Socialist Vanguard Group

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Socialist Vanguard Group: minutes, 1943-8; reports, from 1929; circulated letters, 1941-2; membership applications; administrative and subject files; Socialist Vanguard / Socialist Commentary, 1934-75; London branch records, 1943-9.

Socialist Union: minutes, 1951-9; membership and financial records; some subject files 1952-9.

Walter Fliess: includes letters to the press, 1960-81; memoir by Geoff Spencer, 1985; printed works by Leonard Nelson.

Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy: financial papers and correspondence relating to the Society's move from Denmark to England, financial and practical affairs during the Second World War, re-registration as an educational trust, 1940-1976. Correspondence includes letters from Minna Specht, 1945 - 1953.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Socialist Vanguard Group (SVG) was established in the United Kingdom in 1929 as the British Section of the Militant Socialist International (ISK) in Germany. The ISK had evolved in 1926 from the Internationaler Jugendbund, a small educational group of members of the main German Left parties led by the philosopher Leonard Nelson (1882 - 1927). The English Group was never large, but had an influence disproportionate to its size, one of its members, Allan Flanders, subsequently becoming a national figure as an industrial relations adviser. In 1950 the SVG was replaced by the Socialist Union; its journal, Socialist Commentary, continued and provided a focus after the Socialist Union was formally dissolved.

Mary Saran (1897 - 1976) was editor, then joint editor of Socialist Commentary from 1941 - 1955. Walter Fliess (1901 - 1985) was a member of the ISK and the Socialist Union.

The Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy was established to promote the ideas of Leonard Nelson. The secretary and trustee was George F Green, who was general secretary of the Civil Service Clerical Association.

Reference: Accession file for MSS.173 ; Mary Saran, Never give up, London, 1976 ; Geoff Spencer, Beloved alien, [A rememberance of Walter Fliess], Printed privately, 1985 (MSS.173/6/F/15)

Conditions Governing Access

Access : Open

Archivist's Note

An interim box list of the Socialist Vanguard material is available in paper format in the Centre's searchroom along with catalogues to file level for MSS.173/6/F and MSS.173/SF. Authority files exist for the Socialist Vanguard Group (GB 152 AAR1301), Mary Saran (GBR 0152 AAR1303) and Walter Fliess (GBR 0152 AAR1302).

Conditions Governing Use

All published references to Socialist Vanguard material must include an acknowledgement to the depositor, Dr Rene Saran.

Custodial History

The majority of these papers were deposited by Dr Rene Saran in November 1977 following the death of her mother, Mary Saran. Papers belonging to Walter Fliess (MSS.173/6/F) were deposited by his daughter, Sonia Wood, in 1985. Papers relating to the Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy (MSS.173/SF) were deposited in July 1986 with the aid of Dr Rene Saran and Anne-Marie Flanders.