Socialist League (UK, 1885)

The Socialist League was an early revolutionary socialist organisation in the United Kingdom.

In 1884 a group of members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) attempted to remove H. M. Hyndman from the leadership of the party. This group objected to his nationalism and alleged that he used dictatorial methods in running the party. At a meeting of the SDF executive on 28th December, there was a heated argument about Hyndman's leadership. There were complaints about his control over the party's journal, "Justice". Others were unhappy about Hyndman's tendency to expel members he disagreed with. The SDF executive voted by a majority of two (10-8), that it had no confidence in Hyndman.

Some members, including William Morris, Eleanor Marx, Ernest Belfort Bax and Edward Aveling decided to leave the SDF and early in 1885, they formed the Socialist League. Several SDF branches, such as those in East London, Hammersmith and Leeds, joined the new organisation. Other important figures in the movement such as Edward Carpenter and Walter Crane also became members of the Socialist League.

The initial manifesto of the organisation was composed by Morris and Bax. It advocated revolutionary internationalism and was approved by Friedrich Engels as a valid expression of Marxist policies. The party published a journal, "Commonweal".

William Morris was disappointed by the slow growth of the organisation. After six months, the Socialist League only had eight branches and 230 members. Morris wrote to a friend: "I am in low spirits about the prospects of our party, if I can dignify a little knot of men by such a word. You see we are such a few, and hard as we work we don't seem to pick up people."

Britain's economic problems in the 1880s helped to revive interest in the Socialist League. By January 1887 the membership of the party reached 550. However, many members were unemployed and too poor to pay subscriptions. The treasurer reported that only 280 members were able to contribute to party funds.

In 1887 John Bruce Glasier, an unemployed craftsman, formed a branch in Glasgow. Within a few months Glasier reported that it had 53 members. When Glasier organised one open-air meeting in the city, an estimated 20,000 people heard a series of speeches on socialism. The Socialist League continued to grow and by 1895 had over 10,700 members. The party attracted many anarchists, who gained control by the early 1890s. This led some of the founders to leave and rejoin the SDF, or the Independent Labour Party. Nonetheless, the party remained active until it was disbanded in 1901, at which point it still had over 6,000 members.

External links

* [http://libcom.org/tags/socialist-league-lib Libcom index on Socialist League]
* [http://www.easf.org.uk/wiki/index.php?title=1880s:_Holmes_and_the_Socialist_League Bill Holmes and the Socialist League] From EASF


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Socialist League — may refer to one of several organisations: *Socialist League (Australia) *Socialist League (Finland), a Trotskyist organisation affiliated with the International Socialist Tendency. *Socialist League (Canada), a Trotskyist group founded in 1974… …   Wikipedia

  • Socialist League — La Socialist League était un parti politique britannique de la fin du XIXe siècle de tendance communiste fondé en 1885 avec l appui de Friedrich Engels, qui compta parmi ses membres Eleanor Marx. Il disparut en 1890. Historique En décembre… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • William Morris — For other people named William Morris, see William Morris (disambiguation). William Morris William Morris by George Frederic Watts, 1870 Born 24 March 18 …   Wikipedia

  • Commonweal (UK) — The Commonweal Commonweal was a British socialist newspaper founded in 1885 by the newborn Socialist League. Its aims were to spread socialistic views and to win over new recruits. William Morris, founder of the League, was its chief writer,… …   Wikipedia

  • News from Nowhere — For the album by Air Supply, see News from Nowhere (album). For the Journal of the Oxford English Faculty Opposition, see News from Nowhere: Journal of the Oxford English Faculty Opposition. News from Nowhere (or An Epoch of Rest)   …   Wikipedia

  • Max Nettlau — Max Heinrich Hermann Reinhardt Nettlau (30 April 1865 – 23 July 1944) was a German anarchist and historian. Although born in Neuwaldegg (today part of Vienna) and raised in Vienna he retained his Prussian (later German) nationality throughout his …   Wikipedia

  • David Nicholl (anarchist) — This article is about the anarchist. For the neurologist, see David Nicholl (neurologist). David Nicholl was an anarchist active in Great Britain who participated in the Socialist League. By 1890, Nicholl was editor of the league journal the… …   Wikipedia

  • Walter Crane — Walter Crane, ca. 1886 Born 15 August 1845(1845 08 15) Liverpool, Lancashire, England …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Joseph Faulkner — For other people named Charles Faulkner, see Charles Faulkner (disambiguation). Charles Joseph Faulkner (1833–92) was a mathematician and fellow of University College, Oxford and a founding partner of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. Faulkner… …   Wikipedia

  • ZIONISM — This article is arranged according to the following outline: the word and its meaning forerunners ḤIBBAT ZION ROOTS OF ḤIBBAT ZION background to the emergence of the movement the beginnings of the movement PINSKER S AUTOEMANCIPATION settlement… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.