Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Alfred Richard Orage

Alfred Richard Orage was a socialist known for editing the magazine New Age. Born in 1873 in Dacre, West Riding of Yorkshire into a nonconformist religious family, he became a schoolteacher and joined the Independent Labour Party, writing for their paper on philosophy, including in particular the thought of Plato and Edward Carpenter,

By the late 1890s, Orage was disillusioned with socialism and turned for a while to theosophy. After reading Friedrich Nietzsche in 1900 he returned to socialist platforms, but now determined to combine Carpenter's socialism with Nietzsche and theosophy. Concentrating on this led to separation from his wife, while he also resigned his teaching post and moved to London.

Orage explored his new ideas in several booklets. He saw Nietzsche's superman as a metaphor for the "higher state of conciousness" sought by mystics and sought to define a route to this, insisting this must involved a rejection of civilisation and conventional morality. Instead, he moved through a celebration of Dionysus to declare he was in favour not of an ordered socialism but of an anarchic movement.

In 1906, Orage attempted to form a league for the restoration of a guild system, much as described by William Morris. The failure of this spurred him in 1907, supported by George Bernard Shaw, to buy the weekly New Age magazine, and turn it into his conception of a socialist forum for politics, literature and the arts. Although many contributors were Fabianss, he was quick to distance himself from their politics. The magazine launched an attack on parliamentary politics, while Orage argued the need for utopianism. He also attacked the trade union leadership, while offering some support to the emerging ideas of syndicalism, and tried to combine this with the guild system.

Orage focused his attention in the 1910s on spirituality, and became increasingly misogynistic, vehemently opposing the suffragette movement, and anti-parliamentary. He returned to the idea that there were absolute truths and felt these were embodied in the Mahabharata. In 1922 he sold the New Age and moved to Paris to become a follower of G. I. Gurdjieff, but by 1930 he returned in an attempt to found a new magazine. Orage died in 1934, declaring shortly beforehand that he had obtained no insight as to the "meaning and aim of existence".