From the Vaults: Red Sunday School, Glasgow, May 1, 1917

This is a guest post by Michael Ezra

Raphael Samuel noted that many “pre-1914 Marxian socialists came from Bible-reading homes” and that “Revolutionary songs were sung to hymn tunes.” A good example of the syncretism of socialism and religion can be found in the credo of a Red Sunday School in Glasgow. This document, drawn up on May Day 1917, reads like a revolutionary socialist version of the Ten Commandments:

  1. Thou shalt inscribe on your banner: ‘Workers of all lands unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains: you have a world to win’.
  2. Thou shalt not be a patriot for a patriot is an international blackleg. Your duty to yourself and your class demands that you be a citizen of the world.
  3. Thou shalt not usurp the right of any man or woman, nor shall you claim for yourself any natural advantage over your fellows; for every man and woman has an equal right to an equal share in the product of their collective labour.
  4. Thou shalt not take part in any bourgeois war, for all modern wars are the result of the clash of economic interests, and your duty as an internationalist is to wage class war against all such wars.
  5. Thou shalt teach Revolution, for revolution means the abolition of the present Political State, and the end of Capitalism, and the raising in their place an Industrial Republic.
  6. Thou shalt demand on behalf of your class, the complete surrender of the capitalist class and all the means of production, distribution and exchange, with the land and all that it contains, and by so doing you shall abolish class rule.
  7. Thou shalt wage the class war, by pointing out that the history of all recorded societies is an history of the Class Struggle, and that the emancipation of the working class from wage-slavery must be brought about by themselves.
  8. Thou shalt take part at all times in the political and economic struggles of the working class. Thou shalt renounce craft unionism, and work for the organisation of the working class into one vast industrial union, to take and hold the means of life.
  9. Thou shalt perform a mission in society by achieving an ideal of a fuller and higher life for all, in the abolition of classes, and by the regulation of industry by the Industrial Republic, which shall end the Political State.
  10. Thou shalt remember that the economic structure of Society determines the legal and political super-structure, and the Social, Ethical, Religious, and intellectual lifeprocess in general. It is not men’s consciousness which determines their life; on the contrary it is the social life which determines their consciousness.


Raphael Samuel, “British Marxist Historians, 1880-1980: Part One,” New Left Review I/120, March-April 1980, pp.47-48.

Published in: on February 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

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  2. Those are pretty good commandments for anyone to observe!

  3. […] on from Mikey’s post here about socialist commandments, here are a couple with titles inspired by socialist hymns: Arise ye […]

  4. Hi,
    was the Red Sunday School different from the Socialist Sunday School, which I believe were about the same period. It would seem strange that two similar organisations functioning in Glasgow around the same time.

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