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Mary Docherty
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/21/20

Mary Docherty
Born: 27 April 1908, Cowdenbeath, Scotland
Died: 2 February 2000 (aged 91), Auchtertool, Scotland
Nationality: Scottish
Occupation: Dairy worker, dentist's assistant, domestic servant[1]
Known for Communist activism
Notable work: A Miner's Lass, 'Auld Bob', a Man in a Million

Mary Docherty (27 April 1908 – 2 February 2000) was a British activist and member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Born to a working-class family in Cowdenbeath, Scotland, she was influenced by the communist beliefs of her father, a miner, as well as by the poverty she grew up in. She joined the Communist Party at the age of 18, and in 1929 traveled to the Soviet Union as a Scottish delegate to a gathering of young communists. She founded a local children's wing of the Communist Party, carried out a successful agitation to declare 1 May a school holiday, and worked for communist Member of Parliament Willie Gallacher. She retired from active politics at the age of 60, but continued to give talks and write her memoirs, published in 1991 as A Miner's Lass.

Early life and family

Mary Docherty was born on 27 April 1908 in the town of Cowdenbeath.[2] Her parents were Janet Todd, who worked in a theatre, and William Docherty, a miner.[1] She was the second of three daughters.[3] Her father had lost his job due to his political work with the Communist Party, and as a result was forced to sell firewood to support the family.[2] Due to the family's financial circumstances, they were often forced to subsist on cheap local herring, including when Mary's mother was pregnant with Mary. Docherty's small size as a baby was attributed to this diet.[4]

The county of Fife, of which Cowdenbeath was a burgh, was a stronghold of the Communist Party; Docherty later stated that "Fife was just as radical" as Clydeside, and that the local party had been asked to "slow down" by the party headquarters in London.[5] Docherty's father was a member of the Fife Communist Anarchist Group, and later a founding member of the Communist Party.[5] She was influenced by her father's political activism,[6] as well as by the poverty and hunger that her family endured.[5] Her father wrote political plays, in which Docherty would perform as a child.[5] She contracted tuberculosis at the age of four, due partly to the malnutrition her mother had experienced.[5] She later said that the strike of 1921, during which the British army was brought in to Cowdenbeath to support the local police, was very influential on her. She was 13 years old at the time.[5]

As a child, she attended a Socialist Sunday School which taught politics, science, and geography.[1] She later switched to the Proletarian Sunday School, which had a similar ideology,[1] and encouraged children to discuss politics.[7] Her academic record at school was good, and she passed an exam allowing her to enroll in "Higher Grade," but she dropped out of school in 1922.[3] Docherty remained single throughout her life, but played a maternal role in the life of her adopted younger sister Frances. She also took care of her mother until the latter died at the age of 100.[8]

Communist activism

Docherty's father joined the Fife Communist Anarchist Group, and was also a founding member of the Communist Party in Britain.[5] Docherty herself joined the Communist Party at the age of 18, the youngest age at which she was able to do so,[8] soon after the 1926 United Kingdom general strike.[2] She initially became a member of the Young Communist League, or YCL.[6] During the strike, she was involved in the "Local Councils of Action", which were inspired by the Russian Soviets, and helped coordinate the strike.[8] The miners' defeat in the strike was very influential upon her.[6] The Communist Party provided her with an adult education, during which she was one of two women among 48 men.[5] The other woman in her class was her mother.[9] While still a teenager, she became the literature secretary for the Cowdenbeath branch of the party, and was responsible for the production and sale of a number of weekly newspapers.[8]

While Docherty was still in her twenties, she organized a children's wing of the party in Cowdenbeath, known as the "Young Pioneers".[8] During propaganda meetings of the children's wing, she taught songs, poetry, and plays, and in 1928 organised an agitation to obtain a holiday for all schoolchildren on 1 May, or Labour Day,[4] which was successful in five different burghs, including Cowdenbeath.[1] She also organized a campaign against corporal punishment, and for free food for children while they were at school.[8] The use of the strap to punish children was eventually prohibited after the communists were elected to the Fife education authority and the town council in Lochgelly.[10]

Her affiliation with the party allowed her to travel to the Soviet Union in 1929 as a Scottish delegate to a gathering of young communists.[5] In the same year she had tried to join the National Unemployed Workers' Movement, but was told that women were not allowed to be members.[11] Docherty had a great love for the Soviet Union, despite what she saw as a political breakdown in that country.[2] Vladimir Lenin was an idol of hers.[2] During her time in Russia she spent three months in a sanatorium near the Black Sea,[5] recovering from tuberculosis.[2] She had had an operation on a tumor related to the disease before she left Fife, but was cured completely at the sanatorium.[1][4] She also visited a motor vehicle factory, and found it impressive, because "it [wasn't] for their sel', it was for everybody because everything belonged to them".[12] During her time in Moscow, she learned Russian, visited the Bolshoi, and took part in a parade on the 12th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.[5] Of her time in the Soviet Union, she stated:

I felt a different person, no worry about where the next meal was coming from, free to go where I pleased, everyone doing everything they could to make me happy. When I was in Moscow I would look around and say to myself 'All this belongs to the workers. No capitalist class'.[5]

In 1937, she volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War with the International Brigade; however, she was turned down, because she did not have medical experience. She took to fundraising for the Republican forces in the war,[4] participating in the "Aid Spain" campaign.[13] She became the treasurer of a women's group which raised funds for the wives of men who had gone to fight in the civil war.[3]

Docherty remained a member of the Communist Party for 70 years, at times working with Alex Moffat and Abe Moffat.[2] She campaigned for J. V. Leckie when he was a candidate for the Dunfermline Burghs constituency.[4] She worked for Willie Gallacher, the communist Member of Parliament for Fife, for several years, and in 1952 unsuccessfully ran for a city council seat.[1] At various points, Docherty held the positions of treasurer, Women's Group leader, and secretary for the Fife branch of the Communist Party.[1] She retired from active political life when she was 60 years old,[2]
but despite being crippled by arthritis, participated in fundraising efforts for the newspaper Morning Star.[8] She lived in a modest house in Cowdenbeath, and spent her time working on her memoirs.[5] She continued to give talks and participate in International Women's Day events nearly every year until her death on 2 February 2000.[2]


Docherty found work as a domestic servant at the age of 14, before moving on to working in a factory.[2] She tried to find a job after returning from Russia, but her travel there meant that people were unwilling to employ her. Thus she sold firewood along with her father for a while.[5] She eventually found work at the Leith Hospital as a cleaner, because that job did not require references.[4] She then worked as a servant for five years, before leaving to attend to her mother, who was ill. Back in Fife, she worked as an assistant to a dentist.[4] She stated later in life that when she attended rallies with the communist party, she had to lie to her employers about where she went.[5] When the Second World War broke out in 1939, she began working in the Crombie munitions factory,[14][15] before shifting to looking after children in Rosyth. The final job she held was at a cooperative bakery. She continued her work for the Communist Party while holding all of these positions.[15]

Notable works

In 1991, she published A Miner's Lass, an autobiographical book about the poverty and lack of opportunity among working-class women in her generation.[2] The book describes her experiences as a young communist woman in Fife,[16] including the impact of the Russian revolution in 1917,[5] and does not describe the ideology of the party in great detail.[16] It is dedicated to her father, demonstrating the importance of his influence on her identity,[13] and is unusual in being one of the few autobiographies of a working-class woman.[8] In 1996, she published 'Auld Bob', a Man in a Million, a tribute to activist Bob Selkirk, who had been her mentor.[2] When she was 91 years old she was among the speakers at an event called "Red Fife," about the contribution of Fife to the communist movement.[2]



1. Herald 2015.
2. Ewan et al. 2006.
3. Jackson 2003, p. 221.
4. Harrower-Gray 2014.
5. Braid 1992.
6. Rafeek 2008, p. 41.
7. Jackson 2003, p. 25.
8. Galloway 2000.
9. Worley 2002, p. 31.
10. Rafeek 2008, p. 42.
11. Annets 2014.
12. Rafeek 2008, p. 123.
13. Jackson 2003, p. 19.
14. Scottish Historical Studies 2005.
15. Jackson 2003, pp. 221–222.
16. Rafeek 2008, p. 6.


• Annetts; Jason; Law; Alex; McNeish; Wallace; Mooney; Gerry (2014). ""Forms of Protest"". Understanding social welfare movements. Policy Press. ISBN 9781447319818.
• Braid, Mary (14 August 1992). "No pie for the miner's daughter: Mary Braid hears how the coalfields of Fife glowed red with political fervour". The Independent. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
• Galloway, Susan (17 February 2000). "Mary Docherty, Communist activist and author". The Scotsman.
• "Mary Docherty". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
• Ewan, Elizabeth L.; Innes, Sue; Reynolds, Sian; et al., eds. (2006). The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 96–97. ISBN 9780748626601.
• Harrower-Gray, Annie (2014). Scotland's Hidden Harlots and Heroines: Women's Role in Scottish Society from 1690–1969. Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473834705.
• Jackson, Angela (2003). British Women and the Spanish Civil War. Routledge. ISBN 9781134471072.
• Rafeek, Neil C. (2008). Communist Women in Scotland: Red Clydeside from the Russian Revolution to the End of the Soviet Union. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9780857711540.
• "Mary Docherty", Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, Edinburgh University Press, 24, 2005
• Worley, Matthew (2002). Class Against Class: The Communist Party in Britain Between the Wars. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 9781860647475.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:19 am

Part 1 of 2

George Lansbury
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/21/20

The Right Honourable George Lansbury
George Lansbury in 1935
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Labour Party
In office: 25 October 1932[1] – 8 October 1935
Prime Minister: Ramsay MacDonald; Stanley Baldwin
Deputy: Clement Attlee
Preceded by: Arthur Henderson
Succeeded by: Clement Attlee
First Commissioner of Works
In office: 7 June 1929 – 24 August 1931
Prime Minister: Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by: Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Succeeded by: Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Chairman of the Labour Party
In office: 7 October 1927 – 5 October 1928
Leader: Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by: Frederick Roberts
Succeeded by: Herbert Morrison
Member of Parliament for Bow and Bromley
In office: 15 November 1922 – 7 May 1940
Preceded by: Reginald Blair
Succeeded by: Charles Key
In office: 3 December 1910 – 26 November 1912
Preceded by: Alfred Du Cros
Succeeded by: Reginald Blair
Personal details
Born: 22 February 1859, Halesworth, Suffolk, England
Died: 7 May 1940 (aged 81), Manor House Hospital, North London, England
Political party: Labour
Spouse(s): Bessie Brine (m. 1880; died 1933)
Children: 12 (including Edgar)
Angela Lansbury (granddaughter)
Bruce Lansbury (grandson)
Edgar Lansbury (grandson)
John Postgate (grandson)
Oliver Postgate (grandson)

George Lansbury (22 February 1859 – 7 May 1940) was a British politician and social reformer who led the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935. Apart from a brief period of ministerial office during the Labour government of 1929–31, he spent his political life campaigning against established authority and vested interests, his main causes being the promotion of social justice, women's rights and world disarmament.

Originally a radical Liberal, Lansbury became a socialist in the early 1890s, and thereafter served his local community in the East End of London in numerous elective offices. His activities were underpinned by his Christian beliefs which, except for a short period of doubt, sustained him through his life. Elected to Parliament in 1910, he resigned his seat in 1912 to campaign for women's suffrage, and was briefly imprisoned after publicly supporting militant action.

In 1912, Lansbury helped to establish the Daily Herald newspaper, and became its editor. Throughout the First World War the paper maintained a strongly pacifist stance, and supported the October 1917 Russian Revolution. These positions contributed to Lansbury's failure to be elected to Parliament in 1918.
He devoted himself to local politics in his home borough of Poplar, and went to prison with 30 fellow-councillors for his part in the Poplar "rates revolt" of 1921.

After his return to Parliament in 1922, Lansbury was denied office in the brief Labour government of 1924, although he served as First Commissioner of Works in the Labour government of 1929–31. After the political and economic crisis of August 1931, Lansbury did not follow his leader, Ramsay MacDonald, into the National Government, but remained with the Labour Party. As the most senior of the small contingent of Labour MPs that survived the 1931 general election, Lansbury became the Leader of the Labour Party. His pacifism and his opposition to rearmament in the face of rising European fascism put him at odds with his party, and when his position was rejected at the 1935 Labour Party conference, he resigned the leadership. He spent his final years travelling through the United States and Europe in the cause of peace and disarmament.

Early life

East End upbringing

Plaque on the assumed birthplace of George Lansbury in Haleswoth, Suffolk. It incorrectly records Lansbury's death year as 1947.

George Lansbury was born in Halesworth in the county of Suffolk on 22 February 1859.[n 1] He was the third of nine children born to a railway worker, also named George Lansbury, and Anne Lansbury (née Ferris).[4] George senior's job involved the supervision of railway construction gangs; the family was often on the move, and living conditions were primitive.[2] Through his progressive-minded mother and grandmother, young George became familiar with the names of great contemporary reformers—Gladstone, Richard Cobden and John Bright—and began to read the radical Reynolds's Newspaper. By the end of 1868, the family had moved into London's East End, the district in which Lansbury would live and work for almost all his life.[5]

The essayist Ronald Blythe has described the East End of the 1860s and 1870s as "stridently English ... The smoke-blackened streets were packed with illiterate multitudes [who] stayed alive through sheer birdlike ebullience".[6] Interspersed with spells of work, Lansbury attended schools in Bethnal Green and Whitechapel. He then held a succession of manual jobs, including work as a coaling contractor in partnership with his elder brother, James, loading and unloading coal wagons. This was heavy and dangerous work, and led to at least one near-fatal accident.[7]

During his adolescence and early adulthood, Lansbury was a regular attender at the public gallery at the House of Commons, where he heard and remembered many of Gladstone's speeches on the main foreign policy issue of the day, the "Eastern Question". He was present at the riots which erupted outside Gladstone's house on 24 February 1878 after a peace meeting in Hyde Park.[8] Shepherd writes that Gladstone's Liberalism, proclaiming liberty, freedom and community interests was "a heady mix that left an indelible mark" on the youthful Lansbury.[9]

George Lansbury senior died in 1875. That year young George met fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Brine, whose father Isaac Brine owned a local sawmill. The couple eventually married in 1880, at Whitechapel parish church, where the vicar, J. Franklin Kitto, had been Lansbury's spiritual guide and counsellor. Apart from a period of doubt in the 1890s when he temporarily rejected the Church, Lansbury remained a staunch Anglican until his death.[10]


Migrants disembarking from a ship in Brisbane, c. 1885

In 1881, the first of Lansbury's twelve children, Bessie, was born; another daughter, Annie, followed in 1882. Seeking to improve his family's prospects, Lansbury decided that their best hopes of prosperity lay in emigrating to Australia. The London agent-general for Queensland depicted a land of boundless opportunities, with work for all; seduced by this appeal, Lansbury and Bessie raised the necessary passage money, and in May 1884 set sail with their children for Brisbane.[9][11]

On the outward passage, the family experienced illness, discomfort and danger; on one occasion the ship came close to foundering during a monsoon.[11] On arrival at Brisbane in July 1884, Lansbury found that contrary to the London agent's promises, there was a superfluity of labour and work was hard to come by. His first job, breaking stone, proved to be too physically punishing; he moved to a better-paid position as a van driver, but was sacked when, for religious reasons, he refused to work on Sundays.[12] He then contracted to work on a farm some 80 miles inland, to find upon arrival that his employer had misled him about living conditions and terms of employment.[13]

For several months, the Lansbury family lived in extreme squalor before Lansbury secured release from the contract. Back in Brisbane, he worked for a while at the newly built Brisbane cricket ground. As a keen follower of the game he hoped to see the visiting English touring team play but, as Lansbury's biographer Raymond Postgate records, "he learned that cricket watching was not a pleasure for workmen".[12][n 2]

Throughout his tenure in Australia, Lansbury sent letters home, revealing the truth about conditions facing immigrants.[12] To a friend he wrote in March 1885:

"Mechanics are not wanted. Farm labourers are not wanted ... Hundreds of men and women are not able to get work ... The streets are foul day and night, and if I had a sister I would shoot her dead rather than see her brought out to this little hell on earth".[13]

In May 1885, having received from Isaac Brine sufficient funds for a passage home, the Lansbury family left Australia for good.[12]

Radical Liberal

First campaigns

On his return to London, Lansbury took a job in Brine's timber business. In his spare time he campaigned against the false prospectuses offered by colonial emigration agents. His speech at an emigration conference at King's College in London in April 1886 impressed delegates; shortly afterwards, the government established an Emigration Information Bureau under the Colonial Office. This body was required to provide accurate information on the state of labour markets in all the government's overseas possessions.[15]

Having joined the Liberal Party shortly after his return from Australia, Lansbury became first a ward secretary and then general secretary for the Bow and Bromley Liberal and Radical Association.[16] His effective campaigning skills had been noted by leading Liberals, including Samuel Montagu, the Liberal MP for Whitechapel, who persuaded the young activist to be his agent in the 1885 general election.
[17] Lansbury's handling of this election campaign prompted Montagu to urge him to stand for parliament himself.[18] Lansbury declined this, partly on practical grounds (MPs were then unpaid and he had to provide for his family), and partly on principle; he was becoming increasingly convinced that his future lay not as a radical Liberal but as a socialist.[17] He continued to serve the Liberals, as an agent and local secretary, while expressing his socialism in a short-lived monthly radical journal, Coming Times, which he founded and co-edited with a fellow-dissident, William Hoffman.[19]

London County Council elections, 1889

The Metropolitan Board of Works building in Spring Gardens near Trafalgar Square, original headquarters of the London County Council

In 1888 Lansbury agreed to act as election agent for Jane Cobden, who was contesting the first elections for the newly formed London County Council (LCC) as Liberal candidate for the Bow and Bromley division.[20] Cobden, an early supporter of women's suffrage, was the fourth child of the Victorian radical statesman Richard Cobden.[21] The Society for Promoting Women as County Councillors (SPWCC), a new women's rights group, had proposed Cobden as the candidate for Bow and Bromley and Margaret Sandhurst for Brixton.[22][n 3] Lansbury counselled Cobden in the issues of greatest concern to the East End electorate: housing for the poor, ending of sweated labour, rights of public assembly, and control of the police. Specific questions of women's rights were largely avoided during the campaign.[23] On 19 January 1889 both women were elected; these triumphs were, however, short-lived. Sandhurst's qualification to serve as a county councillor was successfully challenged in the courts by her Conservative Party opponents on the grounds of her sex, and her subsequent appeal was dismissed. Cobden was not immediately challenged, but in April 1891, after a series of legal actions, she was effectively neutered as a councillor by being prevented from voting on pain of severe financial penalties.[24] Lansbury urged her, during the hearings, to "go to prison and let the Council back you up by refusing to declare your seat vacant".[25] Cobden did not follow this path. A Bill introduced in the House of Commons in May 1891 permitting women to serve as county councillors found little support among MPs of any party; women were not granted this right until 1907.[26]

Lansbury was offended by his party's lukewarm support for women's rights. In a letter published in the Pall Mall Gazette he made an open call to Bow and Bromley's Liberals to "shake themselves free of party feeling and throw the energy and ability they are now wasting on minor questions into ... securing the full rights of citizenship to every woman in the land".[27] He was further disillusioned by his party's failure to endorse the eight-hour maximum working day. Lansbury had formed the view, expressed some years later, that "Liberalism would progress just as far as the great money bags of capitalism would allow it to progress".[28] By 1892 the Liberals no longer felt like Lansbury's political home; most of his current associates were avowed socialists: William Morris, Eleanor Marx, John Burns and Henry Mayers Hyndman, founder of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF).
[29] Nevertheless, Lansbury did not resign from the Liberals until he had fulfilled a commitment to act as election agent for John Murray MacDonald, the prospective Liberal candidate for Bow and Bromley. He saw his candidate victorious in the July 1892 General Election; as soon as the result was declared, Lansbury resigned from the Liberal Party and joined the SDF.[30]

Socialist reformer

Social Democratic Federation

Henry Hyndman, founder of the SDF, was a key influence in Lansbury's early career.

Lansbury's choice of the SDF, from several socialist organisations, reflected his admiration for Hyndman, whom he considered "one of the truly great ones".[31] Lansbury quickly became the federation's most tireless propagandist, travelling throughout Britain to address meetings or to demonstrate solidarity with workers involved in industrial disputes.[n 4] Around this time, Lansbury temporarily set aside his Christian beliefs and became a member of the East London Ethical Society. One factor in his disillusion with the Church was the local clergy's unsympathetic approach to poor relief, and their opposition to collective political action.[33]

In 1895 Lansbury fought two parliamentary elections for the SDF in Walworth, first a by-election on 14 May, then the 1895 general election two months later. Despite his energetic campaigning he was heavily defeated on each occasion, with tiny proportions of the vote.[34] After these dismal results, Lansbury was persuaded by Hyndman to give up his job at the sawmill and become the SDF's full-time salaried national organiser. He preached a straightforward revolutionary doctrine: "The time has arrived", he informed an audience at Todmorden in Lancashire, "for the working classes to seize political power and use it to overthrow the competitive system and establish in its place state cooperation".[35] Lansbury's time as SDF national organiser did not last long; in 1896, when Isaac Brine died suddenly, Lansbury thought that his family duty required him to take charge of the sawmill, and he returned home to Bow.[36]

In the general election of 1900 a pact with the Liberals in the Bow and Bromley constituency gave Lansbury, the SDF candidate, a straight fight against the Conservative incumbent, William Guthrie. Lansbury's cause was hindered by his public opposition to the Boer War at a time when war fever was strong, while Guthrie, a former soldier, stressed his military credentials. Lansbury lost the election, though his total of 2,258 votes against Guthrie's 4,403 was considered creditable by the press.[37] This campaign was Lansbury's last major effort on behalf of the SDF. He became disenchanted by Hyndman's inability to work with other socialist groups, and in about 1903 resigned from the SDF to join the Independent Labour Party (ILP).[38] At around this time, Lansbury rediscovered his Christian faith and rejoined the Anglican Church.[39][n 5]

Poor Law guardian

"'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' was the basis of policy where jobs and contracts were concerned ... the slum owner and agent could be depended upon to create the conditions which produce disease; the doctor would then get the job of attending the sick, the chemist would be needed to supply drugs, the parson to pray, and when, between them all, the victims died the undertaker was on hand to bury them."

(Lansbury, summarising the extent of cronyism and abuse in the Poor Law system.)[41]

In April 1893 Lansbury achieved his first elective office when he became a Poor Law guardian for the district of Poplar. In place of the traditionally harsh workhouse regime that was the norm, Lansbury proposed a programme of reform, whereby the workhouse became "an agency of help instead of a place of despair", and the stigma of poverty was removed.[42] Lansbury was one of a minority socialist bloc which was often able, through its energy and commitment, to win support for its plans.[43]

Education for the poor was one of Lansbury's major concerns. He helped to transform the Forest Gate District School, previously a punitive establishment run on quasi-military lines, into a proper place of education that became the Poplar Training School, and was still in existence more than half a century later.[44][n 6] At the 1897 annual Poor Law Conference Lansbury summarised his views on poor relief in his first published paper: "The Principles of the English Poor Law". His analysis offered a Marxist critique of capitalism: only the reorganisation of industry on collectivist lines would solve contemporary problems.[46]

Lansbury added to his public duties when, in 1903, he was elected to Poplar Borough Council.[47] In the summer of that year he met Joseph Fels, a rich American soap manufacturer with a penchant for social projects.[48] Lansbury persuaded Fels, in 1904, to purchase a 100-acre farm at Laindon, in Essex, which was converted into a labour colony that provided regular work for Poplar's unemployed and destitute. Fels also agreed to finance a much larger colony at Hollesley Bay in Suffolk, to be operated as a government scheme under the Local Government Board.[49] Both projects were initially successful, but were undermined after the election of a Liberal government in 1906. The new Local Government minister was John Burns, a former SDF stalwart now ensconced in the Liberal Party who had become a firm opponent of socialism.[50][51] Burns encouraged a campaign of propaganda to discredit the principle of labour colonies, which were presented as money-wasting ventures that pampered idlers and scroungers. A formal enquiry revealed irregularities in the operation of the scheme, though it exonerated Lansbury. He retained the confidence of his electorate and was easily re-elected to the Board of Guardians in 1907.[52][53]

In 1905 Lansbury was appointed to a Royal Commission on the Poor Laws, which deliberated for four years. Lansbury, together with Beatrice Webb of the Fabian Society, argued for the complete abolition of the Poor Laws and their replacement by a system that incorporated old age pensions, a minimum wage, and national and local public works projects. These proposals were embodied at the Commission's conclusion in a minority report signed by Lansbury and Webb; the majority report was, according to Postgate, "an ill-considered jumble of suggestions ... so preposterously inadequate that no attempts were ever made to implement it." Most of the minority's recommendations in time became national policy;[54] the Poor Laws were finally abolished by the Local Government Act 1929.[55]

National prominence

Campaigner for women's suffrage

WSPU poster from 1914, denouncing the Liberal government's controversial "Cat and Mouse Act"

In the general election of January 1906 Lansbury stood as an independent socialist candidate in Middlesbrough, on a strong "votes for women" platform. This was his first campaign based on women's rights since the LCC election of 1889. He had been recommended to the constituency by Joseph Fels, who agreed to meet his expenses. The local ILP leadership was committed by an electoral pact to support the Liberal candidate, and could not endorse Lansbury, who secured less than 9 per cent of the vote.[56] The campaign had been managed by Marion Coates Hansen, a prominent local suffragist. Under Hansen's influence Lansbury took up the cause of "votes for women";[57] he allied himself with the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the more militant of the main suffragist organisations, and became a close associate of Emmeline Pankhurst and her family.[58]

The Liberal government elected in 1906 with a large majority showed little interest in the issue of women's suffrage;[59] when they lost their parliamentary majority in the general election of January 1910 they were dependent on the votes of the 40-odd Labour members.[n 7] To Lansbury's dismay, Labour did not use this leverage to promote votes for women, instead giving the government virtually unqualified support to keep the Conservatives out of power.
[61][62] Lansbury had failed to win election as Labour's candidate at Bow and Bromley in January 1910; however, the continuing political crisis which developed from David Lloyd George's controversial 1909 "People's Budget" led to another general election in December 1910.

After H. H. Asquith succeeded to the premiership in 1908 Lloyd George replaced him as Chancellor of the Exchequer. To fund extensive welfare reforms he proposed taxes on land ownership and high incomes in the "People's Budget" (1909), which the Conservative-dominated House of Lords rejected. The resulting constitutional crisis was only resolved after two elections in 1910 and the passage of the Parliament Act 1911. His budget was then enacted alongside the National Insurance Act 1911 which helped to establish the modern welfare state.

-- David Lloyd George, by Wikipedia

Lansbury again fought Bow and Bromley, and this time was successful.[63]

Lansbury found little support in his fight for women's suffrage from his parliamentary Labour colleagues, whom he dismissed as "a weak, flabby lot".
[58] In parliament, he denounced the prime minister, H. H. Asquith, for the cruelties being inflicted on imprisoned suffragists: "You are beneath contempt ... you ought to be driven from public life". He was temporarily suspended from the House for "disorderly conduct".[64] In October 1912, aware of the unbridgeable gap between his own position and that of his Labour colleagues, Lansbury resigned his seat to fight a by-election in Bow and Bromley on the specific issue of women's suffrage.[65] The suffragettes sent Grace Roe to help with campaign.[66] He lost to his Conservative opponent, who campaigned on the slogan "No Petticoat Government".[67] Commenting on the result, the Labour MP Will Thorne opined that no constituency could ever be won on the single question of votes for women.[68]

Out of parliament, on 26 April 1913 Lansbury addressed a WSPU rally at the Albert Hall, and openly defended violent methods: "Let them burn and destroy property and do anything they will, and for every leader that is taken away, let a dozen step forward in their place". For this, Lansbury was charged with incitement, convicted and, after the dismissal of an appeal, sentenced to three months' imprisonment.[69] He immediately went on hunger strike, and was released after four days; although liable to rearrest under the so-called "Cat and Mouse Act",[n 8] he was thereafter left at liberty.[71] In the autumn of 1913, at the invitation of Fels, Lansbury and his wife travelled to America and Canada for an extended holiday. On his return, he devoted his main efforts to the recently founded newspaper, the Daily Herald.[72]

War, Daily Herald and Bolshevism

Further information: Daily Herald (UK newspaper)

Lansbury in 1920

The Daily Herald began as a temporary bulletin during the London printers' strike of 1910–11. After the strike ended, Lansbury and others raised sufficient funds for the Herald to be relaunched in April 1912 as a socialist daily newspaper.[73] The paper attracted contributions from distinguished writers such as H. G. Wells, Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw, some of whom, Blythe notes, "weren't socialists at all but simply used [the paper] as a platform for their personal literary anarchy."[74] Lansbury contributed regularly in support of his various causes, in particular the militant suffrage campaign,[75] and early in 1914 assumed the paper's editorship.[76]

A Punch cartoon of 22 September 1920, mocking Lansbury's denials of Bolshevist funding for the Daily Herald

Before the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the Herald took a strong anti-war line.[77] Addressing a large demonstration in Trafalgar Square on 2 August 1914, Lansbury blamed the coming conflict on capitalism: "The workers of all countries have no quarrel. They are ... exploited in times of peace and sent out to be massacred in times of war".[78] Lansbury's position was at odds with that of most of the Labour movement, which allied itself with the wartime coalition governments of Asquith and, from 1916, Lloyd George.[n 9] In the prevailing jingoistic mood, numerous readers looked to the Herald—reduced by wartime economies to a weekly format—to present a balanced news perspective, untainted by war fever and chauvinism.[74] During the winter of 1914–15, Lansbury visited the Western Front trenches. He sent eye-witness accounts to the paper, which supported calls for a negotiated peace with Germany in line with President Woodrow Wilson's later "peace note" of January 1917. The paper also gave sympathetic coverage to conscientious objectors, and to Irish and Indian nationalists.[80]

Lansbury used the pages of the Daily Herald to welcome the February 1917 revolution in Russia as "a new star of hope ... arisen over Europe".[81] At an Albert Hall rally on 18 March 1918 he hailed the spirit and enthusiasm of "this Russian movement", and urged his audience to "be ready to die, if necessary, for our faith".
[82] When the war ended in November 1918, Lloyd George called an immediate general election, correctly calculating that victory euphoria would keep his coalition in power. In this triumphalist climate, candidates such as Lansbury who had opposed the war found themselves unpopular, and he failed to retake his Bow and Bromley seat.[83]

The Herald re-emerged as a daily paper in March 1919.[84] Under Lansbury's direction it maintained a strong and ultimately successful campaign against British intervention in the Russian Civil War.[74] In February 1920 Lansbury travelled to Russia where he met Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders.[85] He published an account: What I Saw in Russia,[4] but the impact of the visit was overshadowed by accusations that the Herald was being financed from Bolshevist sources, a charge vehemently denied by Lansbury: "We have received no Bolshevist money, no Bolshevist paper, no Bolshevist bonds". Unknown to Lansbury, the allegations had some truth which, when exposed, caused him and the paper considerable embarrassment.[86] By 1922 the Herald's financial problems had become such that it could no longer continue as a private venture financed by donations. Lansbury resigned the editorship and made the paper over to the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), although he continued to write for it and remained its titular general manager until 3 January 1925.[87][88]

"Poplarism": the 1921 rates revolt

Main article: Poplar Rates Rebellion

The Poplar Rates Rebellion Mural in Poplar commemorates the 1921 rates revolt.

Throughout his national campaigns, Lansbury remained a Poplar borough councillor and Poor Law guardian, and between 1910 and 1913 served a three-year term as a London County Councillor.[4][89] In 1919 he became the first Labour mayor of Poplar.[90] Under the then-existing financial system for local government, boroughs were individually responsible for poor relief within their boundaries. This discriminated heavily against poorer councils such as Poplar, where rates revenues were low and poverty and unemployment, always severe, were exacerbated in times of economic recession.[n 10] Under this system, Postgate argues, "The wealthy West End boroughs were evading responsibility, as though the desolate and silent docks were the results of a failure by the Poplar Borough Council".[91] In addition to meeting the costs of its own obligations, the council was required to levy precepts to pay for services provided by bodies such as the London County Council and the Metropolitan Police.[92] Lansbury had long argued that a degree of rates equalisation across London was necessary, to share costs more fairly.[42]

At its meeting on 22 March 1921 the Poplar Council resolved not to make its precepts and to apply these revenues to the costs of local poor relief.[92] This illegal action created a sensation, and led to legal proceedings against the council. On 29 July the thirty councillors involved marched in procession from Bow to the High Court, headed by a brass band. Informed by the judge that they must apply the precepts, the councillors would not budge; early in September, Lansbury and 29 fellow-councillors were imprisoned for contempt of court. Among those sentenced were his son Edgar and Edgar's wife, Minnie.[91]

The defiance of the Poplar councillors generated widespread interest and sympathy, and the publicity embarrassed the government. Several other Labour-controlled councils (including Stepney whose mayor was the future Labour leader Clement Attlee) threatened similar policies.[93] After six weeks' incarceration the councillors were released, and a government conference was convened to resolve the matter. This conference brought a significant personal victory for Lansbury: the passage of the Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act, which equalised the poor relief burden across all the London boroughs. As a result, the rates in Poplar fell by a third, and additional revenues of £400,000 was gained by the borough.[91][93] Lansbury was hailed as a hero; in the 1922 general election he won the parliamentary seat of Bow and Bromley with a majority of nearly 7,000, and would hold it for the rest of his life. The term "Poplarism", always identified closely with Lansbury, became part of the political lexicon, applied generally to campaigns where local government stood against central government on behalf of the poor and least privileged of society.[4]

Parliament and national office

Labour backbencher

"A few centuries ago one King who stood up against the common people of that day lost his head—really lost it ... Since that day kings and queens had been what they ought to be if you had them. They never interfered with ordinary politics and George V would be well advised to keep his finger out of the pie now."

(Lansbury's warning to the King shortly before the first Labour government took office in January 1924)

In May 1923 the Conservative prime minister, Bonar Law, resigned for health reasons. In December his successor, Stanley Baldwin, called another election in which the Conservatives lost their majority, with Labour in a strong second place. King George V advised Baldwin, as leader of the largest party, not to resign his office until defeated by a vote in the House of Commons. Defeat duly occurred on 21 January 1924, when the Liberals decided to throw in their lot with Labour. The king then asked Labour's leader, Ramsay MacDonald, to form a government.[95][96] Lansbury caused royal offence by publicly implying that the king had colluded with other parties to keep Labour out, and by his references to the fate of Charles I.[97] Despite his seniority, Lansbury was offered only a junior non-cabinet post in the new government, which he declined.[98] He believed that his exclusion from the cabinet followed pressure from the king.[98] At the 1923 Labour Party conference, while declaring himself a republican, Lansbury opposed two motions calling for the abolition of the monarchy, deeming the issue a "distraction". Social revolution, he said, would one day remove the monarchy.[99]

Inspecting the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, Orkneys, when First Commissioner at the Office of Works in 1929

MacDonald's administration lasted less than a year before, in November 1924, the Liberals withdrew their support; Blythe comments that the first Labour government had been "neither exhilarating nor competent".[96] According to Shepherd, MacDonald's chief priority was to show that Labour was "fit to govern", and he had thus acted with conservative caution.[100] The December general election returned the Conservatives to power; Lansbury maintained that Labour's cause "marches forward irrespective of electoral results".[101] After the defeat Lansbury was briefly touted as an alternative party leader to MacDonald, a proposition he rejected.[102] In 1925, free from the Daily Herald, he founded and edited Lansbury's Labour Weekly, which became a mouthpiece for his personal creed of socialism, democracy and pacifism until it merged with the New Leader in 1927.[103] Before the General Strike of May 1926, Lansbury used the Weekly to instruct the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on preparations for the coming struggle. However, when the strike came the TUC did not want his assistance;[104] among the reasons for their distrust was Lansbury's continuing advocacy for the right of communist organisations to affiliate to the Labour Party—he privately opined that British communists on their own "couldn't run a whelk-stall".[105]

Lansbury continued his private campaigns in parliament, saying "I intend on every occasion to ... hinder the progress of business".
[106] In April 1926 he and 12 other opposition MPs prevented a vote in the House of Commons by obstructing the voting lobbies; they were temporarily suspended by the Speaker.[107][108] During frequent clashes in the House with Neville Chamberlain, the Minister of Health responsible for Poor Law administration and reform, Lansbury referred to the "Ministry of Death",[109] and called the minister a "pinchbeck Napoleon".[110] However, within the Labour Party itself, Lansbury's status and popularity led to his election as the party's chairman (a largely titular office) in 1927–28.[111] Lansbury also became president of the International League Against Imperialism, where among his fellow executive members were Jawaharlal Nehru, Mme. Sun Yat-sen and Albert Einstein.[112] In 1928, short of money following the failure of the family business, Lansbury published his autobiography, My Life, for which he received what he termed "a fairly generous cheque" from the publishers, Constable & Co.[113]

Cabinet minister, 1929–31

The Hyde Park Lido, one lasting result of Lansbury's brief term of national office

In the 1929 general election Labour emerged as the largest party, with 287 seats—but without an overall majority.[114] Once again, MacDonald formed a government dependent on Liberal support. Lansbury joined the new cabinet as First Commissioner of Works, with responsibilities for historic buildings and monuments and for the royal parks. This position was widely regarded as a sinecure;[115] nevertheless, Lansbury proved an active minister who did much to improve public recreation facilities.[4] His most notable achievement was the Lido on the Serpentine in Hyde Park; according to the historian A. J. P. Taylor "the only thing which keeps the memory of the second Labour government alive".[116] A circular memorial plaque to Lansbury can be seen on the exterior wall of the Lido Bar and Cafe. Lansbury's duties brought him into frequent contact with the King, who as Ranger of the royal parks insisted on regular consultation. Contrary to the expectations of some the two formed a cordial relationship.[117][118]

The years of MacDonald's second government were dominated by the economic depression that followed the Wall Street Crash of October 1929.[119] Lansbury was appointed to a committee, chaired by J.H. Thomas and including Sir Oswald Mosley, charged with finding a solution to unemployment. Mosley produced a memorandum which called for a large-scale programme of public works; this was rejected by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Snowden, on grounds of cost.[120][121][n 11] At the end of July 1931 the May Committee, appointed in February to investigate government spending,[123] prescribed heavy cuts, including a massive reduction in unemployment benefit.[124][n 12]

Making a speech, c. 1935

During August, in an atmosphere of financial panic and a run on the pound, the government debated the report. MacDonald and Snowden were prepared to implement it, but Lansbury and nine other cabinet ministers rejected the cut in unemployment benefit. Thus divided, the government could not continue; MacDonald, however, did not resign as prime minister. After discussions with the opposition leaders and the king he formed a national all-party coalition, with a "doctor's mandate" to tackle the economic crisis. The great majority of Labour MPs, including Lansbury, were opposed to this action; MacDonald and the few who followed him were expelled from the party, and Arthur Henderson became leader.[125] MacDonald's move was broadly welcomed in the country, however, and in the general election held in October 1931 the national government was returned with an enormous majority. Labour was reduced to 46 members; Lansbury was the only senior member of the Labour leadership to retain his seat.[121][n 13]
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Party leader

Although defeated in the election, Henderson remained the party leader while Lansbury headed the Labour group in parliament—the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). In October 1932 Henderson resigned and Lansbury succeeded him.[1] In most historians' reckonings, Lansbury led his small parliamentary force with skill and flair. He was also, says Shepherd, an inspiration to the dispirited Labour rank and file.[127] As leader he began the process of reforming the party's organisation and machinery, efforts which resulted in considerable by-election and municipal election successes—including control of the LCC under Herbert Morrison in 1934.[4][128] According to Blythe, Lansbury "represented political hope and decency to the three million unemployed."[129] During this period Lansbury published his political credo, My England (1934), which envisioned a future socialist state achieved by a mixture of revolutionary and evolutionary methods.[130]


I believe that force never has and never will bring permanent peace and goodwill in the world ... God intends us to live peacefully and quietly with one another. If some people do not allow us to do so, I am ready to stand as the early Christians did, and say, this is our faith, this is where we stand, and, if necessary, this is where we will die.

(From Lansbury's speech to the 1935 Labour Party conference)[131]

The small Labour group in parliament had little influence over economic policy; Lansbury's term as leader was dominated by foreign affairs and disarmament, and by policy disagreements within the Labour movement. The official party position was based on collective security through the League of Nations and on multilateral disarmament. Lansbury, supported by many in the PLP, adopted a position of Christian pacifism, unilateral disarmament and the dismantling of the British Empire.[132] Under his influence the party's 1933 conference passed resolutions calling for the "total disarmament of all nations", and pledged to take no part in war.[133] Pacifism became temporarily popular in the country; on 9 February 1933 the Oxford Union voted by 275 to 153 that it would "in no circumstances fight for its King and Country", and the Fulham East by-election in October 1933 was easily won by a Labour candidate committed to full disarmament.[134] Lansbury sent a message to the constituency in his position as Labour Leader: "I would close every recruiting station, disband the Army and disarm the Air Force. I would abolish the whole dreadful equipment of war and say to the world: “Do your worst”."[135] October 1934 saw the emergence of the Peace Pledge Union. In response to the Peace Pledge Union, the League of Nations Union conducted the 1934–35 Peace Ballot, an unofficial public referendum, which produced massive majorities in support of the League of Nations, multilateral disarmament, and conflict resolution through non-military means - though crucially, a three-fold majority supported military measures as a last resort. Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler had come to power in Germany, and had withdrawn from the international Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Blythe observes that Britain's noisy flirtations with pacifism "drowned out the sounds from German dockyards", as German rearmament began.[134]

As fascism and militarism advanced in Europe, Lansbury's pacifist stance drew criticism from the trades union elements of his party—who controlled the majority of party conference votes. Walter Citrine, the TUC general secretary, commented that Lansbury "thinks the country should be without defence of any kind ... it certainly isn't our policy."[136] The party's 1935 annual conference took place in Brighton during October, under the shadow of Italy's impending invasion of Abyssinia. The national executive had tabled a resolution calling for sanctions against Italy, which Lansbury opposed as a form of economic warfare. His speech—a passionate exposition of the principles of Christian pacifism—was well received by the delegates, but immediately afterwards his position was destroyed by Ernest Bevin, the Transport and General Workers' Union leader. Bevin attacked Lansbury for putting his private beliefs before a policy, agreed by all the party's main institutions, to oppose fascist aggression,[137] and accused him of "hawking your conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it".[138] Union support ensured that the sanctions resolution was carried by a huge majority; Lansbury, realising that a Christian pacifist could no longer lead the party, resigned a few days later.[131]

Final years

[Hitler] appeared free of personal ambition ... wasn't ashamed of his humble start in life ... lived in the country rather than the town ... was a bachelor who liked children and old people ... and was obviously lonely. I wished that I could have gone to Berchtesgaden and stayed with him for a little while. I felt that Christianity in its purest sense might have had a chance with him.

(Lansbury's impressions after meeting Adolf Hitler in April 1937)[139]

Lansbury was 76 years old when he resigned the Labour leadership; he did not, however, retire from public life. In the general election of November 1935 he kept his seat at Bow and Bromley; Labour, now led by Attlee, improved its parliamentary representation to 154.[138] Lansbury devoted himself entirely to the cause of world peace, a quest that took him, in 1936, to the United States. He addressed large crowds in 27 cities before meeting President Roosevelt in Washington to present his proposals for a world peace conference.[140] In 1937 he toured Europe, visiting leaders in Belgium, France and Scandinavia, and in April secured a private meeting with Hitler. No official report of the discussion was issued, but Lansbury's personal memorandum indicates that Hitler expressed willingness to join in a world conference if Roosevelt would convene it.[141] Later that year Lansbury met Mussolini in Rome; he described the Italian leader as "a mixture of Lloyd George, Stanley Baldwin and Winston Churchill".[142] Lansbury wrote several accounts of his peace journeys, notably My Quest for Peace (1938).[143] His mild and optimistic impressions of the European dictators were widely criticised as naïve and out of touch; some British pacifists were dismayed at Lansbury's meeting with Hitler,[144] while the Daily Worker accused him of diverting attention from the aggressive realities of fascist policies.[142] Lansbury continued to meet European leaders through 1938 and 1939, and was nominated, unsuccessfully, for the 1940 Nobel Peace Prize.[145]

At the funeral of George V, 1936

At home, Lansbury served a second term as Mayor of Poplar, in 1936–37. He argued against direct confrontation with Mosley's Blackshirts during the October 1936 demonstrations known as the Battle of Cable Street.[146] In October 1937 he became president of the Peace Pledge Union,[140] and a year later he welcomed the Munich Agreement as a step towards peace. During this period he worked on behalf of refugees from Nazi Germany, and was chairman of the Polish Refugee Fund which provided relief to displaced Jewish children.[145] On 3 September 1939, after Neville Chamberlain's announcement of war with Germany, Lansbury addressed the House of Commons. Observing that the cause to which he had dedicated his life was going down in ruins, he added: "I hope that out of this terrible calamity will arise a spirit that will compel people to give up the reliance on force."[147]

Early in 1940 Lansbury's health began to fail; although unaware, he was suffering from stomach cancer.[145] In an article published in the socialist magazine Tribune, published on 25 April 1940, he made a final statement of his Christian pacifism: "I hold fast to the truth that this world is big enough for all, that we are all brethren, children of one Father".[148] Lansbury died on 7 May 1940, at the Manor House Hospital in Golders Green. His funeral in St Mary's Church, Bow, was followed by cremation at Ilford Crematorium,[149] before a memorial service in Westminster Abbey.[4] His ashes were scattered at sea, in accordance with the wish expressed in his will: "I desire this because although I love England very dearly ... I am a convinced internationalist".[149]

Tributes and legacy

Most historical assessments of Lansbury have tended to stress his character and principles rather than his effectiveness as a party political leader. His biographer Jonathan Schneer writes:

Lansbury was a talented politician, speaker, and organizer. What made him remarkable was the stubbornness with which he clung to his principles... [He] became one of the best-loved and most-respected figures in the labour movement. Lansbury's legacy has been the adamantine insistence among an element within the Labour Party that Britain must stand for moral principles, must set the world a moral example. Concretely, this has meant demanding the total abolition of capitalism and unilateral disarmament, policies that Labour's leaders have usually thought utopian or worse.[150]

The Lansbury Estate, Poplar

Historian A. J. P. Taylor labeled Lansbury as "the most lovable figure in modern politics" and the outstanding figure of the English revolutionary left in the 20th century,[151] while Kenneth O. Morgan, in his biography of a later Labour leader, Michael Foot, regards Lansbury as "an agitator of protest, not a politician of power".[152] Journalists commonly accused Lansbury of sentimentality, and party intellectuals accused him of lacking mental capacity.[153] Nevertheless, his speeches in the House of Commons were often flavoured with historical and literary allusions, and he left behind a considerable body of writing on socialist ideas; Morgan refers to him as a "prophet".[154] Foot, who as a young man met and was influenced by Lansbury, was particularly impressed by the older man's achievements in establishing the Daily Herald, given his complete lack of journalistic training.[155] Nevertheless, Foot felt that Lansbury's pacifism was unrealistic, and believed that Bevin's demolition at the 1935 conference was justified.[156]

There is much agreement among historians and analysts that Lansbury was never self-serving and, guided by his Christian socialist principles, was consistent in his efforts on behalf of the poorest in society.[4] Shepherd believes that "there could have been no better leader for the Labour Party at the collapse of its political fortunes in 1931 than Lansbury, a universally popular choice and a source of inspiration among Labour ranks".[127] In the House of Commons on 8 May 1940, the day following Lansbury's death, Chamberlain said of him: "There were not many hon. Members who felt convinced of the practicability of the methods which he advocated for the preservation of peace, but there was no one who did not realise his intense conviction, which arose out of his deep humanitarianism". Attlee also paid tribute to his former leader: "He hated cruelty, injustice and wrongs, and felt deeply for all who suffered ... [H]e was ever the champion of the weak, and ... to the end of his life he strove for that in which he believed".[157]

After the Second World War, a stained glass window designed by the Belgian artist Eugeen Yoors was placed in the Kingsley Hall community centre in Bow, as a memorial to Lansbury. His memory is further sustained by streets and housing developments named after him, most notably the Lansbury Estate in Poplar, completed in 1951.[153] A further enduring memorial, Attlee suggests, is the extent to which the then-revolutionary social policies that Lansbury began advocating before the turn of the 20th century had become accepted mainstream doctrine little more than a decade after his death.[158]

His name and picture (and those of 58 other women's suffrage supporters) are on the plinth of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London, unveiled in 2018.[159][160][161]

Personal and family life

George married Elizabeth Jane (Bessie) Brine on 22 May 1880 in Whitechapel, London. For most of their married life, George and Bessie Lansbury lived in Bow, originally in St Stephen's Road and, from 1916, at 39 Bow Road, a house which, Shepherd records, became "a political haven" for those requiring assistance of any kind.[162] Bessie died in 1933, after 53 years of a marriage that had produced 12 children between 1881 and 1905.[163]

Of the ten who survived to adulthood, Edgar followed his father into local political activism as a Poplar councillor in 1912, serving as the borough's mayor in 1924–25. He was for a time a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). After the death of his first wife Minnie in 1922, Edgar married Moyna Macgill, an actress from Belfast;[164] their daughter Dame Angela Lansbury, born in 1925, became a stage and screen actress.[163] George Lansbury's youngest daughter Violet (1900–71) was an active CPGB member in the 1920s, who lived and worked in Moscow for many years. She married Clemens Palme Dutt, the brother of the Marxist intellectual Rajani Palme Dutt.[165]

Another daughter, Dorothy (1890–1973), was a women's rights activist and later a campaigner for contraceptive and abortion rights. She married Ernest Thurtle, the Labour MP for Shoreditch, and was herself a member of Shoreditch council, serving as mayor in 1936. She and her husband founded the Workers' Birth Control Group in 1924.[166] Her younger sister Daisy (1892–1971) served as George Lansbury's secretary for 20 years.

In 1913 she helped Sylvia Pankhurst to evade police capture by disguising herself as Pankhurst.[167] She was married to Raymond Postgate, the left-wing writer and historian, who was Lansbury's first biographer and founder of The Good Food Guide.[168] Their son, Oliver Postgate, was a successful writer, animator and producer for children's television.[169]

The Lansbury home at 39 Bow Road was destroyed by bombing during the London Blitz of 1940–41.[170] There is a small memorial stone dedicated to Lansbury in front of the current building, appropriately named George Lansbury House, which itself carries a memorial plaque. There is also a memorial to Lansbury in the nearby Bow Church, where Lansbury was a long-term member of the congregation and churchwarden.

Books by Lansbury

• Your Part in Poverty. London: Allen and Unwin. 1918. OCLC 251051169.
• These Things Shall Be. London: Swarthorne Press. 1920. OCLC 1109879.
• What I Saw in Russia. London: L. Parsons. 1920. OCLC 457509320.
• The Miracle of Fleet Street: The Story of the Daily Herald. London: Labour Publishing Company. 1925. OCLC 477300787.
• My Life. London: Constable & Co. 1928. OCLC 2150486.
• My England. London: Selwyn & Blount. 1934. OCLC 2175404.
• Looking Backwards and Forwards. London and Glasgow: Blackie and Son. 1935. OCLC 9072833.
• Labour's Way with the Commonwealth. London: Methuen. 1935. OCLC 574874665.
• The Price of Peace. London: Fellowship of Reconciliation. 1935. OCLC 11084218.
• Why Pacifists Should Be Socialists. London: FACT. 1937. OCLC 826854352.
• My Quest for Peace. London: M. Joseph. 1938. OCLC 4051871.
• This Way to Peace. London: Rich and Cowan. 1940. OCLC 4024194.

See also

• List of peace activists
• List of suffragists and suffragettes


1. Lansbury's biographer Raymond Postgate gives the date and place of birth as 21 February, at the toll-house between Halesworth and Lowestoft, in the county of Suffolk. However, according to his birth certificate, Lansbury was born on 22 February 1859, at a house in Halesworth's "Thoroughfare" or High Street; a plaque provided by a local historical society in 1993 identifies the building as No. 14.[2][3]
2. The English team, managed by Alfred Shaw, was in Australia from November 1884 until the end of March 1885, but the tour record shows no matches played at Brisbane.[14]
3. At that time women, although denied votes in parliamentary elections, had limited rights to vote in municipal elections, although whether they could stand as candidates, or serve if elected, was not legally clear.[22]
4. There being no specific trades union for sawmill workers Lansbury had, in 1889, joined the Gas-workers and General Labourers' Union. He remained a member for the remainder of his life, and for many years attended Labour Party conferences as a union rather than a local party delegate.[32]
5. In 1920 Lansbury published a rationale for his Christian beliefs, under the title These Things Shall Be.[40]
6. In 1907 the school moved to new buildings in Shenfield, Essex. By 1974 it had become an adult training centre; many of the original buildings were demolished and rebuilt in the 1980s.[45]
7. In 1900 the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) had been formed to promote greater working class representation in parliament. In 1906 the LRC became a de facto political party, "the Labour Party", to which socialist bodies (SDF, ILP, trades unions) could affiliate; MPs elected under the LRC banner took the label "Labour". The party did not acquire its modern mass-membership nature until reforms under a new constitution were implemented in 1918.[60]
8. The Cat and Mouse Act, officially the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913, allowed for the temporary release of hunger-striking prisoners when they were in danger of death from starvation, and their re-imprisonment when they had sufficiently recovered.[70]
9. Arthur Henderson, who led the parliamentary Labour group between 1914 and 1917, occupied several cabinet posts under Asquith and Lloyd George, and was a member of the latter's small inner war cabinet. Other Labour members with government posts included William Brace and George Roberts.[79]
10. In 1921 the borough of Poplar, with a population of 161,000, has a rateable value of less than £1 million; the product of a penny rate was £3643. By contrast, the rateable value of the wealthy borough of Westminster, with a population of 141,000, was £8 million, and the product of a penny rate was £31,719.[91]
11. Mosley resigned from the government. He later left the Labour Party and formed the New Party, from which developed the British Union of Fascists.[122]
12. The May recommendations were for immediate savings of £120 million (a vast sum at the time), of which £24 million would come from increased taxation and £96 million by expenditure cuts of which the largest proportion would come from unemployment relief. The economist John Maynard Keynes called the May report "the most foolish document I ever had the misfortune to read".[124]
13. Taylor gives the 1931 election result as National Government 521 (Conservatives, National Labour and National Liberals); opposition: Labour 52, Liberal 33, Lloyd George family 4. The Labour total of 52 included 6 ILP members who disaffiliated from the Labour Party in 1932.[121][126]


1. Shepherd 2002, p. 282
2. Postgate, pp. 3–4
3. Shepherd 2002, pp. 5–6
4. Shepherd, John (January 2011). "Lansbury, George". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online edition. Retrieved 2 February 2013. (subscription required)
5. Postgate, p. 5
6. Blythe, p. 272
7. Shepherd 2002, pp. 8–9
8. Lansbury, pp. 40–43
9. Shepherd 2002, pp. 10–11
10. Postgate, pp. 13–20
11. Postgate, pp. 22–23
12. Postgate, pp. 24–29
13. Shepherd 2002, pp. 13–15
14. "England in Australia : Dec 1884/Mar 1885 (5 Tests)". Cricinfo. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
15. Shepherd 2002, pp. 16–17
16. Postgate, p. 31
17. Shepherd 2002, pp. 19–20
18. Lansbury, p. 75
19. Schneer 1990, pp. 16–17
20. Schneer ("Politics and Feminism"), p. 67
21. Howe, A.C. (May 2006). "Unwin, (Emma) Jane Catherine Cobden". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online edition. Retrieved 8 February 2013. (subscription required)
22. Schneer ("Politics and Feminism"), pp. 63–65
23. Schneer ("Politics and Feminism"), p. 68
24. Hollis, pp. 310–16
25. Schneer ("Politics and Feminism"), p. 75
26. Schneer ("Politics and Feminism"), p. 77
27. Schneer ("Politics and Feminism"), pp. 79–80
28. Lansbury article in Labour Leader, 17 May 1912, quoted in Shepherd 2002, p. 26
29. Shepherd 2002, p. 26
30. Shepherd 2002, pp. 32–33
31. Lansbury, p. 2
32. Postgate, p. 41
33. Shepherd 2002, pp. 40–41
34. Shepherd 2002, pp. 44–45
35. Todmorden Advertiser and Hebden Bridge Newsletterreport, 29 November 1895, quoted by Shepherd 2002, p. 47
36. Shepherd 2002, p. 48
37. Shepherd 2002, pp. 78–81
38. Shepherd 2002, p. 77
39. Postgate, p. 55
40. Postgate, p. 60
41. Lansbury, pp. 134–35
42. Shepherd 2002, pp. 54–56
43. Postgate, p. 62
44. Postgate, pp. 67–68
45. Historic England. "Poplar Training School (1453837)". PastScape. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
46. Shepherd 2002, pp. 58–59
47. Shepherd 2002, p. 57
48. Shepherd 2002, pp. 60–61
49. Schneer 1990, pp. 42–43
50. Shepherd 2002, p. 63
51. Postgate, p. 77
52. Schneer 1990, pp. 45–46
53. Postgate, pp. 79–87
54. Postgate, pp. 87–92
55. "Local Government Act 1929". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
56. Shepherd 2002, pp. 83–88
57. Shepherd 2002, p. 89
58. Schneer 1990, p. 95
59. Schneer 1990, p. 93
60. Pelling, Henry (December 1995). "The Emergence of the Labour Party". New Perspective. 1 (2).
61. Shepherd 2002, p. 94
62. Schneer 1990, p. 96
63. Postgate, p. 103
64. Shepherd 2002, pp. 112–13
65. Schneer 1990, p. 104
66. "Grace Roe". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
67. Schneer 1990, p. 107 and 112–17
68. Shepherd 2002, p. 128
69. Shepherd 2002, pp. 131–32
70. Postgate, p. 130
71. Postgate, p. 131
72. Shepherd 2002, pp. 135–37
73. Postgate, pp. 134–38
74. Blythe, pp. 276–77
75. Shepherd 2002, p. 104
76. Shepherd 2002, p. 148
77. Shepherd 2002, p. 158
78. Schneer 1990, p. 136
79. Wrigley, Chris (January 1911). "Henderson, Arthur". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online edition. Retrieved 16 February 2013. (subscription required)
80. Holman. p. 81
81. Boulton, p. 235
82. Schneer 1990, p. 168
83. Postgate, p. 183
84. Postgate, pp. 184–85
85. Shepherd 2002, pp. 183–84
86. Shepherd 2002, pp. 187–88
87. Shepherd 2002, pp. 223–24
88. Postgate, pp. 221–22
89. Postgate, p. 102
90. Shepherd 2002, p. 191
91. Postgate, pp. 216–220
92. Shepherd 2002, p. 194
93. Shepherd 2002, pp. 200–01
94. Shepherd 2002, p. 210
95. Nicolson, pp. 494–98
96. Blythe, pp. 278–79
97. Nicolson, p. 497
98. Postgate, pp. 224–25
99. Martin, Kingsley (1962). The Crown and the Establishment. London: Hutchinson. pp. 53–54. OCLC 1153737.
100. Shepherd, p. 214
101. Shepherd 2002, p. 221
102. Shepherd 2002, p. 222
103. Shepherd 2002, pp. 227 and p. 243
104. Postgate, pp. 236 and 239
105. Postgate, pp. 237–38
106. Postgate, p. 236
107. Shepherd, p. 240
108. Dilks, p. 456
109. Shepherd, p. 238
110. Dilks, p. 576
111. Shepherd 2002, p. 246
112. Shepherd 2002, p. 247
113. Shepherd 2002, p. 250
114. Shepherd 2002, p. 255
115. Shepherd, pp. 256–57
116. Taylor, p. 343
117. Blythe, pp. 281–82
118. Postgate, pp. 251–52
119. Shepherd 2002, p. 253
120. Nicolson, pp. 571–72
121. Taylor, pp. 404–406
122. Skidelsky, Robert (May 2012). "Mosley, Sir Oswald Ernald". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online edition. Retrieved 2 March 2013. (subscription required)
123. Taylor, p. 361
124. Taylor, pp. 362–63
125. Taylor, pp. 366–67
126. Taylor, p. 432
127. Shepherd 2002, p. 286
128. Shepherd 2002, pp. 295–96
129. Blythe, p. 283
130. Postgate, pp. 294–95
131. Vickers, p. 115
132. Vickers, pp. 107–08
133. Vickers, pp. 109–10
134. Blythe, pp. 285–86
135. Heller, Richard (1971). "East Fulham Revisited". Journal of Contemporary History. 6 (4): 172–96.
136. Vickers, p. 112
137. Schneer 1990, p. 172
138. Shepherd 2002, pp. 323–28
139. Blythe, p. 291
140. Schneer 1990, pp. 180–82
141. Shepherd 2002, pp. 338–39
142. Shepherd 2002, p. 341
143. Shepherd, p. 332
144. Prasad, 2005 pp. 177-8
145. Shepherd 2002, pp. 343–45
146. Shepherd 2002, p. 342
147. "Prime minister's announcement". Hansard Online. 3 September 1939. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
148. Article in Tribune, 25 April 1940, quoted in Postgate, p. 324
149. Holman, p. 164
150. Jonathan Schneer, "Lansbury, George" in Fred M. Leventhal, ed., Twentieth-century Britain: an encyclopedia(Garland, 1995) p 438-40.
151. Taylor, p. 191 and p. 270
152. Morgan, p.154
153. Shepherd 2002, pp. 360–63
154. Morgan, p. 482
155. Morgan, p. 132
156. Morgan, p. 77
157. "Tributes to Mr Lansbury and Sir Terence O'Connor". Hansard Online. 8 May 1940. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
158. Attlee, p. 3
159. "Historic statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett unveiled in Parliament Square". 24 April 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
160. Topping, Alexandra (24 April 2018). "First statue of a woman in Parliament Square unveiled". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
161. "Millicent Fawcett statue unveiling: the women and men whose names will be on the plinth". iNews. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
162. Shepherd 2002, p. 351
163. Shepherd 2002, pp. 347–49
164. Shepherd 2002, p. 307
165. Shepherd 2002, p. 212
166. Brooke, Stephen (January 2008). "Thurtle (née Lansbury), Dorothy". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online edition. Retrieved 1 March 2013.(subscription required)
167. Shepherd 2002, p. 121 and p. 354
168. Pottle, Mark (January 2012). "Postgate, Raymond William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online edition. Retrieved 1 March 2013. (subscription required)
169. Hayward, Anthony. "Postgate, (Richard) Oliver". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online edition. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
170. Blythe, p. 293


• Attlee, Clement (2009). Lansbury of London in Field, Frank: Attlee's Great Contemporaries – The Politics of Character. London: Continuum. pp. 1–3. ISBN 978-0-8264-3224-7.
• Blythe, Ronald (1964). The Age of Illusion: England in the Twenties and Thirties. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books. OCLC 10971329.
• Boulton, David (1967). Objection Overruled. London: MacGibbon and Kee. OCLC 956913.
• Dilks, David (1984). Neville Chamberlain, Volume 1: Pioneering and Reform, 1869–1929. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-89401-2.
• Hollis, Patricia (1987). Ladies Elect: Women in English Local Government 1865–1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-822699-3.
• Holman, Bob. Good Old George, The life of George Lansbury, Best-loved leader of the Labour party. Oxford: Lion Books. ISBN 0-7459-1574-4.
• Lansbury, George (1928). My Life. London: Constable and Co. OCLC 2150486.
• Morgan, Kenneth O. (2008). Michael Foot: A Life. London and New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-00-717827-8.
• Nicolson, Harold (1967). King George V: His Life and Reign. London: Pan Books. OCLC 562582750.
• Postgate, Raymond (1951). George Lansbury. London: Longmans, Green. OCLC 739654.
• Prasad, Devi (2005). War is a crime against humanity : the story of War Resisters' International. London, UK: War Resisters' International. ISBN 0903517205.
• Schneer, Jonathan (1990). George Lansbury: Lives of the Left. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-2170-7.
• Schneer, Jonathan (January 1991). "Politics and Feminism in 'Outcast London': George Lansbury and Jane Cobden's Campaign for the First London County Council". Journal of British Studies. 30 (1): 63–82. doi:10.1086/385973. JSTOR 175737. (subscription required)
• Shepherd, John (2002). George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-820164-8.
• Taylor, A.J.P. (1970). English History 1914–45. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-021181-0.
• Vickers, Rhiannon (2003). The Labour Party and the World, Volume 1: The Evolution of Labour's Foreign Policy, 1900–51. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-6745-6.

External links

• UK: Leader of the Opposition, George Lansbury pleads for peace at League of Nations Clip from a Paramount Newsreel, circa 1935
• Catalogue of the Lansbury papers at the Archives Division of the London School of Economics.
• Newspaper clippings about George Lansbury in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
• Movietone footage of George Lansbury speaking about conditions in slums
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:23 am

League against Imperialism [World Anti-Imperialist League] [Anti-Imperialist League]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/21/20

The League against Imperialism and Colonial Oppression (French: Ligue contre l'impérialisme et l'oppression coloniale; German: Liga gegen Kolonialgreuel und Unterdrückung[1]) was a transnational anti-imperialist organization in the interwar period. It has been referenced as in many texts[2][3] as World Anti-Imperialist League or simply and confusingly under the misnomer Anti-Imperialist League.

It was established in the Egmont Palace in Brussels, Belgium, on February 10, 1927, in presence of 175 delegates from around the world. It was significant because it brought together representatives and organizations from the communist world and anti-colonial organizations and activists from the colonized world. 107 out of 175 delegates came from 37 countries under colonial rule. The Congress aimed at creating a "mass anti-imperialist movement" at a world scale, and can be regarded as a front organization of the Comintern. Since 1924, the Comintern advocated support of colonial and semi-colonial countries and tried, with difficulties, to find convergences with the left-wing of the Labour and Socialist International and with bourgeois anti-colonial nationalist parties from the colonized world. Another stimulus to create a cross-political cooperation was the revolutionary surge in China since 1923 in which the nationalist Kuomintang was in a United Front with the Chinese Communist Party.[4]

According to Vijay Prashad, the inclusion of the word 'league' in the organization's name was a direct attack on the League of Nations, which perpetuated colonialism through the mandate system.[5]

1927 Brussels Conference

The German communist and chair of the Workers International Relief Willi Münzenberg initiated the establishment of the League against Imperialism. To this end, he invited many personalities from European and American Left and anticolonial nationalists from the colonized world. Among those present in Brussels were emissaries of the Chinese Guomindang Party in Europe, Jawaharlal Nehru of the Indian National Congress, accompanied by Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, J.T. Gumede of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, Messali Hadj of the Algerian North-African Star, and Mohammad Hatta of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia. Moreover, many activists from the European and American Left were present, such as Fenner Brockway, Arthur MacManus, Edo Fimmen, Reginald Bridgeman, and Gabrielle Duchêne, as well as intellectuals such as Henri Barbusse, Romain Rolland, and Albert Einstein.

Three main points were made in Brussels: the anti-imperialist struggle in China, interventions of the United States in Latin America and the "Negro revendications." The latter were presented at the tribune by the South African Gumede, the Antillean Max Clainville-Bloncourt of the Intercolonial Union, and Lamine Senghor. The president of the "Defense Committee of the Negro Race" denounced the crimes committed by the colonial administration in Congo, concluding that:

Imperialist exploitation has as result the gradual extinction of African races. Their culture is going to be lost... For us, the anti-imperialist struggle is identical as anti-capitalist struggle.[6]

Messali Hadj, leader of the Algerian North-African Star, requested the independence of all of North Africa. A manifesto was addressed "to all colonial peoples, workers and peasants of the world" calling them to organize themselves to struggle "against imperialist ideology."

After the conference, Mohammad Hatta, who was also elected in the Executive Committee of the League said: “Our foreign propaganda in Brussels is the most important example of what we have done in this field so far." In September 1927 he was arrested by the Dutch authorities for sedition.[7]

The conference saw conflict between representatives from organisations in Mandatory Palestine, Arab nationalist Jamal al-Husayni, Labour Zionist organisation Poale Zion, and the Palestine Communist Party (PCP).[8] PCP representative Daniel Averbach proposed a resolution accusing Zionism of being a tool of British imperialism and the source of racial strife and sectarian tension in Palestine.[9] After long deliberations by the Executive Council, the League ejected the Poale Zion delegation, with the PCP and Arab nationalists from Palestine, Egypt and Syria forming an anti-Zionist bloc for the vote.[9]

1926-1931: difficulties

The League against Imperialism was first ignored then boycotted by the Socialist International. Jean Longuet, a member of the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), criticized it, calling it "vague Sovietic chitchat" ("vague parlotte soviétique"). On April 12, 1927, as the Kuomintang armies of Chiang Kai-shek approached Shanghai, their allies carried out a massacre of Communists and workers. In December, the rightists crushed the Canton Commune. The alliance between Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists and the Communist Party of China was terminated, sparking the Chinese Civil War, just as the struggle against the Japanese grew crucial, leading up to the invasion of Manchuria in 1931.

Moreover, the sixth Congress of the Comintern, in 1928, changed policy directions, denouncing "social-fascism" in what it called the "third period of the labour movement" (reconstruction on new bases of post-imperialist war capitalism). The new "social-fascist" line weighted on the second Congress of the League, gathered in Frankfurt end of July 1929. 84 delegates of "oppressed countries" were present, and the Congress saw a bitter struggle between Communists and "reformist-nationalist bourgeois." Divided, the League was basically inoperative until 1935, when the seventh Congress of the Comintern decided to allow itself to dissolve. Nehru and Hatta had already been excluded, and Einstein, honorary president, had resigned because of "disagreements with the pro-Arab policy of the League in Palestine." In any cases, the League remained composed mainly of intellectuals, and did not succeed in finding popular support.

1932-1936: failure

The French section never had more than 400 members (in 1932). In 1933, the League published the first issue (out of 13) of the Oppressed People's Newspaper, calls in favour of Tunisia in 1934 and of Ethiopia during the Abyssinian War (1935), which had few effects. The League was basically abandoned by the Communists. Despite these failures, it remained the first attempt at an international anti-imperialist organization, later carried out by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America headed by Moroccan leader Mehdi Ben Barka. Initially planned by the Comintern and its French branch in order to get out of their isolation, the project finally led to the myth of a Bolshevik conspiracy organized from Moscow.


1. John D. Hargreaves, "The Comintern and Anti-Colonialism: New Research Opportunities", African Affairs, 92, 367 (1993): 255–61.
2. Sandino, Augusto C. (July 14, 2014). Sandino: The Testimony of a Nicaraguan Patriot, 1921-1934. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400861149 – via Google Books.
3. Hen-Tov, Jacob (1974). Communism and Zionism in Palestine: The Comintern and the Political Unrest in the 1920s. Transaction Publishers. p. 47. ISBN 9781412819978. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
4. Fredrik Petersson, We are Neither Visionaries, nor Utopian Dreamers: Willi Münzenberg, the League against Imperialism and the Comintern, 1925-1933. PhD diss. Abo Akademi University Turku, 2013.
5. Vijay Prashad, "The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World", page 21
6. French: "L'exploltation impérialiste a pour résultat l'extinction graduelle de races africaines. Leur culture va se perdre (...). Pour nous, la lutte contre l'impérialisme est identique à la lutte contre le capitalisme."
7. Klaas Stutje, 'To maintain an independent course. Interwar Indonesian nationalism and international communism on a Dutch-European stage', in: Dutch Crossing, Volume 39-2 (2015).
8. Shindler, Colin (2012). Israel and the European Left. New York: Continuum. p. 86.
9. Hen-Tov, Jacob (1974). Communism and Zionism in Palestine: The Commintern and the Political Unrest in the 1920s. Transaction Publishers. p. 48. ISBN 9781412819978. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
• Green, John, Willi Münzenberg - Fighter against Fascism and Stalinism, Routledge 2019

External links

• League against Imperialism Archives at the International Institute of Social History
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:43 am

Mary Rhodes Moorhouse-Pekkala
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/21/20

Mary Rhodes Moorhouse-Pekkala
Born: 4 September 1889, Oxon Hoath, United Kingdom
Died: 5 March 1975 (aged 85), Helsinki, Finland
Nationality: British, Finnish
Alma mater: Victoria University of Manchester
Occupation: Civil rights activist
Spouse(s): Eino Pekkala (1928–1956)
Relatives: William Barnard Rhodes (grandfather); William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse (brother)

Mary Rhodes Moorhouse-Pekkala (4 September 1889 – 5 March 1975[1]) was a British-born Finnish patronage and civil rights activist, who was an heiress to a wealthy New Zealand-British family. In the early 1920s, she was active in the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Comintern. Moorhouse emigrated to Finland in 1928 after getting married to the Finnish Socialist politician Eino Pekkala. She was one of the major financiers of the 1930s Finnish cultural left, and a prominent civil rights activist.[2]



Mary Rhodes Moorhouse was born in the Oxon Hoath Manor in Tonbridge and Malling, Kent,[1] to the family of Edward Moorhouse (1834–1917) and Mary Ann Rhodes (1851–1930).[3] Her grandfather was the New Zealand businessman William Barnard Rhodes, and grandmother Otahi, a Māori from the Wellington area. Edward Moorhouse and Mary Ann Rhodes moved to England in 1883 and had four children. Mary Rhodes Moorhouse's eldest brother was the Royal Flying Corps lieutenant William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse who was killed in the World War I.[4]

Early years

Moorhouse studied at the Victoria University of Manchester. She was a guild socialist who was active in the Manchester Communist Guild Group. In December 1919, Moorhouse, Rajani Palme Dutt and Ellen Wilkinson participated the international student socialist conference in Geneva as the representatives of the University Socialist Federation. In July 1920, she was Guild Group's delegate in the Communist Unity Convention in London which was the founding congress of the Communist Party of Great Britain.[5][6]

Moorhouse worked for the Communist Party as the press officer of the Woman's National Committee.[7] In London, she was associated with the Estonian communist Salme Murrik, who was married to Finnish socialist Eino Pekkala.[8] In the summer of 1921, Moorhouse had a short relationship with the Finnish poet Elmer Diktonius who visited Britain to see Murrik.[9] In 1922, Moorhouse, Murrik and Palme Dutt were sent to Stockholm as Comintern representatives. Murrik introduced Moorhouse to her husband in July 1923. Pekkala and Murrik were already separated, but their divorce was not made official until January 1924. Moorhouse visited Pekkala for the first time in August 1924, and in 1925, they got engaged. For the next three years Moorhouse, Murrik and Palme Dutt worked for Comintern in Brussels.[8] In addition to her political work, she wrote poems which were published in the German magazine Die Rote Fahne and the French L'Humanité.[10] Moorhouse and Pekkala were married in March 1928. Moorhouse was now granted Finnish citizenship, and she moved to Helsinki.[8]

Life in Finland

Moorhouse became one of the major financiers of the Finnish cultural left. She was also active in the civil rights movement, Moorhouse and the professor Väinö Lassila were the most prominent figures of the Finnish popular front fighting for human rights and opposing fascism.[11] She funded the author Erkki Vala, who published the magazine Tulenkantajat (″The Flame Bearers″) which had campaigns against the 1935 sterilization law and the capital punishment of Toivo Antikainen.[12]

In 1930, Eino Pekkala was given a 3-year sentence because of his political activities. Moorhouse now founded the organization ″Vankien Apu″ (Prisoner's Aid) to help political prisoners and their families. The organization was financed by her personal properties and fundraising, the Finnish section of the International Red Aid, and the Swedish syndicalist union SAC which raised one-third of the money. In July 1933, Eino Pekkala took part on a hunger strike in the Tammisaari forced labour camp. The strike, causing the death of five prisoners on forced feeding, and the abuse of political prisoners came to international awareness as Moorhouse met the Danish author Martin Andersen Nexø who wrote an article of the case. Although her organization was disbanded in January 1934, Moorhouse still continued her work with privately hired assistants. The Tammisaari camp was finally closed in 1937 because of the international pressure.[13]

In the early 1940, Moorhouse and Hella Wuolijoki visited Bertolt Brecht who was living in exile in Stockholm.[11] Wuolijoki invited Brecht to Helsinki, where he lived until Finland sided with the Nazi Germany in June 1941.[14]

Moorhouse was under surveillance of the intelligence services of Great Britain, Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Belgium.[15] During the World War II, she was a contact person between Hella Wuolijoki and the Soviet secret service NKVD.[16] According to the documents revealed by the United States National Security Agency, Moorhouse was arrested for suspected spionage in 1942 in Stockholm.[17]

After the World War II, the political situation in Finland changed. The Communist organizations were legalized, and Eino Pekkala was a member of the Cabinet of Finland.[18] Mary Moorhouse focused on her work in various human rights, women's rights and peace organizations. She was active in the League for Human Rights and Civil Liberties, and was the chairwoman of the Finnish section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.[19]


Eino Pekkala's and Mary Moorhouse's daughter Salme Anne Pekkala was born in 1928. She was married to the Finnish diplomat Risto Hyvärinen.[20]


1. "Mary Rhodes Moorhouse-Pekkala's Death Notice". Helsingin Sanomat. p. 4. 22 March 1975. Retrieved 15 May 2019.(subscription required)
2. Koskinen, Sinikka (20 January 2011). "Sirpa Kähkönen: Flames of Love and Hatred. Finland in the 1930s as Destiny". Books from Finland. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
3. "Pekkala, Eino Oskari". Who's Who in Finland 1954 (in Finnish). Helsinki: Otava. 1954. p. 628.
4. Bradbury, Bettina. "Troubling Inheritances: An illegitimate, Māori daughter contests her father's will in the New Zealand courts and the Judicial Review Committee of the Privy Council" (PDF). Australia & New Zealand Law & History E-Journal. 8 (2012): 126, 133, 159–160. ISSN 1177-3170. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
5. Gildart, Keith; Howell, David; Kirk, Neville (2003). Dictionary of Labour Biography: Volume XI. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 206. ISBN 978-033-39687-2-7.
6. Perry, Matt (2014). 'Red Ellen' Wilkinson: Her Ideas, Movements and World. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-071-90872-0-2.
7. Cowman, Krista (2010). Women in British Politics, c. 1689–1979. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 161. ISBN 978-023-05455-7-1.
8. Reinart, Heili (22 May 2018). "Salme Dutt – täiskohaga revolutsionäär ja hall kardinal, kes tundis end orvuna" [Salme Dutt – Full-time Revolutionary and Gray Eminence Who Felt Orphaned]. Postimees (in Estonian). Retrieved 15 May 2019.
9. Liukkonen, Petri. "Elmer (Rafael) Diktonius (1896–1961)". Authors' Calendar. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
10. Alftan, Robert (4 February 1996). "Radikaali runoilija ja hänen naisensa Numero Viisi" [The Radical Poet and His Woman Number Five]. Helsingin Sanomat. p. B2. Retrieved 15 May 2019. (subscription required)
11. Lassila, Pertti (12 February 1976). "Brechtin ja Wuolijoen yhteistyö uuteen valoon" [The Collaboration of Brecht and Wuolijoki in a New Light]. Helsingin Sanomat. p. 19. Retrieved 15 May 2019. (subscription required)
12. Elmgren, Ainur. "A Moral Minority – Critics of the Finnish Law on Sterilization 1935". Retrieved 15 May 2019.
13. Parkkari, Nestori (1960). Väkivallan vuodet [Years of Violence]. Helsinki: Kansankulttuuri.
14. Brecht, Bertolt; Willett, John (ed.); Rorrison, Hugh (ed.) (1993). Bertolt Brecht: Journals 1934–1955. London: Methuen. p. 471. ISBN 978-041-36551-0-3.
15. Kotakallio, Juho (2015). Hänen majesteettinsa agentit : brittitiedustelu Suomessa 1918–1941 [His Majesty's Agents: The British Intelligence in Finland 1918–1941]. Helsinki: Atena. p. 165. ISBN 978-952-30004-7-6.
16. Brantberg, Robert. "Kerttu Nuorteva: Desantti punaeliitin huipulta" [Kerttu Nuorteva: A Desant from the Top of the Red Elite]. Robert Brantberg Homepage (in Finnish). Retrieved 15 May 2019.
17. "Instructions for Mary PEKKALA". VENONA Documents – January 1942. National Security Agency / Central Security Service. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
18. Hanski, Jari (4 May 2001). "Pekkala, Eino (1887–1956)" (in Finnish). National Biography of Finland. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
19. Tuomioja, Erkki (2006). Häivähdys punaista : Hella Wuolijoki ja hänen sisarensa Salme Pekkala vallankumouksen palveluksessa [A Delicate Shade of Pink: Hella Wuolijoki and Her Sister Salme Pekkala at the Service of Revolution]. Helsinki: Tammi. p. 161. ISBN 978-951-31369-3-2.
20. "Hyvärinen, Risto Ilmari Antero". Who's Who in Finland 1978 (in Finnish). Helsinki: Otava. 1978. p. 259. ISBN 951-10475-5-8.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:17 am

Part 1 of 4

My England [Excerpt]
by George Lansbury



I: The Future of England
II: The Next Labour Government
III: Religion
IV: Why My England would be a Socialist England
V: Planning
VI: Unemployment and Agriculture
VII: Crime and Punishment
VIII: Health and Hospitals
IX: The Money Octopus
X: The Cabinet and Parliament
XI: The Civil Service and the Experts
XII: Dominions and Colonies
XIII: India
XIV: War, Disarmament and Peace
XV: Fascism
XVI: Ticket-holders and Trade Unionists
XVII: The Joy of Living
XVIII: Conclusion

About this book

Here in this book, George Lansbury, a man of the people, writes from the ripeness of his experience and the depths of his heart.

He outlines many of his hopes and points to ways in which they may be realised; he does not see them as distant visions of Utopias, but as possible and necessary achievements of the near future.

The happiness of his fellow-beings, the safeguarding of their liberty to pursue it, the securing to them of opportunities for complete living, these are the end and aim of all his schemes and dreams. In his own words his “ desire always is to chain down misery and set happiness free.”

Mr. Lansbury does not write for a section of the people alone, but for all, with a sympathy and understanding that is the keynote of his life and work.

Many have wondered why a teetotaller like him should have permitted drinks in the Royal Parks during his regime as Commissioner of Works and why with his ardour for the Christian faith he should be a strong advocate of free thought. In these pages may be found the answer to some of these apparent contradictions.

My England is a personal document; every line of the manuscript was written by the author in his own hand and we have printed it here as it left him.


In this book it is my desire to make as plain as possible what I consider is the main purpose of the Labour Party, and to what extent we differ from all other parties in the State. In no sense is this an official statement of policy, but it is a summary of the propaganda it has been my privilege for many years to carry on as a Socialist speaker. I do not, however, think anything I have written conflicts in any fundamental manner with official policy as set out in the published programme and constitution of the Party.

We are living in the midst of a peaceful revolution. Slowly, but surely, what is known as the “ corporate state ” is being established in this country. Capitalism as understood when Marx wrote Das Kapital, and as it existed when Hyndman, Morris, and the Fabians in turn tried, just as the German and other foreign Socialists did, to set out a programme for Socialism, no longer exists. All the teachings of the Manchester school of political economists which they found it necessary to attack have been scrapped. Big and little business men have given up self-reliance, competition, and individual enterprise, and have become directly or indirectly dependent upon the State for their existence.

Parliament now devotes most of its time devising schemes for the assistance of all kinds of combinations formed to preserve the Capitalist system and return to it the stability which it has lost. Competitive Capitalism is passing away. The help of Governments in all countries is being used to build up huge combinations which eliminate all the waste associated with competition. The Trade Union movement is tending in the same direction. Small unions are joining together and become great combinations. It is certain that in the near future any militant trade unions that there are will, in fact, if they are to be effective, be found to be controlled and organised from two or three centres only. The uniting of all transport workers into one union cannot be much longer delayed. The mining industry is already federated, and it will inevitably be forced by circumstances to adopt a much closer knit form of union. Disputes, whether they are lock-outs or strikes, will be much more serious affairs than ever before. Small strikes are disappearing: the conflicts that appear to-day are always conflicts that at least threaten to become nation-wide struggles, and both sides hesitate before beginning them. I shall not be surprised if in the near future (as has, after all, been nominally done in Italy and Germany) an offer—purely a pretence—of some sort of share in management is offered by combined Capitalist organisations to combined labour. If this happens we shall need to remember that there is no doubt at all that the whole power and object of the Capitalist state will be to preserve for the few the right to extract rent, profit, and interest from the combined labour of the many.

Whatever specious arrangements and agreements are made in the “ corporate state,” what is never ignored is this essential feature of the century-old struggle between both sides. When Fascists say that omelettes cannot be made without breaking eggs, what they really mean is that rent, profit, and interest cannot be made without exploitation.

The polite preparations for the “ corporate state ” are being made under our noses in Great Britain. The descendants of Cobden and Bright no longer denounce State interference. They no longer rest their case for Capitalism on individual freedom to adulterate goods as a legitimate form of competition, or to employ labour on the lowest terms possible. The power of the State is now enlisted for the purpose of organising, combining and rationalising all Capitalist efforts, and by thus doing, securing by regulation of output control of prices, that Capitalism shall still secure its full reward.

The financial interests in the City of London are given an almost over-riding hand in all that concerns the use of money and credit. The power of those who control banking was never so powerful as to-day. No combination of industrialists can work or stop working without the assistance of those who control the issue of credit. Coal, cotton, iron and steel, transport and agriculture, all these most vital industries are being assisted only when the financial aid given is used to preserve rent, profit, and interest.

Few, if any, among the older Socialists ever imagined that State action such as is continually occurring in this country under a Government freely elected by universal suffrage, and on the Continent under dictatorships with make-believe elections, would ever exist. Yet it is so, and the task of men and women in the Labour Movement is to make clear to the electorate that our object is to transform this Capitalist system of exploitation into one of Co-operation. A new England would lead the world in this. It used to be said that German Social Democracy was leading the world Socialists. Certainly Wilhelm Liebknecht, August Bebel, and their fellow workers did fine work. They created a perfect machine, very wealthy, and organised (we were told) to the last button. When the War came, this huge organisation went to pieces, and German Social Democracy ceased to function. To a greater or lesser degree, the same thing happened throughout the world. All our international principles were swamped and met the same fate on the battlefields of the world as did the principles of life and conduct given to mankind by Jesus. Socialists rallied to the call of “ our country in danger ” and, almost with unanimity, joined the Christians in the work of slaughter. To-day, Germany, the country of the perfect Socialist machine, is leading mankind away from Socialism and democracy. The German example is the most glaring, but if we are honest we must admit that nearly all Europe, and to some extent even Great Britain, has followed Mussolini. The only change visible in Fascism is that its later developments have been more brutal and bestial than its earlier forms. I do not wish by this to seem to make a self-righteous condemnation even of the Nazis. The blame for their outrages lies partly at least outside Germany. The people of Germany were cruelly used by the victors at Versailles, and after Versailles they were continuously betrayed and cheated by one international conference after another. Within their own land the nation was torn and distracted by all kinds of divisions among Socialists, Communists and Democrats, so that the avenue of peaceful progress was blocked. The old unity on which the early pioneer Socialists relied had completely vanished; the left wing only consisted of powerless, quarrelling and disrupted sects. The result was that the new German manhood which has grown up in the last twenty years was disgusted and despairing, and not unnaturally turned to Hitler, who at least knew what he wanted, and is now putting all its strength into a fight which is simply nationalism. It is the task of British Labour to take up the challenge of Fascism and show the world how a new social order should be built.

I shall endeavour to show how this must be done. We, with our fellow members of the British Commonwealth, possess, by mandate or otherwise, most of the German colonies, and at the end of the War, our people, who had paid a tremendous price in loss of life and suffering, and of material wealth, received in return very huge tracts of territory. We are at this moment the greatest Imperial race in the world. British Labour must make it clear that for us the word Imperialism has no meaning or value. Our Socialism will begin at home. In the England of my ambitions all the natural resources of all these lands will be utilised to the greatest extent. I shall show in this book how this can be done. But I must first say that I see no reason why we should insist on investing our labour power abroad until we have developed the last yard of our own land and its resources. All the world appears to wish to become one huge factory to produce goods to sell abroad. I want to produce for use here and now. We must be prepared to " cultivate our own garden ” if we are to be sure of living.

As to the Dominions, we must realise that all these are loaded with debts, debts incurred owing to the War, and debts undertaken for the purposes of development. These are a heavy burden both on the people of the Dominions and on ourselves. Soon, and very soon, we shall be obliged to establish an international bankruptcy court so that most of these and other national debts may be wiped out. When this happens—and it is very near to us—everybody will realise how essential it is to develop our own resources.

I hope to show how this can be done both at home and in the Dominions, through co-operation between us all. And this, in short, is the object of this book.

This book would have been written in 1931, had I not been elected leader of the Labour Party. I owed my election as leader to no other reason than the fact that I was the only Labour Cabinet Minister who survived the Labour defeat of October, 1931. The two years and two months during which I served as leader before my accident were the busiest and most hard-working in my lifetime. While it was sitting, the House of Commons occupied my time, day and night. At week-ends, propaganda from one end of Britain to the other occupied my days of rest. The appeals from local Labour Parties were innumerable. All this put out of my mind the thoughts which had previously induced me to try my hand again at writing a book.

This work in and out of Parliament was, if very tiring, most enjoyable. Meeting men and women in all parts of the country who are engaged in the task of converting our people to Socialism, made me understand why our Party has been able to recover all the ground we lost in 1931 and to make certain victory for our cause in the near future. Such meetings also compelled me to realise the magnificent, selfless work carried on by relatively poor men and women on behalf of Socialism, and forced me to give all the time possible to assist and encourage them in their glorious task. While I was doing this I had not time for reflection and writing.

After twenty-six months of this kind of work I met with an accident at Gainsborough on December 9th, 1933, an accident which has kept me in hospital for over six months.

The accident was indeed a severe one, but the love and friendship which has been shown me by people of all classes enabled me to bear the tiresomeness of lying still. It has also made it possible for me to write many articles and messages for the Labour Movement, and above all, it has given me the opportunity to write this book. Readers will understand I am not what is styled an intellectual or literary person, but what I write, even if it is not written with literary elegance is, I hope, clear and direct.

I love England and especially dear, ugly East London, more than I can say. As the years pass, my love has grown stronger. I think of this island as a jewel set in the sea. People may chant hymns of hate about our climate, but where on God’s earth is there a land of hedgerows and lanes which every spring-time resound with a chorus of song from innumerable birds, and bursts into a perfect profligacy of flowers and shrubs, trees and bushes, which gladden the sight of all who are privileged to see them. I want my England also to be a land where freedom of body, soul and spirit is as widespread as natural beauty is in the spring-time. Yes, I want our people to join me in striving to bring love into all our lives, because once we love each other, all other things will be added unto us.

I have many thousands of acquaintances belonging to all sorts and conditions of men, but relatively few personal friends outside my own family. I have missed all that side of life associated with clubs and social institutions, not because I am an unsocial Socialist, but simply because it is not possible to enjoy these things and at the same time carry on propaganda.

This kind of life has taught me that though it is true we must get a majority for Socialism before we can hope to see the democratic Socialist State established, it is also true that multitudes of people do understand the foulness of the present system of competitive strife for security and food. They are willing to try almost any scheme of reform or revolution that appears to promise freedom from that strife. It is this hasty judgment that makes Fascism so attractive, not only to young people, but to many middle-aged and old persons as well. My object in all my propaganda is to make such people realise that it is their individual task to reform or revolutionise society, and that democratic action is impossible without them. The mere handing oneself over to any appointed or self-appointed dictator is useless. Even if he could be possessed of all the virtues, the course of nature makes it sure that he will disappear as certainly and as suddenly as he arises.

The Socialist Movement grew out of the first working-class efforts to improve their own conditions. But Robert Owen, the Chartists, the Christian Socialists like Charles Kingsley and Tom Hughes, insisted on altering the struggle for increased wages into a larger struggle. They knew and declared that the new life which machinery was introducing would in the end crush the workers, making them just pieces of machinery; but nobody, one hundred years ago, really understood the fact that the development of the machine age would reduce and continue to reduce the number of workers in productive industry and enormously increase unemployment and casual labour.

But, knowing what they did, they assisted to organise and legalise the unions, and to some extent secured freedom of combination; but they never expected salvation from trade union effort alone.

After them, and in the days of my connection with the Labour and Socialist movement, men like William Morris and H. M. Hyndman, Cunninghame Graham, Herbert Burrowes and many others gave time and money to the movement for the same object, and made a political Socialist movement possible. Not all these pioneers were working class. The unemployed during the years from 1904 to 1914 owe a deep debt of gratitude to Joseph Fels for the many thousands of pounds he spent on the Vacant Land Cultivation Society. Muriel, Counttess De La Warr, with her friends, gave many thousands of pounds before and during the War to keep the Daily Herald and Weekly Herald going, and when the War ended, she was the friend who put on one side over £100,000 to start the new Daily Herald in March, 1919. I recall these facts because one thing that must be remembered is that although the Socialist Movement is a working-class movement which is organised for the purpose of abolishing the wage system and all class antagonism, and can only be successful through the action of the masses themselves, we need to receive, and indeed now receive, enormous help from men and women of all classes. There would have been no Socialist Movement without the aid of people who were not working class.

There is, however, always a danger that movements of any kind may appear to prosper by such help and then fade away when such help for any reason ceases to be available. Three great working-class movements have stood the test of time in Britain: each has received much support from outside sources, but all three in the main have relied and continue to rely on the pence of working men and women. The Co-operative, Trade Union and Friendly Society organisations depend on the masses for existence and support. The Labour Party, pledged to Socialism, is in a different position, and has within its ranks people of all classes, and in my opinion, is stronger because of this. There is another factor which tends to break down, at least to some extent, the barriers between classes. It is the spread of education, not only in the schools and universities, but the continuous growth of purely Socialist education through the classes and lectures organised by the National Council of Labour Colleges, and the less definitely Socialist Workers Educational Association. Many Labour men in the House of Commons owe their standing and position in the Labour Movement almost entirely to education received at Ruskin College or the Labour Colleges. What is more is the fact that working people have discovered the need and value of education and are willing to sacrifice time and energy to acquire knowledge and understanding.

I am anxious also to break down the veiled antagonism between the “intellectuals” and the “purely working class” speakers and writers. There is no reason for disagreement if both sides meet each other as equals and not in a spirit of superiority or self-conscious inferiority. I feel very very keenly on this subject. All my life I have felt a kind of inferiority complex when meeting educated people or even those people who had become leaders. Few people brought up as I was can possess such a good conceit of themselves as some agitators, organisers, speakers and writers claim for themselves. Nowadays I do not take at their own valuation many of the people I come in contact with, though I still find myself sometimes yielding to old habit and doing so.

I shall endeavour to show how all our Labour organisations may be planned so as to escape the snares of separate craft greed, and of corruption, and especially how all of us, called to positions of trust, may fix our minds on the tasks entrusted to us and be willing, whenever necessary, to stand aside and make way for a better or more useful person.

I shall also write about religion. I am not at all a representative Christian: many of my views would be considered heterodox by some bishops and others. I do, however, agree with Tolstoy and others who believed that the coming of Jesus was for the purpose of saving mankind from man-made evil; that all His teaching may be summed up in His great declaration, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself; this do and thou shalt live.” I do not think I am a Pecksniffian Pharisee, thanking God I am not as other men. My life is like that of most men, full of mistakes, but also full of downright striving after the right. Like everyone else, it is quite natural that inconsistency is my badge. It is that of all men. I believe most people would like to live more peacefully and live according to the Golden Rule, but we are all full of fear. Yet why should we fear a change, however drastic a change it may be? Can anyone out of Bedlam create a more wicked and stupid way of life than ours? God, Nature, call the driving force in life what you will, gives man a reward full measure, in return for labour on land, in mine and mill, and man, dominated by private greed and ambition, strives by might and main to turn this abundance into scarcity. Acres of wheat, cotton, rubber, are ploughed in. Millions of bushels of corn are burned. Oxen, sheep, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese, are either allowed to rot or are destroyed or not produced. A year passes, and Nature or God takes a hand and true shortage appears. Then there is an outcry for water because of the drought. In both cases the poor suffer. In both cases profits are lost. In a world of sane men abundance would be saved for times of need, but first all needs would be supplied. Remember, the tragedy in both cases lies in the fact that millions suffer and die of penury and want because of our failure to be able intelligently to use the good gifts of God.


WHAT should the next Labour Government do? This is one of the questions I raised in the previous chapter. I will try and answer it here.

We should, as a Government, have to remember what the Labour Party is. It is an avowed definite Socialist organisation, existing for the purpose of educating ourselves and our fellow citizens on the economic solution of national and world problems. The Government, therefore, will have to apply that solution. The Party must not mislead either itself or others as to its ultimate goal. However long and tedious the road may be, we march breast forward to the Socialist State, and do so because we are convinced that civilisation, 'such as it is, cannot save itself by any other means. The easier path of compromise might suit the worn-out and aged in mind and body, and may commend itself to the new Government. This would be disaster. Those who remain young and loyal in thought and action can do no other than keep their hearts and minds fixed on the star of hope which is co-operation. “ Each for all and all for each ” is our motto. When we say “all” we mean all that the word implies. We must annihilate all distinctions.

I do not mean by this that we want to introduce uniformity. We do not want to make every man and woman like his neighbour, wearing the same clothes, living in the same house, and thinking the same thoughts. This, which is the product of machine Capitalism, is abhorrent to us. What we want to abolish is not distinction, but class distinction. We intend to put an end to a society where the possession of a particular accent, or a particular kind of fine clothes enables a man to be accepted as superior to his fellows.

The most immediate piece of work the Government would have to do is to restore confidence in the power of democracy to work. Throughout the world, Parliaments, including the British Parliament, Mother of these institutions, are badly discredited, and the ugly, brutal, soul-destroying force of dictatorship reigns supreme in many lands. Mussolini, Hitler, and Pilsudski have all been accepted. They were victorious because those who preceded them failed to deal effectively with the perils which beset society.

We may, as we do, most sincerely dislike Fascism. We may point to its destruction of freedom and imposition of Capitalism in a new and more despotic form in the corporate state. But all the same, after our denunciations, we must realise that for the time being all this is accepted. It is accepted because it is a doctrine of action, it is itself action, even though its action is of a sort that is hateful to many millions.

In Britain, all the talk against Parliament is based on its inaction—its delays and its tedious and obstructive old customs. Their effect, of course, is made worse by the obstructive power of the House of Lords and the influence of the Civil Service in favour of inertia. The Party will be under no delusions about any of these matters. The next Government will make some quick changes. Parliament is some seven hundred years old and has lived through many changes in its constitution and proceedings. Its rules and Standing Orders are not sacrosanct, neither are its methods of conducting business. When Speaker Brand, on his own initiative, stopped the interminable flood of talk on the Coercion Bill, he in fact revolutionised House of Commons procedure. His action was accepted and later on, great power was, and still is, vested in the Chair to enable business to be done. Again, in this century it became necessary to introduce the “guillotine’'—a device whereby a controversial Bill is compulsorily disposed of in a fixed number of days. “Voting Supply” is now largely a farce. Scores and hundreds of millions go through without a vote. Not the Insurance Bills, not the Lloyd George Budgets, nor the Reform of the House of Lords, nor the Home Rule Bills could have been got through without these drastic changes in procedure. It is not likely that we shall be able to carry through a complete economic reconstruction without greatly improving the parliamentary machine once more. Constitutional lawyers will remember the precedent of 1911, when the Liberal-Labour-Irish majority carried through the most drastic changes in order to remove hindrances on the quick working of the democratic will. It cut away altogether the Lords’ vote on Finance, and gave power to the House of Commons to legislate after three sessions on its own authority on any subject whatever.

Labour, when it comes into power, will have to modernise parliamentary procedure, give more scope to members, and shorten discussion. Let everyone keep in mind the fact that no one in the Labour Party has advocated the abolition of Parliament. So far from this, we have at all times had discussions, largely on the initiative of Fred Jowett, on how we could make it a more effective workshop.

There must always be full and free discussion. And when that discussion is over, the work must he done. We may remind the Liberals who cry aloud for Parliamentary freedom that most, if not all, restrictions on debates were brought in and carried by Liberal majorities. As any professor will tell you, all our liberties are bounded by the liberties of each other. All who believe in democracy must also believe in majority rule. That is the essence of democracy.

I have no fear of the Royal Family. They have shown their willingness to accept the nation’s will too often to allow of any doubt on that score. Two Labour Governments have come and gone. What stigma of failure attaches to them is not due to the Crown, but to the wretched minority conditions under which they worked. As for the House of Lords, there is a greater possibility here. Suggestions have been made that circumstances might make it necessary to deal with their lordships shortly and sharply. There might be a financial conspiracy by the banks, for example, aided by connivance from certain Treasury officials, to break the Government by financial means. This might show a need for drastic action to prevent the Upper House enforcing delay. I do not know and cannot prophesy. It is, however, certain that if the need for this is clearly put and definitely to the nation, it is not from the Crown that opposition will come.

The main point that must be pressed home is that there must be no ambiguity about our intentions and no hesitancy in our determination to use all constitutional means to attain our ends. Fascists and Communists are united in saying that Parliament, which has completed many political revolutions, cannot accomplish a social and economic one. It is our proud privilege to prove they are wrong. The present Government has shown us the way and I shall in future chapters show how we shall adapt their methods for our ends. But, first and last, we must be sure of what we desire to do and sure of our courage and grit to carry it through.

The new England for which I am working will, of course, be a Socialist England. And this means that we shall only arrive there by a certain way. Other quicker ways, such as alliances with the Liberals, or a snap election for a “Doctor’s Mandate” such as Mr. MacDonald won, may appear to be more attractive, but they are not quicker in the end. If we are going to carry through Socialism we shall pass through some difficult quarters of an hour. This means that we shall have to rely on the loyalty of the workers of this country. And there is only one way of securing that loyalty. It is by telling the workers right from the beginning what we propose to do. For that reason I am convinced that we should fight elections on a straightforward programme of Socialism, without any make-believe. I do not think that we can safely or sensibly attempt to carry through Socialism except after an election which has been fought on this question and has resulted in a majority. Otherwise we should not take office again. That is the lesson of the two MacDonald Governments.

Given this majority then, we shall have to take forthwith steps that will lead us straight to Socialism with no going back. Some of these steps will necessarily be in the nature of relief. We shall have to come to the assistance of the unemployed. We are pledged to raise the school age and give parents’ allowances. I hope we shall do that. In the late Government it is mere truth to say that owing to our position as a minority Government, this question was really shelved. It was not the religious difficulty which alone wrecked our Bill. It was the question of allowances as well. Many, in and out of the Government, were bitterly opposed to the miserable scheme of allowances which that Bill actually carried. One of the first acts of a Socialist Government in power would be to enact that these grants would be paid from national funds and the school age would be raised to sixteen or even higher. With this would come a complete reconstruction of our educational system.

Most of our schools were built in the late ’seventies under the Education Acts. Some are earlier. Some are modern and fairly satisfactory. The last should be left. But in the preparations for a new England one of the most important things will be to pull down about two-thirds of the existing schools. Some of them are so unfit for their purpose as to be material for the Inspector of Nuisances. They are dark, heavy buildings, with narrow windows which look like imitation Victorian churches. They should be pulled down and their places taken by airy, large-windowed buildings which will be more of the bungalow than the church-and-prison type. Incidentally, until our economic life is reconstructed, and possibly for always, the schools would automatically supply one good, well-cooked meal in the middle of the day for every child. Each school would also have a glass of warm or cold milk for every young child on arrival. And a glass of chocolate, cocoa or coffee for the elder children.

However, the main change in education will not be only a matter of feeding and school buildings. The main change must be in the curriculum and size of classes. We must scrap most of the current ideas of education. It is entirely imbecile to suppose that a child’s or a young person’s mind can possibly be developed by herding it together with forty or fifty others and treating all the lot as if their capacities were equal. Healthy minds mean developed minds, not crammed intellects as chickens are crammed to fatten them. We ought to employ thousands more teachers, and also revolutionise their training.

I do not want our children to become half- trained teachers or professors. The variety of our needs is so great—from sewer men to milkmen and scientists to musicians. All the arts and crafts are open, and all of them need training. When we raise the school age it will be in order not to provide book learning only, but to develop character and brain power in each child.

The next palliative action that would have to be taken would be the wide extension of pensions. Here again it is obvious that only a Socialist Government with a majority can hope to secure anything. It would be a silly mistake, and would show we have learned nothing, if we were again to take office without a majority and hope to pass any real pension scheme. I mean by this a scheme which would not only remove the old, but also all those who were not able-bodied out of the labour market. I do not mean that the disabled should be prevented from working. I do mean that their places in industry should be taken by the able- bodied. What the disabled chose to work at in the way of handicrafts could not, I am fairly sure, disturb the market at all seriously. If it did, the matter might have to be reconsidered, but the objection seems to me fantastic.

Are we not mad to allow ourselves to be forced to put children and cripples on the labour market and to exclude the able-bodied? In this matter my motto is “able-bodied first.” We can heal the sick in mind and body and bring them in later.

The new Government would immediately alter the old age pension arrangements. It would bring down the qualifying age to sixty years. It would also raise the figure so that a man could live on it. I do not know how far the Government would be able to go here. There is always a possibility that we might be faced with an actual shortage of labour as in Russia. It is not at all certain that we should have too many workers if we raised the school age and removed disabled persons from the labour market, and if we decided, as we should, that all pensioners of every sort and kind with pensions of, say, £200 a year and upwards, should also leave the labour market. Let us make up our minds to maintain all disabled and partially disabled people and also make full and ample provision for men and women squeezed out of the ranks of labour, and especially take care of single women—spinsters as they are described—whose tragic lonely plight is scarcely recognised. A pension scheme must cover these and everyone else in a similar evil plight. Our nation is wealthy enough to make this universal provision for all in need.

You must remember that a Socialist Government, backed by a majority, would find an immense amount of work waiting to be done. Hours ought to be reduced to thirty-six a week, and there would be enough and more than enough useful work for all able-bodied. Shaw once said “Pull down London.” Even if we are not so drastic, we could at least go through the country and either remodel the “cottage homes” or improve them off the face of the earth. As to towns, there is in all of them oceans of work crying out to be done.

I often think of the Black Country, the industrial parts of Stafford, Warwick and Worcester. Nowhere in the world where I have visited is there such a spectacle of man-made desolation. The Durham, Welsh, and Scottish coalfields are bad, but for sheer man-made spoiling of nature and for downright ugliness, the like of the broad stretch of countryside through which the L.M.S. and Great Western railways pass from Birmingham to beyond Wolverhampton cannot be seen anywhere. The local authorities do their best, but the only thing their efforts do is to call attention to what remains to be done. Huge tracts of land and houses have simply sunk into the earth because of subsidence. This has happened throughout industrial Britain, and not only in the mining districts. Think, too, of the mountainous slag heaps and “ tips,” often smelling and smoking, piled up as monuments to the Capitalist society which, out of such ugliness, has piled up for itself unearned wealth. Here is work which will employ thousands, turning these barren wastes into parks, forestry and agricultural land.

Then there is the land to be saved, and rescued from further flooding. The great Lincolnshire Wash would long ago have been brought into use if we had been Dutchmen. If the Zuyder Zee can be beaten and millions of acres added to Holland, we could do a similar job in Lincolnshire and other parts of our coastline.

Agriculture needs more and more attention and will employ many more people. The coal, iron, steel, cotton, woollen, and transport industries all cry aloud for reconstruction, and this we should do. I cannot conceive that there should be any real unemployment. If there were, through any unforeseen hitch, the unemployed would, of course, have to be maintained by full maintenance grants.

A Socialist Government will reorganise, replan social and industrial life on a basis of true cooperation between inventor and scientists and workers. None of these would be enemies of the other. The object of all endeavours will be social and the end the betterment of all. More food and all other necessaries of life will be available for the masses, and as production increased, a bigger and even bigger leisure time and less labour.

The task before us is very simple. Profit making requires a difficult complex system of working because each set of Capitalists strives to outdo the other. Socialism means exactly the reverse. So the greater the production of goods the more leisure and pleasure for all. My Socialist England will show the world how to use the good gifts of God and Nature, and will forever banish the fear and dread of man-made poverty from our lives. This is no easy task or twenty-four-hour revolution. It may take months and years: all will depend on the determination and driving power of the members of the first Labour Government which will have possessed power. The job to be tackled is one for men of courage and conviction—those who see their goal and the road to it.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 2 of 4


THIS is to be a chapter on religion, and by religion I mean what the ordinary person and not what a theologian means. All idea of religion is for me inclusive, not exclusive. In this I take for my guide the words, “ He who is not against us is for us.” Among those with whom it has been my good fortune to live, a religious person, in my view, is one who shows his love of God through love of his neighbours, one who strives to bring the light of friendship into the home, the workshop, and the street.

Some of these religious ones know little or nothing of the disputations which occupy the churches and the theologians. Some refuse to accept any idea of a Heavenly Father, or the divinity of Christ; but all, as much as those who enter convents, monasteries and other religious houses, understand that peace and happiness come not from outside, but from within us. They know the Kingdom of Heaven is within them, and must be expressed in life and action by themselves. Of course, they often fail and fall very short in their devotion to the faith which is theirs, exactly the same as you and I who go to church. All the same, they are the people, living in tenements and houses, to whom their neighbours turn in all times of doubt, trouble and difficulty.

Let us all never forget that religion is not the triumph of misery: it should be, and one day will be, the very highest expression of human happiness. I love to think of St. Francis and his friends singing their way, as Paul Sabatier tells us, through Umbria and Italy, telling the people that religion was life—life eternal yes, but also life here and now.

In hospital I learned also that people are all better than their creeds. While I was there, men and women of all classes have written to me and many hundreds have visited me. Flowers, fruit, and sweets also came from many scores of friends. The joy all this brought me lay in the fact that no party feeling, no class prejudice, barred friendship from expressing itself. My Communist and I.L.P. comrades, who hate my policy, came with the rest, and made me realise what true religion means in friendship and love. Of course, my very large family of children and grandchildren and other relatives just showered love upon me.

I want a new England to be crowded with such people—men and women full of the blessed spirit of love and friendship, co-operating for the provision of the bread of life, not fighting and quarrelling as do wild animals.

I am in politics a Socialist, one who helps to organise to obtain a majority of Socialists in Parliament. I think, however, that before our majority will be of any value, the outlook on life which the vast mass of people follow and obey must be changed. My generation, myself included, has paid much too much attention to organisation, and we have pinned our faith to law as the means of securing a life of contentment. Mere laws, however ancient, modern, or sacred they may be, cannot of themselves make people decent and kindly toward one another. Libraries, museums, churches are stuffed full of such records. Moses gave the children of Israel fine codes of living, and Jesus and His disciples handed on, in the simplest, most complete form, and in the smallest number of words, the blessed truth that love of God through love of mankind is the law of life. By this statement of fact, He once and for all destroyed the terrible doctrine that out of violence and slaughter connected with war, and out of the competitive struggle for wealth, the best traits of human character are developed. It is not possible to gather figs from thistles or develop love from violence and destruction. We cannot show our reverence and love of God through crushing our enemy in the dust or forcing our business competitor into bankruptcy.

All life comes from God, and as Edward Carpenter says, “ On all sides God surrounds you, staring out upon you from mountains and from the face of rocks and of men and of animals.” I want people who accept the Christian religion to realise that when Jesus lived on this earth He spent His time doing good. He lived among people, sharing their lives, and when asked by rich young men and lawyers what they must do to be saved, He replied in language which all can understand—“ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself.” He also said, “ Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you; this do and thou shalt live.” I am certain that if all who say they believe Jesus was the Son of God really believed these words of His, we should immediately see a new England and a true civilisation throughout the world. We must make up our minds definitely and without equivocation that our Lord intended these words of His to be accepted as true and applicable here and now.

There is no sense in saying that the teachings of Jesus are all very good, but quite impracticable. If that were true we ought to destroy the books that contain them and pull down the churches devoted to the propagation of these creeds. The new Oxford Movement, which is founded on the doctrine that all of us may find peace and happiness by just casting ourselves on the guidance of God, seems to me to leave us just as we are. I do not question or discuss the sincerity of these men and women. It would be sheer impertinence for me to do so, but some things are so clear that I fail to understand why the men and women who form that Movement are unable to see them. I, and most of those who have initiated this Movement, live lives far removed from the worry of earning our daily bread, and do not suffer from unemployment and poverty. Relatively few live the actual existence of a slum dweller or actually share the horrors of enforced—not voluntary—penury and want. If a person like myself can make the least claim to be guided by God, then I say without the slightest hesitation, I am guided to denounce as unchristian and blasphemous against God and man the whole social system which controls the lives of us all. I do not place blame on individuals. None of us, rich or poor, can live outside it. To a large or small extent all share the benefits and losses. The one overriding fact is that we do all suffer together, for the rich man lives in terror of losses, and the poor man lives in a welter of anxiety as to the means whereby he and his may live.

God speaks to us all through our intelligence and our conscience, and in the gospels handed to us as His own words we may find the solemn truth recorded that we reap what we sow, and that the works of God are not hatred, bitterness, and war, but joy, peace, and love. Surely the men and women who claim they have a new message for the world will keep in mind the stories of the rich young man and the lawyer, the Pharisees and money-lenders, and will understand the story of the good Samaritan, and understanding these things will turn away from the pursuit only of a spiritual outlook and found their message to the world on the complete gospel of our Lord.

I cannot get satisfaction out of the Labour Movement, out of the money I earn writing, as an M.P. or in any other way, except by trying to tell the truth about life as it is revealed to me through my mind by God. Never at any time has satisfaction come to me by thinking only of the hereafter. The reason is simple; life for all of us has no beginning, no ending; we belong to yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow. We must pin our faith to this, and determine our lives accordingly. You may say the masses have no time to think these things out. They must make the time if they are to save themselves and their day and generation.

Bread and butter or its equivalent we all must have. Our betrayal of each other is caused by the struggle for these things, but they are the beginning, not the end of life. We do not live by bread alone, even though we must have bread. I cannot too often make it clear to all who read this book that it is impossible for me even to imagine a Socialist society based merely on the supply of material needs. Social and political freedom, the right to go to hell in one’s own way is all very well for the individual, but none of us live alone. We all influence in one way or another the lives of others. Thoreau, the great Canadian individualist, tried living separate and apart, but even he was dependent for the sale of his books on those who endured the thraldom of commercialism.

A vote is a fine possession, but of no use unless it is used to bring economic security. Kneeling with others at the altar of the sacraments will and can bring no real peace unless those who so kneel spend their lives as brothers and sisters, and this is quite impossible within a system of life which depends for its existence on the ability of all the children of God to dispute, quarrel, and fight for their daily bread. I do not charge rich or poor people with evil dispositions; all of us have sinned and continue to sin because we are born into this dual kind of life, one part telling of love and peace, and the other urging us to fight our fellow men and women for the wealth which turns to dust and ashes. I do not deny the self-evident fact that a great change must take place in our attitude toward life if Socialism is to become a fact in the life of the nations. A society within which men and women will be expected to share their culture and labour with each other on behalf of all can only exist when lives are more truly self-disciplined than now. I have no faith at all in mere words written on paper. These all exist to-day and have existed for ages. When people criticise me because, when speaking, I produce no clear-cut scheme showing how trade and industry will be controlled, I am not at all bothered or concerned to prove they are wrong. I shall try and show in this book by what means our people will be able to reach the Socialist state, and the necessary plans for dealing with the evils of life here and now, but it is quite certain that neither I nor anyone else can with any certainty say how the new society will function.

I insist as an irrefutable truth that the first, and absolutely necessary, step is that there shall be a complete change in our individual and collective attitude toward life. When interviewed in the hospital where I write this, I tried on several occasions to make pressmen understand that my illness and nearness to death had made some things clearer to me, and that among the most important was this clear, and for me indisputable, fact that laws and rules for the control of our lives are all just so much waste paper unless those who accept them possess the driving force which spiritual conviction alone can give. During some of the long nights around Christmas and Easter, when often feelings of sheer exultation and sometimes despair as to my future health would flood my mind, fear of death or dread of facing the Father of us all never added to my depression. Always I longed for a world made free from strife, and my own loved ones to be saved from the terrors which threaten the best and worst of us. I wanted to join in the resurrection of life over the living death which man-made evil has spread throughout the world, and often my whole being would be surrounded with the vision of those whom I love and work with.

Out of these thoughts came a renewal of my faith that somewhere, sometime, because of the toil and labour of people like you and me, the “new day” would dawn, but always there was the certainty that our new England and nobler world would be born, and that those on whose shoulders the future depends would indeed see life with a brighter, clearer vision, the outcome of a complete change of heart and mind, a change which will enable us to say, I am my brother’s keeper and he is mine. Therefore my well-being must be shared with him. All our freedom is and must be bounded by the freedom of all. My well-being cannot be complete unless my neighbours share it with me. There is, in fact, no such thing as selfish well-being and contentment.

Christianity is founded on the gospel of mutual love and service. We must give up our worship of the golden calf and find our happiness in communal service for each other. Socialism can only thrive and live if it rests on the truths given us by the Galilean. My stay in hospital, my doubts and misgivings, my communing with myself, and the thought of those who have passed on, my reading, and my prayers have all united to confirm my faith that Socialism, which means love, cooperation, and brotherhood in every department of human affairs, is the only outward expression of a Christian’s faith. I am firmly convinced that whether they know it or not, all who approve and accept competition and struggle against each other as the means whereby we gain our daily bread, do indeed betray and make of no effect the “will of God.”

My friends in the Churches will think this a hard saying, but it is my conviction, and the whole Christian religion is in my view dishonoured by man-made poverty.

In the very earliest, darkest hours of my illness I was not afraid of what would befall me; I had no dread of God as my Father and my Judge. I know He knows me through and through much better and in an altogether truer sense than anyone else, as also He knows you, and I am certain that, as a father such as myself, loves and on occasion pities his children when evil of their own creation befalls them, so the loving power we acknowledge and worship as God who knows all, both pities and forgives us.

My thoughts when very sick were, as I have already said, about my family and friends, and very largely about the Labour Movement. Quite truthfully, I just hated the thought that I might pass out and leave everything unfinished which in company with others I had been striving to do. I knew that once I left the world of activity things would go on much as usual, and that I would not really be missed. Yet I wanted to live and continue my work. You will say this was sheer egoism. Perhaps it is; I could not cheerfully accept the fact that I could be done without. Now you who are clever may laugh me to scorn when I say this is the spirit we need to win our cause. I am as imperfect a man as the average, though my failings are not as public as some people’s, but one thing is clear and definite, and that is my loyalty and faith in Socialism. This is always unquestionable, simply because it is founded on the solid rock of conviction that it is the will of God that all His children shall enjoy the fullness of life which this world of abundance can give to all.

I cannot accept the notion that this world is just a vale of woe. We live in a world of beauty and joy. It is ourselves, our conduct toward each other, that is wrong. And those who accept Christ’s teaching of love must believe that it is possible to live happy, joyous lives, loving and caring for one another.

I want you, then, to make up your mind on this fundamental issue, because once you have done so the road to our goal will be easily followed. I have already quoted the words of Jesus, “This do and thou shalt live.” This is as true now as when, two thousand years ago, he told the rich young man and the lawyer what was the way of life. Since then, churches, organisations, pastors and masters have striven to unite evil with good, to serve God and Mammon. This is impossible, it cannot be done.

Man is neither the first nor the last word in power and intellect to be found on the earth or in the spaces around us. All of us worship something; it may be only our appetites or our desires. Religion bids us worship and serve the very highest we know, and for me the best is contained in the words I have quoted. They are so true, and contain such an overwhelming case against the selfishness and greed of our time, that all who think must agree that this world would be heaven indeed if we settled down to love each other.

People challenge us, asking how shall we change human nature? I do not accept the view of life which says the competitive state is the expression of our human nature. It is an expression of the fact that all we like sheep have gone astray, seeking our own good instead of seeking in the good of all the welfare of each. So, when challenged as to how we will apply our faith, and how we shall manage industry, my answer is simple; there is no question or difficulty connected with life which cannot easily be solved once we love each other. I have served on many, very many, committees in and out of Parliament devising schemes for organising banking, agriculture, industry, etc. When these have been perfected, they have all lacked the one thing needful, which is the spiritual driving force of love. It is certain as the day that this is true, or how else can we explain away the effect of a mother’s love for her children. Cynics appear to forget that in this world of competitive strife, love does raise its head, and often is conqueror. Especially is this the case when a child, or, indeed any, human being, is to be saved from destruction by fire or flood, or when any of us, as I was, find themselves suddenly flung into the midst of pain and suffering. I know of a poor man who willingly risked and lost his life saving a child from being run over. You may think of this as human instinct; call it what you will, such actions prove that within all of us there is the love of one another which when necessity arises bursts into action.

I wish to appeal to those who organise, manage, and control the churches of our country. On all such persons rests a tremendous responsibility. Their claim is that they are the spokesmen of God, priests, ministers, curates who are specially set apart to teach people the will of God. Up to the present, most of these men have either openly declared the principles contained in the gospels they teach to be incapable of being practised, or have silently accepted this as the reason neither themselves nor their followers live as Christ and His first disciples lived. I am neither censorious nor condemnatory in this matter, but am trying to put the facts as I see them. There have been, and still are, exceptions, but even the most revolutionary of the clergy are like myself and other laymen—not at all content to live down to the lowest standards, but claiming for themselves something better than the status and social conditions which manual labourers and their families live down to. Everyone of us who rises above the conditions we were born in or who rises in social status at once claims all sorts of rights and privileges denied to others, and which are entirely opposed to the idea that we are living in a world of brothers and sisters. This must and will be changed if a true civilisation is to be born. Our pastors and bishops must be born again just like the rest of us. Theological quarrels, glowing descriptions of hell and heaven, fervid glorification of war, with all its horrors, in defence of home and fatherland, the wicked false teaching that God intends some to endure the horrors of poverty, destitution, and crime, so that paradise may be enjoyed in a life to come, the terrible denial of God’s truth which the statement that riches are given by God to some few chosen ones to be used in His service implies; all this and teaching of a like character, must give way to a nobler revelation of God’s will, and a simpler standard of life.

I am not asking anyone, priest, peer, or peasant, to accept any mean standard of life. There is no need for anything of the kind, but I do ask that we who claim and receive our full share of all the things needed to make our material lives satisfactory shall unite in claiming for all our fellow creatures as good a standard as for ourselves. It is not in keeping with the teaching of Jesus that the best house placed on the best site in town or village should be the home of those who preach the gospel of Him who had no place of His own whereon He could lay His head. In this connection, it is worth while remembering how the provision of large houses for the clergy has reacted against them. Many vicars and rectors are obliged to shut up these luxurious white elephants or let them, so expensive has their upkeep become. My argument remains true, the churches do not now believe in a classless society, and their chiefs practise the principle of competition and strife for the best paid and most wealthy parishes. Now and then voices are raised within the Church for a return to a simpler theology and mode of life. I want my appeal to go to the hearts and minds of all who are Christians. I appreciate the many people, priests, and laymen who, amid the competitive strife of which we are all part, carry on their work. No one honours the women and men who from various organisations strive to lighten the load of poverty borne by millions more than I do.

In my England there will be no need for such work if all who profess and call themselves Christians will unite in making, as Ruskin says, “Christ’s gift of bread and bequest of peace ” real to us all.

And finally, may I appeal for Christian effort and unity to establish in my England, not only Socialism, but also its great brother, peace. Every instinct I possess is against war. If ever I have prayed more sincerely than at other times, it is when I have sung or said the words, “Give to us peace in our time, O Lord.” I neither want to kill or be killed, wound or be wounded. My life is not worth the sacrifice of another’s. I do not want to be protected by shot and shell, poison gas, or the terrors of the submarine. Certainly my life is very valuable to me, it is the one personality I understand and appreciate. Because life is of value to me I cannot ask that others should risk so valuable a possession on my behalf. Especially we old people should dishonour war. We have no right to allow the young and middle-aged to be sacrificed for us. But Christians whose faith rests on the incarnation, who believe that the coming of Jesus as the Son of God sanctified all human life, cannot possibly believe it is God’s will that men should fight and destroy each other. I have listened to sermons and speeches by good, clean living, honourable men trying to defend in the same breath religion and war, Capitalism and love of one’s neighbour. Always it has seemed to me a pitiable exhibition of sheer weak reasoning. There is no half-way house for Christians between Socialism and Capitalism, or between war and complete reliance on peace by disarmament. Once we concede the rightness of wars, no matter for what purpose, we give our case away. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” “Put up thy sword, those who take the sword perish by the sword,” ring down the ages, explicit and true; compromise lands us into the slough of destruction and death.

The churches cannot escape the dilemma which the life and example of their master presents us with. He proclaimed the oneness of life, the brotherhood of the human race, and in the moment of supreme trial rejected reliance on weapons of destruction. To-day our civilisation, as was Roman civilisation, is at the crisis of its fate. Once again the voice of the Master may be heard. If my England comes into being, our people will respond to the call, led by those who, like the wise men of old, have seen the light, the light of truth which tells us we live in deeds, not words, that peace and happiness are the birthright of us all, gained by the co-operation of us all.

We shall save ourselves and make our way to the promised land when our minds are cleansed from all make-believe, and when with one accord we live our lives with each other, practising in all its fullness the splendid truth embodied in the old- fashioned words, “each for all and all for each," which is the very best expression of Christian love and charity.

Some leaders of the church are speaking out bravely on behalf of peace and against war, and are urging our nation to give the world a great, noble lead by declaring our willingness to rely always on the justice of our cause before the tribunals of the world. It is up to us laymen, and especially those who like myself wish to establish Socialism, to support such bishops and others by every means in our power. If we can induce Christians to renounce war of all kinds, and face whatever may befall us, we shall, I am sure, lead the world. One thing is certain. A new England will be a truly Christian England. War at home or abroad will be impossible, for we shall refuse to fight, and will leave our welfare to the care of him who said, “ Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”


THE England of reality which I have known and loved is the England from 1859 fill now, which covers a period which has produced men and women of all classes and creeds whose services to science and arts are unequalled in the long history of the world. Chemists, surgeons, musicians, scientists of every description have provided us with most marvellous discoveries and inventions, all designed to give us a higher standard of life and culture. In spite of this wondrous development in knowledge, we are still cursed with poverty, crime, wars, pestilence, and famine. Love is often reduced to a mere calculation. Young men and women are urged and almost forced to ask themselves not “Do we wish to marry?” but “Will it pay for us to marry?” If they do not decide by the answer to the second question, they are told by everybody around them that they are unwise and that they will repent it. The worst thing of it all is that in fact they are unwise, and they may quite likely repent it if they seek their happiness in the way that they should.

I am not of those who pour scorn on the Victorian era, or think of the people among whom I was born as more hypocritical and insincere than the present generation. I love the poetry and dreamland of Tennyson and Browning, William Morris and Edward Carpenter. The Victorians, however, were not mostly dreamers and poets. In a marvellous manner men conquered the air and the sea; as a boy I read the books written by Jules Verne which foretold the coming of the submarine, in the same way as boys and girls have always read fantastic stories about wonderful inventions and discoveries. The difference between the latter half of the nineteenth century and earlier periods was that in my day the dreams and visions speedily came true. Despite all discoveries, the most urgent and important thing in life remains to be accomplished. We have not yet discovered how to live. We can produce everything needed for a full and abundant life, but so far fail in using this abundance to bring either peace or true happiness to mankind. Insecurity is the lot of all workers; the bane of life for the workman’s wife is unemployment and sickness.

Ordinary Capitalist life is unable to use the things that it discovers. The great majority of the really useful applications of discoveries—not only in medicine and in surgery, but in such spheres as aviation—have been made in a time when ordinary rules of Capitalist production are forcibly suspended. I mean in time of war. During a war “property rights” are overridden. Nothing that is necessary for the war is allowed to be stopped because somebody has a patent or somebody else must make 5 per cent out of it. Jackals do come along afterwards and make not 5 but 50 and 500 per cent. But at least they cannot prey until the needs of the State have been satisfied.

During a war it is universally believed that everybody’s livelihood will be in danger if the needs of the community aren’t allowed instantly and without question to override all private interests. Actually war, which is merely murdering other persons, is not an end sufficient to justify any sacrifices at all. But if the energy and determination which were put into war were put into enforcing a high standard of life and economic security, we should arrive at a better state of society in far less time that it took to defeat the Germans.

People like myself who have accepted Socialism as the best means of securing an equitable distribution of wealth, are not very much troubled with the perennial objections put up by exponents of orthodox or semi-orthodox political economy. Theories which may have correctly described the conditions of past ages like the Victorian age, do not upset our knowledge of what is happening under our eyes every day. Nor is there any need to pay any attention to “philosophers” who argue that it is human nature which compels us to fight and quarrel like animals about sharing the necessaries of life. We know from our own experience that our own natures possess much finer qualities than the stress and competition of life enables us to use. I have said enough about this in my chapter on religion. Here I am concerned to make you understand first of all that in making my demand for Socialism I am acting not as a dreamer, but as a practical person; that the dreamers are those who do still seriously imagine that the last word in civilisation has been said when we have witnessed the creation of millionaires.

Civilisations appear to come and go just as do flowers and fruits of the earth. No one can exactly tell us what was the biggest engineering feat performed by man in China, Babylon, Greece, or Rome; or at what point knowledge of art and science, medical and surgical science stopped in the days of long ago. Still we do know that a wonderful culture grew up and then decayed.

A number of reasons are offered for the disappearance of past civilisations—some economic, some idealistic, and some racial. There is certainly no common agreement about causes. For this reason many people speak as though there was some mystical reason why all civilisations should rise and fall—that they may grow and develop for a certain time but that sooner or later by an inscrutable decree they must decay and disappear. They then add that our civilisation has reached its peak and is now about to decay. I think this is highfalutin and poetic nonsense. Civilisations are not trees and flowers, in fact: they are generations of men and women, continually renewed, and each generation has the same powers of mind and body as the previous one. It is not blighted by any mysterious decay, as if it were a plum tree eaten by mildew in its old age. It is certainly true that historians disagree about the causes of the fall of Rome or Nineveh. Historians often disagree. But I have noticed that they always attempt to find out the causes for the fall in the circumstances of the time. I have not yet met one who was content with a dreamy affirmation that civilisations are bound to rise and fall.

I have noticed one thing, which few historians seem to deny, and that is that one of the commonest causes of a civilisation disappearing is class division. From the fall of Babylon to the fall of the Spanish empire what has most frequently ruined civilisation is an enormous and growing division between the rich and the poor. A state may start from simple strength as a farming community. Then it becomes rich, and what ruins it is not the riches, but the way those riches are divided. Persia, Greece, Rome, and Spain all show a similar story of a few becoming rich while the mass of the people, workers, slaves, Indians, or whatever they may have been, were kept in degrading misery. Both they and their oppressors were compelled into a common ruin. But that was because of their iniquitous social system, not because there was any transcendental rule that civilisations must end after a certain time. Each new generation, in any of the ancient cities, was born with brains, hands, and limbs as good as ours. It was their social system which crippled them.

The present generation of men and women, especially we who live in England, possess all the means necessary to enable us to transform our trade and industry from the chaos of competition to the efficiency of service which co-operation alone can give. By co-operation I mean co-operation and equal sharing in distribution as well as in production. The fact is, all industry is at present carried on by co-operation—workers and machines co-operating in every method of work. It is when the product comes to be used that co-operation ceases and the word profit is brought into use. Socialism may best be expressed as a policy which organises industry for use and not for profit— which in turn means for the use of all as a matter of right, not charity.

Neither I nor any other Socialist ever dreams that people will all wear the same clothes, eat the same varieties of food, or even live in the same kind of houses. We shall all be able, under Socialism, to enjoy a greater variety of life than ever, because the great abundance of everything we produce will be available for all. We shall also provide work for all able-bodied persons, as I shall show in a later chapter. The main thing to bear in mind is that in asking you to work for a new England organised on Socialist principles, I am asking you to support a society within which men and women will be able to be decent to each other and all the timid jealousy about riches earned and unearned which now divides us will be swept away.

So I want you to join whoever will join with you in helping to build the new state, the foundation of which will consist of love, brotherhood and peace. As I have already said, we English people can lead the world if only we possess the will to do so. Do not let fear hold you back. There is, indeed, nothing of any worth either rich or poor will lose, for no one is safe in the miserable business dogfight in which we are all engaged. Because I have experienced the curse of competitive Capitalism with all its shame to myself, its chicanery and make-believe, both as a workman and as an employer, I shall remain what I am now—a rebel against this scheme of things. And I want you to join me in changing it.

I am not a miserable person, but I am very conscious of my own failure to live as I would. Like everyone else, I am forced to conform at least to a large extent to conditions as they are. Whether we like it or not, Capitalism does develop in us all a sordid meanness. We cannot help ourselves, we must make business pay. Here and there a firm more fortunate than others and blessed with owners who realise their responsibilities, is able to give a better chance to the workers. Even so, everybody is bound to test their business life by one standard—“Will it pay?” This in turn is followed by the workers, who also are set against each other. Men who are anxious to rise, who desire to become foremen or managers, tend also towards a sordid meanness. We must not, like Pecksniff, sit in judgment on them because most of us are in like case. If we are clergymen we like to become canons, deans, bishops; if politicians, then the Cabinet or some other position is our goal. It is not merely more money we are after: there is position, status, and power to be gained. Few of us can escape the contagion. Those who can sincerely say they are absolutely impersonal and free of all ambition are among the chosen of God.

I dislike being inconsistent and failing to live up to my ideals, but I also understand I am only a small, insignificant item in a scheme of things which alone I am unable to change. We are indeed each our brother’s keeper and our brother is our keeper. Therefore, again I ask you to become a comrade in the ranks of the Socialist army, doing all you possibly can to hasten the day when victory will be with those who take the Red Flag of peace and freedom as their symbol of victory.

The paragraph which I have just written is one that I might have written at any time during my life. But in writing it now I am conscious of a need for greater urgency than there was, say, thirty years ago. We might then have been content to wait for evolution, as the Fabians advised. But to-day there is no time to lose. Economic development grows rapidly. Every day sees some new improvement in machinery, more tightening up of organisation, and ever closer and closer combination of businesses. This rationalisation turns men, women, and children into automatons, and continually reduces the number needed as producers. The balance between those who produce and those who handle and distribute is now on the side of those who distribute. There are more people now who handle goods than there are people who make them. A large number of us have become parasitical, living on the labour of others. All of us strive to get a larger permanent share of the things we need. Yet for everybody life becomes more and more uncertain, more and more a fight for existence. The greatest evil is our individual helplessness. None of us can escape our share of the evils which competitive Capitalism brings, no matter whether we are prince or beggar, millionaire or pauper. Our daily bread comes to us as a result of our own or someone else’s share in the industrial and financial warfare. The manufacturer is obliged to tighten up his productive power or he is forced by his competitors into bankruptcy.

And remember, those who get the biggest share of national wealth are those who are never troubled with the problems connected with industry. The financiers, bankers, money-lenders, like pawnbrokers, levy toll on industry whether times are prosperous or distressful. During the long, weary years since peace was signed, these money handlers have each year shared huge dividends. They are not only like pawnbrokers, they are also in direct line of descent from undertakers whose businesses flourish in times of epidemic diseases. I pass no personal blame on those who control banking, currency, and money-lending. The nation accepts the system, and those who lose and those who gain are equally to blame unless they join with us in creating the new society.

How is it to be done? First of all, you and all our fellow citizens must want the change. The first great task is to make the masses, of which you and I are part, understand that there is nothing fixed about Capitalism, and that movement, either forward or backward, is continuous. Since the War, huge improvements and much progress has been made in all productive enterprises. The earth itself yields a greater increase in return for the labour of man than ever before. Such natural products as oil and rubber, tin and wheat, cattle and poultry, meat and vegetables, come so abundantly that modern Capitalism becomes choked with goods which it cannot dispose of. At the same time, unemployment and poverty spread like wildfire throughout the world. In recent times America was smitten as with the plague: her banking system went to pieces, fortunes disappeared in a night, millions suffered the intense agony of starvation and many thousands just starved to death.

All this happened literally for no reason at all. When the Egyptians suffered from a plague, they knew it was because locusts had eaten the crops. When the Americans were suddenly subjected to horrifying sufferings they could only be informed that the reason was that there were too many good things. The men and women who were starving for lack of a square meal in Detroit or New York were told that the cause was that there were too many pigs in Iowa and too much wheat in the Middle West. In our own country the poor suffered terribly, although our predatory foreign investments helped to some small extent to palliate the worst evils.

The stupid, ignorant Capitalist Governments met in London during 1933, and for days discussed what they regarded as a “problem”—that is, what should the nations do with the abundance nature had bestowed upon them. No Government except the Russian Government was sane enough to stand up and say, “ We have multitudes hungry, in need of food, clothing, and shelter, why not let these people use this great abundance?” No, the wiseacres who met in the Geological Museum, after allowing their brains to work for days, settled down to the idiotic task of turning abundance into scarcity, and devising means for preventing nature from acting so stupidly again. Just think, and think hard, of the crass stupidity of statesmen, economists, and philanthropists, living in the midst of plenty, with scores of millions suffering hunger and privation, settling down, not to feed these stricken ones, but to destroy their means of life. Foodstuffs of every kind were destroyed. Cotton was ploughed into the ground, rubber and tea production was curtailed, and wheat was burned. This was the work of twentieth-century genius, and is the final futility of that Capitalism which has spanned the earth with radio, that takes phosphates from the air and increases by a thousand-fold man’s control of all natural forces. Only Bedlamites should be capable of tolerating such a mad scheme of things. No Communist or Socialist State could match such foolery.

I may be told that under Capitalism abundance is a crime or is something which must not be allowed because the basis of Capitalism is the creation of rent, profit and interest, and that production is carried on not for use but for profit. No doubt this is true. But anybody not mentally deficient would reply that the moral is that rent, profit, and interest must be done away with. No matter whether trade is good or bad, the evils wrought by this system continue. The foul, soul-destroying slums to be found in rural and industrial villages, towns, and cities, came into being when Britain was highly prosperous and at the zenith of her greatness as an industrial and commercial power.

The wealth created and distributed in 1931 is said to have been £3,499 millions. Of this £1,315 millions went straight to a tiny minority, leaving the vast mass of the forty millions who make up the nation £2,184 millions to share amongst them. These figures show the cause of poverty, slums, and unemployment. This might conceivably be a fair arrangement if the minority were really clever and industrious. Even so I should object to it on other grounds. But it is notoriously not true. The tiny minority of rich people are not the most noble, industrious and clever persons in England to-day. It is quite the opposite. Society to-day rewards qualities of quite a different kind. To be rich you have either to be the son of a rich man—and you may be a poor creature in every other way, but that will not matter—or you must be a successful profit-maker. It is true that to be the latter you must be clever, but it is a dangerous cleverness, one very like unscrupulous greed, that will benefit you best. You must have talents, but you are forced to use them in an antisocial way.

Socialism is the reverse of this. We who have accepted this creed maintain that the present condition of things cannot continue, and that the only workable alternative is ours; and that unless it is adopted, civilisation as we know it will disappear from the world. We are also certain that the people of this country have the power, once they are willing to use it, to revolutionise life completely, without a drop of blood being shed. Already the English nation has given the world several examples of bloodless political revolutions, and has carried through social changes which in other nations would be considered revolutionary.

The Capitalist system has allowed the possessing classes to allow some share of wealth to be distributed on great social services and schemes of public utility which we all enjoy. Ruthless as business is in this country, it is only truth to say that if modern Capitalism could be made tolerable this is the place where it would have been done. Few, if any, of our business people, whether merchants, financiers, or industrialists, are naturally mean-spirited. Most would enjoy giving their work-people permanence of employment and income. But this is impossible. No business concern dare promise such conditions. New machinery must be brought in, new combinations must be formed. “Get bigger or bust” is the jungle law which controls life, and only such benefits as can be provided by State or municipal funds are in the least secure.

Some over-rich people find joy and peace spending their surplus wealth striving to ameliorate the lot of the poor and unemployed. Our towns are full of well-intentioned efforts to minimise the evils wrought by the system under which we live. I am convinced that when the masses strive for the power to establish Socialism, many of these people will be found side by side with them. The intelligence of a nation is not found in a section, it is scattered through all; and I am certain that once the workers themselves claim the new social order, many wealthy people will find the true satisfaction of living by taking sides with them. I earnestly ask any person who cares for wealth only for what wealth enables them to do to try and realise that Socialism does mean security for all. The modern means of production are so enormous that once these are organised as social services for the whole nation, the misery of involuntary poverty will disappear.

Our Parliament has brought into existence many services such as roads, sewers, housing, education, unemployment benefit, etc., but has failed to make even a minimum of security of life, unless you call the Poor Law security. We regulate and secure for town populations abundant water supplies, lighting, sewers, and roads. All these are subsidiary to the means of life. A fine road, a well- equipped, well-built school is useless to an underfed, badly nourished child. We spend many, many millions providing prisons, mental institutions, hospitals, and health services for dealing with preventible crime, sickness, and insanity. This is sheer madness unless we take the necessary measures to ensure that everything is done to prevent such evils arising. In Socialist England we should take good care that such imbecility was non-existent. We who advocate Socialism advocate a system of living which will take as its slogan the prevention as well as the curing of disease. The difference between Socialism and philanthropy is to be found in this one thing. We Socialists stand for justice. Our faith is in the common people, whose greatest desire is security in obtaining the means of life ; and under a Socialist Government this will be accomplished. There will always be a place for love and kindness towards each other. The path of true love will still not always run smooth. Nature will also visit us with upheavals and accidents, and disease and death will be with us to the end ; so we need not imagine love and affection will become a thing of the past and life become monotonous and mean. Socialism will make it possible for men to do their utmost in the work of the nation without the terrible haunting fear that their industry may throw them out of work. I am an opponent of ca-canny or “go slow” policy in industry—but who amongst us can honestly blame the unemployed working man, put on to a relief job of a temporary character, if he goes slow in order to ensure the job lasting as long as possible? Or how can we blame the worker in a factory who, seeing the warehouse rapidly filling up with unwanted goods, goes slow in an effort to postpone the day when he will be sacked because of what is wrongly described as over-production? Everybody knows there can be no such thing as over-production while a single person is unable to secure the fullest means of life. In Socialist England the greater our production of goods, the higher our standards will become. Some people object and tell us that without the spur of competition, without the driving force of hunger, people will not work and do their best. It is argued that competition brings out the finer as well as the baser qualities of our minds. This is nonsense. Men and women who escape the thraldom of poverty and insecurity seldom go back. Those who find themselves driven down do their utmost to prevent such a catastrophe. The fact is, however, that people will become as accustomed to plenty as they do to poverty and want. I have met no one who was proud of vice and crime or who wished his fellow-men to think him a bully, a sneak, or a cad. There may be such people, just as there are saints, but I am writing of ordinary people of whom I am one, and I am quite confident that so far from the joy and happiness which Socialist security will give destroying initiative, industry, and the desire to work, the reverse will be the case, and a higher standard of responsibility will be developed ; and day by day we shall learn that peace and happiness come by our own co-operative effort, and the more we unite to help in the common task, the brighter and happier our days will be. Brighter and happier because we are engaged, not in fighting, cheating, lying, and grabbing, but in pleasant healthy toil, finding our ultimate satisfaction in knowing we are indeed working each for all and all for each.  
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 3 of 4


Thirteen: INDIA

A SOCIALIST Government will have very many difficult national questions to deal with. None of these will be more urgent or less difficult than the problem of India.

The Labour Movement is pledged to grant not self-government only, but self-determination to that great nation. One of the best pieces of work carried through by the Labour Government was setting Mahatma Gandhi free and bringing him as an honoured welcome member to the Round Table Conference. I do not object to the criticism of those who say we have no right to claim to have kept our promises to the Indian people when (as they say) we put 50,000 Indians into prison, most of them without a trial. There is truth in that; even so, Lord Irwin and Wedgwood Benn never forgot that their main task was not coercion but conciliation. Though they did what all Governments do to maintain order, at the same time they made it clear that they considered the use of force a grim necessity, but understood that force was no remedy. Even while Gandhi and his friends were in prison they carried on negotiations under the most difficult conditions, and finally succeeded in gathering together the most representative conference of Indians ever held.

The Labour Government was driven out of office. The India Conference closed down, never to be re-opened on the same representative basis. A Committee representing both Houses of Parliament, while I write this, is considering a White Paper submitted by the Government. This White Paper represents the proposals which the present Government will embody in legislation for the future government of India. I do not propose to discuss these proposals. As far as I can gather, all that is vocal and representative in India rejects the scheme as quite unsatisfactory. What sense, then, is there in discussing it?

Meantime, I am informed by all my Indian friends and by my English friends who have lately visited India that the economic condition of the masses goes from bad to worse; that millions are living lives of malnutrition and semi-starvation. The British Trade Union Movement has done splendid service, through its members on the Whitley Commission and the deputation it sent to India, in proving that apart from all questions of political change, the social conditions of the workers cry aloud for redress. George Hicks, David Grenfell, and other Labour M.P.s have impressed this side of Indian life on the Commons. No one denies the truth of this indictment. The official defence comes to no more than saying, “ It might be worse.”

I shall not attempt to prove that no Englishman has done any good in India. I gladly pay my tribute of homage and respect to the thousands of men and women who as civil servants, medical missionaries, and in many other ways have done their best to mitigate the ravages wrought by disease, evil customs, and starvation. Even so, in India, as in England, the charity which loving hearts bestow can never take the place of justice. The Salvation Army and other organisations spend huge sums of money here and give untiring devotion and work, striving to make life more bearable for slum dwellers, but none of us think this is any reason why slums should exist or should prevent us from doing all in our power to sweep the conditions which create slums and destitution off the face of the earth.

When we admire the hard work of those British who have tried to help the Indians, we must remember the true picture of Indian conditions. We must bear in mind the fact that every penny of wealth drawn from India to pay salaries, pensions, and allowances to the multitude of British officials, soldiers, civil servants, viceroys, governors of provinces, etc., comes from a nation of 300,000,000 people, most of whom live at a standard of life which reduces vitality almost to vanishing point. Also, let us never forget that in making great reservoirs, building railway tracks and creating the New Delhi, the British take a very considerable toll from India in the shape of interest on loans and dividends for companies. These “ benefits of British rule ” are benefits paid for in hard cash, and well paid, too. This tribute is almost entirely spent outside India. I have tried to get figures to show what this total drain is, but no reliable figures are as yet available. But that a nation so rich and bountiful in the possession of natural resources should be so poverty-stricken, is a fact that should make every Englishman have the deepest suspicions.

Roman conquerors settled in their territories. They treated backward nations like ourselves very harshly, and often inflicted forced labour. But in those days the wealth wrung from the natives was largely spent in the country. Irish landlordism was one degree worse because rents were spent abroad, by landlords who never saw their estates. British and French loans to Ismail Pasha, the sometime Khedive of Egypt, were spent likewise in the haunts of gambling and vice outside that country. Britain as an Imperial power draws huge sums from India, and this is spent just as absentee landlords would spend it—away from where it is earned. Much of the wealth of all of us comes to us in this way and is strictly parasitical. We shall have to be prepared to give this up, and we shall also have to leave the Indians to provide their own civil service, army, and other services.

Whatever the Press may say, we do not in fact make India rich and contented. Our rule leaves her desperately poor. Think of the condition of her people, most of whom are illiterate, and masses of whom live under conditions of semi-starvation.

None of our fathers who conquered India went there to make her prosperous. They went for purposes of robbery with violence, or—with the more civilised—as traders out to make a very large profit. Clive and Warren Hastings and all the long list of viceroys have been expected from the moment they took office to foster British prosperity. From time to time they would stop to assure the Indians that the interests of both nations are identical—just as other people repeat the equally foolish phrase about the interests of capital and labour being the same. Of course, intelligent people who are intellectually honest know this is quite untrue. Not even Indian Capitalists believe it. Now that India has entered the field of Capitalism, and coal mining is in full swing, Indian Capitalists say their first need is protection by means of tariffs against British competition.

The over-riding fact which I desire to emphasise is that side by side with the political problem, there is the basic economic problem of the condition of the people, which means that a Socialist Government in power will have to face the terrific problem of how to keep millions of people alive while the future government and administration of India is being settled. We will be obliged to take on many of the financial burdens now being borne by these starving multitudes, and we shall be called upon to spend our own substance in efforts to create a new social order in villages and townships.

None of this work can be efficiently done by aliens—that is, by us. Indians may ask our help, but in the main if village life is to be restored and made of service, then the people who alone can do the job will be Indians. The terrible pity is that young India, like young Ireland during my generation, devotes so much time to politics that these conditions do not receive the attention they deserve. Indians will find, as Jawaharlal Nehru has told them, that they must turn their attention to the economic demands of the Indian masses as well as to their political needs.

What then is to be Labour’s policy over here? Nothing new. We must stick to our oft-repeated statement that it is for India to decide whether she will join us as a partner, or break the connection and become a foreign power. The British governing class has received great benefits from India. The Indian Civil Service, the Native States, the Army, have all found for its sons innumerable well-paid posts and pensions. We ought to be willing to pay back some of the debt we owe. I am sure that the Socialist movement will only ask for partnership on terms of mutual aid and service to each other. We shall ask that the tie which binds us together will be one not of domination, but of brotherhood.

As to what form the Government of India should take: this must be settled by Indians themselves. There is not the least likelihood that any scheme formulated in London will ever be voluntarily accepted, and in this matter it is imperative that any scheme should be freely worked by Indians. All we have to consider is how we can best secure the drafting of such a scheme. We Socialists have declared that Indians must themselves choose whether to remain with us or no. How shall we settle this and the question of future government? I have come definitely to the conclusion that Annie Besant’s scheme is the only way. She advocated the plan adopted in relation to Australia. Then Britain gave the Australian States the task of drawing up their Federal Constitution and merely endorsed it afterwards. Some years ago, Dr. Besant and a group of representative Indians with the valuable assistance of our good friend and life-long champion of India, David Graham Pole, drew up a Commonwealth of India Bill which Harry Snell, John Scurr, and myself and others introduced in the House of Commons. Our contention was that this scheme, with such minor modifications as Parliament should impose, would make a definite advance along the road to Dominion status. But the Bill never got a second reading. Now, years after, Englishmen are drafting schemes which, as I say, and as they know, are certain of rejection. There is only one way out for a Socialist Government. We should summon or ask Indians themselves to summon a Constituent Assembly and hand over to that assembly the task of deciding the future government of India.

This is both logical and common sense. By this means we do give self-determination and self-government. There will certainly be an outcry that “ the Assembly will be captured by the extremists.” Certainly Conservatives will raise that cry. But they will have far worse things to cry out about, for our own House of Commons will have been captured by “ extremists ”—ourselves. Do not let us be frightened by noise.

More serious criticism will come from people who assure us that the racial and religious sects will never agree. This is not true. The one thing that is clear from recent history is that an outside power like ourselves never can secure harmony here. Only an Indian state stands any chance of doing so.

The main point for us is to make up our minds that we shall be prepared to leave to Indians the task of deciding with whom she will or will not federate, and the sort of federal government she will set up within her own dominions.

She might follow America and set up autonomous states, federated with the Centre; or she might choose government from the Centre. This is for them, not for us, to decide. I am certain that if those who speak for the Indian states and India under British rule are once convinced that they have free choice to remain with us or leave us, they will, on terms, desire to remain. That is, of course, if we have been able to convince them that self-government means that Indians do manage Indian affairs, just as Australia and Canada manage theirs.

We of the Labour Party have agreed with this, and have added the further stipulation that such membership must be the free will act of India.

Given equal status with all other Dominions, the people of India under the Statute of Westminster have the unequivocal right either to remain with us or go out. The Labour Movement in supporting the right of choice for India is only asking for her the same rights as those enjoyed by other Dominions.

The issues are already decided, and written down in official documents. All we have to do is to make up our minds to do what has been promised. The sands of time are running out. This nation of 300,000,000 people, occupying territory as large as Europe without Russia, awaits the coming to power of the Labour Party with its Socialist policy of democracy and freedom. I hope we shall be worthy of their faith and confidence. We have learned for ourselves that the true test of success in government is not the pomp and majesty of courts, armies, and autocrats. The well-being of nations will be found in love and comradeship. The people of the East are awakening. We are alien in religion and race, yet we eat and drink, wake and sleep, suffer pain and sickness, poverty and crime together. We are part of each other, children of one Father.

It is our God-given opportunity to wipe away the legal and other measures which prevent India entering of her own free will into the family of nations. Let us all see that we do all that in us lies to ensure that opportunity shall not be lost because of ignorance or fear.


IN the England I desire to see brought into being there will be neither armies, navies, nor air forces —no Imperialism. We shall rely not on brute force but on the bonds of co-operation, love, and brotherhood between nations, which are the only effective bonds for binding us together in peace and harmony one with another. All people desire peace, but unless there is a complete, fundamental change in our mental, moral, and spiritual outlook on life, there will never be peace.

No mere limitation of armaments is enough. Signatures on parchment are not enough. We must break with the past as completely as when a piece of metal is split in order to assist in building a bridge. Fear is our most terrible enemy. Governments and individuals fear each other. They stupidly imagine there is not room enough, not raw material enough in the world for all. They vainly imagine that wealth is only possible for the few at the expense of the poverty of the many. The servants of Abraham and Lot quarrelled and fought till Abraham, wisely realising that there was lots of room for all, moved on. There has always been plenty of room, even though nature occasionally breaks loose and destroys men and all his works.

To-day we live in a world of abundance. Our difficulty is how to dispose of tin and iron, steel and copper, rubber and wheat, and all the vegetables, fruits, meat and fish, poultry and eggs which are produced. Man in this matter is the most stupid animal on earth. Possessing great brain power, inheritor of the accumulated knowledge of the ages, the best use to which he can put these great gifts is to allow millions to suffer hunger, privation, and death because there is abundance and at the same time war against each other with the most foul and fiendish weapons in order to secure the means to obtain exclusive rights over the abundant resources nature gives to man.

I often think all of us are mad, living in a universal mad-house, so insane are we in our dealings one with another. The greatest insanity, however, is seen in the fact that all Governments described as civilised rely for security and peace on war and preparations for war. They talk of peace with their tongues and all the time get ready for the bestial work of destruction. I am writing this on June 30th in hospital. Outside, for weeks past, big and little aeroplanes have been flying overhead. To-day a great air pageant is taking place. I hate and detest the whole business. Man has learnt to fly and defy the elements. I admire and respect the young men who, risking life and limb, climb to the skies and show the wonderful knowledge, power, courage, and skill possessed by man. I considered it a privilege to count the late Lord Thomson as a friend. Yet as I hear the droning of the engines and watch the manoeuvres, and look on the buildings to be bombed, and know that all that is active in our public life and tens of thousands of people will applaud not only the courage and endurance of the airmen (all of us will ungrudgingly do that), but also approve and cheer the object for which the air force is created—when I realise this terrible abuse of knowledge and power, my heart almost fails me and faith is on the brink of despair.

Can any sane person really approve this terrible preparation for war? War of one nation, men, women and children, against another; war which means, as Mr. Baldwin says, wholesale destruction of human life and materials. I repeat, as an old man, I most sincerely respect and honour the courage and indomitable faith of the airman in his machine and himself as pilot, but it is the use of him that Governments have in view which terrifies and horrifies me. Every church throughout Christendom should, when at the bidding of King George we went to our cathedrals and churches on pilgrimage, every priest and minister should have bid us remember the warnings of the scripture and turn away from faith in such weapons and leave ourselves to the mercy and protection of God. They ought to have warned the nation that armaments mean war, that every increase brings war nearer.

Some time in the ’nineties, I remember, there was a great naval show in London. We saw torpedoes of various kinds and wonderful boats, and we were told that a big new navy would prevent war. From that time till August, 1914, Britain, France, and Germany prepared for war. All statesmen preached peace; the Czar Nicholas issued his famous rescript. The Hague Tribunal and the Entente Cordiale came into being, and were hailed as the harbingers of peace. We know now that the Entente Cordiale was the first step on the road that led to August 4th, 1914. During the same period, or just previously, war in the Sudan, war in South Africa, big and little wars on Indian frontiers, these were the occupations of Britain. There was also war between Japan and Russia, war in the Balkans. Yet all the time statesmen, kings and emperors talked and wrote of peace. Some especially gifted wiseacres carried on the stupid, ignorant propaganda that to secure peace we must be prepared for war. Well, August, 1914, came, and with it one of the most colossal and bloodiest wars of all time.

The mentality that at one and the same time worships at the manger shrine of the Prince of Peace and engages in universal slaughter has always baffled my intelligence, and does so now. How can I believe in the Fatherhood of God and the gospel of Jesus if in days like the present I support preparations for universal slaughter, knowing as I do that the British Government has refused to join Russia in an effort to secure complete and universal disarmament; has refused to join America, France, Italy, and Russia in an effort to internationalise all aerial navigation; and has refused to give up the use of bombing against people who have no power of retaliation? I ask myself, has the British nation gone mad? Are our rulers super-lunatics, not responsible for their actions? Then I think of myself. Why should I stand outside the crowd and take up an attitude which in my judgment is sane, though to the masses it seems insane? My view, and the view which I shall preach while I have breath is that the fear which causes reliance on armaments, which causes sane men to act insanely, is a baseless, senseless fear, founded on a complete misconception of life and all life should mean for us all.

To read or remember the speeches against war which have been made in one’s own life is enough to discourage and break the heart of anyone really desirous of seeing peace established and disarmament a fact. When one’s mind wanders over the prophecies of the scriptures, the promise of peace which the coming of Christ heralded, the most sanguine and enthusiastic advocate of love and brotherhood may be pardoned if, seeing the condition of the world to-day and yesterday relative to war, he becomes both cynical and hopeless. I confess that if I relied only on what I see and hear from friends and opponents alike, I should give up in despair the pursuit of peace. I am, however, not of those who give up faith and hope, and especially is this the case in regard to Socialism and international co-operation. I do, however, find myself in considerable difficulty trying to discover who the advocates of permanent peace really are. Whenever a war—no matter whether it is a small or a great struggle—breaks out, the worldwide Labour Movement, the Christian churches of all lands, advocates of peace, members of associations formed to prevent war, all discover what to them are sound, convincing reasons why the international solidarity of the working classes in the belligerent nations should be smashed to pieces. Christians of all denominations and all nations discover that God is on both sides, and that Christ himself may be asked to bless the banners of the belligerents. As to members of peace societies, these for the most part seem able to convince themselves that the particular war of the moment is quite exceptional and that their own country must be supported. The doctrine “ My country right or wrong ” is accepted and lived up to. Of course, there are very many splendid exceptions. Some men and women of all creeds and none, always and in all circumstances keep their faith. Were this not the case, our faith in each other or in any good cause would be utterly destroyed. Mr. Wilson towards the end of the Great War, when he first blazed the trail for peace and issued his Fourteen Points, appeared to many of us as a man sent from God. Very soon, however, we discovered that honest and sincere as he may have been, and as I most certainly believe he was, he was forced by circumstances he could not control, and by men more able and astute than himself, very largely to abandon his own policy and give his adherence to a policy in many respects directly opposite to that which he had laid down as just and equitable. The whole world is reaping the result of this betrayal.

I do not intend to re-hash the story of the blundering incompetence and apparent dishonesty which has characterised statesmen of all nations in the professed pursuit of peace. The past three years have seen an exhibition of make-believe such as the doings of the worst diplomats of all ages could not excel.

I hope all who read this book will get a copy of Labour’s scheme for peace and study it. It is not a scheme which out-and-out pacifists will be able to support, or which Socialists will in all respects approve. Pooled security or collective security and defining the aggressor is all to the good, and may, I hope, lead us some long way on the road to total disarmament and the abandonment of Imperialism in every shape and form.

But I am not going to content myself by referring readers to a pamphlet. I think there are certain very definite things that a Socialist Government ought to do at the outset. In the first place it should dissociate itself from any treaty, understanding, “gentleman’s agreement,” or anything which is made between our military chiefs and those of any other nations. If such agreements are now being made, or are made in the future, then a Socialist Government should repudiate them, and should publish them in full when repudiated.

The second thing that it should do would be to publish all treaties and engagements that it finds in the archives, and further announce (and pass a law) that no obligation of any kind is binding which is not published.

The third thing that it should do would be to announce that its signature would not be attached, in any circumstances, to any document binding it to make war on any condition: and that any existing treaties carrying that obligation were from that moment abrogated.

I desire that my countrymen—my England— shall lead the way clearly and definitely for peace by going much further than is at present possible. Do not think I am a person imagining vain things. It is as clear to me as to others that many conversions will have to be made among people in Britain before the Royal Air Force is abolished, and its place taken by a force raised and controlled by an international authority, or an agreement accepted whereby every dispute between ourselves and other people shall go to arbitration and ourselves pledged to accept whatever decision may be arrived at.

I am full of admiration for those who have thought out and framed this scheme, and while doing my utmost to persuade men and women to accept the full and complete pacifist position, shall support anything that appears to turn men’s minds away from reliance on brute force. I have always supported a police force in our own land; but we do not rely on the police for security. It is the goodwill of people towards each other that preserves the peace, not bolts, bars, prisons, or police; and while I support an international police force, I want people’s minds turned away from the idea that people must be kept in order. We must pin our faith to something nobler than a gas bomb or a submarine, and that is the justice of our cause, and be willing to accept the decision as to the right or wrong of our cause of those appointed as judges to decide such questions. We must decide where we will take our stand, if on force or reason. I want us unreservedly to take reason as our guide.

My object, however, in writing this book is to state what I hope a Socialist Government will attempt to do when in power in England—that is when we are a nation of Socialists. I ask you to consider why nations require armaments. Why is it that people with apparently nothing to quarrel about suddenly find themselves hating and slaughtering each other? There may be some people who love slaughter of men and animals because of bloodlust. The number of such persons is very few. Certainly most people who have taken part in war learn to hate and detest it as a bestial, loathsome business. In spite of this, people possessed of the finest characteristics of the race do fling themselves into the horrible carnage of war with enthusiasm and to the very utmost of their strength. The reason is exactly the same as that which flings good people into the Capitalist struggle for wealth. Everybody almost without exception fears poverty and want. All of us who are parents dread the thought that any of our loved ones may be out of work, poverty-stricken applicants for public assistance. This fear dogs the life of the masses, and rich people are in a similar plight, for riches still have a knack of appearing to take wings and fly away. This fear is expressed on a wider scale by the nation as a whole when war is talked about. We hear of British interests being in danger. This was the excuse given in Parliament in defence of the Opium Wars waged against China. It was to the interest of certain people who grew the opium flower in India that the Chinese should smoke large quantities of this detestable poison, and so in defiance of all that was vocal in China, opium was forced upon that nation, and at least four wars were fought to enable this to be done. The only British interest to be served in this case was the interest of those who desired to make, and did indeed make, huge fortunes out of this devilish traffic in the bodies and souls of men. Fear that this so-called British interest might be destroyed was the reason the wars were waged. All our wars against small and great Powers may be traced to the same cause. The war which we know as the Great War was waged for exactly the same reason —fear. Fear of German capitalist expansion; in all the Middle East, in the great territories in Africa, in South America, and in China her bagmen and commercial travellers were daily taking trade from Britons. Serbia was to some extent—and still is—an unimportant Power, but her position on the map of Europe made it possible for her to be used as a means of preventing the construction of an iron road across Europe into Asia for the development of German trade in the East. Ignorant people may curse the Kaiser as they will as the author of the last war. The truth is, he was but a pawn in the big struggle that has gone on since man began—the struggle for power and control of natural wealth. Neither nations nor individuals can possibly live at peace with each other if they rely on force to enable them to become wealthy and believe that ruthless competition for raw materials and markets is the only way of life.

Socialists such as will rule in the England of the future will realise this, and will also understand that the perpetuation of fear will only disappear from our lives when as individuals and nations we give up this murderous policy for economic supremacy and substitute in its place a co-operative policy which will share the good things of nature with each other. We shall get pooled security by collective action along these lines and in no other way. Mutual distrust arises when as in Middle Europe to-day new economic forces have been let loose by the creation of new states who in pursuit of the means of life have brought ruin and confusion of what remains of the older empires which they have displaced. The economic rise of Poland and Czecho-Slovakia has helped create a situation for Germany and Austria which at present appears insoluble. Had the men who made the various peace treaties been possessed of vision and imagination, they would have realised that the destruction of the economic unity of Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Russia by the creation of a score of small powers would create the confusion and anarchy which for the past sixteen years have cursed European life. A change was needed when the political power of the old empires was smashed. This was no reason for creating economic anarchy. Men possessed of vision would have created economic unity by insisting on a political and economic federation of Europe, including Russia, with self-governing units as in the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Russia. Within these unions there is absolute free trade between all parts, and Europe will be obliged, even if Capitalism continues, to adopt a similar policy. Italian, French, and German disagreements, their unwillingness to disarm, are entirely due to economic insecurity which all Governments believe can only be secured by the maintenance of huge armies and armaments for the purpose of holding valuable areas of coal and iron and steel deposits to the exclusion of their neighbours.

I am not wanting to be unduly censorious, but I do think it is imperative that we Britishers should clear our minds on this subject. We ought to realise, when we hear talk of the White Man’s burden, that what that means is that we have fought our way into every corner of the globe, and hold, by force, huge portions of the richest parts of the world.

Lincoln Steffens, the American publicist, in his autobiography just published, tells an illuminating story of the Peace Conference, which runs roughly as follows: Clemenceau asked his colleagues whether they were really in earnest in their professed determination to disarm and thus make future wars impossible. Wilson, Lloyd George, and the rest said, “Yes, of course.” “Then,” replied Clemenceau, “we must all give up our overseas possessions. France must give up North Africa, America the Philippines, Great Britain India, and so on.” Whereupon all these peace- loving statesmen again with one accord declared that this was not what they intended, and proceeded to draft clauses for the Peace Treaty which disarmed Germany alone and merely promised themselves and the world that general disarmament would follow later.

But as a result of the determination of the Western Governments to hold down their colonies, these promises were vain, however sincere the men were who made them. I do not deny that sincere efforts have been made towards disarmament. Politicians and diplomats have worked very hard. Innumerable conferences have been held since 1920. Men as dissimilar as Viscount Cecil, MacDonald, and Henderson—greatest of them all in the cause of peace—Chamberlain, Briand, Stresemann, and many others have toiled incessantly for disarmament.

But their most earnest endeavours were useless because the nations they represented wanted something impossible. They wanted to disarm and to hold and increase their imperialist gains. This is an impossible hope. Consequently, after negotiations lasting three years, the inevitable end has come. The whole result of it all has been that the one disarmed power, Germany, is proposing to rearm. We are offered only a repetition of the same promise that some day everybody will disarm.

I am not ashamed to confess that I believed that the League of Nations would by collective action bring the world to reason and disarmament, and that I am now bound to admit that I was wrong. Others may still hold the views I once did, but I feel now that there is no chance for either disarmament or peace until the nations who desire peace determine to abolish the economic conditions that create and keep going the war spirit. The Great War was not fought for fun or because men enjoy slaughter. Psychological explanations which tell us that it was an outburst of human nature's natural will towards war and combativeness are unconvincing. The War was not fought from a spirit of pugnacity, for adventure, or in a burst of rage. Nor was it fought for freedom or to save the oppressed. It was not Belgium and its invasion which led France, Russia, and Britain to prepare their schemes against Germany long before 1914, or the German Kaiser to build a huge navy and increase his armies in alliance with Austria, also long before 1914. The Great War was fought for economic reasons. At the end, victors and vanquished found themselves half-ruined in the process.

And now history is repeating itself. The Vienna Conference held after the final defeat of Napoleon was held to lay down terms for a new world of peace and security. Alas, all hopes were smashed and the big powers, just as at Versailles, shared the plunder. The wicked cutting up of Poland was one of the vilest betrayals which followed the professions of those who attended that Conference.

After the Great War the League of Nations came into being with its Solemn Covenant and Articles pledging action against those who might be guilty in the future of breaking the peace of the world. Soon after, the Powers with interests in the Pacific signed a pact guaranteeing the integrity and independence of China. Then came the Kellogg Pact which solemnly pledged the signatories never to resort to war.

Each time a new treaty was signed pledging peace the real will to peace actually decreased. Neither in South America nor in the Far East has the League secured action against war-makers. The Pact guaranteeing China her integrity has proved worthless. The Kellogg Treaty is an empty promise since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. No reliance is now placed on any of these treaties by any Governments: they all increase steadily their guns, their submarines, and their aeroplanes.

Why is this the case? Surely, there is but one answer. Statesmen fear each other and do not believe each other. In disarmament conversations each brazenly proposes to abolish weapons dangerous to his own country and retain those which it can use most effectively for its own purpose. I have often said privately that all who take part in Governments are, in these matters, invariably not willing to tell the truth. You may say I must include myself. Yes, I do. The fact is we are all carried away with the idea that words when used by diplomats have a different meaning from when used by ordinary people. We forget what is the essential dishonesty that blocks all our efforts. No great Power is willing to give up its imperialist policy. All desire to hold what they, by force, have stolen, and to have the power to take more should necessity arise. Until this condition of things is changed there is no hope for permanent peace. Treaties are still scraps of paper, and “ necessity knows no law” is still the ruling motto with states desiring advantages over their neighbours. If these can be secured by bribery, persuasion, or other peaceable means, well and good. If not, then force in spite of treaties and agreements must be used, and the Great Powers all admit this to be the case.

Japan is not an uncivilised nation, neither is China. Both were members of the League of Nations, both signed the Kellogg Pact, both sat as colleagues in the Council Chamber, both attended the Disarmament Conference. Yet Japan has coolly invaded China, annexed huge provinces, set up a puppet Government, and defies the world to turn her out. The League, after months of delay, has denounced her as the aggressor, and Japan has given notice to leave the League. Before doing so, in words which will for ever be remembered, the leading representative of Japan threw across the Council Hall a challenge to the European Powers: “ Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Japan, late in the day, has entered the field of capitalist exploitation, and is following in the footsteps of those Powers who trampled under foot the Chinese and other Asiatic nations, and for a time held Japan in thraldom simply to secure economic advantages and unearned wealth.

Although the League is a ghastly failure, I am not in favour of abandoning it in despair. We must hold on to the present League, hopeless and helpless as it is to hold its members in check. But all Socialists, and certainly all Christians, must work for the reconstitution of the League of Nations into an organisation which will abolish all forms of Imperialism. The first step in this direction is to make the League truly representative of all races. The peoples of Africa and Asia should be free to join and to bring their grievances against the Powers to the tribunal and arbitration of the League. I do not mean literally arbitration by the League. I do not think members of the League should try and judge each other. The International Tribunal at the Hague should be given increased scope and power to consider all international disputes and give decisions which all should be willing to accept.

There must be for us Socialists no halting at half-way houses. Our goal internationally must be a federation which will give mankind full and complete economic co-operation. We must extract ourselves from the strife which competition for raw materials and markets engenders, and instead of wishing to paint the map red for Britain or America only, we must without reservation be willing to share with others what we at present possess. There is no other way of salvation. International wars are caused because of these economic disputes which are fundamental and inevitable under Capitalism. So let us concentrate and dedicate ourselves to the task of converting our own people to the principles of co-operation.

You may say this is Utopian. No, it is truth and common sense. We must accept Clemenceau’s challenge and be prepared to put our all on the altar of peace and goodwill, and cease singing “God who made us mighty, make us mightier yet.” There is not a shred of support anywhere for the theory that we English are God’s chosen people to dominate and exploit the world. It is sheer blasphemy to suggest anything of the sort. If we have a mission, and I most sincerely believe we have, it is to lead the world away from war at home and abroad along the road to peace.

We who lived through the last war know how near to smashing everything worth while we were. We know how cheap human life became, and the horrors men inflicted on each other. But who can forecast what may happen if another, more devastating, war should come? All our plans for betterment would be swept away and another period of stark barbarism ensue. But, friends, this will not be. You and I remain. We Trade Unionists, Socialists, Co-operators. We will unite and by our propaganda and example lead the world back to the Galilean and follow the example of those early Christians who for three centuries endured terrible persecution and death rather than join in the mass murder of their fellow men and women.

We must give up relying on the belief that we can stop a war by a general strike, or by individual action against war when it comes. I should support these or any other measures men might take, but I know that once the danger of war comes, people’s minds are tortured through fear. It is now, not then that we must prevent war; and so I urge our great movement to make a new start, support every effort by whomsoever it is made to lessen armaments and spread the love of peace. Let us boldly take our stand on the firm, solid rock of truth and tell the world that our coming to power will mean the abandonment of Imperialism, and a mighty effort to re-create the League of Nations on the basis of economic co-operation—a co-operation which will mean that no nation will exploit another but all will work for the common good. We could then cheerfully abolish all armaments and rely simply on a police force organised solely for police purposes while these are needed. I want you, though, to have the faith and confidence that once the economic causes of war are removed, there will be no reason for either police or armies. At present an international police force controlled by Powers dominated by Imperialism might be a great danger. My appeal is for a new vision, a new international order within which Imperialism will have no place.

Great Britain under Capitalism leads the world parts of the world. We have most to give up. We shall be safer, stronger, and wealthier because we shall have discovered that the true bulwarks and defence of nations are to be found, not in the strength and power of its armaments, but in the truth and justice displayed in its relations with other nations; and in its faith that the good of each people is the good of all; that in this beautiful world there is room for all, and that with faith in our ideals of universal brotherhood we shall establish that federation of the world by which alone we shall escape the terrors of war and enter on the blessings of peace.
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Part 4 of 4

Fifteen: FASCISM

THE growth of Fascism throughout the world was for a very long time watched by Englishmen with a sort of light-hearted indifference. We held our meetings of protest and were genuinely indignant at such horrors as the murder of Matteotti. But we always believed, openly or secretly, that regimes of such degraded brutality could never be set up in countries like ours, with constitutional traditions and, what is more important, a strong Labour and Trade Union Movement. Such disasters might happen to foreign countries, not to us. We maintained, most of us, the same aloofness when Hitler first appeared on the horizon in Germany. He proclaimed a frantic nationalist creed of egoism and hatred, and demanded Germany for Germans, with a total exclusion of all those not of Aryan blood (though nobody can tell you what an Aryan is), and especially Jews, from all positions of trust in industry or the State. His bombastic speeches were not only cruel and silly; they seemed also to be the sort of dreary nonsense that nobody would listen to. So we continued to receive them with a sort of hilarity and contempt. But while we, and even some Germans, thought in this way, Hitler had behind him enormous secret funds and an ever-growing private army. Early in 1933 he seized power by a trick arranged with some of the Junkers then in power, and from that moment it became clear that Fascism or Nazism was nothing to be laughed at. As newspaper and private reports came to hand telling of the complete suppression of all freedom of press, speech, or organisation, of deliberate and organised murders and floggings, we asked ourselves, could this be the Germany that broke the Kaiser, and that by a general strike in 1920 defeated the Royalist attempts at restoration? Alas, the news was only too true. The Germany of 1920 still exists, but it has been submerged and terrified by an outburst of a kind of bloodlust which attacked and destroyed most mercilessly Communists, Trade Unionists, Social Democrats, Jews, Co-operators, Democrats, Republicans—in fact, everyone who would not subscribe to a creed which in England would be repudiated even by the most extreme Tories. There was more to destroy in Germany than there was in Italy years before, so the blood baths were bloodier, the tortured more numerous, and the terror more Complete.

Since Hitler came to power the usual results of massacre have followed. Those who took to the sword have died by the sword. Rohm, Heines, and some hundred others (how many no one knows) have been slaughtered in a sort of gangster war. Dolfuss, who installed a similar regime in Austria on the dead bodies of the Socialists, has been killed by a rival set of murderers. But out of all these murders there has come no prospect of freedom, only a likelihood of more blood and misery.

It is not sense, however, to imagine that we can explain the horrible history of these countries by thinking that Germans, Austrians, and Italians are more stupid or more brutal than other nations. Every nation has a proportion of criminals of the Fascist type, and an even larger group of foolish people who are taken in by violent nationalist ravings. What we have to ask ourselves is: how did it happen that these types of people were able to get control in those countries? The answer is not very difficult. Mussolini and Hitler did not gain their power merely by appealing to pugnacity and hatred. These emotions have always existed. It was economic necessity that made their appeal successful. The peoples of Italy and Germany had been driven into a corner by the economic disaster—the same disaster as is pressing less heavily on ourselves—and no other party or combination of parties had been able to find a way out.

This was the essential reason, even more important than the failure of the Socialists and Communists to unite before the Fascist danger. This was important enough. If they had been able to unite, they might have staved off the danger for the moment. They might have gained a breathing space, and a breathing space might have meant salvation. But such a unity could be no more than a momentary defence against a sudden attack. It could not possibly turn back the Fascist tide unless those two parties were agreed upon a constructive programme of the way out, which would have provided for the common man an immediate release from his miseries. And on this point these two parties are so far apart still that that was not possible.

When we are inclined to condemn the German Socialists and German Communists for their supineness we must remember that men who feel deeply and who think they see the road out of chaos and disorder clearer than anyone else must not be cursed because of their inability to change their most cherished convictions suddenly. Equally we must not imagine that we have no gentlemen in our island who would not behave as savagely as any Nazi, given a chance. We English have some black records. The methods employed against Ireland during her long years of subjugation—especially by the Black and Tans—the massacres of the Indians after the Mutiny, our Imperialist ways of putting Soudanese, Chinese, Zulus and Afghans “ in their places ” are not such that entitle us to imagine ourselves superior to other nations. We have also to remember that we ourselves have some share of responsibility for the existence even of German Nazism. The victorious Allies and the German Kaiser must share with Hitler the disgrace and shame which the present German Government has brought upon the German nation. The ghastly war, the penal peace, the hypocritical disarmament of Germany as a pretended prelude to general disarmament— all these penalties, including the loss of all her colonies, drove the German nation to despair and forced the Germans to accept the promises of Hitler that the German nation should now, by discipline, hard work, and loyalty to Germany alone recover her manhood and free herself from the economic thraldom and the threat of war.

But however true this is, and however many excuses we may be prepared to make for the Germans, it does not mean that we ought for a minute to tolerate the expansion of Fascism any further than it has already gone. We must resist the spreading of this disease as vigorously as we can, no matter how it started or where it appears in our country. The British race, so far as the forms of democracy are concerned, is the one strong bulwark against the universal spread of this evil form of government. At present the British Commonwealth of Nations is free of this tyranny. I hope that throughout the Commonwealth there will be an ever-growing force of public opinion that will prevent the development of this deadly poison. But though I hope this, I am not of those who think there is no danger of dictatorship in this country. In spite of what has happened on the Continent, and the disgust expressed in the Press and by public men, there are many people in Britain who are tired of the word Democracy and view the coming to power of a Socialist Government with dismay. Some of them try to dress up Fascism in more polite costumes than the German. Such people as Lord Salisbury, for example, hope to endow the House of Lords with dictatorial powers by destroying the limitations imposed on their lordships by the Parliament Act. They will become Fascists the moment a chance appears. Officers serving with the forces, others who have retired but still yearn for a job of ordering people about, Tory members of Parliament, one or two bishops, some clergy and literary persons, have either joined the British Blackshirts or are quite obviously and openly in sympathy with this form of Government, which pleases them chiefly as a means of keeping the workers in subjection and defeating all Socialist plans for national ownership of land and industry. I am not taking these people too seriously when I say they are a public danger, because they preach and practise the doctrine that an organised and well-to-do minority has the right by force to overturn the constitution. Nobody, least of all I myself, would dream of interfering with peaceful propaganda, but when propaganda means bloody revolution, such propaganda should be instantly stopped.

In case you may think I am being nervous or fanciful about this danger, and not in order to revive any bitter feeling, I must remind you of one or two incidents. The most significant is the Ulster rebellion before the War. This was actually organised, and not even organised secretly, by members of His Majesty’s Privy Council. Army and naval officers let it be known that they would not obey orders if called upon to act against the army of rebels. In more peaceful times than to-day, and in the light of day, with a Liberal Government in power, Carson’s revolutionaries raised and equipped an army numbering 100,000 men, officered by men who had taken the Oath of Allegiance, and now openly declared their intention of breaking it. No one was ever punished for this seditious behaviour. No one was court- martialled. Those concerned, who desired to do so, were allowed just to retire. Mr. Asquith, as he then was, appeared to be acting with energy at one minute when he took on the office of Secretary for War in addition to the Premiership, but even he, aided by Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, was quite unable to muster up courage enough to disperse this illegal army or to stop the continued importation into Ireland of arms and ammunition from Germany. The Act of Parliament granting Home Rule to Ireland was not allowed by these rebels to come into force and later on was actually repealed.

Here was a case of a coup by the same sort of gentlemen as will fill the Fascist ranks which was completely successful. The Government of the day bowed before it. They did not bow before it because the Ulstermen were honest and devoted to their cause, and because their own kind Liberal hearts would not allow them to use coercion. When James Conolly and others, who were not gentlemen and did not belong to the best clubs, revolted, the British governing class found it could persecute and suppress sincere and devoted men with the greatest comfort to its own conscience.

What has happened before will happen again. Conservative and Liberal Governments have a tender heart for Fascist violence, and insurrectionary and illegal movements are allowed indulgently to grow up in the shadow of the Government, with no more than a verbal rebuke. The present “ National ” Government has given an obvious proof that it is as cowardly and foolishly complaisant as the Liberals were at the time of Curragh. Is it possible to imagine that Socialists or Communists would have been allowed to equip a private army and drill it, and proceed on a path of incitement to violence and hatred up to a horribly brutal scene like that at Olympia? Of course not! Sentences of imprisonment would have rained left and right. But only a mild verbal disapproval has been expressed of the Blackshirt bravoes.

This is partly, of course, due to another significant piece of Government policy—Lord Trenchard’s alteration of the character of the Metropolitan Police Force. We in the Labour Movement thoroughly distrust the new organisation of the Metropolitan Police Force. This has, in our judgment, turned the Metropolitan Force into a class organisation. Nor is it only in London that the safeguarding of the right of public meeting and of marching is carried out by the police in a biased manner. The incidents in Suffolk in connection with the Tithe dispute with the theatrical erection of barricades would not have been allowed if Communists or Trade Unionists had been concerned; and though in the end prosecutions did take place, nothing of any consequence happened to those arrested. Working people would not have been allowed to do this kind of thing without interference from the police. And compare the force of police detailed off to control a march of half-starved unemployed from East London with the very scanty escort provided to watch the Blackshirts, though Olympia showed us how far these gentry are to be trusted to be well-behaved ! The propaganda of the Fascists is a direct attack on the Constitution. They organise and drill openly as did the Ulster rebels for the purpose of gaining by force what they demand if they can get their way by no other means. They are treated with exactly the same amiable indulgence. They are not prosecuted. Tom Mann is; and that not for what he has done or said he would do but what he might say or do.

Other advances towards a Fascist State have already been made in Parliament since the Labour Government was tricked out of office, just as Dr. Bruning’s changes in Constitutional procedure paved the path for Hitler. Three men, subject to nobody and checked only by one muddled vote in Parliament, may put what tax they please on imports. The two Walters, Runciman and Elliot, have been given power to give quotas to every form of agricultural produce and other industries, including shipping. The past three years have shown in general a great advance in the practice of legislation by reference and handing over vast administrative powers to ministers. In one direc¬ tion in particular we have taken a long step along the road to dictatorship: a small Junta of men and a woman has been given absolute power of life and death for a period of years over all able-bodied persons needing public assistance. This proposal now embodied in an Act of Parliament was supported by huge majorities in both Houses. Only Socialists and Trade Unionists, aided by some Liberals, strenuously opposed this new form of dictatorship. Although many leading statesmen denounce Fascism, when they almost in the same breath vote for measures like this, they are encouraging what they profess to condemn.

There is a daily crescendo of contempt poured out against elected persons. The world economic breakdown is laid at the door of democratic Governments. There is much to be said against the pomposity and ignorance of some elected persons, but it is a species of madness to put every evil which befalls man down to the ignorance or cupidity of Governments. Those who rule in a country such as ours may and do help or hinder the nation in its everyday work, but ultimately prosperity or poverty depends entirely upon whether we accept one social order or another as best to live under. The forms of democracy we have inherited give us that power. This is the fundamental difference between Social Democrats and Fascists. The Blackshirts who organise in Britain tell us kindly that they will retain the forms of democracy but will use these forms as they were used under Hitler at the German elections. In Germany the Dictator controlled the Press, wire¬ less, and public meetings, and all voters were free —free to vote as he told them. Hitler’s followers took good care to see the vast majority did as they were told. After the election the Parliament was closed. It is nothing but nauseating cant and humbug for British Fascists to mention the word “democracy” in connection with such humbug and make-believe. It is possible to respect men who denounce democracy and claim the right of themselves as being the most fit to rule to seize power, but to mix up democracy with the pure despotism in Italy and Germany is a trick so insolent as to deceive no one. Be sure that all who support the British Fascist movement must be taken as those who believe in one-man rule as against the will of the many, and as for those who tell us democracy is too firmly rooted in this country ever to be overthrown, my answer is “Open your eyes, see what is happening, and remember what happened twenty-five years ago.” Who, in 1906, would have imagined it possible that the Ulster rebellion could have been organised under the eyes of a Liberal Government and be victorious over it? Those who control news and those who rule us and who believe in Capitalism are as fanatical in their beliefs as we are, and if the system of life which they accept as something sacrosanct is likely to be destroyed by a Socialist Government, it is perfectly possible they may turn to the Blackshirts for salvation.

Even apart from this there is a grave danger of a Fascist advance in Britain. Our country is rapidly being filled up with a new propertyless class of workers: black-coated workers increase and multiply, manual workers in productive industries grow less. But the educated classes who have escaped the thraldom of manual labour now find themselves faced with the problem of unemployment which they once thought was only the fate of the “ lower orders.” The effect of the formation of huge national and international trusts and combinations, improved machinery and all that is called rationalisation have entered counting houses and warehouses, and as a result many thousands of these mostly young and middle-aged people turn a ready ear to those who promise a short, easy road to salvation. There is a whole host of young enthusiasts, men and women, who love England and believe in her destiny, and who see that some rapid action is needed. They have seen two Labour Governments come and go and nothing very striking happen. Unemployment, poverty, destitution, preparations for war continued; indeed, these evils seem to thrive and prosper. No one is able to promise any quick turn towards sanity. The Blackshirt message, based on a hoary-headed falsehood, seems to promise immediate relief. The unwary, not understanding that no great change such as is now needed to save mankind is possible without the conscious willing consent of the masses, are apt to accept at their face value the promises of these men who follow leaders who dress them in uniforms and teach them to march and drill. There is always an appeal which the egoist dressed in a theatrical manner and with great powers of speech and pride in himself is able to exercise with great effect on the unthinking and those who like the glamour and excitement such persons know how to create. Although this may be so, our Labour Movement should be able by its propaganda and earnestness to counter and make very small all such organisations as those of the Blackshirts. The Labour Movement must revise its propaganda so as to appeal, more intelligibly to these harassed and desperate members of society. We must realise that the progress of Capitalism is ironing out, like a vast steam-roller, class differences that once seemed immense. Producers in every grade, the clerk and the artisan, the book-keeper, and the navvy, are all liable to replacement, one by the uncanny mechanical book-keeper, and the other by the steam shovel. Many small employers and shopkeepers live an even more precarious existence than the workers they employ. The multiple store, the huge combine, ruthlessly crushes both. We of the Labour Movement must throw down all barriers and call into our ranks men and women of all trades and classes. There is a place for all of them. They need us to save them from the poverty with which present-day conditions threaten them. These are the classes from which the Blackshirts hope to gain their support by the old gospel of divide and conquer. Our business is to teach the exact opposite. Unity will save us all; unity that means we are all working toward one end which is to free our nation from the curse of usury, competition, and greed.

This may be very fine talk, you may say, but what will a Labour Government do in fact if it is faced with a militant Fascist Movement? I can answer at once that one thing is certain: no Socialist Government worthy of the name will ever allow private armies of any sort or kind to be raised, and officers and men in the services and police, will, I feel sure, be as willing to help maintain law and order under a Socialist as under any other Government. The few who may wish to rebel would be faithfully dealt with and compelled to leave at once the services they had dishonoured. Not in any circumstances will a Socialist Government allow organised bodies of any kind to march and drill in uniform. No self- respecting Government can possibly allow any set of people to organise for its overthrow. We do not allow citizens to murder each other or to burgle their neighbours’ houses. People who are pacifists have never, so far as I know, advocated the abolition of the police force, or declared in favour of allowing everybody to do as they please. Whether this be the case or not, I am quite certain that all those who may attempt to impede by unlawful means the work of a Socialist Government which has received a mandate for Socialism from the electors will receive short shrift. No armed forces will be allowed except those needed for the protection of all citizens. Both officers and men connected with the police or other forces may rest assured that no repetition of Curragh Camp incidents will be tolerated. I do not believe and never have thought that any large number of officers or men will prove either disloyal to the King or the Government, and I only mention the determination of a Socialist Government to keep order and preserve the constitution. This may appear to some people inconsistent with my advocacy elsewhere of a general Christian attitude. I am sorry if it appears so: I do not think it is so. Our objective is the abolition of international war, and I cannot see how that aim should require us to permit the cold-blooded organisation of a civil war. We know exactly what follows upon a Fascist victory, and if we do not as soon as we can make sure that it is impossible, then we are not friends to peace at all.

So, with regard to resistance by the Blackshirts or the House of Lords or the bankers or anyone else, I repeat that no nonsense will be tolerated. The mandate given by the electors will be carried out in its entirety. We shall do this in a satisfactory and complete manner the more certainly if we are supported by a great majority at the polls. But, large or small majority, I am sure the days will be ended when self-appointed dictators, backed by vested interests, whether these be financial, banking, money-lending magnates, or Fascist organisations, will be allowed to flaunt themselves and their mischievous propaganda throughout the land. A free Press and free speech will be allowed to all, but we shall put an end to all fraudulent and other organised efforts by whomsoever these may be made to overthrow a Socialist Government. It has been said that no intrigue, no organisation is really dangerous once the aims are known. We know what Fascism is: we know it now not merely by its propaganda but also by its deeds. It is a good saying which tells us “ By their fruits you shall know them.” The fruits of Fascism are to be seen all over Europe in the suppression of every sort and kind of individual freedom. We may and do find reasons to explain why various nations have submitted to this most cruel and brutal of all tyrannies. None of these make this monstrous destruction of freedom either tolerable or acceptable. We must, therefore, organise all who will join us and in the most determined manner counter the Blackshirt propaganda by putting before the nation our Socialist policy, and by our conduct enable people to understand once Socialists come to power they will commence building the truly Co-operative State.  
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John Reed (journalist)
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John "Jack" Reed
Reed circa 1915
Born: John Silas Reed, October 22, 1887, Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Died: October 17, 1920 (aged 32), Moscow, Russian Soviet Republic
Cause of death: Scrub typhus
Resting place: Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Nationality: American
Education: Harvard University
Occupation: Journalist
Political party: Communist Labor Party of America
Spouse(s): Louise Bryant (m. 1916; his death 1920)

John Silas Reed (October 22, 1887 – October 17, 1920) was an American journalist, poet, and communist activist, best remembered for Ten Days That Shook the World, his firsthand account of the November 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia. He is one of three Americans honored by being buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis (the others are labor organizer Bill Haywood and Charles Ruthenburg, founder of the Communist Party USA).

Early life

John Silas Reed was born on October 22, 1887, in his maternal grandparents' mansion in what is now the Goose Hollow neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. His grandmother's household had Chinese servants.[1] Reed wrote of paying a nickel to a "Goose Hollowite" (young toughs in a gang in the working-class neighborhood below King's Hill) to keep from being beaten up. In 2001 a memorial bench dedicated to Reed was installed in Washington Park, which overlooks the site of Reed's birthplace (the mansion no longer exists).[2]

His mother, Margaret (Green) Reed, was the daughter of Portland industrialist Henry Dodge Green,[3] who had made a fortune founding and operating three businesses: the first gas & light company, the first pig iron smelter on the West Coast, and the Portland water works (he was its second owner).[4] SW Green Avenue was named in his honor.[3]

John's father, Charles Jerome Reed, was born in the East and came to Portland as the representative of an agricultural machinery manufacturer. With his ready wit, he quickly won acceptance in Portland's business community.[5] The couple had married in 1886, and the family's wealth came from the Green side, not the Reed side.

A sickly child, young Jack grew up surrounded by nurses and servants. His mother carefully selected his upper-class playmates. He had a brother, Harry, who was two years younger.[6] Jack and his brother were sent to the recently established Portland Academy, a private school.[7] Jack was bright enough to pass his courses but could not be bothered to work for top marks, as he found school dry and tedious.[8] In September 1904, he was sent to Morristown, a New Jersey prep school, to prepare for college. His father, who did not attend college, wanted his sons to go to Harvard.[9] At Morristown Jack continued his poor classroom performance, but made the football team and showed some literary promise.[10]

The Harvard Monthly Vol. 44 (1907)
A Thousand years ago we two were young
And dwelt in that gray castle by the sea,
Whose sombre surges swayed eternally
The dreary rhythm of some forgotten song;
And nothing lived nor moved the whole day long
Save you and I; and through our ceaseless tears
We saw the vista of those tragic years,
And godlike Arthur's soul with passion wrung.
List to the awful kingly dirge; the sea
Pours out his grieving heart with anguished wail
Against the gray deserted cliffs, the while
A dazzling presence shows its light to me;
I, blinded, whisper, "Art thou, then, the Grail?"
And "Nay" it answers,"but the sad queen's smile."
-- John S. Reed

Reed failed his first attempt at Harvard College's admission exam but passed on his second try, and enrolled in the fall of 1906.[11][12] Tall, handsome, and lighthearted, he threw himself into all manner of student activities. He was a member of the cheerleading team, the swimming team, and the dramatic club, served on the editorial boards of the Lampoon and The Harvard Monthly, and was president of the Harvard Glee Club. In 1910 he held a position in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and also wrote music and lyrics for their show Diana's Debut. Reed failed to make the football and crew teams, but excelled in swimming and water polo.[13] He was also made "Ivy orator and poet" in his senior year.

Reed attended meetings of the Socialist Club, over which his friend Walter Lippmann presided, but never joined. The group introduced legislation into the state legislature, attacked the university for failing to pay its servants living wages, and petitioned the administration to establish a course on socialism.[14] Reed later recalled:

All this made no ostensible difference in the look of Harvard society, and probably the club-men and the athletes, who represented us to the world, never even heard of it. But it made me, and many others, realize that there was something going on in the dull outside world more thrilling than college activities, and turned our attention to the writings of men like H.G. Wells and Graham Wallas, wrenching us away from the Oscar Wildian dilettantism which had possessed undergraduate litterateurs for generations.[15]

Reed graduated from Harvard College in 1910. That summer he set out to see more of the "dull outside world," visiting England, France, and Spain before returning home to America the following spring.[16] Reed worked as a common laborer on a cattle boat to pay his fare to Europe. His travels were encouraged by his favorite professor, Charles Townsend Copeland ("Copey"), who told him he must "see life" if he wanted to successfully write about it.[17]



Reed had determined to become a journalist, and set out to make his mark in New York, a center of the industry. Reed made use of a valuable contact from Harvard, Lincoln Steffens, who was establishing a reputation as a muckraker. He appreciated Reed's skills and intellect at an early date. Steffens landed his young admirer an entry-level position on The American Magazine, where he read manuscripts, corrected proofs, and later helped with the composition. Reed supplemented his salary by taking an additional job as the business manager of a new short-lived quarterly magazine called Landscape Architecture.[18]

A native of Oregon, John Reed made New York City the base of his operations.

Reed made his home in Greenwich Village, a burgeoning hub of poets, writers, activists, and artists. He came to love New York, relentlessly exploring it and writing poems about it. His formal jobs on the magazines paid the rent, but it was as a freelance journalist that Reed sought to establish himself. He collected rejection slips, circulating an essay and short stories about his six months in Europe, eventually breaking through in The Saturday Evening Post. Within a year, Reed had other work accepted by Collier's, The Forum, and The Century Magazine. One of his poems was set to music by composer Arthur Foote. The editors at The American came to see him as a contributor and began to publish his work.[19]

Reed's serious interest in social problems was first aroused about this time by Steffens and Ida Tarbell. He moved beyond them to a more radical political position than theirs. In 1913 he joined the staff of The Masses, edited by Max Eastman. Reed contributed more than 50 articles, reviews, and shorter pieces to this socialist publication.

The first of Reed's many arrests came in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1913, for attempting to speak on behalf of strikers in the New Jersey silk mills. The harsh treatment meted out by the authorities to the strikers and the short jail term he served further radicalized Reed. He allied with the general socialist union[20], the Industrial Workers of the World.[21] His account of his experiences was published in June as an article, "War in Paterson." During the same year, following a suggestion made by IWW leader Bill Haywood, Reed put on "The Pageant of the Paterson Strike" in Madison Square Garden as a benefit for the strikers.[21]

In the autumn of 1913, Reed was sent to Mexico by the Metropolitan Magazine to report the Mexican Revolution.[22] He shared the perils of Pancho Villa's army for four months and was with Villa's Constitutional (Constitutionalist) Army (whose "Primer Jefe" political chief was Venustiano Carranza) when it defeated Federal forces at Torreón, opening the way for its advance on Mexico City.[23] Reed adored Villa, but Carranza left him cold.

Reed's reporting on the Villistas in a series of outstanding magazine articles gained him a national reputation as a war correspondent. Reed deeply sympathized with the peons and vehemently opposed American intervention. Reed's reports were collected and published as the book Insurgent Mexico (1914).

On April 30, 1914, Reed arrived in Colorado, scene of the recent Ludlow massacre, a result of owners' suppression of labor organizing. There he spent a little more than a week, during which he investigated the events, spoke on behalf of the miners, and wrote an impassioned article on the subject ("The Colorado War", published in July). He came to believe much more deeply in class conflict.[24]

Reed spent summer 1914 in Provincetown, Massachusetts with Mabel Dodge and her son, putting together Insurgent Mexico and interviewing President Wilson on the subject. The resulting report, much watered down at White House insistence, was not a success.[25]

War correspondent

On August 14, 1914, shortly after Germany declared war on France, Reed set sail for neutral Italy, on assignment for the Metropolitan. He met his lover Mabel Dodge in Naples, and the pair made their way to Paris. Reed believed the war was the result of imperialist commercial rivalries and felt little sympathy for any of the parties.

In an unsigned piece titled "The Traders' War," published in the September 1914 issue of The Masses, Reed wrote:

The real War, of which this sudden outburst of death and destruction is only an incident, began long ago. It has been raging for tens of years, but its battles have been so little advertised that they have been hardly noted. It is a clash of Traders...

What has democracy to do in alliance with Nicholas, the Tsar? Is it Liberalism which is marching from the Petersburg of Father Gapon, from the Odessa of the pogroms?...

No. There is a falling out among commercial rivals....

We, who are Socialists, must hope—we may even expect—that out of this horror of bloodshed and dire destruction will come far-reaching social changes—and a long step forward towards our goal of Peace among Men.

But we must not be duped by this editorial buncombe about Liberalism going forth to Holy War against Tyranny.

This is not Our War.[26]

In France, Reed was frustrated by wartime censorship and the difficulty of reaching the front. Reed and Dodge went to London, and Dodge soon left for New York, to Reed's relief. The rest of 1914 he spent drinking with French prostitutes and pursuing an affair with a German woman.[27] The pair went to Berlin in early December. While there, Reed interviewed Karl Liebknecht, one of the few socialists in Germany to vote against war credits. Reed was deeply disappointed by the general collapse in working-class solidarity promised by the Second International, and by its replacement with militarism and nationalism.[28]

Reed c. 1917

He returned to New York in December and wrote more about the war. In 1915 he traveled to Central Europe, accompanied by Boardman Robinson, a Canadian artist and frequent Masses contributor. Traveling from Thessaloniki, they saw scenes of profound devastation in Serbia (including a bombed-out Belgrade), also going through Bulgaria and Romania. They passed through the Jewish Pale of Settlement in Bessarabia. In Chełm they were arrested and incarcerated for several weeks. At risk of being shot for espionage, they were saved by the American ambassador.

Traveling to Russia, Reed was outraged to learn that the American ambassador in Petrograd was inclined to believe they were spies. Reed and Robinson were rearrested when they tried to slip into Romania. This time the British ambassador (Robinson being a British subject) finally secured permission for them to leave, but not until after all their papers were seized in Kiev. In Bucharest, the duo spent time piecing together more of their journey. At one point Reed traveled to Constantinople in hopes of seeing action at Gallipoli. From these experiences he wrote the book, The War in Eastern Europe, published in April 1916.

After returning to New York, Reed visited his mother in Portland. There he met and fell in love with Louise Bryant, who joined him on the East coast in January 1916. Though happy, both also had affairs with others, in accordance with their bohemian circle and ideas about sexual liberation. Early in 1916 Reed met the young playwright Eugene O'Neill. Beginning that May, the three rented a cottage in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a summer destination on Cape Cod for many artists and writers from Greenwich Village. Not long after, Bryant and O'Neill began a romance.[29]

That summer Reed covered the Presidential nominating conventions. He endorsed Woodrow Wilson, believing that he would make good on his promise to keep America out of the war.[30] In November 1916 he married Bryant in Peekskill, New York. The same year, he underwent an operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital to remove a kidney. He was hospitalized until mid-December.[31] The operation rendered him ineligible for conscription and saved him from registering as a conscientious objector, as had been his intention. During 1916 he privately published Tamburlaine and Other Verses, in an edition of 500 copies.

As the country raced towards war, Reed was marginalized: his relationship with the Metropolitan was over. He pawned his late father's watch and sold his Cape Cod cottage to the birth control activist and sex educator Margaret Sanger.[32]

When Wilson asked for a declaration of war on April 2, 1917, Reed shouted at a hastily convened meeting of the People's Council in Washington: "This is not my war, and I will not support it. This is not my war, and I will have nothing to do with it."[33] In July and August Reed continued to write vehement articles against the war for The Masses, which the United States Post Office Department refused to mail, and for Seven Arts. Due to antiwar articles by Reed and Randolph Bourne, the arts magazine lost its financial backing and ceased publication.[34] Reed was stunned by the nation's pro-war fervor, and his career lay in ruins.

Witness to the Russian Revolution

Worker of the American labor movement, internationalist writer, John Reed. Stamp of USSR, 1987.

On August 17, 1917, Reed and Bryant set sail from New York to Europe, having first provided the State Department with legally sworn assurances that neither would represent the Socialist Party at a forthcoming conference in Stockholm.[35] The pair were going as working journalists to report on the sensational developments taking place in the fledgling republic of Russia. Traveling by way of Finland, the pair arrived in the capital city of Petrograd immediately after the failed military coup of monarchist General Lavr Kornilov. This was an attempt to topple the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky by force of arms. Reed and Bryant found the Russian economy in shambles. Several of the subject nations of the old empire, such as Finland and Ukraine, had gained autonomy and were seeking separate military accommodations with Germany.

Reed and Bryant were in Petrograd for the October Revolution, in which the Bolsheviks, headed by Vladimir Lenin, toppled the Kerensky government; the Bolsheviks believed this was the first blow of a worldwide socialist revolution.

Food shortages made the situation dire in the capital, and social disorder reigned. Reed later recalled:

The last month of the Kerensky regime was marked first by the falling off of the bread supply from 2 pounds a day to 1 pound, to half a pound, to a quarter of a pound, and, the final week, no bread at all. Holdups and crime increased to such an extent that you could hardly walk down the streets. The papers were full of it. Not only had the government broken down, but the municipal government had absolutely broken down. The city militia was quite disorganized and up in the air, and the street-cleaning apparatus and all that sort of thing had broken down—milk and everything of that sort.[36]

A mood for radical change was in the air. The Bolsheviks, seeking an all-socialist government and immediate end to Russian participation in the war, sought the transfer of power from Kerensky to a Congress of Soviets, a gathering of elected workers' and soldiers' deputies to be convened in October. The Kerensky government considered this a kind of coup, and moved to shut down the Bolshevik press. It issued warrants of arrest for the Soviet leaders and prepared to transfer the troops of the Petrograd garrison, believed to be unreliable, back to the front. A Military Revolutionary Committee of the Soviets, dominated by the Bolshevik Party, determined to seize power on behalf of the future Congress of Soviets. At 11 pm on the evening of November 7, 1917, it captured the Winter Palace, the seat of Kerensky's government.[37] Reed and Bryant were present during the fall of the Winter Palace, the symbolic event that started the Bolshevik Revolution.[38]

The cover of this 1919 British pamphlet emphasizes Reed's short-lived status as Soviet consul.

Reed was an enthusiastic supporter of the new revolutionary socialist government. He went to work for the new People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, translating decrees and news of the new government into English. "I also collaborated in the gathering of material and data and distributing of papers to go into the German trenches," Reed later recalled.[39]

Reed was close to the inner circle of the new government. He met Leon Trotsky and was introduced to Lenin during a break of the Constituent Assembly on January 18, 1918. By December, his funds were nearly exhausted, and he took a job with American Raymond Robins of the International Red Cross. Robins wanted to set up a newspaper promoting American interests; Reed complied. But in the dummy issue he prepared, he included a warning beneath the masthead: "This paper is devoted to promoting the interests of American capital."[40]

The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly left Reed unmoved. Two days later, armed with a rifle, he joined a patrol of Red Guards prepared to defend the Foreign Office from counter-revolutionary attack.[41] Reed attended the opening of the Third Congress of Soviets, where he gave a short speech promising to bring the news of the revolution to America, saying he hoped it would "call forth an answer from America's oppressed and exploited masses." American journalist Edgar Sisson told Reed that he was being used by the Bolsheviks for their propaganda, a rebuke he accepted.[41]

In January, Trotsky, responding to Reed's concern about the safety of his substantial archive, offered Reed the post of Soviet Consul in New York. As the United States did not recognize the Bolshevik government, Reed's credentials would almost certainly have been rejected and he would have faced prison (which would have given the Bolsheviks some propaganda material). Most Americans in Petrograd considered Reed's appointment a massive blunder. Businessman Alexander Gumberg met with Lenin, showing him a prospectus in which Reed called for massive American capital support for Russia and for setting up a newspaper to express the American viewpoint on the negotiations at Brest-Litovsk. Lenin found the proposal unsavory and withdrew Reed's nomination. Learning of Gumberg's intervention, Reed always denigrated him afterward.[42]

Reed and Bryant wrote and published books about their Russian experiences. Bryant's Six Red Months in Russia appeared first, but Reed's 10 Days That Shook the World (1919) garnered more notice.

Bryant returned to the United States in January 1918, but Reed did not reach New York City until April 28.[43] On his way back, Reed traveled from Russia to Finland; he did not have a visa or passport while crossing to Finland. In Turku harbor, when Reed was boarding a ship on his way to Stockholm, Finnish police arrested him; he was held at Kakola prison in Turku until he was released. From Finland, Reed traveled to Kristiania, Norway via Stockholm.

Because he remained under indictment in the Masses case, federal authorities immediately met Reed when his ship reached New York, holding him on board for more than eight hours while they searched his belongings. Reed's papers, the material from which he intended to write his book, were seized. He was released upon his own recognizance after his attorney, Morris Hillquit, promised to make him available at the Federal Building the next day.[43] His papers were not returned to him until November.

Radical political activist

Cover of Reed's Voice of Labor, October 1919

Back in America, Reed and Bryant defended the Bolsheviks and opposed the American intervention. Incensed at Russia's departure from the war against Germany, the public gave Reed a generally cold reception. While he was in Russia, his articles in The Masses, particularly one headlined "Knit a straight-jacket for your soldier boy", had been instrumental in the government gaining an indictment for sedition against the magazine (antiwar agitation was considered sedition and treason).

The first Masses trial ended in a hung jury the day before Reed reached New York. The defendants, including him, were to be retried. He immediately posted $2,000 bail on April 29.[44] The second Masses trial also ended in a hung jury.

In Philadelphia, Reed stood outside a closed hall on May 31, and harangued a crowd of 1,000 about the case and the war until police dragged him away. He was arrested for inciting a riot, and posted $5,000 bail. Reed became more aggressively political, intolerant, and self-destructive.[45] On September 14, he was arrested for the third time since returning from Russia, charged with violating the Sedition Act and freed on $5,000 bail. This was a day after possibly the largest demonstration for Bolshevik Russia was held in the United States (in The Bronx). Reed had passionately defended the revolution, which he seemed to think was coming to America as well.[46] He tried to prevent Allied intervention in Russia, arguing that the Russians were contributing to the war effort by checking German ambitions in the Ukraine and Japanese designs on Siberia, but this argument came to naught.[47]

On February 21–22, 1919, Bryant was fiercely grilled before a Senate committee exploring Bolshevik propaganda activities in the US, but emerged resilient. Reed followed her. According to Homberger, his testimony was "savagely distorted" by the press.[48] Later that day Reed went to Philadelphia to stand trial for his May speech; despite a hostile judge, press, and patriotic speech by the prosecutor, Reed's lawyer convinced the jury the case was about free speech, and he was acquitted.[48] Returning to New York, Reed continued speaking widely and participating in the various twists of socialist politics that year. He served as editor of The New York Communist, the weekly newspaper issued by the Left Wing Section of Greater New York.

Affiliated with the Left Wing of the Socialist Party, Reed with the other radicals was expelled from the National Socialist Convention in Chicago on August 30, 1919. The radicals split into two bitterly hostile groups, forming the Communist Labor Party of America (Reed's group, which he helped create) and, the next day, the Communist Party of America. Reed was the international delegate of the former, wrote its manifesto and platform, edited its paper, The Voice of Labor, and was denounced as "Jack the Liar" in the Communist Party organ, The Communist. Reed's writings of 1919 displayed doubts about Western-style democracy and defended the dictatorship of the proletariat. He believed this was a necessary step that would prefigure the true democracy "based upon equality and the liberty of the individual."[49]

Comintern functionary

Indicted for sedition and hoping to secure Comintern backing for the CLP, Reed fled America with a forged passport in early October 1919 on a Scandinavian frigate; he worked his way to Bergen as a stoker. Given shore leave, he disappeared to Kristiania, crossed into Sweden on October 22, passed through Finland and made his way to Moscow by train. In the cold winter of 1919–20, he traveled in the region around Moscow, observing factories, communes, and villages. He filled notebooks with his writing and had an affair with a Russian woman.[50]

Reed's feelings about the revolution became ambivalent. Activist Emma Goldman had recently arrived aboard the Buford, among hundreds of aliens deported by the United States under the Sedition Act. She was especially concerned about the Cheka. Reed told her that the enemies of the revolution deserved their fate, but suggested that she see Angelica Balabanoff, a critic of the current situation. He wanted Goldman to hear the other side.[51]

German edition of 10 Days That Shook The World, published by the Comintern in Hamburg in 1922

Though facing the threat of arrest in Illinois, Reed tried to return to the United States in February 1920. At that time, the Soviets organized a convention to establish a United Communist Party of America.[52] Reed attempted to leave Russia through Latvia, but his train never arrived, forcing him to hitch a ride in the boxcar of an eastbound military train to Petrograd.[53] In March, he crossed into Helsinki, where he had radical friends, including Hella Wuolijoki, the future politician and SDKL member of parliament. With their help, he was hidden in the hold of a freighter.

On 13 March, customs officials in Finland found Reed in a coal bunker on the ship. He was taken to the police station, where he maintained that he was seaman "Jim Gormley". Eventually, the jewels, photographs, letters, and fake documents he had in his possession forced him to reveal his true identity. Although beaten several times and threatened with torture, he refused to surrender the names of his local contacts. Because of his silence, he could not be tried for treason. He was charged and convicted of smuggling and having jewels in his possession (102 small diamonds worth $14,000, which were confiscated).

The US Secretary of State was satisfied with Reed's arrest and pressured the Finns for his papers. American authorities, however, remained indifferent to Reed's fate.[54] Although Reed paid the fine for smuggling, he was still detained. His physical condition and state of mind deteriorated rapidly. He suffered from depression and insomnia, wrote alarming letters to Bryant, and on May 18 threatened a hunger strike.[55] He was finally released in early June, and sailed for Tallinn, Estonia, on the 5th. Two days later, he traveled to Petrograd, recuperating from malnutrition and scurvy caused by having been fed dried fish almost exclusively. His spirits were high.[56]

At the end of June, Reed traveled to Moscow. After he discussed with Bryant the possibility of her joining him, she gained passage on a Swedish tramp steamer and arrived in Gothenburg on August 10.[56] At the same time, Reed attended the second Comintern congress. Although his mood was as jovial and boisterous as ever, his physical appearance had deteriorated.[57]

During this congress, Reed bitterly objected to the deference other revolutionaries showed to the Russians. The latter believed the tide of revolutionary fervor was ebbing, and that the Communist party needed to work within the existing institutions—a policy Reed felt would be disastrous.[58] He was contemptuous of the bullying tactics displayed during the congress by Karl Radek and Grigory Zinoviev, who ordered Reed to attend the Congress of the Peoples of the East to be held at Baku on August 15.

The journey to Baku was a long one, five days by train through a countryside that was devastated by civil war and infected by typhus. Reed was reluctant to go. He asked for permission to travel later, as he wanted to meet Bryant in Petrograd after she arrived from Murmansk. Zinoviev insisted that Reed take the official train: "the Comintern has made a decision. Obey."[59] Reed, needing Soviet goodwill and unprepared for a final break with the Comintern, made the trip with reluctance.[59] Years after having abandoned Communism himself, his friend Benjamin Gitlow asserted that Reed became bitterly disillusioned with the Communist movement because of his treatment by Zinoviev.[60]

During his time in Baku, Reed received a telegram announcing Bryant's arrival in Moscow. He followed her there, arriving on September 15, and was able to tell her of the events of the preceding eight months. He appeared older and his clothes were in tatters. While in Moscow, he took Bryant to meet Lenin, Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, and other leading Bolsheviks, and also to visit Moscow's ballet and art galleries.


Reed's body lying in state in Moscow

Reed was determined to return to the United States but fell ill on September 25. At first thought to have influenza, he was hospitalized five days later and diagnosed with spotted typhus. Bryant spent all her time with him, but there were no medicines to be obtained because of the Allied blockade. His mind started to wander, and then he lost the use of the right side of his body and could no longer speak. His wife was holding his hand when he died in Moscow on October 17, 1920.[61] After a hero's funeral, his body was buried at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. He is one of three Americans honored by being buried there.


The interpretation of Reed in popular culture has been varied. Some[who?] have dismissed him as a "romantic revolutionary" and a "playboy", a vapid dilettante pretending to profess revolutionary sensibilities. For the Communist movement to which he belonged, Reed became a symbol of the international nature of the Bolshevik revolution, a martyr buried at the Kremlin wall amidst solemn fanfare, his name to be uttered reverently as a member of the radical pantheon.[62] Others, such as his old friend and comrade Benjamin Gitlow, claimed that Reed had begun to shun the bureaucracy and violence of Soviet Communism late in his life. They sought to posthumously enlist Reed in their own anti-communist cause.

Representation in other media

• Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein's influential 1927 silent film October: Ten Days That Shook the World was based on Reed's book.
• John Dos Passos included a highly stylized, brief biography of Reed in his 1932 novel/history work 1919, the second part of his U.S.A. trilogy.
• The 1958 Soviet film In October Days (Russian: В дни Октября), directed by Sergei Vasilyev, featured Reed and Bryant.
• Actor and director Warren Beatty made the film Reds (1981), based on Reed's life. Beatty starred as Reed, Diane Keaton as Louise Bryant and Jack Nicholson as Eugene O'Neill. The movie won three Academy Awards and was nominated for nine others.
Two films are based on Reed's accounts of the Mexican Revolution, one with two parts released a year apart. Mexican director Paul Leduc made Reed: Insurgent Mexico (1973). A Mexican–Soviet-Italian co-production released Red Bells (1982) and Red Bells II (1983), both directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, with Franco Nero as Reed.


• Diana's Debut. Lyrics by J.S. Reed, music by Walter S. Langsham. Privately printed, Cambridge 1910
• Sangar: The Mad Recreant Knight of the West. Dedicated to Lincoln Steffens. Frederick C. Bursch, Hillacre Riverside, CT 1913
• The Day in Bohemia, of Life Among the Artists. Privately printed Riverside, CT 1913
• Everymagazine, An Immortality Play. Words by John Reed, music by Bill Daly. Privately printed, New York, 1913
• Insurgent Mexico. D. Appleton & Co., New York 1914
• The War in Eastern Europe. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1916
• Freedom: A Prison Play. 1916
• Tamburlaine and Other Verses. Frederick C. Bursch, Hillacre Riverside, CT 1917
• The Sisson Documents. Liberator Publishing Co., New York 1918
• Ten Days that Shook the World. Boni and Liveright, New York 1919
• Red Russia: The Triumph of the Bolsheviki. Workers' Socialist Federation, London 1919. – pamphlet collecting journalism from The Liberator
• Red Russia : Book II. Workers' Socialist Federation
• The Structure of the Soviet State. 1919
• Daughter of the Revolution and Other Stories. Floyd Dell, editor. Vanguard Press, New York 1927
• The Education of John Reed: Selected Writings. John Stuart, editor. International Publishers, New York 1955
• Adventures of a Young Man: Short Stories from Life. Seven Seas, Berlin 1966. City Lights, San Francisco 1975
• Collected Poems. Corliss Lamont, editor. Lawrence Hill & Co., Westport, Conn. 1985
• John Reed and the Russian Revolution: Uncollected Articles, Letters and Speeches on Russia, 1917–1920. Eric Homberger, John Biggart, editors. St. Martin's Press, New York 1992
• Shaking the World: John Reed's Revolutionary Journalism. John Newsinger, editor. Bookmarks, London 1998

See also

• Sen Katayama, the Japanese-American buried in the Kremlin wall
• Norman Bethune, a Canadian physician, that supported the Chinese Eighth Route Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.


1. Granville Hicks with John Stuart, John Reed: The Making of a Revolutionary. New York: Macmillan, 1936. p. 1.
2. Prince, Tracy J. (2011). Portland's Goose Hollow. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-7385-7472-1.
3. "Jon Reed's Portland – Map", Oregon Cartoon Institute
4. Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, p. 2.
5. Eric Homberger, John Reed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990. pp. 7–8.
6. Homberger, John Reed, p. 8.
7. Homberger, John Reed, p. 9
8. Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, p. 7.
9. Michael Munk, John Reed, Accessed November 4, 2007.
10. Hornberger, John Reed, p. 12.
11. Homberger, John Reed, p. 15.
12. Zinn, Howard (1997). The Zinn Reader. Seven Stories Press. p. 587. ISBN 978-1-583229-46-0.
13. Homberger, John Reed, p. 16.
14. Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, page 33.
15. Quoted in Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, p. 33.
16. Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, p. 51.
17. Macmilian, Granville Hicks (1936). "Promethean Playboy". Time. 27 (16).
18. Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, p. 65.
19. Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, p. 66.
20. "(4) I.W.W Not a Syndicalist Organization | Industrial Workers of the World". Retrieved May 18, 2019.
21. Homberger, John Reed, p. 49.
22. Homberger, John Reed, p. 55.
23. Homberger, John Reed, p. 69.
24. Homberger, John Reed, pp. 75–76.
25. Homberger, John Reed, p. 79.
26. John Reed, "The Trader's War," The Masses, v. 5, no. 12, whole no. 40 (Sept. 1914), pp. 16–17. The article was attributed to "a well-known American author and war correspondent who is compelled by arrangements with another publication to withhold his name."
27. Homberger, John Reed, p. 87.
28. Homberger, John Reed, p. 89.
29. Homberger, John Reed, p. 114.
30. Homberger, John Reed, pp. 112–16.
31. Homberger, John Reed, p. 118.
32. Homberger, John Reed, p. 120.
33. Homberger, John Reed, p. 122.
34. Homberger, John Reed, pp. 128–29.
35. Testimony of John Reed, Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda: Report and Hearings of the Subcommittee on the Judiciary, United States Senate..., vol 3. p. 563. Hereafter: Overman Committee Report, v. 3.
36. Testimony of John Reed, Overman Committee Report, v. 3, p. 575.
37. Testimony of John Reed, Overman Committee Report, v. 3, p. 569.
38. Testimony of John Reed, Overman Committee Report, v. 3, p. 570.
39. Testimony of John Reed, Overman Committee Report, v. 3, p. 565.
40. Homberger, John Reed, pp. 159–60
41. Homberger, p. 161
42. Homberger, pp. 161–63
43. Hicks with Stuart, John Reed, p. 303.
44. Homberger, p. 167
45. Homberger, p. 172
46. Homberger, p. 174
47. Homberger, p. 171
48. Homberger, p. 180
49. Homberger, pp. 191–93
50. Homberger, p. 210
51. Homberger, pp. 202–03
52. Homberger, pp. 203–04
53. Homberger, p. 204
54. Homberger, pp. 205–06
55. Homberger, p. 206
56. Homberger, p. 207
57. Homberger, pp. 207–08
58. Homberger, p. 208
59. Homberger, pp. 212–13
60. Homberger, p. 214
61. Homberger, p. 215
62. By the 1930s, the height of the communist movement in the United States, literary John Reed Clubs, affiliated with the Communist Party, existed in his honor in many large cities of the United States.

Further reading

• Granville Hicks with John Stuart, John Reed: The Making of a Revolutionary. New York: Macmillan, 1936.
• Eric Homberger, John Reed: Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990.
• Eric Homberger and John Biggart (eds.), John Reed and the Russian Revolution: Uncollected Articles, Letters and Speeches on Russia, 1917–1920. Basingstoke, England: Macmillan, 1992.
• Robert A. Rosenstone, Romantic Revolutionary: A biography of John Reed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.
• Lincoln Steffens, John Reed: Under the Kremlin. Foreword by Clarence Darrow. Chicago: Walden Book Shop, 1922.
• John Newsinger (ed.) Shaking the World: John Reed's Revolutionary Journalism London, England: Bookmarks, 1998.

External links

• The John Reed Internet Archive on
• Works by John Reed at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about John Reed at Internet Archive
• Works by John Reed at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• The Last Days With John Reed by Louise Bryant
• Munk, Michael. "John "Jack" Reed". The Oregon Encyclopedia.
• Reds on IMDb
• Reed, México insurgente on IMDb
• 1917 passport photo
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