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To Ruskin, the capitalist assault on the divine image and likeness was most evident in industrial work and technology. Driven by the imperatives of productivity and profit, capitalists enforced an industrial division of labor that subdivided tasks, imposed absolute precision of motion, and thus deskilled the mass of everyday workers. You cannot make both. This was the Tory Romanticism that Morris encountered as a student at Oxford, and he expressed his opposition to bourgeois society in its loftily aestheticized accent.

He apprenticed to a London architect and befriended Rossetti and other pre-Raphaelites, whose dreamy medieval reveries aroused his own poetic imagination; he wrote The Defence of Guenevere and The Earthly Paradise , as well as Love is Enough , and published illustrated translations of medieval Icelandic eddas and sagas.

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By the mids, Morris was no longer politically indolent. In , he joined Eleanor Marx, H.

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For the rest of his life he threw himself wholeheartedly into revolutionary agitation—even after he and other disgruntled SDF members defected in to form the Socialist League. He also entered the most prolific phase of his career, writing essays and pamphlets as well as his utopian masterpiece, News from Nowhere But was Morris a Marxist? To make his case in , Thompson had to finesse or evade some fairly obvious counterevidence.

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Moreover, Morris himself disclaimed the theoretical prowess that Thompson attributed to him. Driven to lower costs by gaining mastery over the social and technological processes of production, capital introduces mechanization—what we now call automation. While the relocation of human skill in machinery enhances the power of capital over labor, it also creates the material basis for socialist and communist society. Now, machinery increases the exploitative intensity of capital; after the revolution, it will relieve human beings of drudgery and allow them the pleasures of free time.

But there is a price for this emancipation, one that Morris thought exorbitant: the degradation and monotony of labor.

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Marx and Morris agreed that the problem of work and technology was a political one. But for Marx it was quantitative automation reduced the amount of necessary labor and increased the amount of free time , while for Morris it was qualitative. In the world Morris envisioned, workers would labor and rest in conditions worthy of their human nature. Both words denoted the achievement not only of equality but also of freedom : from landlords, bosses, and stockholders.

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Thus Morris helps us remember that socialism is not the sum of reforms to capitalism. Because conservatives mock them for their oversensitivity, while socialists deride their moderation, liberals tend to see themselves as sensible pragmatists. Contemporary liberals comprise the left wing of the neoliberal ruling class.

Accordingly, many liberals and social democrats morphed into business-friendly neoliberals.

Which is why we need utopia back, leavened by the Romantic desire for beatitude with which Morris endowed it—and more. Christians in particular have been warned about the seductive dangers of utopian hope, chastised with Augustinian platitudes about the intractability of human imperfection. But we might also think of utopianism as a form of realized eschatology, a proleptic politics rooted in a faith that the future can pay a visit to the present.

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Turn the page, I say. Eugene McCarraher is an associate professor of humanities at Villanova University. Please email comments to letters commonwealmagazine. The Romantic Socialism of William Morris. By Eugene McCarraher. Share Share Twitter Print. William Morris Alamy. Morris and Ruskin contemplated forming a celibate religious order dedicated to the life of art; but Morris soon drifted away from religion, and abjured the consecrated life. Published in the July 5, issue:.

View Contents. Also by this author The West Point of Capitalism. Related Art. Social Justice. By Sharon Mesmer. By Fr. To provide every child in the Roanoke Valley with his or her own library of books during the crucial early years of life. By the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read, the more words your child will be exposed to. Babies can focus on books!

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They are drawn to faces, bright colors and contrasting patterns. Babies may show more interest in books. They will grab, hold, mouth, and chew books. Board and fabric books with bright colors are appropriate. Look for books with lots of repetition and rhyme.

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Babies may understand that pictures represent objects. Their awareness of print will be developing. Babies at this age may turn pages and repeat sounds. Your baby may babble and coo as you reread familiar texts.