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The Commonweal

Morris and the Problem of Reform or Revolution

It is now generally accepted that William Morris, the Victorian poet and designer, was for the last thirteen years of his life (he died in 1896 at the age of 62) an active propagandist for "Revolutionary International Socialism". It is not so well known that for a part of this period his attitude to socialist tactic—summed up in the phrases "Education for Revolution" and "Make Socialists—was in many respects similar to that adopted by the Socialist Party of Great Britain when it was formed only eight years after his death.

William Morris and the Socialist movement

Last month was the fiftieth anniversary of the death of William Morris. He is principally known to the world as a poet and the founder of a new movement in arts and crafts. To us he is significant as a pioneer in the Socialist movement in this country. Born into the circle of the comfortable, he was revolted by the ugliness which he saw around him; an ugliness that he gradually realised was due to the profit-making principle that guided production and brought poverty and misery to the producers. In an article he wrote, ‘How I became a Socialist’, he tells of his discontent with the existing system :

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