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Pioneers of Anti-Parlimentarism
by Guy A. Aldred

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William Morris and

William Morris explained his attitude towards parliamentarism in a letter that he addressed to Bruse Glaiser from Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, on May 19, 1888: -

"I quite agree with your views about the future of the League and the due position of a revolutionary party of principle as to its dealings with Parliament . . .

"As to myself, you may be sure that I will not be pedantically stiff about non-essentials. At the same time there are certain convictions which I cannot give up. An in action, there are certain courses which I cannot support.

"If you will re-read the editorial to the first number of the weekly Commonweal you will see my position stated exactly as I should state it now, and which was the position taken by all of us when the (Socialist) League was first founded. IF the League reverses its views on these points it stultifies our actions in leaving the S.D.F., and becomes a different body from that which I first joined. I should, therefore, be forced to my very great sorrow, to leave it, not for the purpose of sulking in my tent, but in order to try some other form of propaganda.

"I ought now to explain what would drive me out of the League, and how far I could meet our friends who are so anxious to have us take part in Parliamentary action. A mere abstract resolution that we might have to send members of Parliament at some time or other would not drive me out. But I believe, with you, that what-ever they may think, our parliamentary friends would not be able to stop there, and that a necessary consequence of the passing of the Croydon resolution would have to be the issue of a programme involving electioneering in the near future, and the immediate putting forward of a programmed of palliative measures to be carried through Parliament: some such programme, in short, as the 'Stepping Stones' of the S.D.F., which I always disagreed with.

"Such a step I could not support, for I could not preach in favour of such measures (Since I don't believe in their efficacy) without lying and subterfuge, which are, surely, always anti-social. "I hope you understand my position. I recapitulate: -
"1. Under no circumstances will I give up active propaganda.
"2. I will make every effort to keep the League together.
"3. We should treat Parliament as a representative of the enemy.
"4. We might, for some definite purpose, be forced to send members to Parliament as rebels.
"5. But under no circumstances to help carry on the Government of the Country.
"6. And, therefore, we ought not to put forward palliative measures to be carried through Parliament, for that would be helping them to govern us.
"7. If the League declares for this latter step it ceases to be what I thought it was, and I must try to do what I can outside it.
"8. But short of that I will work inside it."

Items 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 read together are very definite, and completely refute the attempt of the Communist Party to claim William

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