Commonweal and the political thought of William Morris

Halton, Peter (2022) Commonweal and the political thought of William Morris. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the political thought of William Morris. In contrast to much of the scholarship which has placed great emphasis on the influence of Morris’s other pursuits as poet, artist and craftsman in shaping his socialist outlook, this thesis instead locates Morris in the intellectual world of late-nineteenth century British socialism. It does so through a close engagement with Commonweal, the official journal of the Socialist League, which Morris wrote for, edited, and funded during the years 1885-1890. It argues that as its editor, Commonweal as a whole should be read as part of Morris’s political project of ‘making socialists’ and that the journal in turn played an important role in shaping Morris’s own political outlook, demonstrating a greater need for scholars to play closer attention to sites of publication in the history of British socialism, and in the history of political thought more broadly. As a result of this approach, several key aspects of Morris’s political thought are considered in a new light. The perennial question of Morris’s relation to Marx is reformulated to consider what role Marx’s thought, and theory more generally, played in Morris’s project of ‘making socialists’ and also shows how Commonweal was a site of contestation in the creation of what would become ‘Marxism’. Anti-imperialism, rarely accorded its due place in Morris scholarship, is shown to be not peripheral but a core component of Morris’s political thought. The importance of the idea of freedom to Morris’s politics is stressed across the thesis, particularly so in re-evaluating his thought on the relationship between labour and art. Also considered in depth across the thesis is the transition stage from socialism to communism and the role this played in differentiating Morris’s thought from many of his contemporaries.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2022 11:52
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:47
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/103910

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