Keywords: Interwar intellectual history - British Left - European federation.
This article surveys the evolution of the concept of socialist federation in Europe in the political writings of the British "progressive" left between 1936 and 1945 and argues that the federalist beliefs were a central concern for a group of thinkers and intellectuals which is of central importance in the intellectual history of Britain in the 20th century. It is not possible fully to comprehend these intellectuals' attitude towards appeasement of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, or their ambiguous relationship with Soviet communism, without appreciating how they saw socialist federalism as a way of fighting the former and humanizing the latter - although in some instances, these intellectuals' ambitions for federation became intolerance for those who advocated national self-determination. The article is based upon a close reading of such publications as the "New Statesman & Nation" and "Tribune", on the books and pamphlets of such noted contemporary thinkers as H.N. Brailsford, E.H. Carr, G.D.H. Cole and Leonard Woolf, and on substantial archival work.