Resources, including a reading pack, for the 18 February 2012 dayschool "New Unionism: how workers can fight back".
How Morris became a socialist is rather more complicated than is generally thought. Morris himself only made rare statements about how he became a socialist, spread out in his writings over 16 years.
The sixth part of a series by Paul Hampton
William Morris made a distinctive contribution to the development of Marxist ideas, for example on the nature of work and on the vision of a classless, communist society. But arguably his most significant contribution — and certainly one with great contemporary relevance - was his conception of a socialist ecology.
The Fourth Part of a series; the other articles are collected here: http://www.workersliberty.org/category/marxist-theory/history/marxists/william-morris
Morris has been claimed by a wide spectrum of socialists — often without careful reference to his views. However a comprehensive study of writings indicates that he was not a utopian socialist, nor an anarchist, not a Fabian state socialist nor a sentimental socialist, as some have characterised him.
One of the reasons for Morris’ scepticism about the possibilities of trade unionism was his understanding of the state. On the ABCs of the state, he was sharp and clear.
Morris was no dilettante on matters of organisation. Once he had decided to become a socialist he joined the Democratic Federation and became a leading activist and public spokesperson. This entailed speaking at open-air meetings, selling papers and other literature and giving educational lectures on a regular basis. Far from being a Sunday socialist, he became a dedicated semi-professional revolutionary.
William Morris is probably best known to most people these days as the creator of kitsch Victorian wallpaper designs.
The opinions of William Morris on what we now call ecology are important in any assessment of him as a political thinker in his own time.
Morris was a political activist, and although his personal life was informed by his socialist politics, he did not see lifestyle or consumer behaviour as a substitute for political action.