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Clara Zetkin

For Adult Suffrage

(1 May 1909)

Our esteemed comrade Clara Zetkin writes:

DEAR Comrade Quelch, – Please excuse it that my thanks come rather late for the welcome you have given me, a welcome so hearty, so friendly, that I enjoyed it as an expression of that solidarity of ideal and struggle uniting us since long years. It is impossible to write the article for the May-Day issue of Justice, you asked me for. And that is the reason why my answer comes so late. I value highly the work Justice and the S.D.P. in general have done in England to make the ideas of revolutionary international Socialism a power in the country. As to the May-Day manifestation, the Party and its organ have always striven to enlighten the working masses on the real meaning of it: that May-Day is not the exhibition of suffering labour, not a procession of beggars humbly sighing for some compassionate tears from the eyes of some good-natured and good-tempered bourgeois souls, and for some reform-alms of legislation. No; that May-Day must be the pronouncement of the militant, the class-conscious, and revolutionary labour that one day will be the triumphant proletariat upsetting the capitalist system of production, and building up the world of Socialism. The revolutionary meaning of May-Day, which is just in this year strongly emphasised and brought home to us by the economic crisis, this shadow of war and revolution, crying its memento mori to the capitalist order, has always been clearly and boldly emphasised by Justice and the Party it represents. And in consequence of their views they both always affirmed strongly the feeling of international solidarity uniting them with the Socialist Party in all countries, and in Germany particularly. In performing the hard work of international Socialism they meet with many special and great difficulties the Socialists in other countries have not to deal with. I hope in supporting Adult Suffrage I have done a little for the benefit of vour great common cause. Adult Suffrage realised, and the possibility, nay the necessity of one united Socialist movement will greatly increase, and of outspoken, consequent, uncompromising labour politics in Parliament, too. And Adult Suffrage could be realised in England, if – what a pity there is an “if” still! – if all the Socialist and trade unionist forces would unite their efforts and their action about this reform. I rejoice to see that the S.D.P. stands firmly and bravely at the head of the movement in favour at this most urgent political reform.

I hope it will largely contribute to get that influence and support in the labouring which it merits by its indefatigable Endeavours.


Yours truly
Clara Zetkin