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The Making of British Socialism$
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Mark Bevir

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691150833

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691150833.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

The Social Democratic Federation

The Social Democratic Federation

(p.106) Chapter Six The Social Democratic Federation
The Making of British Socialism

Mark Bevir

Princeton University Press

This chapter provides a detailed investigation of the background, thought, and politics of the members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF). Several of the early members of the SDF were followers of James Bronterre O'Brien, based in the radical workingmen's clubs of London. Even after they came to accept the need for collective ownership of the means of production, their political strategy remained that of O'Brien. They believed in political action to create a properly democratic state through which the people might then promote social reforms. This account of the O'Brienites helps to explain various unsolved problems in the history of British Marxism, notably why most members remained with Hyndman rather than follow Morris into the Socialist League, and why the SDF adopted an ambiguous attitude to trade unions and palliatives.

Keywords:   Social Democratic Federation, British socialism, James Bronterre O'Brien, political actions, social reforms, British Marxism, collective ownership, Socialist League, trade unions

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