying women have a voice and vote as well as men. Since 1899, women in England have the right to vote for town, district and county councils. In the rural districts all proprietors and lodgers—including the female ones—who reside in the parish or district are entitled to vote. All inhabitants who are of age may be elected to the above-named bodies, regardless of sex. Women vote for members of school boards, and, since 1870, are eligible to same on the same terms as men. But in 1903 the reactionary English school law has deprived women of the right of being elected to the school board in the county of London. Since 1869 independent and unmarried women have the right to vote for the privy councils. Two laws enacted in 1907 made unmarried women in England and Scotland eligible to district and county councils. But a woman who may be elected as chairman of such a council, shall thereby not hold the office of justice of peace that is connected with it. Women are also eligible to parish councils and as overseers of the poor. The first woman mayor was elected in Aldeburgh on November 9, 1908. In 1908 there were 1162 women on English boards of charity and 615 women on school boards. In Ireland, tax-paying women have had municipal suffrage since 1887, and since 1896 they may vote for members of boards of charity and be elected to same. In the British colony of North America, most of the provinces have introduced municipal woman suffrage on similar terms as in England. In the African colonies of England, municipal woman suffrage has likewise been introduced.

In France the first slight progress was brought about by a law enacted on February 27, 1880. By this law a[297] school board was created consisting of women school principals, school inspectors, and inspectors of asylums. Another law of January 23, 1898, gave women engaged in commerce the right to vote for members of courts of trade, and, since November 25, 1908, women may be elected as members of courts of trade themselves.

In Italy women may vote for members of courts of trade and be elected as such since 1893. They are also eligible to boards of supervisors of hospitals, orphan asylums, foundling asylums, and to school boards.

In Austria women belonging to the class of great landowners may vote for members of the Diet and the imperial council, either personally or by proxy. Taxpaying women, over 24, may vote for town and city councillors; married women exercise the suffrage indirectly through their husbands, others through some other authorized agent. All the women belonging to the class of great land-owners have the right to vote for members of the Diet, but, with the exception of Lower Austria, they do not exercise it personally. Only in the one domain referred to, the law of 1896 provides that the great landowners, regardless of sex, must cast their vote in person. Women may also vote for members of courts of trade, but may not be elected to same.

In Germany women are explicitly excluded from voting for any law-making bodies. In some parts of the country women may vote for town-councillors. In no city or rural community are women eligible to municipal offices. In the cities they are also excluded from the right to vote for any office. The exceptions to this rule are some cities in the Grand-duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, in the principalities of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, in Bavaria, and the little town of Travemuende, in Lubeck.

In the Bavarian cities all women who are house-owners, and in the cities of Saxony-Weimar and Schwarzburg, all women citizens are given the suffrage, but only in Travemuende are they permitted to exercise it in person.[181] In most of the rural communities where the right[298] of suffrage depends upon a property or tax-paying qualification, women are included in this right. But they must vote by proxy and are not eligible to any office themselves. This is the case in Prussia, Brunswick, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Weimar, Hamburg, and Lubeck. In the Kingdom of Saxony a woman may exercise the suffrage if she be a landowner and unmarried. When she becomes married, her suffrage devolves upon her husband. In those states in which municipal suffrage depends upon citizenship, women are generally excluded. This is the case in Wurtemberg, in the Bavarian Palatinate, in Baden, Hessia, Oldenburg, Anhalt, Gotha, and Reuss. In Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, Coburg, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, women can become citizens on the same terms as men, and they have the suffrage, not limited by any property qualification. But here, too, they are prohibited from exercising this right in person.

In those Prussian districts where a limited form of woman suffrage exists, the enfranchised women participate directly or indirectly in the elections for members of the dietines. In the electoral groups of great landowners and the representatives of mining and manufacturing establishments, the women vote for members of the dietines directly; but in the rural communities they vote indirectly, since here the town council does not elect the representatives themselves, but only their electors. As the local dietines elect representatives to the provincial diets, the small number of enfranchised women are enabled to exert a very modest influence on the administration of the provinces.

During recent years women have been admitted to boards of charity, and have been made overseers of the poor and of orphan asylums in growing numbers and with marked success. (Bavaria constitutes the only exception.) In some cities (in Prussia, Baden, Wurtemberg, Bavaria and Saxony), they have also been admitted to school boards, and in one city (Mannheim), they have been made members of a commission for the inspection of dwellings. Insurance against sickness is the only public institution in connection with which women may[299] vote and be voted for. They remain excluded from voting for members of courts of trade.

The above-quoted instances show that suffrage in Germany and Austria is determined, almost without exception, not by the person, but by property. Politically, human beings are mere ciphers if they have no money and no possessions. Neither intellect nor ability, but property is the determining factor. It is very instructive to note this fact in regard to the morality and justice of the present state.

We see that a number of exceptions have already been made to the theory that women are in the same class with minors and that the franchise must accordingly be withheld from them. And yet people vehemently oppose the endeavor to give women full political equality. Even progressive people argue that it would be dangerous to enfranchise women because they are conservative by nature and are susceptible to religious prejudices. But these arguments are true to some extent only, so long as women are maintained in ignorance. Our object must therefore be to educate them and to teach them where their true interest lies. Incidentally it may be stated that the religious influence on elections has been overestimated. The ultramontane agitation was so successful in Germany only because it wisely combined the religious interests with social interests. For a long time the ultramontane chaplains vied with the Socialists in revealing social deterioration. It was this that caused them to become so influential with the masses. But with the end of the struggle between church and state this influence gradually declines. The clergy are obliged to abandon their struggle against the power of the state; at the same time the increasing class differences compel them to show greater consideration for the Catholic bourgeoisie and the Catholic nobility and to be more reticent in regard to social questions. Thereby they lose their influence upon workingmen, especially if consideration for the ruling classes compels them to favor or to tolerate actions and laws that are directed against the interests of the working class. The same reasons will eventually also destroy the influence of the clergy upon[300] women. When women learn in meetings, or from newspapers, or by personal experience, where their true interests lie, they will emancipate themselves from clerical influence just as men.[182]

In Belgium, where ultramontanism still predominates among large circles of the population, a number of the Catholic clergy favor woman suffrage because they deem it an effective weapon against Socialism. In Germany, too, a number of conservative members of the Diet have declared themselves in favor of the woman suffrage bills introduced by Socialist members and have explained their position by asserting that they consider woman suffrage a weapon against Socialism. Undoubtedly there is some truth in these opinions, taking into consideration the present political ignorance of women and the strong influence exerted over them by the clergy. But still this is no reason to disfranchise them. There are millions of workingmen, too, who vote for candidates of bourgeois and religious parties against their own class interest and thereby prove their political ignorance, yet no one would propose to disfranchise them for this reason. The withholding or the rape of the franchise is not practiced because the ignorance of the masses—including the ignorance of women—is feared; for what these masses are, the ruling classes have made them. It is[301] practiced because the ruling classes fear that the masses will gradually become wise and pursue their own course.

Until recently the various German states were so reactionary that they even withheld from women the right of political organization. In Prussia, Bavaria, Brunswick, and a number of other German states, they were not permitted to form political clubs. In Prussia they were not even permitted to participate in entertainments arranged by political clubs, as was distinctly set down by the supreme court in 1901. The rector of the Berlin University even went so far as to forbid a woman to lecture before a social science club of students. In the same year the police authorities of Brunswick forbade women to take part in the proceedings of the social congress of Evangelists. In 1902 the Prussian secretary of state condescended to give women the permission to attend the meetings of political clubs, but under the condition that they had to take their seats in a part of the hall specially set aside for them, like the Jewish women in their synagogues. Nothing could have better characterized the pettiness of our conditions. As late as February, 1904, Pasadowsky solemnly declared in the Diet: “Women shall keep their hands off politics.” But eventually this state of affairs became unbearable even to the bourgeois parties. The new national law on assembly and organization of April 19, 1908, brought the only marked improvement by establishing equal rights of women in regard to political organization and public assembly.

The right to vote must of course be combined with the right to be elected to office. We hear the cry: “How ridiculous it would be to behold a woman on the platform of the Diet!” Yet there are other states where women have ascended to the platforms of parliaments, and we, too, have long since become accustomed to see women on platforms in their meetings and conventions. In North America women appear on the pulpit and in the jury-box; why not on the platform of the Diet? The first woman to be elected to the Diet will know how to impress the other members. When the first workingmen were elected to the Diet they, too, were the objects of[302] cheap wit, and it was asserted that workingmen would soon recognize the folly of electing men of their type. But the working-class representatives quickly succeeded in winning respect, and at present their opponents fear that there may be too many of them. Frivolous jesters exclaim: “But picture a pregnant woman on the platform of the Diet; how shocking!” Yet the same gentlemen consider it quite proper that pregnant women should be employed at occupations which shockingly degrade their womanly dignity and decency and undermine their health. That man is a wretch, indeed, who dares to ridicule a pregnant woman. The very thought that his mother was in the same condition before she gave him birth must drive the blood to his cheeks in shame, and the other thought, that his wife’s being in the same condition may mean the fulfillment of his fondest hopes, must silence him.[183]

The woman who gives birth to children is serving the community at least as well as the man who risks his life in defence of the country. For she gives birth to and educates the future soldiers, far too many of whom must sacrifice their lives on the battlefield. Moreover, every[303] woman risks her life in becoming a mother. All our mothers have faced death in giving us life, and many of them have perished. In Prussia, for instance, the number of deaths in child-birth—including the victims of puerperal fever—by far exceeds the number of deaths from typhoid. During 1905 and 1906 0.73 and 0.62 per cent. of typhoid patients died. But among 10,000 women 2.13 and 1.97 per cent. died in child-birth. “How would conditions have developed,” Professor Herff rightly remarks, “if men were subjected to these sufferings to the same extent? Would not the utmost measures be resorted to?”[184] The number of women who die in child-birth, or are left sickly as a result of same, is far greater than the number of men who die or are wounded on the battlefield. From 1816 to 1876, in Prussia alone, no less than 321,791 women fell victims of puerperal fever; that is an annual average of 5363. In England, from 1847 to 1901, 213,533 women died in child-birth, and still, notwithstanding all hygienic measures, no less than 4000 die annually.[185]

That is a far greater number than the number of men killed in the various wars during the same time. To this tremendous number of women who die in child-birth must furthermore be added the still greater number of those who become sickly as a result of child-birth and die young.[186] This is another reason why woman is entitled to full equality with man. Let these facts be especially noted by those persons who advance the military service of men as an argument against the equal rights of women. Moreover, our military institutions enable a great many men to escape the performance of this duty.

All these superficial objections to the public activity of women would be impossible if the relation of the sexes[304] was natural, instead of there being an artificially stimulated antagonism between them. From their early childhood on the sexes are separated in their education and their social intercourse. It is especially the antagonism we owe to Christianity that keeps the sexes apart and maintains one in ignorance about the other, whereby free social intercourse, mutual confidence and the ability to supplement each other’s traits of character are prevented.

One of the first and most important tasks of a rationally organized society must be to remove this detrimental discord and to restore the rights of nature. We begin by making even the little children in school unnatural, firstly, by separating the sexes, and secondly, by failing to instruct our children as to the sex nature of human beings. In every fairly good school natural history is being taught at present. The child learns that birds lay eggs and hatch them. He learns when birds mate and that both the male and female bird build the nest, hatch the eggs and feed the young. He also learns that mammals bring forth their young alive. He hears of the mating season and that the male animals fight one another for possession of the females. Perhaps he even learns how many young one or another species of animal usually brings forth and how long the female is pregnant. But profoundest secrecy is maintained in regard to the origin and development of the human being. When the child seeks to satisfy its natural curiosity by questioning his parents, especially his mother—he rarely ventures to question the teacher—he is told the most ridiculous fairy tales that cannot satisfy his thirst for knowledge and that must exert an all the more harmful influence when, some day, he nevertheless learns the true nature of his origin. There are few children who have not learned of it by the time they are twelve years old. In every small town, and especially in the country, even very young children have occasion to observe the pairing of poultry and domestic animals at close range in the yards, in the streets and on pasture. They hear that the pairing of domestic animals and the birth of the young is discussed without a sense of shame by their parents, their elder brothers and sisters and the servants. All this[305] causes the child to doubt the truth of what his parents told him in regard to his own coming into the world. Finally the child learns the truth, but not in the manner in which he ought to learn it if his education were a natural and rational one. The fact that the child keeps his knowledge a secret leads to an estrangement between him and his parents, especially between him and his mother. The parents have accomplished the opposite of what they sought to accomplish in their ignorance and short-sightedness. Those who recall their own childhood and the childhood of their playmates know to what this may lead.

An American woman[187] tells us that in order to satisfactorily answer the constant questions of her eight-year-old son as to his origin, and because she did not wish to tell him fairy tales, she revealed to him the truth about his birth. The child, she says, listened to her with utmost attention, and from the day upon which he had learned how much suffering he caused his mother, he had treated her with unwonted tenderness and respect and had also transferred these feelings to other women. The writer upholds the correct view that only by means of a natural education men can be led to treat women with more respect and self-control. Every unprejudiced person is bound to agree with her.

Whatever starting-point one may choose in the criticism of present-day conditions, one is bound always to reiterate the following: A thorough reorganization of our social conditions, and thereby a thorough transformation in the relation of the sexes, is needful. Woman, in order to attain her aim more quickly, must look about for allies, and she naturally finds such allies in the proletarian movement. The class-conscious proletariat has long since commenced to storm the fortress of the state that is founded on class rule, which includes the rule of one sex over the other. The fortress must be surrounded on all sides, and, by arms of all calibers, it must be forced to surrender. The beleaguering army finds its officers and suitable arms on all sides. The social sciences, the natural sciences, historical research, pedagogics, hygiene and[306] statistics furnish the movement with arms and munition. Philosophy comes forward, too, and, in Mainlaender’s “Philosophy of Deliverance,” proclaims the early realization of the “ideal state.”

The conquest of the class-state and its transformation is made easier by dissension in the ranks of its defenders, who, notwithstanding their community of interests against the common enemy, fight one another in the struggle for the spoils. The interest of one group is opposed to the interest of another. Another point in our favor is the growing mutiny in the ranks of the enemy. To a great extent their soldiers are blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh, but, owing to ignorance, they, until now, fought against us and against themselves. More and more of these join our ranks. We are, furthermore, helped by the desertion of honest men of intellect, who were hostile to us at first, but whose superior knowledge and profound insight impels them to rise above their narrow class interest, to follow their ideal desire for justice, and to espouse the cause of the masses that are longing for liberation.

Many still fail to recognize that state and society are already in a state of decay. Therefore an exposition of this subject also becomes necessary.

[177] Emma Adler—Famous Women of the French Revolution. Vienna, 1906.

[178] At present suffrage amendments are pending in Washington and Oklahoma. (Tr.)

[179] Clara Zetkin—Woman Suffrage. Berlin, 1907.

[180] A similar bill, known as the “conciliation bill,” drawn up by a committee consisting of members of all parties, passed its second reading in July 1910 by 299 against 189 votes. Prime Minister Asquith prevented the third reading and final vote upon the bill during that session of Parliament. (Tr.)

[181] Political Manual for Women. Berlin, 1909.

[182] That this danger exists the clergy themselves have soon recognized. Since the woman movement has grown and developed even in bourgeois circles, the leaders of the Catholic party recognized that they could no longer oppose it, and they accordingly completely reversed their attitude. With that subtlety which has always characterized the servants of the church, they favor at present what they opposed until quite recently. They not only favor higher education for women, they also declare themselves in favor of unrestricted right of assembly and organization for women. Some of the more far-sighted even support woman suffrage, hoping that the church may derive the greatest gain from the introduction of same. In the same way the industrial organization of women is supported by the Catholic clergy, even the organization of servant girls. But all these social endeavors are fostered, not from an innate sense of justice, but to prevent the women from flocking to the camp of religious and political opponents.

[183] “Half of the women members of Parliament in Finland are wives and mothers. Three of the Socialist married women members became mothers during their parliamentary activity without any other disturbing results except that they remained away from the sessions for a few weeks. Their pregnant condition was regarded as something natural that was neither wonderful nor noteworthy. It may rather be said that this factor was of educational value to the assembly. In regard to the parliamentary activity of these women members it should be noted that their parties elected them to the special committees also, which proves that they were convinced of their ability. The committee on labor where the laws for workingmen’s protection, workingmen’s insurance, and the new trade laws were drawn up, consisted of twelve men and four women, and three women had been chosen as alternates. The legislative and constitutional committees each had two women members, and for each there was one woman alternate, and the women have ably maintained their place in these committees.”—Miss Hilda Paerssinen, member of the diet of Finland—“Woman Suffrage and the Participation of Women in the Parliamentary Work of Finland.”—Documents of Progress. July, 1909.

[184] Professor Dr. Otto v. Herff—The struggle against puerperal fever. Leipsig, 1908.

[185] W. Williams—Deaths in Child-bed. London, 1904.

[186] “For every woman who dies in child-birth we must assume from fifteen to twenty who are more or less seriously infected with resulting diseases of the abdominal organs and general debility from which they frequently suffer for the remainder of their lives.” Dr. Mrs. H. B. Adams—The Book of Woman. Stuttgart, 1894.

[187] Womanhood, Its Sanctities and Fidelities by Isabella Beecher Hooker. New York, 1874. Lee, Shepard & Dillingham.


The State and Society.
The State and Society.

The Class-State and the Modern Proletariat.

1.—Our Public Life.

The development of society has been a very rapid one in all civilized states of the world during recent decades, and any new achievement in any realm of human activity still hastens this development. Thereby our social conditions have been put into a state of unrest, fermentation and dissolution, the like of which had never been known before. The feeling of security of the ruling classes has been shaken, and the institutions are losing their old stability whereby they might resist the attacks that are made upon them from all sides. A feeling of discomfort, insecurity and dissatisfaction has taken possession of all strata of society, the highest as well as the lowest. The tremendous exertions made by the ruling classes to remove this unbearable state of affairs by patching and mending the body social, prove useless because they are insufficient. They only increase their sense of insecurity and heighten their discomfort and unrest. They have scarcely inserted one beam into the dilapidated structure in the form of some legislation, when they discover a dozen other decayed spots that require repairs still more urgently. At the same time they have constant quarrels and serious differences of opinion among themselves. A measure introduced by one party to appease the growing dissatisfaction of the masses, is condemned by the other party as an unpardonable weakness and leniency that is bound to stimulate a desire for still greater concessions. That is clearly seen by the endless discussions in all parliaments, whereby new laws and institutions are constantly being introduced without attaining any state of rest and satisfaction. Among the ruling classes themselves certain extreme differences exist, some of which[308] are insurmountable, and these still intensify the social conflict.

The governments—and not only those in Germany—sway to and fro like reeds shaken by the wind. They must lean on something, for they cannot exist without a support, and so they incline first toward one side and then toward another. There is hardly a progressive state in Europe in which the government can count upon a permanent majority in parliament. Social extremes break up the majorities; and the constant fluctuations of the market, especially in Germany, undermine the last remnant of confidence that the ruling classes still placed in themselves. To-day one party is in control and to-morrow another. What the one has constructed with much difficulty is torn down by the other. The confusion increases, the dissatisfaction becomes more lasting, the struggles multiply and wear out more human strength in a few months than formerly in an equal number of years. Besides, the material demands, in the form of various taxes, are constantly increasing, and there is no limit to the public debts.

The modern state is by its very nature a class-state. We have seen how it became necessary to protect private property and to regulate, by means of laws and institutions, the relations of the proprietors to one another and to the non-possessors. Whatever forms the appropriation of property may assume in the course of historical development, it is established by the very nature of private property that the greatest proprietors are the most powerful persons in the state and shape it in accordance with their interests. It is, furthermore, established by the nature of private property that an individual can never obtain enough of same and employs all available means in order to increase it. He therefore endeavors so to shape the state that it may best enable him to attain his ends. Thereby laws and institutions of the state naturally develop into class laws and class institutions. But the powers of the state, and all who are interested in maintaining the present order, would not be able to uphold it long against the mass of those who are not interested in its maintenance, if this mass would recognize the[309] true nature of existing conditions. This recognition must therefore be prevented at any cost. The masses must be maintained in ignorance concerning the nature of existing conditions. They must be taught that the present order has always existed and will always continue to exist, that seeking to overturn it, means to rebel against the institutions of God himself. That is why religion is made to serve this purpose. The more ignorant and superstitious the masses are, the more favorable are the circumstances to the ruling classes. To maintain them in ignorance and superstition is in the interest of the state; that is, in the interest of those classes who regard the state as an institution to protect their class privileges. These are, besides the propertied class, the hierarchy of church and state, who all unite in the common task of protecting their interests.

But, with the endeavor to win possessions and with the increased number of possessors, the general status of civilization is raised to a higher level. The circle of those increases who seek to participate in the fruits of progress and who succeed in so doing to a certain degree. A new class arises on a new basis. It is not regarded by the ruling class as being entitled to equal rights, but is prepared to venture anything in order to attain equality. Finally new class struggles arise and even violent revolutions, whereby the new class obtains recognition and power. Especially by espousing the cause of the mass of the oppressed and exploited, it attains the victory with their aid.

But as soon as the new class has come into power it unites with its former enemies against its former allies, and after some time class struggles begin anew. The new ruling class has meanwhile imprinted the entire body social with the character of its means of subsistence; but as it can increase its power and its possessions only by letting a part of its achievements fall to the share of the class that it oppresses and exploits, it thereby heightens the ability and understanding of that class. By so doing, the ruling class furnishes the oppressed class with the weapons that shall achieve its own destruction. The[310] struggle of the masses now becomes directed against all class rule, in whatever form it may exist.

This last class is the modern proletariat, and its historical mission will be not only to achieve its own liberation, but also the liberation of all who are oppressed, which includes the liberation of woman.

The nature of the class state not only involves the political oppression of the exploited classes, it also involves that they are made to bear the heaviest burdens for the maintenance of the state. That is made easy when the burdens are imposed in such a manner that their true character is concealed. It is obvious that high direct taxes must foster a rebellious spirit if the income of those on whom they are imposed is a small one. Wisdom therefore bids the ruling classes to be moderate in this respect, and to introduce a system of indirect taxation instead by placing a tax on the most necessary commodities. Thereby the taxes are paid for in the price of the commodities in an invisible way, and the majority remain ignorant as to the amount of taxes that they actually pay. To what extent the consumer is taxed on bread, salt, meat, sugar, coffee, beer, oil, etc., is difficult to calculate, and most persons have no idea to what extent they are fleeced. These taxes weigh heaviest on large families; they are therefore the most unjust form of taxation imaginable. On the other hand, the possessing classes pride themselves on the direct taxes that they pay, and by the height of these taxes they measure the political rights that they enjoy and that they withhold from the non-possessing classes. Moreover, the possessing classes provide aid and assistance from the state for themselves by means of the tariff and other institutions that amount to millions of dollars annually at the expense of the masses. The masses are furthermore exploited by the increased cost of living as a result of capitalistic organization and the formation of trusts; these the state either favors by its policy or suffers to exist, and in some cases it even supports them by actual participation.

As long as the masses can be kept in ignorance concerning the nature of all these measures, they in no way endanger the state or the ruling social order. But as soon[311] as the exploited classes become conscious of their exploitation—and the growing political education of the masses enables them to become so—the glaring injustice of these measures arouses bitterness and indignation. The last spark of confidence in a sense of justice of the ruling powers is destroyed. The true nature of the state that resorts to such measures, the true nature of the society that favors them, become recognized. The struggle for the ultimate destruction of both is the result.

In their endeavor to do justice to the most conflicting interests, state and society organize one institution upon another, but no old one is thoroughly removed and no new one is thoroughly carried out. Half measures are resorted to that fail to satisfy anyone. The new requirements of civilization that have grown up among the people require some consideration, if the powers that be are not to risk everything. To meet these requirements even insufficiently entails a considerable expense, all the more so because there are a number of parasites everywhere. But alongside of these new institutions all the old institutions that are averse to the purposes of civilization are maintained. As a result of social extremes they are even expanded and become all the more troublesome and oppressive, because increasing knowledge and judgment loudly proclaim them to be superfluous. The police department, the army, the courts, the prisons, all are extended and become more expensive; but thereby neither the outward nor the inward security is strengthened; rather the contrary takes place.

A highly unnatural condition has gradually developed in regard to the international relations of nations to one another. These relations increase with the growing production of commodities, with the increased exchange of commodities that is constantly made easier by improved methods of distribution, and by the fact that economic and scientific achievements are becoming the common property of all nations. Trade and customs treaties are made, and, with the aid of international means, expensive thoroughfares are constructed. (The Suez Canal, the St. Gothard Tunnel, etc.) Individual states support steamship lines that help to increase the traffic between various[312] countries of the globe. The Postal Union was formed—a marked progress in civilization—international congresses are held for various practical and scientific purposes; the mental products of the several nations are disseminated among all the civilized nations of the world by translation into their respective languages, and by all these international activities the ideal of the brotherhood of man is fostered and increased. But the political and military condition of Europe and the rest of the civilized world forms a striking contradiction to this development. Jingoism and national hostilities are artificially fostered here and there. Everywhere the ruling classes seek to maintain the belief that the people are brimful of hostile feeling toward one another and are only waiting for an opportunity to attack and destroy each other. The competitive struggle of the capitalist classes of the various countries among themselves, becomes international, and assumes the character of a struggle of the capitalist class of one country against the capitalist class of another country. This struggle, supported by the political blindness of the masses, causes the nations to vie with one another in warlike preparations the like of which the world has never seen before. This rivalry created armies of a prodigious size; it created tools of murder and destruction for warfare on land and sea of such perfection, as could be made possible only by our age of advanced technical development. This rivalry creates a development of the means of destruction that finally leads to self-destruction. The maintenance of the armies and navies necessitates an immense expense that grows with every year and is ultimately bound to ruin the wealthiest nation. During the year 1908 Germany alone spent over 15 million marks ($3,750,000) for its army and navy, including the expenses for pensions and the interest on the national debt as far as same had been contracted for military purposes, and this sum is increasing annually. The following list, compiled by Neymarck, shows the combined military expenses of the European states:


  1866. 1870. 1887. 1906.
Army and navy 3,000 3,000 4,500     6,725
National debts 66,000 75,000 117,000 148,000
Interest 2,400 3,000 5,300     6,000[188]

As shown by this list, Europe spends 6,725 million francs ($1,362,000,000) annually for armies and navies, and 6,000 million francs ($1,215,000,000) interest on debts that have mostly been incurred to serve warlike purposes. A fine state of affairs, indeed!

America and Asia have begun to follow the example set by Europe. The United States spent $967,000,000 in 1875, and $3,592,250,000 in 1907 and 1908. In Japan the expenses for army and navy, including the pensions, amounted to $51,250,000 in 1875 and to $551,000,000 in 1908 and 1909.

As a result of these expenses objects of education and civilization are grievously neglected. The expenses for external defense predominate and undermine the true purpose of the state. The growing armies comprise the healthiest and strongest elements of the nation, and for their education and training all physical and mental forces are employed, as if training for wholesale murder were the most important mission of our age. At the same time the tools of warfare and murder are constantly being improved. They have attained such a degree of perfection in regard to speed, range, and force of destruction, that they have become a terror alike to friend and foe. If this tremendous apparatus should be set in motion—which would imply that the warring European forces would take the field with from 16 to 20 million men—it would be seen that it has become uncontrollable and indirigible. No general can command such masses; no battlefield is large enough to draw them up; no administration can provide for their maintenance during any length of time. In case a battle had taken place there would not be sufficient hospitals to care for the wounded, and to bury the dead would become almost impossible. If we furthermore take into consideration[314] what disturbances and devastations would be wrought by a European war on the field of economics, we may say, without fear of exaggeration: The next war will be the last war. The number of failures in business would exceed all previous records. The export trade would come to a standstill and thousands of factories would accordingly be forced to shut down. The supply of provisions would run short, whereby the cost of living would be enormously increased. It would require millions of dollars to support the families whose bread-winners had gone to war. But whence should come the means to meet all these prodigious expenses? At present the German empire alone spends from eleven to twelve million dollars daily to maintain its army and navy in readiness for war.

The political and military status of Europe has taken a trend of development that may easily end with a catastrophe by which bourgeois society will be engulfed. On the height of its development this society has created conditions which make its own existence untenable. Itself the most revolutionary society that has hitherto existed, it has furnished the means for its own destruction.

In a great many of our municipalities a desperate state of affairs gradually begins to prevail, since it becomes almost impossible to satisfy the annually increasing demands. These demands are especially heavy in our rapidly growing large cities and industrial centers, and most of them cannot meet the demands made upon them in any other way than by raising the taxes and by borrowing. Schools, building of streets, illumination, water-works, sanitation, educational and wellfare work, police and administration entail constantly increasing expenses. Besides, the well-to-do minority makes very heavy demands on the community. Higher institutions of learning are demanded, the building of museums and theatres, the laying out of fine residential districts and parks, with appropriate illumination, pavement, etc. The majority of the population may object to these privileges, but they are an innate part of the nature of conditions. The minority are in power and they use this power to satisfy their requirements of civilization at the expense[315] of the community. These increased requirements are justified, too, for they represent progress. Their only shortcoming is that they are mainly enjoyed by the possessing classes alone, while they ought to be for the common enjoyment of all. Another evil is that the administrations are often expensive without being good. Not infrequently the officials are incompetent and lack proper understanding; while town or city councillors are generally so much engaged with the care for their private existence that they are unable to make the sacrifices that a thorough performance of their duties would require. Often public positions are used to further private interests to the detriment of the community. The tax-payers must bear the consequences. A thorough and satisfactory reform of these conditions cannot be attained by present-day society. In whatever form the taxes may be levied, the dissatisfaction increases. In a few decades most of the municipalities will be unable to satisfy their demands by the present form of taxation and administration. In the municipalities, as in the state, the need of a thoroughgoing transformation becomes manifest. In fact, the greatest demands for purposes of civilization are made upon them; they form the nucleus from which the social transformation will proceed as soon as the will and power for such transformation exist. But how shall this be attained while private interests control everything and public interests are of secondary importance?

This is, briefly stated, the condition of our public life, which is but a reflection of the social condition of society as a whole.

[188] A. Neymarck—La Statistique international des valeurs mobilières. Bulletin de l’institut international de statistique. Copenhagen, 1908.

2.—Aggravation of Social Extremes.

In present-day life the struggle for existence is becoming increasingly difficult. The war of all against all is raging and is waged relentlessly, often without any discrimination in the methods employed. The French saying: “Ote-toi de la, que je m’y mette” (get out of there that I may take your place), is practiced in actual life. The weak must make way for the strong. If the material force of money, of property, does not suffice, the meanest[316] methods are resorted to that a desired aim may be attained. Lies, fraud and deception, forgery and perjury, the worst crimes are committed for this end. As one individual is arrayed against another in this warfare, thus we find class against class, sex against sex, age against age. Advantage is the only arbiter of human relations; every other consideration is set aside. As soon as advantage requires it, thousands upon thousands of workingmen and women are cast out into the street, and become public charges or enforced vagabonds. In masses workers wander from place to place through the length and breadth of the land, and society fears and despises them more and more as the duration of their unemployment makes their external appearance more shabby, and, eventually, also demoralizes their character. Respectable society does not know what it means to do without the simplest requirements of order and cleanliness for months, to wander about with an empty stomach, and to reap nothing but ill-disguised disgust and contempt from those who are the upholders of this system. The families of these unfortunates suffer the hardest privations and become dependent on public charity. Sometimes despair drives parents to awful crimes against their children and themselves, to murder and suicide. Especially during hard times these deeds of despair increase to an appalling degree. But the ruling classes are not perturbed by such occurrences. The same editions of the daily papers that report such deeds, caused by poverty and despair, also contain reports of festive revelries and glittering official pageants, as if there were joy and abundance everywhere.

The general need and the increasingly difficult struggle for existence drive more and more women and girls into lives of degradation and ruin. Demoralization, brutality and crime increase, while the prisons, the penitentiaries and the so-called reformatories can hardly contain the mass of their inmates.

Crime is closely connected with social conditions. Society does not wish to admit this fact. Like the ostrich, that conceals its head in the sand not to see approaching danger, we deceive ourselves in regard to these conditions[317] that should lead to self-accusation. We try to persuade ourselves that it is all due to laziness, love of pleasure and lack of piety on the part of the workingmen. This is self-delusion and hypocrisy of the worst kind. As social conditions grow more unfavorable for a majority of the population, crimes become more numerous and more severe. The struggle for existence assumes its most cruel and violent form and creates a condition in which men regard one another as mortal enemies. Social bonds are severed and human beings treat each other with hostility.[189]

The ruling classes who do not see, nor wish to see, to the bottom of things, seek to remedy these evils in their own way. When poverty and need increase, and, as a result, demoralization and crime increase likewise, the source of the evil is not sought out in order to plug up this source, but the products of these conditions are punished. As the evils grow and the number of evil-doers increases, persecutions and penalties are made more severe. The belief seems to be that the devil can be driven out by Satan. Even Professor Haeckel deems it justifiable to punish crime with severe penalties and to resort to capital punishment.[190] On this point he is fully agreed with reactionaries of all shades who otherwise are his mortal enemies. Haeckel holds the opinion that incorrigible criminals and wrong-doers should be exterminated like weeds that rob the plants of air, light and the soil to grow in. If Haeckel had devoted himself partly to the study of social sciences instead of devoting himself to the natural sciences exclusively, he would know that these criminals could be transformed into useful members of human society, if society would offer[318] them the needful conditions of existence. He would know that the extermination of individual criminals would no more prevent the perpetuation of new crimes, than weeds could be prevented from growing while their roots or their seeds remained. Man will never be able to prevent absolutely the formation of harmful organisms in nature. But he will be able so to improve the social order that he himself has created, that the conditions of existence shall be favorable to all, that each individual shall be enabled to develop freely, and shall no longer be compelled to satisfy his hunger, his desire for possessions, or his ambitions, at the expense of others.[191]

They who seek to remove crime by removing its causes cannot favor violent methods of repression. They cannot prevent society from protecting itself in its own way against criminals whom it can, of course, not give free scope, but they demand all the more urgently a transformation of society that would mean a removal of the causes of crime.

The connection between social conditions and misdemeanors and crimes has frequently been shown by statisticians and political economists.[192] One of the most frequent misdemeanors, that is regarded as a misdemeanor by our society, in spite of all its Christian teachings about charity—is mendicancy. In connection with this subject the statistics of the Kingdom of Saxony teach us that the increase of the great crisis that began in Germany in 1890 and attained its height from 1892 to 1893, the number of persons punished for mendicancy increased likewise. During 1890 the number of persons punished for this misdemeanor was 8,815; during 1891, 10,075, and during 1892, 13,120. Similar facts were observed in Austria, where, during 1891, 90,926 persons[319] were convicted of mendicancy and vagrancy, and 98,998 persons during 1892.[193] This is a considerable increase.

Pauperization of the masses on the one hand and increasing wealth on the other is the stamp of our period. The trend of present-day development may be well judged from the fact that in the United States five men—John D. Rockefeller, the late Harriman, J. Pierpont Morgan, W. K. Vanderbilt, and G. J. Gould—in the year 1900, owned together over 800,000,000 dollars, and that they possessed sufficient influence to control the economic life of the United States and partly also that of Europe. In all civilized countries the large combinations of capitalists form the most noteworthy phenomenon of the recent period and are constantly gaining more social and political importance.

[189] Plato already recognized the results of such conditions. He wrote: “A state in which classes exist is not one single state but two. The poor form one, and the rich form the other. Both dwell together, but always way-lay one another. Finally the ruling class becomes unable to wage a war, for then it depends upon the masses whom, when armed, it fears more than the enemy.”—Plato, The State. Aristotle says: “Widespread poverty is an evil, for it can hardly be prevented that such persons become promoters of disorder.”

[190] Natural History of the Creation.

[191] A similar thought is expressed by Plato in his “State”: “Crimes are caused by ignorance, by bad education and institutions of the state.” Plato was better acquainted with the nature of society than many of his learned followers two thousand and three hundred years later. That is not very encouraging.

[192] M. Sursky—New facts concerning the economic causes of crime. “New Era.”

[193] H. Herz—Crime and Criminals in Austria. The author says: “The prevailing economic status must be taken into consideration in the judgment of crime. The organization of production and consumption and the distribution of wealth has a marked influence on crime in many ways.”

The Process of Concentration in Capitalistic Industry.

1.—The Displacement of Agriculture by Industry.

The capitalistic system of production not only dominates the social organization but also the political organization. It influences and controls the thoughts and sentiments of society. Capitalism is the ruling power. The capitalist is lord and master of the proletarian, whose labor power he buys as a commodity to be applied and made use of, at a price that oscillates according to supply and demand and the cost of production, as with every other commodity. But the capitalist does not buy labor power “to please God,” or to render a service to the workingman—as he sometimes seeks to present it—but[320] to obtain surplus value by it, which he pockets in the form of profit, interest and rent. This surplus value squeezed out of the workingman—inasmuch as it is not spent by the employer for his personal enjoyment—is crystallized into capital, and enables him steadily to enlarge his plant, to improve the process of production, and to employ more labor power. Thereby again he becomes enabled to encounter his weaker competitor, as a horseman, clad in armor, might encounter an unarmed pedestrian, and to destroy him.

This unequal struggle is developing more and more in all domains, and woman, furnishing the cheapest labor power, beside the child, plays an important part in this struggle. The result of these conditions is, that the line of demarcation becomes sharper between a relatively small number of powerful capitalists and the great mass of non-possessors of capital, who depend upon the daily sale of their labor power. With this development the position of the middle classes is becoming more and more unfavorable.

One line of industry after another, where until recently the small manufacturers predominated, are being taken hold of by capitalistic enterprise. The competition of the capitalists among themselves compels them constantly to seek new realms to be exploited. Capital goes about “like a roaring lion seeking something to devour.” The small men are ruined, and if they do not succeed in finding some other field of activity—which is becoming increasingly difficult—they sink down into the class of wage-workers. All attempts to prevent the decline of handicraft and the middle class by means of laws and institutions that have been taken from the shelves of the past, prove useless. They may deceive one or another for a little while in regard to his true position, but soon the delusion is dispelled by the force of facts. The process of absorption of the small ones by the great ones is becoming clearly evident to all with the unrelenting force of a natural law.

In what manner the social structure of Germany has been transformed during the brief period of twenty-five years—from 1882 to 1895 and from 1895 to 1907—that[321] may be seen by a comparison of the census figures from these years, as shown by the following table:

  Persons gainfully employed in principal calling Increase (+) or decrease (−) since 1882
1882 1895 1907
Agriculture 8,236,496 8,292,692 9,883,257 + 1,646,761 =  19.89
Industry 6,396,465 8,281,220 11,256,254 + 4,859,789 =  75.98
Commerce and Traffic 1,570,318 2,338,511 3,477,626 + 1,907,308 = 121.46
Domestic service 397,582 432,491 477,695 +       74,113 =   18.63
Public service and learned profes­sions 1,031,147 1,425,961 1,738,530 +    707,383 =  68.56
No occu­pation 1,354,486 2,142,808 3,404,983 + 2,050,497 = 151.40
Total 18,986,494 22,913,683 30,232,345 +11,245,851 =   53.95
  Persons gainfully employed including their families Increase (+) or decrease (−) since 1882
1882 1895 1906
Agriculture 19,225,455 18,501,307 17,681,176 − 1,544,279 =  18.18
Industry 16,058,080 20,253,241 26,386,537 +10,328,457 =  64.25
Commerce and Traffic 4,531,080 5,966,836 8,278,239 + 3,747,159 =  82.69
Domestic service 938,294 886,807 792,748 −    145,546 =  15.57
Public service and learned profes­sions 2,222,982 2,835,014 3,407,126 + 1,184,144 =  53.33
No occu­pation 2,246,222 3,327,069 5,174,703 + 2,928,481 = 130.36
Total 45,222,113 51,760,284 61,720,528 +19,878,066 =  34.27

These figures show that during the twenty-five years referred to, a considerable shifting of the population and its occupations has taken place. The population employed in industry, commerce and traffic has increased at the expense of the agricultural population. Almost the entire increase in population—6,548,171 from 1882 to 1895, and 9,950,245 from 1895 to 1907—has been absorbed by the former. Although the number of persons gainfully employed in industry as their principal calling has increased, this increase has not kept pace with the general growth of the population, and the number of the members of the families of persons so employed has even decreased by 1,544,279 = 8 per cent.

Industry (including the building trades and mining), commerce and traffic, present a different aspect. Here the number of persons gainfully employed and their families have considerably increased; in fact, they have increased more rapidly than the population. The number of persons employed in industry exceeds the number of[322] persons employed in agriculture by 1,372,997 = 15 per cent. The number of the members of their families exceeds the number of the members of families of persons employed in agriculture by 8,705,361 = 49 per cent. The numbers of persons employed in commerce and traffic, together with their families, show a still greater increase.

The result is that the agricultural population, which is the real conservative portion of the population and forms the mainstay of the old order of things, is being repressed more and more and overtaken by the population engaged in industry, commerce and traffic. That the number of persons engaged in learned professions and their families have increased likewise, does not alter these facts. The strong increase in the number of persons having no occupation and their families is due to the growing number of persons living on their rents, including accident, invalid and old-age insurance, the greater number of persons dependent on charity, students of all sorts, and inmates of poorhouses, hospitals, insane asylums and prisons.

Another characteristic fact is the slight increase in the number of persons employed in domestic service and the direct decrease in the number of servants. This shows, firstly, that fewer persons can afford to employ domestic help; it shows furthermore that proletarian women who strive for greater independence, like this profession less and less.

In 1882 the number of persons engaged in agriculture as their principal calling constituted 43.38 per cent. of persons gainfully employed; in 1895, 36.19 per cent., and in 1907 only 32.69 per cent. The agricultural population—including the families of those gainfully employed in agriculture—in 1882 constituted 42.51 per cent. of the entire population; in 1895, 35.74 per cent., and in 1907 only 28.65 per cent. Those employed in industry as their principal calling constituted, in 1882, 33.69 per cent. of the entire population; in 1895, 36.14 per cent., and in 1907, 37.23 per cent. Including their families, they constituted 35.51 per cent. in 1882; 39.12 in 1895, and 42.75 in 1907. The following figures show the percentage of persons employed in commerce and traffic:


  Persons employed. Including their families.
1882  8.27 10.02
1895 10.21 11.52
1907 11.50 13.41

We see, then, that in Germany, at present, 56.16 per cent. of the population (in Saxony even 74.5 per cent.) depend upon industry and commerce, and that not more than 28.65 per cent. (in Saxony only 10.07 per cent.) are engaged in agriculture.

2.—Increasing Pauperization.—Preponderance of Large Industrial Establishments.

It is also important to state how the population employed in gainful occupations is divided among independent workers, employes and laborers, and what proportion of each of these is furnished by either sex. This information may be gathered from the table on the following page.

[Version of the table for narrower screens]

  Independent Persons Employees Wage-workers
1882 1895 1907 1882 1895 1907 1882 1895 1907
Male 2,010,865 2,221,826 2,172,740 60,763 78,066 82,548 3,629,959 3,239,646 3,028,983
Female 277,168 346,899 328,234 5,881 18,107 16,264 2,251,860 2,388,148 4,254,488
Total 2,288,022 2,568,725 2,500,974 66,644 96,173 98,812 5,881,819 5,627,794 7,283,471
Male 1,621,668 1,542,272 1,499,832 96,807 254,421 622,071 3,551,014 4,963,409 7,030,427
Female 579,478 519,492 477,290 2,269 9,324 63,936 545,228 992,302 1,562,698
Total 2,201,146 2,061,764 1,978,122 99,076 263,745 686,007 4,096,243 5,955,711 8,593,125
Male 550,936 640,941 765,551 138,387 249,920 426,220 582,885 836,042 1,354,482
Female 150,572 202,616 246,641 3,161 11,987 79,689 144,377 365,005 605,043
Total 701,508 843,557 1,012,192 141,548 261,907 505,900 727,262 1,201,047 1,959,525
Male 4,183,469 4,405,039 4,338,123 295,957 582,407 1,130,839 7,763,858 9,071,097 13,694,160
Female 1,007,218 1,069,007 1,052,165 11,311 39,418 159,889 2,941,455 3,745,455 4,161,961
Total 5,190,685 7,474,046 5,390,288 307,268 621,825 1,290,728 10,705,324 12,816,552 17,856,121

This table shows that the number of persons independently engaged in agriculture increased by 280,692 from 1882 to 1895, an increase of 12.5 per cent.; but that from 1895 to 1907 it decreased by 67,751, so that from 1882 to 1907 the number of independent persons in agriculture has increased by only 212,941 = 9.2 per cent. On the other hand the number of workingmen that had decreased by 254,025 = 4.3 per cent., from 1882 to 1895, has, since 1895, increased by 1,655,677 = 29.4 per cent. Upon examining this increase more closely we find that it is mainly due to female members helping to support the families. (Among the total increase of 1,990,930 are 170,532 male and 1,820,938 female.) When we take only the rural day-laborers and help into consideration, we find that the male workers have decreased by 381,195 persons, while the female workers have increased by 45,942 persons. Altogether this shows the considerable decrease of 335,253 persons among agricultural laborers. In agriculture, then, not only the number of independent persons, but also the number of help and day laborers has decreased. The increase in the agricultural occupation, compared to the previous census, is due to the[325] greatly increased assistance from members of the families, especially the female members.

The industrial occupation presents a different picture. In a term of 25 years the persons independently employed decreased by 234,024 = 10.6 per cent., while the population increased by 36.48 per cent. Mechanics, working alone or working with two assistants, have mainly disappeared. The number of wage-workers has increased by 1,859,468 from 1882 to 1895, and by 2,637,414 from 1895 to 1907. When we count only the wage-workers proper, not including the members of their families who assist at their work, we find that their number has increased from 5,899,708 in 1895 to 8,460,338 in 1907. Three-quarters of all persons employed in industrial occupations are wage-workers (75.16 per cent.).

In commerce and trade we find the opposite ratio. Here the number of persons independently engaged has greatly increased, but the number of employes and workers has increased likewise. The number of women independently engaged in commerce has increased especially; they chiefly are either widows who seek to make their living as small dealers, or married women who endeavour to increase their husbands’ income. The number of persons independently engaged in commerce increased by 310,584 = 44.3 per cent., from 1882 to 1907. But the number of employes and wage-workers has increased still more (by 364,361 = 258.8, and by 1,232,263 = 169.4 per cent.). This shows how tremendously commerce and trade have developed, particularly from 1895 to 1907. There are almost twice as many employes as prior to that period, and among these almost six times as many female employes.

During the period from 1882 to 1907 the entire number of persons independently engaged in the three occupations increased by 5.7 per cent.; it did not keep pace then with the increase in population (36.48 per cent.). The number of employes increased by 325.4 per cent., and the number of wage-workers by 39.1 per cent. We must furthermore take into consideration that among 5,490,288 independent persons, many lead an entirely proletarian existence. Among the 2,086,368 manufactories enumerated there were no less than 994,743 small producers[326] who worked alone and 875,518 who did not employ over five assistants. In commerce there were, in 1907 among 709,231 establishments, no less than 232,780 maintained by the owners without assistance. There were, besides, 5240 porters, errand-boys, etc., and thousands of insurance agents, book agents, etc.

Another point to be considered is that the number of independent persons in the three occupations does not coincide with the number of establishments. If a firm, for instance, has dozens of branch establishments, as is frequently the case in the tobacco trade, or if a concern runs a number of stores, each branch is enumerated as an individual establishment. The same is true of industrial enterprises, when, for instance, a machine factory also runs an iron foundry, a carpenter shop, etc. The figures then do not convey sufficient information regarding the concentration of capital on the one hand and the standard of living on the other. And yet, in spite of all these deficiencies, the results of the latest census of June 12, 1907, present a picture of the most powerful concentration of capital in industry, commerce and traffic. They show that, hand in hand with the industrialization of our entire economic system, a concentration of all the means of production into a few hands is rapidly progressing.

The independent small manufacturers and traders working alone, of whom there still were 1,877,872 in 1882, have become fewer again since 1895. In 1895, 1,714,351 were enumerated, and in 1907 only 1,446,286; a decrease of 431,586 = 22.9 per cent. The number of small producers and dealers has rapidly decreased from census to census. In 1882 it was 59.1 per cent.; 1895, 46.5, and, 1907, only 37.3 per cent. of all persons gainfully employed. At the same time the number of large manufacturing and commercial enterprises has grown from 22.0 to 29.6, and (1907) to 37.3 per cent. From 1895 to 1907 the number of persons employed by small concerns increased by 12.2 per cent.; the number of those employed by concerns of medium size, by 48.5 per cent., and the number of those employed by large concerns, by 75.7 per cent. Among 5,350,025 persons industrially employed in 1907, the by far largest group is employed by large concerns, while, in 1882, a greater number of persons[327] were small, individual producers. In the seven following branches of industry the large concerns predominate, employing more than half of all persons engaged in these industries. Of each 100 persons the following percentage were employed by large concerns:

Mining 96.6 per cent.
Machine manufacture 70.4
Chemical trades 69.8
Textile trades 67.5
Paper trades 58.4
Industry of pottery and earthenware 52.5
Industry of soaps, fats and oils 52.3

In the other groups industry on a large scale already predominated in 1895, and everywhere its predominance has been still further increased. (In the malleation of metals, 47.0; in the polygraphic trades, 43.8; in traffic, 41.6, and in the building trades, 40.5 per cent. of all persons were employed by large concerns.) We see, then, that in almost every branch development has favored industry on a large scale.

The concentration of manufacture and the concentration of capital, which are one and the same thing, take place particularly rapidly wherever capitalistic production obtains full control. Let us, for instance, consider the brewing industry. In the German brewery-tax district, excluding Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden and Alsace-Lorraine, there were:

  Number of breweries. [Commercial] Producing 1000 hectolitres of beer.
1873 13,561 10,927 19,655
1880 11,564 10,374 21,136
1890  8,969  8,054 32,279
1900  6,903  6,283 44,734
1905  5,995  5,602 46,264
1906  5,785  5,423 45,867
1907  5,528  5,251 46,355

So the number of breweries decreased, from 1873 to 1907, by 8033 = 59.3 per cent.; that of breweries decreased by 5676 = 51.9 per cent., but the production of beer increased by 26,700,000 hectolitres = 135.7 per cent.[328] This signifies a downfall of the small concerns and a tremendous growth of the large concerns, whose productivity has been multiplied. In 1873, 1450 hectolitres and in 1907 8385 hectolitres were produced by each brewery. It is the same wherever capitalism rules.

Similar results are shown by the German coal-mining industry and other mining industries of the German Empire. In coal mining the number of concerns that amounted to an average of 623, from 1871 to 1875, dwindled down to 406, in 1889. But at the same time the production of coal rose from 34,485,400 tons to 67,342,200 tons, and the average number of persons employed increased from 127,074 to 239,954. The following table illustrates this process of concentration in the mining of mineral coal and brown coal, until 1907:

Year Mineral Coal Brown Coal
Number of Concerns Average No. Employed Quantity 1000 tons Number of Concerns Average No. Employed Quantity 1000 tons
1900 338 413,693 109,290.2 569 50,911 40,498.0
1905 331 493,308 121,298.6 533 54,969 52,512.1
1906 322 511,108 137,117.9 536 58,637 56,419.6
1907 313 545,330 143,185.7 535 66,462 62,546.7

We see, then, that, in the production of mineral coal since the seventies, the number of concerns has decreased by 49.8 per cent., while the number of wage-workers employed has increased by 216.9 per cent., and the output even by 420.6 per cent. The following table shows the development in the entire mining industry:

Year Number of Concerns Average Number Employed Quantity 1000 tons
1871–75 3,034 277,878   51,056.0
1887 2,146 337,634   88,873.0
1889 1,962 368,896   99,414.0
1905 1,862 661,310 205,592.6
1906 1,862 688,853 229,146.1
1907 1,958 734,903 242,615.2

Here the number of concerns has decreased by 35.5 per cent., while the number of wage-workers employed increased by 164.4 per cent., and the output, 374.5 per cent. The number of employers had grown smaller but wealthier, and the number of proletarians had greatly increased.

In the industrial districts of the Rhine and Westphalia[329] there still were 156 mines in 1907, but 34 of these controlled more than 50 per cent. of the output. Although the census enumerates 156 mines, the coal trust, which controls the mines with but a few exceptions, had only 76 members. To such extent the process of concentration has developed. According to the reports of February, 1908, the output of the coal trust amounted to 77.9 million tons of coal.[194]

In 1871 there were 306 blast-furnaces, employing 23,191 laborers and producing 1,563,682 tons of crude iron. In 1907, 303 blast furnaces, employing 45,201 laborers, produced 12,875,200 tons. In 1871 crude iron was produced at the rate of 5,110 tons for every blast-furnace; in 1907 at the rate of 42,491 tons for every blast-furnace. According to a list published in “Steel and Iron,” in March, 1896, only one blast-furnace in Germany was able to produce crude iron at the rate of 820 tons in 24 hours. But in 1907 there were 12 blast-furnaces that could, within 24 hours, produce 1000 tons, and more.[194]

In 1871–1872, 311 factories in the beet sugar industry consumed 2,250,918 tons of beets. In 1907–1908, 365 factories consumed 13,482,750 tons. The average consumption of beets per factory was 7,237 tons during 1871–1872, and 36,939 tons during 1907–1908. This mechanical revolution does not take place in industry alone, but also in commerce and traffic. The following table shows the development of German maritime trade:

Year Sailing vessels Regist’d tonnage Number of crew
1871 4,372 900,361 34,739
1901 2,272 525,140 12,922
1905 2,294 493,644 12,914
1908 2,345 433,749 12,800
1909 2,361 416,514 12,844
Less than in 1871 2,011 less 483,847 less 21,895

Sailing vessels, then, are considerably diminishing, and among those still existing the registered tonnage and the number of the crew is decreasing. In 1871 there were, for each sailing vessel, 205.9 registered tonnage and 7.9 members of the crew. In 1909 each sailing vessel had an[330] average of but 176.4 registered tonnage, and only 5.4 members of the crew German maritime trade by steam navigation presents a different aspect, as the following table shows:

Year Ocean-going steamships Regist’d tonnage Number of crew
1871    147      81,994   4,736
1901 1,390 1,347,875 36,801
1905 1,657 1,774,072 46,747
1908 1,922 2,256,783 57,995
1909 1,953 2,302,910 58,451
More than in 1871 1,806 2,221,006 53,715

Not only had the number of steamships greatly increased, their tonnage had increased more still, but, in proportion to this increase the number of the crew had decreased. In 1871 a steamship had an average tonnage of 558 tons and a crew of 32.1 men. In 1909 it had an average freight capacity of 1230 tons and a crew of only 29 men.

The rapid increase of motor power employed is another symptom of capitalistic development. In the territory of the German “Zollverein,” according to Viebahn, 99,761 horse-power were used in 1861.[195] In 1875, in Germany, factories employing more than five persons, used, 1,055,750 horse-power, and in 1895, 2,933,526 horse-power, almost three times the number used in 1875. Railroads, street cars and steamboats are not contained in this list.

The following list shows the amount of horse-power used in Prussia:

  Stationary steam engines Movable boilers and traction engines
1879    888,000   47,000
1896 2,534,900 159,400
1900 3,461,700 229,600
1905 4,684,900 315,200
1906 4,995,700 334,400
1907 5,190,400 363,200

So the amount of horse-power employed in Prussia in 1907 is six times greater than in 1879. How tremendously[331] industry has developed since the census of 1895 can be seen by the fact that the number of stationary engines in Prussia has increased by 35 per cent. from 1896 to 1907. The productiveness of the machines has increased by 105 per cent. during this period. While, in 1898, 3,305 steam engines of 258,726 horse-power served to run dynamos, there are 6,191 of 954,945 horse-power in 1907. That is an increase of 87 and 269 per cent.[196] The following figures show the increased application of steam-power in the most important industries (expressed in horsepower):

Industry 1879 1897 1907
Mining and foundries 516,000 1,430,000 2,284,000
Masonry and bricks 29,000 132,000   255,000
Metallurgy 23,000 57,000   113,000
Machines 22,000 61,000   329,000
Textile 88,000 243,000   323,000[197]

Notwithstanding this fabulous development of the productive powers and the immense concentration of capital, attempts are still being made to deny these truths. Such an attempt was made at the eleventh session of the International Institute of Statistics in Copenhagen in August, 1907, by the French economist, Ives Guyot. On the basis of careless statistics, he moved to abolish the word “concentration” from statistics. Among others, Carl Buecher answered him as follows: “An absolute increase in the number of manufactories may easily coincide with a concentration of same. Wherever the census enumerates individual establishments, it is unavoidable that many should be counted twice. A bank with 100 trust-funds is counted as 101; a brewery that has opened and fitted out 50 saloons, is counted as 51 establishments. The results of such statistics prove nothing in regard to the phenomenon in question. Investigation so far shows that agriculture alone does not seem to be subjected to the process of concentration. It is evident in mining,[332] commerce, transportation, building trades and insurance. In industry it is difficult to recognize, because every civilized nation in a healthy state of development must present an extension of industrial production, for the following four reasons: 1. Because occupations that were formerly domestic in character have been taken over by industry. 2. Because natural products have been replaced by industrial products (wood by iron; woad, madder and indigo by tar-colors, etc.). 3. Because of new inventions (automobiles). 4. Because of the possibility of exportation. For these reasons concentration on a large scale takes place in industry without any diminution in the number of establishments, even with an increase in same. Wherever industry creates commodities ready for use of a typical character, the destruction of the independent small concerns is inevitable. The capitalistic forms of production are accordingly rapidly developing in the most important lines of industry. It is not wise to oppose the Socialists where they are right, and they are undoubtedly right in their assertions in regard to increasing concentration.”[198]

The same aspect presented by the economic development of Germany is presented by all the industrial states of the world. All the civilized states endeavour to become industrial states more and more. They not only seek to manufacture articles of industry to supply their own demand, but also to export them. Therefore we not only speak of a national market, but also of the world market. The world market regulates the prices of countless articles of industry and agriculture and controls the social status of the nations. That industrial realm which has attained the greatest importance in regard to the relations of the world market, is the North American Union. Here the main impetus is given whereby the world market and bourgeois society are revolutionized. The census of the last three decades showed the following figures:


Amount of capital invested in industry.
1880 2,790,000,000 dollars
1890 6,525,000,000
1900 9,813,000,000
Value of Industry.
1880  5,369,000,000 dollars
1890  9,372,000,000
1900 13,000,000,000

The United States, accordingly, is the leading industrial country of the world. Its exportation of products of industry and agriculture increase with each year, and the tremendous accumulations of capital that are a natural result of this development seek investment beyond the boundaries of the country, and influence the industry and trade of Europe to a marked degree. It is no longer the individual capitalist who is the motive power underlying this development. It is the group of captains of industry, the trust, that is bound to crush the most powerful individual enterprise, wherever it chooses to turn its activities. What can the small man amount to in the face of such development, to which even the great must yield?

[194] Otto Hué—History of the development of the mining industries.

[195] A. Hesse—Statistics of Trade.

[196] A. Hesse—Statistics of Trades.

[197] Prof. Dr. S. Reyer Kraft—Economic, Technical and Historical Studies in the Development of the Power of States.

[198] Bulletin de l’institut international de statistique. Copenhagen, 1908.

3.—Concentration of Wealth.

It is an economic law that, with the concentration of industry and its increased productivity, the number of workers employed relatively decreases, while the wealth of a nation, in proportion to the entire population, becomes concentrated in fewer hands. That can be clearly seen by the distribution of the income in various civilized countries.

Of the larger German states, Saxony possesses the oldest and best statistics on the income tax. The present law is in force since 1879. But it is advisable to take a later year, because during the first years the assessments were, on an average, too low. The population of Saxony increased by 51 per cent. from 1880 to 1905. The number of persons assessed increased by 160 per cent. from 1882 to 1904; the assessed income by 23 per cent. Until the[334] beginning of the nineties an income up to 300 marks per annum was exempt from taxation, after that up to 400 marks. In 1882 the number of persons exempt from taxes were 75,697 = 6.61 per cent.; in 1904, 205,667 = 11.03 per cent. It must be noted that, in Saxony, the incomes of wives and of members of the family under 16 are added to the income of the husband and father. The taxpayers having an income from 400 to 800 marks formed 48 per cent. of those assessed in 1882; in 1904 only 43.81 per cent. A part of them had advanced into a class with a higher income. The average income of the taxpayers of this class had increased by 37 per cent—from 421 to 582 marks—during this period, but still remained behind the average of 600 marks. The taxpayers having an income from 800 to 1250 marks formed 12 per cent. of those assessed in 1882, and 24.38 per cent. in 1904. But those with an income from 1250 to 3300 marks formed 20 per cent. in 1882 and only 16.74 per cent. in 1904. In 1863 Lassalle computed that only 4 per cent. of all incomes in Prussia were over 3000 marks annually. When we consider that, in the meantime, rents, taxes and the cost of living have increased, and that the demands in regard to the standard of living have grown, it becomes evident that the position of the masses has relatively scarcely improved. The medium incomes of from 3,400 to 10,000 marks in 1904 formed only 3.24 per cent. of those assessed, and the incomes of over 10,000 marks less than 1 per cent. The number of taxpayers with incomes from 12,000 to 20,000 marks, 0.80 per cent. The number of incomes of over 12,000 marks has increased from 4,124, in 1882, to 11,771, in 1904; that is, by 188 per cent. The highest income in 1882 was 2,570,000 marks; in 1906, 5,900,600 marks. These figures show the following facts: The lower incomes have increased somewhat, but in many cases this increase has been more than equalized by the increased cost of living. The middle classes experienced the least improvement; but the number and the income of the richest people show the greatest increase. Accordingly the class extremes became more marked.

In his investigations of the distribution of income in Prussia from 1892 to 1902, Professor Adolf Wagner has[335] ascertained the following facts. He divides the population of Prussia into three large groups: The lower group (lowest up to 420 marks; medium, 420 to 900; highest, 900 to 2,100); the middle group (lowest, 2,100 to 3,000; medium, 3,000 to 6,000; highest, 6,000 to 9,500 marks); the upper group (lowest from 9,500 to 30,500; medium, 30,500 to 100,000, and highest over 100,000). The entire income is divided almost equally among these three groups. The 3.51 per cent. of the upper group control 32.1 per cent. of the entire income. The lower group, including the 70.66 per cent. of those exempt from taxation, also controls an income of 32.9 per cent. of the entire income; and the middle group, with 25.83 per cent. controls 34.9 per cent. of the entire income. If we take into consideration only those incomes that are subject to taxation, we find that all those having an income from 900 to 3000 marks, who formed 86.99 per cent. of those enumerated in 1892, and 88.04 per cent. in 1902, controlled over half of the assessable income, 51.05 per cent., in 1892, and 52.1 per cent. in 1902. Incomes of over 3000 marks, which formed, respectively, 13 and 12 per cent. of those enumerated, controlled about 49 per cent. of the entire assessable income in 1892 and 48 per cent. in 1902. The average income of the small taxpayers throughout Prussia amounted to 1374 in 1892 and to 1348 in 1902; it had, accordingly, diminished to 1.89 per cent. On the other hand the average income of the large taxpayers has increased from 8,811 marks, in 1892, to 9,118 marks, in 1902, or by 3.48 per cent. Upon the upper group, which formed only 0.5 per cent. of all those enumerated in 1892 and 0.63 per cent. in 1902, 15.95 percent. of the entire income devolved in 1892, and 18.37 per cent. in 1902. The increase is slightest with the lowest and medium class of the middle group. It is somewhat greater with the highest class of the lower group. But it is greatest and increasingly great from class to class, with the highest class of the middle group and with the entire upper group. The greater the income of a group of those enumerated, the richer they are; the more, accordingly, their number relatively increases. The number of those having high and highest incomes increases, who, on an average, also attain increasingly large incomes. In other[336] words, a growing concentration of incomes takes place, not only among particularly rich individuals, but among the economically high and highest group of the population, that is rapidly growing and yet comprises a relatively small number. “This shows that the modern economic development has indeed been favorable to the entire population by increasing the income and by increasing the number of members of each economic-social class, but that the distribution has been a very uneven one, the rich being mostly favored, then the lower classes, and the middle class least. It shows, accordingly, that the social class differences, inasmuch as they depend upon the size of the income, have increased.”[199]

The Prussian income-tax assessments of 1908 show that there were 104,904 taxpayers with an income of more than 9,500 marks, representing a total income of 3,123,273,000 marks. Among these were 3,796 with an income of more than 100,000 marks, representing a total income of 934,000,000 marks; 77 were enumerated with an income of more than a million. The 104,904 taxpayers, or 1.78 per cent., with an income of more than 9,500 marks, represented the same total income as the 3,109,540 (52.9 per cent.), with an income of from 900 to 1,350 marks.

In Austria about 24 per cent. of the assessed net income devolved upon approximately 12 to 13 per cent. of the taxpayers having incomes of from 4,000 to 12,000 crowns. If the incomes up to 12,000 crowns are taken together, this group comprises over 97 per cent. of the taxpayers and 74 per cent. of the income. The remaining 3 per cent. of the taxpayers control 26 per cent. of the assessed income.[200] The minimum exempt from taxation is higher in Austria than in Prussia—1,200 crowns, or 1,014 marks. The small taxpayers having an income of from 1,200 to 4,000 crowns formed 84.3 per cent. of all taxpayers in 1904. The number of richest persons having an income[337] of more than 200,000 crowns was 255 in 1898, and in 1904 it was 307, or 0.032 per cent. of all taxpayers.

In Great Britain and Ireland, according to L. G. Chiozza Money, half of the national income (over 4,150,000,000 dollars) belongs to one-ninth of the population. He divides the population into three groups: The rich, with an income of more than 700 pounds sterling; the wealthy, with an income of from 160 to 700 pounds sterling; and the poor, with an income of less than 160 pounds sterling.

Class Persons Including families Income in pounds sterling
Rich   250,000  1,250,000 585,000,000
Wealthy   750,000  3,750,000 245,000,000
Poor 5,000,000 38,000,000 880,000,000

According to these figures, more than one-third of the national income belongs to one-thirtieth of the population. The investigations of Booth for London, and of Rowntree for York, have shown that thirty per cent. of the entire population lead an existence of direst life-long poverty.[201]

For France, E. Levasseur compiled the following figures, on the basis of the statistics of inheritance: “Two-fifths of the national wealth are owned by 98 per cent. having less than 100,000 francs; about one-third is owned by a small group of 1.7 per cent., and a quarter of the entire national wealth belongs to a wee minority—0.12 per cent.”[202]

All these figures show how great are the numbers of the non-possessing masses, and how thin the strata of the possessing classes.

“The growing inequality,” says G. Schmoller, “is undeniable. It cannot be doubted that the distribution of wealth in Central Europe, from 1300 to 1900, became increasingly unequal, though of course the inequalities varied in the different countries. Recent development, with its growing class distinctions, has greatly increased the inequalities in income and wealth.”[203]


This capitalistic process of development and concentration, that takes place in all civilized countries, combined with the prevailing anarchy in the methods of production, that so far was unable to prevent the formation of trusts, inevitably leads to overproduction and to an overstocking of the market. We enter upon the crisis.

[199] Adolf Wagner—A contribution to the method of statistics of the national income and national wealth and further statistic investigations of the distribution of the national income in Prussia, founded on the new income statistics, 1892–1902. Gazette of the royal Prussian bureau of statistics, 1904.

[200] F. L.—The distribution of the income in Austria. Leipzig, 1908.

[201] L. G. Chiozza Money. Riches and Poverty. London, 1908.

[202] E. Levasseur.

[203] G. Schmoller—Principles of Economics. Vol. II.

Crisis and Competition.

1.—Causes and Effects of the Crises.

The crisis arises because no standard exists whereby the real demand for a commodity may at any time be measured and ascertained. There is no power in bourgeois society that is enabled to regulate the entire production. In the first place, the consumers of a commodity are scattered over a wide area, and the purchasing ability of the consumers, who determine the consumption, is influenced by a number of causes that no individual producer is able to control. Moreover, every individual producer must compete with a number of other producers whose productive abilities are unknown to him. Each one seeks to defeat his competitors by every means at his command: by a reduction in prices, by advertising, by giving credit for prolonged periods, by sending out drummers, and even by cunningly and insidiously disparaging the products of his competitors, the latter means being especially frequently resorted to during critical times. The entire realm of production accordingly depends upon the subjective discretion of the individual. Every manufacturer must dispose of a certain quantity of goods in order to subsist. But he seeks to sell a far larger quantity, for this increased sale determines not only his larger income, but also the probability of his triumphing over his competitors. For a while sales are insured, they even increase; this leads to more extensive enterprises and to increased production. But good times and favorable conditions tempt not only one but all manufacturers to multiply[339] their efforts. Production by far exceeds the demand. Suddenly it becomes manifest that the market is over-stocked with goods. The sales slacken, the prices fall, production is limited. To limit production in any branch means to decrease the number of workers employed in this branch, and a reduction in wages, whereby the workers in turn are compelled to limit their consumption. The inevitable result is, that production and consumption in other branches slacken likewise. Small dealers of all kinds, shopkeepers, bakers, butchers, etc. whose chief customers are workingmen fail to dispose of their goods and also suffer want.

The effects of such a crisis may be seen from the statistics of the unemployed that were compiled by the trade-unions of Berlin at the close of January, 1902. In Berlin and suburban towns there where over 70,000 persons who were entirely unemployed, and over 60,000 who were partly unemployed. On February 13, 1909, the trade-unions of Berlin took another census of the unemployed and found that there were 106,722 unemployed persons (92,655 men and 14,067 women).[204] In England there were 750,000 unemployed persons during September 1908. These figures represent workingmen and women who were willing and eager to work but unable to find work. The deplorable social conditions of these human beings may be easily imagined!

Since one industry furnishes the raw material to another and one depends upon the other, the ills that befall one must affect the others. The circle of those affected widens. Many obligations that had been entered upon in the hope of prolonged favorable conditions cannot be met, and heighten the crisis that grows worse from month to month. A heap of accumulated goods, tools and machines becomes almost worthless. The goods are frequently sold underprice and this often leads to the ruin of the owners of such goods as well as to the ruin of dozens of others who in turn are compelled to sell their goods underprice also. But even during the crisis the methods of production are constantly improved in order to meet the increased[340] competition, and this means again forms a cause for new crises. After a crisis has lasted for years and over-production has gradually been removed by selling the products underprice, by limiting production and by the ruin of smaller manufacturers, society slowly begins to recuperate. The demand increases again, and promptly the production increases also, slowly and carefully at first, but more rapidly with the prolonged duration of favorable conditions. People seek to reimburse themselves for what they have lost and seek to secure their portions before a new crisis sets in. But as all manufacturers are guided by the same impulse, as they all seek to improve the means of production in order to excel the others, a new catastrophe is ushered in more rapidly and with still more disastrous results. Countless lives rise and fall like bubbles, and this constant reciprocal action causes the awful conditions that we experience during every crisis. The crises become more frequent as production and competition increase, not only among individuals, but among entire nations. The small battle for customers, and the great battle for markets becomes increasingly severe and is bound to end with enormous losses. Meanwhile goods and supplies are stored away in masses, but countless human beings who wish to consume but are unable to buy, suffer hunger and privation.

The years 1901 and 1907–08 have proven the correctness of this representation. After years of business depression, during which capitalistic development nevertheless continued to progress uninterruptedly, the upward course set in, stimulated to no slight extent by the changes and new equipments that the army and navy required. During this period a tremendous number of new industrial enterprises sprang up, and a great many others were increased and expanded to attain the development made possible by their technical means and to heighten their productivity. But in the same way the number of enterprises increased that were transferred from the hands of individual capitalists to capitalistic associations (stock companies), a transformation that is always accompanied by an enlargement of the manufactory. Many thousands of millions of marks represent the newly formed stock companies.[341] Moreover, the capitalists of all countries seek to form national and international agreements. Trusts spring up like mushrooms from the ground. These endeavour to determine the prices and to regulate production on the basis of exact statistical research to avoid over-production and reduction in prices. Entire branches of industry have been monopolized in this way to the advantage of the manufacturers and to the disadvantage of the workers and the consumers. Many believed that thereby capital had obtained the means that would enable it to dominate the market in all directions. But appearances are deceiving. The laws of capitalistic production prove stronger than the most cunning representatives of the system, who believed to have regulated it. The crisis came, nevertheless, and it was seen again that the wisest calculation proved faulty and that bourgeois society cannot escape its fate.

But capitalism continues in the same manner since it cannot change its substance. By the way in which it is bound to act, it upsets all laws of bourgeois economics. Unrestricted competition—the alpha and omega of bourgeois society—is supposed to place those most capable at the helm of all enterprises. But experience shows that as a rule it places those at the helm who are most shrewd and cunning and least troubled by a conscience. Moreover, stock companies set aside all individuality. The trust goes further still. Here not only does the individual manufacturer cease to be an independent person, the stock company too becomes a mere link in a chain that is controlled by a board of capitalists whose main purpose is to plunder the public. A hand full of monopolists become the masters of society; these dictate the prices to be paid by the consumers for commodities, and to the workers their wages and standard of living.

This development shows how superfluous private enterprise has become, and that production conducted on a national and international scale is the goal toward which society is bent. The only difference will ultimately be that organized production and distribution will benefit the entire community instead of benefiting the capitalistic class only, as is the case to-day.


The economic revolution above described, which is rapidly driving bourgeois society to the heights of its development, is constantly intensified by new, important events. While Europe is being more threatened each year, both in its foreign and domestic markets, by the rapidly growing North American competition, new enemies are arising in the far East who make the economic conditions of the entire world still more critical.

Competition drives the capitalist around the globe, as the Communist Manifesto expresses it. He is constantly seeking new markets, that is, countries and nations where he can dispose of his goods and create new demands. One side of this endeavour may be seen from the fact that since a few decades the various states are eagerly engaged in colonization. Germany was foremost among these and succeeded in taking possession of large tracts of land, but these possessions are chiefly occupied by people of a very primitive degree of civilization who have no demand worth speaking of for European products. The other side of this endeavour is directed toward carrying capitalistic civilization to nations who have already attained a higher degree of civilization, but who until recently were rigorously opposed to modern development. Such are the East Indians, the Japanese, and especially the Chinese. These are nations that comprise more than one third of the entire population of the earth. When once given an impetus they are well able—as the Japanese have already demonstrated during the war with Russia—to develop the capitalistic method of production quite independently, and to do so, moreover, under conditions that will be accompanied by disastrous results to the more advanced nations. The ability and skill of these nations is well known, but it is equally well known that their wants are few—due to a great extent to the warm climate—and that, when compelled to do so, they rapidly adapt themselves to changed conditions. Here the old world, including the United States, is being confronted by a new competitor who will demonstrate to the whole world that the capitalistic system is untenable. In the meanwhile, the competing nations, especially the United States, England and Germany, seek to outdo one another, and all means are resorted to in order to obtain the largest possible[343] share in the control of the world’s market. This leads to international politics, to interference in all international events of importance, and in order to interfere successfully, the navies especially are developed and increased as never before, whereby the danger of great political catastrophes is heightened anew. Thus the political realm grows with the realm of economic competition. The contradictions grow on an international scale, and in all countries that have undergone a capitalistic development they bring forth similar phenomena and similar struggles. Not only the method of production but also the manner of distribution is responsible for these unbearable conditions.

[204] Unemployment and Statistics of the Unemployed in the Winter of 1908 to 1909. Berlin, 1909.

2.—Intermediate Trade and the Increased Cost of Living.

In human society all individuals are linked to one another by a thousand threads that become more complicated and interwoven with increasing civilization. When disturbances occur they are felt by all members. Disturbances in production affect distribution and consumption and vice versa. A marked characteristic of capitalistic production is the concentration of the means of production in increasingly large factories. In distribution the opposite trait becomes manifest. Whoever has been driven by competition out of the ranks of independent producers, in nine cases out of ten seeks to win a place as dealer between producer and consumer to obtain a living.[205] This accounts for the surprising increase of persons[344] engaged in intermediate trade, dealers, small shopkeepers, hucksters, agents, jobbers, etc. as has been statistically proven in a previous chapter. Most of these persons, among whom we find many women independently engaged in business, lead a precarious existence. Many, in order to subsist, must cater to the basest fashions of their fellow-men. This accounts for the tremendous prevalence of advertising especially in regard to everything in connection with the gratification of the love of luxury.

Now it cannot be denied that in modern society the desire for the enjoyment of life is very noticeable, and viewed from a higher standard this fact is gratifying. People begin to understand that in order to be human they must lead lives worthy of human beings, and they seek to gratify this desire in the manner in which they conceive the enjoyment of life. In the display of wealth society has become much more aristocratic than in any former period. The contrast between the richest and the poorest is greater than ever. On the other hand, society has become more democratic in its ideas and laws.[206] The masses demand greater equality, and since in their ignorance, they do not yet recognize the means to achieve true equality, they seek it in trying to ape those in superior social positions and to obtain every enjoyment within their reach. Various stimulants serve to gratify this desire and the results are frequently detrimental. A desire that is justified in itself leads to devious paths in many cases; it even leads to crimes, and society punishes the perpetrators without changing matters in the least.

The growing number of persons engaged in intermediate trade has led to many evils. Though the persons thus engaged work hard and are frequently burdened with care, most of them form a class of parasites who are unproductive and live on the products of the labor of others as well as the employing class. An increased cost[345] of living is the inevitable result of intermediate trade. The price of provisions is thereby raised to such extent that they sometimes cost twice and three times as much as is obtained by the producer.[207] But if provisions can not be raised in price any more, because a further raise would limit the consumption, they are diminished in quantity and quality, adulteration of food and the use of incorrect weights and measures is resorted to. The chemist Chevalier reports that among various articles of food he found the following number of methods of adulteration: coffee, 32; wine, 30; chocolate, 28; flour, 24; whiskey, 23; bread, 20; milk, 19; butter, 10; olive oil, 9; sugar, 6, etc. A great deal of fraud is practiced in the grocery stores with goods that have been previously measured or weighed and packed. Frequently only 12 or 14 ounces are sold for a pound, and in this way the lower price is made up for. Workingmen and other persons of small means suffer most from these fraudulent methods, because they are obliged to buy on credit and must therefore hold their peace even where the fraud is perfectly evident. In the bakery trade also incorrect weight is frequently resorted to. Swindle and[346] fraud are inevitably linked with our social conditions, and certain institutions of the state, for instance high indirect taxes and duties, favor swindle and fraud. The laws enacted against the adultery of food accomplish but little. The struggle for existence compels the swindlers to resort to more cunning methods, and a thoroughgoing and severe control rarely exists. Serious control is also made impossible because it is claimed that in order to detect every adultery, an expensive and extensive organization would be required and that legitimate business would also be damaged thereby. But wherever the control does interfere successfully, a considerable increase in prices ensues, because the low prices were possible only by means of adulteration.

In order to diminish these evils from which the masses always and everywhere suffer most, cooperative stores have been established. In Germany especially army and navy stores and civil service stores have been developed to such an extent, that many commercial enterprises were ruined by them. But the workingmen’s cooperative stores have also developed tremendously during the last decade and have partly even undertaken the manufacture of certain commodities. The cooperative stores in Hamburg, Leipsic, Dresden, Stuttgart, Breslau, Vienna, etc., have become model establishments and the annual sales of the German cooperative stores amount to hundreds of millions of marks. Since a few years the German cooperative stores have central establishments in Hamburg where the goods are purchased wholesale on the largest scale; this enables the various branch stores to obtain these goods at the lowest possible price. These cooperative stores prove that the scattering methods of intermediate trade are superfluous. That is their greatest advantage beside the other advantage that they furnish reliable goods. The material advantages to their members are not very great nor do they suffice to bring about any marked improvement in their social status. But the establishment of these cooperative stores proves the existence of a widespread recognition that intermediate trade is superfluous. Society will ultimately achieve an organization that will do away with commerce, since the products will be turned over to the consumers without the aid of other intermediate[347] agents than are required by transportation from one place to another and by distribution. When the common purchase of food has been achieved, the common preparation of food on a large scale appears to be the next logical step. This again would lead to a tremendous saving in labor power, space, material and many other expenses.

[205] “The decline of ancient handicraft is not the only cause that accounts for the great increase in the small retail trade. The growing industrialization and commercialization of the country notwithstanding its tendency toward manufacture on a large scale always furnishes new ground for small businesses. Inventions that create new branches of industry also cause the rise of new small establishments for the distribution of these products. But the main cause of the great increase in retail trade is,—as expressed in a report submitted to the government of Saxony by the Dresden chamber of commerce,—that trade on a small scale has become the rallying place of many persons who despair of making their living in any other way.” Paul Lange—Retail Trade and Middle Class Politics. “New Era.”

[206] In his first adaption of Rau’s “Text Book of Political Economy,” Professor Adolf Wagner expresses a similar thought. He says: “The social struggle is the conscious contradiction between the economic development and the social ideal of freedom and equality as expressed in political life.”

[207] In his book on “Domestic Industry in Thuringia,” Dr. E. Sax tells us that in 1869 the production of 244½ million slate pencils had yielded 122,000 to 200,000 florins in wages to the workingmen, but their final sale had yielded 1,200,000 florins, at least six times as much as the producers had received. During the summer of 1888, 5 marks were paid for 5 hundred-weights of haddock by the wholesaler. But the retailer paid 15 marks to the wholesaler, and the public paid the latter 125 marks. Large quantities of food moreover are destroyed because the prices do not make their transportation worth while. For instance, during years when the catch of herrings has been an over abundant one, loads of them have been used as manure, while there were thousands of persons in the interior who could not afford to buy herrings. The same occurred in California in 1892 when the crop of potatoes was too abundant. When in 1901 the price of sugar was very low, a trade paper seriously suggested to destroy a greater part of the supplies so that the price could be raised. It is well known that Charles Fourier was inspired to his ideas of a social system because while he served as apprentice in a commercial house in Toulon, he had been ordered to throw a load of rice over board to raise the prices. He reasoned that a society which resorts to such barbarous and irrational methods must be founded on a false basis, and so he became a socialist.

The Revolution in Agriculture.

1.—Transatlantic Competition and Desertion of the Country.

The economic revolution in industry and trade has also largely affected agricultural conditions. The commercial and industrial crises affect the rural population likewise. Hundreds of thousands of members of the families of farmers are temporarily or permanently employed in industrial establishments of various kinds. This manner of employment constantly expands, firstly, because the great number of small farmers do not have enough work on their own farms to keep themselves and the members of their families usefully employed, and, secondly, because the large farmers find it profitable to have an important portion of the products of their soil transformed into industrial commodities right on their own farms. In this manner they save the heavy expense of shipping the raw material, for instance, potatoes and grain for the manufacture of alcohol, beets for sugar, cereals for flour or for brewing beer, etc. They, furthermore, are enabled to establish a mutual relation between agricultural and industrial production and can employ the labor power on hand to better advantage. The wages are lower and the workers are more willing too than those in cities and industrial centers. Expenses of buildings and rents as well as taxes are considerably lower too, for the large land owners in the rural districts are both the makers and executors of the law; they furnish many representatives from their midst and control the administration and police force. That is why the number of factories in the[348] country increases each year. Agriculture and industry are becoming more and more closely linked, and the large agricultural establishments mainly profit from this fact.

The capitalistic development that the large estates have undergone, in Germany as elsewhere, has created conditions similar to those in England and the United States. We no longer meet with those ideal conditions in the country that still existed a few decades ago. Modern civilization has gradually taken possession of the country, too, in the remotest places even. Militarism especially has unintentionally exercised a revolutionary influence. The great increase in the standing army has made itself especially severely felt in the open country. A great portion of the troops for the standing army is drawn from the rural population. But when the peasant’s son, or day laborer or farm-hand, returns to the country, after an absence of two or three years, from the city and the barracks, where the atmosphere has not been an exactly moral one, he has become acquainted with many new ideas and requirements of civilization that he seeks to satisfy at home as he did away from home. To make this possible his first demand is for higher wages. The old modesty and contentedness have been shattered in the city. In many cases he prefers to stay away from the country altogether, and all endeavours, supported by the military authorities, to lead him back, remain unsuccessful. Improved means of traffic and communication also tend to raise the standard of requirements in the country. By his associations with the city the farmer becomes acquainted with the world in an entirely new and tempting way; he is influenced by ideas and learns of requirements of civilization that have been entirely foreign to him until then. That causes him to become dissatisfied with his position. The increased demands made upon the population by state, county, community, etc., affect the peasant as well as the rural worker and make them more rebellious still. To this other most important factors must be added.

European agriculture, and especially German agriculture, has entered upon a new phase of its development since the close of the seventies of the last century.[349] While, until then, the nations depended upon the farm products of their own agriculture, or, as England, upon that of the neighboring countries—France and Germany—the situation now began to change. As a result of the tremendously improved means of transportation—navigation and the construction of railways in North America—provisions began to be shipped from there to Europe and lowered the prices of grain, so that cultivation of the chief kinds of grain in Middle and Western Europe became far less profitable, unless the entire conditions of production could be changed. Moreover, the realm of international grain production greatly expanded. Besides Russia and Roumania, who made every endeavour to increase their export of grain, products from Argentine Republic, Australia, India and Canada appeared upon the market. In the course of development another unfavorable factor was added. Influenced by the causes above enumerated, the small farmers and rural workers began to desert the country. They either emigrated beyond the seas or scores of them moved from the country to the cities and industrial centers, so that labor power in the country became scarce. The antiquated, patriarchal conditions, especially in Eastern Europe, the ill-treatment and almost servile status of the farm-hands and servants still heightened this desertion of the country. To what extent this shifting of the population has affected the rural districts from 1840 until the census of 1905, may be seen from the fact that during this period the Prussian provinces—East-Prussia, West Prussia, Pomerania, Posen, Silesia, Saxony and Hannover—lost 4,049,200 persons, and Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden and Alsace-Lorraine had a loss of 2,026,500, while Berlin increased by migration by about 1,000,000 persons, Hamburg by 402,000, the Kingdom of Saxony by 326,200, the Rhine provinces by 343,000, and Westphalia by 246,100.[208]

[208] Quarterly Gazette for Statistics of the German Empire.

2.—Peasants and Great Landowners.

As a result of all these changes, agriculture began to suffer from a want of capital. Accordingly the former[350] line of development, whereby the great landowner bought up the small and medium-sized farmers and made them part of his property, gave way to the opposite tendency. But this pressure also brought about, that the clumsy character of agricultural enterprises was gradually modified, because people recognized that it would no longer do to follow the beaten path, but that it had become necessary to adopt new methods. The national government, as well as the state governments, endeavored to relieve agriculture from its exigency by appropriate trade and tariff policies and by direct expenditures for various improvements. Recently the medium and great landowners are quite successful again wherever the farms are conducted in keeping with modern technical development, as may be gathered from the fact that the prices of farms have greatly increased.

If agriculture is to prosper in capitalistic society, it is necessary that it should be conducted by capitalistic methods. Here, as in industry, it is important that human labor should be replaced or aided by machinery and technical improvements. That this is being done may be seen from the following: During the period from 1882 to 1895 the number of steam-ploughs employed in agriculture in Germany has increased from 836 to 1696, and the number of steam-threshing machines has increased from 75,690 to 259,364. Compared to what might be done in the way of agricultural machinery, these figures are still exceedingly low and prove the undeveloped state of agriculture; they also prove that lack of means and the small size of the individual farms have so far made the application of machinery impossible. The machine, in order to be truly advantageous, requires application on a large area of land devoted to cultivation of the same kind of crop. The great number of small and medium-sized farms, the scattered fields and the great variety of crops have prevented a successful application of machinery. The tables on page 351 show how the farming area is distributed in the German Empire.[209]


Among the 5,736,082 farms counted in 1907 there were no less than 4,384,786 of less than 5 hectares = 76.8 per cent., that can furnish but a poor existence to their owners, unless the soil is particularly good, or unless devoted to horticulture. A great many of them could not even be used in this way, since there are 2,731,055 farms among them of one hectare, and less, in area.

Farms Number of Farms Increase or Decrease
1882 1895 1907 From 1882 to 1895 From 1895 to 1907
Less than 2 hectares 3,061,831 3,236,367 3,378,509 +174,536 +142,142
  2 to     5 ha. 981,407 1,016,318 1,006,277 +  34,911 −  10,041
  5      20    926,605 998,804 1,065,539 +  72,199 +  66,735
20    100    281,510 281,767 262,191 +      257 −  19,576
Over 100    24,991 25,061 23,566 +        70 −    1,495
  5,276,344 5,558,317 5,736,082 +281,973 +177,765
Farms Farming area in hectares Increase or Decrease
1882 1895 1907 From 1882 to 1895 From 1895 to 1907
Less than 2 hectares 1,825,938 1,808,444 1,731,317 −   17,494 −   77,127
  2 to    5 ha. 3,190,203 3,285,984 3,304,872 +   95,781 +   18,888
  5     20    9,158,398 9,721,875 10,421,565 +568,477 +699,690
20    100   9,908,170 9,869,837 9,322,106 −   38,333 −547,731
Over 100   7,786,263 7,831,801 7,055,013 +   45,538 −776,788
  31,868,972 32,517,941 31,834,873 +648,969 −683,068

But even among the farms of more than 5 hectares there are many that yield only a poor product, notwithstanding hard and long labor, owing to poor soil, unfavorable climate, bad location, lack of proper means of transportation, etc. It may be said without exaggeration that fully nine-tenths of the farmers lack the means and the knowledge to cultivate their soil as it might be cultivated. Neither do the small peasants receive a fair price for their products, since they depend upon the intermediate trader. The dealer who traverses the country[352] on definite days or in definite seasons and usually trades off his merchandise to other dealers again, must obtain his profit. But to gather in the many small quantities means much more trouble to him than to procure a large quantity from a great landowner. The peasants owning small and medium-sized farms therefore receive less for their products than the great landowners, and if their products are of inferior quality, which is frequently the case owing to their primitive methods, they must accept almost any price. Sometimes they cannot even wait for the time when their product will bring the highest price. They owe money on rent, interest and taxes, they must repay loans, or must settle bills with tradespeople and mechanics, therefore they are obliged to sell no matter how unfavorable the time may be. In order to improve their property, or to satisfy joint-heirs or children they have mortgaged their farms. As they have few lenders to choose from, the conditions are not very favorable. A high rate of interest and definite dates of payment weigh heavily on them. A poor harvest or a faulty speculation in regard to the kind of product that they expected to sell at a good price often drive them to the verge of ruin. Sometimes the products are bought and the capital is loaned by one and the same person, and in that event the peasant is entirely in the hands of his creditor. In this manner the peasants of entire villages and districts are sometimes in the hands of a few creditors. This is the case with the peasants who raise hops, wine, tobacco, and vegetables in Southern Germany, and on the Rhine, and with small farmers in Central Germany. The creditor fleeces the peasants mercilessly. He allows them to remain on their farms as apparent owners, but as a matter of fact they no longer own them. Frequently the capitalistic exploiter finds this method far more profitable than to cultivate the land himself, or to sell it. In this manner thousands of peasants are recorded as owners of farms who are virtually not the owners. As a matter of fact, many great landowners, too, who managed badly or were unfortunate or took the property under unfavorable conditions, fell victims to capitalistic extortioners. The capitalist becomes master[353] of the soil, and, in order to increase his profits, he divides up the farm into lots, because in this way he can obtain a far higher price than if he sold it undivided. With a number of small proprietors he furthermore has the best prospect to continue his usurious trade. As is well known, in the city, too, those houses yield the highest rents that contain the largest number of small apartments. A small number of farmers take the opportunity and buy portions of the divided estate. The capitalistic benefactor is willing to turn over larger portions to them also upon a small payment. The remainder of the price he takes as mortgage at a high rate of interest, and there the difficulty begins. If the small farmer is fortunate and succeeds in making his farm pay he escapes; otherwise his lot will be as described above. If the small farmer loses some of his cattle, that is a great misfortune for him; if he has a daughter who marries, the purchase of her outfit increases his debts and he loses a cheap labor power; if a son marries, the latter demands his share of the farm, or a payment in money. Frequently he cannot afford even necessary improvements. If his stock does not provide sufficient manure—as is often the case—his soil becomes poorer in quality, because he cannot afford to buy manure. Sometimes he is too poor to buy good seed even; the use of machinery is denied him, and a change of crop adapted to the chemical nature of his soil is frequently unfeasible. Neither can he apply advantageous methods offered by science and experience in the improvement of his stock. Lack of proper fodder, lack of proper stalls, lack of other necessary appliances, prevents it. So there are many causes that make existence difficult to the small farmer.

It is quite different with the large estates, where a comparatively small number of farms cover a large area. We see from the statistics that 23,566 farms, having an area of 7,055,013 hectares of cultivated soil, cover 2,019,824 hectares more than the 4,384,786 farms having an area of less than five hectares. But the numbers of the farms and the numbers of the owners do not coincide. In 1895 there were no less than 912,959 leased farms of all sizes, 1,694,251 farms that were partly owned and partly leased,[354] and 983,917 farms that were cultivated in different ways, as farms loaned to officials, as part of communal property, etc. On the other hand, single individuals own a number of agricultural estates. The greatest German landowner is the King of Prussia, who owns 83 estates, with an area of 98,746 hectares; other great German landowners are:

Prince of Pless owning 75 estates of 70,170 hectares
Prince Hohenzollern-Sigmar 24 59,968
Duke of Ujest 52 39,742
Prince Hohenlohe-Oehringen ——— 39,365
Prince of Ratibor 51 33,096

In 1895 the entailed estates in Prussia comprised an area of 2,121,636 hectares, or 6.09 per cent. of the entire area of the land. The 1045 entailed estates were owned by 939 proprietors, and their common property was by 206,600 hectares larger than the entire Kingdom of Wurtemberg, which covers an area of about 1,915,000 hectares. The large landowners are naturally interested in maintaining the present conditions. Not so the small proprietors, who would draw great advantages from a rational transformation of the conditions. It is an innate characteristic of large ownership of land that it seeks to enlarge its possessions more and more, and to take possession of all the farms within reach. It is so in Silesia, Lausitz, the Dukedom of Hessia and in other districts from which purchases of peasants’ estates on a large scale are frequently reported.

In Austria the large estates predominate far more than in Germany, or particularly in Prusia. Here, besides the nobility and the bourgeoisie, the Catholic Church has succeeded in taking possession of a lion’s share of the soil. The expropriation of peasants is in full swing in Austria also. In Styria, Tyrol, Salzburg, Upper and Lower Austria, etc., all means are applied to drive the peasants from their native soil and to turn their farms into gentlemen’s estates. The same scenes that were at one time enacted in Scotland and Ireland may now be observed in the most picturesque parts of Austria. Individuals, as well as societies, purchase enormous tracts of land, or rent what they cannot purchase, and transform[355] them into hunting grounds. Trespassing on the valleys, hills and hamlets is prohibited by the new masters, and the stubborn proprietors of some estates, who refuse to comply with the demands of the gentlemen, are annoyed so long in various ways that they yield and sell their property. Soil that has been cultivated for ages, where for thousands of years many generations made a living, are transformed into a wilderness where deer may roam about, and the mountains that have been taken possession of by the capitalistic nobility or bourgeoisie are the hunting grounds of the chamois. Poverty spreads over entire communities because they are denied the right of driving their cattle on the Alpine pastures. And who are these persons who are robbing the peasant of his property and his independence? Besides Rothschild and Baron Meyer-Melnhof, the Counts of Coburg and Meiningen, Prince Hohenlohe, the Duke of Liechtenstein, the Count of Braganza, the Duchess Rosenberg, the Duke of Pless, the Counts Schoenfeld, Festetics, Schafgotsch, Trauttmannsdorff, the Baron Gustaedt Hunting Club, the Count Karoly Hunting Club, the Noblemen’s Hunting Club of Bluehnbach, etc. Everywhere the great landowners are extending their property. In 1875 there were only 9 persons in Lower Austria who owned more than 5000 yokes each, with an area of 89,490 hectares; in 1895 there were 24 persons who owned an area of 213,574 hectares. Throughout Austria the great landowners control an area of 8,700,000 hectares, while 21,300,000 hectares belong to the small landowners. The proprietors of entailed estates, 297 families, own 1,200,000 hectares. Millions of small landowners cultivate 71 per cent. of the entire area, while a few thousand great landowners control more than 29 per cent. of the entire area of Austria. There are few land-revenue districts in which there are no great landed proprietors. In most of the districts there are two or several landowners who exert a determining political and social influence. Almost half of the great landowners hold property in several districts of the country, a number of them in several crown-lands of the empire. In Lower Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia there is no district without them. Only industry succeeded in dislodging them to some extent;[356] for instance, in Northern Bohemia and at the boundary of Bohemia and Moravia. In all other parts of the country the large estates are increasing: In Upper Austria, where, of all crown-lands, we still find a class of peasants that is fairly well off; in Goerz and Gradiaska, in Styria, Salzburg, in Galicia and Bukovina. They are increasing less rapidly in those countries that already are the domains of the great landowners—Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Lower Austria. In Lower Austria, of the entire ground comprising 1,982,300 hectares, 393 great landowners owned 540,655 hectares, and the Church owned 79,181 hectares; 13 estates comprise 425,079 hectares = 9 per cent. of the entire area; among these, Duke Hoyos-Sprinzenstein owns 33,124 hectares. The area of Moravia covers 2,181,220 hectares. Of these the Church owned 81,857 hectares, and 116 estates of more than 1000 hectares each comprised a larger area than the 500,000 estates up to 10 hectares, that form 92.1 per cent. of all estates. The area of Austrian Silesia covers 514,677 hectares. Of these the Church owned 50,845 hectares, and 79 proprietors together owned 204,118 hectares. Bohemia, with an area of 5,194,500 hectares, has about 1,237,085 great landowners. The distribution of property is characterized by an unusual number of estates of smallest dimensions, and by extensive large estates. Almost 43 per cent. of all the estates are smaller than ½ hectare, and more than four-fifths do not exceed 5 hectares. These 703,577 estates (81 per cent.) only cover 12.5 per cent. of the area of Bohemia. On the other hand, 776 persons own 35.6 per cent. of the entire area, while they only form 0.1 per cent. of all estates. The unequal distribution of property is more striking still when we analyze the larger class, those over 200 hectares. We then obtain the following result:

380 persons own each  200 to  500 hectares together 116,143 hectares
141  500 1000 101,748
104 1000 2000 150,567
151 over 2000 1,436,084

Of the last-named group, 31 persons own 5,000 to 10,000 hectares each; 21 persons own 10,000 to 20,000 hectares each, and the Princes Mor. Lobkowitz, Ferdinand[357] Kinsky, Karl Schwarzenberg, Alfred Windischgraetz, the Dukes Ernst Waldstein, Johann Harrach, Karl Buquoy own 20,000 to 30,000 hectares each. Clam-Gallas and Lar. Czernin own over 30,000 each. The Prince of Lichtenstein owns 36,189 hectares; Prince Max Egon Fuerstenberg, 39,162 hectares; Prince Colloredo Mannsfeld, 57,691 hectares, and the Prince of Schwarzenberg, 177,310 hectares = 3.4 per cent. of the entire area of Bohemia. The Church owns 150,395 hectares = 3 per cent. of the area of Bohemia.[210] These figures were compiled in 1896; since then matters have grown still worse. According to the agricultural census of 1902 there were 18,437 estates (0.7 per cent. of the entire number) that covered 9,929,920 hectares, or one-third of the entire area. In the district of Schwaz seven Alps and in the district of Zell sixteen Alps that had hitherto served as pastures to the cattle, were shut off by the new landlords and transformed into hunting grounds. Pasturing of cattle is prohibited along the entire Karwendel range. The leading nobility of Austria and Germany, besides rich bourgeois parvenus, purchased areas up to 70,000 yokes, and more, in the Alpine regions and had them fenced in as game preserves. Entire villages, hundreds of farms disappear, the inhabitants are driven from their native soil, and the place of human beings and of animals intended for human food, is taken by deer and stags and chamois. Not a few of these men who have devastated entire provinces in this manner, afterwards speak on the needy condition of the peasants in the parliaments, and abuse their power to employ the aid of the state in the form of taxes on grain, wood, live stock, meat, whiskey, etc., at the expense of the propertyless classes.

In the most advanced industrial states it is not the love of luxury of the privileged classes that dislodges the small estates, as is the case in Austria. Here the increasing demands of a rapidly growing population make it necessary to organize farming along capitalistic lines, in order to produce the required amount of food. This may be observed in a country so highly developed industrially[358] as Belgium. According to the “Annual Statistics,” quoted by Emile Vandervelde in an article, “Landed Property in Belgium During the Period from 1834 to 1899,” it says: “Only farms of less than 5 hectares, and especially those of less than 2 hectares, have diminished in number. But the farms of more than 10 hectares have increased to 3,789. The concentration of landed property that is in keeping with modern industry and cattle breeding on a large scale, may here be clearly observed. Since 1880 a development has set in that takes the opposite course of the one that took place from 1866 to 1880. While, in 1880, there still were 910,396 farms, only 829,625 remained in 1895; that means a decrease by 80,771 farms = 9 per cent., in fifteen years. As a matter of fact, this decrease has affected only farms of less than 5 hectares. On the other hand, farms of from 5 to 10 hectares increased by 675; those of from 10 to 20 hectares by 2,168; from 20 to 30 hectares by 414; from 30 to 40 hectares by 164, from 40 to 50 hectares by 187, and those of over 50 hectares by 181.”

[209] Karl Kautsky—The Agrarian question and temporary results of the agricultural census of June 12, 1901. Quarterly Gazette for Statistics of the German Empire, 1909.

[210] The Propertied and Propertyless Classes in Austria.—T. W. Teifen. Vienna, 1906.

3.—The Contrast Between City and Country.

The condition of the soil and its cultivation is of the greatest importance to the advancement of our civilization. The existence of the population primarily depends upon the soil and its products. The soil cannot be increased at will; the manner of its cultivation is therefore the more important. The population of Germany, which grows by about 870,000 persons annually, requires a considerable import of bread and meat, if the prices of the most necessary articles of food are still to be within reach of the masses. But here we are confronted by sharp-contrasting interests between the agricultural and industrial population. That part of the population that is not engaged in agricultural pursuits, is interested in obtaining articles of food at low prices, since their wellfare, both as human beings and as individuals engaged in industry and commerce, depends upon it. Every increase in the cost of articles of food leads to a deterioration in the standard of living of a large portion of the population, unless the wages of the population depending[359] upon agricultural products should be raised also. But an increase in wages usually implies an increase in the prices of industrial products, and that may result in a decline of sales. But if wages remain stationary, notwithstanding the increased cost of articles of food, the purchase of other commodities must be limited, and again industry and commerce suffer.

Matters have a different aspect for those engaged in agriculture. Just as persons engaged in industry, they seek to obtain the greatest possible advantage from their occupation, and it does not matter to them from which particular product they obtain it. If the import of foreign grain prevents their obtaining the desired profit from the cultivation of grain, they devote their soil to the cultivation of other products that are more profitable. They cultivate beets for the manufacture of sugar, and potatoes and grain for the manufacture of whiskey, instead of wheat and rye for bread. They devote the most fertile fields to the cultivation of tobacco, instead of to the cultivation of vegetables and fruit. Others use thousands of hectares of land for pastures for horses, because horses bring high prices for military purposes. Moreover, great stretches of forest land, which could be employed for agricultural purposes, are reserved as hunting-grounds for sportsmen of rank. This is sometimes the case in regions where a few thousand hectares of forests might be cut down and transformed into fields, without any harmful results ensuing, due to a decrease in humidity by the cutting down of the forest. In this manner thousands of square miles of fertile soil might still be won for agricultural purposes in Germany. But this transformation is contrary to the material interests of a part of the bureaucracy, the forest- and game-keepers, as well as to the interests of the great landowners, who do not wish to give up their hunting-grounds and to deny themselves the pleasures of the chase. It is a matter of course that such clearing of forests could take place only where it would be truly advantageous. On the other hand, large areas of mountain and waste land might be planted with forests.

Recently the great influence of forests on the formation of moisture has been denied, as it appears, unjustly[360] so. To what marked degree the forest influences the moisture of the land, and thereby the fertility of the soil, is shown by some striking facts given in the book by Parvus and Dr. Lehmann, “Starving Russia.” The authors assert, on the ground of their own observations, that the boundless and desultory devastation of forests in the most fertile provinces of Russia, was the chief cause of the failure of crops from which these at one time fertile regions suffered severely during the last few decades. Among many other facts, they pointed out that during the course of time five little rivers and six lakes disappeared in the government district of Stawropol; in the government district of Busuluk four rivers and four lakes disappeared; in the government district of Samara six small rivers, and in the government district of Buguruslan two small rivers disappeared. In the government districts of Nikolajewsk and Novousensk four rivers are barely maintained by the construction of dams. Many villages that formerly had running water in their vicinity are robbed of this advantage, and in many places the depth of wells is 45 to 60 yards. As a result of this dearth of water the soil is hard and cracked. With the cutting down of the forests the springs dried up and rain became scarce.

Capitalistic cultivation of the soil leads to capitalistic conditions. For a number of years a portion of our farmers derived enormous profits from the cultivation of beets and the manufacture of sugar connected with it. The system of taxation favored the exportation of sugar, and in such a manner that the revenue of the taxes on sugar-beets and on the consumption of sugar was to a considerable extent employed as bounties for exportation. The reimbursement granted to the sugar manufacturers per hundred-weight of sugar was considerably higher than the tax paid by them on the beets, and placed them in a position to sell their sugar at low prices to foreign countries, at the expense of the domestic taxpayers, and to develop the cultivation of sugar-beets more and more. The advantage gained by the sugar manufacturers under this system of taxation amounted to over 31 million marks annually. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land that had formerly been devoted[361] to the cultivation of grain, etc., were now employed to raise beets; countless factories were erected, and the inevitable result was the panic. The high profit obtained from the cultivation of beets also caused a rise in the price of property. This led to a wholesale purchase of the small farms, whose owners were tempted to sell by the high prices they could obtain for their property. The soil was made to serve industrial speculation, and the raising of grain and potatoes was relegated to soil of inferior quality, which heightened the demand for the importation of products of food. Finally the evils that had arisen from the allowance on export of sugar and had gradually assumed an international character, compelled the governments and the parliaments to abolish this system and thereby to revert to somewhat more natural conditions.

Under present-day conditions the small farmers cannot attain the social status to which they are entitled as citizens of a civilized state, no matter how hard they may work and how much they may deny themselves. Whatever the state and society may do to uphold these classes that form a considerable basis of the existing form of state and society, their endeavours remain patch-work. The agrarian taxes harm this portion of the agricultural population more than they benefit them. Most of these farmers do not produce as much as they need for the maintenance of their own families. They must purchase part of their supplies, the means for which they obtain by industrial or other additional labor. A great many of our small farmers are more interested in a favorable status of industry and commerce than in agriculture, because their own children make their living by industry or commerce, since the farm offers no employment and no income to them. One failure of crops increases the number of farmers who are obliged to purchase agricultural products. So how can agrarian taxes and prohibition of importation benefit those who have little to sell and must occasionally buy much? At least 80 per cent. of all agricultural establishments are in this position.

How the farmer cultivates his soil is his own affair in the era of private property. He cultivates whatever[362] seems most profitable to him, regardless of the interests and requirements of society; so “laissez faire!” In industry the same principle is applied. Obscene pictures and indecent books are manufactured, and factories are established for the adulteration of food. These and many other activities are harmful to society; they undermine its morals and heighten corruption. But they are profitable, more so than decent pictures, scientific books and unadulterated food. The manufacturer, eager for profits, must only succeed in escaping the notice of the police, and he may ply his trade in the knowledge that society will envy and respect him for the money he has made.

The mammon character of our age is most forcibly expressed by the stock exchange and its dealings. Products of the soil and industrial products, means of transportation, meteorological and political conditions, want and abundance, disasters and suffering of the masses, public debts, inventions and discoveries, health or disease and death of influential persons, war and rumors of war often invented for this purpose, all these and many other things are made the object of speculation and are used to exploit and cheat one another. The kings of capital exert the most decisive influence on the weal and woe of society, and, favored by their powerful means and connections, they accumulate boundless wealth. Governments and officials become mere puppets in their hands, who must perform while the kings of the stock exchange pull the wires. The powers of the state do not control the stock market, the stock market controls the powers of the state.

All these facts, which are becoming more evident every day because the evils are daily increasing, call for speedy and thoroughgoing reforms. But society stands helpless before these evils and keeps going about in a circle like a horse in a treadmill, a picture of impotence and stupidity. They who would like to act, are still too weak; they who ought to act, still lack understanding; they who might act, do not wish to. They rely upon their power and think, as Madame Pompadour expressed it: “Après nous le déluge!” (May the deluge come after we are gone!) But what if the deluge should overtake them?


The Socialization of Society.
The Socialization of Society.

The Social Revolution.

1.—The Transformation of Society.

The tide rises and undermines the foundation of state and society. Every one feels that the pillars are swaying and that only powerful props can support them. But to erect such props means great sacrifices on the part of the ruling classes, and there the difficulty lies. Every proposition, the realization of which would seriously damage the material interests of the ruling classes and would threaten to question their privileged position, is bitterly opposed by them and roundly condemned as a measure destined to overturn the present order of state and society. But, without questioning and ultimately removing the privileges of the ruling classes, the diseased world cannot be cured.

“The struggle for the liberation of the working class is not a struggle for privileges, but one for equal rights and equal duties and for the removal of all privileges.” This declaration of principles is contained in the Socialist platform. It follows that nothing can be attained by half measures and small concessions.

But the ruling classes regard their privileged position as natural and self-understood; they will admit of no doubt in its permanence and justification. So it is quite natural that they oppose and combat every attempt to shatter their privileges. Even proposed measures and laws that do not change their privileged position and the present order of society in the least, cause the greatest excitement among them, if their purse-strings are loosened thereby or likely to be loosened. In the parliaments mountains of paper are printed with speeches until the laboring mountains bring forth a ridiculous mouse. The most self-understood demands of workingmen’s protection[364] are met with as much opposition as if the existence of society depended upon it. When, after endless struggles, some concessions are won from the ruling classes, they act as if they had sacrificed a part of their fortune. They show the same stubborn opposition when called upon to recognize the oppressed classes on a basis of formal equality; for instance, to discuss questions of labor agreements with them as with their equals.

This opposition to the simplest things and the most self-understood demands confirms the old experience that no ruling class can ever be convinced by reason, unless the force of circumstances compels discretion and compliance. But the force of circumstances may be found in the growing measure of understanding created in the oppressed by the development of our conditions. The class extremes are constantly becoming more severe, more noticeable and more evident. The oppressed and exploited classes begin to recognize that existing conditions are untenable; their indignation increases, and with it the imperious demand to transform and humanize conditions. As this perception grows and reaches ever widening circles, it finally conquers the vast majority of society, which is most directly interested in this transformation. But to the same extent in which this perception of the untenableness of existing conditions and the need of their transformation grows among the masses, the power of resistance of the ruling classes declines, since their power is founded upon the ignorance and the lack of understanding of the oppressed and exploited classes. This reciprocal action is evident, and therefore everything that advances it must be welcomed. The progress of capitalism on the one hand is balanced on the other by the growing perception that the existing social order is adverse to the wellfare of the vast majority of the people. Although the solution and removal of social extremes will require great sacrifices and many exertions, a solution will be found as soon as the extremes have attained the height of their development, toward which they are rapidly advancing.

What measures are to be resorted to at the various stages of development, depends upon circumstances. It[365] is impossible to predict what measures will be necessitated by circumstances in particular instances. No government, no prime-minister, be he the most powerful person, can predict what circumstances will compel him to do a year hence. It is all the more impossible to predict measures that will be dictated by circumstances unknown to us at present. The question of measures is a question of tactics to be observed in a struggle. The tactics are influenced by the opponent and also by