Communism and the counter-culture : the socialisms of William Morris and Ernest Belfort-Bax.
The thesis sets out to analyse the written works of these socialist colleagues from a particular, stated, perspective.
The analytical framework is one drawn from a variety of writers whose work can loosely be banded together
under the heading of Cultural Materialism. Four analytical tools are described specifically in the first section of
the thesis; Abstract Objectivity, Hegemony, Production, and Science. These concepts largely consider the work
ofV.N.Volosinov, Raymond Williams, Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayer, and Sandra Harding respectively.
The second section of the thesis is split into four chapters; Morris and utopia, Edward Bellamy, H.G.Wells and
the Social Democratic Federation and the Socialist League. The first of these includes an introduction to Morris
with a short biographical description and a consideration of his utopian thinking and the challenge this held for
particular bourgeois hegemonic meanings, this chapter also contains a discussion of utopian theory. Bellamy is
then used as the first comparative study as his novels use precisely the same method as Morris's News From
Nowhere, and Looking Backward in particular is normally considered to be one of the chief motivations for this
work. This is followed by a consideration of Wells's utopian and dystopian work which, although slightly later
than Morris's, is a legitimate comparison as it combines utopianism and socialism with particular reference to the
role of science, something especially relevant to any reading of Morris. The final chapter in this section considers
the contemporary writings of Morris and Bax's Marxist socialist colleagues. They were both leading members of
the S.D.F. and founding members of the League but this chapter sets out to make clear that the majority of those
who contributed to the relevant publications for these organisations did so from within an epistemology and
agenda dominated by meanings and values normally thought by Marxists to be specifically bourgeois. All the
texts in this and future sections are broken down into various sub-headings such as science, progress, production
and nature in an attempt to uncover hidden assumptions within the work.
The third and fourth sections apply the same analytical techniques to the political publications of Morris and Bax
and highlight what I believe to be the unique contribution their work made to the process of development within
socialist theory. It also considers the weaknesses of their work when compared to that of their colleagues
especially in the area of the 'women question'.
The Conclusion not only draws these elements together but reflects upon how the work of Morris and Bax can be
seen to have influenced the theoretical framework through which I have chosen to study them and how, in a
sense, the thesis comes about full circle.