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that where the conditions of the wage-earner's life are left to be settled by “free competition" and individual bargaining between master and man, the worker's "freedom” is delusive. Where he bargains, he bargains at a serious disadvantage, and on many of the points most vital to himself and to the community he cannot bargain at all. The common middle-class objection to Factory legislationthat it interferes with the individual liberty of the operative-springs from ignorance of the economic position of the wage-earner. Far from diminishing personal freedom, Factory legislation positively increases the individual liberty and economic independence of the workers subject to it. No one who knows what life is among the people in Lancashire textile villages on the one hand, and among the East End or Black Country unregulated trades on the other, can ever doubt this.

All these general considerations apply more forcibly to women wage-earners than to men. Women are far more helpless in the labor market, and much less able to enforce their own common rule by Trade Unionism. The only chance of getting Trade Unions among women workers lies through the Factory Acts. We have before us nearly forty years' actual experience of the precise limitation of hours and the absolute prohibition of overtime for women workers in the cotton manufacture ; and they teach us nothing that justifies us in refusing to extend the like protection to the women slaving for irregular and excessive hours in laundries, dressmakers' workrooms, and all the thousand and one trades in which women's hours of work are practically unlimited.

Finally, we have seen that the fear of women's exclusion from industrial employment is wholly unfounded. The uniform effect of Factory legislation in the past has been, by encouraging machinery, division of labor, and production on a large scale, to increase the employment of women, and largely to raise their status in the labor market. At this very moment the neglect to apply the Factory Acts effectively to the domestic workshop is positively restricting the demand for women workers in the clothing trades. And what is even more important, we see that it is only by strict regulation of the conditions of women's employment that we can hope for any general rise in the level of their industrial efficiency. The real enemy of the woman worker is not the skilled male operative, but the unskilled and half-hearted female "amateur" who simultaneously blacklegs both the workshop and the home. The legal regulation of women's labor is required to protect the independent professional woman worker against these enemies of her own sex. Without this regulation it is futile to talk to her of the equality of men and women. With this regulation, experience teaches us that women can work their way in certain occupations to a man's skill, a man's wages, and a man's sense of personal dignity and independence.

G. STANDRING, Printer, 7 and 9 Finsbury Street, London, E.C.

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LONDON : THE FABIAN SOCIETY, 3 CLEMENT'S INN, STRAND, W.C. PUBLISHED JUNE 1896. SECOND REPRINT, AUGUST 1906.

THE DIFFICULTIES OF

INDIVIDUALISM.*

Of all the intellectual difficulties of Individualism, the greatest, perhaps, is that which is presented by the constant flux of things. Whatever may be the advantages and conveniences of the present state of society, we are, at any rate, all of us, now sure of one thing —that it cannot last.

The Constant Evolution of Society. We have learnt to think of social institutions and economic relations as being as much the subjects of constant change and evolution as any biological organism. The main outlines of social organization, based upon the exact sphere of private ownership in England to-day, did not "come down from the Mount."

The very last century has seen an almost complete upsetting of every economic and industrial relation in the country, and it is irrational to assume that the existing social order, thus new-created, is destined inevitably to endure in its main features unchanged and unchangeable. History did not stop with the last great convulsion of the Industrial Revolution, and Time did not then suddenly cease to be the Great Innovator. Nor do the Socialists offer us a statical heaven to be substituted for an equally statical world here present. English students of the last generation were accustomed to think of Socialism as a mere Utopia, spun from the humanity-intoxicated brains of various Frenchmen of the beginning of this century. Down to the present generation every aspirant after social reform, whether Socialist or Individualist, naturally embodied his ideas in a detailed plan of a new social order, from which all contemporary evils were eliminated. Bellamy is but a belated Cabet, Baboeuf, or Campanella. But modern Socialists have learnt the lesson of evolution better than their opponents, and it cannot be too often repeated that Socialism, to Socialists, is not a Utopia which they have invented, but a prin ciple of social organization which they assert to have been discovered by the patient investigators into sociology whose labors have distinguished the present century. That principle, whether true or false, has, during a whole generation, met with an ever-increasing, though often unconscious, acceptance by political administrators.

• Reprinted, with minor changes, from the Economic Journal for June 1891.

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