The Feminism of Flora Tristan

By Máire Cross; Tim Gray | Go to book overview

6
Socialist Feminism: The Workers' Union

Flora Tristan spent the remainder of her short life absorbed in her project to establish a workers' organisation that would unite the working class throughout France in building a new order in which the due claims of both worker and woman would at last be met. She published her penultimate work, The Workers' Union, in 1843, one year before her death. In it she set out her grand plan, declaring to working men and women that the time for talking was gone, and that it was now time for action:

For twenty-five years the most intelligent and devoted men have given their lives to defending your sacred cause. In their writings, speeches, reports, memoirs, investigations, and statistics, they have pointed out, observed and demonstrated to the government and the wealthy that the working class. . .is morally and materially placed in an intolerable situation of poverty and grief. . .Workers, what can be said now in defence of your cause? There is nothing more to be said, nothing more to be written, for your wretched position is well known by all. Only one thing remains to be done: to act. ( WU, p. 37)

Moreover this action must come from the workers themselves:

Now the day has come when one must act, and it is up to you and only you to act in the interest of your own cause. . . Workers, put an end to twenty-five years of waiting for someone to intervene on your behalf . . .Experience and facts inform you well enough that the government cannot or will not be concerned with your lot when its improvement is at issue. It is up to you alone, if you truly want it, to leave this labyrinth of misery, suffering, and degradation in which you languish. ( WU, p. 38)

However, Tristan hastily added that the action that she was recommending was not violent, revolutionary action but peaceful,

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