Social Democratic Federation

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Social Democratic Federation


(SDF), a British socialist organization. The Social Democratic Federation, established in August 1884 to replace the Democratic Federation, which was founded in 1881, consisted of socialists of varying persuasions.

Leadership of the SDF was long in the hands of the reformists, led by H. M. Hyndman. The Marxist wing, counterbalancing Hyndman’s policy, adopted the policy of establishing close ties with the proletarian masses. In December 1884, W. Morris, E. Marx, E. Aveling, and other Marxists left the federation and founded the Socialist League. Later, however, some of them returned to the SDF.

In the early 20th century the revolutionary Marxist wing gained influence in the SDF as a result of the upsurge in the workers’ movement, influenced by the Revolution of 1905-07 in Russia. In 1907 the SDF was reorganized as the Social Democratic Party, which in 1911, along with other organizations, formed the British Socialist Party (BSP). In 1920 the BSP became the nucleus of the Communist Party of Great Britain.


Tupoleva, L. F. Sotsialisticheskoe dvizhenie v Anglii v 80-e gody XIX veka. Moscow, 1973.
Klugmann, J. History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, vol. 1. London, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Its official manifesto still declared, "as means for the peaceable attainment of these [its social] objects the Social Democratic Federation advocates: Adult Suffrage, Annual Parliaments, Proportional Representation, Payment of Members and Official Expenses of Elections out of the Rates, Abolition of the House of Lords and Hereditary Authorities, Disestablishment and Disendowment of all State Churches." [51]
Bevir, "The British Social Democratic Federation 1880-1885: From O'Brienism to Marxism," International Review of Social History 37 (1992): 207-29; and M.
Still, Berger qualifies the apparent temporal disparity, dating Labour's origin to the foundation of the Social Democratic Federation (1883) and the Independent Labour Party (1893), while the flowering of the S.P.D.
"The path to reform led through the thickets of popular discontent," Asa Briggs has written.(36) During the mid-1870s and early 1880s, there emerged numerous powerful reformist groups - the London Municipal Reform League, the London Social Democratic Federation, the Municipal Reform Association, and the Fabian Society being the most famous.
Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation had made plans to march behind the Lord Mayor's entourage during the 1886 Show, but abandoned its plans for this "procession of the unemployed" after the chief of the City's police force issued stern public warnings.(96) For Hyndman and many others in London, the City had come to symbolize all that was corrupt and anachronistic in English politics and society.
She has no time for the Social Democratic Federation, whose Marxism, she maintains, had marginal influence on the political culture.

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