H. M. Hyndman and British Socialism

By Chushichi Tsuzuki; Henry Pelling | Go to book overview
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VI IMPERIALISM AND THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL

1

WHEN Hyndman wrote his England for All for the inaugural conference of the Democratic Federation, he devoted nearly two-fifths of its pages to a review of foreign and colonial affairs. Like many other British Radicals, he saw in the issues of Continental politics a struggle between 'tyranny and freedom'. He advocated active intervention in the interests of the 'democracies of Europe' and against the expansion of 'militarism' and 'barbarism'--by which he obviously meant Bismarck's Germany and Czarist Russia. He was firmly convinced that Britain's strength must always be on the sea, but at the same time he hoped that international action on the part of the working classes might lead to progress everywhere.

Yet, as Hyndman himself admitted at the time, the prospects of international co-operation among the European Socialists remained doubtful. The First International which had been founded by Marx in 1864 had been rent by conflict between the Marxists and the anarchists, and had died quietly in America in 1876. The French Socialists had been disrupted by the failure of the Commune, and the German Social-Democratic Party was driven underground by Bismarck's anti-Socialist laws. In the 1880's, the initiative in reviving the International came from the French, but they were still weak and seriously divided among themselves.

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