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Skwawkbox Goes Patriotic Labour: Brexit was “genuine democratic revolt” for “self-government, identity, community, sovereignty, patriotism.

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Skwawkbox: We’ll Beat that EU Elite with a Patriotic Call to Arms!

Patriotic Labour supporter Steve Walker publishes Blue Labour:

‘Guest Post’ by Andy Searson: GUEST ARTICLE: A WORKING-CLASS REVOLT.

Writing from the hard chalk face Teacher Searson blubbs,

Brexit was a genuine democratic revolt. Millions of ordinary citizens came out to use democracy and suffrage to have a say on issues that affect their daily lives. They voted for self-government, identity, community, sovereignty, patriotism. It was the elite versus the people, The average citizen versus an establishment that wasn’t listening any more! A detached set of establishment elites. The expenses scandal exacerbated the feeling of political alienation – and if the elitist, powerful few renege now, trust in Parliament will be destroyed for generations.

Do we need, the eminent pedagogue continues, the projects of “charlatan posh boys”, from the Labour Remainers to Johnson, Gove and Mogg, to tell us what to do?

Nay lad!

We need a Brexit that works for those left-behind communities and working-class areas. We cannot sign up to more neoliberal structures, rules and treaties that make it impossible for Keynesian economics in terms of state intervention, re-nationalisation and sovereignty over our own nation’s economic needs.

A Beacon, in short, a light to the world,

We need to look towards ourselves as leaders and answer a patriotic call to arms to fight poverty and need, homelessness and hunger, rip-off energy companies and corporations. We need to fight for fairness and decent living standards for all not just the few.

All it needs is will-power and plenty of elbow-grease.

Just like our kith and kin in America we need the courage to stand firm:

As for Project Fear, let us also remember Roosevelt’s words as he faced with the threats and merchants of gloom from the establishment and stood up for the people over the establishment status quo:

This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.’

We have nothing to fear but fear.

It is hard not to feel that this nationalist rant, promoting “our nation” against the “elites” would find a friendly audience here:

But…..

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Written by Andrew Coates

December 20, 2018 at 1:43 pm

English Labour Network, a “Patriotic” initiative.

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Identity Politics?

Jean-Luc Mélelenchon perhaps set a precedent.

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“They nourish national vanity and the love of supremacy by force. “We alone,” they say, each behind his shelter, “we alone are the guardians of courage and loyalty, of ability and good taste!” Out of the greatness and richness of a country they make something like a consuming disease. Out of patriotism–which can be respected as long as it remains in the domain of sentiment and art on exactly the same footing as the sense of family and local pride, all equally sacred–out of patriotism they make a Utopian and impracticable idea, unbalancing the world, a sort of cancer which drains all the living force, spreads everywhere and crushes life, a contagious cancer which culminates either in the crash of war or in the exhaustion and suffocation of armed peace.”

Under Fire: The Story of a Squad, by Henri Barbusse, 1917

Denham and key Corbyn ally join forces for “patriotic” English Labour initiative

A former Labour cabinet minister has joined forces with one of the leading lights of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign for the launch of a “patriotic” initiative to give English voters a voice.

John Denham, the former communities and local government secretary under Gordon Brown, has set up the English Labour Network in an attempt to help the party win again in the largest of the home nations.

The network aims to build on Labour’s progress in the June general election and allow it to take the seats in the “large towns and small cities”which are necessary to be able to form a government.

It will provide “practical support” rather than be “yet another internal party group lobbying for individual policies or individual candidates”, Denham writes on LabourList today.

George Orwell famously distinguished between patriotism and nationalism. “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.” (Notes on Nationalism. 1945)

It is unclear if things are so clear cut, we find plenty of people talking sentimentally about ‘their’ nation, places and culture, in good times,  but using these to defend the superiority of their way of life against all others. Or simply giving priority to ‘their’ ain folk. It surely is not a coincidence that the ‘identitarian’ movement in the European extreme right tries to connect the two.

Orwell is nevertheless useful when we realise that it’s issues of power, that is the state, which mark nationalism. Sovereigntist ideas, on the populist right, and sections of the left which try to create their own radical populism, which see the capture of national sovereignty by the ‘people’ as the premise of political success, have a tight link to nationalism. If the right bases itself on the People against a variety of Enemies, from Globalised elites, to migrants, the left version targets Oligarchs and claims to ‘federate’ the people. There is some convergence in  that both could be said to reflect something of  Zygmunt Bauman’s idea that today, in ‘late modernity’  “the settled majority is ruled by the nomadic and exterritorial elite” (Liquid Modernity 2010).

David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere (2017), is perhaps  the most recent attempt to put forward this themes in British terms.  His  writing, on  the opposition between ‘somewheres’ and ‘anywheres’, talks of the need for the left to take up the concerns of ‘decent populists’. He argued for the importance of the ‘restless’ anywheres who dominate Labour policy making to take up the concerns of those, who vlaue   “group identity, tradition and national social contracts (faith, flag and family)”. 

Drawing on this feeling for “a particular place and way of life”, in the line of  Blue Labour, along with “work family and community”, the English Labour Network, now proposes the following.

Labour Vision interviews John Denham on launch of English Labour Network. He tells us: “No Labour manifesto in my time has gone as far as this year’s in recognising the political identity of England”

Sam Stopp ” a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Brent and is the Chair of The Labour Campaign to End Homelessness. He has written regularly for LabourList, LeftFootForward, Progress Online and Open Labour. “

  •   Labour has to aim to win England for two reasons. One is that, despite the strength in Wales and the fact we’ve recovered in Scotland, we can’t rely on sufficient MPs from those two nations to give us a UK majority. But the second reason is that it will be harder for Labour to implement policies that will be controversial in England if it doesn’t have an English majority, or is a long way behind the Tories. So we have the aim for an English majority.”
  • The second (point) is a constitutional and democratic point. The Welsh and Scottish Labour parties have a great deal of autonomy from UK Labour, but there is no place in which England is actually discussed. And I think the history says that one of the reasons that England has remained so centralised … and all of the failures to devolve have failed … is that the whole thing is being governed by the interests of Wales and Scotland, rather than the ideas of England. So I think we need to have a clear place for England within the Union and a clear decision on how we’re going to devolve inside England. And that is now long overdue.
  • The third thing”, Denham tells me, “is the cultural one, which is that Labour lags in support among English-identifying voters. Now, that’s going to be particularly critical. If you look at the seats that we need to win at the next election to form a government and the ones that we have to defend if the Tories get their act together, they are largely seats that are actually pretty evenly balanced between leavers and remainers and more of the older, working-class leaver voters than the places that we won at the election. And so to lag behind amongst those voters is very dangerous. And the reason that identity is important is that people want to be respected for who they are.”This is where Denham gets passionate and it seems as though this third issue is the one that stresses him the most. “If somebody feels English”, he goes on, “nobody ever acknowledges that they feel English. It’s a clear way of saying that we don’t understand you, or we don’t know where you’re coming from. The irony is that we live in a society where all sorts of multiple identities are possible, but it’s almost as though Englishness is the one that’s not legitimate. If Labour behaves as though there’s something inherently wrong with being English, we’re never going to reach those voters. When we talk about the importance England and Englishness, nobody is suddenly going to vote for us because of this, but it opens the door to discussions about public services or industrial strategy or austerity or spending and all the other things.”

offers some important critical reflections.

Labour has slipped rightwards on immigration. That needs to change

 

Both Denham and Liam Byrne stress that they want good, not bad, patriotism. But Byrne also asks us not to dwell on “dusty history”, as if the toxic nature of modern jingoism isn’t derived precisely from the predominant chauvinistic version of our nation’s past. It will take more than a half-baked rebranding exercise to deal with these deep-seated issues. After Brexit, the idea that our national identity should be simply celebrated rather than critically re-examined is not only irrational but deeply irresponsible. Currently, the ELN looks more like a triangulating appeal to rightwing voters than a serious project for reimagining and building a more inclusive England, with all the difficult conversations that will necessarily involve.

This is connected to a wider strand of thinking in and around the Labour party that sees xenophobia and racism as confined to a minority of cranks on society’s fringe, with the current high levels of public antipathy towards immigrants being due for the most part to nothing more than the “legitimate concerns” of primarily working-class voters. It’s a view resting on spectacular naivety about the true nature and breadth of prejudice in Britain (which is in no way class-specific), as well as the misconception that it is experience of, rather than prejudice about, immigration that drives this antipathy.

This narrative becomes a shade more sinister when the dubious category of the “white working class” (apparently neglected more due to its whiteness than its class) is elevated to the status of Labour’s “traditional” support – the “core vote” residing in the “heartlands”. One wonders where in the pecking order this leaves the non-white working-class residents of Grenfell Tower, for example. It would be unfortunate if the answer to that question were to be found in the expressions of sympathy one hears from some Labour figures for people “anxious about … the rate of change of communities”. Labour neither has nor deserves a future as the party of those who don’t want black and brown people moving into their street.

We suspect that the problems lie deeper than this.

It is not just the cultural issues Wearing rightly highlights and which make a mockery of efforts to revive a ‘national identity’  from the left.

Brexit has been followed by the attempt of some inside the Labour Party to assert their own brand of sovereigntism.

Calling on support from ‘anger’ of the anti-EU camp, the sturdy “northern working class” to the people of England who have not spoken yet, these forces – they have a name, and that is those within the Lexit campaign, and supporters (who include Labour leadership advisers) wish to mobilise the ‘people’ against any commitment to oppose the Tories’ Hard Brexit. They believe that they can ‘federate the people’ around a new version of the old Alternative Economic Strategy, Keynesian economics administrated by  a ‘captured’ state.

The real difficulty is that the world is too ‘liquid’ economically and culturally, for any radical left  government both to moblise popular enthusiasm and to build the links we need with ‘other’ nationalities, other peoples with their own loves of place and “particular ways of life”, without at the very elast making direct agreements across Europe, inside and outside of the institutional structures of the EU.

Blue Labour Comes Back and Wants (more) Welfare ‘Reform’.

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Not for Blue Labour.

Radio Four last night examined Blue Labour’s plans for welfare reform (You can hear it here. Transcript here).

Mukul Devichand opened with this,

These voices are the gurus of a new circle at the top of the Labour Party. They’re highly influential: in charge of writing the policies for Labour’s next manifesto and crafting Ed Miliband’s key speeches. And if you thought Labour would simply tinker around the edges of welfare, and reverse some of the cuts, you’d be rrong if this group had its way. Labour long ago jettisoned the idea that the central government could run industry. In this week’s Analysis, we’ll explore how this group also wants the central state to walk away from a top down model of welfare.

Following this Maurice Glasman opined, “The state is necessary, but as a external administrative neutral force it undermines relationships. It can undermine humanity.”

If that is an indication of the quality of New Labour thought we socialists on the dole can rest easy in our beds, till late afternoon if we wish.

The state is a relationship that can undermine humanity, might have been a more coherent idea.

But we let this pass.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham then took another step backwards.

Here are his thoughts on the Welfare state,

I think the problem has been we forgot what it was originally set up for. It cuts people’s legs off. It rewards people the more need they can demonstrate. It does things for people and that’s a mistake. So for example on housing, if you come in and say, “I’m homeless, I’m in need,” we’ve rewarded in the past, we’ve rewarded people. The more need they have, the more likely it is we’ll support them. So you’ve got to show, you’ve got to prove that you can’t do things. That’s the wrong way to do it.

Perhaps Sir Robin has found a way of abolishing need.

Apparently so,

He began by stating,

The Soviets learned in 89 that it didn’t work. We still think we should run things centrally and we’re one of the most centralised states and a democratic state in Europe. It’s nuts. We need to do more in terms of pushing power and responsibility and opportunities down locally, and I’d argue that if we’re going to make the welfare state work there needs to be a much stronger local element where the community and the values of the community can be put to work. You cannot put something that meets an individual’s needs, you cannot structure that from the centre.

As Devichand wryly observed, the Soviets are not around to answer back.

He by contrast has set up Workplace, a local alternative to Job Centres,

The government’s Work Programme is a disaster, and it’s a disaster because it’s designed by civil servants to be run nationally and you don’t start with the employers. We go to the employers and say could we present people to you who are job ready, who are the right people you want? And the result is that not only do we get five thousand people into work; half of them are long-term unemployed, a large number are young people.

The Work Programme is in fact thoroughly decentralised.

It is delivered, in scores of different ways, by private providers, mostly companies, but including ‘social enterprises’ and charities.

This is the result of extensive lobbying by these providers (who’ve become the ‘unemployment business’) as first encouraged by David Blunkett, closely linked to one company (he served on its Board after setting the system up), A4E).

The system is unemployment business driven and nobody knows exactly what they’re going to get.

It is also news that Workplace is unique in going to employers, since that is exactly what all Work Programme providers do.

The root problem is deeper and simpler: there is not the work for the unemployed to be fitted into.

To test the success of Newham’s scheme we got people saying that they agreed that graft should be rewarded and skivers left out. This was not ,

a gathering of the local chambers of commerce; it was a crowd of the recently unemployed in East London, albeit hand-picked for us by Newham Council….

We are reaching the realm where the inhabitants of  Cloud Cuckoo Land go to get away from their mundane lives.

It is a sad indication of the ‘debate’ set up by Blue Labour that it was up to the Fabian Society General Secretary,   Andrew Harrop,  to talk some sense.

That the reasons why welfare is ‘centralised’ (that, is we all have the same rights and benefits are aligned to need) is that Beveridge,

wanted a uniform, consistent system, so that it was based on your citizenship rather than more arbitrary factors, and there’s still a lot of truth in that insight.

Polly Toynbee pointed out that if we decentralise welfare  in the way Blue Labour want

 In the end you might get some councils who say actually we care more about our municipal flowerbeds.

This is not a joke.

A percentage of  Council Tax benefit has been made payable by those on benefits and  decentralised under the Liberal-Tory Coalition.

Those in Liberal or Tory areas can pay twice or event three times what you pay in Labour ones. Poor areas have high charges, rich right-wing ones, despite their reserves, still shift the burden as far as they can onto those on the Dole.

Toynbee later observes,

I think Labour MPs know so well, they are so rooted in their own communities, many of which are very poor, what can’t be done. They know very well that you can’t take money away from the very weakest and very poorest and they won’t let it happen. So I’m pretty confident that this will end up being a creative policy with a lot of good ideas, that it will spark all sorts of things off, but don’t let’s imagine it’s a new 1945 settlement.

A creative policy?

The Analysis programme  did not go far into this.

But the rest of Blue Labour’s ideas, about contributive benefits, are equally askew. They would create a gap between sections of the unemployed. They would (and are) be hard and expensive to administer.

Countries that operate these schemes , like France, have had to introduce minimum levels of benefit to all, regardless of contribution, and still suffer from continual deficit crises in their systems.

The Living Wage is equally no panacea for low pay. With rents still rising, and the inflation rate on goods that the less well-off buy going up, it does not mean the good life for all.

Jeremy Cliffe, of the free-market Economist concludes,

The Attlee government, Labour’s perhaps most venerated and mythologised government, set in place a Welfare State which involved the benevolent state pulling levers, transferring wealth from those that had it to those that didn’t, and this involves moving on quite dramatically from that. And I think there are many in the labour movement, perhaps understandably those who have worked in the Welfare State, who see their constituents dependent on support in various forms from the Welfare State, those who are close to the trade Union Movement which is obviously rooted in the last fifty or so years of British political economy who are not comfortable with this.

Dropping the reference to the “benevolent state” (Cliffe just couldn’t resist saying that, could he? Still who can deny that  a 1st Class Degree from Oxford teaches you things) and what do we have at fault?

That there is a “transfer of wealth“.

Is this something Blue Labour is against?

Ed Miliband Goes Blue Labour.

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Priority for Tenants Who Are Good.

Blue Labour supporter Jonathan Rutherford  argued in May  that (here),

A covenant around welfare begins with a contributory insurance principle that protects everyone against the risks of unemployment, illness, disability

In a speech today to “answer his critics” Ed Miliband is set to declare,

In his speech at a neighbourhood centre in London, Ed Miliband will focus on responsibility and promise to champion one of the core principles pioneered by the architect of the welfare state William Beveridge: the welfare state should reward those who contribute.

Aides stressed this is reviving the principles behind Beveridge’s thinking and does not denote a new national insurance system. “We will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness,” he will say. 

Guardian Here.

Ed Miliband will announce today that people in work will be given priority on social housing waiting lists.

In his speech at a neighbourhood centre in London, Ed Miliband will say that Labour ‘will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness’, and that the Welfare State should reward those who contribute.

‘One area where people’s sense of fairness is under threat is social housing,’ he will say. ‘In Manchester, as well as helping the most vulnerable families and disabled people with housing, they prioritise households who are giving something back to their communities – making a contribution – for example, people who work for or run local voluntary organisations. They also look to reward people who have been good tenants in the past and who have paid their rent on time and never been involved in any antisocial behaviour.’

Inside Housing  Here.

To crown this turn to the ‘hard-working’ people who dislike lazy-bones, there is this half-baked policy, to be announced by Liam Byrne.

Plans to make unemployed benefit claimants work harder to find a job will be unveiled by Labour‘s policy review chief, Liam Byrne, on Monday.

The shadow work and pensions secretary will also set out new ideas, drawn from the Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, requiring long-term workless households with pre-school children to attend compulsory employment workshops in return for childcare costs.

The public he will say “want a government that is a bit more muscular with markets and a bit more sensitive to society; more attuned to traditional feelings of community, identity, reciprocity.”

Here.

Or as Blue Labour founder Maurice Glasman calls them,

The “older associative Labour traditions, of ‘reciprocity, mutuality and solidarity’”.

Frank Field (via here) who speaks  for the working class and has a unique grasp of its  ‘moral economy’ says

“Ed Miliband today begins to redefine what Labour means by fairness and so begins the long haul of building a new coalition of voters straddling both working and middle class voters. It signals the end of Labour’s attack on the working class moral economy that has always believed benefits should be largely based on contributions and not decided simply on terms of need. It is difficult to overestimate how significant today’s speech is.”

Those simply in need take heed!

‘Traditional feelings’ will decide, for Blue Labour, what you should get.

Louise feels very strongly about this – here.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

Blue Labour, The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox. A Very Conservative Socialism.

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https://i2.wp.com/steliq.com/c/lm/3/32/22353181_polpara.jpgBlue Labour and the Politics of the Good Life.

The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox. Editor: Maurice Glasman, Jonathan Rutherford, Marc Stears, and Stuart White. (E-Book available here)

“Every age and generation must be free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generation which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man, neither has any generation property in the generations which are to follow.”

The Rights of Man, Tom Paine (1791.)

Across Europe it’s said that the left is becoming obsolete. Gérard Courtis in Le Monde (7.06.11) cites the Italian writer, Rafaele Simone. Simone argues that there are “courants profounds”, deep trends, rightwards that are washing across our countries. A series of election defeats (the latest in Portugal) seems to confirm this. Right-wing governments, offering order, tradition, authority and security, are in control of most European states. Although there is protest against their polices, a revolt against fiscal austerity, it’s conservatives and xenophobic populists from the far-right who getting more votes, not the centre or radical left.

For the French think-tank Terra Nova, the left has to reconnect with mass constituencies by giving up its ‘elitist’ cultural liberalism. Globalisation encourages world economic and cultural turmoil and an urge for security and traditional identity that the left should capture. Parties on the centre-left ought to build on feelings of popular solidarity, not abstract equality, and meet fears of a social breakdown. In Britain Blue Labour also wishes to reconnect with ordinary people and involve them in a “common story”. Its message appears to bring together social conservatism with criticism of one globalising force, finance capital. John Cruddas talks of the “most destructive period of capitalism since the 1930s”. He claims that one of the peculiarities of “English socialism” lies in its “love of home, of place and the local” (New Statesman.4.04.11). Unlike, no doubt, all other European socialisms.

Maurice Glasman stands for Blue Labour, a “very conservative socialism” in the mould suggested by Terra Nova. He stands for the family, talking to people’s fear of change, and “re-engaging” with Labour’s history. But he is very different to the French promoter of the theme of security, Manuel Valls (a lonely Gallic admirer of Toy Blair and the Third Way in his time). Valls is tough on criminality but continues to ‘modernise’ economic policy in a market direction. Glasman explains last year’s electoral rout in terms of the Labour modernists’ embrace of the City…” The 2008 Banking crisis unarmed and disoriented them. What good reforms they initiated were top-down, and gave power to managers not the people. “Both Blair and Brown were recklessly naïve about finance capitalism and the City of London and relentlessly managerial in their methods.” A ‘new revisionism’ has to move beyond the Third Way by ditching its embrace of “unmediated” globalisation and its use of the state to achieve ‘abstract’ ideals of justice and equality.

Glasman and his co-Editors of The Labour Tradition summarise the need to change Labour policy. People’s customary way of life is threatened by global finance. But New Labour denied not just state authority in the economy, but weakened it in social policy. “A corporatist, localist, federal and institutional form of politics came to be replaced by a liberal and consumerist one that ceased generating the leadership necessary to sustain a democratic movement”. To win back power, we have to promote “strong forms of a common life”. “Labour will need to recover its role as defender of society, and bring capital under national and global democratic control.”

Glasman writes that, “Democratic politics …is the way citizens come together to protect the people and places that they love from danger.” As a shield, Glasman offers older associative Labour traditions, of “reciprocity, mutuality and solidarity”. This grass-roots politics will, he hopes, renew Labour’s underlying “ethical vision of a humane society”, which he calls the Good Life. (Observer. 24.04.11)

Blue Labour’s message is largely determined by the Labour Party’s agenda in 2011. There is widespread anxiety about the party’s apparent lack of political and ideological direction. The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox offers some signposts intended to steer its direction. A turn towards a degree of communal Labour tradition is flagged. We rapidly realise its Communitarian direction, that is a call for a stronger moral order and “embedded” social bonds – the ‘blue’ in the current’s name. Yet this conservatism is not a celebration of those in Labour’s history who explicitly adapted to patriotism, monarchism and imperialism – that is the real Tory-socialism of the past. But Maurice Glasman and his fellows base the Good Life, as the Whig Edmund Burke put it, on “those who are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born’. To Blue Labour the rights of the people are constrained by the heritage of the past, the present, and the possible future. We cannot, as the author of Reflections on the Revolution in France (1791) stated, build a political constitution “à priori” in line with “metaphysic rights”. But does Blue Labour really believe that we are part of the “great primaeval contract of eternal society”? As Tom Paine’s great objection goes, “It is the living, and not the dead, who have to be accommodated.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

June 11, 2011 at 11:43 am

Guild Socialism Against Blue Labour

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An interesting site by Matt Smith on Guild Socialism.

For most modern socialists the name associated with Guild Socialism is G.D.H.Cole. whose book, Self-Government in Industry is still fairly widely read. For socialists of my parents and grandparents” generation he was a major influence.

Wikipedia writes, George Douglas Howard Cole (25 September 1889 – 14 January 1959) was an English political theorist, economist, writer and historian. As a libertarian socialist he was a long-time member of the Fabian Society and an advocate for the cooperative movement. He and his wife Margaret Cole (1893-1980) together wrote many popular detective stories, featuring the investigators Superintendent Wilson, Everard Blatchington and Dr Tancred.

G.D. H.Cole, like William Morris, is also sometimes cited by Labour politicians who have only the vaguest feeling for his ideas, and would be horrified at them if they bothered to read him seriously.

Most recently he has been said to have inspired Blue Labour.

Cole advocated highly radical plans for social ownership under workers’ control. He opposed Collectivism (State control), Belloc and Chesterton’s Distributism, and the Free Market. He was a dyed-in-wool socialist, an anti-capitalist with a along and honourable libertarian record.

Not something that could be said of ‘Blue Labour’.

This Abstract summarises  his intellectual career:

In his contribution to socialist thought G.D.H. Cole adopted and revised Rousseau’s concept of the general will. During his early guild socialist phase Cole drew on the general will in his scheme for a functional, associational democracy. In the late 1920s Cole began to question whether the socially oriented element of individual will might be expressed in the existing social and economic circumstances. In the 1930s he combined social democratic and Marxist tenets. Nevertheless, his interest in Rousseau persisted. Will was, for him, crucial to socialism. He made a significant, if neglected, contribution to the socialist tradition of Rousseau scholarship.

His long history of Socialism (A History of Socialist Thought: 7 Volumes, (London: Palgrave Macmillan (2003) ISBN 1-4039-0264-X)is also of relevance  today.

Cole’s ideas also had an effect on the post-War French movement for ‘autogestion‘ (self-management).*

 

*Neither the French nor the English language sites on the subject list this reference but through close work with the PSU I can assure readers that this is true.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm