Ernest Belfort Bax (23 July 1854 – 26 November 1926) was a British socialist journalist and philosopher, associated with the Social Democratic Federation (SDF).
Born into a nonconformist religious family in Leamington, he was first introduced to Marxism while studying philosophy in Germany. He combined Karl Marx's ideas with those of Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer and Eduard von Hartmann. Keen to explore possible metaphysical and ethical implications of socialism, he came to describe a "religion of socialism" as a means to overcome the dichotomy between the personal and the social, and also that between the cognitive and the emotional. He saw this as a replacement for organised religion, and was a fervent atheist, keen to free workers from what he saw as the moralism of the petty bourgeoisie.
Bax moved to Berlin and worked as a journalist on the Evening Standard. On his return to England in 1882, he joined the SDF, but grew disillusioned and in 1885 left to form the Socialist League with William Morris. After anarchists gained control of the League, he rejoined the SDF, and became the chief theoretician, and editor of the party paper Justice. He opposed the party's participation in the Labour Representation Committee, and eventually persuaded them to leave.
Almost throughout his life, he saw economic conditions as ripe for socialism, but felt this progress was delayed by a lack of education of the working class. Bax supported Karl Kautsky over Eduard Bernstein, but Kautsky had little time for what he saw as Bax's utopianism, and supported Theodore Rothstein's efforts to spread a more orthodox Marxism in the SDF.
Initially very anti-nationalist, Bax came to support the British in World War I, but by this point he was concentrating on his career as a barrister and did little political work.
Bax was an ardent antifeminist, and wrote many articles in The New Age and elsewhere opposing women's suffrage. In 1908 he wrote The Legal Subjection of Men as a response to John Stuart Mill's 1869 essay "The Subjection of Women." In 1913 he published an essay, The Fraud of Feminism, detailing feminism's adverse effects. Section titles included "The Anti-Man Crusade," "The 'Chivalry' Fake," "Always The 'Injured Innocent,'" and "Some Feminist Lies and Fallacies."
Bax died in London.