Henry Mayers Hyndman


Henry Mayers Hyndman (; 7 March 1842 – 20 November 1921) was a British writer and politician. Originally a
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of ae ...

, he was converted to
socialism Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
's ''
Communist Manifesto ''The Communist Manifesto'', originally the ''Manifesto of the Communist Party'' (german: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), is an 1848 pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) wa ...
'' and launched Britain's first left-wing political party, the Democratic Federation, later known as the Social Democratic Federation, in 1881. Although this body attracted radicals such as William Morris and George Lansbury, Hyndman was generally disliked as an authoritarian who could not unite his party. Nonetheless, Hyndman was the first author to popularise Marx's works in English.

Early life

The son of a wealthy businessman, Hyndman was born on 7 March 1842 in London. After being educated at home, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Hyndman later recalled:
I had the ordinary education of a well-to-do boy and young man. I read mathematics hard until I went to Cambridge, where I ought, of course, to have read them harder, and then I gave them up altogether and devoted myself to amusement and general literature. ... Trinity or, for that matter, any other college, is practically a hot-bed of reaction from the social point of view. The young men regard all who are not technically 'gentlemen' as 'cads,' just as the Athenians counted all who were not Greeks as barbarians. I was a thorough-going Radical and Republican in those days—theoretically ... with a great admiration for John Stuart Mill, and later, I remember, I regarded John Morley as the coming man.
After his graduation in 1865, Hyndman studied law for two years before deciding to become a journalist. As a first-class cricketer, he represented Cambridge University Cricket Club, Cambridge University, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Sussex County Cricket Club, Sussex in thirteen matches as a right-handed batsman between 1864 and 1865. In 1866, Hyndman reported on the Third Italian War of Independence, Italian war with Austria for ''The Pall Mall Gazette''. Hyndman was horrified by the reality of war and became violently ill after visiting the front line. Hyndman met the leaders of the Italian nationalist movement and was generally sympathetic to their cause. In 1869, Hyndman toured the world, visiting the United States, Australia and several European countries. He continued to write for ''The Pall Mall Gazette'', where he praised the merits of British imperialism and criticised those advocating Irish Home Rule movement, Home Rule for Ireland. Hyndman was also very hostile to the experiments in democracy that were taking place in the United States. Hyndman married Matilda Ware (c. 1846–1913) in 1876 and then Rosalind Travers (c. 1875–1923) in 1914.

Political career

Hyndman decided on a career in politics. Unable to find a party that he could fully support, he decided to stand as an independent for the constituency of Marylebone (UK Parliament constituency), Marylebone in the 1880 United Kingdom general election, 1880 general election. Denounced as a Tory by William Ewart Gladstone, Hyndman gained very limited support from the electorate and withdrew from the contest, facing certain defeat. Soon after the election, Hyndman read a novel based on the life of Ferdinand Lassalle. He became fascinated with Lassalle and decided to research this romantic hero who had been killed in a duel in 1864. Discovering that Lassalle had been a socialist, sometimes a friend and sometimes an adversary of
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
, Hyndman read ''The Communist Manifesto''. Although he had doubts about some of Marx's ideas, Hyndman was greatly impressed by his analysis of capitalism. Hyndman was also greatly influenced by the book ''Progress and Poverty'' and the ideology of Henry George known today as Georgism. Hyndman decided to form Britain's first socialist political party. The Social Democratic Federation (SDF) had its first meeting on 7 June 1881. Many socialists were concerned that in the past Hyndman had been opposed to socialist ideas, but Hyndman persuaded many that he had genuinely changed his views and those who eventually joined the SDF included William Morris and Karl Marx's daughter Eleanor Marx. However, Friedrich Engels, Marx's long-term collaborator, refused to support Hyndman's venture. Hyndman wrote the first popularisation of the ideas of Karl Marx in the English language with ''England for All'' in 1881. The book was extremely successful, a fact that stoked Marx's antipathy, given the fact that he had failed to credit Marx by name in the introduction. The work was followed in 1883 by ''Socialism Made Plain'' which expounded the policies of what by then had been renamed as the SDF. They included a demand for universal suffrage and the nationalisation of the means of production and distribution. The SDF also published ''Justice (newspaper), Justice'', edited by the journalist Henry Hyde Champion. Many members of the SDF questioned Hyndman's leadership qualities. He was extremely authoritarian and tried to restrict internal debate about party policy. At an SDF meeting on 27 December 1884, the executive voted by a majority of two (10–8) that it had no confidence in Hyndman. When he refused to resign, some members, including William Morris and Eleanor Marx, left the party, forming the Socialist League (UK, 1885), Socialist League. In the 1885 United Kingdom general election, 1885 general election, Hyndman and Henry Hyde Champion, without consulting their colleagues, accepted £340 from the Conservative Party (UK), Conservatives to run parliamentary candidates in Hampstead and Kensington, the objective being to split the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal vote and therefore enable the Conservative candidate to win. This ploy failed and the two SDF's candidates won only a total of 59 votes. The story leaked out and the political reputation of both men suffered because they had accepted "Tory gold". During the 1880s, Hyndman was a prominent member of the Irish National Land League and the Land League of Great Britain. He took part in the unemployed demonstrations of 1887 and was put on trial for his share in the West End Riots of 1886, but he was acquitted. Hyndman was chairman at the International Socialist Workers and Trade Union Congress, London 1896, International Socialist Congress held in London in 1896. He was pro-Boer during the second Boer War. Hyndman continued to lead the SDF and took part in the negotiations to establish the Labour Representation Committee (1900), Labour Representation Committee (LRC) in 1900. However, the SDF left the LRC when it became clear that it was deviating from the objectives he had set out. In 1911, he set up the British Socialist Party (BSP) when the SDF fused with a number of branches of the Independent Labour Party.

Political thought

Hyndman thought was influenced by John Stuart Mill and his protégé John Morley as well as Sir Charles Dilke, 2nd Baronet, Charles Dilke, Henry Fawcett and Giuseppe Mazzini,
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
"erstwhile adversary" at the time of the First International. According to Hyndman, "Mazzini's greatness ... was obscured for younger socialists by his 'opposition to Marx in the early days of the 'International,' and his vigorous condemnation a little later of the Paris Commune", insisting that "'Mazzini's conception of the conduct of human life' had been 'a high and noble one'", praising the "No duties without rights" mention in the "General Rules" that Marx composed and passed as "a concession Marx made to Mazzini's followers within the organisation". Friedrich Engels, Marx's collaborator, "censured Hyndman's Mazzinian moralism" and also accused Hyndman of "jingo aspiration". Seamus Flaherty argues that "Hyndman's views on the beneficence of the 'great democracies of the English speaking peoples'" were inspired not by Benjamin Disraeli as historians such as Mark Bevir have argued, but rather by Dilke and Mill, whom Hyndman combined their ideas "on the unique character of 'the Angloe-Saxon race' with Mazzini's cosmopolitan patriotism, thus constructing a nationalism fully compatible with 'a good internationalism'. In his two volume autobiography, Hyndman spoke at length about Mazzini, even comparing him to Marx. For Vladimir Lenin, "that Hyndman should do so was preposterous; more astonishing still was that Hyndman should ''admire'' Mazzini". However, Flaherty writes that "when situated within its proper context, Hyndman's 'intellectual republicanism', so far from being unintelligible, is predictable, insofar as it was characteristic of mid-Victorian liberalism. Lenin's view was anachronistic. Similarly anachronistic was Lenin's complaint that Hyndman 'very poorly understood in 1880 ... the difference between a bourgeois democratic and a socialist'. For the difference was, often, not clear-cut; many socialist, including Marx, accepted the representative state. The 'association between Marx and a 'Marxist' language of revolution' was, in the main, a twentieth-century invention, which Lenin in no small part helped to create. And Max himself, moreover, allayed Hyndman's fears about the necessity of revolution in England, stating that he considered 'an English revolution not ''necessary'', but according to historic precedents—''possible''".



Hyndman was an antisemite, voicing antisemitic opinions with regard to the Second Boer War and blaming "Jewish bankers" and "imperialist Judaism" as the cause of the conflict. Hyndman charged "Otto Beit, Beit, Barney Barnato, Barnato and their fellow-Jews" as aiming to create "an Anglo-Hebraic Empire in Africa Cape to Cairo Railway, stretching from Egypt to Cape Colony".Hirshfield. Claire. 'The Anglo-Boer War and the issue of Jewish culpability', Journal of Contemporary History 15.4 (1980):621 Hyndman believed Jews were central to "a sinister 'gold international' opposed to the 'red international' of socialism".Virdee, Satnam. "Socialist Antisemitism and Its Discontents in England, 1884–98." Patterns of Prejudice 51.3-4 (2017):362 Hyndman supported the antisemitic Viennese riots of 1885, arguing that they represented a blow against Jewish finance capital. Hyndman repeatedly denounced what he saw as the overwhelming power of "capitalist Jews on the London Press", believing that the "Semitic lords of the press" had created war in South Africa.Hirshfield. Claire. 'The Anglo-Boer War and the issue of Jewish culpability', Journal of Contemporary History 15.4 (1980):622 Hyndman remained committed to conspiracies concerning Jews, remarking that "unless you said that they [Jews] were the most capable and brilliant people of the earth, you had the whole of their international agencies against you". Such antisemitism disillusioned erstwhile supporters. Eleanor Marx wrote privately to Wilhelm Liebknecht that "Mr Hyndman whenever he could do with impunity has endeavoured to set English workmen against foreigners".Virdee, Satnam. "Socialist Antisemitism and Its Discontents in England, 1884–98." Patterns of Prejudice 51.3-4 (2017):363 Hyndman had previously attacked Eleanor Marx in antisemitic terms, noting that she had "inherited in her nose and mouth the Jewish type from Karl Marx, Marx himself".

After the war

Hyndman upset members of the BSP by supporting the United Kingdom's involvement in World War I. The party split in two, with Hyndman forming a new National Socialist Party (UK), National Socialist Party. Hyndman remained leader of the small party until his death from pneumonia on 20 November 1921.


* ''A Commune for London'' (1888) * ''England For All'' * ''The Bankruptcy of India'' * ''Commercial Crisis of the Nineteenth Century'' (1892) * ''Economics of Socialism'' (1890) * ''The Record of an Adventurous Life'' * ''The Future of Democracy'' (1915) * ''The Awakening of Asia'' (1919) * ''The Evolution of Revolution'' (1921)

See also

* History of the socialist movement in the United Kingdom


Further reading

* Flaherty, Seamus. "H. M. Hyndman and the Intellectual Origins of the Remaking of Socialism in Britain, 1878–1881." ''English Historical Review'' 134.569 (2019): 855–880.

External links

Cricket Archive

Marxists Internet Archive.

(1892) {{DEFAULTSORT:Hyndman, Henry 1842 births 1921 deaths Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge Antisemitism in England British political party founders British social commentators British Socialist Party members Cambridge University cricketers English cricketers English male journalists English male non-fiction writers English political writers English socialists Gentlemen of the South cricketers India House Marylebone Cricket Club cricketers Social Democratic Federation members Surrey Club cricketers Sussex cricketers Writers from London