William Morris against British imperial wars


This is a video about William Morris and his art.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Morris speech fills the gap

(Sunday 10 August 2008)

William Morris‘s Our Country Right or Wrong, A Critical Edition ed. Florence S Boos
(William Morris Society, £7)

THIS little book deserves to be on the bookshelf of every socialist and peace campaigner. Apart from in the huge Collected Works, it has not so far been seen in any other selection. It last appeared in one of the issues of The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies.

Morris wrote this essay as a speech which he was to deliver to a mainly Liberal audience in 1880. This was before he had crossed his “river of fire” to become a socialist.

We know exactly when he finished it, as he signed it 2.30am, January 30 1880. This was after disastrous and bloody campaigns in South Africa and Afghanistan.

Professor Boos is a Professor of Victorian Studies at the University of Iowa and she edited and annotated Morris’s Socialist Diary for Journeyman Press in 1975. Her introduction to this latest book, Dystopian Violence, shows how the British peace movement prepared working-class activists from peace and solidarity movements for the socialist movement, which was to flourish in the 1880s.

What Morris had to say in this essay is sadly not out of date. He observes how war not only damages people but corrupts nations.

He shows how an imperialist country needs an enemy. In Morris’s day, Russia was replacing France in that role. Today, it looks as if Iran is about to have that honour.

Morris shows in this a desire for a more decent society without poverty, unemployment or overwork. It was not to be a big step from this essay to his membership of the socialist movement.

The William Morris Society is to be congratulated for making this hitherto hidden essay available. It fills the gap between romantic and revolutionary.

Available for £7.50 including p&p from William Morris Society, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9TA.

GERRARD SABLES

8 thoughts on “William Morris against British imperial wars

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