The Society has existed in various forms since it was initially founded in 1884, stating in its manifesto: “Utopia now: we can bring it about. The power is ours if we have the will“.
The Society played a key role in the early development of the socialist movement in Scotland, including hosting the first “indoor preaching of Modern Socialism” in Edinburgh on the 19th of March 1884, with William Morris as the main speaker. The talk was titled “Useful Labour versus Useless Toil”, The Scotsman reported a “good attendance, a considerable proportion of those present being ladies” Later that year the society also hosted a lecture by the influential positivist, Edward Spencer Beesly.
Max Born (pioneer of quantum physics and later winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics) is known to have used a meeting of the society in 1949 to express his opinions on atomic weapons and foreign policy.