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100 years ago: Death of a patriotic socialist

26 November 2021

November 25th, 1921.

IN MR [[HENRY] HYNDMAN English Socialism has lost its patriarch. For more than forty years he has stood before the public as the logical representative of a cause which has only obtained a certain measure of success by ceasing to be logical. But Mr Hyndman was a pope. He attracted brilliant recruits to his banner, but he ended in driving them away. He broke in his time with Morris, John Burns, and even with his own prophet, Karl Marx. To him the recognition of his own infallibility was more important than the formation of a party. Accordingly the strange result followed that, whilst many a Trade Union secretary has got into Parliament by a glib recitation of Mr Hyndman’s arguments, St Stephen’s never opened its portals to the chief himself. De mortuis nil nisi bonum. None the less, it would be idle to pretend that Mr Hyndman’s influence was good, and we say this not because we have any special admiration for capitalist civilization, but because we think he led the movement for economic reform into wrong channels. The earlier Socialism of Maurice and Kingsley and even of Robert Owen had its Christian elements. The same was true of Mazzini’s ideals, but Hyndman rejected Mazzini and made his appeal to materialistic greed. He was indeed a resolute enemy of Christian civilization. None the less, he showed himself a patriot during the war, and at his death wins from the Morning Post a panegyric, and the title of Imperialist.

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