Irene Grant’s conversation with Kari Levitt

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Tape 1

[2] organization in New Zealand. …But we tried very hard not to go to New Zealand. We were invited four times to go and every time until the fourth we said no… So that was that. When we came back we accepted… Donald was offered all kinds of things. We were, in fact, offered a job in China. …called The International Fellowship of Reconciliation. I.F.O.R. That had an English and a Swiss… It had a number of groups, quite a very lively group in Britain. And Donald went out to run the I.F.O.R. and at that point he ran into Tess[1] Because Tess was already in Vienna, in that group, acting as the secretary, having come from a very lively group and she'll tell you more about it, and had been sent to Vienna to work in the group. And when Donald was sent as the International Secretary, Tess was one of the people already established and, therefore, she became finally his secretary. (Cat chat and wild animal chat.) During that time bad things happened. First of all, we were in the buildup, by this time, to Hitler. And Donald had a committee, one member of which was a Roman Catholic called Maier. Caspar Maier. An Austrian Roman Catholic was a member of this committee which was trying to represent (various(?)) and he was a representative. …which machinations we were helped by Grossvater (Kolnaï), by Karli, by dear Eugen Benedikt.

K[2]: Who was Eugen Benedikt?

I: He was a wonderful Weisse Rabe. Karli called Oscar Bo[c]k “der weisse Rabe” (?) The “white raven”. Oscar was a student of law and Donald's arrival and his outlook appealed to Oscar and Oscar was Donald's help and with a great deal of his own intelligence and hard work built up and thanked Donald for the institution of the Amptfurschoendempfer-wanderang (??) Now that had various sides which I liked or didn't like but it was very, very living organization and Oscar Bock ran it. And Donald kept in touch with such a lot of students. And then we were helped by dear Otto Bauer, the little. Little Otto Bauer, about which I've got a lot in this letter. He was a wonderful little man. He ran Menschheitskämpfer, a small journal run by a group called Die Religiöse Sozialisten of which Otto Bauer was the founder.

K: These were Catholics.

I: He was left-wing Catholic. He was a steel worker. He was an out and outer. And he remained Catholic and he was in all kinds of tight corners and one day I said to him, I'll never forget it, he was a wonderful little [3] man… Karli knew all about these people and so did Grossvater (Kolnaï) He's living in New York. You should visit him.

K: He's still alive?

I: Yes.

K: Where does one find him?

I: I've got his address. He was always known as little Otto Bauer. I said to him one day, “Otto, you're going to be put out of the church. You're going to be excommunicated.” And he said “Oh no I'm not. The church is not going to excommunicate me. The church thinks long thoughts, Ireni. It thinks in terms of generations, even centuries”. I said “I know”. And he said, “you know one day day, Ireni, they're going to want me. Believe me, they're going to want me. And I'm staying put.” And that's what he did. He was a wonderful person.

K: What happened to him? How did he escape?

I: He got away from Hitler in the end and he got to America. I don't know how. But in Vienna there's a person who's in touch with him who is an old socialist and he gave me Otto Bauer 's address which I have and you should contact him. I'll show you my two letters. I'll put you two in there and let you have a look at them. Well, I don't know what happened to him but he got away with his family. His address is in New York. God knows he's living. I can't imagine. He was a steel worker. I ought to have written him… But this chap who keeps in touch with him is coming here to see us in August and he worked in the Gemeinde Wien (City of Vienna) all his life and so did his wife who died recently. And he is a good old-fashioned, Viennese socialist of the original order. His name is Fritz Lener and I can give you his address. He was Jugendsorge (?). He was the person who arranged holidays for children in the country and his wife was a kindergarten teacher. And he was very shortly arrested but he was released again at some point. He served his time and then he retired and now he's just a retired old social democrat in Vienna. The interesting thing about him to me is at a certain point he wanted to learn English and we got him over there. Various people helped him and we got him over and here and he came to Pylcombe Corner and he stayed in Pylcombe Corner.

K: Otto Bauer?

I: No, Fritz Lener. At that time he was just a young socialist. He came to Pycombe Corner and he has remained what I call a real old-fashioned Socialist, from Vienna, the best kind. And he told us about life in the blocks. And one day I said to him, “Look here Fritz”, I said. “You always say, when you're talking about your life in Vienna as a young socialist, you always say “We did this and we did that'. Why do you ever say 'I'? “Well” he said, “It never was I because anything that we had to arrange about our lives, and it was hard, it was always we. It was either running the block or running something the block had initiated and I just don't think that way. It's always we. Now that's Fritz. And it exactly what never happened in any housing block here. No housing block looks after its own affairs here. No housing block has children's libraries. One woman, I [4] interviewed, said “oh yes, they give us the shell, but where's the spirit?” Fritz says the opposite.

K: Well it's completely different from here. Now tell me about this strange fellow Kolnai. Where did he come from, Gross Vater? I know very little about him. I know he was a Catholic and that he ended up at Laval University. I don't know his story in Austria. I know he finished in Laval.

I: I can show you one or two of his letters. Well, how can I begin about Kolnaï?

K: I remember him …with a beard…

I: He didn't have a beard in those days. He was an exiled Hungarian Jew and he was a very constant contributor to the Volkswirt. And he was a good friend of Karli's. He married, in the end, one of the two Ganish sisters.

K: I don't know them.

I: Well he was an eccentric of the very first order. He was a total eccentric. A very difficult person to help. A person who was a Chestertonian. His English was Chestertonian. It was built up on Chesterton and he sounded like Chesterton. And his attitude was best described in a letter which I will show you. Gross Vater played a very difficult role because at that time we're talking about, while Donald was trying to run the I.F.O.R., Gross Vater is mentioned in my letter, along with Karli and Otto Bauer and other people who helped Donald in his impossible situation, Donald being Donald, with this very very manipulative, totally jesuitical…

K: Caspar Maier…

I: He was very convinced. He wasn't just being manipulative for he run. He was deadly serious. And some of his intimate friends were followers of (Ziebre?) (Cypra?) in a big way. And he was hoping to turn the I.F.O.R. in Vienna into an appendage of (Cypra?). And Donald, who was innocent and good, thought that he would succeed in persuading Caspar by long patience and by affectionate friendship, that he couldn't do this kind of thing to people who were calling themselves a fellowship. They were supposed to be honest with each other. Donald did not, of course, succeed. But in the effort to do so, he got quite ill and for a time he was in hospital. Very much reduced, indeed. And then my two letters come in. By the time we were putting up this fight, which I had until now completely forgotten, because of the thing that came after, the coming of Hitler, I'd washed it all out of my mind… I'll show you the letters.

K: That was all before Hitler?

I: Well during the buildup. 1929-1933.

K: After Dollfuss murder?

I: Well the Dollfuss murder happened in the middle. (But please not, Dollfuss was actually murdered in 1934. E.K.)

K: That was not Ravenscroft Avenue?

I: That was a short time either before or after Ravenscroft. I can't [5] remember. I think before. (Garbled), John (Macmurray) was the other so to speak high figure in the Christian Left. And he and Karli were in constant exchange. Karli regarded himself as being the Apocalyptic chap and they regarded John as being the great revolutionary with a more harmonious outcome. But outcome is the wrong word. Karli said his position was Apocalyptic in the end. John's philosophical position was… What's the word he used. It'll come to me when I'm not thinking. Anyway, John as you know was very widely read…

K: I had to read him, John Macmurray, in school, Philosophy. And I didn't understand a word of what he was writing in those days.

I: John's book are all over there. He did the opposite thing… For you know that BBC finally turned him down because they thought he was too radical. He was a very, very radical person. You only have to read his stuff beside Karli in Christianity and the Social Revolution. His aim was to put out books for students and never mind about a great philosophical name. And he said to himself, “When I'm old and grownup and all this is over, I will write my proper philosophical texts. In the meantime I have to write things that students are going to take notice of.” And so he had three or four great books. Freedom in the Modern World. You can't say you don't understand it. It's very simple. Reason and Emotion, The Clue to History and then and then other book is called The Boundaries of Science or whatever. And he wrote all these books for the students while he was teaching them.

K: Where was he teaching?

I: All over the place. He was at Oxford. He was at London. He was Brentford-Tyne and (?) to Johannesburg and finally fetched up, where he belonged, in Edinburgh. But he was a professor of philosophy in London for quite a long time. And every one of his books that I've mentioned can't possibly be regarded as something you can't understand. You can't have been these books. I don't know what you were given. But these are very simple books for students and I've got them here. You can have a look at them. Some of them are being re-published unlike Karli. Faber is re-publishing or has re-publishing or has re-published Reason and Emotion. Pip said he thought it was the best simple book he had ever read in all his life. …And then at the end of his life he wrote the two books, the philosophy, and they were called Self as Agent and Persons in Relations (?) And, of course, he wrote the early Marx material for Christianity and the Social Revolution. You read these two letters.
… (Garbled) After the Christian Left he went and Doug had a terrific battle in the middle of that war with his Communist…

K: That story I don't know.

I: They had a Communist…

K: (Doug Jolly) was a surgeon, who went to Spain and worked with a mobile surgical v___ in the Spanish Civil war.

I: Karli turned to Doug at one or two major crises of his life. One was when he and Ilona couldn't decide what they were going to do and where they were going to live. It was Doug they went and in the letter, which [6] I found in amongst those letters, they say, “This is all very hard and difficult to decide but please don't mention any of it to Kari.” That was long, long ago.

K: Which decision is this? This is now 1946-1947? After the war?

I: Oh yes. Well the question was… I think he said in this letter “I think we could only live together and work together easily and properly in this country.”

K: England?

I: Yes. But in any case he was in a state about it.

K: My father?

I: …He wrote to Doug and talked to Doug about it. And at the end of this letter, which I need not repeat to you, but it was about how they were going to manage the distance. They couldn't carry on at great distance from each other about all their problems. And I don't know what happened. I never asked. But at the end of the letter he said, “Don't discuss it with Kari”, because Doug was talking a lot with you at one time. You saw a lot of Doug at one time when you were deciding whether to go to Canada or not.

K: Oh… yes I know what you're talking…

I: All that time you were seeing a lot of Doug. And I presume that Karli thought, therefore, well Doug's seeing a lot of Kari and at the end of the letter he said, well don't say anything to Kari. I want to give you the obituary to read and of course Doug was at the heart of the Christian Left. That was why he went to Spain. When he was in the middle if this, his book became obliged reading to medical people, military medical people. It was no doubt at all that it was a breakthrough in military medicine. Not now, now it's all different but on the field and the Czech (Can't make out name at all) whom I wrote to so many times. He was a doctor also. He was their military… the chap who was at the head of the battalion who kept things on the right line.

K: Political officer or something.

M: Attaché?

I: In Doug's case, this man, who later became his close friend, and with whom I frequently corresponded, was I think by birth Polish and I think by citizenship Czech. He was the boss, the political boss. And one day he came into the operating theatre, where Doug had made a totally new method of getting the wounded quickly in. He came into the theatre and he found that Doug had arranged that the arriving casualties should be labelled with numbers. And the numbers were to read 1, 2, 3, 4 in the order of urgency of operation. So the most urgent person was labelled 1 and Doug didn't inquire. He took number I. And the next person was number 2 and Kriegl (the Czech)? came in and said, “Look here Johnny, you're not going to do this.” And Doug said, “Why not?” He said, “That man is a prisoner. You're not going to start number 1 with a prisoner. Why don't you start with our chaps first?” And Doug said, “No, I won't and I refuse and if you insist, I'm going home tomorrow. And I'm explaining to you that the [7] reasons that brought me here are the same reasons which will make me operate on that prisoner first because he is in the most urgent need of salvation. And you can say what you like and if you continue, I'm going home.” Full stop. Kriegl went away. Kriegl was a very great person. Next morning he came back to Doug and he said, “Doug, I take it all back. I'm very sorry. Stay and do what you say.” Now that took a lot of doing. He was very rigid, not rigid, committed Communist and he knew that Doug wasn't. Doug had made… spelt it out, when he came, from what group he came and why he was there. And he said, “I wouldn't be here if I didn't think that this was worth it.” And Doug always operated then on the more urgent.

K: That's a wonderful story.

I: I'll show you the obituary.

End of tape. (check for Doug's {obit})

Tape 2

[8] I: His subtitle was always The Great Transformation. The Americans wouldn't have the original title because they said it wouldn't sell and therefore they put the original title into the subtitle. I have a very good reason to believe that the title The Great Transformation conveys, to the ordinary English person, a transformation upwards. “Great Transformation” means that everything's going to be better. His book meant the opposite. Everything's going to be worse after this self-regulating market. Do you agree?

K: Yes I agree. I see the point.

I: Well my point is I don't know about the Americans but in the English ambience, it is apt with the first brush to mean here is a “great transformation” for the better. That's what people expect. And I think therefore it has often been very misleading. People begin to read the book and it's about something quite different from what they expected. It may sell in America without damage, but in this country it wouldn't.

K: But this book has now established a reputation the world over with the title The Great Transformation.

I: What the title is it known under?

K: The Great Transformation.

I: Too bad.

K: Everywhere. German, French, English…

I: Too bad. Karli very much wanted the original title.

K: But I think the Americans did him a favour.…

I: Because he said “it is about the origins of our times.” That's what it's about. Anyway too bad.

K: An English edition, regardless of the title, if it could be cheaper and more available than this imported American one, I would be very much in favour.

I: Well you see, people say to me that I'm out of date because I have not been in the market for anything, even food, for quite a long time. And therefore they laugh at me and say that's not dear, that's just ordinary. I may quite wrong you see. What I do know, because she told me, is that Helen (Conethcoe?) in the School of Oriental Studies has (paid?) some of her valuable time, and she is assistant to the professor there, his name is Meyer, and she is, so to speak, a king-pin in the Anthropology department and she has spent valuable hours taking photocopies of pages out of Karli's book…

K: Because he has to be imported and ordered from abroad and there's no distribution in England.
…The same is true of the Pearson book The Livelihood of Man.

I: But the Academic Press have packed up in London. The Academic Press have behaved shockingly about that book. First of all they miscatalogued it.

(There follows a discussion of the fact that The Livelihood of Man is catalogued under Harry Pearson's name rather than Karl Polanyi's and that[3] [10] the Academic Press has been negligent with the book and that it should be reissued. Then there is a discussion of Helen Conethcoe and her party, to which Kari was invited and a fellow named Turton, an anthropologist at the School of Oriental Studies, whose name Margie recognized and whom Helen wished to introduce to Kari.)

I: Now Tess did not knew Karli in the way that we knew him. But of course she knew Karli and she may have very interesting thing to say. But certainly you should see her at all costs… By the way the flat was provided for her when she retired. What happened was she didn't retire because nobody could possibly keep all the… So what they did was, she retired of course, and then they moved everything, all the files into her flat. And there they sit. And she keeps it going in a kind of way from there.

K: What was the organization she worked for?

I: The Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, usually known as S.P.S.L. But of course she also ran… The Society for Visiting Scientists and she had a beautiful house in Piccadilly where all visiting scientists, including by the way Joseph Needham, used to fetch to meet. And she ran it also. But the thing she ran for years and years… (was the S.P.S.L.) The Society for Visiting Scientists was a separate organization and she ran it also. All kinds of people, not just refugees, used to meet there. But the enduring thing, that went on and on, was looking after refugee academics. And she can tell you…

K: Oh she told me such incredible stories which I would like to persuade her to tell us again because I'd want them on the tape. A whole story on Szilard and stories from Vienna and from Switzerland. This is after getting scientists out of Nazi and Fascist Europe.

I: Szilard's first contact was with Donald. It was Donald… Donald was the first to meet Szilard. I have a lot of things to tell you. I think Tessie's stories would make a good background, if not more than background. And I suggest that you talk to her in her flat because it's very nice and she's very happy there. But she won't feed you… (etc.) She is today, this very day, she's very sad. Today she was at the funeral of the person to whom she was closest in all this academic outfit.

K: Who was that?

I: Gretta Berken?, who was the wife of the Master of Peterhouse and she…

K: Berken? was that her name.

I: His name. But her name was, I think, a German name. I can't remember. But Tessie will tell you. She is today at that funeral. She (Gretta) died suddenly and Tessie was terribly upset and Tessie is today at that funeral in Cambridge. She was the woman, who while Tessie… This woman dealt with the children at the same time that Tessie dealt with the adults. I think she was a German refugee. Tessie will tell you. Now there's an interesting thing for you to know about this. There was recently, quite recently, she'll tell you about it, quite a long television programme put on [11] by the BBC about “wonderful academics acquired and gained as citizens for this country.” Most of them were people, who had gone through Tessie's hand, people who are now regarded as a great asset. Tessie handled most of them. Now, somebody, a man called Robin (Bustig?) that Tess can tell you about, has got some pull in the BBC. And he thought the programme wasn't good enough, and so did we and so did Tessie. And so they're very anxious to do a better and more complete one. (Doorbell… Chitchat etc.)
Now I have not done anything about the Cornfords.

K: You should see the Cornfords.

I: I have been in correspondence with them… I very much want to see them.

I: Now Kenneth Muir, is an absolutely key person. (There follows a discussion of arrangements for the visit to K.M.) Now Kenneth, just so you know, is doing an enormous amount of work. He is translating Calderon. He is reissuing his Shakespeare notes. He is working harder than he ever worked in his whole life, non-stop. Kenneth lost, very suddenly, his only daughter. Katharine as you know, he is a very reserved person. He wrote us a letter, when she died, and said “I have only to say that she was the best human being I ever knew.” He was broken and he set to work to do more work than he had ever done before. You ask Kenneth one question - Kenneth what things are you now working on? You will be astonished if he tells you. He is doing it non-stop. Therefore I was very surprised when he said “Oh yes send Kari to me.” …Now the things you can learn most about - He was a professor of English in Liverpool for many years. He was one of the leading members of the Christian Left. During part of that period, he was the editor of The Leeds Citizen. He has kept a total file of his articles in The Leeds Citizen. Many of them were expressions of the discussions in the Christian Left and many of them, without any doubt, were inspired by the time we spent with Karli. So Kenneth in The Leeds Citizen was not only a great success in Leeds, people actually read it, but, of course, he was a great success in the sense that he was an enormous strength to the Christian Left. So that's Kenneth. I had imagined, because he is in Birkenhead, that you would take a little journey up to see dear beloved Brian Ireland. Because he is not very far away. Now Brian, I have a letter from Brian, even since he had this attack. He was in hospital. They've allowed him to go home. He has to keep absolutely quiet… (Discussion of whether and how to arrange visit with Brian). He lives just outside of Lancaster, in a cottage with his wife. His family are now scattered. One daughter is rather powerful on the administration side of the BBC. Another daughter is a very socially aware social worker. And the third daughter lives in Italy and is in (can't make out) as a secretary for the British Embassy, I think. …His wife Mary was with me in the P.I.D. during the war. …

K: Tell me what happened to Mary Muir?

[12] I: Mary died of leukemia…

K: A long time ago?

I: It must be now… Mary was a key figure… It must now six years ago. She was with me here in London, staying with me not very long, when it was discovered how bad she was. They couldn't save her. She died in Liverpool and of course that was very hard on Katherine too. And Katherine died of leukemia also. Do you know this? - Leukemia is going up and up in all the areas which is anywhere near (Discussion of leukemia and Thatcher's policy toward hospitals and Frances Pym's recent book and rifts within the Conservative Party.) …Certainly there is a very large section of the Conservative Party whom Karli would have described as the “intelligent right”. (More discussion of Pym's book.) …The other thing is, there was in the Christian Left at least one, if not several, devoted Communists of whom Douglas McLean was one. He was the Communist sitting in the Christian Left. His work was in Auden's (?) press. He was also a great friend of Kenneth Ingram, who was a member of the Christian Left. Now Kenneth Ingram, whom I knew very well, was dead some time ago. But Mac's friendship was then largely with Kenneth Ingram although Kenneth was not a Communist. Kenneth Ingram was a wonderful person. Anyway that's another story. One day, long, long, long ago, when the very first investigations about interplanetary travel began to be faintly murmured, must have been about 1915, and one day Kenneth Ingram, who was very modest and very, very undemonstrative, began to talk about this to me. And he said “Well, I'm a member of the Interplanetary Travel Society” and I said, “Oh!” I said, “Why?”, “Well,” he said, “it might happen”. So I said, “Yes, I know it might happen but what about you? “Well,” he said, “I'm going to book a seat.” So I said, “What do you mean, Kenneth? Are you serious?” He said, “Of course, I'm serious. If we get the first interplanetary journey, I want to be on it”. So I looked at him and I said, “But Kenneth you might never get off again.” He said, “Oh I don't mind.” So I said, “Do you mean it?” He said, Ireni just think of the experience of getting off this planet.” That was Kenneth Ingram and of course nobody knew he was like that. But Mac was a very active Communist indeed and he joined the Christian Left and he was really one of the most active people in that group. His Herrkunft? as they say in German, was very, very different from all, from everybody else's because, unlike Donald who was also a Scot he had a very poor and miserable youth in Scotland. His view of Scotland was the exact opposite of Donald's view. Donald has the most glorious childhood, the most happy set of circumstances, and the most encouraging general background history. Mac had the opposite and to tell you the truth I don't even know the details. He was very much a Scot, he was very able and he was a very active Communist indeed. He didn't leave until /56. Mac married a person whom I've only lately got to know very well. He married her because he met her in the war. He was in the war. Her name is Gene and she's a lovely person. She is also extremely radical. I've never asked her, because I don't want to, whether she was a member of [13] a party but I think she was. Anyway she and Mac are a great couple. They've got two boys, both of them very radical. One of them worked for a very long time with Hobsbawm and he is now in London. He's teaching History. His sons are Ian and Keith. Keith was with Hobsbawm and is now teaching and Ian is, I think, in Luftsborough teaching at the technical college and he's also leftish and I've never met him… …But the point is that Mac was throughout the time that it existed and until people began to disappear in the war and so on, Mac was in the middle of the Christian Left.

K: And how did he get into that? Was he…

I: Well that's an interesting story. He came through another group with which he'd been in touch and he came into our group which was very left-wing Christian movement and the Auxiliary, who were running it. And we got on because we had always belonged. My access to the Christian Left goes back to William Morris and Donald and my father who at the end of his life was voting Labour, being a Methodist parson. So I came from a very different background. Karli, beloved Karli, whom Donald met first. Donald was the person who first met Szilard…

K: I think Donald met him before my father met him?

I: I think Donald was the first to talk to Szilard about where to go and what to do.

M: And Donald met Karli before you did?

I: Donald met Karli long before I was married, before I went to Vienna, which was in 1921, because Karli and Ilona were both in Vienna as refugees. Ilona was surviving, God knows how, on nothing. And she went to the Frau Schwartwald's 'pension' …Donald's description to me of what happened, was as follows: Karli came to see Donald having heard about his attitude. ? (relief organization) who said he wanted to ask Donald if he could help Ilona.

K: Dicki went to see Donald…

I: Dicki heard about Donald and his work with students and his work for refugees… Donald was, fortunately for him, based in the University which gave him a big room. (Hersalldreizig?) University of Vienna. So Karli went to see him and as far as I know Karli saw him in (Hersalldreizig?).

K: What year would that be?

I: 1920. Before I was there. And Karli told Donald about Ilona and asked if he could do something for her. That was the beginning of the story. The rest, roughly speaking, you know. But interesting is this, during that time Donald saw Karli and got a lot of help from Karli, because Karli, of course, could explain to Donald the (?) of political situations about which Donald a) knew nothing and b) not naturally a political person, had to learn about.

K: Donald was at that time with what organization?

I: Donald was there on his own because he had started with the Quakers and while he was with the Quakers in France, the Quakers asked him whether he would go to Vienna because they were starting an aktion (project) in Vienna and Donald said yes. He left France, and went to Vienna, and he was [14] taken to Singerststrasse who was (?). There the Quakers functioned and did all the things they did and Donald with them including, I think, journeys to the (Balkans?) for good and you mention it. This was before I got there. Donald, however, began to realise that, among other things the people who were losing out were the students. And there were various, not very good, student (action) going on. To cut a long story short, Donald said to the Quakers he would like to move in and do that, as it were, on is own. So what he did was he got touch with the good old student movement and the good old Student International Federation. This was a Christian organization. And it was very vigorous.

K: And it was called the Student International Federation.

I: The World Student Christian Federation. In this country it was simply called the Student Christian Movement. And it was at that time, a very widespread, very liberal, very numerous organization. I was a secretary. Donald was a secretary. It was a great organization. And a really left-wing priest like William Temple, who became Archbishop of Canterbury, I could give you dozens… David Cairns of the Aberdeen University, all the top people that mattered, so to speak, in liberal thinking were supporting the Student Christian Movement. The conferences were very large. They happened all the time in (?) That’s where everybody met. So Donald turned to the student movement but he got another helper, who was the daughter of the great Professor Murray, Gilbert Murray the great classicist. That man's daughter was Agnes Murray and she was doing some sort of a mad trek round Europe including Albania. I think on horseback. And Donald got into touch with Agnes Murray and she motivated her father, and Gilbert Murray made the very first move in Oxford to help Donald about these students. And then Donald formed his own committee and his own organization, (Hersalldreizig?). And in that room he collected a small committee. I have a picture. And in that committee he made a rule that in every (Hof) in every University group, everywhere he went in Austria, they would make their own committee and it had to be, they had to do it. They had to find who the students were that needed help and it was, therefore, called The Austrian Student Relief. And I have a very fine, little, tiny, pocketbook. They were very poor but they gave him this little pocketbook and it had a very tiny silver stamp on it and it just said “A.S.R.” Austrian Student Relief and very, very soon, almost before he put it in his pocket, of course it was too narrow. The Czechs were wanting help, the Hungarians and then the next thing was would he go to Russia in the famine. So Donald changed the name of it from Austrian Student Relief to European Student Relief. And it stayed E.S.R. for many years. And he, at that time of course, built up his friendship with Karli. Now at the end of that period, it was already so widespread and quite impossible for Donald… and the Americans had been brought in because …in America, certainly then and I think now, what we would have called radicals who were liberal students. Went [15] through the Y.M.C.A. They didn't have a separate organization. So Donald then got into touch with the various American student Y.M.C.A. groups and be degree it grew very big and I can remember all kinds of extraordinary things that happened. I mustn't begin but one thing will tell you the story very quickly. One day Donald asked for anything not just money, clothes or books, anything. And one day there arrived in Vienna a huge wooden case, very big, heavy, wooden from America. Well what was in it? So we hastily began to unpack it. It was full of very good, partially used shoes. So we went down to try to distribute the shoes. There wasn't a single pair of shoes that anyone could wear. Why? Because the Americans never walked and the Austrians do nothing but walk… They have narrow feet because they do not walk. There was this huge box of the most beautiful shoes and nobody could wear them.

M: Ireni… when did you come to Austria?

I: We got married in July /21. And I went straight to Austria.

K: And you married in England?

I: I was married in Golder's Green. By my father in a tiny, tiny Methodist church. By the way the Methodists are now, and I'm not surprised, are the most active church people against nuclear arms. My father, who married us said in the service more or less what we asked him to say. And later I went to look at this little broken thing, it was a hut, because they were going to build a church so they had put up a little hut. I went to look for it one day and they'd put up a garage.

End of tape.

Tape 3

[16] (Discussion of current events)…

K: Can we go back to where we left off. …

I: The Austrian Student Relief became the European Student Relief and that continued until the time when the Americans came in in a big way, and they came in, not only with shoes, but with money, all sorts of things. There were some wonderful Americans I can remember who came in to help Donald and they were far better at the organization than we were. Conrad Hoskins (?), a wonderful person, Jewish and Ray Legate (?) not Jewish, went to Hungary. I can't remember their names now but there were a lot of them and people came from other parts of Europe and the world. And so it became, so to speak. Donald had started it going and now it was a big affair. Donald had been invited, we had moved to Geneva because the European Student Relief had decided that it must go to Geneva because it was more easily organized from there and for various other reasons I don't know. So we moved to Geneva and we were there for one year during which {Shriam/Ehoram} (1924)… Ehoram was born.

K: Ehoram was born in Geneva.

I: Ehoram was born in Geneva in that year …And there the European Student Relief was, when we arrived there… (Someone arrives. Chat) …I.S.S. and that name remained unbroken until, I can't remember when…

K: After the war.

I: Long after we had lost touch with it. It ended up as World University Service which it remains to this day. In America it doesn't do much but in Britain it…

K: It exists. It's quite a big, respectable thing.

I: Well in Britain they're active. It supports Central American people and Children people and students coming over.

K: Well in America it's very conservative. It's into student exchange and student travel.

I: In Britain they have a proper office and a proper staff with whom Donald got in touch and there was some talk about who was the founder of World University Service and they dug up somebody, I don't know who, and hat really got under Donald's skin. And he made noises and said “Well if you really want to know, it started in Vienna.” And we went and saw them about it and that led to him being invited to their “60th Anniversary” of which I have the record. I can give you. He was finally recognized as (well he didn't mind but we did) having been the actual founder of what started as the Austrian Student Relief. And then I have some bits and pieces, which I'll show you, of a later time. We went away. We went to New Zealand and there Don was born and we didn't come back from New Zealand until 1929. We were there in New Zealand for a period of four plus years and during that time our contact with Karli and Ilona was only by letter and occasionally we would here about what was going on. But you can hardly imagine, now, today, how distant we really were… Totally out of the world… So Donald was the Secretary of the Student Christian Movement, to which he gave an enormous boost. It grew into a big

Uncorrected Transcription K&I II Side B - Printed Jan 20/86

[18] Irene: Extraordinary letters? looking back on them.

Kari: Yes. Letters are so useful especially when they're dated.

I: That's 38 not 28.

K: Yes 38.

I: I was in America.

I: Yes I made two speaking tours in America.

K: Oh you did?

I: And I have somewhere my lecture leaflet. This was in? 38 and Karl was here in the middle of all that was happening. I'm trying to find some of them. Kari you must understand if you go through all this that I put it together as something to be shifted from A to B. So it's not going to be all in date order.

K: What were you doing in America?

I: I was giving a series of lectures under the aegis of what then was called the League of Nations Association …on the east coast… and I have some funny stories, when we have time, to tell you about that. And I have a leaflet and a photograph and headings of letters. I made some dreadful faux pas with Americans. Now here is Karli.

K: May I go back a moment to who… This is Leonard Schiff.

I: That is Leonard Schiff who went, I think, to India and then return to Britain; A very big strong member of the Christian Left, left-wing Anglican.

K: He was Anglican too?

I: Yes and if you look again Kari, at Christianity and the Social Revolution… you will find there that there was a strong left-wing Anglican group in the church and Thaxted, had a parson called Conrad Noel who has his article in Christianity and the Social Revolution. He was very “naive”, absolutely basic, left-wing Christian. Thaxted, this little village church in Thaxted, became widely known in the left Anglican circles and Leonard Schiff was one of the weightier members of that group.

K: Where is Thaxted?

I: Thaxted? Not far from where the Cornfords are.

K: Oxford?

I: I'm not entirely sure… (…?)

K: (?) …East Anglia.

I: And it became famous because of its…

K: And this now… this

I: This man Iredell you have to know about.

K: How do you spell it? ……

I: Iredell. He was known as Father Iredell… Up at Barnsbury Anglican Church, still stands and still functions, he wore himself out in the service of that church. And he was extremely left-wing; And we used to go often weekly, for discussion groups in Barnsbury, to which people like John Strachey went, from the Labour Party. John Strachey made speeches there.

[19] Iredale was there. I was there. Doug went there. All kinds of people… And this man was the heart of it and he invited Nehru… I forget which year but it would be easily established, before the war. He invited Nehru on his visit to this country to join in that church and in that service and I sat there, watching Nehru come in at the main door and walk right down through this great church as part of the Anglican Christian service; Very left-wing. Iredell wore himself out and he finally died and I do not know, because I haven't had time to discover, whether anything resulting in that particular church remains. But he was very well known at that time.

K: This would have been approximately '38, I think, but I will find out. This is a letter. It's come adrift but I think it's like that and it's of great interest to Karli and his… Maybe it goes on here because judging by this mark of the clip…

K: Yes, it goes on here. This would be the Nationaloekonomie und Philosophie. This would be 1940. When you were… These page references refer to the German edition.

I: This is what I believe. I would have to check it up. Also, at the same time, Doug was writing his book about Spain. …And this letter of Kenneth's… Well have to track it all down… This letter of Kenneth's was written at the same time.

K: This is Kenneth Muir?

I: Yes.

K: 1940.

I: Now this is also Kenneth at the same time. I think I'm right but my memory is defective. I was trying to put into English Nationaloekonomie und Philosophie (?)… just rough. Have a look. I think that's what this is all about. This is written to Donald but at the very end it's addressed as if to Dicki. Paul Tillich… lived there and I met him there with Reinhold Niebuhr.

K: What happened with Reinhold Niebuhr? …

I: Reinhold Niebuhr was a very influential theologian … Christian running, I think actually running, the theological seminary in New York. His wife was English. They invited me because I was… speaking to come and stay with them.

K: Was he an American or a European?

I: He was an American. With him and with his wife was staying Paul Tillich, the great Paul Tillich, from Germany and I had an interesting day or two there. Here you are. Written is to Donald and Karli. Karli was very much interested in him. And this man was so prestigious and I remember saying to him “Yes, you're a great prophet of the Old Testament but why don't you read the New Testament? The poor man was absolutely horrified. Of course, he was a great Christian. I remember saying to him 'A great prophet from the Old Testament he is but why don't you read the New Testament?' I said. Poor Niebuhr was horrified.

K: He wasn't interested in the New Testament?

I: No, but he was more like a justice man from the Jewish background.

[20] K: But he wasn't Jewish?

I: No, he was of German extraction but I don't know how long he'd been in America… I think you should read Moral Man and Immoral Society.

K: That was this book. Yes we will have to have to a look at it.


K: Tell me, when you have statements such as this 'Explaining the Christian Left to the Auxiliary' would Dicki have participated in drafting these.

I: I think probably in all of them.

K: In some of them…

I: In most of them… In one way or another either on the spot or post hoc. Now this I think is interesting. You should glance through it. The Student Christian Movement was only for students. If you weren't a student you were out. But because so many people couldn't bear to lose touch they formed the Auxiliary. That Auxiliary were the people who helped Dicki and who helped us to survive. (? …) Tissingdon, Tatlow and these people. Now when we were beginning to make this new group, our support and our base was really with these people. The chap I tried to remember, Hugh Martin was one of them… he was an extreme pacifist who hoped he would go to the front and get shot. But he was the person who found the school for you and… (?) He was the person who found or helped with it. It was like that. Now these people had their own ambience… being older than the students. And they were the people in whose body we began to make trouble, so to speak. So now I think you should quickly look through this. It will tell you.

K: This document called 'Auxiliary Christian Left'…

I: By this time we had a name. The name was not Christian Left. It was still Auxiliary Christian Left because we were inside the Auxiliary of the Student Christian Movement

K: You think that this document was influenced by Karli or written by Karli.

I: This document was torn up. It hasn't got a date. But it must have been round about the beginning of the war or just before.

K: Not much earlier?

I: No.

K: 1936?

I: More like…

K: '35-'36?

I: Yes. Here is a statement made, no doubt, with Karli in it. And at the bottom it says 'Ask John about this'. At such points John would be brought in.

K: This statement is called 'Affirmations'. And again the date would be approximately '35-'36.

I: Look here. Here '37… 'A Meeting of Christian Left Groups' of which we were one.

K: 1937. Father John Grosse. He was a great fellow.

[21] I: He was an extraordinary man.

K: If he dropped John, because he was too radical, that would have been before the war?

I: Yes.

K: Now Kenneth Muir said yesterday that it was my father who introduced John Macmurray to Marx. Is that correct?

I: I would very much doubt it. John was a very widely read… But certainly it was Karli who turned John towards the essay which he contributed.

K: To the 'Medium (?)'.

I: No, I don't think it was Karli who introduced him to Marx. But I think Karli enmeshed him in this… This point having been reached. It is quite clear that John on the revolutionary Christian interpretation and Karl Marx on the philosophical interpretation of his own, were very close. Karli used to say that it looked as though John almost preceded Karl Marx (?).

K: This is Kenneth Ingram you're speaking about?

I: Yes. Kenneth Ingram, who joined this group, he wrote books about Christianity and leftism. One was called Christianity and the Left.

K: What was he - a minister of the church or… ?

I: No. I don't know what profession he was. But he was obviously a very… but he lived with widowed mother and was, so to speak, a student of everything.

K: And he was older than the others?

I: No. He must have been about the same age as Karli. He would sit on everything. He was in the Great Peace Council, the National Peace Council, the Christian Left, the Socialist (Union?) which he helped to start. He was in everything.

K: Was he a pacifist?

I: He was a terribly modest…

K: Was he a pacifist?

I: I don't think he was an extreme pacifist. No he wasn't because he was in the war. But he was, well, the other kind or pacifist. So this is him. He wrote a memorandum on 'Christian Left'.

K: So he was a sort of secretary to the Christian Left.

I: Yes he really was in at the beginning.

K: Kenneth Ingram - This 'Memorandum No. 1' would have preceded what later became the Pycombe Corner Group.

I: Yes I think.

K: This was very early stage of it.

I: Just preceded.

K: Eleanor Ullman. Is she still living?

I: Oh very much so. Her name's Helen.

K: She's in New York?

I: Well she's in New York for work but for the moment she's in Vermont. Ans she wrote that long, long letter, which you read, explaining how she [22] found it all very difficult politically. She was not an active political person but she had been threatened by the McCarthy people and it was she who said to me 'I think I'm going to be the first refugee from America.

K: She was in England then before the war?

I: She was in England at the time of the outbreak of the war. She was the person who took Don as a little boy with his gas mask to be evacuated from London. So Karli did this and I saw to it that Eleanor should read it. She only read it to the extent of in the end saying 'I'm not in it'. But that's Karli.

K: …with his writing all over it. That's very interesting.

I: The Auxiliary Christian Movement …the flag (?) …and then you know the emblem. Unfortunately this hasn't got a date. And it was of the same date roughly and it was a letter to the Times and it's extremely interesting. We signed it: Kenneth Muir, Mary Muir, Fannie (?), Marjorie Young, Barbara Cass Beggs, I really can't …Kenneth Ingram. Not Karli. As far I remember he wasn't even involved in this discussion about the emblem. Or perhaps he was…

K: And he just didn't want to sign. I can't imagine him signing anything about an emblem. Couldn't imagine it. And this was about 1938?

I: It was about the time that our flag went in the march. You know what date that was.

K: Yes '38.

I: Write it down.

K: Now I want to get exactly what is you translated. It was called “Nationaloekonomie und Philosophie”?

I: That's the title of the essay.

K: And that's translated into English as what… “Philosophic and Economic Manuscripts”?

I: There are many translations now but under what heading… I have not followed. I don't know. But I can show you… Unfortunately they came to us from Switzerland in two little volumes. The thing that Karli wanted us to follow, because he said it was absolutely basic, was in first volume. The first volume, like a fool, I lent and it never came home again. But I can show you the second volume which was taken out of Germany and taken to Switzerland, so Karli told me, and we got our copy by writing to Switzerland.

K: And the date was before the war.

I: I'll show you. I've got it. …Volume No 1 was a bit thinner. It wasn't so fat. This is Volume No 1. Karli made us get it from Switzerland but the only he made us hold on to was the original essay in the first volume. And here is, I think he gave it to me, … the French version.

K: The publication date is 1937. Paris, 1937. This French one is called Volume 6. “Economie Politique et Philosophie Idéologique Allemagne”, [23] Landshut and Mayer; and this is the French translation of… “Nationalokonomie und Philosophie”.

I: Now Karli, of course, who (?) …how much, he'd studied both volumes; but what he tried to rub into our heads was that the only one that really mattered was the basic philosophic position, was the one essay, which he made us stick to over and over again. Then he said everything that he did after that was in the nature of “I told you so”.

K: Who said that?

I: Karli.

K: That everything Marx said offer that…

I: I don't repeat verbatim because I don't remember his exact words but the meaning of what he said was “Kapital” was only like saying 'Well when I wrote this basic document, I can only now say my whole “Kapital” was another I told you so. Karli firmly believed, that Marx never departed, whereas the Russians I gather from Karli and from other people, said 'Oh well this was early philosophical …things. It wasn't basic.'

K: I know the dispute.

I: I think I'm right saying, I got it also from Karli, that for thirteen years the Russians never publicly acknowledged and certainly never let come to light that document.

K: Now here: 'The “Economie Politique et Philosophie”, which is here published in the French translation for the first time, was written by Marx probably towards the end of February 1846. That's before the Deutsche Franzosiche Jahrbuch… (German) When Marx wrote the (German) …was 1931.

I: Was what?

K: That the Swiss version came out… in 1931. In Zurich, 1931.

I: This is not the Swiss version.

K: Here you say 'Someone has my Volume 1 of the Landshut and Mayer edition of Marx' early works'. And you put 1933.

I: When I was translating it… that was in our Christian Left group in Pycombe Corner. And it was done from the first volume of this.

K: So it's the first volume of Karl Marx 'Historische Materialismus'… I think was may have this at home. I will absolutely look it up. (German) …Leipzig… and would you believe there is no date on it.

I: Often very difficult to be sure what they're trying to say.

K: This is a French version and it came in 1937.

I: I got it from somebody. I think Karli gave it to me. I don't know who gave it to me but somebody did.
(some garbled)

I: Now what have we got here… Well this bit by bit translation was then used bit by bit in the group.

K: So you translated it then discussed it.

I: (Someone. Name not on the tape) was a lecturer in history in Vienna, [24] Jewish. He was, we later learned, a very great hero but he looked like nothing, a little man. He gave me lessons once in the history in Vienna. He was swept up by the Nazis. He was long time in a camp. He finally got out. I can't remember how. He came to Pycombe Corner and we took care of him. This essay, which he wrote I believe while he was in Pycombe Corner, Karli was deeply interested to have, to read and was deeply interested in it. The short story is that when he came to us he used to get out of his bed, which he had to put in the dining room because we didn't have any other space, about five o'clock in the morning and he would get up and sit in an armchair like this, with his feet together, and he didn't move at all until Donald went in with a cup of tea. He would drink the cup of tea and then he would continue to sit motionless for a long, long time and we discovered, we didn't know …that the reason was that he was in extreme pain from his feet. And you would just read this and you would think (?) about it. Karli was deeply impressed. Now I want you when you’ve got time before I put away, to read what he wrote because that was the point.
(Garbled but I think Irene repeats the man's name and the title of the article at this point.)

K: A bibliography of the writings of John Macmurray compiled by Albert N. Nephew in a journal called Listening Vol. 10, Spring, 1975. Listening is a British journal but it's gone for ten years so it must be that one can find it in a library. Otherwise ask Michael. What is Michael's name?

I: Michael Fielding…

K: “Materialism and Religion” by Joseph Needham, fellow of King's College, in a series, Affirmations: God in the Modern World, N.F. Benn Ltd., London, 1929, 1 shilling net, 32 pp. Look there are references to Collingwood. It looks very, very interesting. Peter Grant has since disappeared. “Teachers of Marxism”… This is the SCM in the 1970s.

I: Yes this is late. This is recent. Here's a thing that he gave me - “For Political Stance in Student Reform”. I've got two of them so you have one. But I never found them again and he has got material which I gave him.

K: Too bad. Now this Peter Grant… Dr. Joseph Needham reprinted from the Spectator, Oct. 30, 1936, “Christianity and the Social Revolution”, that Communism has always been an integral, perhaps the essential, element in Christianity.” This is a very interesting statement.

I: Christian Socialists.

K: Christian Socialists…

I: Michael Fielding has recently been a Christian Socialist conference, quite recently. There are quite a few groups.

K: But this is an old one. This is a 1930s one. And here it shows you all the different Christian Left Groups that were. The Socialist Christian [25] League, The Fellowship of Reconciliation, The Fellowship of Creative Service, Christian Peace Front, The Left Book Club, SCM, Christian Left - various denominations, Methodists Unitarians, Baptists, Anglicans, Congregationists. Why no Romans? No Roman Catholics?

I: There were no Roman Catholics at all.

K: Not a single Roman Catholics in all. Isn't that extraordinary.

I: Even we, and we took everything, did not have a Roman Catholic.

K: Isn't that extraordinary. …(Maxwell?) was a priest.

I: He was Christian Left.

K: But an Anglican priest, not a Roman.

I: But if they have high ritual they call themselves 'Father'.

K: They're very similar.

I: Gregory Vlastos, who tried to make Karli write to (MacIver) and who belonged to the Christian Left and who is now somewhere in America, Karl Polanyi, Jack (Poterill?) another High Anglican left-wing priest, very well-known, Timothy (Room?) of whom I've told you, John Lewis who edited, partly edited Christianity and the Social Revolution, …

K: Now what was he (?)…

I: A member of the Communist Party.

K: John Lewis?

I: Dr. John Lewis.

K: What sort of Doctor was he? Theology?

I: I think, philosophy. I don't know for sure. He was very Jewish and very Communist.

K: He was Jewish?

I: I think he was. … I had an awful argument with him once. Now I can't remember what it was about. It had something to do with the British Jews, the position in British society.

K: Kenneth Muir said yesterday, because I asked him if there were any Jews in this, he said there was only one and that my father disliked him a lot and distrusted him because he was a Communist agent.

I: Jews in what?

K: In the Christian Left. And it was the man that married Jean McConnell.

I: Alfred Cannon. He married Jean McConnell. He was a poor chap.

K: For some reasons my father didn't like him.

I: He was a well-meaning, Jewish gentleman. He wasn't an attractive easy person to get along with. And I think Karli (didn't like?) him. I used to feel really sorry for him. …Christian Left (Review? Garbled) We did a lot of preliminary work to launch a survey of the working class in this country. Of course, we never did it. I mean we were scattered long before we got around to such a thing.

K: So it was a project but it never got…

I: You are going to keep this. …That we should try to carry out a sort of thing. Trude Kurz discussed it with us. Working class culture in Vienna and we were going to apply to Rothschild for a grant to do it. And in [26] preparation for that, we wrote up a lot of stuff with the help of Trude Kurz about the working class in Vienna. That was a _____ we never got because we ran away from Hitler and we never got it. But somewhere, buried in this house, are the pieces of paper that we prepared for that survey of the working class in Vienna. And the only that ever eventuated from Donald or me or both of us was that little thing you've got. …It never got further in the Auxiliary than (becoming us?). I don't think the Auxiliary movement ever carried this out but it might be interesting to you to see what they were talking about. That was the kind of thing…

K: This a training weekend within the Auxiliary movement.

I: We had training weekends. Here was one labelled Professor Donald (Meyer) talking at what we called a training weekend. That is to say getting ready to be a Christian Leftie. The next one, Nos. 1 through 2, the next one, “Notes from a Christian Left Training Weekend - Christian Criticism of the Social Order”[4]. That's Karli.

K: I would like a copy of that.

I: I daresay that was Kenneth. …Well it is true up to a point and true for some people but as far as I, personally am concerned, the whole Christian Left began.

K: But some people like to date it to these (Q?) Camps.

I: Yes.

K: That's what… In fact Macky started with the (Q?) Camps.

I: Mac? Yes. Mac belonged to another of such camps run by a man called Norman Ridyard. Norman Ridyard was not (Q?) Camps, the two (Q) camps would be regarded by some people as the very beginning of the Christian Left. But I would not so regard them though they were very important…

K: On this tape I recorded some of the explanations which Ireni gave as we were going through the three boxes of Christian Left material and on the remainder of the tape, I will record, from my notes, any additional information. There is a photo of{Shram} in a May Parade in London carrying the Christian Left flag with Leonard Schiff and the man whom she identified as Father Iredell in front. But Ireni then later thought that perhaps he was in fact Father Grosser I think, he is Father Grosser myself. Zoe Fairfield was the General Secretary of the Auxiliary Movement and the address of the Auxiliary Movement was in Annandale, North End Road Golders Green. Concerning Ireni's rough translation of the Landshut and Mayer', Leipzing edition of Nationalokonomie und Philosophie, it was most remarkable. There are many drafts if Ireni's translations, very carefully done. It is of course the work which we know as Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (of 1844) and it does indeed appear to be case that German language volume, from which these [27] translations were made by Ireni in London, were published in Leipzig, probably in 1932 and were physically exported to Switzerland, the Leipzig publications, from whence they were obtained by the Christian Left. They were not published in Switzerland but they were smuggled out to Switzerland. With respect to the “Bulletins” and Polanyi's role in the “Bulletins”, Ireni said 'There were no “Bulletins” with which Karli had nothing to do. But he was particularly concerned with, and, indeed drafted and wrote the 'Bulletins', that is the 'Christian Left Bulletins', dealing with 1) Trotskyism, 2) The Study on the Early works of Karl Marx, 3) The Bulletin titled 'Russia and the World'. The Bulletins dealing with Chartists were principally the work of Kenneth Muir and the one advertised as "Working Class Culture in Vienna” never materialised.[5] Instead there is a No.7 which, however, deals with Levellers and Diggers in the Cromwell period with Stanley (?). The project of “Working Class Culture in Vienna” is described on the tape. Regarding the 1938 statement of the Christian Left, it would appear, incidentally, that in about 1937 the Auxiliary Christian Left changed its name to the Christian Left and it was at that time that a great deal of work was done on drafting, so to speak, a Manifesto. The papers, which I have seen, the documents in Ireni's possession shows that Karl Polanyi was intimately concerned with the drafting of the group document and his corrections and edits are to be seen all over these documents. The individuals concerned with the foundation of the Christian Left were two Cass Beggs, David and Barbara Cass Beggs, Kenneth and Mary Muir, Donald and Irene Grant, Marjorie Young (now Reid), and this Kenneth Ridyard mentioned to me by McClelland. There was a meeting… in (Newforest?), maybe this is, in fact, the Q camp. It's not quite whether these Q Camps were in 1935 or in 1938. That has yet to be established. The Q Camps, in any event, seem to deal, according to Ireni, more with social relations, questions of documentation in Ireni's possession…

End of tape. There does not appear to be anything on the other side.

Tape 4

[28] I: Now I'm going to begin at the end and go backwards.

K: Okay.

I: At the end of discussions of the draft for the Christian Left, John wrote this very long letter. It is here. You must read it, but not now. But at the end of the letter he said, (Paragraph No. 7 was considered unsatisfactory. The members who were there were instructed to write this commentary - to re-write this commentary - and we were to suggest the wording. We suggest the following wording. And I will read this paragraph).

K: This is written by John Macmurray.

I: Yes… In one of the efforts to get a finished basis. “The task of the Christian community is one of freedom, equality and brotherhood. These are mere words unless they are embodied in the structure of our human life; and the extension and realization over the whole field of human life is the purpose of Christianity. The economic, political relations of men are not merely the basis of personal life. They are an inherent part of, and the criteria of, its reality. In our day the economic integration of humanity determines, in very large measure, what forms of personal life are possible at all. As a result, it is no longer possible to maintain, or to extend, personal life if (?) Christianity demands of us, without a transformation of our existing political and economic structure as a whole. It is because we realise that acceptance or rejection Christianity is at stake, in this sense, that we commit ourselves to the entire struggle for socialism”. Now that was at the end of the letter and what I want to say about it is this: John came from a Presbyterian background, via his very liberal re-interpretation. And his great central idea was that there was no duality. A dualism is a failure. From that, through the study of Marx, he came to what you saw written in his essay. Now that was the way that John developed and happened, beginning with a very hard Presbyterian background, up to the point where he was writing these books… (Titles) Karli, one of Karli's main grievance with John was o this point of no duality.

K: What do you mean by this?

I: John's position and Karli's position, both coming from different quarters, was that a dualism, in the idea that there was a division between your material life and your goals, between your ordinary materialistic way of living and your idealistic goals, were a non est. They were nihilists. John came to it by what I just read to you, from a Christian position, ending up with this essay on the young Marx. Karli came, from the way that you know better than I do including Tolstoy, and they both reached the same point of a dualist philosophical position is not a position. It's a failure. Now this is very important because that is where they met and where they agreed, by their various ways on this one point which was a Marxist point and a Gospel point. So when I was talking to these people recently…

K: Caspegg, David and Barbara and…

[29] I: …and Kenneth and Margaret Muir and all kinds of people of (?). It became quite clear to me and now I have got facts; half a dozen or more short statements of people who were members of the Christian Left about how they ever came to be in it. They are so varied, so totally unlike each other that I began to realise that I must take note of my head where it was that these two great prophets, because we had two great prophets in our group, where it was that they met and they (?). And it was at this point. That was why John was so close to Karli on this point. Philosophy is of no use if it doesn't actually change what you do. So I thought to myself, while I was talking to all these people and getting letters from them and then trying to tell you and what I should have said to you at the beginning, I now realise, is that, those of us who were very closely involved in Karli's workshops and who knew John anyway since God knows when, since 1920, regarded Karli as the great new light. But these people who came the other way actually regarded John as the great new light. And this is my point, I must be very careful that anything said about this group of people does not make it seem as though the whole thing only happened because Karli turned up. Because these people say to me now, and Edward said to me the other day, it's all very well but what about John? And now we've got this magazine somewhere in America asking “So what became of the radical MacMurray?” I just don't know what's going on because I'm not in the touch. But I know that some people want to say and want us to be clear that this anti-dualist position was equally part and parcel of them. And that it was like the young Marx thing and like John's essay on why Christianity was of importance. And that if it went on just doing it's old stuff, it wouldn't make any difference. It would only make a difference, if it led people to refuse to be dualists. That's what I want you to understand because if it is mentioned anywhere, then this should be made very clear. From the Christian side, the movement was this way and on the Marxist, liberal European side was this way, but I met at that point. And this thing, which you'll read tomorrow, the whole letter makes it quite clear. This is a John letter.

K: Yes, that is very useful.

I: I wrote it down here a here in a kind of diagram.

K: Yes well in a sense the diagram is what you have just told me.

I: But the Auxiliary Christian Left and what grew out of it, namely the group that drew up the basis and that had a flag of which I've given you a copy, that was the Auxiliary Christian Left. And these people produced the News Sheet. It was the basis with John MacMurray on the outside. They went on to become, not the Auxiliary Christian Left, but just the Christian Left and they produced the Bulletin. And that was a later lot. And the only difference was that it was no longer under any official obligation for anything to the Auxiliary Movement It was now separate. That's all. It didn't mean that the contacts didn't remain. But there was no organizational connection anymore.

[30] K: now of all of the Auxiliary Christian Left statements and of the Bulletins, you told me that Karli had the main input really into the Bulletins.

I: He had the main input into the Bulletins in that, the first Bulletins, No. 1 and 2, were about the political considerations including the Trotskyist thing and the Marxist thing. In this sense, you may say, they initiated the Bulletins. But it does not mean, and this I must make clear, that they were then committed to continue only these subjects of study. They studied all kinds of things, including early English history and all sorts of things. So, in the sense that they were launched through Karli and because of Karli, that is true. But in the sense that these people all regarded themselves as somehow the disciples of a person in a group, that's not true. And anyway, I think I made it clear, by this diagram. Now because of that I want you to take a look at this and I think it may supercede all kinds of things. …As far as I can remember, there was nothing of anything missing, later than this.

K: And that would be 1937.

I: And that was John's letter. You see at this time when he wrote, it was written to 'Dear Janet'. That was a girl who looked after things when I wasn't doing it. She's dead now. And he answered the letter and here it is and the date is - Dec. 1937. So you can it 37 to 38. That's it is. And I think yo should read it and then if you want a copy… I think you need a copy only to make it clear to whoever deals with this that because of my enthusiasm and because of the fact that the two initial Bulletins were Marxist, an impression I've got 'round and I now know, that I am leaving John out. I never meant that. That's only because of me talking to you. …That is a picture of the New Forest back at the Q Camp. Now a lot of my Christian Left people, including for instance Barbara, for her the world changed in the Q Camp. What happened afterwards, John and Karli and all that, was additional light. But the really remarkable thing for her was the Q Camp.

K: That was McClellan also said. That the whole thing started at the Q Camps.

I: That is quite true, but the Q Camp was the direct result of people in the Auxiliary Left getting together with us and deciding on what they would do to discuss their own situation and the answer was the Q Camps.

I: But Ireni the more I think about this, about Karli's involvement in the Christian Left and the things you have been telling me, the more it seems that you, you and Donald, that your relationship with my father was quite different from anybody else's not only because he was a close personal friend but because you had lived in Vienna for so many years. Vienna and everything that went on there is an experience, a very basic experience, which these English people did not have.

I: Yes an if we hadn't had it, not only Karli but we, the Auxiliary Movement wouldn't have gone down the drain or anything, it was very much [31] alive but it wouldn't have taken on this peculiar colour. It was because of the people who came from Vienna, on the whole, that it took on this kind of colour.

K: But the people who came from Vienna were Donald, Ireni and Karli.

I: But you see very early in the whole thing, before all that, John and Betty were actually visiting Vienna to help as a result.

K: Oh I didn't know that…

I: Yes they stayed with me in 1934, when I went back in 1934. I went back with money from the Auxiliary to help get socialists out of Vienna in 1934. John and Betty came too. John was very much in it from the very start and the first person apart from us who put (Karli) up and looked after him with his shoes and his cloak? were John and Betty Macmurray. That's where we went. The contact is very early and, of course, John and Betty knew about Karli before 1934, 1934 was kind of late in our lives.

K: It was always seemed to me that you, Donald, now you tell me John MacMurrray, of course, had a different relationship with my father than the English people did. Cass Beggs and Marjorie… These people were…

I: Or even Douglas McClelland.

K: Any of them really whose experience was basically only English.

I: But you have to know that there wouldn't have been any Christian Left at all, at the time there was, if it hadn't been for John MacMurray. That's the point and I'm very much in danger, because I'm very keen, to leave this out. And the people that I'm talking to are beginning to notice. And they're beginning to say but that's what took me into the Christian Left. Si it is really very tight woven because my friendship with John, which was closer than anybody else's at the certain stage, began in 1921 when he was a very young man.

K: What was this background? Was he a minister of the Church or what?

I: I'll tell you. He was born into a very Presbyterian, south Scottish family, some of whom I met, including his sister, in later life. He went… he did brilliantly in Edinburgh University and he very quickly began to teach philosophy. And he read philosophy widely.

K: Where did he teach? Edinburgh?

I: Yes, I think he began in Edinburgh but is was very early. When I met him he was in Manchester and in Manchester in 1922, 1920 and 1921, he had come out of the First World War, where he'd been fighting. He'd been wounded and decorated and was now beginning to teach philosophy again. And he taught and what a show it was. And there was Samuel Alexander, (he) was a very famous, Jewish professor of philosophy in Manchester and dissident philosopher, in the sense that he thought a lot of it was rubbish because it didn't lead to anything. Now John was at Edinburgh, and in Oxford, which he called another kindergarten, Johannesburg, where he had some very strange illuminating experiences. Then London; for a long time he was at the University College and then he went finally back to [32] Edinburgh. Now while he was in London, his aim was to teach philosophy to students on the basis of their own active living experience not the classical philosophers. Begin where you are and then we'll see about the classical philosophers. And in order to do that, he made a definite plan. The plan was that he would write no philosophical treaty of his own until the end of his teaching career. He would do what he had to do to help his students to understand what philosophy was about. And it was during that time that he wrote this enormous list of things which you saw. It's Michael Fielding… Faber are still re-publishing some: Freedom in the Modern World etc. They were turned out one after the other for the students. And only when he was about to retire or getting near retirement age did he write his two treatises, which are so unlike anything else in the world of philosophy that they are regarded as somehow freaks. The Self as Agent was the first one and Person and Relations was the second. Now the fact that at the Saint? South Conference, when he was asked: Well after all that is said and done, what is a Christian?, his answer was: Well if you share the intention of Jesus, namely that the whole of mankind should be interdependently organized for its interdependence under one's father, putting it in religious terms, then you are a Christian. If you do not intend that, if you do not consciously intend that, it doesn't matter what else you believe, then you are not a Christian. Now Karli, you see, coming from Marx, said exactly the same thing about what the true philosophy of human nature is. What is it? Mensch menschlich. That's in the Nazionalokonomie und Philosophie. The actual phrase is used by Karl Marx. I know because I found it and translated it.

K: How does that translate into English?

I: Humanly human or human humanly. I mean it's not directly translatable. But nobody wants to believe me when I say that Marx simply said it has to be Mensch menschlich. Well John, …this was exactly his point. And that was what Karli kept on saying and what John was very well aware of.

K: Okay… You have explained to me that (John) came from a strict Presbyterian background and about his evolution as a teacher of philosophy. Now where does Christian come into it.

I: They were narrow Presbyterians and when I asked him whether it had ever been any good to him, he said “Yes, in fact, it was because it's very substantial about the nature of life. You may not agree but it is very substantial and then, having chewed it, it's very good to spit it out”. So that's John. He was never, in any way, after that connected with any organized Christian group except the Christian Left, to my knowledge. Except towards the end of his life when he decide to join the Quakers. And he joined the Quakers church.

K: But other than that he never had anything to do with any organized church?

I: Not as far as I know. And I knew him very well. In fact, he and Betty and [33] Donald and I, in 1933, when Karli came from Vienna and John was constantly in our joint flat, made a decision to have a joint set up as a family and to stay together as a family group. We didn't do it for a number of reasons. One was that John and Betty had no children because Betty had these nephews who were being brought up by a widowed mother, a very dear person but she wasn't an organizing person, they decided that they must make themselves responsible for these two children and that meant also their mother. And, therefore, this joint family thing never came up, but Karli knew about it and it very nearly did come up and John and Betty and Donald and I, as couples were very close. Now when it didn't come off, it didn't mean anything except that it didn't come off. As far as this was concerned, John continued just the same. And the fact that John and Betty, because of us, welcomed Karli and had him there, and I have no doubt at all that this was a very good thing from both points of view and it didn't last very long. But Karli knew John from the very first minute and John had reached the point, which I was proud to describe an anti-dualist, and in a way very close to the Marxian position about either you change the structure or it doesn't mean anything. He had already arrived there before the Christian Left group even started. So in a way, Kenneth's idea, that somehow Karli introduced John to Marx, is stupid. It's true in the sense that it suddenly became the centre of study.

K: Well, why Marx became the centre of study at that time is not difficult to understand. What I still do not understand really, from what you've told me of John and Betty, or for that matter of yourself and Donald and my father, I do not understand from where came the idea of Christianity.

I: Well, I was brought up as a Wesleyan Methodist. I've belonged to the Church all my life. Donald was never anything else.

K: But you didn't actually go to church?

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I: Donald went pretty regularly until the time we went to Vienna. But he was was very much a dissident in the sense that he thought, when he went to prison, that it was the Church that was being wronged, not him. And I thought the same. And so, although Donald and I belonged to various Christian groups including the Student Movement and the Auxiliary and Donald actually for four and half was the secretary of the Student Christian Movement in New Zealand, so that our connections with Christian groups, who regarded themselves not as church-goers, was constant. Including my father, who was after all a Wesleyan Methodist missionary. But by the time I was a student, he was belonging with me almost outside his Church. So it's very difficult to define it. John regarded himself as a part of the body of Christian thought, even though he'd given the Presbyterian Church up long ago. The only people, well it isn't quite true, but the only people I can easily say had little groups inside the Church, being very left, were unknown Catholics, like in South Africa or South America, being Christians in spite of everything, helping guerillas and so on, well, I call those people who were, in fact, though inside their Church [34] outside it, because they were never recognized these people. People in the Anglican Church, like Needham, who always stayed with his Church, whether he goes, I don't know. People like? in Thaxted and Noel at Thaxted stayed in their Church.

K: They were Anglican, Church of England.

I: John Wesley never left the Anglican Church. He was an Anglican Church member until his death. But he was a rabblerouser of the first order outside the Church. In fact, Karli said, he almost made a revolution. He actually side-stepped it. So that, in this country, it's very difficult. Heaps and heaps of people will say to you that they are Christians, who never go inside a church door.

K: But heaps of people who are asked, may say they are Christian, but they would not, certainly not in these times, be active as a social Christian in any type of social movement.

I: You mean socialist?

K: No, I mean social action, involved in things that are, so to speak, community oriented and are basically socially oriented, coming out of the Churches today. As Christians, they would do it within the framework of the Church or on a margin of the Church.

I: Some would regard themselves as having done their Christian duty, where they are doing it in social work or whatever, without ever going to church. But if you ask them they would say, “Yes well, I feel I'm Christian.” Helen Kennipcott? is an exception. Helen? is a very active member on the left, inside the Anglican Church. She is not only a member of her Church she is also a teacher within the Church organization. She goes to synod; she takes part in all the structure, every single week… I'm perfectly certain, that if you asked her: “Do you do your W.E.A. teaching as a Christian?”, she would say, “Of course, I do.” Her husband is a Hindu and he is strongly in favour of her doing this because it gives meaning to all the other things they do. Now, Karli never went…

K: The biggest mystery then is really concerning my father with this Christian Left thing, because, this is the next question I want to ask you, how is it that Karli got so mixed up with the Christian Left? I can understand how it is that he gave classes on the early Marx, because he was a great teacher and because he believed very much in what the early Marx was saying. But I find difficult to understand this apparent change from someone who, certainly in Vienna, was very secular.
I: Well he was very much interested in little Otto Bauer. He was supportive of him and he was very supportive of Donald. In a sense it was political, because he really thought that Donald was being manipulated by this Jesuit. But that's a different thing…

K: Yes that's different. That's politics.

I: And I think I have to say this. I think he was very impressed, so he should have been, by Zoe and her colleagues in the Auxiliary Movement, because they were very substantial people and they were very keen [35] Christians. Margaret Ronan? and Joseph Fairfield? would talk to him on their own grounds about their Christian faith. I think Karli was impressed with them, quite rightly. So was I. Because they could tell you exactly what they meant. And they acted in character. They stood by him when people were cross with him because they realized that he belonged. Now I can't explain it better that.

K: But you understand that it has to be explained.

I: You could say that, because I knew Karli very well, I don't think he was using these people. In a way it looks like that. But I don't think so.

K: Yes in a way.

I: We didn't feel we were being used. And, of course, there were many people who came from various angles into the Christian Left. They were very much enlightened by the idea that it wasn't this bloody dogmatic Marx that they had to worry about but somebody who was very close to their own feelings and Karli was able to do that. I don't think that's using people. It's recognizing what was in them.

K: What was the connection between the Christian Left group and Karli's involvement with them and his getting W.E.A. tutorials?

I: Well I don't think the Christian Left had anything to do with that. Because when he came to England he was seeing often, and I mean often R.H. Tawney. I have got somewhere letters written by Karli to Tawney. He was in touch with Mansfield. I think his name was Mansfield, an Englishman who helped to organize the W.E.A. Jack Connolly who tried to help me, he lived near this man, and I can find his name. Jack Connolly talked to him about using me and that's how Karli met him but that was quite outside the Christian Left meetings. I'll tell you with whom he had quite a bit of contact and that was Tammy Streep. She was the head of a College in south London. I can find the name later. It was a kind of working man's college. And she was a member of the Christian Left so she would have been one of the people who would have talked to Karli about W.E.A. I'm sure there were others. Sometime I'll look through the letters and I'll get the names. Of course, there were people of the W.E.A. variety inside the Christian Left. But Karli's contact with the W.E.A. was not through the Christian Left.

K: Would you know how he contacted the W.E.A.? I think it was GDH Cole, wasn't it?

I: …He went to see Cole and Cole thought very highly of Karli and Karli regarded Cole, in my opinion and I'm speaking only for myself, as a kind of rebirth of Owen. Of course he wasn't like that. Well of course with Cole the limerick comes in, the funny limerick, when he was having dinner with Cole in Oxford. I gave it to Margaret. That's very amusing but it's also very instructive. He was invited by Cole and he saw Cole on several occasions. Margaret is still alive but she wouldn't remember. There were some Fabians but who were they? I can't remember. (Irene says she will look for lists of members etc…) In Karli's existence I wouldn't like to say [36] that it meant some kind of a turning point. That wouldn't be true. But it was a very big benchmark. He put a lot of trouble into it. So did John but John didn't have so much at stake. John had, so to speak, a professorship. …Karli had a lot at stake in the sense that everything he did was in some way determining what was going to happen. Including this.

K: But if one were to take my father's work, take as a theme religion and its associates, morality and all that, there is the period before and during the First World War which one could call the Tolstoy period…… and then there's the London period, Christian Left.

I: That is very important to this question here because Karli used to talk to me about it.

K: Well, I would like to know what you can remember of it.

I: Well, he said things like… Of course he knew the gospels. Whether or not that had anything to do with…

End of tape.

Organizations Irene Grant spoke about

(Alphabetical order)

  • The Austrian Student Relief => The European Student Relief
  • The European Student Relief (former ASU)
  • Herrengall 30
  • The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)
  • Menschheitkämpfer
  • Pycombe Corner Group (unformal group)
  • The Q Camp
  • Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (SPSL)
  • The Society of Visiting Scientists (SVS)
  • Student Christian Movement (SCM)
  • The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)
  • World University Service (WUS)
  • Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

Persons Irene Grant spoke about

By Alphabetical Order:

  • B: Bauer Otto, Benedikt Eugen, Beggs Barbara, Bock Oscar
  • C: Cannon Alfred, Casspegg x, the Cornfords
  • F: Fairfield Zoe, Fielding Michael
  • G: Grosser John
  • I: Ingram Kenneth, Father Iredell / Iredale,
  • J: Jolly Doug
  • K: Kennipcott Helen, Kolnaï Grossvater, Kurz Trude
  • L: Lener Fritz
  • M: MacMurray Elisabeth, Macmurray John, Macky / Mac x, McConnell Jean, McLean Douglas, Maier Caspar, Mansfield x, Muir Kenneth, Murray Agnes, Murray Gilbert
  • N: Niebuhr Reinhold
  • R: Reid Marjorie (née Young), Ridyard Kenneth, Ridyard Norman
  • S: Schiff Leonard, Simpson Esther (Tess), Strachey John, Streep Tammy, Szilard Leo
  • T: Tatlow x, Tillich Paul, Tissingdon x, Turton Helen
  • U: Ullman Helen
  • W: Wesley John

By apparition: Oscar Bock, Otto Bauer, Caspar Maier, Eugen Benedikt, Fritz Lener, Grossvater Kolnaï, Doug Jolly, Helen Turton, Esther Simpson (Tess), Leo Szilard, the Cornfords, Kenneth Muir, Douglas McLean, Kenneth Ingram, Agnes Murray, Gilbert Murray, Leonard Schiff, Father Iredell / Iredale, John Strachey, Paul Tillich, John Grosser, Reinhold Niebuhr, x Tissingdon, Tatlow and these people, Father John Macmurray, Elisabeth MacMurray, Helen Ullman, Michael Fielding, Alfred Cannon, Jean McConnell, Trude Kurz, Norman Ridyard, Macky / Mac, Zoe Fairfield, x Casspegg, Barbara Beggs, Marjorie Young (= Marjorie Reid), Kenneth Ridyard[6], Edward x, John Wesley, Helen Kennipcott, x Mansfield, Tammy Streep.

Editor's Notes

  1. Esther Simpson.
  2. Kari Polanyi-Levitt, of course.
  3. Page 9 is just a written line.
  4. See also : Community and Society. The Christian Criticism of our Social Order
  5. See Bulletins for Socialists [21/27, 33].
  6. See p. 27. Maybe KPL mix up Kenneth Muir and Norman Ridyard.

Text Informations

Date: 1986
KPA: 30/03