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Source: “Dead At Last” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 114, 17 March 1888, p.81; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. The flood of cant and servility which has been poured out by the bourgeois press during the last few days, because the long-expected death of [Frederick III Emperor of Germany] a tyrant of the old type embedded in a modern type of tyranny, has at last happened, disgusts one so much that at first one is tempted to keep silence in mere contempt for such degraded nonsense. Court mourning is always a preposterous spectacle, but here is a case where it is more preposterous than usual. Conventional universal grief, when scarcely any one is grieved at the event, no one whose interests do not suffer by it, most people are profoundly... (From: Marxists.org.)
3 Hereafter I hope in another lecture to have the pleasure of laying before you an historical survey of the Decorative Arts, and I must confess it would have been pleasanter to me to have begun my talk with you by entering at once upon the subject of the history of this great industry; but, as I have something to say in a third lecture about various matters connected with the practice of Decoration among ourselves in these days, I feel that I should be in a false position before you, and one that might lead to confusion, or overmuch explanation, if I did not let you know what I think on the nature and scope of these arts, on their condition at the present time, and their outlook in times to come. In doing this it is like enough that I shall... (From: Marxists.org.)
To the Editor: Sir, May I be allowed to say a word in supplement to your paragraph about my opinions about the fine arts? You rather imply that I am a pessimist on this matter. This is not the case; but I am anxious that there should be no illusions as to the future of art. I do not believe in the possibility of keeping art vigorously alive by the action, however energetic, of a few groups of specially gifted men and their small circle of admirers amid a general public incapable of understanding and enjoying their work. I hold firmly to the opinion that all worthy schools of art must be in the future, as they have been in the past, the outcome of the aspirations of the people towards the beauty and true pleasure of life. And further, that... (From: Marxists.org.)
What is the essence of the society which took the place of feudalism: free competition - that is in other words a desperate war in which every man fights for his own hand; the aim of the struggle being to live free from labor at the expense of those that labor. This struggle results necessarily in the formation of two great classes, the successful and the unsuccessful, which in spite of minor divisions among them, have now taken the place of all the elaborate castes of feudality: the struggle therefore proposed for everyone born into the world of civilization is the getting, or the keeping of a place in the class which lives on the labor of others: the getting or the keeping; because there are some who are born privileged to be useless, and... (From: Marxists.org.)
The question asked by Lord Houghton in the House of Lords on Thursday elicited from the Bishop of London an acknowledgment that the scheme proposed some few years back for the wholesale removal of the City churches is continuing its destructive course unimpeded. Four more churches are to be sacrificed to the Mammon-worship and want of taste of this great city. Last year witnessed the destruction of the fine church of St Michael's, Queenhithe, and All Hallows, Bread Street, which bore upon its walls the inscription stating that Milton had been baptized there. St Dionis Backchurch, a remarkable building by Wren, is now in course of destruction, while within the last ten years the beautiful church of St Antholin, with its charming spire, and t... (From: Marxists.org.)
“Development of Modern Society”, Part 1 Author: William Morris Source: Commonweal, Volume 6, Number 236, pp.225-6 19 July 1890 (the first of five parts.) Transcribed by: Ted Crawford Proofing and HTML:Graham Seaman ALL the progressive races of man have gone through a stage of development during which society has been very different to what it is now. At present there is a very definite line of distinction drawn between the personal life of a man and his life as a member of society. As a rule, the only direction in which this social life is felt is in that of his nearest kindred—his wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters. This is so much the case that we to-day have given to the word relations (which should... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Development of Modern Society” Commonweal, Volume 6, Number 237, 26 July, p. 237; the second of five parts. Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Proofing and HTML: Graham Seaman BUT further, you must not fail to remember that the aspirations and nobility of sacrifice of the ancient city life were for [a] limited class only. In the old tribal life the slaves were not an important class, and also had easements, and even a kind of position which we do not associate with slave life, scarcely even with serfdom; as one may see in Homer, who, writing at a time when the tribal society was rapidly merging into city-life, gives us, for example, such a picture of a slave as Eumœus[A], who had at any rate plenty of pigs to ... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Development of Modern Society” Commonweal, Volume 6, Number 238, 2 August, p. 244; the third of five parts. Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Proofing and HTML: Graham Seaman IN these country districts, both in England and elsewhere, they held for a long time to many of their old tribal customs; the jury of neighbors; frank-pledge, or the responsibility of the district for the conduct of its dwellers; the oath of compurgation; the courts in the open-air; the folk-motes of all the freemen meeting directly (not by delegates) and armed in token of their freedom. Over all this, which still existed in the beginning of feudalism, and never quite disappeared until its wane, the regular feudal system was super-imposed. Ser... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Development of Modern Society” Commonweal, Volume 6, Number 239, 9 August, p. 253; the fourth of five parts. Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Proofing and HTML: Graham Seaman To these about the eleventh century were superadded another set of guilds, whose main object was the protection of trade, and which soon became powerful, and establishing themselves in the towns, drew together with the corporations, the freemen of the towns, and were fuzed with them. They shared in the degeneration of the municipal aristocracies, which reached its height in the beginning of the thirteenth century, and with them were attacked by the third and last set of guilds, whose office was the organization and protection of the handicraf... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Development of Modern Society” Commonweal, Volume 6, Number 240, 16 August, pp. 260-261; the last of five parts. Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Proofing and HTML: Graham Seaman THUS fell the Society of the Middle Ages, by Capitalism establishing itself on the ruins of Feudality, and the rise of a middle-class who were either parasites of the nobility, themselves become commercial, trading on the grossest monopolies, and exacting rack-rent, and practically doing the state no service—partly parasites of the nobility, or partly employers living on the profit wrung out of workmen employed at a very low rate of wages. I have been giving the story of the change as it happened in England. On the Continent the div... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Development of Modern Society” Commonweal, Volume 6, Number 237, 26 July, p. 237; the second of five parts. Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Proofing and HTML: Graham Seaman BUT further, you must not fail to remember that the aspirations and nobility of sacrifice of the ancient city life were for [a] limited class only. In the old tribal life the slaves were not an important class, and also had easements, and even a kind of position which we do not associate with slave life, scarcely even with serfdom; as one may see in Homer, who, writing at a time when the tribal society was rapidly merging into city-life, gives us, for example, such a picture of a slave as Eumœus[A], who had at any rate plenty of pigs to ... (From: Marxists.org.)
I walked along with the others musing as if I did not belong to them, till we came to Will Green's house. He was one of the wealthier of the yeomen, and his house was one of those I told you of, the lower story of which was built of stone. It had not been built long, and was very trim and neat. The fit of wonder had worn off me again by then I reached it, or perhaps I should give you a closer description of it, for it was a handsome yeoman's dwelling of that day, which is as much as saying it was very beautiful. The house on the other side of it, the last house in the village, was old or even ancient; all built of stone, and except for a newer piece built on to it--a hall, it seemed--had round arches, some of them handsomely carved. I knew ... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Ducks and Fools” Commonweal, Vol 5, No. 169, 6 April 1889, p.107; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. When I was in Iceland, I was told about the habits of the eider ducks, which breed in great quantities in the little islets scattered about the firths there, and also of their treatment. They, of course, get their own living; they are pretty good to eat, but not very good; so they are not allowed to be shot, because they produce valuable down, which can be got at by the following process: They make their nests on the ground in the above-mentioned islets; the duck half strips her breast of the down to line her nest; this down is at once collared from the nest by those who are privileged to do so according to law. Then the ... (From: Marxists.org.)
One of the chief terrors, real or affected, which afflicts the middle-class man in thinking of the chances of that "Coming Slavery," which Mr. Herbert Spencer so bewails, is a fear of the suppression of individuality. Our Socialist lecturers are all familiar with this objection which seldom fails to be raised at question time in meetings where those are present who have any claim to be considered educated. To us Socialists looking round on the present state of society the anxiety when genuine seem not a little ridiculous, considering the manner in which individualism founded on the gospel of commerce has guarded this precious jewel of individuality. Truly the mill-hand who is as much a part of the machinery of the factory where he works as ... (From: Marxists.org.)
If you look at the map of Europe, you will see in its north-western corner lying just under the Arctic circle a large island considerably bigger than Ireland. If you were to take ship and go there you would find it a country very remarkable in aspect, little more than a desert, yet the most romantic of all deserts even to look at: a huge volcanic mass still liable to eruptions of mud, ashes, and lava, and which in the middle of the 18th century was the scene of the most tremendous outpour of lava that history records. Anyone traveling there I think would be apt to hope, if he knew nothing of its history, that its terrific and melancholy beauty might have once been illumined by a history worthy of its strangeness: nor would he hope in vain: ... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Editorial” Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 51, 1 January 1887, p. 4; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. With this number there is begun a new volume of the Commonweal. For two years it has managed to appear regularly and keep before the public a consistent, unflinching exponent of international Revolutionary Socialism. Difficulties of many kinds have had to be surmounted, and in the future we may confidently look for a hardly less arduous endeavor as the price of a continued and useful existence. During the two years that have elapsed since the Commonweal was founded the cause of Socialism has made great strides. In every country of the civilized world there is a definite, strong, and increasing Socialist party; while the influe... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Editorial” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 16, 1 May 1886, p.33; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. In laying before the Socialist public the first number of our new departure, we feel that a few special words are likely to be looked for from the editors. Now, as we understand the policy of the Socialist League it aims at education and organization towards action when the fitting moment arrives. When that action is set on foot it will have nothing less for its aim than the taking over by the workers of all the means of producing wealth, to be used for the benefit of the community, that is to say, for the benefit of each and all of those who compose it; in other words, the realization of a new society with equality of condition ... (From: Marxists.org.)
Sir, I cannot help noting that a rumor is about in the air that England is going to war; and from the depths of my astonishment I ask, On behalf of whom? Against whom? And for what end? Some three weeks ago, if such a rumor had arisen, my questions would, I imagine, have been answered in this way: “The English nation has been roused to a sense of justice (for at heart they are a generous people) by a story of horrors that no man has been able to gainsay; so they are going to war against the Turkish Government on behalf of certain subject peoples, whom the Turks conquered long ago but have never assimilated, and whom now, in their decrepitude, insolvency and terror, they have been torturing and oppressing in the vilest manner, while t... (From: Marxists.org.)
It is usual when a Socialist is addressing an audience of those who wish to know what his Socialism means, to touch lightly on the aim that Socialism has in view and to dwell chiefly on the means by which that aim is to be reached. The speaker assumes (usually I am glad to think with reason) that his audience are sufficiently with him to sympathize with his wish to better the present condition of affairs, and are eager to know what process he purposes to them as the means for the bettering of the life of the great mass of the population; it is natural for people to say to an earnest reformer, Tell us what it is that you wish to have done at once, and then we will look at the matter; and all the more natural perhaps when the aim of the speak... (From: Marxists.org.)
Mr. William Morris, who so dearly loves to be described in newspapers and double-crown bills as "the poet and Socialist,” delivered a characteristic lecture on Monday evening, before the Hornsey Young Men’s Society, at the Park Chapel Lecture-hall, Crouch-End. A year ago he promised the society a lecture, but at the time could not personally deliver it, and sent the manuscript to be read by a friend, who was a member of the society and a good elocutionist. But on Monday evening, the eccentric teacher of ethics presented himself, and lectured on "Eyes and No Eyes.” The Rev. ALFRED ROWLAND, LL.B., B.A., in introducing Mr. Morris, dwelt at some length upon the influence of poets and great thinkers upon the national mind, and... (From: Marxists.org.)
William Morris. Commonweal. 1890 Fabian Essays in Socialism Source: “Fabian Essays in Socialism [1]” (review) Commonweal, Vol 6, No. 211, 25 January 1890, p.28-29; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. This book is of importance as embodying the views of a society which has been so active in lecturing on behoof of the Socialist movement. Indeed, some time ago many of us thought and said that the Fabians should publish a volume of their lectures; and, without wishing to carp at the present expression of opinions from which we of the Socialist League dissent in some measure, I cannot help wishing that such a volume had appeared about three years ago: for such a book published at that date would have dealt almost wholly with the e... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Facing the Worst of It” Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 58, 19 February 1887, p. 60-61; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Though we Socialists have full faith in the certainty of the great change coming about, it would be idle for any one of us to attempt to prophesy as to the date of the realization of our hopes; and it is well for us not to be too sanguine, since overweening hope is apt to give birth to despair if it meets with check or disappointment. Although the oppression and robbery of the past and the present is preparing a certain revenge in the future, yet history has shown us over and over again that retribution is halt-foot; or perhaps, to put it with as little metaphor as language will allow of, great revolutions ha... (From: Marxists.org.)
We Socialists are often reproached with giving no details of the state of things which would follow on the destruction of that system of waste and war which is sometimes dignified by the lying title of the harmonious combination of capital and labor: many worthy people say, "We admit that the present system has produced unsatisfactory results, but at least it is a system; you ought to be able to give us some definite idea of the results of that reconstruction which you call Socialism." To this Socialists answer, and rightly, that we have not set ourselves to build up a system to please our tastes; nor are we seeking to impose it on the world in a mechanical manner, but that we are assisting in bringing about a development of history which ... (From: Marxists.org.)
In a recent article we tried to look through the present into the future and see a factory as it might be, and got as far as the surroundings outside of it; but those externals of a true palace of industry can be only realized, naturally and without affectation by the work which is to be done in them being in all ways reasonable and fit for human beings; I mean no mere whim of some one rich and philanthropic manufacturer will make even one factory permanently pleasant and agreeable for the workers in it; he will die or be sold up, his heir will be poorer or more single-hearted in his devotion to profit, and all the beauty and order will vanish from the short-lived dream: even the external beauty in industrial concerns must be the work of so... (From: Marxists.org.)
I have tried to show in former articles that in a duly ordered society, in which people would work for a livelihood and not for the profit of another, a factory might not only be pleasant as to its surroundings, and beautiful in its architecture, but that even the rough and necessary work done in it might be so arranged as to be neither burdensome in itself or of long duration for each worker; but furthermore the organization of such a factory, that is to say of a group of people working in harmonious cooperation towards a useful end, would of itself afford opportunities for increasing the pleasure of life. To begin with such a factory will surely be a center of education: any children who seem likely to develop gifts towards its special i... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: Feudal England; Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 84, 20 August 1887, p. 266-7; Transcribed: by Graham Seaman. THE Norman Conquest found a certain kind of feudality in existence in England; a feudality which was developed from the customs of the tribes with little or no admixture of Roman law; and also even before the Conquest this country was slowly beginning to be mixed up with the affairs of the Continent of Europe, and that not only with the kindred nations of Scandinavia, but with the Romanized countries also. But the Conquest of Duke William did introduce the complete or Romanized Feudal system into the country; and it also connected it by strong bonds to the Romanized countries, but thereby laid the first foundations of national fee... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: Feudal England; Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 85, 27 August 1887, p. 274; Transcribed: by Graham Seaman. The order and progress of Henry I.'s reign, which marks the transition from the mere military camp of the Conqueror to the Medieval England I have to dwell upon, was followed by the period of mere confusion and misery which accompanied the accession of the princes of Anjou to the throne of England. In this period the barons widely became mere violent and illegal robbers; and the castles with which the land was dotted, and which were begun under the auspices of the Conqueror as military posts, became mere dens of strong thieves. No doubt this made the business of the next able king, Henry II., the easier. He was a staunch man of busi... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: Feudal England; Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 86, 3 September 1887, p. 282; Transcribed: by Graham Seaman. The Great Council of the Realm was purely feudal; it was composed of the feudatories of the king, theoretically of all of them, practically of the great ones only. It was, in fact, the council of the conquering tribe with their chief at their head; the matters of the due feudal tribute, aids, reliefs, fines, scutage, and the like — in short, the king's revenue due from his men — were settled in this council at once and in the lump. But the inferior tribe, though not represented there, existed, and, as aforesaid, was growing rich, and the king had to get their money out of their purses directly; which as they were not r... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: Feudal England; Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 87, 10 September 1887, p. 290-1; Transcribed: by Graham Seaman. The complete feudalism of the fourteenth century fell, as systems always fall, by its own corruption, by development of the seeds of change, some which indeed had lain asleep during centuries, to wake up into activity long after the events which had created them were forgotten. The feudal system was naturally one of open war; and the alliances, marriages, and other dealings family with family, made by the kings and potentates, were always leading them into war by giving them legal claims, or at least claims that could be legally pleaded, to the domains of other lords, who took advantage of their being on the spot, of their str... (From: Marxists.org.)
Source: “Fighting for Peace” Commonweal, Vol 3, No. 59, 26 February 1887, p. 68; Transcribed: by Ted Crawford. Our contemporary, the Cotton Factory Times, has an article on the Lanarkshire riots and the position of the men there which is worth noting, as showing the kind of prejudices and superstitions which will have to be removed from the minds of the workers before they can attain to that complete union and perception of the interests of labor by which alone they can meet the organization of capital on equal terms: and this is the more worth noting, as the Cotton Factory Times is an excellent paper, and really devoted, according to its lights, to the interests of labor. Our contemporary does not seem to have understood t... (From: Marxists.org.)

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