His revolutionary hero is Marat, a forerunner of modern Socialism, whom four generations of capitalist historians have combined to vilify, and to whose biography he devotes a separate volume. The book is well documented, and the most readable of all his historical works, written as it is throughout con amore. The result is a good working hypothesis, which remains, of course, to be possibly modified or even abandoned by subsequent investigations, but which is generally the nearest approach to truth we can make in the absence of the requisite knowledge for forming an unbiassed judgment.
Acting on this principle, the very extravagance of abuse with which Marat had been assailed suggested to me the probability that an exceptionally noble and disinterested character lay behind it. He is dealing with the September massacres, which Marat, though he did not plan them, certainly justified after the event. They were almost entirely the noble and the wealthy, and the hangers-on of the noble and the wealthy; most if not all of them had been, directly or indirectly, conspiring to reinstate the deposed King with the aid of an invading army; prepared avowedly not merely to destroy the newly-won liberty, but to take the lives of all republicans, and, indeed, of all who deprecated a return to the old oppression and corruption.
Such as these it was for whom it has been the endeavour of prejudiced historians to excite the sympathy of subsequent generations. From the Paris of to the Paris of is a far cry, but let us compare notes. In the Paris of there were also massacres, not of a thousand odd, but of a number variously estimated at from twenty to thirty thousand. Here in the enormous majority of cases there was not even the semblance of a trial.
In the latter case there was no imminent danger, no army marching on Paris, no plotters inside the city in collusion with that army, but a movement that had been hopelessly crushed Who were the twenty or thirty thousand victims of ? Almost wholly workmen, partisans of a cause avowedly hostile to wealth and privilege, and therefore hated by wealth and privilege. But he who with canting hypocrisy pretends on moral grounds to denounce Marat and his colleagues, without denouncing Thiers and the scoundrels who carried out his policy, in terms a hundredfold as severe, convicts himself of being a conscious humbug upon whom argument would be wasted.
Bax became in Editor of Justice , the organ of the Social-Democratic Federation, but resigned before long for private reasons. Partly in collaboration with William Morris or Hyndman, but more often independently, he published numerous books, essays and articles on current affairs from the Socialist standpoint as he conceived it.
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Socialism, to Bax, was not a mere economic or political programme, but a comprehensive religion, intimately bound up with his whole philosophy and his reading of history, and absolutely incompatible with orthodox ethics, patriotism, or Christianity. His view of life was an undivided whole. Hence he knew not the meaning of compromise or diplomatic statement. It was as impossible for him to pay lip-service to the British Empire or the Christian religion for the sake of making a proselyte, or conciliating an opponent, as it would have been for an early Christian to throw incense on the altar of the Roman Emperor.
Socialism — revolutionary, international and Atheistic — was his Gospel; patriotism, and established religion were part and parcel of bourgeois ideology.
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If the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia had occurred in the eighteen-eighties, Bax would without doubt have warmly supported it. The Socialist must ignore the opinion of the majority, which is the opinion of the capitalists and the masses they mislead, and must override it by any and every means open to him. As to patriotism, for the Socialist frontiers do not exist; love of country, as such, is not nobler than love of class. This, be it noted, was written over thirty years before Lenin installed himself in the Kremlin.
It sounds, except in the last particular, almost like a prophecy. Naturally Bax, in common with practically all Radicals and Socialists, was a pro-Boer in the war of , brought about, as he and they considered it to be, by the intrigues of a gang of financial capitalists, the mining magnates of Johannesburg and London. The outbreak of the Great War in led him to a certain modification of his attitude, which only superficial minds will regard as a recantation. It amounted really to the rounding-off of a position which before had been logically incomplete.
Anyone, in the circumstances, might have forgiven Bax for taking a Pacifist, if not a positively pro-German line. His actual attitude was quite the contrary, and yet not inconsistent with his fundamental principles. All his old revolutionary fury surged up, this time, against the military monarchies of Central Europe who had let loose Armageddon. The change, however, was not due to any softening towards British Imperialism. This attitude, which Bax took up in common with Hyndman and other veterans of the Social-Democratic Federation, necessarily affected his view of the Bolshevist Revolution when it came.
The Great War had taught Bax that a straight line is not always the shortest distance between two political points. He was further alienated by the cruelties of the Soviet Government towards its political opponents, particularly its Socialist opponents, and by its wanton invasion and conquest of Georgia. Yet, in conversations with Bax towards the end of his life, one felt that he was never extreme in his condemnation, and that the Soviet war on Christianity, at any rate, had his whole-hearted sympathy.
The logic of events alone prevented him, as it should have prevented others, from being a Bolshevik. Bax was always hostile to the claims of women to equal rights with men in politics and in the professions. On this subject he was opposed to the overwhelming majority of Socialists both here and abroad, and his attitude, extraordinarily bitter as it was, alienated many, and maimed his otherwise magnificent work.
At one time, says Bax, the claim to equality amounted to a legitimate movement for the removal of certain undoubted grievances.
But for some time past the tendency of legislation and sentiment has been, under the pretext or equality, to confer privileges on women at the expense of men. Various instances are adduced in support of this contention, e.
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Feminist sentiment, according to Bax, is responsible for the infliction of the punishment of flogging on men for certain forms of sexual misconduct, while at the same time exempting women in any circumstances from similar punishment. As long as women enjoy such privileges, he argues, their claim to political equality with men is nothing short of an addition of insult to injury. In his later years he seems to have systematically searched the police-court and other news for instances of real or imaginary injustice to men in the interests of women. As a result, he produces a cumulative indictment of judges, juries, magistrates and legislators which, if taken at its face value, would force us to the conclusion that these makers and administrators of the law — most of whom, strange to say are themselves men — are in a nefarious conspiracy to grind the male sex under the tyrannical high heel of the feminine boot.
Men are flogged; women are not.
Frederick Engels Obituary - Ernest Belfort Bax
The seduction by a man of a girl under sixteen is a criminal offence; the seduction by a women of a boy under that age is not. A man convicted of murder is usually hanged, especially if the victim be a woman; a murderess is almost invariably reprieved. And this intellectually inferior sex, rolling in privilege, injustice and oppression, have the impudence to treat it as a grievance that they are unable to vote on the same terms as men.
An adequate criticism of the foregoing argument would take too long. A just review of the case would, I think, take note of the following considerations. The distinction between the case of the two sexes as regards, e. Quite apart from the objections to premature sexual experience which apply to both sexes alike, a young girl seduced by a man is exposed to the risk of bearing an illegitimate child, and consequently under present conditions to pains and penalties in the shape of social opprobrium which have no counterpart in the case of a boy.
Differential legislation for the sexes in such matters as this does not justify the charge of sex-privilege. His polemic on the subject, however, has the merit of at least forcing one to think, and will have served a good purpose if it converts any men, who object on instinctive grounds to hanging and flogging women, into consistent opponents of the judicial murder and torture of any human being regardless of sex. Secondly, while it is probable that the average woman is inferior in brain-power to the average man, it is not true that every woman is inferior to every man..
The abilities of each sex vary enormously. We might roughly state the fact by saying that the abilities of men range from 0 to , and the abilities of women from 0 to To admit any and every man to the practice of the professions and the exercise of political functions, while excluding any and every woman, would therefore be not only an unjust, but a socially wasteful policy, amounting to a refusal to make the best use of the talents at the disposal of the community, which could not he justified by the mere fact of inequality between the average abilities of the two sexes.
Thirdly, Bax shows himself singularly unphilosophical in ignoring the economic roots of modern Feminism, and in treating it as an unaccountable perversity introduced among us, presumably, from the nether pit. He should have realised that industrialism, by breaking up the old system of domestic industry and forcing women, as well as men, into the labour market, is the real driving force of Feminism.
Books by Ernest Belfort Bax
For a Socialist, who believes in united working-class activity against capitalism, to attempt to deny woman their share in that activity is grotesque. After the publication of his Reminiscences in , Bax wrote little. The Real, the Rational and the Alogical , published in , and the essay contributed by him to Professor J. Engels however, returned to his desk, in Manchester in , where he remained in business for twenty years.
In he retired, and came to London to live near his friend Marx, and thenceforward his whole time was occupied in study and with Party work. It was he who virtually led the Marx party at the Hague Congress in ,. In , a little more than a year after the death of Marx, Engels produced his Origin of the Family.
Besides his great work, the editing the third volume of Capital, he has since contributed from time to time to the party press. Among his last writings were two historical articles in the Neue Zeit, on the origin of Christianity, and two articles on the impossibility, in view of modern developments in the art of war, of further successful revolts on the old lines, in the same periodical. Naturally the changes Engels had witnessed both in England and on the continent during his long life, of themselves furnished enough topics of amusing conversation.
These were the last survivors of the sect of Johanna Southcote, one of whose practices was to let the beard grow as a token of the approaching advent of the Messiah, and who tools the bearded Socialist and Atheist for one of their own. Engels — somewhat Socinian, I think! He had a high opinion of many of the Chartist leaders, as well as of the movement itself. Accordingly his book, is on the whole, the least valuable of the movement. Engels always seemed to have a certain regard for the earlier England of the century, the Chartist England of the forties, before the introduction of salad oil as he used to say.
He thought that with all the advantages of increased intercourse with the continent, the England of the earlier period of the great industry, had in spite of its narrowness, a certain sturdiness and directness of character which one does not find to-day Engels was always the best of company and a host of the most unconstrained geniality. Originally in favour of the Independent Labour Party, latterly Engels condemned the tactics and distrusted much of the personnel of the party.
Personally, he was attracted by John Burns, and without approving much of his later action found an excuse for it in the difficulties of his situation, and thought that some of our comrades were inclined to be too hard on him, and were by their hostility kicking him down the slope of Avernus. Of all the present English working-class leaders personally known to him, I think I am not wrong in saying that Will Thorne was the greatest favourite with Engels. His conduct of a strike in the north some years ago was more than once referred to by our lost comrade as masterly. With all the leading German comrades Engels was, of course, on terms of intimate friendship.
Had Frederick Engels, as we all hoped, lived even but a short time longer there is every reason to believe that the praiseworthy efforts of a friend who stood very near him to bring about a conciliatory interview would, at least in the first of the two cases mentioned and that the most important from a party point of view have been crowned with success. Our deceased comrade was a man of strong emotions and vehement personal sympathies and antipathies, capable of the strongest and most enduring personal attachments as well as aversions.
His liability to sudden accessions of irascibility was, he told me, one inherited from his father. It is a mistake to suppose that Engels was really bitter or ill-natured in controversy, as has been sometimes represented. The last time that I saw him — little more than two months ago — I shall always remember the animated debate we had over the supper table on topics ranging from the SDF policy to the economical condition of Germany at the close of the Middle Ages.
There seemed all the old fire still there, and I little thought it was the last time we should meet. His labours for Socialism were unique, and will be held in undying memory. What, one of the main culprits in purging dissidents from the Communist League, a constant slanderer of other revolutionaries, often using the vilest anti-Semitic, sexist and racist language? A main mover in purging Bakunin and Guillaume from the First international. Where is libcom going these days , I wonder. The wisdom of life, and other essays by Arthur Schopenhauer Book 17 editions published between and in English and German and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide The Essays of Schopenhauer comprised in this volume are well designated by the title which specially pertains to the first Essay.
It will be noticed that the earlier essays are predominantly theoretical or metaphysical, the later practical or ethical. Hence we have in these Essays Schopenhauer's views upon a number of important problems in Metaphysics and Ethics, valuable, as an introduction to his more abstract expositions, to the specialist in philosophy, and yet presented in such a manner as to appeal to the general reader and student of literature. In spite of the efforts of his Jacobin friends to save him, Babeuf was arrested, tried, and convicted for his role in the Conspiracy of the Equals.
Although the words "anarchist"and "communist" did not exist in Babeuf's lifetime, they have all been used to describe his ideas, by later scholars.
The word "communism" was coined by Goodwyn Barmby in a conversation with those he described as the "disciples of Babeuf". Jean-Paul Marat, the people's friend by Ernest Belfort Bax Book 32 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Kant's Prolegomena : and Metaphysical foundations of natural science by Immanuel Kant Book 23 editions published between and in English and Undetermined and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide.
The story of the French revolution by Ernest Belfort Bax Book 38 editions published between and in 3 languages and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide.
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The legal subjection of men by Ernest Belfort Bax 8 editions published in in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide. A handbook of the history of philosophy : for the use of students by Ernest Belfort Bax Book 25 editions published between and in English and Undetermined and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide. An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations by Adam Smith Book 15 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations generally referred to by the short title The Wealth of Nations is the masterpiece of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith.