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method adopted, even a miserable average saving of two dollars a month paid into the building association along with the monthly rent, proves amply sufficient, when rightly managed, to procure any working man a home of his own within a dozen years.
In the city of Troy there has long existed a very successful branch of the iron inanufacture conducted on co-operative principles, the workmen, sharing with the members of the firm in the profits of the business. « Scribner's Monthly" for May last contains a valuable account of some other co-operative experiments now going on among us. One of the objects of the Western Grangers was to buy in common their agricultural implements and supplies, and I believe they count the saving resulting from their co-operation by one or more annual millions. Very recently the Sovereigns of Industry in Springfield, Mass., have organized a Co-operative Trading Organization, and the example is being followed by the Branches of the Order throughout the State. But as far as I can make out from their constitution, they do not mean to sell at retail prices and divide the profits in proportion to purchases, as in the Rochdale Association, and the same is true of the New York gentlemen, Mr. Evarts, Mr. Olmstead and others, who are co-operating for the purchase of household supplies and furniture. All are doing business on the London or original “Union Store" principle of underselling the regular retail dealers and delivering their goods at " cost" —a principle essentially unbusiness-like and unsair, and which carries within itself the seeds of its own decay.
Co-operative Storekeeping not Men's, but Women's Work. And this brings me to the point of the present paper, which is, that it seems to mne that the Rochdale cr savings bank plan of co-operation, involving as it does much more management and responsibility than the simpler London Civil Service method of selling at cost, requires more thought and care than in the tremendous rush and competition of American business American men can, at least in this generation, profitably take from their own occupations. With us it demands a man's whole time and talent and energy to succeed in his own calling, and after working hours are over he has not the strength to attend properly to the affairs of so complicated a business as any co-operative store on the Rochdale plan must be, and if he had, he ought not to take those evening hours from his family, since they include all the home life he can have. Storekeeping, any rate, is of course a business by self, and it is so contrary to the principle of the division of labor that a man should be a weaver or a machinist all day and a storekeeper in the evening, that probably only the severe necessities of the Rochdale Pioneers could have driven them to attempt or to persevere in it.
With 40,000,000 as the census of our nation there are probably 8,000,000 families, and with a hundred families to a store, it would require 80,000 co-operative store societies to supply the household of the United States with dry goods, groceries and provisions. Among these eight million families there are probably a million married and unmarried educated women and girls over eighteen, who, like the lilies, “toil not, neither do they spin” for their own support, but who, owing to the wealth or generosity of their fathers and husbands, have their time comparatively at their own command.
What a pity that these million educated, well-to-do “ladies” who spend their mornings in shopping, giving orders, calling, novel reading, and doing home sewing to the value perhaps of a quarter of a dollar a day—what a a pity! I repeat, that they cinnot give two of these mornings every week, as the Rochdale weavers gave two evenings, to presiding over co-operative stores, since there is really no one else in the American community who has the time for it.
Usefulness of Ancient and Modern Women Contrasted. I have said that in primitive ages every family supplied its own wants within itself; but when I say
“family” I mean the women of every family, for as far as can be discovered from the habits or histories of primitive peoples, WOMEN, whether the wives of rich men or of poor ones, were the first and for centuries were the only manufacturers of every kind of domestic utility. They were the teni-makers, the hutbuilders and the pottery-workers, as well as the cooks, the spinners, the weavers and the washers. Often they kept the sheep and tilled the fields, and it was they who dressed the skins. Men counted their riches by the number of women in their families, and when a father parted with a daughter to a husband the husband had to pay an equivalent for her, so that what appears to us the barbarous custom ot selling their girls was merely the expression of the actual money value of womanhood to those early societies.
Far different are the times upon which we have fallen. Capital and Machinery and Organized Labor have taken away so many of the ancient feminine industries, that at first sight there seem hardly any of them left, and instead of receiving money for their daughters, fathers in Europe have to pay it in order to get them taken off their hands. Cooking, washing, sweeping, dusting, scouring, and, to a large degree, sewing are not yet, however, organized out of feminine hands to any great extent in this country. The mass of our women still spend all their time and energy in these occupations, or in the common phrase, still “ do all their own work, and therefore still maintain their full money value to the community, so that it is yet the boast of American girls that they do not need dowries to enable them to get married.
But as soon as a woman keeps a servant to do part of the family service that she would otherwise accomplish alone, by that much is her mere money value to the community, as a general rule, diminished. With two servants it is half as little again, and with every additional servant and seamstress her productive power diminishes, until at last she finds herself in precisely the opposite status to the house-mistress of primitive times. Instead of being a Producer of many kinds of values, she is the Consumer of all values. Instead, like King Solomon's virtuous woman, of being a seller of merchandise made by herself, she is a buyer of the merchandise made by others, and, in short, to explain in one word the whole secret of the expense of family living in proportion to family earning among well-to-do people, it is because, with a few professional exceptions, the whole class of educated women have become spenders instead of earners or (what is the same thing) savers of money. The grand function of our housewifery is BUYINC. It is “ shopping” and “ giving orders” with us--a constant outflow of money through our purses, all the time. Hence, precisely as if we were a hereditary aristocracy, we are a burden on the industrial community instead of a benefit to it. If the rich men of this country did as little real work as their wives do, they would crụsh the classes beneath them just as the gentlemen and noblemen of Europe crush the peasantries of that continent. But it is the glory of the educated gentlemen of this land that is they who organize and direct all its industries and all its commerce. No matter, then, how luxuriously they live, they are in the truest sense self-supporting (giving, that is, an equivalent for all that they enjoy,) and they are therefore an incalculable blessing to the laboring millions that work under their direction. But we educated women are of no corresponding benefit whatever to the masses of our laboring women. On the contrary, by our having a great deal more of the good things of life in proportion to our industry than they
have, we make them discontented with their own position, and only anxious to be a “ lady," as they call it, so that they too can dress and do comparatively nothing. The English gentleman's toast to his wife is so true of many educated women that it ought to startle all of us; for it was that she shared his sorrows, doubled his pleasures, and trebled his expenses .!”
Can the so Lady Class Ever be Self-Supporting? Far be it from me to underrate the moral and ästhetic value to the community of the refinement, the grace, the intelligence and the elevation of educated women. If these could not be had otherwise they would be worth all that they at present cost their fellow-beings—for it is the educated Christian women who uphold the ideals of life. But the question in my own mind—the question I am here to ask thinking women-is, whether the American “ lady” cannot be all she is of exquisite and precious to the land, and yet not be a financial burden upon it either? Can she not, with all her intelligence, all her energy, all her resources, be a help instead of a hindrance-be, in other words, what the millions of her countrywomen who are socially and intellectually below her, yet so truly are-SELF-SUPPORTING ?
Or must she inevitably follow the same sad road that her educated English sister has done, of whom Mrs. Lucas, the sister of the statesman, John Bright, said to a friend of mine, that “in planning the future of daughters in England marriage must no longer be taken into the account.” I asked Mr. Tom Hughes whether there was anything in co-operative storekeeping that educated women could not do as well as the Rochdale weavers and their imitators had done, and he said, “ No, nothing,” and he was much pleased that the interest of American women was being awakened in it. I think it a very great misfortune to English women that Co-operative Distribution is so entirely in the hands of men, who already had occupations enough opened to them, and I wonder whether women in that country are going to commit the same terrible oversight, and let this truly golden opportunity of making themselves benefactors to their race, and respected by the other sex, go by ? For as surely as the sun shines, so surely is co-operation the coming industrial revolution of the age, and sooner or later somebody on this continent will take it up.
What more appropriate, then,--what more noble,-than that the very class of persons whom the evolution of modern society has transformed from manufacturers or “makers" into - · buyers” should unite to buy co-operatively, and thus bring the price of food and clothing down to its lowest cost, not only for their own families but also for the families of all the millions of women who either do their own work or who work on wages for a living, and so have no time to organize co-operative buying for themselves? Is it not the duty of eđucated women, since buying is now their chief housekeeping function, to buy in the cheapest market there is ? and since the cheapest market is the wholesale market, is it not their duty to combine so that they can get at that market?
The Great Need of Co-operation by the Poor. The special investigation which the Labor Bureau of Massachusetts made two or three years ago into the condition of 397 families of skilled and unskilled laborers all over the State, shows the pressing need of co-operative store societies by which the poor may be enabled to spend their little earnings to good advantage. The families were taken with some care as to their being representative, and perhaps the most remarkable feature of the statistics collected concerning the expenditures of workingmen’s families, is the great disproportion expended for “groceries." In a typical family whose total income was $615, the amount spent at the grocer's in one vear was $347.89, or more than half the entire earnings. No doubt this sum included stimulants, and that favorite extravagance of the shiftless poor, baker's bread; but when we are told farther, that the average annual saving of these 397 families was only $24 per family, it does seem hard that Christian women will not open their eyes to the fact that simply by organizing co-operative buying they could save onethird a year more for these poor families on groceries alone-or $34.87—than by economy these are able to do for themselves on the present system. More important than all, did ladies organize co-operative grocery stores, they would, sooner or later, get the retail liquor-selling itself into their hands, and be able to regulate it for the class among which it chiefly finds its victims, as legislation has never yet done and never will be able to do.
The Cambridge Experiment in Co-operation. Some of us organized in Cambridge six or seven years ago, a Co-operative Housekeeping Society, but we made the capital mistake of not beginning with the STORE. We did not learn to buy in common before we tried to learn to wash and to cook in common. We began with the Laundry, and because that was found to be more difficult to manage than we had expected, the members got disgusted and lost all faith in the co-operative principle, so that when we opened the Store they would not patronise it sufficiently to keep it alive. They would not attend any business meetings, the whole thing was left on the shoulders of two or three persons, and after languishing a year in this state the members voted to discontinue the association. It cannot therefore be called a fair experiment, because there was no true co-operation in it. As some one wittily remarked, “ How can Co-operative Housekeeping succeed in Cambridge when the housekeepers will not co-operate ?" But the attempt was of immense value in demonstrating “how not to do it,” and by the light of our experience any committee of twelve intelligent women could make Co-operative Housekeeping a success. In our ignorance we made every fundamental mistake that could be made, and yet we had results sufficiently satisfactory to prove what could be done in such an association did women have even half the energy and perseverance and self-sacrifice that actuated the Rochdale Pioneers.
Consequences of Neglecting Co-operation. It is now eight years since I published a series of five articles suggesting to women the absolute necessity of organizing their housekeeping on the industrial principles of our own era, if they did not wish to see it all taken out of their hands and organized by men. For it will not be long before capitalists will wake up to the fact that there is just as much money to be made out of cookery, as a hundred and fifty years ago there was out of spinning and weaving. We shall have all our cooking done for us in immense kitchens, where women can gain no footing except as undercooks or waiters or bookkeepers. The head cooks, the head clerks, the heads of the firm,—every position of honor and profit will be absorbed by men, and women will be in this great domestic industry also, what they have been reduced to in the spinning and weaving mills,hands, not heads. The process is already fully under way in family sewing, which is more and more being taken possession of by shops, and family laundering has begun to follow.
And then when the feminine employments have been taken out of feminine hands, what will become of the laboring women who ought to be in possession of them and who must earn their living ? Simply the melancholy revolution will take place here that has already established itself in Europe, China and India. Men will do the work of women indoors, and women will find themselves turned out into the
fields to do the work of men. Shamesul spectacle! the weaker and more delicate sex exposed to the confiict with the elements and transformed into beasts of burden,hoeing, weeding and manuring --losing its daintiness, its beauty, its grace, its refinement, its softness, everything that belongs distinctively to womanhood, and being in consequence misunderstood, undervalued, neglected and even maltreated. In China the men perform all the household service, and the women work in the fields. A proportion of the girl infants is regularly killed off, and among the Coolie class marriage has practically disappeared, its place being filled by the revolting vices which are causing the righteous protest raised against Coolie inmigration into California. In India, the Suttee or widow-burning had no other rationale than the uselessness of the women population, the rite being a decent pretext for getting rid of them. Nay, in the latter country the peasant women actually help to build the railroads, scooping out the dirt with their hands! It
may be objected that these are the extreme cases of Pagan civilization, but I answer that nothing can be more heart-breaking than many a similar sight of Christian Europe. Witness the coarse gangs of women street-cleaners in Munich, that home of the Fine Arts, for a single instance! with men's hats on their heads, their garments a horrible travesty of the masculine costume, and not an external spark or womanhood left in them. Even in England, necessity is compelling the women and girls more and more into the fields, and into the coarser and harder trades, such as nail-making, and the most complete degradation is said to be the result. A darker side of the picture is the rise of the demi
monde, owing to the uselessness and consequent expense of wives and daughters, into a recognized social position. Men cannot afford to marry in their own rank, and so they take mistresses from the ranks lower, and not infrequently these connections sulsist for life. This has long been the case in France, where the rivalship of this class is so formidable that ladies are said regularly to calculate which of their daughters shall go into a convent, so that the others may have the dowries without which marriage is impossible. The fearful cost of the regulation English menage is bringing about a similar state of things in England. The girls are not put into convents, but, what is nearly as bad, they are left unmarried, and there are now nearly a million of educated ladies in that country living in enforced celibacy, deprived of love, husband, children and separate home, while the men who should have been their husbands spend their lives in clubs and in devotion to Anonymas whom their mothers and sisters cannot knowa state of social disorder so monstrous, so flagrant, that nothing but the self-complacency of Englishmen over themselves and their own institutions could blind them to it.
Like causes must produce like results, and in fisty or a hundred years we shall have a similar state of things among ourselves, if, with the women of Asia and Europe, we, too. show ourselves unwilling or unable to organize the great function which God has given us——that of housewifery—on the fundamental principles of all modern civilization—the Combination of Capital and the Division of Labor. We are all carrying on three trades in our homes--cooking, laundering and sewing-and we are buying the materials for carrying on these tracies at Retail! It would . not be possible to express in three lines a greater waste according to the principles of Economic Science than this; and yet, with all our feminine industries before us to organize, we are continually hearing complaints of the few avenues of employment open to women, and there is a continual struggle to get admittance into the trades pursued by men. I confess it seems to me much like going to California to dig gold when one has a gold mine under one's feet.