William Morris

The Society of the Future

Note: Published in three parts in Commonweal, March-April 1889. For full details of publication and deliveries See below.
Transcribed: by Graham Seaman, June 2022

IN making our claims for the changes in Society which we believe would set labour free and thus bring about a new Society, we Socialists are satisfied with demanding what we think necessary for that Society to form itself, which we are sure it is getting ready to do; this we think better than putting forward elaborate utopian schemes for the future. We assert that monopoly must come to an end, and that those who can use the means of the production of wealth should have all opportunity of doing so, without being forced to surrender a great part of the wealth which they have created to an irresponsible owner of the necessaries to production; and we have faith in the regenerative qualities of this elementary piece of honesty, and believe that the world thus set free will enter on a new eycle of progress. We are prepared to face whatever drawbacks may accompany this new development with equanimity, being convinced that it will at any rate be a great gain to have got rid of a system which has at last become nearly all drawbacks. The extintion of the disabilities of an effete system of production will not, we are convinced, destroy the gains which the world has already won, but will, on the contrary, make those gains available to the whole population instead of confining their enjoyment to a few. In short, considering the present condition of the world, we have come to the conclusion that the function of the reformers now alive is not so much prophecy as action. It is our business to use the means ready to our hands to remedy the immediate evils which oppress us; to the coming generations we must leave the task of safeguarding and of using the freedom which our efforts shall have won them.

Nevertheless, we do partly know the direction which the development of the world will take in the immediate future; the evolution of past history teaches us that. We know that the world cannot go back on its footsteps, and that men will develop swiftly both bodily and mentally in the new Society; we know that men in general will feel the obligations of Society much more than the latter generations have done, that the necessity for co-operation in production and life in general will be more consciously felt than it has been; that the comparative ease of life which the freeing of labour will bring about will give all men more leisure and time for thought; that crime will be rarer because there will not be the same temptation to it; that increased ease of life and education combined will tend to free us from disease of body and mind. In short, that the world cannot take a step forward in justice, honesty and kindliness, without a corresponding gain in all the material conditions of life.

And besides what we know, a knowledge without which we should not take the trouble to agitate for a change in the basis of Society, we cannot help guessing at a great deal which we cannot know; and again, this guessing, these hopes, or if you will, these dreams for the future, make many a man a Socialist whom sober reason deduced from science and political economy and the selection of the fittest would not move at all. They put a man in a fit frame of mind to study the reasons for his hope: give him courage to wade through studies, which, as the Arab king said of arithmetic, would otherwise be too dull for the mind of man to think of.

There are, in fact, two groups of mind with whom Social Revolutionists like other people have to deal, the analytical and the constructive. Belonging to the latter group myself, I am fully conscious of the dangers which we incur, and still more perhaps of the pleasures which we lose, and am, I hope, duly grateful to the more analytical minds for their setting of us straight when our yearning for action leads us astray, and [ am also, I confess, somewhat envious of the beatitude of their dreamy contemplation of the perfection of some favourite theory; a happiness which we who use our eyes more than our reasoning powers for noting what is going on in the world, seldom or [n]ever enjoy.

However, as they would and do call our instinctive vision dreaming, and as they almost always, at least in their own estimation, have the better of us in argument when we meet in friendly battle, I must be careful what I say of them, and so will for the present at least only deal with the visionaries or practical people. And one thing I must confess from the beginning, which is that the visions of us visionary or practical people differ largely from each other, and that we are not much interested in each others visions; whereas the theories of the analysts differ little from each other, and they are hugely interested in each others theories—in the way that a butcher is interested in an ox—to wit, for cutting up.

So I will not attempt to compare my visions with those of other Socialists, but will simply talk to you of some of my own, and let you make the comparison yourselves, those of you who are visionaries, or let you unassisted by me criticize them, those of you who are analytically given. In short, I am going to give you a chapter of confessions. I want to tell you what it is I desire of the Society of the Future, justvas if I were going to be reborn into it; I daresay that you wil find some of my visions strange enough.

One reason which will make some of you think them strange is a sad and shameful one. I have always belonged to the well-to-do classes, and was born into luxury, so that necessarily I ask much more of the future than many of you do; and the first of all my visions, and that which colours all my others, is of a day when that misunderstanding will no Ionger be possible; when the words poor and rich, though they will still be found in our dictionaries, will have lost their old meaning; which will have to be explained with care by great men of the analytical kind, spending much time and many words over the job, and not succeeding in the end in making people do more than pretend to understand them.

Well now, to begin with, I am bound to suppose that the realization of Socialism will tend to make men happy. What is it then makes people happy? Free and full life and the consciousness of life. Or, if you will, the pleasurable exercise of our energies, and the enjoyment of the rest which that exercise or expenditure of energy makes necessary to us. I think that is happiness for all, and covers all difference of capacity and temperament from the most energetic to the laziest.

Now, whatever interferes with that freedom and fulness of life, under whatever specious guise it may come, is an evil; is something to be got rid of as speedily as possible. It ought not to be endured by reasonable men who naturally wish to be happy.

Here you see is an admission on my part, which I suspect indicates the unscientific mind. It proposes the exercise of free will on the part of men, which the latest scientists deny the possibility of, I believe; but don't be afraid, I am not going into argument on the matter of free will and predestination; I am only going to assert that if individual men are the creatures of their surrounding conditions, as indeed I think they are, it must be the business of man as social animal, or of Society, if you will, to make the surroundings which make the individual man what he is. Man must and does create the conditions under which he lives; let him be conscious of that, and create them wisely.

Has he done so hitherto? He has tried to do so, I think, but with only moderate success, at any rate at times. However, the results of that moderate success he is proud of, and he calls it civilisation. Now, there has been amongst people of different minds abundant discussion as to whether civilisation is a good thing or an evil. Our friend Bax in his very able article on the subject,[1] did, I think, really put the matter on its true footing when he pointed out that as a step to something better, civilisation was a good, but as an achievement it was an evil. In that sense I declare myself an enemy of civilisation; nay, since this is to be a chapter of confessions, I must tell you that my special leading motive as a Socialist is hatred of civilisation; my ideal of the new Society would not be satisfied unless that Society destroyed civilisation.

For if happiness be the pleasurable exercise of our energies and the enjoyment of necessary rest, it seems to me that civilisation, looked at from the static point of view, as Bax phrases it, tends to deny us both these good things, and thereby tends to reduce man to a machine without a will; to deprive him gradually of all the functions of an animal and the pleasure of fulfilling them, except the most elementary ones. The scientific ideal of the future of man would appear to be an intellectual paunch, nourished by circumstances over which he has no control, and without the faculty of communicating the results of his intelligence to his brother-paunches.

Therefore my ideal of the Society of the future is first of all the freedom and cultivation of the individual will, which civilization ignores, or even denies the existence of; the shaking off the slavish dependence, not on other men, but on artificial systems made to save men manly trouble and responsibility: and in order that this will may be vigorous in us, I demand a free and unfettered animal life for man first of all: I demand the utter extinction of all asceticism. If we feel the least degradation in being amorous, or merry, or hungry, or sleepy, we are so far bad animals, and therefore miserable men. And you know civilisation does bid us to be ashamed of all these moods and deeds, and as far as she can, begs us to conceal them, and where possible to get other people to do them for us. In fact, it seems to me that civilization may almost be defined as a system arranged for ensuring the vicarious exercise of human energies for a minority of privileged persons.

WELL, but this demand for the extinction of asceticism bears with it another demand: for the extinction of luxury. Does that seem a paradox to you? It ought not to do so. What brings about luxury but a sickly discontent with the simple joys of the lovely earth? What is it but a warping of the natural beauty of things into a perverse ugliness to satisfy the jaded appetite of a man who is ceasing to be a man—a man who will not work, and cannot rest? Shall I tell you what luxury has done for you in modern Europe? It has covered the merry green fields with the hovels of slaves, and blighted the flowers and trees with poisonous gases, and turned the rivers into sewers; till over many parts of Britain the common people have forgotten what a field or a flower is like, and their idea of beauty is a gas-poisoned gin-palace or a tawdry theatre. And civilisation thinks that is all right, and it doesn’t heed it; and the rich man practically thinks, 'Tis all right, the common people are used to it now, and so long as they can fill their bellies with the husks that the swine do eat, it is enough.[2] And all for what? To have fine pictures painted, beautiful buildings built, good poems written? O no: those are the deeds of the ages before luxury, before civilisation. Luxury rather builds clubs in Pall Mall, and upholsters them as though for delicate invalid ladies, for the behoof of big whiskered men, that they may lounge there amidst such preposterous effeminacy that the very plushed-breeched flunkies that wait upon the loungers are better men than they are. I needn’t go further than that: a grand club is the very representative of luxury.

Well, you see, I dwell upon that matter of luxury, which is really the sworn foe of pleasure, because I don't want workmen even temporarily to look upon a swell club as a desirable thing. I know how diffcult it is for them to look from out of their poverty and squalor to a life of real and manly pleasure; but I ask them to think that the good life of the future will be as little like the life of the present rich as may be: that life of the rich is only the wrong side of their own misery; and surely since it is the cause of the misery, there can be nothing enviable or desirable in it. When our opponents say, as they sometimes do, "How should we be able to procure the luxuries of life in a Socialist society?" answer boldly, we could not do so, and we don't care, for we don’t want them and won't have them; and indeed, I feel sure that we cannot if we are all free men together. Free men, I am sure, must lead simple lives and have simple pleasures: and if we shudder away from that necessity now, it is because we are not free men, and have in consequence wrapped up our lives in such a complexity of dependence that we have grown feeble and helpless. But again, what is simplicity? Do you think by chance that I mean a row of yellow-brick, biue-slated houses, or a phalangstere like an improved Peabody lodging-house;[3] and the dinner-bell ringing one into a row of white basins of broth with a piece of bread cut nice and square by each, with boiler-made tea and ill-boiled rice-pudding to follow? No; that's the philanthropist's ideal, not mine; and here I only note it to repudiate it, and to say, Vicarious life once more, and therefore no pleasure. No, I say; find out what you yourselves find pleasant, and do it. You won't be alone in your desires; you will get plenty to help you in carrying them out, and you will develop social life in developing your own special tendencies.

So, then, my ideal is first unconstrained life, and next simple and natural life. First you must be free; and next you must learn to take pleasure in all the details of life:—which, indeed, will be necessary for you, because, since others will be free, you will have to do your own work. That is in direct opposition to civilisation, which says, Avoid trouble, which you can only do by making other people live your life for you. I say, Socialists ought to say, Take trouble, and turn your trouble into pleasure: that I shall always hold is the key to a happy life.

Now let us try to use that key to unlock a few of the closed doors of the future: and you must remember, of course, in speaking of the Society of the future, I am taking the indulgence of passing over the transitional period—whatever that may be—that will divide the present from the ideals which, after all, we must all of us more or less form in our minds when we have once fixed our belief in the regeneration of the world. And first as to the form of the position of people in the new Society—their polifical position, so to say. Political society as we know it will have come to an end: the relations between man and man will no longer be that of status or of property. It will no longer be the hierarchical position, the office of the man, that will be considered, as in the Middle Ages, nor his property as now, but his person. Contract enforced by the State will have vanished into the same limbo as the holiness of the nobility of blood. So we shall at one stroke get rid of all that side of artificiality which bids us sacrifice each our own life to the supposed necessity of an institution which is to take care of the troubles of people which may never happen: every case of clashing rights and desires will be dealt with on its own merits—that is, really, and not legally. Private property of course will not exist as a right: there will be such an abundance of all ordinary necessaries that between private persons there will be no obvious and immediate exchange necessary; though no one will want to meddle with matters that have as it were grown to such and such an individual— which have become part of his habits, so to say.

Now, as to occupations, we shall clearly not be able to have the same division of labour in them as now: vicarious servanting, sewer-emptying, butchering, letter-carrying, boot-blacking, hair-dressing, and the rest of it, will have come to an end: we shall either make all these occupations agreeable to ourselves in some mood or to some minds, who will take to them voluntarily, or we shall have to let them lapse altogether. A great many fidgetty occupations will come to an end; we shan't put a pattern on a cloth or a twiddle on a jug-handle to sell it, but to make it prettier and to amuse ourselves and others. Whatever rough or inferior wares we make, will be made rough and inferior to perform certain functions of use, and not to sell: as there will be no slaves, there will be no use for wares which none but slaves would need. Machinery will probably to a great extent have served its purpose in allowing the workers to shake off privilege, and will I believe be much curtailed. Possibly the few more important machines will be very much improved, and the host of unimportant ones fall into disuse; and as to many or most of them, people will be able to use them or not as they feel inclined—as, e.g., if we want to go a journey we shall not be compelled to go by railway as we are now, in the interests of property, but may indulge our personal inclinations and travel in a tilted waggon or on the hindquarters of a donkey.

Again, the aggregation of the population having served its purpose of giving people opportunities of inter-communication and of making the workers feel their solidarity, will also come to an end; and the huge manufacturing district will be broken up, and nature heal the horrible scars that man's heedless greed and stupid terror have made: for it will no longer be a matter of dire necessity that cotton cloth should be made a fraction of a farthing cheaper this year than last. It will be in our own choice whether we will work an extra half-hour a-day more to obtain a clean home and green fields; nor will the starvation or misery of thousands follow some slight caprice in the market for wares not worth making at all. Of course (as I ought to have said before) there are many ornamental matters which will be made privately in people’s leisure hours, as they could easily be: since it is not the making of a real work of art that takes so much ingenuity as the making of a machine for the making of a makeshift. And of course mere cheating and flunky centres like the horrible muck heap in which we dwell (London, to wit) could be got rid of easier still; and a few pleasant villages on the side of the Thames might mark the place of that preposterous piece of folly once called London.

Now let us use the key to unlock the door of the education of the future. Our present education is purely commercial and political: we are none of us educated to be men, but some to be property-owners, and others to be property-servers, Again I demand the due results of revolution on the basis of non-ascetic simplicity of life. I think here also we must get rid of the fatal division-of-labour system. All people should learn how to swim, and to ride, and to sail a boat on sea or river; such things are not arts, they are merely bodily exercises, and should become habitual in the race; and also one or two elementary arts of lfe, as carpentry or smithying; and most should know how to shoe a horse and shear a sheep and reap a field and plough it (we should soon drop machinery in agriculture I believe when we were free). Then again there are things like cooking and baking, sewing, and the like, which can be taught to every sensible person in a few hours, and which everybody ought to have at his fingers’ ends. All these elementary arts would be once again habitual, as also I suppose would be the arts of reading and writing; as also I suspect would the art of thinking, at present not taught in any school or university that I know of.

Well, armed with these habits and arts, life would lie before the citizen for him to enjoy; for whatever line he might like to take up for the exercise of his energies, he would find the community ready to help him with teaching, opportunities, and material. Nor for my part would I prescribe for him what he should do, being persuaded that the habits which would have given him the capacities of a man would stimulate him to use them; and that the process of the enjoyment of his life would be carried out, not at the expense of his fellow-citizens, but for their benefit. At present, you know, the gains held out as a stimulus to exertion, to all those who are not stimulated by the whip of the threat of death by starvation, are narrow, and are mainly the hope that the successfully energetic man shall be placed in a position where he shall not have to exercise his energies: the boredom of satiety, in short, is the crown of valiant exertion in civilization. But in a social condition of things, the gains that would lie before the exercise of one's energies would be various and wide indeed; nor do I in the least in the world believe that the possibility of mere personal use would, or indeed could, limit people’s endeavour after them; since men would at last have recognized that it was their business to live, and would at once come to the conclusion that ife without endeavour is dull. Now what direction that endeavour would take, of course I cannot tell you; I can only say that it would be set free from the sordid necessity to work at what doesn’t please us, which is the besetting curse of civilisation. The suggestion of a hope I may, however, make, which is of course personal—which is that perhaps mankind wil regain their eyesight, which they have at present lost to a great extent. I am not here alluding to what I believe is also a fact that the number of people of imperfect mechanical sight is increasing, but to what I suppose is connected with that fact, namely, that people have largely ceased to take in mental impressions the eyes; whereas in times past the eyes were the great feeders of the fancy and imagination. Of course people use their eyes to prevent them from tumbling down stairs or from putting their forks to their noses instead of to their mouths, but there as a rule is an end of the use they are to people. I am in the habit when I go to an exhibition or a picture gallery of noticing their behaviour there; and as a rule I note that they seem very much bored, and their eyes wander vacantly over the various objects exhibited to them, and odd to say, a strange or unusual thing never attracts them, no doubt because it appeals to their minds chiefly through their eyes; whereas if they came across something which a printed label informs them is something familiar, they become interested and nudge each other. If, e.g., ordinary people go to our National Gallery, the thing which they want to see is the Blenheim Raphael, which, though well done, is a very dull picture, at least to anyone not an artist; and they do this because they have been told that the—h'm! the—the—well, the thief that owned it managed to squeeze an exorbitant sum of money out of the nation for it.[4] While, when Holbein shows them the Danish princess of the sixteenth century yet living on the canvas, the demure half-smile not yet faded from her eyes; when Van Eyck opens a window for them into Bruges of the fourteenth century; when Botticelli shows them Heaven as it lived in the hearts of men before theology was dead, these things produce no impression on them, not so much even as to stimulate their curiosity and make them ask what 'tis all about; because these things were done to be looked at, and to make the eyes tell the mind tales of the past, the present, and the future.

OR again, in times past, when what is (I suppose as a joke) called the Educational Department at South Kensington was more or less mixed up with the Art Department, I have followed up a group through the wonders of the drift of the art of past days, and perceived that their eyes never steadied once on any of these things, but that they brightened up at once when they came across a glass case in which the constituent parts of an analysed beef-steak were neatly arranged and labelled,[5] and that their eyes devoured little pinches of nothing in particulr, with a trusting faith in the analyst which I confess I could not share, as it seemed to me that it would require quite superhuman honesty in him not to snatch up a few pinches of road-dust or ashes and make them do duty for the recondite substances which his toil had brought to light in that familiar object. In literature you will find the same thing going on, and that those authors who appeal to our eyes to take in mental impressions are relegated by our most ‘intellectual’ critics to a second place at least: to pass by Homer and Beowulf and Chaucer, you will find the 'truly intellectual' man elevating mere rhetorical word-spinners and hunters of introspection above such masters of life as Scott and Dickens, who tell their tales to our senses and leave them alone to moralize the tale so told.

Now I have dwelt at some length on this matter of the eyesight, because to my mind it is the most obvious sign of the march of civilization towards the intellectual-paunch stage of existence which I have deprecated already; and also because I feel sure that no special claim need be made for the art and literature of the future: healthy bodily conditions, a sound and all round development of the senses, joined to the due social ethics which the destruction of all slavery will give us, will, I am convinced, as a matter of course give us the due art and literature, whatever that due may turn out to be. Only, if I may prophesy ever so little, I should say that both art and literature, and especially art, will appeal to the senses directly, just as the art of the past has done. You see you will no longer be able to have novels relating the troubles of a middle-class couple in their struggle towards social uselessness, because the material for such literary treasures will have passed away. On the other hand the genuine tales of history will still be with us, and will, one might well hope, then be told in a cheerfuller strain than is now possible. Nor for my part can I doubt that art will appeal to the senses of men now grown healthy: which means that architecture and the kindred arts will again flourish amongst us as in the days before civlisation. Civilisation renders these arts impossible, because its politics and ethics force us to live in a grimy disorderly uncomfortable world, a world that offends the senses at every turn: that necessity reacts on the senses again, and forces us unconsciously to blunt their keenness. A man who notices the external forms of things much nowadays must suffer in South Lancashire or London, must live in a state of perpetual combat and anger; and he really must try to blunt his sensibility, or he will go mad, or kill some obnoxious person and be hanged for it; and this of course means that people will gradually get to be born without this inconvenient sensibility. On the other hand, let this irrational compulsion be removed from us, and the senses will grow again to their due and normal fulness and demand expression of the pleasure which their exercise gives us, which in short means art and literature at once sensuous and human.

Well, now I will try to draw these discursive remarks to a head, and will give you a more concise and complete idea of the society into which I would like to be reborn.

It is a society which does not know the meaning of the words rich and poor, or the rights of property, or law or legality, or nationality: a society which has no consciousness of being governed; in which equality of condition is a matter of course, and in which no man is rewarded for having served the commaunity by having the power given him to injure it.

It is a society conscious of a wish to keep life simple, to forego some of the power over nature won by past ages in order to be more human and less mechanical, and willing to sacrifice something to this end. It would be divided into small communities varying much within the limits allowed by due social ethics, but without rivalry between each other, looking with zbhorrence at the idea of a holy race.

Being determined to be free, and therefore contented with a life not only simpler but even rougher than the life of slave-owners, division of labour would be habitually limited: men (and women too, of course) would do their work and take their pleasure in their own persons, and not vicariously: the social bond would be habitally and instinctively felt, so that there would be no need to be always asserting it by set forms: the family of blood-relationship would melt into that of the community and of humanity. The pleasures of such a society would be founded on the free exercise of the senses and passions of a healthy human animal, so far as this did not injure the other individuals of the community and so offend against social unity: no one would be ashamed of humanity or ask for anything better than its due development.

But from this healthy freedom would spring up the pleasures of intellectual development, which the men of civilization so foolishly try to separate from sensuous life, and to glorify at its expense. Men would follow knowledge and the creation of beauty for their own sakes, and not for the enslavement of their fellows, and they would be rewarded by finding their most necessary work grow interesting and beautiful under their hands without their being conscious of it. The man who felt keenest the pleasure of lying on the hill-side under a rushen hut among the sheep on a summer night, would be no less fit for the enjoyment of the great communal hall with all its splendours of arch and column, and vault and tracery. Nor would he who took to heart the piping of the wind and washing of the waves as he sat at the helm of the fishing-boat, be deadened to the beauty of art-made music. It is workmen only and not pedants who can produce real vigorous art.

And amidst this pleasing labour, and the rest that went with it, would disappear from the earth’s face all the traces of the past slavery. Being no longer driven to death by anxiety and fear, we should have time to avoid disgracing the earth with filth and squalor, and accidental ugliness would disappear along with that which was the mere birth of fantastic perversity. The utterly base doctrine, as Carlyle has it[6], that this world is a cockney nightmare, would be known no more.

But perhaps you may think that Society being thus happy and at peace, its very success would lead it to corruption once more? Yes, that might be if men were not watchful and valant; but we have begun by saying that they would be free, and free men are found to be responsible, and that means that they shall be watchful and valiant. The world will be the world still, 1 do not deny it; but such men as I have been thinking of will surely be fitter to meet its troubles than the dwellers in our present muddle of authority and unconscious revolt.

Or again, some might say such a condition of things might lead indeed to happiness but also to stagnation. Well, to my mind that would be a contradiction in terms, if indeed we agree that happiness is caused by the pleasurable exercise of our faculties. And yet suppose the worst, and that the world did rest after so many troubles—where would be the harm? I remember, after having been ill once, how pleasant it was to lie on my bed without pain or fever, doing nothing but watching the sunbeams and listening to the sounds of life outside; and might not the great world of men, if it once deliver itself from the delirious struggle for life amidst dishonesty, rest for a little after the long fever and be none the worse for it?[7]

Anyhow, I am sure it would be the better for getting rid of its fever, whatever came of it; and sure also that the simplicity of life I have spoken of, which some would call stagnation, would give real life to the great mass of mankind, and to them at least would be a well-spring of happiness. Tt would raise them at once to a higher level of life, until the world began to be peopled, not with commonplace people, but with honest folk not sharply conscious of their superiority as 'intellectual’ persons now are, but self-respecting and respecting the personality of others, because they would feel themselves useful and happy, that is alive.

And as for the superior people, if such a world were not good enough for them I am sorry, but am driven to ask them how they to get on with the present one, which is worse. I am afraid they would have to answer, We like it better because it is worse, and, therefore, relatively we are better.

Alas! my friends, these are the fools who are our masters now. The masters of fools then, you say? Yes, so it is; let us cease to be fools then, and they will be our masters no longer. Believe me, that will be worth trying for, whatever may come afterwards.

Take this for the last word of my dream of what is to be: the test of our being fools no longer will be that we shall no longer have masters.

MIA notes

1. Belfort Bax, The Curse of Civilzation", Commonweal, September 1887

2. Luke 5 verse 16. In the original, referring to beans from the carob tree; in modern English, effectively pigswill. Morris wrote a short but furious article on the subject.

3. The Peabody Donation Fund was one of the first housing associations, providing blocks of apartments for the poor from 1862 on, with night-time curfews and residence conditional on morality.

4. The Blenheim Raphael was bought by the National Gallery from the 7th Duke of Marlborough for £70,000. It had been bought in 1764 from the church in Perugia that Raphael had painted it for by Lord Robert Spencer, brother of the 4th Duke of Marlborough.

5. Before the separation of the Science Museum, the South Kensington Museum included a Food Collection. Edwin Lankester, superintendent of the Collection, documented the chemical adulteration of food, which he lectured on. His son, Edwin Ray Lankester, was a friend of Marx, who used some of the results of his father's research on food in Capital. See Edwin Lankester, On food: Being lectures delivered at the South Kensington Museum, London 1861, and John Bellamy Foster, Marx as a Food Theorist, Monthly Review, December 2016.

6. Carlyle, Latterday Pamphlets, No. VII (1850), complained that municipal statues to entrepeneurs based only on their ability to make money regardless of the consequences "sanction and consecrate artistic botching, pretentious futility, and the horrible doctrine that this Universe is a Cockney Nightmare, — which no creature ought for a moment to believe, or listen to!" the ugliness of the thing celebrated carries through to the ugliness of the statue.

7. The subtitle of News from Nowhere is An Epoch of Rest.

Bibliographical Note


The Society of the Future


  1. 13 November 1887, As The Future of Society for the Hammersmith Branch of the SL at Kelmscott House
  2. 20 November 1887, As The Coming Society for the Clerkenwell Branch of the SL at the SL Hall, 13 Farringdon Rd
  3. 1 December 1887, As The Coming Society for the Bloomsbury Branch of the SL at the Athenaeum Hall, Tottenham Court Rd
  4. 26 March 1888, for the Edinburgh Branch of the SLLL at the Trades' Hall, 142 High St, Edinburgh
  5. 8 July 1888, for the Battersea Branch of the SDF at the Sydney Hall, 36 York Rd, Battersea
  6. 2 December 1888, for the Ancoats Recreation Committee at New Islington Hall, Ancoats, Manchester
  7. 10 February 1889, for the Glasgow Branch of the SL at the Albion Hall, Glasgow


Commonweal, March-April 1889


  1. Serialised in Commonweal:
  2. William Morris: Artist, Writer, Socialist ed. May Morris, Vol II pp. 453-68

Transcription and Notes

Graham Seaman for MIA, June 2022