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Ernest Belfort Bax (23 July 1854 – 26 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 several books about the French Revolution, including historical sketches of the important figures, including Marat. But of all the leading actors in the great drama of the French Revolution, there is probably none less known to the average reader of history than the subject of this book. The Revolution was mostly finished before Babeuf appeared on the scene, with leaders like Robespierre already dead and/or gone. François Noel Babeuf, the subsequent Gracchus, played no political role of any importance while the Revolution was at its zenith. His name became first prominent in the year 1795, when the Society, which later on met near the Pantheon, was formed. The usual fate of secret movements, of conspiracies, overtook Babeuf’s. It was killed by treachery – killed, as its promoters fondly believed, on the eve of success. Nevertheless, for students of the earlier democratic movements, and of the precursors of modern Socialism, the agitation of Babeuf in the last decade of the 18th century was of great interest.
This edition of Gracchus Babeuf is specially formatted with a Table of Contents.