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April 20 , 2008

Sketches of the French Revolution


Ernest Belfort Bax (23 July 185426 November 1926) was a British socialist, journalist and philosopher. Born into a nonconformist religious family in Leamington, he was first introduced to Marxism while studying philosophy in Germany. He combined Karl Marx's ideas with those of Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer and Eduard von Hartmann. Keen to explore possible metaphysical and ethical implications of socialism, he came to describe a "religion of socialism" as a means to overcome the dichotomy between the personal and the social, and also that between the cognitive and the emotional. He saw this as a replacement for organised religion, and was a fervent atheist, keen to free workers from what he saw as the moralism of the petty bourgeoisie. Almost throughout his life, he saw economic conditions as ripe for socialism, but felt this progress was delayed by a lack of education of the working class. Bax supported Karl Kautsky over Eduard Bernstein, but Kautsky had little time for what he saw as Bax's utopianism, and supported Theodore Rothstein's efforts to spread a more orthodox Marxism in the SDF. Initially very anti-nationalist, Bax came to support the British in World War I, but by this point he was concentrating on his career as a barrister and did little political work. Bax wrote a historical sketch of the life of Jean-Paul Marat (24 May 174313 July 1793), and Sketches of the French Revolution was written in the same vein, providing historical biographical sketches of the main figures of the Revolution and the Enlightenment. This edition of Sketches of the French Revolution: A Short History of the French Revolution for Socialists is specially formatted with a Table of Contents.
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