The ILP has published a new pamphlet by acclaimed author Graham Taylor which explores the origins of the early ILP’s ethical socialism and argues that the ideas behind its hard-headed moral and political framework can serve as an inspiration for the left today.
Ada Salter and the Origins of Ethical Socialism draws on Taylor’s much-praised biography of Salter, who pioneered the transformational Bermondsey Revolution in south east London in the early years of the 20th century alongside her husband, Alfred.
In this pamphlet, based on a talk he gave at the Marx Memorial Library last April, Taylor takes Ada’s story and moves both back in time to explore the history of the ideas that inspired her, and forward to peer at what happened to those political ideals and the movement that carried them in the second half of the 20th century.
Ethical socialism, as Taylor discovered, “was not just a socio-political tendency but an alternative worldview. It asked moral questions of every issue and so forced conventional parties to ponder humanitarian concerns.”
In this pamphlet he traces its origins back through Eduard Bernstein and Robert Owen to the radicals of the English Civil War and the little known figure of John Bellers, a man, writes Taylor, “who was often regarded as the first ‘socialist’ in Britain, perhaps in the world”.
He shines a light on a strain of left-wing thinking too often ignored or misunderstood and attempts to make its practical lessons and moral concerns relevant to today’s troubled times.
Ada Salter and the Origins of Ethical Socialism by Graham Taylor costs just £4 including p&p. You can order it now from our Publications page.