Max Beer 1920
History of British Socialism


Source: Max Beer, History of British Socialism, published 1920, G.Bell & Sons;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

This History of British Socialism was practically completed in the autumn of 1914. Its publication was deferred in consequence of the war which turned me into an “enemy alien,” because I happened to be born in Western Galicia, in the thoroughly Polish district of Tarnobrzeg, about a mile, across the Vistula, from the nearest Russian village. In 1889, at the age of 25, years, I finally left home for Germany, where I lived for five years, of which I spent 14 months in jail on account of my editorial work at the socialist Labour daily paper the Volksstimme (Voice of the People), at Magdeburg. On my leaving prison in the spring of 1894 the authorities warned me that, unless I gave up writing for socialist papers, they would have to expel me from Prussia. In June, 1894, I left Magdeburg. for London, where I worked till May, 1915. I was one of the first students of the London School of Economics in 1895-96, then under Professor Hewins. In 1898 I spent several months at Paris during the Zola trial, when, through the kind offices of M. Clemenceau, I obtained an interview of an hour’s duration with M. Zola for a New York paper. In 1900-01 I visited my parents in New York and came in touch with the leaders and ideas of the Socialist Labour party. From 1901 till 1911 I was the London correspondent of the Berlin Vorwärts; this work offered me great opportunities for studying British socialism and politics. From 1912 till 1915 I lived as an author and occasional correspondent, completely identifying myself with British life. The war branded me as an enemy alien and imposed upon my family restrictions and hardships which caused the to apply to the Home Secretary for a permit to leave England. Since the end of May, 1915, I have lived in Germany and have witnessed the inception, growth, and progress of the Central and Eastern European revolutions.

In the spring of 1919, Vol. I. of my History of British Socialism was published in London and found an exceedingly favourable reception from the whole British press. The last months of the year were devoted to the completion of Vol. II., and a considerable amount of new matter, dealing with the movement from 1914 to 1920, was added. For suggestions, notes, and books covering the last six years I am under a very great obligation both to Mr. R. Page Arnot, secretary of, the Labour Research Department, London, without whose assistance this volume could not have been as complete as I hope it is, and to Mr. R.H. Tawney, who has been indefatigable in encouraging and helping me to bring the last chapters of Vol. II. up to the standard of Vol. I. Likewise, I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Graham Wallas for many useful hints on the study of certain phases of Chartism, which he kindly gave me during my calls at his house in the winter of 1913-14. Finally, I express my thanks to the Director of the Reichstag Library, Berlin, for allowing me to use the rich collection of works on socialism and economics under his charge, and to Professor Dr. Schumacher, the Director of the Staatswissenschaftliche Seminar of the Berlin University, for a similar privilege.