Christian Left

From Karl Polanyi
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Christian Left Pamphlets

Author Name Year
1 Collective What is the Christian Left? 1938
2 Kenneth Ingram Will Britain go Fascist? 1938
3 Kenneth Ingram The Christian Left and the Churches 1939
4 Fanny Street Can the Christian Stay out of Politics? 1939
5 Collective Where Do We Stand Now? 1940

The purpose of the Christian Left

1. The Christian Left has arisen out of the recognition of the religious nature of the present critical stage in the transformation of society. This recognition shows us that religion is about human community; that a conception of God which is not a conception of human community is meaningless; and that a religion which does not effectively transform human relations in every sphere of life is an illusion.

2. Jesus proclaimed the truth about human life that man cannot fulfil his true nature except in communion with his fellows. The acceptance or rejection of this truth is expressed in the manner in which the material means of life are produced and made available. The effort to deny this truth lies at the root of the present world crisis. Consequently our society is under judgment, as is shown by the collapse of the social and international order.

3. The true nature of man is asserting itself in the demand for a change in the organization of society which will abolish the private ownership of the means of production, and establish production for use in the place of production for profit. It is asserting itself in the desire for an organization of human life that will abolish political and racial domination and establish a universal commonwealth of peoples.

4. The emergence of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. has brought mankind to a new phase of its development. The refusal elsewhere to proceed to a Socialist stage is a deliberate denial of equality and freedom, and thwarts progress towards a universal community.

5. Fascism has its immediate source in this refusal and is the organized form of it. It suppresses the spiritual nature of man and exalts race and nationality. It is a false religion, the negation of Christianity, not because it attacks Christian doctrine and the organized Church, but because it opposes the creative process of Christianity in the world.

6. It is the religious task of the working-class to bring about the Socialist transformation. We therefore identify ourselves with the political struggle of the Socialist working-class movement.

7. The task of the Christian community is not to save Christianity but to save the world. If it seeks to save its own life it will lose it. The life of a Christian community is one of freedom, equality and brotherhood. These are mere words unless they are embodied in the structure of human life, and their extension and realization over the whole field of human life is the purpose of men are not merely the basis of personal life, they are an inherent part of it and the criterion of its reality. In our day the economic integration of humanity determines in large measure what forms of personal life are possible. As result it is no longer possible to maintain or extend the personal life that Christianity demands of us without a transformation of the existing political and economic structure of human life as a whole. It is because we realize that the acceptance or rejection of Christianity is at stake in it that we commit ourselves to an active part in the struggle for Socialism.

8. We recognize that the task of the Christian Left is the true task of the Church. The fact of our existence points to the failure of the Churches. In proclaiming our message: in insisting that the Churches have failed: in pointing the signs of the times which show the inevitability of the transformation: and in preparing the minds of men for its oncoming by putting our lives at the service of the working-class movement, we see our religious task.

(This text was published at the end of three of the five short pamphlets)

Christian Left Members

First Name Last Name Religion[1] Politic[2] Wrote
Otto Bauer
Eugen Benedikt
Oscar Bock
Alfred Cannon
David Cass Beggs
Barbara Cass Beggs
X and Y Cornford
Zoe Fairfield
Michael Fielding
John Grosser
J. Jordan
Kenneth Ingram An Outline of Sexual Morality (1922); The Changing Order - How a new parson came to the village and disquieted it with strange practices, and how the meaning of Anglo-Catholicism was expounded to the squire (1925); A portrait of six Christian heroes: St. Appian, St. Alban (1926); Why I believe (1927); Out of Darkness: a drama of Flanders (1928); The Coming Civilization (1935); Christianity Right or Left? Which Way Will Religion Move in the World Crisis (1937); The Christian challenge to Christians (1938); “Will Britain go Fascist?” (1938); “The Christian Left and the Churches” (1939); “Defeat of War: Can Pacifism Achieve it?” (1939); Christianity, Communism and Society (1951); Easter journey (1953)
(Father) Iredell / Iredale
Doug Jolly
Helen Kennipcott
Grossvater Kolnaï
Trude Kurz
Fritz Lener
John Lewis part. ed. Christianity and the Social Revolution
X Macky / Mac
Jean McConnell
Douglas McLean
W.D McClelland Attracted by Communist Party[3]
X Mansfield
Elisabeth MacMurray
John Macmurray
Caspar Maier
Douglas McLean Communist
Kenneth Muir
Mary Muir
Agnes Murray
Gilbert Murray
Jack (Poterill?) High Anglican priest Left-wing
Marjorie Reid (née Young)
Niebuhr Reinhold
Kenneth Ridyard
Norman Ridyard “Devout and proselytizing Christian”[4] (Chemist at King's College, University of London)
Timothy (Room?)
Leonard Schiff Anglican Left-Wing
Esther (Tess) Simpson
John Strachey
Fanny Street Can the Christian Stay out of Politics?“ (1939)
Tammy Streep
Leo Szilard
x Tatlow
Paul Tillich (Jewish background)
x Tissingdon
Helen Turton
Eleanor Ullman
Helen Ullman
Gregory Vlastos
John Wesley

See also : Irene Grant’s conversation with Kari Levitt [30/03]

The Christian Left in the KPA

KPA Name Year
20/10 News Sheet of the Auxiliary Christian Left/Christian Left, nos. 1-19 19361940
20/11 Christian Left Group Bulletin, no. 1 - “Trotzkyism. Earlier Works of Marx” 1936-1938
20/12 Christian Left Group Bulletin, no. 2 - “Notes of a Week’s Study on The Early Writings of Karl Marx and Summary of Discussions on British Working Class Consciousness” 1938
20/13 Christian Left Group Bulletin, no. 3 – “Critique of Pacifism” 1938
20/14 Christian Left Group “Russia in the World” – Bulletins for Socialists, no. 4 1939
20/15 Christian Left Group “The Cry of the Chartists 1839-1939”, Bulletins for Socialists, no. 1939
20/16 Christian Left Group – “Coercion and Defence” – Bulletins for Socialists, no. 6 1939
20/17 Christian Left Group Gerrard Winstanley – “The Law of Freedom by Gerrard Winstansley 1652” – Bulletins for Socialists, no. 7 1942
20/18 Ukrainian Problem (Christian Left Group Draft Manuscript for Bulletin 16, no. 1) 1938
21/03 Christian Movement Group - Synopsis. Three talks on "Social Values in the Post-war World" 1936
21/07 Christian Left Group - Lancing St. Schools 1937
21/08 Christian Left Group - "Nationalism in Europe" - Leeds University, Student Christian Movement Group 1937
21/09 "Church and State on the Continent" – Newark 1937
21/14 The Christian Auxiliary Movement Papers presented at a Conference on the “Christian Answer to Fascism” – Oriel House - St. Asaph, North Wales 1938
21/21 Christian Left Group - Draft memoranda and articles with participation of Karl Polanyi 19341936
21/22 Christian Left Group - The Auxiliary Movement - "Statements from Christian Left Training Week-ends" 1937
21/23 Christian Left Group – Minutes and agendas of meetings. File consists of hand-written minutes of the Christian Left meeting. January 18, 1936, 10p 19361937
21/24 Christian Left Group Enquiry Committee - Minutes of meetings 1936
21/26 Christian Left Group "Notes on Policy Conference" 19341940
21/27 Christian Left Group Correspondence 19361940
21/28 Student Christian Movement Pamphlet 1969-1972
21/29 Newspaper clippings 19351936
21/33 "Christian Left Study Circle" 1935
21/35 "The Christian Left, The Introductory Sequence" 1984
30/03 Transcript of an Interview with Irene Grant 1984-1986
14/02 Irene and Donald Grant: Austrian anti-fascist material 1934-1945
56/13 Correspondence: Karl Polanyi and Ilona Duczyńska – Irene Grant 1929-1964
56/14 Correspondence: Karl Polanyi and Ilona Duczyńska – Irene Grant 1933-1969
56/15 Correspondence: Irene Grant 1938-1980


  1. According to Irene Grant in 30/03
  2. According to Irene Grant in 30/03
  3. 21/35, 4
  4. 21/35, 1