Max Beer (1864 - 1943)
Source: Social Democrat, Vol. VI, No. 8, August 15, 1902, pp.227-228;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
This is the biography, clearly checked with Beer, which appeared in Social Democrat, August, 1902 to which has been added some further details of his later life. Note by transcriber, ERC.
On the opposite page we present a portrait of our comrade Beer, who is the London correspondent of the great German Socialist paper Vorwärts, he succeeding Eduard Bernstein in that capacity on the latter's return to Germany some little time back.
Our comrade Beer was born in August, 1865, in a little town in Galicia (Austria). His father was a non-commissioned officer in the Austrian army and fought, in 1859, against France and Italy. To his father's numberless tales about foreign lands and soldiering and fighting our comrade owes a great deal of his love for history, politics, geography and travel.
He had a strictly Jewish education. At the age of eleven he began to learn Polish, German, and elementary science; arithmetic was his terror, but he rather liked geometry. At 14 he began Latin and general essay writing; and at 16, history of Hebrew and German literatures, French, logic, ethics, medieval philosophy and mysticism.
While still a young man he left his native place for Germany, where, in the year 1892, after several years' study of economics, politics, philosophy and Socialism, he became the editor of the Magdeburger Volksstimme. His opinions and the manner in which he conducted the paper may be judged from the fact that in about eight months after assuming editorial control he was arrested on nearly a dozen charges of inciting to class struggle, and of insulting the German army and authorities. He was convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The ten months of prison life were spent in mastering something of the English language, in reading the New Testament and Russian, French, and German novels, and in working out two essays on the economic basis of Ancient Jewish Law (printed in the Neue Zeit, 1894).
After leaving prison, Beer was invited by the police to take his choice between pursuing a respectable calling and leaving the Fatherland. In June, 1894, he came to England, where he wrote for the Berlin Social‑Demokrat, and served for twenty months as a schoolmaster in a boarding. school in the West of London, the boys teaching him English. He was a member of the German delegation at the International Congress in 1896, held in Queen's Hall, London. In December, 1897, he left for Paris. In the autumn of 1898 Kautsky invited him to go to Berlin as sub-editor of the Neue Zeit. At the same time the management of the New York Abendblatt, for which he had interviewed Emile Zola on the Dreyfus affair, asked him to go to New York. He accepted the latter offer, and worked for twelve months on that paper, until the quarrels exhausted his patience.
When Bernstein left England and returned to Germany, Beer was asked to go back to London as the English correspondent of the Vorwärts, which responsible position he now occupies. Certainly the Social-Democratic Federation will be the gainer by this change, as Beer evinces far more sympathy with the S.D.F., and is on a much more friendly footing with us than his predecessor. In the past the S.D.F. has been misrepresented, and consequently misunderstood, amongst our continental comrades.
The following additional biographical information has been added by Daniel Gaido:
A Jewish journalist and historian of British and international socialism. Max Beer was born in Tarnobrzeg, a little town in Galicia (Austria) and died in London 1943. He emigrated to Germany in 1889, where he became the editor of the Magdeburger Volksstimme and, after eight months, was arrested, charged with inciting to class struggle, and of insulting the German army and authorities, convicted and sentenced to ten months of imprisonment. In June, 1894, Beer moved to England and studied at the London School of Economics 1895-1896. In December, 1897, he left for Paris, where he covered the Dreyfuss affair. From there he moved to New York, where he spent the crucial years 1898-1902 (the time of the Spanish-American War and of the Filipino Rebellion) and witnessed the birth of American imperialism, which he analyzed for Die Neue Zeit and Vorwärts, the main journals of the German Social Democratic Party. Beer was also correspondent for the Munchener Post and the Jewish Arbeiter-Zeitung and collaborated with the edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica. When Bernstein left England and returned to Germany, Beer was asked to go back to London as the English correspondent of the Vorwärts, which position he occupied from 1902 to 1912. During the First World War he was deported to Germany as an enemy alien in 1915, and edited Die Glocke 1919-1921. Die Glocke was founded and financed by Parvus, who at that time belonged to the extreme right wing of the SPD (the Lensch-Cunow-Haenisch Gruppe). In his autobiography Fifty years of International Socialism Beer claims that he attempted to turn the paper away from the SPD and into a cultural and educational review, for which reason Parvus eventually dismissed him. From his account of the German revolution Friedrich Ebert and Noske emerge as the murderers of the German revolutionists, who paved the way for Nazism. Beer later worked consecutively at the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow 1927-1929, at Riazanov’s request, and at the Institut fur Sozialforschung in Frankfurt am Main, emigrating to London in 1933 after the rise of the Nazis to power destroyed his family.
Gaido provides a partial bibliography of Beer's articles on imperialism and other works below:
Beer, Max, “Der moderne englische Imperialismus,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 16, No. 1 (1898), pp. 300-306.
Beer, Max, “Die Vereinigten Staaten im Jahre 1898,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 17, No. 1 (February 1899), pp. 676-80, 708-714.
Beer, Max, “Der auswärtige Handel der Vereinigten Staaten im Jahre 1898,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 17, No. 1 (June 1899), pp. 473-76.
Beer, Max, “Trusts in den Vereinigten Staaten,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 17, No. 1 (August 1899), pp. 743-54.
Beer, Max, “Die Vereinigten Staaten im Jahre 1899,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 18, No. 1 (January 1900), pp. 457-62, 488-92.
Beer, Max, “Am Vorabend der Präsidentenwahl in den Vereinigten Staaten,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 18, No. 2 (1900), pp. 578-86.
Beer, Max, “Betrachtungen über den Niedergang Englands,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 19, No. 1 (1901), pp. 804 ff.
Beer, Max, “Die amerikanischen Gesetze gegen die Trusts,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 20, No. 1 (1902), pp. 758-66.
Beer, Max, “Imperialistische Politik,” Die Neue Zeit, Vol. 21, No. 1 (1903).
General History of Socialism and the Social Struggles (Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus und der sozialen Kämpfe). First issued in English in 5 separate volumes, translated by Henry James Stenning and revised by the author: London: Parsons, 1922-1925. Reissued in 2 volumes: New York: Russell & Russell, 1957.
Social Struggles in Antiquity. 1922. [Vol. 1 of the “Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus"]
Social Struggles in the Middle Ages. 1924. [Vol. 2 of the “Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus"]
Social Struggles and Socialist Forerunners. 1924. [Vol. 3 of the “Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus
Social Struggles and Thought-1750-1860. 1925. [Vol. 4 of the “Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus"]
Social Struggles and Modern Socialism. 1925. [Vol. 5 of the “Allgemeine Geschichte des Sozialismus"]
The Life and Teaching of Karl Marx. Translated by T. C. Partington and H. J. Stenning, and revised by the author., et al. 1921, National Labour Press, pp.162.
A History of British Socialism (many editions, introduction by R. H. Tawney) 1921, Bell & Sons, 2 volumes (2004 edition, pp.451)
A Guide to the Study of Marx. An introductory course for classes and study circles. 1924 Labour Research Dept, pp.32.
The League on Trial. A journey to Geneva, Translated by W. H. Johnston, G. Allen & Unwin, 1933.
Fifty years of International Socialism (autobiography): G. Allen & Unwin, 1935. pp.239.
Early British Economics from the XIIIth to the middle of the XVIII century,: G. Allen & Unwin, 1938, pp.250.
An Inquiry into Physiocracy, 1939, Allen & Unwin, pp.196
Several other books in French and German.