From the June 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard
We are often met with the statement that the Socialist proposes to abolish the family and cut the sacred hearth tie. Those whose family relations, from the point of view ot published morality, would not bear investigation fling the taunt that the Socialist is in favour of “free love” and no homes.
A very little investigation will show the emptiness of such statements.
The regular procession to the divorce courts and the legislation relating to illegitimate children, together with the frequent newspaper articles relating to sexual problems, bear witness to the fact that “free love,” of a very sordid description, is already widespread at the present moment.
And what of the hearth tie? What is this sacred family life that the wicked Socialist would destroy?
An article in the Manchester Guardian (2/5/23) gives a little information on the point. It deals with a report on “Excessive Sickness in Dundee" prepared by the Executive Board of the General Federation of Trade Unions Approved Society.
From this article we learn that the percentage of married women in Dundee that are working is 41.4, or nearly half!
“Sir William Henderson, giving evidence before a sub-committee, said that in most confinement cases there was the difficulty of getting the women themselves to knock off work in time; they were loath to do it. It was also very difficult to check the resumption of work.”
Sir William is not reported as giving the reason that made the women loath to knock off work. Yet the reason is simple. It is not because they are in love with work —it is because they and those that depend more or less upon them must have bread. The articles states :
"Eleven women whom Miss Quaile visited had, between them, given birth to 78 children, 48 of whom were dead—a death rate of 62 per cent. 'One poor thing’ had given birth to twelve children, all of whom were dead.
“ ‘These facts—and they are but an epitome of those which lie to the hand of every social investigator—reveal enough' the report states, ‘indeed too much for the sensitive soul, of what is happening, not only in Dundee, but in every centre where life has become unnaturally crowded and complex. Unholy greed and social shortsightedness, resulting in overworked and ill-nourished and ill-trained womanhood; little children, too, thousands of them, carelessly given transient existences—nothing for them but to whimper out in misery too helplessly horrible for contemplation the attenuated span of life which congenital folly and post natal ignorance and criminality have allotted them.’”
What an appalling picture of life under Capitalism? Are these the sacred precincts the Socialist is taunted for attempting to invade?
Family life? What family life has the average modern wage-slave that he should fear its destruction? Working or looking for work through the hours of daylight—in a multitude of cases, both he, his wife, and often his children also. Home at night to a room or rooms that are only called home for appearance sake. In poverty and squalor they eat what the scantily furnished cupboard can provide, then sink into semi-torpor brought on by bad nourishment and excessive toil.
This state of affairs arises from the fact that the worker depends for his livelihood upon finding occupation the carrying on of which will provide profit for the owners of the means of production.
When the means of production are converted into the common property of all members of society, it will be possible for all to enjoy the fruits of labour without excessive toil under bad conditions. Then no one will depend for his existence upon the whim or the desire for profit of another. Men and women, freed from dependence upon property, will mate as mutual affection and mutual admiration dictate, and no property inspired laws will bind them to sordid, joyless lives.