1910s >> 1912 >> no-96-august-1912

“White Slave Traffic.”

To side-track the workers from their emancipation, or, it may be, from some other motive, the Liberal and Tory Press are making much capital out of the “White Slave Traffic.” In particular, “The Star” for June 10th last, quotes in its leader a certain Dr. Ettie Sayer, who gives an account of a girl patient who told her she worked in the restaurant of a flourishing West End drapery establishment. She says that she received six shillings per week and (rather unusual) a good dinner and tea, but no gratuities were allowed. She had to provide out of this six shillings, breakfast and supper each day, her Sunday meals, clothes, laundering, lodging and omnibus fares to and from a district where lodgings are cheap.

The Editor of “The Star” comes to the conclusion that the root of the evil which the world calls the “white slave traffic ” is the low payment of labour. That is not a vast way from the truth as the Socialist understands it. We of the Socialist Party have always pointed out that prostitution and procuration are the result of the ownership by a section of society, of the means of production. We have pointed out that the cause is

   Insecurity of Livelihood.

What is the position of the girls of the working class to-day? They have to sell their labour-power to a master. The wages they receive are in many cases so meagre that they most do something to enhance their income. Hence w have the spectacle of women selling their bodies.

Not content with the way these girls are ground down in the factory hells, certain people further prey upon them by procuring them (we are told by “The Star”) for sale to the brothels of America and elsewhere.

Now certain men in Parliament are introducing legislation designed to palliate the evil. That is all they hope to do. They know as well as we do that there can be no cure under the capitalist system till the cause of the effects is done away with. According to “The People” of June 16th, the promoters of the Bill do not hope to eradicate the terrible social ulcer which is the subject of their attentions. All they look to do is to aid the unwilling to be commercialised. That is, those girls who are too “shy” to enhance their income by prostitution. All this bears out our contention that it is useless to

Tinker With Effects.

In tbe same issue of “The People” it is said that a lot of immorality is due to the ignorance and ridiculous prudery of the elders. It seems that all our contemporaries are being converted to the Socialist philosophy. It is due to the environment. The people’s education is insufficient. It serves the purposes of the master class to prevent the workers understanding those things which are essential to one who wishes to enjoy a healthy and a manly life. The above-mentioned paper also states that it is impossible by Act of Parliament to make men moral. True, but it is through the domination of a class that immorality exists.

We of the Socialist Party can show how the White Slave Traffic can be abolished. We follow the scientific course of first ascertaining

The Cause of the Evil,

and then we build up our remedy from the facts as we find them.

The cause of the White Slave Traffic is also the cause of many other evils which so terribly afflict the working class. It is the private ownership of the means of life.

A doctor, having discovered the cause of his patient’s ailment, applies his efforts to eradicate it. For instance, in the case of that fashionable complaint, appendicitis, the doctor, having come to the conclusion that the root of his patient’s trouble is inflammation of the appendix, removes the unhealthy organ, if other means of dealing with the cause fail.

Society, like the individual, is an organism suffering from disorder in one of its parts. The same way is therefore necessary to deal with the large organism that is diseased. We Socialists have found the cause to be in the private ownership of property. We have found that the time has long gone by when the causes which render this social institution a danger to the social existence could be dealt with. The only means is the knife. But the surgical instrument can only be wielded by the majority of the workers. Owing to the fact that they do not know how to use it their masters hold it. The instrument is the

Political Machine,

the powers of government which control the armed forces of the nation. When the workers know how to use this instrament they will speedily put an end to the capitalist system, which breeds poverty, misery, and prostitution, and will organise a society based upon the common ownership of the means and instruments of production and distribution.

We of the S.P.G.B. are out always putting before the workers their position as a class. It is incumbent upon those who understand their position to muster under our banner, to the end that this system, with its fruit, the White Slave Traffic, may be for all time overthrown.
A. G. H.