Nesta Helen Webster

Socialist Network (1926)

Socialist Network (1926) by Nesta Helen Webster

  1. The object of this book is not to provide a history of Socialism, but merely an account of the Socialist organizations of modern times. It gives accounts of persons connected with, or giving rise to, concrete societies or groups. Contents: origins of modern Socialism; Marxian Socialism, prewar period; anarchism and syndicalism; the war and pacifism; Russian revolution; world Bolshevism; Bolshevism in Great Britain; capture of trade unionism; Bolshevisation of British trade unionism; subsidiary Communist organizations; pacifism, postwar; youth movements; Socialism and Christianity.


THE object of this book is not to provide a history of Socialism, but merely an account of the Socialist organisations of modern times. Hence no mention is made of isolat ed Socialist theorists, but only of people connected with, or giving rise to, concrete societies or groups. Secret or occult societies do not enter into the scope of the inquiry, which is not concerned with mysterious inner circles, invisibles or high initiates working in the dark, but only with open movements - societies with recognised headquarters, offices, executive committees, published lists of members, official organs, statements of aims, etc. Though such a presentation of the revolutionary movement is necessarily incomplete, and may fail to satisfy those who care to inquire into causes, it will appeal the more to practical people who are unwilling to consider anything they cannot see before their eyes.

It has seemed to me that a sort of guide-book of this kind, accompanied by a chart, might be useful, in view of the fact that the ramifications of the Socialist movement have now become so vast and complicated that it is almost impossible to follow them. The very difficulties with which I have been faced in the course of my work have encouraged me in this idea. Often I have been obliged to search for days in order to discover some simple fact, owing to the extraordinary vagueness with regard to dates and practical details which characterise Socialist publications - histories, pam- phlets, year books and manuals alike. Long pages are devoted to the doctrines of some society, but when it was founded, where and by whom, may not perhaps once be mentioned. Again, one is confronted by conflicting evidence which has to be sifted in order to arrive at the truth.

What wonder, then, that the so-called "Capitalist Press" falls into the strangest blunders when dealing with the different phases of this movement, and that anti-Socialist writers, whose particular business it is to study the subject, from time to time commit in- accuracies which detract from the value of their work?

In this little book I lay no claim to infallibility; indeed, I do not believe it would be possible for a single human brain to master all the details of this bewildering network and to avoid going wrong on some point-an international committee of experts would be needed to achieve such a result. All I can claim is that I have spared no pains to find out the facts of the case by seeking my data in the Socialists' own literature, ranging from the pamphlets of Babeu£ to those of the Komintern. If, then, inaccuracies of any importance occur, it will not be for want of long and arduous research, and in this case I shall be glad to have them pointed out to me with a view to correction in a further edition. My only concern is to find out the truth and make it known.

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