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Reuss had lived an interesting life. He was the offspring of a German father and an English mother and in his mother's country had experienced a certain amount of professional success as a singer in music-halls and at all-male smoking concerts. He seems to have combined this artistic career with spying for the Prussian secret police on German socialist exiles in London — his attention was particularly concentrated on the children of Karl Marx. In the eighties he had joined the Socialist League, a revolutionary organisation founded as an orthodox Marxist counterblast to H. M. Hyndman's semi-reformist Social Democratic Federation,[4] and had become a member of its executive committee, presumably in order to spy on the activities of Karl Marx's daughter Eleanor Marx-Aveling, who was also upon the executive. No doubt Reuss hoped to ingratiate himself with the Marx family and thus worm his way into the confidence of the German Social Democrats but he was disappointed, for both Eleanor Marx and her rascally lover, Edward Aveling, took a strong dislike to him. Eleanor found Reuss vulgar; she even went to the length of writing a letter to Karl Kautsky, the German socialist leader, complaining of the coarseness of the songs that Reuss had sung at a concert given in aid of the funds of the Socialist League. A few months later the League's paper, the Commonweal, published an article exposing Reuss as a police spy and shortly afterwards he was expelled from the organisation.
There is little trace of Reuss between his expulsion from the Socialist League and his attainment of the Headship of the O.T.O. in 1905, but it seems probable that he earned his living by a combination of singing, spying, and running a dubious export-import business.[5] He seems to have had a complete contempt for the conventions of his time, and under his chieftainship the O.T.O. quite openly proclaimed that it practised sexual magic - under Kellner it had been much more discreet in its public pronouncements.
The Socialist League was later captured by an anarchist faction, after which event it was regarded with loathing by all orthodox Marxists. In its early years, however, it was almost completely Marxist, with Engels indulging in a good deal of behind-the-scenes string pulling. William Morris was one of the League's founders, and although he is today generally regarded as a libertarian (on strength of News from Nowhere) at the time he described himself as being 'with Marx contra mundum'.
Reuss resigned from his chieftainship of the O.T.O. in 1922, verbally nominating Crowley as his successor — up to now, it must be remembered, Crawley had only been the head of the Mysteria Mystica Maxima, the English branch of the O.T.O.
5. He also enjoyed a brief but successful career as a war-correspondent.

Sexuality, Magic and Perversion, Francis King. New English Library, Times Mirror. 1972. 174 p. pp. 92, 103.


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