E. Belfort Bax

The German Press on the Socialist Movement in England

(March 1884)

From Justice, 1st March, 1884, p.2.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Proofread by Chris Clayton (July 2006).

The Cologne Gazette and the Frankfort Gazette respectively, having recently devoted articles to a sketch of the Democratic Federation and its work, it may be as well to point out one or two trifling errors into which the writers have fallen in their otherwise fair and in many respects even accurate statement of the position.

The writer in the Cologne Gazette describes the Irish Land Act as “in a certain sense the Magna Charta of our movement”. This is distinctly incorrect since the Democratic Federation was established before the passing of the Land Act and since it has never occupied itself in any special and distinctive manner with the land question, regarding it as subordinate to the general question of the Socialisation of the means of production. Again the same writer refers to the date 1889 as one upon which the Socialists lay great stress. This is scarcely accurate. It is true Mr. Hyndman has suggested in his article in the January number of To-day, the possibility of revolutionary movement of some kind in that year. But this was only put forward in his personal capacity as a surmise, and in no sense intended to be imposed on all Socialists as an article of belief.

In the Frankfurter Zeitung Mr. Morris is stated to be “in strong antithesis to Hyndman, a sentimental Socialist.” Those who know Mr. Morris will be able to forecast better in imagination than in words his feelings when such a calumny (doubtless unintentional though it be) is brought under his notice. It may be well to inform the German Press once for all, that Mr. Morris though a poet and an artist is no “sentimental Socialist” (gefühls-Socialist) but a robust disciple of Marx, and the great school of scientific and collectivist Socialism which it is Germany’s glory to have given to the world.

The concluding paragraphs of the article which touches upon Christian Socialism does not sufficiently indicate the fact that this is really no Christian Socialist party, however small, although there may be individual Socialists who in the words of our journalist “are not able to sever themselves completely from Christianity,” also that the journal called The Christian Socialist, is conducted on the principle of Thiers’ Republic without Republicans, by non-Christians. The writer says there is no enmity between “the men of the Democratic Federation” and the “Christian Socialists.” Why should there be? The English Christian Socialist is but the embryo Federation Socialist. Nay more than this, he is the Socialist actually emerged from the chrysalis of bourgeois habits of thought and aspiration, but whose wings are limp and heavy from his long imprisonment and unable for the time to endure that sustained flight which shall carry him once and for ever away from, the shell he has quitted.



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