Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
My friend Julia Dawson asks me for a few words of Christmas greeting and advice to the Socialist women of Great Britain. That is a large order--a great subject--and I must not waste words in compliments. They have done and are doing much good work, and I can only urge them to go on doing it in the firm assurance that every effort will produce its effect however hopeless it may seem at first. The good old rules of patience and perseverance are above all things required. No one is a stronger advocate than I am for the absolute equality of men and women in all rights and duties, political and social. Many of these rights, especially the right to use whatever powers they possess for the benefit of themselves and their fellows, have already been won and others will follow, until complete freedom is attained.
On one thing, however, I am satisfied--that the right to vote for members of Parliament is in reality not nearly so important, in the immediate future, as the right you already possess of the municipal vote and to some extent a share in municipal representation. We are learning every day that good administration of the laws that exist is often more important to society than the making of new and more stringent laws. It is to this object that I would especially direct the attention of all educated Socialist women who have some leisure. They can insist on the various local authorities using the powers they already possess, and whenever any fresh powers are given can see that they do not become dead-letters. That is work which they can do to-day. To choose legislators and to help in legislation, however much we may wish them to have the right of doing, is yet too great a change to be rushed through a divided Parliament by any amount of energy.
Our various Reform laws, giving workers the vote, have for a long time produced little effect on legislation--but a considerable effect upon administration. Again, therefore, I urge upon women to make the fullest use of the powers they already possess, in the full assurance that they will thus be doing a large amount of social service and be preparing themselves for the fuller freedom that will in due time assuredly be theirs.